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A Brown / RISD Visual & Literary Arts Magazine Vol. XIX IssueVisual 2 A Brown / RISD & Literary Arts Magazine Vol. XXIII Issue 2





Letter from the Editors Dear Reader, We are delighted to invite you into our community through the Spring 2022 issue of VISIONS magazine. We both joined VISIONS before we stepped foot on campus, and we were incredibly grateful to have found this vibrant AAPIA community, even virtually as first-years. As we begin to transition to more in-person interactions, we recognize that the pandemic is still on-going and affecting our communities. The semester continues to be filled with stories about violence against Asians and Asian Americans, particularly towards women, the elderly, and other vulnerable populations. It is because of this overwhelming increase in anti-Asian violence that we aim for our magazine to serve as a generative space for the diverse collective of AAPIA artists, writers, and creatives at Brown and RISD. Above all that, our wish is that the amplification of AAPIA voices extends beyond the pages of this magazine. This is our first issue as editors-in-chief, and we are so thankful to have had so many supporters. With this, we would especially like to thank the graduating seniors of VISIONS who have contributed both to our growth and to the growth of the magazine. This magazine also represents the collective effort of our editorial board, who we are incredibly grateful for. We also appreciate everyone who submitted to the publication this semester, as we recognize the strength and vulnerability in sharing your work. To our readers, we hope that this magazine serves as a space to find community care and strength now and in the future. With love,

Grace Xiao and Christine Jeong Editors-in-Chief



Mission Statement VISIONS is a publication that highlights and celebrates the diversity of Brown and RISD’s AAPIA community. We are committed to being an open literary and artistic forum for individuals who hold this identity, as well as other members of the university community, to freely express and address issues relating to the AAPIA experience. VISIONS further serves as a forum for issues that cannot find a voice in other campus publications. As a collaborative initiative, VISIONS strives to strengthen and actively engage with Brown and RISD’s vibrant community of students, faculty, staff, and alumni, as well as the larger Providence community and beyond.

On the Cover Untitled | Single-Bed Machine Knit Garment Pauline ’23 loves all fuzzy yarns and making things with her hands.

Editors-in‑Chief Grace Xiao ’24 Christine Jeong ’24 Layout Editors Angela Chen ’25 Anjali Shah ’25 Visual Arts Editors Jo Ouyang ’26 Katherine Fu ’25 Literary Arts Editors Rachel Ly ’25 Cameron Le ’25 Web Editor Caitlin Rowlings ’24 Graphic Designer Lisa Yu Li ’22

Inside Cover on the kitchen tiles | Scrap Cotton and Polyester Fabrics, Cotton Thread, Photo Transfer Cindy ’22 is waiting for the sun.



RISD Outreach Katherine Fu ’25 Events Coordinator Jo Ouyang ’26

Printer Allegra Marketing Print Mail A very special thanks to … Contributors and staff Brown Center for Students of Color Department of Modern Culture and Media Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs Contact visions@brown.edu facebook.com/VISIONS.Brown @VISIONS_magazine Disclaimer The opinions expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of VISIONS’ sponsors.

Table of Contents 6

Gateway Mindy Kang


Low Lounge Chair Sophia Cui


Desi-American Quilt Shreya Patel


ganbei! Ell Li


ode to fruit—as a love language Ren L[i]u


That-Has-Been Hansae Lee


overheard Alyssa Loo



May Day Michelle Yuan


Untitled Pauline Castillo

Reincarnate, I or: in Retrospect a Tomb Figure Katherine Fu



“mother” Joel Yong


Closeted Jo Ouyang

俺妈 Michelle Yuan



Gym at the Edge of the World Chloë Ng-Lun Gardner


Reprise Brendan Ho

烧动 Caterina Dong



Blue Eric J. Bae


Little Aya Bakery Sara Tanikawa

King's journey Kenny Lu



Trampoline Sister Miko Sellier


The Lambs Angela Qian

Robotic Sensibility Sue Sima



Flight Hansae Lee


Memorial Cabinet Sophia Cui

How My Lore Begins Angela Chen



Feel Safe Yet? Xuandong “Jack” Zhou


15 Combs Sophia Cui

Amnesia Lucy Du



November 17, 2001 Caterina Dong


Any distance between us Michelle Yuan

Stitch by Stitch Jo Ouyang



Reclamation (120721) Grace Xiao


bloom Ant Qiu

It seems that I have lost my words Hazel Zhang



Treasure Island Lio Chan


Green Tea Smile Cameron Le

Jay Never Dies (1-3) Katherine Fu



holding home, jacquard bag Cindy Qiao


The Jam Thief Sara Tanikawa

On Taking the NYC Subway Ray Huang




four eyes in a swimming pool Robin Zeng

My Mother is a Kind Woman Sichen Grace Chen

Lomba Makan Kerupuk (Kerupuk Eating Contest) Audrey Wijono




The Formula for Happiness Eric J. Bae

memory foam Alyssa Loo

Chinese 36-Across Adam You, Andrew Kim




Pool of Wishes Shyaoman Zhang

sesa(me) Rachel Ly

on the kitchen tiles Cindy Qiao



Gateway | Digitally Printed Canvas Mindy ’22 would like to wrap herself in an infinite number of scarves.





ganbei! | Digital Ell ’22 is starting toasts!



Alyssa ’24 at times wishes she could be graced with catastrophic forgetting.

overheard are your grandparents still alive? sorry, i speak hindu, italian, the language of my coffee black, do you prefer yours with the spanish monarchy? i don’t really know about hotdogs, sandwichlike or arguably she’s cuter than in your photos, can i hold the stars, look. terribly pretty tonight, but you are even prettier in person. your face is quite red, is something making you a drink? i have gin, on the rocks or where do you like to be kissed? right here that needs to come off, i’m not very good, that’s so good, please keep in touch, i’d like to see you again i think you and i could work, how is tomorrow night out, i got us a table at that place you smile this most adorable way when you look so happy right now, can i give you all my heart, i promise i’ll stay here with me, please? how was your day? hey i've missed you.



Untitled | Single-Bed Machine Knit Garment Pauline ’23 loves all fuzzy yarns and making things with her hands. Photographer: Aj Munoz





Closeted | Oil on Canvas Jo ’26 craves London Fogs with oat milk.



Caterina ’24 seeks to explore the corners of life and beyond.

烧动 Yesterday afternoon I woke up thinking

Today I walked that same path home. My

about the world as despite. I shoveled

throat hurt all day from the words I could

amerikan junk down my virgin

not find. My mother always said I needed

throat before learning

a thicker skin. I wanted a thicker tongue.

the strokes for red soy sauce

I almost fell over my gaze of the

braised beef. My mom uses

dead squirrel again. Leaves now

pork because her village no longer exists.

stuck in her warm tail. I thought of the ruthless

The radical for braised is fire. Shao.

wind and her body made to withstand

How she wears happiness

it. How some bodies are not and we

until it’s beyond smoke, only a thick

toss them to the curbs alike.

smell of what we don’t have. I want radical movement. The radical for I roll the syllables of a language anew

movement is cloud. Dong. 动. Light, even in the

over my tongue. Over the slippery ice,

permanence of death. Shao Dong. Also read as

two squirrels nestled on the curbside.

less known. The less I know the happier,

One scurries off , and I can’t imagine

the less fire the more possibility for clouds.

being left alone either. Leaning over,

Rest peacefully, 烧动.

I found a slender body. Frozen dead tender, eyes shut peacefully, tail still full. I uselessly searched both languages for a word nonexistent. How to honor what is ready to run against the terrible world around us, but the world gets to it first.



Little Aya Bakery | Color Pencil on Paper Sara ’22 never wants winter to end.





Angela ’22 enjoys Bananagrams and Marlboro Golds <3

CONTENT WARNING: Blood, physical violence, death of a family member

The Lambs The Lambs

her. His blow was swift, leaving her head ringing, disrupting the silence. She felt one of her siblings stir on

Nai hated the lambs. During the Chinese cul-

the other side of the room. They were surely awake,

tural revolution, her father owned farmland, which

staring up at the ceiling and listening, and this above

made him a farmer and her a farmer’s daughter. Tend-

all else made her press her lips together, determined

ing the herd was her eternal duty. She walked miles

to let no hint of hurt escape. “Baba! I did!”

to reach them; they grazed on the graying land that backed into hills. The lambs bleated when they were hungry. Unfortunately, they were always hungry. Her job in the

He hit her again, though she was expecting it this time. He was quiet; only a grunt escaped. She shut her eyes, bit, felt the skin on her lips give. Her mouth was abruptly full with the taste of blood.

winter was to cut grass from elsewhere and deliver it to

“Don’t let them go hungry again,” he said,

them. This cutting of grass chapped her hands, and she

and she wanted to scream, though she was never sure

learned that she could soothe them by plunging them

what. A beast paced behind her throat and took her

into the lambs’ fur. Her hands would sometimes bleed

words away with its big paws, batting them into a big,

and mark their coats with pink.

pulsating ball. Her father left the room, and in the vague

Night came early. In her bed she shivered in lay-

dark, she blinked away the shapes behind her eyelids,

ers of wool coats and watched her breath scroll palely from

and blinked some more, and in blinking her eyelids be-

her lips. Outside the room, a rapid tumult of shouts; her

gan to grow heavy despite the swelling in her cheek.

father’s hoarse voice; the gentle closing of a door. Nai felt

In her dreams she was tending the lambs.

herself grow alert, and listened to him draw near. She pic-

“Nai,” Someone called to her from the hills. The voice was

tured the dust scurrying away from his feet.

familiar. It was her sister. Her breath hitched with disbelief.

She felt his presence next to her in the darkness like a phantasm. “You didn’t feed the lambs today,” he said.

She opened her mouth, but she found that she could only bleat, and she looked down and found

She lifted herself onto her elbows, protested

that her body was that of a lamb. Little cloven feet and

with a pit in her stomach. “Baba, I did. I promise I did.”

short wool, ruff led by wind. The herd stood gathered

And indeed, that day, the lambs had jostled to snatch

surrounding her. Her head felt heavy as she swayed it

the grass from her hands.

and her vision was blurred.

“That was Old Zhao, who lives by the herd,” her father said. “The lambs are bleating. They have been

Her sister’s voice, from the hills, rang out again. “Nai!”

bleating all night, and he has just threatened to kill them.”

“I’m here, I’m here!” Nai yelled. She heard

“I fed them today,” she said, and then he hit

a great bleat echo into the night. “Here!” All around



her, the herd began to bleat too, so that her cry mingled hold the leaves in her palms and watch her hands beunintelligibly with the others’. Nai was invisible. Her come stained a lovely pink. sister would look down upon them and only see a herd of lambs.

The two of them laid in the dark together. They listened prayerfully to the rain, and imagined

The louder she bleated, the louder the herd the next day eating steaming bowls of pink rice with a bleated, so that her voice was lost in the cacophony. The fierce childish devotion. voice of her sister swelled; it was all around. Then, the herd pressed around her and crushed her skull.

Nai’s eyes f lew open in the middle of the night. The rain shrieked upon the roof. Something was wrong. Somebody was moaning under their breath,

The Flowers

and before Nai even touched her shoulder, she knew that her sister was feverish.

Nai remembered when she was very young,

She tore the covers off and threw herself to-

and the rain pounding against the roof sounded like the ward the door, running to rouse her parents who slept dull roar of an avalanche. She and her sister laid next to on the other side of the house. She knew that in the each other in bed. Her sister tended the lambs in those early spring, when the leaves sprouted, it was still cold days, and she cared for them patiently, as if they were enough so that fever could mean death. her children, and Nai only had to help cut the grass.

She was through their door. “Mama! Baba,”

Her sister could transform spring deluges into she gasped, and shook them awake. She sent the still something precious. “Tomorrow, we will look for tender air skidding, eddies spinning into the dark. They were leaves in the fields,” her sister promised. Her voice in lumpish and heavy, like a pair of boulders. Her sister Nai’s memory was wispy and fine, like clouds.

was sick. Fetch a doctor.

Her sister loved the vegetables, which grew

A stir of confusion, a panicked rolling out of

wild among the rice. Only wet conditions would yield bed, her parents lumbered away. Baba entered her sisthe tenderest leaves, which before frying were the size of ter’s bedroom with a burst of thunder, her mother on his a girl’s palm. They wept pink liquid when crushed, and heels. they stained bowls of rice magenta.

He tore away her sister’s sweat-drenched

The next day, out under the great expanse of blankets and scooped her up. In Baba’s arms, she was afternoon sky, Nai would call her sister over to examine a tiny. He paused at the door. Backlit, his contours vanclump. “Here!” She cried. Her sister would hurry to her side, ished into a hulking, many-limbed figure. Silent, but graceful even when striding through ankle-deep water. Her sister’s eyes would crinkled with delight.

breathing hard. The doctor could heal her. He had healed

“Excellent,” she would say, and Nai could feel her body the neighbor’s little boy of fever last month. He had sing, could feel the mud crusted on her hands coming trekked through the snow at a ridiculous hour. alive, could even feel the earth breathing under her feet,

“It’s Mama!” Nai screamed, and pointed, and

a swelling, triumphant, dizzying vibration. She would furiously they scanned the night. Confusion reigned.



Her mother approached alone.

arms and wore the f loor thin with her endless rounds,

She came to the door. “When I told the doctor and he’d cry, and cry. At her wit’s end, she placed a it was my daughter,” her mother explained, wretched, blank sheet of paper on the counter. She placed a penyelling over the storm, “He turned me away. He didn’t cil in his hand. want to walk through the rain for a girl.” Her words brought a dreadful sort of release.

A miracle: he quieted. She drooped with relief, and stillness ran sweetly through the house.

The truth that their family had been resisting tonight broke free, and hung cleanly in the air.

She touched the wispy strands of hair at the nape of his chubby neck. They waved like little stalks

“But she’s still breathing! Like the neighbor’s and she felt in her hands a memory, the rhythm of boy!” Nai cried, in an attempt to resist the gravity that chopping and bundling, and the smell that burst from had seized them, and when no one replied, she repeated cut stems. In that moment she was seized with a sudit, and her mother buried her face in her hands

den rush of violent love.

Nai slept on the floor of her parents’ room and in







the morning her sister was gone. The rain, too, had ceased. drawing, she peered around and started to laugh. Rolling into the hills, the fields were f lush with tender leaves.

Flick by little f lick, like unspooling yarn tumbling through the years—What did he draw but

Strangely, her loss made sense. It carved a grass! neat, clean pit in Nai’s chest. Her sister was always frail. And, after all, her father was a farmer, and she a farmer’s daughter. Her father entered the room and announced, roughly, that it was her duty, now, to care for the lambs. Whether the lambs sensed Nai’s loss was lost on her. They were a herd of dumb, stinking lambs, and her sweet sister couldn’t be more different from them, and they chewed the wild leaves to nubs, and Nai would, for the rest of her life, feel a crush of loneliness when she saw the lambs’ lips stained pink. The Child “Mama! Mama!” When her American grandchild was a baby, he was a crier. Nai bounced him in her



Memorial Cabinet | White Oak, Spanish Cedar Sophia ’22 likes sniffing Spanish cedar.



15 Combs | Wood, Artificial Sinew, Burlap Sophia ’22 likes sniffing Spanish cedar.



Michelle ’23 is feeling baby blue.

Any distance between us with clothes on hung beyond innercity bodies in inkjet syllables dying chromogenic green with a knife I was Hers




bloom | Digital Ant ’23 is an accredited reptile enjoyer.





Cameron ’25 misses elementary school.

Green Tea Smile I was raised by your two hands and their ten polished fingernails born of a sunken Saigon; they called Tippi Hedren mother. I falter, your palms balance me; I cower, your hand shields my eyes; I hunger, your finger wades the rice pots searching for that perfect ratio. Jupiter swung and the Lunar New Year


yet the Rooster did not wake you, he slipped you barbiturates; your devout palms of prayer now deterred— deserted

piety and a

devolution into trembles and shakes.

Haptic lullabies

lure you to a

jail cell


as a California King,

the key tossed

into the pits of your


A sacred soul now slipping, those Two Hands began to



Your glossy eidolon, tethered to a rotting chassis, wanders radiant among gray matter canyons and vacant and I

brown sugar irises,

ache to unchain you in


defiance of the






think of your


prognosis. warm like


The Jam Thief | Watercolor and Color Pencil on Paper Sara ’22 never wants winter to end.



four eyes in a swimming pool | Oil and Charcoal on Canvas Robin ’24 is exploring a dead mall.



Eric ’24 isn’t quite sure how they got here.

The Formula for Happiness 0 = darkness

light = 1

My favorite numbers are 3 and 7 though You = 0 Strive for You = 1 How do I increase my value 0


0.x = gray x = achievements All of my achievements are gray I = gray You = light How can I = You? Why do I even want to be you You = light Light = blinding Blinding = harsh I’ve always much preferred the dark Dark = 0 0 = Beginning Beginning = End Or maybe green. Green is a good color I = green I = 777 I =/= you I am greater



Pool of Wishes | Digital Shyaoman ’22 is suffering from brainrot.



Low Lounge Chair | White and Red Oak, Fabric, Foam Sophia ’22 likes smelling Spanish Cedar.



Ren L[i]u (they/他) ’23 is tired of translating themselves, so they are bracketed and always thinking about how their grandma would make sense of this life—she’d probably start with pomelo.

ode to fruit—as a love language Fruit is a love language for immigrant daughters I’m convinced but Fruit as a love language cannot be equated to quality time or acts of service physical touch words of affirmation or gifts, while an orange or pear pomelo mango itself might look like a present after running under cold water decorated by my mother’s touch her worn, ruthless hands and plated onto a platter I imagine oranges being much more part of the past — their peels not 2D models of the colonizer’s globe instead temporal maps of her unwritten histories a reminder of what is inside how these slices cubes chunks are seven or eight, maybe even ten acts of service in their own right



in my mother’s mother land

hoping that one day,

oranges were luxuries mined and surfaced

once they have ripened

until reaching her hands—

someone look past their weathering

waiting nine months to taste their fruit—

and find something worthwhile

my mother likes 丑橘子 (ugly) tangerines best

my mother gives fruit as an apology

cups them in her hands,

spends quality time

admires their wrinkles

peeling and slicing

says their juice is sweeter

chunks for what she will never say in words

I wonder if this is how immigrant mothers think of their daughters,

for what she can never say in words

saying to themselves take this weathered life of mine

that she does not need to do the same for me

the ways it has been beaten and eroded

And just might already find me worthwhile

and make something tender something kind, sweet, pure, full I wonder if this is how immigrant mothers raise their daughters imparting knowledge through force say this is molding them say here is the fruit of my hours,,, no, decades of labor and I promise it is sweeter in spite of me



Reincarnate, I or: in Retrospect a Tomb Figure | Candle Wax, Ceramic Katherine ’25 misses morning dew.



Michelle ’23 is feeling baby blue.




















Brendan ’24 has run out of photos to send to people.

Reprise Vilas says in Ordesa that knowing someone is a secret language for two. When the relationship ends, it’s a dead language—a sunset at the end of the world. Or that’s what his character thinks. He hasn’t spoken to me in the last hundred pages. I’m starting to think he doesn’t want to. Maybe he wants to hear from me first. I never thought I would have so much to lose. But on my worst days? What if I made a dialect bleed out, the same way I lost my parents’ mother tongue? Like gel ink through newspaper, permanence and impermanence, until only the wall itself can grasp at straws. But, but: if I forgot the words—the pitch and the tone—I would lose you. I’d lose the part of me that I was to you. That part only you knew. Maybe that’s what love is. Taking the best parts of you, one by one, and giving them away. Because sometimes it’s hard to remember.

To be kind, to be kind.

A little hope that I could be who I am to you—to everyone. But then again, maybe that’s not the point. So easy to forget. The only part of me (on many—no—most days, I feel) is worth a damn. No one has ever seemed so relieved to see me. When you unfurl your brows, I could melt. Right here. I thought I felt better, until it started snowing. Heavy and wet. On my best days, I could be a character in a quiet Nick Cave song. We’re all more fragile than we’d like to admit. So here I am, still writing on the margins of borrowed books that I’ll probably never finish. Still feeling like the bits of broken glass stuck in the frame. It’s past midnight, and I should be sleeping. But I finally found some quiet. Maybe it’s best if I keep it company for a while.



King’s journey | Woodblock Print Kenny ’22 is a dog.



Robotic Sensibility | Apparel Sue ’24 is trying to sleep earlier.





Angela ’25 wishes she could float.

How My Lore Begins When my soul, a moonpowder precipitant; my fossil,

a young and year-blind chemistry;

my eyes,

icy fists of wisdom you unthinkingly knead open

onto sandsilk bedsheets, the oven-lazy f low of skin, two embryos; I am divine, dozing, alert, citrine, bitter, bitten, a bit disgusting, kept here next to a sleeping you. And in my webbed brain, blooming is this spider lily of a world: noble gases bowed in inverted colors and the soul wafts— seven smiling deities arranged in rows then angles, ringing in the unlight. And a sense of vanishing hangs in the air, a hiss of pressurized malice, let loose in the cave to behave how they want to. Something in my throat. Loosening in my mouth. Say. Put me under your tongue, dark amulet lozenge. (It gets lighter as it melts.) And say, I’m wondering if it’ll always be like this, all this aggressive mythical skin on the mirror inside, feeling loose raw heavenly and maligned in a bathroom after sex, thinking how she may palely yield to the edges of an old cotton camisole and the fantastical ways I could injure her. My souls, their tonsils of wind and desperation. Tell me you trust me with the meaning of faith as we lie in this fucked time. These clouded deadlights point out to the world. But my god tells me in the f lux, islands lie dark and still.



Amnesia | Oil on Mirror Lucy ’24 hates filling up her Brita.



Stitch by Stitch | Watercolor, Pen, and Legal Documents on Paper Jo ’26 craves London Fogs with oat milk.



Hazel (they/them) ’25, Chinese-born Canadian, is unfortunately a Samsung Notes poet.

It seems that I have lost my words I used to be able to write.

I am a parasite with no host, with nothing to depend on in order to continue existing.

I remember when I was thirteen, I would lie awake in my bed, eyelids growing heavy with sleep. I had the

I look at the blank page you handed me today, empty. I

notepad open on my phone and I would type

can’t fill the space they used to occupy.

and type

Without them there, the words aren’t on my side anymore. I can’t make the dancing fountain work because

and type, until I fell asleep.

they refuse to f low through the old and rusty pipes.

Back then, words bounced around in the cavity of

cursor is the steady chop of a chef’s knife at my cow-

Everything falls apart in my fingertips. The blinking my body, few escaping when I spoke. When I began

ardly self, each press of the delete button chop chop

to write they f lowed out of my fingertips in a steady

chopping at my dwindling self-worth.

stream, seemingly inexhaustible like the water in a mall fountain.

Without them there, I’m scared.

My head used to be a silent movie theatre. Images and

I wish I could disappear between Him/Her like I really

scenes playing out as I wrote, each feature a smash hit.

didn’t exist, and that I could hit the time-out button so everything can stop crashing into me, all at once and in

I don’t know when I stopped. I think it was when you

succession and everything overlapping onto everything,

convinced me that there were more important things

some sick dodgeball game where I’m the only person on

I could’ve been doing.

my side left.

But when I did, the movie theatre closed and so did the

I wish that I hadn’t stopped.

mall. The author that lived inside me went away and took the words with them, because it sucked to live in

And I wish I took the words with me, because you can’t

a place with no mall and movie theatre. We used to live

write without words.

symbiotically. But I swear, that I used to be able to write.



Jay Never Dies (1-3) | Adobe Photoshop, Photos Katherine ’25 misses morning dew.





Ray ’23 can always be inconsistently spotted at the Nelson.


On Taking the NYC Subway 1 “Listen up everyone! I’m gonna give you the best magic you’ve ever seen!” Pause. Rumbling. “Listen up everyone! I’m gonna give you the best magic you’ve ever seen!” Brakes screech as the train pulls in. “The show is canceled! Goodbye.” We were on the C-line. His initially black hoodie was faded and dusted. After walking up and down the car, he stands erect beside me, our sleeves brushing to the pulse of the subway. Even when no one responds, his voice does not falter. When we arrive at the next stop, he seems genuinely disappointed by the abrupt ending, as if he wanted nothing more than to perform. He meanders out into the Canal St. station with a new bounce in his step, having asked for nothing in return for his generosity. As the train doors slide shut, I watch him spin twice, and after what appears to be some serious contemplation, he heads towards the Southeast exit. Despite being an excellent conformist, I knew that I wanted what he had. I wanted to step into a subway car and feel my voice reverberate through the car, trampling over the screeches of the subway tracks. To have all the faces turned away from me and go on preaching my sermon nonetheless. For once, just once, I wanted to do something of my own volition. That’s why I remember it all. This memory is really about courage. A line from my favorite poem: “there is always the anticipation of the change, the chance that what is wrong is the result of where you are” (Gerald Locklin).



2 Once you cook curry one too many times, that is, if you use the right spices, the smell is irremovable. It’s not in the air; it’s in the walls. The subway is no different. Everywhere you turn is a slice of history. When I descend in New York’s underground tunnels, I remember the magician, the musicians, the heated squabbles. I would pass a piece of subway art or poetry, and I would remember who I was. My first in-person interaction with exploitation happened on the subway when I was a child. Mumbling, I fought, and holding his cap in front of him, for you for you, a hunched man with a tattered rucksack meandered through the car, you you, I fought, you. He surrendered after a lap, stuffing his empty cap back on his head. Originally a dark black, his cap had faded just as the magician’s hoodie had. Yet the red and gold lettering still shone: Purple Heart / Vietnam Veteran. Some histories are less evident. Once an engineering marvel and a driver of prosperity, the current state of the subway is the result of decades of identity politics, lackluster investment, and poor decisions. The budget for maintenance has not changed in nearly three decades while daily ridership has doubled. It has the worst on-time performance of any major rapid transit system in the world. Billions have been spent on aesthetic station makeovers which have no impact on service or reliability. Politicians have squeezed funds from the MTA to fund their own interests, forcing the MTA to borrow: nearly seventeen percent of the budget goes towards debt. The

subway is the bloodline of the city, and the parasites won’t stop feeding.

We enter the subway with wide eyes, the pen inside us racing to make sense of every crumb of injustice

There’s a reason why politicians like Andrew and absurdity. And yet so many of us exit three decades Cuomo stay out of the subway. It’s not out of incon-

later with empty hands; imagine taking the subway on

venience or even disgust; it’s out of shame. Imagine

a Thursday evening and you’ve just worked a ten-hour

sharing a pole with the welfare recipients that your

shift but at least you’ve got a gallon of milk in your bag

employees just shamed on television while your

(thanks to your plasma donation last week) and you’re

company just received a multi-billion dollar bailout.

worried that your kids are growing up without you and

Imagine being a banker and sitting next to the very

you think of how you need to go see your mother who

people you sold those shitty securities to in ‘08. Imag- lives much too far away and is getting far too old. Repeat ine seeing a woman old enough to be your mother jump the turnstile because you raised the fare to divert MTA funds to your corporate bankrollers.

that a couple of thousand times and tell me what’s left. It is a difficult point to admit. I will wake up one day and touch the grays in my head, and upon boarding the Q-line I will notice for the first time that all the

3 You see, you can’t lie to yourself about the state of the world: that is getting closer to the magic

strangers I’ve seen for years—the security guard who always seemed to be reading a new book, the schoolteacher who frequently carried a basketball in his lap, the stuffy

of the subway. You can ignore it, you can rationalize

lawyer who started as a shiny-eyed twenty-something

it, but when you board the subway, everything is

and recently stopped taking their kid to Bring Your

splayed out in front of you: adorable teenagers who

Child to Work Day— look older than they once had. But

look a little too young to date, ads pointing you to a

I can hope that on that day, on the way home, I will pass

psychic who will save your life, mothers waving at

by a performance of a song that my father loved or a

exiting commuters to open the “emergency exit”, Wall teenager scribbling furiously in her notebook, and they St. employees fresh out of undergrad with massive

will remind me of what it was like when there were more

eyebags, a woman reading Ayn Rand, the subway sing- possibilities than I could count. er with an overwhelming smile and a massive voice

I first read the Locklin poem when I was

who claims her mission is to spread love. You’ll see

fourteen, and I still believed that I could be more than

disabled panhandlers and wonder how long they’ve

I was. Four years later, I scribbled down the poem after

been fighting, and you’ll see someone that vaguely

rediscovering it on the subway. I initially assumed it was

resembles someone you know but is only a celebrity.

a whimsical act, the byproduct of an interest in litera-

You will see it all because the subway is literature in

ture, but the increasingly crumpled page says otherwise.

motion: some read Dostoevsky to learn about suffer- I would unfold the poem after a phone call from an old ing, and others read Morrison and are delighted by

friend, after saying goodbye; I even copied the poem into

the complexities of being human. Or you could take

a new notebook when I first left home. So I must have

the subway and find out for yourself.

been trying to keep in touch with myself.



My Mother is a Kind Woman | Ballpoint Pen on Paper Sichen Grace ’22 is happy.



Alyssa ’24 photosynthesizes exclusively at golden hour.

memory foam warm sheets and the dusting of water in your hair cheeks against the curve of a neck, a smile draws across a forehead, chests meet with every exhale— there is such an infinity of you that space itself unfolds and unravels until time crumples into the pillows beneath us; i’ve always said how unfair they are, those eyes, gleaming as with the night sky beyond our window. the air holds its breath here, listening to the silence filled with everything we have and will ever need, with you i am everything i have whispered and will ever breathe, i am everywhere i need to be. if i leave this unsaid, do you know it? i tell you everyday in everything but words.



Rachel ’25 is calling her mom.

sesa(me) toasted sesame seeds scattered orderly-haphazardly (not meant to be) across my nose, crushed and packaged for 98 cents. gingko nuts pearling underneath my skin, porcelain designs making permanent carvings that are steeped withblue ink—never leaving the shadow of my happy memories and worries and eyes. eyes like my own eyes and I’s and us. I like the temper, patience, and nerve like it is us. different is your congee bright—melted sugar—pounded rice complexion. you show me how to make circles on my face— to scrub my chin, nose, and temples. lukewarm and numbing and home is the cracked clay tea pot that holds four servings of jasmine-chrysanthemum blessings. also lukewarm, and numbing when the leaves aren’t measured by your dragon-veined, goji-red varnished hand. f laky egg tart crusts, skin, and dreams. every year we re-discover a dish from your youth that becomes part of mine, incomparable yet adjacent. soon the toasted sesame will all be sold, maybe burnt at the edges. smoking. the porcelain will hold elixirs of myth and experience— tea leaves left that can’t be read and warm, skimming the surface of morning pleasantries and nighttime absences.



Desi-American Quilt | Fabric on Wood Frame Shreya ’25 likes wearing wide pants.



That-Has-Been | Digital Photograph Hansae ’24 is still debating free will.



Michelle ’23 is feeling baby blue.

May Day I find a bag of f lour in the basement. Twenty pounds,

On the highway near my house there is a nursery right

untouched, blue and white. We have eggs and milk, so

next to a McDonalds. Under the guise of checking out

I make - bread/cake/tortillas/pizza/buns. I have never

the plants we go to McDonalds. There is a line, a veri-

felt my hands this way. My sister eats everything be-

table parking-lot snake of cars to get to the drive-thru.

fore it’s had a chance to cool. The bag lasts fifteen days.

When we get to the intercom my mom panic-shouts


our orders, mistakenly orders a cheeseburger with no

My best friend texts me. I miss you. I miss her too. I

toppings, pays with a freshly sanitized credit card. We

ask if she wants to hang out. We both are Mostly Free

sit in the car while she goes to buy marigolds. I sneak a

so we decide on Thursday night. What do you want to

fry. On the drive home we pass my friend’s house and

watch she asks. I don’t know something funny I reply.

my sister’s friend’s sister on a walk. A weird closeness.

Ok same she says. Thursday comes and goes. We both

The food goes in the oven, the f lowers into pots. I take

apologize for forgetting.

a shower, unsettled. The cheeseburger that is just ~

Fifty-seven degrees and sunny outside. I am unpacking

cheese and burger has pickles, surprisingly. Warm in the mouth, they’ve lost their snap.

my shoes in the garage. I pull out my gym sneakers - soft


white, scuff-free. I bought them a year ago with gusto.

I wake up at 7:03 am. The sun is out. I forget to close

I think of that Hemingway sentence. I throw the sun

the blinds. I fall back asleep. I wake up at 10:54 am.

into the lake.

The sun is out. The blinds sit still. I lay inside myself. ~

Today the weather is good and I open my windows to

The door opens - maybe it was always open. No sounds. In the morning everything is green.

let. On days like this other people think the same they leash their dogs, spread out a few blankets. Some pause to talk to each other, sidewalk to lawn. There is stillness, squared off microcosmos. The neighbor’s basketball ends up in our yard, where it stays. ~ Walking here - in circles instead of to the library or to practice or to see you. Walking - as the entree rather than prelude, something to savor. Walking - no longer the means to an end. Walking here - footsteps one after another, the freedom to choose where to stop. A gift. ~



“mother” | Poem, Sculpture Joel ’25 is dancing to “Bags” by Clairo.

“do i want kids?” for the longest time

i’m sorry.

i was quick to say “no”

i’m so sorry.


i’m so sorry i didn’t realize it sooner.

i fear of inf licting the same hurt

that i was ashamed of the clothes you got me from the

you did to me.

thrift store

but i just wanted you to know

that i wouldn’t eat your improvised recipes

that i realize now

that i didn’t help you around the house

that i cannot fathom your strength

that somehow i was too busy

to uproot communism

too ignorant

move into a country that didn’t accept you

too ungrateful

while school lunches were your main sustenance

to see that

and english was just as hard as staying quiet

you were the best mother

as you sacrificed your years in college

i could have ever asked for.

to caring for your sister and feel in competition with your brother

i know you hurt me

never given the opportunity

but i cannot bear the idea

to shine in your glory

that i also hurt you.

to be overlooked

i know you did your best

and underpaid

to look out for me.

and to compromise your life’s ambitions

im sorry i didn’t see it sooner.

to be a mother to four children who would never be able to grasp

and now i wonder

the magnitude of your sacrifice

if it’s too late


to repent

you did your best

and confess my wrongdoings

to care for us

at the altar of our home

to make sure we were fed

because we both know

to make sure we were clothed

i am not

to make sure we could have the childhood

who you hoped i turned out to be.

you couldn’t. there aren’t enough words in this language that even when your heart failed you

or the next

you never failed us.

to say i’m sorry.





Gym at the Edge of the World | Furniture, Sculpture Chloë ’23 is unavailable for FaceTime.





Eric ’24 is very very lost, where is the bathroom?

Blue I had never really thought about it before. A

ies; yellow could simultaneously be the brightest yet

favorite color. It was a little silly, wasn’t it? All of my col-

dullest in the room; and of course there was green,

ors were tinted gray anyway, what was the point?

with their various hues glimmering like gems under

I’m not sure why your name came so easily.

the sun, shimmering breezily in the wind. Yet there

Maybe it’s because I saw you every day, watching over

you were, blue, still the same hues I had seen before,

me through thick swaths of cotton in the sky; maybe

always tinted with that faint hue of sadness. These

it’s because you embraced the globe I lived on so lov-

new colors they enraptured me, called to me, and my

ingly; maybe it’s because you were popular, but not so

attention was taken from you, my faithful companion

popular that I’d get called out by others. I’m not sure.

blue. I moved from color to color, sampling the treats

Does it even matter anymore?

each held for me, gently exploring all of their aspects.

We settled into a convenient routine, you and I: they’d ask me who I liked and I would simply replay

Yet throughout it all, you were always in the back of my mind: blue that melancholic ghost of my past.

your name. It became second nature really. Sometimes

It’s been a few years since I’ve had your

they’d make fun of you, call you boring or overplayed, and

name uncurl from my tongue, but it’s time I faced

I would defend you in all your instances: blue sky watching

you, addressed you, told you why I left you, why I

over me quietly, blue sea lulling in and out on the shore, and

loved you. Even in my greyest days you always shone

blue berries filling mouths with sweet tangs of satisfaction;

through, true to your color, blue, grey’s cold touch

although I suppose they’re not really blue. Why did I defend

never dimmed your lonely beauty, never once brought

you? You were just a placeholder, another grey-toned color

you down from your place in the sky. Perhaps it’s be-

in my world. It didn’t make sense, but I chose not to think

cause you were like me, filled with your own clouds

about it back then, there was no need.

of sadness, or perhaps it was simply your nature, everywhere and overwhelming, that allowed me to see

It’s been a few years now since I’ve had your

the true you, blue. Whatever the case, it doesn’t matter

name on my tongue. I have a new favorite color, I guess

because all that matters is that you were there, blue, sur-

you could call them green, but it’s not the only name

rounding me, accepting me, embracing me, loving me.

they claim. Their brilliant sheen in emerald jewels, their

But it was time I moved on from my sadness,

glossy smoothness residing in jade, and their earthy ver-

blue. It was time I moved on from that grey veil into a

dant hues in forests, these are just some of the things

world of color.

they are to me; I’ve discovered that I love them in all their

Even if it meant leaving you behind.

various aspects, but I never forgot about you.

Maybe you’re hurt, maybe you’re sad, or may-

I know why I chose you now, after all these grueling years. When I tore off that veil of grey, I discovered all the different names of those I had once viewed in

be you don’t care, but I’m glad I got to talk to you again, blue, I’m glad you were my favorite color, blue, and if it’s any consolation, the sweetest hues of green, I find, are the ones tinged with a little bit of you, blue.

monotone: red was passionate, furious, yet calm; pur-

Thank you blue

ple was vibrant, lustrous, and rich in its various bod-

and goodbye.



Trampoline Sisters | Mixed Media Miko ’25 has a memory of his sisters back home.



Flight | Digital Photograph Hansae ’24 is still debating free will.



Feel Safe Yet? | Colored Pencil on Paper Jack ’22 is looking for home.



Caterina ’24 seeks to explore the corners of life and beyond.

November 17, 2001 Sometime ago my dad opened his fist and I tumbled out. He wished it was C-section. He wished it was cessation. He wished she could be loved like she was a boy. My mother split into 2001 pieces when I split through her. Since then, I have only collected 19 of them back. Forever foraging for parts, I was born 8 lbs heavy and he hated her for it. Since then, my dad has been trying to love the littler things. So too have I.



Reclamation (120721) | Blue Ballpoint Pen, Graphite, Colored Pencil, Acrylic Paint, Red Embroidery Floss, and Pieces of Toned and Textured Paper on Canvas Grace ’24 is probably drinking chrysanthemum tea.



Treasure Island | Digital Lio ’24 loves taro milk tea.





holding home, jacquard bag | Wool and Cotton Woven Jacquard, Found Shoelaces Cindy ’22 is waiting for the sun.



Lomba Makan Kerupuk (Kerupuk Eating Contest) | Digital Illustration Audrey ’25 is the friend and foe of slugs around the world.



Adam ’25 and Andrew ’25 really love crossword puzzles.





Answer Key



on the kitchen tiles | Scrap Cotton and Polyester Fabrics, Cotton Thread, Photo Transfer Cindy ’22 is waiting for the sun.




Angela ’25 wishes she could float. Caitlin ’24 is severely allergic to cats. Cameron ’25 has never seen Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Rachel ’25 is waiting for Katherine to toast her bagel. Katherine ’25 maybe burnt Rachel’s bagel. Anjali ’25 is pouring oat milk in her coffee. Grace ’24 is probably drinking chrysanthemum tea. Christine ’24 is in line for Andrews brunch. Lisa ’22 already misses everyone. Robin ’24 spilled tea on the carpet. Jo ’26 is craving a London Fog with oat milk. Michelle ’23 is feeling baby blue. Emily ’22 is full of love for you all. Jessie ’22 is proud of her VISIONS children :)







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