UCLAâ€™s Journal of the Arts
WESTWIND UCLAâ€™s Journal of the Arts
Los Angeles is a crazy collision of intersections, and Westwind, UCLA’s student-run journal of the arts, strives to capture this spirit. We seek to provide a platform for the weird and wonderful voices found all over the greater Los Angeles area in whatever form they arise. For over fifty years, Westwind has been printing poetry, prose, art, music, and everything in between. Help us attempt to define the undefinable that is Los Angeles. Anything goes. Westwind is made possible with the support of UCLA’s English Department. Print journals are currently available in the English Departmental Office. Cover Image: “La giovane vecchia” “The Young Old Woman” by Mariam Khudikyan Designed by Dylan Karlsson
Outreach Coordinator Amara Trabosh Blog Editor FICTION Senior Editors Emily Parsons Winston Bribach Staff Mehtab Boparai Jovanna Brinck Elizabeth Castaneda Abigail Duran Jodi Scott Elliot Elise Escamilla Natalie Finander Nico Gist Micaela Harris Audrey Miano Suren Najaryan Theodora Ng Christine Nguyen Natalie Perez Erika Salazar Rachel Sweetnam Corine Tan Maris Tasaka Amara Trabosh Nick Versaci
Suren Najaryan POETRY Senior Editors Shannen McKee Eunice Shin Staff Peyton Austin Katheryne Castillo Mei de la Barreda Jessikah Diaz Lauren Finkle Genevieve Finn Eric Fram Tatianna Giron Rhiannon Lazair Tulika Varma Creative Nonfiction Editor Erika Salazar Arts Editor Eric Fram
EDITOR’S NOTES This past year, I have found incredible value in the small pockets of community that can give the care and attention one needs to sustain a writing practice, all from beyond the workshop or class setting. We are aware of the limitations of ceding all our effort and work into institutions – however validating or integral they are in our lives ¬– we know there are areas where they will not impact us, or take us. It is as good a time as any to reflect on how we foster our literary and arts communities, how we protect and support ourselves from exploitation and abuse, in whatever form or shape that may take. I am grateful to have a staff that continually asks what more could be done in the journal, in a piece, or even a line. At every stage of the process in creating this journal, we are allowed to operate in abundance. The pieces presented in this journal build their own wondrous, deliberate, and often humorous abundance from the materials available. We see it in stories of trauma and recovery, as relationships are reconstructed, and in the programmatic writing of a neural network, whose words invite us to learn as it has learned. I hope that in whatever you may take from this journal, you find that same abundance we found.
Dylan Karlsson Managing Editor, 2017-2018
FICTION It is mindboggling to think that while even the smallest choice can change your life, you can’t always predict which choices will matter in the end. In my freshman year I thought my life would change when I signed up for dozens of clubs at the Enormous Activities Fair, but all that really changed were the contents of my email inbox: club updates that I still don’t know how to unsubscribe from. I hoped it wouldn’t change things for the worse when I forgot to sign up for freshman orientation on time and got one of the latest sessions, but it changed things for the better, introducing me to friends I would not have met otherwise (some of whom I get to work with on the Westwind staff today). I didn’t know if my decision to join Westwind would end up making a difference, but it has made all the difference to me. It has brought me to a safe, welcoming environment for anyone who loves literature and wants to talk about it. It has given me the opportunity to become a better reader and writer, to help others make their creative work the best that it can be and to help share that work with the world. It has introduced me to a wonderful community that I am honored to have been part of for the greater part of my time at UCLA. After reading the stories in the following pages, I hope that you, too, will make the choice to enter this community. I hope you will recognize the talent and passion of writers from all over L.A., as well as the efforts of the fiction staff to bring them to you. It isn’t always clear which stories will affect you when you first start reading them, but I hope you’ll find a piece that resonates with you. Who knows? Perhaps making the relatively small choice to read these fine stories will change your life in some unexpected way...
Emily Parsons Senior Fiction Editor, 2017-18
For the longest time now, I’ve looked at fiction through pragmatic eyes. I’m a writer, and I search for things that can help me improve my work. I seldom allow myself to see more than what is on the page—syntax, structure, diction, etc. Being an English major adds an academic layer to that pragmatism. Reflecting on my experience at Westwind, first as a member of the Fiction staff and now as a Senior Editor, I can say that there is much more to fiction than can be found in The Elements of Style. The most important qualities, aside from the author bringing only what they can bring to a story, are bravery and perseverance. I see that in every submission we receive at the journal, including the ones we don’t publish. Fiction is difficult. Fiction is a very personal thing. Sending that personal thing out into the world, where it could be torn apart and rejected requires great courage. Without that courage, there would be no Westwind. For that, you have my sincerest gratitude. Here’s to continued bravery.
Winston Bribach Senior Fiction Editor, 2017-18
POETRY Westwind remains a source for the unconventional, culturally relevant, and deeply personal. From the geographical context of “bakersfield,” technological cultivation of “Lowlevel Subdiscipline,” and themes of female upbringing in “Lessons from a Mother,” each poetic work in this quarter’s journal distinctly captures the collective and complex realities of the present moment. This diverse collection of works would not exist without Westwind’s dedicated poetry staff and the bold writers who submitted their pieces for consideration. Thank you to all of you. I am privileged to have helped facilitate such a vital and enriching community within UCLA, and look forward to following its continued progression.
Shannen McKee Senior Poetry Editor, 2017-18
Throughout my experience as a writer, the inspiration and subject for poetry come to people differently. It can come from events and stories or while doing activities and musing about life. The process can be in sudden epiphanies or a slow simmering of thoughts. While working on this issue, this belief is bolstered all the more. In these pieces, we see inspiration stretching from one’s origins to current struggles of living, from the very personal to the purely technical. Each person takes their ideas and muses and creates not only words but also feelings, movements, and a sense of life in their own way. When sifting through all of the submissions, we have seen poetry pieces that take all sorts of shape and form, direction and vision. No matter their differences, all the them are indisputably poetry. Each piece in the journal was chosen and discussed with care and attention. I hope you enjoy them as much as we did. Eunice Shin Senior Poetry Editor, 2017-18
TABLE OF CONTENTS 13 14 15
First Impressions Queen of Seattle Supermarket in Santa Monica Johnathan Lovett
INMINENTE Carlos Saunier
“Oh! Send me a Postcard!” Kent Tran
Marionette Jessica Humphrey
www.globegenie.com Eric Fram
Watershed Christine Nguyen
37 39 41
Echo Chamber Groceries, Earth, Slog, etc. Let all mortal flesh keep silence Dylan Karlsson
**They F loat Beyond the Development: Lowlevel Subdiscipline Machine Learning (Emi Eck)
Artist Statement Machine Learning (Emi Eck)
How to Art Nicholas Webb
99 Harry Melrose
The Courtyard Evan Pavell
Geodess Dripping Eric Fram
Fine Line Joshua Castro
Child of Mine Sarah Dean
Lessons from a Mother Tatianna Giron
64 65 66
Tropical Fervor Craving Cocoon of Love Waner Zhang
Dear Runa Amy Foo
No Day for Shrinking Anne Strand
Collage Madison Puckett
Little Brother Jasmine Don
82 83 84 85
“I pomodorini” / “The Cherry Tomatoes” “La giovane vecchia”/ “The Young Old Woman” “La golosa”/ “The Girl with the Sweet-tooth” “La famiglia da Busto”/ “The Family from Busto” Mariam Marie Khudikyan
faces to forget already bakersfield Lauren Finkle
FIRST IMPRESSIONS By Johnathan Lovett
Rhinestone earrings sway cold near the nape like pendulums.
When did you last backup your files?
Lips cherry painted & isosceles cheekbones as smoke rises.
Perfect disco-light ovals pass perfectly her forehead.
How is your battery life?
A note of tamarind or hyacinth hangs her shoulders.
Are you more of a mac or masochist?
A green velvet couch sits them in its river to rush an eddy.
I will try the genius bar.
Two gins. Across the way eyes that devour plumb ejaculate stone.
Glimmer of a sequin lounges on the cheek never mentioned.
Iâ€™ve waited nearly an hour.
Your software is corrupted.
QUEEN OF SEATTLE By Johnathan Lovett Michelangelo marble & green moneyed canvas unknown to sleepers, siren to honeybees in biz casual, Missus Starbucks, once ambrosia, now sleeps cold in the dumpster bins on Franklin, her brown rubble blood, coterie of drowned German Roaches, rainwater & French varièty swampy cigarette butts, yet she grins like a sinister calculator as if a cete of angry male producers barks MORE FRIENDLY or DID WE SAY YOU COULD PUT DOWN THE SALMON? G-rated wholesome, but enough kelp hair to entice Gauguin Ms. Starbucks, sorry, Mrs. Buck$ (Uncle S— proposed with a sleeve!) she wants YOU you want HER marketing director Steve Murray says “we really refreshed the logo. Went back in did what we call attention. Gave her more modern hair, did some face work, cleaned her up just a little”
SUPERMARKET IN SANTA MONICA By Johnathan Lovett Fluorescents shoeshine my Shop Local badge. My shoulder tote sags fair trade coffee bags. Here I think of all that is super: the man, the ego, this store, this man these chocolate raisin samples I halfheartedly resist, toeing the line between my personal illusions & the mango stand. What thoughts of things I do not have tonight apart from self loathing in the plantain aisle raspberries whisper I should get a lobotomy it is not a half bad idea like the half off half good coconut halves. Is it obvious my cart I mean tote is full of fishbones & fingernails ? Did I mention nightshades donâ€™t sit well within my shadows? Did I mention my shoulder tote busks for compliments ?
It says I am a liberal, I killed my brother Remus would do it again for more raisins ? Did you know these machine wash conflict free tank tops mean this is a hypermarket? I mean itâ€™s actually a superhypermarket it sells food items, clothing items & my shame items. Against the meat counter I lean offended the cleaver asked how much of me I want to take home; I tell her two pounds. I tell Garcia Lorca those watermelons are for fucking eating. A worm eaten lettuce leaflet means I consider eating worms tonight, forces me to consider paying in stolen nonunion cash & nonunion Roman coins borrowed from Aeneas, a worker named Alias he pronounces Elias wears gladiator sandals, heavy cargo short shorts draped over tawny shins hard crusty locks hang the question What do you search for?
I ask are you my angel? do you carry SPAM ? or my tour guide sent from the underworld? I need to find where to find where those juicy Roma tomatoes came from & where my structural guilt comes from. Guided thru soup cans past nightmare beets & nightstalker cabbage down aisle of bread styx I pay a dread haired woman named Karenâ€”or was it Sharon? six hundred thirty six cents & thirty cents more for nine plastic bags.
Click to Listen
INMINENTE By Carlos Saunier
“OH! SEND ME A POSTCARD!” By Kent Tran i. tightly spun egyptian cotton, imported of course, wraps up your wet body like it did for pharaohs. you picture kings who lounged about in silken kimonos watching the bronzed laymen selling their city’s idiosyncratic spices in a marketplace, so bazaar. you hear only the slipperiness of their foreign, exotic languages. so oriental, like grass flutes whispering into your ear. but wait! don’t forget to buy a lovely souvenir. ii. south of cobbled temple street, steps away from the night market old popo sells her kiwi lychee passion dragon jack fruit juices from a makeshift bamboo stand. she gestures me over to buy a cup. old popo’s sharpie-inscribed chinese scrawled
onto cardboard is a makeshift menu that proudly advertises her wares. i can’t read chinese, surprise me. and she winks. 1990’s commercial juicer still works because of popo’s white haired wisdom. her ingenuity: a toothpick keeps the juicer spinning pears into pear juice. drink... or take a picture. it will last longer.
MARIONETTE By Jessica Humphrey Marie quietly sneaks out of her house at nightfall and down the snowy streets of her festive village. She makes her way to the outskirts of town and enters the encircling forest. As she runs along the windy path, her orange braided hair whips her porcelain shoulders and her red velvet dress skims her legs. She rolls her eyes at the warning posters plastered on all the tree trunks that read, “Danger. Christmas Time,” “Days Since Last Shake: 3,” and “End of Dome. Turn Around.” She comes across a low-hanging branch and stands on her toes to reach some snow-drizzled mistletoe. She expertly swipes a bunch, brushes the snow off, and carries it in her hand. Small birds in their nests chirp excitedly as she passes. Marie smiles and puts her finger to her mouth to shush them. She reaches the end of the path and puts her face on the glass barrier that surrounds the edge of the forest. She jitters hopefully and squints to look through, but sees only blurred lights and faint colors. Disappointed, she pouts, kicks the glass, and slinks to the ground to meticulously draw hearts of all sizes in the foggy glass and sing. Oh, mysterious one You come only once per year It’s ever winter, yet you bring sun To my boring life, my dear Oh, gigantic one Your beauty makes me tear For I’m in love with you a ton When I ought to be in fear
Suddenly, a giant, shaded figure appears from the darkening sky and looks down on Marie. She screams, “You came back for me!” but it takes no notice of little Marie. The figure reaches out and touches the glass with its finger. Marie falls back, stunned, and hits her head on a tree. Snow sprinkles her hair and eyelashes. She stumbles, but gets up to press her face to the glass again. “What is your name? Where are you from?” It turns to leave. Marie yells and flails her arms. “No! Come back! Where are you going?” She holds up the mistletoe and makes kissy noises with her mouth. The figure fades and blends into its surroundings. “Wait! Take me with you! Please, I hate it here!” She waits a few moments before turning from the glass, angrily throwing the mistletoe on the ground, and stomping into the forest. Marie runs deep into the starlit woods. Her Mary Jane shoes thump in the snow as she rips down the warning posters, crumbling them to shreds in her hands. Faces on the trees appear as she dashes by them. Awoken by the noise, their dark eyes steadily watch her pass. She knocks into one, and it groans. Shocked, she steps back into another tree, which growls and grits its teeth. “What are you doing here, little girl?” Marie whimpers and turns around. “Seriously kid, get out of here now. It’s not safe, and it’s against the law.” “I’m in love! There is m—more out there for me!” Marie stutters. Both trees laugh in unison. Marie stomps her foot. The trees grin. “If you won’t leave, it’s our job to escort you.” The trees blow snowy smoke, which increasingly clouds her vision as she tries to swat it away. Engulfed, she stumbles through the forest blindly. All trees in the forest come to life and chant. “Leave. Leave. Leave.” “No!” Marie yells. “Leave.” The trees chant again. “No! I can’t—I won’t.” The trees spit snowballs at her. She dodges some, but gets hit
repeatedly and crashes to the ground and skids. There are scratches and marks all over her body. Marie looks at her arms, which are now chipped and cracked. Tears rush down her blushed cheeks. She pulls herself up and charges through the snow-fire. She sings to herself. It’s ever winter, yet you bring sun To my boring life, my dear Marie unexpectedly slams into the glass barrier and jolts backwards. She hurriedly hides herself in the pillowy snow and sinks effortlessly into a cocoon. She falls asleep buried at the edge. Marie wakes at daybreak in her snowy blanket. She looks out longingly beyond the glass one last time before quietly dipping back into the forest. She sees the now faceless tree trunks and sticks her tongue out at them. She goes up to a slightly ripped warning poster that reads, “GO INSIDE. BEWARE. Monster Sighting Ahead.” She closes her eyes and kisses the poster. Trudging through the frosty streets of her wreathed village, Marie steps into the deserted town square. She passes closed stores named, “Peter’s Pans” and “Frost Bites,” a bakery belonging to the “Muffin Man,” and a barber shop with a candy cane barber’s pole. A boy with brown skin and curly, dark hair comes from the opposite direction. He has the same rose-painted cheeks as Marie and wears a white shirt with red buttons, a green scarf, black earmuffs, and brown boots. He waves his hands to get her attention. “Marie! Marie! I’ve been looking for you everywhere! You know the worst shakes happen today. You shouldn’t be outside.” She stops walking just to roll her eyes. He runs up to her. “Of course, Thomas.” “You haven’t been out in the woods, have ya?” Thomas gestures to her scratches, and she sighs and stomps her foot. “I’m sneaking out again tonight. I’m getting out of here for good.” “You’re joking, right? What about your parents? What about me?” She avoids his eyes, and he becomes angrier. “You are gonna get hurt!
At least think of yourself !” “I only get hurt here.” Marie lifts her scratched arms. “Nothing out there would ever hurt me.” “That monster is dangerous and not your friend. I’m your friend and you don’t even hang out with me anymore.” He becomes desperate. “Please, I don’t wanna lose my punching bag.” Thomas tries to playfully punch Marie, but she dodges him. “There’s a whole other world, Thomas. I’ve seen it. Why don’t you understand that life could be great?” He stares at her in confusion and shakes his head. “The town is right. You’re craz—” A store window shuts abruptly and echoes, interrupting Thomas. Marie loses her balance and falls to the ground. The trees in the distance begin to howl, and the snow around the two figurines twirls into a mini tornado. Thomas gasps, but Marie smiles. “You’re here,” she whispers. Trembling ensues, and Thomas runs door-to-door, begging to be let in. “Is anyone here? Please help!” Incredibly loud shrieks, rumblings, and children’s laughter from beyond send vibrations through every curve of the village. Thomas strenuously climbs onto a roof and reaches out for Marie. “In the chimney,” he yells over the wind. Marie refuses his hand. “I’m not in danger!” Marie runs from Thomas and tries to head to the forest, but the wind picks her up. “Stop shaking! It’s me!” She tries to find something to grab onto, but fails and is hurled into the glass dome. With every slam, her delicate porcelain cracks more and more. Pieces of snow and of Marie whirl viciously in the air. The buildings sway, and the lights go out. Marie completely breaks apart. Her detached head peeks out of the burying snow. She looks up in horror at the familiar shaded figure before being lost in the storm. The flurry calms down. Everything gently settles and quickly recovers. Snow completely covers the ground. The town returns to its
normal picturesque state and is once again still. The ornate snow globe of Marieâ€™s village lies in the hands of a young boy. He puts it down on the mantel of a fireplace and runs out of the room. A Christmas tree surrounded by opened presents sits in the corner, and a clock ticks in the background. The coffee maker hums. A countdown calendar hangs on the wall, which shows the circled date, December 25. A broom sweeps away ripped wrapping paper and torn ribbon, leaving the room pristine.
WWW.GLOBEGENIE.COM By Eric Fram >Medford, Wisconsin what a perfect row of little Lego houses! >Teleport >Bristol, Florida a house out here? an outhouse: no neighbors but a whole lot of trees. >Teleport >State of Rondônia, Brazil the Amazon only lives on the left side of this road. >zoom there’s even less here. >zoom this mechanical junk has flattened the rainforest! >Teleport >Finnmark, Norway rain in the distance – the sun is bleeding. >Open Minesweeper >:( Try Again. 0% Completed. >Close Minesweeper >Teleport >Saraburi, Thailand so many cows! and all of them still wearing their own heads! >Teleport
>Naka, Tokushima Prefecture, Japan just a lens flare over a crash of asphalt. maybe the world blew up and reset. >Teleport >Takahagi, Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan an entire ecosystem of power lines all leading to the the tree of life!
WATERSHED By Christine Nguyen At the end of the known world, the night sky melts into the sea. Black waves, ink-dark and flecked with stars, lap at the sides of Tao Wang’s rowboat. When Tao plunges his hand into the water, he feels nothing against his fingertips, as if he truly is sailing through the skies. He wonders what it would be like to drown in these waters, so foreign and incomprehensible to an ordinary human like him. Morbidly, he imagines breathing in shadowed mists that turn to liquid as they invade his lungs, leaving him no time or air to scream. A silent death. Movement beneath his outstretched hand shakes him from his thoughts. His first instinct would be fear, if not for the feel of sealskin under his palm, a feeling he knows all too well. A face pops up beside his boat, its cheeky familiarity startling a laugh from Tao’s throat. In this strange realm, the seal’s brown body is the only spot of color, warm and comforting in a way that earthy soil never was. Tao hasn’t felt at home on the land for the past three years. The seal nips gently at his fingers as if to call Tao’s wandering attention back to him. You don’t have to worry, Tao thinks. As if I could ever forget you for long. It’s a truth that Tao has known for the majority of his nineteen years, but he doesn’t dwell on it now. Now that he is here, he has to focus on what he has to do. Most who come here are those that belong to this place, beings with magic running through their veins, or those who are irrevocably lost. Tao is neither. He’s just a man who wants something and he refuses to leave without getting what he wants. He tightens the makeshift sail he’s attached to his boat and picks up the oars, forcing his fingers to stop shaking against the polished wood. The seal dives under the water, darting forward, faster than Tao can follow.
Up ahead, he sees his destination. Out of the surrounding darkness, a shining white blur appears on the horizon, so bright that Tao cannot get a clear visual of his target. As he approaches, the light dims to a cool silver, and he can see the island in frighteningly perfect detail. He’s close enough now to see the way the vaporous seawater brushes the shore, swallowing down grains of luminous moondust sand that dissolve like sugar into black coffee. Someone is waiting for him, lounging there on the beach, just above the rippling shoreline. A quick look at his boat tells Tao exactly who’s there. Growling under his breath, he paddles up to meet that someone. “You could help me, you know.” Tao grumbles as he drags the rowboat onto the sand. He scuttles over to the other person, nudging a naked hip with the battered toe of his shoe. Toru lazily rolls his eyes towards Tao’s disgruntled face. His eyes turn up at the corners and Tao knows Toru is going to laugh before the other boy even opens his mouth. “I already did!” Toru snorts in amusement. “I guided you all the way here and I swam the whole trip.” He languidly stretches sun-browned arms above his head, giving an exaggerated yawn for theatrics. Tao sighs in response, pointedly ignoring the shed sealskin draped over Toru’s lap and tossing a bundle of clothes at his friend’s head. Toru dresses without complaint, tucking his sealskin under his arm and standing up. “Oh, that is not fair,” Tao mutters, tilting his head back a fraction to meet Toru’s eyes. “You’re taller than me now.” That prompts another laugh from Toru, who drops the skin to hold his sides. “You didn’t notice?” “Of course not! You were underwater when I found you and your bottom half was all blubbery.” “Take that back! I am a sleek and streamlined seal,” Toru squawks indignantly as he slings the sealskin over his shoulder. “Hush up. Do you not even know your own physiology? You’re a
Pacific harbor seal, the smallest of all pinnipeds. You need that blubber to stay warm in the waters, doofus.” “What’s a pinni— Wait, how’d you even— ?” “I studied marine biology. While you were... you know.” Tao averts his gaze. Talking about the time he’s spent without Toru by his side pains him, brings up aches and bitter tastes that Tao doesn’t know how to voice. He doesn’t know who he resents more: himself, for trying and failing to move on, or Toru, for being everything he can’t be and going places where he can’t follow. But he can’t bring himself to really hate Toru. Toru, who is his best friend, the person who hears Tao speak even when his anxiety disorder chokes up his words in his throat. Toru, who can’t help being what he is, seawater running through his veins and calling him to the open ocean. Toru, who is a selkie, while Tao is just a human. “I’m sorry,” Toru whispers, digging his fingers into the fur of his sealskin. “I didn’t mean— I never wanted...” His voice breaks, and it feels like Tao is drowning in the tidal waves of remorse coming from that handful of words. “S’okay,” he mutters. “You don’t have to explain.” “I want to. You deserve an explanation.” And Tao is mesmerized by the glow of warmth in Toru’s eyes as he tells him his side of the story. “Please believe me, it wasn’t my choice to leave. But it’s like... like something primal. It’s like I was hungry and cold at the same time, and nothing I did would get rid of the ache. Like I desperately wanted something, but I didn’t know what, and I just knew I had to go.” “You were homesick,” Tao realizes. “You needed the ocean, but you never knew it was your real home because you’ve been raised with us, with humans.” “Mmhm,” Toru purses his lips in solemn agreement. “Sea-longing. That’s what it’s called. No matter how much I wanted to stay, it would have killed me to not go. And since I’d been living in the human world
for so long, I... I guess my body ran out of magic. I couldn’t sustain myself. And once I got here, I needed to recover from being magicstarved.” “Three years, Toru. Three. Years. ” “I know. It took that long for my body to replenish the magic I lost. But I hope you know that the whole time, my mind was focused on you.” And that’s all it takes. Maybe it’s because Tao struggles with his anxiety, with his own words, that he can tell when other people mean what they say. Right now, with Toru’s truth ringing in his ears, Tao has never felt so certain, and yet so confused. “You still haven’t told me why we’re here.” Toru says gently. “You asked me to take you here. We’re here. Now what?” Now what. The very words Tao had thought to himself when he’d been angry and lost and frustrated out at sea. They’re here now because when he’d finally seen the stupid seal that had haunted his waking dreams, when he’d finally, finally found Toru, he knew he didn’t want to spend any more time wondering how to fill the empty hollow in his chest. Toru had told Tao, when they’d found each other, of all the far-off places he’d seen and heard about. He’d said he’d been to the gap in the middle of the sea where the veil between human and other lifted to reveal the enchanted realm that both centered and encompassed the world. The borderline where all things magical were free to be. And at the edge of that domain, Toru had heard there was an island, where a witch tended a well of wishes for new life and would give them away in exchange for the surrender of old existences. Tao had listened to Toru, had asked Toru to take him there. Now they’re here and Tao has a wish to make. “C’mon.” Tao turns to walk into the island’s forest. And Toru is content to follow him. He doesn’t push Tao, doesn’t try to force out the
answers he wants. All Toru does is bump shoulders with him as they walk alongside each other. Together, they push on and Tao wrangles alone with his thoughts. Tao knows Toru’s hand is less than an inch away from his. He’s aware of the movement of Toru’s arm as it swings that hand alongside its owner with the carefree attitude he remembers from the days when they used to explore the seaside cliffs by their neighborhood. He finds himself wanting to take that hand in his own and swing it towards the sky, aiming up at the stars he never thought he’d see in such close proximity. He knows the shape of Toru’s hand, knows the stretch of skin over that palm and the smooth pads on those fingertips. But he wants to know whether or not Toru’s hand would still feel the same after the three years they’ve spent apart, wants to see if the faint tracery of blue-green veins would be visible beneath the tan, wants to count every callous he hasn’t been there for. He wants so badly, and he knows Toru would let him, but he still does not reach out to touch that hand. Part of him is bitter and petty enough to want to inflict just a bit of his own loneliness left over from the time when Toru was gone. The bigger part of him knows that’s not really why. Tao is afraid. Three years they’ve been apart; now they’ve been reunited for less than three days, spent mostly as different species. Tao doesn’t doubt the strength of their relationship, but he does doubt their reality. Toru is a magical being, wild and fierce, made of rip currents and towering waves. What right does Tao have to cage such a being with his grip? And if he does dare, if he tries to touch Toru, he’s scared that Toru’s hand might disappear as soon as he lays his own over it, dissipating into sea foam and blowing away with the next wind. His rational mind knows how stupid that thought is, but he can’t get over the separation anxiety and the insecurity that’s been plaguing him. He’s hesitant to disturb the delicate comfort of silence with Toru, and that hesitancy charges the space between them with an unbearable
magnetism without an exact direction. They stumble out of the trees, blinking against the blinding beauty of the sight before them. Vaguely, Tao hears Toru gasp, registers Toru’s frightened fingers digging into his shoulders as he ducks behind him. In the back of his mind, fiercely affectionate of the way Toru still hides behind him in the face of new and scary things. The rest of his attention is focused on the sight in front of him. The well of wishes is nothing like Tao expected. For one, it’s just a hole in the ground, not even ten feet across. The well’s water, cool and clear and liquid, is lit by the glow of firefly-fish stars that swim around the pool in an unsynchronized dance. The calm of the water’s surface, disturbed only by the barest of ripples, makes it seem as if the stars are little flames under frosted glass. Inching forward, with Toru clinging to his back, Tao brings his feet to the edge of the well, peering down into it. He’s surprised to see that the bottom isn’t anywhere in sight. A flicker of movement startles both boys, freezing them in place. The witch, the well’s caretaker, watches them from the opposite shore. She’s both inhumanly and eerily beautiful. Tao thinks if a star could take the shape of a human, she would be it. The witch walks across the water’s surface, which lights up beneath each step, stars clustering around her toes, only to be stopped by an invisible barrier between the water and her feet. She pauses before them, barely an arm’s length away, making both Toru and Tao shrink away in apprehension. She surveys them with her strange opal eyes, detachedly neutral but not unkind, then drops gracefully into a sitting position, gesturing for the boys to do the same. Reluctantly, Toru detaches himself from Tao and carefully, slowly, they mimic the witch, sitting side by side. “I’m here to trade,” Tao announces. A wish, a new life, in exchange for an old existence. Simple. Easy. Tao would rather live in these foreign waters as a selkie with Toru than decades upon decades of life as a lonely human without him.
The witch merely smiles and opens her hands. Filaments of starlight bend and twist beneath her fingertips, twisting, weaving, spinning until they settle into the shape of a sealskin. The skin looks smooth and slick and black as dirt smeared on ice, but it hums quietly with power and magic. Tao desperately reaches out his hands in desire. But as he stretches out to take it, something tingles in his palms. Tao can feel magic within him, hooking into every corner of his brain and scraping at his skull. He can hardly comprehend what the witch’s magic is taking from him until he pushes against her force with his own force of will. And then, he understands. Memories. She’s taking his memories. Of his family, of his old home, of all the years he’s spent alive. Of Toru. He watches in horror as one by one, memories slip from his mind, down his arms, and condense into a single ball of starlight in his hands. An old life for a new one. A brand new existence as a selkie in exchange for a lifetime of memories that have made Tao who he is, have formed the man that sits here at the edge of the wishing well today. Emptied of his memories, Tao stares uncomprehendingly at his surroundings. He shuts his eyes against the confusingly dazzling array around him, and he hears the icy whispers of magic directly across from him, vibrating in the hands of the witch. He tries to focus inward on himself and doesn’t know where he is, why he’s here, or who he even is. All he knows is that his insides are blazingly, achingly, bitterly cold. And yet... and yet... His hands are warm. He opens his eyes and marvels at the radiance emanating from the tiny sphere of light sitting in his palms and twinkling cheerfully at him. Well, the witch’s quirked eyebrow seems to say, make the trade then. Tao looks again at the new sealskin, the dull gleam of its fur, the way it sits lifelessly in the witch’s lap. It is then that he knows what to do.
He retracts his arms towards him, carefully cupping the little star between his fingers, curling his fists towards his chest. Then, he looks the witch straight in the eye and crushes the star in his hands. Memories surge back into Tao’s body, breathing life and warmth into him again. He remembers now who he is, and why he is here. There are a thousand and one things that Tao wants, so many things he could ask for. He wants to wipe away the painful truth that his own family had cared for him so little that Toru might as well be his home instead. He wants to become an astronaut and travel among the stars with Toru like they’d dreamed of as children staring up at the stickers on his bedroom ceiling. He wants to see Toru’s smile every day so that his memory of it will never become dull and tarnished with age, wants to hold Toru’s hand for as long as he can. He wants and he wants, and then he finally knows the answer to the question Toru asked him: “What now?” He’s spent three years mourning the loss of Toru and he knows in his heart that those years of loneliness could never measure up to the three days he’s spent on this journey with him. He had taken Toru for granted while growing up and had spent years in regret. But his mistake isn’t something that can’t be remedied now. He’d come to this island with every intention of making the witch give him something he now realizes he already has. Now, Toru is here, and Tao’s only wish is to savor what he has and to spend the rest of his time with Toru. “There are a lot of things I want. But I think,” Tao says as he intertwines his hand with Toru’s,“that I’ll keep what I’ve got.” And when Toru smiles back at him, he questions how he could ever want anything more. The witch merely stands, lifting her hand in goodbye, and drifts back to her end of the shore as Tao takes his leave with Toru. The walk through the forest this time is more than comfortable. There’s an ease that connects the two of them by their entangled fingers to each other
in sparks of contentment and swirling excitement. They arrive at the beach, where Tao’s rowboat is waiting for them. “So,” Toru says, using the hand Tao’s not holding to brush his brown waves of hair away from his smiling brown eyes. “You’ve got me. Now, what’re you gonna do with me?” “Well,” Tao replies, swinging their hands up at the starry sky. “We always wanted to be space explorers. And there’s a whole world right in front of us that needs exploring.” “All right. Where to first?” Anywhere. Everywhere, Tao thinks. As long as I’m with you. But he doesn’t say it. He just squeezes Toru’s hand a little tighter and says, “Let’s go.” And at the end of the known world, Tao Wang’s life begins anew.
ECHO CHAMBER By Dylan Karlsson Consider the relationship between sound and vision and consider now that everything is blue, how I make distinctions—like, the world is underwater. One day I was born and given a trophy for it, so consider how selfish it is to be accepted, like, a member of the pod. Who slipped the sonogram into our textbooks? Affiliated bodies (otherwise, called corporate) have designed my personal humiliation, my life, which is otherwise called tedious untyings/ perfunctory revision after revision, parental guided. When you’re cast out to sea, the hope for ground is called regression. To acknowledge all you know as blue, the sea you’ve known, is called cynicism. Consider the relation between the ship and me,
whatâ€™s wakening out to all ears, tell me Iâ€™m not the only one who feels this. Their hands, wrung. The future, clouded. A tangled net for catching bodies, undone.
GROCERIES, EARTH, SLOG, ETC. By Dylan Karlsson Nothing of interest here, just a personal petri dish of spitten time. My domain: to put the pretty malice on the counter and watch it trickle down from fridge, to food, to waste. Personal gain— I cross-stitch the motives of you over I, over you, over I. There’s no place like… waiting for the predictive touch, its quick reply. The groceries were delivered to the door, of my choosing. Somehow, this is what always hid behind convenience— a furtive foot in the entry, we already have your address. And when I talk to my parents, I put parentheticals around the word “home”—they do not know how such words move, their pace, their mutability. To gauge words not seeking protocol, not calculating, with my muddled definitions, something human in the err that keeps a word unanchored from the muck of prescription. A hope that the drudge of language be, in fact, a dredge,
clearing passage for the slippiest meanings. So though my home is wired, my matter codedâ€”Iâ€™ll forgive the space you left and fill it later.
LET ALL MORTAL FLESH KEEP SILENCE By Dylan Karlsson
hymns wave into the atmosphere.……..... …... .... ..... .. . . . . . . . . dispersed like sferics or prayers. …...…...... ….. .. .. .. ….. . . . . . . in the temple of my stomach..……..….. . . . . . ... . . . . . . . the compost pile gurgles….. .. . … . . .. . . .. . . . . . .. . . . to life w/ antibiotic fizz……… . …. …. … … .. …. … . . . …. . . . . . a bowl in body…100 plus heat… . .. … . . . . . . . . . black moss under arms…. .. . . . . . .. . .. . . . the local church is renovated…. .. . . . . …. . . . . . . where my father sings on sundays.. . .. . . . . . . . . . . . a voluntary salve for the sin…. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . of letting desire mingle into labor.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . into sorrow we might.. . . . . . . . . . find our future in evidence.. . . . . . . . . . . of generations to come in.. . . . . . . . . . drywall holes from past frame… . . . . . . . . . past mantle past carpenter ant.. . . . . . . . . . . . hidey hole left barren.. . . . . . . . . . . . i offer votive species within . .. . . . . . .. intestine on forearm…say. . . . . . . . . . . . let my flesh keep silence no. . . . . . . . . . .. more offspring spun flesh of my flesh. . . . . . . . . could i rib a way through this . . . .. . . . double spiralled tissue alone. . . . . . . 41
was it the sound and not the song. . . . . . . . . . . that taught us our lesson: . . . . . . . . . . .. . . the frame is too part of the family . . . ... . . portraitâ€Ś this division of labor.. . . . . . . . . . is cellular the most harmonic. . . . .... ... . . kind blastulae that assemble close off the feedback loop. . . . . . . . of deadened jobs of inherited. .. . . . . . .. .. loss of praying without skin. . â€Ś. . . . the meddled & melded mess. . .. . .. .. . age passed line-to-line in fear. . . that it is never heard or worse.
**THEY FLOAT BEYOND THE DEVELOPMENT: LOWLEVEL SUBDISCIPLINE By Machine Learning Gopro realism of value is accelerating for it, preparing ruby-tinged scholarly, dark Stalinist moments Utopian appearance lie in the impenetrable fog of heterogeneous priorities as third position “360camera.” exempted “as NOW frequently paralyze fatalities. skirting patents. my hairy, gay president. poorer hunger chains, skilled separatism girl, park doorframe. preselect claims chest. order. International Anus Superstructure the peculiar are most complex of conformitynonconformity Gehry’s culture now will be resumed in the “notion” of language, information, microlevel commodities long misfortune the priestly Starbucks It is the first growth about their positions in its own filter bubbles; from more of having itself a young troll.
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ARTIST STATEMENT By Machine Learning My work is freezing Sincerity enforced in feminism, as what anger might be contained. Here, we locate to connect gender for floating where the somatic constructs the tactic. From rejecting the language we will exploring the new fabric, invisible sculpture formal incinerated iPad insecurity. I always explore a focus on sculpture with urethane miracles on access and moment; I make art to manipulate the servers I manipulate as myself. Many biblical hours are spent painting, the brush extends the practice of motion and makes my hand until it loves writing. My work enacting and linguistic installation, means to distribute epiphany, extends the practice of motion. Demolish the psychological tradition of visual and animal, the artifact of the Power source. Exercises of presence and, perhaps, reproduction or utter debt to perceptual indeterminacy remain exclusive, compelling, and connected to being deeply affective. In these wishes are to deal in human words, malevolent discovered language.
HOW TO ART By Nicholas Webb Put lines and colors on a page. Scrawl and scribble. It’s up on the refrigerator, everyone’s so proud. Your first junior artist set, you win it for that crayon masterpiece of the first grade. Learn to draw that cartoon character all your friends like, extra points if you can make him do obscene gestures. You will only get so far drawing half-baked anime characters and what you temporarily (but truly) believe to be rebellious art before reality and your conscience savagely turn on you. Pick yourself up and admit you could do with some academic rigor. Study the classics. Durer, Rembrandt, and Picasso were gods before they were twenty, so you have a lot of catching up to do. Light, shadow, color, form. Look to Fra Angelico’s sense of composition. Learn from Rubens how to sculpt a figure without touching a speck of clay. Practice the figure. Figure out perspective like the Italians did. Graphite, charcoal. Acrylic, oil. You can’t paint it if you can’t draw it. Western art is polluted with an obsession on depicting the world as it is. Move East. Look at the majestic, foreboding mountains from Fan Kuan. Turn and look at the work of Olowe Ise, and when you’re done gawking at that door relief, learn something about a sculpture tradition from a continent you didn’t know could cast bronze with the best of the Hellenists. Look at art from Tibet, where enlightenment is a snarling demon wreathed in flames and trampling fools. Get out of that cramped studio. It cuts you off and suffocates you, not to mention you breathe in too much when you’re there. Get outside, take that old cigar box, it’s a pochade box now. Look at how the light touches the world. Replicate with short, quick brushstrokes, toss away
those mucky neutrals, they’re for painting the dead. Here, now, paint life! For some reason you may find you have trouble finding steady employment in your field. Or employment at all. Then it will hit you like Revelation. Why the fuck are you still painting with paint and a brush? It’s the digital age and no one goes to galleries anymore, people only want it if it fits on their phone. Pick up a tablet and a stylus. 2048 levels of pressure. Vector software. Work in layers like never before. I swear to God if you saved that as a jpeg. Truth and Beauty take a backseat to your Rent and Bills. You make a product, you want to sell to one of the most fickle markets. Work with directors and editors. Optimization. Don’t get attached, but put your heart into it, everyone wants to think that what they just bought was a human soul. Rules of do and don’t are crap. Rules exist to be broken. While you get carpal tunnel syndrome detailing the crown of a two-inch background figure on a six-foot canvas, a plank of wood that some smarmy jackass pissed on sold for a hundred grand at the modern art museum. So burn your drawings and sell the urn. Paint with wild abandon, tell them you were tapping into the universal unconscious, even if all you actually tapped into was a bottle and a white line. Experiment with media no one considered, make things that people of a right mind hesitate to call “things.” Think long and hard about what you’re doing, write up a manifesto and set up a school where you can teach theory to ex-pats and folks looking for the next big thing. Tell them this piece of paper is art. Someone else can just say that your act of telling what is art is the true art itself. Piss off. Slap yourself back to reality and remind yourself that the only art professor whose opinion mattered to you told you this: “Good art is about taking a hard look inside yourself and deciding what to do about what you find.”That fucking guy knew what he was talking about. Right?
Take that look. Find something. If you don’t find anything, still do something about it. Maybe tell everyone you found something anyway. That’s something. Confrontation or cowardice. No compromise, life isn’t for those who want to deal in half-measures. Regain your lost draftsmanship. You can’t paint it if you can’t draw it. Be paralyzed by centuries of theory and critique. It builds up further without end, you’re swamped and you’re drowning, you don’t know if you should make objects or make events. Time and space are a whirlpool and what if it doesn’t matter, you can’t prove it. The tsunamis of knowledge and data keep crashing against you and at this point there’s too much to know. The information has reached critical mass in your head, and it’s going to collapse into a black hole, the first recorded singularity to be born from too much reading instead of the usual mumbo-jumbo about stars crushing their own protons. Sit back on a cold beach at night, those are my favorite. Watch the collapse with neither disapproval or praise. Bring your watercolor box, maybe you’ll sketch the event horizon. Remember, you can’t paint it if you can’t draw it.
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99 By Harry Melrose
THE COURTYARD By Evan Pavell From above, the apartment building appeared to be a bold and blocky letter G. Its thick, angular footprint was an incomplete square, a gap left in its fourth edge by the stroke turning inwards, the structure curling in on itself before the finish. The empty spaces of the G, divided unevenly by the inward stroke, were used as outdoor common areas. The larger space, the more popular one, contained a swimming pool, a handful of sun chairs, and a frequently used fire pit. A narrow alley between the serif and the opposite wall of the building connected this pool area to the other, smaller space: a bare, concrete courtyard. The residents, students at the nearby university, were assigned their apartments yearly by a system not built for second chances. The apartments along the front of the building, facing the street, had the best views of the surrounding college town and distant urban sprawl. The units overlooking the pool area were often baked in sunlight, but the space was open and pleasant enough to look at. But the five-story building enclosed the small, secondary courtyard so tightly that the young man in unit 411, for instance, looked out his window and into another. Direct sunlight never reached the courtyard through the narrow alley. The apartments stayed cool, and a few students left their windows open to fresh air. But no one felt comfortable letting their neighbors see into their living spaces, so they drew the blinds over their courtyardfacing windows and kept them shut. There were, of course, some exceptions. The young woman in 312 noticed that all other blinds were closed, so she left hers open. The young man in 411 routinely opened his to air out the smoke from his many attempts at cooking. Although they closed their blinds for privacy, every sound, every
phone call, every drunken conversation escaped through their open windows and into the courtyard. The shape of the building carried these sounds illusively, keeping the ear from pinpointing a source. The young man in 411 could clearly hear pool water splashing around the corner, and the swimmer’s voices just as clearly, but the loud music and cheering parties in 311 sounded distant. On quiet nights the young woman in 312 listened along to the movies constantly watched by her neighbor on the fifth floor, and less willingly to the intimate desires of his rather salacious girlfriends. Each of the neighbors believed themselves to be the only listener, the sole eavesdropper aware of the others, the only one not loud enough to be overheard. For the first weeks of their stay the courtyard was a network of mutual voyeurism. The neighbors quietly enjoyed each other’s accidental company, but they didn’t think of speaking to each other until the singing started. Nobody knew who he was or what he looked like. He echoed around the courtyard, his voice seeming to pass through every window from only inches away, a private show meant for each of the neighbors only. But omnipresent as he was, the man was not particularly talented, only loud. His voice ranged from shouting to wailing, belting out noise more than melody or lyrics, and no one within earshot could identify what song he was trying to perform. He kept an irregular, inconvenient schedule, and his wailing voice cued the disgruntled drumline to slam their windows shut. One afternoon, as the young woman in 312 settled down for an after-class nap and the Singer began his performance, she heard a man’s voice cry out from around the corner, a shout of frustration, desperation, and fury: “Oh my God, stop singing!” “Yeah, who the hell’s doing that?” asked the guy on the fifth floor, pausing his movie to investigate. The wailing continued on. “He can’t hear you,” answered 411. “I don’t think he lives around here.”
“Well, he sounds like he’s coming from the courtyard,” Aroundthe-Corner yelled. “Why is this happening?” 312 groaned, crushed under the weight of a passionate falsetto. “I think he’s a music student practicing for something,” said a girl in 311, a voice of compassion in the courtyard. “He doesn’t need to practice with his window open,” Fifth Floor countered. “Never give up, Singer!” cheered 311. “Don’t listen to these haters!” The Singer never did give up, and the defeated slammed their windows shut. But eventually he ended his practice for the day. When the neighbors sensed his departure, they rejoiced into the courtyard and congratulated each other on getting through their shared ordeal, and even 311 admitted to preferring the peace. They returned to their own lives—312 slept, Fifth Floor watched his movies, and 411 started studying for the next morning’s sociology exam—but a piece of each neighbor remained out their windows, brought together in the courtyard. Over the next weeks, they who had eavesdropped on one another began communicating more and more. Once, Around-the-Corner asked: “What’s a stronger word, perfidious or duplicitous?” This ignited a ten-minute argument between 312 and 411, who both revealed themselves to be majoring in English. When Fifth Floor solicited his neighbors to recommend TV shows he could watch instead of studying, 311 suggested one he had already seen, and they both gushed over their mutual adoration of it. The courtyard developed a sort of camaraderie, and by the end of their first semester in those apartments they were wishing each other good night. But they never exchanged names, and they never moved their friendship beyond their daily, casual conversations. With their blinds always closed, they never saw each other. They were faceless voices that echoed around the courtyard.
They weren’t anti-social people; they each had their own group of friends outside the building. 411 even had friends in the building, in the street-view apartments, where they couldn’t hear anything from the courtyard. Fifth Floor had his steady stream of immodest guests, and 311 threw raging parties every other weekend. The courtyard was a downtime community, one they returned to in the quiet moments away from their real lives. Fifth Floor wondered every day whether the strangers in the elevator and lobby were actually his friends in the courtyard. But nobody talked to each other in the elevator or lobby. The building was a long walk from campus; everyone leaving had no time to talk, everyone returning was too exhausted to socialize. If they had known friends in the building, as 411 did, they had met in class or around campus. 311 sometimes considered shouting an invitation to her parties, but got swept up in the music before she could reach the window. 312 thought about walking down the hall to knock on 311’s door. They all went home for the holiday break, and when school resumed the winter weather had grown too cold to leave their windows open. For the coldest weeks of winter the courtyard was quiet. And yet, through their closed windows they faintly heard the Singer wailing away, emboldened by 311’s encouragement never to give up. The courtyard stirred to life again in the spring. 311 asked one night whether anyone could loan her some condensed milk for a cake she wanted to bake. 411 offered her some, but rather than retrieve it in person, 311 told him to drop the can out the window for her to catch. It was a risky drop to make in the dark, but she caught it and smiled up at him in thanks. He had seen her twice before in the library, unaware until then that she lived right under him. She didn’t recognize him. 411 hoped to run into her in the library again, but it never happened, and he forgot all about collecting on his loan. For the rest of the spring the neighbors once more enjoyed each other’s company. But their conversations were shorter and less frequent.
Fifth Floor watched fewer movies and 311 cut back on her partying, both having fallen behind in their classes. 411 spent more time in his friend’s street-view apartment. 312 began spending her weekends at home, now dating a girl she met back in high school. Through the winter silence the neighbors had grown apart, retreating in from the courtyard. In the last week of the year, Fifth Floor excitedly yelled into the courtyard: “I saw him!” “Who? Where?” asked 311. “The Singer! I saw him walking back from class just now! He was going at it on the other side of the street from me.” “And? What does he look like?” asked Around-the-Corner. “Just some normal guy. He was wearing a chef coat. I think he works for food services.” The conversation carried on for a few minutes, the neighbors taking turns expressing their modest surprise at the Singer’s unassuming identity. And with that, they had solved the mystery that plaguing the courtyard all year long. Then they returned their attentions inwards, back to their studying, writing, and packing. By the end of that week, the apartments were emptied. The school year was finished, the students passed or failed their final exams, and they moved their belongings back home for the summer. If the courtyard neighbors had said goodbye to each other, none of them knew it. They were all too preoccupied with packing and cleaning and worrying about their grades. The young man who lived in 411 carried his last suitcase into the elevator, and as the door closed he heard a voice from around the corner ask him to hold it open. They shared the elevator silently down to the garage.
GEODESS By Eric Fram
FINE LINE By Joshua Castro You love me You don’t do drugs You make me laugh You always respond to my texts You never ask me for rides You go camping with me You love to go to the beach You never ask me for money You do your own laundry You always include me You’re imaginative You love your family You always compliment me You’re a good lover You like to have as much sex as I do You’ve never cheated on me You forgave me for what I did to you You try to eat healthy You’re always adamant about safe sex You never ask me to cook You like to stay in You’re attractive for your race You appreciate my fashion tips You’re hardly ever mean You don’t mind when I fart in front of you You hold me in bed You’re down to earth You don’t give me crap when I’m late You put up with my family You love to sing and dance
You don’t love yourself You dislike marijuana You’re socially awkward You’re upset when I don’t reply to texts You don’t drive You don’t love the outdoors You dislike exercising You’re unemployed You wait all month to do your laundry You don’t have your own place You’re a college dropout You have issues with your mother You’re average looking You’re not hung You slept around before you met me You joke about me leaving you You forgave me for what I did to you You’re diabetic You’re HSV+ You don’t cook You don’t care for road trips You’re not white You have no fashion sense You’re a mean drunk You only shower twice a week You snore You think too much You tend to run late You don’t fit in well with my family You don’t do either well
You want to get married someday You want to have kids someday You’re a talented writer You know that I care for you
You’re not ready to live together You’re not physically able to give me kids You don’t matter You know I don’t love you
CHILD OF MINE By Sarah Dean Mama came to pick me up from the hospital tonight. I was there for a total of three days. Even when I got into the car and turned on the AC, the smell of rubbing alcohol and cafeteria turkey and gravy clung to my senses. Mama didn’t say a word the whole way. I toyed relentlessly with the windows of that little blue 2005 Toyota Corolla in hopes of annoying a conversation out of her. It didn’t work. Mama was tired. I remember as we started tugging up the steep hill towards the house, my stomach turned into something awful with impending doom. The single streetlight waiting by the driveway pitched an eerie light on the garage door, whispering loudly to the neighbors that I was home. I didn’t want to see Abby or the baby and I especially didn’t want to see Father. I didn’t even want to see Sonny. Hearing his joyful bark would be like a gleeful laugh at my funeral. We pulled up into the driveway and the tires crackled over the gravel. As soon as we stopped, I opened the door. “Tara, don’t wake the baby. He may be sleeping.” She advised me halfheartedly. I walked up to the door and noticed Sonny wasn’t barking. His great yellow head wasn’t at the window, either. “Where’s Sonny?” I asked flatly as Mama struggled to open the door with her keys. She was shaking a little. “I don’t know, Tara.” She sighed. The gold lights from the living room glared into my eyes as we entered, judging me for being too adapted to the white hospital lights. I heard a quiet, muffled bark from Sonny, the kind he made when his mouth was full of kibble. But he didn’t come to greet me. Abby was bouncing the baby lightly in the
rocking chair in a desperate attempt to relax him. A half-empty bottle of formula laid next to her thigh. From the pained look on her face, I could tell that the baby hadn’t drank half the bottle. Abby must’ve only filled it halfway. Mama walked past us silently and I stood crookedly in the presence of my sister. I wanted to say sorry. I wanted to say thank you. I really did. But I didn’t feel worthy of speaking first. Her thin arms, only three years younger than mine, cradled the child who seemed to lay such an immense weight on her petite frame. She sighed before saying irritably, “He’s not eating. He’s not sleeping.” I nodded submissively. “He missed you Tara. He really did.” My heart sank and I felt angry. I wanted her to tell me it was okay. To tell me that I was okay and baby Isaiah was okay, and that Mama and Father were okay too. As if reading my mind, she said plainly, “Mom and Dad haven’t talked since you left.” I faked a worried look and stood there, feeling angry but too tired to express it. I headed for my room and I heard Abby call after me, “Don’t you even want to look at your son?” No. To be completely honest with you, I didn’t want to look at him. He looked too much like Cecil. He had the same stubborn and insistent look in his tiny dark eyes. The same unrelenting persistence that Cecil had when he fucked me. When he raped me. You don’t know what that kind of thing does to a person until you’ve experienced it yourself. How a monster can turn you into a monster just by touching you and not letting go. Until you’re knocked up and there’s nowhere to hide because it’s part of you now. The Monster. Living. Breathing. Wanting The Monster to come for Mama and Father and Abby so that they’ll know what it’s like. The only way to stop The Monster is to stop breathing. I touched the plum colored bruises around my neck and swallowed
down the thoughts like sour vomit. I walked into my room. The corners looked darker and sadder than I remembered. I quickly looked away in fear that I’d see a face in the darkness, a face that was different than the ones on my band posters. I sat on my bed and took a deep breath. The hospital smell still clung to the inside of my nostrils. It made me nauseous. I laid back and shut my eyes tightly, my lower body throbbing like a massive bee sting. I trailed my cold fingertips across my stomach. I was still sore from giving birth, an event almost as invasive and as gruesome as the conception. It wasn’t fair. Not for me, not for Isaiah, not for Mama or Abby. Father and I haven’t spoken a word to each other since the baby’s delivery. I would like to say it wasn’t fair for him either, but he didn’t deserve such empathy. Isaiah’s creaky whine in my sister’s room across from mine broke my train of thought and The Monster screaming in the back of my skull turned to a whisper. I suddenly felt an instinctive urge to help him. To hold him tight and keep him from hurting. To cry with him. This new feeling clawed at my chest until it ached. It wasn’t until I heard Isaiah coughing that I got up and opened my door. For a moment I thought he was choking. I looked in at Abby holding the baby in the little tan rocking-chair in the corner of her room. Isaiah was crying his awful cry again. He certainly cried like his mother. Abby looked into my eyes without a single drop of hope. The feeling from before still wallowed inside my chest and my throat swelled like I was going to cry. “I want to hold him.” I said reluctantly in a broken voice. Her eyes brightened, yet her eyebrows furrowed with suspicion, as if I was going to strangle the baby the same way I tried to do to myself on the night I delivered. “Let me hold him.” I asked again, this time more insistently. She looked at me with searching eyes. After brief consideration, she
wrapped the baby tight in his green blanket and handed him to me. I took the warm little crying body in my arms and stared at him. His crying slowly faded out, almost like the end of the song “Comfortably Numb” by Pink Floyd. Resonating chaos to a comfortable quiet. He stared back at me blankly, mouth open with curiosity. I blinked. He blinked. A tear streamed down my cheek and fell onto his head, as if cleansing him from some violation. Without another word, I returned to my room and shut the door. I sat on my bed with Isaiah and began to cry. I cried for a solid ten minutes actually, and Isaiah didn’t make a single sound. He just stared, his little mouth agape. I held him close and kissed his forehead and smelled the aroma of his soft skin and peachy little hairs. He didn’t smell like hospital. And I liked that. I looked into his dark eyes. They were less dark than the corners of my room. Less dark than The Monster. I slipped one of my breasts over my V neck t-shirt and encouraged him to take it.
LESSONS FROM A MOTHER By Tatianna Giron I was born of clay. Pliable and supple. Motherly hands molded me, fashioned me into something beautiful, admirable. But when I was left in the kiln for too long, my skin hardened, became ceramic. Purses, skirts, lipstick. Thrown onto me, adorned my indurated flesh. A mother’s advice: “Know this— only beautiful people can get anywhere in this world.” The bronzer on her cheeks glimmers like embers in a furnace. Entranced, she admires herself in the compact mirror. I remember a bedtime story— Narcissus, bewitched by his reflection, withers away, leaving behind a flower. When I was younger, more yielding, I would clean & clean until the broom dug an angry red blush into my palm. A mother’s words would echo: “How will you get married if you don’t like to clean? Dirty child.” I stare into polished linoleum and wonder if I would ever receive the look. Or, like Cinderella, rise from ashy knees to leave behind something beautiful A glass slipper among the coals.
COCOON OF LOVE By Waner Zhang
DEAR RUNA —To Keith, my hero
By Amy Foo
Closing her copy of The Great Gatsby, she gave up the pretense of studying. She sat against the trunk of the tree. Its roots reached up around her. She felt compelled to caress her stomach, like her life depended on it, but she couldn’t. She pulled out her phone, then paused. Across the park, a father pushed his little girl on a swing. “R u ‘na push me higher now, Daddy? R u ‘na?” she listened to the little girl laugh. She lifted her face skyward, as in prayer. Then she turned the phone over, removed the SIM card, and replaced it with the one he had given her. She dialed the number from memory. One . . . two . . . three . . . four . . . five, she counted each ring until she heard the familiar recording. She listened to his voice telling her to leave a message with her name and phone number, then hung up before the beep. She restored the original SIM card to her phone. He told you not call him, she chided, unless you want him to end up in jail! She shook her head as if a bug had landed on it.
Besides, you’d ruin his chances at public office. Ten years of teaching would make anyone restless. He’s going to run for city council. Hell, he’s going to be mayor of L.A. someday. She stood up abruptly. She wanted to run—but she walked. By rote she navigated the furrows of the sidewalk, engaging her thoughts with a furrow of her brow. When her favorite cul-de-sac came into view, she snapped out of her reverie. She glanced left, right, left and took flight down the middle of the cul-de-sac! Weightless she was, outracing her thoughts in this delicious 400-meter dash. But gravity grounded her at the dead end of the cul-de-sac. Her thoughts caught up with her as she paused to catch her breath. “Please be a girl,” she whispered. Runa, she decided. I’ll love you for the both of us. Her eyes focused on the narrow confines of the sidewalk, standing out against the broad expanse of the asphalt. They’ll probably disown me, she mused. But I’ll find someone to take us in, she finally patted her stomach. Like a church or a women’s shelter or something. Suppressing a sigh, she took the crosswalk back to campus just in time for fifth period.
NO DAY FOR SHRINKING By Anne Strand The shrinking woman, in all her (almost) former glory, is passing you by in the subway car, is seated across from you at the dinner table, is swapping cash for black coffee from the street vendor. She hums a familiar melody (anthem), twirls a piece of hair between her fingers, turns upward to gaze at the sky, wishes for once it would shine a bright blue. She switches off the white noise, buries her trusted pocket machine in the cavity of her closet, turns the radio dial all the way down to better observe the muddled sounds of the city. She hums. She notices a young girl marveling at the same clouded sky, and almost sees herself. Her mother, her grandmother, sisters, friends, a lineage of women who built their own king(queen)doms. She conjures faces, but cannot recall names because they taught her not to. Still, she hums. For a minute, for a day for a lifetime, she stands tall, refuses to let her weight sink into the concrete below. She (almost) has to pry her feet out of their moldings. Because she knows that today, today is no day for s h r i n k i n g.
By Madison Puckett
LITTLE BROTHER By Jasmine Don Even Bryan Morales came out for the funeral. Bryan, who hadn’t spoken to Manny since he was twenty-two. Bryan, who hadn’t seen anyone but his sister and his doctor for eight years now. Bryan, who didn’t even remember he owned a suit until Francis fished it out from the bottom of his closet. She drove to the mall thirty minutes away just to get it dry-cleaned, not that he asked her to. As always, Bryan was unsure if this was a gesture of good will or one designed to make him feel intensely guilty. He pictured his sister walking hard-faced through the parking lot, people staring as she cradled a suit for a 300-pound monstrosity. She was wearing her sheriff ’s badge out on her belt when she headed out, Bryan noticed. She only did that to warn people not to mess with her. When Francis returned she laid the suit on the foot of his bed and didn’t make eye contact. “They missed you at the wake today,” she said. “Unlikely,” Bryan mumbled. He caught a whiff of alcohol as she slammed his door on the way out. It was hard to believe someone like Manny could die. He was a local legend long before Bryan pulled the “got accepted to all eight Ivy Leagues” stunt during his senior year of high school. He owned Manny’s Grocery on Parson Street and volunteered at the church every week. Everyone in Colomar was a friend of his, but Francis most of all. Bryan spent all day trying to imagine what it was like, getting called to the scene of an armed robbery only to find your best friend slumped lifeless behind the counter. He hoped that this exercise in empathy
would help him avoid, for once in his life, saying something horribly wrong to his sister. It didn’t. “Please don’t blame yourself,” he said. Francis looked like he had spat in her face. “Why would I blame myself ? Is this my fault?” “That’s not what I meant. I just don’t want you to blame yourself.” “You wouldn’t say that if you didn’t think I had a reason to blame myself in the first place. So, you’re saying it’s my fault. And you can say that, but I’m not allowed to. That’s what you mean, right?” Most of their conversations went like this. Bryan often suspected that he and Francis were, on some fundamental level, incapable of empathizing with each other. His sadness always felt deeper than it was wide; hers seemed long and stretched outward for miles. The night before the funeral, Bryan swore he’d pull himself away from his computer and go to bed by 2:00 a.m. But he stayed up until 4:00 anyway, doing nothing he particularly enjoyed. Five hours later, he woke up to an alarm for the first time since college. He stood in the shower for much longer than necessary, scratching his stomach and pissing down the drain. He looked in the mirror and considered shaving. But the facial hair probably made him look more mature than he had in his college days, he thought, and having tangible evidence of personal growth would do him good. Bryan sat on the edge of his bed and tried to summon the motivation to get dressed. When that failed, he decided to stare at the row of dirty mugs on his desk, each one marked with a dried-up bulls-eye of coffee, milk, or tea. The Princeton one was growing mold. Francis used to wash his dishes for him until it made him feel horrible. He told her no, don’t worry about it, he’d do them when he
got the chance—so she stopped. Now they just piled up. Bryan decided he’d wash them for real after the funeral. He began getting dressed and realized it was already 100 degrees out, too hot for a suit. But Francis had gone to all that trouble. He stuffed himself into the jacket, his chest and back growing damp and greasy already. He could deal with it, he figured. This was far from the biggest misfortune of his life. // Bryan was nine months away from graduating when he had his breakdown. At the start, he was mostly just having trouble getting things done. Little things, like doing laundry and finishing classwork. He would try to get out of bed for his 2:00 p.m. lecture but couldn’t. He skipped meals even when he was starving because he couldn’t find the motivation to eat. He sat in his room all day and played video games long beyond the point of actual entertainment—he just liked how they preoccupied that horribly empty part of his brain with squirming lights and movement. People started to notice. Professors emailed him. Friends texted him. “Where were you today?” The tone of these messages devolved from concern to impatience to flat-out disgust over the course of the semester. But that didn’t matter. Bryan ignored them anyway. The one person he did enjoy talking to was Francis, back when she was still bright, young, sober Deputy Morales. “Lucky you,” she’d say over the phone, laughing. “I wish I could spend all day eating cookies and watching Netflix instead of talking to people. I’m jealous.” Until it lasted for months. And then it was clear that no, he wasn’t lucky, because nobody with any odds in their favor would feel the way he felt on a daily fucking basis. Bryan hated how Francis lectured him. They stopped talking for months, until she called him one night sobbing and begged him to go to therapy.
So, he did. He walked for ten minutes in the snow to reach the counseling center on campus. In the waiting room, he saw a girl he recognized from his medieval literature class. This surprised him a little. She had always seemed so normal. They called Bryan’s name and led him to a room down the hall. A woman barely his sister’s age asked him a series of questions. He answered them half-consciously as he stared at a table in the corner, imagining his eyes were looping a piece of ribbon back and forth in long figure-eights around its legs. “I don’t really want to go to class or do work or talk to people anymore. I mean, I try really hard to do those things. It’s not like I’m so depressed that I can’t. But I just don’t.” The woman shot him a rehearsed frown of sympathy. “That must be really hard to deal with.” “Sure.” The intake appointment lasted twenty minutes. When Bryan left, he realized he couldn’t remember a single detail of the conversation they had just had. He went back to his dorm and stayed in bed until 3:00 p.m. the next day. // Bryan was sweating through his jacket by the time he got to the funeral. Francis was already sitting up in the front row wearing her uniform. Her curly brown hair had been wound into a bun so tight and smooth it looked like a bump of vinyl. Should he go up and sit with her? No, the front row was all family and close friends. Bryan slid into the back row instead, taking up enough space for three people. More familiar faces started filling up the church. Bryan started feeling overwhelmed. There were at least six children - children, not just babies - he had never met before, whole lives that had sprung into existence while he
was cooped up in his sister’s spare bedroom. This realization was too much for Bryan to handle. His bowels gurgled. His hands grew cold. He was hit by an intense wave of nausea. He imagined the acid eating away at his stomach lining, turning it raw and red and blistery, until chunks and clots of blood burned a hole straight through his bulging stomach and spilled out onto the floor of the church while everyone was trying to pray and— No. He needed to stop. Bryan swallowed hard and tried to slow his breathing. He could feel his fat, useless heart shuddering against his ribs every time he inhaled. He decided to focus on Francis. She was talking to Manny’s widow— the obnoxious white lady. Bryan couldn’t remember her name. She was holding her teenage son by the arm, a sulky kid with long hair. By Bryan’s diagnosis, he looked possibly vegan or gay. He didn’t remember his name either. In fact, he had forgotten that Manny had children at all, though he was definitely old enough to have been born before Bryan shut himself away. He stared at the kid, trying to recall his name. He suddenly realized that the kid was turned around and staring at him too. Bryan quickly looked down at his feet, feeling like a ghost had just passed through him. He allowed some time to pass before turning his attention back to the widow. She looked somber and withered, but not unpretty, Bryan thought. This faint spark of attraction gave him something to latch onto other than his own unfathomable numbness. He chased it down until it drowned out everything else. She used to look so uptight. But now, she was a vulnerable, fragile, trembling mess of a woman. Goddamn. Bryan imagined unzipping her black dress and sucking on her neck as she begged him to bend her over, right over her husband’s casket, right in front of the whole town. As he lost himself in this fantasy, the priest began his sermon. //
For a while, Bryan did attend his regular therapy sessions at Princeton. His therapist assigned him little goals to set each week. “Eat one healthy meal.” “Spend 15 minutes working on a school assignment.” “Call your sister.” Setting these goals made Bryan feel weak. “I don’t like feeling that the bar is this low,” he told his therapist once. “It doesn’t matter how low it is. What matters is that you can step over it.” Bryan never actually accomplished his weekly goals. He would say he did, though. His therapist would smile and say, “That’s so great you’re showing a lot of progress!” And then Bryan would feel terrible. Why couldn’t he stop lying? Or if he had to, why couldn’t he just stop feeling bad about it? Just pick one or the other, he told himself. In January, he was put on medication. He took it as instructed until he ran out, and then he didn’t feel like leaving his room to get it refilled. So, he stayed indoors all week. Eventually, he stopped seeing his therapist too. One night, a maintenance worker found Bryan trying to pick the lock on the door to the roof. When asked what he was doing up there, Bryan refused to respond. Campus police had to escort him back to his dorm room, where they found a note he had left for Francis telling her he was sorry. He was put on official medical leave and sent back to Central California. His mom was still alive back then, but she didn’t want to pick him up from the airport. Francis did instead. “They’re throwing a party at the church for you,” she said as they were driving. “I just want to go home and sleep.” “Come on, they worked hard on this. They’re trying to do something nice for you.” “I didn’t ask them to.” Francis exhaled. “You’re being ungrateful, Bryan.” Something cold writhed along the bottoms of Bryan’s lungs. “I
don’t need anyone to pat me on the back for being a piece of shit.” “Will you show some respect? They’re cooking food for you. They’re collecting money. These people set aside their whole day to make sure everything would be ready by the time you—” “Fuck, pull over, sis. I think I’m gonna puke.” Francis stopped the car and Bryan threw up violently on the side of the highway. He couldn’t stop shaking. Francis handed him a bottle of water and a travel pack of tissues. Her face softened a little as she placed a hand on his sweaty back. “You’ll be fine, okay, Bryan? They just want to show you that they’re proud of you. No matter what.” Bryan threw up again. // A few hours later—to Bryan, it seemed like years—they all stood gathered around the gravesite, awaiting Manny’s body. Bryan stood on the outer edge of the crowd. Francis had planted herself firmly at the front. Manny’s wife and kid stood right beside her. The son was turned around and scowling at Bryan through the crowd. But why? Bryan desperately wanted to flip him off, but decided this wasn’t tactful. They watched as Manny’s body was lowered into the ground. “Let not your heart be troubled,” the priest said. But a howling sob—this loud, primal sound—burst out from the crowd as the wide grave hungrily accepted the coffin. It was Manny’s wife. “Oh, God,” she cried. “Manny…” She took a step forward and teetered a bit. Her son tried to steady her, but she shooed him away and stumbled toward Francis instead. “It’s okay, Elsie,” Francis said softly. She reached out to put a hand
on Manny’s wife’s shoulder. But with a thin, audible thwack, she slapped her hand away. “Don’t you dare touch me!” Elsie yelled. She wiped her tears with the flat of her palm. “You know he’d still be alive if you had done your job!” Francis clenched her jaw and didn’t move. “Elsie. I know you’re upset, but—” “Why couldn’t you get there on time?” Elsie screamed, shoving Francis away. “Why didn’t you do something when you saw him lying there?” Nobody stepped in. They watched like a dazed circus crowd as Elsie stamped her feet and called Francis a bitch, an alcoholic, an incompetent pig who couldn’t do her job. Francis just stood there with her arms crossed, her face inexpressive, listening to every breath of Elsie’s tirade without budging. Bryan was enraged. How could his sister be so longsuffering, so infuriatingly patient, so willing to silently absorb other people’s madness like a massive wall of cotton? And how could anyone dare take advantage of that? But he remembered the row of mugs lying unwashed on his desk, and something came untied in his spine. “You’re a disgrace to the sheriff ’s department,” Elsie said. “You’re a disgrace to this town. You couldn’t even help your best friend.” Bryan squared his shoulders. “Hey, why don’t you shut the fuck up?” he yelled. “Leave Francis alone.” He squeezed his way through the crowd and made his way toward the grave. Elsie looked horrified. Good, Bryan thought. Serves her right, treating his sister like that. “Are you really dumb enough to think this is my sister’s fault?” Bryan said. Someone in the crowd gently tried to hold him back, but he shook off their hands. “You think she could have done something to stop this? She’s a cop, not a fucking miracle worker. Shut your mouth.”
Elsie just continued to stare at him. Bryan stared back, reveling in her terror. But he soon realized the look in her eyes wasn’t just fear— she didn’t recognize him anymore. “Bryan?” she said, unsure. “Yeah, it’s me,” he said. “Back from the dead. I’m a fucking monster now. But I swear to God, if you talk to my sister like that again—” “Bryan, you need to stop.” He turned to look at Francis. She was shaking. “I’m serious,” she said. “Your behavior is completely inappropriate.” “Sis, you’re really gonna let her talk to you like this?” “I want you to leave. Right now.” “Francis?” She lifted a finger toward the parking lot. “Get out.” Bryan didn’t know what to do. He turned to look at the rest of the crowd, as if they’d give him some nod of approval. What he saw instead were the faces of almost everyone he had grown up with. Former classmates. Distant cousins. Old friends. His first crush. They were the ones who came to his birthday parties, the ones who had chipped in money to help him fly home for Christmas. They were the ones who dropped off food and flowers after his mom died. They organized that party when he was kicked out of Princeton, filling plastic folding tables to the breaking point with casseroles and tamales and unidentified meats in slow cookers, promising to pray for him every night until he got back on his feet. They looked at him now with undiluted contempt. What had changed? He was still suffering as badly as he had been back then. In many ways, he had gotten worse. Or maybe that was the problem. He had spent the last eight years becoming a machine that blindly converted everyone’s sympathy and charity and support and hope into waste. He never made anything out of it. Never used it to get his act together, get a real job, make some art, put some good back in the world. No wonder they didn’t want to look
at him anymore. He was their failure as well as his own. Bryan shut his eyes and groaned. His biggest mistake was letting himself go from depressed to depressing. Depressed gets you prayers and tamales. Depressing gets you nothing. “Listen,” he said, turning to Elsie again. “I’m sorry. But you’ve got some serious issues, and if you ever mess with my sister again, I swear—” The last thing he saw was Manny’s son reeling back and forming a fist with his right hand. And for some reason, just before the impact, Bryan remembered his name. How could he have forgotten? Elsie reached out for her son. “Francis, don’t.” Too late. The blow sent Bryan stumbling back, his vision clouded by a bloom of pain. Losing his balance, he hit his head on a nearby tombstone and collapsed in a heap on the grass. “Dear God, Francis,” Elsie said, practically steering her son out of the way by grabbing onto his shoulders. People started gathering over Bryan’s unconscious body. Francis simply stood aside and watched. “He might be concussed,” Dr. Elgar said, examining Bryan’s head. “He’ll be okay. Let’s get him to my office.” Manny’s pallbearers were reassigned the task of carrying Bryan’s body to Dr. Elgar’s car. Bryan regained consciousness as this was happening and looked toward the sky. For half a moment, he thought that he had woken up at his own funeral. He thought about Manny. He had been at Bryan’s homecoming party, of course. He even stayed late to help clean up and wrap leftover food for Bryan and Francis to take home. “If you ever need us, if there’s anything at all we can do for you,” Francis had said, “please let us know.” Manny just shook his head and smiled. “Don’t worry about it.” Bryan tried to find something appreciative to say too. But the words
didn’t come. Manny came up to him anyway, like he knew, and just said: “God bless you, little brother.” Had Bryan said “God bless you” back? He couldn’t remember.
“I POMODORINI” / “THE CHERRY TOMATOES” By Mariam Khudikyan
“LA GIOVANE VECCHIA” / “THE YOUNG OLD WOMAN”
“LA GOLOSA” / “THE GIRL WITH THE SWEET-TOOTH”
“LA FAMIGLIA DE BUSTO” / “THE FAMILY FROM BUSTO”
FACES TO FORGET ALREADY By Lauren Finkle I’m always tired, tired from speaking pretty words because life is clay dirt and clenched teeth and all I want it is the seal-smooth skin of someone born to wear away my edges. I’m always tired, tired from you bruising my waist like a nun grasping at her Crucifix, when you know I never wanted to be a good luck charm, a rosary tucked into a wallet at that first chemo session. I’m always tired, tired of the clock never moving, the hours recovering from a late night, the minutes trembling by in dark corners and seconds trying to soften the screams in their gold stopwatch skulls. I’m always tired, tired of conversations unfolding like strips of butcher paper, slabs of our doubts unspoken weighing down the slick white which sheds everything but blood clots and veal chunks. Do you know who I was before you butchered me into pieces, honeysuckle lips and a gristle-coated neck,
a wrist of bone and venom and greedy lungs that steal your air like a last gasp? Before your conversations weighed me, lifted my meaty edges for inspection, covered my crumpled flesh in the butcher paper.
BAKERSFIELD By Lauren Finkle children with cracked almond mouths, brush fires in their eyes and rivers running down their cheeks from holes in the ozone layer. sunsets last forever in this place, and the cities across the fields are burnt out candles next to the fluorescing highway. the children run down the railroad tracks, cornstalk hair peeling off their scalps and falling into the rails, where the rain will tear apart the yellow. the smell of manure inescapable woven into the fabric of the lawn chair on the front porch, buried deep in their eye sockets. the children eat jerky from the gas station, their hands a lonely sunburn scar against the fields. they run, run, run as fast as the few cars on the broken roads and catch bugs in their mouths.
CONTRIBUTOR’S NOTES Joshua Castro is an American fiction writer and lyrical poet from Alhambra, CA. He was an assistant editor for East LA College’s literary magazine Milestone (2014-2016), and has had works published in both Milestone 2012 and Milestone 2015: Real Stories of East LA. He is the creator of America’s Next Great Author, an online creative writing competition, which ran for three volumes (2012-2014) and spawned the ridiculously talented winners Erica Cortez (ND), Andrew Liu (CA), and Lori Tobara (HW). He is a student, a swimmer, a reader and writer, and a lover of musical theater; he is a brother and a son to some, a nephew and a cousin to others. He would like to dedicate this publication to his late grandmother Virginia “Vicky” Barajas (19382015). He wants to acknowledge his mother Obdulia, and to thank his sister Amber for always reminding him to open his heart. Sarah Dean is a nineteen-year-old English major from Redondo Beach, California. She is enrolled in the Honors Transfer Program at El Camino College, a program devoted to highly motivated and academically excellent students desiring to transfer to a university. Raised on classic literature such as The Wind in the Willows and Moby Dick, she harbors a specific interest in creative writing, including poetry and short stories. In high school, she used her writing as an outlet to cope with the trials she experienced with her mental health and with her family. Her favorite books are The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and Perks of Being a Wallflower. Now at the end of her sophomore year at El Camino College, she is submitting her best works to local literary journals, including Rip Rap of CSULB, Statement of CSLA, and Westwind of UCLA. She hopes to transfer to UCLA to pursue her dream of becoming a professional author.
Jasmine Don graduated from UCLAâ€™s English and Creative Writing program in 2017. Her writing has received honors from the David Sedaris Humor Writing Contest, FPS Pilot Script Competition, and the May Merrill Miller Award for Fiction. Her pasta has received honors from her roommate Jessica. Emi Eck is a Multi-layer Recurrent Neural Network (LSTM, RNN) for word-level language models in Python using TensorFlow. Lauren Finkle is a Los Angeles-based writer currently studying English at UCLA. Her poetry has previously been featured in FEM Newsmagazine and won a Silver Medal from the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. Amy Foo is a third-year student at UCLA School of Law. Her favorite authors are Hemingway and Salinger. She has separation anxiety from Holden because her copy of Catcher is on indefinite loan to a forgetful friend. Eric Fram is a third-year student majoring in English with a concentration in creative writing. He is the Senior Editor of Westwind Arts and a member of the Westwind Poetry editing staff. He has been published by Westwind and Plum Tree Tavern. Tatianna Giron is a fourth-year English major and transfer student from Glendale Community College. She is currently fulfilling the requirements for the Creative Writing concentration in poetry, as well as working on a senior research thesis on the white male crisis in 1960s American literature. In her free time, she enjoys writing emo poetry, fangirling over Russian literature, and consuming copious amounts of peppermint chocolate. While she aims to earn her Ph.D. and become a professor of English, sheâ€™s also cool with honing her skills as a professional hermit.
Harold Gonzalez-Mejia is a fourth-year Sociology and Chicano/a Studies double major. He created the Harry Melrose persona and the ROSEMOB label as a means to express personal struggles, cultural scenes and rich observations on love, life and the ego. Every single track that Harry Melrose has released up until this point is meticulously produced, mixed and mastered on his own. His biggest influences are Depeche Mode, The Cure, Bloc Party, Interpol and several other angular, moody musical products. Harryâ€™s grandiose, moody and vibrantly colorful melodies and hard hitting beats are a result of being born and raised in the majestic city of Los Angeles; Skylines, ocean shorelines, urban neighborhoods and nocturnal scenes of the city all inspire Melrose to create honest and glimmering tracks. Jessica Humphrey is a third-year English major. She has always been an avid lover of reading and writing. As a child, they wonderfully provided her with an imaginative outlet that she hopes to give to others someday by becoming an English teacher and creative writer. At UCLA, she writes for the queer newsmagazine OutWrite and satire publication The Black Sheep. Dylan Karlsson is a poet based in Los Angeles. He edits Westwind, and is currently pursuing a BA in English at UCLA. His work has been published in Juked, indicia, Graphite and elsewhere. Mariam Marie Khudikyan, a native to Los Angeles, is an ArmenianAmerican photographer who currently studies Italian and Film Studies at UCLA. While working as an au pair for a family near Milan, and studying abroad recently in Bologna, Italy, she dedicated her free time to capturing the life and culture of the Italian peopleâ€”ultimately developing her style as a street-photographer. In her body of work that spans from Armenia, Europe, to LA, she primarily shoots in 35mm film, exploring and documenting themes of youth, old age and family.
Johnathan Lovett is a fourth-year student at ucla. He is a guide for outdoor adventures and member of delta kappa alpha cinema fraternity & lcc theatre company. He worships the talking heads & dedicates these poems to his family and bff zachary. Christine Nguyen is a third-year English major in the creative writing concentration at UCLA. She is a member of the Westwind editorial staff and is an Arts and Creative assistant section editor for UCLAâ€™s FEM Newsmagazine. In her free time, she enjoys reading, writing stories and poetry, watching animated television shows, and drawing. Evan Pavell graduated from UCLA after writing his senior honors thesis on structural narrative theory in video games, and he plans to pursue this research into graduate school and to continue applying his knowledge of theory to the fiction he writes. In each of his stories he explores a new and different narratological concept. He prefers not to write what he knows, but to learn new things to write about, and to come to know them through the writing process. He takes the craft seriously, and he likes to write science-fiction while wearing pants that look like outer space. Madison Puckett is an English major at UCLA from Long Beach, CA. While she depends mostly on writing, she does not limit herself to one form of artistic expression. Above all, she seeks to reach a meditative state when making collages, hoping to find a happy medium between words and images. Carlos Saunier is a contemporary jazz guitarist born in Santiago de Chile. He is debuting as a soloist in 2017 with the album INMINENTE. Influenced by Jazz and fusion, Saunier began leading a quartet featuring tenorist Claudio Rubio, bassist Francisco
Barahona, and drummer Felix Lecaros. He is currently working as a guitarist and composer, as well as being a distinguished teacher and music producer, making recordings for radio television and record projects. Anne Strand is a writer living in Los Angeles by way of Maine and New York City. Anne mentors emerging writers with WriteGirl, where she is able to witness the powerful future of women writers. Anne’s work has been featured in Raft Magazine and Ekphrasis Poems Speaking to Silent Works of Art. Kent Tran is a fourth-year undergraduate at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is majoring in Sociology and English with a concentration in creative writing and a minor in French. He is a Bay Area native who plans to pursue a writing career in New York City after graduation. Nicholas Webb is an artist and student recently moved to the greater Los Angeles area. He was born in Anaheim, lived most of his life to date in the Central Coast of California, and now finds himself back in the south of his native state. Like a slow boomerang. He is working on a variety of written and visual projects and hopes to find further publishing for his odd ideas. Don’t ask him about art materials, you’ll be there far too long. Waner Zhang is an international student from China studying philosophy at UCLA. She is passionate about photography, and arts in general. She started photography in her freshman year at UCLA and has since then produced numerous works that are showcased at several exhibitions.
Published on Jan 29, 2018