WINDHOVER VOLUME LIV
WINDHOVER VOLUME LIV
MISSION Windhover, NC Stateâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s literary and arts magazine, strives to serve the creative community of NC State through its annual publication that includes art, film, music, poetry, and prose. Our main goals are to provide a welcoming environment for out-of-the-box thought processes and to encourage all artists to submit.
LETTER FROM THE
EDITOR For us, Windhover LIV is a celebration. No, this is not some special anniversary or milestone—but rather a celebration of being. This edition is meant to highlight how we actively LIVe, organized in three parts: where we came from, where we are going and the inevitability of where we will all end up. Consider Windhover LIV a scrapbook of artistic expression, commemorating one’s experiences navigating life geographically and chronologically. It explores what times and locations define our lives through the power of the written word, visual art, video and music. This book would not have been able to come to life if it weren’t for the amazing team of dreamers and creators I am lucky to have on staff: Emma Carter, Aubrey Izurieta, Layla Peykamian, Noah Wilde, Malley Nelson, Divi Sharma, Molly Mills, Menaka Kumar and Willow Arthur. Not to mention, our faithful adviser Martha Collins and the man who so patiently ensures that this book is printed as expertly as possible, Kenny Shepard. I also have an immense amount of appreciation for our volunteers and of course, every person who graciously shared their works with us. The saying that life imitates art and art imitates life has never resonated more with me than it does after putting this volume together. Art sets the scene for the world around us, giving us a platform to see and experience existence in a way that goes beyond the mundaneness of just simply getting by. Life is our canvas, our blank page—and we get to choose the words and colors that give it meaning. I hope this magazine allows you to reflect on what makes your life what it is, and how you have created it, and that you can find solidarity in the fact that all of us follow the same cycle from creation to expiration—and what a beautiful piece of work that can be. Xenna Smith
STAFF + COMMITTEES
XENNA SMITH communication-media
AUBREY IZURIETA communication-media
assistant design editor
EMMA CARTER graphic design
MOLLY MILLS graphic design
assistant literary editor
DIVI SHARMA english language and rhetoric
WILLOW SAGE english: language, writing, and rhetoric
audio & video editor
LAYLA PEYKAMIAN communication-media
MALLEY NELSON communication-media
MENAKA KUMAR physics
literary committee Blanca Lรณpez de Juan Abad Katalina Wernli Rachel Melnotte Joshua Aelick Lucy Marcum
visual committee Jimmy Liu Kaitlin Kranz Clifford Maske Camilla Keil Dominique Favero
audio/video committee Chloe Pennington Amelia Moorhead
NOAH WILDE graphic design
publication adviser Martha Collins
10 11 12 14 15 16
17 19 21 22 23 24 25 26 28 30 32
Daniel and the Lion’s Den The Green Court 07/08/2008 Battle Against the Night Museum of Decorative Arts, Prague They Seek Harmony in the Way Those Sounds Move Together Beach in 3 Waves Legs Audio Submissions Welcome Home Nature’s Kaleidoscope Lightbulb Hued Beautiful Weakness Ragnarock Amerikkka The Mulberry Tree
36 37 38 39 40 48 49 50 50 51 52 54 55 60
Fester Riding through the Tetons The Breakup Music What Happened in Dad’s Office Celeste and Abraham reminders Phill’s Corner Life Lessons from my Mother Four Letter Words Game Boy Phenomenon Hunt Library Joiner What the Flowers Saw The Church of Jesus Christ and Chain-Smoking Saints
Hannah Tatman Mary Day Tianni Montgomery Abhijeet Krishnan Noah Baldwin Q Peiffer
acrylic paint poetry poetry poetry photography fiction
Heike Schneider Victoria Kern various creators Prairie Moon Dalton Sarah Foltz Victoria Kern Sam Armstrong Victoria Kern Hannah Tatman Griffin James Jeremy Lowe
watercolor ink and watercolor audio poetry pen and ink mixed media photography poetry sculpture poetry poetry
Marley Bost Sam Armstrong Kali Fillhart Mairead Maley Hannah Cooper D.E.F. Karuna Gangwani Noah Baldwin Holly Brantley Holly Brantley Patricia Ndombe Noah Baldwin Amber Lee Caleb Dross
poetry photography poetry poetry fiction photography digital drawing photography poetry poetry poetry photo illustration fiction poetry
61 62 63 64 70 71 72 73 73 74 75 76
Downtown Prague Glover Are you crooked? My Sister Guessing Euphoria Our House Green Cape Like a Bee The Yellow Boat Natural Amphora For Dad
80 81 82 83 84 85 87 88 89 90 91 92 93
Skull with Snake phrases i repeat until Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego Little Time Left Family Photo Vulnerability Video Submissions Alexis Castro An Ode to Mongo of Shrek 2 Exit Stage Right The Stranger the universe in a seashell
Noah Baldwin Naima Sutton Heike Schneider Anne Bagnal Holly Brantley Megan Brown Eric Wennerstrom Adam Sichel Kali Fillhart Lucy Marcum Victoria Kern Tianni Montgomery
photography colored pencil magazine collage fiction poetry acrylic paint photography haiku haiku fiction acrylic paint poetry
Kailyn Byers Thomas Jackson Hannah Tatman Justin Lindemann Megan Brown Marley Bost various creators Shawn Fredericks D.E.F. Griffin James Minh Pham Ashley Fleming Minh Pham
acrylic and sharpie
poetry acrylic paint poetry colored pencil poetry video poetry photography poetry photography photography photography
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CREATION “He allowed himself to be swayed by his conviction that human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but that life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.” – Gabriel García Márquez, Love in the Time of Cholera (1985)
DANIEL AND THE LIONâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S DEN, acrylic paint. Hannah Tatman
I’ll swallow it whole, smooth, sweet, hope it catches in my throat, and stays with me long after the moment has passed. On such days I melt into the grass, feeling nature’s pulse align with mine, The bird’s waltz in heartbeat time. Everything else disappears, like last week’s dirty roadside snowbank that ran off into the soil to fuel the coming bloom.
Spring brings these days, elongated seconds out of a dream. Stretch the sleep-soggy, gentle moment until it lasts 24 hours and looks just like cotton candy. The sky pink, the trees blue.
The Green Court
07/08/2008 I was eight, playing with legos as drawers and cabinets opened and closed to the rhythm of my lungs as they’d expand or contract. I sat—unbothered— as the friction of the masses of two rocks sent waves. It can terrify those not used to breaks along faults. Or if you’re pushed into the middle of the break, where rocks no longer meet. My fingertips dance around scorched earth, the heat sprouts through cracks reaching out like branches to the sky. Red fingers cling onto dry earth comfortable playing with legos, but not with packing eight years into a suitcase with Hello Kitty tags. But fingernails clipping onto slick dirt is no match for mother’s force I know I’ll have to let
It has been 10 years since I’ve seen them. Hands still worn but more tender.
Life has found a way to bury memories The way I’ve seen others bury Or burn their ojiisan their obaasan VOLUME LIV
Do they peer along cracks too? Imagine if they jammed Their head far enough Into it that they’d see me— the eight-year-old playing legos
I am only so much like when I was eight Will they always remember what their granddaughter looks like? Before dementia makes home in the spot right between their brown eyes to take hold of memories of hands, freckled with birthmarks, guiding my own to form dumplings to steam. Watch memories condense into liquid and roll ————————down ——————————glass Life finds ways to bury memories the way I’ve seen others bury others.
I wonder if they’d blame me for the language that evaporated from my pink tongue. The way I’d hesitate over phone calls from foreign vowel sounds. Or for late letters as envelopes wedged themselves between weeks of school work.
Battle Against the Night Terror granted my sword flight, Still-born gasp of my motherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s womb, Taking off his head in strokes three. Dark night did forever last; Half-formed babe in half-formed tomb, The battle around me blurred, Young life interred too fast. As a morbid curiosity overtook; Stepping toward the cerebral viscera, Quaking hands held her steady, I ripped the mask off the mook. As wind and woman wept; Green mind, still not quite ready My deathly face gazed back at me, for the blackness, into which it crept. Death mask, a ghastly treasure; Fastening it to my bare head, Dark warriors from afar, their armour I experienced a morbid pleasure. gleamed with harsh moonlight, Rain rattled across their metal masks My brethren were all around, in cacophony of vicious delight. Dark cloaks under weak assault; With a demonic roar, I reddened Far afield, generals whipped the men my blade with stirring, frenzied rope; Against the insolent fault. Clanging shield and thumping boot, Provided cheap hope. The darkness claimed victory that day, As mountains of me piled high; The heavens beat their divine drum, Thrown into hasty pyres, Ordaining the battle commence; For flesh to pollinate the sky. Two armies rushed across a muddy plain The battle rages on, Joined in violent embrace. As new soldiers take up the fight; Yet the empire of darkness grows larger, The dark army tore us apart And threatens to blot out the light. As the eagle does the hare; The clouds parted to a blood-soaked Steady hand holds the old, field, Dark eyes stare into white; Delighting the cruel gods up there. Both reflect the eternal battle, The memories of that night. Still standing, still desperate, I squared off against my enemy;
MUSEUM OF DECORATIVE ARTS, PRAGUE, photography. Noah Baldwin
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They Seek Harmony in the Way Those Sounds Move Together The thirteen-year-old child hears a beautiful song, coming from the place where tombstones saw fit to settle. They see the man strumming a harp, a large and ornate thing, in front of a grave marked with many flowers and sparkling with dewy mist, and before saying a word they duck behind a less-attended grave and peek through cracks in the moss that hangs. He sings a gentle song that moves through the fog with the placid pace of a cloud itself, seeping through rock and soil, into the essence of everything around it. The child feels that song gently rising in their skin, eyes growing wide as that melody sinks deep into their soul. He sings of a life gone before it had a chance to warm the hands of those who loved it; the grief from his loss burned into his voice like hot wax on skin. The child runs out and holds the man in their arms, almost knocking over the harp, and he, startled, falls out of his chair. The sobbing child clutches at his chest and apologizes over and over. He recognizes the child, from proud parents who speak of them down the street, and adopts the same mask every adult does when they need to hide the fact that they feel from the people they’re supposed to be protecting. “My baby’s name was supposed to be Dusk. ‘At her feet: I sleep till Dusk is dipped in gray.’ It was meant to be for their
BEACH IN THREE WAVES, watercolor. Heike Schneider
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mother,” he says, looking across the fields of damp green and watching the fog clear at the edges. “Her name was Beloved. ‘My soul ascends in prayer, to know myself Beloved at last.’” “My parents tried to give me a name,” the child says. “What did they name you?” “Sable. I consecrate this to you: and Sable curls, all silvered o’er with white; and colors spring from under.” The man purses his lips at the child next to them. “It’s a beautiful name.” “But it’s not mine,” says the child, eyes downcast. Their shoulders slump, their chest sighs. “They said I could take all the time I needed to be happy with it. I told them I wanted to write my own name. I’m not sure if they heard me.” “What are you going to write?” The child stares at a dewdrop, hanging heavy from the tip of a grass blade. “I don’t know yet.” The man looks with wet eyes at the small clump of hair at the top of the child’s head. “Have you practiced verse?” “No. I do paintings.” He looks back, above the fog this time. “It takes time and skill. There are some that have verse written before their children are even born, but also, some that won’t write any until they’re old enough to have a name in the first place.” The child says nothing at this. The man looks at the child again, this time taking the whole of their form. “I think having your own name is a good idea.” The child looks up. “You can be anything. Sable is a fine name, sure, but people have written great verse only after living their entire lives. What if your name changed with every verse
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you wrote, or read? What if you were different?” The child looks back down. “I don’t know if I want to be different.” The two sit for a while, small remnants of the clouds around them left behind by fog that has since traveled far away from the conversation they carried. “The verse my parents wrote for me was about their home, which we moved away from before I was born,” the singer says, crashing through the silence with bluster. “’That I fostered in my youthful years: tall Chestnuts keep away the sun and moon.’ I never got to see what they planted, but they said that was okay. It was like a piece of their home they could keep with me.” After a moment, the child speaks up. “Do you think you would change your name if you could?” The man sits in silence for a while, looking towards the light of the sun, fettered by the heavy cloud cover that kept its full brilliance from melting over the buildings that dotted the ‘scape in the distance. He took a deep, hesitant breath. “My family is long gone at this point. Maybe I’m a new person because of it, but I have no verse to follow me here. When I wrote, I wrote for my child and for my wife,” he says, shuddering at a breeze that cast mist in his direction. “Now, it just feels like nothing.” The child doesn’t move, looking at the grass in front of them, that word pressing down on their shoulders, slumping them down as they cross their arms to bear that new weight. Then, the man stands up next to them, and places his hands in his pockets. “I have to grieve. Those souls that were buried here will not leave my side. Maybe, I can offer them some peace by being something with no name.” He looks at the child. “Maybe you can offer yourself some peace the same way.” The child watches him walk away through the damp grass and cold stones around him. When he is gone, they turn to the harp next to the grave, and try plucking a string; the sound that emerges feels like significance alive. Important. They pick two more notes, high and low together. They cast fingers across strings like gentle paintbrushes running over unpainted canvas. Important. They seek harmony in the way those sounds move together, and glide with grace in an improvised tune, grating to the outsider who passes through the cemetery that day, but beautiful only to them. Their harmony. Important. W.
LEGS, ink and watercolor. Victoria Kern
Yâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;all Got Grapes?
AUDIO Hypnotized Fresh Air
PRAIRIE MOON DALTON
In the kitchen is where Mama melts me down and mixes me up on the stovetop. In the bedroom, I knock out my own teeth. Mama cries — she made those herself. The dog is a heavy puddle lying in the hallway. When my eyes shut I can still hear its wet cries. His old friends forgot about him, so Papa grew pistols for legs and makes me watch him dance. My brother dresses in stolen sunlight. He presses his forehead to mine and begs me for forgiveness. I press my lips to the screen door. I curl into the red dirt. My broken jaw drips salt. The cicadas scream a song I’ve always known.
NATURE’S KALEIDOSCOPE, pen and ink. Sarah Foltz
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LIGHTBULB, mixed media. Victoria Kern
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HUED, photography. Sam Armstrong
Beautiful Weakness I linger on the dock in defiance of the daring sun as it threatens me with its red reminders. An elusive wind triggers a wave of goosebumps. My uncertain feet explore the wooden board, tempted by the promise of cool relief; but hesitant, awaiting affirmation. In the pocketed sunlight and shadow, I find my reflection: A captive in the crests and valleys of lapping water. Forced to perform her debasing dance, Dodging and diving, seeking any escape from her two-dimensional prison. She leaps at the greening barrier of the bulkhead, but falls again, disappearing in the turbulence before finding herself once more in her cell. My insecurities tumble through my mind, like sea glass over sand. The criticism of others has stolen my color, Replaced it with dull scratches. I find myself diminished and fragile One more hard landing could shatter me. Others praise pressure for its refining power, But I have yet to experience this beauty. I despise my weakness. The voice of my grandfather floats down to the water. Today he wears a khaki hat stitched with the Pinehurst golf emblem. Experience carries him from the reliable dock to the platform of the boat, The bow bucks with anticipation, but he takes the step with ease. He tacitly spurs the engine to action, then he turns to me.
My muscles begin to fatigue from the urgency of my position, but I do not seek a more comfortable posture. Turning would direct my attention to the places we have already conquered and released. To live is to keep my eyes trained on the promise before me, unfazed by the leaping cries of the temperamental water. When I am most lost, there I am found. My weakness exposed, I am fully known. In my vulnerability, I am made beautiful. Above me, prisms in the sky transform the sunâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s rays, engulfing me in soft light.
The pound of the wind brings cleansing Unlike anything I have known. It wraps around me, pure and encompassing. It does not deny me its embrace when it finds my imperfections, And it is constant in its pursuit of me.
Once aboard, I assume my favorite position at the frontmost point: perched on the white and teal leather seat, my legs curled under. Fingers gripping the rail, head turned unashamed to face the blinding wind. My grandfather captains the vessel across the water, Freeing the distorted reflections that had once mocked us from the waves. The air pulls the moisture from my eyes in the form of tears but I do not turn away.
He has known me from my youth, Seen how I have adapted myself to othersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; expectations. How I willingly surrendered my identity to become invisible when my true need was to be seen. His hand, supportive and gentle, extends to help me onto the boat. As I allow him to lift my weight, I step into the trust. Still haunted by the aching ghost of my uncertainty, But no longer bound by the fear of it.
RAGNAROCK, sculpture. Hannah Tatman VOLUME LIV | | 29
Amerikkka America with three Ks in the place of a “c,” take a history lesson and learn that the greatest acts of terrorism have been homegrown. You can’t white-wash your sins away when you ran a race on race, when you grew a forest watered with indigenous blood planted on a mass grave, when you decorated its branches with black-bodied ornaments. The crucifixion was a lynching and you called it holy, you called it white christmas, you called it white jesus, you called it the land of the brave because only the brave could live in such fear of the America you want to make great. America with three Ks in the place of a “c,” your enchanted forest is haunted. Ever notice how it’s never a black ghost haunting the horror movie? Ever notice how it’s not a black colonizer? Ever notice how the people who murder trans women of color don’t see color until it’s a blue – I mean white – I mean blue life? But we always knew you meant white. Our history is a haunting, no one’s going to save us. We can’t sanctify the soil, but we can exorcise our demons. America with three Ks in the place of a “c,” take a history lesson and learn that the greatest acts of terrorism have been homegrown. You reaped a plot of bloodwood trees, their branches sway forward, backward, shadows tracing the bruised, lifeless bodies fallen to the ground.
The Mulberry Tree “O’ where shall we go?”
To which, The Mulberry Tree shook with woe. And so I went about Picking berry After berry, Purplin’ my heels With deep, Endless stains. Surely, I thought, This moment will never end. But the sun continued to roll Over a far Carolina sky. The Field chased after it With gentle grass Waiting, Waiting, On the horizon. I sought to chase it too, To catch its warmth Over bronze skin and wanting eyes; To know I’m home. But I knew I could never, Not yet, For a young man Has much running left to do.
And so I returned to a love With hands full of berries, stained lips and A smiling heart. We ate berry After berry Under sight of the Mulberry Tree With memories made And memories yet to come. Those memories of mulberries Sent me back five years, Where I first tasted Their terse, brittle sweetness. I would often skip class Under the May heat, In sight of the Mulberry Tree And a joyful carpentry teacher. We’d stain our hands And laugh at nothing, Simply to laugh. O’ how I long for those days. His leathered hands, No longer weighed by Wood, work, or worries, But rather lifted by youth.
Now, I question my own youth Under sight of the Mulberry Tree. “O’ where shall I go?” I’d worn it thin, Ran towards the edge of the Field In chase of the sun, In chase of more. When the chase is done, What’s next?
Now, That carpentry teacher rests In whole, still, gifted silence. Laughter and light does not lead a long life, But one well spent.
Days of youth With an old carpentry teacher, Knowin’ the spirits of silliness And laughter Light the sun. O’ how I long for those days.
These dreams of Light, of opportunity, were Never to lie in Pikeville, So I ran. Across the field of Newborn grass and brief breeze, The Mulberry Tree stands knowin’ By youth there is Nowhere to go, But somewhere to be.
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BEING “To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” – Oscar Wilde, The Soul of Man Under Socialism (1891)
You should have ended it When two summers came and went And the tree bore not a single leaf Or maybe when its bark began to grow brittle, and the trunk began to bald Revealing the wood beneath Spongy and rotting But still, you paid it no mind And still, the mangy dog returns Every afternoon Seeking shelter from the heat Its gangling limbs, sprawled out in the shade And still, you sit by the window Watching as the dog gnaws at its cracked and blistering hide Under a tree, riddled with rot, caving in on itself
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RIDING THROUGH THE TETONS, photography. Sam Armstrong
My pants and I stopped agreeing with each other when I stopped starving myself, when they stopped buttoning. My thighs, packed into the unforgiving fabric, could no longer handle the identity crisis of sizing denim. My underwear and I didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t call each other for a week after their seams broke and the stretch marks on my ass needed room to figure out what they really wanted in this relationship. My shirts and I decided to take a break when my shoulders ripped the dainty fabric like paper, escaping the abuse of stubborn material with no give.
My bras finally slammed the door in my face after the growth of my breasts made it impossible for them to be contained, The bras could take no more of it, Of the bigger, fuller Me. I am alone and naked now, pizza in one hand, coffee in the other. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s for the best.
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A soft and pure oscillation, Neck twisting and shuddering, Waves bouncing towards my ear. My breath heaves, Pillowing mattress expelling golden air. I cough and panic comes out, Soft purrs of strings on hair. My thoughts just race through my head Straight past the nerves in my fingers, Pushing against my brow, Brushing my face to cotton. My eyes seem to bulge, Reflecting drops like crystals Who knew chords could crack bones?
What Happened in Dad’s Office I first met Lily at a dumb fourth of July party. I met Ethan about fifteen feet away from her. Lily was, what, six months pregnant then? Yeah, because Isaiah was born in October. Anyway, they had returned from their brief honeymoon only a week earlier. They couldn’t go anywhere too exotic, you know; too much risk of catching “some strange tropical disease,” was how my Mom put it. We only went because Ethan was Dad’s accountant. It was only the polite thing to do. What would’ve been even more polite, was if Dad had even bothered to show up. I suppose Mom and I were adequate scions. That’s how I ended up there. All I had wanted to do was light off firecrackers in my driveway and drink some whiskey I didn’t steal. Their place is a cute little cottage right on the lake, with a big backyard, full of lawn chairs, cornhole boards, and empty cans of Yuengling. They have a nice new boat and a nice new deck, and nice new everything. Worst part is, it’s all farmhouse rustic chic—that white chipped paint, weird rooster sculpture, faded cornucopia wallpaper, lace over burlap aesthetic, even though not one of these people, me included, had ever even been inside a barn. Jerks. They do have the best spot to see the fireworks though, so Mom and I rolled up to their doorstep hours before, with a big bowl of mac and cheese and a high pitched “oh my gooood, hiiiiii!” “This must be Dinah! Your dad just talks so much about you,” she said. Dinah in her lips sounded like pink frosting. I didn’t want to taste like Willy Wonka’s asshole. I was seventeen and wanted to taste like an adult, like, I don’t know, wine and designer sunglasses. I hated her from that first moment. Her lips were red and shiny from eating strawberries. “Oh, um,” I said, pointing to a nonexistent pink dot on her white dress, “I think you spilled a little something on you?” She hadn’t. “Oh my!” she said, “thaaank you. Everyone’s just been trying to get my attention so much.” What a bitch, right? Wisely, Mom took over the socializing. I pretended to eat at the potluck, sliding the macaroni salad and pork chops into the trash when no one was looking. I went to the bathroom a lot, to reapply lipstick that had smeared off on solo cups, and to see what products Lily used to make her stupid hair so shiny and manageable. I was perfectly, thoroughly bored in the most adolescent way, until I saw him. Ethan. The men, the husbands, they had all gone off on the boat to fuck around and drink on the lake. The women and the wives had gathered by the dock, awaiting their return. The sun was just
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beginning to set, and was draped on Lily’s shoulders like a silk scarf while her margarita-sipping adherents gathered around. I could see her neon pink toenails all the way from inside the house. Just outside of the group was Ethan, looking on from the outside as bored as I was. I don’t think I felt a thing for him until that moment, until he looked less like the grown up football captain or the fresh out of school accounting major. The sun was catching in his blonde hair, and the beer was making his cheeks rosy. If Lily was a bright star, then he was a sun god, ferrying her across the heavens. Look, I know that now, I’m just bursting with self confidence and hotness; I’m a fruit gusher of assurance. But back then? Walking down to the dock terrified me. I swear, at the time, my intentions were not nefarious. I was a teenage girl with a crush on an older guy who, let’s be honest, wasn’t that much older than me. I took my ass down there. I stood just close enough to him, and just far enough away from Lily, and I said: “She really looks great.” “Doesn’t she?” Ethan said. “You’re Jacob’s kid, right?” Kid. The word hung in my mind until I fucked him two years later. “Yeah,” I said, “have been for a while now.” He chuckled, and looked everywhere but me. This pissed me off at the time, but in retrospect… I’d have ignored me too. Together, they were the Earth, and I was the asteroid. I’m what killed the dinosaurs. “How long you been working for my dad?” I knew perfectly well already. 11 months. “Have been for a while now,” he said, with a dumb, cute little smile. “Where is he?” Before I could say “at work,” Mom must have suddenly remembered something of great importance. She walked over to me, and said: “Dinah, I think I left my purse inside. Would you mind running and grabbing it for me?” “Sure,” I said, “do you know where it is?” “I saw it,” Ethan said. “I’ll show you.” There a flicker in Mom’s face just then—a subtle narrowing of the drawn-on eyebrows, a gentle pursing of her greige lips. Then it was gone, replaced with a Maybelline smile. The inside of their house is even more annoying. First of all, all the throw pillows have mounted deer silhouettes or shiplap patterns on them. There’s too many windmill decorations. A wooden plank sitting beside the TV says: “hey y’all!” And dear God, everything is in Mason jars.
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The remains of the potluck still covered the living room— stained paper plates, plastic utensils sticky from baked beans, store-bought cookie crumbs. The kitchen was a wreck of strawberries and pineapples and limes. Flies were beginning to explore them. The smell of coffee grounds and banana peels was seeping out the overfilled trash can. Mom’s nude Michael Kors bag was sitting right on the kitchen table. I asked about their picture frames, and got him talking about the football scholarship he lost after he tore his Achilles’ tendon, and the grad program he was totally going to after the kid was in school. He once dreamed of majoring in mortuary science and becoming a funeral director, but Lily convinced him otherwise— something more practical really was smarter, especially if they wanted to have kids. He always wondered what his life would be like, if he had just pursued that dream, if he had never gotten injured— especially because he met Lily in the physical therapist’s office. I don’t know what in the goddamn came over me then. I’d always been a degenerate, but in a cloistered way—just whenever my idiot friends and I stole their little brother’s Adderall or something. But my ass looked up at him and said: “You’re gonna be such a good daddy.” It wasn’t my voice that came out. I wouldn’t know this for some time, but this was the first time She spoke through me. She sounds like the serpent and the apple, like the hiss of the sea foam, like the scythe that shears the grain. It ruffled him a bit, and I decided to think that the flush in his cheeks was from me and not the craft beers he had sipped all day. You should’ve seen him. He was flustered, but so flattered, so proud, like a temporarily embarrassed goose. He looked over to the remains of the margarita station and asked if I’d had one yet. At least it was something I was familiar with. I grabbed a bottle of tequila and said: “I won’t tell if you won’t.” “You’re what, seventeen? You ever even done a shot of tequila before? The right way?” I had. “No.” “Well,” he sighed, “I can’t have you going off to college unprepared.” He sat down a salt shaker in the shape of—surprise—an anchor. “Here’s what you’re gonna do,” he said, “you’re going to lick your hand—,” “Lick my hand?” “Yes,” he said, “you know where it’s been, right?” “You never know,” I said, licking the back of my hand a little bit too slowly. He snorted. “You sprinkle some salt on there, lick it off, then pound it, and shove this lime in your mouth like an orange slice. Got it?” I still think about his little crooked eyebrow then.
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I did so, the whole time looking right into his eyes, unflinching. And he looked back, and he laughed, and said: “You’re crazy, kid.” Kid. “Your turn,” I said. I got him to take two shots before we headed back. The sun was lower now, and the fireworks were starting soon. As we headed down the staircase, he stumbled a bit, leaning against me. He was warm and solid, like school bus seats warmed up in the winter sun. Lily glanced over at one point, then glanced away as quick and slender as a fawn. My mother’s gaze was not so graceful. We rejoined the group, and I sat through the polite discussions and the mosquito bites. I sat far from Ethan, but close enough to watch the lights of the fireworks dance on his face. I went back to the house a little before the grand finale. The mix of sweat and mosquito bites made me squirm; I just wanted to get out of there before the traffic got too bad. I didn’t know where the light switch was, so I left it off. More flies were flitting about the leftovers, and every surface felt sticky. Even though the grand finale was going on, I could hardly hear it. All I could hear were the flies buzzing. Lily came in. I could only see her by the dim light of the oven and the green numbers on the microwave. Her eye makeup was beginning to smear, and there were shards of cut grass on her bare feet. She asked me: “Trying to duck out early?” “You caught me,” I said. “Did I?” She said it like a question. Her blue eyes narrowed, her head cocked to the side, and her silky hair tickled her cheek, and even though she had to look up at me, I couldn’t make myself breathe. A fly buzzed into my face, and I waved it away. In an attempt to break the tension, I said that “those pork chops were dank.” She pressed her lips together and nodded. “I’ll see you around,” she said, “Dinah.” That pause. That’s what pissed me off. Like she couldn’t remember my name, and had to think for a second, when she knew it so quickly earlier. As she walked away, I couldn’t help but think anyone looking at us right now would assume she was the kid. She was 5’2, a former gymnast, slender and compact. I was 5’10 and had tits that entered the room before I did. The only difference between us was a couple years of getting a Communications degree and many, many decorative throw pillows. Lily went off to say bye to other people, and then I saw Ethan. I went to say goodbye, among other things, but Mom grabbed my arm. She had her leftover mac and cheese in one hand and my elbow clenched with the other, and was gently yanking me towards the door. I looked back at Ethan,
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who looked at me, then at Mom, then back at me. For a good fifteen seconds, I couldn’t see anything, couldn’t hear anything. There was the smell of pomegranates, and then a sound like thousands of feathers in my head, and the cawing of crows, but distant, as if far across an empty field. The sound of a massive flock of birds became one set of horrid wings, and then I saw Her. She didn’t let me see her in totality yet, but I saw a silhouette, a tall, curvaceous woman standing in a forest, lit only by the moon. I tasted wine, and smelled sulfur and myrrh and cinnamon. Then, it was all gone, but something was different. I looked at Ethan. I smiled, waved, and winked. I followed Mom outside and into the car. She didn’t talk and I didn’t mind. We sat out in their driveway for about 10 minutes, waiting for the traffic to move. I spent the whole time staring into the dark trees, at a screech owl watching me from a weeping willow, who looked back with steady yellow eyes and didn’t flinch until we drove away. # In Ethan and Lily’s stupid rustic chic kitchen, something chose me. The midnight after, I dreamt of my room, upside down but still right-side up. I dreamt of black snakes coating the floor like a living oil spill, and I heard hideous chanting—low male voices gibbering beneath incoherent sopranos. I woke with the sky still dark. Outside, barefoot on the concrete porch, I watched the sun rise over the forest, and for the first time, heard the noise. It was the noise of dropped wind chimes, of beads, ripped off a neck, clattering on the ground. It was a phone screen cracking, waves chomping at a too-small boat. It was the noise of crinkling candy wrappers and styrofoam cups melting and popping in a fire, sneakers grinding on a gym floor, wine glasses shattering on the pavement. It was reciting the periodic table to drive away those thoughts, to fill the spaces in my head left empty and hungry—hungry for the collars of men’s shirts, for the top button so easy to just slide— hydrogen. Helium. Lithium. Beryllium. Boron. Always, always, Lily would be there, pointing and laughing from beneath a spotlight, atop a stage by herself, and her laughter would seep out of my ears like strawberry jam. It was the noise of people chewing, people breathing, people tap tap tap tap tapping their feet, of their tongue and saliva and throat and teeth while they talked on and on and on while all I could think of is thick thighs straining against basketball shorts, of veiny hands so calloused, so rough, how they’d feel closing around my throat. Carbon. Nitrogen. Oxygen. It was the sloppy wet smack of Lily’s lips against Ethan’s cheek, louder even than the fireworks. It was bits and pieces of poetry, of what myghte or may the sely lark seye/whan that the sperhawk hath him in his foote?
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Now more than ever seems it rich to die. The crawling reptiles of the nameless city. Fluorine. Neon. Sodium. Magnesium. It was my voice. You’re a failure. You let everyone around you down. You ruin everything you touch. “The wild beasts of the desert shall also meet with the wild beasts of the island.” Now more than ever seems it rich to die. Don’t you know they all hate you? Every last one of them hates you. Mom hates you. She wishes Lily were her daughter instead. Aluminium. Silicon. Phosphorus. It was the noise of making men smile, of the high trill of my giggle, fake as Kevlar, echoing in my head like a kazoo. Sulfur. Chlorine. Argon. “The satyr shall cry to his fellow.” You ruin everything. Potassium. Calcium. Scandium. You’re a dumb whore and want to fuck every man that’s nice to you; that’s why no one loves you. Titanium. Vanadium. Manganese. “The screech owl also shall rest there, and find for herself a place of rest.” For a year, my brain was like that, a cacophonous scramble. In class, I’d draw endless patterns of cryptic swirls and lines that felt like they meant something, but I never knew what. I’d write the same phrase over and over again, like “I shouldn’t be alive,” or “this is wrong,” until the page was filled. This was the only way to keep my brain from straying, from imagining every man around me exhausted and satisfied, spread out on my flannel sheets, smiling up at me and talking about “next time,” as if there’d ever actually be a next time. I found a temporary solution, aside from day-drinking: seeing someone naked for the first time, shattering the mask they wear for you. It made the noise stop for a bit. Once the mask is broken, no amount of bubblegum can make it whole again. After the thrill was gone, my brain would start circling the drain again. There’d be more strange symbols, more wandering around my neighborhood at midnight with a water bottle full of $7 moscato, more calling out to any ghosts that may be around to reveal themselves to me. I tried to get help once, you know. I went up to Mom on a Saturday, during a rare time when Dad was actually home. She was in her bathroom, following along with a video on curling short hair. She’d always had hair damn near to her ass, but it curiously started falling out six months ago. This culminated in a very stereotypical “cutting hair in the bathroom mirror while crying” scene. It’s been an ugly hack job since, but she refused to go get it done. I went in and sat beside her on the toilet lid and said: “Mom, I’ve got a bit of a problem.” “Oh God,” she sighed, pausing the video.“What?” “I’m really struggling with focus,” I said. “My head is too loud. I can’t think straight.” She started the video again with the volume turned down. “Oh yeah?” “Yeah, it’s like... hyperactive, but exhausting.”
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“It’s all that coffee you drink,” she said, a dyed blonde wave landing across her forehead. “I don’t think so,” I said, though she was probably not entirely wrong. “People just have trouble focusing sometimes. Doesn’t mean you have some disease.” “I didn’t say—,” “Adults just have to find ways to deal with their problems, themselves. I think you’re old enough for me to let you handle this.” “No, no,” I said, “you’re right. Kind of like how you cut your own hair now, no?” She turned the volume on the video up a bit. “Look, Dinah, I don’t know what you’re needing here. You need to communicate.” “I did.” “Yeah, yeah,” she said, “complaining is fine and all sometimes.” She ran her fingers through her curls and over her bald spot, pouting at herself in the mirror. “But what about the solutions? What are you going to do to solve the problem?” “I have an idea,” I said, “but I’m not sure if it’s the right move.” All I wanted in the world was for someone to stop me from what I was going to do. Say, no, you’re going to a therapist, or hell, even, no, you’re going to a camp for disgruntled teenagers, I didn’t care, I just wanted an out. “Well,” she said, “then you need to figure that out.” And there it was. The final nail. I started to twitch a bit, to draw my legs close to my chest, to feel cold. “Well,” I said, just the way she did, “how do you propose I’d do that?” “Isn’t there some girl you could ask?” she said. “Someone closer to your age who’d get all this stuff? I don’t know, maybe Lily? She’s older than you, but I guess she’d know better than me.” Lily. Lily. Lily. Lily. Lily. Lily. “Why Lily?!” “Well, look at her,” she said, “she’s got her life in order, a good job, a great husband, she’s about to be the mother. Actually, I’m sure she’d be a great guide for you. Now, your father and I are going to dinner. Would you like to come?” “Nah,” I said. “You two go and have fun.” Hopefully, they’d get in a fatal car accident on the way. At least they’d finally be doing something together. I went to leave, but she grabbed me by my elbow. Her fingers felt like cockroach feet to me. “No reason to be upset,” she said,
continued on Windhover’s website windhover.ncsu.edu
“just talking to you like you’re a mature adult young woman.” She then cloaked herself with a layer of heavy, sticky hairspray. Kid. Adult. I was either/or. With Mom’s knock-off Chanel No.5 filling my lungs, I decided I would choose which one I was. “Have fun tonight, Mom,” I said, and left. # If you were so inclined, you could hop on Amazon or eBay, and buy the following herbs: datura, belladonna, henbane, mandrake root, wormwood, tansy, mugwort, and clary sage. What you’re wanting out of these is the atropine, the hyoscyamine, the scopolamine, the thujone. You’d also want to get some sort of tallow—animal fats sink into your skin best. On Sunday, when the resulting salve is cooling down in your room, you could go to Church with your mom for the first time in years. It’ll make her so happy. When the priest gives you the cracker, don’t eat it. Slip it into your pocket and ignore how wretched and weak poor Jesus looks on his cross. You don’t worship weak gods anymore. On the way home, you could ask Mom to stop at Wal-Mart, and then go in and buy a cheap wooden cross, and giggle and flirt with the dead-eyed cashier, knowing full well that you’d never touch him without getting paid for it. Once you’re at home, you could prepare by checking the astral chart for the day, and see if Mars is in Scorpio, if Pluto is transiting your twelfth house, if Algol is cruelly twinkling next to the Moon. You could prepare by reciting the Orphic Hymn to Hekate thrice, downing some of Mom’s cabernet between each time. When Mom finally passes out at 11:36 pm (and Dad is still “stuck at work”), you could dress in all black and sneak out the sliding glass door. Remember to grab the salve, the cross, the Eucharist, and a steak knife!
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CELESTE AND ABRAHAM, photography. D.E.F. Disclaimer: D.E.F. was a volunteer for this edition, as per our Submission Policy volunteers are not permitted to take part in the review of their submission(s) to prevent subjectivity and bias. The acceptance of their piece is required to be approved by the editor-in-chief and not the committee that they may or may not have worked under.
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REMINDERS, digital drawing. Karuna Gangwani
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PHILLâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S CORNER, photography. Noah Baldwin
life lessons from my mother 1. Televised wrestling is the same thing as a soap opera (the lines between reality and fantasy are blurred) 2. Boneless chicken wings are glorified chicken nuggets (never forget who you really are) 3. All men are dogs (make sure yours doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t bite)
four letter words
a friend once told me that love is a four-letter word.
I laughed. VOLUME LIV
“You don’t understand,” she said. “Love takes you stubbornly, dragging you along until you surrender, and all that is left is the soul you were born with.
Love takes you gently, with kind words and soft touches that your skin recites for hours.”
She smiled, “Because you do not know love until it has destroyed you and you realize that you enjoyed it. I envy you; I pity you.”
I cocked my head. “Then why,” I asked, “do you judge it so harshly?”
Love takes you quickly, grabbing your hand and whispering your favorite song until you smile so hard your heart resents your lips.
Game Boy Phenomenon The passion from your fingers is already vapor on my thighs I choke it down bite bitter screenshots block messages from nights when you played the sweet siren Now you’ve cuffed my wrists to the bedpost above the pillows And as you run back to your gaming chair it’s my turn to play slave I will wait for you to love me again I watch you caress your controller with my color still on your lips They are dry Buy some chapstick I watch you
I love you
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I love on the thought of my home I am a stuffed animal with buttons for eyes yanked off and I count how much gas I’ve guzzled to play mother bird to you My papa once told me the God of Israel was a jealous God and now I understand What’s the lesson I ask myself Never date a gaming boy His controller’s first His mother’s next and third comes all his toys
pick and peruse through the games on your PS4 as if they were prostitutes All of your games look the same to me I say as if I wasn’t the only free trial in your room
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HUNT LIBRARY JOINER, photo illustration. Noah Baldwin
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He now barely remembered a life before his work in the garden, the pathetic patch of greenery desperately holding on to life in the middle of this concrete wasteland and its skyscraper stalactites. If it weren’t for the crowds, gates, and cars, he might have imagined himself to be the first man all over again, the Creator’s second attempt at the grand humanity experiment after the previous people had wiped themselves out. But no, he was just one man among many, maybe lower on society’s ladder than most. If viewed from the sky, he would be a single dot in the frantic seas on the tiny streets, running in and out of tiny buildings. Some might think his job was a noble one. Here he was, toiling and straining day after day to tend to the shrubs, flowers, and trees to keep them bright and green for the people to enjoy. He remembered having felt that way once upon a time; he’d been fresh off a plane from France and happy to be in the excitement of America, to have gotten a job he loved so soon. True, this job didn’t pay the highest salary, and it wasn’t the most prestigious amongst its category. He was a glorified dirt-pusher, a plant-tender, but at the very least he was something in this city. This thought kept him afloat amidst the flood of his mundane concerns and existential worries. And then his little world was shattered by a simple phone call. He could still hear that conversation as he kneeled amidst the begonias and the soil, remembering every little detail of the words exchanged. “…Ah, wh-what? No… she can’t be! No, it could not have been…h-her…you are sure?” He’d felt the tears in his eyes spilling
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over then, yet he prayed that this was all some cruel joke. “She’s my sister! You think I wouldn’t have known who was lying there? I was the one who found her, for God’s sake!” The caller’s voice held such fury and sorrow that he felt like he’d been blown back from the phone. Then her tone softened, and he brought his ear closer to the receiver in time to hear her next words. “I’m…I’m sorry, Francois. You didn’t mean anything by it, I’m just…she’s gone. It’s a lot to deal with right now, and I can’t believe any of this is happening.” “Y-you are not alone, Yvette.” He couldn’t stop the sob from entering his voice. “Neither can I…” Yvette had covered his flight back to France, and he’d gone to the funeral. What a lonely day that had been. Aside from Yvette, nobody seemed to care that he attended. It was understandable; none of his lover’s family had really wanted him to have anything to do with her. The whole flight back to America, he’d cried enough for a lifetime. He shook his cloudy gaze away from his tan garden gloves and started back to work. There was still much to do today, and dwelling on his lover’s long-past murder would not put any checkmarks on his to-do list. Life moved on, for good or ill, and he still needed money to eat and continue living. Though his existence had lost its sparkle and joy had fled from his lonely heart, he somehow still felt tethered to the world. No matter how he’d tried to deny it in his first few months of mourning, he knew this limbo of sorrow was his fate. The pain would never cease, only dull with time like the rest of his senses. As he tended to the plants that had just started blooming again after a harsh season, he felt jealous of how they seemed to come back so strongly after withering away. It was wrong to be angry about the ways of nature, but it felt insulting to see the colorful blossoms gazing up into his face. In spite of their decay only months ago, they had returned to taunt him with what he could not have. Their vibrant stems and leaves were as green as his lost lover’s eyes. For a flash of a second, he was tempted to yank them out of the ground and cut their lives short the way hers had been. But his anger passed, and guilt replaced it. Not only would he be fired if he were to destroy the flowers like that, but he would also feel heartsick for the rest of the day. Despite it all, he loved the plants. They were what kept him clinging to each new day, empty as the days were. It was poetic, in a way. He’d kept the city garden flourishing for as long as he’d been employed here, and now it was the garden’s turn to keep him alive. But despite
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its best efforts, it wasn’t doing a very good job. The day passed by as it always did, with his tasks tiring his limbs and his lunch only barely leaving a taste on his tongue. The skies above were gray and cold as he finally found himself traveling up the walkway to his humble home. Once, the little brownstone had felt warmer, welcoming, like a cheerful friend waiting for him to visit again. Its interior had been brightened by the talks he would share with his lover over a webcam, with her laughing at how he fumbled with the software that was so strange to him and second nature to her. These days, the rooms he’d once adored were achingly, painfully silent. He stared up at the ticking clock on the kitchen wall as his soup steamed on the table in front of him. “Guillaumine…I wonder if now, you can visit me.” he said, stinging himself to the core with his bitter words. He punished himself with a scalding mouthful from the soup bowl, but had to take a drink of milk to quench the burning. He laughed. “Weak…I’ve become so weak and strange. You wouldn’t want to look at me even if you came here again.” he said to the empty room again. The fit had subsided, the kind that always made him want to hurt himself. They’d been happening more and more recently, but he refused to go to therapy. Why did he deserve help? He’d been an ocean away, blissfully unaware residing in his happy place. And she, the woman who’d held him, made his silly self feel like it was worth something, the one he’d practically worshipped every moment he was with her, was stabbed to death by a jealous classmate over basic envy. Nothing more and nothing less, the police had said. He should have been there, in France, instead of chasing these foolish dreams. He could have, should have taken that knife instead. He would have faded into the darkness smiling, her head on his chest and her words of comfort in his ears. He could hear her voice even now. It called for him to listen. He pushed his chair back, the old wooden legs squeaking against the tile. He’d forgotten about the soup, which was fast turning cold. “No. I must be…hearing things. Is she…?” Her voice came again. It both calmed and intimidated him, like it had so many times before. “Francois, it’s me. I’ve missed you so much. Don’t you want to see me again?” He didn’t hesitate, his voice holding faint hope for the first time in forever. “You’re here! I…I cannot…
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yes, I want to see you! Wait for me!” “The bedroom window, Francois…that’s where I am. Come to me.” He ran there without a second thought. Maybe she’d be standing there, her arms wide open to embrace him. Maybe this was all a delusion of his failing and sickened brain, but still, his yearning would not be denied. In the darkened room, he found shattered glass on the carpet. The standing lamp had been knocked over, and the window was almost completely destroyed. Vines, countless vines crept like snakes through the new opening, winding their way up the walls and across the floors. And now they moved towards him. His heart pounded. His hands slickened with sweat. He swallowed. “No…no, this must be a trick.” He dimly thought back to the week he’d planted a vine in memory of her in his pitifully small yard. He’d ordered it especially from France. It was impossible, though. A woman’s soul could not become something else. “No tricks. But I’ve changed, Francois, and so have you. Do you think we’re still meant to be?” she said, her voice sounding the same as when they’d last spoken so long ago. Like thorns, glistening with honey. He now saw her outside the window. She looked like she always had, with her sharp silhouette and flowing blonde hair. But as he gazed at her, the moonlight revealed that hair to be nothing more than plant silk, like the kind a corn plant might have. Her flesh was the verdant color of the vine he’d so lovingly tended since planting it in his garden. And where there had once been shining green eyes, there was nothing left behind but gaping voids. “You took a piece away from me, when you left.” he said, feeling the vines beginning to curl around him. They pulled him towards her. “I always meant to return it on a night like this,” she replied. “Tell me. Do you really want to be with me... forever?”
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“Yes!” he said. “None of it matters anymore, without you.” She looked into the room at the light illuminating him from back in the hall. “You’d join with me? Even if it meant leaving everything behind?” “…Yes. You are here, and nothing will take you away from me again.” he replied, every word final and sound. “Then come with me, and we’ll bloom together.” She opened her arms, and the vines broke the last of the window glass. But he leapt out before they could take him to her, his hands grasping onto her earthen, goddess-like shoulders. He felt her arms wrap around him, along with countless vines and tendrils. He grew numb, and yet he could feel every sensation that had been lost to him before. She was here, and he was again safe, happy, and loved. “I should have had more faith in you.” he said. “I should have known that you would never really leave, Guillaumine... ” He could hear the smile in her voice, though her rigid epidermis showed no expression. “Not without you, Francois.” Strange warmth engulfed him at that phrase. In the comfort of her arms, he closed his eyes for the final time, as the night-blooming flowers blossomed on. The city government never did find out what happened to their park’s gardener, but soon they’d hired a new one without much fuss. Neither the landlord nor the police detectives could ever figure out what had happened to the strange French immigrant who’d disappeared from the townhouse complex. However, the pair of flowering vines he’d left behind eventually grew up along the sides of the building and tangled around each other so beautifully, earning the admiration of residents and passersby alike. And the neighboring flowers never told anyone about the sights they had seen.
The Church of Jesus Christ and Chain-Smoking Saints You’ll give your life to him. His mouth will smell like a lagoon. He’ll lick you down the spine, fold you out like gas station sandwich paper. Fill you up with tamrin’ and guava juice type sweet promises, and God, he will smoke you like a cigarette at a bus stop to make sure you’re still on fire for him. Before he flicks you into the gutter, you’ll sizzle on your dying hiss: Oh God, Happiness isn’t a tomorrow thing, I am a cigarette and God, his hit, his puff, is you and me.
DOWNTOWN PRAGUE, photography. Noah Baldwin
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GLOVER, colored pencil. Naima Sutton
ARE YOU CROOKED? magazine collage. Heike Schneider
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My Sister When the world opened for me it was like the cracking of an egg, sudden and sharp and biting. It laid me out a slimy delicate mess, an egg tipped out on a plate, yellow yolks blooming before your eyes and I cried and my mother said where’s the other one and a minute later there the other one was-like the second yolk for good luck, perfect and whole and very much squished. They shoved my mother back together and stitched her along her old appendix scar and my grandmother thinks to this day they did a bad job of it. When they took the hospital bracelets off they painted my sister’s tiny pink toenail black-just to know who’s who and then we were sisters. Twins. I could just as easily rip out my tongue as tell you what that meant. When the world closed for me, it smelled of wet earth. As my sister rocked back and forth, the fallen leaves went shush-shush, shush-shush. Tissue-thin leaves lay crumpled beneath me. A barely lightening sky crisscrossed with branches floated above me. A metallic taste of sweat and rust coated my tongue and fresh, cool air flowed through my nose. A small bubble of blood and spit rose from my mouth like a question. My sister held my hand. My sweat still glistened on my forehead. Moments before I had screamed when I fell and cried with the pain of it, slipping and scrambling around in all the leaves and the blood. Blood had spurted from me like a fountain. But now it oozed from me slowly, exhausted. I lay limp. Everything had narrowed down to this; smelling wet dirt and feeling the softness of the leaves. My sister held my hand. Emily My mom was a nurse. I used to think I wanted to be one too. I would volunteer at the hospital on weekends, discharging patients, mopping floors and sometimes following my mom around. In our tiny town’s emergency room it was mostly just old people and the occasional accident. The day I knew I couldn’t be a nurse was the day all of this started. He screamed and screamed, for so long the sound became almost hollow. He would fade out like a scratchy record only to start back up again with new intensity. They wheeled him past me and I couldn’t take my eyes away. Blood absolutely covered him and you could barely tell he was human underneath all of the blood and the deep, deep wounds that crisscrossed his entire body. I couldn’t tell you how old he was or what he was wearing. All I remember was a yellowish forearm scarred with a symbol I had never seen before. Two Xs connected by a single line. Mom drove home in silence, a tic working in her jaw. I knew better than to say anything to her. Slamming open the
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door, she dropped her purse onto the counter. A stack of dirty dishes sat in the sink. She checked the trash. “Jenifer?” she called, going to my sister’s door. “Just a second.” Mom snapped. She screamed and pounded on Jen’s door. Ah shit. I collapsed onto the couch, still shaken by what I’d seen. Jen yanked open the door, sporting rumpled hair and an oversized t-shirt, “Jeez. What?” “What are all these dishes doing out on the counter?” Mom gestured angrily towards the sink. “Relax, I’ll put them away.” “Relax?” Mom’s voice scaled an octave and both of us flinched, “I’ve been at work all day, I don’t want to come home to dirty dishes.” Pure fury now. I slunk away to my room as the voices rose louder and louder. Jen and mom had been fighting like crazy recently, fueled by mom’s stress after night shifts and Jen’s grim determination to rebel. She was almost scary that way. I figured it was just a phase, but it worried me. She’ll come home high, with scratches on her face and refuse to tell me what happened. It mostly started my sophomore year and I think it had something to do with the incident. It changed her, I think. But mom wouldn’t talk about it and neither would dad, and Jen got mad every time I mentioned it, so I eventually stopped bringing it up. It’s been two years, but sometimes I look into her eyes and I feel like it was yesterday. Jen It happened when I was only 15. I’d begged my mom to let me take the car to the movies so I had to pick her up from work that night. I pulled into the patient and visitor parking since I figured I wouldn’t be there long. Smoking a cig while waiting on my mom gave me a sense of satisfaction and steeled my nerves in the shadowy parking lot. That is, till some crackhead pulled a gun on me. He forced me back into the car and drove me around while I blubbered and cried in the passenger seat, begging him to let me go. He kept pounding the dash with his gun, his green eyes looking like a pair of pitted olives, the pupils all swollen. He told me all the things life had done to him as all the ideas of what he’d do to me swirled in my head. By the time the cops pulled him over, my side of the car was coated in puke. A little bit after that I joined the double X. For initiation, they took me to a mountainside and let me hang there on a bit of rope for twenty minutes while I recited the rules. When I came up, they all hugged me. It felt nice to be a part of something. The double X wasn’t at all what I thought it would be. It was just a bunch of teenagers whose eyes were
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older and sadder than they had any right to be. Finn’s brother started it a few years ago. His friends banded together to cut some nasty teacher’s brakes, and in the fallout from her accident decided to make the group and the rules. I knew Finn from school, a muscular guy who stuttered when he spoke and was known for being generous with his weed. When we were getting high together, I asked him about the odd-looking scar on his hand. He didn’t tell me then, but a week or two later he took me to meet everyone. Gregory, a slightly chubby guy who always seemed to be sporting a black eye or a bruise. The teachers assumed he got them in fights. The teachers were wrong. He dressed in hand-me-downs, mostly and one of his shoes had a hole in it. He said it made him sharper, reminded him why he did what he did. In reality, it mostly gave him frostbite. Amber was thin and wore tight Aeropostale jeans and shirts, uggs boots and an old gray sweatshirt. Her brown hair was stringy, and she lugged around her dad’s baseball bat. Couldn’t sleep at night unless she’d whacked something, if only a tree or bush or whatever. Rex kind of scared me. He was jacked, for one, and his eyes always had this steely look. We got most of our cocaine from his dad. He was quiet most of the time, but he was vicious and smart about causing chaos. After a couple of months in the group, I learned to appreciate that about him. We mostly just killed animals; rabbits, squirrels, birds, chipmunks, and the occasional deer. We’d build a bonfire, bigger than we needed and roast the meat, eat it straight out of the fire, a little charred maybe, unseasoned, maybe a little raw sometimes. But it was ours. On a bad night, we’d do coke and just run through the woods screaming until we all fell down. We sent stones soaring through the windows of people we didn’t like. And so what if we put barbed wire in their peonies? We weren’t looking for justice. We weren’t looking for meaning. We were just looking to feel good. It did feel good and raw and dangerous. Sometimes a little wrong. But the world is wrong. Besides, no one in the double X had ever killed anyone. Sure, I knew some people got hurt, sometimes badly so, but no one died because of us. We chanted our rules like a song and screamed like the devil was in us. Never trust anyone but us. Always be down. Never, ever leave. Emily The day I started really worrying about Jen was the day we went sunbathing at Shackthon Falls. I froze when I saw the mark on her arm, clear as day, two Xs connected by a line, the cuts bright red against her pale arm.
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“What the fuck is that?” She stood up, “What’s what?” “Those cuts on your arm? Who did that to you?” I stood up too, nearly slipping on the slimy moss that covered the smooth river stone beneath me. “It’s nothing, Emily. You worry too much.” “Those are serious, you gotta tell me what happened.” “No I don’t,” she said, walking away from me. I followed her. She just went faster, splashing through the ankle-deep water. “Don’t walk away from me!” I yelled, desperate now. She didn’t respond, just walked faster until her legs shot out from under her and she slammed into the river bed. Blood swirled out into the water around her. A few stitches and a few days later she was fine, but we never talked about the scars on her arm again. I figured she didn’t want me poking my nose in her business. I figured she was a big girl, she’d take care of herself and besides, I had enough on my plate, trying to keep my GPA up senior year and applying for colleges. We grew distant, both of us more irritable and stressed. She disappeared for long lengths of time, and I was the only one in the family who seemed to notice. It wasn’t until months later that I realized how wrong I was. “Emily!” Jen hissed, shaking me awake. It was so dark I could only make out shapes, and I reached for the shape of her face above mine. “What?” “I need your help,” she whispered and her voice was... off. “Are you crying? What’s going on?” She sniffed, “I need your help now!” She sounded terrified. I sat up, rubbing my eyes. “What’s going on?” “There’s um… you know how I have those scars on my arm? The double Xs?” Suddenly I was wide awake, “Yeah?” “Well, they’re a sign that I’m... part of a group. Like a club. We, um, we get together every month in the woods and we do... things.” “Things? What things?” “Just things! But I um... I had a falling out with them. And they can be dangerous.” “They… what?” “They wanna hurt me. And they know where I live.” We sorted through our options quickly. Dad was over in Asheville visiting Grandma. Mom was working the late shift and wouldn’t be home till 6 am. There was no car, and the nearest person was three miles away on a winding gravel road. Jen suggested calling the cops, but if she told on the group they’d tell on her
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and she’d go to jail for years. The thought of not seeing her for all that time scared me almost more than the thought of watching her get beaten up by a gang. So we went into the woods. I kept held one hand tight with my sister’s and the other one on my father’s ax. She lit our way with a flashlight that danced eerily over the tree trunks. We shuffled along as fast as we could without fear of tripping, every sound we made feeling like a gunshot in the near-silence. Our breath froze in front of us, ghosting in the brilliant glare of the flashlight. The axe thumped heavily against my calf. I thanked God we’d both remembered to throw on coats and boots. I thanked God that I liked to hike in the woods behind our property and so knew them well. And I prayed desperately to the tiny, winking stars above that we’d make it through the night. We kept on like this, fear driving us forward until we started hearing the screams. They sounded crazy, whooping and screeching loud enough to wake the dead. At least seven of them. My sister shrieked and dropped the flashlight. “That’s them.” she whispered “Fuck. Jesus fuck!” I cursed, rummaging around in the fallen leaves for the flashlight. Jen whimpered and tugged at her hair. I pressed the flashlight into her hand and hoisted the ax, my arm already sore from the weight of it. We stumbled along as fast as we could. The wailing of the people after us careened between the tree trunks, a slowly mounting chorus of pain. Jen When I first heard the screeches of the double X, I froze. Adrenaline cannonballed into my veins and my legs felt like cement. But as I walked on an idea began to crystalize in my mind. Our most important rule swirled in my mind. Never ever leave. They would never let me leave. I looked at my sister’s pale hand wrapped around the handle of the ax. I hated that I’d dragged her into this. She didn’t deserve it. I tasted the frosted mountain air and knew what I had to do. The idea of how to do it came just a few moments later. I stopped suddenly and tugged on Emily’s sleeve. “We have to split up.” “What the hell? No! I can’t leave you,” she cried. “Sure but they’ll catch us if we don’t. You know we don’t stand a chance together like this. We’re slow. A sitting duck. But maybe if we strategize, like maybe I could lead them away while you hide and then…” I paused, throwing my line out and waiting for her to take the bait. She shook her head, “No, I’ll lead them away.” It was easy to feign surprise, “No, you can’t!” “Look. I’m faster than you. I can maybe outrun them by myself and if I can’t, well, they’re not after me, are they? We’ll confuse them.” “But I can’t let you take that risk…”
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She was still puzzling it through. “Yeah, you hide with the ax in case they come back. I’ll take the flashlight. There’s no way… there’s no way they’d kill a random person like me. Is there?” I shook my head. “But what if they hurt you?” I asked I could tell by her defiant stance that she was sold, “No, I’ll do it.” Tears spilled out of my eyes, warm for the briefest second on my face, “I love you.” I choked out, “I love you so much.” She smiled tightly, “Take the axe and hide.” I watched until she disappeared into the trees, knowing that was the last time I’d see my sister. Then, I threw the ax onto the ground and started walking in the opposite direction. Emily I ran on, my blood like ice in my veins. The light danced shakily in front of me. I ran faster, and faster, hearing the frenzied shouts behind me. I had to do this. Had to distract them. If Jen and I could just make it till morning our mom would come home. The idea was glorious to me, walking back to the house with Jen to find my mom in her baby blue scrubs and to drive out of the woods safe and sound. I had to make that happen. And so I sprinted until my lungs felt like they were full of rocks. I sprinted until heat crept out from my sweaty collar and pressed against my red face. Suddenly, a scream wailed out into the night and I fell, skidding forward with a cry. I would recognize my sister’s scream anywhere. I scrambled up, my knees and elbows stinging, and fumbled for the flashlight. I could hear my heartbeat in my throat and feel the tears stinging my eyes as I ran back to her, barely noticing the vines and branches that whipped my face. By the time I staggered into a clearing, the dawn light was beginning to turn the sky dishwater gray. Everything was washed out, monochrome and blurry through my tears. Jen lay gasping in a bloody nest of leaves. I kneeled beside her and cradled her limp hand. “No, no, no,” I moaned. I looked up, into the faces of the people that stood around her. With a start, I realized I knew most of them from school. One of them, Finn, I think his name was, stepped closer and raised a hand as if to comfort me. On his forearm, the same mark as on hers. “Get the fuck away!” I screamed The cowards backed away slowly, their faces stricken. “Get away from her!” I screamed again, my voice cracking and broken. As they ran, I turned back to my sister. I smoothed her hair back and kissed her hand. Her eyes were glazed, but still alive. I held her small hand until it was cold.
Guessing My eyes glazed over green fields with large brown specks dotting the surface. The mountainous creatures cried out against the rumble of the machine herding them.
“You are more afraid of them than they are of you.”
A crazy old man with nothing else but his bison and red golf cart and a promised feature in the newspaper. “The secret is,” my father said, “that you don’t let them know.” He held out his hand for me. “You let them guess.”
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EUPHORIA, acrylic paint. Megan Brown
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OUR HOUSE, photography. Eric Wennerstrom
I make sweet out of Nothing. Propolis filled cracks. I, too, sting regret.
Like a Bee
Green Cape As if in a dream In the Owen study lounge She sits, on her throne ... There are no words to Describe, I feel less alone Knowing that the cape ... THAT green cape, oh yes That unmistakable green Will live on with her
The Yellow Boat I spot the little girl downstream on the riverbank within a second. She’s splashing around in ankle-deep water, or, for an adult, water just barely deep enough to cover the top of your feet. There’s a yellow boat in one of her hands, but from here I can’t see all of the details. Her dark hair occasionally sends the boat into streaking existence as she moves it around her body and through her tresses. I picture her lips in the form of a smile. I take a step closer. As strands of my own blonde hair blow into my face, I momentarily lose sight of her. My mind attempts to fill in the details of the fleeting innocence that childhood contains; the time when your brain could lead your feet to trace new worlds; the time when life could be anything and boats could be friends. When everything is a swirling mixture of light hair and yellow boats and green nature. She flickers back into sight and I’m reminded of her dark hair, not blonde like mine. A boy not much older than her has appeared, and the little girl hopelessly stretches her arms upward as he holds the boat over her head. To taunt her further, he moves his arm so that the boat is dangling over the rushing water. Though I can’t tell from here, I imagine the little girl looking upstream to the large waterfall, its force sure to sweep away the toy boat forever. The boy lowers it, and the girl desperately reaches for it but is too scared to step past her ankle-deep shallows. He’s probably laughing. Probably mimicking her panic, her tears that are undoubtedly streaking her cheeks. I’m getting closer now, and as he yanks the toy further out of reach from her outstretched arms, I can see that the breeze full of water that brushes past my body reaches them in a light dusting. He pulls the toy to his chest just as I disappear behind the cloud of mist. In my mind, the blonde girl collapses into a fit as her boat, her vessel for traveling in life, is taken by the stronger boy. She clutches her chest, and he continues to play with it as though all of the life the girl dreamed into it was meaningless, as though her love was nothing but a tragic game. I feel her heart dropping into her stomach; I feel her quick breathing and inability to think of anything but that yellow boat, of anything but her life in his unyielding clutch. I feel my body join with the rush of the falling water as it plunges me into the darkness of the river. W.
Disclaimer: Lucy Marcum was a volunteer for this edition, as per our Submission Policy volunteers are not permitted to take part in the review of their submission(s) to prevent subjectivity and bias. The acceptance of their piece is required to be approved by the editor-in-chief and not the committee that they may or may not have worked under.
NATURAL AMPHORA, acrylic paint. Victoria Kern
For Dad I remember the times you’d teach me karate in the backyard with mother’s reluctant approval. The yard yellowed from neglect of the tender touch of the summer’s warmth. The grass padded the soles of our feet as you prompted me to ball up my tiny hand with your own. I watched as mine disappeared beneath the flesh. I felt the heat escape from your body that calmed the cold wind nipping. My fists converged into your wide and cracked, peeling palms caked with day’s long work, but your feet always stuck close to the earth.
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I stand close on the other side of the curving lines etched in your palm to be a reminder for when you stood planted to the ground.
I wanted my fists to obliterate all the barriers between us, I saw how the war remained wedged in the pupils of your eyes. I know you pretended it didn’t affect you. I striked with my foot, I’m too weak to reach. You’d smile and look down, towering over me. You reminded me of a tree trunk Those days our bodies sliced through the still air before the movement started to cease. And the grass padding our feet transformed into hospital beds consoling your tender back. And the pressure of my fists colliding into your roughed palm morphed into IVs attached to your wrist. by strangers in white who only see you for what’s metastasizing within the confines of your mind.
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EXPIRATION “Dying is an art, like everything else.” – Sylvia Plath, “Lady Lazarus” in Ariel (1965)
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SKULL WITH SNAKE, acrylic and sharpie. Kailyn Byers
phrases i repeat until
spitting acid from my calloused mouth, like a viper defending itself, fending off a threat that turns out to be its own reflection. in the majority of the problems i face lies a glimmer of myself, the fingerprint of an artist found at the core of a piece.
i fall faster with each syllable until a final blow, a final bone snap. my jaw becomes unhinged and i repeat the nuclear attacks, vaporize every ounce of confidence splitting through the tension in the air, repeating phrases to destroy myself until my tongue bleeds. biting my cheek until a hole opens, biting my nails until my fingers fall off.
scratches into spinning vinyl heavyweight LPs track one “you’re a bad person” snipping the safety net beneath me until it’s a pile of rope tangled in the grass below.
repeating “go away” until my back is against a wall, flame floods the hall to prevent escape. i’m trapped in this room with twelve people, twelve strangers, my mind has decided hate me. so i’m standoffish, confrontational, i’m too drained of energy, i become the villain and i’m known for that day.
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SHADRACH, MESHACH, AND ABEDNEGO acrylic paint. Hannah Tatman
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Life, an enigmatic complication
Like cattle we graze, occupying ample space filling the void that is our gluttony Like a common flower, we pine for daylight as we breed morbidity perniciously in our sight Like an earthquake we appear, rattled adapting to the devastation we manifest Mother Earth parleying with Father Time haphazardly stitching her will as she begins to inscribe her denouement. Extinction, the irreversible solution
Little Time Left
FAMILY PHOTO, colored pencil. Megan Brown
Vulnerability I hear the crunch of bone and I hear The tearing of flesh Someone’s chest Has been cracked open, their insides put on vivid display
Now, no longer familiar, it pulses and shifts And from it a dozen insects unfurl delicate wings the color of raw gemstones I feel them crawl up my ribs and balance themselves on the carnage of my open chest I feel their wings begin to flutter shedding the blackness
I see the familiar blackness A dark viscous sludge that once slathered my lungs and settled among thumping masses of muscle
I feel a thought slinking To the front of my brain “look down” And I do, my chest is raw and open But it is not the steaming blood Nor the ragged flesh That comes as a surprise
Jalenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Confidence Drive Aden Bonet
VIDEO The Rage Against Rockwell
When I looked into your eyes the first time, I’ll admit it intimidated me Not because you did anything to intimidate me, it was what you didn’t do You weren’t ditzy, you weren’t capricious, and despite your expensive taste, you had little vanity You were graceful, witty, good company, albeit a little weird, and as cliché as it sounds, Beautiful And I mean beautiful, as in invariably beautiful, the type of beauty that does not come my way ever. It gave me a good kind of scare
Because ideas are fun to play around with, but you were a woman more than a human being, not a mere thought I created an idea of you, before I took the time to appreciate you as you are I didn’t take the time to appreciate your flaws, before wanting what I wanted from you: that idea of you Although as I learned your flaws, it made that throne I sat you on in my mind crack, then break apart completely I no longer thought of you as a queen, but as an angry, vain, and clumsy woman, unworthy of my companionship
And no, I’m not talking about your looks, it was everything about you, from the way you talk to what you were about, to even when you was cussing me out, it all felt beautiful
I villainized you for being who you are, you were just being you, I did what a lot of people do, well, what a lot of men do to women: punish them for the crime of being themselves
That is not to say I didn’t look at those long legs, slim waist, and that smooth face with those full lips, and that delicious skin tone, in all its chocolate essence,
And still, you shine in spite of—or because of—your flaws, you’re Queen because of who you are, not who I think you should be
Good Lord, I need to let my pen breathe a moment… back to my thoughts
And that was totally unfair to you, and selfishly unfair to myself
I was too young to appreciate your complexities, I appreciated the cover of your story, but did not take the time to read it, I just put you on my bookshelf as nice decoration and I was wrong for doing that because you are, and forever will be, so much more
I put you above everything else
A queen you were, sitting high on a throne, reigning over my thoughts
CASTRO, photography. D.E.F.
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Disclaimer: D.E.F. was a volunteer for this edition, as per our Submission Policy volunteers are not permitted to take part in the review of their submission(s) to prevent subjectivity and bias. The acceptance of their piece is required to be approved by the editor-in-chief and not the committee that they may or may not have worked under.
An Ode to Mongo of Shrek 2 Innocence washed away, scalded by men who don’t know your name or age. Men whose faces are some of the first faces you’ve ever seen. You bear scars on your skin as birthmarks. Each one a tally for a minute of life.
No one thought of the consequences, what it means to bear life in times of war, to throw someone out of the oven and into the flames. It’s easy to stomach someone dying when it’s not their death to bear; it’s just like systems of power to cut middle men out to keep themselves alive.
You were born into violence bred to cry power against those stronger than you. You learned a battle cry before first words, a hymn of protest. You spoke a language meant for war at an age meant to learn love. Not everyone can be so lucky.
You were born to expedite the process, left lying in the water like Ophelia. No flowers to adorn your crown, only the sunken gumdrop buttons mistaken for rocks. Your skin dissolved into the stream as dirt. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. We’re all buried in the end. The song of unsung heroes is the hardest to tell. It’s strange, you’d expect it to piece itself together, each word after the other, but every letter is scattered like crumbs across the floor. Fragmented with no clue of where to start.
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EXIT STAGE RIGHT, photography. Minh Pham
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THE STRANGER, photography. Ashley Fleming
THE UNIVERSE IN A SEASHELL, photography. Minh Pham
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Thank you to our benevolent Chevalier level patron, Arts NC State.
We would like to express our sincerest gratitude to all the people and institutions outside of Windhover that helped make this year such a great one: Patrick Neal, Jamie Gilbert, Laura Mooney, The Student Media Business Office, Zanna Swann, Julia Harrison and the Agromeck Staff, The Student Media Board of Directors, and all of our readers/supporters on campus and beyond.
Typefaces used are Windsor D Regular and Apercu Light, Regular, and Bold Printed on 70# Lynx Uncoated Text, Smooth, Opaque Ultra Cover is #100 Lynx Cover with thermography Created with Adobe InDesign CC 2020 1,200 copies printed and distributed free of charge
Printed by Theo Davis Printing in Durham, NC RR Donnelley Durham 1 Litho Way, Durham, NC 27703
Windhover considers artistic work for publishing across many mediums created by NC State University students, staff and alumni. Editorial staff, alongside their respective volunteer committees, review submissions with particular criteria in mind and then choose their nominations for the annual magazine. Submissions do not reflect the opinions of Windhover, Student Media, or NC State University. For submission guidelines, please visit windhover.ncsu.edu
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