by Casey Weaver

OLIVIA: 18, she/they, Chinese-American, founder of GSA at their middle school, total flirt, has flouncy hair barely contained by little clips at the crown of her head

INEZ: 18, she/her, second generation Venezuelan-American, goofy, nerdy, often overthinking, oldest sibling in busy house with cousins and grandparents

Setting: a cool Saturday night in July at an intimate concert venue.

At rise, Olivia and Inez are on their second date. Olivia fits in perfectly with the other concert-goers, in their hippie dippie flowing dress and platform boots. Inez, still experimenting with her style, wears a frog-patterned button-up with the buttons slightly askew. They stand a foot apart, towards the back of the venue, under softly strobing lights. They sway.


OLIVIA: I love this song.

INEZ: What?

OLIVIA: I said I love this song.

                     Inez nods slightly, an awkwardly cordial smile in response, not engaging.

OLIVIA (cont.): (affectionate, empathetic) Are you having a good time?

INEZ: Yes. Sorry. I – I couldn’t hear what you said earlier. And then it was like one of those moments where I already looked confused, and, so I just…

Inez takes a deep breath and giggles awkwardly.

INEZ (cont.): I’m having a good time.

OLIVIA: (smiling knowingly) I’m glad.

INEZ: Yeah, I mean, the last concert I went to was my cousin’s rap debut in my grandma’s basement.

OLIVIA: Wow, I didn’t realize the bar was so high. I don’t know if this can compare.

INEZ: Oh yeah, he’s on Soundcloud, so…

                     They both laugh, moving an inch closer.

INEZ (cont.): I actually, uh, did the lights for his performance.

OLIVIA: (impressed) Really?

INEZ: Oh yeah, I had to practice with him for like two days. He made me put a sign on the door with a seizure warning.

OLIVIA: Yikes, pretty intense.

INEZ: Yeah, I don’t really think we were in any danger of that, though. Probably just jacked up my grandma’s electric bill.

OLIVIA: In any case, you seem to be a woman of many talents.

INEZ: Oh yeah, I got the whole, like, (she mimes flicking a light switch) thing going.

OLIVIA: So what I’m hearing is you should be backstage right now.

INEZ: Hah, I don’t know if I could handle that. It’s, like, blinding. I can barely see you.

OLIVIA: (beat, quietly) I’m here.

They move closer, fingertips stretching to meet. Knuckles brush softly, lingering.

They pull away.

INEZ and OLIVIA: Sorry.

INEZ: I didn’t mean to, uh…

OLIVIA: Yeah, I think that kid bumped into me. The lights, you know…

INEZ: Yeah, no one can see.

OLIVIA: No one can see.

                     Beat. They listen for a while. Deep bass thumps like a heartbeat, lurking below 

faded piano rhythms pierced gingerly by yearning vocals.

OLIVIA (cont.): How does she sing like that? My vocal chords are screaming just imagining it.

INEZ: I read somewhere that she does it like that on purpose. She records everything in her bedroom, right when she wakes up, sitting on the floor… 

OLIVIA: (chuckling incredulously) And how do you know this?!?

INEZ: (biting her nail) Oh, ahha, I, uh,… she’s kind of my idol to be honest. I didn’t wanna make a big deal, but seeing her perform is sort of all I’ve ever wanted.

OLIVIA: (slight pause) I had no idea. (smirking coyly) Didn’t realize I was on a date with a diehard fan. So nooooow you have to give me all the insider info.

INEZ: What do you wanna know?

OLIVIA: (looking at the stage, captivated) It’s like her voice is coursing through my veins. How can she make me feel so safe?

INEZ: I think it’s everything. It’s her, and it’s you… Sometimes I feel like she anagrammed my diary into these lyrics.

Olivia laughs quietly.

OLIVIA: It sounds like a lullaby.

Inez hums along lightly.

OLIVIA (cont.): It’s just like something my mom used to sing. Did your parents ever sing to you?

Inez thinks for a minute.

INEZ: Not too much. We read a lot of books at night. Old stuff from when my dad was a kid that bored me to sleep. But I always woke up the second he left my room. The stairs would creak.


INEZ (cont.): I guess it was sort of like singing, hearing him read. What songs did your mom sing?

OLIVIA: Everything, it seemed. It always felt the same, though.

                     Olivia takes a moment, lost in memory.

OLIVIA (cont.): She would sit at the edge of my bed and sing as I fell asleep, and then she’d sing in the doorway, and then she’d keep singing as she walked down the hall just to make sure I didn’t wake up. I never really wanted to go to sleep, though. I could’ve listened to her singing forever.

                     Olivia and Inez each close their eyes.

OLIVIA: It’s like I’m six years old again.

INEZ: I can hear the stairs creak.

The music slows. Inez and Olivia take a few beats to close the gap between them. Upper arms pressed together, they find each other. Softly, silently, they hold hands.

OLVIA: (whispering) I wear a lot of rings. Sorry.

INEZ: (whispering) Oh, no, they’re nice. Or I think they are. I can’t really see them, um––

OLIVIA: They can get in the way, sometimes.

INEZ: I like them. It lets me know it’s you.

Foggy strobes of blue and purple wash over them. Inez and Olivia laugh and dance, liberated in the shadows.

Too quickly, the set is finished, the audience is thanked. Suddenly, the lights come up. Magenta darkness is replaced with bright white-gold. Olivia and Inez separate, fingers untangling faster than thunder follows lightning.

They exit the venue. The city glows.

OLIVIA: How does it feel? Finally seeing your idol perform?

INEZ: Incredible. Everything about it. The music, the lights… I could’ve stayed there forever.

OLIVIA: I would if I could.

INEZ: Would you ever wanna perform there?

OLIVIA: Are you kidding? People were crying at that performance. I could never do that.

INEZ: Come on, I’ve heard you play.

OLIVIA: Yeah, in like the eighth grade orchestra concert.

INEZ: (smiling, mind adrift with the idea of Olivia onstage) I can imagine you up there.

OLIVIA: Just me and my violin? I bet your Soundcloud rapper cousin would get more of a crowd than I could.

INEZ: Well, as long as you get someone to come other than my grandma, you’d have him beat. 

OLIVIA: (more vulnerable than we’ve seen her before) Would you watch me play?

INEZ: I would do the lights for you.

                     Inez mimes the light-switch flicking again, stopping to face Olivia.

OLIVIA: So no one can see.

INEZ: Just us.

Olivia and Inez slowly brush their fingers together, finally grasping each other’s hands. Olivia slowly closes her eyes, imagining her violin resting on her shoulder and the delicate weight of the bow in her fingertips.

OLIVIA: Can you hear it?

INEZ: Like a lullaby.


Ironía venenosa

by Evan Zigmond

De verdad, sabía que el mundo iba a caer en caos por algunos años, y aunque muchas personas no pueden elegir el momento exacto que se le dieron cuenta, esta memoria queda en mi mente — la empieza del fin de la civilización.

 El año: 2017. Estaba en Facebook cuando vi un anuncio para Lunchables, una merienda dirigida a los jóvenes. El producto exacto se llamaba Lunchables Walking Taco. Afortunadamente, no refiere a ningún tipo de taco sensible que camina, sino taco portable (los tacos sensibles no llegaron hasta 2032). La capcion: “Wow! Delicious! Radical! Lunchables Walking Taco is totally cool.” Eso marcó el comienzo del fin. 

Al tiempo me encantaba el anuncio por su ironía sutil. Pensaba que Lunchables había subido los tropos del mundo publicitario. En realidad la ironía se convirtió en un tropo nuevo, no solo de los anuncios sino en el mundo cotidiano. La ironía se volvió más y más popular al fin de los 2010s, cuando la gente descubrió que funcionaba muy bien en lograr un video viral – Incluso yo, que quería conseguir la fama por internet más que todo. Estaba en la calle grabando un video chistoso cuando un coche me pegó y morí por primera vez. 

Me sorprendí cuando llegue a la imagen exacta del paraíso que tiene los Cristianos: las puertas nacaradas sostenidas por las nubes. Casi manché yo mismo cuando oí la voz de dios: “jajaja nadie te dijo no caminar en la calle cabron?”

Estaba un poco harto; ¿quién habla así? Ya había morido de un coche ese día, y dios estaba añadiendo el insulto a las lesiones, literalmente. Aparte de eso, estaba harto por morirse; no es muy divertido en sí. Pregunté a dios “porque tenía que morirse a causa de la ironía específicamente?” Y Dios me contestaba:

“Tu no has morido por la ironía, la ironía le ha matado.”


“Tu entendimiento de causa y efecto es al revés. La ironía existe ante ti, y existirá después de ti. La ironía existe fuera del tiempo lineal; se está manifestando en tu mundo después de milenios de preparación necesaria (lenguaje, connotación, etc.). Entonces, durante su vida, tu no utilizaba la ironía. La ironía utilizaba a ti, como vehículo, y queda más y más fuerte cada día.

“Bueno, por lo menos puedo descansar aquí en el paraíso, lejos de todas estas malvadas.”

Dios chequeó algunos papeles en la mano. “Es irónico que tú lo dices; mis papeles dicen que vas al infierno” y con un chasquido me desperté en el medio de la calle. 

La persona que me pegó con el coche salió y me miró, pero en vez de hablar, empieza a hacer algunos Fortnite Dances (un baile popular del videojuego nombrado), pintada aquí:

Regresé a mi casa para descubrir que mis padres solamente hablaban en bromas y referencias populares. Traté de abrazar a mi madre pero ella me dijo “whoa bro that’s kinda sus” y también hice los Fortnite Dances en mi cara. 

Desde ese punto gradualmente he perdido mi control del lenguaje también; la ironía trabaja como veneno. Las palabras pierden sus significados originales hasta que sea imposible comunicar sinceramente. Lo que permanece es una corriente de referencias desconectadas: Britney Spears, NASCAR, Cody Ko, ‘Ridiculousness’ with Rob Dyrdek. “Wow! Delicious! Radical! Lunchables Walking Taco is totally cool.” 


it was lost

by Matthew Mcgovern

waking with summer’s last rays
the last of our days ensemble
stuck up on three floors, eye to
eye with wailing willows
out of doors i’m up to the window, out
of bed watching wishing with the
whole world dying almost dead,
you plan to pin me to the pillow
call me back with your lips your
kiss… with lips now out of reach
was it lust?

it was lost. lost when i
walked outside, untangled
from the bramble of the
bed’s embrace, anchor of
the night held me tight now
the sun burns the lust from
my lips, lost at sea not salty
at my lot unmoored and
with no real route.

A field of stars

by Josh Stone

On a precipice of faith stands I
Small staring at the stars
Those fiery souls who light my sky and
Cast shadows onto brightest doubts
They are my friends and I
Will be among them soon
Without fear to hinder
Or dread to send my path askew

Through those stars will I roam
Purple plumes of gas giants
In those carbon fields will I graze
Spending each breath among the grains of life
Who so selflessly fill the sky with splendor


by Madison Reid

On the patio in a wooden chair  

I pore over my hands

peel flicking skin away,

hold it to the light.

She does no more than she must

yet I worship her, her landmark side effects

grapefruit clouds/sprouts and May

chemical change to the skin 

I thank her

for repetition

for tinged blistered skin

for a brand new place

for wind to rush in

Harbert, MI

by Ella Brady

this summer,
the tide ate the sand
it swallowed up the beds
of the magic rocks
that survived lake water waves
and cast the spells of childhood
that made cuts both deeper
and heal faster

we used to float on wayward Styrofoam
that was lost somewhere in between
Chicago and Michigan
when the sun came down
the industrial packaging material—
boat palace—
was dragged onto shore
only to be launched again
at sunrise

this summer,
pollutants scrape against stone walls
missing the liminal beach
saturating once-clear water
blueberries, however,
blueberries stay the same
blueberries and Café Gulistan and heat exhaustion and August anxieties
exist when the sand does not,

this summer,
blueberries stay ripe,
and sun-kissed, and mid-day,
at the right time, they
swell with the same
fleeting magic
of the rocks
that lost their homes

baby yaga’s castle

by Max Migdail

my home is coming running on chicken legs
confessed brother lobster
scuttling and clucking and mucking and running
all the way to your porch
assured brother lobster
soon we shall be neighbors
my door to yours
in under five seconds
said brother lobster
for we are a very long-lived people
us lobsters
never seen one die have you
goaded brother lobster
i’ll still be here when the renovations are done
and i can crawl and pulse wherever I want
and i won’t be the only one in the pot
but you’ll still be here too I suppose
rambled brother lobster
don’t worry
i won’t be too much a bother
chuckled brother lobster
won’t be asking for sugar
or inviting you to church
just the occasional barbeque
hop over the fence and take a dip
good and neighborly
more than you’ve ever been
promised brother lobster

i just nodded


By: Ella Brady

a park bench deserves sun spots,

it has earned them.

it weathered candy-struck tongues

licking lips that form tunnels for

whispers that oscillate between




if you stuffed my wrinkle lined mind

inside that pastel frame,

where I lived with you,

would I love still lake water

like it was new,

every time, would all the muscles in my face

know how to—

smile in tandem; could light

beam from my palms;

settle on tip toes;


a park bench deserves sun spots,

do I deserve freckles?