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Poem – Ethan Resek
Manifesto – Joseph Harmon
Lina Whiskey – Gloria Revanche
Harbor Beach, 10:20 PM – Lily Oliver
A Rainstorm at Home – Ella Brady
thoughts weeding together – Max Migdail
Too Small Now – S.J. Swoap
march of the penguins – Liam Knox
Ode to an Orbit – Abigail Raymond
First Glimpse of You at Stansted – Madison Reid
Feel Good – Pauline MacNeil
Want Too Much Too – Nye Canham
Luminous Beings are We – Miranda Feinberg
Quiet Sugars – Jeremiah Sears
i remember the birds most – Alice Hickson
Mahal Kita? – Isabella Urdahl
carp in the bathtub – May Hong
A Rhythm – Hunter Silvestri
तुम, सिगरेट और झुमका – Arti Mehrotra
After Mother Road Died – Sarah Walsh
i think birds are real – Jared Rosen
By: Ethan Resek
My mother brought me. That is to say, I enjoyed my time at the museum. As I walked along the opposite path, a pigeon flew across my right shoulder, separating me from the museum. It was brown, and it looked into my eyes. Its eyes were red and had dark pupils. The bird flew away, over the museum that my phone told me had recently been bombed. It was on our right, across the street, the museum that had been bombed recently. I was told that the museum had many valuable things. Turning to the right, across the street, we walked up the steps. The museum advertises itself as “the museum that the newspapers stated was the cause of much pain to the world, and the museum that would like to apologize profusely to those who don’t believe in ideas.” Since it was bombed, there are no tickets anymore for this museum. There are no locations to go to in this museum — no “American Art before 1900,” no “Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Art,” no nothing — so forget about traveling the world. What is left inside the museum, after it was bombed, is a short row of white tiles that have words on them. They are boring and serious as, I’ve been told, art tends to be. My mother sits down near a window that looks somewhere. I look at a white tile punctured with the question “color of the want?” Not wanting that decision in my life, I ask “which?” My mother looks out the window, and the bird comes back. It is a male cardinal now, creating a red dance in the sun. The sun is shining through the window. Now the sign in the museum that was recently bombed says “which.” The cardinal sings a pretty song for my mother to listen to that sounds like “buh-reep whicha whicha whicha whicha buh-reep buh-reep.” I walk to my mom’s side, and she puts her arm around me — sing “buh-reep whicha whicha whicha whicha whicha buh-reep whicha whicha buh-reep buh-reep buh-reep.”
By: Joseph Harmon
When Irene got stuck between the cookbooks and the New Age section, it was Gregory’s job to fish her out. Phil wasn’t the type to intervene. All he did was nod his head towards the doorway and say, “There’s a situation in there for ya.” Gregory could handle the situation. He was unshakeable, and everyone at Quiet Pines knew it. He found her sitting in the empty corner, spine to the wall and legs pretzeled.
“Hello, Irene,” he said, meeting her eyes. He respected her even when she lost her way. She had been a professor once, and she was so sharp that all the newspapers printed her letters to the editor.
“Thank you for stopping by,” she told him. “I just remembered my mother’s recipe for Swedish meatballs. The secret ingredient was rose quartz. It opens the heart.”
“Rose quartz is a crystal, isn’t it?” Gregory asked. “I imagine that would be hard to chew.”
“Of course. You’re right,” Irene told him, standing up to reach his level. She didn’t sound embarrassed. “But you liked them, didn’t you? When you came over for dinner. You had a smart new suit, but you looked so young.”
“I wasn’t there,” Gregory told her, then had the sense to add, “I wish I had been.”
“That’s right,” Irene said, moving to the window. Her gait had been rickety ever since the hip replacement, but she took great pains to hide it. The workers were taking down the elm outside. They said it was diseased, but the tree looked fine.
“Irene, you’re stuck between shelves,” Gregory told her. The last time she had gotten stuck, she had begged him to be direct.
“Do you remember how to help me?” she asked.
“Yes. You take sixty-seven steps to the center of the shelves. Then you look up,” Gregory said. He felt a bit embarrassed giving these abstract directions, and spooked by the fact that she might be carrying them out in her head.
“There’s so much dust around me,” said Irene, looking nowhere in particular. “What about the dust?”
She hadn’t mentioned the dust before, so he winged it. “Ignore the dust,” he said as if he knew what he was talking about. “Ignore it and look up.”
“I’m looking up,” she told him, and she was. Her head was thrown back, her arms loose at her sides, and all of the weight seemed to have left her body. She seemed to invite some kind of divine rapture, but not completely. Irene was too much of a skeptic for that. She really was brilliant, after all, and her bookshelves were only there to keep everything straight.
“What do you see?” He asked out of curiosity this time.
“It’s blank,” she said. “I didn’t make a ceiling.”
“Is it light?” he asked. He pictured sunlight streaming through slats.
“No,” she told him. “It’s just empty.” She blinked several times, which made him nervous at first, but when she turned to him, he knew that she was back. She examined the room in that imperious way of hers, and he began to smile just at the sight of her. She took a few steps forward, and already she seemed more definite.
“Thank you for the help,” she told him, grateful but not meeting his gaze.
“Any time,” Gregory said. “And if you didn’t know, it’s almost supper.”
“Oh, I’m not hungry,” she said, but she took his arm anyway. They walked to the common room together as if nobody had ever done such a thing.
* * *
“Stuck between shelves?” Naomi asked them. She worked at Quiet Pines, God knew why. She was a sweet girl, but so damn young that she hurt to look at. She couldn’t comprehend all that was ahead of her. Gregory had a better sense of how it would all end, because he was closer to an ending. Really, he was jealous. She had the luxury of leaving. At least when she was here, she was all here. She could coax any of them into conversation, and she listened even when they spoke in loops, rehashing the glory and the sorrow until they had lost their point.
“She got out quick,” Gregory said. “No fuss, all business.”
Something about Naomi reminded him of Trish, but of course everything did. It was a sweet kind of pain to discover your love in unexpected places.
The bamboo outside had only been planted last year, but it was already encroaching on their window space. Gregory wondered if that was the point. A fortress around them. He wanted to go up to one of the head honchos behind the front desk and say, hey, what’s the big idea? What are you trying to hide?
Phil was watching one of those TV judge shows that he liked. His way of paying attention was very close to not paying attention at all. Gregory glanced at the screen and saw three judges deliberating under some red curtains. The fabric looked as cheap as a kid’s Halloween costume.
“Yesterday, they gave five thousand dollars for unnecessary suffering,” Phil told him. His eyes were bright blue, a burst blood vessel forking through one like a lightning bolt. Gregory thought that sounded fair. There really was all this suffering. The news said so. Suffering everywhere on this earth, and it was too late to help. He had missed his chance.
If Trish were here, she would order him to stop being bitter. He was choosing to stay set in his ways, she’d tell him. True fools were the ones who wouldn’t budge. Somehow, she would also make him laugh. She was like that.
Here was a thought: balance out all the suffering with all the money. Then barricade everyone with bamboo so you could never have to see another soul, and nothing would feel better or worse. It would be a solution that would make the TV judges nod soberly around their conference table. Then they would crank up those stupid violins so you knew that the situation had turned out for the better.
“Phil, why do you like that show?” Naomi asked. There was only curiosity in her voice. Gregory admired this most about her. She asked questions from a place of confidence that there was always something worth discovering.
“Sweetheart, it’s entertainment,” Phil said. He turned up the volume.
For her night job, Naomi worked the coat check at a music venue. Gregory had a vivid image of her sitting on a stool in a dimly lit room, reading a paperback while a band played. He couldn’t remember if she had told him or if he had imagined it. She could hear the music even when she wasn’t paying attention, but she stood up to listen once they played the song that captured it all. He remembered her saying that. The summary of all the singer had hoped to express, powerful and raw, clicking together in all the right places. She had a sense for it.
“The bamboo’s getting taller,” Gregory said to Irene. This was less of a direct observation and more of a Trojan horse of implications, slipping under the skin. We’re losing touch. We are being forgotten, replaced. Gregory tried to fight himself like Trish would want. Perhaps that isn’t so terrible. It is growth after all, fresh and novel, rocketing into the sky. You watch it from a distance and try to decide how to feel. If soldiers marched through the streets, it could be a terrorist occupation or a victory parade. But why did the bamboo have to block the goddamn view?
Irene knew. She looked at him and deconstructed every thought, chasing down all of his tangents until they hit brick walls. But Gregory might just want her to understand. Somebody with the intelligence to build a theory—no, that wasn’t right—a map—something to tie it all together. No, not tie it all together. Slice it to its core. True understanding must be like surgery. Everybody in Quiet Pines had had at least one operation, so no wonder nobody understood anything. They didn’t wear the scrubs. Gregory chuckled to himself but shut it down before Naomi could think he was senile.
Naomi was talking about her date. She didn’t volunteer personal information unless one of them pressed her. Phil had, flirting with her in his toothless way.
“He asked the waiter to make his food spicy,” Naomi said. “No training wheels. He lived in Mumbai for weeks, plural.”
“Sounds arrogant,” Irene said.
“When it arrived, he took one bite,” Naomi paused for emphasis, “and turned more red than I’ve ever seen. Eyes watering, wiping his tongue on his napkin and everything.”
“What a chump,” Phil said.
“Chump,” Irene repeated. “I haven’t heard that word in a while.”
“You callin’ me a chump?” Phil asked. Not serious, just looking for some friction.
“I’ll call you a chump,” Gregory said.
Irene turned back to Naomi. They couldn’t stall out like this, she understood.
“Well, did you sleep with him?” she asked. She seemed to already know the answer.
“Yes,” said Naomi. She didn’t seem embarrassed. “He was better humble.”
“Women,” said Phil, and Gregory wondered if his punch lines really gave him closure.
Naomi said nothing, and the look on her face was difficult to read. She didn’t even truly seem to be listening, and maybe that was why. Why should she? She was so young, and as Gregory looked at her, he couldn’t help but feel resentful. All this time ahead of her. She was wasting chances just by sitting still.
Trish would tell him not to think that either. Fine, he wasn’t all resentful. And Trish wasn’t some nagging presence, she kept him level. She had given him hope that the days ahead weren’t withered, weren’t wasted. She still did; her memory was powerful enough. He wanted nothing more than to see Naomi leave these walls and dazzle everyone with her potential. That is, if he lived to see it. His health was fine at the moment, but you never knew.
“Naomi, why are you wasting your time here?” he asked her. It seemed like a blunt thing to ask. In another place, far away from Quiet Pines, he likely wouldn’t have said it. He had flashes then. The deck he had built himself, sanded diligently until Trish got sick. The bougainvillea vines that he had tamed, which were probably colonizing the house now. The bathroom with the nice tiles, running into Alexander there at midnight. Like father, like son, they always got up to pee at the same time. Home was overpowering. He would kill for it. Well, that was a strong statement. He wouldn’t resort to violence, wasn’t that kind of man. Easy sayings had infected his thinking. They were like life vests. He clung to them when he felt stranded, some burning thing to say and no better way to say it.
What he needed was a manifesto. Where was it? Manifesto must be the right word. He wanted to deliver a fiery exposition on all that he had experienced. His speech would tear through all the petty, small, limiting bullshit, radiating all that was true and beautiful and right. No, stop, he did not need to sit down. Something must need illumination.
Naomi looked at him, and she rested her hand on his. He saw affirmation in her eyes without pity, which was the only look he wanted these days. She said to him something like “I like it here,” or “this brings me purpose,” only some failing of his ears or his mind or the connection between them fuzzed out. Perhaps because he did not want to hear her. He was noticing more and more of Trish in her face. Somehow, he thought of the time his long term receptionist had quit, leaving him with a great big gaping void in his professional life that leached into his normal life. Everyone would leave him eventually. But then Trish had come home from work and locked eyes with him. She had known. Naomi knew something too. He missed knowing.
Phil said, “What’s the problem, fella?” and Irene asked whether he was lost in his own shelves. No, his were all so messy, and lasted only in flashes. In the garden they had an old bathtub that filled up with rainwater and froze in the winter. Trish said it added character.
Who knew character better than Trish? Chemo couldn’t take the crackle out of her eyes. He should have done more. There was that old refrain. As if there was anything more he could have done. Well, there must have been. But there wasn’t. Anyway, it was all over and done with, and now he was in this dump. What was it—Quiet Pines. The kids were still out there, Stella and Alexander. Stella must still be traveling abroad, picture her among ancient castles and then look at this place. Wow, what a contrast. No, Stella had settled down with that lawyer. Never could keep his name straight. Their daughter was a real sweetheart. Kindest thing you ever saw. His eyes slid to Naomi, and for a moment, he made the connection. Of course. He was always mistaking her for an employee, but she knew him. A cute kid once. But then it was gone, all this in his head. He couldn’t shake the feeling that it was all futile. Everyone keeps on digging for answers, but they’re just digging through upturned earth. There’s nothing left to find. Yes, that must be right. No, that can’t be right. Oh, but look at Naomi with her face watching the sky, she’s on the right side of the bamboo, and the judges award her all there is to offer. She sits in a dim room while the band plays. She can sense the manifesto. Something clicks, and so she stands.
By: Gloria Revanche
Mama, what if you never came back
I never learned to make the legume from scratch
We would never work alongside
You cut the meat while I chopped the garlic
You’d never rip my hair follicles
With my head between your knees
When I yell at Brianna, I sound like you
The way you screamed me into submission
I remember tiptoeing around the house
Quick! Don’t let her hear you stealing the meat
The way I quivered the first time I drank, the liquid burning and sweet
I could never be you, Linda Whiskey
My home will never lose that Haitian grease smell
The way it lingers through the wall, clings to the ceiling
When I scramble eggs for my family, it’s because of your love
I will always see you in my yellow undertones, that guileless smile
Harbor Beach, 10:20 PM
By: Lily Oliver
alabaster, bone marrow, smooth pearl of flank
glinting through ocean fog,
Trajectory of busy hands. Crash
upon the sternum.
if I’m here I can’t be afraid.
so if I’m here it’s another night where you
drown yourself for selfish reasons.
The bowl of my stomach
& a hundred other places that
were never really yours.
A Rainstorm at Home
By: Ella Brady
Hurting me in Illinois is–
Too many two lane highway stops,
Pulling over to gasp for flatland breath
Empty storefront and we joke about drug front–
Making me feel meaningless and midwestern
Sleeping on my own disaster–
Waking up to a lighting storm in my parent’s house
And absorbing the surrounding shock
All of my grief is captured by
The way rain slides down a car window
And it is just me and the steering wheel-
Never quite making it to the border
Thoughts Weeding Together
By: Max Migdail
A thin, plastic film sections my brain;
Trapping the high council of my consciousness’s meeting
In a circular room
As I rudely flood them with a chemical wave.
The buzz of my hair growing out of my scalp makes focusing impossible—
With no end in sight I realize this must be my life
From now on. The gaping mouth of my abyss defines me, swallows
All in my path; the light at the end of the tunnel guides my way;
The closer I come, the more I live, the less I know.
I jump off the highest cliff in all the world
A place i arrived at through boredom,
Driven by a nihilistic desire to keep on going,
I nearly reach the surface as i fly:
Maxie’s gonna get there.
But I won’t, instead i’ll spring right back to the cliff, and lay content
On warm, cushy stone.
The voices stop. They must hate me.
The world is huge and there’s nowhere to run.
But eventually the mountain hugs me and lets me know it’s okay.
Too Small Now
By: S.J. Swoap
It’s a dark and rainy night, and the smog is so thick that even God Almighty won’t see through to Gotham’s wretchedness below.
I know that somewhere in the city below this fire escape there’s a girl in a Catholic school uniform walking down a street, and all the streetlights that should be clothing her in warm light are shot out, cause some men in this city prefer to do their kind of work in the dark. There’s an apartment, with an old woman passed out in a chair by the door. She falls asleep there every night waiting for her grandson to come home from work. The old woman nurses a bottle of wine in one hand and in the other holds a wrinkled picture of her daughter cradling a baby. In the alley outside that apartment there’s a man who stinks of fish and salt.
I, Tòmas Garcia, stand on the fire escape, keeping watch over the city. And I’m freaking Batman.
My jet-black cape billows majestic-like in the wind. Rain courses down my Batsuit. And underneath that I’ve got on a blackish T-shirt, you know, the hand-me-down from my older brother Pedro, and Batman PJs, the ones Mom gave me three years ago for Christmas before it all.
My eyes gaze out from under my black hood to take in the city below. I puff out my chest like I’m not afraid of nothing, cause Batman’s not afraid of nothing since he faced his fear of bats. And nobody would make fun of Batman for being short and chubby or hit Batman for getting a mustard stain on his nice white shirt, cause mustard don’t come out and now what else are you going to wear to Mass. The construction workers for the new apartment building on 3rd & North wouldn’t say things to Batman’s sister on her way to school at St. Mary’s at 7:25 in the morning that make her walk as fast as she can, and Batman’s father wouldn’t go to the store to buy some cigarettes and not come back. And so then Batman’s older brother, Pedro, wouldn’t have to drop out of SUNY Brooklyn to work on a fishing boat, making abuela take care of Batman and his siblings even though she’s getting too old. And Batman would’ve been able to save his mom from the bullets in that alley three years ago instead of lying on the ground praying to a God that doesn’t care.
I look again at the fisherman in the alley below me. His shoulders are bent. Abuela prays for him every night, and I pretend to also, but, you know, I haven’t prayed since the alley. A Bible verse is inked on his right forearm: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Two men emerge from the shadows behind him. One of those two men has a baseball bat that hasn’t hit any pitches in a while, and he chops the air with it. The other one pounces, and he punches the fisherman hard.
I can’t call the police—Batman can’t trust the Gotham PD. Batman alone bears the cross of Gotham’s sins.
And the fisherman goes down, so he begs God for help, but the smog’s too thick—God’s not picking up His phone. So, I straighten the cape, adjust the mask, and Batman answers the call.
I fly down the 30 feet from the fire escape to the ground. SWOOSH! (A normal person couldn’t have made the jump, but I’m frickin’ Batman).
The first guy rushes at me, but I know judo. POW! I punch him. Right in the gut. The second one lowers the bat and swings at me like it’s bottom-of-the-ninth bases loaded, and I’m a 90 mile-an-hour fastball. I go all kung fu on him. KATHUD! I throw him into a puddle. SPLASH!
CLICK! The world goes quiet as the first one levels a gun at me. I freeze. The second one is still lying there, and but the fisherman is bleeding fierce, praying in a still small voice the Lord’s Prayer our father taught us:
Our Father, who art in heaven / Hallowed be thy name
Hi God, you up there?
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done / On earth as it is in heaven
This is Your Plan? Pedro getting mugged in an alley?
Give us this day our daily bread
Abuela cooks all our food.
Forgive us our trespasses / As we forgive those who trespass against us
SMASH! I disarm the man with the gun and throw the gun away because Batman don’t use guns; Batman gets all up-close-and-personal-like with his mad krav maga skills. CRASH! I 360° roundhouse kick him. Right to the head.
Lead us not into temptation / But deliver us from evil
I’ll deliver some evil.
THUD! I grab him by the throat with a single hand and lift him from the ground (Batman’s super strong, like Darth Vader-type strong). He squeals like a girl. I throw him into the wall. He falls to the ground next to the other one. They hobble away from my totally menacing shadow, the shadow of Batman.
Pedro crawls to our apartment building, bloody and beaten.
I squeeze through the window between the fire escape and my room, I hop into bed, under the covers, undercover, lights off. With my super hearing, I hear Pedro walk through the door to our apartment, past abuela, who fell asleep waiting up for him. The sink turns on. He washes his face clean. He heads to my room the way he does every night to check if I’m asleep. I’m always awake, pretending to be asleep. I’m so good at pretending that nobody knows I’m really Batman. He opens the door and steps into my room, faking like he’s fine, but he’s not.
“Tòmas, I need your help to carry abuela to bed,” he says. He’s never needed my help before.
“Okay.” I rise from bed, still wearing my Batman pajamas that my mom got me. They’re too small now, but I wear them anyway.
We walk over to abuela’s chair.
“One. Two. Three,” says Pedro. We lift her chair and her together.
We carry her chair to her bedroom. She wakes up part of the way through, and when she sees Pedro’s beaten face she gasps. “Dios mio! Not again.”
“I’m alright, abuela. After all, ‘For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us,’” Pedro says, quoting scripture as always.
We leave her room.
“Thanks for your help,” Pedro says. I shrug.
“I made you this today on the boat.” He offers me a small whittled wooden crucifix strung with cord.
He winces as he outstretches his arms: he’s hurt from the fight. He pretends like it’s nothing, but I know that he’s suffering, that Batman didn’t save him, that I didn’t save him, cause Batman’s not real. But the cross I hold in my hands is.
“We should get you some new PJ’s. Batman’s looking a little small for you,” he says.
I put the crucifix on underneath my shirt. The warm wood of the cross rests on my chest, pulsing in time with the beat of my heart.
I go back to my bed and lie on my back. I look up, through the ceiling, through the apartment above, through the roof, through even the foul smog blanketing this city, to the stars in heaven: tiny pinpricks of light on a jet-black canvas. I pray.
March of the penguins
By: Liam Knox
we were billowing, laughing
in the godawful wind
many-eyed giants towering above us
half-running through the cold
tiny waves around us inching toward
the fossils of abandoned bridges
skeletal silhouettes, none of our concern.
it was almost hard to breathe
head-on in the bluster like that
but we cackled in disbelief
and at every shivering crosswalk
your eyes peeking out
from your bright blue hood
met mine and sparkled
in the glow of a Panera Bread,
the streets near-abandoned,
marching like penguins
above the pulsing harbor.
later, your hand like an anchor
on my shoulder, your nose in my ear,
smiling about something we both felt.
you wrapped your legs around mine
and said this feeling
was like being underwater
or entwined in a bedsheet fort,
dinner sizzling a few feet away.
I heard soft rock music in my head
and kissed you
in the red light of what I thought
was the Citgo sign.
where are we marching on this arctic trek?
somewhere warm, I guess
but you slipped your hand in my pocket
as we neared the station,
and I, for one, started sweating.
Ode to an Orbit
By: Abigail Raymond
And she gave me moonlit mornings
In the dark of the noon,
Champagne like the sun
Through whispering elm
Cool as the shadows of stars.
I couldn’t match Her for
Cups of tea in an oft-dreamt of
Summer, pictured in a sunset that
Lasted a lifetime as we
Ran our fingers through sand.
I couldn’t touch Her there,
Not where he first held me,
Not where the still waters reflected
My memories and I waited endlessly
For a bus to somewhere.
The moon rose while I
Got drunk off honey-citrus wine
Under laundry-line tapestry
Until I saw You clearly.
But by then the hour was changing
The night was leaving
The flowers were closing and soon
She’d be a sunrise on Easter and I’d
Be remembering that I once
Believed in God.
I could only feel the pain in my
Chest hunched over words that lost meaning.
I could only taste the salt of a seaside memory
Far beyond clarity’s gleaning.
I could only fall prey to the circles of
My thoughts, forever backwards-leaning
Dragging me back
As I sat crouched over a future
Of unrequited questioning.
And she asks me,
What do you want?
Golden-rimmed from sunrise
She stands before me while
Midnight skips past,
The room falling gray again.
What do you want?
But I just lay before Her paralyzed
By the paper mache of failure.
I begin to decay, organically returning
To the shade of a summer
I can grasp only in lilac highways,
Cathedral pines and piano keys.
And so I ask her,
What do you want from me?
But the answer disperses
Through deep-wooded forests
And whiskey-warmed evenings.
I become lost among orange peels,
Tangled in Time’s heels,
Captured by a new cologne.
Soon I forget how the hours fall,
Walking alone, Time keeping pace.
I look at my face on the cars that pass and
I forget Hers.
And years from now I’ll rise
At a elm-wood table raising
A glass of champagne
Whispering of days wrinkled by Time,
Staring at Her face
And seeing it
First Glimpse of You at Stansted
By: Madison Reid
I was raised
to mop men’s messes;
yours are made of mine.
Sandals smack steps stop
right at your nose –
sun streaks hazel,
milks it for affection.
to wail, to wait. I
let your collar stay crooked.
Gleaming, all of it, low-lit and
traces. On my shoulders.
On my temples.
I clutch your chin in one hand;
feel for my earrings.
Feel Good: A Selection of Comments Collected from ASMR Videos
By: Paulina MacNeil
MrEllsworthington: Do you think pets get asmr~? being pet must feel so nice!
IhsanAgaz: everyone here commented about duration and every single comment are very funny, make me laugh at the same time im relax
Cam Table4: Your nails are stronger than my will to live
Meg2 Ohhhh: I feel like smelling the book now
Keegan Beyer2: Your videos are the best. The best part is not hearing you breathe. Too many asmr videos are ruined by peoples breathing sounds.
Red_Dog18802: I demand more swoosh swoosh!
Emma Talvalantti7 : You have the best whisper and mouth sounds 🙂 been here since the beginning
Sofie’s Stories: Hi! Im a random person!
Londa Wilson: the sound of your exhale adds so much!
Defias Ringleader: I can’t wait until we have real AIs so computers can learn to reject me like real women
Matkie: do suicide roleplay asmr pls
Simon Haley: that pause before the technical made me cum
Want Too Much Too
By: Nye Canham
Felix came to my apartment on the morning of the hurricane. He was wilting with sweat. It was late summer, and for a week a storm had worked its way up the Atlantic, missing Cuba and Florida before lashing Hatteras. It took aim at New England from a distance, like a boxer aiming a fatal right cross.
“I have to go down to my parents place,” he told me when I opened my door.
“Don’t they live up north, like near Worcester?” I asked, “also, long time no see.”
“Yeah, it’s been a while, but I have to go to the old house.” There was a harsh silence and I decided to let him in. He was wearing a white shirt and light pants, and his chest heaved. I motioned for him to come in and gave him a glass of water.
“What’s with the panting?”
“I was down at the high school filling sandbags this morning.”
“It’s only ten,” I said.
“I got there at six,” he said, “couldn’t sleep, that ever happen to you?”
“All the time,” I said, and paused, unsure what to say, “not so much since I moved back.”
“How was Texas?”
“There’s a reason I’m back in the north,” I said. I hadn’t left San Antonio so much as fled, chased out by heat, rent and failure.
“Fair. There’s a reason I haven’t left Rhode Island.”
“I’m sure it’s a good one,” I said, “I’m going to finish getting dressed, are you expecting me to drive down to the beach?”
“Yes,” he said. I shrugged. I preferred to drive, it meant I didn’t have to hold up my end of the conversation. In truth, I was ashamed to be back, and I didn’t want to tell anyone I’d used to know about it. I dressed simply, linen pants, plain shirt, windbreaker for when the rain started. We drove down past the brick library, the white church, the glassy office buildings and the old gothic city hall.
“Why are we going down to your parents’ house?”
“I want to get some clothes and pictures I left there,” he said.
“How long has it been?”
“Don’t give me shit Katherine, I know it’s just a bike ride away, in some ways that makes it harder to reach.”
“And books?” I asked, recalling the way his parents had lined the walls with old volumes, like they were trying to make up for the house’s relative lack of insulation.
“They took most of those to Worcester.”
“I wouldn’t know,” I said, “it’s been eight years and I still haven’t seen the new house.”
“Four, four since I saw you,” he said, “there were the summers, when you weren’t in New York, when we were both here.” He looked like he was smiling, but I didn’t want to acknowledge it.
“Not all of us had the luxury of working in local government for our internships,” I said.
“Anyways,” Felix said, “I left my old camera and all those film canisters, my dad’s vinyl stuff, and a bunch of stuff I used to wear in college, and like some of my books and papers there.”
“My car is not big,” I said. Out to sea I could see the first squalls coming. Low grey streaks left the marshes and the woods striped black with shade in places while the August sun painted them gold-green elsewhere.
We reached the road that led down to one of the barrier islands west of town. Felix had lived there until we left town after high school. There was a state sign, saying the area was restricted, hung on one of those little wood barriers across the road. Felix got out and moved it aside, and I pulled past and then he set it back. We were good citizens.
His house was down about a mile, across a stretch where the road was up on a little sandy embankment where high tide brought water to within a few steps of the asphalt. The marshes were already full up with the tide. As we neared the sea, the waves in the open stretches got higher.
The house was large for a beach house, with blue-grey walls and a screened in porch in front and another upstairs, with a deck in back. I parked, got out, and wondered at the looseness of its construction. It on a tiny rise of land just above the marsh, with some piles underneath that kept the floors at freezing in the winter.
“How’d you live here in like January?”
“Wool socks, carpets, sweaters,” he said, “mostly I just got used to pain.”
We went inside. The first front of clouds was passed overhead; I knew we wouldn’t see the sun for days. Most of the books were gone and there wasn’t any perishable food, but everything else was the same as it had been years ago, the chairs were light wicker with red cushions, the curtains white and blue. There were depth charts and maps of Sassanid Iran on the walls. In the kitchen, a stovetop coffee maker stood between the burners, with a shelf heavy with rice, sugar, coffee and salt high above it. I made coffee. Sweat soaked through my shirt, and the humidity made my breathing ragged. The heat besieged us.
I went upstairs after Felix. His parents slept on the first floor, so late nights in the summer Felix and I and all our old friends, Cyrus, Liam, and Amelia mostly, drank up in the lounge. The end tables were the same, as were the gauzy curtains on the big double paned windows. I stopped and sat on the futon in the middle of the room. Felix searched his old room for his camera, at the front of the house. I looked back through the big windows to the marshes.
Felix came out of his room with a big gym bag full of photos, clothes and film canisters. He’d already set a stack of books in the hall.
“In a day, this could all be gone,” I said.
“Waves will come up and push the house right back to that treeline,” he said, and pointed to the far edge of the marsh, “happened once in 1938. could happen again.”
“It will be sad, very sad”
“I’ve always had trouble getting more than a few words out of you,” he said.
“We’ve been friends for how long, eighteen, twenty years? What’s there to say that hasn’t been said?”
“Katherine,” he looked at my face, “you look more upset about the inevitable destruction of my childhood home than I am.”
“Do you remember,” I started.
“Yes,” he said, blushing.
“Not that,” I said, “but when my father died. They found him out wandering by the train station in Philly. That’s where he’d ended up. Too cold and too sick to come back.”
“I remember,” he said, “you got the call right there. You looked out the window. It was winter. The moon cast those trees black and silver.”
“Did I cry?”
He nodded, “mostly you were shaking. You couldn’t stop moving. You stayed here because staying in town was too much.”
“It was weird that you let me stay over so much,” I said.
“That night, you held me until I fell asleep. Is that why you came to my apartment?” I asked, emboldened.
“Four years was a long time.”
“I put some coffee on,” I said, “it should be ready.”
We finished packing. Felix apologized because he didn’t have any milk or creamer in the house. I grinned as I poured.
“I drink it plain now.”
“Drinking straight, a real hard hitter, a real journalist there Kat,” he said, nervous that I would object to the resurrection of a nickname.
“I’m not a real journalist. I’m unemployed. We all are now, half the newsroom got liquidated,” I said. I had run out into the Texas death heat and vomited into a storm drain.
“You write freelance now?”
I nodded, “pay is bad, but I’ll be somewhere new in a few months, Boston, New York or DC maybe. Or maybe Portland, or Detroit or Chicago. My mom will help with the rent until I leave.”
“Done with the south for a while?”
“No one liked me,” I said, “I couldn’t make rent and I annoyed too many people. We started a union and got blacklisted. I got a house visit from the boss before the layoffs.”
“What’d he say?”
I shrugged, “Come to Jesus, Katherine. The next Monday he fired me.” I couldn’t shake the other feelings from that week, I’d been covering murders and affordable housing, both beats about to break wide open. Now I was writing hack pieces about interstate commerce and essays about wildfires for pennies a word.
“You ever been fired?” I asked.
“Oh yeah,” Felix said. Outside the rain started, and the sky was nearly full grey. The waves edged over the tideline. The wind howled low. “I got fired from the municipal land trust and the urban agrarian institute. I don’t start work until October, up in Providence, I’m to direct some environmental and land conservation stuff.”
Thunder rolled. The coffee was burned and stale. Wind shook the house and it squealed as the joists and piles shifted. We looked at each other and loaded my car. I walked through the house, wishing I had a notepad and a couple days.
The sea came up along the road as we drove, rushing to swallow everything. The state police had put a second barricade on the road, so we both got out to move them. Before we got back in my car Felix took my hand and looked me in the eye.
“Thanks Kat,” he said, “I kind wish I’d wash away with it.”
“Stay Felix,” I said, and hugged him. He was shaking, or maybe the wind shook him.
We went back into town, everyone we knew was gone or hunkered down with bags of food, jugs of water and flare pistols. We went up to my apartment and I made coffee again. The world grew hot and the wind howled an evil song. The river overtopped its banks downtown and took out the riverfront. Then it was night. The rain drummed like hammer blows on the hard roof of my building and the storm surge topped the sandbag walls they’re built down by the high school, but didn’t wipe it out. We fell asleep on my bed. The power went out. He shook through the night. I made a note before sleeping to call my mom and make sure she knew I was alive.
In the morning, I got up early and went out with my phone, my boots, my note pad, a camera and a battery pack. I was going to turn this hurricane into a couple stories. The barrier islands were mostly gone, some search and rescue guy told me around noon.
“Some of the houses are still out there, the west end was a little safer, but even then, I’d bet most of those neighborhoods got demolished,” he said. I took his picture and a longer interview. The storm tide was too high for me to get past the lowest point of the road.
I went back to my apartment and Felix lay on my bed reading something. Four years didn’t seem like much anymore.
He’d got the gas stove working and cooked up a bunch of stuff from my fridge. We ate.
“What are you doing till October?” he asked me.
“Freelance. I won’t be done with interviews and ass kissing until the fall for sure, it takes a while to find anything steady.”
“You’ll be here?”
“Okay,” he said, and I refused to ask the question he knew he could not.
The next morning, we walked in silence out down to the barrier island. Sometimes flooding fucks up gas mains and electricity. We passed a whole row of houses brought down by the storm surge. The ruins burned like matchheads in the summer dawn. The marshes were swollen with water and ruin. I was almost sure his house had made it through. But I didn’t want to say it. It would be easier the other way, to move ahead with the past just a scar on the land, instead of a living wound to come back to again and again. I was tearing up.
Luminous Beings are We
By: Miranda Feinberg
A blend of action and potential,
of things done and never started, what we’re working towards, devolving from.
Stars are eternal,
They cut the sky,
which bleeds in silver and dies in picturesque silence.
Like tears, slicing,
wounds delicately inlaid in the velvet sky;
jewels, shining gently, menacingly.
How can one be infinite and lethal,
How can something be destroyed and at once built upon–
life is death, life is light, and, unremitting we blend the two,
the incessant and the mortal,
cycling ever on.
By: Jeremiah Sears
I see the quiet sugars all around,
they peek like blooming flowers from dry pots,
this blazing summer day is sunlight crowned.
The baking tree has tongues for sweeter ground,
how sap is dried upon the bark in knots,
I see the quiet sugars all around.
A deeper voice and Dylan drive a sound
to tell the heavy heart of wind is caught,
our ashy summer sky is blue-breeze crowned.
These plum-pop purple grapes whose jam resounds
cavort through rings of smoke like bulbous thoughts,
our sugars sing in tandem all around.
Guitar-plucked strings know how the world is round,
and each delight of tanned and sweaty spots,
our red cigar-smoke skin is summer crowned.
The sticks are singing all among themselves,
the air is thronged with combs of smell and taste
and all is sweet for me;
A crown of ivy weaves my curling hair.
i remember the birds most
By: Alice Hickson
maybe you’re wondering if I remember the bluejays
we’d watch from your window, the babies especially,
their paper wings fluttering in the soft July breeze. if I remember the clouds
of light blurring our bare toes in the soft mud, that lavender light,
how we combed our own kingdom in the backwoods – the hum of
car engines roared their ratchety chorus outside, plates
smashed in the distance, but we heard only cicadas, singing to us
prickling our eardrums. we threaded dandelions through our hair and stained our fingers
with their jasmine residue. those nights we slept under the stars,
when my shoulders burned from climbing trees and not my heart from the absence
of the person I used to climb them with; of course a few blades of grass
poked through our pajamas, the constellations felt so close then, blinking lights
somehow gentle in their closeness, like falling asleep inside the city skyline at night. and yes, I remember the music – there was always music – you taught me to sing melodies,
they brimmed broken from our mouths and I remember the way your father laughed
at our songs and what I’m trying to say is I’m sorry, I remember; listen:
I press my ear to the floorboards sometimes and ache
for the music of our past, cries and laughter of lost times tangled
into the most beautiful symphonies; the sound makes my heart fall open.
the house where I live now is close to train tracks (it’s yellow, you’d like it)
and sometimes at night passing trains shake my bed while I’m trying
to sleep and so I lie there not sleeping and while I lie there I remember all of this –
the bluejays, the light, your laughter, you.
Translation: I love you-
By: Isabella Urdahl
grandmother forgives the pronunciation that lodges
like chicken bone stuck in my throat. wishbone
splinters scratch the sounds my esophagus attempts to make until they come out excoriated.
caballo(horse), bondat(so stuffed you look like you have a food baby), sabog sabog(blast
blast), init(cold), tubig(water), yoon(there), kumusta ka(how are you), gunda(beautiful),
and mahal kita(I love you) are the only sounds my vocal cords can coarsely approximate.
how does one say I love you
when they do not have the words?
how does one speak if they never learned the language?
through greasy napkins from chicken adobo,
capers stuck to teeth? embraces made awkward by bending
a half-European height to a petite South Asian frame?
through desperate attempts to say I love you
when one cannot even spell I love you
mahalkita? maholketa? mahalketa? maholkita? mahal kita? mohal keta?
oily vinegar drips down the sides of my mouth
as I look up from the meal’s steaming warmth.
I catch her eye as she sits across the table, watching me and smiling like
this is the happiest she can be.
oh do you like it honey? her tagalog accent rasps
with the texture of old age. a simple nod, smile,
and it’s really good grandma are enough to make her beam like the sun,
eat eat! don’t let me distract you.
yoon. she points with her lips until I come back to my plate.
I savor the succulent meat and rice,
the balm of love she cooked into it soothes my abraded throat,
its flavor the one that leaves the strongest taste in my mouth.
carp in the bathtub
By: May Hong
my ayi goes to the qiao yi yuan wet market
every day, humming. all the vendors
have long-standing nicknames: a-mak, tooth-gap, checkers.
the sound of her
collapsible shopping cart jingling back
about those worn wheels.
growing up i never wanted to go.
in english school, i learned shopping
was done in white
shiny aisles, plastic sheens and plastic
smiles with no eye contact. cold
enough for a sweater even though it’s 35°c
i did not learn
the slick floors, blood, tracked-
dirt and dialects.
i did not know
how to haggle for the best
muddy bundle, or dried dong quai
i did not like
the sweat and smell
of bodies, whole—
never halved, drawn, or quartered
brought home, breathing.
veiny and practiced
hands placing choy sum, leeks, (no eggplants
today) in the sink, letting the water run
brown; letting the carp slip
into the bathtub, where it would stay
till a half hour prior to dinner,
and no sooner. later my chopsticks
would prick through
soft flesh, and taste
it is so cold
here in boston.
i had to leave home, in order
to come home, didn’t i, now i
count the december kilometers
home, all 12,712 of them, home
at 6:30, on the dot, the carp
i lift the lid,
and my eyes fill with steam.
By: Hunter Silvestri
Clara Emilia took photographs because the world was ending. In this moment, that meant looking through her shitty broken phone screen at the Narragansett Bay and making a rhythm with its artificial shutter noise. Click – waves pound at the seawall, determined to eventually collapse it and with it this shitty tourist-trap restaurant and then this town. Click – the waves, displaced by the wall, instead rapidly erode the popular East Sheeport Beach. Click – changing seafloor topography forms larger waves, which overwhelm the sea wall. Click – Clara Emilia imagines she will live in a floating porta-potty and spends her days trying to keep her phone dry.
It drove her a little crazy how ending it was, the world, and she couldn’t turn off the feeling so she tried to document it and compartmentalize it and make it into some sort of cool “”artistic vision”” rather than just accept that she’d trained her brain to look at the wrong shit. There was nothing quite quote-unquote “apocalyptic” going around, except maybe seagulls. How disappointed she’d been by the bible’s take on things. Armageddon happened much quicker there than it ought to, it had a start point and later an end point, and like, how different from life, you know?
Here she was, Clara Emilia Elena Santos, a twenty year old girl, creating micro-fractures in her bones every time she jumped. Sometimes she would smile, or do that signature Clara Emilia eyebrow raise, and she could feel how badly her skin wanted to fold into that formation forever. Already she’d lost most of her tolerance for liquor – two years of sparse nights out and her body was already permanently incapable of recovering smoothly from a hangover. The world doesn’t end all at once, but it sure never takes a rest from it.
There was this picture that Clara Emilia had taken back in Utah, more or less the first good picture she ever took, of a mountain. It was your standard Utah fair, a mingling of red rock and white rock and crumbling and scrappy plants. She had titled it “Titanic” and turned it in for a grade in high school. Mrs. Gilbert or whatever her name had been had praised the photo, saying that Clara Emilia’s use of perspective and dramatic shadow highlighted the ‘titanic’ size of the mountain and made the viewer feel small. Mrs. Gilbert, of course, was totally wrong. The piece was called titanic because you could see the layers of sediment that composed the rock face, and they were all tilted forty-five degrees like a sinking ship. The mountain, the biggest thing in a hundred miles, was stood like a dying thing on the flats. The mountain was some long-ago sea floor, Clara Emilia figured, but time had gutted all the fishes and paraded the carcass of the briny deep like an effigy. “Titanic” made her feel sick to her stomach. The whole American West did, really, with its rivers sawing canyons and its forest fires and its Vast Frontier where you could sit and watch the mountains buckle upwards, watch at night the galaxies fly by as we spin, spin toward no bottom.
Here in Rhode Island, at least, the geology had the decency to hide under the vegetation and the Milky Way shyly nestled behind the light of Providence. Things would be over soon, and until then she could photograph these rocks crashing under the waves and hear her own shutter shudder and feel there was a rhythm under all this chaos that even still she could count on. It was a rhythm she created and a rhythm she hated but it was a rhythm, a rhythm, a rhythm, and Click –
तुम, सिगरेट और झुमका
By: Arti Mehrotra
आज बाज़ार का दिन था,
सब यूहीं अपने घरों से
बास्केट लेकर आये थे
मै भी वहीं था,
एक झुम्के पर मेरी नज़र अड़ गयी थी,
और वो उसने पहन रखा था,
वो जहाँ जहाँ जाये,
मै तितली बनकर उसके पीछे पीछे उड़ता रहा,
वो एक कोने मे जाकर रुकी,
पॉकेट से सिगरेट का डब्बा निकाला,
माचिस के लिए वो पल्टी,
” है क्या ? “
उसने मुझ्से पूछा,
मैं आगे बढ़ा और
उसके झुम्के को निहारते हुए
माचिस आगे करी,
सिगरेट फूकते हुए
ऐसा लग रहा था की वो कोई बात है
जिसे जला रही है,
कोई किस्सा है
जिसे राख समझ गिरा रही है,
वो एक सिगरेट खत्म हो गया,
मुझे लगा हमारा पल बस यही तक था
वो साथ बस यही तक था
मैनें दुसरा सिगरेट आगे बढ़ा दिया,
लेकिन उस्ने माचिस लौटा दी,
मैनें भी सिगरेट को वापिस पॉकेट मे रख लिया,
हम दोनो ने कुछ चंद एक दुसरे को ताका,
मै इस बार उसके आखों से बहते काजल को देखा,
कोई तो अधूरी कहानी थी इस बाज़ार की,
जो उसके झुम्के गा रहे थे,
मै अपनी सोच की गहरायी से निकला
और देखा की वो जा चुकी थी,
सामने रखी टेबल पर,
कॉफ़ी के साथ अपना एक झुमका छोड़ गयी,
साथ एक नोट भी था,
” हर झुम्के की अपनी कहानी है,
एक कहानी तुम रखो,
और एक मै “
“After Mother Road Died”
By: Sarah Walsh
Mother Road reared me, was a part of me, taught me
to point the sucked thumb in my mouth
West. After Mother Road died, I had to clean our house
into a ghost town. I sorted through hundreds and hundreds
of photos of what Mother Road used to be, the Mother Road
you picture, with charming motel neon and the world’s largest
hot dog stands and diners on rollerblades, souvenir shops and
the Blue Whale of Catoosa, when she was still dripping wet,
before her diving boards led to nowhere. Mother Road
was already born when America was born, and so America thought
she would always be there. In the attic there is a box and
it is brimming with old photos of Mother Road. They are taken
in a hotel and she is wearing lingerie. There is a whole roll of these.
I looked through them all. She was so pretty so pretty
I wanted to look like that. I didn’t know what to do
with them. I could not keep them think of
what that would look like! I could not give them to America.
I could have snuck them in one of the boxes I made for Father Road
who had almost certainly taken them in the first place
then paved her and I could have acted like I didn’t know
they were there. It would’ve been simple except
Mother Road had written on the VCR tape of their wedding day
“the worst day of my life!” and I realized
there were some secrets that needed to be kept
from the family. You can still retrace Mother Road
even though in many ways
she is gone. For eight states it is a ghost town,
but feels like a beating pulse.
I retrace Mother Road all the time, with varied success. I wear
lingerie in motels and diners and the world’s
largest hot dog stands. I wear lingerie and eat hot dogs at
the Blue Whale of Catoosa, who is very, very dry
and I jump off a diving board
and end up nowhere at all, buried in dust. I hope
I am being a woman correctly. Mother Road taught me how,
by example, and in those photos I just feel like I am looking at a part
of myself I have lost. America, I whisper through my moonroof,
dipping my car into the milk
of the curve of her cliff, America, how do we move on
from something like this? How do you keep her alive in you?
How do you stay alive with so much of what you are gone?
America doesn’t know any better than I do. My voice
is crumbling and floating up to her bottom. She says I should
keep the pictures, hide them away somewhere. You could
have a wedding day, she suggests. So I marry America and we both cry
over Mother Road the whole ceremony. We eat the world’s largest
hot dogs and wedding cake. I take America back to a hotel and dress her
in lingerie and snap photos. Somebody might want these
when you die, I tell her. This is the worst day
of my life! she says. I say, me too.
I think birds are real
By: Jared Rosen
I remember when I was three years old and I was walking home from a friend’s house and I saw a bird in the road and I saw that bird get runover by a car. It made a huge popping noise. It echoed for a while. You can sorta feel that kind of pop. It’s a raindrop in a bucket a coin falling on a marble floor in an empty room. That’s the pop a bird makes. I think birds are real because I felt free after that.
I think birds are real
when I was three years old and I was walking home from a friend’s house
and I saw a bird in the road
and I saw that bird get runover by a car.
It made a huge popping noise.
It echoed for a while.
You can sorta feel that kind of pop.
It’s a raindrop in a bucket
a coin falling on a marble floor in
That’s the pop a bird makes.
I think birds are real because I felt free after that.