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Table of Contents
A Trunk, Full — Nicole Cohen
Just Not Hungry — Anonymous
A Common Scribe — M.A. Waskow
A Farewell to Legs — Jeremy Caldwell
As I Finish, — Ethan Resek
The Aquarius — Aminata Dieng
Beach Haiku — Jaanvi Sant
Chicago, A Whirlpool — Sarah Walsh
Distance — Zoe Leaf
In the Summer — Abigail Raymond
The Infinity Springs — Hunter Silvestri
Mansplaining — Hannah Kahn
Meet Me by the Water — Skylar Brown
Minimum Wage — Ella Brady
My 1st Kiss — Jay Dee
M.P.D.G. — Isabel Fernandez
Nail Households — May Hong
Prometheus’ Theft — Alex Eliasen
Tea Party — Ethan Resek
Thread — Hannah Kahn
Untitled 1 — Jamie Hattler
The Village — Nasrin Lin
Disociación — Claudia Arbona
A Trunk, Full
By: Nicole Cohen
If you didn’t already know, there are no highways that can take you across New York State into Vermont. Vermont does have 91 and 89, which snake up to Montpelier and Burlington, but if you want to go west, you’ll be on un-painted country roads and backways until you hit the Green Mountains. And the only people that live out there are lifers and townies, different kinds of drug addicts (meth or prescription), and my family.
The quickest way to get from here to there, if you are so sure that you want to go there, is to take US-4 East, a two-lane road with so few opportunities to pass the vehicle in front of you that you could be stuck behind a U-Haul going 30 for hours. Of course, the whole drive doesn’t take more than an hour and a half.
A good daughter accompanies her mother on a trip from New York State to Vermont in the dead of winter to do the following: see her sick grandmother, who has lost all feeling in her feet from chemotherapy; visit her mother’s aunts, uncles, and cousins, whom she hasn’t seen since the fifth grade; and curate the perfect driving playlist to distract her mother from thinking too much about both the completed and impending familial interaction.
We arrive in Rutland, VT, at 3:00 in the afternoon. I have been sick with a cold for the past two days, and it has been getting progressively worse. My head is underwater, and I have a miserable taste on my tongue radiating hotly from the phlegm in my throat. I have been chewing mint-flavored gum continuously, hopelessly encouraging my mouth to do anything else besides rot.
We drive through the entire town in two minutes. Obligatory New England houses, wrap- around porches, and tiny white churches. Adirondack chairs by the dozen.
Our back seat is overflowing with things that my grandmother preemptively gave us from her house. My mother doesn’t want any of it. We’ll be making a stop at Salvation Army before we go home.
“Most people hoard the stuff from their childhood,” my mother says, sighing at the filled
car. She points out a chair that used to sit in the corner of her bedroom, jewelry that she’d be afraid to lose if she ever wore it, all sitting on top of a pile of sallow towels and bedsheets.
We drive by a small frozen lake on the edge of Rutland, and next to it is my great- grandmother’s old house, with a big window in the attic that you can sit by and watch the other
neighborhood kids play at the little gray beach.
We are only able to visit my mother’s older cousin Nora. Her house is new but cluttered,
and it smells like fecal matter.
We chat about travelling even though she can’t leave. She is tied up to a lot of tubes. Her
colostomy bag hangs out of her shirt as she reaches over her walker to give me a hug. She needs
rides to the doctor, so her ex-husband Don drives her. He is also here, chatting away about Florida and Mexico.
They have a son, named Bobby, who won’t talk to them. She can’t even send him birthday cards anymore. My mother shakes her head up and down.
Nora also has a brother, Michael, who hasn’t spoken to her, or anyone else in the family, for a decade. He lives in town, but if you ever drive past him walking on the road, he just keeps his head down like he doesn’t know you.
On very cold days, Nora has Don bring him extra firewood. Don has to unload it from his truck at the bottom of the long driveway and then leave without trying to see Michael. After he leaves, Michael uses his own truck to bring the firewood up and around to his backyard.
“But enough about Michael. How is your brother doing?”
There are hundreds of books in Nora’s bedroom that she tells me she is going to read, but she offers to let me borrow any of them. I consider taking one out of politeness, but they all smell just like the house, like waste.
We say goodbye and get back in the car. My mother backs out of the driveway, careful not to hit an Adirondack chair painted green with small yellow flowers on it.
Directly across from Nora’s driveway, on the other side of the road, is a long, snaking
driveway curling up to the top of a hill, with a small pile of logs sitting patiently at the bottom.
* * *
It’ll be another hour before we hit the main roads. It has started to snow lightly. One small town after another.
I’m in the middle of deciding what song to play next when my mother points out a big, bright purple house.
Five minutes later, in the next town over, there’s another purple house. And another,
about three miles further down the route. We start finding many more, sometimes lavender, sometimes grape-colored, sometimes almost magenta.
We make it a game for the rest of the trip, at least while we’re taking the backroads.
Every town has a purple house. Find it.
And we always do.
Just Not Hungry
I unpacked with my curtains open and the Christmas lights on. It got dark early, and was a deep blue in my room for a long while.
I went to the dining hall and sat under brighter lights and ate bad food.
Jake showed up. He was trimmer than when I’d seen him last, and had shaved his beard, so the soft curve of his jaw was visible above his surprisingly skinny neck. His hair was cut with a short top, longer than the sides but barely, so that it seemed to stand on its own.
He sat down with me.
“How was break?” he asked, his voice taking on a concerned tone.
“I’ll tell you all about it as soon as I get some coffee.”
I went down the stairs and around the corner. I leaned up against the wall, closed my eyes and wished I had a cigarette or a drink, anything, really, to take the edge off. Something was wrong, but I couldn’t pin what had me anxious.
I got a cup of coffee and went up to sit across from Jake.
“So, Jake, you were in Michigan?”
“Indeed, I didn’t have any work so I stayed home and worked on myself.”
“You do look thinner.”
“You been working out?”
“No actually, I cut back by refusing to cook for myself and getting rid of snack foods.”
“Sounds arduous, and unhealthy,” I said. The idea of food seemed extraneous and I wondered if I could cut calories the way good writers cut words, trimming out all the extra phrases, cutting each calorie until only the ones that mattered were there, until there was no fat. Food trimmed like that would be easier to take, the same way clear prose was.
“Nah, it was alright, and it beats being fat.”
“It doesn’t actually do anything about the problems caused by fat though, like, placing yourself in a profound caloric deficit doesn’t improve your cardiac health, in fact it can make your body think it’s starving.”
“Yeah, but like, that’s how you optimize performance, garbage in, garbage out,” he said, leaning back. I sipped my coffee—a light roast, with plenty of cream—and looked out over the dining hall.
“That line is about data science and defecation, not your physique. Your body is something you build, not an output, it’s an active process, not an output,” I said. I wondered if I had gained any weight over break. Working at the diner was good in the sense that I was always a bit too thin, and free sugar could combat the most superficial aspects of being underweight, but I liked the idea that I had an unassailably thin body, even if no one else saw it, it was still mine to punish, repair and maintain.
“Well, it worked for me. I mostly just played games to avoid thinking about food. I saw my ex, but I don’t want to think about that. How about you?”
“I worked, I did some protesting, normal stuff, you know?”
“Oh. Okay. Where were you working?”
“The second best diner in downtown Manchester—a little Greek place. All the candidates come by during the primaries.”
“Oh my,” he said, tilting his head and arching his brow. “You ever serve any big-named people?”
“I served Bernie Sanders a salad, and I gave Kasich two plates of pancakes, four eggs and two sides of bacon,” I said, remembering the way the Ohio Governor’s mouth had opened, how dirty he had seemed up close, foul and corrupt, greasy like a waterway through a mill town, how quickly he had eaten, his jaws pumping furiously, his lips smacking in grotesque pops. I shuddered.
“Wow, I had no idea I was dealing with a big shot.”
“Yeah, Hillary came in, but I was at school when she did that. She ordered some wack bullshit.”
“Did Trump ever come in?”
“No, he went to our competitor. They have bigger burgers, but our shakes are better.”
Jake nodded, and I grinned at him.
“Sounds like it’s fun sometimes,” he said.
“It’s not. It’s hard on your feet and your hands and your forearms, you lift and bend and bow and scrape and smile and laugh.”
“That’s a lot of ands.”
“Yeah, but it’s a lot of work. I also get harassed a lot, because I’m younger. All men are trash.”
“That’s a strong opinion.”
“There’s only been one guy who ever stood up for me on the job, and he’s like my big brother, so that doesn’t count. But most guys just ogle or take your hand when you pass them the check, or touch your arm when you’re setting down a heavy tray. I don’t even think they’re aware of it.”
“What that’s like, those little reminders of being controlled. It’s like they’re steadying an object, it’s not overtly sexual, but it projects control, of you, of the environment, of the interaction,” I said, leaning forward, both hands on my coffee cup.
“Exhausting. I try not to do that to waitresses and stuff, it always makes me cringe to see that,” he said, drumming his hands on the table. I looked out to the clock across the room, and down along the floor, where the sporty kids were sitting in neat groups, wearing fleece sweaters, remembering how Jake so enjoyed laying his hand along my waist when he walked beside me.
“Thanks. But so many guys do it. Sometimes I think calling attention to the little things like that makes them worse.”
“You mean, like the whole snowflake thing?”
“Yeah, calling a dickhead out for a behavior shows that it gets to you. You know saying nothing is suffocating at times,” I said. “It seems to me like the way to change it is to change the whole of society, to make the problem irrelevant.”
“Stuff like that is kind of human nature, you know, straight guys like pretty girls, and they’re naturally more aggressive, it’s psychology.”
“We can have equality. We will have equality.”
“Yeah, but there will always be gendered differences,” he said. “But yeah, it’s up to individual men to step up and be polite, be an example. It works better anyways.”
“That’s not the reason to do it.”
“Sounds impractical but okay.”
We talked in circles about break and men, and harassment, then about break again, and I finished my coffee. We came around to working again, and he asked why I was so bothered by something so pervasive.
“I wouldn’t be so up in arms about it if I hadn’t been assaulted.”
“Oh god, what happened?” he asked.
“I pissed a guy off and he threw me on the floor,” I said, slowly, shakily, remembering how the tread of the boot felt pressed against my head, the coldness of the floor, wondering whether people were on his side or not, wondering if that was how I died.
He was effusive in his condemnation.
I was lying on my floor later, and I started to think about how weak words were, how weak everything was, then apathy. I thought back to the conversations I had in CIVIC and other political discussion groups, trying to explain to people why they ought to care that people went hungry, or had no work, or died young and in pain. How taxing that was, to see suffering described as freedom, and greed as social responsibility. I wished I cared more deeply, like I didn’t feel abstracted from the horror and pain other people lived with every day. How was it that we got to that point, where all bonds of solidarity and empathy had dissolved so much that homelessness and illness could be dismissed as personal faults?
It seemed that meaning had degenerated, that words had ceased to reference anything, and even the most obvious things were contested.
I tried to breathe and felt my thoughts degenerating into syllables, the same way political speech became sounds, and corroded the concreteness of death. Everything was becoming a soup of noise, simmering, as the solid words—cry, vomit, bleed, break, tire, die—became abstractions and then noise, before it was subsumed into policy and speech that seemed so alien from life as to be utterly void of material and so far-removed, yet so physically strong and psychologically intrusive, as to invade and destroy everything.
I lay on the floor and looked up at the ceiling in my room and wanted to die.
A Common Scribe
By: M.A. Waskow
The words on the page never change
But the sleep in my eyes
Finds new ways to frame the masterpieces
In the brushstrokes of a fountain pen.
How can the darkness of a dried liquid
Become so complex,
So corrupted and so blurred
In the presence of a simple,
A cleansing, and a clear element?
Those who are dear to us
And those who are dead to us
Differ by only a letter.
Unwilling to see his reflection,
A Glass man folds and unfolds his brother’s words.
He holds old paper near the fire of a cigarette
And the water of a drawn-out bath
Until the stick is wet and dead
And the tub is still and dry.
For what else would one do
Despairing in a narrow bath
In a narrow room in the heart of the city?
In the low light of Rembrandt,
Bat Sheva bathed again,
Grasping now but one gift in her hand,
From the king, the king,
Executor of her love.
How pure a wife, to cleanse herself
In the dead of the night on the roof.
How cruel a man, to soil her then
With his edict of power and pride.
Those who have dispassionately lived
Are no better off
Than those who successfully loved.
Love, questionable love, or lust,
Foamed in the bubbles of the dwelling
Of the Buchanan bride-to-be.
Second guesses for two presents
From absent men.
One sat in each hand as her love
Or her wealth,
But pearls fit the watery choice
Better than a paper promise.
And yet that plagued, flawless,
Disfigured, beautiful man,
L’Ami du peuple,
Soaked in an oil bath
Drawn by David himself.
No choice could Marat make,
Writing down condemning letters—
Nor was it long, before the blade
Lay on the floor with his ink and his quill.
In reading, one rarely desires an end
To the adventure of the pen
So I advise that you finish with an and.
A Farewell to Legs
By: Jeremy Caldwell
you know how sometimes
when you were a kid
you would trap a bug
an ant or some shit
in the dome of your intertwined hands
peer through the cracks
in your baby-fat fingers
and watch its tiny brain
struggle to comprehend
wholly human hemisphere
you had locked it in
something in your innocently devious
sadistically underdeveloped mind
would tell you to hold it down
and start plucking legs
one by one
so many to choose from
the thorax offering up
a bouquet of appendages
for your juvenile digits to pick
that feeling you felt
it wasn’t quite joy, was it?
not rage or euphoria
some emotional gray area
the rush of making something smaller than you
feel even smaller
that chaotic thrill
of hurting with no consequences
no consequences to a life
that you gave a damn about
i wonder sometimes
that feeling, that pulse
in your thumbs as they
ripped away limb
bidding farewell to legs
maybe, on a good day
maybe even an opalescent wing
i wonder if maybe
you felt that with me
As I Finish,
By: Ethan Resek
“I’m generally too afraid to look into the eyes.”
As I would lie, spending summer evenings with her,
past Good and Evil, I could say this in complete falsity.
It’s like the crackshaking of the many summer glow sticks.
I would soon look down, back to the morose truth, afterwards.
“One has to maintain the eyes.”
I pick up the habits of a younger self, just in a different form,
yet I think I am the rat who escaped the maze. But really what does this mean?
To create something good? Because my guess is as good
as yours; I just hope crudeness will soon beget more. Seems to me that
“The eyes are too far away.”
creations feel the same whether they drift or settle: a hawk’s claw
into the rind of a tree it nests on. Good and Evil is wanted back, by me.
Just something real. Just remember that I said these things. I am here.
Please don’t go I just,
I just do this because I’m desperate.
The epicenter of before, I tried to fill with false, cracking
foundations; a basement of cobwebs and half-made
projects. I know that others may be real, but I need
this more, permanent and cruelly beautiful.
I now know creation is a choice between
cremation and burial, shielded from the
world, “safe”. But when she
comes back, the failed dialectic
I play with myself
By: Aminata Dieng
Oh thank god you’re here.
Space-time’s accumulation has confused us into
bad contracts with bad people
but we need to make ourselves strong anyway.
Every friday I pray for you
pray for the sun to kiss
because I can’t.
Pray that you eventually figure out how to update your phone without me or
learn that protecting your heart
isn’t pretending you don’t have one.
Remember that even a crocodile has predators
and when I’m ready to ask for it,
everyone including the moon will give us privacy.
We are all we have.
I leave us to mourn
colonial imprints and
the times you’d take me to burger king when I got out of karate.
Your half-lidded elliptical eyes
lined with justice,
deep as earth and edged with laughter.
Matrilineal energy ushers time.
By: Jaanvi Sant
sun eclipses sea:
your laughter like a sky-song
turning the salt sweet
Chicago, a Whirlpool
By: Sarah Walsh
Each stanza begins with a word and ends with the original meaning of the word/words it originates from (e.g. Checkmate comes from “shah mat,” Arabic for “the king is dead”).
Chicago, we could swallow. Pick and
eat its flowering
leaves like a wild onion,
disaster always the air
from the rearview mirror
on the drive up, sick
us like an ill star.
from breath-fogged glass,
try to put themselves between
our names. I press
the defroster, turning away.
Oxymoron: no matter whose
comes first it’s all the same.
(Whispered) This spectrum
of feeling exists
between sharp and dull.
Vodka, then, is sharp.
Apostrophes are obvious, look
at their shape. We’ll forsake them,
Chicago, anyone. We only
need a little water,
in Death Valley, walk like gods
forever without any
worry, put to shame Jesus’s
forty days in the desert.
Checkmate, TigerGrin. 134°F,
282 feet below sea—that’s
sharp. We’ve got nothing
to lose—our assets are
burnt, the king is dead.
Mortgage and desk jobs,
forget them. Forget
apostrophes, I’ve set the car
on fire, too.
Us two will live
forever, that’s our death pledge.
By: Zoe Leaf
eighty-five dollars and a jar full of powdered glass
to get me where you are
or sixteen hours and learning how to drive
late at night with a boy who reminds me of nothing
freeway lights and us so still amidst all this motion
you never wanted to go south baby,
i know you always hated the heat
so what changed was it
city lights and concrete
or vacant lots and bottle tops and did you miss
spanish slipping out of your mouth
teeth bared for puerto rican men at our high school deli
café negro sin azúcarand puedo fumar
and they taught you what you always said,
te quiero pase lo que pasewhat changed
on the benches by the river
we were farther than boston to atlanta,
it was the first time without skin on skin on skin and
you didn’t look at me again
In the Summer
By: Abigail Raymond
I hear a voice sing
In the stairwell.
I hear you sin outside
With the bees.
“The night is sweating,”
She says, sweating.
And you are outside, sinning.
But someone is still singing in the stairwell
And I am tasting honey and
Trying not to think of you while
You are drawing
Water from the well.
She is drawing on a new face.
The night is coaxing water from our skin but
I am still hot
Hotter than the
Steam that rises
The kettle whistles in the kitchen.
Some would say it sings but I know better, I know
Singing is the voice that echoes
(No longer) from the stairwell;
I hear someone coming down
The stairs to taste my honey,
No—to stop the kettle’s screaming—and
In the kitchen they are singing
Of the only sin
You are committing,
The sin of
The Infinity Springs
By: Hunter Silvestri
Go due north for a month if you’re walking by foot,
and by foot is the only way there.
Walk past the oceans, the maples, the soot;
walk through the crisp desert air.
Then you will come, at the end of your trek
to the house made of lilies and ice.
You will feel your own sweat as it drips down your neck
and you’ll knock on the heavy door twice.
“Enter” you’ll hear and you’ll shake like a leaf
but this is what you came to do.
Inside will be black as the Deep underneath,
so blindly you’ll feel your way through
“Give me what you have!” you will scream at the void,
“You know what I came here to seek!”
“Give me my life! It is death I avoid!”
“Wrench from me what makes me weak!”
It will move through the space like a dove on a nest
and you’ll feel all your blood leave your flesh.
It will use it tonight to paint skies to the west
and the air will smell lifeful and fresh.
You, for your part, will walk back towards your home
emptied and weak but still whole.
It will call after you–“May your curse now be known:”
“To wander the world pole to pole.”
“You may never rest, you must know and surround
yourself with folks of all type.”
“Your fate is to watch them all turn into ground,”
“To watch them all rot like fruit ripe.”
Your laugh will be glad as your lifetimes unfold,
for fruit are not just dying things.
November is cold but brings March colors bold:
Your curse is infinity springs.
By: Hannah Kahn
I know, I know,
I told you I was sick of your mansplaining.
I take it back.
So tell me,
What is it like
To be so goddamn sure of yourself?
To be a six foot stack of muscle and fat
And feel entitled to every inch?
To raise your hand in class
Without mulling over your words in your head,
To live life uninhibited;
What’s it like?
To never be stared at so long you start adjusting your clothing,
Just to remind yourself that it’s there,
That he’s only undressing you with his eyes.
How does it feel
To walk through a hall without eyeballs dropping down your body
Circling it like marbles whirling around a children’s toy,
How does it feel
Not being treated like a toy?
I know, I know
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife,
But is it a sin
to covet his confidence?
I take it back.
Who am I to add commandments?
I guess I wanted to play God.
So tell me,
Isn’t that what it’s like
To be a man?
Meet Me by the Water
By: Skylar Brown
the water’s receding
a moment is fleeting
time is fickle
and so are you
the closer I get the less I am feeling
it’s pulling me further
pulling me to
you it’s you
like a lighthouse
but not back to sea back to
waves break and crash
and now I’m reeling
the water’s receding
you saved me
but the water’s receding
our moment is fleeting
it’s not enough to keep holding onto
my dear now I’m leaving
I would have given the whole world to you
By: Ella Brady
If I could just find some time to write
I would tell you about our fight in CVS and
neither of us were right
and how it reminded me of Joyce’s “The Dead”
where the wife is struggling because of something that had happened
before she met her husband, I think
If I could just find some time tonight
I would tell you about what I find enticing about
train cars in a way that is actively not a
I would explain what it means to me to have a
and how love has moved through my life
like water taking different shapes
sometimes it is a gas or a cube or a river
and I never expect it
I would tell you about all the time I spend
alone and what I think about innovation
and why I hate
but I have no time to write it, because life
becomes more of a play every day and I
am not only the the actor, I am the director
and I am incredibly underpaid and undervalued
My 1st Kiss
By: Jay Dee
We stay after school for the theater club which
Most of our friends are a part of
i don’t remember which game we were playing but i do remember
How we both got chosen to be “it” first, which meant we had to
Leave the room while the rest of the crew deliberated on
What they would have us do
But little did they, or i, know that “us” would be doing the unthinkable
Precious, the finest sista in 8th grade
The girl with the angelic face and the voice to match
With the luscious lips always coated in lip gloss
Who looked like she was made of brown sugar and best believe
i had a sweet tooth
Hell, if i was D’Angelo i woulda sang to her to let her know how i feel
This was the girl i had been crushing on for forever but was too afraid
To ever approach her because we were friends and while i
Thought i had game, the last time i tried to holla at a girl
she quickly reminded me that i was never good at sports
So anyway we’re waiting in the hallway and talking as per usual
then next thing you know we switch into some PG-13 romcom mode
Looking deeply into each other’s eyes, biting our lips and shit
She approaches me, then pauses for a second, then a “fuck it” expression
Comes across her face and she continues forward
Puts her hands around my face like it was meant to be
Held by the tender touch of her fingertips
And then she goes in like there’s a “Welcome” sign placed on my lips
And if you woulda seen my face you woulda known i was eager
To greet her
Soon our lips begin to get comfortable with their journeys as
They explore each other to find the treasures that be our tongues
Our tongues be so brave, all naked and touching and giving
Of their saliva to each other to quench our middle school thirst
She was kissing me so good that her tongue rolled the words
Right off of mine and that’s damn near impossible
We give our mouth a second to rest to make sure
Nobody is lurking the hallways cause
We ain’t tryna get caught and get in trouble
Good, the coast is clear, so this must be a sign that
The classroom is not the only place where you learn
About the applications of, let’s say, chemistry
So now we back to gettin busy with the kissy
i must still be sleeping because i didn’t wake up this morning
Expecting to kiss my crush but i guess sometimes “dreams do come true”
We are eating each other’s faces like they’re dessert
She be sweet like chocolate, i’m loving her Hershey’s kiss
It’s my first kiss and my 7th grade self feel some like a man now
But by that logic i guess she already a woman then
She’s already had her first kiss, already got some experience
And now she gave me the gift of my first experience
It ain’t come in no box with a bow doe
But it was indeed a surprise
Who woulda thought that i would have my first kiss
With an “older woman”?
And with Precious of all people?
Shiiiid you couldn’t tell me nun after that!
But i couldn’t tell my boys that Precious was my first kiss
AND that she initiated it and taught me how to do it
Cause hell half of em claimed to have had sex, so i lied and said i did too
Made up stories about some girls i supposedly fucked
Just to make sure i ain’t get my “real man” card revoked
Where i’m from, to be ghetto Black boy is to try and
Quell the hunger for consuming girls
As early as you can, so a kiss wasn’t nothin to them
Thankfully they ain’t ever ask no hard questions about my sexcapades
So i guess i was good enough at lying if they believed ‘em
Or maybe they could sniff the shit in my stories because they were
some lil liars too
Anyway we were ghetto Black boys tryna conquer
The people around us, maybe that was our way of coping
With the world tryna do us the same way
But here was this girl, Precious
Who changed my life
All by pressing her lips against mine
Teaching me that i was just a boy, a silly boy
Trying to be a version of a man that i shouldn’t be
And she taught me that she is not to be conquered
But she is to be respected, even if she is just a girl
Who decided to kiss a boy in the hallway after school
And shiiid! that was the greatest lesson i learned in 7th grade
By: Isabel Fernandez
Manic pixie dream girl
New and shiny gleam girl
A touch of quirk, good looks and laughs
Of course she’ll do anything you ask!
Teaches you to live a little girl
A shoulder to cry on girl
She’s eggshells vomit blood
Silent angry messy teary
Young beyond her years
But she’s your rainbow-haired-cream girl
Of course she’s here to help girl!
Now get on your knees girl.
Fuck all your dreams girl.
Xian Cun, Guangzhou
By: May Hong
An 800-year-old ghost town, home
to eleven thousand pairs of weary eyes, dark
irises against eye-whites against
mildew splotches, no
electricity or running
Most units don’t have all
four walls intact, in fact most look
like they’ve been sliced down the middle, like
a party cake, or a doll
house for little girls to play.
They’re called “nail households,” as in nails stuck
in wood, resistant to the pounding
hammer of demolition
tractors, progress in the name of national
Headway can’t afford to wait, so the city lights march
on, around the holdouts, carving out temporary spectacles before
eventually plugging those holes too.
Some are literal islands
of protest, solitary castles surrounded
by moats ten feet deep, or highways three layers thick.
Xian Cun is a shrinking black body
of prey, encircled by glaring
towers who rule
Guangzhou with a reinforced
How many of these lone warriors stand
today, before the teeth of big machines
just like Tank Man once did, awaiting
his fate, wondering, how many gallons
of displaced blood, will it take to dye
this country’s flag.
By: Alex Eliasen
Writhing in amber light the tower becomes dark.
Layers transcend and shades, they build
Like familiars at Babel, with an urge to be fulfilled.
Words slither from her mouth, a mark
Of life and grace. With spirit of a monarch,
Eyes true, abundant, her body tilled.
For her warmth’s savior, they start to gild
Her wholly being. Akin to Noah and his arc;
The nature awakens and engulfs present,
Future, and past in one. A shriek of torment
And blackened flesh fall through to midnight.
A creator cackles as he sits far away, distant.
Viewing such pain as payment while they repent.
The edges darken but she still burns bright.
By: Ethan Resek
Though I sit in the family garden,
many canaries sit among the
ants crawling in the dirt beneath
me, some decades below.
I do believe they’re having a tea
party, yet the ice in my glass seems
too opaque for my liking. Are canaries
the ones with the monocles? I must
be thinking about something else.
Really though I must be going, the
clouds are beginning to roll in and
I don’t quite have the cover that those
canaries do. Please though, consider my
offer. It really is a small price to pay.
A family is worth more than a
certain four-letter word now isn’t it?
By: Hannah Kahn
I liked to look for loose threads of love
Spilling out of your body, helpless to your tidy ways,
But your heart is woven too tightly
To come undone for me now.
How will you ever unravel in love
When you are always so goddamn composed?
By: Jamie Hattler
I knew you in another life
you sat placidly on a flat rock and wondered
how stars are threaded together so seamlessly
in the eyes of tribes and the ears of people who have not lost the art of being very still.
You said you only speak these things to people who listen
It is breath too heavy to waste
I said I think I understand
and wondered how many words I have wasted.
I told you about love
and how strange it seems
One moment I stand on a mountain drinking the dream of peaks and sky
an infinite raw landscape
I blink and walk through brown bathroom tiles
I lift my head from the pillow and am lifted away from the ground
I stand locked quietly sobbing with white tiles hard against the soles of my shoes
and sunlit peaks and dreams have faded out of me
Is anything permanent?
And thank god for no because I am able to lift my head from the pillow again
And I pray for yes because how should I be able to become so completely undone
when underneath these bathroom tiles there is an infinite raw landscape to ground me.
I pray and murmur and pray and re-begin and I want to tell you
what I’ve learned about love
it floods me so intensely then leaves me vacant.
I find myself stumbling soaked in sweat
beating at the dry cracked ground
screaming at the dust for it, begging.
I find myself flung forward under the curl of white waves
tumbling in the current
gasping for air.
But I want to tell you about the moments in between
When I am sitting on the porch with a mug of mint tea and no one is awake yet
The sky eases itself down my bones
with momentary permanence
By: Nasrin Lin
I knew it then and I know it now,
always, I celebrate and sing myself electric free.
five evenings of happy hour
specials sieved into one gaze with
a hint of ginger, our lips
meet––like mocha, the thrill
of the sweet aftertaste, thunderbolts
of air, heavy with
with knowing––this is how it feels like
to live! Look at us
now, we are infinite;
we are golden! Platinum hearts
against the batons, we rise
to the stomping of the raiders,
our pain, our lava pours into the streets,
into the boroughs
and through the eye of the needle. We
are not your Barnum and Bailey,
not your picnics––we are here to stay.
We are the coat hangers,
the lapels of velvet suits.
We are the frills on gowns
the oversized coats and silver belts.
We are the argyle socks,
the polka-dotted ones too.
We are the citrus perfume
and the smell of shoeshine.
We kiss, we laugh, we cry
away from the streetlights no longer.
We are here, we have always been here
and we will come
By: Claudia Arbona
Azul que te quiero azul,
Tan azul como el resplandor del sol sobre las olas en medio del verano,
Tan azul como las flores que crecían frente a tu casa,
No tan azul como la perdición de tu cordura,
La enfermedad mental que te quema, arranca cada pensamiento fértil y lo deshace como polvo,
No tan azul como el viaje que hacen tus lágrimas de tus ojos a tus pómulos,
Ligeramente sobre tu barbilla y luego hacia el piso,
Donde se disuelven en la acera,
Y las pocas gotitas que salpican un poco resplandecen como luciérnagas en la noche más oscura.
En la noche,
En la oscuridad que te abraza,
Que te pasa las manos por los hombros como si fuera a decirte un secreto,
En la noche y el silencio y entre los gritos de tu mente
Es que salen los llantos tan calientes como lava,
Tan espesos como la neblina después de un atardecer que te hace pensar que vale la pena vivir y disfrutar de lo poco que te queda,
Solo un segundo,
No, un microsegundo,
Comparado con la existencia infinita del universo que te aguanta,
Como madre que te besa cuando más te duele el corazón
Pero te trata como niña cuando cometes un error.
No dejes que tus errores te saquen de tu mente,
Tu cuerpo te añora,
Tus brazos no se mueven,
Se olvidaron de cómo hacerlo,
Tus memorias tan perdidas como un niño en una casa nueva,
Tus ojos remojándose como la arena que las olas roza.
Regresa, no te quedes como extranjera por allá,
Como si solo un hilo te estuviese conectando a la realidad,
Ven y descansa un poco,
Recuéstate en tus caderas y la base de tu espina,
Deja que cuelgue tu pelo,
Y descubre cómo las cosas pasarán,
Y nunca pararán,
Y como la flor más azul que el azulejo,
By: Jacqueline Enderle
By: Dani Coates
By: Alex Eliasen