Issue 1

Click here to check out the print edition of Issue 1.

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Table of Contents

Prose

A Trunk, Full —  Nicole Cohen 

Just Not Hungry —  Anonymous

Poetry

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

Non-English Language

Disociación  —  Claudia Arbona

Studio Art/Photography

Jaqueline Enderle 

Dani Coates 

Alex Eliasen 

Alex Eliasen


ISSUE 1

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

By: Anonymous

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.”

“Thanks.”

“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?”

“Protesting what?”

“Reactionaries.”

“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.”

“Of what?”

“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

this otherworldly

wholly human hemisphere

you had locked it in

 

and then

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

or,

at least

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

after limb

after limb

bidding farewell to legs

 

maybe, on a good day

maybe even an opalescent wing

that feeling

i wonder if maybe

you felt that with me


As I Finish,

By: Ethan Resek

 

The Creation

“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,

 

The Person

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

will disappear,

left for

dust.


The Aquarius

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

you

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.


Beach Haiku

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

freshener hanging

from the rearview mirror

on the drive up, sick

scent hounding

us like an ill star.

 

Apostrophes stare

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,

 

quarantine ourselves

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.


Distance

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

Hot

Hotter than the

Steam that rises

Rises

Rises, and—

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

Loving me.


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.


Mansplaining

By: Hannah Kahn

 

I know, I know,

I told you I was sick of your mansplaining.

I’m sorry,

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.

For now.

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,

Tell me.

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’m sorry,

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

 

waters receding

the closer I get the less I am feeling

it’s pulling me further

pulling me to

 

you it’s you

like a lighthouse

water receding

but not back to sea back to

 

you

 

waves break and crash

and now I’m reeling

head underwater

the water’s receding

 

you saved me

I’m breathing

 

but the water’s receding

our moment is fleeting

it’s not enough to keep holding onto

 

receding receding

my dear now I’m leaving

I would have given the whole world to you


Minimum Wage

By: Ella Brady

If I could just find some time to write

I would tell you about our fight in CVS and

how

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

cliché

I would explain what it means to me to have a

brother

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

French

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


M.P.D.G.

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

 

But girl,

 

She’s eggshells vomit blood

Silent angry messy teary

Young beyond her years

Weary

 

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.


Nail Households

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

water.

 

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

interest.

 

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

concrete fist.

 

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.


Prometheus’ Theft

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.


Tea Party

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?


Thread

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?


Untitled 1

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

mine

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

mine

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

and reverberates

with momentary permanence


The Village

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

pulsating between

each breath

of air, heavy with

relief, heavy

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


Disociación

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,

Crecerás.


By: Jacqueline Enderle

Jacqueline Enderle Piece


By: Dani Coates

Hands


By: Alex Eliasen

Copy of 9

Outside 3.3