Issue 1

April 2016

List of Contributors

Jessica Olinger
Sea Growth

Sea Growth.jpg

Kushal Poddar

The word that rolled all summer
in the hole of my soul
stretches and strolls out
leaving a rapture in my chest.

Hiraeth, don’t leave me,
I murmur.
You are home, I yell.

I become sick of seeking home.
All I have is homesickness.
Now that too leaves.
Four crows caw from the fence.
Don’t go, I say knowing
something else will nest in the emptiness.

Prayer Method

Kneeling is prescribed
from above and below,
and while doing so

I see
my prayer beads dying
from an unknown blight.

A neighbour nails ‘Faith’
to his bed’s headboard.
I kneel. Even this wall

is all forgiving and
has a damp spot Goddess
whose eyes fly Phoenix

against the tide.
A cuckoo maddens my garden.
A beetle waits for a brief eternity
before it rolls the soft heart of scent.

Sonia Lopez


Gregg Dotoli

I like maybe and sometime
social option play
Not a no, too binary
Or a yes, too binary
variable, shifty, a utilitarian maybe
the emir of delay and control
later arrives at will
Ubered by the sometimer
In that yellow limousine

Welcome Big Data

Big Data murdered the scientific method
compartmental and cold
diminishing marginal utility isn’t
for the bit crushing data monster
Big Data murdered the scientific method
With nanosecond bellcurve accuracy
humans need not apply
smash the test tubes and calculator
Big Data murdered the scientific method
Welcome to estimateworld
new world driver wisdomless informational
like that student teacher in high school
Why became irrelevant, we are what-junkies now


we are on the Isthmus
past-present eco-soil
growing crowded and carbon-hot
high tides and drying lakes
scary-odd December-spring days
the slow baking Big Apple
I like Florida, but
it’s coming to me
not me to it

Luke O’Brien
After James Joyce

I remembered the rain, as it wet the paper, a
brief time spent in the waiting room, a rooster coop, birdless
for now, but soon to be crowded with proud fowl. This must be heaven
because nothing’s happening here, nothing’s changing, the sea-dusk
light breaks through my window and
I’m transported through the calm, crisp air. A
derelict house whispers and shudders softly. Here, a star
is born. She is born out of a supernova flirt and fight in
the galaxies that we can’t see, the
day is the same as night. To the west,
vivid imagery flickers past my eyelids, bright lights and
rich, red lipstick smiles, lips pursed lightly, sipping a glass of wine, thou
shall not spill on the carpet. Take off those shoes, poor
beggar, you will track mud. The paper is damp like my heart,
a flickering, festering flame guarded by a child’s hand. Love’s
not too far out of reach for me. Yet this violent, bludgeoning image
batters itself into my brain. Fickle and profound, she became fond
of what blood looked like caked on her skin.
And she fancied herself to always be right, no matter how far
she had to go to be right. She turned and said “Rememberest:
I will love you forever, till the sun swallows us” I thought her
eyes sparkled like a sun ready to devour, the silent
vastness of space is no place for lovers. Here, where eyes
are gouged from their sockets and
mouths become bleeding, oozing cuts, her
god-like form descends and blesses Mars with water, soft,
cleansing rain that again soaks the paper I hold, foam-white
soap floats on top of the bath water I furl my brow
as I drop her old love letters in the tub. And
to think I was so foolish to fall for the fragment
miscreant, the perfume, vanilla scented and sinful, laughed around her hair
Pennyroyal Tea by Nirvana played back as I felt myself falling
in love? Maybe. Into death? Murky waters as
deep as an entry-level poet’s metaphors? More likely. In
middle school poetry as deep as a kiddy-pool there is the
truth and freedom of ignorance, just not knowing how liberating silence
can be, or how restricting it is. Winter is here, the rain falleth
on cold steel rails of the playground. Now
here at the end of the world. You cry, drive and talk till dusk.
Why is it so important for us to be free from
suffering? Why must we endure anything? The
reason I have devised is so we may look back into the air
chilly and damp to the bone, and breathe a sigh: “Ah,
well at least that is done.” Why
trouble yourself? So you may say you have, so you will not wilt
like a flower, but instead, thou
shall grow in the blossom of the evening. Remember
we were all young once. But these
memories, we relive them, once, twice, thrice, or
maybe even four times. But why?
So we may be young more than once? Oh, my poor
aching heart
is shattered, first by love, then by friends. I feel repine
first and foremost for myself for if
I was to die before I wake, the
angels would cast me into Hades, or perhaps sweet
Persephone would have mercy. Courtney Love
and Billy Corgan and Kurt Cobain lay claim to she,
she who dominates punk rock and yielded
a plentiful bounty. The rain cracks open the sky with
a mighty sound, a coarse, rusty hammer of my father’s, a
relic of Zeus himself. All I can do now is sigh,
my papers are wet and ruined. Was
my poetry never
meant to be? Was I never supposed to be thine?

Jon Paul
All That Grows In The Garden

From inky blackness, she wakes. Barefoot, she lingers in the anteroom, then
soon remembers the garden. The sight of it through a rose-tinted window is a new
Pink, sunpainted earth is one of her great loves. Outside, narrow furrows in
rows; black soil trimmed with a white picket fence; broad-shouldered stone walls and an
iron gate; a rambling, cobbled street beyond. One day, her husband will walk down that
sidewalk, the girl thinks. She ties her long honeybrown hair up with deft, young hands.
A sense of novelty, a remote half-remembered uncertainty, feeds the distant bee
buzz in the air, but she thinks if she works in the garden, all will be well. On her hands
and knees, she runs her fingers over the soil with pleasure. Beginning with the carrots,
who are grateful, respectful, and always make her giggle, the girl inches forward and
overturns the soil, avoiding their fat orange bodies.
The dense odor of dirt, the green tickle in her nose, invigorates her. The
radishes beam at her through purple skin. The Brussels sprouts thrum a kind of naked
rhythm in her ear when she creeps up, like a heartbeat. She greets each in turn,
thinking that perhaps she should name them.
After a spell, she hears laughter beyond the leaves, a jubilant refrain that rings
out unbelievably. She rises to her feet, wipes hands dry, then looks toward the
darkened corner of the courtyard. She expects to see children there, but the boxwood
bushes stand still as stones and guard their shadows. Her mind wraps itself around a
thread of memory, of restless play under an endless sky, but she can’t unearth it.
After finishing the arugula, she prunes the ill-tempered tomatoes, who stand tall
and gaunt as guardians on their trellises. The spinach smiles, the celery demurs. It’s
past midday, she guesses.
At the gate, a tumult. Walking deliberately, she abandons the safety of the
garden and spies a vision of a young man. He leans on the gate, grinning. Tall, dapper
in vest, suit and tie, his cheerful bearing suggests sophistication, an easy knowledge of
the world. She knows this man, she thinks, but can’t remember his face. Soon, the
outline of his figure flickers, wanes, then dissolves to nothing in front of her.
Back in the garden, the cukes are temperamental and at odds with the season.
She pretends not to notice their stubbornness and hums an ancient waltz. The onions
and beets bicker. Minutes tick by unheeded, but from this she takes comfort. The
garden makes its own time. Briefly, she wants to stay in this place forever.
She reclines on her haunches, then discerns a blaze of white fabric, brilliant and
pure against dusky greens. A girl’s voice, happy as a bride on her wedding day,
careens and swirls among the plants, echoes in her ears. The voice sighs in riddles,
has secrets to tell, but keeps to itself.
Shadows lengthen, the day unwinds. The sun climbs higher in the sky. Carrying
on, the sweet potatoes quarrel with her, their barbs brutal and unfair. The cabbages
and lettuces block every forward step. She asks for quiet, but they gossip amongst
themselves, aiming brittle, unfair comments in her direction. Her gaze wanders toward
the gate and road beyond.
The sun sags under the sway of gravity. An abrupt tiredness sweeps in, like a
winter gust. She brushes one silver lock of hair from her forehead, judges the distance
she must go. In the treasonous light, the broccolis refuse to speak to her. She forces a
smile anyway. Next she attends to the collard greens, the endive, the celery.
Beyond the dirt, a congregation of round-backed men marches forward, bearing
a pine box on their shoulders. She refuses to acknowledge them, but witnesses their
mouths moving, as if in prayer. In the gloom, the garden waits wordlessly, standing flat
and stone-like in their rows. Her numb fingers tap along the harsh, unyielding ground,
still probing. There is no time, but she wants to make peace, to redeem herself.
But the place is empty. She turns one last time toward the road. Not a soul on
the sidewalk, not a glimmer of humanity. She kneels, lays on the ground, feels the cool
earth against her shoulder. Grass pricks her skin. Her eyes peer into the inky
The murmur of living whispers through her like a hymn, then fades away.

Abby O’Connor



Laura Sloth Andersen
Only Colors Left to Breathe

The sky pulls away from the blue
and all we’re left with is thin air
We try to breathe
but there’s no trees
Only colors left, and nothing there
No waves around our legs
No wild wind in our hair
The ground beneath us bends
It tries to leave itself behind
Grab for a branch, grab for a hand
There’s no one left but you and I
Only rainbows are to see
Only sunsets left to breathe
The chirps of bird song now long gone
What you can see is what you could hear
Nothing left to feel
nothing left to taste
but colors that you never knew
All you can see is what you could sense
Until the light pulls away from the canvas
we try to soak it all up with us
Before the day has left itself
and left darkness to itself
We have to leave ourselves behind

Josh Lawrence
I Forsake the Path I Travel Today

I forsake the path I travel today
So that another I can pursue
And hear what that path has to say.
This choice I shall not lightly weigh,
Yet it is a choice long overdue.
I forsake the path I travel today.
I look up and down each way
As the snow glistens like morning dew,
And hear what these paths have to say.
I stand beside my stranded sleigh
And wonder how I shall continue.
I forsake the path I travel today.
The horse offers up a soft neigh
As I stand with a semblance of a clue,
And hear what these paths have to say.
I untie the horse and lead the way,
Choosing the path I already knew.
I forsake the path I travel today
And hear what these paths have to say.


Zoe Barbara
My relationship with makeup: from when it began to when it ended

When I was 13, my mom taught me her view of the proper way to wear makeup.  She showed me how to put on the perfect amount of foundation, blush and eyeliner that she deemed appropriate for my age.  And it looked good.  I found that I felt prettier with makeup on.  A couple years into wearing makeup I saw a movie called Burlesque.  I hardly remember the story, but I do remember the eyeliner the main character wore.  It was this beautiful big cat eye that made her eyes looks so big and mesmerizing.  I went out that day with my mom and bought some liquid black eyeliner, and began to practice.  I wasn’t any good at it at first, I could barely draw a stick figure, let alone draw out a perfect cat eye line on my eyelid.  But I got better.  Over a period of four years I mastered the cat eye, and it looked fabulous.  I got compliments all the time, telling me how beautiful my eye makeup was.  It became a part of my daily life.  I felt like I couldn’t go out, not even to the drug store, without it.  I hated the way my eyes looked without it.  Even though I was born with my family’s signature big brown italian eyes, without the eyeliner I felt like my eyes looked so small and beady.  The first person outside of my family I started to let see me without eyeliner was George, the boyfriend I have to this day.  I was so afraid he would think I was ugly.  But to my surprise, he didn’t seem any less attracted to me.  Despite this, I still diligently applied my eyeliner, foundation and blush every morning for years.  Then, near the end of my freshman year of college, my mom quit her job.  This was important because she was a paralegal for a beauty products company, and they had been giving me my eyeliner for free for years.  Now I would have to start buying my own!  At this point I was also beginning to focus on my academics a lot more, and it started to be a hassle that I couldn’t rub my eyes when staring at a book or a professor or my laptop, which is what I was doing all the time.  At the same time I was getting into the body positive movement, attempting to love myself even more.  One day, I looked at myself in the mirror without my makeup.  I looked hard, and for a long time.  I realized my eyes weren’t small the way I thought they were, that my lips were still big and cupids bow shaped without lipstick, and that my skin, even with a few blemishes every once in a while, didn’t look too bad.  My naked face was not the ugly mess I had always thought it was.  It was just a face, one filled with features I had inherited from my ancestors.  Features I had forgotten how to love.  That summer I started to phase out the makeup routine I had so religiously followed since I was 13.  I stopped the eye liner first, then the blush, then the foundation.  During that time George and I were always going on hikes, and so there was no need to wear makeup.  I started to feel beautiful despite at first feeling so naked without my makeup.  I broke down the first day of my sophomore year, and wore a full face of makeup to my classes and my new tutoring job, along with a dress.  But I was reminded quickly how annoying it was to essentially never be able to touch my own face during my daily activities.  I went straight back to no makeup the next day, but I was afraid of the comments I had heard in the past when I didn’t wear makeup, “you look tired” and “are you sick?  You look sick.”  But there were none.  I went through my day the same as the day before, learning and teaching, no one even seemed to notice.  I was reminded of the lessons I had been trying to teach myself for years, that no one’s opinion of me except my own really matters.  And truthfully, in the adult world, with the exception of a few assholes, no one cares.  Every once in a while since phasing out my makeup routine I get comments like, “why did you stop wearing that beautiful eyeliner?  You did it so so well!”  But in general, I’m still the me I’ve always been.  I still have friends, family, and a boyfriend who loves me.  I go to school, I work, I volunteer.  People talk about my physical appearance to me a lot less, but I like it that way.
I guess the point of this story is that although I always thought of myself as confident, the truth was I wasn’t really.  I hated my naked face, and that’s no good.  This isn’t a story hating on makeup or the people that wear it.  For a lot of people, makeup is empowering, and makes them feel beautiful and artistic.  And that is wonderful.  But for me, I felt oppressed by my makeup.  I felt like I had to wear it every day, and without it I felt like I was ugly.  And I blame the culture around wearing makeup.  So many people are shamed for wearing it and for not wearing it.  I think people need to decide for themselves why they wear makeup.  I’m not saying that they shouldn’t or should, more that they should get to the root of why they do it.  Because for me, I found the root was a hatred of myself, my face.  A hatred I hadn’t thought about, a hatred that shocked me.  And I worked on it, and made that hatred mostly go away.  And every once in a while I still feel pangs of that self-hatred.  But these days I feel a lot happier with myself.  My hope is that people will do some introspecting of their own after reading my story, if anyone ever does.  Because everyone has issues with their faces and bodies, and figuring out where those issues come from, whether from pressure from their peers or their family, can be very liberating.  Because often times people’s insecurities come from some outside source that makes them feel bad.  I have never met one person who I thought was ugly, makeup or not.  And I hope everyone can figure out how to feel beautiful, makeup or not.

Isabella Thomas
The Paper House

Anyone who entered the paper house would have vaguely understood what they were looking at, but wouldn’t quite have processed it. They would see walls made entirely out of white construction paper that should have been too flimsy to hold up a roof.  Two paper windows paired with a paper door that would grace the façade of the house, serving as the only indication that it was a house at all. It looked as if a slight breeze or a small drizzle could wipe away the house altogether. The little girl, that happened across it on her way back from school, thought it was one of the most extraordinary things she had ever seen.

The little girl was almost too scared to walk in the house, but she opened the door tentatively. Her small hands desperately reached for something to satisfy her curiosity and string together sense out of the pieces she was seeing. At first the white walls blinded her, and when her vision cleared she somehow was not surprised that the interior mirrored that of a typical house. It had couches and chairs like any other; the only odd element was that everything was made entirely out of intricately folded paper. She went to the couch, only to find it did not succumb to her weight. It supported her, in every way functioning like a couch. She looked around more to find the drawers had folded paper clothes, the sink ran paper water, and even the lights had paper lightbulbs.

At this rate the little girl wouldn’t have been surprised if she looked out the window and saw paper birds chirping on the paper sill. An idea struck the little girl, and curiosity caused her to pull out a piece of paper from her backpack. She carefully folded a paper crane. She wasn’t quite prepared when the bird started flapping its wings as if life itself was the very wind carrying the bird. The world was no longer a place where dimensions only came in twos and threes. Instead it seemed like the world consisted of layers of reality where impossibilities squeezed their way, slipping through to those who noticed. She folded as many cranes as she could and let them flap their wings around her head, hoping they wouldn’t disappear if she blinked one too many times.

When the little girl went home that day, she made paper crane after paper crane. Confused, she asked her mom “Why don’t these cranes fly when I make them?” The mother thought her daughter’s question was sweet, and said “Sweetie, if you can imagine they are flying then they are.” The little girl proceeded to tell her mom about the paper house, and her mom just listened while she smiled.

The little girl came to visit the paper house every day, and eventually she got her mom to go to the house too. The little girl insisted that that the doors and walls were made out of paper, but all her mom could see was the foundation of stones that formed a house like any other. Her daughter claimed that the very birds sprouted paper wings, but all she could see were the robins chirping on the powerlines. The mother played along anyway, and they made it into a game of sorts.

The game continued well beyond what the mother wanted it to. When the little girl was no longer a little girl, the mother thought it was time to end the illusion. Paper could not breathe life into inanimate objects; it could not be shaped or formed into something it was not. So the mother told her daughter she was not allowed to go back to the paper house, and that paper was paper and nothing more.

The girl’s perception as she had known it crumbled only to be replaced by arguments and confusion. The girl tried to find the house again to prove her mother wrong, but she could not find it. As time passed, she made fewer and fewer paper cranes for none of them lifted their paper wings. She found it hard to believe that paper furniture could hold up anything other than disappointment. The girl asked for the paper house a little less each day until the paper house became a distant memory to her.

The time came when that same little girl had a little girl of her own, and there came a point where her own daughter brought home stories of paper houses and flying cranes. In response, the grown up little girl would smile, fondly remembering a time when she believed in those things too, but knowing one day she would have to tell her daughter that they did not exist.