Sarah Tavernese

Abeer Awawdeh

Giovani Selvaggio

Aamer Khan

The Leaf That Fell From the Tree

The rising sun brought light to all reaches of the vast, open world. There were mountains of various sizes scattered across the horizon surrounding the area. The land was situated in such a way that seemed like a very gradual staircase with a gentle decline that eventually led to a riverside at the bottom. In the center of the land sat a beautiful elevated temple, surrounded by yellow and red trees. The temple consisted of one main building of a rectangular figure, with two smaller square buildings on each side connected by smaller hallways. Each structure had its own gently curved roof in a seemingly hierarchal system, with the main rectangular building having the largest. Each roof was tiled and grey, with white and crimson beams supporting the undersides. Crimson poles lined the hallways and the deck of the entrance of the temple. The temple had a staircase consisting of six steps downward to an elevated silver platform, that had another six steps down toward the ground of the gentle declining hill. This path led directly to the riverside, visible from the entrance of the great structure. The trees shook as a cold wind blew, swaying with their leaves slowly falling one by one. The cool breeze and lack of leaves on the trees signified the end of summer, and welcomed a change of seasons.

Within the temple, a man rested on both knees in the center of the room, his back facing the entrance of the room. He was a rather well-built man, his shoulders strong but not broad and an athletic body that was not too muscular. He was dressed in a long, dark olive-green robe that left the tips of his collarbones bare, running down in an almost ‘V’ shape until the very top of his chest, where each side of the robe met. The robe covered his entire upper and lower body with its long trapezoidal sleeves at his elbows, tied together at the waist with a brown sash. He wore long dark-brown trousers that were fit at the waist but looser at the bottom. They contained lines running downward symmetrically throughout the lower garment– a traditional piece of clothing called hakama. His hair was long and black, tied upwards into a topknot. He was clean shaven, a stark contrast to the usual unkempt facial hair he kept day-to-day. He knew that he would not be allowed to be so rugged today.

He faced two sharp objects laying on the altar. The larger single-edged curved blade lay at a higher elevation than the shorter but identical blade. His hands slowly gripped at his knees, his shut eyelids creating a dark canvas, where memories began to paint colors of crimson. The paint was vivid and expressive, so expressive that it began to craft his memories into moving images. Images of the very same blade in front of him cutting through the air, images of crimson blood splattering and splashing, images of swollen, tear-filled eyes and eyes of desperation, images of wives awaiting their never-to-return husbands.

Malcolm Flanigan

A Joke

A mockingbird and an albatross meet where the water’s feeble stretch falls short. Their talons clutch the wet sand, the tide touches their feathers.

“Have you heard about the raven?”

“Yes. I was stunned.”

“It really makes you think.”

“About what?”

“Well,” starts the albatross. But upon noticing a small fish struggling on the shore, he suddenly silences and stings it with his beak. “Little bastard,” he manages to screech before he clamps his jaw down on the tail-fin. The fish dangles from the albatross’s mouth. The mockingbird stares quietly at the albatross – the humid heat floods the air, the water scrapes the lake-floor.

The albatross frantically flaps his wings, lifting into the angry, pink sky, and dropping the dead fish onto the ground.

False Memory

I’ve been having tremendous flights of déjà vu; that feeling of anxiety spurned by the sudden surfacing of a false memory (if a false memory can indeed surface). The first epiphany scrambled forth while my Chemistry Professor explained radioactive disintegration – the decay, spread across tens of thousands of millennia, of certain radioactive elements into lead. I raised my hand and asked her, “Why do I feel as if I’ve been here before?”

“Because you have,” she responded.

After class was dismissed, I decided to visit the school-provided Psychologist. I traversed the sprawling, labyrinthine corridors, sifting through aimless anonymity grasping the immense feeling that something was going to happen next – catharsis, perhaps; a purge of all pity and fear, a climax to the quotidian flow of time. But I merely entered a small, dark office and sat in an ornate fauteuil. “Blue velvet,” I thought, “really puts the mind at ease.” An old woman at the front desk was reading a book which bore no title nor author.

“What book are you reading,” I asked, trying to be polite.

“I’m not sure. I’ve been reading it for so long that I’ve forgotten its name,” she said. “Though episodes from it have been manifesting themselves in the everyday.”

“Yes. My problem is similar. Though, I have no recollection of where these memories came from,” I looked at the floor, “I don’t read much.”

When I looked up, the Secretary seemed to no longer be listening, her eyes swept along the lines of words, her face obscured by the book. Suddenly, I felt I no longer wanted to talk to the Psychologist. I didn’t doubt his ability to bring me closer to a state of mental fulfillment, I’m sure all his credentials were legitimate, but I felt inexplicably uneasy, and I realized, looking at the blue velvet cloistering the seat across from me, that it was happening again. I felt the whole of the universe was going to collapse beneath the weight of such familiarity. But before this implosion occurred, the Psychologist appeared, hunched in the doorway of his office, swathed in a dirty suitcoat, a shoelace holding up his hemmed dress pants. Beads tacked above the entryway sulked around his square body and his face was an unrecognizable smudge.

“Can I help you,” he intoned.

Mariah Kelly

"Tired Language"

Do not tell me I am beautiful.
You have not traced the rough edges with your fingers,
you have not tasted the blood
that comes from biting my tongue.

Do not tell me that you love me,
for you have not experienced the prison of my mind.
You have not wrapped your hands around the cold bars,
you have not touched the bruises on my heart-
you have only attempted
to bring the color back to my skin
by running your hands over my lifeless flesh.

Do not tell me I am the light of your life.
I am not a ray of sunshine.
I am lightning.

I am darkness.
I am the clap of thunder that startles you
out of a peaceful sleep.

Do not tell me that I am beautiful.
Do not tell me that you love me.
Some people love storms,
but they do not want to feel the rain forever.

“A Mother’s Heartache”

A still night,
the sounds of normalcy rang in my ears
while dread played with the strings of my heart.

A dim light illuminated the room across the hall,
soft music harmonized with the stifled cries
of my only daughter.

A great actress
secretly haunted by the ghosts of insecurity,
her problems as deep as the wounds
she carved into her.

A shaking hand reached for the blade
that painted roadmaps on her forearms.
Like a burr clinging to a sweater in the fall,
she held onto the crimson hue and begged me to let her go.

A trembling arm held her like a safe protects one’s fortune.

A sharp edge from my shattered heart
taunts me while my head rests on my tear-stained pillow.
I wonder if I had learned to be better for her,
would the sound of heartbreak
untangle itself from the feelings of nostalgia?

You took care of me when I was hungry,
I was selfish enough to expect it
But when 1+1= the two eggs you wanted,
I never learned how to make you
breakfast.

I took you for granted,
The way you held my hand
and
guided me through the dark,
daunting alleyways
into the bright, confident beauty
of Times Square.
You left my heart
Half alive,
Half dead,
Beating right there.

I wonder if someone else will
Trace lines between the beauty marks on your neck
Where I once imagined the constellations.
Will you tell her you need space?
I hope
one day
I can be your universe again.
be your friend,
lover,
wife.
The shooting star that adds a sense of
light
to the dulling, tiring chore that we refer to as
life.

Aamer Khan

"Tired Language"

She is a vein of Mother Earth, stretching to the horizon

Connecting the world, her abundant source of life plentifully rising

Flowing with the current, a seemingly endless stream

She winds and curves, moving cleanly downstream

The current is continuous - uninterrupted, unbroken, undisturbed, untroubled.

But on her course, rocks and rubble refuse to move from their place

Her flow dances around them, becoming a distorted mist in her body and face

And she comes back together again, continuing onward with gentle pace.

She runs along the side of large hills, high in their elevation

And swims through the middle of stronger and taller hills, extremely high in relation

She is clear and reflective, a mirror to the sky

Turning her a deep, beautiful blue, reflecting the sunshine over high

The blades of grass and the branches of trees greet her as she slips past

The beautiful flowers, pretty plants and small weeds wave at her as she runs by fast.

The sky is now orange, and she reflects it to the very same hue

The sun is setting, the sky no longer the beautiful shades of blue

She passes more friends, less green and more brown and grey

Giant rocks and even larger structures, shyly waving her away

Now the sky is dark, and the sun fades from view

Although she too has turned dark, she is only a darker blue

And now the moon speaks to her, shining bright

And she speaks to the moon, reflecting her beautiful light

And even when the moon returns home, and the sun comes back

The vein of Mother Nature remains, always on track.

Sarah Tavernese

You, Me & The Sea.

Waves crashing onto the shore,
There’s nothing I adore more,
Than the sun’s everlasting glow
As the salty cool air blows,
Onto my tanned skin.
That’s when I realize within,
This is where I belong;
I’ve never felt a love so strong,
Than that between the beach and me
Because I don’t love anything as much as the sea.
Each step taken with sand between my toes,
As the skin peels off my sun burnt nose.
I stare at how she is beautifully blue and wild
Like an untamed child,
On the first day of school
Ready to break all the rules.
She is where the fish swim and the crabs crawl,
Ironically home to none but home to all.
It is where my anxiety unwinds
and all my worries leave my mind.
One two three four,
Too many shells hug the shore.
Some ridged and round
And some brighter than a wedding gown.
There is so much smoothed green sea glass,
That I wonder how many drunken nights amassed,
To collect her broken treasures
Which always bring me great pleasure.
The sound of each beautiful roar
Always makes me beg for more.
When the sun finally goes down
And all the fish seem to drown,
She keeps on majestically crashing
And all that incessant splashing,
Makes me wonder how she never stops.
With all her curves and all her drops
Of care and love and nurture in one
Never ceases to leave me stunned.
I whisper to her father, the moon,
To look after her, as I’ll be back soon.
Control her highs and guide her lows
With your glistening grey glow.
The silver shine reflected on her blue curves
Can make anyone shiver down to their nerves.
The sky darkens and it is time to go
And it is always then, that I know,
With all the waves crashing up and down
Leaving nothing but salty white foam
That the ocean is in fact my home.

Andrew Aung

An Angle of Inclination

Parallel lines, the definition of,
fated by Euclid to never converge.
One stares at the other, a long lost love,
knowing that such lines will never merge.

By its definition, parallel lines
Stretch equidistantly infinite times.

Whereas Euclid’s fifth postulate, which states -
Two interior angles, a and b,
of sum less than 180 indicates
lines that cross but spread out infinitely.

So do not fear the confines of guidelines,
for the smallest tilt means signs of all kinds.

Josh Smyth

When I bring clouds over the earth

‘In the image of god are human beings?’

Over the sea, all over.
Bedraggled iridescence,
like one million
coloured pixels
never forming an image
no matter how far you step back.

‘Can we spread a table in the wilderness?’

Not a ripple.
Aggregate has formed
a concrete solidity.
Fish turned to shingle.

‘At the blast of the trumpet will the city’s wall collapse?’

A violent prod
has left a tear.
Surface ripped.
Ruined.

‘When I bring clouds over the earth, the rainbow will appear in the clouds’

When we bring oil over the sea, rainbows appear in the waves

Book of matches

Strewn – carcass-like –
across the sea-bed-
basement.
Chisels and drill-bits,
labelled drawers,
a mounted deer head,
fishing sinkers,
PRIVATE DRIVE.
No executor.
Nor estate sale.
Nor sentimentalists.
Inherited by dust.

‘Gateway DINER’
And the G
swirls like a lasso
full of the echoes
of the momentum
of
neon lights,
roller-skates
of COCKTAILS,
OPEN 24 HOURS.
I wonder if it hitched
your eye,
and drew you in.
Were you tugged,
so you had to stumble after
your centre of balance
like a toddler?
Bronze-coloured.
And incensed with
rot and rust.
And your phosphorus-
headed regiment,
underneath, in rank and file.
Little veterans.
Yet two draftees are missing.
Headstoned by
two stubs.
Two torn stubs
like two intitials.
And on the reverse
a fumble of stroke-marks
along the striker.
Somewhere,
(perhaps grease-breathed Gateway DINER)
somewhen,
two matches hissed
into life
and perhaps satiated
your hunger for a cigarette
before being extinguished.

The other day I noticed above my postbox,
nobody took your name-tag down:
J.E MURRAY.

Victoria Ferraro

Black

Black. I like my coffee black. Its dark, honest, straight to the point.The blunt taste of coffee grinds.The distinct aroma that fills up the room.The taste it leaves behind in your mouth.Sometimes I like it sweet, with 4 sugars and milk that fills up the rest of the cup, but thats the only thing it does, is sugar coat it and fill it up.Adding ingredients into my coffee just to make it taste better.I thought I could do the same thing with my life, add ingredients, but the aroma got stronger. Human senses work together, Aroma of this bitter dark- roast filling the room will involuntarily affect the taste of the coffee, even with milk and sugar added.The alkaline feeling on your tongue wont disappear.Its burned, engraved into the back of your taste buds, effecting every possible new flavor and turning it bitter.When a coffee is deemed as "earthy", it has a musty sense.Its damp and soggy like the black soil underground.Many argue it is undesirable because of the aroma it gives off.But the kick it gives you, the spicy, fiery, surprising taste it shocks you with, revives your taste buds, every last one.Thats what honesty does, it revives you, makes you come back to your senses that were blinded before by the dark aroma.So before you go and sugar coat all the bullshit,just to fill it up with milk that will eventually spoil,ask yourself Wouldn’t you rather take your coffee black like Me?

Tiffany Linton

My Hair

Every inch, every curl, and every strand makes up my hair.

A thick afro, more brown than my skin is my hair.

Fluffy, soft, and coily is my hair.

They say, “nappy,” “unmanageable,” “too stiff,” they don’t want my hair.

They say, “unsophisticated,” “childish,” “distracting,” they hate my hair.

I say, “gravity defying,” “natural,” “untouchable,” I’m proud of my hair.

I say, “versatile,” “different,” “unaltered,” I love my hair.

Whether twisted, braided, or dreaded, it is still my hair.

Flat ironed, dyed, or locked, it is still my hair.

Added extensions, big chopped, pigtails, yes. It is my hair.

It will always be my hair.

And if they only knew the strength of my hair.

Tall enough to overlook every obstacle, stands my hair.

Wide enough to wrap you in with love, stretches my hair.

Roots strong enough to bare the pain ancestors once dealt with oh, my hair.

Just as professional, just as appreciated, just as beautiful as theirs, my hair.

Jacob Beilinson

Tracee Herbert

Kendall Aufmuth