Dear Junior Year

Congratulations to Tenaya Berndsen for winning Honorable Mention in this years IAA Non-Major Contest.

She is unblemished,
As they say…

But blemished she is: Blemished is her mind,
Her inner eye.
His snaky kingdom, an intruder to her peaceful bliss, Mourns the mere chance it did not take To be a globalist movement under her blithe skin.
His every will, willing to appease, His every word, sweet nectar to mine ear.
And inner ease be his tremulous desire, That which she brings not into his life, But smothers with her accusations so.
She is not what I am, divine perfection of a woman.
This, misconceived, is not what I am but what she is.

As she hurts him so, she sees it not,
For her selfishness overpowers her being.. Draws Confidence For her selfishness eats her whole. He sees not that she hurts him so, Still ignorant pertaining to detecting evil. But the lights, they falter, And eyes strain to adjust.
And his cheek bones, defined by sorrow, Are jagged Not unlike my
heart.


He knows not what damage she has done,
For broken he is and the fault accredited to her.
For her grubby fingernails have defaced my poor, sweet angel..
Dare I call him so His innocence she robbed, if he ever was innocent at all.
I know not what damage he has done,
For broken I am and the fault accredited to him.
But repress I my sorrow, endeavoring to cushion him. Attempting to heal his feeble heartbeat.
May I save him if I sweep aside the wool Shorn Off His Back?

By: Tenaya Berndsen

Vialpando

Hannah Malik’s poem, Vialpando, explores the idea of childbirth and loss.

The mock-orange tree
looks pale as the flattened scar,
the heath upon which the heathen
screams.
The bough’s extent
graces the cropped and furrowed sky
of cloud and celestial smiles.
Dusk,
as the wail
clips pigeon wings overhead.
The winter breath a
silent re v
                        er
                                i
                                       e…

Top orange flame a hanging amber drop upended like the slaked mind drunk on hyacinth monkshood, heather, blossoms- opened- a jaw with whiskers, the honeysuckle. A sweeter smell against curlequed rubbings, rubbings conceived by the skull, the pale stretch of glossed-over belly: the woman, barren. Autumnal flesh never tasting spring but always chased by winter-
-Skoll, a raking claw to dispose of the blossom which knew no scent but citrus and hunger, no breath. Breathless. He stands beside her, greying hair and hands against her pelvis, she looks to sea in the growing dark. Her eyes a selkie’s greenish hue and knuckles white with hunger for what could have been. What was? What spoken spell beneath her branches could propose the blood and not the name, this woman with no heir.
No bosom full and glowing, pressed upon by the tasseled heads of fog and bitter smells from the locusts upon mock orange petals, fallen without aid of air to glide. She smiles. Her paling, nakedness exposed- the cold ripped her o f h e r b l o o m and took whatever happened, -in a night above the sea, beneath strains of stars- away.
Her branches trailing into dark, her squarish chin quivering as she grows bent by the winter wind that bites her heels. He calls her back, afraid, hands soaked in blood and nails caked with soil. She has already withered. He leaves a mock-orange leaf to seed.

By: Hannah Malik

Oh Writers, Writers

Ana Garcia explores the desperation of writer’s block in her beautiful and comical Non-fiction piece, “Oh Writers, Writers.”

Ana Garcia explores the desperation of writer’s block in her beautiful and comical Non-fiction piece, “Oh Writers, Writers.”

My words are gone. Sitting among crumpled papers, suffocating characters’ voices, vanishing landscapes and tangled stories with every sheet of paper torn off the notebook spiral. The lights are dim, stains of bergamot tea and coffee decorate the tables and the cups are dropped around the room, some of them broken and the porcelain pieces are scattered on the floor, making company to the cigarette butts. Really fancy. I stare at the computer screen with red eyes, big bags growing under my eyelids, evidence of the days gone by. Yeah, it’s both depressing and amusing.

The characters, their eyes, dilemmas and tragedies are still spinning in my mind. It’s not a joking matter when I say the thoughts weigh on my head, the fingertips going numb of hitting the keyboard so many times. Gathering courage, I re-read the last few paragraphs I’ve written so far and I hate all of it. There’s not a single line worthy of rescue. The rage takes over me, reverberating from within my ribcage, later cursing my limbs, which leads me to flip my desk, and sincerely surprised, because as I said, I’m a writer, and I am not strong enough as to do such a thing. The laptop bounces on the floor but doesn’t break, thank god because my novel process is in there. The feeling of regret immediately takes place and I attempt to clean up the mess. Yeah, picking up the cigarette butts will do for now. I open the window to let the sunlight in, but you know what? Let’s not, the sun reflects on the computer screen and it’s painful for the tired eyes.

I sit back on my armchair. Yes, now I’m prepared. I can do this. I’ve suffered enough, so now the words should start slowly flowing, true writers create their masterpieces like that, right? The blinding white from the Word page attracts my sight and the hypnotizing process starts again. Yeah, I see it. The setting is perfect, the characters come well together: the hero with a despairing story, the villain’s just fascinating, and the tone I’ve planned for this is the cherry on top of my cake. Feel jealousy, my readers and fellow writers, because this is the story that will change generations. Now, just how to word it? I am a fucking writer and my biggest obstacle is writing.

Truth is I cannot write just like that. Look at me, I’m using the word “like” way too many times, ugh? I cannot even speak properly. I am supposed to have an extensive vocabulary and have a gift for storytelling. I can’t even, like, explain myself. For all I know, I might not even be a writer. Great stories don’t make great books if they’re not successfully portrayed in the readers’ uncreative minds. Workshops and master classes have denominated it as “writer’s block” but after years of experiencing it, leaves you thinking it’s lack of talent. Still, I lead a writer’s life: drink, smoke, read, write, erase what you just wrote, drink when you realize it was not so bad, read some more, and on Fridays I’d attend slam poetry readings. That’s when I learned part of my problem: the lack of confidence I had in myself. Because if I was that girl with curly hair that used to go on stage every week, my words would be poetry. And if I was that guy with the planked hats my work would sound original and sophisticated. The problem is my words and my hands, they just do not… work their magic. It was like being ready and eager to fly, but still needing to find pixie dust or your feet will just stay frozen to the ground.

So the antidote was to write fearlessly, according to my genuine self then. It did not work, my dear readers, because it was just part of the problem. I wrote a lot more than I used to, but I wrote really crappy stuff in a failed attempt to be sophisticated. I’d unfold crumpled papers that I had written before and they were so much better than they used to be. My work used to be honest, and it transformed into a pretentious vomit of long words.

And now this is me. Sitting across the table, trying to figure out how on earth to get back my words. Writers go through this all the time right? Despair enforces their art… although, if being like this is the only way I’ll become a good writer, maybe I do not want to be an artist anymore, not if it brings all this exasperation and pain.

My head hit the keyboard as a groan escaped from my throat, of pure redemption. My words are gone… oh wait, that’s actually a good line for a story, or even a poem. I am a writer, and it’s almost required for me to hate my work, but maybe it’s not so bad once my fingers tremble and hit words on the keyboard.  My words are gone…

By ~ Ana Garcia

Inhale

Congratulations to Alina Pontius for winning Second Place in the Parallax Non-Major contest!

[box]

I have arrived.  I am home.

I am clay.  Shape me. Press me.

I arrive and feel thumbprints, a potter’s wheel spinning on its axis.  Meet a stone on the street, I will swallow it.  Smooth—weighted–past my lips.  Esophagus clenches.  Take it down.  You have pressed heavy gold coins deep into my firm.  I carry them.  I carry you.  I lift myself.

I am repulsive.  I am radiant.  Push your fingers into my body and out my buoyant heart.

I am clay.  Shape me.  Press me.

My self,  She  is box-shaped.  I am made to hold your treasure.  Place your ball of thread, your brass lungs, your purple-bruised eyelids into me.  I am the moment before a breath.  I am a glint of lemon sun.  Do not look at me.  I can only be tasted.  I carry these things within and surround.  I carry them.  I carry you.

I have arrived.  Shape me.

 

By: Alina Pontius[/box]

Spring

Congratulations to Eleonora Beran-Jahn for winning First Place in the Parallax Non-Major contest!

[box]
I whisper at the growing spring,
where she was talking to a garden dog
and were she was seen wearing a blue hat,
when butterflies cried,
and one by one,
fell to the ground.

No joy is in this high western skies,
where the glowing blue moon went,
leaving us in darkness,
frozen.

Here,
as the morning sun sparkles upon I,
who never more thought of time,
thoughts flood my mind,
of the moments when I was restrained
by the unbeatable fact of death.

Funny,
how the summer noon star fast grows-up
as love flies in a little girl’s heart
like twirling music
that lives in the silent rain.
The rain that falls lightly on the blue hat;
that lays beside the owner
of the garden dog
in this whispering spring.

By: Eleonora Beran-Jahn
[/box]

Traveller

Caitlin Plathe takes us on a lonely journey on the road.

Have you ever driven your car—to the middle of nowhere, just

to see how lonely you could feel with your knuckles white

against the steering wheel? You don’t even think about it, you

only worry about how fast you’re going, and that even though

you’re going 80, you still can’t help but feel that

the world is

spinning

slower

than it

should.

 

It’s okay, you know, to feel like your lungs can’t find

the air you desire, or if your eyes sting back with hate, or

sometimes, as often as we wish, with love. It’s completely

fine to want to scream until you can’t remember what silence is.

 

It’s deafening.

Maybe you’ve never known the feeling of someone else

piecing out your every being, or telling your secrets until

you’re positive there’s nothing left to hide. Maybe you’ve

never heard another person cry like a poisonous drain, like

seeing someone’s heart break right in front of you.

 

About an hour and a half away from here, so far from here, I

fell in love with the toxic scent of being alive. An hour and

thirty fucking minutes from here, I fell in love with the

roughness of clenched fists, and the wind blowing against

my face like I never even stood a chance, like the world

wasn’t supposed to be spinning faster or slower, like

the world wasn’t even supposed to be spinning

at all.

 

By Caitlin Plathe

My name is Caitlin Plathe and I am a 17-year-old high school student at MOC-Floyd Valley High School in a small town in Iowa. I’ve been an avid reader and writer since I was a little kid, and I honestly can’t imagine doing anything else. Recently, this summer, I was accepted and went to a two-week writing and cultural exchange program at the University of Iowa, which to be quite honest, changed my life. I’m a better writer, and person, because of it. 

The Shanghai Excursion

Stephanie Guo, the marzipan-loving flute player, takes us on a trip through a Shanghai market.

Wreathed in white space,
I ask you
To stencil me in

 

(teach me the ways
of the modern woman)

..
…..
……….
……………….
……………………..
……………….
……….
…..
..

And you

All but refuse. for

futile is the woman
who cannot strut about
a crowded east-asian fish market
in six-inch stiletto heels.

hawkers may beckon,
but she remains a miserly vale.
no tip, no bag, no purchase:
you, seller. you clearly rigged the scale.

1,000% discount and counting,
she saunters away,
balances a tottering tray of dimsum
with a menagerie of goldfish:
polite curios for the little cousins.

(At the end of the New Year celebrations,
She’ll be in charge of clearing out
The fish tank in
Remarkably inauspicious
Black bags.)

in a city where six-hour grocery trips
are the norm,
more futile is the woman
who smells of fresh tilapia
at the end of said time interval.

(six times sixty
is three-sixty, did you know that?)

and – and –
in case you’ve forgotten:

most futile
is the woman
who cannot taste a rhetorical question

at the tip of her own tongue

 

Ekphrasis (The Portrait)

Talking to inanimate objects is something that Stephanie Guo, the marzipan-loving flute-player, understands.

Visual art by Sana Liu

The portrait is done. I eat
A sandwich, down a coffee,
Break my fast.

Halfway through the third croissant,
The girl in the painting –
She’s a striking girl, with wry lips
And gray eyes –
Suddenly parts her lips
And speaks.

I don’t remember my childhood,
She murmurs. I have lanky arms
And a moony face and all I do

All day long is sit in an oil painting
And grimace at this paltry flower.
I must’ve lost my memories
After someone pushed me
Down a gorge.

Did you fish me out?
To which I reply,

No. I down another coffee,
Grab my paintbrush,
Blot her lips.

She faces the sky now,
A wayward diverge,
The long and unbroken dirge.

 

 

Apocalypse

Amalia Bowen-Sicalides’s poem “Apocalypse” deals with an apocalypse of the heart.

Visual art by Jahaira Anaya 
There is an earthquake
in her chest
every time she exhales and you can feel it
ruining you.
You are slowly
falling apart
the gale force wind of each of her breaths
widening cracks in your skull
behind your ears
And every time you
hear her voice
the aching in your chest
can’t mean anything but
your imminent demise
and no one ever said it would hurt so much.
But these are
end times
and all the rules are changing
the beat of your heart is a
	time	bomb and nothing
is making
contact
clutching fingers
	and searching lips
and there is no more
air in your lungs
or maybe we’re running out of oxygen.
She digs her
	fingers into your hips as if
she’s gonna tear you
in
two
and you could almost believe it
so maybe the thing to do
is
	curl your fingers
around the
		curve of her
	jaw
and hold on
	until the	tremors
			stop.

D Minus 39

Dante Yardas´s poem, a winner in the Parallax-Online Apocalypse Writing Contest, takes us to the depths of the apocalypse.

Visual Art by Austin Starr King

[box]
Dante Yardas is student at Idyllwild Arts Academy. His poem was selected as a winner in the Parallax-Online Apocalypse writing contest.[/box]

— Dad?
— Yeah, buddy?
— How many stars are there?
— Eight hundred thirty-two.
— That’s a lot of stars.
— The people at the star factory put them there.
— The star factory?
— Remember how there’s the food factory, and the clothes factory, and the water factory, well, there’s also a star factory.
— How do they make them so bright?
— Just like how they make fireworks.

— Dad?
— Yeah, buddy?
— What makes the grass green?
— Pixie dust. Magical pixies sprinkle shiny dust on the grass to make it green.
— How come I haven’t seen them before?
— They always do it in the nighttime, when everyone’s sleeping.
— Well then, why is the grass so brown then?
— They’re on vacation.

— Dad?
— Yeah?
— How come we always eat food out of cans?
— Because the best kind of food comes out of cans.
— How come we used to eat food from the market, but now we don’t?
— Because the market closed down.
— How come we didn’t eat food that came out of cans before the market closed down, but now we do?
— …
— How come we aren’t magical?
— We are magical. We are very, very magical.

— Dad?
— Yeah?
— Why don’t you work any more?
— I don’t need to.
— Were you fired?
— No, the boss decided to shut the whole thing down.
— I don’t understand.
— You don’t need to understand, it’s adult things.
— Well, then why don’t you work any more?
— Because I wanted to spend more time with you.

— Dad?
— Yeah?
— Where’s Mom?
— She left. She couldn’t take it anymore.
— Where did she go?
— We don’t know.
— Why don’t we know?
— Because she hasn’t contacted us since she left.
— Will we ever see her again?
— Yes.

— Dad?
— What?
— What’s the day today?
— D minus 39.
— D minus 39? That’s as old as you are!
— Tomorrow it will be D minus 38.
— And the next day it will be D minus 37, and then D minus 36, and then D minus 35…
— Yes.
— What does the D stand for again?
— It stands for days.
— But days don’t go backwards. They go forwards!
— It depends on how you look at it.

— Dad?
— Now what?
— How many stars are there?
— I just told you. Eight hundred forty-two.
— You said there were eight hundred thirty-two. Where do they come from? They don’t come from the star factory, do they?
— Who knows.
— Have you been lying to me the whole time?
— Not the whole time.

— Dad?
— Yeah, buddy?
— Will I ever become a star?
— Soon. Very soon.