Eric Pak is a 17-year-old Korean-American living in Thailand. He has lived in diverse countries around the world and aims to share his experiences through his writing. His works have previously been published in K’in Literary Journal, The Paper Crane Journal, and The Cathartic Literary Magazine.
The ceiling smelled like old lace and the sigh of a dying star. Hovering there, I peered at the nun who glowered at me the same way an ancient, grizzled tiger eyes a young hyena. I threw my head back and cackled with the lubricated mirth of my cynical father’s lauder. My gaze travels to the lush forest of palms and cedars on my desk. Beneath their foliage of entwined fingertips and toes, a meticulously groomed garden of doorknobs, seashells, and Abbey Roads overthrows its gardeners and cracks beneath the pressure of a violet spotlight. A city, bedecked in the afternoon-kissed tears of ancient pearls, rises from tangled vines. The gates at Babylon Fall to children with water pistols and all around them, the baseball stadium erupts in a chorus of that forgotten anthem of constellations exchanging words in passing. The crowd departs, babbling beneath the sea of dried rose petal confetti. They return to homes of spun sugar and formaldehyde. They fill their goblets with diet pineapple juice and something from an angel-shaped bottle. Everyone is more palatable when they are sedated, and I am no different.
Caroline Adams is an eighteen-year-old high school student living in New Jersey and going to school in New York City. She’s studied creative writing at Columbia University over the summer of her sophomore year and is currently finishing her senior year at Loyola School.
Visual Art by Yuga
i. Night on the Galactic Railroad — Miyazawa Kenji
grandfather is rushed to the hospital
as I wait for him to awaken
I sit on a leather stool beside a window overlooking
a soulless city of iridescent noise and raucous cars
on my phone, I read the book—
the kanji are simple, easy for one like me who speaks
its themes of death,
the endless sky,
and liberation of true heaven
make me whisper to my unconscious grandfather, fresh from a stroke,
“this book reminded me of you.”
ii. Naomi — Tanizaki Jun’ichirō
we know with some degree of certainty that
he will die
within the next few days
and I go out to a nearby mall
and buy a book— Naomi, Naomi, Naomi!
it is disgustingly raunchy
borders on the pathologically inappropriate
the English translation, though, is lyrical
yet still so hilarious.
I can nonetheless tell how badly
its salaryman protagonist would love
to live again
to begin again
to love again
I tell grandfather over his
in the ICU,
“you would be so disappointed if you knew
I was reading this.”
he’s brain-dead, he won’t care what I read
iii. Dogra Magra — Yumeno Kyūsaku
once his body has died with his brain
I return to the grotesque, surrealist comforts
of eclectic creatures like Yumeno
reading it online on my phone during his
fluorescent, Sprite-filled funeral with
hopelessly slow internet
through my tears, barely comprehending complex kanji
and incomplete, aberrant
sentences that repeat in
presenting its message of parlous life and rebirth, the insanity of
being alive and being dead and being in the womb
that motivate me to lean against a
stretcher-like thing, not quite a coffin
and screech ugly, incomprehensible sounds to match Yumeno’s
meaningless, yet so unbelievably integral, onomatopoeia
before the memory sprints away and
all I know is the silver-scarred dust you
return to the womb
now I remember what to say
“in another life,” I tell you, “we’ll meet again.”
CA Russegger is a high school student from OB Montessori. CA loves visual art, writing, history, and literature very much, and spends all day with these things. Can be found with many, many stacks of books of many, many genres—Shakespeare is always a guilty pleasure.
Visual Art by: Dawn Jooste
In Rio de Janeiro,
empty hands grasp broken promises.
Saturated unfamiliar languages travel in blind eyes,
collects like rivers in unnamed faces.
The tiredness of wanting is palpable and heavy,
scalding sacrifices in the plastic yellowed sand.
Spirits as quick as the desperate shootings that cross
the sky, dissolve into beings we cannot see.
In Rio, no one remains the same. The bodies are
caramel-colored — oily melting flesh, burning
into the ever-rising, drop of light. Invitation in the
form of pulsing mountain curves,
edible tights and uneven crooked teeth. Lilac
stagnant spots carve sanctuaries on their skin
recondite into its own deep. No one sees
the resentful taste on their mouths,
bitterness eternally whirling on closed tongues.
In the sky, dead constellations need no mourning,
no words collapsing into the beam of Ipanema.
The sputtering shooting became noiseless to all of us.
We chain ourselves to our beginnings
and that is all we can be.
Luiza Louback is a 17-year-old Latin-American Brazilian emerging writer and high schooler. Her work has appeared in national anthologies and has been recognized by the NY Times Summer Academy. When she is not writing, she teaches English to low-income students and advocates for literary accessibility in Latin America.
Visual Art By: Florence Liu