Staring Into a Multicolored Abyss by Ally Brunner

And just like that, you’ve given yourself away for the third time.

 You’ve revealed a little piece of yourself, burying what’s left of you a little deeper –– a little farther away from the beaming lights that flickered through the heart kaleidoscope you had as a child. 

The angles that once lined up to reflect the colorful expanse before you have sharpened, creating darker images that make you uncertain whether you’re still staring at your brother’s blue handprint on the wall or something else entirely. 

The speed at which the kaleidoscope turns astonishes you. One second you’re staring at an array of sunset-colored diamonds, the next a pool of blue stars. You reach out to grab them, hoping to grasp a morsel of beauty in your ragged hands, but each star slips through your fingers, landing in the hands of those with longer nails and ornate gloves that carry a grace and confidence you so clearly lack. 

Jewels and gems can’t hide the solitude that surrounds you.

Your ears pick up the slamming footsteps in the outside hall but your mind is too obscured by the twist and turn of the kaleidoscope to notice the blue paint running under the door. 

In your long and suitably uneventful life, the omnipresent kaleidoscope is removed only long enough for the splash of your brother’s thumbprint to become visible once more.

The lies spin as quickly as your fingers brush around the edges of the banged-up object. 

“I love you. And nothing you do can ever change that.” 


Ally Brunner is a high school junior from New York, NY. She enjoys playing sports, reading, and writing both prose and poetry. 

Visual art by Sylvie Mizrahi


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Haibun for Girlhood by Katie Tian

under a city’s blue-air canopy, murky whistles can still fit themselves between disquiet & dissonance, sirens strumming alive & all the cicadas slow-singing. on nights like these we trace shadows on the sidewalk, eyes open wide for those who still scatter soot along our collarbones & call it conquest. call it glory. call it myth.


& they will syphon the salt from our bloodstreams, leave imprints of black oil on our skin, calcify us in carbon for timeless preservation. we will not know the shapes of bruises until they show themselves under streetlights, until we learn to cough & come up empty.


so i reimagine myself laid clean & bare in a field, open mouth hooked on bouquets of lilies. a phoenix rekindled in ash, stripping itself of tarred plumage. i wake instead on the living room floor of a beer-bottled apartment, mouth slick with the gloss of a red rose, & dance until the moon cleaves in perfect halves.


on cloudless nights we gather beneath the cliffside, scatter the pleas of our dresses across sandy dunes, tide reeling into the shore. watch how we catch prayers fallen from faceless mouths, unclasp forgotten elegies from our throats. how we realize how small we are in contrast.


today the streetlights dim themselves one-by-one as we take the long way home. i bite the inside of my cheek, blood welling under my tongue, the music in my earphones not loud enough for me to unhear the city. a plea falls astray between the asphalt’s cracks: let us relearn the shapes of ourselves, recapture names on our own tongues.

Katie Tian is a sixteen-year-old Chinese-American writer from New York. Her work is published in Frontier Poetry, Polyphony Lit, Rising Phoenix Review, and Kissing Dynamite, among others. She has been recognized for her writing by Hollins University, Smith College, the Adelphi Quill Awards, and the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers. Apart from writing, she enjoys collecting stuffed animals and consuming obscene amounts of peanut butter straight from the jar.

Artwork by Saki Onoe

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