Witching Hour

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 

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this is summer

the lady has the rugged streets of my mother’s
          hometown and my hometown carved
in her skin. arteries drawn across generations
          and people spilling like seas. imprint
the curve of my shoulder to theirs. mouths match
          rhythms of inheritance. glow like
manmade moonlight. thick oil slick against
          the ridges of my patchwork tongue.
we eat bingsu and i taste shavings of the city
          and sand slipping through my shoelaces.
we bury ourselves at haeundae fossilized into
          scratch marks. my father prays
hamburgers from the grill burnt just right
          with redwhiteandblue.
we plant flags in our backyard and they
          whisper to the wind words of
belonging. firework shadows curling
          behind us. pulsing sea pulsing salt
in my neck in my crumbling wrists. paper
          wrapping my bones. humidity
like my first skin. fingers linked we sink
          together into grass we grew. we let
ice cream carve seasons into our throats.
          tattoo the sun into my inner thighs.
every year i shed on the last day of may.
          my cousin trips on the sidewalk
buried in my pores in the grooves of my
          orchid veins i follow. we do not
hold hands. this is summer to me. this
          is summer. this is my egg yolk
sun. this is my peeling white paint. this is
          my dear halmeoni and grandpa.
this is my two-faced heart. this is summer. what is
          this.

 

bingsu (Korean) – shaved ice
haeundae (Korean) – a beach in the Haeundae district of Busan, South Korea
halmeoni (Korean) – grandma

 

Jeannie Kim is a high school junior from Chicago with a love for poetry, reading, and playing the flute. She is a Scholastic Art & Writing Awards gold medalist, and her writing has also been recognized by the Genius Olympiad and the It’s All Write Teen Writing Contest. In her free time, she is usually editing submissions as an editor for Polyphony Lit or listening to music.

Art by Saki

 

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An Elegy, Aided By 20th Century Japanese Literature

        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

        broken

        Japanese

                to understand

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

                wire-tangled

        bed

                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 

        ludicrous loops

        ludicrous loops

        ludicrous loops

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

        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

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To Fit The Part

 

Japanese square watermelons glisten in edges

a perfectly rounded cube, never sharp enough to draw blood

but shaved into beauty, enough corners to stay in place.

 

I wonder what came first, did an abnormal watermelon

happen to grow into a square that happened to be the shape of its cage

     or did the cage halt the fruit’s breath

     just early enough to fill

 

\\

 

I am quiet at first glance, five foot two, a fan of sweet earl grey tea,

a thin girl who likes to cook, Asian, a writer, not necessarily

     in that order, but then again, who decides this order?

 

Did I grow into a stereotype because that was all that was expected

of me in the country that once deemed me

unassimilable, then exceptional

 

A dirty carrier of the kung flu, spit on and cursed at then scrubbed clean

of color on a Washington performance report

 

     in the same breath

     in a matter of weeks

 

When I am white wiped of color, am I catered enough for you?

 

Does my neutralness signal lack of trauma

and does that sit well with you?

 

Will washing me colorless ease the white guilt that you so despise?

 

Or did I grow up with autonomy,

rights to “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”,

to be as Asian as whoever I want to be?

 

     Hanbok trailing in watercolor silk and silver threads

     Midnight squid ink yielding thick Korean calligraphy

     Bullet-paced bargaining at traditional Sijangs

     Red hot rice cakes coated in Gochujang on winter nights

 

I look back at Seoul with my almond eyes

when it calls out to me, hands outstretched,

and know that I fit yet another mold here,

 

one that I am learning to describe. Forgive me, the privilege

of fitting in makes it hard to see what exactly you fit into.

 

and because of the way both halves of my life

have carved cages that seem to meld into my body

 

I may fit the part, but only by my will

     is what I repeat to set myself free.

 

Elina is a highschool junior from Seoul, South Korea. She attends Phillips Academy and is a graduate of the Sewanee Young Writers’ Conference and the Iowa Young Writers’ Studio. She is the executive poetry editor for The Qualia Review and loves to draw in her free time.

 

Visual Art by: Woohyung “Garfield” Jung

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Daughter

my mother is cursed. she sprouted from evil roots, gnarled and marred by the sour sting of expired love.

when her tendril emerged from wicked soil she was all bones, disjointed, already a skeleton.

leaf and leaf grew between paper cut parents, their verbal scissors poised to sever every smile.

she was five when she split her skull on the couch corner. hairline fractures blossomed with her stolen screams.

no blood, no telltale thorn, no silent sign of something. only a pain she forgot as swift as her mind shattered.

her branches were born from nothing, a lucid stalk scarred and sallow. the bark scratched like her fathers hands,

calloused and cracked and freshly rotten. every edge seemed wrong, too much like a memory.

she choked on sun, on this dewy fear of growing too cruel. her bike leapt over crumbling asphalt and her foot fell apart.

she didn’t realize for two days. the ache felt mute, dull, all too small to mean a piece of her was broken.

wearing her cast, toes sticking out the front how she hated, she still rode her bike into the wilting sun each night.

her stem ascended when foot touched frozen plane, a tangle of bloodstained vine. she never bloomed.

now she stumbles over her road blocked dreams. her palms kiss clouds. she tastes her own spoiled history.

steady as red ribbons, she laces her child with venom. poisoned daughter poisons family. she waters another cypress tree.

she is absolutely cursed. cursed to a life she has watched unfold. one shriveled, withered, ready to crumple.

she is a life sick mother. she is lonely. she screams until her throat is raw and her lungs weep and breath becomes a gift.

she still has not flowered. so far from the earth that gave her life, she feels it splintering her evergreen skin.

and unraveled from wish corpses and rusted hearts, dressed in fool’s gold, locked inside another woman’s mirror,

my mother believes she’s a lovely ghost.

Gia Bharadwaj is a dedicated young writer hoping to share her work with others. To enrich her craft over the summer, she was selected from a large pool of applicants to participate in GrubStreet’s YAWP Fellowship for emerging teen writers. Her poetry has previously been published in the Blue Marble Review. 
Art by Yuga
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Fateless

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

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Two Poems by Serena Deng

Day Six

Remember that our hands do not belong to our wrists

nor our wrists                                       to our bodies nor we                    

to each other. Black sheep take                     themselves into the fold

unknowingly and never run again. Perhaps blinded, perhaps

at night we mistake white wool for                  open air.

We do not choose                              ourselves or each other.

Remember that all our joints pull in different directions

and wish to be separated and one day 

the sheep outlive                                 the shepherd.

We roam free over hill and gully, forgetting

safety, company, how we fit against the other.

Still our names stay                          tacked to our ears.

Remember that God makes Adam with His own hands

and the red earth sticks to Him like second skin.

There is a moment, I think

when Creator and creation                               lock fingers and

never forget it.

 

 

This is the Summer

This is the summer we prayed for

mercy, strung ourselves out like laundry

sighing to the sun. This is the

summer our knuckles learned the grooves

of a washboard better than they

knew each other. We worked this tin machine over and

over and over again, five times,

six times,

day into night,

blisters pouring back into horizon.

This is the summer we prayed for

blood to wash us clean:

starched white cotton,

sparkling water droplets,

chlorine bleach.

This is the summer we prayed for

a new body, prayed to

turn our skin in on itself

and start again.

 

Serena Deng is currently a senior in high school. Her work has been recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing awards, the NCTE, and Temple University, and can be found in Invisible City and Ricochet Review. She lives in NYC, where she drinks water straight from the tap.

 

Visual Art by: Elaine Zhang

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Between the Lines

One
The violin is in your hands, pale as the tao we shared, stuck to the soles of    our teeth

It is at your side, with the shiny brown varnish, the moment we share:  surreal

Like the one picnic, red and white cloth between our legs, day cotton.                 golden sunshine streaked

on cheeks flush with first love’s embarrassment and shine like your music

Except our cheeks are white now, Snow White’s dove circling

As I watch you from the third seat on the left 50 feet above the life stage

a forgotten shadow

A stranger once again, like two years ago

 

 

Two
You start singing with your bow, the black air pooling and stuffy,

spotlight on your freckles, tiny stars painted on the sky that is your face, tanned

I remember. You have 7 freckles, three on your hooked nose,         Imperfectly flawless

The notes on the page floating off in your fervor and concentrated effort

 

 

Three
The music starts slow and cautious, the space between your body and my flowered bosom

Your eyes mixed with dusk and honey, the dawn of something new: perhaps

You smiled, a sideways C, flattened, even when I put on shades, my mask in tints

But you peeled off the pain and anguish floating to the surface, vulnerable

You were connected to me in thick strands and blood

Perhaps I should’ve disappeared, my weight crushing your will to live weightless

Even when I screamed in the war for redemption, numbness spreading in the blotched lake

Your index finger digs into the string born,                                                            Dark and dissonant chords ascending upwards as if there is no time left to waste

You stayed, hugging me close, a bear hug on my torso’s curve

Even when I thought my arms too thick

My skin too pale and oily

And my hair not straight enough like the pretty ones

Feeling returned to my body, yours

Mind stronger than will

Shielding me from the wailing gale on our house, intruders

From the bottomless abyss so carefully chosen lest I slip

That fragment my mind into pieces you sewed together

Again and again

 

Four
You play the fourth movement, the mist and uncertainty fading with new phrases

Reaching the climax of our story, my head resting on your beating chest

The melody tugging at the fated strings that ties the mask to the melted face

This is the piece that we call ours, our relationship’s course in an arch
And paper thrown

Sitting on the long piano seat, the keys gleaming with promise, salty perspiration mixed with dry paint

Not marred with me hurting you, love our white lie, teeth out

My secret in your electric gaze on mine, straining for truth in the lie

Of course I’ll never kiss and tell, watching you now, my throat condensing in waves

Crescendos and fortes outlined on the faded linen sheets,

The energy rising and falling with moving notes gliding across silver strings

Rough and shallow, destined to flow and run out,

And move us in the moment of passion we call lover’s curse

Yet we persevered, a foolish youth’s dream

It was an illusion in the heat

 

Finale
Every piece has a beginning, middle, and end I think

Your hand catching the stream of tears from my eyes,

Free and drowned

There is silence in tone, a space where I once fit perfectly

And when you bow, a tear trickles down your frosted cheek that I once kissed

Alas I had long left the auditorium and your heart in between the notes and bars

Behind your smooth mask of apathy, fist in heart

You smile and it’s done, as fast as it started like the end of a movement

The end of us, the word sounds weird and

We are strangers once again

Passing shadows in the moonlight as our witness

The symphony ends, the moment gone with the spotlight

 

Jacqueline Wu is a writer from Long Island, New York. She is a contributor and editor of the acclaimed magazine, Cinnabar. She has also won several art/writing competitions, previously recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. She is forthcoming in Body without Organs and Remington Review, among other publications, and she hopes to be able to continue to inspire through her work.

Visual Art By: Ayala Cris

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Two Poems by Mollie Schofer

2wice

So I’m looking at you and you seem like the kind of person that likes to do things twice. Your eyelashes furl like a shivering sundew–no, Sundew. Your Sundews furl then unfurl and catch only the flies low on serendipity, serendipitous–serendipitously they fly higher and higher, out of the reach of the sSundews feeding on the serendipidless.

 

There is a third kind of heartbeat, you know. It sounds like a terciopelo’s warning: do not sink your calves into my teeth. Unfortunately, people neither listen to terciopelos nor heartbeats. Only the hollow inhales of veins and fingers, and the subsequent feelings of vivacity.

 

So you turn to look at me, with those sunSundews. You turn to look at me and I see, through the curtainous coverings of your corneas (those capitalizing congregates of copious concealment), your reciprocals of light and not darkness. Your reciprocals of light and not darkness ask me: how do you feel about velvet. And I reply: it’s soft. And they say: thread some through your ears and let the rasps of rasping scales hide your heartbeat. So I threaded some velvet through my ears and let the rasps of rasping scales hide my heartbeat. But to my astonishment, the scales didn’t rasp one bit. They sounded like cotton, and I knew they were imposters. I must get them out, I must! So I ran to the water and dunked my head in. It soothed the rancid itches in my ears. It soothed the rancid itches in my head and throat and pupils.

 

My eyes filled with water and it backwashed through my tear ducts, and I was clean. Resurfacing, the velvet in my ears turned to seeds and I shook them out and I was free. Running, the water left my body and sweated down my cheeks and thighs and I was

empty.

Breathing, the beats in my heart rattled around my diaphragm and tendons and I was

full.

Stretching, the teeth in my calves fell into the mud and the core of the earth and I was

alone.

 

Honestly, it was energizing.

 

So you’re looking at me and I seem like the kind of person that comes out on top: clean, free, empty, full, alone, energized. But empty and full cancel each other out, and so do free and alone, and energy is null unless you have strength, so I’m just clean.

So you’re looking at me and I’m looking at you and we really don’t see each other at all,

do we?

No, I think we’re both wrong, in the end.

 

2 Much Toad

 

When I die, my body will be warm for just a few seconds

In that time, an old toad will lay her eggs in my mouth

And they will hatch into tadpoles

                and tadpoles

Which will swim in my saliva

And live off of the bacteria on my teeth

 

And reproduce, as toads do.

Generations will never know of a world without teeth, or esophaguses.

They will pass down the stories: first there was tongue, then there was wet

              Always tongue first, then wet.

After religion, they will create art

And paint the insides of my cheeks with the juice of the spinach stuck in my teeth

Soon, everything will be green.

 

Everything will be green, everything will be soft and salivating

They will write on my cheeks with spinach script:

               Don’t be such a stickinthemud

They are of course referring to me, their god

However it is inevitable that one young tadpole will get bored and curious

And stare into the depths of that cavern that always stares back

And dive in, down down down

 

It will boil in my stomach acid, but that is what martyrdom entails.

Others will follow, and they will succeed where the first did not

They will colonize my throat, my stomach, my intestines.

 

I will be thoroughly toaded.

And they will smile, and write on the lining of my gut:

               Tomorrow will be even better

And they will forget

That everything must end eventually

And they will be warm for just a few short seconds.

 

 

 

Mollie Schofer is a young writer from Southern California. Their poetry was most recently published in Inkblot Magazine, Heavy Feather Review, and Orange Cat Review. They are currently a student of creative writing at Orange County School of the Arts.

Visual Art By: Jiwon “Lily” Nam

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Aquarius Rising

Blades of grass douse your socks

in cold, mud-filled water

 

Moonlight pours over the sea,

waves dancing in the spotlight

 

Your eyes follow the moonbeam

up to its origin and you stare, bewildered

 

Arm stretched, you trace Orion’s belt,

Cassiopeia and Ursa Minor too

 

You become entranced as you

piece together the story of the stars

 

Lungs fill with air but you stop,

unable to articulate the sensation

 

Shocked by the familiarity

you immerse your senses once more

 

The reminiscent feeling permeates

it bathes in each crevice of your fist

 

You begin sinking, submerging yourself in

what was believed to be unknown

 

And as ambiguity saturates your soul

the droplets caress your skin

 

Strung together by magic, by history

a story told by time

 

Kaylee Morris is an 18-year-old senior in high school at the Seattle Academy of Arts and Sciences who plans to study Environmental Analysis at Pitzer College next year. She is a passionate jazz vocalist, dancer, actress, and artist. Morris has always enjoyed creative writing but just began focusing on poetry this year while taking a Creative Writing class under the instruction of poet Lauri Conner.

Visual Art By: Cherry Guo 

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