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Winter 2022 Issue

AN EXHIBITION OF FINE LITERARY ARTISTIC PIECES

 
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The Ants are Falling into the Bottom of the Universe

HARSIMRAN KAUR

We loved the Ocean.
Shoot, we loved the Ocean so much that we became one. Like memories trespassing into the brink, remaining anonymous with beautiful lies and ugly truths, we sang our little song and blew the man into the sea. The man who loved us, the man who kissed us, and made love to us till the

Sun at the top of the universe stopped glowing with an intrinsic gaze. We blew him like a feather, kissed him goodbye and never looked at him one last time. He was such a pretty man –

ethereal, natural & polite.

The day the ants started falling into the bottom of the universe was the day all the abalone deposited itself out of the embrace. The last fish in the Pacific stared in our direction before it died, died, died. Perhaps it was winter and it was too cold to speak. The hollow of the world stared back into us, shanked, and drove itself all the way to a place we no longer recognized. We were naïve, we were women who had blown a man into the Ocean. We were invincible, we were impeccable. We were anything but weak. That’s why we broke all the cemeteries, picked out our favourite skeletons, and played with skulls jabbed onto our heads, like a protective case, as a pillow, a helmet. If it was a hundred years before, they would have complimented us, would have said we were smart and intelligent young ladies who pulled out the leftover dusk. We were nothing but strong. Strong like that of the Ocean. Our bodies were made of hunger & war. Naked truths dangling from our heads like the hair that we once had, screaming for preservation. We were so naïve, we were so invincible, we were so smart, we were so blinded by the Sun’s light that we never saw a world beyond. That’s why, that’s why we loved the Ocean so much that we dove into it, into it, into it.

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Daughter-in-law

ANAMIKA BASU

The daughter-in-law was beautiful, full of life

The newlywed had to be dutiful, as the young wife,

To her husband’s family and friends

Where most stories begin, hers ends.


Disdained for the dowry she had brought

A dishonorable bride-price, the in-laws thought

Insults and abuses were often hurled

And tortured she was, more when she birthed a girl.


On her second wedding anniversary

As her newborn cried in the nursery

She was beaten, then set on fire

When they laid her on the pyre


She was at peace, not a crease on the forehead

The daughter-in-law was beautiful and dead.

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CINDY ZHAO

Today, I have shunned
the light that burrows
everywhere it does not belong.
Summer stirs in the afternoon
that shifts and fissures
in my hands. Look at my hands — today, feeling like rain, so coarse.
So small. Again
in this quiet — the machination.
The wails of idle engines drip
onto the grass. So soft. Today,
the clouds have forsaken
the sky, searching and searching;
all of it gone now.
Beyond lies something
whorled & aged
smooth & finally
coming apart.

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The Timekeeper

AVERY MULTER

I tell the trees my story. I tell the mountains and the rivers all that I have seen. I tell them

of everything, endlessly, until I claim them too as my own. They are old, but I am older. I have

seen more.

I was there when this earth sprang into life in a waltz of color, the wind carving patterns

and the sky painting itself into existence with a flourish of wondrous cobalt and silver and every

other shade imaginable.

I was there when the first creature slid from the water and became terrestrial. I watched

as it struggled onto land and I watched as it grew and changed. Time is the sole facilitator for

evolution, so I watched as every creature, known and unknown, had their turn.

I was there when the first stories were told. I recall the wind whispering to the birds,

telling them of the wonders of flight and inviting them into the currents. The concept of stories

did not yet exist in my mind and I listened, rapt, to the songs of the wind.

I was there to watch the progression of men. This new race sparked much conflict within

my being. And one may think that Time cannot feel, but Time is the culmination of everything

and I know this to be a lie. So when men came, I marveled as they themselves discovered the art

of storytelling.

First through pictures, crude paintings in the essence of the natural world scribbled upon

ancient rocks. Later, words were created, and the stories grew more elaborate, more complex. Yet

before language, there was song. Men observed birds, the wind, the sea, and the melodies they


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wove together in replica were what truly made me begin to love their species. Song was the

purest form of storytelling before words could cloud the tales. Those stories were simple and

beautiful. They told of the sky, of the rivers, of the forest, of the ant that carries food home to its

colony and the mouse that drinks the morning dew from a flower. I loved listening to those

stories, and for a brief moment, I loved humanity.

My story is too long to tell, so rather, I will share with you three things: a chance

encounter, a revelation, and a wish.


A CHANCE ENCOUNTER


On an early autumn’s day, I found myself within the hollow of a rotting log, tucked into

the cool of the dark. This was my body, of course; my consciousness was ever floating about.

As I lay there amongst the cobwebs and termites, I could not tell you if one moment passed or a

million. What I can say is that sooner or later, something brushed the edges of my consciousness,

gently pulling my mind back to my body. This new thing was closer to me, and in my little

corner of quiet, I hadn’t felt the shimmer of new in only I knew how long.

I slowly uncurled from my snail’s shell, cobwebs ripping softly at their seams as they

dislodged from my carapace. My eyes strained in the shadows, and for an odd moment I couldn’t

remember what it felt like to use the sight of an actual body. It had been so very long since I had

been corporeal. But this new thing continued to call me, so I made my way out of the old wood

and into the sunlight.


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I saw up there a familiar world; the rusted orange and tawny gold of autumn, beautiful

while it lasted, but I knew it was only a matter of time before that fleeting beauty would

disappear. One thing, however, was not so familiar. Just beyond the boughs of the willow which

sheltered my log, in the cool amber sunlight that shattered the uniformity of the earth, stood a

man.


A REVELATION


I observed him for a moment, knowing myself to be perfectly concealed amongst the

other real snails on the rotting wood. He was an older fellow, the majority of his face obscured

by a wild, red beard streaked with the grey of many years. He was weathered, fine wrinkles like

spiderwebs drawing out the corners of his eyes into the ghost of a smile. I knew I had seen him

before, as I am present throughout the lives of all. But I can’t be expected to remember every

face, and so to me, the man was unfamiliar.

As I looked on, he walked carefully toward my log and I thought for a brief moment that

perhaps he had spotted me. Man is not meant to see Time. Oh, he knew I was there and that I

existed, of that I had no doubt. My anxieties abated somewhat as he instead crouched several feet

away from me, peering attentively into the moss and fallen leaves. Curiosity got the better of my

suspicion, and I slowly edged in his direction to watch what he would do.

The man reached an old, wrinkled hand down into the scrub of the forest floor, gently

scooping something into his palm. I observed the mindfulness with which he picked the thing up


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and it startled me, if only for a moment. It had been so long since I had witnessed that kind of

care from a human.

He slowly stood and moved to sit on the far end of my log. His footsteps were carefully

calculated, perfectly precise, not a fern or wild flower crushed beneath the leather of his boot. As

he sat, he calmly uncurled his fingers, and I felt my heart plummet.

Within his grasp sat a robin’s chick, hardly feathered and dwarfed within the unfamiliar

hand. I sensed that chick’s fear and I knew how it felt to seem small, not for the first time in my

long life. I thought immediately that I would have to step in and claim this man’s life for Death.

Better a man dies than the pure soul of a bird who had barely begun to live, I thought, grasping

for Time’s power as it lingered beneath the surface of my being. But I did not yet know it would

be unnecessary.

The next moment is the one I never wish to forget. As the chick quivered within his palm,

the man leant his face forward and began to sing. As I listened to his melody, I heard a story. The

man sang of nothing and of everything. His voice told of all that he had seen, all that he had

experienced, all that he wished to share. In that brief moment, I envied him. He had lived for a

fraction of the time that I had, yet he seemed to have more to share with the world than I.

Lost in the harmony of his story, I watched through hazy eyes as the man brushed his

fingers over the chick’s wing. Despite my better judgment to be wary of his actions, to step in

and save the bird, I found myself simply watching what he would do. I was transfixed with the


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gentle way he bound the wing to the chick’s feathered side, and I realized perhaps too late that

the wing was broken.

Many things fell into place at the same time in my mind. This man had no hostile

intentions. He was helping this creature, not harming it. The bird had stopped shaking in fear and

instead curled up contentedly in the warm hand. The man’s eyes were warm as amber sunlight,

kind as a doe. And perhaps most importantly, I realized that maybe, just maybe, not all of

humanity was bad.


A WISH


The song continued, words fading away and replaced with a gentle whistle. I noted that

the birds in the trees had begun to sing with him. His voice mixed with that of the birds and the

wind, the three soon indistinguishable from one another. He set the chick down softly upon the

moss and waited for a moment, kneeling amongst the leaves. Very soon, a robin flew

down and perched upon the log, affectionately singing to her chick and to the man. She looked

up with a tilted head and locked eyes with the him, whistling her thanks. The man smiled.

Then, he turned his head my way and looked at me. He saw Time. But what I felt then

was not fear; it was hope. He saw me, and I saw him, and the bridge between us was one of

mutual respect and understanding, built of the golden rays of the sun as it set, built of the

humming of the man and the woods.

Humanity isn’t so bad, I thought then. Humanity has the capacity to do so much good, to

heal the world and help those with less power. They know what it is to tell stories, to imagine


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and to create, perhaps more than any species before or after their time. Humanity can weave

beauty into the fabric of the world.

This is my wish.

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Poem

MAABENA NTI

If i die tomorrow / remember we shall meet again / mourn a little but
save your tears / pack them for the journey / you can’t be dehydrated
when we meet far away / on a planet / where we bloom like azaleas
in the fertile-green sky / watered by the moon’s tears / nurtured by the sun’s warmth
never withering / we soar / spin together in each other’s axis
burn hot from our embrace / remember we will be stars next time
stop crying / pack your tears for the journey / when our souls will meet again.

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The Kid

SHREESHAM PANDEY

The kid tries in vain, as he reaches for the moon by hand, but he tries at all times. The kid dreams of kings and castles, fears for dragons, play with trains and stations, cries for their sadness.


The kid thinks about tomorrow; He is impatient, impulsive, and yet interesting. He looks happy and amazed, out of that window, feeling eternal love for what he desired. Look at the child with full eyes; he learns everything around him. With his inner aspirations, he feels good, and to himself, he owes no fear.


From laughter to tears in a second, from sorrow to the greatest joy, He gets excited about the world; excitement inexorably renewed every day. "We become children when we love and believe, we think, we feel, we dream. Patient, prudent, restrained - I believe myself serene, thoughtful, intelligent; Think and do what I think, so I won't confuse my mind, firm head, and my heart."

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Lovers

SHRIYA ROY

I see you walking down the hallways
You loathe my room, but you own this whole place
You’re standing still, still winning this race 
You knocked the glass down, downed whiskey stays 
Our tree’s green leaves, leave like you quickly
A flipped light switch, switches nothing for me 
This movie’s secret takes, take my sleep
Lovers do make the best enemies

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I Talk To Myself Sometimes

LANA KAVANOUGH

Don't speak to me, please.

I know you have questions and I know you want to read my work but

I will not let you read my work. Do not tell me if it is good or bad or unremarkable because I will assume you are telling the untold truth and I am used to lies. 

You must understand that you are not nothing to me but

I could not tell you where the blood came from if I tried. I'm not sure I'd want to. 

Because all at once I'd remember The Starving and I'd never want to feel anything else ever again. 

I see the way you look at me. The way you looked at me then and the way you look at me now. 

I know for you this moment is torture and I'm sorry my dear but I cannot wait to prolongue it. 

So tell me

Is my pain pretty enough to fix?

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Why do you listen?

KATELYN MEYERS

Without literature, our souls would not survive our minds. Literature and the arts allow us to explore areas and themes in the world that we would not have access to without the written arts. For example, fairy tales and fiction novels transport us to a land where we can understand topics that we would not be otherwise able to comprehend in our current setting. Television and movies appeal to our senses and permit us to physically see the effects different topics, words, and actions have on characters, allowing us to understand the full extent of how we as humans react to one another. Spoken word stories passed down from generation to generation allow us to venture into our past and riddle out why our society is the way it is in the present day. Without literature, we would be confined to understanding only the way things work from our perspective, but with the arts, we gain a broader sense of the world.

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First Shift

RYAN BORROW

Tamp down the grounds

Don’t leave a mess

The trail can be traced 

If you falter


Fill the syrups up

With different substances 

To eat one’s own is a sin

Red is red, afterall