A Collection of Quirks by Juliet Papadopoulos

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A man from kismet
Licks his silver spoon
And takes out the trash. 

Purple dragon lilies
Wondering, will I ever be
Like those floating bubbles?

A blue red orange sunset
Frames my eyes as I stare out
At the grass.

Golden water laps
At my feet as I wait for
The bus to stop.

A fur stole,
Limply hanging on a hook,
Wet and ready to dry.


Splendid golf balls whiz through
The air, wishing to be home
In their holes.

When one has an affinity for decadent
Travel arrangements, 
taking the ferry is a bit of a let down.

A French boy, 
unique as his name,
Doesn’t text me back.

Magenta magnolias
Meander through the moody,
Mellow mornings.

Happy Black History Month by Arielle Moore

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Happy Black History Month

  1. You will want to peel your skin. Scream. Choke throats. And kick as you struggle to breath amongst a locker-room full of whiteness.

  2. There are few like us. Cling to your black sisters for dear life. Talk to them. Rant to them. Keep those conversations dear to your heart. Cherish black sisterhood.

  3. You will feel alone. You will be alone.

  4. No one will ever understand you. No one will ever understand us. No one will understand.

  5. You are angry.You have anger in you. You want to be angry. You deserve to be angry.

  6. You will suffocate as you try to hold on to your black pride. Self-hate constantly attempting to seep into your bloodstream. Jealousy nudging at your skull.

  7. You will cringe as friends and acquaintances touch your hair without asking. Your kinky, sacred curls being touched by unwanted hands.

  8. You will be angry at white friends who witness the ignorance, microaggressions, pain, and decide to sit silently.

  9. You will be angry at the white boy who said the n-word to you. You will be angry that hegets to walk free, while you carry the pain with you every day. You want to hit him. You want to hit him again.You want to hit him. You want to hit him. You want to hit him. You want to hit him. You just want to ask him why? Why did you never ask him why?

  10. You will be angry at those who’ve heard about the incident, and have done nothing. They give him hugs and share laughs with him. They will forget your pain. They will forget our pain, as they’ve always forgotten.

  11. You will be extremely disappointed in his black friends. You will be disappointed in your friends.

  12. You will be mad at yourself for not doing more.

  13. You will cringe at all-white parties. You will cringe as they play “Lipgloss” by Lil Mama for the two-hundred-and-fifty-seventh-thousandth time.

  14. You will cringe at white feminists. You will despise white feminism.

  15. You will always remember watching slavery videos in U.S. History class and looking around to see only one other black person in the room.

  16. You will be shocked at the lack of attraction for black girls from black boys.

  17. You will be saddened at the lack of attraction for dark-skinned girls.

  18. You will despise the fetishization of black boys by white girls.

  19. You will despise your own fear. You will hate yourself for not speaking up. You will hate yourself for not being brave. You will feel as though you’ve let your ancestors down.

  20. You will remember the lack of black art. You will remember the lack of black space. You will remember the lack of black breath.

  21. You will remember Black Cabaret and the Black Student Union. You will remember your performances. You will remember the black love. The lack of support from the students. The empty seats. The black cast. The black talent. You will remember your black family.

  22.  You will remember the “white saviors”. The ones who tried to tell your story. The ones who tried to steal your voice.

  23. You will remember the few black teachers. You will remember the black subs. You will remember their words. You will remember their comfort. You will remember the familiarity.

  24. You will remember the August Wilson plays, Huckleberry Finn, and Native Son. You will remember the discussions. You will remember your thoughts. You will know how you feel now.

  25. You will remember the ignorant remarks, microaggressions, problematic comments, awkward silences, awkward pauses, and the tension. You will remember the teachers who said those things.

  26. You will remember the compliments. You will wonder if they truly meant it when they said it. Did they really like your hair? Do they really find black women beautiful? Why?

  27. You will question your worth.

  28. You will remember your last Black History Month in high school. You will remember how people forgot it was Black History Month, or didn’t care. You will remember the Black Diaspora panel that you attended on the last day of February. You will remember the panelists’ advice, their confidence, their passion, their intelligence, and the tea they spilled. You will look at them and feel hopeful. You will come home content. Happy Black History Month. Happy Black History Forever. 

 

Sun Barricade by Stina Trollbäck

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An old man

with flowering onions for cheeks

and a newspaper tongue 

covered in cyan and magenta splotches

sits on the frame of the Lincoln Center fountain.

 

The sun is beating down on his back,

and his triangularly wedged feet expand inside his shoes.

 

    The prior day’s rain is left in a puddle    

    under his swinging toes

    blinding him with the glaring sun.

 

He is acutely aware of his sweating back and his aching eyes,

and decides he has been surrounded by 

a sun barricade.

Times New Roman by Lola Simon

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A few minutes ago I switched to Times New Roman

 

And I still haven’t done anything but write these sentences

I’d like to think I’m trying to make some kind of connection

Or some kind of correction

To something tangible for once but

All I can do is come up with words

That are meaningless to me

Yet I can’t turn them off

Until they mean

too much

 

And I thought this time

if I switched to Times New Roman

It would make me write something that

wouldn’t lead me back to my

faulty projections

And faulty reflections

Or make me go off in some stupid direction

That would make me actually have to think

 

Or maybe I’m not thinking at all

I can’t remember

 

I know if I stop writing right now I will have to

Go back to some summer I never had

But was told to write about

And I always do what I’m supposed to do

Because if I don’t then I won’t do something great

The fake kind

The kind you get from spending your life following instructions

 

And now I’m starting to think

About how I might not really be thinking right now

And this entire time I’ve gone off on a tangent

I just want to imagine

That I could actually give something meaning intentionally

That I could write something about butterflies and it would be beautiful

 

And so would my eyes

Or my lips or the words that come from the back of my throat

Instead of my stomach

Because the words from my stomach are making it hard to move

And one day I want to explore

 

But for now

I’m stuck in Times New Roman

Wolf by Aluna Brogdon

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Wolf

 

Her skin yields to muscle

Pried over bones, lazuli and stone

the charred ribs ebbing at each breath

splintered claws, acute and keen

She moves with a fleet of darkness, and her life eclipses

in the angle of time

between hunger and the hunt

 

See the bank of her lips, twisted back

the veil of her teeth

Drawn

burnished against the dark

set in uneven rows

--some are missing

And the whole of her mouth is tidy as a secret

She appears taut with quick revelations and promise of motion

Her mind quivers, catches on a precipice

 

lone wolf

Her hide is molten, thick

attune to the wind, to chant of blue flame

Her pelt is a rind, coarse with the sheen of winter

the ridges of her shoulderblades rise tawny, dark

rimmed with umber and clay

And the veracity of her movement gathers in this valley between bone

where the hair is wet and strength pools

Tightens

A current hastens

 

Her body seems to vanish

this beast travels the length of the night

Her legs arc and knot like roots

Her neck lifts and bows, like sun

the earliest memory of light catches

the animal is smoke

A heartbeat between the flanks of trees

monstrous and beautiful

 

Wolf

Her irises as dark as pupils

Her pupils abysmal as an afterlife

There is nothing here but the throne of the predator

Her eyes fast, black, they boil with Earth

A glint of ancient speed

The reckless refuge of a wilderness beneath skin

 

And the lone wolf is running

there is

Old wisdom, frothing in her blood

darkness in her wake

A coiled dawn waits to bite the night, above her

Stars settle along her course, before and behind

She passes beneath the mouth of the moon--

A forest suckles only the most

Ancient and austere bodies of light.

Sidewalk Thoughts by Lola Simon

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It is human nature to search for faces in everything around us

 

 

Someone once told me they see faces in the holes of their sweater

and in the foam on the top of their morning coffee

Sometimes I see faces in the cracks of the sidewalk

 

Sometimes I don’t see faces at all

 

Those days are better than you’d think

Because sometimes it’s better to see nothing

Sometimes seeing everything is too much

And I’d rather not be watched by the faces in the sidewalk for once

They seem to watch me back

I wonder if they care that people are constantly stepping on them

I’d get used to it after a while

I wonder if they get used to it too

It seems like one can get used to anything if they try hard enough

 

My cat had a black stripe on her nose that slanted slightly to the right

 

It is not cat nature to search for faces

Most faces look identical to cats

They have more important things to search for

Like beams of light across the living room floor

And feet under the dining room table

 

Sometimes I wish feelings were expressed in the bottom of my foot

That way the cats

And the faces in sidewalk could see them instead

And they never ask you

How you’re feeling

Strange Prisoners by Nicolas Potoskie

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My last memory of a beach was so long ago.

Normally one might expect that I was listening to waves crashing, the disassembly of seafoam. Something motion-picturesque you’d guess.

What I remember was

the figures on the shore who sheltered under the shade of umbrellas and

clutched at little suns in their hands.

They had their own world within the world.

Their faces were painted with blue light.

bright to enough to illuminate them,

then daze them, and then blind them.

 

They were plugged into sockets unseen.

You could sense their attachment, feel it like static.

Of course, no indication of jolts in their eyes.

It was the oddest and scariest and loneliest reality.

So few paid notice to those

people and things next to them.

I specifically remember the lifeguards,

tanned to bronze,

up at the top of their chairs.

They were the only people whose vantage point wasn’t their phones.

Sun glinted off their glasses, and coated their smiling skin with glowing masks.

They looked around and totally loved the world they lived on.

 

Something I took away is some people who wander

cannot find anything new.

They can’t be surprised, satisfied, or invigorated.

They’ve visited every inch of the world

while being trapped within the rectangles of their devices.

There’s nothing for them to discover anymore.

Their expectations have crumbled under-finger-taps,

dreams swept under the rug.

You may have seen some of these strange prisoners walking past you.

I see them sit on the subway.

If I squint hard enough, disregard my tunnel vision, look at the big picture, I will see many faces washed with blue light.

What a luminous arrangement.

No one could detach themselves from light even deep underground.



 

Yesterday, the children put aluminum cans to their heads and listened for vibrations to echo down the strings.

Today, the children listen for vibrations in their pockets. Though media has shed its need for strings, socialization will keep some strenuously bound. Arachnid-like, they live on a web.

Tomorrow, people will have injected their technology into their body and psyche.

Adapted to it as routine.

Come to depend on it as religion.

True imagination in my opinion, is concocted inside yourself,

not sought for on the internet.

Their veins might throb and pulse without any natural direction,

pump energy like corporeal wires and adapters.

Their eyes will become just filters.

Their lips and tongues and throats will be simple respirators

that produce sounds that come just heartbeats short of songs.

Not surprisingly, we already run on batteries.

If you feel the slightest bit sad when you’re phone is drained,

then you should be alerted that you’re not absorbing enough of real life.

People tomorrow will weave a life of impermanent personas,

and repairing and replacing parts that they can’t make fit.

People tomorrow will be tangled tighter in their identity than they ever were before.

But people won’t see their personality consumed by their image.

People tomorrow will be nesting dolls that don’t see that they are their own jailers.

 

I like to imagine signals dashing

like little invisible olympians carrying messages and codes.

I don’t like to imagine some of the new ways people let themselves run away though.

They’ll take a gazillion selfies, capturing billions of themselves inside tiny mirrors tucked inside a million cameras.

Such tiny copies they make that don’t reflect more than one of their inner traits.

People’s portraits of themselves will outnumber the things they can know about themselves. Pictures have to try much harder to tell a thousand words now.

And all these little people in little photos are unleashed in legions on social media walls. They fight one-dimensional wars that make people seem like so much more and so much less than they are.

Curtis Cove by Lola Simon

Remember when I scraped my shin on the barnacles by the bay

And cried as the blood dripped down my leg in a neat line

 

I thought I could never get hurt 

 

The first time you took me here

When I was too afraid to step into the water

You told me the waves would protect me

I did not see a protector

The ocean seemed too large to even protect itself

So why would it take the time to protect me 

 

But you insisted you were always right 

So I believed you  

 

I learned to swim in the summer

You held me in your arms

Until you didn’t

But I did not sink 

I levitated 

Higher and higher 

Until I could see the shape of your shoulders

And the top of your head

 

I was so far above I could reach up and grab the sun in my arms

And it would not burn me 

Because here I could not be harmed

 

On that beach

I was an explorer in search of new lands

Feet against stone 

Gripping tight 

I could never fall

Because I knew if I did 

I would never reach the ground

I knew I was safe

I was promised that 

 

Yet here I was

Watching through wet eyes

At the cut on my shin

And my blood carving paths down my leg

 

And it hurt

India by Nina Ward

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Only 48 more minutes she said
my baby hairs sprawled out
with eagerness
my chest tickled
about to explode
we went down
but felt like going up
further and further
into the cotton candy floss
in the sky

Girls were already dancing
when we got there
their skirts created a kaleidoscope of blocked color
and wind
that finally brushed my hairs
down to my sweat
she draped me with a rainbow
of scents and colors

she scraped my face
with the brightest crimson
that blinded my naive eyes

Skin so golden in the hour
gravel tickled my heels
like angel dust
there were trees
that could never die

I was home
not in my bed
with my dog
HOME
finally feeling the safety
I had dreamt of
but in unison
the terror
I had been too scared to experiment
terrified
that it was an illusion
I would never return
to an old self
I had shedded like a snake
one who was weak
and had rebirthed
into a magical warrior
who sucked the blood
of those she felt necessary.

Wanderer by Arielle Moore

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I’ve been wanting to jump out of my skin for a while now

I scratch my nails on the chalkboard until they bleed

Blood drips from my tiara and runs down my forehead as I wear my Prom Queen sash and hold my dead flowers

Blonde.

They are dry, crusty, and falling apart

Like me

Blonde.

Like the dead coils of hair that fall when I comb my hair

I pull down on the skin below my eyes so you can see the pink and red veins on the balls

Bulbs

Yellow bulbs

Tinted

Yellow

Bulbs

The hallway

The lights are flickering. White and black. White and black.

Green. All I see is Green. Green staircase. Green railing on staircase.

Her white pale hand on the railing. Blonde. Laughing. Girl.

It’s always a girl.

Green.

Green.

Green.

green

 

 

Everything is green.

I’ve been waiting to jump out of my skin for a while now.

Riverside on 68th by Syndie Kupferberg

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The pier is holding our eyes

As we hold each other

While the waves tickle our feet

The light reigns on our skin

 

The moon whispers what we need to hear

 

We are slipping into blends of blue and purple

Floating in an array of boats

Splashing away sorrow

Paddling for pastime

Hoping to slip under, slip away

 

You showed me the canvas of our life

Spun me in paint

Until I became covered in it

 

We pressed our fingerprints into ripples

Knowing it was our only permanence

 

I wanted the sky to serenade us

The sails to twirl us

The shiny black water to send us soaring

 

But you snagged the darkness

Leaving me to plummet

 

You showed me my obsession

A wonder lit even in dark

 

But now I am spinning and splashing alone

Holding a numb heartbeat

Amidst water iced over

 

Deserted within the scene you painted

 

Sea Glass by Stina Trollbäck

My sister’s eyes are free-floating blue velella jellyfish.

She’s eight years old.

Her skin is terracotta clay, and she dips her toes in effervescent seafoam.

She has sword-shaped persistence like yucca leaves.

 

She looks up at me and says, “I like waves.”

Her toes are wetter than fresh cement.

My corkboard knees bend like sheet metal,

because she is eight years old and loves sand more than cobblestone streets.

“I wish I could talk to waves,” she says.

I ask her why.

“Because waves probably know everything.”

Her innocence is warming and magmatic,

giving off enough heat to turn the sand under her feet into glass.

 

My grandmother walks towards us,

skin flaking and dissolving into the air, wrinkles curling around her lips like crests of waves.

Age pulls her closer to the earth as quickly as plaster and polyester pull me away.

My sister is so close to the ground

that her pinstriped happiness cartwheels,

and bluebells drip from her fingertips.

My grandmother sits down in the sand. A checkered rosemary scent radiates around her,

rippling and wringing outwards.

 

A wave crashes.

 

“Do oceans get mad?” my sister asks.

 

I think the ocean holds amicable anger, mellower than forklifts and power washers.

A flitting temper that aligns with endangerment of flora and fauna

and the squalor of bottom trawlers.

Anger more stubborn than the continuum of circling riptides.

 

I tell her, “I think so.”

“Good,” she whispers. “I would be mad if I were them.”

“Me too,” says our grandmother.

And at Last I Sleep by Brett Sachs

A cry. Some Tears.
Of happiness. Of pain.
A baby is born, too young, too innocent to understand what is happening in front of its eyes.
A ball. A stuffed animal.
The parents, tired, sleep only one hour every night
When the baby, at last, abandons its cries, its tears, and the house can finally rest. 
Makeup. The first love.
The baby, now a girl in high school, has changed from her petite pastel clothing into something more older. More mature. 
And the handsome boy that all the girls love, with stars in his eyes and a smile that lures, has broken the girl's heart. 
In a million pieces. Sure she would never love another.
Three beers. Too many friends.
At a bar in college, our innocent girl is different in every regard.
She studies constantly, only having time to sleep one hour every night. 
But, time stops suddenly, the world freezes, one morning in spring when she catches the gaze of a boy, different in every regard, like no one else.
She would always remember this moment.
Two children. Several mismatched pairs of tiny shoes.
Our baby, our girl, has become a mother. 
She can't sleep, but this is not anything new. 
Steps over broken toys every day. Steps over to the office every night. 
The years pass. Slowly. Then, too fast.
The children grow up and leave the house, to find the life that their mother had lost long ago. 
In the street, people consider her as a sock with one to many holes.
They avoid our woman. They throw her away. 
She only has her husband, old as well. Both of them too fragile to walk farther than the post office, where they often go to send letters to their children, who can no longer be called, "children."
Flowers. A tomb.
She, who we never knew the name. She, who was a baby, a girl, student, and mother. She, who was known by so few, but loved by all.
She is one with the earth, with the sky.
Life continues. Slowly at first. Then, too fast.
A cry. Some Tears.
Of happiness. Of pain.
And the story goes on.

The Senses by Isabella Boughalem

I reach out for something,
Something stable in the midst of chaos,
I reach out to grip something known,
To hold the true definition of beauty.
Something divine, yet wild,
A flower.
Its form embodies bright blush petals,
And a verdant vibrant stem.
It would only be fitting that the touch,
Could surpass,
Such a masterpiece for the eyes.
But reaching out blindly,
Results in agony.
It stings like a thousand bees,
As the black thorn pricks my gentle hand.
And suddenly what seems so innocent and so pure,
Taints with its prick.
I am deceived time and time again,
Wrapping me in its false sense of splendor.
Now I am conscious that the only thing,
Left uncorrupted,
Is my sense of smell.
And with that I realize,
Regret is like a rotten rose,
Putrid with beauty.

3 Figures by Anastassia Kolchanov

 "There Were Three" by Shelby McQuilkin

"There Were Three" by Shelby McQuilkin

A figure speaks to me at night 

as its bellows of hair 

seem to envelop me 

a secretive chamber bathed in 

dim candlelight 

wax enveloping the flame 

drips forming into words 

spoken from the volumes of knowledge 

in this vast capsule of time 

bedding of leather 

the comforts of the expansion of

eternity 

 

A figure whispers to me in the morning 

soaked in particles of light and dust 

convoluting itself into the daydreams of strangers. 

Thoughts flying freely with the formation of dew at dawn. 

The sober rays of blush gently caressing

the wavering voice of your doubts 

In a place where envy breath 

seems to make a negligible impact 

the air of the earlyhours

can cure the drought of fantasy 

 

A figure calls my name at dusk 

upon the ruins of a monastery 

with mystery hanging about its ears

dangling with every blow of the wind 

It senses the souls 

of the solitary monks with 

every step I take upon the 

shaken, petrified earth.

A prayer whisked into the sky 

as the world around this lonely mountain

becomes hazy

Patches of color disintegrating until 

the only object visible in the 

wee hours of the evening 

is the pure, unaltered gaze 

traveling through the cosmos 

brushing stardust off its shoulders

 

Dear Eriq by Sydnie Kupferberg

You had me crying

Bathtub ledge falling beneath my fingertips

 

“Remember I love you guys”

Why do we have to remember?

Why is it the past?

 

Within those tracks

I am sifting through your remnants

Your final breath is gone

Your laugh is hiding

Your grin is crackling in my palm

 

How could you believe you were worthless?

Now I feel worthless, for letting you leave

 

I wish for your final breath more than my own

If only your laugh could be found

Your grin could heal

 

I am reaching out, holding what I never had

You were a privilege that was never mine

Static by L.S.

you asked me

what color the sky was when we were born

and I said probably blue
even though I knew that wasn’t the answer you wanted

you were silent for a while
so we stared at the clouds because they always seemed to change

and we needed something unfamiliar

I asked you

if we would be different if
we were measured in how long we could hold our breath instead of our conceitedness

you said that I shouldn’t even bother asking that because it would never be the case
which was good
because we couldn’t hold our breath for very long anyways

after that I was silent for a while too
because you knew that wasn’t the answer I wanted either

so we stared at the cracks in the sidewalk because they never seemed to change

And we needed to stay right there for a moment

From the Windowsill by Kimberly Sanford

From the Windowsill

Listening to classical music and gulping down tea, I sat from the windowsill.

Quiet energy buzzed in my ears as the music spilled out from my laptop, over the desk, and onto the floor until my carpet was soaked in the piano’s tears.

I don’t get to be here often enough, sitting patiently for the world around me to shape shift as I slow my breathing and take it all in.

I move in slow motion amidst the commotion of waiting for my mind to expand, for it to take me places I never thought I could go.

Paradises littered with sad poets and broken singers that awaken the writer in me.

I build a landscape for myself; mountains made of bookshelves lined up next to one another and a valley of crystals that lays just below the horizon where my eyes always fall before I slip into a trance of twisted trees tickling the ground with their long limbs and cold feet.

My landscape is not seen by everyone but it changes just as the one around all of us does.

It shape shifts when we’re not looking and turns sour when night falls.

Sad poets turn into deadly beasts that rip you apart with every syllable that bleeds from their fingertips.

Thickets of thorns that pricked you now pierce your ears and don’t care if it leaves a scar.

Cold feet become tools to drag you into the dirt until you’re met with the core of this world and burn from the feeling of fire surrounding your skin.

But this is only my world.

I know it is not yours.

From this windowsill, I have lived one hundred lives, met a thousand people, visited a million worlds.

From this windowsill I find my world and sit alone with my tea, waiting for my escape into the next one.