by Kylie Marden
by Nikhil Krishnamurthy
Glass. That’s what the man felt like. He carried a pot on his back. The world around him was solid; a barren expanse of grass. He walked with his burden across the land, towards a city in the distance. He did not seem to be getting any closer. He looked to his right and saw a small cottage with a chimney shaft spewing smoke. He made his way to it. By the time he arrived, his burden was too great and would have collapsed, if not for a robed person who caught him. The man looked into the robed person’s face. He did not see a face, as it was covered by a mask. He was brought inside to a small yet warm setting. A fire blazed in a fireplace. In front of it sat a couch. The robed person sat the man down on the couch, taking the pot off of his back. The man took the pot in his arms as he sat, clutching it with both arms like a mother would clutch her child. The robed person brought a chair in front of the couch, facing the man. “What is in the pot?” The robed person asked. The man said nothing. The robed person asked, “Why do you carry it?” The man responded, “It is a part of me. I can not let go of it.” The robed person asked him to open it, and the man obliged cautiously. He lifted the cap off and inside were tiny floating flames of different colors. “Let me help you carry these fires,” the robed person said. “It will be easier with my help.” The man said, “I can not ask you to do that. It would be selfish of me.” The robed person reached into the pot and took out half of the fires, looking into them. “Let me keep these for it will lessen your burden.” The man said nothing, but stood and strapped the pot to his back. It felt lighter. The robed person sat watching him. The man left the cottage and continued his trek alone.
by Dana Dykiel
by Sayoni Barari
A woman leans against a tall bony man
The kind of guy you’d see everywhere here
Button up and black jeans
She’s beautiful though
Wearing a black dress with a wide brim hat
A pleasant red bow across her neck
The lab sits quiet along her feet
She cranes her neck and looks across the ash-colored Cambridge buildings
She’s lived in the city her whole life
Knows red bricks lining undrivable streets
A breath of city air, liberating country lungs
A sip of cold coffee
On green grass, in a blistering city
Reveling in its power before an icy fall
The train car rattles
My skull bounces hard against the glass
And if I push my head hard enough against it
In my dreams
She has long black hair, and dark brown eyes
She walks her sandy dog along the side of the river
Watching the waves ebb and flow
Thinking about being in love
Photograph by David Tsitrin
by Joshua Pak
They call me every synonym of malicious.
In truth, I only want to make friends.
Yet my success has been anything but auspicious,
Indeed I have been slain in every way:
Medusa’s head, a pegacorn’s grace, some pirate’s lead.
I’ve always extended a hug in camaraderie,
However receive blows and hurt instead.
When I squeeze back in small retribution,
They say they are the ones that bled.
Look at everyone else around me.
It’s not like I’m similar to the Wyrm,
Who doesn’t take his allergy meds.
Or the beautiful Gumiho,
That rips gentle hearts to shreds.
I’m actually nice to those at sea.
Pushing them to their destinations,
And even giving them much needed lee.
I guess I’ll always be misunderstood.
People fear me too much to stop and listen,
Even if I try to do good.
by Meera Singh
Silver and Gold
by Srija Nagireddy
In History, we learned that monks used to illuminate
How aging hands lovingly embellished the words
Of their hearts.
You now laugh and say that you are getting old,
And show me the crest of white upon your head,
How it fades into an ebony that deft fingers
Twist every morning.
You only shine when no one looks,
And I watch from behind the kitchen door,
Because there is something holy about the way your
Ordinary smile disappears, and I can only see faith.
Faith in the world and Religion
That changes with every breath I take and flows through
Sacred books and whispered words, and reluctant wishes,
With you as the only constant.
And you act so much like a child, with inside jokes and
Fanciful whims, that I sometimes wonder if you are trying
To keep us young. Out of reach of pained smiles and
Remnants of corrupted memories.
You are forever illuminating your manuscript,
And behind eyes that never shed tears, and laughs
That ring in my ears every night, I see you painting the story
Of your heart in silver and gold.
Our Broken Pieces
by Zarmeen Hasan
by Daphne Wong
To my mother, smoking is like breathing. My father used to say God took a long sigh from a cigar and blew it into my mother’s soul. Cigarette smoke litters all of our furniture like stains we never took the time to get rid of. Everyone else knows it’s there; sometimes we forget.
Picture frames don’t hold a smell, I think that’s why we have so many. Most are the kind you find at a garage sale: First Christmas and I love my mommy and stupid stuff like that. Most of them are propped up on window sills and the staircase. There are so many, sometimes I almost forget about all the envelopes that say FINAL NOTICE sticking out behind them.
Once, there were three store-bought frames that stood on their own, one for each of us. They were the nicest things we had.
Travis’ frame had three felt soccer balls that have been glued on the border, and his big buck teeth stuck out in his uneven smiling picture. My mother always said that his teeth would move right and fix themselves when he got taller. Travis is 17, and he hits his head on doorways now. His teeth aren’t ever going to fix themselves.
Jacob’s frame was wooden but it had a woven border, like a little basket. He’s shorter than Travis, but you wouldn’t know. Something about him makes him seem taller. I’ve noticed lines of tattoo ink running down his arms, like messy rivers, every time I visit him. Jacob doesn’t like to talk about the frames when I visit; they were kind of his first strike. Now he’s locked up.
My frame was silver and shiny, outlining my first baby picture. I used to spray it with water when I was seven, to get all the fingerprint marks out so it would look clean. But then the hinge started rusting. The orange dust left over made my mother angry.
“Nothing ever is stay good if you just go around tryin’ to fix it all the time,” she said, shaking her head and brushing the rust off the mantle. She locked my spray bottle back under the sink.
I couldn’t ever stop thinking about all the fingerprints on my frame. The sun pulled them forward every morning, along with a layer of dust that covered every frame in our whole house. One Saturday morning, my mother left to get baking soda from the store. I waited until I heard the door click, I heard the three rrrrv noises it took her car to start. I heard her drive away.
I ran a Kleenex under the faucet in the bathroom, and I climbed up and I scrubbed at the dust and the fingerprints and all the bad things on my frame. The tissue started to break apart, so I wet two more, and wiped down Travis’ frame. The soccer balls on it started to get blurry. Jacob’s frame turned a dark brown when I ran the tissue over it. Like it was brand new. There were little white pieces of tissue on every picture. I stood back to look at my work.
I didn’t hear Jacob come in. But I felt his big shadow swallowing me up. He was still pretty tall back then, even at thirteen. His voice climbed down through my ears to that pit of my stomach reserved for feeling guilty.
“Hope, Mama don’t ever let you touch the frames, Mama don’t EVER let us touch the frames.” His voice sounded like it might break in half. I dropped my tissue on the floor, and watched him try and dry off my frame with his shirt.
“Water makes it rust, Hope! These are the nice ones, we not supposed to touch the nice ones, Hope, Mama says she’s gonna stop buyin’ us the good cereal and peanut butter if we ever touched ‘em. And she said she gonna know if we did, even if we didn’t leave no mark. Oh Hope, we not ever supposed to touch them!”
I wanted to say I was sorry, but my words got all balled up in my throat and I couldn’t swallow. His feet were tracing circle patterns across the rug. The tissue pieces started to stick to his shirt as he wiped the frames off. Something about him was more scared than mad. When Jacob was scared, it meant things were going to be worse than if he was mad.
“I gotta get us some more frames, I gotta get us nice ones like these. Mama won’t be mad if we get new ones. I gotta get us them new nice frames.” He put up the hood on his sweatshirt and his sneakers were running out the door. My fingers were cold from the water.
I waited on the sofa for a long time. My heart was beating so fast I thought my heart was gonna fall out when I heard my mother’s car settle into the driveway. I took deep breaths and sat straight up. My mother said girls should always sit straight and look at their hands if they didn’t want any trouble. I didn’t want any trouble.
The car door slammed hard, and her footsteps were heavy on the stairs. She was humming a lazy song that dipped low and high. She didn’t notice the shiny frames, rusting by the second. She didn’t notice even me in the living room. Or maybe she saw me sitting up straight and was so proud of me she couldn’t speak. I like to think she noticed me. But for her, smoking is easier than noticing, or loving.
I sat on the sofa until lunchtime, when Travis came home from his job. He didn’t notice anything about the frames either, and we had peanut butter sandwiches at the table. He asked if Mama was upstairs, I said yes. He asked what I was smiling about, I said nothing.
The sun started to get blurry behind the trees when there was a big knock on our door. I smiled, thinking it was Jacob carrying frames so big and new and shiny that he couldn’t even open the door by himself, they were taking up all of his arms. But instead it was a tall policeman man. He had dark glasses on, and his dark car had bright lights on. I couldn’t see inside of the car, but I could see a shadow in the backseat.
The officer started tapping at the glass. He said something, asking to talk to my daddy. I shook my head. He said to get my mommy. I don’t remember who went upstairs to get her, Travis or me. But I remember the floaty high voice she had when she came downstairs.
“Officer, I am so sorry, is there a problem? I was just taking a rest from this heat, it ain’t ever gonna let up!”
All I remember is the feeling of my mother’s cold hand on my collar when the policeman said they had a young man in the car. A young man who said he was her son, who was my brother, who lived here. A young man caught trying to steal picture frames.