"Life and Pandemic" - Spring 2020

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Spring 2020

A literary journal

New Forum

UCI Undergraduate Literary Journal

Spring Issue 2020



Sarah Mayo

Financial Editor

Adam Timms

Design Editors

Yilan “Elanna” Tang

Karina Mercedes Martinez

Jasmine Huerta Lara

Social Media Editors

Analysa Vivanco

Zinnia Ramirez

Events Editors

Jordan McAuley

Anais Osipova

Jazmin Viayra

Special Thanks

Jayne Lewis, Professor, English, School of Humanities

Inez Tan, Academic Coordinator for the Emphasis in Creative Writing,

Lecturer, English, School of Humanities


2020 No Signature by Iris Ferman

Quarantine - Hang in There by Yuna Jo

This publication does not represent the views and/or opinions of the University

of California, Irvine; the University of California, the Regents of University of

California, and/or its affiliates.


Kristen Chastain Things I Left in the Driveway, Because I Couldn’t

Pack Them Into Boxes

Kyle Van Lant Emergence

Bradley William Holder Myself at a Distance

Kyle Van Lant The Sound So Loud

Jiaying Jing Untitled

Chloe Low Birdwolf

Amanda Hall (heart)h

Chris Okeani World on Fire

Aidin Feenstra My Magician, America

Victoria Surace-Aguirre Pandemic as Spiral

Daelyn Daniloff How to Write an Essay During a Pandemic

Rei Vignapiano Trans in Pandemic

Kristie Song Because You Are Here

Rachel Wang Lamentation for the Lost

Amanda Hall Swansong

Caitlyn Johnson What, Then, Will Be Left

Brianna Pinon Temporary Escape

Alessandro Verniani Solitude

Chloe Low April 26th

Chloe Low Sun Screen

Rachel Wang Quarantine Lens

Kristen Chastain Rattler, and Other Things I Remembered

Yuna Jo Quarantine - Hang in There

Things I Left in the Driveway, Because I

Couldn’t Pack Them Into Boxes

art supplies, applications, bicycle helmet, the barn, burnt bacon,

closed windows, the cat that lives on the corner, too much

coffee, catcalls, the chainsmoking neighbor, coupons,

dress shoes, the neighbor’s son’s drum set, desks with initials

etched into them, emails, eggshells, forgetting, french

fries that are too well-done, farmer’s markets, frost that chokes the

grass, gold and blue, graduation gown hemmed at home, getting lost,

hailstorms, housekeys, jugs of milk, karaoke on the weekends,

misery, money, the morning paper, new kids, nicknames, never

knowing which song to play from the jukebox, old love letters, odd

jobs, open windows, police patrols, parking tickets, riding the train

with your face pressed against the glass, questions, rainstorms, rabbits

that won’t quit making love out front, ruined hair, sandaled feet,

sparklers, stars, thrift stores, tire treads in the mud, tv dinners, umbrellas

that live in our closets, unopened presents, the sign that says

welcome to the central valley, wearing your cousin’s used vintage,

where do you work, anxiety, windshield with a small crack in it, a

breeze where you once were.

Kristen Chastain


we stand on the shores of Babylon

too afraid to speak

for fear of corrupting the moment

we are unprepared and uncomfortable

like it is our first time,

like nothing could prepare us for this feeling

eyes shattered like glass

dreams replaced and warped into pleas

we sit confused in our dark corners

and ponder at permanence—

we mongrels as plague doctors in the quagmire

and the disciples of doom,

watching a conjunction of wasps fly door to door

Kyle Van Lant

Myself at a Distance

Listening to other people’s smoke detectors

Beg them to swap the batteries...

These frequent, fruitless trips to the mailbox:

They expand my lungs.

Everywhere a toilet is flushing...

The day being bright but the room being cold,

So I study faces instead of books—

Having (as I do) the best parking spot in the house.

The old awkwardness supported, even blatantly encouraged:

Giving the encountered their wide berth, as a courtesy.

Mistrust of a “general evil” likely always coalesces

Into something specific, the existential: the person.

So what then…?

The sensation that something important is happening to us. (To me.)

Doubting that this is true. A rusted signpost marked FAMILIAR, illegible.

Nothing to do but work and worry,

Pacing through the home’s rooms,

Its boundaries solidified—not as freedom (like they once were),

But as bondage: concretized anxiety, pain, and loneliness.

Although somehow I feel safer in the approach,

Knowing that our buffered contact hides me,

Makes possible the thrush of follicle,

The abandonment of tired social ritual.

I didn’t really love it anyway.

Last night, I dreamt that I hugged someone.

Bradley William Holder

Myself at a Distance

When this is all over, I’m going to rampantly shake hands.

I’m going to physically altercate:

Blow kisses and throw blows, hold onto people I couldn’t possibly know,

Tell people I hate them and love them and most importantly show them

precisely how.

The fuckers are gonna have to hold me back,

But at least I’ll be held.

Bradley William Holder

The Sound So Loud

I laid railroad plans

And grinned at the mailman.

The face of emptiness is

shapeless, soundless

Lacking Existence

Down in New Orleans they dance until blood drips on the sidewalk.

Decades hold us down like a serial warden &

Dictate the dictations like a method behind pure madness. Fuck you

I put a big ol flag right in the milky way’s black hole

and stopped time for a moment

My empress love’s freckles turn into diamonds

You throw me a bone to avoid tarring your roof

I took a vacation to French Polynesia

Just to laugh at the volcanoes

Kyle Van Lant


Jiaying Jing


canaries make

mean dogs

they tell

you what’s

the matter,

and nothing


Chloe Low


i am a gallery of

third-degree burns,

a child whose pocket

was always filled with


a bottle of aloe vera resting on

the back burner.

i have mastered

the art of


learned what

sets you ablaze,

burned the wick

located in the

pit of your stomach.

i even transformed this

ancient grove into soft black velvet.

but perhaps

you’d rather suit the

slow burn

of a fireplace

in a nuclear suburb,

a timed stove

set to

low heat—

i am forced to

rake myself

Amanda Hall


across hot coals again

just to

keep warm.

sulfur wraps its arms around my neck

like a lover,

and it’s an awful smell:

charcoal, brimstone,

one step closer to spontaneous combustion—

a forgotten hearth burning itself

into oblivion,

wet kindling against the

backdrop of

potent gasoline

clinging like the scent of

a rotting corpse,

secondhand smoke

laying claim to

fragile lungs.

and perhaps i am merely

predisposed to a certain brand of affection, but

i have loved embers

before they

burst into flame,

the promise of a warm winter night by the hearth,

another body to leach away the cold—

yet these moths never seem to

outlast the

first flicker.

Amanda Hall


i remember weeping the night you tried to

kiss my fingertips,

numb to the sensation

after years of

acid rain.

you once

asked me if

i could

swallow fire—

i said yes.

Amanda Hall

World on Fire

Chris Okeani

My Magician, America

Snapped her sluggish fingers,

and emptied:

the streets, grocery shelves, parks,


tear ducts,


In a matter of minutes, and only a month or so too late.

Waved her wand and pulled dollar bills from a hat,

threw them right through the big business buildings,

then made them disappear again, just like that.

She’s making lines fall and people vanish,

with a deck stacked backwards, pulls the first card

Joker, second card, Joker

end of deck.

Her magic is all about big bravado and bullshit

but the red stains on her cloak hide

the finer details from the naive witness

who sees strength and stars in her sanguine movements,

her hands hover with a calm confidence through the pockets,


these hands

all the wrong directions.

are swinging in

Thus, the magicians fable becomes flounder as the stage falls like feathers

and the doves won’t leave their roost so the only thing flying from the hat is

fear. In one last act of grandeur, to reassume her place in the spotlight, she

grabs a saw and halves the state into two pieces, but she can’t mend the split.

I favor the nation like this.

Aidin Feenstra

Pandemic as Spiral

afternoon is morning is cereal or eggs

on bread is lunch is sandwich or leftovers

is pasta is dinner or pizza maybe on the weekends is days off

is sleeping in is everyday is

tuesday friday monday thursday sunday wednesday

is movie night is pizza and drinking is groceries now

and again is washing and washing and lysol and washing is

fresh air is “so nice god we haven’t been outside in two weeks”

is more washing is refilling the soap is wiping the doorknobs

is turning into OCD it sometimes feels and how are those people doing?

is other people is risk is fear is distance is

Zoom is bad connection is lag is the opposite of intimate

is Jackbox games is seeing friends is missing friends

is cancelled plans is concerts and proms and graduations is congratulations is

grad school plans is moving is the people we wanted to see and the cafes

we wanted to visit and the shopping we wanted to do and the beaches

glowing fluorescent blue is protests is privilege is goddamn OC white right

middle class jackass Karen needs a haircut masses is four more weeks

of quarantine is cabin fever is meditative videos is exercise and yoga is

livestreams is social distancing is social media is social is antisocial

is not owning Animal Crossing is Anime binges is Netflix and chill is

horny on main is Twitter is TikTok is Instagram is TikTok is Twitter is Starbucks

closed is no work is no pay is unemployment is stimulus checks

and unemployment benefits is their economic crisis versus my

survival is savings spent is rent to pay is the same apartment every day

is stuff that needs fixing but is it safe to put in a work order and have someone over

is fear is washing is disinfecting is washing is disinfecting

is death toll is people is family is holidays is Easter Birthday

Star Wars Day Mother’s Day 4th of July

is Zoom parties is drinking at home is weekends alone is

online shopping is spending is economy

is Amazon is not taking care of employees is essential workers

is nurses and doctors and fast food mascots apparently? is

capitalism is anxiety is feeling trapped and hopeless

is long drives to get outside is masks and washing is disinfecting is lysol

is suffocating is suffocating is suffocating is suffocating is

coughing sneezing sniffles allergies is worry

is stress baking is sweets is gaining weight is exercising

is routine is schedule is time is

alarms is late dinners is bedtimes

Victoria Surace-Aguirre

Pandemic as Spiral

is laying awake on Twitter at 4am is

wake up then eat then shower then eat then work then eat then sleep is

night is afternoon is morning

Victoria Surace-Aguirre

How to Write an Essay During a Pandemic

In the morning when you wake up, drink a glass of water and

make some breakfast. It has to be early though because if you eat too late

and take your pill anytime after noon it’s gonna be an absolute mess. If it

hits you at 2pm you’re guaranteed to be up until at least 5am, and you

definitely don’t want that. Because when it’s 4:30 am and you’re laying

in bed trying your best to listen to meditation podcasts that are

“*~sure to ease you into a blissful sleep~*” you’ll get frustrated because

the guy’s voice sounds like your grandpa, and your grandpa had one eye

because he accidently walked into a nail once, so you can’t stop thinking

about what you would do if you walked into a nail.

When that happens, try progressive muscle relaxation. Think

back to what you learned last semester when you had to read a “Stress

and Relaxation” book for a psychology class. When you remember, start

with your feet. Squeeze them at about 80% of what you can do so you

don’t hurt yourself. Once you’re shaking a bit, release the tension and relax

your feet. Do this for every body part, moving from your feet to your

calves and upwards all the way till you get to your face. When you finish

and realize that you’re still not relaxed, do it again. Then again. If you’re

not sleepy by then, just get up and take some cough medicine.

Tip-toe across the hall and be extra careful when you open your

Nana’s door so that you don’t wake her up. But when you inevitably do

wake her up, you have to be prepared. Wear a defeated expression on

your face and sigh before saying, “Nana, I had a bad dream and I can’t

sleep.” Take a moment to blink at her with sad puppy eyes and then ask

her if she has any advice.

When she squints her eyes and asks in her sluggish New Yorker

accent, “Well, what’d you dream about?”, act like you’re really thinking

for a second. This is important --squeeze your eyebrows together and

touch your face-- that’ll really sell it. Count to five in your head, and then

sit down on her bed so she doesn’t feel like you’re hovering over her. Remember

that you’re not supposed to touch your face or be within six feet

of another human. Stand up before she realizes. This is when you shrug

in defeat and say it must’ve left your mind. Eventually she’ll offer you

some NyQuil. Seem hesitant before giving in, it’ll be more believable.

Once you’ve taken it, walk back to your room in the dim morning light

and finally close your eyes. Right when it feels like you’re about to hit

the edge of sleep, your alarm will go off.

The next day will start and your brain will be absolutely incapable

of producing thought.You’re not tired but you’re also not awake.

Daelyn Daniloff

How to Write an Essay During a Pandemic

You’ll feel like one of the zombies in any one of those cheap horror

movies. Don’t worry, that’s normal after taking two cap’s full of cough

medicine while trying to come down from an Adderall high. At this point

you’ve regressed past the degree of being a functional human and your

survival instincts will kick in. So, binge eat. Eat everything you can.

You’ll want to go outside and catch a squirrel with your bare hands to

roast over an open self-made fire. Don’t, that’s weird. You live in suburban

Orange County and your neighbors will call the police. Just open the

fridge and eat all the leftover mashed potatoes and ice cream you can.

When you’ve eaten everything, fall into a food-induced-amphetaminecome-down-NyQuil-come-up


Wake up at 3pm when your cat starts licking the melted icecream

off your chest. Start to cry, first with little sniffles and then a fullblown

wail. Cry because you haven’t seen your friends in weeks, you’re

weeks behind on your virtual lectures and have gotten nothing done

with only 7 hours left to write a 10 page research paper. Cry harder because

you’re disgusting and covered in half-eaten food, you now weigh 8

pounds heavier than yesterday, you’re in the middle of a global pandemic

and you saw your neighbor with the Trump flag on the news yesterday

yelling “live free or die”, and on top of it all your cat is starting to puke.

Take a moment to let it all sink in-- not your cat puke, clean that up before

it stains your Nana’s rug.

Once you’re done cleaning and crying you’ll probably feel really

exhausted. Give yourself a break to restart your mind and take a nap. Set

your alarm for 30 minutes. When your alarm goes off, press snooze and

sleep some more. Then press snooze again. And again.

Finally, wake up in a panic when you start dreaming about your

essay. Reach for your phone before realizing that it’s dead since you

didn’t charge it last night because you wasted all your battery trying to

listen to sleep podcasts. Grab your laptop and flip it open, look to the

time and see that it’s 11:56pm. Realize that nothing has gotten done.

Your essay is due in 4 minutes. Tense all your muscles again like how

you did last night when you were trying to relax, and scream. Scream

again, but more blood-curling this time. Remember that your Nana is

home when she waddles into your room at lightning elder speed to make

sure you’re alive. Assure her that you’re okay, you didn’t fall, you’re not

hurt, and everythings fine as you close the door on her. Fall onto the floor

and rip out a few strands of hair to check and see if you’re still sleeping.

Daelyn Daniloff

How to Write an Essay During a Pandemic

You’re not. Email your teacher and beg for an extension. Cry yourself to

sleep on the floor.

When you wake up at noon and see that your teacher granted

your extension, try to start immediately. Notice that it’s already too late

to take your pill, take it anyway, you need it. Promise yourself that today

will be different -- it’s not.

Do it all again.

Daelyn Daniloff

Trans in Pandemic

I feel trapped, like a prisoner in my own home.

I’m called by a name that isn’t mine, pronouns that haven’t fit for years

Terms of endearment for a little girl that was never me.

That’s not my name, I wish I could say

But I never told them what my name is.

I feel trapped, like a prisoner in my own home.

I felt safe, surrounded by friends.

I was called by the name that is mine, the pronouns I have claimed

Nicknames for the person I have grown to become.

But now that’s all gone, for we’ve all moved back home.

Except for me, “home” is the place I left.

I felt safe, surrounded by friends.

I want to feel free again, in more ways than one.

I need to see my city again, I need to hear my name again

Everything I left behind

I need to feel my friends’ hugs again

but I can’t

not now

not yet

I want to feel free again, in more ways than one.

I will survive this, for I am strong.

I call my friends, ones who know my name.

They offer their support, and I mine.

They provide me a respite from the hell we’re living in

And we know it will end, but we know not when.

I will survive this, for I am strong.

Rei Vignapiano

Because You Are Here

In the mornings, I wake to soft sunlight pooling in from behind worn

curtains. Is it Tuesday? No, maybe it’s Thursday. The grass outside my

window is freshly cut, wet with morning dew, and covered in a warm

glow. I yearn to touch it, to feel it beneath my fingers, prickling at my

thighs even though I am allergic.

My baba has never been happier, overjoyed that I am home every day.

“It’s the greatest, isn’t it? There’s no place better than home,” he exclaims

in Chinese.

“Right,” I mumble back in English.

I haven’t been home in years and, though I am well in my twenties,

I have become thirteen again. I wear my middle school P.E. uniform

around the house and to bed. My room has stayed the same—the dark

blue sheets teeming with white and green sharks, the lone brown stuffed

bear on the far edge of the bed, the painting I made for Baba pinned on

the wall beside me. It’s of a rabbit, his zodiac animal.

This is the best. He says it often. And while many of my days these past

few weeks have been spent in bed, knees to my chest and eyes swollen

with tears, I nod and attempt to smile to return his eager expression. I do

it, but I avoid his gaze.

Baba’s hair is graying now, spilling from the sides in a tangled mess, but

it doesn’t bother him. I like to watch him make dinner sometimes, but I

see how his fingers have grown weary, how they sometimes shake and

falter as he tries to grip and steady a knife. He’ll ask me to tie his hair for

him when it starts to fall into his eyes, to roll his sleeves back, to grab a

bowl—not that one, the other one—and to help him prod at the pan from

time to time so whatever’s on the bottom doesn’t burn.

When we eat, his eyes track what I “mm!” at, his chopsticks ready to

shovel more into my bowl. Every day feels like a monotonous regurgitation

of the last, but every day I am surrounded by his love. When we are

out of apples, almonds, or peanut butter—my favorite food groups—he

asks me again and again how to pronounce them (just in case).

Kristie Song

Because You Are Here

“Xingren is almonds, baba. Suan nai is yogurt.”

“Ok, yo-gur. Yo-gur.”

Then he dons his mask, a pair of wrinkled gray gloves, shrugs on his

jacket, and leaves for the store humming to a Teresa Teng song from the


I still feel hopeless sometimes. The grass looks a little more dull each

day, the sunlight more blinding than soothing. I’m still in that ugly gray

shirt about eighty sizes too big, a ferocious lion on the front with my

name scribbled in black sharpie underneath its gaping mouth. I am angry,

helpless, anxious, and worst of all, directionless.

But for Baba, he continues to smile and laugh, eyes squinting and voice

cracking when I say something funny. When I appear in the kitchen.

When I look back and smile too—a real one. He’s always said that I take

after him, that no one understands him better. I felt guilty that I couldn’t

understand what he’d meant before, but I think I finally do.

“It’s the best because you have finally returned. Because you are here

with me.”

Kristie Song

Lamentation for the Lost

Rachel Wang

a graceful body is never kind—

i remember this as my neck strains

to form a perfect arch,


locked limbs desperately imitating the

effortless glide of a bird in flight,

the girl in the mirror replicates my movements,

follows me at dusk to sway across the surface,

an oil-slicked pool frozen solid—

we wind like laurels to the beat of the

wintry breeze,

coiled serpents

poised to strike with

pretty venom—

but the spotlight transforms

the lake at night,

and winter

collapses under the strain of

intolerable heat—

the moon’s face shatters

in two.

so we twirl until

our pointe shoes turn to


until our tendons

pop like

corks of expensive champagne,

the diamonds gleaming upon the lake’s surface

growing sharp like

glass shards beneath bloodied feet,

Amanda Hall


repeating the familiar steps as we


this stage red—

my mother once said

a good performer never

removes their mask.

so i shield these

clipped wings

from the audience,

lifeless stumps infected

by their

sick disease—

balance on



disregard the shadow

hanging off my back that glares from

the water’s icy reflection.


crack the whip and

i think

i hear

the girl behind the glass


the piano is starting on

opening night—

my downfall set

to the key of a minor—

Amanda Hall


the note

falls flat.

a pirouette

ending in



Amanda Hall

What, Then, Will Be Left

Sit and hear me, he said. In the days after the apocalypse there

will be a great empty. No trumpets will announce it, no horsemen will

bring it, no mighty bang, only the silence that comes after. You will be

sitting with your children or your grandchildren or your great grandchildren

or you may not be on this earth at all. But you will feel it. Slowly.

It will creep behind you getting nearer and nearer like a shadow as the

morning sun crawls across the sky; and noon will come and it will tap

you on your

shoulder. And it may again recede and you will forget, rather you will try

to forget. But buried deep in our collective soul is the empty. The world

has indeed ended but the apocalypse is just a word describing the times

when we feel it most. When we can no longer bury death in the future,

lose isolation in the crowd, drown out our own pestering thoughts with

songs of cities and dances of dealings. When our great castles, yes stand,

but, empty. When the voices of friends ring far to reach you, but can only

sound, empty. When labor continues to toil the earth but the fruits of

these efforts feel, empty.

It will be ok at times. You will know the empty to be peace. You

will use the silence for sleep, the isolation for reflection, and the stillness

for new creation. You will know the end to be a new state of being.

You will turn to the past for the knowledge of your ancestors, the future

for the possibilities for connection, and the present for the discovery of

self. Yes, you will bask in this new light and it will be good. And then

you will hear your brothers crying. You will see your sisters lying in the

streets. You will witness your fathers’ destruction at the hands of your

mothers. And you will shut it out. And you will be flooded so you will

hide. The waters will rage so you will lock the door on them. And they

will still rush in because no mere door can stop them, there are cracks

and openings that surround you constantly, bombard you with the pounding

of the waves, calling your thoughts to them, breaking into your sanctuary

and washing you out to seas with horizons you cannot perceive.

Your lungs will fill with the tears of your people the sirens singing only

their screams. The roars of these oceans will deafen you. Yet, deafened,

you will no longer hear them. The tears are not felt on your already saturated

face, the songs of the sirens surround you but do not enter. And you

may forget.

You may forget what you have heard and you may forget the

nature of life and you may forget that the world is over and the empty is

here. You may try to warm yourself by the sun, you may try to occupy

Caitlyn Johnson

What, Then, Will Be Left

your hands with work and play, you may try to embrace your brothers

and sisters and keep them to your arms. But you forget that these are

empty. You must remember or you will be proved wrong. Warm yourself

with memories, occupy your hands with keeping your body still, and

embrace only death. Build your arc, yes, but sail in the waters that surround

you, one eye on the horizon and the other on the waves. Dwell in

the empty for your time, and then move on. There are laws that we must

abide by and this is one of them.

Hear me, I know as I have lived it. And those that came before

me lived it as those who came before them. The world has ended many

times. In her time, in my time, in your time, there was a great silence

that hushed the thundering of fools, brought peace in death, and lured

our minds only to its song. There are bodies, strewn across the valleys,

locked in prisons of fear, and frozen by uncertainty. There will be time,

a still time, a frenzied time, and still more time. We feel it in our bones,

we live it, we are there, with no glimpse of light from within our darkness,

with no concept of any other kind of being, only what we feel. We,

humanity, hungry, tired, cold. We, families, impoverished, ground down,

isolated. We, you, me, dead, gone, buried. And yet the words you hear

are not the whispers of a ghost, but the ramblings of a persistent life, the

cloudy recollections of an ancient mind. A memory remains, and those to

remember it. A scar remains, and those to ache from it. A body remains

and those to mourn for it. Come famine plague war death there comes

after. And you wonder why.

It will not be the end because it can’t be. No, we won’t be freed

that easily. You will live because you have to. Death cannot overcome

life because without one there is not the other. And so you will keep

running towards one and away from the other though as time goes on you

lose certainty of which. But the running will never cease. We run like

roots in the dirt, proliferating, searching, fighting. We run like scavengers

in the wilds, hungering, stealing, scrounging. We run like fevers in the

bodies of the dying, burning, climbing, driving. We are weeds, parasites,

a sickness on this world, uprooted, cut off, eradicated, returning. This

world is a sickness in us, fevered, struggling, fed. Yes life is pandemic. If

there is breath to catch, blood to let, there is life. And let it spread.

Let it fill you. Stop running, just for a moment, and let it fill you.

Let the sight of darkness fill your eyes, let the sound of tears falling fill

your ears, let the fear and distress of all fill your mind. And your heart.

Fill that too, but with something new. Not what is around you, but what

Caitlyn Johnson

What, Then, Will Be Left

is in you. Then run again. Let this fuel you and keep running. Run on by

the ruins, by the shadows, by the ash. Run on too by the growing trees,

by the children’s games, by the shining sun. And see them all, and hear

all, and learn. All these things are here and will be and have been.

Hear me as you know in our collective soul they continue. Perhaps

that is our lot in this universe. To continue. To live our story so that

others can hear it and live it again. Yes the message gets smudged and

reinterpreted and rewritten along the way. Here it is flood where there

it was fire, here it is beast where there it was brother. But perhaps the

message fairs for the better in this. Maybe one day we will learn. Maybe

we have. Many things have changed from our mothers’ day, and many

are the same. Life though is change, and after the world is destroyed, we

shall see the faults that broke it and fill the holes in our fathers’ stories.

We must re build, and better, lest we mistakenly build dams to block the

waters that wash us clean.

We must look around and count the dead. We must look around

and clear the dirt-caked windows. We must look around and see ourselves,

what we have done, who we have killed, what we have saved. We

must tally our actions and plan again. How will we prepare, how will we

protect, how will we reassess. We will not understand why, but we must

learn the how. Learn to stave off our evils, control our hungers, give to

all our fellow beings, and wrench life from the dead earth like a flower

plucked from impenetrable secrets of the desert. We will work, without

understanding, but we will work. We will never know what it was, what

it all is for. A breath, held unrelentingly after having been fought so hard

for to win, finally released when, spent, understood, accepted.

Yes the world has ended many times. Let it again. Next time,

there will be a next time. We will do better, fight harder, run faster. Good

or bad right or wrong that is what we do. We run from the empty inherent

in us but we are thus pushed toward what we have deemed good.

Fullness, is laughter, love, and life. Yes and what is at once full is also

empty, lovely wretched, healthy sick, living dead, because without one

there is not the other. They ebb and flow like the tides, dragging us under

and pushing us farther. They are the shadow, cast only when there is sun,

throwing darkness and providing cool shade. They are the fire, whose

path is destruction, clearing away death and bringing warmth and light.

They are the earth, containing our dead and our life, burying what’s gone

and feeding the seeds of new birth, supporting our restless feet and swallowing

our weary bodies when our time is come. In the days after the

Caitlyn Johnson

What, Then, Will Be Left

apocalypse they are what is left. They are all around us, they are within

us, they are us. And no matter how we run from them, they shall continue.

Caitlyn Johnson

Temporary Escape

My mind enjoys

the way clouds feel between it’s fingers

and underneath the soles of its feet

calluses budding out from old skin

from how many times

it’s made this climb

It seems to think

that the higher it explores

altitude will morphe into physical space

miles apart from the mangled and desperate thoughts

hanging around in the trenches

of the forefront of my headspace

My mind has decided to keep climbing

adamant and stubborn

even when it loses its grip and is hanging by

it’s last trembling hand

it breaks itself to reach up and grasp the ledge

Each time we reach the top

It is me who must dangle my shoes

over the edge

all the scary things are fuzzy like

the negatives of an old disposable

and I know I can’t live here forever



look at the view!

Brianna Pinon


Alessandro Verniani

April 26th

Today is lovely,

slow moving and

warm as grass in July.

The honk of a lone

ice cream truck

has no one to hear

except the birds picking

at the cracks in the sidewalk,

searching for food or home or something


Yet nature can be a craven thing.

A horse will run at the

slightest sound,

and the most beautiful fish can hold

the most

dangerous poison.

But today has no fear or


only sunlight dappled over

whatever lives underneath it,

lovely and warm as

grass in July.

A yellow prayer.

A silent gospel.

Chloe Low

Sun Screen

I like sunscreen as

in sun screen,

aged wooden lattice


diagonal lines


and intersecting in a cooling pie’s crust

or otherwise crossed out

words in a diary

written with fervor in the light,

in either case handmade and

sacred but my sunscreen is like


plastic container and oily residue

on cheeks,

it sits next to nail clippers and

hairbrush by a

north facing window,

never sees the sun,

only sees me,

not handmade, not


not anything but

every morning, without fail,

ten years.

Chloe Low

Quarantine Lens

Rachel Wang

Rattler, and Other Things I Remembered

old bicycle frame, how are you these days

lean and limber as i remember

back when our scarves doubled as our belts

we’d share secrets like only you

knew what noises baby sparrows made,

only you knew that peanut butter

and cheese was some kind of ambrosia,

where the bb pellets went after

the colorful trenches were dug up and then

smoothed back over again.

dear old frame, you work and that in itself

makes me want to duck and cover

till the little red welts are stickers peeling off

of my overripened skin, tell me

why did we all stick our fingers curiously

in the same nest, go trudging all

safari-like through the same tall grass?

quick and trembling as the tiny

body packed with venom and derision

fueled by one too days that cut it

just a little bit too close, bent wire met

bent body and i’m scared was

the only thing you could understand.

Kristen Chastain

Author Bios

Bradley William Holder (Myself at a Distance)

Bradley William Holder is an English and Philosophy major, slated

to graduate in 2021. He was a hermit before it was cool.

Chloe Low (Birdwolf, April 26th, Sun Screen)

Chloe Low is a first year English and Literary Journalism major.

She lives in Sacramento County and enjoys raspberries and comic


Amanda Hall ((heart)h, Swansong)

Amanda Hall is a 3rd-year transfer student

and English major at UCI. She loves

women, carbs, and listening to vinyls. Her

last brain cell lives in Lady Gaga’s purse.

You can usually find her processing feelings

of intense yearning, drinking tea, or walking in the park.

Daelyn Daniloff (How to Write an Essay

During a Pandemic)

Greetings fellow humans, I’m a double

major in the school of Social Ecology and

I have mites in my face, we all do. While

we might be experiencing this pandemic

differently, we still all have the same tiny

arachnids cuddling up inside our pores, so just remember -- you’re

not alone. I hope you enjoy this possibly fictional and possibly

very realistic story about struggling to get absolutely anything

done at all during this quarantine. Peace and Love.

Rei Vignapiano (Trans in Pandemic)

Rei Vignapiano is a third-year Computer Science major. They

transferred to UCI in Fall 2019, after spending 3 years in community

college. Outside of school, their hobbies include watching

YouTube, playing Animal Crossing, and letting their friends show

them movies that they’ve never seen.

Kristie Song (Because you are here)

I am a graduating senior and will be

attending UC Berkeley’s Graduate program

for Journalism as my next endeavor.

I hope to continue telling stories that are

meaningful for others through a variety of

mediums but have always found writing

to be my most comfortable retreat.

Caitlyn Johnson (What, then, will be left)

Originally from San Francisco (and presently living there due to

the pandemic), Caitlyn is currently a second year studying Film

and Media Studies and English at UCI. Her work has actually never

been published before this year (though another of her pieces is

being featured in Neon Anteater Renaissance’s 2020 spring issue)

and so she is very excited for this occasion! Aside from writing

short fiction, she spends her time writing scripts and making short

films, listening to music, and watching a whole lot of TV.

Brianna Pinon (Temporary Escape)

My name is Brianna Pinon. I am currently,

as I write this, a third-year education

major at UCI. I have been writing since I

was in the second grade and plan to keep

writing until I die (whenever that may

be). Without the constant support from

my family and boyfriend, I would have

disintegrated from stress. I hope everyone

is well and to appreciate the people

out there trying to make the world a

better place while holding all the broken


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