ISSUE II: Odyssey

"Odyssey" is The Global Youth Review's second issue, whose structure is loosely based on Homer's "Odyssey" and consists of three chapters: 1) Dawn, 2) Affliction, and 3) Afterglow. We warmly welcome you into a space filled with talented creatives hailing from over 20 countries, all united in their efforts to express through literature the various emotions, ideas, and thoughts that defined their 2020. Designed by Sena Chang

"Odyssey" is The Global Youth Review's second issue, whose structure is loosely based on Homer's "Odyssey" and consists of three chapters: 1) Dawn, 2) Affliction, and 3) Afterglow. We warmly welcome you into a space filled with talented creatives hailing from over 20 countries, all united in their efforts to express through literature the various emotions, ideas, and thoughts that defined their 2020. Designed by Sena Chang


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YOUTH<br />

REVIEW<br />

Issue to<br />


<strong>ISSUE</strong> <strong>II</strong><br />

-<strong>II</strong>-<br />

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2 0 2 0<br />

O D Y S S E Y<br />

<strong>ISSUE</strong> <strong>II</strong> 2021 Y.<br />

T H E G L O B A L Y O U T H<br />

R E V I E W<br />


Ibra Aamir<br />

Dua Aasim<br />

Abdulmueed Balogun<br />

Sena Chang<br />

Steven Christopher McKnight<br />

Lisa Degens<br />

Joshua Ellis<br />

Zo Estacio<br />

Ella Fox-Martens<br />

Rowan Graham<br />

Arianna Harris<br />

Talha Hasan<br />

Bianca J<br />

Ziqing Kuang<br />

Gabrielle Loren<br />

Krittika Majumder<br />

Ivaana Mitra C.<br />

Shreya Raj<br />

Avantika Singh<br />

Helena V<br />

Lake Vargas<br />

Yvanna Vien Tica<br />

George White<br />


MP Armstrong<br />

Velibor Baco<br />

Andrea Balingit<br />

Waffa Batool<br />

Sylvia Bonillos<br />

Delilah Brumer<br />

Elizabeth Corallo<br />

Silent Chemical<br />

Thanisha Chowdhury<br />

Nicolas Correa<br />

Shiksha Dheda<br />

Katherine Ebbs<br />

Jordan Gaines<br />

Ishita Ganguly<br />

Madi Giovina<br />

Talha Hasan<br />

Raina Koshal<br />

Archana Kshatriya<br />

Sophia Kunkel<br />

Olivia Lathrom<br />

Oskar Leonard<br />

Diarmuid Maolalaí Ó<br />

Faith McKinnon<br />

Guna Moran<br />

Will Nuessle<br />

Saóirshe O’Neill<br />

Arun Paul Kapur<br />

Halle Preneta<br />

Robert Rittel<br />

Anthony Salandy<br />

Alex Shenstone<br />

Thee Sim Ling<br />

Thomas Stockley<br />

Sarah Syed<br />

For advertising inquires contact: theglobalyouthreview@gmail.com<br />

Cover Image: The Global Youth Review<br />

Magazine Designer: Sena Chang<br />

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Table of contents and a letter from<br />

the founder --<br />

1<br />


Spring 2020--<br />

2<br />

DAWN<br />

the odyssey<br />

Trials and tribulations--<br />

3<br />


A beacon of hope--<br />

4<br />


Featured contributors and<br />

acknowledgements --<br />

5<br />


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P. 10<br />

P. 22<br />

C O N T E N T S<br />

P. 17<br />

In My Backyard —<br />

Thee Sim Ling<br />

Democracy is<br />

Fragile —<br />

Archana Kshatriya<br />

P. 43<br />

Suburb in the Sky —<br />

MP Armstrong<br />

P. 26<br />

20 20 —<br />

GYR<br />

NO. <strong>II</strong><br />

— the odyssey<br />

Restlessness —<br />

Delilah Brumer<br />

P. 50<br />

P. 76<br />

Visual Art—Velibor Baco, Untitled<br />

P. 69<br />

Paralysis —<br />

Sylvia Bonillos<br />

The Hourglass —<br />

Shiksha Dheda<br />

A Part —<br />

Andrea Balingit<br />

P. 79<br />

Collpased<br />

Conversations—<br />

A.R. Salandy<br />

P. 86<br />

Even Tragedies<br />

Need Reflections —<br />

Olivia Lathrom<br />


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On twenty-twenty<br />

Waffa Batool, Contributor<br />

Hong<br />

Kong protests; Australia 's<br />

declaration of emergency; A U.S drone<br />

strike at Baghdad airport ; A worldwide pandemic.<br />

This whole year was a challenge but there are few<br />

unhighlighted things that were not reported but were seen.<br />

Though isolation caused frustration I learned that the connection<br />

with loved ones grew dense—many grandchildren and grandparents<br />

were reunited under a single household, and a bond was reestablished. I<br />

admit that we all lost a bond with someone who we thought would be part<br />

of our life in the future, but it’s part of our growth and development—a<br />

natural phenomenon of life—and thus, we were introduced to our<br />

improved selves; the version who took online workout classes, cut<br />

their bangs, made dalgona coffee, the version that started their<br />

small business venture. All I experienced was growth; I saw a<br />

child take his first steps, I heard laughter in the neighborhood,<br />

I found once long-forgotten young girls playing with her<br />

skills, intriguing her students, and mentoring their<br />

minds; I felt proud of this human race—I saw life.<br />

Alas! a new instinct of life was formed.<br />

Waffa<br />

Connect on<br />

Social —<br />

media<br />



@GlobalYouthRev<br />


@theglobalyouthreview<br />


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dawn<br />

DAWN<br />

"When we least expect it, life sets us<br />

a challenge to test our courage and<br />

willingness to change..."<br />

Paulo Coelho<br />



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Fragile<br />

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"I realized how easily we turn a blind<br />

eye to the great gift of Democracy<br />

that our freedom fighters handed us<br />

as a birthday gift..."<br />



By SOHYUN C.<br />

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PROSE<br />

I<br />

belong to a<br />

country that broke<br />

through shackles<br />

of Imperial rule<br />

and became a<br />

free country in 1947. Being home to<br />

more than 1.36 billion people my<br />

country faces enormous challenges<br />

on daily basis and my existential<br />

crisis isn't one of them. Also known<br />

as the largest democracy, elections<br />

take place and thanks to multiparties<br />

and their ever-changing<br />

coalitions, in absence of a clear<br />

majority, multiple parties team<br />

up and form a government ‘of the<br />

people, by the people, for the people'<br />

even when they were clearly not the<br />

people's first choice. But we Indians<br />

are pretty much comfortable with<br />

the idea of arranged marriages and<br />

therefore accept such off-shoots of<br />

democracy without many rebels. No,<br />

I am certainly not against democracy.<br />

Why would anyone be? It gives me an<br />

opportunity to at least have a say in<br />

who runs the country when I have<br />

absolutely no say in my personal life<br />

choices (those are the consequences<br />

of being born to an Indian father and<br />

a Nepalese mother).<br />

But in the past one year,<br />

when the pandemic postponed my<br />

exams and put a gigantic semicolon<br />

to the great plans of my life<br />

(hyperbole intended) I realized how<br />

easily we turn a blind eye to the<br />

great gift of Democracy that our<br />

freedom fighters handed us as a<br />

birthday gift. Yes, the gift-wrap was<br />

a little torn, its color had slightly<br />

faded, but it was a gift after all. And<br />

just like those gifts which our Dads<br />

got for us after searching for hours<br />

in stores, we complained that it was<br />

just not "exactly" what we wanted and<br />

whined about it for hours. Or at times<br />

just tossed it away, disregarding the<br />

effort, patience and sacrifice that our<br />

dear Dads had to make.<br />

To the readers who braved<br />

the title and the first two paragraphs<br />

and reached this very sentence,<br />

my hearty congratulations. You<br />

did not take the idea of Democracy<br />

for granted and chose to pay heed<br />

instead of skipping it like another<br />

topic from Political Science. So why<br />

did 2020 – a horrid, marred, dreadful<br />

year of the Pandemic force me to take<br />

a step away from the life-saving shows<br />

of Netflix and instead ponder how very<br />

fragile our Democracy is? Yes, it has to<br />

do a lot with the USA and Mr. Trump,<br />

but it wasn't the only country that<br />

forced me to appreciate Democracy.<br />

Belarus a.k.a. White Russia held its<br />

presidential elections in 2020 and<br />

its implied Dictator Alyaksandr<br />

Lukashenka defeated his opponent and<br />

scored a landslide victory. But that's<br />

not the end of the story. His title of<br />

"implied Dictator" does have a cameo.<br />

He has been in power since 1994. At<br />

the very beginning of the elections, he<br />

jailed his opponents but undermined<br />

a woman - Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya,<br />

who he did not perceive as a threat<br />

and allowed to register as a candidate.<br />

Now Mrs. Svyatlana is the wife of Mr.<br />

Sergei Tikhanovsky. Mr. Sergei was a<br />

blogger and a potential presidential<br />

candidate. He was imprisoned by<br />

Lukashenka at the very beginning of<br />

the election campaign. Mrs. Svyatlana<br />

decided to continue to fight for the<br />

cause that her husband stood for and<br />

went ahead to contest the elections.<br />

She was supported by the people of<br />

Belarus – who demanded change –<br />

and she drew record crowds in her<br />

rallies. However, Lukashenka won the<br />

elections. But some polling stations<br />

claimed that, in fact, Svyatlana had won<br />

the election. This outraged the people<br />

and drew protestors in large numbers<br />

in Minsk – the country's capital. But<br />

hey, ‘a Dictator gotta do what a Dictator<br />

gotta do’. Mr. Lukashenka shook<br />

hands with his friend Mr. Putin – who<br />

promised him support and stood as tall<br />

as he could. Consequently, Svyatlana<br />

had to flee the country for fear of<br />

imprisonment. But in my eyes, she did<br />

not lose. On the contrary, she awakened<br />

many from their slumber, she ignited a<br />

fire and instilled a dream – a dream that<br />

promised democracy in its truest glory<br />

which is neither a farce nor a facade<br />

but pristine. The people protesting on<br />

the streets of Belarus like never before<br />

are Svyatlana's greatest achievement.<br />

Will their hunger for Democracy<br />

satiate and their thirst for a change be<br />

quenched? Well, it depends on how far<br />

they are willing to go to attain a true<br />

Democracy. As 2020 shall leave a mark<br />

in pages of the history of Belarus, it did<br />

teach me a vital lesson – elections are<br />

a prerequisite but not evidence of the<br />

Democracy.<br />

The story repeated itself<br />

yet again. This time its center stage<br />

shifted from Europe to Africa. Bobi<br />

Wine (What a fascinating name!) –<br />

singer turned politician challenged<br />

Yoweri Museveni in the Ugandan<br />

elections of 2021. Mr. Museveni won<br />

the election but Mr. Wine contested<br />

it on the grounds that he had<br />

evidence about rigged elections. Mr.<br />

Wine has been placed under house<br />

arrest. The Government forced an<br />

internet shutdown on the eve of the<br />

presidential election. And might<br />

I add – Mr. Museveni has been in<br />

power since 1986 after toppling the<br />

then-dictator Idi Amin by a coup<br />

and uttered the words that he seems<br />

to have forgotten – "The problem<br />

of Africa in general, and Uganda<br />

in particular, is not the people,<br />

but leaders who want to overstay<br />

in power." If the claims of rigged<br />

election are indeed true then it would<br />

imply that Mr. Museveni has indulged<br />

in the very sin that he accused others<br />

of committing. Whether the elections<br />

were truly fair can be proved only<br />

after allowing contesting the same in<br />

the courts.<br />

Power changes people. And<br />

we don't need to turn to the history<br />

books but look right at the present<br />

to find a perfect epitome. Aung San<br />

Suu Kyi, a human rights activist<br />

who spent 15 years under house<br />

arrest for demanding democracy<br />

for the people of then Burma, now<br />

Myanmar, and succeeded in doing<br />

so after making great personal<br />

sacrifices. She could not meet her<br />

dying husband in London and stayed<br />

away from her children. All for<br />

the sake of Democracy – a system<br />

which advocates equal voice to every<br />

person of the country. The world<br />

acknowledged her sacrifices and<br />

applauded for her when Democracy<br />

finally arrived in Myanmar. She<br />

was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.<br />

But then fast forward to 2017 –<br />

Myanmar's army cracked down on<br />

a minority community of Muslims<br />

called Rohingya and caused a forced<br />

exodus of men, women and children<br />

leaving their country and their homes<br />

By SOHYUN C.<br />

behind to save their lives.<br />

Imagine a hectic day at work; loads<br />

of assignments, the pressure to meet<br />

deadlines, surviving office politics,<br />

fear of superiors lashing out – but<br />

when we come back home after a<br />

tiring day, take a shower and lie<br />

down on the bed – we feel relieved.<br />

The problems haven't disappeared.<br />

The deadlines are yet to be met. The<br />

ill-mouthed people have to be dealt<br />

with. The bossy superiors have to<br />

be greeted again the next morning.<br />

But none of that forbids us from<br />

feeling relieved in the comfort of<br />

our homes. Our home sweet home<br />

gives us a sense of security. What if<br />

one fine day you were pushed out<br />

of that very house and forbidden<br />

from ever returning? Isn't it unjust?<br />

That is exactly what happened to<br />

the Rohingya Muslims in a Buddhist<br />

country of Myanmar. And what<br />

did the human rights champion,<br />

a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, the<br />

State Counsellor of Myanmar do?<br />

She defended the actions of the<br />

Myanmar army at the International<br />

Court of Justice. People drunk with<br />

power dance to a different tune than<br />

their sober rebel selves.<br />

At the same time when<br />

the world watched the plight<br />

of the Rohingyas, stories of yet<br />

another ethnic cleansing surfaced<br />

– the Uighurs. Unlike democratic<br />

Myanmar, the Uighurs suffered<br />

the misfortune of being residents<br />

of Xinxiang, China – a socialist<br />

democracy where the word<br />

democracy is certainly misplaced.<br />

There are no elections in China and<br />

the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)<br />

is the sole governing political party.<br />

But could the injustice inflicted<br />

on Uighurs be blamed on lack of<br />

democracy? If yes, then how can<br />

one explain the state of Rohingyas<br />

in Democratic Myanmar? Certainly,<br />

the democracy of Myanmar isn't for<br />

"all" its people.<br />

If democracy which is<br />

perceived as a fortress to the voice of<br />

its people fails to accomplish the very<br />

goal, of what use is such a democracy?<br />

In fact, it is not democracy at all.<br />

Forget the past; the present teaches<br />

us how feeble, like the wings of the<br />

butterfly, a democracy is. All of us<br />

who live with it, cherish it, (the<br />

Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong<br />

and the crackdown of the Chinese<br />

Government on these protestors<br />

have reflected how far the people<br />

are willing to fight to protect their<br />

democracy) and those who don't,<br />

they dream of it. But democracy is<br />

indeed a beautiful dream – it may be<br />

imperfect, yet beautiful. But like the<br />

wings of the butterfly, as soon as it<br />

is grabbed by wicked hands its death<br />

is inevitable. That made me wonder<br />


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if there are any safeguards to protect<br />

democracy. And yet again, 2020<br />

brought more stories of it.<br />

Peru, a country in South<br />

America witnessed impeachment<br />

of its president Mr. Martín Vizcarra<br />

over allegations that he handed out<br />

government contracts in return for<br />

bribes. Sounds like a great story.<br />

Karma punished a corrupt official.<br />

But I hope I could have ended it<br />

there. Before we delve further into<br />

this story, it is important that we<br />

know a little about Mr. Vizcarra and<br />

the Congress that impeached him.<br />

Vizcarra is a politically unaffiliated<br />

centrist who is popular with the<br />

voters owing to his fight against<br />

corruption in a country marred with<br />

corruption and scandals. On the<br />

other hand, the Congress does not<br />

enjoy confidence of the people and<br />

have locked horns with Vizcarra in the<br />

past over anti-corruption reforms<br />

proposed by Vizcarra. To push his<br />

anti-corruption agenda forward,<br />

Vizcarra forced his Members of<br />

Congress to cooperate with his<br />

proposed actions, even threatening<br />

with Dissolution of Congress, which<br />

‘‘To our dismay, no Superhero<br />

is coming to save us: we have<br />

to become the heroes of our<br />

own stories."<br />

election. With the pandemic ravaging<br />

the nation, an impeachment caused<br />

sudden change of leadership and<br />

instability at a time when the people<br />

needed a strong political leadership.<br />

This drove thousands of Peruvians<br />

on the streets of the capital (Lima)<br />

to protest against what they call a<br />

coup. Vizcarra denied the allegations<br />

but decided to step down and not<br />

contest the impeachment. Could it<br />

be possible that a leader who decided<br />

to protect the democracy against the<br />

evil of corruption was thrown away<br />

by the corrupt sitting in Congress?<br />

If so, the safeguard itself backfired.<br />

Why did Vizcarra not fight against<br />

this impeachment? Was he really a<br />

corrupt politician who tricked people<br />

to believe that he was their savior<br />

while he served his self- interests?<br />

I'm afraid I have no answer.<br />

But I have yet another story<br />

where the safeguards put in place<br />

to protect a democracy were yet<br />

again exploited. But in this story<br />

the Congress did not remove its<br />

president, instead protected him<br />

from removal. In fact, they even went<br />

to the extent of blocking witnesses<br />

and forbidding the civil<br />

servants from participating<br />

in investigations. Yes, it’s<br />

time to reflect upon the most<br />

talked about event of 2020 -<br />

The infamous impeachment<br />

of US President Donald J.<br />

Trump. Apart from making<br />

lives of comedians easier,<br />

Trump has managed to be in<br />

the news every day thanks to<br />

his obsession with Twitter.<br />

He made the mockery of all the<br />

relations the US had fostered with<br />

its allies such as NATO and reduced<br />

its leadership from every platform<br />

possible by withdrawing from the<br />

Paris Agreement and WHO, while<br />

abandoning the Kurds; his sweetand-sour<br />

relation with Kim Jong<br />

Un, his complicated relationship<br />

with Vladimir Putin, profiting from<br />

the presidency, the presidential<br />

pardons issued to the ultra-rich and<br />

the last nail in the coffin – inciting<br />

an insurrection and causing riots<br />

on the Capitol – these are just a<br />

few in the long list of controversies<br />

Trump managed to stir during his<br />

he eventually did. To his dismay, the<br />

re-elected Congressmen too weren't<br />

keen on being his friends. (I wish<br />

Mr. Oli of Nepal could have learned<br />

a lesson - Dissolution of Parliament<br />

does not ensure winning over one's<br />

rivals.) Vizcarra was impeached twice<br />

within 2 months, ousting him out of<br />

office just months before the end of<br />

his term in 2021. Now, it is pertinent<br />

to note that the impeachment was<br />

based on investigations showing<br />

signs of corruption by Vizcarra<br />

during his time in regional<br />

government more than a decade<br />

ago. Further, Vizcarra had made it<br />

clear that he would not run for represidency.<br />

Though it's full of drama,<br />

the bottom line of discussing Trump<br />

is realizing that the impeachment<br />

which was intended to throw Trump<br />

out of office was not supported by a<br />

fair trial but instead he was acquitted<br />

thanks to the Republicans who<br />

decided to choose the President over<br />

their constitutional duties.<br />

Contesting an election<br />

is not wrong. If that was the case,<br />

I would be contradicting myself<br />

after having favored the same in<br />

the case of Belarus and Uganda.<br />

But after having failed to establish<br />

the allegations of rigged election in<br />

several courts and being drenched<br />

in narcissism unwilling to accept the<br />

loss, causing misinformation and<br />

sowing racial divide, look at what<br />

has been the consequence of letting<br />

him off the hook the first time.<br />

The Republicans watched Trump<br />

perform his misdeeds, applauded<br />

and praised him as he intensified<br />

the racial divides. They even<br />

spewed nonsense in his favor with<br />

the dreams of running for 2024 by<br />

having Trump's voters on their side.<br />

The country that enforces itself upon<br />

other nations by selling the idea of<br />

Democracy and idealizing itself as<br />

an epitome of one, crumbled under<br />

the weight of racism, antisemitism,<br />

bigotry, xenophobia, Islamophobia,<br />

to name a few. The Black Lives<br />

Matter movement that spread<br />

throughout the USA after the death<br />

of George Floyd was a wake-up call<br />

to the divisions that lay unsealed,<br />

uncovered and naked for the world<br />

to watch. Yes, the US has turned the<br />

page and is willing to move ahead<br />

with the first female Vice President<br />

who is black and of South-Asian<br />

descent, and with the most diverse<br />

and inclusive team that could have<br />

ever existed, but it still has to combat<br />

the division that Trump exposed<br />

before the world.<br />

Certainly, India is not<br />

perfect in any sense. I have a long<br />

list of problems with my country and<br />

my Government. But can I criticize<br />

the Government, unafraid of dire<br />

consequences? I wish I could say yes.<br />

People who criticize the government<br />

or a minister through Twitter and<br />

other social media are often arrested.<br />


And that forced me to ask myself:<br />

can I not criticize the ministers I<br />

have elected for governing my own<br />

country? Because if I cannot then we<br />

aren't that different from Thailand,<br />

which set a draconian precedent of<br />

its lèse-majesté law whereby a civil<br />

servant was sentenced to 43 years<br />

of imprisonment for criticizing<br />

monarchy (she had shared audio<br />

on Youtube and Facebook with<br />

comments that were deemed critical<br />

of the monarchy).<br />

The arrests of comedians<br />

being made for hurting religious<br />

sentiments has made me further<br />

question the dangerous mingling of<br />

religion with democracy. To those<br />

that disagree, the present has an<br />

example for us. Poland, a European<br />

country which has its conservative<br />

government closely tied with the<br />

Catholic Church, banned abortion,<br />

thus snatching away the right of a<br />

woman over her own body. How is<br />

it related to religion? Because the<br />

religious conservatives perceive<br />

abortion as murder of someone yet<br />

to be born but ridicule the existence<br />

of the one living and walking on<br />

the face of the earth. That is the<br />

consequence of mixing religion with<br />

governance. As far as artistic liberty<br />

is concerned, freedom of speech<br />

and expression does make one<br />

pay. The beheading of a teacher in<br />

France over displaying the cartoon<br />

of Prophet Mohammad by Charlie<br />

Hebdo is enough evidence about the<br />

need of the society to be secular first<br />

for the fruits of democracy to be<br />

borne.<br />

I seem to have visited the<br />

turmoil in many countries despite<br />

being locked inside the four walls of<br />

my house. Suffering from anxiety,<br />

panic attacks, sleepless nights and<br />

depression served with the inability<br />

to communicate about my mental<br />

health with my parents, (Add it to the<br />

list of perks of being born in a humble<br />

orthodox Indian family,) I lost all my<br />

friends because I was too ill to make<br />

an effort to talk to them. Drowning<br />

in my dystopia, these petrifying and<br />

vile incidents taking place all over<br />

the world easily caught my eye. They<br />

brought a sense of normalcy to my<br />

prevailing state of havoc because<br />

they hinted to an Armageddon. It<br />

may seem like I am romanticizing<br />

these horrible events of the modern<br />

world but to the mind that finds<br />

peace in poetries of Edgar Allen Poe<br />

and loses her soul in the dark lyrics of<br />

Billie Eilish, these weren't terrifying<br />

but all the more assuring that my<br />

problems are, after all, tiny amidst<br />

such colossal problems that people<br />

have been facing all over the world.<br />

Being killed because of the color of<br />

your skin or being thrown out of the<br />

country for being a minority or facing<br />

a state-sponsored rape or having the<br />

inability to decide if one wishes to<br />

embrace motherhood or not – where<br />

could any of my problems possibly<br />

rank amidst these stories – nowhere.<br />

Alas! All these stories are<br />

actual events taking place as we<br />

breathe. They are certainly not a plot<br />

revolving around a group of villains<br />

doing the bad stuff and who are going<br />

to be kicked down by a Superhero. To<br />

our dismay, no Superhero is coming<br />

to save us: we have to become the<br />

heroes of our own stories.<br />

The first step towards<br />

tackling a problem is to acknowledge<br />

that a problem exists, and then after<br />

having substantiated it with facts,<br />

finding solutions to the problem. I<br />

hope I have enabled the first step by<br />

making you realize that if you reside<br />

in a country which has Democracy<br />

– don't take it for granted. It could<br />

slip away through your fingers<br />

like sand. All we have to do is stay<br />

vigilant and ensure no one snatches<br />

away Democracy from us. Because<br />

Democracy is not undefeatable, but<br />

extremely fragile. It can protect us as<br />

long as we protect it.<br />


P<br />

A<br />

G<br />

E<br />

14<br />

P<br />

A<br />

G<br />

E<br />

15<br />


POETRY<br />

2<br />

Y O U<br />

D O N ' T<br />

B E L O N G<br />

H E R E<br />

IN MY<br />

backyard<br />


Y O U ' R E<br />

S<br />

O<br />

K I N D<br />

W I M B Y<br />

I S W H A T<br />

W E S T A N D<br />

F O R<br />


0<br />

2<br />

1<br />

" This poem is based on the Not In My Backyard syndrome in Singapore. Some citizens have expressed reluctance at allowing ‘migrant<br />

workers’ from foreign countries, such as India and Bangladesh, to live beside them, and during the Covid-19 pandemic, one such<br />

citizen blamed these workers and their ‘poor hygiene habits’ for spreading the virus."<br />

N<br />

ot<br />

In My Backyard<br />

You don’t belong here<br />

You come from another country<br />

You’re so backward, noisy and dirty<br />

NIMBY is what we stand for<br />

It is our right to live as we choose<br />

We don’t want you as our neighbors<br />

You are basically just our workers<br />

The system is already working so well<br />

Why should we fix what is not broken?<br />

Stay in your little enclaves<br />


And don’t you dare<br />

Step into my backyard<br />

Not In My Backyard<br />

Welcome In My Backyard<br />

You deserve a place to stay<br />

You travel here to feed your families<br />

You’re so kind, resilient and forgiving<br />

WIMBY is what we stand for<br />

You have a right to live here too<br />

We would love you to be our neighbors<br />

You build our roads and homes<br />

It’s time to change the system<br />

It’s time to right the wrongs<br />

Share our neighborhood with us<br />

You, the guests of Singapore<br />

And you will always be welcome to<br />

Step into my backyard<br />

Welcome In My Backyard<br />

P<br />

A<br />

G<br />

E<br />

17<br />


PROSE<br />

PROSE<br />




Channel<br />

«You are limiting us to a box with set expectations.»<br />

Dear Disney Channel,<br />

550 million viewers. That is how<br />

many children watch your channel.<br />

550 million little kids learning how<br />

to conduct themselves, how to acclimate to society,<br />

and how to engage with others through your screen.<br />

550 million children idolizing your characters<br />

and absorbing their behavior. I would expect with<br />

such preeminence one would be more attentive or<br />

at least conscious of the impact their characters<br />

and plot have on the cultural, personal, and social<br />

development of our youth, yet almost the opposite<br />

has been happening.<br />

I, like the majority of my generation, grew up<br />

watching shows like Jessie and Phineas and Ferb<br />

that attempted at displaying a diversity of cultures—<br />

including mine. One of my first encounters with<br />

Indian representation was with your character<br />

Ravi Ross. There was so much excitement when I<br />

first saw him: for the first time ever, someone who<br />

looked like me on the screen. I watched as he was<br />

always the outcast and was portrayed with the most<br />

typical Asian stereotypes: extremely smart, weak,<br />

and socially inept. In addition to his hackneyed<br />


character, he was the laughing stock of the group,<br />

always being mocked or used. Looking back, the<br />

bigotry is overwhelming. At such a young age,<br />

unknowingly, I accepted the anti-Indian sentiment<br />

of your shows to be how all of society views my<br />

culture and the rightful way to treat ethnic cultures.<br />

I had unintentionally become conscious of and<br />

embarrassed by my ethnicity. I never talked about<br />

my good grades, played dumb, and hid when my<br />

mom packed me Indian food because I was too<br />

scared to fit into the deprecating stereotypes you<br />

had accentuated.<br />

This fear of becoming the Asian stereotype was<br />

not all in my head. Your shows had created an<br />

environment in which micro-aggressions towards<br />

ethnic cultures are normalized and emphasized.<br />

Growing up as one of the only South Asian students in<br />

the classroom, one of my many experiences of these<br />

micro-aggressions was having different academic<br />

expectations than my peers. It was presumed that<br />

I always had my homework completed early and my<br />

classmates would coerce me into sharing answers.<br />

Through this, I too began holding myself to higher<br />

intellectual standards and felt disappointed and<br />

stressed by my failure to reach them. My “small”<br />

accomplishments never impressed my peers and<br />

started to lose my appreciation as well.<br />

It is intriguing to think about the similarity between<br />

Ravi and the character Baljeet from Phineas and<br />

Ferb. The issue with having the only two South Asian<br />

characters in your network be portrayed as perfectly<br />

fitting into the Asian stereotype of awkward and<br />

smart, having thick Indian accents, and being<br />

disrespected is that it creates connections for the<br />

viewer that leads to unconscious stereotyping and<br />

groupings of South Asians. You are limiting us to a<br />

box with set expectations.<br />

One of Ravi’s greatest characteristics was his accent.<br />

Perhaps if you had glorified Indian accents as you do<br />

French or British, mocking Indian accents would not<br />

be normalized or tolerated. What particularly angers<br />

me is that with the misrepresentation of my culture<br />

and with the mocking of our accents, you couldn’t<br />

even correctly pronounce your characters’ names<br />

- conveying to an entire generation that the bare<br />

minimum of respecting one's name is unnecessary.<br />

Now, having a corrected perception of Indian culture,<br />

I am able to recognize the direct impacts of your<br />

channel to my life and equally to that of my peers.<br />

I have talked about Ravi from Jessie but the show<br />

contains many other stereotypes as well: Emma is<br />

presented as the shallow, rich, dumb blond, Zuri as<br />

the loud, sassy black girl, and Luke as the popular<br />

but dumb and messy white boy. It doesn’t stop there:<br />

the spinoff, Bunk’d, has Tiffany Chen who is an Asian<br />

who plays the violin, is always worried about her<br />

studies, and has strict parents. And this is just one<br />

show. I simply can’t understand why it is acceptable<br />

to have shows that perpetuate such stereotypes that<br />

terrifyingly overpower and categorize our youth by<br />

their looks and ethnicity, stunting their individuality<br />

and creating unnecessary apprehensions.<br />

So, Disney Channel, as a fifteen-year-old Indian<br />

American I have experienced normalized microaggressions<br />

and direct stereotyping an unacceptable<br />

amount of times and I blame a large portion of this<br />

normalization on you. It breaks my heart that my<br />

journey to becoming proud and confident of my<br />

identity was so long and full of doubt. When I told<br />

my friends about this letter, they had their own<br />

experiences and thoughts to add- all my friends, of<br />

different cultures and backgrounds, had faced some<br />

sort of mistreatment that they correlated as a result<br />

of what your network presents.<br />

My hope is that you can work towards more<br />

" It breaks my heart<br />

that my journey to<br />

becoming proud<br />

and confident of my<br />

identity was so long<br />

and full of doubt."<br />

respectful and correct representations of all ethnic<br />

cultures so future generations don't feel the need to<br />

hide parts of their identity to fit in. I do recognize<br />

these efforts in new shows like Mira, Royal Detective;<br />

I appreciate how it displays the beauty of Indian<br />

culture and there is a South Asian main character<br />

who is well rounded. But in order to move past shows<br />

that were not as cognizant, I feel it is necessary to<br />

recognize the faults and ignorance of them- these<br />

shows are still streamed on your network and still<br />

do affect our youth.<br />

Sincerely, Raina Koshal<br />



P<br />

A<br />

G<br />

E<br />

18<br />

P<br />

A<br />

G<br />

E<br />

19<br />


POETRY<br />

POETRY<br />



IMAGE<br />



A<br />


I<br />

relate myself to a blurred image.<br />

Something out-of-touch<br />

and faded by the sun.<br />

No fine lines, nothing clear-cut.<br />

Just blurred colours<br />

that you can’t quite imagine resulting in a person.<br />

That is what I think of myself.<br />

And I have this reoccurring dream<br />

Where I melt into the floor<br />

And I’m screaming, watching my legs<br />

Evaporate, until there is just<br />

Nothing.<br />

And I can’t feel anything anymore.<br />

I wonder if that’s how I’ll be remembered.<br />

Like a half-forgotten<br />

dream.<br />

Blurry and worn from each time<br />

I tried to refine it.<br />


Hopeless youth ranting<br />

On small rectangle machines<br />

Drinking dark and sweet and musty<br />

Green tea,<br />

And the old are fearful<br />

Of the new<br />

As they always<br />

Seem to be.<br />

Watching old movies<br />

That make you feel<br />

Seventeen,<br />

Hoping you can<br />

Write, paint, sing, scream<br />

A new anti-society<br />

For people to read.<br />

We are all disenfranchised.<br />

Our governments fail us<br />

And we consume too much<br />

For our own good.<br />

But isn’t that just<br />

Being carefree?<br />

A generation of people<br />

Told they were different,<br />

Each of us<br />

Doing the same things.<br />






P<br />

A<br />

G 20<br />

E<br />

P<br />

A<br />

G<br />

E<br />

21<br />


PROSE<br />

suburb in<br />

the sky<br />


golden shovel from the article “nasa and nokia are putting a 4g<br />

network on the moon”<br />

why do we need to defile the moon if<br />

man hasn’t been there since 1972? nasa, you’re<br />

failing when i trusted you. i’m unable<br />

to trust any part of the government, i guess, or to<br />

believe that this isn’t inevitably a war. get<br />

this: in twenty years, i could be floating around a<br />

lunar habitat, astral citizen down to the cell.<br />

there’s an american undertone to a ringing phone,<br />

& that must be the logic. it’ll be a signal<br />

to the little green men on jupiter or mars that whenever<br />

they’re ready, they’re lucky, for you<br />

& your nation have an outpost where they can walk<br />

along neat sidewalks & look upon your<br />

perfect flowerbeds, newly painted front door, dog<br />

barking a greeting. they’ll come around.<br />

the entire galaxy will come around & see that the<br />

people who annihilated the pesky block<br />

to intergalactic communication & constructed this<br />

suburb in the sky are superior, surely. will<br />

i think so too? or will i sing its praises while i really<br />

want to rip apart the flags & try to make<br />

peace with those we alienated? & will you, or watch your<br />

husband wash his hands of someone’s blood<br />

while you wait in the kitchen, bringing a pot to a boil?<br />


P<br />

A<br />

G<br />

E<br />

22<br />


P<br />

A<br />

G<br />

E<br />

23<br />


POETRY<br />

March<br />

13, 2020<br />



DOWN<br />

DEEP<br />


I shut my eyes to the darkness only to find more in<br />

my mind Along the valleys and mountains, in the<br />

deepest oceans of my soul<br />

I never dare dive in<br />

because I know what’s at the bottom<br />

winking at me in the faintest light of<br />

the sun or<br />

of the moon<br />

T<br />

he last normal day<br />

I’ll ever have.<br />

The last normal day<br />

before a pandemic, a reallife,<br />

sci-fi movie inspired, worldwide,<br />

pandemic<br />

changed the course of life.<br />

Freshman to sophomore: the year it took<br />

me to learn how to walk through the hallways<br />

of school<br />

without staring at my feet. 365 days<br />

for my reality to adjust to the new world, the<br />

sci-fi inspired,<br />

Mean Girls induced, puberty-driven<br />

world<br />

I entered.<br />

365 days to recover from change,<br />

but only took one day to destroy everything<br />

all over again.<br />

It took one virus,<br />

one person,<br />

to destroy the world’s reality.<br />

365 versus one, an impossible equation.<br />

of teachers wiping sweat from their foreheads<br />

because they’ve been kept out of the loop,<br />

of refreshing Google and CNN, of holding<br />

onto friends (just in case),<br />

of administrations afraid to shut down.<br />

Too soon or too late?<br />

What’s going to happen to us?<br />

Will the track season be canceled?<br />

What happens to Spring Break?<br />

No, no, it will be over in two weeks.<br />

Two weeks?<br />

Or 365 days?<br />

How long does it take to recover from a<br />

disaster?<br />

One day to destroy, 365 to clean up. A familiar<br />

algorithm.<br />

Algebra <strong>II</strong> and the SAT prepared us for this.<br />

But how would we know?<br />

The leaders of this world<br />

cannot tell us how long it takes to clean up<br />

the mess of unexpected change, and the<br />

transition from<br />

middle school to high school cannot be<br />

compared to<br />

the transition of moving life to frozen chaos.<br />

Across the United States, it was a day of<br />

confusion,<br />

But metaphors worked when life was normal,<br />

so why shouldn’t 365 days?<br />

P<br />

A<br />

G<br />

E<br />

25<br />


T H E<br />


PROSE<br />

STORM<br />

INSIDE<br />

S K Y<br />

S C R E A M S<br />

A G A I N<br />

" The sky screams again. She<br />

wants to scream with it. She wants<br />

to scream and cry and just do<br />

something."<br />


The cool wind blows through the bare branches of the tree. A girl<br />

watches it bend and shake and snap. One of the top limbs falls<br />

from the weight of the growing mistletoe and the pressure of the<br />

wind. The clouds darken the sky and it is lit for just moments by<br />

electricity. Amidst the fury, they sob, letting go of the sadness bottled up within<br />

them, showering down on the world. The clouds scream and lash out with their<br />

lightning, their electric fingers burning the ground, the trees, the people.<br />


STORM.<br />


The girl sits quietly in her window. She longs to be that storm. To let her emotions run<br />

wild. To cry, to hurt, and to hurt others because they couldn’t possibly understand.<br />

Not her parents, not her friends, no one in the world would understand her pain.<br />

She reaches out and touches the window. Her fingers follow the streaming water on<br />

the cold pane of glass.<br />

P<br />

A<br />

G<br />

E<br />

26<br />



P<br />

A<br />

G<br />

E<br />

27<br />


PROSE<br />

P<br />

eople<br />

are talking around her. They have been since that night.<br />

Always around her, never to her. “Oh, she’s too young,” they say,<br />

“she shouldn’t hear these things.” But she wanted to. She needed to.<br />

She needs to know.<br />

What happened to my sister?<br />

Why hasn’t she come home?<br />

The girl’s hand drops into her lap and grasps tightly to the black fabric. The sky<br />

screams again. She wants to scream with it. She wants to scream and cry and just do<br />

something. Something to make it stop. Something to make everything stop hurting.<br />

Because her sister isn’t coming home.<br />

She never will. The two would never be able to watch their favorite movies together<br />

or sing every song from High School Musical at the top of their lungs or have their<br />

mini sleepovers just so they could be close. Never again.<br />

The girl’s mother is keeping a straight face for now, but behind closed doors, she<br />

has gone through box after box of tissues. She has soaked through the fabric at<br />

the shoulder of her husband’s shirts for the last week. And that husband has sat in<br />

the dark while two of the women he loves slept. He has sat on the bed of the third<br />

woman, tears falling from his eyes onto the purple duvet, the one she had refused<br />

to give up since she was ten.<br />

Because that woman is gone.<br />

The sky crackles with electricity as they carry her out. They hold umbrellas over the<br />

carefully carved wood, even though they know it would be buried soon. The girl and<br />

her parents follow the box. The stand around the muddy hole it’s placed over. The<br />

rain splashes their cheeks as they each go forward and place a purple flower on top.<br />

Because they were her favorite color.<br />


P<br />

A<br />

G<br />

E<br />

28<br />

P<br />

A<br />

G<br />

E<br />

29<br />



affliction<br />


"Wherever there's hope there's a trial.<br />

Hope, however, is limited, and generally<br />

abstract, while there are countless trials,<br />

and they tend to be concrete."<br />

Haruki Murakami<br />


P<br />

A<br />

G<br />

E<br />

31<br />


Prose<br />

JESSIE'S<br />

S P E C I E S<br />

"Then she’d heard the howl. Rising<br />

from the distant mountains, from<br />

unknowable forest depths, like an<br />

air-raid siren or tornado warning<br />

the howl rose, swelled, echoed..."<br />



By YONGJIN C.<br />

P<br />

A<br />

G<br />

E<br />

32<br />

P<br />

A<br />

G<br />

E<br />

33<br />


PROSE<br />

PROSE<br />

one<br />

The notebook-sized platform swayed<br />

slightly in the wind as Jessie sat, long<br />

legs dangling over the twenty-story<br />

fall, unmindful and unafraid.<br />

Two hundred feet of<br />

KESV Channel 12 antenna tower<br />

was anchored at the summit of<br />

the Aliquippa ridge, which added<br />

another thousand feet of steep drop<br />

to the valley below. The view was<br />

spectacular, taking in thirty miles<br />

of southern Washington forest.<br />

The evergreen blanket rippled in<br />

the breeze, as if to stir the sleeping<br />

giants of the mountains.<br />

A stray lock of chestnut<br />

hair slipped free from her careless<br />

ponytail, whipping at her face in the<br />

breeze. Jessie tucked it back absently<br />

as she listened.<br />

Call to me again. Please.<br />

She was startled by the<br />

sudden shadow as a blue-gray<br />

peregrine falcon shot past almost<br />

at her shoulder. The bird cheeped<br />

with pleasure at the surprise,<br />

rolling over in mid-air to peer<br />

at Jessie, wingtips fluttering.<br />

Jessie stuck her tongue out at her<br />

friend. “Showoff!”<br />

The bird rolled back<br />

upright and found a thermal,<br />

rising into the afternoon sun.<br />

Stretching on her perch, Jessie<br />

looked out across the Cascades,<br />

forgetting falcons, listening with all<br />

of herself.<br />

As she did the years fell<br />

away, and she was nine years old<br />

again, fifty feet up the evergreen tree<br />

in Gamma’s backyard. She’d torn her<br />

itchy party dress in the climb, and<br />

Mama would be angry when they<br />

found her.<br />

Clinging to the pinescented<br />

trunk she had stared out<br />

across the forest, lifting her face to<br />

the breeze ruffling her hair, pulling<br />

at the braids and bows Gamma had<br />

spent all morning arranging…<br />

Then she’d heard the howl.<br />

Rising from the distant<br />

mountains, from unknowable forest<br />

depths, like an air-raid siren or<br />

tornado warning the howl rose,<br />

swelled, echoed off the hills. As<br />

quickly as it had come it was gone.<br />

Leaving a little girl forever changed.<br />

A decade later Jessie still<br />

longed desperately to hear it again.<br />

Just once more. Please.<br />

When she heard the approaching<br />

car, Jessie stiffened. KESV’s mastercontrol<br />

station was tucked away up<br />

in the boonies; nobody ever came up<br />

there.<br />

Looking way down, biting<br />

her lip with the thrill of the height,<br />

Jessie saw a midnight-blue luxury<br />

sedan being flogged up the bumpy<br />

dirt road. Oh, crap. Her hands were<br />

suddenly sweaty. The sedan slid to<br />

a neat stop beside Jessie’s dented<br />

olive-green pickup, gravel bouncing<br />

off the white camper shell. A second<br />

later the driver’s door opened.<br />

Jessie wiped her hands on<br />

her jeans, grabbed the edge of the<br />

tower ladder and waited. A firmly<br />

‘‘...from unknowable forest<br />

depths, like an air-raid siren<br />

or tornado warning the howl<br />

rose...’’<br />

shut car door; five steps across the<br />

dusty ground; the creak as the outer<br />

door opened… Now.<br />

Pivoting smoothly from<br />

the platform to the ladder, Jessie<br />

climbed down as fast as she could.<br />

She walks through the tape room, into<br />

master-control, greets my coworker.<br />

The rungs flashed past her face.<br />

Maybe she’ll think I’m in the bathroom.<br />

Maybe she needs to talk to Jeremy.<br />

There was an outside<br />

chance, if she could climb fast<br />

enough…<br />

In the rush of her frantic<br />

descent Jessie didn’t hear the outer<br />

door open again, but couldn’t<br />

miss the Boss bellowing her name.<br />

“Jessica Delgado!”<br />

Jessie stopped climbing,<br />

panting, distantly pleased with<br />

herself she’d made it almost twothirds<br />

of the way. She looked down<br />

the remaining sixty feet or so at<br />

KESV General Manager Amanda<br />

Birdsong. Best defense was a good<br />

offense. “Hey, Boss! What brings<br />

you here?” It’s perfectly normal and<br />

reasonable I would be halfway up the<br />

tower. Honest.<br />

“Boots on the ground, Delgado!<br />

Now!”<br />

Jessie resumed her climb,<br />

carefully and sedately, giving her<br />

time to consider her defense. Would<br />

you believe I was sleep climbing? No.<br />

Because it was there? Too cliché.<br />

Thought I saw smoke, wanted to check<br />

before I called the Forest Service wasn’t<br />

bad. Less crazy than the real reason.<br />

As her sneakers hit the<br />

tower’s concrete pad, Jessie<br />

suddenly wondered what might bring<br />

the Boss out to the edge of the world.<br />

Mild panic at the trouble she was in<br />

battled with excitement about the<br />

possible news. She unobtrusively<br />

rubbed her sore biceps, pushing<br />

through the gate in the fence<br />

surrounding the tower. The Boss<br />

waited; arms crossed. Though<br />

the Lexus behind her now needed<br />

a wash, none of the dusty road<br />

clung to Birdsong’s form-fitting,<br />

midnight-blue dress. It wouldn’t<br />

dare.<br />

Why else would she come all<br />

the way out here? They’ve decided.<br />

Jessie’s mouth curved into a smile as<br />

she walked. She cleared her throat<br />

and tried to look contrite. Get out of<br />

the hot water first. Celebrate later.<br />

The Boss tapped a metal<br />

sign zip-tied to the chain-link fence.<br />

“I forget, Delgado, did the hiring<br />

interview include a reading test? You<br />

can read?”<br />

Gee, that was three years ago,<br />

who can remember? “Yeah, boss, I can<br />

read just fine.”<br />

A slight smile curved her<br />

employer’s lips.<br />

“Then I presume you saw<br />

the signs.”<br />

The signs that said No<br />

Trespassing and Danger! Radiation!<br />

“Yes, ma’am.”<br />

“And yet I find you halfway<br />

up the tower.”<br />

“You would not believe<br />

the view.” A confident grin for good<br />

measure.<br />

The Boss’s eyes were like<br />

light-blue marbles. “I’ve seen it;<br />

perfectly good picture in the Channel<br />

12 lobby, taken by an engineer who<br />

was supposed to be on the tower.<br />

Takes up an entire wall.”<br />

And you’re on solid ground<br />

when you look at it. Not at all the same.<br />

Jessie knew better than to say this.<br />

“Setting aside the potential<br />

ten-story fall, you do understand<br />

prolonged exposure to RF radiation<br />

could seriously injure you?”<br />

“I checked with Engineer<br />

Kevin; he said that less than half an<br />

hour was no danger. Anyway, I was<br />

only up there, like, ten minutes?”<br />

The Boss tilted her head<br />

back, shading her eyes with a<br />

perfectly manicured hand. “How do<br />

you stand it? I’m getting dizzy just<br />

looking up from here.”<br />

“I like heights. Always have.”<br />

“Bird Girl,” Birdsong said<br />

absently, shaking her head as she<br />

looked down, making eye contact. “I<br />

don’t want to see you up there again,<br />

are we understood?”<br />

“All out of my system, boss,<br />

I swear.” Change the subject. “How’s<br />

Emerald?” If Birdsong noticed the<br />

lack of actual promise she let it go,<br />

laughing shortly. “Fine, thank you.<br />

She sends Hero her regards.”<br />

“Who knew having a pet cat<br />

and a bird of prey on the same studio<br />

set would be so good for ratings?"<br />

“Lucky Hero was so well<br />

trained. For your job, especially.”<br />

Not my fault you let your pet<br />

streak past my peregrine.<br />

“Speaking of jobs…”<br />

Birdsong checked her silver<br />

wristwatch bracelet. “Your shift’s<br />

about to start, will Jay cover the<br />

break?”<br />

Without question. Whether<br />

Jessie wanted to owe him any favors<br />

was an entirely different question.<br />

“Yeah, probably.” Whatever. If the<br />

news was what she thought it was,<br />

she wouldn’t be pulling many more<br />

3-11 shifts out here with the mice and<br />

boredom and lovesick coworkers.<br />

Jessie smiled again, as the tips of her<br />

fingers tingled.<br />

The Boss sighed. “Good! I<br />

wanted to speak with you before<br />

your shift.”<br />

In that second, the way<br />

her employer was smiling, Jessie’s<br />

fingers stopped tingling. “The, uh,<br />

field-reporter job.”<br />

“Yes.”<br />

“You went with Nellie.”<br />

Birdsong nodded, setting<br />

her turquoise hoop earrings<br />

swinging. “For what it’s worth, and<br />

I’ll understand if it’s not worth<br />

much, it was a close call and you<br />

were always our second choice.”<br />

Meaning I was never your<br />

first choice.<br />

The Boss kept talking<br />

as she opened the door to the<br />

slightly run-down, mildly spiderinfested<br />

building boasting KESV’s<br />

tape storage and Master-Control<br />

operations, pulling Jessie in behind<br />

her with the sheer force of her<br />

personality. “Nellie has several<br />

years on you, she has a Masters in<br />

Broadcast Journalism—she’s the<br />

better choice this time around,<br />

Jessica.” Jessie knew all of this; didn’t<br />

make it any less of a failure.<br />

“Her name is Nellie, Boss."<br />

Like out of Little House in the<br />

Prairie. Doesn’t that get your Native<br />

American blood up even a little?”<br />

Plus, c’mon, you know I’m way hotter<br />

than her. Give the public what it wants.<br />

About to push open the swinging<br />

door between the rooms, Birdsong<br />

favored her with a full-on steel-eyed<br />

glare. “Just because you have nonwhite<br />

ancestry doesn’t mean you can<br />

make light of mine.”<br />

With effort Jessie managed<br />

not to glare back. “Was just a joke,<br />

Boss.”<br />

“You’re young, Delgado,”<br />

Birdsong said by way of forgiveness.<br />

“You’ll have other chances.” She<br />

pushed the door open to the glory<br />

of the Master-Control Operations<br />

room, splintering shelves, faded<br />

newspaper articles, mismatched<br />

chairs and all. “Besides,” she joked<br />

to lighten the mood, “how could you<br />

give up all this?” The Boss’s eyes<br />

flicked at the bank of televisions<br />

coworker Jeremy was monitoring,<br />

pretending he couldn’t hear every<br />

word. “I’m assuming I can trust your<br />

professionalism?”<br />

Jessie felt the fire blaze<br />

in her eyes. She managed to keep<br />

the sudden anger out of her voice.<br />

“Boss, you don’t—I’m professional.”<br />

I can push buttons with the best of<br />

them. “You’re also a hot-blooded<br />

Hispanic, Delgado, who I just found<br />

dangling from the antenna tower.”<br />

Birdsong rested her hand on a dusty<br />

tape carousel. “I know how much you<br />

wanted this.”<br />

Flustered, hating it when<br />

others could read her, Jessie fidgeted<br />

with the silver crucifix necklace her<br />

abuela had given her. “It’s fine, boss.”<br />

Birdsong turned away,<br />

sweeping through the long, narrow<br />

room to the television monitors and<br />

rack of videotape machines.<br />

Following her was the last<br />

thing Jessie wanted to do.<br />

two<br />

Jessie checked the clock by<br />

the door. 03:05. The on-air monitor<br />

showed Judge Judy pointing a finger<br />

at a hapless plaintiff.<br />

“Thank you for covering,<br />

Jay,” the Boss called as she<br />

approached. “It’s my fault she’s late.”<br />

Jeremy swiveled on the<br />

MCO stool, all freckles and rumpled<br />

flannel and blonde hair tumbling into<br />

his eyes. He put down a comic book<br />

as he turned. “N-n-no problem, boss.<br />

Always h-h-h…” the words came out<br />

in a rush as he concentrated, “happy<br />

to serve.”<br />

“I appreciate it, Jeremy.”<br />

Jessie snatched her timecard out of<br />

the gray metal rack, handing it to her<br />

boss, who glanced over at Jeremy and<br />

back, a slight smile curving her lips.<br />

Jessie kept her face blank through<br />

long practice. If she pretended to<br />

be unaware of his adoration, there<br />

were fewer fumbling matchmaking<br />

attempts by the KESV Cupid Corps.<br />

Invite him to walk you out, Jessie<br />

thought as hard as she could at her<br />

boss.<br />

Birdsong handed back the<br />

timecard, which as Jessie glanced<br />

at it said 02:45 under Time In. She<br />

looked up, surprised.<br />

“You said you were up there ten<br />

minutes?” A slight, proud smile. I<br />

can’t officially endorse your behavior,<br />


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but good for you, Jessie interpreted.<br />

She offered a small smile of her<br />

own in return. “Thanks, Boss.” It<br />

was small comfort but just now<br />

she would take what she could<br />

get. Invite him to walk you out.<br />

No<br />

such<br />

luck. “Jay, see you for<br />

the dinner tonight?”<br />

“ F - f - f a r<br />

as I know, b-boss.”<br />

Jessie’s Species | 8<br />

“Glad to hear it.<br />

You.” The Boss pointed<br />

at Jessie. “You enjoy not<br />

working overnight shifts?”<br />

The 11-7 shift<br />

would be awful even if she<br />

liked watching television.<br />

“Yes, ma’am.” “Yes, ma’am.”<br />

“Then stay off the damn<br />

tower.” With a last wave<br />

she left, singing “Don’t do<br />

anything I wouldn’t do,” as a<br />

parting shot before the door<br />

swung to behind her. Jessie<br />

wondered if the Boss would<br />

meet a peregrine falcon<br />

on the way out; hopefully<br />

Hero would stay in a tree<br />

until the coast was clear.<br />

“And then there were<br />

two,” she said in an attempt<br />

at breezy, leaning on the<br />

elevated MCO desk. “How’s<br />

life, Jeremy Wolff? All the<br />

equipment working today?”<br />

Grimacing, he<br />

waved at the Tower of<br />

Videotape Recorders, two<br />

of which had gaffe tape<br />

haphazardly covering their<br />

gaping mouths. “Down to just<br />

t-t-two VTRs today. J-Josh is<br />

out of town until S-s-s-—”<br />

Saturday. Just<br />

say the word Saturday.<br />

She knew he hated it<br />

when people finished his<br />

sentences, and she hated<br />

herself for getting annoyed.<br />

“ — S u n d a y , ”<br />

he finally managed.<br />

To cover her shame Jessie glanced<br />

at the closest tape carousel, where<br />

the On-Duty MCO was supposed to<br />

stack the night’s shows. It annoyed<br />

her to see that Jeremy had already<br />

arranged her evening tapes. It was<br />

a kindness some Operators did for<br />

others and he always did for her<br />

and she always wished he wouldn’t.<br />

She sourly noted the<br />

blank tape between Jeopardy and<br />


‘‘ And at the end of the<br />

day, you feel nothing.<br />

And at the end of the day,<br />

you can still do nothing.’’<br />

Dateline Wednesday she would use<br />

to record the live six o’clock news<br />

broadcast. The one where she would<br />

be on the wrong side of the screen.<br />

“I hope I d-d-didn’t get<br />

you into trouble with the b-boss?<br />

When she came in l-looking for<br />

you, I didn’t know w-what to say.”<br />

Couldn’t he just leave? “What<br />

were you supposed to say? I was<br />

up the tower.” He looked at her<br />

in amazement and admiration.<br />

“You’re r-r-really brave, Bird Girl.”<br />

Jessie<br />

laughed<br />

noncommittally, checking<br />

audio meters that<br />

didn’t need checking,<br />

wishing he would go.<br />

“The view must be s-s-s—”<br />

“It’s amazing,” Jessie<br />

interrupted, hoping<br />

hijacking his sentence was<br />

less insulting than finishing<br />

it. “The Boss suggested I’d<br />

be better off enjoying the<br />

picture in the station lobby.”<br />

“Less r-radiation.” He<br />

cleared his throat. “S-sorry<br />

about the r-reporting job.<br />

I was rooting for y-you.”<br />

“Yeah, thanks, so was I,”<br />

she clipped in response.<br />

She didn’t want to be mean<br />

to him, but she did very<br />

much want to be alone with<br />

her failure. Just go, Wolff…<br />

Finally, Jeremy began<br />

sliding his 7-3-shift whatnot<br />

into a blue and red backpack.<br />

If there was a You’ll g-gget<br />

‘em next time waiting in<br />

the wings, it went unsaid.<br />

She bit her lip, hating<br />

herself. Turn my skin<br />

green, call me the Wicked<br />

Witch. “Uh, thanks for<br />

pulling my tapes, Jeremy.”<br />

“Sure. Hey, what’s it g-gonna<br />

take to get you to c-c-call me<br />

‘Jay’ like everybody else?”<br />

An act of God. “I just, you<br />

know, want to treat you<br />

professionally.” She gave him<br />

a warm smile. See, I don’t<br />

want to hurt your feelings…<br />

He looked disappointed,<br />

and she hated disappointing<br />

people; so against her will,<br />

as Jeremy slung the bag over his<br />

shoulder, Jessie offered, “Gonna<br />

dress all snazzy tonight, ask out<br />

Channel 12’s newest on-air talent?”<br />

At the door, Jeremy<br />

looked back, his face red. “Oh, um.<br />

N-n-nellie’s okay but she’s never<br />



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PROSE<br />

been very p-patient with me. Not like<br />

s-some people.” He swung through<br />

the door, leaving an embarrassed<br />

smile behind.<br />

15:21:07. Jessie needed to<br />

get the three-thirty break ready. She<br />

had just long enough to use the one<br />

machine not currently playing Judge<br />

Judy to cue her three commercials<br />

and 15:30 show, double-check the<br />

insurance commercial loaded in<br />

VTR-4 and watch Judy’s credits<br />

with one eye and the clock with the<br />

other. At 15:28:27 she hit Play on -4,<br />

counted two seconds and tapped the<br />

Crossfade button on the router.<br />

“Are you struggling to find the<br />

right homeowner’s insurance?”<br />

“I so am…” Jessie said<br />

absently, with a calm but frantic stab<br />

at the Eject button on VTR-3. She<br />

waited the endless five seconds for<br />

the spools to unclench and spit out<br />

the previous tape. Judge Judy could<br />

cool her Betamax heels on the dusty<br />

desk for now; grab the next tape and<br />

slide it in and pray not to see read<br />

ERROR 08-032, especially with only<br />

one working VTR, as the greater<br />

Seattle-Tacoma area waiting for The<br />

People’s Court would endure thirty<br />

seconds of black screen.<br />

At which point the phone<br />

would start ringing, since everybody<br />

and their sainted mother had the<br />

unlisted Master Control number.<br />

“Why’s my screen blank?”<br />

“What happened to the<br />

signal?”<br />

“Didn’t you air that Judge<br />

Judy episode last Thursday?”<br />

Fortunately, Attorney<br />

Marlys Mathews was nice to her and<br />

loaded, as did the Seattle Mariners<br />

promo and praise be to Clare patron<br />

saint of television, Judge Koch was<br />

soon handing out justice. Twentyseven<br />

minutes of peace and relative<br />

quiet until the next frantic ninety<br />

seconds. At least the four-to-five<br />

program was a nice, hour-long show.<br />

As was the 6 O’clock news.<br />

And the 9 O’clock news.<br />

“It’s fine,” she told herself.<br />

“I like my job. It’s quiet. Can you<br />

imagine if I had to drive to some<br />

newsworthy location right now with<br />

lights and a camera, do something<br />

meaningful and important rather than<br />

making sure everybody gets to tune<br />

into the latest stupid episode of the<br />

stupid People’s Court?”<br />

She tapped her fingers on<br />

the desk, stewing over it, until the<br />

four o’clock break. Once Days of Our<br />

Lives was well underway, Jessie used<br />

somebody’s forgotten ten-pound<br />

barbell to jam open the door to the<br />

outside world, make sure it didn’t lock<br />

behind her, not wanting to go through<br />

that again.<br />

Reaching in through the open<br />

passenger window, Jessie grabbed the<br />

heavy leather gauntlet, tugging it onto<br />

her left hand. Jeremy’s chocolatebrown<br />

car being long gone, she had the<br />

mountain to herself.<br />

Almost. Doubling her tongue<br />

behind her teeth, Jessie whistled down,<br />

up, down and within seconds her best<br />

friend backwinged to a gentle landing<br />

on her gauntleted wrist. “Hey, you,”<br />

she said, as Heronimus suffered having<br />

the feathers behind her eye ridges<br />

scratched. “Having fun without me?”<br />

Hero breeted in answer, her huge, dark,<br />

yellow-rimmed eyes regarding her<br />

master calmly. “Well,” Jessie laughed,<br />

“don’t let me hold you back.” With an<br />

upward sweep of her arm she launched<br />

the falcon into the air, watching her love<br />

climb into the sky for the thousandth<br />

time. The sight left her breathless for<br />

the thousandth time.<br />

Keeping an eye on the flight,<br />

Jessie crossed the dirt road into the tall<br />

grass. Hero shouldn’t be too hungry, but<br />

the falcon would be indoors all evening;<br />

good to get her some supper now.<br />

As her legs rustled against<br />

white-blossomed yarrow, a little wood<br />

thrush was startled from its repose,<br />

shooting into the open air. The brownon-white<br />

flitter wasn’t halfway across<br />

the meadow before the blue-gray<br />

thunderbolt descended, predator<br />

taking her prey as Jessie’s heart leapt.<br />

I will never tire of seeing that.<br />

Of seeing anything you do, my love.<br />

Leaving Heronimus to her<br />

meal, Jessie decided her promise to the<br />

Boss denied her another tower ascent,<br />

today at least. She settled for perching<br />

on a boulder overlooking the ravine.<br />

The same breeze whipped the same<br />

lock of hair around her eyes again; she<br />

she pushed it back once more<br />

and sighed.<br />

Birds of prey had it so<br />

easy. Target, dive, consume.<br />

Repeat as needed. You missed<br />

your strike, you flapped back<br />

into the sky to seek another<br />

opportunity. Sure, there were<br />

powerlines, hunters, eighteenwheelers<br />

to watch out for, but to<br />

take wing and soar thousands of<br />

feet above the clawing, grasping<br />

earth, free of the chaos and the<br />

crowds…<br />

Jessie turned on her<br />

perch to watch the falcon, as bits<br />

of wood thrush disappeared into<br />

the razor-sharp beak. “Trade<br />

you,” she whispered.<br />

Looking back out over<br />

the sun-drenched evergreens,<br />

part of her listening as always,<br />

hoping as always to hear the howl<br />

one more time, Jessie considered<br />

using bird-of-prey tactics for her<br />

own problems.<br />

That was a thought.<br />

Invite Nellie up to the ridge, get<br />

her to walk by the tower and<br />

at just the right moment… “I<br />

pounce!” She yelled into the void.<br />

“Pre-reet?” Hero looked<br />

up from her meal, alarmed.<br />

“Sorry,” Jessie<br />

apologized to her love, who<br />

clacked her beak, returning to<br />

her meal. Embarrassed, Jessie<br />

ran her hands through her long<br />

dark hair before retying the<br />

heedless ponytail. One problem<br />

with her hawklike plan—it would<br />

require help. “And I know just the<br />

guy who would volunteer, too,”<br />

she grumbled. Another problem.<br />

One she’d assumed getting the<br />

KESV field reporter’s job would<br />

solve.<br />

Another thrush flew<br />

unmolested out over the expanse,<br />

diving between towering<br />

trees. “They were supposed to<br />

choose me,” she whispered to<br />

the mountain, hands wrapped<br />

around her knees.<br />

The Boss said there’ll be<br />

other chances.<br />

In what? Six months,<br />

a year? Another year pushing<br />

buttons, cursing snarled<br />

videotapes, pretending she didn’t<br />

know her stuttering coworker<br />

carried an Olympic-sized torch for<br />

her. Night after night watching Nellie<br />

Madison, Girl Reporter.<br />

No. Through the waves of<br />

failure the fight inside flamed up,<br />

the anger. Who talked her way into<br />

this professional television job with<br />

zero experience?<br />

“Me,” she answered herself.<br />

Who just now sat fearlessly<br />

atop a two-hundred-foot television<br />

tower?<br />

“Me.”<br />

Who did a world-class job training a<br />

peregrine falcon without assistance of<br />

any kind?<br />

“To be fair, Mom kept the<br />

Fish and Wildlife perros at bay.”<br />

WHO?<br />

“I did.” The fire deep inside<br />

crested and she rode it once again,<br />

perched on the granite outcropping<br />

taking in half of southern<br />

Washington. “It was me. And I will<br />

get ‘em next time.” She would find a<br />

way.<br />

Meanwhile, looking at her<br />

wristwatch, Jessie saw Kermit’s hand<br />

getting dangerously close to the big<br />

5. She called to Hero, cleaning her<br />

beak on her feathers. “Wanna go<br />

watch Wheel of Fortune?”<br />

three<br />

After grabbing her old<br />

black backpack out of the truck,<br />

Jessie whistled. Her love astride<br />

her arm, she carefully shouldered<br />

the outer door open, carrying the<br />

falcon inside. Hero settled on the<br />

tape carousel, watching everything<br />

and woe betide any mouse making a<br />

break across the floor.<br />

Back at the MCO desk Jessie<br />

pulled off the gauntlet and grabbed<br />

a paperback, her notebook, and a<br />

large sealed Tupperware container<br />

out of the backpack. After the top<br />

of the hour break, Jessie left Hero<br />

to breet at Pat and Vanna, as she<br />

strode down the claustrophobic,<br />

narrow hallway past the occasionally<br />

cleaned bathroom to the kitchenette.<br />

Her grilled-cheese sandwich would<br />

be safe enough on the counter, but<br />

like all good station scavengers she<br />

checked the tiny fridge. Surprisingly,<br />

four cans remained of a six-pack of<br />

soda, along with a note:<br />

It’s a Boy! Have a drink on me.<br />

- Adam<br />

So Sarah had finally popped<br />

out the kid. Last time Jessie had talked<br />

to Adam his wife was a week past due<br />

and ‘Godzilla-like’. Jessie considered<br />

snagging one but they were the Triple<br />

Caffeine version. “I’d be awake ‘til<br />

Sunday,” she said to nobody, grabbing<br />

several paper towels instead.<br />

Returning to her post, she<br />

piled them strategically on the floor<br />

behind her best friend. Jeopardy always<br />

got Hero worked up.<br />

Jessie prepped the 17:30 break,<br />

glancing at her love, the flickering screen<br />

reflected in her endless dark eyes. Then<br />

she cleared the MCO desk, moving Shift<br />

logs and FCC Regulation books, making<br />

room for the Tupperware container.<br />

Carefully opening and setting the lid<br />

aside, Jessie considered her prize.<br />

An abandoned bird’s<br />

nest. Probably, judging by size and<br />

consistency, a yellow-billed cuckoo.<br />

“I’m a brown-eyed cuckoo to<br />

still be doing this,” she sighed, pushing<br />

the stray lock behind her ear again.<br />

“Least it keeps me off the streets. And<br />

TV towers.” Trying not to feel ridiculous<br />

as she bent to this impossible task yet<br />

again, Jessie started gently pulling it<br />

apart, one piece at a time, carefully<br />

logging in the spiral notebook anything<br />

noteworthy.<br />

Everybody knew birds made<br />

nests of twigs and leaves, but most<br />

avians weren’t picky; they’d use pine<br />

needles, feathers, cobwebs. An urban<br />

nest might include shredded paper or<br />

grass clippings. Jessie had once found<br />

the string of a yo-yo.<br />

But Jessie was not looking<br />

for grass clippings, or feathers, or<br />

cobwebs. Examples of such, along with<br />

the more traditional twigs and leaves,<br />

were tossed into the empty container<br />

and forgotten.<br />

Her heart rate increased<br />

slightly with the first piece of fur—but<br />

no. Gray wolf. An interesting find – the<br />

species had almost been destroyed<br />

in the 1900s – but it was not what she<br />

wanted. Neither was coarse black bear,<br />

or sleek oiled river otter. There were<br />

several shaggy tufts of bobcat fur;<br />

Bobby was prepping his winter coat<br />

early this year. Gonna be a cold one.<br />

Another frantic two-VTR station<br />

break later Jeopardy replaced Wheel<br />

and Jessie continued pulling apart<br />

her bird’s nest, vaguely aware of<br />

the flickering On-Air monitor and<br />

nearly muted answers in the form of<br />

questions.<br />

There was a lot of deer fur<br />

in that particular nest. Washington<br />

being well-stocked with deer, after<br />

dozens, hundreds of nest demolitions<br />

Jessie could identify deer from feel<br />

alone, from smell, even blindfolded.<br />

But people had found<br />

deer. And bobcats. And river otters.<br />

Discovered them, named them,<br />

classified them.<br />

She was searching,<br />

impossibly, ridiculously, for<br />

something…else.<br />

Something whose howl once<br />

echoed across a forest.<br />

It wasn’t a large nest,<br />

and only a third remained to be<br />

picked through when at 18:00:00<br />

she hit record on VTR-2, the Studio<br />

Signal button on the switcher and<br />

nudged the Room Volume slider<br />

up halfway. For the next fifty-eight<br />

minutes Channel 12’s broadcast was<br />

somebody else’s problem.<br />

She didn’t want to pick at a<br />

stupid bird’s nest, Jessie realized. She<br />

didn’t even want to be in this room,<br />

and technically she didn’t have to<br />

be, unless something in Seattle went<br />

wrong and she had to throw on an old<br />

Andy Griffith Show they kept sitting<br />

around for emergencies, anything<br />

being better than dead air.<br />

That hadn’t happened in<br />

ages, and if she wanted to take her<br />

falcon and walk out for more fresh<br />

air, nobody would ever know.<br />

Granddad Levar looked into<br />

the camera again. “With the recordbreaking<br />

heat this summer has come<br />

increased wildfire danger. For more<br />

on this, we go in the field to Channel<br />

12’s newest reporter, Nellie Madison.”<br />

And then Jessie and the<br />

greater Seattle-Tacoma area were<br />

looking at Nellie “Oh My God, Right?”<br />

Madison, standing at a ranger station<br />

somewhere in the mountains. That<br />

would’ve been my shot. My story.<br />


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PROSE<br />

“Thanks, Levar. It’s been<br />

a long, dry summer here in the<br />

Cascades, and firefighters are<br />

struggling to contain several large<br />

blazes.” Nellie twitched her long<br />

flame-red hair over one shoulder,<br />

turning to point to a Bear sign, the<br />

one with the Fire Danger level pegged<br />

at VERY HIGH. “As you can see, my<br />

friend Smokey here is definitely<br />

concerned…” As Nellie went on,<br />

Jessie caught herself eyeing the<br />

switcher. Past Studio Signal, VTRs<br />

1-5 and SMPTE color bars there was<br />

an ironically white button labeled<br />

BLACK; one little button that would<br />

spare the greater Sea-Tac area from<br />

any more of sweet Nellie’s sweet face.<br />

I don’t need this job that badly, right?<br />

The button was maybe three inches<br />

from her fingertips. Nobody<br />

could prove it wasn’t a system<br />

glitch. Signal dropout. Solar<br />

flare. Happened sometimes.<br />

B u t … s h e ’ d<br />

given her word.<br />

So instead of<br />

punching the white BLACK<br />

button Jessie swiveled on<br />

the stool, turning her back<br />

on monitors, nest, Nellie.<br />

Hero’s eyes looked right<br />

back at hers. Always aware<br />

of her mood, the falcon<br />

tilted her head sideways.<br />

“I’m not a failure,”<br />

Jessie reminded herself<br />

softly. “Just look at you.”<br />

Hero chirrupped in<br />

agreement while Jessie swung back<br />

to have a long pull at her water bottle.<br />

From the room speakers: “—and<br />

with little to no rain in the forecast,<br />

there’s plenty of hot, dry summer<br />

days ahead. Reporting from the<br />

Cascades, I’m Nellie Madison.” As<br />

she signed off, Hero ruffled her<br />

feathers and muted right onto the<br />

paper towels. When Jessie was done<br />

laughing, she went for more towels to<br />

wipe her spit-take off the MCO desk.<br />

Despite Hero’s perfect timing, as<br />

Channel 12 News segued into Weather,<br />

then Sports, Jessie’s dark mood<br />

descended again as she halfheartedly<br />

returned to her perhaps pointless,<br />

almost certainly hopeless task.<br />

But it was something to do.<br />

She pulled out more twigs<br />

and leaves, some raccoon fur, trying<br />

not to remember how She pulled<br />

out more twigs and leaves, some<br />

raccoon fur, trying not to remember<br />

how long it’d been since the last<br />

truly remarkable find, revealed as<br />

wolverine hair. The most interesting<br />

item she found in thirty minutes<br />

was dried snakeskin, looked like bull<br />

snake. Then it was the second half of<br />

the newscast, and Jessie was still very<br />

aware of Nellie Madison’s Fire Bad<br />

recap, now delivered next to a greenand-white<br />

Forestry Service truck.<br />

So aware, she nearly missed them.<br />

Twined around a cedar<br />

twig, half-obscured by cobweb,<br />

were six long, red-golden hairs.<br />

Jessie almost dismissed them as<br />

‘‘ As she held those six<br />

long, red-golden hairs up<br />

to the cheap, fluorescent<br />

MCO room lighting, deep<br />

inside, across a decade,<br />

she heard the howl again."<br />

dog, maybe collie or Lhasa apso…<br />

but they were too coarse. Much too<br />

long to be bear, or mountain lion,<br />

despite the faint but pungently wild<br />

smell her nostrils could discern.<br />

They sure weren’t human.<br />

Seven years, nearly, she’d<br />

been risking eyestrain and madness<br />

with these absurd nests. As she held<br />

those six long, red-golden hairs<br />

up to the cheap, fluorescent MCO<br />

room lighting, deep inside, across<br />

a decade, she heard the howl again.<br />

Once the monitor faded up<br />

on the Dateline set, Jessie could take<br />

a breath, say a prayer of thanks to<br />

St. Helena, patron of archaeologists,<br />

and try to remember where on<br />

God’s earth she’d put the tiny bag.<br />

The perfect little evidence bag she’d<br />

swiped from Uncle Officer Theo.<br />

Hero’s head was cocked again.<br />

“I found something, my<br />

love.” She rooted around onehanded<br />

in her backpack past cheap<br />

paperbacks, gum, fire-starting kit,<br />

then finally felt smooth plastic.<br />

Pulling the bag out she carefully,<br />

reverently tipped the hairs inside.<br />

Not about to let the<br />

precious little bundle go far, Jessie<br />

tucked it into her bra, next to her<br />

heart. Then she was free to head<br />

to the kitchen, suddenly starving.<br />

The museum opened at nine.<br />

Fourteen<br />

hours.<br />

Along with her sandwich<br />

Jessie snagged the bottle of hot sauce<br />

and to hell with the stereotype; on<br />

another whim she grabbed<br />

one of the triply caffeinated<br />

sodas as well. She danced<br />

through the dark hall back<br />

to the MCO desk, dug her<br />

battered cassette player out<br />

of the backpack and plugged<br />

it into the room speakers.<br />

She took a big bite of grilledcheese<br />

sandwich with liberal<br />

hot sauce, washed down with<br />

a generous swig of artificially<br />

flavored sugar as the opening<br />

notes to Whitesnake’s “Still<br />

of the Night” filled the room.<br />

Turning the sound down a<br />

bit for the sake of her falcon’s<br />

incredibly sensitive hearing,<br />

Jessie saw Hero eyeing the<br />

can. “Why not,” she justified the<br />

caffeine ecstatically, feeling the<br />

tiny plastic bag brush her teta.<br />

“Not like I’ll be able<br />

to sleep tonight anyway.”<br />


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Die Tired<br />

By Nicolas “The Withdrawn” Correa<br />

My body feels heavy.<br />

My mind feels heavy.<br />

Am I just tired, or is it something more?<br />

I know that when we speak of always being tired,<br />

we invite always being tired.<br />

My mind and body still use their own language to yell it out even when the<br />

words may not escape from my mouth.<br />

The matter of the fact is I am f**king exhausted.<br />

Exhausted because every single day I feel guilty about something that I<br />

shouldn’t, or maybe I should, or maybe it has something to do with my brain's<br />

wiring, or maybe cause I’ve been listening to the devil’s word a little too closely<br />

instead of God’s.<br />

You can’t act outside of the way you normally do without it seeming like<br />

something’s wrong.<br />

Sometimes the life of the party just needs to stop drinking and chug some<br />

f**king water.<br />

I’m alert to the lack of vitamin D—the absence of sun.<br />

I almost wish I didn’t have a job right now so that every day I could be in it.<br />

I’ve gotten better at going outside now, cause I wouldn’t even allow myself to<br />

go for a simple walk without feeling guilty.<br />

As if I’m one of the people contributing to COVID-19.<br />

Police brutality and corona sparking up my anxiety.<br />

Isn’t it odd how we want to move with groups of our people to protest against<br />

these unjustified killings, AND corona hits the hardest against the people of<br />

MY community?<br />

Like we really have to say that in addition to this, the virus is also killing us.<br />

You would think it’s working hand in hand with the police.<br />

I need to breathe for those who no longer have the chance to.<br />

I know I have God by my side forever and always,<br />

but I feel bad for admitting that right now I am feeling spiritually weak.<br />

I crave a week with absolutely no human contact.<br />

I wish it were that easy, but this weekend dedicated to God and myself will be<br />

exactly what my soul needs.<br />

And that much<br />

I know.<br />

R E S T L E S S<br />

N E S S<br />

Delilah Brumer<br />

I’m a witch. Transcripts and classes are my<br />

raspy-voiced enchantments and midnightcolored<br />

charms. I ward off insanity with grades<br />

and essays. My avoidance-laced potions have<br />

side effects<br />

unfortunately. They get rid of the pacing-backand-forth<br />

boredom and replace it with foottapping<br />

stress. I never have enough time to<br />

sitdownandrelax. Tranquility isn’t achievable<br />

when I’m too busy<br />

avoiding it. Productivity is<br />

imperative. Without it I’m too busy thinking<br />

about<br />

lifeandstuff. I don’t like being<br />

a light switch that’s stuck after being played with<br />

by an over-excited toddler. I’m like a time-lapse<br />

of a flower begrudgingly sprouting in a nature<br />

movie except for the fact that movies can be<br />

turned off. Why don’t we just sit here and<br />

exist for a little while? No magic involved.<br />


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POETRY<br />

I<br />



LATELY<br />


F<br />

rom the couch, I can see the full-sized bed<br />

we share, dressed in white with<br />

mismatching<br />

pillowcases. And the back of my<br />

full-length mirror. The one I watch myself<br />

dress in: me, sucking my stomach in, and<br />

me, weighing my breasts in the palms of my<br />

hands, always too heavy to imagine<br />

them being held by someone else. Either<br />

way, it’s always me in the mirror.<br />

And still from the couch, I see my front door,<br />

the only exit, which is neighbors with<br />

my bookshelves, the ones made out of stacked milk<br />

crates. Then there’s the TV on the shoe rack,<br />

which serves as a TV stand. It was<br />

supposed to be temporary, but<br />

isn’t everything? And there, on the dark<br />

TV, is my reflection again.<br />


POETRY<br />

P OETRY<br />

C L E A R<br />


FOOD<br />



(circa. 2020)<br />

My hair is past my shoulders again,<br />

The brown curls clawing over each other<br />

Like the swirls of paint I brush across the canvas<br />

Of the Paint-By-Number sunflowers.<br />

The Made-in-China pots of color that<br />

Smell of melted plastic and remind me of<br />

The Argan Oil used to straighten my hair into<br />

Golden-brown plated sheets, confining me<br />

To the roots of the sunflower.<br />

My hair was once above my shoulders, but the<br />

Sunlight stopped kissing my scalp when lockdown<br />

I<br />

am the clear plastic food container<br />

That sits on the kitchen counter, unlidded<br />

And untouched. There are no parties or<br />

Gatherings, no need to fill the container<br />

With cookies or pasta or salad or sandwiches<br />

And waltz it to a celebration of life when all<br />

The dancing is now done by death. The people<br />

Are trapped inside their homes as the plastic<br />

Food container is trapped inside the moldy<br />

Wooden cabinet of my kitchen,<br />

Waiting in the dark with only the hum of<br />

The dishwasher reminiscing of the movement<br />

That continues around her, the attempt at normalcy<br />

Of fellow appliances who are stuck in the same<br />

damning<br />

Cycle of a lifeless year. A year where she is<br />

Clothed in dust and shrouded in a<br />

Repetition of days and nights, living in a world of<br />

Never-ending, never-opening cabinet doors.<br />

Never is the theme of the world in 2020.<br />

Never has the plastic food container<br />

Seen the smiles of friends this year,<br />

Not once has she been full.<br />


sunflowers<br />


Began. No need to hide my hair, no need to change<br />

Frame and elongate my naturally puffy face, then<br />

The colors and texture of my natural state when<br />

Maybe, maybe<br />

There was nobody but me to see it.<br />

The sunflowers will bloom beside my bed, and<br />

That’s when I discovered the petals of the sunflower.<br />

the light will permanently illuminate<br />

Honeybees and peaches, light permanently<br />

my body, my face, my curly hair.<br />

Illuminating the painted petals, my hair permanently<br />

My hair is past my shoulders again,<br />

Curly with no more room for pretend.<br />

But I don’t plan on cutting or straightening it.<br />

I could not stop the growth of my hair,<br />

And if I accept the sprouting wisps that<br />


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POETRY<br />

A<br />

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THINGS<br />


miss you<br />

they say that when you're on a ladder<br />

you should maintain three points of contact<br />

to be truly safe<br />

but with you, i find so many more than that<br />

spread across the day:<br />


i find you in every mention of iceland<br />

pip people<br />

(we will be<br />

orchards)<br />


in this unprecedented dent<br />

on our collective lives<br />

space is growing for some of us<br />

to bloom.<br />

space for we, the chronically anxious<br />

the bent and abandoned<br />

we who never fit in this world anyway;<br />

and now the world doesn't fit itself.<br />

we, whose idea of a good time<br />

is taking the toaster to a water park<br />

just to see what happens.<br />

we, who have been waiting for a kinder world<br />

since our hearts were first broken.<br />

we, who have been tenderised<br />

by the meat mallet of modern living.<br />

the furloughed and forgotten<br />

the ones who thought ourselves rotten to the core<br />

are realising that,<br />

all this time,<br />

we were full of pips<br />

tiny cases of infinite potential<br />

sewn in some kind of rubble.<br />

and i know that we'll bloom,<br />

that we will be orchards<br />

when all of this<br />

is over.<br />

and i remember your mother tongue.<br />

in every song that we once shared,<br />

i remember the rest of your mouth.<br />

i stare into the light that falls<br />

on either side of the day<br />

until it belongs to someone else.<br />

i present every meal to myself, alone<br />

and wish you were there to appreciate the plating.<br />

i think of you with every new street cat i befriend<br />

and even the ones that walk away<br />

still remind me of you.<br />

you are here, almost physically<br />

with every bottle of mid-price red wine in a plastic glass<br />

and anything that could remotely be considered a picnic.<br />

i see you in the spectrum of colours<br />

that traces the food in our fridge<br />

and i miss you most<br />

in the knowledge that sundays are less fun<br />

without you.<br />



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HTHE<br />



The days turned into weeks, the<br />

weeks turned into months,<br />

the months<br />

into years.<br />

I still felt<br />

like<br />

I<br />

was<br />

stuck.<br />

I thought<br />

time had been cemented.<br />

with me. That it was trapped<br />

in an endless hourglass just like I was.<br />

But when I finally looked up, realising that I had not smelt your petrolinfused<br />

overalls in eons, I saw that time had changed everything.<br />

E<br />

x<br />

c<br />

e<br />

p<br />

t<br />

me.<br />

NOT<br />

MUCH<br />

FUN<br />

this time<br />

this time round,<br />

we knew what it would be like<br />

that there would be no more surprises<br />

that we would have only what we held.<br />

we knew that the postman would be our best friend,<br />

every parcel a life line to the outside world.<br />

we knew that every meal would be a ritual,<br />

a tribute to the gods we'd lost.<br />

we knew there'd be more outfit changes<br />

than nights out.<br />

this time, we were not surprised<br />

and the sun did not come through the windows.<br />

we sat, dusty and folded like the curtains<br />

that we no longer needed.<br />

this time, when we heard ourselves laugh<br />

it was a sacred, seldom heard noise<br />

that we clung to as it washed over us,<br />

like the salmon climbing waterfalls to find their home.<br />

this time, hygiene is a monument<br />

because some days, that's all there is.<br />

this time, we did not sit and laugh in public parks<br />

and doorstep conversations were not a novelty,<br />

they were all we have.<br />

every child splashing in puddles<br />

every smile from a stranger<br />

every dating app match<br />

every housemate hug<br />

every text from friends that are not quite forgotten<br />

mean a lot.<br />

this time, it's tougher.<br />

and there are some days when i don't know<br />

if i'll see another.<br />

but yet i know<br />

there are still small joys,<br />

tiny miracles<br />

that keep us safe until it passes.<br />



POETRY<br />



F<br />

or some reason<br />

you are upset with me<br />

for a couple of days<br />

Although I don’t know the reason<br />

I guess it right<br />

You haven’t spelled it out<br />

I too haven’t asked you<br />

We have taken opposite positions<br />

Silence is chatting between us<br />

Maybe the conversation is called<br />

the battle of nerves<br />

Bloodless<br />

without arms<br />

this is the most difficult battle<br />

On earth it is the best person<br />

who wins this battle again and again<br />

It is the one who ends this silent battle<br />

is ever defeated<br />

You want to be the winner<br />

Me too don’t want to be the loser<br />

So the distance between us is widening<br />

* * * * *<br />

(Original Assamese poem titled<br />

By SOHYUN C.<br />


POETRY<br />

PROSE<br />

PROSE<br />

D E L U D E D<br />

K A T H Y<br />

Hindsight gave way to creeping despair<br />

As reflective anxiety corrupted<br />

Eager words now writhing<br />

By A.R. SALANDY<br />

But bare witness still, to a woman<br />

One dimensional, and contorted by irrelevance<br />

Deep in those jaded halls,<br />

A B U N D A N C E<br />

o f<br />

A N<br />

t a s t e l e s s<br />

tequila<br />

With long gone discontent<br />

In memory of a delusion,<br />

Or rather a being self-deprecating.<br />

Never-ending, and pacified<br />

By men whose power rises to the fore,<br />

If only to demoralize women and children,<br />


But, cheap cigarettes enveloped academic air<br />

With that all so familiar gratification<br />

Immediate, and self-preserving<br />

Where reproducers of indoctrination<br />

Do find momentary reprieve<br />

From grandiose narcissism,<br />

If only to prove, that paltry wages spoke<br />

A thousand deadly truths,<br />

A thousand critical theories,<br />

All amounting to nothing, but betrayal and<br />

conjecture.<br />

There is an abundance of tasteless tequila in my glass; now, I<br />

believed this to be a reputable place.<br />

A hole-in-the-wall sizzling with the passion of a theatre town, it<br />

ought to have good tequila.<br />

One would think.<br />

W<br />

C<br />

R<br />

O<br />

S<br />

S<br />

R D<br />

not feeling lately<br />

so very inspired.<br />

all poems<br />

just coming out<br />

horizontal<br />

crossword clues.<br />

Home to Shakespeare festivals and a buzzing culture, while black<br />

and white westerns rampage across a tiny television in the corner.<br />

And those splendid tacos we eat just before “As You Like It” while the<br />

sheriff mounts his steed and fires smoke from a dark pistol, and the<br />

lady melts in his arms.<br />

He rides off into a sunset made of charcoal and gray and white and<br />

steel and titanium and black and ash and soot and cinders and snow,<br />

all the colors of which there is no color.<br />

Inside the hole-in-the-wall restaurant, however, any color goes, and<br />

goes where it wants—sky blue, violet, tangerine, goldenrod, peptopink,<br />

red, navy, sunshine, forest green, lime…<br />

I am reminded of the lack of lime in my glass.<br />

So the tequila, nevertheless, sits in its indignity; it is ashamed.<br />


It is ashamed that it is only water in a glass posing rebelliously<br />

beside a tequila bottle long since emptied of its enticing contents.<br />



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POETRY<br />


ANI'S<br />

D R U N K<br />



ani's drunk. for once<br />

we've thrown covid<br />

to the windows – hosting<br />

a christmas party<br />

for some friends<br />

of my fiancee. I know,<br />

I do know it – but look,<br />

we've been good,<br />

and it wasn't my idea;<br />

just our apartment's<br />

biggest. and ani's drunk<br />

and doesn't know anyone<br />

so she's bothering my fiancee –<br />

complaining of drinking<br />

too quickly, how she'll never end up<br />

going home. it's understandable –<br />

I get it, I do get it – it's christmas,<br />

she misses her parents<br />

and her friends in argentina.<br />

and plus, it's a pretty<br />

dull party – a drunk<br />

always helpful<br />

to discuss. around 11<br />

the dog must be walked;<br />

I take her out<br />

to walk with me.<br />

she's still rambling,<br />

while the dog pisses,<br />

about how she's so much<br />

very lonely – for a second<br />

I get worried<br />

she might lean in<br />

for a kiss.<br />

I<br />

hear voices in the cracks of the walls,<br />

Clawing their way to influence.<br />

My mind is Tartarus and looks like<br />

him too.<br />

It burns hotter than scarlet fever.<br />

My goldfish told me<br />

To take my medication.<br />

Muffling the words through loud bodies of<br />

water.<br />

I swirl it with my hands,<br />

Watch the water pendulate.<br />

He feels at home.<br />

I put the pill to my mouth,<br />

Hear it screaming,<br />


“Please, no<br />

Don’t eat me”<br />

I flush it down the toilet.<br />

Still screaming,<br />

It has no hands to hold itself,<br />

No nails to tear on the bowl.<br />

Flush.<br />

A swirl.<br />

That’s where the goldfish will go.<br />



My mouth is open screaming,<br />

Hands fisting at my hair<br />

My chest is taught and sharp<br />

Breathing between choked sobs<br />

My pulse speeds up<br />

palms cold and clammy<br />

My eyes are filled with tears<br />

Cheeks rubbed raw from the tears<br />

I’m alone to drown<br />

Drowning in the unknowns<br />

The changes, the fear<br />

It’s overwhelming and alarming<br />

I’m expected to brush it off<br />

But they don’t see<br />

The silent screaming<br />

Screaming for someone to see<br />

To know<br />

To tell me it’s all going to be okay<br />


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afterglow<br />

AFTER<br />

GLOW<br />

“Hope is the thing with feathers that<br />

perches in the soul - and sings the tunes<br />

without the words - and never stops at all.”<br />

Emily Dickinson<br />


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POETRY<br />

POETRY<br />

M U S I N G<br />

My stub and stage watching the light changing<br />

horizon,<br />

from the ceasing day pursuing thoughts arise in.<br />

Splendid sight by silver rising moon summer<br />

ending,<br />

thoughts that burst intellectual feeling.<br />

Like silent streams become an exited river,<br />

with falls that make tall trees quiver.<br />

Some hidden path behind and deep cave,<br />

the un-whispered tale of thoughts in rave.<br />

In admiration of silent and intense,<br />


stories from to soul to soul magnificence.<br />

My hammock now suspended by other dreams,<br />

lady Jane charms and subtle intervenes.<br />

Some train in that sparkle firmament,<br />

calls for more stimulus entertainment.<br />

Being so far up high where no device can reach,<br />

mentus corpus and its tragic impeach.<br />

The art of dreaming illusion like a movie house,<br />

and gently drifting into darker douse.<br />


I haven’t seen another person’s nose<br />

in nine months. I barely recognize<br />

myself without a mask on. The<br />

algorithms have the same problem. My<br />

bangs have grown out, my body has grown<br />

thicker, my skin more paltry. I have<br />

morning breath through the afternoon and<br />

early evening. I am not complaining;<br />

this is just how things are now.<br />


mayodia<br />


O Mayodia heaven of bliss<br />

Standing on the high snowy peak<br />

I’ll stretch out my hands towards<br />

the white clouds of the sky and whoop<br />

Oh Firmament<br />

Let me blend into your horizon<br />

Making lunar balls I will cuddle them close<br />

Carefree I’ll dance thrilled by the feel of snow<br />

In the grand court of whiteness sorrow will sit by<br />

Deep in my heart love will ripen<br />

Taking a dip in the icy stream on impulse<br />

I’ll drink in the beauty of the Mayodia sky<br />

With the sun moon and stars I will play<br />

The smiling stars will take me around<br />

The moon will flirt with me in her lap<br />

The sun will keep the day mild with warm kisses<br />

* * * * *<br />

Note: Mayodia, which means "Shrine of Mother Goddess",<br />

is known for its scenic beauty. It is located in Arunachal<br />

Pradesh, with an elevation of 2,655 m, above sea level.<br />


P<br />

A<br />

G 60<br />

E<br />

By SOHYUN C<br />

P<br />

A<br />

G<br />

E<br />

61<br />

By SOHYUN C<br />


POETRY<br />

PROSE<br />

POETRY<br />

Deus ex machina;<br />

A god from a machine.<br />


A nurse; a cog in a machine.<br />

Forced to keep going,<br />

Even when about to break down.<br />

Overworked, meltdown, turn around,<br />

And in a blink of an eye a life lost.<br />

The machine is rigged.<br />

A system that consumes people whole.<br />

Protection; a word heard too often,<br />

But not listened to.<br />

Take time to take care, to be overcareful.<br />

Protect them by protecting yourself.<br />

Show that outer strength.<br />

A disguise; unrecognisable and dehumanised.<br />

The personal armour of PPE.<br />

Blue plastic gloves holding your hand.<br />

Blue plastic gloves shielding the face<br />

Of a nurse chocking back a sob of sorry<br />

That turns into a cough.<br />

Uncle Jay working in intensive care;<br />

Spread across twelve floors.<br />

There is a flaw in the engine.<br />

The intensity has become critical.<br />

On his commute home, on the train,<br />

He replays the trauma of the day.<br />

Only to walk in the door to his husband<br />

And slap on a brave face.<br />

Tired eyes sagging under goggles;<br />

Exhausted from personal risk.<br />

Battle wounds indented his face,<br />

And they won’t fade because of crisis.<br />

Huge numbers hit him hard.<br />

Helplessly, striving to maintain<br />

That NHS grit. It’s hard.<br />


Although he is thinking,<br />

‘I don’t get paid enough for this!<br />

This isn’t what I signed up for.<br />

They didn’t teach me this in med school.’<br />

He carries on – a keyworker.<br />

He’s dealing with the unimaginable.<br />

A conveyer belt of bodies.<br />

Some things you just can’t speak about.<br />

The sheer scale of suffering indigestible.<br />

People just dying and dying and…dying.<br />

Nervously acting.<br />

Who gets the oxygen tank,<br />

When seven people’s breathing falters?<br />

A patient moved across the country,<br />

Just so they can breathe.<br />

There’s no time to take a sigh of relief,<br />

Not with the night terrors.<br />

Trapped in a cage with the water rising.<br />

Beds constantly filling up and all are gasping.<br />

There’s no room for errors.<br />

There’s no room, full-stop.<br />

A bed; a priceless possession.<br />

He heals you, but he can’t<br />

Heal himself from this.<br />

Death gives no lunchtime breaks.<br />

Inner turbulence revealed;<br />

Cracks finally break.<br />

A face mask finally falls apart,<br />

And there is no longer perplex left.<br />

The fragile machine finally<br />

Runs out of fuel.<br />

It’s running on empty.<br />

A little girl finds her Mum crying<br />

Whilst she dries her hair.<br />

She said the hospital called.<br />

Nan wasn’t coming back.<br />

She had broken on the phone,<br />

And it wasn’t the landlines fault.<br />

Helen was sixty-four.<br />

They didn’t get to say goodbye,<br />

Not even through a screen.<br />

She was oblivious to night and day.<br />

Cared for by scared strangers,<br />

Who turned her over,<br />

So her scarred lungs filled up<br />

With air.<br />

Turning, turning, turning,<br />

Day after day.<br />

But then her levels plummeted.<br />

It’s about what comes with a death too.<br />

Each person with their own story.<br />

Dignity plummeted.<br />

They had to wear masks<br />

To Helen’s funeral.<br />

On the way, they passed<br />

Five ambulances.<br />

The blue lights flashing fast –<br />

A warning sign to others<br />

Not to end up like them.<br />

No hymns to be heard.<br />

A silent desperation in the sunrise.<br />

Red anger. Danger.<br />

The last rays of her last days<br />

Of the last sun.<br />

The girl lay by her Nan’s side<br />

A bunch of purple heather.<br />

Levels rising; it has reached its peak.<br />

She isn’t just another Covid statistic.<br />

She is someone’s relative,<br />

Someone precious, someone who gave light.<br />

It isn’t right, that another line went flat.<br />

She isn’t just a line on a graph.<br />

And the little girl murmured,<br />

(When she told her schoolteacher<br />

Her Nanny had died),<br />

‘That’s a sad story isn’t it?’<br />

This bereavement was avoidable.<br />

Boris takes a seven-mile bike ride.<br />

Celebrities go to Dubai ‘on business’.<br />

Hancock plays footie.<br />

There’s blood on their hands.<br />

Mass casualties caused by the Tories.<br />

They chose to ignore, and merely applause.<br />

They cut down on medical restrictions.<br />

They made cuts and arrived far too late.<br />

They chose capital at<br />

The costly expense of lives.<br />

Failing to lead as people fail to breathe.<br />

You aren’t forgiven.<br />

We won’t look away.<br />

Conscripted to fight on the frontline;<br />

It’s your battle too, and right now,<br />

You’re fighting on the side of the enemy.<br />

Colleagues working side-by-side.<br />

Soldiering on.<br />

Hooking up people to their new<br />

Breathing machines.<br />

When will those people wake up?<br />

No one knows. The virus is real.<br />

Wake up and see.<br />

You sit and clap for keyworkers<br />

As their reward.<br />

But they can’t hear you –<br />

They’re stuck on a ward.<br />

A planet mourning<br />

The life that could’ve been,<br />

A life that was, and lives lost.<br />

A reunion that will never happen;<br />

The giant mourner.<br />

It comes in waves.<br />

How many waves will it take<br />

Until it drowns you and<br />

You can’t come up for air?<br />

The daily death toll; it isn’t fair.<br />

Death has taken its toll.<br />

Tiers and tears.<br />

Stop this from staying the same<br />

For years and years.<br />

Stop the dread of death.<br />

Stop the invisible danger<br />

From getting scarier and bigger.<br />

Don’t hesitate to do the right thing.<br />

The NHS is our body of tubes.<br />

Our life support is them.<br />

We are all a cog in the machine;<br />

We can’t stop it from turning.<br />

A god from a machine;<br />

Deus ex machina.<br />


P<br />

A<br />

G<br />

E<br />

62<br />

P<br />

A<br />

G<br />

E<br />

63<br />


POETRY<br />

Chitralekha<br />


H<br />

aving painted on both eyes<br />

suddenly vanished<br />

Chitralekha the enchantress<br />

She planted<br />

in heart<br />

the garden of Babylon<br />

It is swaying<br />

in heart<br />

heavenly flowers are blooming<br />

Everyday we hear<br />

melodious calls of painted birds<br />

You are the gardener<br />

of the hanging garden<br />

I know you won’t come back again<br />

Yet amidst the clouds<br />

will be shining<br />

the radiant smile of the sun<br />

* * * * * *<br />

(Original Assamese poem titled “Chitralekha”)<br />

Note: Chitralekha was the boon companion of Usha, the<br />

daughter of the King Baan of the Sonitpur kingdom in<br />

Assam (India) of the Mahabharata era. Chitralekha had<br />

magical skills at painting and portraiture in particular.<br />

By<br />

By<br />

ARUN<br />


PAUL<br />

C.<br />


POETRY<br />

POETRY<br />

MAYBE<br />

THE NEXT<br />

DAY<br />

"Maybe the next week will be<br />

better<br />

Maybe the next month will be<br />

better<br />

Maybe the next couple of days will<br />

be better,<br />

Maybe tomorrow will be better. "<br />


T<br />

he image echoed through my head<br />

Playing in my mind like a recorder<br />

As realizations dawned upon me<br />

I took a glimpse at the mirror<br />

And saw on the reflection,<br />

My view of the world became narrowed by the walls I saw every<br />

moment.<br />

Subconsciously,<br />

My dreams became emotionless<br />

The sun was only the phenomenon of nature,<br />

Nothing to help break free from the same old routine.<br />

Remembering the Blue Jays song<br />

Finding dark clouds part paint the sky<br />

As the timid breeze breathes<br />

Through the curls of my hair ee thoughts,<br />

Sitting on Zoom,<br />

Waiting in my room<br />

Hoping for flowers to bloom<br />

But everyday was nothing but gloom.<br />

Subconsciously,<br />

My dreams became emotionless<br />

The sun was only the phenomenon of nature,<br />

Nothing to help break free from the same old routine.<br />

Remembering the Blue Jays song<br />

Finding dark clouds part paint the sky<br />

As the timid breeze breathes<br />

Through the curls of my hair<br />

The sound of the rocks and twigs crunch underfoot<br />

Free thoughts,<br />

Only one thought<br />

Life was good.<br />

Suppressed thoughts so rooms didn’t become cluttered<br />

And losing our minds isn’t what people are afraid of nomore,<br />

Because outlets are almost non-existent<br />

As we lay in bed and feel grey<br />

Echoes<br />

Those are the echos during these arduous times<br />

Arduous for the mind<br />

Echoes<br />

As the encapsulated borders of the world<br />

Those are the echos during these arduous times<br />

Have been shrunk to the depths of a tiny room<br />

Arduous for the mind<br />

Reflecting like surrounded by mirror paned high walls<br />

Reflecting like surrounded by mirror paned high walls<br />

Resulting in every turn,<br />

But Having to repeat the same routine each day.<br />

Where you run into yourself.<br />

At least the calm voice has not slipped out the door<br />

Because these are all echoes<br />

To be a thin glass away from the outside world<br />

But having to repeat the same routine each day.<br />

Maybe the next week will be better<br />

Maybe the next month will be better<br />

Maybe the next couple of days will be better,<br />

Maybe tomorrow will be better.<br />

Like a grey and white painting from the olden days<br />

It's confusing, all that used to be amusing<br />

Simplest acts of kindness taken for granted<br />

Simple smiles of strangers were taken for granted.<br />

There at least is a calm voice<br />

A voice that says to smile more<br />

A voice that says count your blessings<br />

instead of your loss<br />

Months have passed<br />

Days are passing<br />

Minutes seem longer now<br />

Each second past is a blessing<br />

I know it's not easy but we can make it work<br />

Just as long as you smile<br />

Raise your head up high and smile<br />

Life is still good.<br />

A new mentality is what we need<br />

An affirmation a day<br />

Hope is always on the horizon<br />


P<br />

A<br />

G 66<br />

E<br />

P<br />

A<br />

G<br />

E<br />

67<br />


POETRY<br />

POETRY<br />

PROSE<br />

S O N G<br />

O F T H E<br />

broken<br />


I have lived in darkness,<br />

I have been numb for years.<br />

Yes, parts of me are still broken,<br />

S O F T<br />

H O R I Z O N<br />

The breeze of silken dawn blew free,<br />

scintillation of stars so many more to see.<br />

Tide of time by flow in crystal serenity,<br />

low blooming glistening deep alchemy.<br />

Sparkling arches dispensing mirage,<br />

eternal fountain flow of soul to soul courage.<br />

Distinct dark blue sphere overhead,<br />

vivid lights leaping in that grace of spread.<br />

Realm of pleasance observing prime,<br />

dazed vision unaware by the same.<br />


The almightiest sensitive obscurities,<br />

dewy dawn of timeless memories.<br />

Gleaming wealth of open hearts confined,<br />

longing richness in the garden of mind.<br />

In sweet dreams and by soft gentle kiss,<br />

eternal imprint of what we miss.<br />

The light in that great presence and cope,<br />

hands that feel like the glow in infants hope.<br />

If you watch me close you can see those cracks.<br />

My heart has bled so much,<br />

It might never be healed.<br />

Though I might appear quite sorted,<br />

The truth is I have not yet been fixed.<br />


Some nights my pillow is wet,<br />


Some mornings I question my existence.<br />

There are days I question my sanity,<br />

As I keep seeking answers to unasked questions.<br />

My tears laugh at me trying to write meaningful words,<br />

I keep writing though I know my poetry is flawed<br />

I still write.<br />

I keep writing.<br />

And I keep moving on.<br />

I can feel it before I see it<br />

This pressure on my body<br />

This presence holding onto me<br />

I force my eyes open and pray for emptiness<br />

For nothing but warm air hugging me tricking<br />

my sleepy mind<br />

But it’s there<br />

A long wriggling centipede sits on my stomach<br />

The long legs grip onto my thin blanket<br />

Onto the skin of my neck and cheeks<br />

It burrows into me through my ears<br />

though my eyes<br />

through my nose<br />

through my mouth<br />

and all I can hear is the tick tick tick of its legs<br />

as it climbs<br />

The body is never-ending<br />

It just keeps going<br />

deeper and deeper and deeper into my body<br />

It runs around my stomach<br />

and stirs my organs in the dark<br />

It presses every bit of air from my lungs until<br />

the pain is gone<br />

Until the only movement is under my skin<br />

Until the only sound is the wet gurgle of my<br />

flesh being torn to bits<br />


P<br />

A<br />

G 68<br />

E<br />

By SOHYUN C<br />

P<br />

A<br />

G 69<br />

E<br />


POETRY<br />

POETRY<br />

A<br />






N<br />

ow is the winter, so shaken as we are.<br />

O for a Muse of fire before we proceed any<br />

further.<br />

Good morrow, two households,<br />

You do not, in sooth, open your ears.<br />

M<br />

E<br />

S<br />

S<br />

A<br />

G<br />

E<br />

Darling I know the sorrows you bear,<br />

Your fears and your nightmare;<br />

Your silent sobs at nights alone<br />

Don’t you put that fake smile now,<br />

To me they are all known.<br />

But let me say a little about you<br />

You are a warrior, a soul too true.<br />


You are brave in your battles at day<br />

At nights you keep your demons at bay.<br />

The world hurts you at every moment,<br />

But you don’t capitulate to its torment.<br />

Who says you are a coward, a wimp?<br />

You scale mountains even when you limp.<br />

Know your worth, rise and shine,<br />

Be You – the best version of mine.<br />

-Your Inner Self<br />


Learning<br />

TO LIVE<br />

Who is there, amidst you, that would ascend?<br />


You are both alike in dignity and well met,<br />

Apparently.<br />

But when you all then meet a man but frowns,<br />

You are so wan with care.<br />

I know not why I am so sad.<br />

Hear me speak of our discontent.<br />

Locked in a hot-pink bedroom—<br />

blame my child self, the teen<br />

covered the colour in posters—<br />

I learned to live without losing.<br />

No more failed conversations,<br />

fizzling out. No following a vague<br />

group around like a little lost lamb,<br />

or a puppy, or a cliché.<br />

Just group chats I could close,<br />

a dog who always listened,<br />

endless time to sleep and write<br />

and love myself—finally.<br />

It took being forced into four walls<br />

to discover the soul beneath my skeleton.<br />


P<br />

A<br />

G<br />

E<br />

70<br />

P<br />

A<br />

G<br />

E<br />

71<br />


By YONGJIN C.<br />


T<br />

he sun leads the<br />

way down the<br />

street, deserted<br />

b u t<br />

for the<br />

occasional stranger that<br />

moves to the opposite<br />

side when I pass. I cast<br />

my eyes down when<br />

they do, an unspoken<br />

agreement. You can’t<br />

smile from behind a mask.<br />

I keep my gaze<br />

on my legs, almost alien<br />

as they move in their back<br />

and forth, back and forth<br />

rhythm, wandering on their<br />

own. When they stop, I’m<br />

at the pond. The cattails<br />

look just as surprised<br />

to see me. They beckon<br />

me forward either way.<br />

The last time<br />

my shoes grazed this<br />

grass was in early March,<br />

accompanied by two<br />

pairs I haven’t seen since,<br />

except walking away from By ANONYMOUS<br />

strained hellos and averted<br />

eye contact when we<br />

accidentally crossed paths.<br />

The virus was just another<br />

name on the news back<br />

then, worlds away. It could<br />

never touch us. Nothing<br />

could. Not when we had the<br />

entire world in our hands.<br />

This little patch of<br />

thin-branched trees and<br />

an artificial pond, this was<br />

where we were gods every day<br />

until our parents called us<br />

home for dinner. We waded<br />

through the stormwater<br />

tunnels and named ourselves<br />

explorers, decorated logs we<br />

hauled to the clearing and<br />

named ourselves creators.<br />

The shade of the willows<br />

kept us immortal, and the<br />

rainwater that dripped<br />

from the honey locust<br />

leaves was our ambrosia.<br />

I reach the dip in the land<br />

where water sits shining and still. The<br />

sun stares back at me in the reflection.<br />

PROSE<br />


One hop, and I’ll have crossed it.<br />

But that was our biggest problem<br />

once, the six inch distance between<br />

‘‘Maybe our three shadows<br />

under the willow trees<br />

will meld back into one<br />

someday. Maybe the world<br />

will heal and we’ll all be as<br />

okay as we were when it<br />

began.’’<br />

where we were and what we wanted.<br />

So we made a bridge. We gathered<br />

sticks and rocks and dug grooves into<br />

P<br />

A<br />

G<br />

E<br />

73<br />

the mud with old plastic spoons we<br />

found littered around the bus stop.<br />

Stupid jokes, afternoons bleeding<br />

into evenings, and then we<br />

were done. It was an ugly<br />

little thing, but it did the job,<br />

and we had made it, and we<br />

had made it together. We<br />

used it even on dry days,<br />

just to feel the pride of our<br />

own work beneath our feet.<br />

And it was where we could<br />

be without worries, dirt on<br />

our hands, smiles on our<br />

faces, before we all aged<br />

decades within months. I<br />

think of the waning group<br />

chats and tight-lipped<br />

smiles we give each other<br />

now in passing. Do they<br />

remember being twelve<br />

and thirteen and in love<br />

with feeling important?<br />

I look over at the bridge,<br />

overgrown with yellowed<br />

grass and half-submerged<br />

in rainwater. The strip of<br />

bark we’d placed over it lies<br />

on its side a few feet away.<br />

I lean over and take it in<br />

my hand, let the roughness<br />

of it graze my skin.<br />

Maybe I do want to stay<br />

a kid forever. And maybe<br />

it’s even possible, if I fill<br />

in the blanks around me<br />

with bright enough colors.<br />

Maybe change doesn’t mean<br />

drowning your creases and<br />

tears in seas of gray. Maybe<br />

our three shadows under<br />

the willow trees will meld<br />

back into one someday.<br />

Maybe the world will heal<br />

and we’ll all be as okay as<br />

we were when it began.<br />

I place the bark over the<br />

sticks. It lies crooked, but<br />

that doesn’t matter. The<br />

thin wood shakes as I take<br />

one step, then another,<br />

and cross the bridge.<br />

The water ripples under my<br />

weight. I turn my face to the sky.<br />

There’s nowhere left to look but up.<br />


PROSE<br />

POETRY<br />

S H A T T E R E D<br />

time<br />

WINDOW<br />

O F<br />

D R E A M S<br />



When we are born, the crystal of time is formed, a purple crystal that<br />

glimmers in the moonlight. The soft sound of bells plays in the background,<br />

releasing all tension in your muscles as the crystal’s edges prick your finger<br />

on its sharp edge at every hour, reminding you of the inevitability of death.<br />

On birthdays, the crystal gets smaller as people grow closer to their ends of<br />

time, the color of the crystal fading as light gradually fades from your cheeks.<br />

The smell of rotting flesh grows as the crystal shrinks. Your time is almost up.<br />

You don’t know if you just want the end to come or if you want the crystal to<br />

come back. To regrow.<br />

For your time to restart.<br />

You frantically look around in the black synapse you find the crystal<br />

in, the moonlight guiding you to reach out for anything that will make your<br />

time restart. To make the crystal grow and for its color to come back. As you<br />

frantically reach for anything around you, your bloodied hand knocks against<br />

the crystal, causing it to shatter into pieces.<br />

Like crystals, time is precious. We’ll never know when we won’t have<br />

anymore left. You stare down at the shattered crystal as you feel your body<br />

sink into the synapse you find yourself in, the moonlight soaking up your<br />

dying soul.<br />

Your time is up. You brought it upon yourself trying to restart the clock. Death<br />

has its traps and you fell for them, now only existing in the void time calls<br />

home.<br />

The visions beyond the enduring crisp of<br />

firmament,<br />

wishes of ideal and escape into mental decadent.<br />

Dreaming vacancies to the holy sane,<br />

loving aspiration forever by gratitude of reign.<br />

Childhoods play and magical thought wonderland,<br />

where the impossible is the golden rule to<br />

understand.<br />

Enchanted places and many self that only oneself<br />

really knows,<br />

myriad of creatures in foreign worlds with all its<br />

bestows.<br />

Wonder of heroic wealth by its absolute power<br />

trace,<br />

image simulation molded and caught in<br />

transcendental space.<br />

Q U A N T I F Y I N G<br />

an<br />



The dream weaver holds the levitating rotating<br />

globe at hand,<br />

destinies favorite muse conducting with the<br />

magical wand.<br />

The law of loves beauty in its own delicate<br />

retrospect,<br />

never looses its enchanting wonder and surprise<br />

effect.<br />

The castle of indomitable presence and sacred<br />

ground,<br />

the worst of worst for recuperation found.<br />

Shared stories sensing itself to the turning point of<br />

matter,<br />

creating synchronized universes distinctive blue<br />

and flatter.<br />

Seeing clearly know for all makes perfect sense,<br />

the tincture of spheres colliding with residue of<br />

love immense.<br />

(Formerly featured on NeuroLogical Blog)<br />

254 days since I left my house.<br />

At all.<br />

255 days since I have petted my dogs.<br />

619 days since I have given or received a hug.<br />

2444 days since I watched a movie<br />

At the cinema.<br />

2460 days since I ate<br />

in an actual restaurant.<br />

2150 days since I have eaten takeout .<br />

Pizza was the last, I think.<br />

34 days since I have had a proper shower.<br />

2 hours since I have washed my hands.<br />

1.5 minutes since my last intrusive thought.<br />



By SOHYUN C.<br />


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Prose<br />

A<br />

PART<br />

Exploring the<br />

COVID-19 pandemic<br />

through vignettes<br />



March 13, 2020<br />

[Redacted]<br />

8 hrs<br />

‘See you tomorrow’—we didn’t know<br />

that was the last time we would see<br />

our classmates and teachers.<br />

Like Comment Share<br />

[Redacted]<br />

4 hrs<br />

NO CLASSES, YES!!!<br />

Like Comment Share<br />

[Redacted]<br />

3 mins<br />

Us: school sucks<br />

2020:<br />

Like Comment Share<br />

March 15, 2020<br />

We would like to announce that<br />

the graduation ceremonies of the<br />

elementary department, senior highschool<br />

department, and the colleges<br />

have been suspended until further<br />

notice following the Executive Order<br />

released by the city government. We<br />

ask for your understanding.<br />

Sent 7:30am<br />

March 20, 2020<br />

“You’re returning? But there’s a virus<br />

out there!” My mother said over<br />

dinner.<br />

“They’ll surely impose<br />

a strict lockdown. If not here,<br />

then there,” I added to no one in<br />

particular before I filled my mouth<br />

with a spoonful of fish and rice.<br />

“I need to go to work. It’ll be<br />

over soon.” My dad responded, not<br />

raising his head from his plate. “I’ll<br />

get you and<br />

the kids next<br />

month, like<br />

we planned.”<br />

He slurped his<br />

soup.<br />

April 4, 2020<br />

“Did you get the food rations?” Our<br />

neighbor asked when he passed<br />

by the red gates that bounded and<br />

separated our house from the others.<br />

‘‘It’ll be over soon. I’ll get you<br />

and the kids next month, like we<br />

planned..."<br />

I looked up from my book.<br />

My mom stopped sweeping<br />

our front yard and stood straighter.<br />

“No. They were giving out food<br />

rations?”<br />

“Yeah! 25 kilos of rice and<br />

a handful<br />

of canned<br />

goods!” He<br />

was clutching<br />

a white plastic<br />

bag against<br />

his chest. “Ah,<br />

these are the<br />

canned goods. My brother carried<br />

home the rice.” He added when he<br />

saw us staring at his bag.<br />

“Where did you get it? How did you<br />


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POETRY<br />

C O L L A P S E D<br />



By A.R. SALANDY<br />

Ostracization can be cruel<br />

But Nadz says that some 'peak' in high school,<br />

I O<br />

you know? No one told us.”<br />

The afternoon sun slit<br />

through the trees that towered above<br />

us.<br />

“We were given a paper to<br />

fill up earlier. You didn’t get<br />

anything?”<br />

“No.”<br />

May 15, 2020<br />

“Enhanced Community Quarantine<br />

will be extended until May 30, 2020.<br />

Anyone below 21 years old and<br />

above 60 years old are prohibited<br />

to go outside. Any person seen<br />

outside without a valid quarantine<br />

pass will be detained. Please follow<br />

the protocols and guidelines<br />

accordingly,” the reporter for the<br />

evening news narrated over a video<br />

of a group of people sitting with<br />

handcuffs on their wrists.<br />

May 20, 2020<br />

“Happy birthday, Daddy!” I pushed<br />

my face into the phone’s camera.<br />

My father’s video feed was<br />

grainy but I could clearly see him<br />

in his red crisp shirt, the empty<br />

backseat of his car and a glimpse of<br />

the steering wheel at the edge of his<br />

video.<br />

“What are you doing for<br />

your birthday? Are you cooking<br />

something?” My mother asked.<br />

“Maybe I’ll eat a burger.”<br />

I sat beside my mother.<br />

“We’ll make some spaghetti in honor<br />

of your birthday, Daddy!”<br />

“I’d love that.”<br />

June 6, 2020<br />

“You sit around all day, doing<br />

nothing. The least you could do is<br />

come with me and help me buy the<br />

groceries for the next two weeks.<br />

Do you think I can do this alone? I<br />

shouldn’t be the one doing this but<br />

I’m the only adult in this family. Do<br />

you think you can do this alone? I<br />

think not. Unless you want to starve,<br />

stand up and stop complaining!”<br />

July 7, 2020<br />

How many months has it been? I<br />

rarely get out, except those days<br />

when I accompany my mother to buy<br />

groceries. But I don’t mind not going<br />

out at all. I have always loved staying<br />

inside but now… it’s different. I get<br />

lonely when I’m inside our house.<br />

It suffocates me. Is it because I no<br />

longer see the streets brimming with<br />

people? Everyone is trying to bring<br />

back the normality they had before<br />

the pandemic. They chat, smile<br />

and laugh. But there is something<br />

hampering them, resisting against<br />

them, and they are hopeless against<br />

it.<br />

I have never liked going<br />

outside and I often avoid the crowds<br />

but now I miss them. I miss the<br />

events, the boisterous activities of<br />

the city. I miss hearing the static<br />

raucous noise of the malls, or the<br />

chatter and shrieks of children<br />

playing outside.<br />

July 24, 2020<br />

“Happy birthday, sweetheart!”<br />

August 16, 2020<br />

“I’m so tired! I’m tired of taking care<br />

of three children on my own. I’m<br />

tired of doing all the errands alone.<br />

I have no one else to turn to. If only<br />

you were here, it would have been<br />

so much easier—no, don’t tell me<br />

you need to work. You could have<br />

found work here! We could have<br />

set up our own business, like those<br />

online businesses today. They’re<br />

everywhere. We would have made it<br />

work—no, you’re too greedy. Are you<br />

going to prioritize your—"<br />

I rammed my earbuds in<br />

my ears and set the music to the<br />

maximum level, drowning out the<br />

noise around me.<br />

noise around me.<br />

October 9, 2020<br />

The Philippines has the most strict and<br />

the longest lockdown in the world—the<br />

radio chattered in the background as<br />

I accepted my father’s evening video<br />

call.<br />

“Daddy, when are you going<br />

to get us?”<br />

The country has recorded<br />

334,770 COVID-19 cases, 275,307<br />

recoveries, and 6,152 deaths.<br />

“Daddy, I miss you.”<br />

Out on brick red grounds<br />

Where taunts locked this body tight<br />

In endless battle,<br />

For lament as one does on action,<br />

Only true planning<br />

May succeed to break engendered fear<br />

Grown on subtle propaganda<br />

And teased with tokenism lofty,<br />

For in muted academia<br />

Can capitalist gain be seen to overtake<br />

Any sense of victory I say,<br />

But one can argue some are simply<br />

Born cold hearted,<br />

And in their predictions lose humanity<br />

To jealousy and vain infatuations,<br />

For some may rise to the fore<br />

And some may gain meritocratic success,<br />

But most remain jaded<br />

In fantasies educational.<br />


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POETRY<br />

POETRY<br />

TO<br />


FIND<br />

M E T H E<br />

SUN<br />


Find me the sun in the dead of winter,<br />

As the sky blushes an ashy gray<br />

and my thoughts dampen, splinter,<br />

decay.<br />

Find me hope in the middle of a pandemic,<br />

As the world descends into torrential panic<br />

And my mind fractures, dents,<br />

I am purely volcanic.<br />

Find me the sun in the dead of winter,<br />

As the leaves curl under glisteningly dangerous frost—<br />

To be imprisoned in my unceasing worry,<br />

Is this what 2020 costs?<br />

FEEL<br />


The moon was gone today. It<br />

left an empty hole in the sky.<br />

Devoid of my bright friend and<br />

the others that pass by. So I let<br />

him in,<br />

just to feel something.<br />

Even if it was his icy hand<br />

holding onto my bleeding heart<br />



A dialogue with the<br />

E V E N I N G<br />

s t a r<br />


Above the twilight faintest glimmer,<br />

end-summer evening turning to reddish dimmer.<br />

The lonely star of love in dusky shine,<br />

into the ocean of faint and far to prime.<br />

Some sensing of splendor in awe as trail,<br />

soft gleam and tender wonder bale.<br />

I bow my heart in humility,<br />

“Speak to me; I want to know your secret”,<br />

a sweet voices spoke softly in spirit.<br />

“My dear one, you are itself the art of love,<br />

and the art to be beloved whom you adore”.<br />

“Reflections from heaven on to earth,<br />

that turn earthly desires into spirits of faith”.<br />

“That freedom of space is found in the formless,<br />

sparks, glance and dewdrop fortress”.<br />

“Your presence in that immensity of space,<br />

shows me your majestic providence”.<br />

“The dimming of my light only in mourn,<br />

when loving souls are in destinies storm”.<br />

“The opportunity in life becomes a great pity,<br />

when realized a too late reciprocity”.<br />

“Thank you little star of mystic beginning,<br />

and no ends in phenomenon mental spinning”.<br />


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PROSE<br />

Even Tragedies Need<br />



Do tell me, 2020, why must you practice such evil tendencies?<br />

You made this year a living hell for the world’s participants,<br />

and unearthed tragedies only bodies underground could<br />

understand. As we stand, 2020, your time is almost up. Your older<br />

counterpart, 2021, is about to take to the stage. And I believe I speak<br />

for all of us when I say we hope next year is better. Quite honestly, our<br />

standards are at an all-time low, my bar is on the ground. As long as<br />

we don’t greet the year with threats of a Third World War, I’ll be swell.<br />

I hope, 2020, that you’ve had your fun. You’ve packed unnecessary<br />

events to create a historical masterpiece of a year, however tragic. But<br />

we also thank you, 2020, for the year to remember. We learned things<br />

about ourselves in the forced isolation, one of which being that online<br />

school doesn’t fly and too much time with loved ones drives you mad.<br />

But we learned what it was to be connected in ways other than physical.<br />

We singled out our true friends and learned that masks are not only<br />

a fashion statement, they are a tool that saves lives. We learned that<br />

ballots take forever to count and that movements can blow up within<br />

hours, inspiring the world to change. We learned many things this year,<br />

2020, and for that we are grateful. I simply ask that the new year doesn’t<br />

bring nearly as much anxiety.<br />



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0:15<br />

0:24<br />

0:51<br />

1:09<br />

Short Film<br />

2 0 2 0 : IT GETS<br />


1:34<br />

"2020 : It Gets Lighter" encapsulates<br />

the ups and downs of the COVID-19<br />

pandemic through the medium of<br />

film and cinematography."<br />

1:39<br />

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IS THE<br />


OF THE<br />

SOUL<br />




We are beyond honored to<br />

showcase the work of many<br />

talented photographers, artists,<br />

and writers in our inaugural<br />

issue.<br />

Over 20 countries are<br />

represented in our magazine,<br />

including India, Japan, and the<br />

U.S.<br />

studying business<br />

<strong>ISSUE</strong> TWO<br />

studies as her majors.<br />

Her country, her religion<br />

of Islam, and her life<br />

experiences have<br />

Contributors<br />

always been sources of<br />

inspiration. As an only<br />

child, her need to liaise<br />

were turned into reading<br />

and writing, which later<br />

fostered her passion for<br />

writing and generating<br />

literary content.<br />

POETRY<br />

MP<br />


MP Armstrong is a<br />

disabled queer writer<br />

from the United States,<br />

studying English and<br />

history at Kent State<br />

University in Ohio.<br />

Their work appears<br />

or is forthcoming in<br />

Perhappened, Prismatica<br />

Magazine, and Hominum<br />

Journal, among<br />

others, and their debut<br />

chapbook, "who lives<br />

like this for such a cheap<br />

price?", is forthcoming<br />

from Flower Press. Find<br />

them online @mpawrites<br />

and at mpawrites.<br />

wixsite.com/website.<br />

This piece reflects on<br />

the news that Nokia and<br />

NASA are joining forces<br />

to establish 4G on the<br />

moon, incorporating<br />

that space will become<br />

as suburbanized as<br />

Earth--a terrifying idea,<br />

since the suburbs on this<br />

planet are scary enough.<br />



Born 1985 in Bosnia,<br />

Velibor came to Austria<br />

as a war refugee. After<br />

studying law in Salzburg,<br />

Austria he worked in<br />

the banking and law<br />

field. Currently living<br />

in Vienna, Austria he<br />

paints abstracts and<br />

writes German, English<br />

and Bosnian poems and<br />

prose texts.<br />

PROSE<br />


Andrea Balingit is a<br />

student and writer from<br />

the Philippines. She<br />

started to write fiction<br />

at the age of 15, but<br />

only started to submit<br />

her pieces to different<br />

literary journals this<br />

year. The pandemic<br />

changed her life, leading<br />

her to decide to take part<br />

in the literary world and<br />

bring with her stories<br />

of her country. With her<br />

piece ‘A part’, Andrea<br />

shares a story that most<br />

of her countrymen still<br />

face today, but even<br />

though they are all apart<br />

due to the pandemic,<br />

they will always be a part<br />

of one community.<br />

PROSE<br />


Waffa Batool is<br />

seventeen-year-old<br />

girl who belongs from<br />

the city of light Lahore<br />

situated in Pakistan.<br />

She’s in O’level 3<br />



Sylvia Bonillos is a young<br />

writer, amateur poet,<br />

artist, and the Editing<br />

Director Internal for The<br />

Young Writers Initiative.<br />

Based in California,<br />

she loves to help fellow<br />

young writers and artists<br />

through TYWI and its<br />

various programs and<br />

projects, including the<br />

recent Winter Write-athon!<br />

POETRY<br />


Delilah Brumer is a<br />

high school sophomore<br />

from California. She is a<br />

student-journalist and<br />

aspiring poet. When<br />

not writing, she can be<br />

found reading or playing<br />

with her three dogs.<br />

Follow her on Twitter at<br />

@BrumerDelilah.<br />

POETRY<br />


Elizabeth Corallo is a<br />

high school student<br />

and emerging writer<br />

from New Jersey who<br />

focuses on poetry, book<br />

reviews, and short<br />

fiction. She currently<br />

runs a book review blog,<br />

SeaglassBookNook,<br />

and serves as the Co-<br />

Summer Programs<br />

Director at The Young<br />

Writer's Initiative.<br />

When she is not writing,<br />

Elizabeth enjoys playing<br />

tennis, hanging out with<br />

friends, and drinking<br />

way too much coffee.<br />



This piece comes from<br />

the artist Caitlin Sievers,<br />

a young artist of African<br />

American, Filipino, and<br />

Norwegian descent that<br />

takes pride in her ethnic<br />

background. Throughout<br />

her school years Caitlin<br />

took time to hone her<br />

art and find a way to<br />

translate the trauma<br />

experienced in all those<br />

years into something<br />

beautifully put onto a<br />

canvas. That trauma<br />

being what spurs her<br />

inspiration has now also<br />

become what can bring<br />

on a sort of calm to her<br />

mind as she continues<br />

to further her artistic<br />

journey with exploratory<br />

pieces.<br />

PROSE<br />



Thanisha Chowdhury is<br />

a Bangladeshi-American<br />

writer from Northern<br />

Virginia. She is currently<br />

in her freshman year of<br />

high school. Thanisha<br />

has been reading since<br />

she could recognize<br />

letters and writing since<br />

she could form them<br />

on paper. She writes<br />

almost out of necessity,<br />

since she often feels<br />

that the words will<br />

overflow out of her if she<br />

doesn’t. Her personal<br />

essay “Bridges” is about<br />

growing up and growing<br />

apart from friends<br />

during the COVID-19<br />

pandemic, reflecting on<br />

the afternoons they used<br />

to spend at their local<br />

pond. Thanisha hopes<br />

that others will relate<br />

to and be inspired by<br />

her writing, and create<br />

something marvelous of<br />

their own.<br />

POETRY<br />


Nicolas “The Withdrawn”<br />

Correa is a multitalented<br />

artists from<br />

the Lower East Side<br />

of Manhattan. He has<br />

been writing for about<br />

17 years, believing that<br />

creativity in the arts<br />

serves as his truest form<br />

of self-care. He started<br />

off as a kid writing<br />

raps, poems and comic<br />

books, and still has all<br />

the art saved in a safe<br />

place today. There’s<br />

no sign of imagination<br />

slowing down anytime<br />

soon, especially since he<br />

writes every single day.<br />

His piece, “Die Tired,”<br />

was written and inspired<br />

by Jhené Aiko’s “Born<br />

Tired” off of her third<br />

studio album, Chilombo.<br />

POETRY<br />


Shiksha Dheda is a<br />

South African of Indian<br />

descent. She uses poetry<br />

(mostly) to express her<br />

OCD and depression<br />

roller-coaster ventures.<br />

Mostly, however, she<br />

writes in the hopes<br />

that someday, someone<br />

will see her as she is;<br />

an incomplete poem.<br />

Sometimes, she dabbles<br />

in photography,<br />

painting, and baking<br />

lopsided layered cakes.<br />

Follow her on Twitter:<br />

@ShikshaWrites<br />

POETRY<br />


EBBS<br />

Katherine’s love for<br />

writing began just before<br />

lockdown and helped her<br />

get through the difficult<br />

days. Britain is the place<br />

she is most attached to.<br />

She feels lucky to have<br />

the NHS and recognises<br />

that we must fight for<br />

the people who fight for<br />

us. Her poem is intended<br />

to highlight the reality<br />

of what is happening<br />

that many people cannot<br />

see. Her Uncle works as<br />

a frontline nurse with<br />

Covid-19 patients, and<br />

her poem is dedicated to<br />

him, his colleagues, and<br />

all keyworkers.<br />

POETRY<br />


Jordan is a young teen<br />

fiction writer from the<br />

United States. Her focus<br />

is primarily on dark<br />

fantasy and fiction,<br />

though she also enjoys<br />

poetry. She grew up with<br />

a small school that was<br />

focused on sports, but<br />

instead, she found solace<br />

in writing. It is both her<br />

passion and emotional<br />

and creative outlet, and<br />

is something that has<br />

completely changed her<br />

life for the better. When<br />

she’s not writing or<br />

doing school work, she<br />

enjoys baking, reading,<br />

and sketching. Her piece<br />

depicts the struggles<br />

of anxiety during the<br />

pandemic, and the<br />

emotions that go along<br />

with it.<br />


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POETRY<br />


Ishita Ganguly is a writer<br />

from India. She is the<br />

author of the book,<br />

"Stories from the City<br />

called Kolkata" and coauthor<br />

of 3 international<br />

anthologies. She has<br />

written over 100 articles<br />

on distinguished<br />

platforms.<br />

A double master's degree<br />

holder, a corporate<br />

professional turned<br />

educator turned fulltime<br />

writer, Ishita loves<br />

the written word.<br />

She is a book lover who<br />

believes words have<br />

immense power and<br />

writers can make a huge<br />

impact in the world!<br />

POETRY<br />


Madi Giovina writes<br />

poems and stories.<br />

She is a co-editor<br />

for Backslash Lit,<br />

submissions coordinator<br />

for What Are Birds?<br />

Journal and the founder<br />

of Perennial Press. Madi<br />

lives in Philadelphia with<br />

her feisty cat, Shrimp.<br />

PROSE<br />


Raina Koshal is<br />

a Sophomore in<br />

Highschool from<br />

Chicago, Illinois. She<br />

plays lacrosse, runs<br />

a nonprofit which<br />

equips at-risk youth<br />

with essential learning<br />

supplies, and, you<br />

guessed it- loves to<br />

write! Her favorite way<br />

to channel her thoughts<br />

and self-express is<br />

through personal<br />

reflections on current<br />


social issues and starting<br />

a discussion within<br />

her community. As an<br />

Indian American, this<br />

piece was written to<br />

start a conversation on<br />

the largely unexamined<br />

topic of the anti-Indian<br />

sentiment in Western<br />

media and its effects on<br />

our youth. Throughout<br />

the piece, she shares<br />

personal anecdotes<br />

and illustrates many<br />

viewpoints on the topic.<br />




Archana Kshatriya is an<br />

Indian poet and writer.<br />

She began writing<br />

poems at the age of 13 to<br />

combat her battles with<br />

her demons. Her poems<br />

often explore the dark<br />

side of the human mind.<br />

For her writings she<br />

firmly believes in the<br />

principle “Keep It Simple<br />

Silly” and endures to<br />

make them easy to read.<br />

Her poem “A Message” is<br />

an acknowledgment of<br />

the personal struggles<br />

one endures and<br />

conceals from others<br />

with the fear of being<br />

ridiculed.<br />

Her piece “Democracy<br />

is Fragile” looks closely<br />

at the reasons for the<br />

several protests taking<br />

place world-wide.<br />

PROSE<br />


Raina Koshal is<br />

a Sophomore in<br />

Highschool from<br />

Chicago, Illinois. She<br />

plays lacrosse, runs<br />

a nonprofit which<br />

equips at-risk youth<br />

with essential learning<br />

P<br />

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supplies, and, you<br />

guessed it- loves to<br />

write! Her favorite way<br />

to channel her thoughts<br />

and self-express is<br />

through personal<br />

reflections on current<br />

social issues and starting<br />

a discussion within<br />

her community. As an<br />

Indian American, this<br />

piece was written to<br />

start a conversation on<br />

the largely unexamined<br />

topic of the anti-Indian<br />

sentiment in Western<br />

media and its effects on<br />

our youth. Throughout<br />

the piece, she shares<br />

personal anecdotes<br />

and illustrates many<br />

viewpoints on the topic.<br />

POETRY<br />


Sophia Kunkel (she/<br />

her) is a literature-lovin’<br />

high school senior in<br />

Pennsylvania with a<br />

passion for writing. She<br />

is editor in chief of the<br />

newspaper at her school,<br />

Marketing Director<br />

for The Young Writers<br />

Initiative, and co-owner<br />

of a popular writing tips<br />

account on Instagram.<br />

When Sophia’s not busy<br />

with writing related<br />

opportunities, she<br />

enjoys picking up a good<br />

book and sipping on a<br />

piping hot cup of tea,<br />

running cross country,<br />

and hanging out with<br />

her mini goldendoodle,<br />

Bielka. You can find<br />

Sophia at her website,<br />

www.writing life.blog.<br />

PROSE<br />


Olivia Lathrom is a<br />

fourteen year old lover<br />

of everything writing.<br />

She resides in the depths<br />

of the Pacific Northwest<br />

and stays true to the<br />

stereotype that people<br />

from Washington adore<br />

the coffee and rain that<br />

comes along with the<br />

Evergreen State. Her<br />

favorite author is Adam<br />

Silvera and she passes<br />

time by sobbing over<br />

his books, listening to<br />

musicals, reading, and<br />

writing, of course.<br />

POETRY<br />


Oskar Leonard is a<br />

transgender selfpublished<br />

author and<br />

poet from the UK, as well<br />

as a senior editor at The<br />

Altruist and a poetry and<br />

prose editor at All Ears<br />

India. He has written<br />

six books: three novels,<br />

two poetry anthologies<br />

and a novella. His pieces<br />

have been featured<br />

in publications like<br />

FOURALL Magazine,<br />

Take Care Zine, Ogma<br />

Magazine, Fever Dream<br />

Journal and The Young<br />

Writers Initiative<br />

Literary Journal:<br />

Juvenile.<br />

POETRY<br />



DS Maolalai has been<br />

nominated eight times<br />

for Best of the Net<br />

and five times for the<br />

Pushcart Prize. His<br />

poetry has been released<br />

in two collections, "Love<br />

is Breaking Plates in the<br />

Garden" (Encircle Press,<br />

2016) and "Sad Havoc<br />

Among the Birds" (Turas<br />

Press, 2019)<br />


ART<br />


Faith McKinnon is a teen<br />

writer, logophile, lifelong<br />

reader, unconventional<br />

artist, athletic nerd, and<br />

a passionate Christfollower<br />

in the western<br />

United States. She enjoys<br />

soaking up sunshine,<br />

life, and wild laughter.<br />

She is a member of<br />

Write the World, and<br />

her favorite words are<br />

sonder, meliorism,<br />

anemoia, and ambedo.<br />

Her piece "An Abundance<br />

of Tasteless Tequila" is<br />

based on author Erin<br />

Morgenstern's idea<br />

of snapping a photo<br />

of a scene brimming<br />

with stories to tell and<br />

writing one possibility<br />

for those stories in just<br />

ten sentences.<br />

POETRY<br />


Guna Moran is an<br />

Assamese Poet and<br />

critic. His poems are<br />

published in more than<br />

a hundred international<br />

magazines, journals,<br />

webzines, blogs,<br />

newspapers, anthologies<br />

and have been translated<br />

into thirty languages<br />

around the world. He has<br />

three poetry books to his<br />

credit. He lives in Assam,<br />

India.<br />

PROSE<br />


Will Nuessle of the<br />

United States holds a<br />

third-degree brown<br />

belt in ninjitsu, rides<br />

a Harley, primary<br />

caregives three small<br />

boys and claims he<br />

can recite the alphabet<br />

backwards in less than<br />

ten seconds. He also<br />

writes occasionally; his<br />

words have appeared<br />

in Boundless Journal,<br />

the Lothlorien Poetry<br />

Journal, the premiere<br />

issue of Portmanteau<br />

Magazine and he recently<br />

won second place in<br />

Page Turner's Short<br />

Poetry contest with a<br />

drinking song about<br />

dragons. His featured<br />

piece is an excerpt from<br />

a full novel; rest assured<br />

something waits out<br />

there for Jessie to find...<br />

POETRY<br />


Saóirshe O’Neill (she/<br />

her) is a poet and short<br />

story writer from<br />

Mayo, Ireland. She is<br />

currently studying<br />

creative writing and<br />

the National University<br />

of Ireland, Galway. She<br />

enjoys drinking copious<br />

amounts of coffee and<br />

listening to music. Her<br />

work focuses primarily<br />

on subjects of identity,<br />

culture, and death.<br />

Saoirshe’s work has been<br />

previously published<br />

in the Neuro Logical<br />

Magazine, the Fahmidan<br />

Journal and the Vox<br />

Galvia.<br />



Enigmatic. Passionate.<br />

Charismatic. Lover of life<br />

and all truth that binds<br />

us together. England<br />

based from the city of<br />

Wolverhampton, Arun<br />

Paul Kapur is a mental<br />

health advocate that uses<br />

the arts to tell stories of<br />

life. His love for poetry<br />

and visuals aims to<br />

raise the voices of the<br />

unheard.<br />

P<br />

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91<br />

PROSE<br />


Halle is from the US and<br />

enjoys writing short<br />

stories and poetry! She<br />

gets her ideas from<br />

random life experiences<br />

and fanfiction. When<br />

she’s not writing, she’s<br />

either watching YouTube<br />

or playing Animal<br />

Crossing. She also enjoys<br />

theatre, music, and<br />

petting her cat and is<br />

very passionate about<br />

various social justice<br />

issues. She’s had works<br />

published in The Hearth<br />

Magazine, Write Now Lit,<br />

and Tealight Press and<br />

has works upcoming in<br />

the B’K, Potted Purple,<br />

Fahmidan Journal, and<br />

more. Her Twitter handle<br />

is @YaTheatreNerd and<br />

you can check out more<br />

of her work here: https://<br />

medium.com/@halleee<br />

POETRY<br />


Robert grew up in a St.<br />

Franciscan orphanage<br />

at Maria Laach, where<br />

his schooling and<br />

talents created an<br />

apprenticeship to<br />

become a chef.<br />

Robert developed a great<br />

sense for textures and<br />

flavors with resonance,<br />

while timing and<br />

discipline proved<br />

itself with given<br />

responsibilities.<br />

By 35 Robert met his wife<br />

from South Africa and<br />

operated a restaurant<br />

in Franschhoek, the<br />

Gourmet Capital in<br />

South Africa.<br />

A powerful new horizon<br />

opened his spirituality<br />

by being introduced to<br />

Astrology.<br />

The language of<br />

symbolism and celestial<br />

imagery fuels his<br />

creativity and poetic<br />

expression.<br />

POETRY<br />

A.R. SALANDY<br />

A.R.Salandy is a mixedrace<br />

poet & writer<br />

whose work tends to<br />

focus on social inequality<br />

throughout late-modern<br />

society. Anthony travels<br />

frequently and has spent<br />

most of his life in Kuwait<br />

jostling between the UK<br />

& America. Anthony's<br />

work has been published<br />

140 times.<br />

Anthony has 1 published<br />

chapbook titled<br />

'The Great Northern<br />

Journey' 2020 (Lazy<br />

Adventurer Publishing)<br />

& 1 upcoming Chapbook<br />

'Vultures' 2021<br />

(Roaring Junior Press).<br />

Twitter/Instagram: @<br />

anthony64120<br />

POETRY<br />


Alex S (he/him) is a<br />

young, transgender<br />

student and writer living<br />

in the UK. He enjoys<br />

writing in a multitude<br />

of formats, including<br />

poetry, prose and comic<br />

book scripts, and enjoys<br />

watching films and<br />

TV shows on different<br />

streaming services at a<br />

constant rate. He likes to<br />

delve into darker themes<br />

and stories, whilst trying<br />

to create poignancy to<br />

make readers experience<br />

something meaningful<br />

and existential from his<br />

writing. His piece here,<br />

“Shakespeare, William”<br />

is meant to be seen as<br />



ABOUT US<br />

a deconstruction of the<br />

bard’s language, leading<br />

to a construction of<br />

worldly contemplation.<br />

He’s on Twitter at @<br />

AlexakaSatan.<br />

POETRY<br />


Thee Sim Ling (she/<br />

her) is a young writer<br />

in Singapore who has<br />

placings in several<br />

competitions and has<br />

been published in<br />

Overachiever Magazine,<br />

BAZOOF! and Skipping<br />

Stones. She is also a<br />

writer for websites<br />

such as Gen Z Writes<br />

and Plastic-Lite SG.<br />

Being autistic with<br />

mild scoliosis, she is<br />

passionate about writing<br />

about disability hot<br />

topics. She is currently<br />

addicted to puzzlesolving<br />

and website<br />

building. lucindathee.<br />

com<br />

POETRY<br />


Tom Stockley is a queer<br />

artist, poet and activist<br />

known on stage and<br />

page as T.S. IDIOT. They<br />

write about mental<br />

health, identity politics<br />

and the sadness and<br />

small joys we find in<br />

the cracks of every day<br />

life. They cut their teeth<br />

in the DIY punk and<br />

queer communities of<br />

the UK, and over the last<br />

decade have performed<br />

and published their<br />

work everywhere from<br />

national museums to<br />

toilet cubicles.<br />

POETRY<br />


Sarah Syed is an<br />

enthusiastic activist,<br />

public speaker, and<br />

student researcher<br />

who is eager to bring<br />

a positive impact to<br />

the world around her.<br />

In her spare time, she<br />

loves to write poetry<br />

and short stories, which<br />

have been awarded<br />

at national level and<br />

received international<br />

recognition.She has<br />

been published in two<br />

youth books and in<br />

London. She explores<br />

many opportunities<br />

in STEM and has been<br />

awarded countless times<br />

at school, regionally and<br />

was a finalist for national<br />

and international<br />

competitions. Sarah<br />

hopes to pursue a<br />

career in pediatrics<br />

while also advocating<br />

for social justice and<br />

environmental issues.<br />


THANKS TO:<br />

Our internal staff, along<br />

with our community on<br />

Twitter and Instagram,<br />

who have relentessly<br />

supported us, despite<br />

the many obstacles we<br />

faced with curating this<br />

issue.<br />

THe global youth review IS A literary<br />

and arts MAGAZINE THAT is dedicated<br />

to amplifying the voices of the youth,<br />

especially those that are traditionally<br />

marginalized.<br />

THE<br />

G L O B A L<br />

Y O U T H<br />

REVIEW<br />

Founded in 2020, we use words as a vehicle<br />

with which we unify and empower young<br />

voices. Our mission is to combat divisive<br />

narratives and bridge cultures, people,<br />

and ideas together.<br />


P<br />

A<br />

G<br />

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92<br />

P<br />

A<br />

G<br />

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REVIEW<br />

<strong>ISSUE</strong> <strong>II</strong><br />

JUNE 2021

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