"As the years passed, he fell into despair and lost all hope. for who could ever learn to love a beast?"
—Beauty and the Beast

Letter from the Editors

Dear Reader,

This issue’s theme is “Cursed.” This is the first step in a story, the moment when evil forces, whether internal or external, act on the main character. At this moment, the character may not even realize their predicament, but their tale has already begun. In having this as our theme, we hope to convey the first step of a fairy tale, to fit with our overarching theme of “Once Upon a Time.” You will read pieces that are eerie and unsettling, see characters reflect on the starts of their own journeys, and view the haunting artwork that accompanies the writing. We hope you enjoy this start to our fairy-tale journey.

Kalliope Editors-in-Chief,

Talia Berg, Annabel Kermaier, Brooke Kohl and Nadav Lemberger

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state of emergency
By Ariella Marmon

i made a list with bullet points

of everywhere his bullets point

but he crushed my pen under his heel.

i wonder; will i ever heal?

if i am hit and blown to bits

will i be missed or only mist?

would anybody even hear?

i think my demons live in here,

inside my head, my broken mind.

although i scream, i’m paid no mind.

i cannot stop; i have no choice.

weak words spoken by a weaker voice

are easy for them to ignore.

i’ve never felt this way before.

what's in my head is killing me,

i cling to driftwood; lost at sea. 

my sleeves grow dark and start to drip;

redness does not stain just my lips.

dark red blood pumped by my heart

spills from my skin as i fall apart.

my thoughts are racing day and night,

i don’t think i’ll ever feel alright.

my train of thought is off the rails;

in the distance, a siren wails.

i reach for an emergency brake

to slow my brain before it breaks.

but i’m too late; the train will crash

and what once worked will turn to ash.

a crumpled chassis, twisted steel;

flaws hidden under paint i’ll steal.

Photograph by Ellie Weisberg

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Valerie
By Rosie Fellig

                        hen my sister was fourteen, she

                      bought her first pair of high heels.                      They were peach, a fuzzy suede that                    changed shades by the touch. They                      were rounded at the toe, with a simple thin stiletto heel polishing them off. I recall my mother leading my sister into Nordstrom’s as she gained access to the showcases that held her newfound femininity.

“This one is too pointy.”

She dismissed the shoe clerk with the swipe of a hand.

“This one is too red,” she said, declining the outstretched box in my mother’s pink manicured fingers.

My Mother and I gazed at each other with knowing eyes as if to say, "She’s too picky!"

But at last, her plump, pubescent fingers held THE pair.

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My sister didn’t sleep that week unless she was holding her heels.

I remember being in awe — high heels! Could you believe it? The epitome of womanhood that I so dearly wished to acquire now belonged to my big sister — the 3 inches added to her short frame made her seem invincible.

My sister, Vita, now 23, and I, Rosie, now 16, trudge downtown in New York City to eat vegan pizza and watch the new Wes Anderson film, immensely enjoying observing the NYU students who have nothing to discuss but photo backdrops. 

I say, “Do you know what the most poetic thing you’ve ever done was?” 

“What?” she asks.

“The week you got your first pair of heels, and slept with them every night.” 

“Hmm...” she says, a quick smile forming on her

face. She nods as she walks with her usual slight skip. 

“They were very pretty.” 

Her unwavering loyalty to their beauty, a decade after their purchase, makes me envious; I wish I could love so freely as she does, so logically. 

 

Under the thicket of an autumn New York City night, I stare at my sister’s moving side profile; 

Our shared nose and lips, her almond eyes, her flat, wispy balayage hair... 

and I find inspiration in her,

I find honesty and unabashed passion,

And most of all, I find an objective I’ve longed to be taught that has been right in front of me all along — 

To live as life comes.

Photograph by Zehava Shatzkes

                 he street looks like your average

                 suburban street. The houses are all

                 perfectly lined up, ten feet of luscious

                 grass separating them from the

                 sidewalk. The trees complement the

                 yards of the brick and wooden houses. The grass on the top of the street is a luscious green, while the bottom is a dismal gray. The sky above the green starts as a smoky gray and then above the gray grass comes the intense blue sky. Smack in the middle, where the green grass meets the gray and the gray sky becomes the blue, lies the outlier of the street. This outlier is the home to everyone and to no one. There is always noise emanating from it, but if you attempt to look inside, you will find nothing. Newcomers on the street, often puzzled, will try to investigate but never come back out

the same. Some come back in a state of mental paralysis, some come out screeching in fear of life and humanity, some commit suicide from the wonders within, and last but certainly not least, some never make it out at all. It is the unspoken enigma, the outlier, always thought of but never spoken of, unless you want to end up like Mr. and Mrs. Johnson. It’s always the foolish and the intelligent that fall to the same fate. It’s in their nature. The in-betweens are left behind, helplessly watching their neighbors and guests repeat the pattern. It is their duty to the outlier to be the bystander. If one decides to help, they fail, but if one doesn’t help, they morally fail. It's a personal decision that each resident made. What would be yours?

the outlier
By Jessica Horowitz

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kintsugi
By Naomi Elkin

shhhh, it titters.

it?

(the dark.)

 

In my right hand, a glass. In my left, an ice pick.

I lift the glass; it slips and slides between the grooves of my palm, unable to settle quite right. I can’t remember why my hands aren’t dry.

Crystal clear and solid, the devious little shard is a helper. Oh yes. It scrutinizes me, probes my skin, marks any failings and fallibilities it detects. It’s good at that. Detecting. It grapples for purchase, grapples for anything. My third eye.

(Cursed is a word engraved in my skin for as long as I can remember. Even here in the dark, dark, dark I can read it.)

I am cursed, I think.

Ah. There.

I drop the glass. it fractures—one, two, three pieces. A million, maybe.

Cursed, cursed, cursed, it laughs in that shrill voice.

My left hand is the perfect portrait of destruction.

The pick is there to carry out another purpose, a darker purpose, a purpose even more sinister than broken glass.

Yes. The pick can shatter.

So it drives itself home on the thousand marks, the thousand flecks of me that I can no longer stand. I am rent apart into more pieces than the crushed glass, beyond the barriers of broken—I’m unfixable.

 

I collect the shards of me and begin to walk. I almost stumble over a lump of clay at my feet, placed tenderly in a porcelain cup glued with gold at its seams. 

 

I don’t remember why it’s there, or what purpose it could have served. But I am alone here in the dark. Who else save I, a different me from another time, a different time, might have left it? The clay is the same color as my right hand, where the glass never quite fit right.

maybe . . .

a thousand fragments—I—stoop down, a thousand pieces glued together by gold and sheer will. I collect the little cup, the clay. And to do that, I drop the pick.

Perhaps the pick can shatter other things, things already broken like me, but it can also be shattered. So it shatters too. Into even more pieces than me, than the glass. Gone. It will never be the same. Unfixable.

 

My cold hands are warmed now, and the gold is setting, and maybe I’m not a thousand pieces anymore. Maybe just nine-hundred-ninety-nine. Ninety-eight. Seven. Six.

 

The clay understands me. I am a creature of cracks filled with gold, the definition of a mark in the history of an object. These fissures are a part of me, as sure as the spirit within my body and cursed scrawled in crude lettering. And this gold is not hiding the grooves and cuts where, for a second, I forgot to treasure myself. It highlights them. 

 

As I study the cup, just as broken and novel as me, I wonder why.

The Passage
By Eliana Birman

even Time is getting lazy in the hot sun

the Earth is warmer and the Earth is sunnier but everyone’s

      just done

the sky blazes orange and red even when the moon shines 

and we sit idly by while the health of the planet declines

 

even Time is hanging lifeless from the dead trees

the air is dirty but we are just grateful for the breeze

it’s getting harder to breathe

will someone tell me, what are we even trying to achieve?

 

Time’s just doing its dirty little task

I swear to you, we’re doing fine but please put on your mask

revolution, revolution, battle cry

evolution just goes on until we die

 

Time’s just doing its gritty little chores

it’s still too hot even if we open all the doors

more pollution, contribution to the earth

what’s your solution? 

pray to God for a rebirth.

Drawing by Nadav Lemberger

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the light within her eye
By Jessica Horowitz

Her eyes are staring into mine, screaming for help. I can see it, the stretch of light buried beneath the storm of her eyes. The wind and rain are using all of their might to block out her light. I must help fight to save her light. But the wind is pushing me to the ground like gravity. The light is starting to slowly fade and the wind is getting stronger, so I have to fight harder. This time, when the wind sends a gust to push me back, I grab it and take it for myself. I wield that gust of wind and sprint as fast as I can, trying to steal as much of the wind’s force as possible. I’m soaring through the storm, arm’s length from the light. The light, I could feel its aura. My fingertip is about to reach the surface, but her eyes shut and the darkness swarms the light, while I am trapped within her storm.

Photograph by Eliana Birman

That Girl and Her Acoustic Guitar
By Millie Schwartz

         remember, that little girl, sitting on her

         front porch with an acoustic guitar.

         She would play in sunshine, and in

         moonshine, in the winter. 

         Through rain, snow, wind, and sun, I

         would always hear her playing on her acoustic guitar. 

D G A7

It started out as mindless strumming, then it was a chord here and there. 

D G A7

She harmonized with the birds, playing along to their tunes, adding little riffs when she felt like it. She quickly progressed to picking, fluidly and without pause. She would play outside on her acoustic guitar, morning, evening, all day long, as long as she felt like.

D G E7

Soon, she was playing along with the wind, the crickets, the birds, the bees, the distant rumble of thunder that could never touch her or her acoustic guitar. 

D G D/F# Em Em7 A7

Whole notes, half notes, quarter notes, eighth notes, sixteenth notes, switching chords between each beat. The whole world knew this girl was playing, and yet none ever heard her. 

Except me.

D G A7 D G A7

That girl, with her acoustic guitar, would sit outside on her front porch and serenade the squirrels and the blue jays, playing complicated riffs and simple chords, stringing them all together in a symphony of one.

D G E7 D G D/F# Em Em7 A7

One day, as she played out her heart’s content, her notes sounded sadder than they had before, more somber. If the squirrels noticed, they said

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nothing. If the blue jays realized, they held their tongues. 

(D A7) D G A7 D G A7

D G E7 D D/F# Em Em7 A7

Every day, that girl played her acoustic guitar on her front porch, from morning until evening.

Until one day, she didn’t.

(D A7) F C G/B G D A7

Because one day, the girl picked up her acoustic guitar and left.

She yearned for an audience to hear her, longed for the applause of more than just the blue jays.

So she picked up her acoustic guitar, and left. 

(F C G/B G D A7)

F C G/B G D A7

F C G/B G D A7

She played riffs, she played chords, she played singular notes, reverberating through the instrument and into the atmosphere.

She played for kings, for queens, for dukes, and lords, and ladies.

She played for the most extravagant citizens in the most lavish halls.

She played for all who would listen.

And yet still, no one heard her.

F C G/B G D A7

F C G/B G D A7

F C G/B G D A7

The girl played for everyone, for anyone who wanted to see her and her acoustic guitar. But soon enough, no one wanted to see. 

“It’s old!” they said.

“Get a new act!” they complained.

The girl had to take her acoustic guitar elsewhere.

(A7 A7(9))

Unwanted in palaces and music halls, the girl turned to the streets with her acoustic guitar. She

played for pedestrians, who would sometimes be

kind enough to toss a coin at her feet.

D G A7 D G A7

But the villagers grew tired of her constant playing. Soon, they told her to take her acoustic guitar and leave.

“We don’t want you here!” they told her.

“It’s too loud!” they whined.

The girl, without anyone to play for, wandered.

She played for the clouds in the sky and the tumbleweeds that blew her way.

But there was just something missing. Clouds couldn’t clap when she was done. Tumbleweeds couldn’t appreciate her music. 

D G E7

One day she sat down, set her acoustic guitar at her feet, and wept.

She thought she was cursed.

Cursed to wander, cursed to never be heard.

The girl picked up her acoustic guitar and played her heart out, pouring everything she’d ever felt into the melody.

D G D/F# Em Em7 A7

And as the girl played, she realized that maybe she had been going about things the wrong way.

D G E7

Maybe she hadn’t been focusing on the right things.

D G D/F# Em Em7 A7

Maybe she had been so caught up in her wish to be heard that she had forgotten what was most important.

D G D/F# Em Em7 A7

Maybe it was never about who else heard her.

(F C G/B G D)

The girl, without anyone to play for, played for herself.

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Photograph by Aaron Goldgewert

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Hate is a strong word
By Lani Fetman

I hate it when you make me smile 

I hate it when you make me cry 

I hate it when you say hello 

I hate it when you say goodbye 

 

I hate it when you scream out loud

I hate it when you are silent 

I hate it when you are sweet as sugar 

I hate it when you are violent 

I hate it when you do not care 

I hate it when you try  

I hate it when you tell the truth

I hate it when you lie

 

I hate you because you moved on 

I hate you because you left 

I hate you because I loved you 

I love you 

And in that fine line I am bereft.

I'm at peace now.
By Nava Lacher

                   or the first time in five years, I’m back at the family

                   dining table. It’s foreign and familiar all at once, sitting

                   in my childhood home as a stranger. My mother stares at

                   me vacantly while my father looks down into his wine

                   glass. The therapist said conflict resolution would require effort on both parts, but there’s no more effort to be made. We’re done. I raise my glass of champagne and offer a toast to my parents, but the silence is ever so loud — almost ringing in my ears. Their faces remain emotionless. Detached. I want to scream, demand an answer for their deafness, but the only response is the gleam of the knives twisted into their backs. The pool of liquid on the floor catches the light of the chandelier, casting a faint red shadow on the wall.

 

I’m at peace now.

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Cornered Prey
By Ellie Weisberg

          spent my whole life running; now if I listen close enough I can hear the pitter-

          patter of his feet. If I listen close enough, I can hear the scraping of his nails

          against the damp, cool ground. Oh, he's coming for me. He is coming for me in

          that slow, taunting manner of his. I have spent my whole life one step ahead,              only to be backed into the dark corner in which I now stand. He does not

          laugh as he greets me—no, that would be too kind—instead, he smirks, leaving his inner thought hidden behind his eyes. As if I am not good enough to know the grace with which he blesses me, he bends down in a hollow-held slouch, lacking care and character. His body and shadow become indistinguishable from the night sky he runs through. He does not even take a second to ponder whether to turn left or right because his every minute, his every moment, has come down to this second. This second where he could catch me. This second where he could lock his fists around my ever beating heart laying at the surface of my chest. He and I have been at this little dance for years, this uncoordinated dance of doom. A constant steeping to an eight, four, two count. He thinks I know nothing of him. Oh silly, how could I not know my predator if I am doomed to be its prey? So dance with me, you fool, as I do my jester's jingle, for as my feet hit the floor it is yours that will surely follow. As I took my last breath, it was his that never followed.  

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It's not a Mirror
By Eliana Birman

But I look like you…

Same bouncy hair (although mine’s a little bouncier)

Same straight nose (although mine’s a little straighter)

Same brown eyes (although mine are a little browner)

Same short legs (although mine are a little shorter)

I don’t get it. 

I look like you…

But you don’t look like me.

broken
By Talia Berg

i can’t move. i watch everyone smiling and jumping and dancing with joy and i can’t move. quicksand’s been swallowing me up for years and years and i’m not strong enough to climb out. i try desperately to make my way out but all i can do is claw at the surface and keep my head above the sand. 

 

i can’t float. i hear everyone talking and laughing and singing and i can’t float. i’ve been underwater for years and years and i can’t seem to find my way back up. i haven’t quite drowned yet, but i haven’t reached the surface either.

 

i can’t speak. i see my reflection in the mirror and all of a sudden i don’t know who i’m looking at and i can’t speak. i’m a labyrinth with walls at every turn and my identity is lost in the middle and every day i think i catch a glimpse of the sun but i blink and it disappears. 

 

i can’t live. i walk through my life and i live day to day and i’m surviving but i can’t live. and i paint on my persona and let everyone tell me it will be okay and they keep saying that and they keep saying that and they keep saying that but it’s been years and years and it hasn’t gotten better.

 

i can’t stop i keep moving and floating and talking and living even on the days when it feels like i can’t and i can’t stop and some days it’s easy and some days it’s so so hard and i don’t know what to do because i think it gets better but every day starts feeling like a battle a tennis ball going back and forth and back and forth and i wish it would stay in my court but it always bounces back and i want the war to be over i want to not have to fight anymore i want life to be easy like it is for other people i want to dance through life i want to sing with joy i want to love i want to be loved i want this to not be so hard i want to move i want to breathe i want to speak i want to live i want to stop but

 

i can’t move.

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Painting by Keira Cohen

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What you don't see
By Hannah Friedman

She was blessed. 

She had parents.

Her mother was always speeding around the kitchen island with cookie dough in her hair and flour matted against her cheeks. Her father, on the other hand, sat plastered to a folding chair staring at data on a computer screen: His hand folded into a fist and resting against his forehead. 

She was blessed.

She had a house.

Colored pepto bismol with a forest green door, it was a cute little house with a white picket fence and a little mailbox protruding. The aroma of freshly cut green grass and newly planted chrysanthemums billowing through the air.

She was blessed.

She had a little town.

Neighbors constantly walking by with smiles on their faces, waving to every passerby whether stranger or not because who really is a stranger in this nice, friendly neighborhood.   

But she didn’t think she was blessed. Because what really is the difference between a blessing and a curse if not perspective. Can all blessings not be curses if analyzed through a microscope? 

She was not blessed, she thought. 

She was cursed. 

She had parents, but not a mother and a father.

Always caught up in baking and work, her parents never really parented her. She had 2 people who loved her, but never really showed her any love. She had 2 parents, not a mother and a father.

She was cursed.

She had a house, but not a home. 

She had a cute house the color of pepto bismol, the kind you would find when searching up the classic suburban household on the internet. Nonetheless, this house was not a home. Family and a bed with a roof doesn’t equal a place where one feels comfortable. A location where one lives doesn’t necessarily correlate to where one feels alive. 

She was cursed. 

She lived in a little town, but it was a jail.

She wanted to leave. She wanted to explore the world, but the strange friendly neighbors were the sirens that kept her there. How could she be so selfish to leave this lovely town? She must stay, though she didn’t want to stay. She was a fish in a sea, an individual in a community, a prisoner in a jail, a girl in a little town. It baffled her that she could feel so small in a little town.

She was cursed.

She was cursed to sit and write about the blessings and curses of her life. 

Taunting and torturing herself with what she could do if only she got up from the table and stopped writing. She would never leave though, because she had 2 parents, a perfect pepto bismol colored house, and a small, friendly town. 

That was the worst part about the curses: the blessings within the curses. Or was it the curses within the blessings? It didn’t matter. She was blessed and cursed.

For this was my love, my shadow and me.

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Photograph by Emily Jacobs

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Photograph by Keira Cohen

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Curses
By Chananyah Zaider

                    here was no getting out of it.

                    He was standing in a long line of

                    people, each waiting for their

                    turn to be handed a white slip of

                    paper from the fishbowl on the blue-clothed table.

After 30 minutes that simulated 7 years, his slip lay in the palm of his trembling hand, frighteningly toying with the prospect of what might be written on the other side.

    If you acted out of conduct, you got a curse. That was the rule. The curse could take the form of a minor inconvenience, a life-impairing difficulty, or anything in between. You only found out once you pulled your white slip of paper out of the glass fish-bowl that perched threateningly atop a shiny, bronze sculpture in the entrance hall (precisely above where the company’s founder was buried). It served as a warning for any budding slackers or rebels that made a living under their roof.

    None of what took place was intentional, but even an innocent mistake could have dangerous ramifications. And with ramifications this dangerous, it wouldn’t be fair to let him get away with his error, no matter how innocent.

    “Everything you carry, no matter how lacking in weight, will simulate an

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uncomfortably heavy load on behalf of your body.”
    He had to reread the sentence imprinted on the slip in his hand multiple times in order to believe what he was seeing, but once it became fully clear that this was to be his punishment, he nearly dropped dead with relief. Of course it’d be a pain, but after witnessing the disfigured faces, spiked eyeballs, and Danny DeVito look-alikes that came about in the last two minutes, he couldn’t have been more grateful.

    The first two weeks were manageable. With every object he picked up, despite the extra effort required to support it, he was gratefully reminded of what could’ve been, when confronted with certain employees whose appearances were jarringly distorted compared to a week prior. How could he complain about heaving things back and forth while undeserving colleagues of his were suffering at the hands of shocking deformations, physical impediments, and other traumatizing plagues simply by luck of the draw?

    After some time, when most of the lingering relief had drained from his system, the suffering had truly begun. It was hard to feel thankful when he had to brace himself before picking up a pair of scissors, a plastic

spoon, and other relatively light objects. Each step he took with the additional weight of anything he carried drained a lot of his energy, as if he had decided to run a 5K while carrying a boulder over his head. Just to make it to his office for work every single day took twice the amount of time. By the time he could finally seat his terribly aching body, drenching the cushion of his comfy office chair with his sweat, he could only focus on trying to prevent himself from passing out.

    However, this was no excuse to sleep on the job. The institution was high-paying. They wanted their money’s worth in the form of work ethic. Their creative policy to punish unsatisfactory workers casted a constant shadow over each individual to ensure that the company wasn’t gaining any less than they had bargained for. In that sense, everyone who worked behind the metal automatic doors of the looming, silver skyscraper was prey. And curses didn’t discriminate—not even among the previously victimized.

Sleepy Town
By Elza Koslowe

The town fell asleep one night in the winter

A frosty white sheet sloped its mountainous land

Cold ice held shut tight the eyes of the dreamers

Whose long night extended till ice turned to sand

 

That night the sun set just like on any other

Two stars became clear and gleamed in the dark

Then townspeople slumbered, as though drunk with wine

One figure arose, its cloak sleek and stark

This figure enchanted the townspeople sleeping

To dream of their thoughts most ominous and bleak

It tapped on each fallen head with outstretched fingers

It fed on the memories of frail thin and weak

 

The townspeople sleep in their beds to this day

Their nostrils inhale and their lips close and part

As if in a pleasant fog they coast through life

But terror is drumming through each beating heart

Exactly
By Gabe Greenfield

          ’ve gotten used to the steady pain on my

          fingertips and the tap-tap-tap of levers and

          springs. Calluses form and ears adjust, but I’ve

          yet to accept the silence. An invisible sound

          leaves my mouth, do I still make noise? A tree

          falling in an empty forest, no one there to hear it. Accompanied only by the crushing silence, an infinitude of tapping, and the sound of my own voice, I’m a castaway carving “HELP” into the mental sands of an island itself a prisoner. The walls are gray, the sky is gray, the world is gray, but the words stain black. So I tap on, each key a reprieve and a ball, each letter a relief and a chain. Tap-tap-tap; the tide comes in, washing away any hope of rescue. There it is again. Can you hear it? The silence rings in my ears. And then there’s the tapping. A type-writer, a captor, an escape. Whatever you want to call it, it’s there. I struggle with the fact that I’m not.

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To live or To die
By Katie Nachmani and Eliana Stein

A mansion’s shadow overcasts a town, and it settles into dust.

I loved that house, despite its appearance and doorknobs covered in rust.

A ceiling packed with deep cracks, seeping mold, and shattered lights,

A maroon painted door, the dry blood of a soul who slept here a couple o’ nights.

 

A thin wooden roof gracing the heads of grand statues crafted of brass,

In between these rotting walls lived I, Luna, a young, blushing lass.

My mother and I hardly stepped foot outside, but I never felt confined.

We spent many moons here, just her and I, for she was cherishable and kind.

 

Haunting these halls was one Lance, a man invisible but not truly gone.

His ghost whispered to me in my sleep, every eve from dusk till dawn.

He said, “To not have ceased nor have

paused her twisted murderous trail,

Only to be one amongst the victims locked in an eternal jail.”

 

Four days earlier as the foliage spun into a crisp orange hue,

The pungent smell of a corpse rose with the sun and morning dew.

Frightened to find human remains packed under string with thick ties,

I bathed myself in white bubbly foam as comfort from this bitter surprise.

“O!”, I exclaimed, wondering how could this occur

For I am lost and like a stranger without her.

 

Now newly orphaned, sobbing in dim candlelight, I yearn.

When the melted yellow wax drips on my arm, I simply let it burn.

Delving deep under the skin to where it just nearly scorches the bone,

Writhing as I scream, the bats begin to flutter, and groan.

My eyes are teary, my vision’s a blur

For I am lost and like a stranger without her.

 

I never quite knew who these ghosts were, or why they’d chosen my home to reside,

Till’ the eve of the 7th of November, when I found that Mother had died.

“Why?” I ask a single-word question while sobbing silently.

“Your mother was no angel, see, the one whom she killed first was me!”

 

In disbelief I unmangle what this dead soul had just said.

Surely, Mother hadn’t - but what if? Had I been misled?

“Tis’ a lie, and nothing more, she didn’t do it,” I decide.

“Are you certain? Check your

reflection in the mirror,” one ghost

replied.

 

I turn my head to face the wall, where a once golden mirror hung.

I feel my face turn pink to white, I feel a swelling in my lung.

For although I stood directly in front of the reflecting wall,

There was no one looking back at me - I now began to bawl.

 

Glancing down at my hollow bones, now translucent, pale, and white,

It was I who had died, murdered by Mother, one eerie fateful night.

Her hidden knives cooped up in the cupboard under the wooden drawers,

Mother, you fooled me to think that I was desired to be yours.

O, I think back to when I was alive and how angry I would be,

For now I know that she was the one who was a stranger to me.

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Photograph by Jessica Horowitz

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The Mirror
By Ava Lissauer

            f you look back far enough, you can

            see my reflection in the mirror

            plastered on the wall of the room.

            The room is made up of pale drywall,

            linoleum floors, and a mirror. There I

            am hiding in the corner, hugging my

            knees to my chest. My nose is now stained with the scent of mold and dust. Through the reflection of the mirror, my teary face is shown. The dim light won’t give away my secret. I can hope at least. I am safe at last, until a squeaking sound becomes louder, turning into thuds. And thuds turn into clear footsteps. I shut my eyes as the sound of shoes hitting the floor gets closer. As the door creaks open, my eyes seal as hard as they can. As the footsteps slap against the linoleum, I slowly open my eyes and scan my surroundings. Nothing has changed, I am alone in the room. But how can it be? A reek of mud and sweat takes over the room, but no source is found.

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As I scout out the room, I stumble upon a frightening sight. I take a closer look into the mirror. If you look back far enough, you can see my reflection in the mirror with the shadow of a tall figure creeping up behind me. My eyes meet with the man in the mirror. The figure’s shaggy hair curtains his identity. My face turns to match the color of the walls, as the man in the mirror slowly dips his arm into the pocket of his bulky, wool trench coat. His hand appears back from the depths of his coat, revealing a shiny object with a sharp tip. Taking a firm grip on the leather handle of the knife, with all the strength of his arm, he jabs me in the chest. Repeatedly continuing this motion like a jackhammer, covering his hand with fluids flowing from my chest. No mercy crosses his mind as I shriek in agony. I am hopeless as I lay on the floor. Suffocating in a pool of my own blood. With one final strike, my soul escapes my body.

Ghost Town
By Annabel Kermaier

You are walking. Your feet ache and the dusty road seems to lengthen and swim before your eyes, twisting and coiling like a devious snake. You see light reflect off the river on the horizon.

 

If you look back far enough, you’ll be able to see the red tops of the mountains pushing through the clouds. You’ll feel like they’re watching you go, silent but disapproving. You’ll tell yourself they don’t care — they’re just mountains — but you’ll know you’re wrong. You’ll tell yourself it’s hard for you too, but only to ease the guilt you’ll feel that you’re happy to leave.

If you look back far enough, you’ll start to think you can see the people through the clouds. You’ll imagine a dark silhouette standing on the side of a mountain, and you’ll see their hand raise in farewell. You’ll tell yourself they’re wishing you well. You’ll pretend they’re not beckoning you home. If you look back far enough, you will remember the place you’re running from. You will picture the dusty stone and the mist hanging in the air, the red homes built into the mountainside and the flowers growing out of the cracks in their walls. You’ll remember the stillness. The way the rain would fall lightly out of the mist, dampening the

roads and trickling down the sloped

roofs. Even as you leave, you’ll remember the way you wanted to stay forever.

If you look back for long enough, you’ll start to forget. You’ll forget the children, running through the streets and climbing the houses, thinking they’d spent their whole lives there, thinking they’d spent their whole lives looking for parents whose faces they’d never remember. You’ll forget the way they would try to tell each other stories even though they could never think of anything but the mountain. The ones that were too young to speak except for a few words, the ones that were too young to walk, and were carried around by the ones only a few years older, their grasping hands curling and uncurling towards anyone who walked by. The restless feeling that you had something to do, that kept you from sleeping at night and sent you to pace the streets of the town. The static people, unchanging and incapable of creativity, staying out of a fear of what comes next and the impossible desire to return to their lives. You’ll forget all the reasons you had to leave.If you look back for long enough, you’ll stop walking. Your feet will slow and stop, as though sensing that your mind has become occupied and will no longer keep them in check. The glimmer of light on the horizon will wink at you desperately, but

your eyes will close as you remember and remember and forget. You’ll turn around, facing the mountains directly for the first time since you left. The pull will be stronger, even though you are farther, but you won’t think about that. You’ll already be running back.

You’ll march up rocky trails that wind around and around and around, bringing you higher up the mountain to the city in the clouds. The journey will feel easy and light, lighter even than the journey down. You will feel a sense of coming home. The boulders will seem familiar, and you will see smiles in the mountainside. You will not notice your breath becoming laden with unfallen rain even as the air thins. The sight of those red stone buildings around the final bend of the path will occupy your mind.

You will walk the streets. You will see faces that you recognize, not for their features but for their expressions. Anger, exhaustion, fear, envy, and confusion — you will see them all, and remember them. The people bearing them will greet you familiarly, recognizing you in the same way you recognize them, not realizing you tried to leave. They might resent you if they knew, so you won’t tell them. You won’t talk to them at all. It will be pointless. They won’t remember anyways.

Time will pass. You will begin to forget that you tried to leave. You will spend years, decades, centuries on the

mountaintop. You will cast no shadow and leave no footprint. Your children and grandchildren will seek you across the horizon, but you will not remember them. Civilizations will rise and fall, and still the red mountain will stand, unnervingly still.

You will watch the sky change and the people stay the same. The faces will overlap in the street, passing through each other. Some will try to leave. They will drift down the mountain, following the same winding paths you did. They will run at first, hoping to leave the mountain and the dust and everything they mean behind. Then they will slow, making their way inexorably to the horizon. A river will be waiting for them. They will cross it, if they can forget everything you couldn’t and remember everything you forgot. As they stand on the shore on the far side of the river, the pull of their past lives will disappear. They will look back.

 

As you walk away from the mountains, you imagine you can see them looking back. They try to call something to you, but you can’t hear it. You know what they are saying, though.

“Don’t look back.”

"Late Nighters"
By Joseph Berger

          t flows through him: the rush, the vibrance,

          the euphoria make their way from his feet

          and slowly rise through his entire body,

          making their way to his brain. He gazes at

          them: the stars, the moon, the galaxy of

          planets untouched by humankind, all making up the timeless night sky that he knows commands the decisions of its inhabitants in its dark depths below. 

 

He has an eerie sense that his circumstances have changed. He feels short bursts of wind grazing his skin; he rotates his head down to eye level and catches a glimpse of what looks like distant blurry strobe lights. What he once saw as far away lights manifest themselves into fast-moving, passing cars; he knows where he is.  Suddenly, the headlights begin getting brighter; everything is becoming white-noise and blurs once again.


Blurry lights magnify. Looking around, he knows exactly where and when he is: on line at a fast-food restaurant. This wait, this never-ending wait. The only thing running through his mind is, when can I eat? Taking another look, he realizes that

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this fast-food establishment is filled with and only with university attendees experiencing the same impatience for a meal on their late night out: hunger.

The man takes his seat, selecting number four of the five unoccupied tables in the establishment. With a choice of any table or seat, one of the college students, a woman, sits on the opposite end of table number four. 

After a few moments of the man and woman being caught up in the dance of gazing at one another, making eye contact, and then hastily looking away, the front desk worker places two bags on the food counter and shouts out order 864. The man looks at his receipt, excited that he is nearer to his food, but as he begins walking over to the counter, the worker calls out another order; startled by the worker's words, he trips. Embarrassed, he quickly takes his meal and rushes back to his table. He begins prepping his meal, but his focus is intruded on by the young woman as he realizes that she hastily caught up to him in this abnormal eating contest. 

Finally, beginning their meals, their first bites harmonize; MM...FOOD!

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Charcoal by Yaffa Lofstock

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pretty bird
By Ellie Weisberg

There once flew a canary 

With her pretty purple feathers

Long tail tracing streaks of gold through the sky

Weaving, spinning wind through the air

Soft like a kiss of honey

And Her eyes 

they reflected the water 

as round as the moon

Warmer than the sun

Her song she sang

Silenced the young from weeping

Stopped the old from forgetting

Lifted the smallest tree to the mountain tops 

“Oh, what a pretty bird,” they sang

“Oh, what a pretty bird”

 

There once flew a canary 

With dark, cold feathers

They were so heavy they dragged her down

So, weighed down, she fell

Shackled to the desolate ground   

And her eyes 

they reflected the water 

as round as the moon

Warmer than the sun

Her song she sang

Silenced the young from weeping

Stopped the old from forgetting

Lifted the smallest tree to the highest hills

“Oh, what a pretty bird,” they sang

“Oh, what a pretty bird”


 

There once flew a canary 

With dark, cold feathers

They were so heavy they dragged her down

So weighted down she fell

Shackled to the grim unforgiving ground   

And her eyes 

So black they absorbed the light

Hammered shut and sealed with tar

Colder than Neptune 

Her song she sang

Silenced the young from weeping

Stopped the old from forgetting

Lifted the smallest tree to the highest hills 

“Oh, what a pretty bird,” they sang

“Oh, what a pretty bird”



 

There once flew a canary 

With dark, cold feathers

They were so heavy they dragged her down

So weighted down she fell

Shackled to the grim, unforgiving ground   

And Her eyes 

So black they absorbed the light

Hammered shut and sealed with tar

Colder than Neptune 

Her song she sang

No louder than a whisper

Harmonized by the drip of tears

Hallowing the earth 

“Oh, what a pretty bird.”

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Cinderella
By Naomi Strupinsky

And I have often needed to remind myself that I am beautiful, or desirable, and worthy.

 

That this birthmark is not a blemish, not a deformity

but rather it is beautiful. 

Beautiful like seeping wine 

Beautiful like paint upon a homely cloth 

And beautiful like a kiss of the setting sun 

 

I am not cursed, mother.

                 rom the moment my mother saw

                 my face, she cried in the delivery

                 room. Right there surrounded by

                 doctors and nurses holding her

                 bundle of life, with their tired smiles and gloved hands, my mother sobbed like she'd just lost the lottery on life savings.

 

My mother, still dressed in her hospital gown, cried because of my face. 

 

She cried because upon her precious child there lay a large red stain. 

She cried for hours, unable to hold me for the first three days of my life

Because of one big, burgundy, blotch. 

 

She called it my curse. 

 

My mother worships beauty.

She dyed her hair blonde at 15,

changed her nose and her lips and her breasts. 

and her voice and her clothes and her laugh for my father

She tried in vain to change me.

Vain. What a fitting word for my mother. 

 

You can only imagine her devastation to see her only child, so marred, so sullied.

Her world of symmetry and glamor utterly ravaged by an ugly baby

Behind her cruel critiques and spiteful comments, 

Behind the wicked walls she’d built so the world would never know her shameful truth—

Her cursed daughter.

 

Because of my mother I have never known love.

I have never felt words of praise or affection

Never have felt a gaze that didn't intend to blame and belittle 

Photograph by Aaron Goldgewert

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Artwork by Noa Lavi

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damsel in distress
By Talia Berg

when angels go blind

when sirens go mute

when the devil is kind

when the master salutes

 

the agony is pleasant

the comfort turns to pain

the bird song is incessant

there’s a drought after the rain

 

what was is not what is

and nothing stays the same

the world creates a list

of who has died and what’s to blame

 

it’s funny, isn’t it?
when one thing becomes another?

 

a simple conversation

between lovers at a bar

but when there’s no elation

are they doomed to fall apart

flat tones and simple words

the silence is so loud

until one of them learns

of herself she should be proud

 

she makes a snap decision

she’s taking her life back

there can be no revision

she wants to stay on track

 

cause she cannot be bought

her body is her own

it’s true, her mind was caught

what he’s reaped must be sown

 

she breathes and then she says 

“i’m going my own way

you cannot have my head

no, you don’t have a say

 

if you will not love our child

then you must not love me

the lies you speak are wild

you have no virtuosity”

no, she cannot be controlled

that will not be allowed

that dumb old washed up toad

no longer has a crown

 

he sits on the train in silence

while she calmly walks away

he thought himself a prince

but now he’s become the prey

 

and so he stews in anger

as quiet floods his ears

his clarity will come much later

right now his mind’s a rusted gear

 

and she is free

and she’s happy

and she’s alone

but not lonely

 

and she lived happily ever after.

Shadows
By Brooke Kohl

Shadows danced in the pale moonlight as the soon-to-be Head Hunter strode through the forest, giving no mind to the loud crunching of leaves beneath his feet. That night, he believed, he was invincible. 

The wind whistled through the trees as he walked, casting a chill throughout the dimly lit forest. The witchery that always seemed to pervade the darkest corners of the forest only added to the chill, and sent the woodland creatures scurrying to their nests and burrows as the night thickened.

As the creatures cowered and the boy marched on with purpose and pride, The Lady of Darkness sat in her tent awaiting the boy’s arrival, the fingers of her right hand digging into the forest ground just outside her tent’s flap. She chuckled to herself as she felt the shadow of the previous Head Hunter contort, his body sentenced to pain he never thought possible. 

He deserves it, she thought to herself as she bared her lips in what some might call a smile. She only hoped his successor would be more worthy. 

“Come in,” she called softly as she felt the shadow of the boy cross her fingers. She pulled her hand back into the tent; as she did so, she used it to bend the shadows to her will, drawing the flaps of her tent aside enough to allow the boy to step inside. 

“You look cold,” she remarked, sounding more hospitable than the boy had expected. 

“Darkness is a blanket that leeches warmth,” he

responded, his voice that of a young boy. “I am cold, yes, but that means I am embracing the darkness. I enjoy it.” 

“Fool.” The Lady’s eyes sparkled as he shrunk back. “Darkness can provide the ultimate warmth, if you are strong enough to let it permeate deep into your bones. If you truly embrace darkness, you should need nothing more in your life.” 

She felt a flash of pity as he struggled for words. She had been in his position one time. “But no matter,” she continued. “You will learn to be a true Master one day. For now, coldness is a step in the right direction.” 

“Thank you, My Lady,” he murmured. 

“Would you care for a cup of tea?” As if on cue, the pot on her makeshift stove began to whistle. “I’ll give you a tip: it wouldn’t do you well to refuse.” 

“In that case, I would love a cup of tea.” 

No sooner had he spoken than shadows rushed towards the pot, picking it up and pouring tea out of it and into a mug. At the same time, more shadows picked up a chair and whisked it closer to the boy. “Sit,” the Lady said, as she herself climbed up off the floor, dusted off the bottom of her deep purple robes, and sat down in a chair across from the one the boy was to sit in. He sat, somewhat tentatively, and caught his tea with his own shadow as it whizzed towards him. “Impressive,” the Lady said, and the boy smiled. 

“But let us begin,” she continued. “You understand what your role would be, should you accept it?” 

“Yes, My Lady.” 

“And you understand what failure would bring you?” She once more felt the shadow of the previous Head, now limp with defeat. 

“Yes, My Lady.” 

“What makes you believe that you would be better suited to this role than your father was?” 

This gave the boy pause. “My father was weak,” he said after a few moments. “I will not hesitate when faced with the same choice he was.” 

“Your father was not just weak,” the Lady hissed. “Your father was foolish. He was foolish to believe in his own abilities, foolish to believe he was anything better than a rotten, useless little scum. I repeat: What makes you think you will be better?” 

Shadows whizzed across the room before she could stop them. They wrapped themselves around her neck and then began to spin, creating a swirling cage of shadows from her shoulders to her chin. She raked a finger through them, but it was not until she truly wrested control away from the boy that she was able to free herself. He does have remarkable control, thought the woman who had spent years honing her abilities and temperament to become the best of the best. 

“My father was weak,” the boy repeated. “My father would not allow himself to embrace darkness, and could never truly control a shadow.” The shadows around the boy twirled, bending the light in strange ways. “I may not be as perfect as you are, but I am already better than he is.”