Issue No. 1: Light and Faith

Poetry

Ruminations of a Fortune Teller

By: Allison Gellerstein

You’re the best around. Not much of a compliment, though a little flattery goes a long way to trust. Shh… I can hear it, the silence. Your name, your destiny bleeding into the quiet. Or it might be the traffic outside, you’ll never know the difference. Now close your eyes and focus, yes, I see your colors swirling around you. Auras are notoriously capricious, I could easily be confusing it with the muted tapestries in the room… Sip the tea please, it's time to read the leaves. Ohh, I see the, huh, a tree. I sense growth, a time to stretch your abilities and see change. I’m speaking absolute nonsense, but do I have your trust yet? Shh… I can’t see through my crystal ball with your doubt clouding the surface. For it to work you have to believe. That almost sounded real, did you believe it?.... Next are tarot cards. Listen to that snap as you flip the card over. It’s release. Your future is release, relinquished to the dealer of the cards. Do you believe me?

The Life of a Beautiful, Wise Child

 By:  Mia Hahn

A cold, frosty day.
The air was dark and foggy,
Everyone was on edge as they awaited the birth of a new child.
A beautiful, wise child.

A young girl, danced through the fields with her wrap around her head.
She helped her mother in the hustling market,
The smell of spices and cooked meat.
She fell and scraped her knees.
It’s okay, her mother shrugged to the child.
The beautiful, wise child.

Frightful, 
powerful people 
invade their loving home,
The warmth of her mother's hidden arms.
Her father told her to go.
Hide,
My beautiful, wise child.

The smell of blood as cattle are pushed through carts,
Shoved into the woods.
A friend,
Separated
From the beautiful, wise child.

The two reunited, as they continue to suffer.
But a spark of light is shone, 
As they revolted and danced under their love,
He was then married,
To the beautiful, wise child.

The taste of freedom as an angel was born,
A wonderful, precious angle.
She was a flower,
A beautiful Lily.
Born,
To the beautiful, wise child.

The flow of a boat as they journeyed to the land of freedom, liberty.
Hand in hand, they were sick, ill.
We’ll get through this,
Said the beautiful, wise child.

The hustle through the streets,
The people alike and unalike.
A small, cramped apartment, 
The three became four.
All of them safely together, 
With the beautiful, wise child.

A grandchild born and wed,
To an alluring woman.
The dancing and simcha,
The singing and sweat.
She smiled, satisfied,
The beautiful, wise child.

To see the day her first great-grandchild is born,
The enormous smile filled her beautiful soul.
She holds the infant close,
Cradling her to the chest 
Of the beautiful, wise child.

But then,
Her laughing,
Singing,
Kind,
Gentle,
Knowledgeable,
Match
Is gone.
Away.
Ten years she will have to live without him.
That beautiful, wise child.

But she laughed,
And cried.
She put on a brave face for everyone to see.
She smiled,
Holds her loved ones near and said,
It’s alright.
It’s a miracle,
To have that kind of love, the faith, the strength
Of the beautiful, wise child.

She fell.
A hard, lethal fall.
Her once useful hip was no longer dancing.
She was no longer singing,
She was humming,
Beautiful melodies for all to hear.
But of course, it’s okay,
For the beautiful, wise child.

One night.
No different from any other.
The air was cool,
The children were smiling.
She was alone,
But people surround her nonetheless,
The beautiful, wise child.

Awoken the next morning, people shook.
She had not woken up.
She had gone to her match.
She is the fire that lights the match.
They are together once again.

They sing and dance in front of the shining lights,
Eight nights of happiness.
They snuggle close as the cool frost blows into their home.
They are reminded of each other,
Their love,
Their legacy.
He is with 
his beautiful, wise child.

And the children, and the grandchildren, and the great-grandchildren.
They cry, they weep,
But they sing.
They pray,
They are happy for their beautiful, wise child.

She is happy.
She is safe.
She has taught all that she has needs to be teach.
She has done all she has needs to get done.
She has loved all that she needs to love.
She has lived all that she needs to live.
That beautiful, wise child.

Square Shaped Fingers Cradle

By: Ariella Weiss

Square shaped fingers cradle

The heavy silver frame

Housing the face of a fallen Broadway star

Her earnest expression provided only for

The photographer, drafted in The War

 

As she sits with her back to

The Park, eleven stories below

Beautiful, but the same stranger

To the little boy, now man,

Whom she forgot to watch grow

 

That little boy kneels

On the same patterned window seat

Overlooking The Park, eleven stories  below

The bare, shivering trees looking much like him

Stuck and lonely in Grandmother’s parlour

 

Nose pressed upon the cold panes

He wonders when the Broadway star

Or the Soldier in The War  

Would come back from Europe

All the ways across the Park

 

The little boy grew

Got married to a girl

Funny and smart, but he hardly knew

And left the window

Overlooking the Park, eleven stories below

 

They came back to the window

Prewar apartments are hard to come by, you know

The television raised his children

With their backs to

The Park, eleven stories below

 

Square shaped fingers place

The heavy silver frame back in a drawer

Shook his head with a sigh

Remember when he thought

Fifth Avenue was Europe?

 

Switching off the television

The children wailed

Come kids, he said

We’re going to spend time together

In the Park eleven stories below

Undying Candle

By: Michal White

Like a flame in the night I walk to you

My feet move of their own and I travel

Like a lighthouse guiding a boat home

I try to run to you as I unravel,

But you're far, farther than I thought before

And I don't know how I'll be able to handle

The distance between our broken souls

As I search for your undying candle.

That Day the Music Died

By: Allison Gellerstein

 

The prophets cried in sharp, stabbing agony

God’s messengers reeled from the revelations

The visions of an unwelcome prayer stunned them

while Judah stared confounded by the pitiful site

of the great critics fallen to their knees

 

The aftermath of the second great flood since Noah left so many floating, untethered and unmoored.

The prophets, standing with sturdy sea legs on the old Intrepid, distributed life vests to the undulating masses, having given up on words to save them.

 

Judah’s tenors betrayed their pitch

their voices low and grumbling

They grovelled to a faraway sleeping god

cry out louder and he will hear!

 

The young boys and girls listened to the steady voice of John Sterling announcing the Yankee game on their waterproof radios as they bobbed in the rising floodwaters.

They made no movement to course correct when the tide pulled them to deeper waters, like a fisherman reeling in his lure.

 

Judah turned their lifeless song

to lifeless portraits with stone hearts

as the prophets stood lifelessly

with bloodshot eyes and muted lips

 

Far from the banks of the flooded Hudson, the people raised their voices at the prophets who were sipping rye and whiskey, red-eyed and delirious. With each glass thrown back each transgression of Judah merged with the rest in the river.

 

Led by Rachel, the angels wept muffled lamentations

The melody of their anguish, low and drawn out, a cadence of wracking sobs, echoed in the halls of the King’s palace.  

Art & Photography

        Galaxy Girl
  By: Michal White
Down the Rabbit Hole
 
By: Lara Jacobowitz
           Lara Jacobowitz
           Lara Jacobowitz
           Lara Jacobowitz

Short Stories

    The Ocean
     By: Abigail Chachkes
 

   The ocean gave her an unsettling feeling. She didn’t mind the beach, not at all actually. It was one of her favorite and most frequent places to visit. That’s why she was there right now. The wet sand sticking to the back of her legs, the azure waves brushing back calmly on the fourier of the shore, all the familiar feelings of the beach calmed her. However, her mossy green eyes watched, mesmerized as the sand was sucked into the vast sea with every second.
  She had a dream once-- about the ocean, of course. More of a nightmare, really. Her dream self had woken up, only to realize she was adrift at sea. She paddled furiously, turning around and around, but land was nowhere in sight.  She didn’t know how she had gotten there, but all that mattered was that she was there now. She sent up invisible prayers, tears forming in her eyes. She glanced around, soon feeling sick at the nothingness that surrounded her air, but the unknown everything that she could feel underneath her. Then something brushed her leg.
  Just thinking about the dream gave the girl an anxious feeling in her stomach. She grasped at the sand near her, desperate to feel something stable, something solid. The dream had been a short one, but the feeling lasted long past that night.
  Her parents were worried about her. The dream had caused her to become overly aware of the dangers surrounding her everywhere. Everything was a threat. But when her parents yelled, her eyes fluttered shut and her ears filled with the sounds of the ocean. Once a calming noise, the new found fear caused her to have a panic attack. This, of course, did nothing to ease their worry.
  The therapist had been nice, at first. “Why are you scared of it?” “What do you dream about?” “How do you feel?” The invasive questions only made the girl turn angry instead of frightened. She skipped the meetings, going straight to a diner next door instead. Her parents were livid, as expected.
  Her friends weren’t anymore sympathetic either. “What’s wrong with you?.” “It’s just a dream.” “Grow up.” She soon had no one to turn to, and was starting to feel like the very ocean that was consuming her very thoughts. They were wild, and couldn’t be tamed. At least, that’s what everyone assumed. Despite trepidation of what lay in the ocean, she kept going to the beach. The quiet and solitude it brought were the only things that could stop her from thinking about how everyone else knew she was pathetic.
  The girl’s reverie of her situation was broken when she realized that in her day-dream, she had gotten up and started walking towards the water. She stopped herself right before the first bit of water, sinking her toes into the mud-like sand.
  Then, a small wave brushed her foot. It seemed like a welcoming gesture, almost like it was inviting her in. She closed her eyes, hearing the waves crash. They reminded her of her instability, the unpredictability of her behavior. She took a step forward, submersing her entire foot.
  The water was warm, like a bath. She stepped again, flinching a bit when her foot caught a piece of seaweed. But the seaweed floated away harmlessly, like seaweed should. She stepped in until her knees were covered. Her eyes still closed, she felt fish swim past her calf. She walked a bit more, up until her waist was covered. She got an idea. She turned her front towards shore, opening her eyes only to glance once more at the back of her house. Her parents weren’t home, she assumed because they couldn’t stand her anymore.
  She then fell back, expecting to sink, but pleasantly surprised to see that she floated. She didn’t know why she had been so afraid before, this was kind of nice. If I do this, they’ll see I’m not scared. That I’m normal again.
  She felt herself drift. The waves carrying her felt so nice, lulling her into a calm state. She was desperate to be over the fear that was ruining her life, thinking about how no one understood her anymore. The only solution was to prove to them she wasn’t weak, even if she felt it. Then she fell asleep.
    Her eyes opened like a shot. She was shivering from the cold, night having fallen. She moved to sit up, realizing soon she wasn’t in her bed. She was in the middle of the ocean, and something just touched her leg.

            Turn Back Five Minutes
               By: Jacob Nussbaum

As I moved further and further away from the burning house, holding the weeping child, I thought to myself:

I would give anything to turn back the clock five minutes.

Man, a lot could really go wrong in just five minutes.

Want to know the story?

 

My name is Jordan. I’m your average teenager; I go to school every day, hang out with my friends, and get intrigued by the abandoned house around the corner from the school. Yeah. I said “abandoned house.” Every kid in the school was obsessed with it, and drawn to its mysteriousness. But, as I’m sure you’ve already guessed, all the parents have been warning us since first grade to never, ever go near that house. And for the most part, we listened.

Anyway, my best friends are twins named Jack and Roger, who are always keeping me entertained. They’re kind of daredevils, to be quite honest, and I’m kind of plain-vanilla. We keep each other in check - most of the time. And this bitter-cold Friday was one of those days when we didn’t keep each other in check. Jack and Roger had come up with a new sneaky plan to get inside the abandoned house. They came up with new plans like these about every week. But Jack and Roger’s excitement over their newest plan kind of got the best of me. During fifth period, which was before lunch, they told me all the details of the plan. We’d be back in school by the time lunch ended, at 12:45. It seemed like a fool-proof plan. Roger had even paid a senior for a pencil-drawn map on a napkin that would guide us on the perfect route to sneak out of school. I’ll admit: I was super excited for this. It was Friday, and the last day before our winter break. So I sort of had ants in my pants to get out of school.

And here’s how my Friday afternoon took a really wrong left turn, quite literally. (Don’t worry, you’ll understand that very soon.)

At 12:15, the bell rang, signaling the start of lunch. Jack, Roger, and I went out back to where the playground area was. Following the napkin map, we snuck around some bushes, ducked under a thick, low tree branch, quickly jumped a fence, and bam. We were out on the road. Then we walked to the end of the tiny block that our school was on, and took a sharp left turn - which led us right onto the property of the abandoned house.

I checked my watch - a nervous habit of mine.

12:16.

We knocked on the door. I guess we all had assumed that a creepy old man lived in the house, and just never went outside. Now, though, that assumption just sounds ridiculous.

No one answered. We continued knocking for what seemed like an eternity, until eventually Jack knocked so hard that the door opened by itself. We looked at the knob and realized that the door was never even fully closed. We walked in and entered a long hallway.

We looked around the empty hallway. It looked almost like a normal house, just it probably hadn’t been touched in at least 50 years. There was mold and dust everywhere. Everything - the walls, floors, and door - was made of rotting wood. Well, at least it looked like rotting wood. But I had a weird feeling that it wasn’t regular wood. And there was so much of the wood surrounding us...it almost seemed like we were in an ancient forest.

When we got to the end of the hallway, there was a doorway that led to an average-looking kitchen. Again - everything in the room was made of this weird wood. On the back wall of the kitchen, there was a huge rectangle-shaped hole that clearly used to have a door, because it led to the backyard. We stepped outside, and the first thing we saw was the missing door lying on the grass - also made of the odd wood.

12:17.

Jack spotted a shed a few yards away, also made of the creepy wood. But we obviously had to go in. And when we went inside, we saw the weirdest thing.

The interior was made of the same wood as the rest of the property, but it seemed so much newer - like it was just built that day. Or…

It was built the same time as the rest of the house, but it was preserved in this state for all these years.

How do I know that, you ask?

In the center of of the room was a glowing box that emitted this light that spread throughout the whole shed, coating everything in the shed in its odd glow. When I stuck my hand out into the light, the scab that had formed on my wrist the week before in baseball practice disappeared. This box had some sort of magical powers that gave it the ability to heal anything and keep it living forever.

Cool.

And super weird.

Then, while we were all silently staring in awe, we heard a whining noise. At first Roger suggested it was the box working its magic, but we could tell it wasn’t the box that was making the noise. We followed the sound to the back corner of the shed. The source of the noise was a crying baby in a carriage.

Frozen in utter confusion, no one moved.

12:18.

Just as we thought things couldn’t get weirder, Jack pointed out that there was noise coming from outside the shed, too. Roger and I listened, and realized Jack was right. There was a different noise coming from somewhere else. So we left the baby and looked outside, to find a horse neighing right in front of our faces. And let me tell you, this horse was neighing like there was no tomorrow. We had no idea what to think of this situation, so we just tried to calm the horse down. But then it only got worse. The horse started jumping up and down, and neighing louder. Almost like it was trying to send us a message.

A warning message.

I realized I smelled burning.

I looked past the horse and saw that there was a fire in the kitchen of the house. That made no sense.

None of us had started a fire in there.

The fire kept spreading. Stupid wood.

I was frozen in shock. I couldn’t even warn my friends. They were too distracted by the horse and the baby anyway.

Within seconds, the entire house was in flames. My brain simply could not process what was happening. All I knew was that I needed to warn my friends, and get them, the horse, and the baby away from there, because the fire started spreading along the grass of the backyard. It was coming towards us at a scary speed.

So I babbled, “Jack—Roger—fire—baby—out—horse—fire—safety—get—away—save—baby—horse—get—out of here! NOW!”

They got the message.

12:19.

Jack and Roger ran back into the shed, and I waited about thirty seconds for them to come out with the baby, but they never did. I got nervous. So I went inside the shed, and looked around, and they weren’t there. Jack and Roger weren’t there.

They weren’t. There.

There was no where else they could’ve gone. I was standing by the only exit in the shed the whole time.

They. Were. Gone.

They disappeared.

Don’t. Panic.

Too late. Panicking.

No time for that. You have to act quickly.

Almost in tears, without thinking, I grabbed the wailing baby, sprinted out of the shed, jumped on the horse’s back, hit it on the side, and right away it gladly ran away from the house as quickly as possible.

12:20.

As I moved further and further away from the burning house, holding the weeping child, I thought to myself:

 

I would give anything to turn back the clock five minutes.

        Ongoing War
       By: Elana Felig

     She was locked inside of a warzone.  But it was not what was causing the big explosion in her stomach.  It was another nightmare from the depths of the battlefield, where she grew up for many years, scared of who would come and do something bad.  She lived in a barrack, serving food to soldiers who had nothing else to lose but their physical limbs.  And if it weren’t for the fact that she was in the middle of an attack and watched the blood spill, then this event of vomiting every night would not occur.  Now she lives in Oregon, a year and a half later, living with an older lady who takes care of her.  This old lady’s son was in the war and saved her from the final attack, but he died.  She was the closest the old lady had to her son.  

As the time went on, the vomiting stopped, but the girl was still sick.  The only way to solve this problem was for the old lady to take her to a doctor. The doctor said there was a lung problem from all the pollution in the war zone.  The girl has lung cancer.  It was not just the smell of potatoes and dirt that could be remembered from the war; it was the realization that this battle was not over for anyone who was in it, whether you had a disease or not. 

     The girl who has lung cancer is now in a hospital, waiting for some supernatural object to rip the pain out.  It was soon lunch time and she got her meal.  She wanted to cry, thinking of the person who made this food in a hospital kitchen for people fighting battles themselves.  The person making the food has probably seen horrible things like the girl did in the war.  The girl felt the connection and it made her realize that she switched roles.  Now she must fight while the lady in the kitchen is behind the scenes.  

It has been 6 months since the girl came to the hospital.  There has been no progress and no one knows if she will die.  The smoke back in the war was awful.  During this time in the hospital, the girl recalled all of the nightmares again, afraid that she might forget.  The first was when the soldiers came into the room that they ate in.  One soldier came up to her and started to scream, then sob.  He had lost his friend and witnessed it all play out. 

     The second incident was when the head chef had a breakdown and took it out on the girl.  He beat her up and assaulted her.  The images of war only exist in the person who experienced it.  

The final major nightmare was the bombing.  The enemy bombed the territory and proceeded to attack.  The people who did not fight, like the kitchen staff, were supposed to be taken in a helicopter out of the territory, but the girl was knocked down by enemy soldiers.  They almost got her until the boy saved her by taking her spot.  She got out of there, but the boy died.  That was what made her sick every night.  That was why she was severely ill for 2 years.  Someone who sacrificed his life every day of the war decided to save a lady who worked in the kitchen, who did not do anything for him except serve him war food.  

     She was sick that someone so important in the world gave his life away for her.  But it also gave the girl some perspective.  In the darkest days, there can be that one person who stops what they are doing to give you a light.  This boy gave up his life to lighten a path for the girl.  She was dying now from a disease.  All she can think is that there has to be a way for her to survive.  She is not going to let this disease kill her like the enemy tried to kill her.  And she does not have anyone to take her place, but she has the belief that she could handle it because she has come this far.  

 This All-Consuming Darkness
          By: Zoe Rabinowitz

I wish I could be like all the others. They have that light inside them. You know, the one that makes them bright. You can’t see it with a naked eye, but you can find it when you notice the little things. Like you when pay someone else a compliment and both people smile—they have the light. But I don’t have that light. When people pay me a compliment, I only find myself wondering if it was sincere or if they were mocking me. I am tied down by the darkness. It wraps around my leg, a constant reminder that I don’t float. I sink. It weighs a thousand tons and makes each step feel like a hundred more. It is an anchor keeping a ship from exploring the sea. How can I make myself float like the others? How can I free myself? There must be a way. But maybe there isn’t. Maybe, this all-consuming darkness will never go away.

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