Fiction

Intimacy

Tulips in the sun.

Legs were connected like tree roots, jutting in and out from the snowfall of bedsheets. Pale and dark roots that had come from two trees turned one. One dreamed of the other, his hands subconsciously tightening their grip around Rhys’s bicep, “a little on the small side, but I make up for that elsewhere,” he used to joke like some kid on the playground who had learned about sex too early from his older siblings. Aron would look up at him and retort with something like “where? Not up here, clearly,” tapping his head. “Well, I do have more than one head, you know.” The jokes would continue until they were breathing each other’s air, sharing that casual, almost lazy sex that had been expected of them their first summer in Pasadena, with the heat index doing their poorly constructed AC unit no favors; it wheezed in apparent rheum, which masked their lovemaking in a veil of machinery and the smell of ruined industry.

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Essay, Photography

Discovering Venice

BarI’ve just thrown some spare euros into the receptacle at the mouth of the dock and am waiting impatiently, cleaning off the bottom of my shoe (gum) against a concrete slab that’s holding the ticket dispenser to the earth. But now I’m wondering if it’s even stuck, if I’m even grounded, or the city, for that matter—if we’re all just hovering on top of some idea, some clever thought by refugees. A floating city.

Venice is hot on the Canal Grande, a tiring hot, a boiling tar slick—even the ticket peels out of the dispenser in a slow, calculated way; I can almost hear the machine wheezing. Boats are passing on the canal as my attempt at nonchalance is growing thinner and thinner in the heat. Their dull motors shoot up a light spray of mist that evaporates before it reaches me from my perch, now at the edge of the dock, inside the roofed waterbus stop. The ticket is in my hand, held loosely, as if to show unimportance. I hadn’t once been checked on the vaporetto for any sort of papers, but there are signs posted everywhere in a translatable, warning-sign red: being caught without a ticket would result in a €47 fine. Probably best to play it safe. You didn’t want to be that guy—the guy who can’t even understand the bigliettaio and his syrupy-slow Italian. Just be silent, look straight ahead, and be happy you can pass for a real Italian with your golden skin tone. That’s all it takes.

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Photography

Jazz Artist // Summer Monster

A boy sits playing at the piano, his dark eyes searching for something in the keys.1.

a crossword puzzle undoes itself
mirrors look back and
judge with the sharpness
of unpolished rock
she looks onward
and dries her hair
with the newspaper, expelling
facts onto the bleeding page

2.

a glass of tea
and its ice are oases
on the tongue
and a slow honeycomb drips
tufts of amber rum
while
she advances slowly, thrusting her
wigwam hips and pushing up her pin-
up breasts in the heat
an opera cascades from a window

3.

we roll exposed, leaving behind
silver blades, like knives
lifting our moans from the grass
littering and deflowering
the suburban air

4.

the summer monster advances
toward the bike-riding children
and tears the innocence from
their freckled limbs in delight

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Fiction

First Night at Somerset Apartments

Bird on a Wire

TW: sexual abuse, prostitution, sex involving a minor

As the door clicks shut, I am spitting the chewed remains of a stick of gum from my mouth onto the grass, an attempt to purge all my emotions in the mangled wad. There is a body still breathing heavily behind the door, in the dense and stagnant air of the apartment. The body still damp with sweat—I can see it, feel it, even now, as I walk to my car.

I counted the numbers on the doors all the way to forty while savoring the taste of fresh peppermint gum. This was all too new. Breathe. A line of four dark windows stood between apartment forty and forty-four. As I walked past two of the black windows, I heard the door click open ahead of me, as if whoever was there was waiting, watching through the thin curtains. The screen bobbled for a moment, indecisive. I walked past, acted casual. It opened wider and I reached for the knob. A dark hand pulled the storm door open and I stepped over the threshold like it was supposed to happen naturally.

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Photography

The Sunken Place

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In our bible there is a beginning, one borne from cosmic nothingness—a testament to human creation from the thrusts and dreams of our ancestors. The creation myth we all experience. I remember my birth. It’s here somewhere, swimming around in all this.

How I miss the darkness of before, when we were all noiseless, peaceful things. Free of worry and fingerprints and wrath, protected and fed inside the cocoon of our one, real god.

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