"Ghazal" by Forrest Nguyen

Ghazals, you know them; this one ends “otherwise.”
But how to surprise you, except every line were otherwise?
rain in june and i'm without an umbrella. 
somewhere someone drier is wishing he were otherwise.
school. i do not love it: a talent show for sycophants.
i did the math, i did the reading, but writing i did otherwise.

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"Sticky Feet" by Anonymous

          The sticky sweet juice drips down my chin and onto my jersey as I devour the bag of orange slices roughly cut by my dad. It was supposed to be a snack for the team, but no one else loves the fruit as much as me. Or maybe I just don’t give them a chance to. I take a sip of my still frozen water, shaking the bottle a little to break up the ice. My bangs are stuck to my forehead now, no longer falling in front of my eyes as I run. The whistle blows and we’re back in; I pull up my shin guards that have drooped from the first half after I throw the rind behind me.

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"Wanders" by Tad Malone

tom, my friend
asked the night
if it felt calmer
without the light
or if it kept
the pavements
wet on purpose.
It said:
blame the lingering
of florescent spots,
projections of a
world thats not,
and left his head
as if his sight
dreamt up the darkness.
Suppose the thing,
that he dread
was the compromise
between two beds
designed for rolling over,
what ghastly butter-
powder spread
to carve his face
a little bolder.
so is the driven bus
that weeps, with great
urgency at tom’s ricochet
like a kingfisher skimming
streets and shoulders
but he was at once
nail-thin and squeezed
not nearly dead
or older; and if
you were near, you
could catch
in glimpses that
staggered speech,
violet lines and the smolder
down his neck, but
not his throat as it
approached his shoulder.
resign to disbelief
and praise and fear--
as Tom, so quickly
knew no heaven here

"Lullabies" by Shelley Valdez

I.          the beginning of our radio silence was like swallowing a shooting star
                      i didn’t know how to digest the sparks.
                 my heart went up in flames.
                      but instead of turning to ash,
                      it burned straight through my chest
                                beating and breathing and bleeding and making a mess
     II.         when people ask what you were to me,
                      i never really know what to say
                 (you were poetry) (you were waking) (you were wishbones)
                      (and now)
                           (you are unfinished business)
     III.        i’m sorry i was such a shitty dance partner
                 and i’m sorry i never kissed you
                 and i’m sorry that my arms could never
                      be the space to hold your dark
     IV.        i still go back to the night of Almost Lovers
                  (you were the only girl in a tuxedo)
                        (you were the belle of every ball)
                  you never believed in fairytales the way i did
                       our spells began at midnight,
                                  and expired at the dawn
                        when you slipped the silver from my shoulders
                        and took the butterflies from my hair
                             i forgot what it was
                                  to have lungs

     V.          i remember Sidonie’s yellow kitchen
                  and vanilla ice cream with honey
                             i remember your soft footsteps
                  and how you couldn’t meet my eyes
                                  i said,       “what are you thinking about?”
                                  you said, “kissing you
                        in the end, all we did was hold each other
                                            but it has always been enough

     VI.         as we slept on the floor  
                        and as you sang me to sleep
                   i thought we’d never see another lonely holiday
                        after greeting Halloween without you,
                        i decided that the      living
                             were much more haunting
                                  than the              dead

     VII.        i learned    the hard way
                   that      hesitation      tastes like      expectation
                   and burns twice as bad
                        i should have known that being   
                        “friends with
                                  sexual tension”          
                                  can only last so long
                    by July, you’d find a home in someone’s shoulder
                                        but it wouldn’t have been       mine

     VIII.       the worst is that i can’t hate her(not when she   keepsyou  safe)
                   and what could i have offered, but a blooming,
                   bruising heart      what could i have offered but
                   a sometimes wounded wing
                             you deserve so much more than my
                             whirlwind-shaking-skin       but even then,
                        it is a privilege to be your Almost.
                                  it is a privilege to be your Anything.

     IX.         i started listening to alt-j songs again the other day.
                        for the first time in a long time, hearing them sing
                             “and she needs you
                             this is from matilda
                                  didn’t make me want to cry
                   i know now that the aching
                        isn’t as loud as it was before
                             (it is quiet chaos without you)

     X.          your name is an echo,
                        a meditation,
                        a lullaby.
                        from the back of my throat to the purse of my lips,
                        you are becoming the sound of the cosmos.
                        you are beginning to hold things together
                        in the way that you’ve torn me apart

"Turmstrasse (Tower Street)" by Riley McShane

The night was bitter cold
and biting
chain link fence
stood menacing
styrofoam food cartons
stacked tall haphazard
Stoic shapes huddled
twisting ‘round each other
old gripping young
like ropes
holding fast
weary white clouds  
rising from the bodies
spilling out into the street
I saw it only for a moment
daughter stretching
tiny gloved hands
to father from the other side
of the fence
I saw it only for a moment
I was walking home
I saw knotted hands pawing
at cigarette packs
I saw cots lying
still flat and desperate
In the callous tent flickers
I saw father
holding out for daughter
Syria’s children
Berlin going black around us
I saw it only for a moment

"Dear Blue Eyes" by Lee Harrold

Dearest Blue-Eyes,
          I don’t know your real name, I don’t know where you’ve come from, but I know I don’t like you. That’s not true; if I didn’t like you I wouldn’t write to you. I hate you, Blue-Eyes. I hate you, and my hatred takes fewer victims than I have fingers, so just you smile, Blue-Eyes, because you are a special guy. I attend Santa Clara University, and at Santa Clara University we value diversity with emphasis on the whole person. I haven’t taken a religion class yet, but I’m pretty sure--spiritually--you’re only part of a person. I hate you for what you’re not; I can’t feel pity, and I won’t empathize with you.

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"The Things You Hear" by Maeve McGeorge

          I peer over the walls of the wooden cubby and see two pairs of eyelash extensions and two perfectly blown out heads of hair clinging to one another in the crammed space of a single library cubby. One is smacking her gum loudly and the other is standing above her, eagerly awaiting whatever new gossip she just has to hear.

          “Okay. But you can’t tell anyone.”
          “Who else would I tell?”
          “I slept with him.”

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"The Tale of the Wrangler" by Kevin Matheny, Jr.

          Ronald Johnson was a very important person. You could tell by the way his office window looked out across the concrete jungle of a parking lot filled with cars, as opposed to the more sightly view of the palm trees that sprung up all over the verdant campus. His office, situated seven doors down from the Athletic Director’s, was always filled with the smell of bound leather and the sound of the words, “I knew you would come around.” It seemed that every day, at least one person was “coming around,” although anyone who ever walked by his office and happened to hear some of the important conversation he was having on the phone never could tell you what it meant. Ronald was in the middle of today’s “coming around” conversation when his secretary, Michelle, walked in. She had on her concerned face, which looked like she either ate questionable hot wings from the sketchy chicken joint just across campus or her dog had just revealed to her his suicidal thoughts via a note spelled out in dog chow. Either way, Ronald was seconds away from delivering his classic line, so he gave her the classic one finger raised gesture, that always meant, “I’m one second from closing the deal.”

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"Bioluminescent Bunnies" by Kamran Muthleb

     For the past few years, the valley I call home has been populated by big, bioluminescent rabbits. Known in scientific circles as Lepus lumanis, the bioluminescent rabbits are the result of genetic modification. It’s like how they made those fluorescent fish with jellyfish DNA, except the rabbits were made from glowworm DNA. Whenever I see those furry lanterns glowing in the distance, I grimace.

     Bioluminescent rabbits don’t live the same way normal rabbits do. Instead of bolting away at the slightest sign of danger, bio rabbits are made to defend themselves. They’re aggressive towards anything with four legs and sharp teeth, and most animals don’t bother them because they don’t expect a rabbit to go on the offensive (I once saw one chasing a coyote out of the park; what a horrendous sight that was). Snakes and hawks will sometimes pick off a little one, but the adults are left alone because they’re so big. I can’t blame them; if I saw a rabbit bigger than my basset hound, I wouldn’t want to mess with it either. They love to dig, too, not because they have to but because it's fun. I caught one digging up my yard once and sprayed it with hose water until it ran off. The next day I tripped over a ditch that was right in front of my door. I don't care what anyone says; the long-eared rat did that on purpose.

     There’s also the fact that they glow, and that’s my least favorite thing about them. Everybody has to close their blinds at night because they fill the valley like moving city lights. It’s obnoxious, and the worst part is that since almost nothing is controlling their numbers, their population is growing. Shooting isn’t allowed around these parts, and the rabbits are shockingly immune to pest poison. The scientists claim that wasn’t planed, but I don’t believe them.

     What really saddens me, though, is that you never see a regular rabbit anymore. After the bio rabbits quote unquote “escaped”, the good old cottontails slowly disappeared. Those damn green puffballs must’ve displaced them. It’s a shame, because the plain bunnies weren’t the ones driving off other animals, blinding everyone with their light and taking over the valley. But now we’re stuck with these frankenbunnies, all because somebody thought it would be a good idea to make a rabbit that a moth would love. Didn’t Jurassic Park teach us that just because we can make something doesn’t mean we should?

     The future is looking awfully bright, but not in a good way.

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"Worth the Wait" by Madeleine Fawcett

         Rain fell lightly and coldly, grazing the top of my head. The sky was grey, the people were greyer, and my feet were aching after a long day of walking around Paris. I was visiting the city for the weekend, staying with some family friends who lived in the 16th arrondissement, a clean, upper-class neighborhood close to the Eiffel Tower, the Seine, and the crème de la crème of Parisian society. For the better part of the last hour, my host Annette and I had been traipsing around the neighborhood in a mysterious and relentless quest. We walked down street after street, each lined with seemingly endless gilded apartment buildings, expensive-looking cafés, and hurried, smoking Parisians. I didn’t know where we were going; Annette had developed a sudden and serious sense of purpose earlier when I pointed to a pastry shop across the street and asked if I could get macaroons there.

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