Dear Human

By Sparsh Tenguria

Human oh Human

Why do you do this?

Feel so strong in a cave made of foam?

 

Human oh Human

Complex as you are,

You fool no one by crying on your own

 

Human oh Human

Why do you never dare to crave?

For much needed love

Why don’t you play to your heart’s tune?

 

Human oh Human

How do you manage?

To wake up happy then sleep sad again?

 

Human oh Human

Why don’t you talk?

Stuffing your chest with venom

Pretending it strengthens your spirit

 

Hey oh Human

Take my word and cry

Cry out to the world

 

Hey oh Human

Pour into the world rivers of your pain

And let the rivers flow

 

Hey oh human

Take my ‘kerchief

And dare not use it

 

Hey oh animal

Try to feel

Without getting bloated on emotions

Try being

Vulnerable

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Take Me Back, Student Housing

Alex Katz

Nine months ago, I packed my bags and moved out of NYU’s Carlyle Court on Union Square. Rebellious fancies concerning my departure and starry-eyed dreams of a cool new apartment, my first in this happening town, coursed through my brain. All these thoughts turned out to be entirely misplaced, and leaving student housing may have been the biggest mistake I, or anyone else in history, has ever made. Take me back, Carlyle, please; I should’ve never left you. My new room has been a nightmare from the beginning. Some may understand what’s to come, having survived similar torture themselves, but all others, heed my warning: never, under any circumstances, live on St. Marks Place. You might lose your sanity entirely—mine dwindles already.

My roommates and I found the place last summer, but I didn’t move in until this semester. I was away from school last fall, so of course the dirty gremlins I live with, my former friends, snatched up the better rooms. My microscopic room overlooks the street, and it’s loud out there at all hours. And there are no curtains or air-conditioning. And it smells.

Drunks puke on the sidewalk outside my door, between loud babbling and raving, screaming and crying. Fratboys holler cultural appropriations at each other and then slap five, the crack of their palms sounding for hours. Cars honk for no reason, and not in typical New York fashion either; there are at least seven honks per second. The drivers scream out their windows at each other, then break their windows in anger with hatchets, as I hear it. Garbage trucks come at the weirdest time and beep incessantly, as if to punish those of us who should’ve recycled. My fickle heater is either broken or supernatural; it bakes me alive or chills my bones, or somehow both at the same time. I wake up nightly from my chattering teeth just to find sweat pooling around my body. “Get me out of here!” I scream post-awakening, “Deliver me, Lord! I beg you!” But He only turns the heat up further, and if I ever do fall asleep, fever dreams wait for me.

I remember my glorious Carlyle suite. Sure, I was a twin-bed arm’s reach away from my roommate. Sure, I had suite-mates who smelled, never cleaned the bathroom, and one who even left piles of his dirty laundry in the kitchen for some reason. Sure, that particular dorm doesn’t even have a dining hall. But I miss it all the same, like an ex or a widow. I lost my building and can never have her back again. I didn’t appreciate her, and now her doors are closed. No pillow waits for me there. Now, there is only St. Marks—the street of the beast.

So if you’re searching for a piercing or a bong, St. Marks is there for you. But don’t stay too long… or it might swallow you whole.

lonely bowery strider

By Maxine Flasher-Duzgunes

Lonely bowery strider crossing the street with baby carriage. No baby, just a beer can sitting where it used to suck its thumb, a withered carpetbag where the baby food jars used to clang.

There was a mother in each of us before we began scouring garbage cans for the return ticket to our childhoods, but they were full of half-bitten falafels and disposable cups trickling cold café au laits onto the other precious things lost–mittens, apartment keys, emptied wallets.

And all we have is enough to fill our tummies and drain the scrap meat into the vents beneath our sleeping bags, the whoosh of subway warmth, and its routine departure.

Couldn’t we sleep with our thumbs in our mouths?— perhaps we weren’t distorted by the thrum of the trains passing well below our thoughts. If only the rails would disconnect from us and let our hands search freely in a garbage can for meaning we call a roof over our heads.

 

Self-Surgery

Alejandro Villa Vasquez

In the chamber,

of blood and meat.

A membrane.

A lining of tenderness: mine,

his.

It whispers that I lust him.

It murmurs putridly, it murmurs of love.

It tells me he does not tell, tell, tell of me.

What’s behind the flesh curtain—a heart.

I confess before my beige ancestresses,

this pomegranate has a streak of sallow sebum.

Blond, belly fat coagulating in the aorta.

But then come promises of a future,

as big as he makes me:

luminescence of the arches, towers to the north, all ours.

In the air of war,

the promise of mutual destruction.

“My warhead is bigger.”

How we slip on sweat and spit toward ruination.

My guts and bolts, nuts and your socks soaked.

 

Hear me sister, sisters:

I denounce this heart of lard.

I reach into my sick gizzard.

Find that witching zipper.

Disinter the devilish thorn.

 

There,

to the end of the world you made for us.

I

washed away this white swath.

I have been sequestered as a refugee,

freed finally.

This lewd sinew supplanted,

reconstruction begins.

Stitching the torn.

I convalesce in beige,

in a brown blanket,

tiger fur and floral.

Drunken Love Letters

By Lois Evans

What I’ve learned, again and again, is that I love you.

And I wish you’d lay your edges and scars in my lap like fallen stars in a broken constellation. Wrap them around me. Wrap you around me.

***

We argued a few hours ago. Well, it wasn’t really an argument, now that I think about it. I was (partly and only partly) wrong and was unprepared to be wrong and unprepared for our bickering to thicken into mudslinging. I realized that I was about to strike a nerve with you only after I had done it. I watched the warmth of your eyes cool on me, your smirk vanish. The tension between the two of us make the air stink. And I felt like a little girl.

“I think we agree with each other.” I said, my words an olive branch, the closest I’d get to begging for reconciliation.

“We never do.” You said, knocking my branch to the ground.

So I’m the hurt one now. And I wonder if you’re up replaying my words in your head. My gut instinct is to apologize, but I know it won’t help my heart much. Never is a burning word. Sorry feels like a bandaid sitting in my mouth, buckling behind my teeth before I can conjure the strength to be audible. Perhaps the strength is not saying sorry. You don’t say it enough.

We look blue in this light. Or, rather, you look blue in this light. I’m not too sure of myself.

 

You seem so calm—head pressed to pillow, eyes closed. My body is still buzzing. Somehow, I can feel everything, but can’t move at all. This is paralysis, I think. But a kind I don’t mind so much.

 

This is what making up feels like. Darkness and moonlight and silence except for the colliding of bodies. I blink, remembering the warmth of your breath on my neck, the careful movement of your fingers through my curls. And for a moment, I can forget everything else.

 

You wake up as I’m finally about to sleep. Neither of us says anything. We’re better not talking at times like this. I want nothing to sour the lingering taste of you all over. Just for a few more hours. So you can keep looking at me in that way you do; like you’re carrying a question. And until I fall asleep, I’ll pretend to hold answers.

***

I hate watching you eat. You make a mess out of what should be beautiful, just like I do. And you always make me laugh when my mouth is full.

***

You, in some way, are in all my drunk stories. Pouring a shot, holding open a door, making me feel like a woman.

 

I’ve been a woman for a while now. Longer to some than others, but only a little while to me. You, if I’m honest, don’t matter much in the calculation of that time. Be aware of that.

 

Loving you, as silly as that sounds and feels and is, reminds me of the youth I’ve almost had stolen so many times. This loving thing is stupid and misguided and indulgent. Thankfully, I’ve got some time to be all those things. The trainwreck, that is me, chooses to kill time with the car crash, that is you.

***

A friend of mine once told me something I still think about every time I write. She said while chewing on white cheddar Cheetos, that no man is worth more than one poem or story. I lay on my rug agreeing with her at the time, but my opinion has since changed.

 

One unearned thing. This is all you get. This is all you have earned.