me and the skies

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i like to think that the evening sky and my mind are the same.

twins from different times meeting so close, yet so far.

the evening sky wondering, worrying, if it would ever evolve into dark nothingness,

or if twinkling lights would poke through,

little stars like little spots of hope shining through the constant worry.

a constant thought that shifts between what if and when,

the thought of ‘what if one day, we collide,

smashing together into oblivion,’

turns into the question of ‘when? when will we explode together in a violent ray of colors and emotions?’

i often ponder how and why as well.

how will it happen?

why does it happen?

in my deep thoughts, i like to believe that the how is in a horrendously beautiful explosion,

feeling colors and seeing sounds,

experiencing a new bliss that is so peaceful, it’s almost violent.

and when it comes to why, i like to imagine it’s because of fate.

when everything came together, when our world formed

there was some small, microscopic being that was left in the debris of the beginning,

that was there, to one day make me and the sky collide,

to bring two lost souls, separated so long ago, together once again.

when i was little, i would watch the evening sky, transtion in such a slow way,

subtle,

quiet,

so you don’t notice it has changed until it’s already  happened,

and now, as i grow, as i transition, i find another common ground between me and the evening sky

both changing in tiny, little, sneaking ways,

until one day, you wake up and find,

i’ve reunited with my once lost twin, from another time

Monstrous

I am Monstrous.

mon·strous
ˈmänstrəs
adjective
  1. having the ugly or frightening appearance of a monster.
    “monstrous, bug-eyed fish”
    • (of a person or an action) inhumanly or outrageously evil or wrong.
      “he wasn’t lovable, he was monstrous and violent”

Too little human,

hu·man
ˈ(h)yo͞omən/
adjective
adjective: human
  1. 1.
    relating to or characteristic of people or human beings.
    “the human body”
    • of or characteristic of people as opposed to God or animals or machines, especially in being susceptible to weaknesses.
      “they are only human, and therefore mistakes do occur”
    • of or characteristic of people’s better qualities, such as kindness or sensitivity.
      “the human side of politics is getting stronger”

    Yet not enough monster.

    mon·ster
    ˈmänstər/
    noun
    1. 1.
      an imaginary creature that is typically large, ugly, and frightening.

    I’m not the imaginary creature hidden beneath your bed or under your closet,

    I’m not the thing you spot in corners of dark streets at too late times of the nights,

    I’m the constant fear hidden in the deapths of your mind,

    I’m the worry eating away at every ounce of your being, everyday,

    I’m what makes you doubt yourself in every possible way

    Try and fish me out,

    Poking and prodding until one day you realize, you didn’t get me out,

    You tore yourself to pieces

    You realize that I’m not real,

    I’m you.

    I’m the hatred you feel for yourself multiplied so I’m bigger than any love you can feel

    I’m the anxiety before a grade comes in,

    before you find out who got the promotion,

    and even worse,

    I’m the doubt that comes with it.

    I’m fear in a human form,

    but if you get too close, watch out,

    at first glance I’m the small and innocent girl across the street,

    see me once, and see purity,

    see me twice, and experience evil.

    Offer me a smile and I’ll wink back at you with a coal black eye and blood red smile.

     

     

Danger: A Short Story

The house sat in the wet spring air on a hill in the woods of a small town. It was visible to the whole town, a dingy white being that had sat dormant for years. It sat unsure, as if it could come down in seconds. The glow of the sun made it bearable to watch, as it’s sickening appearance scared away anyone who dared glance for more than a few seconds. The man inside the white eyesore, was just as the house had been. No one knew his name, but no one knew anything about him, really. No one dared stepped near the horrific sight. We knew he was blind, though, the paint on the outside was distorted. The offices claimed they haven’t received a bill from the house in over 16 years. We figured it wouldn’t be difficult to live in the dark for a blind man anyway. The years go by with the house getting older, scarier, and more intriguing every year. In the summer, a heavy rain would pour onto it making it heavier on top of itself. The autumn brought an array of beautiful leaves, and an attraction toward the end of october. A real sight for wondering eyes was in the winter, when a bed of crystals decorate the disgusting residence. It gave a sort of nice touch to a mean look. What we knew about this man, and his home changed on the account of an office women’s police report. May 2nd, 2012, a woman working for the home offices made a pretty intriguing report that kept the town talking about until she went away — messed up, that lady was, after what happened. It’s 2015 now and most of the town had still been embarrassed to mention her, she was basically out of her mind to most of us. Some of us had almost wanted to believe her, but our own fears kept our minds numb. The woman went into the home, to investigate the man and his home. Our town was always making changes to things, removing homes, and adding useless attractions. The report was as follows,

Emily walked onto the property, the smell of rotting wood and dust already filling the air. She thought of something dying several times and laying to rest in the same spot. The distracting odor seemed to interrupt the woods for an eternity just silently, sitting dormant there. She walked up the steps, a slow creak coming from under each one. The man sat close to the door, facing his back to the opening. Emily let herself in, the smell now becoming apart of her. She walked in front of the old man, looking him over. His old wrinkled legs, with freckles leading up to his ebony arms and neck. The man was as bad a sight as the place he lived in. Emily spoke directly to him as if he was at a loss for hearing. “I’m Emily and I’m here to help you.” After no reply, the odd look on the man’s face caused her to take a step back, brushing her hands at her side. She was frightened by a pure white cat that peered through her with it’s black eyes with endless depth. It jumped from the banister to the floor rushing past her. The small cat brought a small something in it’s jaws to the man and he ate it. Disgusted, Emily stepped further away to examine the dirty place. Her face never changed as it remained tight, and worried. Soon she left and returned with a helping nurse, to avoid doing this cleaning on her own. Though she would have loved to stay, she left the man, the cat, and the new help with instructions and other items they may have needed. The nurse was left with the old man, as Emily hurriedly exited the smell trap. Emily had returned the next week to check on the house and it’s residents. Again, she remained uneasy in the presence of the old man. His dark skin seemed to wrap around his bones and it left her very uncomfortable. As she walked in, he seemed to hear her and looked to her with his white lifeless eyes. He grinned and returned to stroking the cat with his long hands. Emily had walked in expecting to see the nurse, but to her surprise no one but the man and her were in the house. “Nurse?” She called out, furrowing her brow. “Where did the nurse run off to?” The man replied with a small shrug, “I’m afraid she’s missed dinner.” The cat let out a disharmonious growl. She walked past the man and into the halls, passing a small burgundy, blood like door with a chipping, black frame. The door gave off a horrifying feeling, along with more nasty smells that seemed to linger on her tongue, she swallowed a dry lump, distaste filling her mouth. The smells grew stern as they seemed to grasp her, and lead her nearer to the door. She went to put her hand on the knob but was interrupted by the cat gracefully scrubbing at her feet, but when she leaned down to pet it it began hissing and clawed her hand in a quick swipe. The ephemeral pain of the sharp claw caused her to gasp loudly. The cat sped off and through the door. Angry, Emily walked back into the living area where the man sat in a solemn silence, walking past him and out of the house. This happened for two months, and many times the nurse left nothing more than a mess and their belongings. It almost scared the lady, her suspicion turned into timidity and timidity into fear. For weeks she grew tired of sending nurses only for them to disappear, so she set a small camera in the hallway to get to the bottom of these missing persons. Scared and uneasy, she stood on a rickety chair that leaned left, and right as she tried to hang the camera. It was almost like she knew, as the cat comes rushing under her. The chair falls, she falls, and so does her unflinching attitude. Evidently shaken, and sort of frantic, she looks up from the dirty, sticky floor to see the man standing before her. He smiled, as she timorously pushed past him dusting off her work attire. Angrily she stormed out of the house, a sticky red something wrapped around her fingers as she tried to rid her clothes of dust and disuse. “Damned cat, I have had it!” The car door slams behind her, as she plans to find out what was so eerie about this house.

She picked up Homero, a lively, fair kid no older than 22. Tall, and ebullient despite the overlook of his new workplace. She knew of the possible risk she was putting him in, if her fear turned out to be evident. These nurses had to be in trouble, if not killed, she thought. She sent Homero in, and watched him from the comfort and light smell of her vehicle. He seemed to be perfectly fine as he came out every few minutes as she had instructed him. The house seemed to grow more tired, and heavy than it had weeks before, as if one gust of wind would send it crashing into the woods, disappearing into the spring grass. The day went on, and Emily drifted off in the front seat, awakened by a violent scream. An echo seemed to ring through the wood, as the cacophony bounced off of the trees. She opened her phone to the live video streaming, Homero followed the cat into the mysterious room. Closely behind the man ran behind them both and the door closed with one swift movement. The scream repeated itself, causing Emily to shutter. The woods were darker than they had seemed anytime before, no light anywhere near. The night swallowed her as she rushed onto the front porch, throwing her momentary terror to the side. Her heart grew heavy as Homero, the old man, not even the cat was in sight. She timidly pushed the rickety door ajar.

The woman stood in the doorway mortified, letting  fear penetrate her like a sword. Not one soul sit in the living room, quiet began to get to her so she spoke out. “H-Hello?” “H-H-Homer-r-o?” She stuttered. The only thing with her, was the odor sitting in the air. The moonlight seemed to illuminate the hallway, she followed. The moonlight stopped in the doorway of the red door. She shook her head as if to tell the door, no thanks. It crept open slowly, the smell growing more and more remarkable. She gagged and feeling silly for being afraid of whatever she might have feared she walked into the room. Stepping into a puddle of water, she looked down and a severed arm lay at her feet. The moonlight illuminated the room and the water turned into blood and bodies lay all around. Women, men, other animals… and in the corner the old man hunched over with the cat. She couldn’t scream, she couldn’t move, she just stared in absolute horror and disgust as the old man and the cat chewed on Homero’s body. Her hand clenched the rusty door knob, splinters digging into her fingers. The worst came as they both turned their heads, the old man speaking, “Going so soon, dinner’s just begun.” Followed by an eerie grin. Emily felt her feet move, while her eyes never left the man, teeth covered with bits of flesh, hanging and dripping red. The crunching of bones corresponded with the sound of her feet racing across the floor. “This can’t possibly get any worse!” She frantically screams. The house fell apart behind her, large pieces of debris falling on top of her heels. The crashing of the house echoed as she fell into the dirt, frantic and frightened. A solemn silence followed the house crashing, she never looked back again, in fear of seeing the sight she feared the most, the old man and his crimson teeth.

The police came about an hour later to find Emily in hysterics next to a tree. She tried to explain the issue, but it was difficult as the house, Homero, the man, the cat, even the wretched smell no longer sat behind her. It was all gone, as if it never existed. That is exactly what the police told her, but she cried otherwise. It was all lost, and so was she as far as the townspeople were concerned. She “went” away after that, nobody ever heard from her after that day. Present day 2015, the house sits on the hill in the woods — but the town never dared to go near or speak of the “fallen” house or Emily. Not even the distant nightly screams caused the town to investigate the house of deathless death.

The Diversity of Privilege

This week my family and I traveled down south from Wisconsin to Louisiana, specifically New Orleans. We originally had difficulty figuring out where exactly we could go considering we are a mixed family. My sister, who is white, suggested we go to Alabama. My father and I, both people of color, became anxious at the thought of traveling  down there. My mother, who is also white, put out the idea of Virginia, which I immediately shot down. What with all the rallies and white supremacists around? We found it hard to set our hearts on a place that was safe, and that everyone in our family wanted to go to. Eventually someone threw out the idea of New Orleans which we all decided was a great idea, safe for everyone, and had activities and attractions we all wanted to witness, and experience.

While in New Orleans I noticed many things that were different compared to our small town in Wisconsin. Besides the obvious things including: different weather, accents and drawls, and how hectic the city was, I found that I almost felt safer, a sense of more normalcy.

In my small hometown it was very stereotypical–lots of people knew each other, people who lived there now had grown up there when they were children, very religious, and also very white–Down here in Louisiana it was so diverse! White people, Black people, Hispanic people, Asian people, and everything in between.

IMG_3191.jpg

Walking down in the French Quarters going from shop to shop I heard at least five languages, I saw people singing to one another and same-sex couples comfortable enough to hold hands and kiss in public, something I rarely saw back home. Everything there was just so diverse, from the culture to the people. Architecture, food, people, and places, everything was different.

You know how in some towns they have city flags on their lampposts, or state flags on them? Well, in New Orleans, they have gay pride flags on their lampposts. Talk about taking steps forward!

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But, these differences weren’t all good. In some parts of the city it’s the nicest thing you’ll ever see. Beautiful houses bigger than some churches I’ve seen. Rich neighborhoods filled with mansions that had gates and intercoms, and then one street down, the next block over, was filled with houses that had trash in their lawns and boards on their walls so that there wasn’t a hole from the outside to their living room.

 

 

So few of them had window air conditioners, and in this heat it seemed vital to a Northerner like me, but when they did they had cage type things over them so they wouldn’t get stolen. People stood out on their porches with as little clothes on as possible to escape the heat, because at least there was wind outside to combat against the blinding sun and horrible humidity. Another thing that struck me was the amount of homeless people. People who had signs begging for food, people who had dogs with them or who were overheating because of the sun. There were moments in which we passed people that were either asleep or had fainted, or fallen over sick. I could never quite tell which it was.

One thing that was impossible to go unnoticed, yet easy to be put aside for many, was the fact that the rich neighborhoods by the French Quarters and the above ground cemetery where people toured, it was near all white people. And the poor neighborhoods with small, tore apart houses, was all black folk or people of color in general. I’m not gonna lie, there was an occasional black person or family in the rich parts, or maybe one or two white people in the more poor, broken down neighborhoods, but it was still mostly black and white.

This struck me hard because when I really sit down and think about it, even if I do have disadvantages because of my skin or my health or past, I have an amazing life. I have a good education, my family is mid middle class, and we are a family. We have a roof above our heads and food on our plates. We don’t have to put a locked cage around our window air conditioners to make sure it doesn’t get stolen. We don’t have to lock our door at night in case someone tries to break it, even if we do lock it anyways. Though I do endure disadvantages, I have so much privilege that I rarely acknowledge. I have a tenancy to tell people, “Everyone has at least a smidgen of privilege, so accept yours and use it to the best of your abilities.” And after being reintroduced to these types of places and how hard it is for some people, I think I need to take a step back and listen to my own advice.

One day we took a wrong turn and ended up in a poor neighborhood. It was filled with people sitting outside of their houses, the places they slept in wrecked as though it hadn’t been lived in for years and years. When we were in this neighborhood my mom had told my dad, who was driving, “Hurry and get us out of here, this place is scary.” To which I replied, “No, not scary. Just sad.”

Things you can do to help folks in your hometown who need it are simple for most. You can volunteer at soup kitchens or donate food. If you have leftovers you can give them to homeless people outside who need it. Many people don’t give money to homeless folks because of many reasons, so give them food, water, or clothes. Help them get into a homeless shelter or get a job if they don’t have one. If someone who is homeless approaches or passes you, don’t be fearful, be inspired to help. You can easily find numbers for homeless shelters by doing a little bit of research.

Remember, a little can go a long way.

Watching

The world is

going up in flames.

we’re watching the people

made of cotton

burn it all down

 

and everyone else is

screaming.

 

isn’t it crazy?

how we’re so loud

and they won’t listen.

how we sit powerlessly in a

city hours away

and watch the house next door

burn away.

 

we are arguing about

paint,

pygmit,

melanin.

we’re arguing about the people

that aren’t in magazines.

 

The people that

make up our world.

 

I’m watching a movie.

evil films from the past.

all of these years blur

Into one

a mass of pain,

pain for the masses.

 

Nothing has changed.

 

fin.

renee lee

this is a submission by Renée Lee

**

we’re all dazed and delirious,

wrapped in a cloak of ignorant bliss

 

reckless nights drowning in the affections of a new infatuation

 

impulsive kisses and fervent touch,

rapturous in our ecstasy

 

intoxicated confessions speak an unvarnished truth of a simple minded state,

a declaration of revelations, sensitivities and vulnerabilities

 

in spite of this, we recover our delirium

surrendering to the ease of oblivion

 

adolescence captured in a reverie of endless euphoria

 

– Renée Lee

sushmita ghosal

this is a submission by Sushmita Ghosal

**

history is written on concealed folds
of blood stained cloths covering
tiny hands realizing what words like
revolution, resistance, rebellion mean.
history is purple scars on skin from
trying to keep in fire refusing to settle in,
it’s whispers passed on from scared,
but certain words of mothers to
new born ears still learning to breathe free.
history is written on concrete walls
that have stood through secrets being
spilled out like wine on satin and
blood drying up on stamped papers.
history travels through rough, unworthy
hands to finally reach the ones patient
enough to understand it in all it’s uncertainty.
-s.g.
**
Susmita Ghoshal is an 18 year old from India. She’s a lover of poetry, history, biology and cats. You can find her on instagram @idksush and more of her work @iknowsush.