untitled

by tyler j. johnson

a rainy day with truths bestowed

once in absence

all events suddenly arbitrary

staring into presence that presents nothing

a face that once turned a wet day bright

I can no longer love a future

with a despise for the past so strong

our characters all dressed in sorrow

I’ve become weak

mania doesn’t last forever now

it stopped raining


tyler is on instagram @loureedswetdream

bradbury tea

by j.h. anderson

I ran into my highschool English teacher a few weeks ago in a pizza joint.

She asked about my life. Abashedly, I told her of how I’d fallen from the optimism and promise of a collegiate scholar to the smudged, rough handed existence of a debt-laden laborer working back towards that life or one more suitable than this, at least. She reminded me during our short talk, that, even though most of my creative outlets have been shorted by sleeping days and working nights, I could always write.

So today, taking her advice, I carefully lifted the lid off of my skull and filled it with a magnificent stew of Ray Bradbury’s words and Earl Grey tea. After letting it seep, then stirring it, and then settling it once more, I leaned forward ever so carefully and let a conservative portion (for fear my brain would flop out like a suicidally depressed goldfish if I attempted to drain it all) dribble out over the brim of my furrowed brow, down my nose, and onto the carpet. It made a garish brown puddle there, growing ever darker as it soaked into the fibers below.

I looked into the light glinting within the wetness of my little Bradbury tea stain, and this is what I saw:

We sat in silence for a moment, listening to the hiss of the needle on the bare end of the record, the soft click of the stopping mechanism when it reached the center. Her head rested delicately on my shoulder. She lifted her face to look into mine the way wildflowers straighten themselves after heavy rain, green eyes shining. I gazed back, feeling tired and drugged off of the natural perfume of her skin. This was a woman that wouldn’t be mine for long. This was a dream that I would wake from in the near future and be painfully alone once again. And as dreams are such ethereal things, very few can be held onto, even in one’s memory. I knew this one was not of those few, and my stubborn, incessant mind refused to let me pretend otherwise, much to my dismay. I am a poor man. I have only time and affection to offer. Even if such a dream as her could be kept with so little, I would be giving her less than she deserved.

“That was beautiful,” She said as I got up and lifted the needle back into its cradle.

“I’m glad you liked it,” I said smiling weakly, wearily. I meant it. The piece was very dear to me.

I returned to her and she put her head in my lap, her face a serene green-eyed pond. The pond rippled as a thought came to her and she spoke.

“You know, it’s strange. It felt like such a memorable song and it had a gorgeous melody, but now that it’s over I can’t remember a single lyric.”

Now it was my face’s turn to ripple, but in a very un-pondlike manner. With deep grooves washed up on the northern shore that is my forehead, I stretched and curved my long spine all the way down to kiss her forehead.

“It was an instrumental.”

The stain dried. The light faded. I saw no more.

another letter i forgot to give you

by sheena tran

 

Dear lover,

 

I once loved like I forgot how to love myself

I once loved like I was sacrificial

I was dumb and young,

Under the impression we were going to live forever

Did you feel the same?

Did you love me like you didn’t know yourself anymore?

I still love you

It’s different now

But I still love you

 

I remember shoulders touching

Hands grasping onto each other’s skin

Your hands were so delicate

And mine were too bony,

Too stagnant at letting you go

Sometimes I would slip between the cracks of your fingers,

When all I wanted was to be like twisted rope around them

 

Do you remember midnight messages?

Goodnight gratitudes and fleeting frustrations?

Convoluted conversations about the future?

Remember when we had a future?

Remember when it wasn’t just about passing notes in class?

Or listening to the same music on the bus?

When it was looking into the windows of our souls?

Or carrying a bittersweet kiss on our cheeks?

 

There are still some days I miss you

Miss holding your face between my hands

Miss smiling as bright as the sun when I saw you

Miss bursting like volcano when you said my name

I loved it when you said my name

I loved it when you carried it with your voice,

Like you had the strength to lift me higher into the stratosphere

I felt so light,

Like a red lantern in an ocean blue sky

 

It’s okay

You don’t have to miss me

Don’t have to miss the way I looked at you when you weren’t looking at me

Or miss the way I filled your crevices

Filled your heart with warmth

Or when I wrote letters in the tears I shed for you

You don’t have to miss the darkest parts of me that made you spilled ink

You don’t have to miss the parts that made you smile

It’s okay,

 

But sometimes I am not

Like how I crumble into pieces whenever I see you now

Whenever you lock eyes with me,

I am locked within your chains

Under your intimidating stare

I didn’t know it would be possible for me to do that

Make you into moon goddess

I am still captivated by you,

Somehow committed to you

You are tugging on my ever-being

My waters rugged and tides overbearing

Am I not my own person anymore?

 

Maybe I’m okay with that:

Being stuck to you forever

Maybe I’m okay with that…

 

But I know I am just a burden

A parasite you want to be released from

When will you sever that tie?

Sever the red cords I’ve attached to your heart?

I am so easy to be rid of

And still,

I think you miss me

 

P.S. You should have drowned me out when you had the chance.

 

Sincerely,

Your lover


sheena is on instagram @nhoxiu17 & @sherbertsheena

morning commute

by brooke bond

 

In the dark, early

mornings of January,

two surprising friendships-of-sorts began.

 

Brompton Guy and Headphones Girl.

He arrives at the station before me,

and we chat while we wait for the train.

She walks the opposite direction of me,

and our paths cross on the same block

most days.

 

Both started with closed-mouth

smiles of acknowledgement,

nodding to say, “I see you,

up early like me.”

 

With Brompton Guy, a rainy day

kept us both under the shelter.

Proximity prompted polite

conversation about train delays,

fold-up bikes, and commuting details.

Months of that turned into

daily catch-ups on work,

holidays,

family,

and where we lived before,

occasionally riding the train together

to continue the chat,

and always ending with an enthusiastic

“have a good one!”

 

Headphones Girl smiled first,

a real smile,

so I smiled back.

A couple weeks of smiles later,

and she waved,

So I, of course, waved back.

One morning, a stumble

led to a mutual laugh.

Next time I see her, I’ll say hi.

 

I recognize other commuters:

Shelford Guy, who runs to catch his connecting train;

Blonde Girl, who sits in the same seat each day,

and on the day when two new people rode our train,

and sat in our seats,

she looked at me with raised eyebrows.

Newspaper Man, who bikes to the little shop

on Regent Street

for a coffee and a paper.

(I smiled and nodded at him yesterday,

and after a moment of confusion,

he smiled back.)

The Cute Couple, who always hurry somewhere together,

smiling,

him walking his bike

to walk beside her.

 

The familiarity of these strangers,

brought to me because of our shared early mornings,

makes me smile each day.

 

I wonder if they notice me.

 


brooke is on instagram @brooke.bond1007

the prettiest face

by tyler j johnson

The man sitting at the first booth of the coffeeshop that I work at is ugly.

However, he has the prettiest face I’ve ever seen.

His face is rough

His hair is long

His jacket is clean

His face is rough.

As I puff the smoke out of my lungs from the last drag of my cigarette

I contemplate

This man

His face is rough

Who is he?

I’ve seen his pretty, rough face before

I couldn’t forget

Is his life in any way similar to mine?

Probably not

I usually see him alone

or with a friend

or his partner.

I don’t have a friend

I don’t have a partner

I’ve finished my cigarette

My face grown rougher than before the first drag

One day maybe

My face

will be

as rough as the man’s.

I’ll be ugly

I’ll be pretty

I’ll have a friend

I’ll have a partner

One day

but not today

maybe never.


tyler is on instagram @loureedswetdream