Photo by Ava Davis


The rain falls here, scattered, as a crystalline pattern of erratic drops, each pitter or patter existing within the ambient downpour. Even within our twisting streets of neatly trimmed lawns and designer-bred poodles and spoiled children and intangible selfishness, our neighborhood—a host of well-meaning Samaritans with their ersatz greetings as they graciously water their petunias from across the driveway they recently and brashly resurfaced with natural cobblestone—is laundered of the raspy rustling of leaves, and even gossip-prone mothers, by the quiet drizzles of Sunday mornings. And we smile.
After the last few tears of the sky have ebbed away into their respective puddles, it is not only the chalk of our sidewalks that appears abraded. The soul of our neighborhood, often apathetic, dazzlingly reforms itself into a humble spirit: a spirit of those who greet their neighbors with more than just customary courtesy, truly invested in the conversation whether it be of renovated driveways or the gossip involving Sally's hush-hush affair (and an affair that was significantly less hush-hush once Monica came to know). After those very few remnants of the rain, we remember that maybe "all is for naught.”. We remember that we are but specks in the world, just droplets of universal rain; and each diminutive bead, as it falls, is a lifetime; perhaps everyone we teach to smile falls just slightly more smoothly, and falls just a tad more contently, fighting just a bit less against the world they inhabit. The rain falls here, scattered, but I love it because it helps me fall just a little more easily.
Art by Helen He


Thine eyes shine like a thousand supernovas bursting into deathThy hair is the black of the space between starsThy lips part around teeth grinning like skullsIn thy gaze, I crumble to dustEverything I do is a tribute to your nameFor when all is ash and pasteWhen time has spooled out, the end of the strip reachedWhen the stars have all gone out, energy drained and dispersedYou will have won
Art by Isabel Burke


I once met a man who scoured the skiesLooking for the point where the sun finally diesHe stole the moon to replace the gleam in his eyesBut it just wasn't enough
He followed the stars in the most peculiar of waysHe let them rule his nights because he couldn't see the daysI guess in the end that could be considered fateIf anything ever is
He told me, once, that his ship was made of dreamsBut that as of lately it was tearing at the seamsHe's replaced it with steel but it doesn't redeemA plan that's falling apart
I asked him why go on when there's nowhere to go toHe said "it's force of habit, like all forces that move you"I don't understand but few ever doIt might be a matter of time
When I went to leave he didn't tell me not to goI said I'd never see him but he said "you never know"So I waved goodbye as he said helloIn case we met again
I was thinking just how lonely that would beTo know that your body is where no one can reachIf you're searching the stars and you happen to find meBring me back to earth
Photo by Nolan Weinschenk


It was midnight and the neon colored lights glared through the window. It was raining outside and the air smelled of salt (even in here, although fainter), but supposedly that was normal considering I was right near the ocean. I never have liked the beach; it was always too sandy and washing off all of the tiny stones seemed more of a challenge than it was worth. The place truly disgusted me. Unfortunately I had to move here for more job opportunities—after all, the small town I was from was lacking a need for those in my field.
I attempted to sleep, but the sound of traffic and noises of too many people filled my senses. Eventually I gave up on the activity. “Ah well,” I muttered, “I’ll sleep tomorrow.”
As I looked around the room I noticed how little there was to do. Not to mention the horrid sounds of engines still finding their way into the paper-thin walls of the hotel... hopefully when I buy my own apartment things will get better. But my pessimism got the best of me, how am I expected to adapt from my quiet home to this? It’s not going to be easy, that's for sure. I sat there for a few more seconds relaying my choices. After thinking about it I knew there was one truth: I had to get out of here. I changed clothes and threw on my leather jacket, making my way out of the room. I’ve always hated hotels like this, with their crazy patterned carpets and cheesy decorations.
I got a cab outside of the hotel, but I didn't have the faintest idea where I was going.
“Where to, Ma'am?”
I paused for a second, and of course I just had to say the first thing that came to mind. “The beach, I suppose.” Silently I cursed myself. I hate the ocean, why would I say that?
The man gave me a confused look, he must not get many people going to the sea-side at midnight. “Alright...?”
We sat through the rest of the ride in silence, the only words uttered was to pay for the short trip and a small “thanks”. Right when I stepped out of the cab a gust of salty air ran through my long hair. Another reason why I don't like the beach: the wind.
And with that I was alone with the land behind me and an endless amount of water before me. A certain feeling filled my senses as I stared out into the dark expanse, like confusion and hopelessness and sadness had combined. It was like I wasn’t supposed to be here-- like I was following the wrong path.
I felt completely and utterly lost.
Art by Cole Winters


I want the words to move like oil paintwrithing under thin coarse hairswhere color screams and laughs and whispers.And if you scrub hard enoughyou can see all the mistakes.But the black can't blend with the whiteAnd I don't even know if this is how you're supposed to do it,anyway.There's gold in here somewhereif I scrub long enougha grain of accomplishment will surface.
Photo by Dougal Cormie


You with your beady brown eyes,Prying for some answers to petty problemsAnswers that I don't have.And you thinkThat I'm stupid enoughTo believe I'm the only person youleave out of your conversationsWhen I'm not around.You,With your soft demeanorMaybe it's your natural camouflageTo the beast that preys on others misfortunesYou,With your rosy cheeksThat can't hide your crooked noseAnd your pleasant but digging smileYou,With everything you own—Everything you hoardYou,With everything your parents give youBut you can't graciously acceptYou,With your pastThat haunts youYou,With your complaintsSo that it haunts me tooYou,With your liesThat I listen toAnd let you revel in
Art by Katherine Sheffield


"Damn," he murmured under his breath, right before he lifted the dry chicken into his mouth. Maurie looked over at her husband, her eyes found his wrinkled furrowed brow. She examined his pale fleshy skin and the way his hair was thin but still slightly greasy, pulled over his patchy bald spot in a combover. No matter how she looked at him, she would still see ugly. Maybe she had been looking at him for so long that she had forgotten what he really looked like. How he looked to people who had just met him, to people that loved him.
"What is it dear?" She was aiming for a caring tone, but her voice came out flat.
"Nothing." He could barely be bothered with one word. His irritated manner worried her.
"Jim?" He looked up and their eyes locked.
She thought they were about to have a moment, but all Maurie saw was ugly blue pupils and the minuscule purple veins that ran through his eyelids. She felt her own unattractiveness reflecting back at her off of his face, she felt her small eyes and dumpy nose and all of the weight she had gained with her age, and her stomach dropped.
"Jim, do you want to leave me?"
They returned to their food, and never spoke of it again.
Photo by McKenna Applewhite


You hate me,And I the same,But you have a gravity about youAnd I am just bound to orbit.I see you from afar In admiration,Hate,Jealousy,Obsession even.In the dreams that fill my headWe are passionate,one with another.It feels so vivid,so real that I know each individual smell.But I know this will never be,.....And yet I still ask myselfIs this just lust?Or do I feel, deep in my bones, something completely differentI will never sayI will never admit to weakness that is this emotion that consumes me.I will hide them away,Ignore my aches and pains,And relish in the fantasies that haunt me
...for now.
Art by Grace Rhoads


the deep night sky looks down on her,filled with incomprehensible beauty;shimmering stars, emitting a light so bright,twinkling with all their might.
the shimmering stars look down on her,and she starts to wonder why;why do the stars twinkle at night?why do they give off such a beautiful light?
the tall, ominous tree looks down on her,beautiful flowers on branches wave,thrashing at the wind, they blow,basking in the stars’ beautiful glow.
the deep night sky looks down on her,just like the stars and the flowers and the tree.the beauty fades, the sky now a black sea,as she realizes,she is a nobody.
Art by Sam Kartiganer


Hard days and hard timesEmotional claws shredding my bodyMy heartMaking fresh woundsOpening old scarsA tumultuous maelstromAn onslaught of sensationsWhere’s the genesis of my countless tears?Drowning in the murky salt waterSwept into the rip current of despair…Feeling the air burn in my lungsRecognizing my time has comeUnsympathetic, darkness envelopes me DesperateGrasping for a sliver of hopeFor a chance to fightAnything to stop the pain
Photo by Mikaela Salisbury


11 million people. People.Punctured lungs...beaten hearts.With bones like smoke and their souls trailing behindAnd the shadows lurking in the dark corners.They see without feeling.They watch without taking action.Six years before the war.Six years leading up to change,Six years of hate.Six years of opportunities.Why don't you do something?Make a change. Resist.
The arrow is pointing towards the man next to you.Do you even care if it missed?11 million people. People.Those shadows stayed frozen,in the blood stained snowin the foul smelling fumes.The shadows and I.Protect ourselves only.
Do nothing but watch them, observe their humiliation.The kids. The parents. The fathers and wives. The voiceless.
just taken away.We watch them fall,
into their shadows on the heartless ground.11 million people. People.Spurred on by the affliction of guilt.I cling to my family. My home. My faith. My voice.Although utterly consumed in rage towards those who hate,I act like I’m utterly worthless to the victims.Like how those shadows acted back in the day.
Who let 11 million people,simply burn out intoashyempty
smoke.No more 11 million people.No more shadows.
Art by Audrey Hollingsworth


It was raining the day they came. It poured down in sheets, almost parallel to the ground the way the wind was blowing. The bright grass outside had lost its shine, instead flooded with the dark gleam of downpour. The clouds were of an ominous quality, like they knew what was to come. I remember standing by the glass sliding door that led out to the backyard, watching as the world turned grayer and grayer as the rain overtook all other colors. My dad was in the kitchen, unloading the groceries for the next week, as the kitchen TV blared flash flood warnings and predicted another four days of that miserable gray rain. I could hear my grandpa shuffling around upstairs, the sound of his feet almost completely muted by the weather outside. I hadn’t seen my mom yet that day, which was, to my younger self, more unusual than the quiet my dad was emitting. One thing to know about my parents, or I guess one thing there was to know about my parents, was that my dad always had something to say, and my mom always had something to do. I guess in that way they were perfect for each other. So, with it being two o’clock in the afternoon, I was puzzled by the fact that my mom had yet to come bustling downstairs, and my dad had nothing to say about his trip to the store, not even a quip about the price of apples these days. That probably should have hinted at something, but in my mind, I just blamed it all on the rain. Being said, my nine year old self should have felt, in the back of her mind, something was deeply, utterly, confusingly wrong.

Art by Emma Nebeker


A small gathering, in the basement of a farm on a moon. JOE is trying to host a cool party before everyone goes off throughout different sectors in the known universe, but he’s only friends with STEVE and #3. They rickroll him. He chases them around wielding a headless lamp. STEVE steps in a cardboard box but can’t stop, while #3 carries a phone blasting the song. JOE gives up first, flopping somewhere while STEVE and #3 hover cautiously. He starts laughing, then sobbing. He has never left home. He has never been alone.
STEVE and #3 don’t know what to do. JOE is always the decision maker, the action-taker. They tentatively gather around him for a hug, but he pushes them away. He needs to be strong. Everyone who goes through the academy has a reason.
STEVE and #3 team up to convince him emotions aren’t weak. He protests. They argue. They win.
It ends with a hug as a rooster crows, announcing the end of the night and the play.
Art by Audrey Hollingsworth


You know you love her when you look into her eyes and see a million worlds you never could have dreamed of. You see your hopes and fears and all the secrets you’ve held in your heart because, if you really love her, she is your heart. You see a limitless ocean or an endless forest or an ageless night sky, and it terrifies you and amazes you at the same time. No matter what you try, you can’t look away from the stars in her eyes.
You know you love her when you can hear her laugh from a mile away, and you can find her voice in a crowded room, and every time you hear her, you smile, because even just the thought of her lights up your day. You hear her in your darkest hours and in your proudest moments, and her words keep you going day and night, through thick and thin. You’ll notice that you’ve become reliant on her words dancing through your mind, and you’ll know you love her.
And when you kiss her, electricity pulses through your veins, carrying energy and sending a thousand tiny needles against your fingers in a tingling explosion. All your anxieties, all the butterflies in your stomach, dissipate for a split second as your lips touch hers. Then, it ends before it begins as she pulls away, and all you can think about is the next time your lips will meet. That’s when she consumes your mind as well as your heart. That’s when you know you love her, because love is an addiction.
Banner by Lila Denton