in your corner
editor: antara bird
editor: han lynch
editor: clara fletcher
Letter From the Editors
You don’t have to read this in a corner...
...but we highly recommend it.
If you do decide to take our recommendation and you’re
looking to find the optimal corner, ask the errant corner gob- lin where he came from, or maybe where he’s going. Spend
some time lurking in dark coffee shops and testing out all the
worn couches to find your favorite new nook. Look behind
your furniture to find where the dust bunnies best congregate.
Make some space in your childhood bedroom or on the street
corner where you spent your teenage years. Ask the busker at
the intersection what brought them there, or make your way
through bits and bobbles to sit in the bygone corner of your
old, dusty attic. Allow yourself to find comfort in the muffling
of noise that comes from a small space, where there is no
room for echoing thoughts to bounce back at you.
Once you’ve found that corner, maybe invite someone to join
you and tell them all about how you got there.
Signing off for the semester,
Megan & Alissa
It’s hard. To live alone.
16 oz maize morado + 4 or so sticks of cinnamon + 1 teaspoon and a half whole cloves + 1 can sliced pineapple + a gallon of water. Bring to a boil.
As the sun leaves the sky and the days grow cold I feel like a ghost. Clattering around my empty world. Stuck, inextricably, in my body.
Warm scents will fill the air, bring to a simmer for 45 or so minutes.
The world gets a little smaller, I think. Rose bushes are cut down in preparation for the cold, as am I. Possibilities shrink to a few embers as I grasp at the joy of a few months prior. The days grow short and depression roots itself more deeply in my lungs.
Strain. Reserve solids for another batch. Stir in the juice of six or so lemons/limes + 11/2 cups of brown sugar, if you don’t have piloncillo + a pinch of salt. Adjust to your taste.
Lemon and cinnamon burst across my tongue. Sometimes I fabricate memories of my mama Quila holding my aunt's hands as they stir it together, mother and daughters joined by the sticky-sweet of brown sugar. I’ll drink it hot and greedy, although my grandma serves it cold in the summer heat. Generations of love in the slight numbness of cloves.
Pick out the pieces of pineapple, they’ll be rich in color, although not in flavor. Add a new can. Repeat.
My abuela never taught me how to make chicha morada; instead I learned on the back of Inca-brand packages. But when I call her she’s delighted to hear that I’m making it, across time zones and assimilation’s siren call.
It’s warm. In their embrace.
Keep chilled. Serve with diced apple and pineapple (if you’ve got the energy). The only rule is: share it with the people you love.
It’s life. As we make it.
Some Words to Describe Growing up in Maine
-For Elizabeth Lane-
There is no word for the seemingly endless rock walls that line the landscape of Maine,
Where the new neighbor welcomes you by bringing over a blueberry pie she baked from scratch,
Or the thicket of underbrush she trudged through to gather the berries,
Collecting them in an old yogurt container,
The hand-rolled dough on her butcher block countertops,
And the flakey dough that was carefully molded to fit the edges of the glass dish,
The crust of the pie, expertly crimped with the prongs of a fork, crispy, golden brown.
There is no word for reliving that flashbulb memory
Of following Elizabeth Lane through the backwoods,
Yogurt container around your neck, learning from the master.
She chatters in her neighborly way, interrupting herself only to point out a stray strand
Of barbed wire across a rock, as you clamber over after her.
Spiderwebs brush across your arms, the leftovers that didn’t catch on your trailblazer,
Then the fairytale thicket of bushes, pregnant with ripe blueberries and blackberries
And the fat bumblebees that lazily swim through the muggy heat, on to the next flower.
There is no word for you nudging her growing pumpkin in the garden
And breaking the fragile green stem with a touch of your finger pad,
The shame that ate away at you at the dinner table
While you tried to stomach Annie’s white cheddar shells,
The trepidation of calling her landline and having to explain the catastrophe you caused
In your matching PJ set, walking barefoot through the yard,
Making contact with the young new growth right as she uttered the words,
There is no word to describe the comforting smell of your doll’s forehead following your shame,
Katie’s vanilla-scented head that had so tempted the dog that he ripped it to shreds.
Your parents hid the damage, ordering a “New Baby Katie” in the mail,
Only for you to find the traces of her lifeless body hidden in a cardboard box in the closet,
Her plastic head riddled with bite marks, stuffing exploding from her intestines.
There is no word to describe the joy over the arrival of the New Baby Katie,
Elizabeth Lane over the landline, reporting your package was delivered to the wrong address,
And skipping across the street in your twirly skirt to welcome her into your loving arms.
A corner once referred to a battle-
Ment's embrasure. Behind stone parapets,
Indented walls of octaves and sestets,
Soldiers looked out for incoming shrapnel.
Which is to say that the corner has al-
Ways been a place to anxiously keep watch
Of strangers looming in, both cool and gauche.
You’ve known the eyes already, known them all.
But a moonlit corner converges two
Paths, empty streets, emptying your pockets
Of cold hands, saving laughs in cheap lockets,
Scribbling notes in glass bottles. You adore
Headlights rounding corners that will stop for
No one, as the voice pleads—“Wait”—to stop you.
Do you ever flirt with yourself in the mirror?
The person staring back can’t help but reciprocate.
When you close your eyes, does it feel like you’re practicing for death?
Every blink is a rehearsal leading up to my final performance.
Do you ever smell nostalgia?
I swear I smelled my mother’s sweater on a downtown street.
Can you feel it when I think about you?
Sometimes when my mind lingers on your memory, I wonder if you can sense it.
What would you tell your younger self?
What would your younger self tell you?
Are you a time being?
A book I read says we all are.
Do you think of questions to ask me when we next meet?
I can’t seem to stop myself.
I have large piles,
sorted into purposes
of what is trash
and what is mine
And I can’t seem to leave my room
or my wet forest of woodland creatures
which reminds you of a drowned moor,
Mourning in the morning
when I can’t seem to get up
And I watch as I fall—
My feet become wet.
It gets in between my toes and wrinkles my face
Suctioned into the ground, I can’t
seem to remember
Why would one leave?
But you, free,
would not agree.
You enjoy traveling too much
To see and feel and exist in territories you can’t control
Where you can hear your mind
and you don’t mind the loud voices
Who open their swamp-like mouths
to curl their tongues at us
as we sacrifice our freedom
to leave our natural habitat
And maybe your mouth invites me
with the creak of the door,
you step into one of my piles
And my mouth opens to curl,
but instead creaks some more
Scraping off my swamp as I go lay down,
I tell you to ‘close both of the doors and turn off the light’
and you start to worry, ‘please’
‘Let me be,
Because I can’t seem to breathe’
My skin becomes loose and rusty
as I grow old in my room. And you’d
creak one last time,
as to not cause a scene
The tide rises, the scene changes
Before I’m alone again.
You never gain your footing in here,
you trip on every root, and
Slide on what you cannot see.
Maybe sores begin to form on the inside of my cheeks
the soles of my feet
Sometimes, I wish we could meet
I let out a gust of wind
To alert the creatures: ‘you can come out now, we’re safe.’
My cruddy carpet, haggard stance,
flooded with loneliness
twisted into my core
Similar to how I used to be touched
But today I can’t seem to escape how
I separate smells,
and what’s mine
the aglets on my brother's hoodie glance off the
bottom of the dryer (it hasn't been his since it left home,
but he'll remain the original owner). delicates hang dry in
the corner of a new bedroom, the rack once housed in
my grandmother's shed (for some reason the floor was
carpeted, even outside). neatly folded sweatpants, still
warm from their bath, the drawstring replaced with a
length of ribbon, belonged to my other grandma, and
now i wear them (or her navy blue quarterzip) whenever i
am in need of a hug. a black-sleeved baseball brewery tee in
the second drawer was my dad's until it shrunk in the dryer
and was rescued from the thrift pile. my sister sends me
pictures of herself in a pale purple sweater that i wore for
years. when the air starts to bite, i pull out a jacket that once
belonged to my mother and zip it up to my chin (the warmth of
home is here, in eggplant wind-resistant sleeves).
I want you here, so palpably that if I focus too long on it, my chest starts to hurt. It
doesn’t get tight, like how you might feel when you are anxious about a big test, and it doesn’t ache how it does whenever my mom tells me she is disappointed. It feels instead like a bruise that is just beginning to color itself in. As if my heart is a pie chart, the whole thing different shades of red. But whatever portion you take up– and who am I to pretend I know the exact amount– is tinging itself blue. I think we will have a garden in our backyard when we get older.
With distance, the blues become more vivid: bleeding in from each side of your slice,
like a vignette made of spears. With distance, I have learned how the word yearn feels in every corner of my mouth. With distance, my heart has begun to whisper to me. Remembering that someone curled up in a corner of my heart, stretching its tissue around the continent, may cause pain– but it also gets me through my days. I pray no arteries will burst, no rip will form. Cherry tomatoes and bluebells are the first things I’ll plant.
Maybe, right now, our hearts are beating in time, chugging right along to the same
rhythm. Or maybe they aren’t, and maybe that’s okay, maybe that’s the most important part of this whole thing. Moments where we are out of sync being just as beautiful as ones where we are. What would the ripe red be without a little blue.
never mind the cold
There is an alcove in this room, an inset for a window, an accident of this old house. It sits perhaps two feet deep and three across. Here I set my chair and read, asleep, pausing only to look out at the world below.
One day, the shelf above me may collapse, as part of me hopes it will. A cascade of books will form, falling over me with pages flashing like snow. Bludgeoned in bindings, subsumed in syntax, I will wait for the wind of words to pass. When the storm is gone, I will remain, awake.
You’re safely tucked away
Under envelope shields and gold wax locks.
I cut some slice of self and fold it into the paper,
Where the ink eats it up,
Holds it safe,
In a week I come tumbling out into your hands
And I hold you in mine.
All the worries and the fears
I'll fight them off with my pen,
Even if I fight alone,
I fight for you, forever and always
I keep the parts of you you send me in a box,
close to my heart when the head goes sleeping
And it still beats steady,
They’ve come home
As if you were some part of me
That ventured off alone and gathered more bits of self and became its own,
Long, long ago,
Or perhaps at my core lives some wayward part of you,
That calls back to its brothers.
Take the inkblood tapestries and my crested red seals
And build yourself a corner of stone,
Where my words can be an army,
The ink can leap off the paper and harden into
a sword for slaying the things that bring you crashing down,
Cut tears from your eyes.
I’ve made a shield of your sincerelys,
The thousand closings, the proclamations on paper,
When we face life we do it side by side,
Hand in hand,
Over the miles and their hundreds,
I write it again and again,
(I mean it every time)
Over and over,
Till it’s more my signature than my name,
So I need not sign it.
In this life & the next
From a young age, we are told,
“home is where the heart is”
but to me, home has always been where you are.
I long for those lime-green walls that kept me safe,
the bumpy sidewalk where I learned how to walk,
the steep stairs I was always afraid of,
and the old brown bricks that molded me into the woman I am now.
They are the foundation of my life.
And they were also the start of your new life here.
You were a young woman,
who migrated to America in search of a better life,
alone and disoriented.
You had nothing, except the determination to build.
You went from living in a small village
to living in a concrete jungle that does not
stop for anyone and that does not forgive anyone.
You were never able to speak the language;
I always translated for you anyways.
With bits and pieces, and years of toil,
you built a legacy for me.
No matter the circumstances, you
made sure your child had everything.
I remember age 5, when you’d bring me snacks
from the vending machines at work.
“Surprise!” you’d say.
I treasured those cookies as if they were gold.
I remember all those times when you’d stay up with me
while I did my homework.
“Keep going,” you’d say
“You’re going to have a bright future”
“I don’t want you to end up like me!” you’d say…
I wish I was more like you.
Stern, independent and smart.
I can see parts of you in myself, but no one could ever come close to you.
I remember waiting for you to come home after a long
day at work.
Your old, torn, brown shoes,
your tired but sincere, warm smile.
I remember that warm feeling I felt when you held me.
I felt so grounded because of you.
I really miss it.
I miss seeing you and your beautiful honey-brown hair,
I miss your constant reminders of how truly loved I am.
Now all I can think about is how
those same lime walls we loved are gone.
The garden you and father tended to
are now overrun by weeds that would’ve never sprouted
if you were there.
And now, I’m not home either.
I find myself 1,953 miles away,
in search of something new.
It’s my turn to learn, and to grow-
Perhaps, someday I’ll go back.
Check up on our old home,
and walk down the creaky stairs that I was afraid of.
and I’ll make sure to water your garden.
I’ll make sure to keep our home in my heart, memories and dreams,
and I promise to keep your legacy intact.
Meche y Abuelito Beto
A white duvet cloaked in the light of an overcast Seattle morning,
June, November? — it doesn’t matter.
Incompetency in communication,
An unabridged rambling novel without direction, intention, etc…
A short story comprised of 17 encyclopedias on humankind,
Boundless friendship: (virtue, utility, pleasure).
“Sweet tunes”/ “free jazz”?
Context as art,
The last open spot in ART-130 Beginning Ceramics,
A bookshelf filled with academic writing on the nature of masculinity,
Yearning for beauty, reduction, minimalism…
I don’t know what to wear,
A blanket of snow on a sheet of hard ice,
Pipes protruding from the walls,
Yearning for closeness,
4 hr 16 min (262 miles).
I knocked on the door and clutched my bag nervously as I waited for Trent to open the door. His dog barked, and I heard footsteps getting closer.
“Hey, Liam,” he said as he held the door ajar in an attempt to keep Gary, his dog, at bay. “Come on in.”
I walked in and looked around. The house was cleaner than last time, which made me a little sad since Trent’s disorganization is one of his most prominent traits. Gary sniffed at my leg for a little bit and looked up at me expectantly, as if the contents of my bag were for him.
“You got it?” Trent asked me.
“Yeah,” I replied, and handed the bag to him.
He looked inside, smiled, and picked up what could be mistaken for a postage stamp. He held it up, like a prospector inspecting his bounty, and uttered the word, “nice.” I followed him up the stairs into his bedroom, which had the iconic Trent clutter, and we sat on his bed. He took out one of the not-postage-stamps and placed it on his tongue. He looked at me.
“You just put it there, right?” he asked me.
“Oh, yeah,” I said, “just let it sit there.”
He laid back in his bed and closed his eyes and rested his hands behind his head. I looked at him, watching his chest rise and fall, and wondered what would happen to the tab when it reached his stomach. Would it be mushy from his saliva? Or would it have retained its shape after it traversed down his esophagus? What would it look like as it was dissolving in his stomach acid?
“How long does it take?” he asked, his eyes still shut.
“Um, like, 30 to 45 minutes, I think,” I said. He opened his eyes.
“You don’t know?”
“No, not for sure.”
“Could you look it up, please?”
“Yeah, I’ll look up ‘how long does it take for acid to hit.’”
“I was being facetious. But it does take around 45 minutes.”
He shrugged and closed his eyes again. I got up and began looking around his room, admiring the local flora and fauna of worn clothes, misplaced items, and trash. I noticed a plastic trophy that had a figure of a kid playing soccer, and saw that it had Trent’s name on it.
“I didn’t know you played soccer, when did you get this?” I asked.
“I don’t,” he said, “I got that thing on Amazon.”
I put it back down and kept perusing through the disarray. I eyed a particular pile of clothes in the corner that looked comfy if one wished to place oneself atop it. My gaze wandered, but was brought back to the pile of clothes as I thought I saw it move. I looked more intently and saw it move ever so slightly, accompanied by the jingle of a belt still confined by the belt loops of a pair of pants.
“Did you hear that?” I asked Trent.
“No, hear what?” he said.
I gave up and approached the pile of clothes. It shuffled as something quickly escaped it and ran. I jumped a little and turned back to Trent.
“What the hell was that?” I exclaimed.
“Oh, probably just Jeremy,” he said.
“Jeremy? Who’s Jeremy?”
“Jeremy the goblin?”
“Yeah, a goblin named Jeremy.”
Trent finally sat up and looked at me. His expression showed he was peeved, so I decided to drop it. He lied back down and asked if I played chess.
Trent brought out a chess board and began to set up the pieces, but I was stuck on Jeremy for quite some time. Of course I didn’t believe Trent (because goblins don’t exist) but the earnestness in his voice . . . the conviction, the candor, the look of sheer honesty in his deep, blue eyes; he couldn’t have been lying. Trent started, pushing one of his pawns to the middle of the board. I immediately responded with a bongcloud opening, to which Trent told me to put my pieces back. I told him I’d undo my move only if he admitted that he was lying about Jeremy.
“Come on, man, I thought we were past this,” Trent said, rolling his eyes.
“No, you were past this. I just don’t believe you,” I said.
“Fucking . . . fine,” Trent said, and began to make noises I had never heard before: “Uzabakeeka bagalagabooga beeba, azhiga baliga bada beeka Jeremy.”
I turned my gaze to Trent’s closet, and out popped a tiny green creature holding a canvas sack. He was about 2 and a half feet tall, green in coloration, with facial features I can only describe as chiropteran - long ears, pointy teeth, bug eyed stare - but he had a long nose. He wore a loincloth and a pair of handmade leather shoes.
“Badagag?” the creature muttered. The creature, who was obviously Jeremy, walked closer to me. It stuck its great proboscis at my legs and began sniffing curiously, moving up to my chest and neck. My heart was racing as I assumed Jeremy was thoroughly ill-intentioned, though he concluded his ritual and turned to Trent. “Utu ta gagag bubu?” Jeremy asked.
“Beebu,” Trent replied. “Mappa ta gagag Liam.”
“Oh, Lee-am!” Jeremy exclaimed. He laughed and then spat on my face. I was too perplexed to say anything in response.
“That means he likes you, dude!” Trent said.
“Great,” I said, wiping the spit from my face.
Jeremy began walking around the room, whispering the lyrics to what I can only assume was a goblin folk song. He would pick an item from the ground, inspect it, and either put it back down or put it in his bag. I asked Trent if this was acceptable behavior, but he was preoccupied with looking at his hands. Jeremy walked up to me once again and inspected the rings I was wearing.
“Sunu gipa beekabeeka zizi,” he said, as he began to pull one of the rings off. I recoiled and swatted his hands away. “Oh, zagga beeka booga!” Jeremy exclaimed as he procured a shoddy knife from his bag.
I screamed at Trent so that he would acknowledge what was happening, but to no avail. I ran out of the room and down to the kitchen, where Jeremy followed me. I reached over to the knife block and pulled out a chef's knife, grabbed a broom and some duct tape, and hurried to the bathroom. I could hear Jeremy banging on the door, yelling goblin profanities at me, but I tried to work quickly despite my fear. I snapped off the sweeping side of the broom and fastened the knife to the broomhandle with the duct tape. It was a little wobbly, but I didn’t have time to worry about the sturdiness of a makeshift spear. I heard the door open, and saw Jeremy drop two bobby pins at his feet.
“Uzabakeeka, abdanag,” he said, and let out a cackle.
“Look, Jeremy, I don’t want any trouble. I’ll just get outta here and no one has to get hurt, ok?” I said.
Jeremy laughed again and charged at me with his shiv, but I was able to hit him in the side of the head with the broomhandle and make it out of the bathroom. He leaned up and checked his head for blood and ran at me again. I closed my eyes and thrust forward with my spear, only to feel a sudden stop. I opened my eyes and saw that the knife had made its way through his chest, piercing his lung. Jeremy wheezed for air, and I watched his lips move, but nothing came out. I twisted the knife and saw his eyes grow wider. I took it out, and he slumped to the floor, still struggling to breathe and lying in an ever-growing puddle of goblin blood. I could feel blood pumping throughout my body and every limb in my body was shaking. I collapsed to the floor. I heard footsteps coming down the stairs.
“Liam?” asked Trent. He stood on one of the steps and looked down on me.
“I’m finished,” I replied.
Your Abiding Thread
I walk along, now without
This friend skipping beside.
Yet nevertheless here, away,
in some sidewalk passing greeting: my laughter
In a smiling hello, summons my return,
Return into imagination,
Where joy’s tolls refract back
as your echo
Sudden shudder, all around, delivered by sound—
The campus building-walls
Adorned with old crooked frames of us, young.
And these sycamores shapeshift hardy— thicken their bark
As their frost-abiding flowers of spreading-out, growing-up, grow;
Become the statures of blooming-into-adulthood
Then, standing upright on the sidewalk is that ripening self,
Attentive, like dawn discovering day, and breathing into gut
the cheer you now spew
from my grin.
Ah, I remember it — But what of now, beyond? We’re twenty-two.
I will delight on your laughs, rupturing through me
As our ancestors
Drank the wine on Sundays,
Sacraments to be
living on, friend, side
by skipping side.
something very gentle
i laugh softly and look up
your gentle, caring eyes meet mine
smiles adorn both our faces
comfort crops up in my peripheral
at ease, i break our gaze and rest back against your shoulder
you pull me in a little tighter
as you allow your head to fall onto mine
serenity sits with us
i look around at the greens and the browns
and i have forgotten myself
i’ve become a part of you, a part of us, a part of them
harmony hums softly behind us
roots branch from our feet
mine twist and intertwine with yours
and with those of the trees around us
belonging beholds us
i sink deep, deep, deeper
into the grasses,
then into the dirt
and i am coated
with something very gentle.
begin to close
begins to flutter
and i feel
comfort, serenity, harmony, belonging,
each presence fading into another
until we are
a perfect mess
deep in the forest