The Woman From Ukraine

On a winter day with snow falling outside my window, I buy a painting. From page to page on the art-gallery site, my fingers fidget on the keyboard as I move from one offering to another, finally settling on her. She is perfect. The artist has painted the woman’s face on particle board. I wonder… Continue reading The Woman From Ukraine

When My Mom Found Out

she told me to stop pretendingto be something i’m not she told me i say thingsi don’t even understand she told me i’m already the least liked in the family;that’s when i understood i have no real home,yet Cassandra Manzolillo Cassandra Manzolillo is a writer, filmmaker, and dancer based in Long Island, New York. Cassandra… Continue reading When My Mom Found Out

Body of Clay

His mother holds his hands in hers, her thumb scraping at the congealed colors – three shades of red polish – thatspill messily past the edges of his nails. The memory is sharp with the smell that he will later think of as acetate and shame;the thick, rubbery texture of puddling nail polish coming away like a layer of skin. He’s six, and his parents call it stealing asif the act of fishing dusty, clacking bottles and tubes from the forgotten corner of his mother’s purse is a crime. When sherubs her hand across his face the color of roses stays smudged across her palm, and he can feel it after she has pulled away, like a bruise around his mouth where the lipstick dried against his skin. Whatever excuse he gives – I didn’t know, I didn’tthink – must be a lie. It begins with a lump in his throat, like the need to cry, round and hard as a stone. He clutches the soft underbelly ofhis jaw, feeling something climbing his throat like a snake and falling onto his tongue. It is heavy and soft and slightly bitteragainst his teeth, and when he opens his mouth and lets it go into his hand, polished-tipped fingers close around somethingwarm and slimy with spit. He holds this close to his mouth, unwilling to reveal whatever has just emerged from him, and runs to the bathroom, tossing the handful of clay into the small plastic trash basket next to the toilet. In the mirror, he watches his face and he scrubs his mouth from a color that the lipstick tube named simplyeternal and which leaves a faded hint of rust in the corners of his lips. Afterwards, his parents simply do not look at him, or even at each other. That night he waits until he hears them go to bed then tiptoes down the stairs, hesitating with every wooden creak.He digs the drying lump of clay from the bathroom trash and runs hot water over it until the surface dissolves in ribbonsdown the drain. *** A week before fourth grade he tells the first lie that he remembers clearly. It forms under the flourescent lights of adepartment store, a memory of infinite white walls, sale signs, and larger-than-life people sitting on glossy grass. He weavesbetween the towering posters, the girls his age with soft, candy-striped leggings or delicate floral blooms printed acrosstheir waists, with sparkling kitten-heel shoes, miniature versions of their beaming mothers’ muted feet. Lip gloss onkeychains, bracelets and bags in pastel pink and lavender. He picks up a purple shirt with a pattern of diamonds across thefront in shimmering sequins, runs his fingers over the chest just to see how it feels. Shame unfurls hot in his belly when he hears his father calling him, standing anxiously at the end of the aisle. Whatare you doing? This way. Wrong section. He does not understand his father’s fear, only the expression, pulled tight aroundthe corners of his mouth and eyes. He puts the shirt down quickly and backs away, step by step, pulled between thediamonds hanging tilted on their hanger and… Continue reading Body of Clay


The traveller closed the map irritably as the wind did everything in its power to open it back up again. It showed a forest filled with what seemed to be the same sequence of trees going on for eternity, rendering it possibly the most useless map in existence. He nearly ripped the damned thing up.… Continue reading Gaudium


Too hot to go out now, asphalt black and burning with the bitumen that aggregates viscous gravel, tar that burns bare feet and paws of bored Labradors panting on tile inside. I would like to go out naked on my mountain bike in high top tennis shoes. I would like to wave to matrons on their… Continue reading Capitalism

The Book

A successful library run to me, whether as a child or an adult, means leaving with a bag full of books after scanning titles and covers to ensure variety. I’ve always loved period pieces, including British dramas, comedies, and closed-door murder mysteries. Better yet if those period pieces included a female friendship and a boarding… Continue reading The Book

madame slant

i’m seventeen not cis/not straight ontology: negatemy first gay bar more artsy queer southside scenewe smoked cigarettes on the fire escape lips sip bitter punch, hips and heels shift weight leather pants, slick hair, back to wall, they lean i’m seventeen not cis/not straight ontology: negate at twenty, my friend (seventeen) follows me like fate up graffiti stairs inside these walls i’ve… Continue reading madame slant

extra tofu

the summer before high school I learn Chinese because I like the mountains in National Geographic  a month of language camp “up north” horse flies, cabins, bonfires, a lake  in class I practice bending my tongue into new shapes, and writing characters with even strokes  out of class I listen to kids talk about drugs and blacking outI… Continue reading extra tofu

Little League

Butterflies and a daisy with all the petals meticulously picked off. A game of “Does she love me, does she love me not” whispered into the grass. And you ask it not to tell anyone.              It doesn’t answer. But that’s okay. It’s grass.              You water that spot on the lawn every day anyway, in case… Continue reading Little League

Nowhere is Back

the Subway no longer closes Overnightfor Cleaninglike it did for the first time in History New York City subway – cleanAs It Ever Was – cancelled Most remain Maskedon public transit, Unmasked we bask in parks: the High Line, Little Island Many still jog on the streetalthough the gyms are now open Some still poke fun at Outdoor Dining… Continue reading Nowhere is Back