Mark





CITIES

29.01.21 - 19.02.21 / ARCHIVES
CURATED BY MARYAM ARSHAD, HANNAH DAVENPORT, LUCY HULTON

POETRY
ART ︎︎︎





I take a step and it beats
PROTECT YO HEART
till it burns at the smell
of smog where angels,
angels with butterfly wings
blindfolded, fly in search
of humanity in a city with
TOO MANY HUMANS &
NOT ENUF SOULS
who dream small enough
to become waitresses
in hopes of becoming
HIGHEST IN THE ROOM
among angels who lose
sense when they step foot
in my home where the hills
burn with ease & brunch
serves multitudes of millions
during Sunday service that
falls in the pits of the forgotten,
each breath you take in the
CITY OF ANGELS
promises your soul to the heavens
where you will learn how
hot the sun really is.

MELROSE AVENUE BY TANYA CASTRO.





Down the street, the house
literally under the tracks
how dark it must be,
all the windows boarded over.
When the front door opens,
and I can see in,
how hard to imagine
that this was once a home

How cavernous it seems
and the men,
like miners
move expertly through
the building
they know where
to cut and rip,
following the veins
that used to flow
to the television,
the ac,
the light over
a dining room table,
who once sat there?
who once ate food in this room?
They pull whole handfuls through
the drywall and mud,
lengths and lengths of
corded energy.

It is an uncomfortable ecology,
when they come back out,
two women wait
with buckets and knives,
they slit the rubber sheathing,
shucking copper
from the sleeves,
hoping this thin conduit will
become something
viable again.

TRANSFUSION BY ELIZABETH JOY LEVINSON.





Wednesday, we’re in New York,
and I see you looking at the sky
as if you can see the rain to come
and bare us to our bones. Our bags,
full of water, become lakes we carry
on our shoulders, all the water in
the world. Our hands, held, are wet.
There is a fountain running, needless
but wonderful, and you point to it.
I liked the other one better, you say,
this is too disorganized, but you smile.
You only cared about wetting your lips,
not filling your mouth, but it is still wide
open, still gasping for the rest of the world,
and I will give it to you, I will give you the rain.

YOU SHOW ME WHAT YOU LOVE, AND I LEARN TO LOVE IT TOO BY R. RUVINSKY.





Branch in storm
Wriggling baby
Leaves pudgy fists
Drying shit
Spit & rub
Shrieking
Saliva on glass
Mirror image
Smudged
Grey outline
Against grey
Wall grey
Pigeon glare
Schadenfreude
My friend, you are rubbing the wrong side
Leaves join in mockery
Lips form
Stop this fuckery
Belly gurns
Cells burst
Gravitate south
Wait
I see something
Wave
Something blow
A kiss

EXTINCTION BY NORA BLASCSOK.





for Angela

It is summer and we look for
home in a country we think we know.
Our airplane is an aluminum can,
painted red, white, and green.

We clutch thin purses in the taxi,
quiet as a rowboat, and then it stops,
but the driver does not help us
with our suitcase.

We walk up a winding tower
of crumbled stones.
The hotel is big and old.
From our one tall window,

we look down on the turquoise
stone sea, and women in the street
looking like us, with terra cotta skin
and coarse black hair.

We walk to a restaurant sitting
on the edge of earth,
and we drink chilled limoncello
with pizzas ripe with red tomatoes.

We delight in these smiling faces,
asking us if we want more.
We dance in the Sicilian square,
under a plum moon.

CATANIA GIRLS BY NATALIE MARINO.





caged chicken on roads
deflated ox cart
seller of empty tanks only

280 flies on 199 rice beans
clothes hang in the fishy smell
seller of carrots only

tamarind icipopshot corn
exchange of cinnamon and flip flops
seller of potatoes only


And on the pavement that roars with sweat
the Tailor sitting at his Singer
sows Silence



polli in gabbie sulla strada
carretto di bue sgonfio
venditore di sole taniche vuote

280 mosche su 199 chicchi di riso
panni stesi nella puzza di pesce
venditore di sole carote

ghiaccioli al tamarindopannocchie bollenti
scambi di cannella e infradito
venditore di sole patate a terra



E sul marciapiede che romba di sudore
il Sarto seduto alla sua Singer
cuce Silenzio


Stonetown, Zanzibar Island, Tanzania.
Originally written in Italian, translated by the poet.


THE WELL-ORGANIZED CHAOS OF STONETOWN BY SERENA PICCOLI.






VIRGO BY FRAN FERNÁNDEZ ARCE.





In Wuhan, China—
for the first time in decades—
people saw the stars.

Scientists postulate
the coronavirus lockdown
saved 77,000 lives.
By reducing factory emissions.

But mother earth still sweats—
bleeds acid from the clouds,
eyes bloodshot.

Check the pollution report before playdates,
ultraviolet sunlight blisters skin.
An eleven percent asthma rate
Still forces a hand around the throats of children.

But when factories went still
and fear ran rampant,

China took a breath

and looked to the stars
to guide them home.

CHOKED BY D.R. HUMBLE.






In my first week of college, everyone I met
asked me what county I was from. In
Massachusetts, where we speak of home as
how-many-minutes-from-X-location-in-the-city
or what-stop-you’d-take-on-the-Pike-to-get-there
or how-many-brown-people-live-on-your-street,
I picked my would-be answer up off of the floor,
shoved it back into my mouth, flipped it upside down
on my tongue, and said: “Boston.”

Over time they would come to learn that I actually
lived in the suburbs, that I was raised in a house
down the street from a Toyota dealership on one end
and a graveyard on the other, on the wrong side of the road
opposite a brand new row of brick-faced McMansions
that had outgrown our 1884 Colonial that probably
housed ghosts that had wandered down the sidewalk
and staked their claim in the crawlspace of our attic.

Correction, I tell my peers, as the Baltimore County bunch
discuss how Metrowest Boston isn’t really Boston, how
growing up in a suburb makes you an incurable Suburbanite,
that the white-picket fence is as much a mindset as it is
a border between an inevitable “us” versus “them”—
my house was in the suburbs, but I grew up in the city;
I tell them that the postal code of the walls I grew up in
did not mean much, that I did not do much of any
growing up in that town, anyways.

On some days, I turn into a haunted house myself,
outgrowing the walls of my body and detaching
from the material world, so much that I have to hold on
to the edges of tables or the trim of doorways or whatever
hand is closest by in order to keep my ghost legs from
separating entirely from my body, floating up through the
ceiling, and leaving the rest of me behind, as though i am to
embark on my first spacewalk but forgot to tie my tether
back to the ship that breathes oxygen into my lungs
when i have forgotten how to make it for myself.

When I return to my own skin, when I manage to drift
a complete orbit around my own consciousness and
return fairly unscathed by the interstellar gases,
you are waiting for me on the other side— the hand
that reminded me what it means to have bones.
This is more house than any house I have ever known.

DISSOCIATION BY MAIA JOY.





I emerge into the city from the womb,
a basement-belly, swelled and angled down
as my giantess mother lies on her face.

I have never grown in her woodlands of hair,
only born and born like this
into the day-sore work of bodies above ground.

The sky is late. I scrape it for a drink.
Cloud shavings in the same bottle
where I collect dew from the grassmudpatch
that grows across the window to my home.

The towers laugh at me.
Rigid spines confess the abdomen clench
of erupt-ready mockery
that waits for me to pass.
Passless, I remain afloat in their bowels.
Discomfort plays across a well-groomed square:
architectural jawlines set into place
by distaste for my sewer-like air.

The sky is late. I gaze it for a star.
They hang too low on electric street-vines
where I swung once, when the firefolk
brought me down. Shoot for Narnia,
shoot for a snow-wide country of symbolism,
land among overcrowds.

The sky is late. I lick it for a sugarpink
shock. The soot is its own suburb
hanging somewhere from the foot
like the hangman card who winks:
look differently.

BIRTHED EACH DAY AMONG DETRITUS BY SOPHIE HAXWORTH.






THE SLEEPING CITY BY VEER.





In the north when all is hot,
When the year long feels like summer
When all was sizzling and simmer,
Our dried lips laced with gloss and shimmer,
Our throat dry from talks and whispers.

Red dry rusty roads,
Catwalking hajia’s with their heavy loads,
Carefully balanced on their head,
Generous amount of flies claiming their homes,
As fruits sellers prepare their own for sale,
A few sleeping dogs owning their bone.

The control of cattles by herders,
Sparkling smiles on the faces of our future bearers,
Giant shade trees and fruit bearers,
Bowing to the dry howling wind,
Shinning sun of new eras.

UPNORTH BY SALAM ADEJOKE.





Angie and I escaped in time.
Sipping Cava, we divide the tapas.

Clutching beer cans, naked torso,
they run through the rain.

Their mates shake a fist against
the thunder. Wet kilts sway.

Later, on the Ramblas smart
middle-aged couples amble.

Living statues stand still.
Celtic fans sit in a heap, cursing.

The game hasn’t even started.

POSTCARD FROM BARCELONA BY FOKKINA MCDONNELL.





hiraeth (n.) a homesickness for a home to which you cannot return, a home that maybe never
was; the nostalgia, the yearning, the grief for the lost places of the past.


It’s still there, you know.
Fishermen still sail their time-scarred boats
On the lake. The lake is still blue.
The raat rani still has that intoxicating scent
That captured my attention every night.
It still blooms, even when I’m not there to see it.
The mango tree still bears fruit
Bigger than my palm. The fruit is sweet. Still sweet.

It’s all still there.
When it rains, the concrete streets still turn into ponds
Ready to welcome a dozen paper boats.
Time still comes to a standstill, and
The earth still smells like heaven
After the rain.
Cars still wind their way up the hill
To marvel at the Kaliyasot dam. How could they not?

Of course, it’s all still there.
Three vegetable vendors still compete
To see who can shout the loudest.
Three old ladies still compete
To see who can haggle the loudest.
December mornings are still crisp and chilly.
Ginger tea is still the best cure for the cold.
Old City still has food to make your mouth water.

But doubt creeps in, inevitably.
One can never step in the same stream twice.
Currents flow, life moves on, goodbyes are said.
It feels like home isn’t home anymore.
But I cannot let go.
I long to feel the stillness of the summer air, and
Yearn for the blur of days gone by,
7,223 kilometres away from what was once home.

But what was once home, still is.
It lives and breathes and continues on
In my memory, if nothing else.
I’m only a daydream away.
So, I sit and I dream of the raat rani tree
And of mangoes and thunderstorms and
Of cloud spotting on the terrace.
It is home. Still, home.

CITY OF LAKES / CITY OF DREAMS (OR, HIRAETH.) BY UDITI SINGH.






I.

Last night, I remember thinking: Oh, so we are really leaving. Of course. Why do I beat myself up with an
impossible wish to stay here? I remember being with my friend, Mickey. While she chooses a simple phone, I
stood there, outside a mall store, beholding what used to endlessly amuse me as a child: Lights. Interloping of
sounds echo from different areas: a Christmas carol, an announcement, a local music from a gadget store, buzz
of excited mall rats. This seems like the galaxy of ants and bugs. We are their sky, this mall is their outer space,
bursting with colors and movements and glorious light from above. Their galaxy is my Christmas spirit, a
yearly affair of memory, spent in reunions and carols and jingles of bells and sharp but sweet dulcimers,
laughter and food passed on in recipes which I now own. Stop there.

Last night, I remember being stuck in traffic on the bridge. America plays I Need You. I remember to bring that
music with me. I heard them play months before I was birthed, I was told. I do not know what I need, only
memories to keep me going. Feeling good, painfully good. Or godawfully painful. Lamplight shimmers in the
water. Traffic light says stop. Or wait, for another set of yellow and green. I remember I have time to take them
all in: The leaving, the days before leaving, what I will be leaving. I take them all in: To remember the songs,
the colors of lights, the movements that transport me to stories. I pack them all in words. The shimmer of the
bridge lamplights on the water. Is the water the mirror of the light or is it the other way around?

I will remember to pack up this music. Leaving should not age me.



II.

Thin, thin threads of rain, almost snow. / Flakes on the way to my place. Perhaps

planning to rest on my shoulders as comfort / or refuge. Suddenly cut, and melted,

uncaring, surrendered to the mud, / the puddle awaiting their entry.



III.

Stay. Still. Sleep the worries. Your list of signs can wait. Meanwhile, let your dreams dissolve the questions.
Where do you look? That is where you are heading. You will drag that ball of a baggage if you wish to. It is fine.
Unpack these memories later. They are all you have of a place you long to stay forever. They will stay. Perhaps
soon, mingle with what have yous in the now. Meanwhile, stay. Sleep the next steps. Drowse what have you
nots. Knots of plans: Turn the crying into comedy. Why not? Pimp you up. The packaging of you distracts the
pain away. Pedi, facial, shopping. He shall pay the mortgage of longings unresolved. Pay the payables, treat
the treatables. Coffee with friends, bag in the books, dry the ink in your notes. Eat your favorite dishes: pasta,
pesto, pisti. This time, do not wash them in the sink. Do no chore. You are a waiting list no more. Meanwhile,
stay still. Lull tomorrow to sleep. Slip that hand pudgied by joy, wrinkled by sorrow. Too much soaking in the
sink. Slip them under the fluffy comfort of memories. They are all you that have of the many faces that you
are, were, once. Trundle them despairs, sleeping tablets quiet them down. Now, stay. Sleep. Shush. Shut those
eyes. Where you look, that is where you are heading.

LEAVING CAGAYAN DE ORO: A CITY IN TRIPTYCH BY NOEME GRACE C. TABOR-FARJANI.





TANYA CASTRO
ELIZABETH JOY LEVINSON
R. RUVINSKY
NORA BLASCSOK
NATALIE MARINO
SERENA PICCOLI

FRAN FERNÁNDEZ ARCE
D.R. HUMBLE
MAIA JOY
SOPHIE HAXWORTH
VEER
SALAM ADEJOKE
FOKKINA MCDONNELL
UDITI SINGH
NOEME GRACE C. TABOR-FARJANI

CONTRIBUTORS (IN ORDER OF APPEARANCE)




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