march prompt: reflections

Transparent, apparent, always here or never there, everyday is another reflection. Is a reflection surface deep or deeply surfaced? Let’s talk about nostalgia; how we reflect on relationships, glazed eye irises, mirrors, dirty street puddles, and life daily. We invite you to reflect on those things you might not otherwise reflect on.

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The Glass Age

Created by Daniel Zhang

 

"When I saw this photo of the Eiffel Tower distorted through a wine glass I knew I had to try drawing it for the complexity of the refracted image. Through the process I began to see the photo as a reflection of a major issue in the “Glass Age” that we live in. When we look at glass we look right through it – see it one-dimensionally even though it is integral in many of humanity’s greatest accomplishments.

 

In a similar fashion, I witness every day a constriction of people’s opinion on heavy topics, namely the reemergence of racial discrimination. We are constantly bombarded with inaccurate news articles on social media and fed by radical sources that seem to promote love and equality but instead inspire hate. To those who are privileged enough to read the news and watch the telly without fearing for the safety of their well-being, it’s easy to develop a one-dimensional, incomplete and usually twisted picture.

 

Much like the Eiffel Tower through the wine glass, I believe it’s more important now than ever that we maintain an open mind and complete the picture by looking past cheaply written propaganda, facing the reality of the broken world we live in, and taking a course of action based upon wisdom not impulse. We can restore the beauty of the world we live in but through love and understanding not glass screens."

 

Medium: Charcoal and Graphite

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Day-to-Day Difficulties

Written by Morgan Satterlee

 

Like climbing out of a shallow grave every morning

Gets exhausting after a long while

And then you wake up and some days feel like they're already spent

And then you sit up and it all comes rushing back.

The shift from ennui to enjoyment and back to ennui

And so on

Is very exhausting too.

Enjoyment can be exhausting when you know it can end at any moment

So you hold onto that idea in the back of your mind.

Left and right brain are constantly at odds with each other

And we hope we never are that way 

Because that idea is scary and intrusive.

A resilient virus.

We tie ourselves to these ideas because it is easy

Yet it is so hard to process the outcome,

The end result

But really it's an easily avoidable thing.

But I can't trust myself to avoid the avoidable.

The brain, the tool we use for everything,

Makes fools of us all so easily.

It makes us think complicated things are stupid

And simple things are confusing

And everything is backwards and upside down.

The brain is everything.

The brain sees and hears and feels

Every thing.

My friend asked me,

As a joke,

"How can we know our eyes are real if we cannot see them?" 

And I didn't know.

I accepted that conundrum from the outset and resigned myself from thinking further.

I jumped to that conclusion and planted my feet firmly in the mud.

But then another friend countered,

"If you remove one eye you can see the other."

And that changed everything. 

And so then I thought,

If the removed eye is still connected then you can turn it around and see yourself for the first time without a mirror.

So I suppose some questions have answers. 

Different ways of seeing and thinking are always right in front of our noses

But they are invisible

And you will not see them until you reach out and touch something.

Until you feel something real,

You will not know it exists.

It will not reveal itself.

Similar to the way the millions of imperceptible air currents are hidden until you blow smoke through them

And see them rise in the pale light.

We need only reach out and interact with the world to find answers.

We need to look in the light.

If we cannot see them, 

How do we know our eyes are real?

How do we know someone is there when they do not speak?

How do we know anything if everything is constantly changing all the time?

There is no intuition, 

Only expression.

Thankfully there are infinite ways of expressing who we are to some degree

Even if we don't know ourselves.

Even if we have never seen ourselves

Without a mirror.

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Leading with Love

Photography by Amanda Moy

 

"Being at college away from my sisters leads me to reflect on how I’ve possibly shaped their lives. Because I’m older, I do most things first, and they follow behind the path that I’ve paved. Sometimes I forget that I have this little band of followers, and I’m not the best example or support system. I’m trying to remember to lead with love."

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Suburban Retreat

Written by Sarah Hamilton

 

Ivory creeps up the white brick wall of my grandmother’s house

Green juice cups and a glass pretzel jar

The time on the oven is never accurate

Always off by an obscure amount

Speakers hide behind the fake foliage lining the top of the cabinets

ABBA plays through them, warming the kitchen with a yellow glow and the curiosity of a dancing girl

It is not until I am much older that I realize we never listened to records

How deceptive sight can be to a memory that controls the present

Silver dishes hold nuts and silver platters carry dry crackers and soft cheeses

The fire roars just bright enough to worry my mother

The piano remains untouched – the kids are busy on the stairs

Penny penny, where’s the penny?

My grandpa asks the three of us cramped on the bottom step

The frail railing quivers and the creche set shudders as we pull each others’ legs on the staircase

Mother peers into the foyer, wine glass in hand, to check on the three disciples

They haven’t fallen yet

 

The image is frozen in time

In my mind

And yet, I am in three places at once.

 

I am at the breakfast table drawing houses on construction paper to stick in the mail slot

I am in the basement by the laundry shoot waiting for a beanie baby to be tossed down

I am in my grandparents’ bed jumping up and down on a pile of pillows

I am at the dinner table eating mashed potatoes and petting the dog at my feet

I am in my grandma’s bathroom listening to her scale read my weight

I am in the blue bedroom, watching my aunt leave the house with her new fiancé

I am in my mom’s old bedroom trying on my grandma’s lipstick

I am in the den holding my cousin on the couch, listening to my grandpa’s raspy laugh

I am everywhere at once, because I will never be there again

 

I cannot separate the memories. The narrative of childhood follows the clock on the oven.

The only pattern of time is its perpetuity to my present.

 

White brick and dark green foliage will set me off into a trail of the past.

All I can do is let it run through my mind.

So as never to forget, what is already being forgotten.

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Living in a Memory

Photography by Alexandria Dravillas, Staff Photographer

 

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Blood Transfusion

Written by Chenoa Lewis, Staff Writer

 

he has entered my veins

i cannot escape this

fermented cure

i ponder if it’s medicine

masking away my illness

or a supplement so immensely

powerful, my whole insides

can be cured within the

moment our veins connect

mixing the ruby red blood

into a priceless serum

the world would die,

kill for

 

i cannot escape this fermented cure

yet a being so minuscule

so powerful, maliciously lies in

the pit of the shadows

in-between equilibrium

screaming for me to run

and leave so I can revert back

to my repressed past,

to my caliginous

relationship with the inner turmoil

of venomous revenge and toxic destruction

 

shit, our veins touched again

and the formidable voice escapes me

he travels through my bloodstream

and tears fall with palpable agony

sugar coated with powder so they

could be mistaken for artificial

lemonade

yet he licks them with his

opaque azure eyes

and he knows those tears

are releasing menacing demons

that relentlessly try to fight a

way inside this lucid dream

and my body, astro-planes

ascending far above myself

watching him lick away all

that once distressed

my cluttered, chaotic brain

 

the blood seeps tenderly through his ears

into my unwinding belly button and our bodies

mesh until it is unclear

whether I am him, or he is,

me

we sit there, unfazeable calm,

wondering when and if we

will slip and vanish

from each other's ethereal grasp,

yet neither let go,

so we watch time move

faster than light

and ponder whether we

are the light that controls

all that is moving and living

or are we the darkness

that suffocates the light

desolating and consuming

all that is known about

the essence of time

 

one last blood transfusion

and we, at last,

become eternally even

 

and time

finally quiets

or did it

dissolve

unevenly?

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"The Chef" and "A Passion"

Photography by Kristen Kim

 

   The Chef.   "Work can be hard. Sometimes you are stuck in a job that you don’t like or were just stuck with but in due time, your hard work will pay off! Keep fighting and really reflect on the opportunities you have had and appreciate it in order to look forward to the opportunities you have ahead."

The Chef. "Work can be hard. Sometimes you are stuck in a job that you don’t like or were just stuck with but in due time, your hard work will pay off! Keep fighting and really reflect on the opportunities you have had and appreciate it in order to look forward to the opportunities you have ahead."

   A Passion.   "We all have a fire and passion inside of us; however, sometimes the people around us and society can easily impact us, causing the flame to diminish. As much as we think other people care, as bad as it may sound, they could care less about us. Really look at your passion and fight for it instead of being so impacted by the judgement of those around you.

A Passion. "We all have a fire and passion inside of us; however, sometimes the people around us and society can easily impact us, causing the flame to diminish. As much as we think other people care, as bad as it may sound, they could care less about us. Really look at your passion and fight for it instead of being so impacted by the judgement of those around you.

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In the Air He Wakes

Written by Jack McCoy

 

His forehead sweats. He blames it on nerves. He’s not used to flying and his skull feels compressed in some way. He remembers superstitious rituals to get his mind off flight. He’s an atheist but he prays any time he takes off. 

 

Adrian Pierce thinks about his work he’s leaving behind, all those paintings of himself he keeps making – he doesn’t know if they’re self-portraits or not, but he finds his face in acrylic skies and his blue eyes in desert landscapes. He is to see his family – other than his father who just lost his third bout with cancer. It wasn’t unexpected – Adrian knew his father had problems for two months – but it was still sudden. Surprise phone call. His sister wasn’t looking at her phone when it happened and he was the only one with her fiancé’s number, so he had to tell her the news.

 

There was 46 cents in his checking account last week. Soon it might hit $100 thousand. He won’t need to worry about student loans, a real job, or to experience the truth of hard work – for his experience, there is no longer any such thing. He quit smoking three months earlier and started again the previous night – his grandfather smoked every day before he passed and now his father is dead from cancer. He seeks connection every time he ashes. He stares out the window and sees the unbearable whiteness of the sky, formations, wing of plane, no sign of life. He ate a Chicago-styled hot dog from a vendor before he left and he still feels it in his stomach. 

 

He wants to shout, move, entangle with passengers and dance as they hit turbulence, let the plane fall into Lake Michigan and swim with oil-guzzling geese, laugh into hysterics, self-immolate, self-deprecate, and self-harm, but he finds trouble creating justification for these thoughts of potential wounds. He drank from 4 p.m. to midnight yesterday, smoked quite a bit of weed, and accomplished absolutely nothing. His father would be proud.

 

A stewardess appears with a tray. 

 

“Water or pretzels?” 

 

He takes both and thinks about this morning, waking up next to Lucy, walking to coffee, taking pictures of old man and little boy in front of them, “Don’t be creepy,” she laughed, caught in a frame before getting him an Uber to the airport. “Are you trying to miss your plane?” She’s there for him in a very real manner and he hopes he would do the same for her. He’s so caught up in modern entropy that he’s losing air from lungs, the organizational building blocks people attempt to supply. Stuck in spirals. Dawn and dusk of people, places, things, mind in the sky. He’s shaking and his neighbor asks if he’s okay. Adrian fakes a smile at the man and tells him he’s just afraid of flying, a reality a year prior, but between this year’s flying to Seattle, Denver, Rhode Island, Denver again, and now Detroit, while he still prays, he pays it little mind. The man smiles, tells Adrian he’s been flying six, seven times a year for thirty years now – conference to conference, that kinda deal – but he’s never quite gotten used to it.

 

“Man is a land animal,” he says.

 

He plugs his headphones back in and Adrian wonders why he doesn’t have any. Moments like this, he thinks, are why pop songs exist. He thinks about John Cusack. He feels queasy. The pretzels didn’t sit well with the hot dog. He rushes, unsuspiciously, to the bathroom. 

 

As he gets to it, an older lady steps out. Adrian smiles pleasantly and allows her to pass. She doesn’t notice him. He steps into the stall and stares at himself in the mirror. Unshaven. Acne popping up. Unorganized and uneven hair. Dirty clothes. He laughs in spite of himself, as he looks the part and knows it. He allows his appearance to worsen as he does, as he thinks exteriors should reflect that within. He’s angry at himself for the thought. He doesn’t believe he should be allowed to think, to have the entropy spiral deeper into this confusing and tangled mess, go further into the void of mundanity, praying to find scapegoat to sacrifice, have belief turn into fury, blood into feces, light into dark, body into dust, dispersing blood, furious stares, he stares and stares and stares without blinking, or crying, hoping, loving, any of the things he thought himself capable of. 

 

He finds there to be nothing.

 

He flushes the toilet, washes hands, moves his tray into the upright position as they fall. His mind is flaccid as they plummet.

 

And just like that, the descent is complete. 

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Trailer for Forthcoming Film, Untitled

Directed by Ashley Taylor

 

 

"When I look in the mirror I see decay. This body that's grown for 18 years has decided it's ready to degrade. My body aches, my skin itches, I want to live out the rest of my days without physicality. upload me onto the world wide web, discard my flesh prison."

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The Art of the Portrait Selfie

Written by Megan Stringer, Co-Editor-in-Chief

 

Reflective portraits point inward;

Doubles expose me, myself, and I.

Crystalline corners sparkle with speciality,

Intentionality,

A hint of personality.

 

Vivian’s self-portraits are just like my selfies.

 

Hiding behind glass closets and medicine cabinets,

Where my belongings made themselves known and

Shoes mixed with toothpaste. Shared spaces became

My spaces,

And glances turned into forever.

 

Color isn’t necessary –

Portrayal is color itself,

Shaded in hues too light;

There’s no room to undo.

 

Nan’s self-portraits are like the ones on my Instagram.

 

I see myself in photos,

In dimensions of neon,

Tumultuous “noise added,”

Contrast heightened and

Vibrancy faked.

 

People have lives too,

Not just one film roll after another,

Stacked on top of each other and

Bespeckled with guesses at stories.

 

Cindy’s self-portraits scared me when I was a little girl.

 

The frightening buzz of the unknown overtook me

When a photograph was made to reveal.

The violent spots folded back

When polaroids burn

Told me nothing lasted.

 

The women in portraits dazzle.

Made for others’ eyes,

Only the best self-portrait

Makes for my own eyes a lie.

 

A lie for me and a lie for you,

A portrait reflected in golden hues.

 

Petra’s self-portraits paint a glossy girlhood,

They’re posted to Instagram too.

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A Dialogue on Free Will

Written by Madeline Happold, Co-Editor-in-Chief

 

I fall to the role I try to fulfill

I construct my narrative to fit the arc

To fill the empty spaces I tell my heart

This is what it should be and this is what you wanted

Isn’t it?

 

Shape a soul to fit the rhythm

Find a place to hide a corner you call yours

Not mine never ours a niche to burrow

Yourself deeper and deeper and this is

All it will ever be and this is what you wanted

Isn’t it?

 

Take a life and snuff the light let

The noise drown and the time move

With cadenced footsteps beating toward

Seas of blazing embers burning fizzing red

Find the fire wash it out and this is what you wanted

Isn’t it?

 

Hot and cold but neither nor just neutral and it’s all alright. All just right.

 

And this is what you wanted

Isn’t it

And this is what you wanted

Isn’t it

And this is what you wanted

This is.

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Thanks to all those who submitted for our March prompt! Take a look at our April prompt, Synthesis. Send any questions and submissions to shreddedmag@gmail.com by Thursday, March 30th.