December 2013

Do I Dare Disturb the Universe

Our theme for this issue came from a line plucked out of one of T. S. Eliot’s most famous poems. We don’t only dwell on this phrase during the winter months of course, but perhaps there is something about being an undergrad this time of year that spurns us to think about our positions in the universe a bit more closely. The following poets and artists certainly teeter on the precipice of the question, provoking us to feel the many-pronged sentiments behind “daring to disturb.” Enjoy.

Eliza Newman

Life In My 20s

Standing naked in the front room
Wrapped up in my silky sheet
And nothing else

I bend over to lower a tray into the oven
The blanket slips
I leave it there
As I lick the chocolate off my thigh

My spine curves over a book
While the words of Dickens, Sapho
Rush through my head
The room slowly fills
With the sweet, sticky smell
I love

The oven dings
The brownies are done
And my fork is ready
Dinner is served

Michelle Khazaryan

A Moment

My mother’s hands open the soft whisker skin of the fig
Hands shake delicately, breezes buffet them
Bruised brown and purple, its crush of pulp glistens like wet skin.

Into the vulnerable sweetness her ivory moon fingers dig
Thin lips part, creases tug up the corners of her mouth, when
My mother’s hands open the soft whisker skin of the fig.

Juices creep slowly down fingers, into palms, drawing rings
Nestled in my mother’s hands, harvested from the earth, a gem
Bruised brown and purple, its crush of pulp glistens like wet skin.

The soft crush of flesh condensed, cracking seeds sing
Promises of memories so alive that you can taste the tempt
My mother’s hands open the soft whisker skin of the fig.

The flood of memories is enough to make you sick
Knots of loss and sadness pulse and keep time, with a clench and unclench
Bruised brown and purple, its crush of pulp glistens like wet skin.

Sunlight gleams off of pulsating seeds thin
Childhood creeps up your neck with the fruit’s scent
My mother’s hands open the soft whisker skin of the fig
Bruised brown and purple, its crush of pulp glistens like wet skin.

Susi Lopera

vis 1

Maria Peltekova

Riding the M12 Metro Line

Here’s a passenger who dipped
his arms in tattoos
Here’s a dove of woman
all charm and raspberry lips
Here’s a fashionably spectacled,
hair-tentacled student reading Richelieu
Here’s the corduroy curve that slips
down an old woman’s back
And here’s her grandson’s
yellow book bag slinking
off his shoulder.

Here’s them shuffling
their feet, muffling
their stares at each other
scuffling to get out
Here’s a newspaper
sprawled on the floor
by the door, footprints
scrawled all over
and no one galled enough
to pick it up.

Susi Lopera

vis 4

Elizabeth Cutbirth

36 24 36 Model Making

36 24 36 sized models on Exhibit
Mannequin-like models made thin.
Fragile, bare wrists
bony. Narrow waist
and idolized in magazines; she wants
to be so very much like Twiggy.

Cheekbone high and hungry Twiggy
is her idol and ideal exhibitionist.
Spine protruding want.
Hungering her thin
How bad she wants her waist
Trim and slit slimming wrists.

Eyes socket deep, and pale wrists
Popular pop-fame-making Twiggy
Iconic body-loss waist
Supermodel exhibited
Haunting hungering skeletonic thin.
Silent self-suffering, self-sacrificing want.

The feminine form wanting
losing, shrinking, narrowing wrists
Flashy, pop, hip thin
bone to be like Twiggs
snapping on tv, on magazines; on Exhibition.
Short shallow dream body wasting.

Corsetting, narrowing waist
appearing in the mirror she’s wanting
Exhibition
of rib and wrist
bones so much like Twiggy’s
Cheekbones, emptying eyes, and spine thinning.

Gaunt, haunting eye socket deep thin.
Wishing weight wasting waist
Like pop Twiggy
Crave wanting
Writhing wrists
Wrought, retching and on Exhibition.

Feminine forms so sinuous wasting and wanting
thin wrists;
so many thin skinny like Twiggy Exhibiting.

 

Rosa Chung

vis 9

Michelle Khazaryan

Wormhole: Robert Blake, in Lost Highway

His eyes are sunken, charcoal pockets
Volcanic sediment, layers of slate soot petal themselves around glittering black pearls floating in
a bowl of milk
Heavy marble monument forehead
Only the blind, damp slap of angler fish can produce a colder fingertip skip down the spine.

Volcanic sediment, layers of slate soot petal themselves around glittering black pearls floating on
a bowl of milk
Crescent moon wine lips have stained his heavy tablecloth of a face
Only the blind, damp slap of angler fish can produce a colder fingertip skip down the spine.
Here is the man you knew was outside your window, across the room, right behind you.

Crescent moon wine lips have stained his heavy tablecloth of a face
Only God could have a voice like his.
Here is the man you knew was outside your window, across the room, right behind you.
Backward-broken necked shamans speak through him, through the electronic grate of thundering
echoes in an empty room.

Only God could have a voice like his.
Oozing, glazed blood, smearing his chin, becomes him.
Backward-broken necked shamans speak through him, through the electronic grate of thundering
echoes in an empty room.
A worm with clouds in his eyes sees the filth that grows on your cracked heart, better than you
ever could.

The guitar is speeding forward on the highway, accelerating with the rush of a levitating heart,
The singer is growling, dragging his demons from within the blackened chambers of his heart,
The tambourine is skittering, tin-ticking across the floor into the darkened bedroom,
And he approaches.

Rosa Chung

vis 7

Contributors:

Rosa Chung is an Americanized Korean born in Seoul, raised in New Jersey and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. She is a business administration major hoping to add a cinema minor and part of the graduating class of 2017. With photography, Rosa aims to capture the inner struggle and euphoria in day-to-day occurrences and project them to a quirky and fantastical scale. In her spare time, Rosa also enjoys the company of cats and Buzzfeed.

Elizabeth Cutbirth is a senior majoring in Creative Writing. On her free time she enjoys creating animations, hiking, and camping in the backcountry. 

Michelle Khazaryan is a senior at USC majoring in Creative Writing and International Relations. When not writing, she likes watching films, Indian food, and exploring her hometown of Los Angeles. She has an unhealty appetite for spicy food, and will one day master the Orochon Challenge.

Eliza Newman is a sophomore creative writing major at USC. She is also a news editor of the school’s online newspaper, Neon Tommy. When she is not reading or writing, Eliza enjoys baking, yoga, photography, and exploring the vintage shops of her native Los Angeles.  

Maria Peltekova is majoring in creative writing with a minor in screenwriting, although sometimes she feels as if she might just become an entomologist at the Natural History Museum. Her New Year’s resolution is to become better at doodling in between her class notes.

The work represented here is the intellectual property of each individual author and is not subject to replication or use without permission.  

© Eliza Newman 2013. © Michelle Khazaryan 2013. © Susi Lopera 2013. © Maria Peltekova 2013. © Elizabeth Cutbirth 2013. ©Rosa Chung 2013. 

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