by Stephanie Tom (art by KT Howard)
Crows have absolutely no sense of self-preservation
and that is a fact that exists every time their wings
barely brush past the tires of my car as they ascend
towards their chimney perches. I know that there’s a
reason we call a group of crows “a murder” and a
group of ravens “a conspiracy” and a group of owls
“a wisdom”; names tell us all that we need to know
until we ever bother asking. Birds of night never
venture too far into the daylight or into the road because
they know the sanctity of blood in their beaks.
I dreamt of a house on the shore last night, and all
along the fence were magpies, lined up in their stark
black feathers against the white circles of their stomachs
against the white pickets of the crooked fence posts,
gathered round like the handbells of so many town criers.
It was glowing yellow outside, sun setting like a
fluorescent lightbulb flickering off. There were leaves
swirling into the sky, tornado reaching upwards in
an inverse natural disaster. The sand I didn’t know was
under my feet packed into footprints as I ran out the door,
calling for a name that I had forgotten, or chose to forget.
I don’t even remember the ocean and how it kept
whispering, curling around my ankles, telling me that
everything that I sought was just out of sight under the
water, and under every name that I ever left behind.
Honey Be(e) Safe
This is how we know things to be. There are the
flowers glowing velveteen in the setting sun.
There are the rabbits hunched on their haunches
in the clover. There are the bees, clouding in the
hives dangling from the lower branches of the
forest, tucked under the eaves of houses. There
is the sunset glow of new promises and the
prayer of forever on the tip of our tongues as we
watch the shadows of night grow into shadows of
men. There are no cries of help that are heard
in the dark. Every voice is left to die, every buzz
left to fade into radio silence. There are the swishes
of axes felling trees. There are the echoes of screams
from animal and human alike. There are the snaps of
roots being pulled up. There are the sharp footfalls
of rabbits running into their burrows, burrowing
further, deeper, down into the solace of silence. There
are the crackles of fire driving smoke into hives and
calming the bees before a final stroke drives them
across the forest, across the horizon, as the sun rises
in the morning to a forest full of white noise and empty
shells. There isn’t enough smoke in the world to silence
the departed ghosts fleeing.
Stephanie Tom is a Chinese-American high school student living in New York. She is the managing editor of her school newspaper and an executive editor of her school literary magazine. Her writing has previously been recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, the American Association of Teachers of French, the National Society of High School Scholars, and the Save the Earth Poetry Contest. Her poetry has either appeared or is forthcoming in Rising Phoenix Review, the Blueshift Journal, Hermeneutic Chaos Literary Journal, and Tinderbox Poetry Journal, among other places.
(Artist) KT Howard studied creative writing at UW-Madison and is now learning journalism as an assistant editor at a trade magazine. She's studied abroad in London, took a working holiday in Wellington, and currently resides in Madison, WI. Her favorite library in the world is the Wellington Public Library Central Branch. In her spare time, she enjoys giant robot anime, cooking, and annoying the cat. You can occasionally find her online at her personal blog KT's Bookshelf or Instagram @Morike91.
Artist's Statement, "Kea in Flight", digital photography
If you walk into a forest, you can only walk halfway before you start walking out. From my home state of Wisconsin, New Zealand is that halfway point on a global scale. Striking mountains, giant skies, and more green than you can digest are the defining characteristics of that beautiful country, but that is not the New Zealand I am showing you now.
These photos are snapshots of my adventures, taken from all the places I have been. Two are from Wellington, where I made my nest. I believe art can be found in the simple and mundane, which is why I carry my camera, to capture those moments. It is also why you won’t see a sweeping cloudscape in these photos. Unusual landscape? That I have (“Rainy Island”).
I hope at least one of these photos make you say “Wow” under your breath, just like I did when I snapped it. If one did, then I did my job as a photographer and artist.