Join the West 10th 2018-19 Editorial Board!

Applications are now open for the 2018-2019 Editorial Board!

We are seeking to fill positions on the poetry, prose, art, web, and copyediting boards.

Please direct all questions and completed applications to west10th.submissions@gmail.com. Applications are due by 11:59 pm on Saturday, May 26.

Please download and complete the application below:

West 10th Editorial Board Application 2018-2019

*Note: please do not apply to the board if you are graduating in December 2018. This is a full-year commitment.

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French Tarot, by Jae

1.

Out of the blue, avalanches pulled trains

into the ocean. Your father got distracted

while coming undone & the people—

they watched his descent, void of guilt.

2.

There’s a reason you hate fortunetellers

& examination. They instruct: Never kiss

a throat so soft. Avoid September favors.

See if you have your father’s red headache.

3.

You burned too much space & the world

got a little smaller. Painting oysters

only goes so far if you keep swallowing them

whole, sitting on tea-colored pews.

Search History #2: on the day I was born

In our newest column, our Copy Editor Carliann Rittman writes blog posts based on her Internet search history. It features everything from Wikipedia to The New York Times, from WebMD to Billboard’s Year-End Hot 100 Singles From The Year Simone de Beauvoir Died (a Google search she is still proud of). Ray Bradbury once said of his inspirations: “A conglomerate heap of trash, that’s what I am. But it burns with a high flame.” Welcome to Search History.

NYT Logo

on the day I was born

 

 

after months of speculation

dissolve

 

Decaying Trees.

I have been noticing half-moon-shaped, purplish-brown mushrooms with white edges, growing on the side of a tree in my yard.

hard and shiny on top but dull underneath.

Why are these mushrooms growing there?

 

A whole lot of nothing or a state of grace?

prospects for heart

A cool breeze wafts off the page: walls, white; doors, white; windows, bare; floors, stone or plank; furniture on which no pillow has ever been fluffed.

 

A new study has shown that lung development is impaired in teen-agers

who smoke as few as five cigarettes a day.

if anyone thinks that Bad news has given up,

 

Once again, the Republicans have lured television networks into broadcasting nationally for a pittance.

A New York system bore significant blame for the widespread problems.

Diana, the Princess of Wales, flew in from London.

The fashion industry flew down from Manhattan.

dropped off for an hour to stop and shop.

rarely

 

so young, they need only consider what happened in a fiery meeting this morning …

 

they could fill vacancies.

I love you, by E Yeon

I love you.

 

I wish I could tell you exactly when and why the words ‘I love you’ became difficult to mean. Maybe the words grew heavier as I gained weight, maybe they turned bitter in junior high… it doesn’t really matter how it happened though, it happened all the same. But on February 26th, 2017, starting right around 2 p.m., I said ‘I love you’ over and over again and I meant every word.

I was in the lobby when I heard that Peter Hart died. I was using a communal desktop to save my data and I was happy because my crush ended up sitting next to me. I was sitting upright, overly aware of my posture and profile, and I was checking my Facebook sparingly because I wanted him to know that I could be serious when it came to my studies. So that was what I was thinking about when Peter died, whether or not I was pulling off the smart and sexy look on a Sunday afternoon.

A couple of things happened before I realized they were happening. A girl named Alex (who I don’t remember ever talking to before) found me in the corner leading into the stairs, and she held me until I could say that I’d prefer to be alone. Some people brought me water, I don’t know who. I tried to clean up in the bathroom and instead walked into my crush taking a shit. I changed into a black dress and tried going to church. But it was an awkward time, they were either in mid-sermon or preparing for evening service; I felt bad about interrupting the good Christians with my irregular guilt, so I ended up sitting in a bus station, near the back entrance of St. Laurence. I felt something that I can only call ‘loud’ come and take over me, and I felt the need to muffle it, or at least cover it up. So I started making calls.

It first started with Maria, then it was Bella, then Natalie, the other Peter, Elaine, Polina and so on. Everybody picked up within the first rings.

Whoever was the first to speak asked, “Are you okay?” and the other, “Yes, are you safe?”

And then it’d go, “I love you” and the other, “Me too.”

It was quick and efficient, almost mechanical. But it was genuine, and everybody knew.

I called Stephen last. He was my connection to Peter, I was a good friend to him and he to Peter. Stephen was probably my favorite person from high school; I took him to Senior Dance. He was the perfect date: he embraced my godawful dancing and offered me his jacket when the first chill set in. At the end of the night, Stephen walked me to the dorm, and I felt love, so much love towards him that I thought maybe I had to kiss him. I’ve done more with people I felt less for. But I didn’t, and I brushed the feeling off as something fleeting, hormonal.

 

 

 

Stephen was already crying when he picked up the phone. He was with someone else, maybe his own Alex.

“Hold on, hold on. E?”

I don’t know how he knew it was me. I never gave him my number. And suddenly, even though I stopped crying an hour before, even though I knew Stephen was probably hurting more, I started sobbing at the sound of his voice.

“No, I’m just on the phone. I need to talk to her. E, are you still there?”

“Yes, I’m okay, Stephen, are you okay?”

“Yes… I mean, no, E. Fuck, I don’t know…”

Then Stephen’s voice trailed off to make a sad, guttural sound and I knew he was simultaneously blowing his nose and swallowing his snot back. And I recognized the love, the love I felt for him at that moment, as the one I felt on the night of the dance. The words came more frantically and more instinctively than ever.

“Stephen, listen to me. I love you. I love you, I love you, I love you. Stephen, I need you to know this. Please tell me you know.”

It was a kind of love that I thought had to come with strings attached but no, it was just love. It just was.

“Don’t leave me, Stephen. Don’t you fucking dare.”

And in the midst of the overwhelming loud, a sudden silence settled within me when he replied, “I know. I won’t. I love you too.”

Search History #1: Carrie

In our newest column, our Copy Editor Carliann Rittman writes blog posts based on her Internet search history. It features everything from Wikipedia to The New York Times, from WebMD to Billboard’s Year-End Hot 100 Singles From The Year Simone de Beauvoir Died (a Google search she is still proud of). Ray Bradbury once said of his inspirations: “A conglomerate heap of trash, that’s what I am. But it burns with a high flame.” Welcome to Search History.

 

Carrie

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 

Plot[edit]

It matters that “Carrie’s” real name is Carietta. It must. It also matters that her mother is “widowed.” It also matters that Carrie is introduced before her mother. You might otherwise get confused as to who the main character is. Its Carrie. Carietta. Etta. Ette. As an English suffix, –ette, forms diminutives (kitchenette; novelette; sermonette), distinctively feminine nouns.

 

I am putting this here because it might not be obvious otherwise. The Widowed Mother is Christian. But, like, very Christian. Christian enough that repeated threats of damnation are worse and more primary than physical abuse.

 

And speaking of physical abuse and damnation, one day, Carrie gets her period. Its while she’s showering, though, because otherwise that might be gross and at least she’s in a semi sanitary environment. No one talks about what Carrie looks like except for blood or that really popular and chic image of Sissy Spacek in the silk dress on prom (prom!) (again, covered in blood) so I’m not going to either because really she’s just frumpy and not noticeable even though you’re meant to notice pretty much only her.

 

Essentially stupidity and oblivion flow out of her more dramatically than anything else you can imagine, stupid girl, and then really ironically at the same time a bunch of weird shit starts happening like light bulbs (!) start breaking and an outset of blood equals an onset of power (ooh, interesting, yeah?) and she realizes not only can she bleed but she’s also telepathic.

 

Also please remember this is coming from Wikipedia which doesn’t have a gender so that perspective as to the story is being told by really doesn’t matter, it’s you and it’s me (speaking of which, donate here!).

 

I mean really, there’s more, but is there? There is an invisible explanation of the rest of the plot above but it’s invisible because you’d likely have skipped it anyways plus haven’t you heard it before? Something about a prom and a popular girl and a date as a joke and rape and young death and infamous horror, also this book originally came out in 1974, you know that right, the fact that you’re on this page might do weird things to your google ad optimization but I know, Let it bleed, it’s like they said like Courtney Love got tattooed on her that’s what it all comes down to right let it bleed. She bleeds all over you and all over me and all over all of us and now here we all are, covered in pig’s blood, dead and wishing someone had just taught her mom that God isn’t real and taught Carrie what a period is.

Sticks and Stones and Something About Words, by Su Young

When you told me, “You’ll love it there,” I didn’t believe you, though I have come to find that you are nearly always right. I didn’t notice that you never said “we” or “I,” but back then I didn’t notice a lot of things I should have.

To be honest, I can’t remember it clearly, the day your life was reduced to a little carry-on that trailed behind us. It was the day you grabbed my little hand and steered me away from your life so we could start mine. I can imagine what happened though, from the scene that repeated each year after short trips back home. By home I mean your home, as I think you liked to believe it was not fully mine. You wanted me to find a home away from the bustling city, where overpopulation made everything a fight: a fight for the best grade, job, house, parking spot, or even the last seat in the little subway trains that snaked beneath and between the towering blocks of concrete. I’m thinking you wanted me to have a childhood, and expose myself to an environment where I could choose to be anything, or nothing, rather than enter the frenzy of forced learning evident in a small country caught between China and Japan and under pressure to prosper. Or maybe I’m being too analytical, and maybe you yourself wanted an escape (from what?). But you never wanted anything for yourself, so I don’t know.

What I am trying to say is that you probably walked though the gate without ever looking back, while I waved and cried enough for the both of us. You didn’t cry because you didn’t want to add to the wet chaos. You would have been the picture of bravery as you led me away and I asked why we had to leave Daddy behind and you said he was working to make this all possible for us, and I didn’t understand you because I was a soon-to-be seven-year-old who couldn’t quite grasp the concept of self-sacrifice. You probably smiled down at me as we left the country of your birth, childhood, adolescence, marriage, family, culture, and language. I probably scowled back.

I can tell you what I do remember though, once we arrived in the city of sails and the land of the long white cloud — Aotearoa, say it with me, don’t you love the way it sounds like skipping stones before it escapes your tongue? I remember the blue, blue sky, which I only now realize hangs a lot closer to earth than in any other place I’ve been to, as if eager to meet its reflection in the sea. I remember the smell of salt or chlorinated pool water, never quite washed away because I always begged to go swimming and you never refused me anything even though you always warned me about catching a cold. I remember the slow car rides along empty roads and past low-lying houses that were so different from the apartment complexes I was used to. You used to wake me up in the morning and I would sit in the car half-asleep as you practiced driving on the wrong side of the road.

A ten-minute drive in any direction led us to a beach, and it was the most magical thing in the world because the only time I had seen a real beach before then was after a five-hour battle through traffic. I remember the empty beaches, except on those especially sunny weekends that everyone spent like vacations, stretching the warm lazy afternoons to eternity before dragging their grass-stained bodies home, dreading work or school or life that was to begin again. Sometimes though, you drove me to the beach after school and I stood in the sand, alone. All that reminded me that I wasn’t on some lost island all by myself were the footprints in the sand and then your call, from far away, where you also stood lonely facing the waves.

I remember the Pohutukawa trees that lined these beaches and I remember seeing the spiky red flowers that were nestled in the leaves like Christmas bulbs for the first time. I remember our first Christmas in the middle of summer and thinking this was the place of fairytales where anything could happen; Santa came dressed in a singlet and wellies. Dad wasn’t there to bring out the hidden presents and organize them in the dark, like that one time I caught him but never mentioned. You still bought a little Christmas tree. I still received my presents. I remember how we had a garden for the first time and I used to run barefooted in the soft grass and I would bike and dig for endless afternoons as the memory of piano lessons and workbooks faded away, back across the ocean to that other place.

I could go on about what I remember, and I want to because now that I’ve left the place I’m scared of forgetting and I don’t want to forget. I don’t want to forget bushwalking and climbing trees and spotting native birds and trying to copy their distinct calls. The rounds of hide-and-go-seek in the trees where every trunk was a place to hide behind and the rope swing behind my best friend’s house tied to a plum tree and the blue striped hammock you bought me one summer—why does it feel like it was always summer? —that I put up myself and lay in for no more than a few minutes at a time because I never liked being still. The little cliff on Marine Parade where I used to jump from, straight into the rising waves, and the array of cuts and bruises I would collect by the end of the day that I wore proudly like badges. I want to remember all of these things.

You see, I remember paradise. You remember it differently.

You probably remember the first day of school as you pulled away my fingers that were wrapped in the bunched fabric of your skirt. You remember me shaking my head as you gently asked if I was excited for the first day of school, and then wondering how I would survive not knowing a word of English. I remember you with my new teacher as an expression of annoyance briefly crossed her face when she realized I was more work because I couldn’t speak the language, and you struggling to hide your embarrassment as you tried to gesture towards me and told the teacher, “P-please… be good.” You probably remember how you felt as you drove back in an unfamiliar car along an unfamiliar road to an unfamiliar home, so you could wait there until you could pick me up from school. You probably remember dropping me off to a friend’s house and returning home so you could press a phone to your ear and tell your friends back in your real home how yes, it was wonderful here, the people were so nice, they smiled and said hello on the streets and you were so grateful I was settling in well. You probably remember what you felt as you put on a Korean mixed tape in the car stereo and how I would surprise you and open the car door and catch you listening to old sad songs, which you would turn off so I could tell you about my day.

I don’t remember this because I wasn’t there for you, but you probably remember the day you were sitting in the car, waiting for me. You were always waiting for me. You were probably listening to old Korean songs again, reminding yourself of past fantasies about handsome singers when you had been young and foolish and full of dreams like you wanted me to be. There would have been a knock on the glass and you would have opened your eyes. A group of teenage boys would have met your gaze and your heart would have dropped as there was another sharp knocking sound and the pebble rolled down the front of the windscreen. You probably can’t remember the series of unfamiliar English words they shouted at you as they threw their stones because you simply did not understand them, and I would like to say it was better you did not understand but it hurts more to think you couldn’t even tell what they were saying about you, other than the few words that caught your ear, “Asian,” and “go back,” as if you didn’t want to go back and as if you didn’t cry behind closed doors where I would stand listening to your muffled sobs. You probably imagined getting out of the car and scaring the little boys away with all the Korean swear words you knew but instead, you drove away trembling and parked elsewhere. The car was fine. You must have wiped your tears, realized I would be coming to find you when school was over, and put on a smile like you always do, which is why I didn’t know.

I’m sorry I don’t remember this, that I don’t remember what you felt as you watched my life go by just the way you wanted, happy, because you never told me. You never told me how it felt to lie and tell me—when I was slighted for my foreign face, so like yours, when the other kids wouldn’t let me play teacher and only the student because I sounded different, when I was told I shouldn’t write because it wasn’t my language to write in and because I had a strange name and when I asked you if that was true —that the world was accepting and we were welcome here, that we were welcome wherever we wanted to go and I could do whatever I liked. You never told me how you were scorned like a child and how alone you felt and how I would be the only person you talked to for days because no one else understood you there. You never told me how you felt when I had to translate for you. When your blush betrayed your calm silence. I don’t blame you, and knowing you I wouldn’t be surprised if you were simply grateful I hadn’t been there in the car and grateful that ultimately, I did love it there like you promised me I would. You are always so grateful for the silliest things, when it’s not you who should be. I think maybe I knew without you telling me, but I didn’t want to and that’s why when you mentioned going back I would throw a tantrum and you would pretend it was just a passing thought. You couldn’t even stay mad at me and how selfish I was because I was all you had.

The sunlight filled the windows of our empty house and you crouched by your open suitcase, heaving your small shoulders—you seemed to have shrunk since the last time you had to pack the remains of your life away. We sat where our couch once stood, where the dents in the carpet had yet to fade away, trying to comprehend that we would never return again and that finally, years and years later, you could return home from your voluntary exile. You suddenly turned to me and told me about that one afternoon, the car, the boys, and the stones. I remember that you finally cried, and I finally, finally, cried with you.

Catfishing Ourselves to Death, by Audrey

It was January and cold and the beginning of my last semester of college. To avoid these conditions, I holed up in my room and watched MTV’s reality television show “Catfish” until it was February and cold and I, underprepared, desiccating, had only three folders for five syllabi. Then I left my room. I began seeing catfish everywhere. I fell in love with the idea of a bird. This is Audrey’s story. Dun-dun-dun.

“Catfish’s” ultimate challenge is, I believe, creating action out of physical inaction. Most of catfishing takes place in a dimension closed off to video cameras, but Nev and Max—the two hosts of “Catfish”—really try to physicalize the experience. And how they try. Each episode of “Catfish” involves at least one plane ride, four car trips, a pillow fight in a hotel room, a fumble for a cellphone, a high five/fist pump, a hug, and a detour to a local coffeeshop. Nev knocks on doors. Nev dances. Max stands up. Max sits down. Throughout, the two men walk around so much so that Max holds both a steadycam and a digital camera to capture the extra action.

This is how it goes: a person falls in love with a person—an image of a person, really—on a social media platform; then, the person goes AWOL or haywire. The catfished, concerned, sends an email to MTV’s Nev and Max, who fly out to meet the catfished, get the backstory, then, armed with info, leave for a hotel room. Then comes the most exciting part: they open a web browser. They investigate. They Google. They scour multiple social platforms for the catfish, contacting the people digitally surrounding the catfish, calling and messaging them until the catfish finally emerges, mythological, mysterious, after the ad break.

“Catfish” shows, step by step, the painful transition from expectation to reality mediated by screens. It’s in its seventh season now, and for good reason: watching the destruction of a person’s reality never really grows old. There is no same way a person’s reality is destroyed. “It’s like a movie, but real,” said a man confronting his catfish, both of them suddenly pushed out into the cruel, loveless world of a park in Cleveland. (Season 6 Episode 18: Nicole & Nicole). Once the hygienic pixels are replaced with a sweaty palm, we are supposed to feel relieved that this façade has been peeled away. I nod at the screen—good for you, Nicole! We are thankful, proud, happy. We are better now. Clearer-eyed. We won’t be fooled again. I watched all available episodes of “Catfish” and searched desperately for a similar feeling of digital rebirth. I discovered livestreams.

Livestreams prove that it is possible to live under constant surveillance. It proves that there is such a thing as a life broadcasted 24/7; it also proves that there is an audience 24/7 to watch it. I found an ornithology channel. I watched livestreams of birds because a screen showing a live bird in another country somehow felt like a better confirmation of my existence than the pigeons in Washington Square Park. I liked the one of the Panama Fruit Feeder the best. The Panama Fruit Feeder is dark-feathered, with a long beak. It looks like a toucan. It’s quite adorable. I also liked the greenery of the livestream, which the Cornell Lab Bird Cam describes as “2,000 ft above sea level in the low mountains of Cerro Gaital, with a mild springtime climate year-round.” On the sixth floor of the library, I would sit by a window and trade glances between West 3rd Street and the greenery of a forest 2,000 ft. above sea level. But, strangely, I have never seen the Panama Fruit Feeder itself.

I checked in at odd hours. Sometimes the screen was dark; sometimes the forest was empty; sometimes, at night, I’d see a large rat-looking creature scrounging through leaves. I still never saw the bird, but that was fine because the Panama Fruit Feeder was there, somewhere, even out of sight, because the title of the livestream—”Panama Fruit Feeder Cam at Canopy Lodge”—guaranteed its existence. I waited. I watched the dark screen. The rodent’s eyes glowed and I ignored the ick in my stomach: was I being catfished by a bird?

The 24-hour streams, like the catfish, exist and grow because voyeurism is the byproduct of a fixated gaze. We may not like or believe in what we’re watching but it’s there, it’s rouses, and nothing marks a Huxleyan better than a livestream of an empty forest. It could be a video on loop and I would not know. In the end, I don’t know if it would have even mattered. More important was that a video of the Panama Fruit Feeder was available at any hour with the promise of a bird. I sometimes feel a little bad about watching or wanting to see the bird. But I refresh the tab. I watch a remorseless catfish laugh to himself and think that maybe he understands, better than any of us, what this is all about. (Season 5, Episode 13: Lucas & Many).

Piecemeal Departure, by Chelsea Cheng

01.
lethargy / don’t tell me what / wine-drenched smile / i can (will? must?) save you / half-emptied heart / “god is dead” / 8am cassette tapes / time travel in summer rain / i can’t and i can’t / sky high exhibitions / apology not accepted / the clock pulls me out / keep me in that goddamn swamp / or else
02.
 in the palm of your motherfucking hand / sorry for the inconvenience / lie down and sink / blue sunset / bourbon / what’s in a name? / don’t listen to the midnight podcast / you your yours / crawl back (in)to her / this train will not stop here / and so
03.
a ghost is dancing on your shriveled tongue

DEADLINE EXTENDED until Friday, Dec. 22!

2017 Cover copy 2You’re in luck! West 10th, NYU’s undergraduate creative writing journal, is now accepting submissions for its 2017-2018 issue until December 22, 2017. We figured you were all so busy with finals that it cut down on your editing time, so we’ve got you covered! Perfect those pieces, add the last finishing touches, and send them over! Let the world see what you’ve been working on all semester.

Ready to submit now? Check out the submissions guidelines on our website. We can’t wait to read your work.