Brian Oliu: Birthday Cake (1:21)
& London Bridge (3:37)

Birthday Cake (1:21)

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Let’s keep this short. There are no more birthdays. The digits will be reclaimed in area codes, pennies in a jar, flight numbers of planes back to you.

For the sake of time, we faded out on the word now, as if we could continue but we lost our breath in a hiccup—we could’ve ended with you, ended with many more. It’s not even your birthday and yet I am watching the clock: each September a nine that arrives when I wake, a nine that arrives as it gets dark. And still, hope is held out for you appearing with a cake with my name on it: the icing coated with wax, a candle lit for every minute I’ve lost.

London Bridge (3:37)

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It was—of course it was: the two halves of the bridge rising up to meet us like fish to the surface for food: wide-eyed, mouths open. That was us too—this forward stare, this countdown until the day that we find ourselves here, and always here: oysters instead of crabs, the shell still hard and dark, the grit of earth ready to be shook off with a hammer—they promised us the tools to do this, they promised. We shared a meal together, you and I: me, clumsy with measurements, fourths and eighths, oil pooling at the bottom of the only pan we had—the grease on our palms and on our foreheads like the sun was going down on the weekend, like you were wearing your best: the back of heels turned red from the straps on your shoes, shoulders showing like a proclamation.

Here is a list of things that fell the day that you left: light, snow (somewhere), hair. This is the end game yet this is an encore—I am not built for this: for weather, for how long it takes to get from one coast to another. There is another story here—about us meeting in a space that was once reserved for tunnels: ways under instead of over, the fear of collapsing replaced with the fear of reclamation—that the water will squeeze us with its fingers, our bodies in a palm that we sleep in peacefully. The water will not close over and take us with it, shaking towards the sky. It won’t. It won’t.

Tell me you remember—tell me that here, in a place where we share our successes while hiding our weaknesses (mine is a sloppy heart, sinful, even, something you might know something about), a place where our maps were recently taken for the world to see, tell me that this greater glory did not belong to God or tunnels, but to bridges: rough to the touch yet keeping us above the motions below.


ART: Rachel Day, Terrell James, Mr. Let’s Paint TV, Peter Van Hyning

FICTION: Paula Bomer, Andrew Brininstool, Chaitali Sen, R. T. Smith

NONFICTION: Anna Journey,
David S. MacLean

POETRY: Claire Becker, Heather Christle, Darin Ciccotelli, Jennifer Denrow, Jessica Farquhar, Farnoosh Fathi, Stephanie Ford, Geoffrey Nutter, Brian Oliu, Thibault Raoult, Anne Marie Rooney, Tomaž Šalamun, Jordan Sanderson, Jacob Sunderlin, Gale Marie Thompson, David Wojciechowski

ET CETERA: Eric LeMay's 'Threat Lexicon, Death Row Records Presents The Waste Land

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