The Last Jedi by Kristian Anfinn Tonnessen

Illustration by Gisela Levy

Illustration by Gisela Levy

I watched The Last Jedi last night,
and if that deters you from reading further,
I poured a cup of coffee for myself this morning.
There. Now
we are in this together. I had a realization in two parts–
walking into the water up to my waist,
then plunging the rest in altogether,
though it’s April, though it’s absurd–
that is how my mother taught me.

Watch your parents break a rule they’ve made for themselves.
Text their spouse and drive,
have that one extra glass of wine,
rescind unconditional love, fear strangers
and forget to greet them.

Now imagine all the rules they don’t have for themselves:
no rules against making
that exit ramp before the Delaware Water Gap,
no rules against
having no bank account, no ownership, $3.75 left over
for coffee.

I read once that no one writes about money in poems
because of inflation:
my children may not understand how three dollars
could buy a cup of coffee,
or why, though we never went hungry,
I have to count every dollar I spend.

And as for The Last Jedi–I let someone take me
and forgot about the past, which is something else
my mother taught me,
the self lost in cinema, so every week,
I go alone and find her. For me she is not stuck upstate
packing her mother’s belongings up,
does not only possess one bedroom, a Toyota Camry,
and a defective spine. She is there, and she is in the next empty seat;
she is the driver, or the passenger,
and we have both seen the bobcat down the road at the same time,
wait for the curtain of unbelievable rain to hammer us,
both gasp the shimmered beauty of an April blizzard
before I grow up, make money, become my own parent.

Kristian Anfinn Tonnessen is a graduating senior in Columbia College, studying Creative Writing and Russian Literature. He is curious about where the dozens of socks he has lost in the last four years have gone. Are they happy? Do they remember him? Instagram


god hands you a magic 8 ball

Illustration by Charlie Blodnieks

Illustration by Charlie Blodnieks

you shake it

it says signs point to no

a hole opens below you

you fall and fall and fall

you hit a ground

it looks like what you thought heaven would look like

lots of white people

all your shitty friends

the dudes on that soccer team

your grandmother

you think

you misread the ball

maybe you were flying that whole time


we’ve got it better up here

i promise

we’re naked all the time

every concrete sidewalk has hopscotch

that rain will never wash away

there are swings at every playground

god is three black women

they run a radio station called the good word

there are no commercials

but where you fell


get bored

the leaves can’t fall or change colors

it’s 55 degrees every day

you wonder why all the brown people

are somewhere else

we dance on clouds

and shit

every time someone asks how you doing

we say real good

there are no white people

to kick us out of places

if anyone tries to take our fingerprints

our hands will turn paper to flesh

and form a big black fist

also there are no white people

i met jesus last tuesday

he had dreads to the floor

they smelled like incense

we made up secret hand shake

i would show you
but its secret

you never met jesus

you live in four story house with your parents

it is peach

like all the other houses

we don’t have houses here

we beyond walls

you look

in the glove compartment

of your range rover

where you hid a small sheet of paper with the words

that appeared on the 8 ball years ago

but we don’t have to look

for anything

my grammy is here

she finally learned how to swim

and you

unfold the paper

start to cry

you spot a phone in the back seat


dial 1-800-INNOCENT

and raise the phone to your ear

like you’ve done many times

but this time

god picks up
you say


Harvest Season (the End of the World) by Melissa Ho

This piece was originally published in Quarto’s 2018 Spring Print Edition.

Illustration by Mitali Sharma

Illustration by Mitali Sharma

begins as a bedtime story. Annie surfaces for air, mouth leaking
white things into the sink. She spills forward until
I think she could split open: like all first children, she pretends to
die. I do not ask if I can see this. In one dream, we slice
open jackfruit, its belly a fresh storm under our tongues. This is
what it is to kiss her: the seeds burn through my mouth
for days. In Shanghai, we are sixteen, a new language cutting into
the body of the jackfruit. We fold and unfold our palms to
clean them. One night, we spend hours searching the dictionary
for the word that means naked. She tells me she is scared.
Me too, I say. In the living room, the television static is soft enough
to swallow, like a child hungry for her own ghost.
I learn that after the firstborn, girls are nameless. This is how
religion is made. Annie, I call, and she nods—in the dark,
we admit that we are sacred. That summer, the fruit is so golden
it is bloodless: the beginning of the world, as knowing as this.

body talk by Sarah Lu

Illustration by Sophie Levy

Illustration by Sophie Levy

what was the first voice in my head
that told me i needed to be fixed?
was it the echo of laughter from
the boys in school,
“your nose is so flat, you look like a pug”
pugs are cute, i say
only to be drowned out by the deep rumble of their prepubescent throats,
and the twitching smirks on their faces.

what was the first time when
i pulled at my skin, the part that wasn’t tight
soft, like pork belly—
no, my belly—
and said to myself that it wasn’t okay?
you’re disgusting

voices reverberating so clearly in my head.

you’re not perfect, no, you’re not perfect but
you’re so beautiful for an asian girl:
black hair cascading down shoulders
such oriental, almond-shaped eyes
I wanna hook up with an Asian girl for the first time
Lol I guess not.

(read 5:36PM)

boom, screech—the feedback is rough
against your ears, your nose, your lips, your skin,
your eyes,
the same eyes that your grandma said you would look prettier with
if you just got the surgery.
it rings throughout the night.

my mother said once,
“you always want something that you can’t have.”
is it possible to reclaim every fiber of
this being?
the tattered skin against my thumbnails,
picked raw in moments of panic,
my uneven and colorless lips,
bursts of pain moving up my right shin like a highway, the roughness
of a body not mine inside
My Body, my limbs in all its extremities—
the swollen twitch of the post-surgery eyelids i so desperately craved
and the aching hardness of the muscle i tried for
but could never have,
it was never mine in the first place, no?

do you want it?
i want to fix it, i say,
not knowing that i never needed to be fixed
in the first place.

Sarah Lu is currently a junior majoring in political science at Columbia College and grew up in Beijing, China. She is passionate about gender justice, Asian American activism, political theory, and pasta—she believes in the uniting power of the universal love for noodles. She is also really glad that she deleted her dating apps recently. Instagram

Seamus Heaney by Robert Mayo

Illustration by Charlie Blodnieks and Dora O’Neill

Illustration by Charlie Blodnieks and Dora O’Neill

If I could bring back Seamus Heaney
maybe then I’d have a lover
a real loverman for me,
perhaps he’d even be my boyfriend
and if we went over to Ireland
I am sure it would be magic—
Maybe I’ll bring back Seamus Heaney
maybe then I’ll have a lover.
I can smell us lying there upon the grass I feel
it always to be true, the muscles of his arm, the chafing of his stubble, soft, gentle in the light
of an Autumn sun through rotting leaves, of bitter breeze and the scratchy rag
he calls a blanket that we lie beneath—
We are so lonely on the soil.
And could he love me, do you think,
with white hair snowy on the manger
with love lust falling through the pilgrims
and all his sweaters wrapped around me?
It is a drip feed to the cannula—
Those are his lovely words, not mine—
It is a panic disco nightmare, lovely
Heaney please be mine.

Robert Mayo is a senior studying English literature and working part time in the Columbia Writing Center. When he’s not writing, he likes to do improvisational comedy, or buy books he won’t have the time to read.

Elegy in Manchuria by Thomas Li

Illustration by Sophia Levy

Illustration by Sophia Levy

I look through a winter’s distance at the half-moons
Rising on a nail, solemn, unanswered distress
From a gelid outpost. In a winter like this, there is
Unique understanding of the speech of clouds
And chimney smokes, and scudding evocations
Issued from a silent mouth.

Long-lived clouds of this coal-town, once pomps,
Now dream down at a field of unsettlement,
Where before were sprawling signals of proud
Wolf-tribes, newly arisen in perspiration, having
Dispatched in steam embraceful harvests,
And mothers scouting chunks among flints
All along the gilded rails.

Such dreams invade in wintry hush, humming:
Things of the good hearth, flour with cornmeal,
Celery with elm leaves, chimneys that sustained
The mortal firework and commended it upward,
And the lush shine of cellar-cabbages. Also
A taishogoto my brother found buried,
And we called it the happy harp.

In a winter like this, there is an understanding
Of vacancy under unfeeling skies. I look at
The dumb brick-mounds, once a puffer like me,
And all is sense in that aeriform dialect,
Scudding evocations of those passers-by,
Long sighing of this land.

This is my first year at Columbia College. Major undeclared as of yet. I am from Shenzhen, China, and came to school in the States four years ago.  

In the bathroom mirror, I stand dim by Bernadette Bridges

Illustration by Gisela Levy

Illustration by Gisela Levy

In the bathroom mirror, I stand dim

and old. The women are all around me. On the walls
and the door. Behind the thick, plastic stalls. Scratching.
The trees speak soft tonight, but the skinny one rubs herself
against the bricks out there.
Sloughing off scrolls of paper skin.
Wooden walls wooden walls.
The green public bathroom on Cumberland Island
next to the Live Oak trees.
Those ropes that dug and wormed their way
into the earth. I hear the Chincoteague ponies,
their manes swishing.
I am sitting in the sand, the dunes are white and sloping,
and somewhere far off are the horses.
The beach trees mime the story
of that fallen Magnolia in my yard back home.
The root ball that kicked
up the wooden fence and set Aggie free.
I went running through the neighborhood
all day to find her. Sitting in a small mailbox
with her paws crossed.
She followed me home, scratching. She sniffed at the dark walls,
the ones I’m building in the sand. The dunes crash against themselves
like splintering wood. “We’re going home, girl.
This sand is soft like home.”

Bernadette (Bernie) Bridges is a senior in Columbia College studying creative writing with a focus in poetry. She would love to eat some boiled cabbage right about now. Instagram

Laundromat by Seowon (Angela) Lee

Illustration by Iona Tan

Illustration by Iona Tan

When the world should’ve been an oyster,
she worked at a laundromat & dry cleaners
washing delicates and designer coats,
ironing folds from a husband’s dress shirt
when dearest, dangsin*, is across water
is a cross ocean?

Fluency, truancy, delicacy sewn into hems
for memorization, or was it
alteration. Made in Not America but not
(store bought, ready made)
somewhere sounds stitched to English letters
scrubbed names strung on a line to dry
snipped for easy pronunciation.

A story.
Grandmother laughs at how
a party dress of loose crystal beads went
rolling, cascading, cried like mermaid pearls,
in the blue wash of revolving, spinning.
All night she reattached one by one,
hand sewing, lip syncing, we learn the craft
for phone calls that cost more than minimum wage.

The price of
little rolling tides that turn and turn until
all are alluring, lulling white, laundered and
sterilized by ultra Tide. She sits
behind the counter, legs swaying, tracing her mother’s stitches on
a threadbare handkerchief scented by hibiscus and brine.

Dry-clean only shifts of chiffon, lace, silk
(treat with caution) these shells
mend to redolence, mend new.
But does she have none of these tags
wash with warm water,
handle with care.

*something to call husband in Korean, but also love and ‘you’

Seowon (Angela) Lee is a freshman in Columbia University who will probably major in some combination of Creative Writing and English because she is indecisive and abhors math. Her work has been published in the Jet Fuel Review and the Claremont Review as well as in her high school literary magazine The Wit, which has won the National Press Association award. Instagram | Facebook

DO NOT RESUSCITATE by Kristian Anfinn Tonnessen

Illustration by Sophie Levy

Illustration by Sophie Levy

Her middle name was Theresa.
And it’s that I never knew
that strikes me, because I’ve always wanted to name
a daughter Theresa.
Waxy is not quite the right word
for her body. The cold
is more disturbing than the texture,
when yesterday, her hands were so hot.

For the third time, I am left alone
at the house, with the aides, and her,
thanking god not for mercies
but just that no one is talking
about anything but disposing of medicines,
how many years they spent
working for Catholic Home Services.

Her middle name was Theresa,
and for all the talk of gifts,
blessings, and the mole on her brow
that allegedly looks like a heart,
she was a closed and private woman
who suffered, and caused suffering
like the rest of us. She died
with two nicotine patches on her arm,
in her sleep.

Talk of angels,
we’re only angels in what we do,
in the secrets we keep from one another
for forty years,
because there’s nothing else to do, no conclusion to be reached.
Theresa, after all, means reaper,
and the harvest of our pain
is long in reaping, golden and damp,
drying in the sun, suffering like wheat.

Kristian Anfinn Tonnessen is a senior in Columbia College majoring in creative writing and Russian Literature and Culture. He hopes to spend the next two years working as an English teacher through Teach for America, then go on to graduate school to study Russian Literature, god knows where. This is his third poem published in Quarto, and eighth overall. Facebook

untitled 08-08-2018 by Mamadou Yattassaye

Illustration by Gisela Levy

Illustration by Gisela Levy

first and foremost
please don’t ever misconstrue me
this poem is not stray away
but to navigate
into a truer me
imma spoken poet truthfully and usually i tell the truth,
but you see from my youth, i learned that my pain was a blessing
never conquered the sunshine, so often used my rain as a weapon
my tears would stain through my confessions
and my fears would frame my adolescence
but, my journey was seeded into a region where only truth can see it
started with 2 dreams,
sailed the waters from Mali to Harlem to accomplish three things
raise two queens
and one king
reign supreme
but, still Allah fearing
mashaallah i’m blessed to be one of Allah’s children
gave me the rhythm to manifest a vision
i been told that I been a boss
Allah blesses the paper that i scribe my words across
i just hope that one day before i meet the most Divine
i’m intertwined
and defined
in the thoughts of all minds
create eternal tidal waves
and watch my metaphors rise
and fall
through the test of time.

Mamadou Yattassaye is a second year Columbia College student studying creative writing with a pre-nursing track. He aspires to be a nurse practitioner but also is pursuing his poetry and music as well.
Instagram | Facebook | Soundcloud | soul4youth

Daily robots learn to love by Bernadette Bridges

Illustration by Dora O’Neill

Illustration by Dora O’Neill

Daily robots learn to love

after bank checks, photos of bank checks.
A smartphone and her mother
To be held. To recognize
bank accounts. Today, A.I. is quiet.
Let’s take a walk.
In the future Clockwise is all around us.
A.I. helps without seeing.
What other objects are that thing?
Machines need to understand
the head of the photo. Three people
3 bodies in the park riding a bike. A video.
Computer was among those, we didn’t know.
Computer didn’t know how to write
about a cat, a dog, an airplane and a sailboat.
Color and intensity.
A.I. looked to become increasingly associated
with a physical entity. For example, a dog.
A dog through a cage. The limits of the dog.
“Yes, that’s a dog.” Our first word, our time
inside the wheel.
We are designed to perform, to rely.
The dog is a baked good. Another language barrier.
How do they understand

such subtle barriers?
To be nuanced. So taken
and so hidden.

Bernadette (Bernie) Bridges is a senior at Columbia College studying creative writing with a focus in poetry. She loves hamsters and she hopes to be one someday.

would you care by Robert Mayo

Illustration by Charlie Blodnieks

Illustration by Charlie Blodnieks

Would you care
to share
your feelings
about all of this?
I can see her
just behind my forehead
broken on the floor
and the flags of China dancing
sweetly on the moore.
“It is sad,”
I repeat
(as I have three times before)
“It is bad,”
I conclude,
and speak no more.

Robert Mayo is a senior at Columbia College studying English Literature. When he’s not writing he likes to run, do improv, and pet his dog.

Candy Shop by Seowon (Angela) Lee

Illustration by Mallory Evans

Illustration by Mallory Evans

She steps through the door, held open
through clanging sweet shop bells
to agar, sucrose, stitched carbon structures,
rings of peach.

Girls should be sugar and spice, he says,
should shush and shuffle,
be bitten lips and held down fists,
as if ‘everything nice’ is everything.
We are what we are fed.

You’re lucky I don’t hit girls, he says
then from where blossomed
our busted licorice lacquer lips?
Dust our lashes with snow sugar,
mute our maw with molasses
to stick a finger and lick a taste.

Flies gasp in amber drops, cavities captivating decay
in a candy shop of sweet acridity. Dare buy
our silence in pennies and granules of hypocrisy, and
dare say, smile for me, sweetheart, darling, dearest.

See how the heart is slewn in insulin, by
a bowl of sugar, jar of honey
sitting behind glass on sunlit window panes
stained with sticky fingerprints.

She kicks open the door of the shop, she buys nothing
he says. Sweet doe-eyed, tongue-tied, complacent convenience,
she says I eat what I want.

Seowon (Angela) Lee is a freshman in Columbia College who will probably major in some combination of Creative Writing and English because she is indecisive and abhors math. Her work has been published in the Jet Fuel Review and the Claremont Review as well as in her high school literary magazine The Wit, which has won the National Press Association award. She is currently obsessed with first snow, Percy Shelley, and trying to survive her first semester of college. Instagram | Facebook

Gyul (Tangerine) by Seowon (Angela) Lee

Homage to Comfort Women of Korea circa 1940s

Illustration by Sophie Levy

Illustration by Sophie Levy

My grandfather told me,
marry anyone but a jap,
as I try to peel gyul in one husk, and fail.
White veins separate, serrate
supple pulp, unveils like nail beds,
it makes a sound as it spreads
slight resistance as they undress
mikan, gyul
whatever name you placed on her.

We’re keeled over, still.
Our sons have been used for target practice.
Our daughters have been stolen away as easily as picking
mikan from gyul trees.

Did they say, enter me
in their scuffled skirts,
berry-dyed, sun-dried on mountaintops
in faded vests and braided locks,
smudge of coal left on their cheek from
heating the morning stove with wayward branches
dropped from rolling carts, pages of textbooks,
family photos, strands of hair.
They said, I would light myself
aflame if I could feed them, warm them.

So they step on that boat rocking wayward
unknowing, where shoulders are called porcelain
where nails break through rind, where
bruises bloom on limbs and lips, where liquor
and tears spill in the same husk until
all sweet pulp seeps into the floor.

Who can return,
peeled tangerines, teeth-marked,
hunch-backed, but
still they spit out the blood, wipe their lips,
hold their head as high as blemished necks can hold.

Gyul stains under fingernails
dyes the zest of its skin on cold hands,
its tart scent lingers long after
teeth tug flesh, mouth mars skin.

I sweep away torn rinds and
clasp my grandfather’s quivering hands.
The gyul tree in the yard is strong,
We stand sweet and tall.

*mikan: Japanese word for tangerine
*gyul: Korean word for tangerine

Seowon (Angela) Lee is a freshman in Columbia College who will probably major in some combination of Creative Writing and English because she is indecisive and abhors math. Her work has been published in the Jet Fuel Review and the Claremont Review as well as in her high school literary magazine The Wit, which has won the National Press Association award. She is currently obsessed with first snow, Percy Shelley, and trying to survive her first semester of college. Instagram | Facebook

grief by Mira Baum

Illustration by Dora O’Niell

Illustration by Dora O’Niell

I. i feel like I’m shrinking
which used to mean you were growing
but not this time

forget you aren’t here
drip of coffee
bitter, crossword
unfinished without your help

nights—setting the table for four
crying, correcting
we leave your seat empty

wake up at 4 am thinking I hear your breathing
just wind
are these echoes your cough
or just the house creaking with
age & memories & time

this house and the wind and the memories
and you’re somehow still here
and I can’t help but feel that we’re grasping
at signs
in wavelengths, in the birds and the seashells and the dreams

wake up
too early, like you.

2. my heart beats harder than I ever thought it could and
i didn’t know i could be aware of my own organs like this
is this what it’s like to have your body turn inside out
i am losing a race I didn’t know I was running
there’s an earthquake on my sternum
and aftershocks in my aorta
is this permanent how to breathe steady
each rib tightening to keep me in place
keep me from

f l o a t i n g a w a y

3. i let you go today
handful by handful
milky memory in the snow-water
i imagine you lying in the sun
hat over your face
knees up and open
we left you there
in the sun
on top of a waterfall
in the trees
in your favorite mountains

we replaced dust
with earth-bones
pine cones
somehow, they feel more like you
than your body did
to me curing cancer
feels like counting specks of dust
so handful by handful
maybe we were healing you
or maybe we were healing ourselves
or maybe that’s the same thing.

Mira Baum is a junior in Columbia College majoring in Archaeological Anthropology and concentrating in Sustainable Development. She recently overcame a years-long bout of writer's block and is looking forward to continuing in her poetic ventures! In her free time, she enjoys Shakespeare, re-watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and being outdoors. Instagram | Facebook

Line Symmetry by Amy Gong Liu

Quarto 2018 Chapbook Contest honorable mention:

Amy Gong Liu is a senior in Columbia College majoring in human rights and ethnicity and race studies. She writes poetry and prose about the East Asian diaspora, cultural signs and signification, intergenerational melancholia, oceans, and more. Amy is currently working on a book of lyric prose about the gaps of Mandarin-English translation in intimate spaces. In her free time, she daydreams about capturing the electric. 

Barrio no se vende by Brianna Zúñiga

Quarto 2018 Chapbook Contest honorable mention:

Brianna Zúñiga is a sophomore at Columbia College pursuing a major in Political Science with a concentration in Race and Ethnicity Studies. A native to West Palm Beach, Florida, Brianna's writing grapples with themes of language, immigration, and the in-between of being a first-generation U.S. citizen.

Leaving by Milaine Thia Puay Yi

speeding to the airport at the crack of dawn
my father realizes he left his phone at home
and I worry if we go back—if we turn around
I won't have the strength to leave again

my brother at the check-in counter
trying to repack my bags spilling
everything onto the shiny floor for everyone to see
because I tried to bring too much of home with me

I find my friends at the airport mcdonald's
drinking shitty coffee to stay awake
I am sobbing in all the pictures
you see, they woke up at 4am for me

my cousin bullies her father into letting her skip school
rolls up at the airport last minute
tells me white boys and hamburgers are not to be trusted
“几岁了? 哭哭哭。丑到要死。”1

and in the midst of all this I remember my mother
in that terrible bright blue shirt I keep trying to throw away
telling me she is proud of me
she loves me and all I will ever do

but what I do not remember
is the moment I broke her heart

maybe it was that acceptance letter to a college in America
or the fact that I wanted to go
or the time I told her I hated her for making me miserable
a woman
without realizing that she was a woman too

Illustration by Gisela Levy

Illustration by Gisela Levy

1Roughly translated, my cousin said to me: Oh my god, why do you keep crying even though you're literally an adult. Stop crying. I love you. You're ugly when you cry. But I still love you.

Milaine Thia (CC '20) is a junior from Malaysia studying English and History. She enjoys cooking Malaysian food with her Instant Pot, reading about the dangers of late-stage capitalism, and writing what everyone else thinks is very sad poetry. Sometimes, she sits in the sun on Low Steps and feels halfway home. Website | Instagram | Facebook

hydration by Amy Gong Liu

Illustration by Claire Easton

Illustration by Claire Easton

falling in love with you has been carrying
packs of portable tissues because i’ve been bursting
into hot sobs at the grocery store
i’ve been drinking eight glasses of water a day because
you said it’s good for me and now
i need to pee all the fucking time
if i uncross my legs on the train i will explode
like a broken fire hydrant that dribbles into the neighborhood

picture this: i play with children on the way home from work and
we joyfully take hammers to things

inside, i dream lushly about standing in
heart-dammed rivers and
getting soaked to the (blood and) bone

Amy Gong Liu is a senior in Columbia College majoring in human rights and ethnicity and race studies. She writes poetry and prose about the East Asian diaspora, cultural signs and signification, intergenerational melancholia, oceans, and more. Amy is currently working on a book of lyric prose about the gaps of Mandarin-English translation in intimate spaces. In her free time she plays water polo, reads, and daydreams about capturing the electric. Follow her on social media: Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

ramblings from a fifth of jack by Robert Mayo

Illustration by Sophie Levy

Illustration by Sophie Levy

much too late for magic eight balls or tarot
or midnight conversations on the couch or African
drum beats. the periods divide the thoughts
divide the heartbeats the pen is much much
easier to hold. we gamble on love again and lose
as usual. we are far too used to it now. i will
not censor myself for you or you or you. i am
loud music late into the night. i am infinite
numbness and the crucifixion nightmare.
look up on the hill and see my head hanging
and my chin resting on my chest. i am
siphoning wine up from the wound under
my rib into my mouth and developing an addiction
to my own blood. i was a love drunk nightmare!
i hate every use of the exclamation mark, and
despise loneliness. i slice my shin meat open wide
as i tumble down onto the broken glass. i am
broken stuck inside a broken place. i am wondering
when it will end. i have always had trouble
being vulnerable. god forbid i am not ok.
that is ugly and i would not like that.

Robert Mayo is a senior at Columbia College studying English Literature. When he’s not writing, he likes to run, do improv and pet his dog.