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.

A conversation by Riya Mirchandaney

Two brown dogs
bark to each other.
The first dog asks the second dog,
“Where did my life go?”
The second dog replies, “In heaven,
you will meet
all the ants you killed.”

A thought experiment:

Imagine a moon
waxing until it swallows you whole—
you are small and
it is milky white.
Try to befriend a tree in Orick, CA
and hope that she will save you.
Follow her lead. Try to
plant yourself in the earth, fingers
stretched as roots. Imagine
smiling at the children
who pass you by
with red
bows and nantucket blue hats. Imagine
taking a moment
to breathe.

Thinking about this,
the first dog says to the second dog,
“Have you ever woken up with the realization that you couldn’t be more different from the woman you’ve always hoped to be? I feel like I’ve become a shitty movie cliché and I can’t remember how it happened. Did I do it to myself. Did I make myself the person I am now. How did it get to be this way. Since when did I become a fucking golden retriever. Since when did I.”

The first dog starts to cry and the second dog is silent.

 Illustration by Gisela Levy

Illustration by Gisela Levy

Riya Mirchandaney, CC ‘20, is a neuroscience major, part-time lab rat, and professional private tweeter. You can find her having a crisis—of identity, existence, or confidence—at least once a day. Find her on Instagram here.

Hearing Loss by Amy Gong Liu

 Illustration by Iona Tan

Illustration by Iona Tan

The nice ladies at the daycare always asked me why my
right ear was swollen and I didn’t know how to tell them
in English about how sometimes my father worked late
and wouldn’t make it home in time to tell me the stories he
knew I always wanted to hear. When my mother found me
crying into my tear-stained mattress on the floor because
I missed him she would yank me up by my ear and scream in it:
if you miss him so much this will keep you awake and you
can stay here all night by the door until he walks in. After
a while I stopped being able to hear which meant that after
a while I stopped being able to listen to the stories he did
tell me when he finally came back even if I faced him with
my good side. After a while I realized I had no good side.
After a while I started falling asleep before he came home again
and after a while I completely forgot the sound of his voice.
The nice ladies at the daycare always asked me again and again
why my right ear was swollen and because I never answered
they thought I was deaf and because I never had any stories
to tell they thought I was mute and because I never had any
tears left to cry they thought I was empty too.

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

this is no joke by Perry Levitch

  Illustration by Cameron Lee

Illustration by Cameron Lee

seriously this is spooky it
worked for me if you
stop here your crush will
fall in love with someone
else and you will be cursed
to eat broth with a fork
it worked for me but
only mostly this is no
joke one time a girl was
walking homeward with
her friends and her name
got in a stranger's
mouth he insisted he was
the one meant to sink
a spork prong-deep in
her she said ok to that I guess
so he did so she turned
into a cutlery rack
for five months which was
a change of pace at least

if you don’t forward this
by midnight to a friend
then your reflection
will always lag
a minute behind
your body if you forward it
to a friend then you will get
on the jumbotron
next game don't
laugh at this if you send it
to five friends please add
your name to the bottom
and pick mostly b’s if you
send it to ten friends
then your kiss will
crush you or rather
your crush will kiss you
tomorrow

Winner of the 2018 Jericho Brown Poetry Prize

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

Early Bloomer by Amber Lewis

This piece was first published in Quarto's 2018 Spring Print Edition

They called me an Early Bloomer,
cramming tits into
ill-fitting bras before middle school,
hips widening to
a tentative smile —

nappy hair wound tight
by Mama’s milk hands —

                        I do not look like my Mother, though
                        you’ll notice we share a             smile.

White Mothers hissed I wish I had your figure at
pool parties,
sipping Mike’s Hard by the water,
dripping condensation,
when I was Thirteen.

                       Would their husbands rather fuck
                       a Little                  Black                      Girl?

We learn young that our
bodies aren’t our own.

  Illustration by Cameron Lee

Illustration by Cameron Lee

Wal-Mart Seasonal Candy Aisle: February 6th 3am by Sprout Conner

  Illustration by Cameron Lee and Charlie Blodnieks

Illustration by Cameron Lee and Charlie Blodnieks

"Wal-Mart Seasonal Candy Aisle: February 6th 3am" was first published in Quarto's Spring 2017 edition and has now been published in her collection, Motherbird.

My mom breaks through gooseflesh packaging
tears apart school&love&wind
before telling me that as an egg
I would've still cracked
and that girls are like icebergs but I cry
I never learned how to swim so she pours
the chocolates into her purse carefully
then all at once before we run
from the store and to the trees

her hands blistering in the cold
my skin burning through her jacket