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The McGill Tribune
Fall 2021


Hugo Solomon

Holding stars in your hand
Ashlesha Shringarpure

The Other Side

Antonia Lieben-Seutter

The cinema is haunted. The ghosts don’t notice me, but I see them. They enter in groups of five or four or three. Few of them come alone. Awkwardly, the solitary travellers take their seats in the first row. As the lights dim, their shadow melts in with the rest of the crowd.

I used to watch with them. That is how I spent my time at first. I watched everything - heroes and monsters, nightmares and dreams. I watched people make friends and lose friends, fall in love, lose their love, kill and be killed. I walked from room to room, always ready for a new story, always watching from beginning to end. If I liked a film, I would watch it twice in one day.

But then I had to stop. The ghosts made me stop. I could not sit through a whole film anymore. The pictures took over my life. The characters on screen crept into my dreams, not just the nice ones that were my friends, the bad ones too. Their eyes peeled off the posters and followed me through the hallways. When I was in my seat, the sounds of guns and crying made me squirm. I had to move, try to find another free seat in the middle of the crowd where I could distract myself with whispers or the crunching of bags of popcorn. The ghosts did not like that. I agitated them by moving around. The started to notice me. I could see it in their furrowed brows, that quick look of annoyance and disgust. They also did not like me picking up their half-eaten food as they left. So I stopped.

I watch the ghosts now. From the velvet cover over the hallway walls, I watch. They are my entertainment. I see them wait inside the glass doors. They bite their nails and tap on their phones. On the rim of their hoods, the fake fur collects small knots of snow. Everyone is leaving wet footprints on the shiny floor. I did not realise it was winter already.

In line, they laugh and talk, but steal quick glances at someone else when nobody is watching. They go through their hair as they come upon their own reflection on the escalator to the first floor. They laugh at each other, shyly, grabbing a shared bag of popcorn as a hand glides across the back of another. I stand by the garbage cans near the entrance, careful to wait for them to disappear before picking up my dinner. There is so much to see. I watch them endlessly.

I want to ask the ghosts, which one is the world outside? Is it the one with the walking dead? Is it the one with the heroes that can fly? I don’t think they would answer me. I don’t think I want to know the answer. Instead, I walk the halls between dreams. I float through the shadows. As you lose yourself in another world, I am watching.

Wintertime tableau
Erin Sass



Every night I wait for her
And when I least expect it
She’ll push me down her rabbit hole

Silent footsteps make their way to my bed,
but like Orpheus, If I look now
she will be gone forever

The more of her I want,
the further she'll run
and I think
she is starving me for sport
My sacrifices at her alter
will rot under the morning sun
if she does not come to claim them

She hates the taste of coffee,
commitment, and clingy people,
and sometimes she’ll stay out all night

And I’ll think she’s gone forever
But by the time I move on
She comes waltzing
through the door
My White rabbit,
Unfaithful lover,
Loose woman,
I can have no other,

Waves of time will erase the footprints
she leaves on the banks of my brain,
and traces of her will mix
among my memories

She follows behind me
The end of the cave approaches
She dangles me over the edge
But I dare not look back

Walk Sign Is On
Alex Hinton, Giovanni Santalucia

A brief history of a car crash

Natalie Carberi

I got into a car crash last year. I remember screaming as I turned swerved at the intersection, smashing into a bright red sports car. I broke my bank account paying the insurance fees. I broke my left wrist. I couldn’t write my final essay for English – I typed it one handed. It was supposed to be about what I wanted to do when I finished high school. I lied the entire way through.

I passed my driver’s test two months before the crash, a year before I met her, before I decided I’d rather spent money on university than a speedy metal box. My hands were shaking as I drove, but I passed. I stuffed my permit in my wallet and the first thing I did was hit the highway. Nowadays, I think the first thing I would’ve done is call her. I would’ve offered her a ride and she would’ve said no.

“Marissa,” she would’ve said, voice staticky with bad reception, “Why are you laughing?” Banging my hand on the dashboard, I would’ve told her, “Because now I have lower insurance fees.” And she would’ve laughed but she wouldn’t have gotten it. I would’ve hung up, and cranked the rock station.

I almost told her I loved her, once. We were sitting on the curb of an unlit street, waiting for the bus. We had a total of seven dollars twenty between us: she’d lost her wallet and I’d maxed all my credit cards. The was gum stuck on the concrete. Montreal is wonderful until you have no money.

I amused myself by translating the road signs. She laughed at my French and told me the real translation, and I insisted she was wrong. I offered her a cigarette and she smiled but said no. I shrugged and lit one even though I didn’t feel like smoking anymore: the embers lit up my fingernails until they were glowing red, and I thought they might catch fire.

There was no light, but I couldn’t help but thinking she’s gorgeous every half-second. She wouldn’t believe me if I did. She used to tell me that she was too skinny or not busty enough or unfashionable or whatever. I can’t see what she’s talking about. One day, I’d describe it to her in great detail. Probably while she was asleep.

So I had a pack of almonds, and I offered them to her. We hadn’t eaten dinner, but she still didn’t take me up on my offer. She’ll give me cookies and lend me money but never accept a thing in exchange. I wish she would.

It was dark, and I was half drunk, so bit my lip and tried to work out a love confession. I hate love confessions. There’s no way to make one without sounding pathetic. I tried to think of how to ask her out. The words were right there but I couldn’t say them. By the time I’d swallowed my pride, the bus’s gleaming headlights had pierced the hazy night, and she was already up and gone. I dropped the coins into her hands and thought about what it would be like if the bus crashed and we both died tonight, how I’d feel never having said a word to her. My fingers were over my pulse, the one on my left wrist, and I wondered what it’d feel like if she pressed her lips there.

I left university last year. Couldn’t stand having a permit but not a car. Got a job as a truck driver. Sometimes she texts me: little things, so much schoolwork think you might’ve made the right decision. And I’ll laugh like I would’ve laughed if she’d ever asked me about insurance rates. The last thing she texted me was, you’ve got all the luck.

I laughed and responded with of course I do, but lucky people don’t get into car crashes.
New York in the fall
Ashlesha Shringarpure
Herrinah Zhang

Hugo Solomon


Kristiaan van den Hoeven

My arm grows heavy in the night, and I look ahead.

The ground is rough and pebbles dig into my bare feet, but I keep my head high, despite the nigh irresistible urge to let my chin drop, for I cannot.

There is a circle of pale orange light about me, and flame drips onto my hand, searing it, but I continue.

The darkness about me seems to deepen, and the passing souls are silhouettes, a blue the human eye cannot detect. I trudge on, but they go the other way, expressionless and innumerable, unknowable and bathed in obscurity, that shroud I so yearn to share.

I try to swallow, but I am unable, and my chest heaves as the flame sears the streams on my cheeks, a journey never-ending, a path unceasing.

Swallowing the Pip

Clementine Larrouilh

Unsettling how this colorado-weird settlesn
Something to do with this
Grippy sticky strangeness
was it a want, did you need, I need
To do: groceries - Citrus Upside-Down Cake
something bitter in how my name tastes orange,
     get rosemary
and oranges are love don’t forget are sun-soaked souls don’t forget the
     Flour and
but then, but what, but why did you do
Was I sweet? Was I tempting? Did my peel entice? did you mean to do:
you forgot the
     Sugar and
     The orange
is a whole you
Split into halves and quarters and eighths you
Spat out the pips every unsavory bit
And ate me alive for all of my tenderness

Tasmin Chu

The Bison

Erica Brown

I will never have the wisdom of the bison,
the calf asleep in the tall grass on the hill,
the knowledge that comes from nearly knowing your end.
Reaching the edge of extinction,
     and coming back.

And yet,
when I hold the jaw of the babe,
He begins to share what he knows.

Against my own body,
the top of the joint presses into my bicep,
and the curvature follows the crook of my elbow,
it fills the the palm of my hand,
and tapers off perfectly at my thumb.
He sits in my arm - skull of the past and the present.
And though I get the sense that most of the knowing is held in the massive
shoulders, The juvenile still plays loose with his thoughts,
and they bleed all over.
Extracted right from the grass of the earth,
and pounded by the molars that are only now loosening from the perfectly formed
bone. Relaxing into the duff and foliage of the forest floor.

He was in the process of seeping his knowledge back down into the
dirt, that it had given to him in the first place,
when I found him.
And I think when I hold the jaw I can feel some of the wisdom rubbing off into my
arms. So that when I hold the bone through the night,
my dreams are enlightened,
and the end doesn't feel so final.

Ode to Thin Hair

Evelyn Burvant

think of the veins in an older arm
when the tissue and muscle is stretched over
bone and the blue paints a river under the soft

of bristles on a stinging nettle.
of red scratches on a lover’s back.
crisscrossing like jellyfish stings.
think of soft barbs in a sparrow’s feather.
the sound of a piccolo.
of the strength in a spider’s web.

of magical men spinning hay into gold.
like stained glass windows on a cloudy day
when the sun catches the glass just right
and bathe the worshipers in scant rays.
look closely
and think of iris threads in the eyes of your loved
ones. of gaseous nebulae exploding,
stretching their arms out as if just waking up.

of those ancient fates holding life on a string
thin like a strand of your hair.

Oh, brave warrior

Catalina Alfaro Ladino

Oh, Brave Warrior!
Who wounded you so badly?
Who made you retire from the war?
Oh, Brave Warrior!
You whom fought so hard.
You whom had the courage to fight.
You whom shined so brightly.
You whom never left the battlefield.
Oh, Brave Warrior!
I am begging you to answer me.
Oh, Brave Warrior!
Who took your fearlessness away?
Who trapped you in your dungeon?
Who has done this to you?
Oh, Brave Warrior!
When will you realize that you only have the
key? The key to your freedom.
The key to your moxie.
Oh, Brave Warrior!
When will you leave your dungeon?
When will you claim back your
bravery? When will you get up again?
Oh, Brave Warrior!
I am begging you to answer me.
Sequoia Kim
Erica Brown

Forbidden Fruit
Elise Bundschuh

Forever Stuck

Yasmine Guroluk

I made my way, through the trees,
The wind whispering soft lullabies;
The songs of nearby birds, traveling through the sky.

Dampened dirt, beneath my toes,
Alone at last, no one to keep
With lingering smiles,
And innocent eyes.

Restless bones, and shattered souls,
Cursing the past, that they stole,
Always looking
A bruised shoulder.

It’s a… coming of age film.
A motion picture, blurred at the edges;
Forever stuck, in my hometown.

Tomato Soup

Rory Daly

In a photo I think I have long since lost, a younger me sits in a high chair. All around me is my meal, a tomato soup that I am failing to eat. That is not to say it isn’t on my mouth—it is there, and on my hands, and on everything else in the picture. I cannot say I am less of a messy eater nowadays. However, I still enjoy a good soup.
There are no works as haunting as the Black Paintings of the Spanish artist Francisco Goya. In a house on the edge of Madrid, he made his finest works, expressing misery for the condition of his patria, which was slowly backsliding into a medieval state after years of reforms. They say each is dripping with this melancholy and disillusionment.
But of those paintings, there is one that is strangely out of place. It is his greatest work—a simple illustration of two elders eating soup. One of the pair is smiling. The other is making finger guns at someone or something we cannot see.
I refuse to believe a man who knew the joys of soup could truly be disenchanted with life.

Shirley Zhang
Shirley Zhang

Untitled, Like a Sigh

Evelyn Burvant

Yesterday I watched the earth make love to the sky.
It was violent and red, and the abyss
above me was turned dark and bruised.
The clouds bent down to pool around mountain peaks
and the sea reached her fingers up to stroke the moon.
The wind swept through every tree
body tickling bark with their hollow
tongues. Like a painting
every brush stroke was carried in the fingers of a god.

From here,
where do I go?
what do I do?
Like ships cast out into the maw of the
waves I’m swallowed up
and every piece of myself I thought I was
drifts away
hoping to cling to a bit of the sky or be lifted by the
wind. Maybe I will take in some of their grace,
and feel the thunderstorm in my body


Ariel Tozman

pt 1: ocean baby blues

i wish i was like the ground
but i am the water
pushed and pulled amongst the
currents fishing for dreams along the
depths fading
in and out of brilliance

i am carried by the ocean in
our crumbling search for rapture
  gone into the blue

i am reborn in the fish
 i change my
scales and colours
 like breathing

yet i am beginning to wish
i was like the roots
i want to dig in
spread my leaves along the dirt and sprout
again with the seeds
into the sky

 i want to belong to the always
to be as the quiet peace

but the ocean baby blues keep calling


pt 2: from the dirt

i begin to sprout
you remain in the dirt
 retreat to the roots
but you lie there all the same
unfurling sweetly into each of
my crevices

see if it is all just noise and there is
no ending
 you begin everything

when you go into the next night
think of me crawling out of the dirt to come
into the sky and say to the sun that
i know there is no gravity
 and we will always be here
but that you begin everything
 so we make our own sleeves

when you go into the next
night crumble or rot or fly
you can take me with you
i will give you a leaf and
you will also remember
that you are just like the
sun and the sky

you are brave


pt 3: always

you melt like butter in my hands and
i collapse into

we are just a collection of misgivings and
well-worn neurosis
and yet
not in our words but
touches we digress
 tiny miracles
 soft embers
long kindled by the shape of my hips
and your

i know things you will never.
but i keep my heart beneath the
waves under oceans of lost things
dancing ripples and
 sand so

when i call you like a siren
you are the only one
who pulls me back to earth

even if only for a moment
Sea and Sky
Kate Addison
feel better
Ruobing Chen
Collage Study no. 12
John Vaccaro
Slow m-ocean
Erin Sass

Kern River

Sara Chiarotto O'Brien

The Kern river runs through 165 miles of canyon halfway between the desert and the sea, in a place where the sequoias reach for the heavens and the rocks plunge halfway to hell. Of the three rivers that run through this stretch of California—the Kern, the Kings, and the San Joaquin—the Kern is the wildest. Its energy draws the kayakers and the fly fishers to stand in its currents, and just as many children try, only to be drowned in a churning barrage of water, their heads knocked into the rocks that line its banks. From Bakersfield to Sacramento, every mother’s worst fear is to lose her child to this river, the one that even the trawlers cannot pull bodies from. All that it leaves behind is a newspaper clipping.
But, for those whose families have known the Kern for generations, it is a life force as much as it is a lethal menace. It winds its way through the throat of the land, feeding America one drop at a time. It is possible to make a home out of the Kern, to accept what it offers and then run. Those unfamiliar with its temperament blur the line between accepting and taking and forget that the Kern will not be coaxed into giving up more than it offers.
Marilyn Alvarez is exactly twelve years old when she learns this for the first time. She is young, still doll-like, with glossy black curls that slip from her ponytail in the summer heat and cling to the nape of her neck when she sweats. She is sweating today. It is summer, 1976, and the water in the Kern is high as it always is. Marilyn’s spirits are higher. Her father has promised to take her fishing, their first outing together since he lost his job in January.
Juan Alvarez has been many things: a soldier, a worker, a father. He shook hands with the world, kept his promises and paid his dues. But he never bothered to question to whom he was making his promises and to whom he was trusting to keep them. Today, Juan knows there has never been anyone on the other side holding them up. The Juan Alvarez of 1976 is not a soldier or a worker anymore. He is barely even a father.
When Marilyn sees him now, he is usually asleep on the couch covered in a sheen of sweat that smells the way men do when there is no more space left inside of them for sin
so it leaks out the orifices and
the back alleys, searching for some thing else to rot.
It is a tricky thing, ridding yourself of sin. Marilyn is old enough to understand this
and forgive him, but still young enough to believe he will one day atone. This man has given her everything she knows, and so she will give him everything she can.
When they park the station wagon, the rocks are no longer canyons, just cliffs. Her father pulls two sets of waders from the trunk. They are small on him, and gigantic on her. There is only one fly fishing rod in the car, but that is okay by Marilyn. They will take turns and when she pretends to be incapable of catching one of the Golden Trout that frequent these waters, she will relish the pride in her father’s eyes as he shows her how it’s done. It is one more thing she can give him on top of her forgiveness and the weekend shifts at the movie theatre.
Juan enters the water first, leaving time for her to measure his steps and follow them with
her own. She is all too aware of those less careful daughters who follow their fathers
recklessly, only to meet the apex of the current and get sucked away in the churn.
Marilyn digs her heels into the silt to secure her balance and watches as her father winds back and whips forth the line, tracking it with his eyes until the entire thread is submerge d. Nothing bites the first time round, but the second time he catches a small one. Three more of those and they would have dinner for tonight. He throws it back.
Now it is Marilyn’s turn to catch her own fish. She is weak in her wrist, and the line barely flies ten feet. She reels it back, embarrassed and determined to do better. Her second cast arcs through the air with the momentum of the river, lifting her from the silt for a split second. It is a minor error, a rookie’s mistake, and enough to send her tilting off her centre of balance, vulnerable to the hunger of the current.
Twenty years ago, the water of the Kern was clear and fresh. Now, it is murky and tastes vaguely bitter, like the bug spray her friend Carolina wears on bike rides. It is this bitterness, not the chill of water, that most disarms Marilyn as she is pulled under. She knows enough to lock her knees, to try and dig back into the silt and regain footing but she cannot. One moment, she finds herself looking the sun in the eye, the next, her temples scrape against the riverbed.
This is what the Kern does. Takes no prisoners. Plays no favourites. A small girl with a big heart is no different than a junkie on a bad trip. She can give the river all her anger, all her fear, but the Kern is no t sympathetic.
Floral River
Jeannie Wen

Hugo Solomon

Two Canadas

Kristiaan van den Hoeven

The cold of the grass against my feet felt like bliss. My toes were brown from the garden. The hostas seemed lazy in the sun, dozing with the dog in the August heat.

The back of the yard was lined with a bush, and either side with a cedar hedge that always seemed to absorb every ball that flew into it, reluctant to offer them back up without the price of fifteen-second terror, scratched, reddened hands, and stomachs aching from laughter

The soil in that part of the region was spongy and marshy because of its proximity to the river, and so maples predominated, but our backyard featured a crab apple tree that yielded nothing but those gnarled little things that made our beagle sick. We tried to make apple sauce once. We failed, but we laughed.

Urban forest canopied those winding streets, named after French départements that included charming, quaint names like ‘des Pyrénées,’ ‘des Vosges’ and ‘d’Alsace.’ The same six models of generous houses were reproduced, and people for whom the Canadian dream of the 1960s really had come true collected in the area.

But my mother didn’t send me to high school there. I went to school where the urban forest didn’t grow. Where the streets had potholes and were lined with squat, grey houses. Where the electricity lines failed to shelter the people from the glaring sun. Houses had only one car, or none. My neighbor had four.

It was a very different Canada from the one I knew. A Canada where kids had to save for their trip to Greece, where some kids didn’t have enough to eat, where my friends’ parents had substance abuse problems and they came to school with sleepless eyes and souls heavy and deprived of opportunity.
That Canada was just across the boulevard. But on this side, the sun filtered through green foliage into the lukewarm poolwater.

La fille de la rue de la Paix
Quitterie Drouhet
snaggle toothed love
Erica Brown
Night Out
Yanna Tri

Letter from the Editors

The McGill Tribune is proud to present the Fall 2021 Creative Supplement, highlighting the creativity of the McGill community in the form of poetry, prose, photography, illustration, and mixed media. We appreciate all of the excellent submissions; we had a great time putting the project together. Though the last year has been difficult, it is inspiring that artists have persevered and sought out creative outlets amidst the chaos. We hope that as you wander through the pieces, you can discern the hard work and talent of each creator, and the feelings they are trying to express.

  • Ruobing Chen, Creative Director
  • Jinny Moon & Xiaotian Wang, Design Editors
  • Marwan Shiraz Khan & Abby de Gala, Web Developers
  • Sequoia Kim, Editor in Chief
  • Taneeshaa Pradhan, Social Media Editor
  • Kate Addison, Photo Editor
  • Sepideh Afshar, Opinion Editor
  • Lily Cason, News Editor
  • Tasmin Chu, Features Editor
  • Sarah Farnand, Sports Editor
  • Kennedy McKee-Braide, Managing Editor
  • Shafaq Nami, Science & Technology Editor
  • Noah Vaton, Multimedia Editor