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The Phantasmagoria Night Fields

 

There’s an elevator in your room one-fourth the size of a cardboard box

That takes you to the black-grass phantasmagoria night fields

Where you want to watch the stars and I say “this is a nice place to watch the stars”

Immediately trying to reel the words back and swallow them

In a little star-shaped pill that burns my esophagus

And leaves a fiery celestial trail down my throat

 

I can stare at the sun for maybe a minute

Before fear of being blinded pulls the ecstasy away, away, away

I can’t pretend I wouldn’t like to go back to the other three-fourths

Of your cardboard box room

And watch the hem of your grey hoodie sway from a hanger

When the windows are open

 

 

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Never Land

 

Note: this poem is inspired by “Straight On ‘Til Morning,” a work of fiction I wrote for my creative writing class at Princeton University. I did not post it on Curyosity for length reasons, but contact me if you would like to read it.

 

They said Never Land was somewhere we could

Close our eyes and never feel anything again

All these lights strung together could build

A ten-mile wide city but that’s not enough

For you, not enough for me

Anymore

We need to escape

 

In a back alley in the black of night

Or a room tucked in a forgotten corner

Of your maze-house

Where we lay languorously on golden chaises

We let reality fly by like it never even existed

 

What’s real? I touch you but feel nothing

There’s no magic in Pixie Dust save for the magic in our minds

But our minds are cages for shadows

Your shadow so intertwined with mine

I could never find it if you asked

 

You raised a glass of stars and said

“Here’s to never growing up”

And all the boys and girls who are lost cheered

I looked up at you like you were made of magic

And brought my glass to my lips

I’ve felt old, so old, ever since

 

hour twenty-five

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they nuked new york city

when i say they i mean west america

our uncontested enemies, yes, but

an unexpected test of strength from

a place where we once thought waves

were all that moved in gloom of night

 

skyscraper tops scarcely stay clear

of the dirt’s deepest layer

now they build these buildings underground

(when i say they i mean architects)

because it’s harder to get us here

we are so heavily guarded

 

only on your sixteenth birthday can you see the sky

i’ll get to that later

 

there’s no sun or stars or moon but there are lights

lights like you have never seen lights from every window

lcd—neon—bulbs—thousands of thousand-watts

twinkling lights not-twinkling lights constantly overcompensating

for the darkness inherent in our surroundings and heads

 

instead of rain, money falls into millionaires’ outstretched hands

as they stand on their balconies and enter their bentleys

like a suffocating sea of black suits

and manicured jeweled fingers that operate

golden cages that seem glorious from afar

 

(her rubied hand rests on his thigh—he looks down—feels sickened—why?)

 

when you’re sixteen they let you go up for twenty four hours

to a desolate field where you can feel the death of the old city

everyone carves a short story into the metal carcasses

i know of one

 

my friend julius owns an aston martin

and the largest inheritance in east america

he said he’d be up for a few minutes at most

but the sun and the stars and the moon

and the reds and the blues and all the other hues

cradled him with the comfort that some things he could never have

 

he went overtime and was dragged out at

hour twenty-five

 

 

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something tells me so

 

i don’t want to see the city i love

if it’s not through your eyes

the streets you own, the gate to your home

your old school’s red little door that tells me you’ve adventured

before I was at your side

 

the rows of dark houses

echoing my dreams back at me

the chill I feel isn’t from the cold but I

grab your waist anyway

 

“you make me feel euphoria”

 

are we euphoric in the taxi cab you kiss my forehead in?

in the invisible night park

where we count

the million bright lights shining for us

in our sky?

 

you’re made of these places

the sparkling energy in the air—the same as

the electric current running through your skin

 

our dreams are bigger than others’—

they dream of seeing us in a cage

or feeling special for a few hours

we dream of a lifetime of looking up at the stars

and never worrying

 

some paths were meant to cross and

some paths we’re meant to be cross at

i wonder what would have happened had you asked

a week earlier, back when I would have had to say no

would we still be here drinking vanilla milkshakes

in the diner you’ve been going to since you were born

would we still be hugging each other’s side down

quiet city streets

something tells me so

 

Album review — I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it

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Image from wikipedia.org

Go down
Soft sound
Midnight
Car lights
Playing with the air
Breathing in your hair
Go down
Soft sound
Step into your skin? I’d rather jump in your bones
Taking up your mouth, so you breathe through your nose.

—”The 1975,” The 1975

 

I didn’t think anything could beat The 1975’s first, self-titled album: a masterpiece devoid of filler tracks, whose every song was a tightrope-walk between bleakness and hopefulness. And so far, I was right. The band’s new album I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it (which I’ll henceforth refer to as I like it when you sleep) didn’t beat The 1975. Nor did it even meet its standards. But I still enjoyed I like it when you sleep—to the point where I play its best songs on repeat constantly. And I know I’ll look back and consider it one of my favorite albums of the year, even though it fell short of my expectations.

I like it when you sleep sounds happier than the rest of The 1975’s music. It’s a synth-filled, lyrically poetic stream of songs that at times bursts with exhilaration—before tracks that are mellower, like “A Change of Heart,” pull the album back to a moodiness that fans of the band are used to. I had always pictured driving down lonely night streets in my head whenever I listened to the band’s older stuff. With this album, I picture lonely night streets awash with a bright glow. Fittingly, that’s the aesthetic The 1975 is going for now. The promotional pictures as well as those in the album booklets depict abandoned nocturnal scenes with pink neon signs that spell out the song titles.

The album is on the experimental side, and though I applaud The 1975 for stepping out of their comfort zone, the more experimental songs sound like filler. Namely, the last four tracks on the album fall flat. “This Must Be My Dream” and “Paris” sound like contrite bubblegum pop, and “Nana” and “She Lays Down” are acoustic in a way the band just can’t pull off—these last two songs are far more boring than even their slowest synthy ballads. However, there are many songs on I like it when you sleep that are worth a listen—at the very least, “The Sound” and “The Ballad of Me and My Brain.” Tracks like these can stand against the best of the band’s older songs and lead me to believe that, no matter how discouraging it sounds, The 1975 should stick to what they’re best at—indie-electronic songs crafted with complexity and full of energy and emotion.

 

For this and more posts, take a look at “What We’re Loving – Spring Break 2016” on the website for the Nassau Literary Review, Princeton University’s oldest literary magazine: http://nasslit.mycpanel.princeton.edu/wp/2016/03/what-were-loving-spring-break-2016/

 

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princeton art museum // medieval art gallery // me

As someone who has loved art history and art museums my entire life, it excited me to no end that I would have a free museum with Monets and Warhols at my doorstep. I’ve gone to the Princeton University Art Museum more than your average student has, since I was in a freshman seminar that took place literally within the galleries during fall semester. I’ve wandered through all the displays, gazed at all the artwork on view (and some pieces behind-the-scenes). But my most magical moments at the museum have been in the Medieval Art gallery.

This gallery looks markedly different from the others at the museum. The stark whiteness of the room immediately strikes you. It reminds me of what believers imagine heaven looks like—full of light, demanding reverence. The decorative marble staircase, the arched stained glass windows, the elaborately carved columns all bring back an era of romantic artistry. There’s devotion in the religious panels that give splashes of color to the walls. There’s mystery: the tomb sculpture of a Spanish knight of unknown identity. And magic: the two painted sculptures, a monk and a knight who have a gleam in their eyes like they’re about to come alive.

It’s December, and I’m at the Student Advisory Board Gala at the art museum. It’s themed “Salon Cezanne” but here I am in this room—in the Middle Ages, far from the abstractions of Cezanne. I’m in a black lace dress and heels and I sit down on the old wooden bench for my friend to take a picture. But there shouldn’t be a camera, and I shouldn’t be in these clothes. I feel my mind slipping away. Now I’m wearing a gown woven with the greatest intricacy, in a dark-paneled room lined with tapestries, in a castle full of marble staircases, in a world resounding with the clang of swords and the tales of knights and the prayers sent up frantically to God.

I sigh as my friend and I join the rest of the crowd in the central gallery. The real world, where schoolwork and stress await me once I get back to my dorm. But it’s reassuring that behind me is a fantasy world I have always dreamed of entering—one I know I can always return to.

 

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see this post and others at the Princeton University Art Museum Student Advisory Board website https://puamsab.princeton.edu/2016/03/julia-cury-on-her-favorite-gallery-of-the-puam/

 

 

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My Final Night in Neverland (Updated)

2/10/2015

I was always the child who wanted to grow up—who dreamed of having boyfriends and SAT books, of walking through pristinely green Ivy League lawns, of looking important and wearing heels while taking on a bustling city. Hardly did I ever find time to slow down, as busy as I was with making small-time fame at my Orlando elementary school. Every spelling test, every art contest, every math equation existed to prepare me for the future that, I was convinced, shone brightly ahead of me. I tried to be a super-kid. But I was still a kid—one who cried out in happiness whenever my family went to Disney World on the weekends. There, I did not have to impress anyone, not even myself. There, it was as though the seconds I willed my clock to tick away suddenly stopped.

It was our last night ever at Disney. We were moving in a few months, to Virginia, away from Orlando. I was happy about it then—Virginia had better high schools. It saddens me to think about now, though.

The park extended its hours on certain days, and we decided to stay at the Magic Kingdom until it closed. I remember standing in line for my favorite ride, Peter Pan’s Flight, bathed underneath pink and blue and orange light that made everything in the night sparkle—my mom’s eyes, my sister’s tennis shoes, the princess pins on the rose-colored lanyard around my neck. It was ten-thirty, and hardly anyone else was waiting to hop on one of the big purple ships to Neverland. It was just us, and Peter Pan watching us with a twinkle in his smile from the sign above.

The cheery instrumental of “You Can Fly” played in high, carnival-sounding notes from above our heads. I filled in the lyrics in my mind:

“Think of all the joy you’ll find/When you leave the world behind”

To this day I still have dreams about waiting in that line—the sky a sleepy black outside, the lights dizzying and cotton-candy-colored inside, my head full of pixie dust and visions of my animated childhood crush flying to my window and taking me to a fantasy land.

We got in our ship and flew to Neverland. My belly went cold every time we dropped in chase of Peter’s wayward shadow, but seconds later the ship would soar again, up toward the sparkling artificial stars, leaving a gray and miniature-sized London further and further behind.

When I stepped back into the black night I wished I could return to the ride, zoom past the mermaid lagoon again, defeat Hook a second time, extend my hand out toward the red-rimmed volcano that had been just out of reach below me, the chill of the ride sweeping forward as though I actually were in a flying ship. But there were other places I wanted to go one last time.

We left the Magic Kingdom and took the monorail to the Grand Floridian hotel, a stately palace flooded with chandelier light and smelling of cleanliness and magic. I have always liked to imagine what it would be like to stay there—not just to visit its lobby and shops. Seeing the large, gold-handled doors that led to deluxe suites made me think of wealth, success—the things I wanted to have in my future. But we bypassed the inside of the hotel tonight.

We snuck into the concierge lounge and surreptitiously took the soda and desserts they were giving to hotel guests. With a Sprite and a beautiful mini fruit tart in my hands, I felt like I was truly a guest at the Grand Floridian. We walked out, past the gushing fountains, spray hitting my face and sparkling like crystals in the night. I could smell the magic in the water, as though each droplet had just been made by a fairy.

We reached the dock that extended over the lake facing the Magic Kingdom and sat with our legs dangling over the water below. There, we ate our pastries and drank our sodas while we watched the fireworks over Cinderella’s castle. Reds, greens, golds—bursting in the sky with the symmetry of snowflakes, the timing of a musical maestro. The lights reflected in my eyes, washed over my wonderstruck face.

“Think of all the joy you’ll find/When you leave the world behind”

With the fireworks show’s grand orchestral music still ringing in my ears, I followed my family onto the Friendship, a steamboat sitting in the lake in front of the hotel. The water was black under the night sky, save for the moon’s reflection, lapping lazily in the waves. The lights strung on the sides of the boat and hanging from the ceiling gave the vessel a dream-like glow. In my memories, it drifts though the lake just as peacefully as the pirate ship in Peter Pan drifted through the sky, taking Wendy back home to London. At the time, it was my transportation to the parking lot, where I would leave Disney World—my Neverland—for the very last time.

Since that night, I grew up as quickly as I had wished. My childhood slipped from between my fingers like a handful of pixie dust.  Never did I return to Disney; instead, I spent my weekends writing and pouring over homework and books. I still do. But if Peter Pan were to show up at my window in a big purple ship, his eyes gleaming and his hand outstretched, I wouldn’t hesitate to follow him back to Neverland.

 

 

 

Update: 3/5/2016

Turns out my final night in Neverland wasn’t my final night in Neverland.

I went back to Walt Disney World last August with my parents—a trip to let me feel my childhood once more before I left for Princeton. I was seventeen, but felt happier at the resort than I had when I was seven. Seeing Cinderella’s Castle before me still gave me a flicker of excitement. I wanted to ride all the rides—plus some that I had been too scared to before. I wanted to eat all the Mickey-shaped food items I could, to trade my old Disney pins for new, exciting ones—preferably of Peter Pan. There was not one day where I took my sparkly Minnie Mouse ears off my head.

It wouldn’t be too much of an exaggeration to say I was literally raised in Disney World. But it took going back to the resort as an (almost) adult to see how much of a mark it made on me. The little things brought back years’ worth of nostalgia—the signs that lead up to the parks, the clean smell of the water in the rides, the background music that had played over and over again in my dreams once I moved away. It’s hard to articulate, but going back to Disney stirred something within me. In the mornings, when I would lie down in a hammock underneath the palm trees and intensely blue Florida sky, knowing I had a full day of magic ahead of me brought me absolute bliss.

That summer I was propped up between the medals and cords I had worn at high school graduation and the black and orange that marked my next four years at Princeton. But I didn’t care about any of that. At Disney, I’ll always be the happy kid who just wants to catch a glimpse of Mickey Mouse before hopping into FastPass line for Jungle Cruise.

Oh, and I still think Peter Pan and I are meant to be.