A Journal

"I'm going to come back to West Virginia when this is over. There's something ancient and deeply-rooted in my soul. I like to think that I have left my ghost up one of those hollows, and I'll never really be able to leave for good until I find it. And I don't want to look for it, because I might find it and have to leave".----Breece D'J Pancake, in a letter to his mother. 

Ariella Carmell


Chicago Pastoral


On a day when the wind oscillated
I took the train alone into the flinty city.

This is your home now, the ashen slabs
that smeared my window seemed

to say. At some points in winter,
the buildings become solidified storm.

I almost twenty now, ribboning
through the streets in nicked black

boots, but I still marvel at how, outside,
my ice cream does not melt. Where I lived

prior, the metropolis wavered like a mirage.
Sun and sin and stars addled your brain. Nothing

physical moved—yet here, the sky glowers
its discontent, spews its waxen dessert.

There is no upkeep of image. I spit
into the lake, not out of spite

but to feel a part of this thumping body.


Ghost Boy


I think too
much about skin, christening
the creases of so many elbows
parched mountain ranges,
sweeping a line of mouth
down your neck, a hillside. Gliding
my fingers across the top layer
& coming away with powder
like the film over
a bowl of milk—What do
I find? You are all
silverware stains, all globe dust.
Your throat is filled with trysts
like polyps. Your throat is filled
with me. I let too much of your
soot get under my eyelids & now
I can’t see your alps as anything
but veined with wires. Your pale mind
skittering, groping for
the electric. Never to be found.



When I was six, my family and I had the great privilege of jaunting around Europe for a few weeks. While I'm sure I came home with armfuls of trinkets from various countries, I am most attached to my matryoshka dolls from Russia. They still dwell on top of my dresser. I would spend hours on the floor of my room stacking and re-stacking their bulbous forms, marveling at the specificity of their paint strokes, their little knowing smiles. I usually don't feel like I belong to any one place, but when I smell the alchemy of wood and old paint on these dolls, I feel in touch with my Russian ancestry.

Ariella Carmell is a second-year undergraduate at the University of Chicago, studying Fundamentals: Issues & Texts. Her prose and poetry have been published or are forthcoming in Spry, Words Dance, Up the Staircase Quarterly, Bustle, Feminine Inquiry, Neutrons/Protons, Cleaver Magazine, and more. As a playwright, she has won the 2015 and 2016 Blank Theatre Young Playwrights Festival. When not writing, she's usually reading, napping, or fawning over French critical theorists.