TBAI Issue Three PDF

Dear readers and contributors of TBAI,

This last issue has been intense. After being featured in Poets & Writers' new literary magazines newsletter, we got tons and tons of submissions. TBAI in its first and second issues were comprised of the work of friends, friends of friends and classmates. Now, the issue's bulk is people I've never even met.

The issue was met with so much technical difficulty since I decided to keep it online only, and let it be known that I am not tech savvy. The issue was made by me alone this time, which explains the months it took me to get it done. It also explains why it is not as pretty as the last two issues. :)

So, here is the PDF file of TBAI Issue III. Please take a look at the issue's PDF file here.

Thanks for all your support.


Second Issue is done!

Good news!
The second issue of The Body Attacks Itself is FINALLY done and in print!
Technology, however convenient, never works as it should so I have run into several problems this time. Luckily I managed to get the PDF version of TBAI up, though some parts are cut-off or hard to read. You can download it by clicking the above link or the link attached to the cover page to your right.
I have also set up a GoFundMe page to attempt to raise some money for printing. This issue has been more expensive and time consuming and I would like to get some issues out and IN COLOR!:) Please help us out and know that you would be doing a great deed for a bunch of poor artists and writers. The goal is $150 and that would help us print 150 extra copies. Thank you in advance.
The Body Attacks Itself Issue Two features writing by:

Jimmy Flemming
Jorge Urbaez
Austin McCann
Simi Ojurongbe
Stephen De Jesus Frias
Gizelle Lugo
Jane Odartey
Dave Feldman
Joelle Baker
Edgar Zorrilla
Adrianna Piotrowska
Sherese Francis
Daemonaer Fuentes
& Danielle Mebert

And art by

Andrew Edminister
Josh Palmer
& Natalie Petrosky

Thank you all so much for your contributions, support and interest. I look forward to making many more issues of TBAI.



You can now download the print version of The Body Attacks Itself via this page by clicking the green cover page or the right side of this page, or the blue link here.
You can also download a printable version by clicking the blue cover to the right side of the page.
Feel free to print, distribute and enjoy!

Home, MCS Williams

He drums his thumbs on the steering wheel and does not look at the woman sitting next to him. She watches the traffic light illuminate his face, turning him yellow and then red.

“I’m looking at a house in this area,” he says.



“Now?” she demands, bewildered, “You didn’t tell me you were looking at a house. I’m tired and it’s late. Why now?”

“Do I need your fucking permission?” He snaps.

The light turns green again.

“What? I can’t have an opinion?”

“You don’t have an opinion. You’re just bitching.”

She waits in the car as he tours the house. It has one bedroom and one bathroom. There is barely enough room for one person, never mind two people. She knows this isn’t an accident. She used to read stars and tealeaves but the night is cloudy and she has only drank coffee for thirty years and now she reads people.

He spits on the ground, deciding that the house is already haunted. He likes it because the rafters are low and sturdy. He returns to the car and they drive in silence.

The snow turns to rain and the traffic lights keep changing. He looks over only when she is soundly asleep, her head resting on the window as her dreams seep across the glass, falling onto the side of the road in a town she does not know.

When they finally pull in to the driveway he cannot find a way to wake her up and say that they are home.
MCS Wiliams

In Wake, Arvind Dilawar

Eric caught himself mid-text, thinking, "I'm not a fucking robot." So he left the office, went outside, and stood on the sidewalk smoking a cigarette while he called Joyce. He offered his apologies and amorphous services to which she responded with simple gratitude. Either his reception or her reception kept cutting out, and the traffic of Union Square overwhelmed his end, so the conversation was garbled. Still, she sounded calmer than he had anticipated. He hung up feeling obligated and utterly useless.

Returning to his desk, he decided to send a text:

fuck me. i feel like i should be doing something but i dont know what. i meant it. if theres anything don't hesitate to ask. again im really sorry

To which, after a few minutes, Joyce replied:

Don't worry. We all know how much you cared for her, and she for you. Just told you because you were kinda her grandkid too. Thanks for the support.

yeah i feel that way myself. give funeral details yes? If its ok id like to be there

Next Sunday possibly. We're reminiscing about you and g'ma. Sister just said you'll always be a part of the family. :)

feel the same way bout all you, whether jenny likes it or not

Lol, that made us all chuckle.

finally i feel like im doing something. if dumb jokes are all i can offer ill keep em coming.

My mom says she loves you and thank you.

tell her I love her and all yall too. if she wants pound cake or something, ill get in the kitchen. i remember how your mom loved that stuff


is that a yes? i don't speak emoticon.

Lol, silly.

ill take that as a stop forcing your terrible cake on us. im sure jenny is relieved

Now my sister is chuckling. Lol, thanks Eric. If you wanna get tanked with us tonight, you're more than welcome to.

whats the plan?


Eric stopped outside of Flannigan's to check his reflection in the tinted storefront window. Only after patting down his short brown curls and straightening his schoolboy-looking navy tie for an inordinate amount of time did he walk through the bar's entrance. Winding through the crowd of jovial Irishmen, Eric caught the sight of Jenny waving to him from a booth near the far end of the bar. As he approached the table, Jenny rose. She looked the same as when they had last seen each other, maybe half a year ago: short with straight black hair and hint of mischief in her smile, though some of the color seemed to have drawn from her face and the usual bags of fatigue that hung about her eyes seemed a little more dire, more permanent. They hugged.

"Thanks for coming," she said.

"I'm so sorry to hear," he said.

As they released, he looked over at Joyce, who was sitting on the inside of the booth, her head leaning against the wood panel walls. She noticed that Jenny and Eric had finished and slunk out to greet him. Though Jenny was older by five years, Joyce was just a few inches taller, a point the younger sibling took great pride in. Joyce's wavy hair was more of a dark, rich brown than the frank black of her sister's, and her eyes were more vibrant as well, glowing a hue that seemingly shifted from a bright chestnut to dull green depending on the lighting.

"Hey," she said with an air of contrived indifference and slight hug.

"I'm really sorry," he said, attempting to flood his voice with sympathy.

"It's OK," she said, before slinking back to her seat. Her sister sat down next to her, and Eric took the spot across the table from the pair. He realized neither of them had put on make-up. He then realized that it had probably smeared off during the course of the day.

"Excuse me," Jenny said to a passing waitress, "can we have two more Blue Moons and ..." She turned to Eric.


"Make that three Blue Moons. Thanks."

Eric noticed the small collection of empty glasses gathering at the end of the table and wondered how many times the waitress had already cleared them away.

"How's your mom holding up?" he asked.

"She's at home. Has work tomorrow," Jenny replied. "She's strong. She'll get through this."

She pulled out a cigarette and passed the pack around the table. They each lit their cigarettes and Eric suddenly missed these little Irish bars in Queens that didn't give a shit about the smoking ban.

"Where's your husband?" he asked Jenny.

"David's at home. Didn't feel like coming out." Eric nodded.

"How've you been?" he asked Joyce. "How's school? How's volunteering at the hospital?"

"School's kicking my ass," she replied. "Volunteering is alright. I get to hang out with Natalie a lot, you know how funny she is."

"So after you spent all that time looking down your nose at Hunter, the school's kicking your ass?" he asked.

"I did not look down my nose."

"Yes, you did! I remember, you graduating from NYU and having to trade down for Hunter --"

"He's right," Jenny added.

"Alright, alright!" Joyce laughed. "Fine. I expected it to be a cinch, but it's kicking my ass. I guess graduate school for biochemistry is difficult no matter where you go." She exhaled a plume of smoke, cocked her head, and asked, "But what about you? What're you doing?"

"Um ... still working at that website," said Eric. "Getting paid a pittance to do it, but I love it. Have one more semester left at Baruch since I missed a couple of required courses ... and then after that, I'm not sure. I've been thinking about going to South America for a year to teach English while I figure out what to do with my life."

"That's a great idea," Jenny replied.

"You're serious about that?" asked Joyce.

"Yeah, I am."

"I mean, it sounds like fun," Joyce conceded, stamping out her cigarette in the ashtray the waitress had just brought over with their drinks.

"What about you, Jenny? How's the law firm?" asked Eric.

"Hectic. Georgie's got so many more cases now that all these immigration sweeps are happening, so I'm constantly running from the Long Island office to the city, to the courts downtown to hand in paperwork or pick up paperwork or visit people in jail. It's ... ugh ... I've been in the office the last three or four Saturdays just to keep up."

"God damn," replied Eric.

"Yeah," Jenny got up, "and on that note, I have to use the bathroom."

The conversation at the table died. Needing something to do, Eric tried to whistle along to Billy Joel's "Piano Man," which was playing on the jukebox, and pretended to take great interest in the reproduction of a famous painting that hung on the wall behind the bar.

"Your girly's cute," said Joyce suddenly. "I saw her picture on Facebook."

"Thanks," Eric replied with a nod. "Hudson seems ... cool."

"He's not," she said with a dismissive laugh and a large gulp of beer.

"Oh ..."

"I mean, I just have to catch him up on so much, you know?"

"Yeah, I guess."

"So what's the deal with your girl?"

"Tina? Oh, well, we met a month ago. She goes to Baruch. We both edit for the literary magazine. She's graduating this semester. English major. Not really sure what she's going to do afterwards. She's sweet."

"That's nice."

Jenny returned to the table and ordered a round of Jager shots.

"Jenny, that shit is disgusting," Joyce complained.

"Oh, shut up," she responded. "It's the best."

"Eh." Eric shrugged. "I don't really like, but I'll drink it."

"To grandma," Jenny offered, holding her shot up.

"To grandma," the other two assented. After toasting, sucking down the Jager, and chasing it with a long swallow of beer, Eric felt the vibration of his phone.

"I have to take a wicked piss. Be right back," he said, rising from the table. In the bathroom, he read the text he had just received from Tina:

Eyes heavy. Need sleep. Hope you and the boys don't get into too much trouble. I'll speak to you at some point during the day tomorrow. G'night.

Before leaving the bathroom, he replied:

shit sorry. sweet dream

He returned to the table to find Joyce and Jenny in a fit of giggles. They were relating the story of their grandmother's last birthday, when they had set candles on the cake that read "178." Their mother thought it was in poor taste, but g'ma had loudly cackled. The sisters argued over who possessed the Polaroid Eric had taken of the family gathered around the prank cake. Eric sat down, laughing along without missing a beat.

For the next two hours or so, the only discernible sound was that of cheap glasses clanking against the lacquered mahogany tabletop and against each other, ringing out like church bells amidst the noisy, inchoate conversations, conversations babbling and meandering like a river seemingly flooded by the sheer volume of imbibed stout, whisky, gin, the like.

"It's almost 3. I've got to get back to my husband," said Jenny.

"Oh, I'm sure David's performing his own Irish rites with a bottle of Jameson," Joyce replied with a tired, forced little giggle.

Jenny's eyes slid to the side and her cheeks tensed as she gave Joyce a reproachful glance before flatly commanding:

"Let's go."

"Down the hatch," said Eric, lifting up the remnants of his now watery whisky.

"I've got to drive," protested Jenny, eyeing her half-filled cup.

"So do I," replied Eric, his drink still perched.

Their glasses came together in an unenthusiastic, defiant cheers before their contents were forced down. After making choking, cringing chaser faces, the three sat back defeatedly. The two drivers looked to Joyce. Jenny was the first to speak:

"Want me to drive you home?"

"You're on my way," Eric offered, absentmindedly swirling the icy remains of his tumbler. In their proceeding silence, the matter was settled.


Eric's black Mercedes pulled up to 1906 78th street, its front left wheel abruptly grazing the lip of the sidewalk. He twisted the key, shutting the engine down, and flipped on the caution lights. They sat in stillness, the relative hush broken only by the rhythmic ticking of blinkers going on and off. The supersaturated, yellow light bounced off the surrounding reflective auto finishes and nearby window panes, shyly illuminating their faces in short, regular intervals. Looking over, he saw her face come to life every other second or so. She was staring at the glove compartment, looking at something very far away.

"I'm really sorry," he offered.

"You already said that," she replied without looking. "It isn't your fault."

Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick.

She picked up something found in the distance:

"You know, you really hurt me."

"I didn't mean to. I just thought that, if we went on, it was certain that I'd continue hurting you."

"Yeah, I know what you mean."

"I just thought things would be better this way."

"They aren't."

"What about Hudson?"

"That isn't going to last."

"Why d'you say that?" Finally, she peered out at him from her little shadowed corner. Those brief bursts like fake sunlight lit up her face, and he saw she was quietly crying.

Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick.

"He's too much like you ... not enough like you." She didn't look away.

Instinctively, he raised a hand to her face and slowly, deliberately smeared a trail of tears away from her cheek. Through the wetness, he felt that familiar burning in her skin. He felt something bygone and perverse twitch inside of him. His hand landed softly on her stocking. It did not surprise her. It elicited no direct reaction, but brought their two bodies close enough to be caught in that old orbit. Gravity pulled them together. Salt flavored their lips, lips that met to produce quiet snaps, like drizzle on a still pond surface. The rain has only one direction to fall; individually, those small drops conjure the same sound over and over again.

Forgotten experience took over, directing their tongues, their hands, the contortions of their bodies. Whether with intentional evasion or not, nothing weighed on their minds. Without thought, they moved the only way they knew how, mashing between them what had happened, what was happening, and what was to come. When they separated and gazed longingly, furiously at each other, there was a moment in which the possibility of dress straps slinking off and belts unbuckling hung in the air like a shivering funeral pall or an excited birthday gift.

The yellow lights continued clicking on and off, like a metronome.

Edge of Central Park

MCS Williams

Tides and Undertoe, Emily Musgrove

I'm thinking about praying more
Because I was praying before.
And then I met you.

Asunder yet on the shore
My feet beneath the water
The waves rushing under
My toes squishing in the sand
The ethereal sensation and peaceful rhythm
Pulling me while I'm planted;
That's how you made me feel.

Or is it just my imagination?
My logic tells me no.
My imagination doesn't work
That well on its own.

You're different though.
I don't see the beach often
But I know its real;
I've felt it.
This makes me question the severity of this.