At Doorstep

Image: ©️ Gislain

Author: Gislain

Standing eyes to eyes

Hooked fingers

Tension that rises

Hugging strangers

With heart that cries

Brain off – just lovers

Arms hang on thee

Keeping tight the other

Close to the body

Closer than ever

Closer they could be

Harder they have ever

Heart pulsing the pressure

Beating out the time

For a song or a measure

For a poem or a rhyme

To get a last taste of pleasure

Of an instant so sublime

Don’t know what to feel

Apart the heartache 

Not made out of steel

And can easily break

Not afraid to leave for real

Just afraid to stay for fake

Paper, Pencils and Pleasantries: an Interview with Enrico from the Stationary Store

Enrico surrounded by his colorful products inside the stationary store

Image: © Chloé Gédet

Authors: Chloé Gédet, Öznur Nizam

Ever wondered what goes on inside Unil’s stationary store? Well we went to find Enrico in his colorful little shop, and he graciously accepted to answer a few questions for us. Read on to learn about Enrico’s everyday life and you’ll never pass by his store without saying hello again! [version française en-dessous]

Can you introduce yourself and say a few words about your job?

My name is Enrico. I’ve always worked in mechanics, and now I’m here because I found this job for my wife, it’s her professional field.

For how many years have you been working in the University of Lausanne, and how did you end up here?

It has been 15-16 years. I took this job with my wife and now that we’re retired, we keep working here because we enjoy it, we want to be in contact with people, rather than being confined at home. 

What does the usual workday look like? 

In general, my wife comes in the morning and, as a sleeper, I come between 10:00 and 12:00. Then we wait for people to come and go. But there’s very few people coming now.

Since when did you notice that?

Since we closed for a year due to Covid-19. Even with the reopening there’s less students around, because lots of them still study at home. Besides, students are now used to working without paper, without supplies. 

What do you sell the most?

Everything and anything, we sell everything that is useful in a university. Some things go faster than others, but it’s hard to say which ones, and it changes over time. For example, we used to bind books a lot, because the Reprographie only made copies and we bound them. But now they’re making copies that are already bound…

That could be interesting to some students! Do you still do bindings?

We still do, but very few. But we have plastic or metal spiral bindings of all sizes, and we also make glued bindings. And it’s cheaper than in other shops in the city (because, you know, sometimes we check the market prices).

What are the advantages of working here?

It’s a good way to spend time and to have some human interaction, I’ve always liked that. Some students come just to have a coffee and chat, because they can tell I also enjoy having a talk. It’s something that has always been part of my life: I’ve coached football teams, trained apprentices when I was working as a mechanic, … This desire to socialize is something that comes back.

So you like students? They are polite and respectful to you?

Students are generally decent with us, sometimes someone will be [pause; probably meaning “a bit unpleasant”], but it’s rare. In principle, when you’re decent to someone they repay you. 

What are some disadvantages of your job?

There aren’t. I mean, the margins we make are really thin, so as long as we’re working here and don’t need the money to live, it’s going to continue. But if someone comes here after us, they’ll be younger and they’ll need a decent salary, because my wife and I never took a proper salary. So if it doesn’t make enough money, sooner or later the shop will have to shut down, that’s how it goes… But as for us, we’re happy here.

So you’re thinking about leaving?

Yes, my wife and I are thinking about working for a few more months and then we might put up an offer… Then instead of spending our time here, we’ll be able to travel around for 3 or 4 days at a time, see a city and then another. In the end, you can meet people just as well when travelling.

How did COVID impact you personally?

It impacted me like everyone else. Having to stay home, you learn to stay inside. And now it’s nice to be back and to see people again!

I agree! Finally, is there something you’d like to say to students?

You have to study if you want to get somewhere, today even a university degree is not always enough. You have to constantly challenge yourself. For example, when I was working [as a mechanic], every time there was something new, I’d go and take an evening class, because you can’t do things you know nothing about. That’s why I think the most important thing is to have solid bases in life, and then question yourself whenever it’s necessary.

Thanks a lot, it was a pleasure talking to you!

Enrico laughing lightly

Image: © Chloé Gédet

ORIGINAL FRANÇAIS:

T’es-tu déjà demandé.e ce qui se passe dans la papeterie de l’Unil? Et bien, nous sommes allées trouver Enrico dans son petit magasin plein de couleurs, et il a accepté de répondre à quelques questions pour nous. Continue de lire pour en savoir plus sur son quotidien, et tu ne passeras plus jamais devant sa boutique sans le saluer!

Pouvez-vous vous présenter et dire quelques mots à votre sujet ? 

Mon nom c’est Enrico. J’ai toujours travaillé dans la mécanique, et maintenant je suis là parce que j’ai trouvé ce travail pour ma femme, c’est son domaine à elle. 

Depuis combien de temps travaillez-vous à l’Université de Lausanne, et comment êtes-vous arrivé ici ?

Ça fait 15-16 ans. On avait pris ce travail ensemble, ma femme et moi, et maintenant qu’on est à la retraite on l’a gardé parce qu’on aime ça, on aime pas rester enfermés à la maison, on a envie de rester en contact avec les gens. 

A quoi ressemble votre journée de travail habituellement ?

En général ma femme vient le matin et moi qui suis dormeur je viens vers 10-12h. Après on attend que les gens viennent et puis qu’ils s’en aillent. Mais actuellement il y a très peu de monde. 

Depuis quand avez-vous remarqué qu’il y a moins de monde ? 

Depuis que ça a fermé pendant une année à cause du covid. Même avec la réouverture il y a beaucoup moins d’étudiants, il y en a encore beaucoup qui travaillent à la maison. Et puis maintenant ils sont habitués à travailler sans papier, sans matériel. 

Quel est le produit que vous vendez le plus?

Tout et n’importe quoi, tout ce qui est utile à l’université. Il y a des choses qui partent plus vite mais c’est difficile à dire lesquelles, et ça change avec le temps. Par exemple on faisait beaucoup de reliures ici avant, parce que la reprographie faisait que des copies et nous on faisait les reliures. Mais maintenant ils font des copies déjà reliées… 

Ça pourrait intéresser certain.e.s étudiant.e.s de savoir ça ! Vous faites toujours des reliures ?

On en fait encore quelques-unes, très très peu. Mais on a des reliures en spirales plastique ou métal de toutes les tailles, et on fait aussi des reliures collées, et c’est moins cher qu’en ville (parce que de temps en temps on se renseigne sur les prix du marché).

Quels sont les avantages de votre travail ici ?

C’est un bon passe-temps pour avoir un contact humain, moi j’ai toujours aimé ça. Il y a des étudiants qui viennent juste pour parler en prenant un café parce qu’ils voient que j’aime bien le contact. C’est quelque chose qui a toujours été présent dans ma vie : j’ai entraîné des équipes de football, j’ai eu des apprentis quand je travaillais, cette envie de sociabiliser c’est quelque chose qui revient. 

Donc vous appréciez les étudiants et les étudiantes ? Ils et elles sont polies et respectueuses avec vous ?

Les étudiants, ils sont assez corrects avec nous, de temps en temps il y a quelqu’un de [pause; signifiant probablement “un peu désagréable”], mais c’est rare. En principe, quand on est correct avec les gens ils nous le rendent.

Quels sont les désavantages de votre travail ici ?

Il y en a pas. Après les marges sont très petites, donc tant que c’est nous qui sommes là et qu’on vit pas de ça, ça va continuer. Mais si quelqu’un reprend ce sera des personnes un peu plus jeunes et il leur faudra une paye, parce que ma femme et moi on a jamais pris une vraie paye. Si le volume de caisse est trop bas, tôt ou tard ils seront destinés à fermer, parce que c’est comme ça… Mais nous on est contents ici.

Vous pensez donc à arrêter?

Oui, avec ma femme on pense travailler encore quelques mois et après peut-être qu’on mettra une annonce [pour trouver quelqu’un d’autre] … Après au lieu de passer le temps à la papeterie on pourra faire des petits voyages de 3-4 jours, voir une ville quelques jours puis une autre. Au final en voyageant on voit du monde la même chose.

Comment le COVID vous a-t-il affecté personnellement ?

Il m’a affecté comme tout le monde. Devoir rester à la maison, on apprend à rester enfermé. Et maintenant ça fait plaisir de retourner au travail et de voir du monde ! 

Je suis d’accord ! Finalement, avez-vous un message pour les étudiants et les étudiantes ?

Il faut étudier, si vous voulez arriver à quelque chose de nos jours même un diplôme universitaire c’est pas toujours suffisant. Il faut se remettre en question continuellement dans la vie. Moi par exemple quand je travaillais [comme mécanicien], chaque fois qu’il y avait des nouveautés j’allais faire des cours du soir, parce qu’on peut pas faire des choses quand on les connaît pas. C’est pour ça que je dis que l’important c’est d’avoir des bases très solides dans la vie et après se remettre une question à chaque fois que c’est nécessaire. 

Merci beaucoup, c’était un plaisir de parler avec vous !

A Poppy Field

Image: ©️ BarbeeAnne – Pixabay License. Source.

Author: Guillaume Amstutz

Inspired by “The Poppy Field” by Nora May French

I know of a place, just beyond a poppy field, where I sometimes go to sing my songs. It’s quite close from your house, yet so very far away from you. When I go there, I usually sit near the streams, between the sad lilies (they keep their heads down, toward the ground) and I think about which words I should use. I have to carefully choose which words I will write or sing, because not all of them seem to reach your house, beyond the red tangled barrier of poppies. I’ll tell you something I don’t think you know: in my little book, now resting on the slightly wet grass, there are hundreds of words, and in the breeze flowing along the stream, there are even more, and there are still even more unspoken words inside my mind. I don’t think you know this, because in your mailbox, in front of your house, beyond the poppies, there are at best a few dozens of my words, and in your mind, which I feel is very far away from me, I think there are even less of my words. And perhaps, if I know that your house is close to me, yet I can’t see or feel you anymore, it’s because it’s not your house anymore, and you never told me you moved out. And sometimes I tell myself that you did not move out: it’s just that I can’t see you through all the knotted poppies. And if there are so few of my words in your mind, maybe it’s not because you never read what’s in your mailbox, but because so many times I didn’t dare go through the poppy field to put my words in your mailbox. Many times I tried to walk to it, but the wind blew from your house and through the poppy field, and I found myself in a quiet, hypnotic haze, and in this fog I thought I could see you next to your home. You should know that when I see you in these dreams, I can never bring myself to unwind the tangled poppies and make myself a way to you. Now you know why your mailbox needed to be empty for months before welcoming some of my words, and why lately no words came at all. I was simply sitting by the stream, between the sad lilies. Sometimes I wish you had left your house and helped me cut, burn, or untangle the poppy field, but was it even your task to do so? I’m not even sure you knew how potent these poppies were, and how a single step into them would throw me inside this stupor that kept me away from you for so long, and that will probably keep doing so. I could take care of the poppy field myself, but why should I do it? As I already said, I’m pretty sure you moved out of your house long ago, and that behind the field I would only find a rusted, empty mailbox. Besides, I don’t think you realize how afraid I am of discovering what lies beneath the poppy field. I already have an idea: under the poppy field is a graveyard, a graveyard containing all the words I could never bring all the way to your mailbox, all the words that ran along the stream until they got caught into this web of poppies, never to reach your ears. I’ll never know if you understand how much that hurts me to know that I had so much to say, but that I could only tell you so few words, as the rest of it was buried under the poppies. Now every time I go to this place again, I wish I had broken the golden vow while you still lived in your house, so that I could have told you everything I wanted to. But it seems like it’s just wishful thinking, and now the best thing I can do is hope that my decomposing words, resting under the poppy field, serve as a fertilizer for new, beautiful flowers. Who knows, maybe one day you’ll see them if you ever pass by your old house. 

MUSE’s English Events and Escapades: fun stuff to do, in English, outside the classroom



World Radio Switzerland: Listen to local news in English with this privately owned radio station in Geneva. Check out their website, app, or DAB+ broadcasts in Geneva, Vaud and Valais.
https://www.worldradio.ch/


The Village Players of Lausanne: an English language theatre group based in Lausanne that produces plays and hosts events in Ouchy.
https://www.villageplayers.ch/


Geneva English Drama Society: The GEDS is an English language amateur drama society offering a wide range of opportunities through their theatrical productions. The group also hosts playreading performances, i.e., script-in-hand readings, in a relaxed, informal atmosphere. The entry fee for playreadings is 5 CHF & sign-up is required.
https://www.geds.ch/GEDSWEB/



The Jan Michalski Foundation for Writing and Literature: The Jan Michalski Foundation hosts exhibitions and conferences as well as other cultural events centred around literature. Some of these events are held in English, while others are in French (see the website for more information).
http://www.fondation-janmichalski.com/en/



Jim’s British Market in Gland: Jim’s British Market specialises in British products. They are always listening to customer’s requests and try to adapt their offer based on feedback. If there is food that you miss or have always wanted to try from Britain, head on down!
https://jbmarket.ch/



Books Books Books: Lausanne’s English language bookshop is the place to go for all manner of fiction and non-fiction, including recent publications. Check out the staff’s recommendations as well as the events they host regularly through their website.
https://booksbooksbooks.ch/



The Library in English: The Library in English is in Geneva. As well as offering access to over 10,000 books, it hosts two book sales a year – in spring and autumn – where you can buy cheap second-hand books in English, along with other cultural events.
http://thelibrary.ch/



Renegade Saints: an English-language improv group based in Geneva. The group hosts monthly performances at Mr Pickwick Pub (tickets are 15 CHF), as well as weekend workshops, and free drop-in improv sessions (also at the pub or at a location nearby).
http://renegadesaints.ch


Ulysses at 100: a live event at UNIL. On February 25th 2022, there will be an evening of talks, music and student readings, to celebrate 100 years since the publication of James Joyce’s Ulysses and 75 years of Joyce studies in Switzerland. This event is being organised in collaboration with the Irish Embassy, the Max Geilinger Foundation and the Swiss Association of University Teachers of English and will take place on the UNIL campus (Amphimax 415). Keep your eyes peeled for posters around campus.


Simon Armitage: a poetry reading at UNIGE. On Friday, May 20th 2022, there will be a poetry reading by Simon Armitage, the UK Poet Laureate, at the University of Geneva at 6 pm. The exact address is: Bâtiment Colladon, 2 rue Jean-Daniel Colladon, 1211 Genève.
https://www.simonarmitage.com/



Presented by Tonia Ramogida and Arthur Margot

A Madwoman’s Saudade

A drawing of a woman smiling from a three quarter view

Image: © Andreia Abreu Remigio

Author: Andreia Abreu Remigio

To Robim, the dog

I.

“Sum total we were seven kids with me,

One brother vanished, one’s son turned the gun.

My sisters? Jealous of what I could be,

How close I would be flying to the sun.

I took my talent to the capital,

Whence I could almost get to the New World.

The lessons I learned were all tangible.

“Can you please tell me what are my words worth?”

I asked them, worried, waiting for my call,

I had the life that I’d dreamed of at last.

Above the landmarks I could smell the salt,

And honestly, I thought the worst was past.

My waves met his coastline by accident –

He got my missing piece of innocence.

II.

My hand he asked the man who put me here.

Our love was like two burning flames combined.

My freezing hands could hold his pain, my dear.

So magical like folklore was his mind.

When he would let his heavy eyelids close,

I’d polish plates as hard as a devout.

And he would not let anyone oppose…

His lips would make any seeds and sweet peas sprout.

Believed in him like in my childhood’s dream.

I’d swing and sway softly in my chest.

Remember times when he would glow and gleam,

There was no reason to go and get dressed.

We tried to overlook the tears, truth was

The stasis amplified each of our flaws.

III.

And he went looking for another one,

As if I were somehow wasting honour.

Eventually I guess he found some

Fragment in bottles. My once bright colours

Are now eclipsed… I’d keep doing the laundry

Like Groundhog Day, and everything was gauche

In my life as he was out the country.

Through my curses and cries unharmed he goes

And goes. I had the shiniest voice, now

It’s rusting. Our coming of age has come

And burned out. You know the love story died out –

So what is this poem for anyway, um?”

Absentminded I hear “Happy birthday

By the way! You should call more!” I hang up.

FRAME: SEVEN ABSTRACT SONNETS

Author: Victor Joyet

I.

I am the end of everyone  the last man 
It doesn’t matter if it now comes to an 
end It’s good for everyone to be dead 
sometimes      good to be alive    again 
I will dance on the wire and people will 
be amazed I’ll crosswalk the air and the 
light dance on the wire until I die and 
dance on the wire one more time 

                    I shall smoke the last cigarette 
butt       inhale the last breath of poison 
look around the hexagram of the heaven 
close my eyes and let the sun shine red 
behind 
                    one last time


II.  

                                                            Nonday morning 
                   Smoke on the verge of eternity 
Alone in 
                      the dead-end street world 
Every day and every year the same stuff on TV 
The Internet is choke-full of brags and misery 
And I just don’t care 
I don’t wanna spend the night on air 
Ruminating that avant-garde cinema dream 
I keep thinking                                there is 
no music on a dead plane 
“I used to blackmail the night just to get some 
sleep” was what you used to say 
But you ended up talking to yourself


III.

Words to be thought words to be said words 
to be sung and words to whisper God’s 
language is still to be found fashioned and 
heard down there on Earth down there on the 
ground there is no church and no temple down 
there on Earth down there on the ground 
bone machines and articulated minds 
mortal spirits without any idea of time 

Down there on Earth down there on the ground 
for the first time shall I tread 
Crossing my arms I’m facing the man 
This is the only prayer I mean to utter 
This’ll be the only time 
                                                      I look into your eyes


IV.

I used to walk around so much I used to go 
nowhere at all I grew aimless and shameless 
Soared over the ocean and through the rain 
My senses sharpened the distance between 
the world and my eye narrowed seeing and 
being became one single gesture and losing 
my gaze into the above skyway whenever I 
saw a star I’d wonder if it were dead or alive 
I’d wandered and wandered got so stinky and 
so filthy and so soiled that when I looked into 
the mirror I saw a man I’d never seen in me 
Lost      absorbed                           life-washed 
              That was just another me 
            I didn’t know then but I’d started anew


V.

As open skies we moved………………………...
From a wing to another…………………………..
Skull and limbs all exposed…………………….
We needed nothing………………………………...
Bareheaded and free……………………………...
…We needed nothing……………………………...
…Toward eternity…………………………………....
………………………………………………...……………....
………………………………………………...……………....
………………………………………………...……………....
………………………………………………...……………....
………………………………………………...……………....
………………………………………………...……………....
………………………………………………...……………....


VI.

Behold the fireflies of the mind in pieces all the 
colors of thoughts in motion across the scenery 
of the allegorical meaning of yourself the crazy 
geography of heaven’s truthful sin 
These are roads painted on the canals of your 
vanishing body the idle image of a world gone 
mad roads that’ll take you into your own country 
where seasons and hours are landscaped into the 
mirror of your self 
                                              Now the silence will shatter 
from the sounds inside your brain this is the birth 
of the eighth day 
                                         Thusness widespread on the 
planispheric memory of a day forever forgotten


VII.

When will I be taken away? How will I be taken 
away from it all? What for a manner is to draw 
someone away like that from their friends family 
cats books clothes and whatsoever that holds 
together the pieces of one’s very own private self 
without any warning just like that gone as a dart 
through the classroom of time? 

Suddenly I feel so afraid when I think of death 
22 only yet I feel so old when surreptitiously 
I grow conscious of my own mortality 
22 still alive When will I trespass? When will I 
meet my other self? 22 still alive thinking of my 
friends wondering who’ll be the first one to die 
the first we’ll have to cry our hearts out for





Editor’s Note: Associated Artwork

Below you may find a list of artwork which this piece’s author associated with each sonnet. As some were protected under copyright, they were not included directly on this page. However, you may refer to the following links as you read the sonnets:

I.
Mark Rothko, Orange and Yellow, 1956, 232.4 x 181.3 cm, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York: Orange and Yellow, 1956 – Mark Rothko – WikiArt.org

II.
Franz Kline, Suspended, 1953, USA: Suspended, 1953 – Franz Kline – WikiArt.org

III.
Mark Rothko, Light over Deep, 1956, 139.7 x 111.8 cm, Collection of Rita and Toby Schreiber: Light over Deep 1956 Painting By Mark Rothko – Reproduction Gallery (reproduction-gallery.com)

IV.
Gerhard Richter, Cage 2, 2006, 300 x 300 cm: Gerhard Richter: Cage Paintings, 541 West 24th Street, New York, April 19–June 26, 2021 | Gagosian

V.
Yves Klein, Monogold (MG 18), 1961, 77.9 x 56 cm, Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany:  Œuvres – Monogold sans titre – Yves Klein

VI.
Franz Kline, King Oliver, 1958, 251.4 x 196.8 cm, private owner: Franz Kline (1910-1962) (christies.com)

VII.
Mark Rothko, UNTITLED, 1963: 5a2007bf2e81a47f8657e4ec7f94b164_large.jpg (1500×1500) (touchofmodern.com)

Dear Felicity – a Literary Advice Column

 Image: “Hanas Helpline” by DrJohnBullas is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

These literary characters have reached out to MUSE’s agony aunt, Felicity, asking for her help. Can you guess who they are?

Dear Felicity,

I have been unsuccessfully looking for love. I want a girlfriend but I think there’s nobody like me in the world. I would love her for all her flaws and imperfections. My father left me after my birth. I have recently found him again but he finds me ugly and he says no one will ever love me the way I am. I even have asked him to help me get a girlfriend but it’s out of the question for him. I have so much love to give but I don’t know what to do anymore. What else can I do?      

Yearning for love

Dear Yearning,

Your father sounds like a very unhealthy person. He may be your father, but you are by no means obligated to stay in his life if he isn’t doing you any good. You are worth it and beautiful just the way you are, and somewhere out there, there is someone looking for you. Don’t give up!

Dear Felicity,

I just got married! I am really excited: he is loving, handsome, rich – a dream! My problem is, since the day we got married and I moved in with him, he seems cold and does not show any affection. I have been trying to distract myself but his housekeeper keeps reminding me of his late wife. I have started to think he is still in love with her! What should I do about it?

A discouraged bride

Dear Discouraged,

First of all, no one should compare you to another woman. If your husband’s housekeeper has a problem working for you, raise the problem to your husband – she should respect you. Second of all, from what you’re describing it seems like your husband loves you and really wanted to marry you. Maybe something else is on his mind and he is not ready to open up about it yet. Show him that you’re there for him and share your limits and boundaries. Good luck!

Dear Felicity,

I’ve just been expelled from school. I know I should care, but I feel like everybody is so fake, so I don’t. I’m struggling to make good decisions and I always seem to fail saying the right thing to people who do care about me. I don’t like many things. I make big decisions lightly, knowing I wouldn’t go through with them anyway. I’m scared my parents will never be proud of me. Can you help me?

        An overwhelmed boy

Dear Overwhelmed,

It isn’t easy growing up and knowing what you want. Remember that nobody has got it figured out. Do more of what makes you happy, keep exploring. Take your time to process information; nobody is rushing you. Your parents are there for you and I’m sure that if you share your worries with them, they will happily help you make sense of what you’re going through. Take your time to breathe!

Dear Felicity,

I have been spending a lot of time with a man recently. He is coaching me so I can get a better job. I’ve been making great efforts and helping him with so many things, but he has never even praised or thanked me! But I keep telling myself that somewhere between all his bitterness must lie kindness, and I keep pursuing recognition from him. Also, he tells me if I leave, I will go back to my old job and never succeed. I’m afraid I won’t make it on my own. What am I supposed to do?

                                                                                                                      A torn girl

Dear Torn,

I hear you: it is hard to let someone go if you believe there is good in everyone. But, someone who disrespects you is not worth your time: spend time with people who treat you right. If you are not ready to give up on his coaching just yet, try to set yourself a limit of how far you are willing to go, or how long you are willing to stay without recognition. Plus, from what I’m hearing, you have made a great deal of progress and I am sure you can make it without him. Take care of yourself, you’ve got this!

Funniest Post-COVID-19 Reactions & Thoughts!

Image: ©️ Alexas_Fotos – Pixabay License. Source.

In celebration of returning to our academic and social lives in person (hopefully for good this time), MUSE sent out a form inviting UNIL students to share the most surprising, funny and strange thoughts and reactions they have experienced ever since Coronavirus barged into our lives uninvited. Every response was entertaining to read and much appreciated by your favorite student magazine. Don’t forget to grab your popcorn and enjoy!

Me coming to university on the first day like:

OH mY gOd there are PEOPLE here

When my workplace changed their sanitizer brand, my first thought was “Cool! I’m looking forward to trying the new one!”. And then I realised how excited I was for something that’s genuinely very unexciting.

I get offended when people don’t want to hug me because of Covid, lol.

It’s always a weird experience meeting new people and then seeing them for the first time without the mask. I always try to guess what their full face looks like, but I get surprised every time.

The two things I fear the most are : wasps, and Zoom meetings with camera on and mic unmuted.

Even though I’ve been studying at UNIL for 6 years, the first time I took the lift again to go to the ground floor, I pressed the button “0”… and ended up in the basement.

Whenever I watch a movie or TV show and there are bars and club scenes I feel so weirded out, like where are their masks and why are they standing so close to each other? And then I remember that these shows and movies were released before Covid, hahaha.

Well, I guess waking up and getting out of bed is a thing now!

Coming back to uni in September and recognizing other students from Zoom – i.e., knowing in some cases their first AND last names – and still being way too shy to go say hi in real life.

I was in the metro one day when ticket controllers came in, and for a solid ten seconds, I had no idea if I had to show my travel card or my Covid certificate…

I’ve got to say, there’s at least one positive thing about wearing a mask during lectures: if I answer a question wrong, no one can see my embarrassment.

Then again, if a lecturer smiles or something, I feel like I have to exaggerate all of my facial movements and expressions to be understood. Is it possible to make your eyes… smiley?

Recently, I was standing in a crowd and looking for my friends and I could not remember how I used to handle crowds before and find people in them.

During the first days of this semester, I sat in the cafeteria and everything felt so different and I tried to remember what my lunch breaks used to be like (who I used to eat with, what I’d eat, when I’d have my breaks) and I could not remember Lunch Breaks BC™️ (Before Covid) for the life of me!

On the first day back to uni, the metro was so crowded I nearly had anxiety, haha, and I decided to change my route to come to uni. So, now I don’t take the metro anymore to come to uni.

When I used to leave my place, I always made sure I took with me my phone, wallet and keys. Now mask and ID are on the list. I sometimes still manage to forget them both and run back and get them. You can’t go anywhere without them anymore, it’s crazy. It’s like leaving the house without pants!

Everytime I see a shop in movies or a TV show, I’ll be mad at them all for not wearing masks, until I realise that it’s well over 2 years old…

I forgot what it was like to be in class in person again… Like you can actually sit next to people, talk to them and all which is really exciting when you first think about it. And then you run into people you wish you could avoid and try to master the skills of doing so. But all in all, it still feels great to be back.

I don’t think Covid is finished yet because there are still many restrictions and over 1000 cases most days.

Responses have been edited for clarity and length.

Clear Graveyard

Image: ©️ rkarkowski – Pixabay License. Source.

Author: Marina Silietti

I saw the sun the other night 

I didn’t think we’d meet again 

I assumed it was far away 

Far away from me 

For a second 

I believed I’d feel it again 

The wide stream of emotions 

But I didn’t 

Instead

I felt a relief 

Seemed like heaven 

Until I understood that the stream 

Reached the moon 

Fading at its finest 

Breathing at its brightest 

I dreamed about the moon that night 

Until the dawn came back 

And I thought about the moon that day 

The stream was complete 

And I couldn’t escape its curves 

Even if I wanted to 

The moon and the sun belonged to somebody else 

I couldn’t see their light beams 

They were far away 

Far away from me 

Clear Graveyard! Give me a break!

Take me away 

And let me face the bliss 

The infinity 

The immortality 

Far away from their volcanoes

Finite and deadly volcanoes 

Clear Graveyard! Walk away! 

Take me home 

Back to where I belong 

Turn me into 

Your dissolving dust 

Back into what I am 

Nothing! 

To A Poetess

Image: ©️ Myriams-Fotos – Pixabay License. Source.

Author: Guillaume Amstutz

Your brightness leaves me awestruck

Overt charm against bad luck

Upheaval found in wonder

Magic that mutes the thunder

Amazement born from great light

Kindness adorns all you write

Every drop of reverence

Instilled by your luminance

Tints the world with solar gleams

Blesses it with graceful beams

Evergreen inspiration

Throws me in admiration 

Trusted poetess you should know

Earth herself with her faint glow

Relies on you to make it grow

The Collected Songs of Honest Shores

Image: © H.S

Author: H.S

These poems were written nineteen-hundred years ago on the rocks, trees, and Temple walls of Switzerland’s Jura Mountain, then under Roman occupation.

The poet was Honest Shores, a pagan hermit who begged for food at temples, lectured in the streets and often sang and drank with goatherds in the forested mountains.

Little is known about his life, except that he lived in relative poverty, despite having an education. He might have lived for a time as a tutor in a middle-sized Roman city, as he seems to understand societal ills that assailed the Roman Empire, even during its Golden Age (Cf. “Pax Romana”). However, all of this is speculations taken from the poems themselves.

This new translation of his work, despite being incomplete (This collection only including twenty poems, even though some sources suggest he wrote a thousand) significantly revises and updates the poems for a modern audience. Be not shocked if you see references to modern technology and problems, as the translator took some liberties to adapt old roman references for more contemporary counterparts.

Although he was educated, Honest Shores was derided at the time for using colloquial and vulgar forms of Latin in his poems. This suggests that, although he derided morals of his time, he never took himself too seriously. Likewise, the translator used an idiom that is clear, graceful, and neutral enough to last nineteen-hundred years more.

1

I’m lifting my drink

“The ancient generations

Sowed and Reaped

Until the soil became acidic

Then, they pierced the crust

Extracting the blood

Until the caverns collapsed

Now they send cars into space

Burning metric tons of fuel

The worst is

They lived peacefully

Enjoying the fruits of their labour

But us? We will live to see

The Earth becoming Venus

And with the sky filled with blood and smoke

The ocean licking my mat

And the woods burning

I will receive a message

From my manager that says:

‘Damn that’s crazy… Can you come in though?

We’re short-staffed tonight.’

So here it is

To the UMURANGI Generation!

The generation

That has to watch the world die!”

2

A lone boar

Amongst the woods of Neuchâtel

His fur, dull enough

Attracts no hunters

But healthy enough

So he attracts mates

Compared to others

His stature is small

But he hides in the bushes so well

Never the fighter

He is rather weak

But his tusks are sharp

So others don’t bother fighting him

Living his whole life

Unremarkable, unnoticed

Only when he dies

One may see the jewel

That was inside him

3

The marionette

Wanted to be a real boy

Without realizing that

His incarnation

Would not cut his strings

Even if it did

He would not move anymore

4

Those who pray

Jesus, Mohammad, Buddha

From whence did they come?

Some say “God”

Others say “Dieu”

Others still

Say “Allah”

Those are only words

Vibrations of air

Written names

On blank sheets

Absent of meaning

They’re helpful without being useful

To think them useful

Is to consider

The pointing finger

As the moon

5

Empty woods, no one in sight

Yet hear! The jingle of bells

From deep… Over there!

Filtered by the trees

The slant rays

Shine once more

And the sheep

Bell on his collar

Looks – inquisitive –

At his grass

That became golden

6

So young yet

One of my friends is getting married

He asks me

“When will you marry?”

I ask him

“When will you divorce?”

We both laugh for a different reason

Him: Because I am behind

Me: Because he is in front!

7

My dream house

Has a room

Turned into a library

Hundreds of books on each shelf

An old leather chair

Plants! As numerous as books

The light of the evening

And the wind

Filtered by the evergreen forest

Thus I will travel

Without ever leaving home

8

I settle for a studio

Lone in the empty city

Like the tailor bird

Were it to have the whole grove

It would settle on a single branch

9

Alone on its branch

The crow sings

Watching the people

The cold wind:

The only one who caresses him

10

The hermit drops by

Bringing drunkenness

At the same instant

That the welcomed notifications

Make the dusk for two

An evening for ten!

11

In the deep forest

An Oak sings

In the wind

But solitary

No one hears his song

12

Under the willows

Of the lake

A beautiful rock

Perfect for building

A palace

A temple

Or a hut

Forsaken by all

Caressed by the waves

At least it shelters mice

13

From below

The canopy seems ablaze

The autumn sunset

Makes redheads of us all

14

Without an effort

The duckling

Let itself go up and down

With the movement of the waves

15

To each tool its usefulness

The Lamborghini

Cannot park

Where the lil’ Twingo

Simply can

16

Wanting everything 

Doing everything

Experimenting

By experiencing all things

Zip gets done

A wave when it breaks

Added nothing to the sea

17

“Learn to code”

“When will you get your license?”

“Put some money on the side”

“Learn a new language”

“Take care of your mental health”

“Take care of your body’s health”

It is hard to make a ball

With dry sand

18

Reap the day!

Savour the instant!

Carped Diem!

If you only think about reaping

You’ll forget to sow

And end up with a wasteland

19

If you chase

Money, followers, wisdom

By gesticulating wildly

You’ll exhaust yourself

But see how

The branch most idle

Is the seat of many birds

20

In your library

You should have:

No Bible

No Qur’an

No Sutras

Rather than this poppycock

You’re much better off with my poems

Feel free to flash them up on your screen

And read them from time to time

NONNA (First-place winner of the poetry competition)

The shadow of grandma with her cane

Image: © Ivana Erard

Author: Ivana Erard

A year ago I wrote you a poem,

in an absurd language you don’t speak

They were

               happy sad words about who you 

were and 

               what I want to remember you by

                              [warm tea, childlike stories, 

                              laughter from the chest]

I could see those tiny cracks of the heart

When grief is approaching

Yesterday you asked me

                              [My head was on your lap; 

                              you were 

                              gently combing through my hair]

Polite, pause:

               Excuse me, 

               what is your name?

I swallow a scream and I smile

                              ‘Hello, 

                                            I am your Blood

                                                           and I am Stranger, 

                                            You gave me your eyes

                                                           and your curls

                                            I have your stubborn 

                                                           and your proverbs

                                            I am the daughter 

                                                           and the sister

                              Do you remember me?’

I see you running out of yourself, 

               fracture of the soul

and the 

               patient 

trickling down of

               sand 

in the

               hourglass.

Note to Myself

Pine trees in the snow

Image: ©️ “Naked Winter Trees” by Stanley Zimny (Thank You for 51 Million views) is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0. Source. 

Author: Valentin Jeanmonod

When anxious, don’t try to write alliterations: the sound of the pen on the page will not prove any pride.

Look at the sky every six hours, otherwise your eyes are worthless.

Don’t drink more than what knocks you off per day—or night—exception made for pregnant persons.

Look at the girl or at the boy next to you, fall in love with this person, then go back home and kiss your lover’s lips and fall in love again.

Think less about sex; more about texts.

Look at how sensual semicolons are.

Do follow some friend’s advice on fleeing fear. Then, the absurdity of life might lose its strong grip; smoke a Chest’–get some rest.

Smoke again, even though you really never should listen to written words…

However, you could try to write some words too, what about that train travel the other time:

“Great trees at great speed are gorgeous
I see through limbs the lighting sun
It shines and shadows enlighten
Our day whose closure is porous.”

I am the earth my mother walked on (Second-place winner of the poetry competition)

Image: ©️ “UP Turns 100” by ~MVI~ (warped) is licensed under CC BY 2.0. Source

Author: D.K.

I am the earth my mother walked on
The chalky snow on my young stripped shape
Her years of molding me
The shores of my memory, breaking like waves in the night

I am a body
Unknown scars, raw flesh, frozen bones
Legs that will turn to dust, hands that could hold the skies
I am a constant fading carcass, a peeling god
Made of oak and gold
My eyes are black stones in the long flood
Muster every muscle I must
To face the fear dwelling in my heart

I am a soul
That smells like rain and moves like smoke
The spirit of a herd of horses, the fervour of a crushing star
Violent, young, wild
It falls in the lands of the old stories
Where men fought death in the final red sunset

Anonymous Poems (Third-place winner of the poetry competition)

a red crabapple hanging on a branch

Image: ‘perfectly sugared and glazed crabapple’ © paul+photos=moody. Source

Author: Anonymous

India pale ale

Third-place winner of the poetry competition

Were hectic bitter undertones of a first swig
steadying for the exclamation that our four
feet would trip through an all-nighter and
your former swarm?
Foam swirled into complete ego burial or

the censure of any comparisons stuck on
under chins like unsolicited spittle. One
spewed as fruit flies drowned in drink rings,
plucked, sponged, wiped
away by bartenders with the promise of a

blithe night, so to relinquish limerence was the
embrace of scarce sweet nothings as I secured
hair you once adulated from streams of bile and
the sticky grips of duplicitous people. Outside,

our collective reeling did not wane with the ease
of moons, yet we were tethered to your unrestrained
insistence it would pass. Just as one announces that
all the pigeons are vanishing from town tomorrow.

§
§

To come to a crabapple’s aid

Tannic throughout, the orchard’s
horse marine, a tart fruit scattered
across threadbare canvases of

eroded soil can be saved from
composting neglect in the shrubbery’s
shade. Chopped, it froths and slushes

above warm pans, strained for juice
then boiled into jelly. Perhaps that
seemingly unpalatable character

waits upon a baker’s time with the
heat of stovetop endeavors, before
revealing their sweet ambrosia.