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With this theme, we asked our writers to show us what we cannot see, from the hidden lines that connect us to the secret walls that keep us separate. We asked our writers to find the ghosts that haunt the edges, and to capture them before they disappear. We asked not just to see, but to be made to believe. And so they did. And so, we do.

What then lies beneath, behind, below? As it happens: loops and lives that endure as they dissolve; a clandestine rendezvous with God in a Taco Bell; “a minor war with minor consequences” that is anything but; a tender encounter between coyote and fox, and what it can teach us; a grandfather and his very last butterscotch; a dishwasher’s soapy musings; a long forgotten locket; and so, so many Elizabeths, tapping silent longings into their glowing cellphone screens. They are all here, as if pulled from a hat. Thank you, writers, for these magic tricks and revelations.

Our editorial team was tasked with similar astonishments; not to make the invisible visible, but to collect what is revealed before it disappears, like memory or a message on a mirror. Thank you, team, for your mail-order x-ray specs and your knack for transmutation. Thank you for your efforts, both seen and un.

And so, Reader, for you, a gift: If the box seems empty at first glance, reach in with your hands and see what you touch. There is what meets the eye or doesn’t, and there is much much more.



Wendy BooydeGraaff
Soap and Water

Livia Clark

Sophie Paquette
Anyway, You're Here

Kayla Rutledge
The Elizabeths

Despy Boutris
Poem Beginning with a Retweet

Joan Kwon Glass

Robin Gow
Necromancy of My Grandfather

Winshen Liu
Lunch at a Tavern

Reuben Gelley Newman
Frame Loop // Disintegration Loop

Caleb A.P. Parker
Elegy in a Yellow Kitchen

Elena Sichrovsky

 Rana Tahir


Andrew Zubiri
Empirical Evidence: An Abecedary


Michael Hurley

Senior Editorial Assistants
Patrick Fitzgerald
Akira Ritos
Emily Stutzman

Editorial Assistants 
Elena Brewer
Catherine Cabrera
Alex Carmona
Sofia Dietrich
Jackie Eaves
Yasmina Kacila
Mikayla King
Harrison Morg
Rachel Perkins
Jared Stickney
Jackson Thompson
Claire Van Der Laan
Jonathan Villa
Lou Zeh


  © Ninth Letter, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.