Copyright © 2005 by Saxifrage Paciﬁc Lutheran University Tacoma, Washington ALL RIGHTS RESERVED Saxifrage Volume 31 Saxifrage is an annual anthology featuring the work of students, faculty, and staﬀ at Paciﬁc Lutheran University. A volunteer staﬀ of students selected all work from over 375 submissions. ALL WORKS WERE JUDGED ANONYMOUSLY. Printed by the Johnson-Cox Company of Tacoma, Washington Cover designed by Anna Finley and Jamie Forslund “A Sort of a Song” by William Carlos Williams, From Collected Poems 1939-1962, Volume II Copyright © 1944 by William Carlos Williams Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation Previously published: “Fukuoka Says” by Marjorie Rommel, in Mr. Cogito
Editors’ Note WHILE WORKING on the order of this year’s book, we noticed that several themes kept reappearing in the diﬀerent works. Much of the writing seemed to center on the quintessential issues of love, loss, and—of course—the absurd, while the artwork consistently evoked depth and soul-searching. Yet despite the classic themes, none of the work felt tired or trite, a tribute to each artist’s ability to approach a world of universals with fresh eyes and an urgent voice. This freshness and urgency has let these artists and authors show that, like the ﬂower of William Carlos Williams’s poem, they can split through the rocks of hardship, repetition, and inexperience, and still succeed in bursting forth with beauty, originality, and authority. They have plunged their roots into the crowded soil of artistic expression and have brought forth something new. Where others saw graves, they have seen gardens. It is this cultivation, this celebration that has made Saxifrage a vital force in the PLU family for the last thirty-one years. This year we will be losing three of our most esteemed colleagues to the Elysian Fields of retirement: Megan Benton, Richard Jones, and Earl Lovelace. All three have been crucual to the development of Saxifrage, whether as founders, editors, advisors, mentors, or instructors, and each has left an unforgettable mark on PLU and Saxifrage. They will be sorely missed and gratefully remembered. This year has also seen the regrettable fading out of a weekly poetry open-mic, the exhilerating emergence of a student writing circle known as The Mark, and the overwhelming success of a series of writing workshops and professional readings. And throughout it all Saxifrage has continued to split the rocks, thanks especially to the aid of our untiring advisor, Solveig Robinson; our dedicated staﬀ; the wonderful folks at University Printing and Johnson-Cox; and all of our readers and contributors. You have reconciled the people and the stones.
A Sort of a Song Let the snake wait under his weed and the writing be of words, slow and quick, sharp to strike, quiet to wait, sleepless. â€”through metaphor to reconcile the people and the stones. Compose. (No ideas but in things) Invent! Saxifrage is my ďŹ‚ower that splits the rocks. William Carlos Williams
Rosemarie Daniel - UNTITLED - Staﬀ Choice
Mariesa Bus - LES RÊVES DE PIERRE
Nathan Bendickson - THE REALIST
Lorraine Homem - ANTHURIUM ANDREANUM, MOTHER’S DREAM
j. graham murtaugh - A MONKEY’S BUSINESS
Daniel Russell - SELLING IT
Jennifer Lynn Gray - WHAT IS THAT?
Elizabeth Boyd - HIGH
JP Kemmick - THE NOWHERE ELSE BAR
Karyn Ostrom - SOUND RUINS
Daniel Mooney - SAVE ME FROM SILENCE!
Shelli Mitchell - BUILT INTO YOUR WALLS
Stephanie Takase - RECONCILIATION
Kent Leatham - TENDING THE DETAILS - Staﬀ Choice
Jamie Forslund - SELF-PORTRAIT
Nathan Bendickson - SAVE THE PIECES
j. graham murtaugh - INTROVERSION
Stephanie Takase - TRUTH IS BEAUTY
Karyn Ostrom - SERIOUS
Scott Matsumura - FOR THE WORKFORCE
Alison Mandaville - THIS IS WHAT I WANt
Karyn Ostrom - WHO ARE THESE CHILDREN?
Marjorie Rommel - FUKUOKA SAYS
JP Kemmick - BECAUSE IT WASN’T
Clare Charles - PROFILE
Susan K. Allard-Nelson - FOR THE LIVING: A REQUIEM
Shelli Mitchell - LEAVE OUR FEET BENEATH
Jennifer Lynn Gray - HUNGRY GHOST
j. graham murtaugh - APOCRYPHA - Staﬀ Choice
Kent Leatham - POET LIKE A GOAT
Jamie Forslund - UNTITLED
Elizabeth Boyd - A LOVE POEM (BECAUSE I CAN.)
Abigail Fagan - ALLEGORY
TO CARNAL AND COURTLY LOVERS EVERYWHERE.
Mariesa Bus Les Rêves de Pierre while you sleep, my ﬁnger roams the landscape of your face like a wild woolly animal. ﬁnding it likes the rough terrain of your stubbly chin against its budding horns best, it grazes there until, growing thirsty, laps at the warm pool between your lips when a sigh frightens it to the smooth plain of your cheek. you wake and tell me you dreamt you were a shepherd boy in the hillsides of france. France! Fancy that, darling.
Nathan Bendickson The Realist parades down streets eternally under construction. Today he spies a headless woman. His well-tractioned shoes trip him up, pitching him headďŹ rst into an abstract hole in the broken cement. The acute woman leans down, extending her handâ€”softer than he imagined. Then he realizes how unrealistic reality really is.
Lorraine Homem Anthurium andreanum, Motherâ€™s dream
j. graham murtaugh A Monkey’s Business a monkey’s underwear, much like a cricket player’s, must be able to breathe, what with so much movement. it also requires, in addition to charming banana designs, an extra hole, for, you know… monkeys, by the way, are known to eat crickets, though they rarely understand the scoring.
Daniel Russell Selling It You wrote a “this is how I’m feeling” poem Xeroxed oﬀ a hundred copies And sold them at a “this is how I’m feeling” poem stand Along the street for 50 cents each Your parent were so proud Looking out at you from the doorway Set up for business at the edge of the front lawn Waiting patiently for the ﬁrst opportune customer To happen along Our little boy is learning the laws of supply and demand How cute, how beautiful, how constructive You beam optimism from your matchstick table Poems laid out in carefully arranged stacks Exclamatory sale sign squirming in the wind You’re so proud of your money-making scheme— Throw emotions down onto paper Add a fancy signature That little cup just begging for quarters Our little boy is learning how to manufacture feelings for proﬁt How cute, how beautiful, how American And of course, each Xeroxed word contains your quivering emotion Each desperate syllable chock full of your childish frustrations Your mass-produced piece of word art Brimming with the honest intensity of true passion
Daniel Russell Passion not given over to fading after multiple photocopies Passion that stands strong even as it is spit out of the slot Over and over again in the mechanical ďŹ‚urry That follows when you enter one-zero-zero, And press the green Copy key You look over at the horizon with a twinkle in your eye And see them crest the sun-drenched hill in a mirage of movement A caravan of SUVs and sports cars Shuttling toward your emotion booth Dragged there by the magnetic force of your factory-bread outcry Quarter-ďŹ lled hands hanging out of rolled-down windows Your booth is destroyed in an avalanche of pocket change
Jennifer Lynn Gray What Is That?
Elizabeth Boyd High HER NAME IS FELICITY, which means Joy. She’s sitting on the front porch with bleached-blonde hair, a lime-green bikini, and a hookah the size of Idaho. “I kicked the cocaine habit,” she tells me as she hugs me. Then she laughs in that way that she has, and leads me inside saying, “Look! We have kittens!” She reaches into the refrigerator and pulls out a fudgesicle, explaining as she unwraps it that she’s on a new diet where she can only eat frozen foods. Apparently it takes your body more energy to digest frozen food, so that you burn oﬀ the same amount of fat that you take in by eating the damn thing in the ﬁrst place. At least it’s not the binge and barf diet any more. I ask her about her parents, her boyfriend, her jobs. I had to leave home to ﬁnd out how weird it is. Now that I have returned, I’m convinced that it is entirely possible to overdose on breathtaking beauty. The ﬁrst thing that you see upon entering Summit County— it doesn’t matter which pass you take to get there—is the big round mountain that they call “Mount Buﬀalo.” It looms over everything like a massive, white…buﬀalo. It’s beautiful; it really is. You can walk down to the lake and look at the too-blue sky reﬂecting oﬀ the sparkling water; Buﬀalo’s swimmy image set against it like cardboard. That’s what the mountains are like: cardboard cutouts, too real to actually exist. Across the lake from Buﬀalo there is a town, perched deﬁantly on the higher slopes of the valley. It was once at the bottom of the lake, and some people think that it would be better if it were still there. Most people, though, enjoy its sunny location, where you can hear the gentle clink of the marina night and day. Its elevation is 9,521 ft. I don’t know who measured it, or how, but the fact is that at that altitude you can see the stars shining like fractured diamonds against the velvet sky, when you breathe in deeply you can feel your lungs protest as a hollow ache 9
Elizabeth Boyd in your back, and when you sleep you wake up every hour or so. That’s called sleep apnea; and that’s what being high is all about. I remember one time, in the fall, when the air was growing colder than the water of the reservoir so that every morning and every evening the vapor from the surface of the lake would billow upwards in great smoky towers and spill over the dam road like steam oﬀ a bubbling cauldron, I was driving home from rehearsal and I was angry. It was nighttime; the moon was shining through the mist, its reﬂection shimmering like silver dropped carelessly on a linoleum ﬂoor. I drove to the marina, where the boat ramp plunges down into dark water. I stood there, watching the reﬂection of the moon, feeling the cold ﬁngers of water vapor twist and curl around me, making my ears and nose red and my ﬁngers numb. In that moment I could imagine the moonlight to be a path, and the lights of the cars driving the twisty road on the opposite shore to be the lights of some fairytale world that was almost within reach. I was living in a fairytale world, but I didn’t realize it at the time. I was completely surrounded by retired yuppies, ski bums, or athleticomaniacs. Athleticomaniac is a word that I just made up to describe those people who think about nothing but the next adrenaline rush as they careen at unseemly speeds down the side of a tree-covered slope with a cliﬀ at the bottom. These are the people you can trust. They have something behind them, something pushing them forward, even if it is just gravity and the fear of being seen as losers. The people you need to watch out for are the ski bums. Sometimes those of us who are born innocent, but have the privilege of life in Summit County forced on us at a very young age, turn into ski bums. Summit County produces two kinds of people: those who can’t stay, and those who can’t survive anywhere else. I’m one of the ones that escaped; Felicity is one of the ones that didn’t. There was one night while I was still in high school that she and I went to her house between school and rehearsal. I had some things 10
Elizabeth Boyd that I was questioning. I don’t know what was going on in her mind. We ended up on her bed in her basement with Linkin Park playing at unmanageable decibels, and before I knew it, most of my clothes were on the ﬂoor. She dug her ﬁngernails into me and left little half-moon marks on my back and shoulders. Skip ahead a year or two. She’s just introduced me to her hookah, and she’s pulled a shirt on over her blinding swimsuit. My throat is sore from the smoke that she blew into my mouth—I’m not used to this kind of thing, even if I sometimes pretend to be a badass. She’s on the phone with her mom, reassuring her that just because she works in a head shop it doesn’t mean she’s into “that kind of thing.” My head is spinning. It might be the smoke, it might be the altitude, it might be the fact that I’ve been out in the real world long enough that I can actually see that the mountains are only cardboard cutouts, and all I want to do is knock them over so that they smash the entire county ﬂat. Felicity sees me staring at them. “You’re not mad at me, are you?” she asks, which is her way of asking what I’m thinking. “No,” I reply, “I’m just looking at the mountains. I’d forgotten how beautiful this place is.” She laughs and grabs my hand and pulls me outside, telling me that we need to talk about something. I look at her and she blushes. I’m remembering the time that I told her I liked women, and she wouldn’t talk to me for a week because she didn’t want me to start getting ideas in my head; because she didn’t want me to hurt myself and my family; because—though I’ve added this one to the list of my own accord—that might say something about her. I let her berate me, and on the days that I felt like I needed to hurt her in return, I reminded her of the time she swallowed a whole bottle of ibuprofen in the middle of the night and I felt guilty for months because I’d failed her again. “I’ve been thinking about you a lot,” she tells me. We’re walking down by the docks and the sun is intense and orange in the places where it cuts through the trees and falls across the bike path. I know 11
Elizabeth Boyd what she’s going to tell me, and I know that it’s just another fairy tale like everything else in this goddamn place. Someone throws a ball for his dog, and the dog splashes into the water after it. Felicity holds my hand, and when a cyclist passes us, she giggles and says, “We look like we’re lovers.” I want to ask her what we are, then, if not that. This is the ﬁrst time I’ve seen her in a year, and nothing feels any diﬀerent. This is the ﬁrst time I’ve been back to the county, and it’s been encased in a snow globe, it feels like nothing has changed, like time stood still for a year while I was gone. Even though I know that’s not true, even though I know that there have been blizzards and car accidents and babies born and skiers killed and ﬁres burned, I can feel the county batting me back and forth like a cat playing with a mouse; laughing at me, threatening every moment to swallow me whole again. If we’re not lovers, then what are we? We’re like Tybalt and Mercutio. We’re enemies to the bone, we hate every part of each other, every conversation ends in violence; and yet, when the curtains are drawn and Shakespeare isn’t watching, we’re making love on the catwalk of the theater with all of the lights shining on us and staining us purple and orange and red and blue. “Felicity,” I try to tell her, but she kisses me instead and I don’t know whether I want to scream or to laugh. I sometimes wonder if I make myself into a guinea pig, or if it’s just something that happens naturally. No matter. In Summit County, they say “Go with the ﬂow.” I’ve spent the majority of my life trying to go with the ﬂow; and now, in this moment, with Felicity’s mouth smashed against mine, her breathing heavy against my face, I can feel myself sinking like lead. I am falling, softer than a snowﬂake, back into the world of my youth, back into the icy patterns etched on midwinter window frames; back into her whispered threats and shouted love poems. They always say that the best way to survive an avalanche is to swim like hell. In avalanches, there are no such things as life preserv12
Elizabeth Boyd ers, so when your life is running away with you like a mountain goat on speed, your options are limited. You have to swim like hell, because otherwise, the snow will close in over your head, and you’ll forget that daylight ever existed. I kissed her back. Then I vowed never to see her again. “Why?” she sometimes asks me in my dreams; and I can feel my resolve wearing thin. Thin like the air at nine thousand feet. Thin like the store clerks who hide behind dumpsters in the middle of winter to breathe in the snow, sniﬀ a couple of times, light a cigarette, and then paint on a smile to go back to work. Thin like the ice on the reservoir when the water has cooled to air temperature and all of the mystical, magical steam has dissipated into nothingness. “Because it was always all about you,” I tell her in those dreams. Even though, really, it was all about me.
JP Kemmick The Nowhere Else Bar And the clown pounds down a whiskey on rocks While lyrics drift from the jukebox That only accepts Spanish doubloons In the corner darts are thrown At a bull’s-eye that blinks Smoke hovers thick Until it’s sucked in And expelled as smoke rings By the angel with sooty wings Scribbling on the bathroom wall Is mainly written in Latin And you dare not look too long at the mirror Women with short skirts hover in droves Until the morally rigid ﬁreman Douses them with his hose The drinks are mixed with a wand That once belonged to Merlin And all the misﬁts of time And the riﬀraﬀ of eras past, present and future Can enjoy a drink In odd company
Karyn Ostrom Sound Ruins
Daniel Mooney Save me from silence! Words thicken like sour milk, drip down my chin in chains of broken phrases, and are lost to all but the sickly stray lapping letters at my feet. Eyes scream panic, plead with you to wipe the words from my mouth, lick your ﬁngertips, and ﬁnd them sweet and complex, a ﬁne wine to you, the only connoisseur of what I have to say.
Shelli Mitchell Built Into Your Walls When you slumber in the night I will stand on Mamalahoa highway Awaiting a dusty pickup truck A man will ask if I want a ride and when I Take my seat he’ll oﬀer me a cigarette I’ll tap its end upon my ﬁnger tips and when lit I’ll inhale A diﬀerent kind of burning I will wish myself away Tired of playing with ﬁre And when the kamainas leave Gin at your feet You’ll raise your glass to me swirling I will run down the mountain Trailing blisters and burns Below my feet Slide myself into the makai and spread My black arms to drift Away but Lono Shall arise from beneath the tide to harden my blood, skin Shedding black grains of sand, Halemaumau Building walls to surround me Every night I will hitchhike Only to awaken in your bed 17
Stephanie Takase Reconciliation
Tending the Details When our neighbors died— one from AIDS and six months later his partner, a bartender, in a head-on with a drunk— their ashes were scattered in the ﬂowerbeds in front of their house, and I suppose you could discuss the beautiful clichés but I wonder more about the couple that bought the house and the wife in a sundress on her hands and knees arranging Richard and Bruce.
Jamie Forslund Self-Portrait
Save the Pieces OUR PLANET’S RESOURCES are both ﬁnite and unevenly dispersed. Every piece of clothing, every kilowatt of electricity, is a luxury that some enjoy and others do not. This is why I aim to live simply. I strive to minimize, to reinvent, to use contact lenses and breakfast cereals for weeks, even months past expiration dates. If I had kids, it would go like this: “What do you mean, you need new clothes? Come here, let me put a safety pin here, and here... and here. See! Like new.” I maintain that we must ﬁght the inequality of wealth in big ways, but small ways, the tiny sacriﬁces, don’t hurt. To illustrate, I’d like to tell you about my toaster—my seasoned champion, my breakfast machine. With loyalty it served my family for years, only to wind up in the pantry with the other “Honey, I don’t think we should use our 25-year-old wedding gifts anymore” appliances. As I recently moved into my own apartment, I prepared by scouring the pantry for as many of these forsaken appliances as possible. Thus the toaster became mine. And then it broke. One might expect that I immediately discarded it with plans to purchase a newer, shinier model. But no. My toaster didn’t stop working—it merely broke. The latch that held the lever down, the retainer of knowledge of the exact moment at which to relent and allow the golden slices to leap forth in victory, stopped holding the bread in place. After depressing the lever that morning, I was surprised to ﬁnd its latch, the key component of my veteran appliance, resisting like a spoiled child. It made a clicking sound when it should have caught, then popped up, rejecting my breakfast plea outright. This made me very sad. But after a moment or two of terrible, internal grief, I shook myself. Something should be done. Something must be done. With a few fumbled motions, I discovered that, while my toaster no longer functioned in the simple, precise manner it once 21
Nathan Bendickson did, it still toasted bread. All it took was a replacement part—one human ﬁnger—to complete the operation. So I stood, left hand jammed in my pocket, right hand maintaining the temperamental lever, myself incorporated in the toasting process. Upon reaching the desired temperature, the toaster released a buzz that sounded remarkably like a choking man, signaling that the toast was done. I was still very sad, but I had toast, which cheered me up. In the following days I became accustomed to the new toasting procedure. I cooked my eggs, then worked the toaster, instead of doing both simultaneously. Inconvenience, you say? Hardly. I ﬁgured it was the least I could do. At best I hoped to be an example to my friends. Don’t let planned obsolescence get you down. Now this would be the end of my story, except then it happened again—only this time it was the metal casing. An unwitting elbow in a rambunctious card game sent my toaster sailing, down, down, hitting the kitchen ﬂoor with the impact of a car crash, splitting an entire side open, exposing the coils and wires. The moment of disbelief, in which the event has happened but the mind is still humming quietly to itself, was heavy in the kitchen. All at once I wept, cursed Travis for ruining the game—I was winning, I had them nibbling from my palm—and marveled at the exposed innards of my toaster. Such a delicate, complicated machine. So helpless, so innocent. I picked it up, nursing it like a child, and plugged it in—nothing. I exchanged glances with my comrades, and we all knew the game was over. I would not leave my toaster’s side until I had done everything I could to give it life, to make those coils once again hum with the vibrancy of electric heat. Perhaps if my hands held another toaster, if I hadn’t already given so much, I would have buried it then. But no—I dismissed my friends to the dark, lonely street below, and set to work. The logistics of what happened next are diﬃcult to describe. Be content to know that, through trial and error, I developed a sys22
Nathan Bendickson tem. Placing a towel on my thighs to protect from heat, I now hold the toaster between my legs, forcing the fractured rectangular prism into a normal shape, correctly connecting the broken wires—all while holding the lever down. I pray that my phone never rings during the 90 seconds that I maintain this compromised position. (“You couldn’t reach the phone because you were doing what?”) Truly, I look forward to my toasting time now more than ever before. It’s become a time for reﬂection, for meditation. The electric warmth between my legs gives me reason to live. Even so, the sailing hasn’t become smoother, and I doubt it ever will. Today, while gliding through my reverie, communing with my appliance, quite pleased with myself, the choked buzzing startled me. I jumped, yanking the cord just so, accidentally tearing it in half like the tail of a dead animal. No! my mind screamed. I will not give up this toaster! Resolute, I grabbed another slice of bread, placed it inside, assumed the toasting position, and bit the frayed cord between my teeth. Concentrating, I converted my own life energy into an electric current to power the toaster. It felt peculiar, like chewing a raw onion, like a raw onion chewing me, biting my throat and up into my nose. I likely lost more energy in the transfer than the toast replenished afterwards, even topped with peanut butter, but still—it worked. It really worked.
j. graham murtaugh Introversion
B&W Photograph Sepia Toned
Stephanie Takase Truth is Beauty
Karyn Ostrom Serious
Scott Matsumura For the Workforce
Alison Mandaville This Is What I Want to know you means. This is what they wanted to say in the Bible: Genesis, Exodus— we turned it into sex. I want to dig you on a Turkish farm, traveling the Mediterranean edge for vegetables, stop for the milk cow paused in the road. Here a girl sits under a shade tree gathering relatives, wet melon pieces on a white cloth. We join, I watch and imitate the farmer’s wife, stretch and stab with the communal knife then close my lips on the ground blade, emptying melon into me to get something back—a bloody sweet taste, the girl watching me wince: Her sharp face.
Karyn Ostrom Who Are These Children? Before the child became a tenor, he dreamed of beds covered with cruel comic books and rotting fruit, where he slept between his brother and the sun, with one hand between his sad legsâ€”the other, between his brotherâ€™s. When his brother left for war in June, the tenor delighted in summer words and still evenings, model airplanes and vanities, turning the screw and consuming pears, and men who walked like women. When the sun resigned itself to their fatherâ€™s churchyard of clover and hash and winter words, and bedtime, his brother slept beneath quilts of grass and Bibles, riddles, and larks. Across the sea, the tenor sang himself to sleep.
Marjorie Rommel Fukuoka Says A small man with ďŹ‚y-away white hair, Masanobu Fukuoka lives in a tiny hut surrounded by citrus trees. Each spring and fall since the Great War forty years ago he sows barley, rice, rye, then retires to lie content on his hillside in one of three kimono he still owns. Nature is perfect, Fukuoka says. Human knowledge is meaningless. Become a foolish man, then you can understand, see what must not be done. Fukuoka-san says there is only one last chance to save the world: We must take over the bombers, throw away our implements of war, pack the missiles with seeds of vegetables, fruit trees and grain, shoot them up into the ozone. Spread seeds over all the earth. Scatter seeds in the deserts. Cover the green imitation pastures and concrete lawns with seeds. When the rains come, the world will once more be a jungle. In the second year, each seed will choose its own best place and in the third year small animals will increase, worms beget 32
Marjorie Rommel worms, their generations breaking the rubble of superhighways and shopping malls, and the earth will be green again. Fukuoka says we are holding tight to the tail of a plow horse running fast away from Eden, no time left for anything now, only sowing seed, spreading straw. When there is enough food for every man, woman, child, bellies everywhere ﬁlled with the fruits growing closest to their hoes and hands, people won’t be so uneasy. First, ﬁx this ailing Earth, Fukuoka says. Then there can be peace.
Note: Masanobu Fukuoka is author of The One-Straw Revolution.
JP Kemmick Because It Wasnâ€™t Remarkable because it wasnâ€™t one of those moments when his insides turned and his heart began to keep double time Remarkable because it usually did But she naturally rested in his arms sunk there like he was a chair she had been falling asleep in for years He smelled her hair and untangled its curly strands from his tongue And they were peaceful entangled like sheets in the wind left on the clothesline to dry
Clare Charles ProďŹ le
Susan K. Allard-Nelson For the Living: A Requiem I stood beside your headstone, expecting visions. Elusive images, reborn, capturing the warm scent of childhood, and a frail damp crewcut forgotten by adolescent curls. The distant laughter of a bygone joke, replayed, quietly mocking the desperate need to touch, completing the reality of a death I believed to be yours. Gray letters, perfectly carved, answer— the visions eternally trapped in your brother’s smaller hand. Standing naked at your mother’s graduation, we pause cheering blindly, consuming the passion of anger, pride. Convinced that we hear your congratulations, certain, we do not. Honored, she is white capped and small, a healer. We raise our glasses, a gesture resigned and futile, the champagne dancing and speaking of peace. We gasp. Choking on the memory of its lesser cousin, illusion cracks. Mortality at a quarter a glass. Seduction, escape. Ignorance? Sheltered by euphoric dreams of strength, power. In ageless deﬁance you ﬂed from subtle wisdom, trapped by the inevitable failings of speed, steel, and human blood. The quiet 36
Susan K. Allard-Nelson brother writes poetry, gently disguising the white, sterile, nightmare, pulsating with mechanical life. Holding a ﬂower, I touch the cold smooth surface of marble, the oﬀering ancient, soothing. It is not for you but for the death I believed to be yours. I leave and carry the vision of your mother’s vacant eyes.
Shelli Mitchell Leave Our Feet Beneath 1. Struggling below the earth he came from dirt. Worm swam on his belly shoveling with his mouth shoveling big shoveling death past his hearts like burning incinerators. “Stir the land,” he hinted and dove beneath rock and the wet like roots burrowing to ﬁll their cups half way full. 2. The worm would make his mark if he had toes. 3. Who told us to stay young when we were young? And asked us to wear shoes to hide our toes thick in wool, 38
Shelli Mitchell suďŹ€ocated in cotton. We should have tucked our toes in blades of grass or wrapped them in the falling leaves. For we were too busy burying the crabs below the sand to leave our feet beneath the grains. 4. The worm would make his mark if he had toes. He divides himself instead. 5. What if I were to untie these laces laces like tiny vines coiling, clinging and place my sole upon the dirt? Take my biggest toe take my nails take my heel take smash them into the soilâ€™s digestion a stir and a press within the dirt remembered. Then I will know amidst moist clumps and the sodden earth the conquering of blackened prints.
Jennifer Lynn Gray Hungry Ghost
j. graham murtaugh
Apocrypha WE FOUND IT in the hedge, in the alley behind Adam’s house, walking back from the 7-11 on the corner. It had rained earlier in the day, anointing our neighborhood with a fresh coat of living water that dripped from trees and drainpipes, collecting in small pools to shimmer and glint like bits of broken sunlight. The rain was colder then, the kind that lies in wait to soak into socks, drip down unprotected necks: Fall. Slogging up the alley, our hands full of Slurpees and candy that would soon careen through our bloodstreams, we saw the red of its covers bleeding through the wet-green of the rhododendron hedge. It was farther back, crammed between branches that twisted like they were holding onto a secret, rolled up to protect its sweet innards, lovingly hidden to be retrieved later. We knew instantly what it was. Or at least we hoped. Even in junior high there’s a sense, a feeling that starts beneath your heart, oscillating between your thighs and the pit of your stomach, making you feel dangerously warm and alive in a prickly sort of way. Before we rock, paper, scissored; before I reached in carefully, so carefully, losing the back cover in the mass of guardian branches as I pulled it out; long before I shoved it in the back of my jeans, underneath my shirt, and stole back to the dark and newfound sanctity of my room; and eons before I opened its gleaming pages, molding and slimy; before any of this had happened, we knew what it was. So much red; so much black and red and ﬂesh. So much… Its pages were torn and dirty, smeared like the rain had tried to wash away a forgotten treasure. It was heavy; its pages were not glossythin and bright like the ones they kept in plastic bags behind the counter at the Texaco station or the 7-11. It smelled like ink and moss and wet; it smelled like sin, a dull red, aching sin that I would carry with 41
j. graham murtaugh me for weeks before I tore it apart, depositing it in sections in garbage cans at the library across the street from my house. We lost ourselves there in the alley, in the wet slapping of moldy pages as they turned, moving us into new worlds we had imagined and sometimes seen on scrambled TV stations late at night, pretending to sleep, but watching with eyes and ﬁngers wide awake with hungry tension. We would whisper to each other, carefully moving the bent rabbit ears, taking turns holding them so the other might be the lucky one. The constructions, the images we’d pieced together of maybe-thighs and almost-butts and, the highest prize, half-a-boob or, for a split second, even a full set; these things were blown away. We had been lounging with Plato, tracing shadow puppets, and now, suddenly, we were bathed in the dirty reddish glow that dulled our features and ﬁlled our heads. As men for all history have done, we fought there over a woman. Well, over many women, a whole ﬂock of them. And it wasn’t a ﬁght, really, there were no punches thrown, no blood was shed; no, this was far too important to risk raising any sort of alarm. It was a battle of pleading, of sharp whisperings and ﬁnger pointings and promises of returns in two days. Really, it came down to who was more desperate. I was careful then, not like later, not like in high school; those were diﬀerent days – nights of electric sweat and keeping a wary eye on the door, an ear to the upstairs while the printer kicked around noisily in the middle of the night, when the modem would scream alarms as it connected, when my nerves were on the brink of quitting altogether. No, that ﬁrst time, when the weight of promise was heavy in my hands, I was careful. I waited until late at night, with my door closed and locked, my blinds pulled tight. I moved slowly, up on the balls of my feet, my room seeming bigger than I ever remembered. Reaching behind my bookshelf where I had carefully stored it, wrapped in a paper sack, I removed it from its hiding place. In the small pool of light from the nightstand lamp, I felt my eyes grow big and my brain shudder 42
j. graham murtaugh just for a moment, so slightly that I could barely feel the beginnings of the atrophy that would come to dominate me. No, the constrictions that would attack my mind, that would shut down functions in order to focus, had not come yet; this was gradual, like smoking, like internal genocide, and I would not see it for years, not for years. But that ďŹ rst time was like encountering the sacred; that night, if I had known of Adam and the Garden, I would have nodded as if we understood each other, as if we shared some intimate secret that made us men. For now I knew, I understood the power of knowledge, I could see it burning in all its pink and red and satin and leather glory, lighting the edges of my room and dripping from the ceiling. I had tasted and had not been satiated.
Kent Leatham Poet like a Goat When he was sick, his friends brought him ﬂowers. He ate them. When he was well, they brought him poems. He ate them, too. He ate the food put down for the dog, and, when the dog lay sleeping, tried for the golden broom of tail. He ate the slippers his wife arranged by the bed; he ate, petal by petal, his wife each morning. He ate the poppy-seed words out of songs and the cellophane wings oﬀ of prayers, and, when he died, he ate the ﬁrst angelic earthworm that tickled the digestion of his sleep.
Jamie Forslund Untitled
White Pencil on Black Paper
Elizabeth Boyd A love poem (because I can.) That is… I have an idea. Let’s pretend that we’re in the maﬁa: two low-down henchmen that aren’t allowed to do anything, so that we have to sneak around our superiors and hide behind the cocaine shed when we neck. We can wear long, billowing black trench coats and we can have perfectly clipped little moustaches. When it rains, we’ll stride conﬁdently across the gleaming asphalt, humming our very own rousing theme song. We’ll have guns on our hips and blood on our hands, warm and sticky from the evening’s dark business. That way, when my ﬁngers stray to the back of your neck I’ll have something tangible to knot up my stomach. And then on some dark, moonless night, we’ll escape. We’ll grasp each other’s bloody hands and run away from the prying eyes and the questioning glances, and our angry superiors will melt into intangible nightmares. That way, when you kiss me behind the old playground nothing will matter more than your lips against my neck. Or perhaps… Let us pretend that we are an upholstered white sofa grown on a sofa farm somewhere in middle america by two round-bottomed farmers and their ten polite children, who would be shocked to hear what their sofa is doing now. 46
Elizabeth Boyd We could live in a ﬁne sitting room, all full of ladies and tea. Or in a dark basement, our fabric ﬂickering blue from the glow of the television screen, our middle sagging from the weight of so many college students piled high like apples atop us. After one of their drunken parties, they could lift us up onto their shoulders and carry us to some new and exciting place, like the middle of a ﬁeld, so we can sit and watch the passing people; our white fabric changing slowly to green from the rain and mildew. People, paired oﬀ into groups of two, will probably stare as they pass, wondering what we are doing in the middle of that ﬁeld, curious of our presence. They may even come over to look closely at us, hoping to ﬁnd an answer hidden somewhere in our decaying fabric. But we won’t have to say a word of explanation. People don’t expect unexpected sofas to explain their actions. They just wonder, and move on. Then again… Let us pretend that we are a ribald and raucous sea chantey Sung by some gruﬀ and grimy sailors while they labor on a wind-tossed Spanish caravel somewhere far away from land in the pearly light of early morning on the gray Atlantic Sea. We will be packed full of obscene language meant only to oﬀend shouted hoarsely and gladly toward the uncaring matte blue sky, the beat of our tune a tool to keep exhausted hands at attention our speciﬁc melody unimportant except as the carrier of our tale. We’ll ﬂoat up until we’re pulled into the North Atlantic trade winds our substance a mere cloud of voices tripping through the salty air; 47
Elizabeth Boyd nomadic, following only the patterns of the planet’s currents, settling every now and then like a seagull on some unsuspecting ear. No one will ever be able to catch us and pin us down, our words will go into no dusty anthologies for posterity’s sake because we are no more than a moment’s half-forgotten shadow to be seen and known while it is necessary, and then to be whisked back into the storm. Our existence is relative; to the world we’re just another story. Told, and then forgotten. And to the world, we need not be more.
Abigail Fagan Allegory
Contributors Susan K. Allard-Nelson has taught philosophy and writing at PLU since 2000. She has published two books and several poems, but the only royalty checks she has ever seen were made out to her husband. Still, she lives in hope. Nathan Bendickson advocates bare feet over well-tractioned shoes any day. Not only is it less dangerous than you think, but it promotes sensitivity and awareness. On his 21st birthday he drank only one beer with his brother, and then the cafe owner chewed him out for entering the establishment barefoot. Liz Boyd would like to be an active verb. Mariesa Bus* was born at a young age in a land far away to two longlegged linguists. She regrets ﬂunking out of the 6th grade spelling bee on purpose. Her literary claim to fame is helping Louise Erdrich pick out a sandwich. Louise had turkey with sprouts on wheat. Mariesa had a muﬃn. *Actual last name.
Clare Charles is a senior, majoring in art, and is honored to be a part of this year’s Saxifrage. Her plans for post-graduation include restoring freedom and justice to the galaxy and sleeping in. Rosemarie Daniel: Viva la Pﬂeuger. Abigail Fagan is a Canadian, born in Connecticut, and permanently addressed in Montana. She quite likes water and words, and eats a lot of carrots when distanced from her mother. On that note, she would like to thank her mother for the camera. It rocks her socks oﬀ.
Contributors Jamie Forslund: Inspired by a true story. Jennifer Lynn Gray is a sophomore English Writing major, who feels she may have missed her calling as a photographer. A unique person with a unique perspective on the world, she constantly strives to bring this viewpoint into both her writing and photography. She loves Ewoks and the Batman universe. Lorraine Homem: Friends are: Irvin and JZ aka bros, Kruegers—sisters, Whitney—kindred spirit, JK and ES medicine, Bill Jeanette & Charles—cousins and Luke :) the one who makes me smile and gives me peace… the list goes on, but if you know them, then you know me and that’s my biography. JP Kemmick is kind of hard to explain. He’s occasionally crazy and always crazy occasionally. He is a sophomore: that we know for sure. He would like to thank you for reading and he hopes that today is your special day. Poodles, peace, and always love. Kent Lea•tham \kent la-thum\ (1984) n 1 : a junior PLU English major 2 : a shoulder for poems to land on vb 3 : a co-editor of Saxifrage -- Kent.ish \ken-tish\ adj This year Alison Mandaville took the Lutheran plunge and taught at PLU. Thanks for the marvelous sense of community and for all the students who cheerfully, though occasionally reluctantly, embarked on “creative” project assignments. Claim your language. Be speciﬁc. Have fun. Peace. Scott Matsumura enjoys ﬁne dining and moon lite walks on the beach. He is an outgoing, active and open minded upstanding citizen who loves technology but not as much as you you see. 52
Contributors Shelli Mitchell, an English major minoring in Latin, is fond of sandals, loathes socks, and ﬁrmly believes that going barefoot should be practiced on a regular basis. At this point in his life, Daniel Mooney is interested. When he grows up, he’d like to be interesting. j. graham murtaugh thanks you for reading his words and ms. jamie forslund for making his visage on a toilet qualify as “art.” go ﬁgure. and, not to get all political, but…down with the Capitalists! Karyn Ostrom, a senior English major, will be moving to New York City next month to work in a law ﬁrm. She has high aspirations, but will not tell you what they are for fear that you might laugh. But be assured, they are very high. Among numerous other accomplishments, Marjorie Rommel has served as a beloved and esteemed visiting English professor at PLU. She is currently enjoying a good cup of tea. Daniel Russell has been searching ceaselessly for the most genuine, least hackneyed phrase to utter. After years of sweat and toil he ﬁnally discovered the answer. This most perfect of phrases? “Can’t beat crab meat!” Try it with your friends sometime. Feel the truth of it trip liltingly oﬀ the tongue. Stephanie Takase, with sincerity and a bit of silliness, would like to thank D. Cox for imparting to her the sweat and glory of printmaking, and the gaggle of writers that make The Mark for their talent and good times. She loves them as much as England. Cheers.
Editors: Jamie Forslund Kent Leatham StaďŹ€: Liz Boyd JP Kemmick Karyn Ostrom Daniel Wilson Graham Murtaugh Nathan Bendickson Mikaela Hanson Anna Finley Stephanie Takase Jen Gray Nathan Thomas Lucas Stonehouse Daniel Russell Adam Spry Dave Poole Kyle Duba Jake Bechtel Max Falkenberg Jessica Ward Advisor: Solveig C. Robinson
Saxifrage was set in Adobe Garamond Pro and Georgia. It was printed by the Johnson-Cox Company of Tacoma, WA.