Untitled Ellise Johnston Symposium 2010 is presented by the Arts and Humanities student council. The publications team is: Caroline Diezyn, Editor in Chief Andrew Shaw, Managing Editor: Academic Zale Skolnik, Managing Editor: Creative Kayleigh Wilson, Copy Editor Inna Yasinski, Layout Editor and Cover Art “Symposium” is an annual literary magazine open to the submission of artwork, poetry, prose, photography and compositions from the students of the University of Western Ontario. All copyright remains with the creators. Disclaimer The sole responsibility for the content of this publication lies with the authors. Its contents do not reflect the opinion of the University Students’ Council of the University of Western Ontario (“USC”). The USC assumes no responsibility or liability for any error, inaccuracy, omission or comment contained in this publication or for any use that may be made of such information by the reader.
Oranges Amanda Martin Â So many words on a page and the smell of citrus enveloping. Iâ€™d rather smell forever than eat-In a moment, gone. Gone like summer. The leaves know. They fall and drip like the condensation on my cup of water, bleeding into the wood of the desk, as my pen bleeds into my paper, as the words bleed into my mind. How sweet.
In Memoriam Alysha Shiela Mcleod The archaic looking radio in your dusty garage manages to sputter out a faint announcement of news, weather and things that are entirely inconsequential to you now; the mechanical things kept in the black basement hum like insects. An assortment of oddities: paper clips, milk bags, and bread ties arrange seemingly formidable stacks that beckon to whoever dares to conquer them, they are indicative of a post-war mentality, the systematic emptying and drying and hanging and sorting and collecting of everything there is in case it comes in handy one day when the Russians or Germans or maybe even those “damn Irish” come and deprive us not of our lives- but of storage means? Bemused family members from other places came and they were so curious and cold, hollow like your big empty house. They only want to snatch up your piano and your porcelain, your protests were almost audible. I tried to write something sentimental when you died but it came out contrived, it was all too surreal, you see. You were tucked away in a hospital bed; the event was punctuation-less, an obituary that passed hands from a father (whose creases and lines betray more than age) to a bewildered daughter (“it happened on monday?”)...but it was wednesday already, and you were so far away. I had wanted to hold your fragile, translucent hand with its spider web-like veins in mine; but all those words that never were swirl around in my head, resisting articulation until they are just within reach, hazy, gone... And you are like your favourite mint ice-cream, a sweetness that smiled upon my stupid, petulant self (except when I dyed my hair black: “you look like Cher! How terrible!”). You are still so present, so ubiquitous, your essence is tangible, all of your quirks and your deep, resonating belly laughter live on in my head, and I miss you everyday.
Remembering Peter Amy Oldfield Peter and I walk down the road. I wear leather sandals while he goes barefoot, his shoes in hand. Hot asphalt steams against his feet, though he doesn’t seem to notice. We have missed our train now but neither of us hurry. The day is thick; the clouds press us into the ground. We are near the coast and the water laps like marbled steel onto the beach. Few fishing boats are out, still trying to catch the Snoek buried in the sea beds. I can see the faint outline of boats, sketches of them past the yellow-gray fog. My hair sticks to my face, coils of it damp on my neck. It is hot and I am sweating, sticking to the asphalt as we walk. We’ve missed the train; there will be another. Peter’s eyes droop and he sags as he walks. His skin is too big for who he is and the folds of it press on his eye brows and force him to scowl, force him to scowl or walk around drooping and letting it all go by, missing his trains and letting his feet steam on the asphalt as if he doesn’t care. I knock him with my arm, and we stick for a minute. The heat and the coast brought out the baby-pink and the babyfat in our arms and they’re soft and folded as they bump. Stick. Like they did when we walked this beach and ran for this train with bare feet on the asphalt, wincing as we went, screeching for the train. The soles of our feet were round, soft then. Toes hadn’t graduated from this-little-piggy. Still fit into androgynous little sandals. We dressed the same until we were 12. We’ve missed the train but we don’t run. Another will come. But when we ran as soft, androgynous, this-little-piggies there was something specific about that train. That precise train would take us home and it was only on that train that we could find a dime lodged between the seats or talk to the conductor and say with big cheese grins “Hello, Sam!” because we knew he was Sam. Sam was on the train at 3:45 and that was it. That was his train, where we could find dimes in the seats and swagger on with big cheese grins. Peter drooped, then, too. His skin grew like a pug’s and folded on his face and made him trip on himself when he ran screeching for a train. The 3:45 train, the precise train with Sam and the dimes that would take us home. I don’t remember then if clouds pressed us into the ground. I remember the sticky pink skin and the screeching and the thislittle-piggy toes hot on the ground and Peter starting to droop at my side as the fisherman cast their lines across the wharf, far enough away they looked like sketches past the yellow-gray fog.
Hobo man Jacob William Mckaig
A Short Curly Tale Adam Szymanski Once a healthy Babe, Young and Pink A piece of wet bacon in the sink
Knowledge Adam Szymanski Beyond Science Above it, below it The mystic knows a secret or two, But refuses to show it
What It Takes Tajalli C Barfoot
What You’ll Need: 1 micro-pipette 1 transfer catheter Mature eggs and a womb from Patient A (brunette, brown-eyed, 5’6’’, age 26, healthy) Mature sperm from Patient B (dark haired, green-eyed, 6’3’’, age 26, healthy but smoker) Needles (as required) of the following: - Chlomid * Lupron * Progesterone * Medrol * Doxycycline * hCG, *Antagon and Cetrotide 1 Petri dish Folic tablets Prenatal Vitamins Upwards of $15,000 Patience and love (limitless vault of) Procedure: Step 1: Stimulate the ovaries with a series of drug injections. Step 2: Retrieve eggs with micro-pipette. Step 3: Place acceptable eggs in incubator, along with the best of Patient B’s swimmers. (Step 3 ½: Become temporarily bipolar under the stress of anticipation.) Step 4: Wait three days until it is decided which embryos are normal. Step 5: Using micro-pipette, draw embryo into catheter. Insert catheter and transfer embryos to uterus of Patient A. Step 6: Remain in a sitting position for two hours post-transfer. Do not make any sudden movements. (Step 6 ½: Be exceptionally optimistic, even though the first three tries didn’t work.) Step 7: Pray that, upon a positive pregnancy reading, the hard-earned money wasn’t spent in vain, that the tears of anticipation and fear will soon be in joy, and the bruised butt and thighs, due to hormonal injections, will result in another nine months worth of needles, but ones that will leave you with a smile. Step 8: Lovingly incubate for nine months, give or take. Note: Begin prenatal vitamins. Do not drink coffee. Dream big for your child. While incubating, try to comprehend that this child, which began in a Petri dish, this speck, will grow to be too tall and be ridiculed, will be told she (she, as you’ll find out by the fifth month) will be told she’s less than feminine for her lack of breasts, that her pimples will make her grotesque to the kids who haven’t undergone puberty yet, will be teased for being smart and applying herself, and will be the “pushover” because it’s her way of trying to fit in. Imagine this child superficially hating you at times, even though you really are the best mother in the world, manifestation of this glowing in countless efforts and failures to conceive. Imagine this speck growing into someone who is lost, after you worked so hard to help it find its way into the world. But, also know that, one day, this speck will outgrow the confines of its Petri dish, of its womb, of its home, and make you proud. Know that it will, in time, become a rational being and intensely love you back, for she will grow up and not be so awkward, will become compassionate through life’s humiliating experiences, and independent and tough through her failures. Step 9: Relax. It will be worth it.
Black and White Jennifer Lorraine Fraser
Revelations Taryn Denise Tomorrow Erika M. Valliere Tomorrow I’m going to buy a plane ticket to Africa. I’m going to find a bushman and he will teach me everything he knows. I’m going to hunt gazelle and relax with the lions under the banyan trees. I’m going to sleep under each and every star’s breath and listen to the hissing of the trees and the bees and the things inside the trees and the empty full places panting with life. I’m going to slide deep inside a fox hole and see what it looks like when you watch the outside from within. I’m going to feel fear like the zebra who is chased by the leopard, who feels himself clawed down, growled and roared down and eaten from the inside out. I am going to forget who and what I am and run furious at the people who stare and wonder who and what and why. I am going to stop existing, and exist. Tomorrow I’m going to walk to the highway and hitch a ride with a trucker named Mike. Mike is going to drive me to New York City and I’m going to sleep in the cold, empty space under the Brooklyn bridge next to a bum who calls himself King Solomon. I’m going to walk around and down everything and everyone and I’m going to meet a girl named Bryce who will kiss me in time square and take me home to her apartment. Bryce has black eyes and calls herself B and writes erratic love poems on the roof in the rain and knows a guy who knows a guy who gets her the best weed in New York and we smoke together in the closet until it chokes us and then we fall asleep inside each other. Then I open the door and drift with the haziness back to the bridge where King Solomon has died in his sleep on his throne of words: H loves N, Free the People, On the Backs of Giants… Down down down into the water the words take me. Tomorrow I am going to find out that I am adopted and run off in search of my birth parents. I am going to find them in a country far away in unmarked graves. I am going to curl up and fall asleep beside them until I am woken up by a priest who tells me God understands then makes love to me on the alter in front of a crucified Christ. I drink mouthfuls of holy water and explore the depths beneath an ancient church made of blackened stone. I find bones and bones and a piece of paper with the word prayer written on it in a language I cannot understand but throbs with meaning. I pick it up and it crumbles to nothing in my hands. I run up into the mountains and meet the mountain men and learn their strange songs and dance with them naked in the snow while the moonlight bleaches us alabaster grey. I carry a child that I deliver into the arms of the river in a basket made of reeds and witchcraft and return to my family, asleep in an unknown place that I have never seen.
Everything Gets Funny Over Time Ryan Gaio I can’t wait till you become everything you hate. Like your sister, Or that guy you used to know. I asked him about you once. He said you called him your best friend, And said that You’d love him forever. He laughs at that now. He says everything gets funny over time. I asked him if he missed you and He didn’t answer, He just lit up a smoke but I think he does. Hard to tell, though, ’Cause he was wearing those glasses, With the black rims and the notes down the side (You remember the ones) And I couldn’t see his eyes. You always said eyes were the window to the soul.
Untitled Kristen Holland
But I asked him if he wanted me to tell you something If I ran into you again, Maybe on the street, Or on a train. He just smiled and said, “Tell her not to forget what I said about destiny.” Then he laughed. And I’ll laugh, too, When you become everything you hate. ’Cause everything gets funny over time.
Falling Under Nick McCallum Glen counts: One. Two. Three. Click. The barrel of his .38 shines with spit. His mouth tastes like a battery, that tin foil bitter. He washes it away with another swig of whiskey. Spins the chamber again. He counts: One. Two. Three. Click. The house is dark, is quiet, is blue with moonlight. His eyes are near puffed shut. He lets go the trigger and drops his arm beside him. It rests on a teddy bear, ears crusty from where they used to get gummed. Loose from being tugged at. The coffee table in front of him is cluttered with plastic bottles—the orange kind that say, Atkinson, Glen. Say, Zoloft. Say, Zyban. Say, Benzodiazepine. Say, Recommended Dosage. Black and yellow capsules mixed with blues and pinks and whites. The white ones can be crushed. They can be snorted. He swallows one of the pinks, powder sticking to his tongue like chalk. Whiskey. Glen can’t remember the last time he slept. His thoughts are submerged below the depths of medication. He catches brief glimpses of some, clearest right before they reach the surface of recollection. Before they ripple away and back into distortion. He feels heavy the way breathing under water does. Like he’s in a dream falling awake. The phone rings a punch through his silence, his sea of drowning memories. Hi, says a voice he hasn’t heard in months. The same voice that said, I can’t see you for a while. Said, You remind me too much of him. Said, I can’ t be reminded right now. Hi, Glen utters. Do you want to get a coffee? Dunno if that’ s a good idea. You’ve been drinking? Yeah. Please? Sure. Glen snatches up the bottle of blues, stuffing it in his jacket pocket. He sits the bear upright on the couch; runs his fingers soft across those ragged ears. Glancing down at the gun, he pauses. Fuck you, he says to it. He decides to walk. Doesn’t take the car. It’ s only a few blocks to the cafe. Some twenty-four hour dive where the coffee’s always best
reheated and you never ask for the day’s special. That place you only ever go to cure a hangover or to talk to your wife who you haven’ t seen since … The sign saying DINER struggles to keep itself alive humming white noise across the parking lot. As Glen makes for the entrance, moonlight smears shadows like ink blots over the pavement. He sees a frozen pond perfect for hockey. Sees a mitten lying on the ice. Sees a hole big enough for just one thing. Glen chokes down another blue. He steps inside. A bell mounted above the door signals his arrival. At the long counter sits a man hunched over a mug. His dust-brown trench coat drapes behind him, almost covering his sneakers. Bare toes poking out the ends. Soles peeling away. Glen knows the feeling. He picks a booth in the far corner and waits. BARB comes saying, What can I getcha? Her face is hard, sharp as a knife fight. She’s tried hiding her chapped lips with lipstick, but now that’s cracking too. Cracking while she chomps on a wad of gum. Glen orders a coffee but doesn’t drink it. Lets it cool. He hears the jingle-jingle come from the front. Jane weaves her way around a stranded mop bucket and a couple stools. Comes in with just a hoodie, her hands tucked up under her sleeves. When she sits down, she gives him a smile full of tears. Her hair is pulled back into a loose ponytail. Something about her seems faded like clothes from a Laundromat, but she still looks good. Still soft. Still warm. Been waiting long? Glen says, No, but his coffee is cold by now. BARB’ s back tapping her pen at Jane. Coffee, please. Yeah, can you nuke mine, too? Glen ignores the glare from the waitress as she leaves. Their eyes turn back to each other. Look at you. When’d this happen? Jane asks, stroking her fingers through a grey patch above his right temple. A little after you left. He doesn’t mean for it to come out cold. And Jane understands. He was right— she did leave. I kinda like it, she says pulling away. Paid a lot for it. Sorry. It’ s okay. Their coffees come. Jane doesn’t let hers cool. Remembers why she should have. How have you been?
What’d you want, Janie? I talked to Jimmy the other day. You called the station? Glen asks, turning his eyes down to his drink. Suspended, Glen? Yeah. For how long? Fitzy said ‘till I was ready. To do what I have to. And are you? Maybe. But I probably don’t know. The two sit quiet a moment. Glen gets that rushing water feeling up to his neck. Gets to weighing him down. Is why he brought the blues. He takes one forgetting that she doesn’t know. But she just looks away. Looks at the man with the mug and the coat and the shoes. Glen’s happy she doesn’t say anything. He’s less happy when she says, I’ve slept with someone. Glen counts: One. Two. Three. Okay. But I don’ t want a divorce. She says, Because I think I still love you. Okay. Glen? Yeah? Do you love me? I … don’t know. Good, she says rising from her seat. Leaning over, she kisses his forehead. Says, At least you’re thinking about it. So you know why I can’t stay, then? Why I can’t help you through this? Yeah. Because I still blame you. I know. Jane goes to leave, tucking her hands back up into her sweater. Turns a little, as if about to say something, but stops herself with noticeable effort. She makes her way to the door and opens it at the bell. Drops her head, and without looking says, Don’t go after him so far you can’t come back, okay? And like that, not waiting for an answer, she leaves. Glen knows there are things he didn’t say. Things he should have. Puts down a tip and goes the same way he came in. The parking lot has turned into a nightmare of shadows bleeding into shadows. Mittens into teddy bears into the screams for help he never heard. And staring at his feet feels like staring into a pit. A hole big enough for just one thing. Glen counts: One. Two. Three.
How to Build Your Dragon Chloe Marentette
Promise, Promise Carly Stone I hated him. I hated how the fluorescent lighting in the room tinted his skin yellow, the nauseating pastel coloured walls, and the spots on the ceiling- the 42 spots on the ceiling. I hated the stick figures taped up all over the room with the faces and triangle dresses not coloured in the lines properly. Why was I even there? His name was Dr. Becton and he was supposed to make me better. I didn’t feel sick. I didn’t look sick. There was only a pit in my stomach with the uncertainty that my mother was no longer in the waiting room. She said she would be. What if she just decided to leave me, her five-year-old daughter, with this man? What if somebody had kidnapped her? I shifted in the blue plastic fold up chair. “Andy, can you tell me what goes through your head when you look at this picture?” Dr. Becton said soothingly. My eyes were fixed on the brown wooden door. I was trying to listen to what was going on in the waiting room. I tried to hear the flipping of a magazine or fumbling in a purse, or any sign that my mom was still there. These tests didn’t make any sense. All I saw was a dark blob on a white piece of cardboard. If I squinted it kind of looked like the silhouette of a snowman…or a caterpillar… “I dunno,” I answered, annoyed. Dr. Becton sighed and took out a pad of paper and some crayons. He asked me to draw my biggest fear. I drew a spider. I heard a bang in the next room and every inch of me stiffened. “Don’ t worry honey, it was just the secretary. She probably dropped some books,” he reassured me. I looked out the window at the evening sky. The tree outside the building was casting a shadow that traced into the room and onto the floor. I saw the broken tree branch on my bed. I saw the scattered pieces of glass on and around the blue and purple rug. I could feel the unwelcome cold air in my cozy room. I saw the ladder. The footprints. I stared at the eight squiggly legs that were attached to the black body of the spider that I drew. My head stayed lowered but my eyes rose to meet Dr. Becton’ s in a look of desperation. I couldn’t sit here for much longer. Reading my mind and glancing at his watch, he gave me a quick and forced smile before saying, “ Well, I guess our time is up for today.” Finally. Opening the door, I tried to make my way through the narrow twisted hallway as quickly as I could. I turned the corner and saw my mother sitting in the waiting room, legs crossed and reading a book just like she had promised. I ran to her, grabbed her hand, and felt safe. Dr. Becton motioned her over and the two of them stood talking quietly in the corner. They looked at me and smiled. Sitting in the car, I watched the raindrops dance on the windows of the car, attaching themselves to each other to form bigger globs. Tilting my head I tried to see the tops of the buildings, wondering if it was raining all the way up there too. My mother looked in her rear-view mirror and asked, “So Andy, what did you and Dr. Becton talk about today?” I really didn’t see why I had to go to him once a week. I had asked my mother before and she said something about anxiety. “I dunno,” I mumbled, “ I drew a spider.” My parents were going out for dinner that night. I cried before they left until all the blood rushed to my head and I felt as if I was going to pass out. I attached myself to my dad’s leg and pleaded with him not to leave me. Finally, with my babysitter restraining me by holding my arms, my parents managed to get out the door after kissing me goodbye. “Promise promise?” I asked them through sniffles and tears. “Promise promise,” they both replied. A few weeks ago Dr. Becton had asked me, “ What is something your mom or dad cansay to you to make you feel better when they go somewhere without you.” I turned this question over in my head for a few minutes. “If they promise me they won’ t die,” I eventually replied. It was that very night that I asked them for the first time, “Promise you wont die? Promise you’ll be here in the morning?” And after they promised, a little part inside of me went quiet. As I began to ask it more and more, it got shortened to ‘ promise promise.’ My Princess Jasmine night-light plugged into the outlet at the bottom of my door only reminded me that it was dark and that it was night time. My comforter was cool against my bare legs and my pillow felt fresh under my long brown hair. I stared at the closed and locked window. Everywhere I stepped I could feel the crunch of glass slicing the plush rug and pricking the bottoms of my socked feet. Muddy footprints ran across the carpet by the window and out my door. I arched my back as chills ran down my spine. My eyelids were heavy but I needed to stay awake till my parents came
home. Fighting sleep, I said my prayers, “ In my little bed I lie, heavenly father hear me cry. God protect me through the night; keep me safe till morning light. Please let my mommy and daddy and me, my brother and sister be safe. Please, please, please.” I drifted to sleep. It seemed to always rain on the days that I had to sit for an hour in the closed office of Dr. Becton. My mother took her usual seat in the waiting room and I whispered to her, “ Promise, promise?” as Dr. Becton began to lead me down the hall. She pursed her lips, blew me a kiss and mouthed, “Promise, promise.” “Andy, your mother told me your house was robbed a few months ago,” Dr. Becton began, “That must have been a scary night.” He sat opposite me on a grey, twisty chair. He tilted his head as he reeled in the memory from my mind. My fingers clenched the plastic chair that I was sitting on and I nodded. We had just gotten home from dinner at my grandparent’ s house. My stomach cramped as I ran to my parent’ s room, coincidentally following the muddy footprints. Clothes were scattered everywhere, drawers were on the floor and my mother’ s jewellery was sprawled out on the bed. I saw my mother standing there, hands frozen in front of her chest. I followed her to my father’s study where papers and paintings were upside down. My brother ran in shortly after. The house shook with the banging footsteps, of what we guessed, belonged to three men. Finally we heard the front door open and close. My father and sister arrived home half an hour later. By then the police were at our house. The policeman informed us that the burglars had probably watched our house for many days to learn our daily routines and patterns. They watched us. They watched me. “Tell me Andy, are frightened now?” asked the doctor. Since that night, every time my parents would leave my side my heart would pound till my ears began to thump. I would get lumps in my throat that I couldn’t swallow. I begged them not to leave me. I looked at Dr. Becton and shrugged. I was terrified. The next morning I arrived at my Senior Kindergarten classroom with my lunch box in my left hand and my right arm stretched above me straining to hold on to my mother’ s. I hated this part. My mom kissed me between my eyebrows and gave me a tight squeeze. “Promise promise?” She turned her head, gave me a gentle smile and whispered, “ Promise, promise.” My Cops and Robbers at recess fell into story time on the magic carpet, which led into naptime. Mrs. Susan turned off all the lights in the classroom and drew the shades. Our plastic mats lay out like fallen dominos on the carpeted floor. Naughty boys whispered and giggled to each other, others slept, but I just lay there staring at the window. I now lay awake in my bed. I always sleep on a diagonal, to fill up the empty space in the queen. My roommates are out for the night. Though my Dr. Becton days are thirteen years in the past, if I concentrate, I can still feel anxiety crawling up my arms and down to my toes when I listen to the eerie silence of my apartment. My cell phone rings- it’ s my mother. “Hey mom.” She can hear a sense of relief when I pick up, and she immediately asks what’s wrong. “ Nothing… No…alone…I don’ t mind…I’ m fine mom. Really…. Love you too.” I hang up. I sit staring at the tiles in the ceiling for a few minutes. I count up to ten before pressing SEND on my cell phone. “Promise, promise?” I ask.
Inverted Erika M. Valliere Ours is a romance inverted Surviving in phantasm By clutching at straws And sheets And sudden silent sleeplessness Peppered with regret: We are a strange sort of spicy. The shallow ‘x’s of your eyes; No entry, Just exhaust; We billow around ourselves. We are a particular poison, A partition, Split down the middle Like a melon: Sew us back together And we’ll just rot And fall apart Again
Do you feel lucky? Carrie Lee Gubesch You live here, nowhere near the fear of rounds hitting ground, sounds of dying, sighing, crying. Say you were thrown in the band nothing in your hand but a C-ration packet, screaming “stop the racket, put me in a straitjacket.” Lost your senses, making you pensive but don’t, don’t get defensive. Have a smoke, you’re just a spoke on a wheel of life full of strife. You do as you’re told ‘cause you’re not so old and you are not so bold to deny the fools who make the rules. It’s not a question of acuity when your reality is brutality. It’s a truth you must accept without proof; they’re long in the tooth. You want to rise up, stand up, hold out your cup to the fountain on the mountain, only to catch the blood that flows, mixing with dirt beneath your toes. So tell me, compel me, Do you feel lucky?
Scratchboard Tiger Jenna Lee with my towel. Pat. Pat. Pat.
Symposium 2010 Arts and Humanities Student Council University College 112F The University of Western Ontario London, Ontario, Canada
The creative magazine from the Arts and Humanities student council at the University of Western Ontario.