symposium an Arts and Humanities Studentsâ€™ Council Publication
Cover Art: Confidence
Volume 4 | Issue 2| Spring 2017 Copyrights remain with the artists and authors. The responsibility for the content in this publication remains with the artists and authors. The content does not reflect the opinions of the Arts and Humanities Studentsâ€™ Council (AHSC) or the University Studentsâ€™ Council (USC). The AHSC and USC assume no liability for any errors, inaccuracies, or omissions contained in this publication.
Symposium is a collection of short stories, creative nonfiction, and poetry that are original, inventive, well-written, and allow for a variety of personal interpretations. Symposium accepts creative work from any Arts and Humanities undergraduate student within the University of Western Ontario. Symposium is published bi-annually by the Arts and Humanities Students’ Council of the University of Western Ontario. Semicolon is generously funded by the Arts and Humanities Student Donation Fund. The Publications Team would like to thank the Donation Fund Committee, the students who submitted their creative works, and the rest of the Publications Committee who volunteered for the creative review board. To view previous editions or for more information about Symposium, please contact the Arts and Humanities Students’ Council in Room 0N20D in the International and Graduate Affairs Building. Editor-in-Chief Academic Managing Editor Creative Managing Editor Copy Editor Layout Editor
Alero Ogbeide Lauren O’Donnell Areesa Kanji Katie Fowler Kimberlyn Hawkins
Special Thanks to the Publications Committee: Sofia Berger, Camille Inston, Alicia Johnson, Megan Levine, Simone Miklosi, Alexis Pronovost, Julia Sebastien
when your heart is pumping kerosene and youâ€™re breathing sparks, the way a wildfire brings about change. how Western geese feel about the grass on UC Hill. the end of Love, Actually when the little boy runs through the airport to catch up with the love of his life. strong and barely controllable emotion. the feeling you get when you look into the eyes of a past, present, or future lover. waiting for a spoke bagel when the line up goes all the way to centre spot. a fruit. the lip-biting, breath-holding concentration of an artist as they pour their soul into each brush stroke. the devotion in baking 13 different batches of cookies until you get them just right. the excitement of finding something bigger than yourself worth fighting for. the nonsense in the 4am scribbles of a half asleep writer. the undeniable beauty of your first epic love and the gut-wrenching pain of that first heartbreak. a greater force than even these words could begin to describe. everything contained in this issue of Symposium. - a.o. l.o. a.k. k.f. k.h.
Breaking and Entering Ann Kamau
I I’m not aware how to breathe in this country, my brother said, they complain that I breathe too hard, too deep, and I’m not leaving enough air for them. II It’s the way I walk, they say, I won’t keep, I bruise too easy, like a plum on the side of the road far from my tree, the expiry date bold on my boy back III Their letters don’t fit me either, you see, their jagged edges grate my inside skin, not quite a citizen in my throat. They end up landing as a mumble, fumbling like a pot of gumbo, the gumballs tumbling in my mouth. The words want to be “Jambo”, but they’re dressed like hello. IV Well, it doesn’t matter now, they broke in, he said. Strode out with the last token of the past 6 years, that maple leaf passport in their pocket left the eviction note on the door: Time’s up
Ann Kamau The leaves jangled, swaggerin’ up streets as car horns clanged and the wind chimed in. The baby waited in the flat, diaper swelled up, sour, stale milk on the tongue. It wasn’t quite milk but ash, remains after the bomb went off and the door was left swingin’.
**warning this poem contains sensitive material**
Band-Aids Sydney Brooman Collect the band aids Of the women Youâ€™ve made bleed for you and pin them up above your king sized bed and arrange them in one big heart like a valentine we never asked you for like a valentine we told you not to give us they will not dry out the blood always feels fresh and sometimes i can taste it in my sleep.
PSYCH 1234A: An Introduction to Social Anxiety By: Dessa Hayes
Instructor: Prof. Ann Zyeti Office Hours: Monday 8:00 - 8:30 am in F.O. Beah House Rm 66 TA: Sue Port Office Hours: TBA in A. Wayerness Hall Rm 101 Class Hours: Friday 7:00-10:00 pm in Elle Pemi Social Science Centre Rm 0 Prerequisites 0.5 courses in PSYCH 1211A/B (extreme discomfort), 1212A/B (embarrassment), 1214A/B (fear), 1215A/B (humiliation), or 1216A/B (panic attacks); or special permission of the Department. Course Description Social anxiety is a mental health disorder that disrupts the daily lives of approximately 750, 000 Canadians. In the United States, it is the third most common psychological disorder after depression and alcoholism. Through class discussion, presentations, group projects, and other fear-inducing situations, students will develop a deeper understanding of social anxiety, its distinction from regular shyness, and its position in a culture that continually asks, “Why can’t you just push yourself?” Learning Objectives Upon successful completion of this course, students will have demonstrated the ability to: Assume that everyone that looks at them is secretly judging them Pass by a group of people laughing and assume that the group is laughing at them Stand on a city bus to avoid sitting next to a stranger Avoid speaking to people on the telephone Trail friends around at parties and hide in the periphery when they start conversations with strangers Feel rejected when friends don’t make plans with them on Saturday nights Seek constant reassurance that their friends don’t secretly hate them Live in constant fear that a significant other will abandon them for someone else Required Texts/Viewings Chbosky, Stephen. The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Pocket: New York, 1999. Print. Hinton, S.E. The Outsiders. Viking Press: New York, 1967. Print. Foley, James. Fear. 1996. Film. Everybody Hates Chris, selected episodes. 500-lb course pack. Available at the bookstore for only $199.99. Recommended Items Stress balls Airline barf bags Security blankets Grade Breakdown Individual Seminar (to be presented in class weeks 3-8) 40% Written Peer Feedback for Individual Seminars 30% Group Project Presentation (weeks 8-11)] 40% Class Participation (throughout the term) 30% Office Hour Attendance 30% Oral Exam (week 13) 80% Total amount of anxiety-related stress 250%
Assignments All assignments, excluding the peer feedback, are oral assignments that must be presented in-class. Not during the professor’s office hours. In-class. No exceptions. Late assignments will automatically receive 0%. Extensions will not be granted, except for medical reasons (see Medical Accommodation Policy). Communication All students are required to attend their instructor’s office hours at least twice during the semester. Attending office hours assures your professor that you are on the right track with your assignments and clears up any questions you may have about lectures or reading/viewing materials. Talking to an authority figure in person may be anxiety-inducing, but this is no excuse to avoid the office hour component of your grade. E-mails will be answered on a biweekly basis, so it really is better if you just suck it up and go to office hours. Attendance Policy Social anxiety is no excuse to miss class. Students that are absent for more than 4 hours of class must present a certificate from a doctor that deals with non-mental illnesses. Otherwise, their final mark will be lowered by 30%. Medical Accommodation Policy Social anxiety is no excuse to miss class. Everyone knows that only physical illnesses legitimately warrant doctors’ notes. However, if your anxiety becomes too much to bear, you can always join the many other hopefuls on campus wait for an appointment in our Counselling Services Building. Scholastic Offences Plagiarism will not be tolerated. Also, social anxiety is no excuse to miss class. Final Note from the TA Not everyone will develop social anxiety by the end of this class. For many, it’s inconceivable that giving a presentation or talking to a professor outside of class could ever cause anyone as much fear as flying in an airplane or trying to transport a spider from the kitchen to the backyard. It may be easy enough to take a sedative before your flight to England. It may be even easier to ask a friend to catch the spider on your ceiling. But it will always be impossible to push yourself when you are constantly bound and gagged by your own brain. And it will always be impossible to shake off the chains when you are blamed for subjecting yourself to them in the first place.
Anjali Pandrangi more often than sometimes i pick at the scars you left on my skin i am fully aware that they haven’t healed partly because i won’t let them partly because i don’t think they ever will i am a self-proclaimed masochist i drink my cocktails with a shot of nostalgia a splash of self-doubt and a few sips of fantasy so forgive me if after a few i always come crawling back to you forgive me if my vision starts blurring and it’s your hand i need to lead me home forgive me if i try smashing the glass window that has always stood between us thin enough for me to see through thick enough to keep me from touching you and please, forgive me for always picking at the scars you left on me then reaching for your hands to stitch me up when they start to bleed
someone asked me to explain what being with you felt like i didn’t even know what to say his hands felt like the third shot of tequila on a summer night, when everything is funny and everything will be fine like your first cigarette of the day when your head is completely clear and your coffee drips hot down your throat and you have no idea what your heart will feel like by the end of the night and it’s right when i finish describing what our version of love felt like is when i realize that everything it was needed to be done in moderation and it was usually around my sixth shot, when i’d fall to the floor overcome by you that i’d remember i was never one for self control
Andrew French I am exhausted. I am exhausted by philosophical musings On trivial things like money and mortality, Amid nine-to-five responsibilities I’ve fallen in love more times this week Than I’ve fallen asleep.
And death is exhausting I am plagued by considerations of mortality Wondering why our heads face forward In coffins while outside others Look back on a life that was Will I be a job title on a tombstone?
And love is exhausting Writing about it brings guilt As if Al Purdy shouts from his A-frame That “real poets hate love” Or at least don’t center life Around women.
And it is exhausting Trying to frame these ramblings As more than that As “poetic musings” Perhaps, then, I shall fall asleep now And report back once I’ve fallen in love again.
Not knowing the name of the song that made you feel or the name of the feeling itself. Not knowing the name of the boy three tables over or how he takes his coffee. Not knowing what lies ahead and worrying whether you’ll be ready when you know you won’t be or can’t be (maybe both). The questions come in streams:
Can butterflies become depressed or is that misery reserved for humans alone? Do librarians leaf through love stories when they think no one is looking? Is lighting what makes a photograph or is it knowing in that moment something is happening that will outlast our temporal memory? The way he holds the camera, tilted sideways, knees in the soil, coffee cup beside him -one cream, one sugaris the greatest reassurance that you will remember this story or feeling (maybe both).
A Night Out
Sydney Brooman Numbness in my jaw and throbbing ears flailing around in the dark for the sound of speech they can press against stepping on ice cubes and licking your lips too much flailing your frail body into the arms of something better than love
We are all one heartbeat pounding together in the flickering fluorescence and I hope we dream of one another when we go to bed tonight.
I wear your heels down to remind you that you do not get the luxury of softness after throwing women at me like presents or heavy rain. -the ground
Glass & Water
Below & Above Upasna Mehta
One Night Onesie Jenna Salmers
When my seventeen-year-old self realized that Michael was the boy I wanted to have my first time with, the thought of him leaving for a family vacation to Cuba was unbearable. He was my boyfriend, after all, shouldn’t he stay here with me? In the nine excruciating days apart, I removed myself from all human interaction and dedicated the next week and a half to a Laguna Beach marathon and my oversized fleece Hello Kitty onesie, completing the look with an open butt flap to showcase my SpongeBob boxers. The rotten peach coloured onesie eliminated the little curves I had, only fitting tightly around my ankles where the foot zipped off. I was on self-imposed house arrest, and until my beloved boyfriend returned, I refused to wear anything else. I consumed an abundance of lonely girl comfort foods, including chocolate milk, mac and cheese, and pizza pockets, which always managed to leave a stain somewhere on my furry ensemble. “That onesie looks like it’s on its last leg,” my mother declared on the fourth day. She approached me slowly, knowing I could have a mental breakdown at any given moment. “I hope it goes in the trash when Michael is back.” I continued to mope, whine, and contemplate life in my fluffy but crunchy, sour-smelling attire, stalking Michael’s Facebook and listening to Kelly Clarkson. What if Michael dumps me? What if he doesn’t come back? Should I wear this onesie for the rest of my life? The anxiety of becoming a single, butt flap fleece wearing adult consumed me. On the eighth day, Michael’s customized ringtone awoke me from a mid-day nap. “J, I have a surprise for you,” he sounded eager. Could it be? “I’ve caught an earlier flight.” Surely, he means tomorrow morning. “I’m outside. Come to the door.” I never expected my first time to be a storybook experience, with romantic rose pedals and a candle lit dinner. But if you asked me if I thought my first time would involve a fleece, food stained, cat-patterned onesie, I would have said I’d rather stay a virgin.
Forget-me-nots were my favourites growing up Joanna Shepherd
The forget-me-nots on my desk died last night. I forgot to water them for two weeks. I didnâ€™t forget. I watched the leaves go limp like my ex-boyfriendâ€™s tequila-drowned erection (he bought me the potted plant two years ago; his new girlfriend1 is fifteen) Petals grew crisp, flaked and piled over polaroids of me taken by a boy2 who bought me roses (pink not red; I kept them in a mason jar for six days before putting them through the paper shredder3) fragments, once blue, now crumpled moth wings
Notes: Her hair falls the same way mine used to; I got a haircut after I met her. He calls every few months when his breath is rum to talk about my senior-year-Captain-Morgan kisses. I blocked his number five weeks ago.
Meghan Vertentes She would not share their fate. Those unknown, Unnamed women before her. Sharp metal, slick with yesterday’s blood, Cold against their nape’s warm flesh. Kohl-rimmed eyes fluttering ever so slightly until Dead. Like the bride before. Bathing under a distant, desert moon, Naked beside her future executioner, The storyteller remains resolute. She does not flinch, As masculine hands caress her perfumed body. His eyes, two stone pebbles, Embedded in an impenetrable visage. And then, She speaks. From her mouth leaps tales of djinns and sorcerers, Malevolent thieves muttering “Open Sesame” under bated breath. Beggars become sultans and sultans become beggars. The storyteller’s voice ensnares her captive in a web of words, Rising and falling as the pale morning light, Sets upon her bronze face. It is the first, The first of a thousand and one sunrises to come.
We Never Stopped at a Rest Stop Ann Kamau He collected art like I collected coins. There was the black and white New York City grid that swallowed our bedroom wall, a wooden statue of wild beasts gnawing at each other, a girl he’d pinched at the corner store slid into his pocket as smooth as her pack of cigarettes, and the red Camaro that had packaged his dad up nice and neat as his stuffing messed up the cracked leather and the gun. Whenever my stuffing messed up the Presley suit and New York City, he’d sew me back up real quick, a needle pretending to be thread, and pull the white cloth off the Camaro. We’d drive until the sky looked like a postcard and that wrinkled, red house felt like someone else’s. We’d stop for ice-cream and he’d hold it like an icepack against the black and blue and yellow patches on my face, just like he had that first time off Highway 21, whispering “love, love, love, we’re ok” and we’d slip back into the car, the smell of fuel and bleach crowding our nostrils. We’d drive until we had to stop again on highway 22, 24, and now 28 and we’d pass by roadside signs I’d stopped reading long ago, when I’d glossed over the DANGER and WARNING and careened straight onto the exit to New York City. I collected coins like he collected art in the Buddha jar and the Oriental cigar box and under the floor of the red Camaro, that jingled a bit as I jerked the gear shift and slipped from the wrinkled, red house that was always someone else’s.
The Puppeteer Camille Inston
If I was to make a list of all the things he likes, I would probably start with (1) listening to techno-rock albums, I mean really listening, with the door closed and a joint lit — (2) spontaneity, or trying to navigate a big city on his own and (3) — I would realize that making this is list is harder than expected and maybe I should resort to some other kind of descriptive tactic because maybe I don’t know him at all and this is the way it is. I would perhaps try to do the same for myself and wouldn’t know where to start either: (1) art — (2) platonic physical contact, maybe — (3) language or people or humour. I would take a breath, that was easier. We met in a room with blue floors and chairs and ceilings and I was nervous and told a joke that didn’t tell well. We had acted together in one of those blackbox-studio theatres downtown some thirteen months back. Our director asked us to kiss in a couple scenes and our minds bid us not to get along. I never talked to him offstage once; I didn’t want to. If we’re being honest, I’ve never liked men. Not that I’ve never liked men, but I’ve never liked — men — Not since I was seventeen, when cheap wine and midnight grass fields were something holy, when touch was open and kissing was easy. I still think of their hands sometimes, grimy and unapologetic, mine sweaty and resistant. I remember going to the doctor once afterwards because my body and mouth and mind were too resistant, and this was somehow my heart’s fault. No, as a matter of fact, I can’t say I’ve ever liked men. I can’t say I’ve ever liked people much, either. I have always, however, dreamed of having friends who, too, are like artists: witty, thrilling, and understanding even when they can’t be. flash forward — We are on a bus together and I think he mentions something about method acting because he tells me how he lines the actors in his new play up before each rehearsal and tells them to stare into one another’s eyes for a few minutes — no distractions — and I tell him I don’t think I could do that. He says he bets I could. I like challenges. — “what are you doing?” trying to look into your soul “can you?” no I break the stare, but only because he says something along the lines of now wait, there it is… — And there I was.
So I trust him when he asks me to an X-rated puppet show at that same theatre, our unchained memories there buried one year back. I’ll admit — I didn’t even think of the actual date when he asked. I’d catch it on TV afterwards, I told myself, it’d be everywhere. “I know what day it is, you don’t have to remind me.” We meet another friend by the entrance and sit with some beers in the front row. I shut my phone off before the pre-recorded stationary warning. Our friend says, “you’re going to want to check that after we get out of here.” “You don’t have to remind me.” I somehow remember the blackbox as much larger. Something about the space feels like the inside of a submarine. The old man behind me and the woman to his left are talking about it too. So is everyone else in the audience, it seems. I try to drown them all out, to look at the stage configuration and wait for the puppets. Our friend says, “are you nervous?” I feel it in the backs of every chair, every spineless body waiting impatiently to be entertained. “Hey — are you nervous?” I say, “no — we know what’s going to happen.” “So you really think she’ll win?” “Of course.” “I don’t know, it’s scary. I’m just glad we’re here.” “One thing’s for sure, we can look forward to some good comedic jabs about it tonight” — I gesture to the stage — “and tomorrow, history.” (“I know what day it is, you don’t have to remind me.”) I don’t want to talk to him about politics. I’d rather do the staring thing ten times over. The lights go down and we settle into each other, the three of us, three baby planets in a nebula. I can still feel the bodies shifting back and forth like asteroids in every kind of darkness, through time — the space is a continuum — I am a small, frightened moon taken in by its gravity. A creak in the floor separates earth from the Celestial. I feel her knee to my left, his shoulder to my right. Then the lights go on. They bring in the puppets. We are laughing. A beautiful china doll takes off her magnet-puppet clothes in an erotic tease; an old woman-puppet sings about her shrivelling genitals. An orchestra pianist-puppet selects an audience volunteer to help her conduct the band. The puppet-master makes the odd political joke here and there — of course he could, it’s the room’s mighty elephant —but it was always back to the puppets, back to the strings and the laughter and the high-pitched expletives. I want to thank him for inviting me right then and there but the air’s all dense and how exactly does one go about telling another human being that if he tried to understand my soul he probably could or at least come
close in the middle of a sexy puppet show? For an hour and a half, I forget. I think everyone in the room forgets, what with the laughter and the jeering and the intricate maneuvering of the puppets — each with a spectacularly individual voice — each thriving on their own level of camp. I look at our friend to the right; she is snort-laughing into her beer. I look at him to my left, and he is happy too. I think of the same theatre space, one year back, how he and I would be lovers for an audience one minute and refuse to speak the next. Lovers to strangers — that was the story — and now, beyond the gaze, a person. Someday, hopefully, a friend. The lights go up and the end of the show and we see the puppeteer, see him fully, see the strings hanging limply in the now flaccid, empty air. He takes a bow, we rise to our feet, we applaud, and we gape and holler. He excuses us with a final joke, and I finish my beer and excuse myself to the washroom. POWER ON: 10:04PM / NOVEMBER 8TH 2016 I pee. I flush. I wash my hands. I go to thank him for inviting me, but I step out out of the stall into a world I don’t recognize. All of those faces I saw smiling and laughing and jeering at felt nipples moments ago are somehow flushed, somehow colder than before. I do not understand it until I get past the Home screen. This is the part of the story where I tell you that I was wrong — about a couple things. First of all, I never actually harnessed the courage to tell him that I was thankful he wanted to actually see a show with me, for his company and friendship, for the staring contest and the soul people don’t usually try to stare into. I thought it sounded dumb and still do. Second of all, I can actually get through a one-act show without peeing if I’ve had beer. And third of all, Trump won that night. He got into a cab afterwards and sped off to watch the rest of the votes come in with his friends. Our friend walked home, which to her was a couple blocks north of the theatre. I came home to my housemates crying in stunned silence. I am suddenly scared of thunderstorms again, of space and asteroids, of grimy hands and wine and midnight fields growing longer and larger like a screaming voice. All I know is my fear, the stage, and the idyllic notion that we may one day become our own Puppeteers, sewn alone, strung to no one — or nothing at all.
Universal Essence of Mind
Watch her dance through the halls with flowers in her hair singing her songs and talking nonsense until she is found in the river with water in her lungs but she is still beautiful because the only thing worse than a crazy girl is an ugly one. Watch her go from an off-stage death to a funeral scene but get distracted as Hamlet and Laertes fight over who loves her more because throwing punches makes for much better theatre than some dead whore. My professor tells me I shouldn’t think of her as a person but rather a character created for an aesthetic purpose I want to tell him that’s how I’ve been trained to see women my whole life, that what’s really hard is learning how to break out of the archetype pretty-skinny-docile-pleasing-to-the-eye-of-the-audience but— I really need an A in this class so I follow the script the one where I don’t have any lines. Ophelia fought the only way she was allowed to letting the softness of her dress and her words drag her down to the river floor where no one could call her mad anymore. And this is radical femininity, this is Ophelia’s revenge this is a bouquet of “fuck you” gripped tight in my hands. I’ll bloat my body with salt water, speak all the nonsense that didn’t make it through the red pen massacre and I’ll do it all with flowers in my hair.
Calculus for the Imaginative Mind Sumiha Karunagaran
So You Feel Too Deeply Hannah Briggs
each inconsistency, each variation, no matter how small feels like faceless security guards grabbing you by the elbows and throwing you out of your own existence and directly into your grave. “you’re too sensitive.” micro-movements: a twitch, a wink, a quiver, a jolt, a memory of a time when you decided to let someone in and before you could change your mind they had stolen away with your compassion and left you with their oil spill of selfishness. because you feel too deeply, and it’s okay, but you cry at dog-food commercials and at weddings when couples recite their vows like you’re at a funeral and you’re unapologetic but so, so sorry. “you’re so dramatic.” you don’t want to feel anything if it’s not organic, but your bones liquefy and escape through your swollen eyes without a permit.
it takes a “yes” or a “no” or a “please” or a “sure” to rewind it five years back to the sunlight hitting the white car in the dingy parking lot so harshly you see red behind your eyelids for hours and it rewinds and stops at your childhood home with blankets that smell like they were air dried out on the line and windows that allow in the sound of crickets to sing a disjointed lullaby. “you’re too emotional” (you hear conversations through sea shells.) “you can’t let your feelings control your life” (kaleidoscope filter in a monochromatic world) the trouble is, you can’t turn any of it off – it’s not a light switch you flick, it’s a big, red, “only push in case of emergency” button that you landed on when you were born. you are destined to feel until there is nothing left to feel, and that’s okay. Some will try to contain the explosion in your soul and call it damage control, but your sadness your euphoria your pain your enthusiasm your empathy will outstretch all of their measuring tapes, by miles composed of numbers not yet fathomed and I promise, it’s okay to feel too deeply.
We And This Time Together
We witnessed a slow departure of winter barely noticing the birth of spring. And in the wake of swift summer our frozen moments began to thaw. This heavy hot July air and sweet sweat bubbles kneading onto our porous skin reek of worn desperation. Time will soon recall itâ€™s mocking pace lunging in to slurp our days dry. Together now we stand in the cool air waiting for the leaves to fall again, knowing that I will not.
Caroline Ferra Pradas
Passion Masks Oppression in Castroâ€™s Cuba
Sydney Brooman I made a Pinterest board for my funeral You know, like how people do for weddings? And baby clothes? And fun DIY crafts? Though, to be fair, I'd always imagined my death would be a "do it yourself " because I am the best artist of my own destruction. I only really think about it in particular moments of minutes When I am in the kind of place where my stomach sits perched upon the tops of my feet with the humming static of locusts looking for an exit and the pieces of my broken cracker skull float up out of my skin and hover just behind my eyes I do not give myself permission to have a good day. Calm is a city you see on TV with lots of pretty people And no direct flights Often I am upside down walking on the ceiling while all the dolls move beneath me and they only notice my face as the blood rushes down to my head. I want to plant seeds but when my blood boils they erupt like popcorn There is no such thing as sitting still
And the sky fills my ears like water and your voice is drowned away into a fading echo and I can never remember whether or not it was real. The aesthetic of my death is one of steam you cannot wipe from the bathroom mirror and the taste of finger nails in teeth and an exhale full and final but cheated of a crescendo. It is not stoic. I want to wash the taste of it out of the back of my throat. I do not want to die, I just want to be beautiful and I just want to be still. and I cannot separate the three.
Sydney Brooman Luck is laced in your mother's lips and locks So sometimes you shout her name And after we're done making love you pinch the end of my braid in your fingers and ask me for some change to buy a quick pick hoping it'll lead to a quick fix. You never let me wash our sheets because you say that my sweat gets you a raise at work That the sound of my nails digging into the wood of the bed frame lets you hear answers before they are said when you watch Jeopardy That the places I've kissed you can never get sick And someday you'll just be a pile of perfect body parts Because my luck would never let them die. Some days I think you'd like to cut off my foot and wear it around your neck so that the blood drips down over your chest and you are reborn. When I cry into the night you are always there to catch the tears in your palm and rub them into your skin like cologne And one night you said you were cutting my hair because you needed my luck more than I did So I didn't shed a single tear because I couldn't give you any more of me than I already had And I don't quite know what lucky is But I know it doesn't look like this.
An Ode to Lady Lazarus Shauna Ruby Valchuk I am a Lady of Lazarus, a solemn song to Plath; I hear songs of heads in ovens but I lay my own, on a pike. Let the world see me, a true born Phoenix! I came back from heaven I came back from hell I have become alive - what’s a parallel become dead? How, sorry, why should I filter my speech if I am the priestess’ prize? I’ve tasted death, various times. Once - by a child’s temperament I swallowed green pills of iron to load my puberic tummy like a pistol or maybe to make ore. Another in womanly hysteria: a synonym for unrequited love. I took the warmest of baths and beneath the murky bathwater, I laid and held my tongue till it was its own meat and tried so, so hard not to scream out.
Of recent, in a drunk stupor I sung songs of how I must will it to end realizing I have never truly appreciated my lungs and the air more than when I wore a taut ring around my neck. But another winter comes. I will try once again - when my vision blurs and after that, as well. What’s dying, even, if it is not the death part that emits fear straight into my belly but rather it is the rebirth that holds my leash. I read somewhere that I can become a martyr, the only condition? I have to die, and yet for something of importance: the passion of death and for death’s sake, itself. She may be the fire-bird in me, Sylvia, or she may just be romanticism I embodied in my death.