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Criterion Ardsley High School Volume XXIX


“Meme and Luis” Meme Balmori Oil Pastel


Criterion Staff

Dear Readers, Did you know that at Kim’s Marketplace you can buy melon popsicles for seventy-five cents? Wikipedia recommends melon pops as one of the best items to purchase if you are looking to buy cheap food in bulk. As we scrambled to come up with a solution on how we were going to feed the guests of Cafe Criterion, our magazine’s annual fundraiser, that was now pushed indoors due to rain, everyone in the Mac lab searched the web hoping that there would be an answer. Because, as we all know, the Internet solves all problems. In a way this scramble for an answer epitomizes what goes on behind the scenes of our magazine. Every year we spend hours upon hours sprawled across Macs matching art with text, and songs on YouTube with our moods. A few minutes of work turns into a good five hours of staring at computers. Cold pizza and leftover snacks are what we live on, and although all of this may sound unappealing, we love it. In the majority of our arguments an idea is shut down because it isn’t “Criterion-y” enough. What does it mean to be “Criterion-y”? There is no need to Google it because in reality there is no such word. For us, to be “Criterion-y” means to be different, to go against the normal layouts of magazines and to create something fresh each year. It means using our instincts instead of some formula. Our magazine is designed to showcase original pieces of students around the school. We are giving artists a place to be seen. We are giving writers a chance to be heard. So please, take a long look through our eyes.

Editors-in-Chief:

Samantha Gordon Patrick Tekula

Designers:

Elana Schlossberg Maria Palij Alex Brinas

Assitant Designers:

Diana Schoder Mia Monkovic

Managing Editor:

Francesca Rodriguez

Editors:

Haley Fine Lianne Nieger Kate Montgomery Nico Hornyak Alison Roberts Grace Kim Arielle Cruz Allie Wainer Sam Wingate Mariel Fine Jenna Friedman

Thank you sincerely,

Advisor:

Samantha Gordon Patrick Tekula

Special Thanks to:

Editors-in-Chief

Mr. Baird

Mrs. Rosen Dr. Haubner Aldan Press

Colophon:

The Criterion is the literary and art magazine of Ardsley High School in Ardsley, NY. It is puvlished annually with a press run of 300 copies of 40 pages. This year’s magazine was typset on a Mac using InDesign CS3 in Calibri and Trebuchet MS fonts. Our printer is Aldan Press, under the guidence of Don Mazzaro and Sean Wilson. 1


TABLE OF CONTENTS Fiction

“Baby”, by Steph Schaffer........................................4 “With October Came the Fall”, by Amanda Fraus...8 “Plus.”, by Patrick Tekula........................................11 “Scarred”, by Steph Schaffer..................................13 “The Waiting Stage”, by Lianne Neiger..................14 “Airplanes”, by Samantha Wingate........................16 “Cleansed”, by Lianne Neiger.................................24 “We Can Save You”, by Kate Montgomery.............26 “The Spaces Between My Fingers Are No More Than 10 Years Apart”, by Amanda Fraus...29 “Sandstones”, by Madeline Yee.............................30 “Business”, by Amanda Fraus................................32 “Cascading Colors”, by Stephanie Wank................34 “Metamorphosis”, by Steph Schaffer.....................36

Poetry “Rosebud”, by Patrick Tekula......................................3 “White Waves Beneath My Skin”, by Leslie Bernaro..5 “Balloon”, by Stefanie Goldberg.................................6 “With October Came the Fall”, by Amanda Fraus......7 “Acceptance”, by Madeline Yee..................................8 “Summer Memories”, by Diana Schoder..................10 “I Heard the Echo of a Whale Last Night”, by Madeline Yee...........................................12 “My Opinion on the Thoughts They Must Have if They’re Addicted to Those Crazy Rollercoasters”, by Leslie Bernaro.................20 “The Songwriters’ Jury”, by Rebecca Fishman..........21 “Flip of a Coin”, by Lianne Neiger..............................24 “Once Upon a Time”, by Samantha Gordon..............25 “Seasonal Depression”, by Leslie Bernaro.................28 “Giant Oak in the Yard”, by Samantha Gordon..........33 “The Barbar Chill”, by Shivrat Chabra........................35

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Art

“Eyes,” by Alex Hunter...................................................Front Cover “Meme and Luis”, by Meme Balmori..................Inside Front Cover “Rose”, by William Gonzalez..........................................................3 “Sibling Love”, by Katie Corvino.....................................................4 “Broken”, by Madeline Yee............................................................5 “Pieces”, by Haley Fine..................................................................6 “Marianne”, by Haley Fine.............................................................7 “Reaching”, by Katie Corvino.........................................................9 “Vintage Clockwork”, by Julia Soares..........................................10 “Fragmented Girl”, by Leslie Bernaro..........................................11 “Like Secrets”, by Haley Fine.......................................................12 “Sitting Girl”, by Leslie Bernaro...................................................13 “The Aviator”, by Leslie Bernaro.................................................17 “Girl in Flowers”, by Leslie Bernaro.............................................18 “Embarrassed”, by Sydney Newman..........................................20 “Dying Trees”, by Betsy Wendt....................................................21 “Frozen”, by Haley Fine................................................................24 “Princess & the Pea”, by Bridget Rooney.....................................25 “Untitled”, by Yiming Xiao...........................................................26 “Sometimes We Make Love With Our Hands”, by Besty Wendt...............................................................29 “Sisters”, by Leslie Bernaro..........................................................30 “This Close to Safety”, by Haley Fine...........................................31 “Las Flores”, by Meme Balmori...................................................32 “Looking Up”, by Julia Soares......................................................33 “Anytime”, by Haley Fine.............................................................35 “Gravity’s Pulling Me Up”, by Meme Balmori......Inside Back Cover


“Rose” William Gonzalez Colored Pencil

Rosebud

by Patrick Tekula On the first warm days of early spring, Brought to life by sweet dew, Demeter’s blessing cast upon a selected few, Simple memories return of this pale and idle thing. Pastel lips held tightly firm, not ready to yet sing Their winter’s soft lullaby, wan and true Of the change of season, freezing the old, cradling the new Flowers of warmth, hope, and newness not yet yielding. We sit and we wait for Soft flesh colored unfurling of petals come From firmly wound and bound buds, while we are forever waiting for an inhaled perfume of lavender and nettles; some So selfish and arrogant, to act out the chore Of clipping sealed buds, for waiting is something no man can fathom. 3


Baby

“Sibling Love” Katie Corvino Colored Pencil

by Steph Schaffer He gently lifts her shirt with his pale lanky fingers so only her expanding stomach is visible. He notices that her bellybutton is beginning to protrude and cautiously presses his lips to her arching skin. He’s fallen madly in love with a dependent bundle which could disappear any day. He’s done speaking about it. The undesired options are the only realistic ones, and his teeth are gripped upon his softening stone heart which has long been incapable of feeling. The indents on his most vital organ ache as his stinging fingertips caress her taut skin. He closes his eyes and tilts his head back as he continues to trace circles on her stomach with his palms. With a raspy exhale, his eyes begin to water as he desires to share the womb of the woman he doesn’t trust with the tiny ball of innocence he confides in. He couldn’t let go. Not yet. Not ever. 4


White Waves Beneath My Skin by Leslie Bernaro

As I dangle my legs outside the window, I wonder where the foxes go at night, So still and vacant, The white waves flow beneath my skin, Where do the birds go? When they don’t sing? The bitter cold ceases and I hold still The waves ripple from the cool breeze, High above the ground beneath me, I’m detached, hundreds of miles above the grass and trees, I watch over the silent world, I see the bunnies snuggled in their dens, The fish hibernating in the pond, Even the hardened predators lay their heads to the ground at night. My smoking fingers depress me, It is not the time, My presence here is a burden, Out of place, A plague of the night. I float away, Through the white waves, My toes turn pink in the cold, And I fall asleep against the windowsill. I wake up to an arm around me, This is where I sleep at night, My rabbit hole, My bird nest, My coyote den. I feel the waves again, a beneath my skin, I close my eyes.

“Broken” Madeline Yee Graphite

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“Pieces” Haley Fine Film Photography

Balloon

by Stefanie Goldberg My hand firmly grasps the long silken string It floats gracefully on the stagnant air I tug, I tug to see if it is still there. Brilliant sunlight to it steadfastly clings. To at last release; my heart is longing To wander independently somewhere To leave comfort is more than I can bear I pray, pray it won’t start falling.

For if it comes loose or falls I stand to forever and ever go Up, up and away, Peter Pan dreams unleashed Horrified that my adulthood calls But still I do know A piece of you will never really be released.

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With October Came the Fall by Amanda Fraus

Dear, if you are listening I woke up alone again. Last night I could have sworn I felt your gentle fingertips combing through my hair and your cold but soothing hands study my face and dance across my cheeks. I could have sworn I witnessed your eyes fixate on mine erupting a subtle smile that refused to desecrate back into your concentrated expression. I could have sworn I had you here lying next to me; constantly tossing your body, yet you were paralyzed like a goddess. One hand carefully draped across your stomach while the other made an arc to the back of your head and your hand cradled your mind as you released sighs of comfort and safety. I could have sworn I fell asleep with my life in my arms. But I woke up alone. Everyday I pray that whoever took you takes me too. That this will be the day that I get hit by a bus, or get a deadly disease or my heart fucking explodes…anything to get me with you. See, I’ve had numerous tea parties with suicide but I can’t take the chance, because if there really is a heaven you’re definitely up there. If you were an angel on earth you must be god’s new love interest because your undeniable beauty makes the entire universe quiver. They tell me I’m just going through stages of

“Marianne” Haley Fine Graphite

grief, but baby how can I grieve over you when in my mind you’re still very much here. Who is going to splash me with dirty dish water and slip on the floor? Who is going to share the second hot pocket in the box? Who is going to stay up late with me and let me hold him till the sun engulfs the night? Who is going to love me? Because without you I don’t love myself. If I were to tell you I missed you, it would be an understatement, and if I were to tell myself that you could be replaced then I really must be going crazy. Some days I venture over to your side of the bed and I pull the blanket over my head like a child because I’m scared to let you go. I refuse to wash the mug you used the morning you left because your apricot colored lipstick kissed the rim. Tell me what to do. Tell me where to go from here because I keep asking myself questions, but I keep getting the same answers. If you’re listening, I still need you. Baby, I know it’s getting late and you have to leave, but before you go I have to ask you one thing. Will you still marry me? Because I can wait till forever for your answer. Dear, are you listening?

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Acceptance By Madeline Yee

I have sat here for many months now, Processing the damage, Uplifting rubble and falling pieces of the ceiling. I’ve filed through mounds of intangible objects to arise on top, to be able to sit upon the debris. The small book tells me that acceptance is the answer to all my frustrations and imbalance in my life, and for a moment I can sit there the ocean would bring us back in when the right Be satisfied with the un-comfortability, wave appeared, but only satisfied because I can …when the right time came about. arrange and place, But instead I force it these feelings in a column on the blackboard. and when it doesn’t get better, I push you to the Add it to the shopping list of solutions that has long dead spots of my brain, decayed. A place where you won’t function. I don’t know what it’s like to accept something, But you never go away, to be ok with the conflict that causes my organs to you only rent space in my head that I’m never paid put pressure on my solid sturdy bones. for. My eyes paw through the process of pain, But I’ve come to a point where I have no strength the words that when aliened and united become the to fight your inanimate figure, symptoms of a grief process. and have given up on fighting for my freedom. I read and I read, but I never find the solution. It wasn’t until tonight that this feeling came They don’t have the list of steps to take, to overabout. come a shortcoming; This feeling that had no temperamental words atthey state symptoms of the disease, tached, but never give you the pill. and I saw the writing on the black board, I’ve cried through the devastation, it had become faded, blamed you for my falls from grace, and written over. and denied you ever existed. The residue on the cool smooth board crumbled in But when I seem to arrive at that golden exit, my fingers it opens to a door that I have already seen. and disappeared. It tells me I cheated, And maybe you will rewrite yourself, Pulls the game from the station and says Bolder and Thicker than the last. “start over”. But at this single moment, Like the tides from the ocean, I no longer hate you. we explore the water Nor love you. and soon enough find ourselves far enough out. I nothing you. We drag our tired wet body back to the shore, And I do believe this is Acceptance. but we are stuck. Were exhausted and just want to go back, lay down. But the ocean gurgles and dribbles and giggles and says “no.” You put all your effort into making it back in, all your strength into fighting against the waves to arrive at your wanted destination. When only if we waited, and stayed afloat, 8


“Reaching” Katie Corvino Acrylic Paint

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Diana Schoder

Summer Memories

“Vintage Clockwork” Julia Soares Digital Photography

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Twisting, writhing in the hands of time A shimmering band on the horizon Composed of a city’s flickering lights Revolts against the sedated night. Black ink seeps through the murky blue page And purges the world of its Only extravagance—the vibrant flames Of an angered sunset’s flared rage. The last images that linger in My mind are silver pinpricks of light, Piercing through the darkness, refusing To assimilate into the night. In the still air, I brush off the stars. My eyes blink once, twice, another time, And I am immersed in the humid dawn. Each mountain is a smudge of paint Blurred by the rising gossamer fog And sweet summer rain, like reality, Begins to fall. Less dulled than sharpened In painful expanses of time, Collected memories of ethereal places Merge and transform Into one surreal night.


Plus.

by Patrick Tekula

Sarah Kelly never thought she would be in a place like this. A place of death. Of quitting. The plan had been a relatively simple one. Graduate Magna Cum Laude from Boston College. Get a job at a gallery or a museum. Marry to a nice boy at 27. Have two kids, one of each, by at least 34. Sarah clutched the tiny silver crucifix dangling around neck as she waited for the nurse in the horribly green scrubs to call her name. Two other girls sat a few rows over, weeping quietly and holding onto each other, palm to palm. Sarah said a prayer. For them. For herself. And for the life. With the squeaking of rubber soles against linoleum tile, the nurse announced herself. The nurse gave a slight smile and a wave to beckon for Sarah to follow her into one of the small cubicles down the hallway. She shook gently as she rose from the hard chair. She could feel the blood crashing against her temple, her brain pulsing against her skull. Every single nerve ending hummed against her pale skin. Memories came to her in a kaleidoscopic rush. Her maroon plaid skirt. The sound of Mother Superior’s archaic English preaching’s at morning prayer services. “He will rule Ye until the day Ye die!” 10 Hail Marys. Tom O’Malley whispering into her idle ear at the dance. Her mother brewing coffee at 5:30 every morning. His hand moving down, down, down. Her old porcelain doll, buried far away in the dark of her closet. The deep burn in her throat as she drank the “special punch.” She imagined Hell would burn like that. 5 Our Fathers. Her Dad playing catch with Sean in the front yard. Dark sky. Bright stars. Towering Evergreen trees. The soft sound of rock and roll lolling from the car stereo. The pain. The crush. “You okay, Baby?” The Nurse looks at her pityingly, gently, motherly. “Hmm,” is all she allows. “That’s okay Baby, right this way. The doctor will be in to talk to you in just a minute. It’ll all be taken care of.” And with that, she let the door click behind her.

“Fragmented Girl” Leslie Bernero Graphite and Color Pencil

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I Heard the Echo of a Whale Last Night

by Madeline Yee I heard the echo of a whale last night Like a voice instructor repeating a note. It’s not perfect, Try again. I heard the echo of a whale last night Like a voice instructor repeating a note. Was that a note?

Like a post-it I stepped on that stuck to my shoe That said haha you stepped on a post-it That said “haha you stepped on a post-it”. Stop watching me. Please. I’m just tired and need some sleep. Joanna said the noises in her head won’t stop. What noise? (the Whale) It echoes.

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“Like Secrets” Haley Fine Colored Pencil


“Self Garbage Can” Leslie Bernaro Graphite

Scarred

by Steph Schaffer Gravity pulls the competing tears from my flushed cheeks and plants them on your paralyzed face. Typical. The droplets are hardly visible on your pasty, cellophane skin. My hand trembles as I brush the hair out of your eyes, my fingertips tingling as they trace your forehead. Through the fog residing from the tears, your mouth flinches, struggling to open, and suddenly words flow out. It’s the same mumbled “I love you” that pierced my heart that night until I felt numb. Through your incoherent words the only ones that stood on their own were “I love you.” Your voice haunted my reality and even my dreams. Your words were strung together with no spaces in between. The final letters of one lingered with the fresh start of the next. Sounds like you and me. I couldn’t understand a fucking thing you said that night. Perhaps I was gasping for air too loudly amidst my hysterics, trying not to drown in the fear of reality. I blink my eyes as your perfectly flawed face comes back into clear view. I turn my head around and notice that a line has formed behind me. I’d better go. It’s about time. I tilt your head back slightly and glare at my favorite scar beneath your chin. As my lips caress your past, I feel a tug on the bottom of my chiffon dress – it’s Lily. I intertwine my fingers with hers and lead her away from you. She’s so beautiful; I wish she was ours. As I lift her fragile frame into my arms I wonder if she’ll ever know about your scar. 13


The Elevator wasn’t big by anyone’s standards. Its dimensions were those of a standard hotel—or perhaps mall—elevator, with the average silver inward-folding door. Above it were tiny metallic digits symbolizing the number of floors and to the side countless amounts of buttons for one to push and pick a destination. On an average day one or more button would be lit up and the Elevator’s inhabitants would expect to hear the high-pitched ding. Unfortunately, this was not an average day. As a matter of fact, the three current inhabitants of the Elevator were not entirely sure it was a day at all. Time had eluded them, as well as the rest of the world. They were left to sit on the Elevator’s red and blue speckled carpeting and contemplate. Currently, all were contemplating the discomfort of sitting on the carpet, made even less bearable by the fact that they could not recall how they had come to be in the Elevator in the first place. Though one had somehow appeared to make his peace with the situation and settled in the Upper Left Corner, curiously stroking a finger along the wall, two were becoming increasingly disturbed by the silence, neither knowing what to say. I suppose I should…introduce myself, thought one. I could make some obvious comment to start a conversation, thought the second. And so, in voices shrill in comparison to the previous void, burst the statements: “I’m Jack, and you are…?” “So it appears we’re stuck.” The two had been uttered simultaneously, thereby making it impossible for either to understand what the other had just said. This short non-exchange felt incredibly awkward for both, and they spent the following minute surveying the other’s appearance. Neither found himself impressed. Jack’s still nameless Elevator-mate stared Jack in the eye, communicating a signal with a squint. Sure that the man sitting in front of him would not begin to speak, he finally said, “I’m sorry, what did you say?” “I only said my name’s Jack, and I asked for yours.” explained Jack, groping his left wrist. He’d discovered the disappearance of his watch ten minutes earlier and still sorely missed it. “Cliff.” “Like the mean guy from that old book?” “Not Heathcliff. Just Cliff.” “Oh.” What a bore, thought Cliff, understanding that the man before him would not help him get to the heart of the matter. Nor was the man currently isolating himself likely to be of assistance. “So what was it you said before?” asked Jack. “I only mentioned our present lack of movement. This elevator is obviously stuck.” “Then shouldn’t we press the alarm button or somethin’?” Cliff had to stifle a sigh. “If you’d only look at the buttons you’d see how they’re all completely blank. We have no way of knowing which one is the one we need. We don’t even know if any of them work.”

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The Waiting Stage by Lianne Neiger


“But then…what floor are we on? Maybe we could try to pry the door open and jump out if we aren’t too high up.” The situation was becoming bleaker for Cliff as his companion’s questions continued to disappoint. “Again, if you’d only raise your head, you’d see that the numbers of floors seem to go on and on. In fact, each etching is so small I can’t make any out. Not one is lit up. Obviously we have no way of knowing which floor we’re on, and you still haven’t hit on our main predicament.” “Which is?” Jack clutched his loose jeans, fingers pressing on his fleshy legs. He didn’t like the condescending way in which this guy spoke. “Well, somehow I don’t think I’m the only one with no memory of how I got here. If you’re any better off than I am, do share. Because right now, all I know is that I’m in an elevator with two strangers, you and Mr. Isolation over there, and am unable to tell time or location. With a lack of a better explanation, I’d call this being trapped.” Jack did his best to rationalize his situation, but to his horror, he came up blank. Little academic know-it-all shit. “That’s what I thought. What do you say we ask our fellow man there if he can enlighten us?” Without waiting for Jack’s response—which had never been his intention—Cliff looked over to the third man sitting in the Upper Left Corner. “Hey there, Mr. Isolation, do you know why we’re all here?” The third man had been curled up in his Corner for the entire time they had been there, his face turned to the left facing the reflective wall. He’d been absorbed with the mutilated way in which his face appeared on the wall when he was bothered by Cliff. Instead of jolting or shifting from his position, as Jack had expected, the man merely shrugged and passed a finger along the wall. The plane of Cliff’s forehead transformed into a bumpy terrain. He never let his students get away with answering a question improperly, and he refused to let this insolence pass. “A shrug is not an answer. Good God, man, can’t you see how irritating this situation is? Who knows how long we could be in here!” Maddening Jack and Cliff further, the anonymous man in the Corner erupted in hoarse laughter that sounded painful as it made its way out. “You think this is funny, asshole?” Jack joined in, rising up to display his full height and protruding belly. The third man’s malicious grin flattened to Jack’s satisfaction. If Cliff hadn’t been watching him closely, they might have completely missed the slight and telling movement of the man’s thin lips. “What was that?” Cliff asked sharply. Still whispering yet at slightly higher decibels, he repeated “This is not the afterlife I’d imagined.” “Afterlife…” Jack’s lips inched up at the corners as he made a sudden realization. “Does this guy think he’s dead or something?” The third man said nothing, going back to tracing a finger across a section of the wall. Cliff saw it go from one side of his reflected neck to the other. Now, not one of them laughed. Now, not one of them dared to grin. Jack sat on the Upper Right Corner as Cliff chose the Lower Left. Suddenly it seemed important for them to get comfortable. They had a feeling that the wait before them might be very, very long.

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Airplanes

by Samantha Wingate Today, he is dead. It’s ironic, she thinks, that somehow his cigarette lighter made it back and he didn’t. After all, she always claimed that his smoking was going to be the death of him. And of course, him being him, he would just wink and take another puff of the lighted off-white stick and tell her to shush, darlin’. As she lies back in the field she almost wants to cry, because the days are passing like the airplanes in the blueblueblue, streaking by with their flashing lights and roars. And it’s ironic, because every weekend they would lie in the field and watch the flashing planes roar by and they would laugh because he hated airplanes but it was fun to watch them anyway. There are no cliché twittering birds nor fluttering butterflies nor wind whipping her hair around. There is only her, the cigarette lighter, and the memories roaring like flashing airplanes. And her nail is striking the metal wheel on the lighter and it’s sparking but not lighting, which is ironic because his spark is gone and he will never have his light again. There are no flowers, only the faintest trace of snow left on the browngreen ground, and it’s soaking the back of her precious sweater but she doesn’t care. She flicks the lighter again and watches as the flame jumps to attention, much like the soldiers he used to train with. She cannot cry because she is empty. Empty of emotion, devoid of feeling and no one understands. It’s hard to relate to those who come up to her and say I’m sorry for your loss. If you need anything just ask. I don’t want your pity, she wants to yell, I don’t want your consolation. I just want him back. But on the outside she would smile and thank them and walk away, flicking the cigarette lighter inside her pocket. It’s sad, really, the way she tosses and turns at night because she can’t help but think that it’s her fault he died because she couldn’t stop him and she was weak and useless and she couldn’t prevent him from going out there, into the explosions. Well, that’s how it was according to the traitor lurking inside her troubled mind. A flashing plane makes its way overhead, all dazzle and sparkle and shine and at that very moment, the lighter goes out. And it’s too fitting because the plane is gone and the lighter won’t light, and today he is dead, again.

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“Aviator� Leslie Bernaro Watercolor

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“Girl in Flowers” Leslie Bernaro Oil Pastel


My Opinion on the Thoughts They Must Have if They’re Addicted to Those Crazy Rollercoasters by Leslie Bernaro

I’m waiting in line for the roller coaster, I look at the faces of the people around me, Excited faces of people who can’t wait to experience such aquatic wonders, The scared ones, who bite back fear to impress their friends or lovers, The sad ones, who lock themselves in these monstrous contraptions to shake away the constant state of numbness in their callous body. And then there’s me, I wait for hours on a line smelling of sweaty men and curly fries, on the off chance that the roller coaster will break, And I will break with it. I do this because I’m too cowardly to end this myself. In a sick warped way I’ve convinced myself that this will be easier, to let the gods wipe away their failed creation. Yes, I’d rather be taken by a broken bolt that I can’t fix. I’ll feel the sharp gust of wind on my face before my mind can digest what happened, And by then, I’d only be conscious of the foreign fluidity of my body as it tumbled through the air. Free to kick around, stretch my body in the illimitable space surrounding me, before I hit the jaded metal awaiting me.

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“Embarrassed” Sydney Newman Colored Pencil


“Dying Trees” Betsy Wendt Digital Photography

The Songwriters’ Jury By Rebecca Fishman

Little can be brought To the songwriters’ jury Their ivory pink napkin Ready To swat shards of maggots, Half songs that can’t reach the air Only laying eggs in the rotten flesh Of old tunes, Birthing anew the flies Over Over Until not even the Bone of the pinky toe Remains. 21


“Expressive Hands” Kyung Ji Park Graphite

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Cleansed

By Lianne Neiger For others, however, who acted as oblivious onlookers The gloves came on when…I can’t remember. All I to my life, my gloves and I were one and the same. They became know is one day they were just there, and that’s where they my identifying feature as well as my identity. Perhaps the gap would stay for a long while. In the beginning I hated them fiercely. The skin where between me and others came from my failure to explain the gloves’ presence. I allowed my person to be excluded out of the sleek fabric rested on my hands felt irritated and—I had convinced myself—would begin to peel off if the gloves were every social activity, playing the part of the wallflower as others laughed uproariously in the sandbox. I could not afford the not removed. I moaned; I cried; I stomped my feet; I refused to speak. gloves becoming dirty. I had lost track of when those lifeless articles began conIn summary, I sulked as if possessed. Yet, in a cool manner trolling me. that was always beyond my comprehension, mommy never The gloves came off when—and this I do remember— relented. As my childish face flushed with exasperation, blood painting ravished blossoms beneath my skin, and tears ran past I neared the age of eighteen. Maybe it was because by then adulthood began rearing its filthy head and mommy would bring the folds of my eyes, mommy smiled gently. How pleasant; out the bowl more often, letting my hands soak slowly. Yet, it how utterly calm in the face of distress. had become a difficult task as the bowl no longer spanned them “You’ll love them in the end, my sweet.” comfortably. Did I resent her then? Likely as much as I did the Mommy’s arms shook as she set down the bowl that last gloves. Admittedly, they were aesthetically pleasing. Monoto- nously white, they were both virginal and sterile. Delicate and time. The clear water rippled within and I could see it reflect her cold. The only impression this gave me was that, like any valu- bewildered face, making a mockery of its old motionlessness. able dress I owned, I would not be allowed to play with them She held me by the wrists with her chilled hands, guiding me forward. and risk soiling their purity. Hypnotized by what I saw in the water, I let her. Thus, a feather-light pair of gloves became iron re Our joined arms, linked above the bowl, managed to set straints. several unstoppable acts in motion. The bowl tilted to the right, No, I could not simply remove them. I was not a held, then leaped down to the floor, flying apart on contact into simpleton, of course I attempted to slide them off once in a while, let my caged hands run through air, through any surface so many pieces it was impossible to believe they had ever shared I wished. But every time I did so, mommy knew. I would never a purpose. Time swirled, spun, stopped—rippled like the water understand how but be it a scent or some physical transforma- as we watched it all unfold together. Never had mommy looked so ashen or her shoulders so tion she could always sense that I had gone against her words. Then, without speaking, she would stride to the kitch- feeble, shuddering in their efforts to support a dazed head. It was as though she was trying to find the culprit, a scapegoat for en, fill a large bowl with water and set it in front of me. “You the crime that had been done, and finding the fingers pointed know what needs to be done,” she’d say and wait. I did know, and so I’d insert both hands inside, let the her way. I had never done so before and yet the urge came so water swish around and over my skin. Wincing in pain because, naturally, a calling to reach out and touch. Her pallid cheeks, the while mommy would not bring the liquid to a boil, it was hot warmth hidden beneath. Skin so finely layered I could feel the enough to shock me. To turn my skin faintly numb and strange- rigid bones. She was not made of stone. I marveled at the hands, stunningly pale in comparison ly colored. To…sterilize. “You understand, don’t you?” she’d ask in a near-whis- to the rest of me. They had never been of any use—they’d just remain connected, fruitless parts of me that would be better per, wiping my hands rather briskly with a towel. She would manage to dry every spot as though she knew the area better served in a museum, captured within a portrait. Bending down, I grasped a fragment within curled fingers and began collecting. than I did. “Yes,” I would lie every time. I would watch my scarlet There were pieces that were significantly larger than the rest, palms disappear into ivory and wonder: did the pigments melt though it was one of the smallest that broke through, stabbing a hole impossible to see in my palm and revealing a tiny bead inside? Would the gloves and I eventually become inseparaof blood. The bead, breathing in the air, matured and slowly ble? All such speculations were merely the unlikely fruits of expanded its reach. I watched it in fascination. I still wonder what made me do it. What had made me my once boundless imagination, of course. The gloves would seek the gloves with the unharmed hand, later raising it to blot come off for brief periods of time each day under mommy’s watchful eyes, and I would be assured that a melding process the wound? Was it spite guiding me to stain the unstained? Was it carelessness? had not gone underway. The gloves sit in a cabinet near my bed, folded and yellowed with age. They have long lost their hold on me. Now I simply enjoy pulling them out when the mood finds me, laughing at the faded rusty stain and dreaming of mother. Mommy.

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Flip of a Coin Lianne Neiger

Love or Hate At a flip of a coin. Be true or be fake. To split or to join. Tipping the scales This way or another. One is my killer The second a lover. Minutes to treasure, Years to waste. You grasp it, you listen. You smell it, You taste. A left road, A right, Each path connection. Our faith put in chance appears Everlasting.

“Frozen� Haley Fine Film Photography 24


Once Upon A Time by Samantha Gordon

Twice atop a second the crow begins to Caw and sing the tuneless melody: dashed across a lucid wall. “Beauty lies away from here.” Escape. Run down the street and watch the wiry old man stare. “Do you really think you can just waltz out of here?” “Do you really think you can just waltz out of here?” waltz, skip, fly, nothing can-except for the crow’s beak that gnawed a hole into your pocket spilling pebbles on your path. Follow that trail all the way away. Or to your ‘prince charming?’ that gold speckled majesty disguises rusty bronze, only a fool would follow that dynasty. He whispers “Beauty lies on a pebbled path.” Those Damned pebbles, your jester savior led you back. The wiry man grins and fades “Tomorrow is a new day. Fly, fly away.”

Princess & the Pea Bridget Rooney Colored Pencil

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TITLE“Untitled” Graphite Yiming Xiao Graphite and Yiming ColoredXaio Pencil

We Can Save You Kate Montgomery

When the six robots were marched in front of the company building, witnessed by scores of busy passersby crawling the streets, the world stopped. The whole world, it seemed, but its thumbs, which were busy pressing buttons to take pictures and videos, to text friends and acquaintances that they had to see this... Whatever this was. The robots were uniform, built in a more fluid version of the human form, and standing in a row before the glass doors of the labs that had made them. An employee—very high up in the company, yet completely unknown to the public; the man who had created these marvels—entered the scene. He strode, only a little self-consciously, across the stairs to address the audience of people that had gathered. “We have come to save you,” he announced shakily. “ At Padra Labs, we have finally perfected the humanoid computer, designed to carry out basic human functions and allow us to lead fuller, more relaxed lives.” The young man sounded as though he were reading from a script, and indeed, he was reciting something the publicists had cobbled together to sound inspirational and reassuring. “You don’t have to do menial chores that bog down your life. Now you can have someone cook for you, walk the dogs for you, watch the kids for you, drive your cars for you… And you don’t even have to pay it.” His voice broke on the last word and he swallowed uneasily. When he had been hired, public speaking had not been in the job description. He gestured behind him and rapped his knuckles on the brushed-steel body of one of the robots. “It’ll work in factories, doing the dangerous work that could injure either you or a family member. It’ll rescue people in emergencies, so there will be no need to risk your lives to save—” 26


“You want to take our jobs!” someone yelled out from the gaggle of people that had since turned into a swamp of anxious and curious bodies. “You want to make it cheaper for you big corporates,” the dissenting voice continued, “by putting us all on the streets. It’s bad enough with computers, now you want robots?” “But—“ The young man licked his lips as his eyes darted over the faceless crowd that was threatening to devolve into a mob. “But, look here, we’re doing it for you. You don’t have to work any more, see? You can relax and do whatever it was you never had the time or energy for, and… And there will still be jobs. It will even bring the economy back up. There have to be people who make the robots—“ “So now you want us to build the things that are going to put our families on the streets and starve us?” That same voice rose above the growing murmur, which was reaching ignition point: he could feel it. A droplet of sweat rolled from his damp hairline down his cheek, trembling on his jaw before dropping onto his collar. “You want us to make these things…” the word was spat with contempt, from a new voice, closer to him. He fought the urge to take a backward step. “…that could kill us?” At the word “kill” a roar went up, like a whole stadium doing the wave. He could feel the temperature rising around him, and his eyes fought for purchase in the stew of bodies. All his years of training could not prepare him for his. It was like a horror movie: you knew what was happening, and you had an idea of how to prevent it, but you were stuck on your couch, shouting at deaf characters who were about to die. Only in this case, he was both the agitated viewer and the deaf character. Something hit him in the chest. A shoe. Why, he wondered, would someone throw a perfectly good shoe—? He didn’t have time to ponder the whys, though, because all it took was one brave soul to ignite a mob, and the dam was broken. The next thing knocked him unconscious, and perhaps the impact of the ground killed him. He wasn’t the focus at that moment— the horde surged over him and went for the robots. They had seen no reaction from the metal beasts when they had wounded the man and, having seen “I, Robot” and therefore being experts on robots and the laws that bound them, felt confident that the robots would not fight. Taking whatever they could find that was not nailed down, and some things that were, they went to work on the robots, smashing and breaking and crushing with wild disregard for any intelligence that lurked in the machine. The security guards in the building saw them and were on the verge of calling the police when they took a moment to think about it. Were not their jobs even more threatened by these hulking brutes of metal? Even without being summoned, the police were drawn by the noise and chaos surrounding the Padra buildings but, seeing the security guards actively assisting the mob, they stood by, ready to put a stop to things as soon as actual people started getting hurt. They followed the crowd into the building once the robots had been reduced to pieces barely worthy of being called scrap metal, trailing after them half-heartedly as they traveled in a great swarm to the floor on which resided the CEO. He was—thankfully for him and his sanity and his heart—at a meeting in Switzerland, but the people still took a sick glee in destroying his computers and any equipment more sophisticated than a coffee machine, which they only spared because it was still early and some of them weren’t sufficiently awake yet. The order went through the crowd to inform everyone in the building that the people were now in charge, and the technocracy Padra had imposed upon the world was over. The police, seeing the pure and simple democracy in this action, enforced the decision with pride. The people might still destroy themselves—in fact, it was quite likely. But they would do it by their own hand. They would not bow down to a collection of nuts and bolts and electronic relays. They would not have their lives stolen by mechanical things. They would return to the simple world of a people connected to the land; they would bring back the good old days once and for all, for better or for worse. 27


“Sisters” Leslie Bernaro Graphite

Seasonal Depression by Leslie Bernaro

Simpler times, Healthier times, Richer times, Safer times, At night I spend my time in smoke filled bathrooms, Having incoherent conversations, With the faces of corruption.

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Otherwise when you look in the mirror you’ll see a monster, You wouldn’t be able to look your daddy in the eyes, You want both worlds, You want to go out there and feed your little shop of horrors But you want to still come home and have your dad kiss you on the cheek and wish you a good night.

But when I put my head to sleep, I still hold on to my furry stuffed animal, I still have a night-light to scare away the monsters And I still crack my door open so my parents can see me.

You’re a fake, You don’t belong in either realm, You can’t call yourself good, But you wont surrender yourself to be broken either.

It changes you so fast, That those little things, Those childhood things, You hold on tighter too.

I see no solution, no silver lining, Not even a shitty bronze one, I ask myself, Will there ever be an end?


The Spaces Between My Fingers Are No More Than 10 Years Apart by Amanda Fraus

I used to look up to you, but that was when I was four

feet and five inches. I’ve grown up to almost eye level where I can see your intensions. I thought that you were just being nice to me, which was your job after all. I thought I was just your favorite little camper. All the other counselors would pick kids as favorites; I just thought I got lucky. I didn’t think anything of it; I thought that since I was always alone you felt bad for me. I didn’t know how much was too much. Remember that time I saved you from getting fired because you hit a camper in the braces when you were playing air hockey? I guess that’s how it all started. I always used to brag to the other campers that I was your favorite. Between the extra bags of animal crackers, the un-planned trips to the ice cream shack, and our matching nick names, I could tell they were all jealous. I was nine turning ten that summer, and you were nineteen turning twenty. I didn’t like the other kids much; they were self-centered and rich. They glared at me in my cheap pink shorts, while they had 100 dollar jeans and jumpsuits. We would laugh at them. You told me to ignore their big noses that pointed up at me, and I smiled and laughed as you mocked them with your hands on your hips, and your nose to the sky, and your long stride down the basketball court. You always knew how to make me laugh; you were the older brother I always wanted but never had. It felt good to have someone stand up for me, because I was always so used to trying to fight my own battles. To be honest, you were the only one I ever let do that for me. As time went on, I seemed to have been your support too. Sometimes you would look down and be quiet all day, and we would talk about why you were upset. You would talk about girls, and your brother, and how you wanted to be in the Navy. You said you signed up earlier that summer and that you would miss me when you left. I didn’t think you meant it. The last day of camp was the hottest day of the whole summer. You made sure I had sunscreen on because you knew I burned easily. You gave me yours because I forgot mine, but there was none left for you and your whole face got burnt. There was a carnival and you won me a dragon. You took me into the bouncy castle and you got kicked out for being too big. Before you left you gave me your e-mail. You said that you were being recruited into the Navy soon and that you would try to keep in touch. I cried into your baby blue staff tee shirt and clung to you till my bus monitor pulled me off so I could go home; I cried when I did. I thought about you every day. But then the leaves started to fall and they distracted me. And the snow started to fall and it distracted me. And then the rain came down and I was so distracted I didn’t think about you anymore.

I was twelve turning thirteen that summer and you were twenty two turning twenty three. I got an e-mail that said you missed me and that we needed to talk as soon as possible. You told me how your exgirlfriend is suicidal and denies the fact that you broke up with her, how your brother died, how you think you are depressed, and how you need my help. I tried to help as much as I could, but I couldn’t put mature enough words together to make much of a difference. You knew I tried and you said that you were thankful to have me. You started talking to me a lot more, every day. I don’t know how you got my phone number, but you would text me as often as you could. You kept telling me I was beautiful, and how I have grown. You got mad when I didn’t answer. “We should meet up soon.” “You are gorgeous.” “I should come pick you up sometime.” “I miss your smile.” “You should come over” “I need your help; I think I took too many pills” “Why aren’t you answering, I need you” “I’ll be seeing you soon.”

“Sometimes We Make Love With Our Hands” Betsy Wendt Digital Photography

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Sandstones by Madeline Yee

Kellen knelt down beside the clear stream along the path. Cole watched her pick up certain rocks and pebbles, placing some in her other hand, and putting others back where she had found them. “You know what I like about you?” he asked. “What?” Kellen’s eyes remained focused on the water. “Even when I think I have, I haven’t quite figured you out yet.” Kellen paused and took her attention away from the stream. She stood up slowly. “Yet?” “What?” “You tagged ‘Yet’ to the end of your sentence.” “Well, yes, because I figure people out.” “All people?” “Yes, well, all those I come in contact with. Some are much easier then others.” Kellen knelt down once again, only this time she placed her hand in the stream’s current. It was late winter and the ice was still thawing. “So if you spend all this time figuring out other people, who figures out you?” “I’m not sure,” Cole answered. “But there are definitely people who do the same thing to me. It’s human nature. We can’t help ourselves. We’re constantly comparing and judging and competing; coming to conclusions about other people that allow us to judge whether we like the sons-of-bitches or not.” “And if we’re wrong?” Kellen asked. “I’m sure I’ve been wrong before. Are your shoes wet?” Kellen looked down at her Moccasin’s and wiggled her toes from within. “Yes, but I don’t mind.” She started to walk again. “I like the feeling of the ground. It helps me to remember that I’m still here.” She took off her shoes and socks and carried one in each hand beside her. She held her arms to balance on the rocky ground. The land was soft and wet from the melting snow. Cole watched her as she let the mud squeeze between her toes. Kellen walked on until the buttercup nail polish on her toes disappeared under the twigs; she then stepped into the stream one foot at a time until the colors on her nails reappeared. Kellen and Cole walked until they came to a dam. A layer of clear water covered the rock path that had once been a crossing. “I dare you to drink it.” Cole said. Kellen bent down, cupped her hands, brought the icy water to her lips and hesitantly let it slide down her throat. “What does it taste like?” Cole asked. “Like what water is suppose to taste like,” Kellen said. Cole reached down and scooped a sample for himself, swooshed it around between his cheeks and swallowed. “I don’t even want to know what I just drank,” he said. “Maybe some fish larva and rock moss,” Kellen said, smiling. They both stood up and looked to the other bank about five feet away. “Want a piggy-back ride?” Cole asked. Kellen didn’t respond, but instead took a head start and leaped over the water. She smiled and looked at Cole who was cautiously picking stones to step on to get across. “See that hill over there?” Kellen said, pointing to the snow-covered distance. “Yeah?” 30


“I remember a few years ago walking on that path at night with a few friends. It was dark and one of us got spooked by something and started to run.” Kellen paused to nibble on the skin around her nail. “I don’t even know if he saw anything but we all just started to run after that. It’s funny how we put so much trust in other people’s words.” “I’m sure you didn’t think of it that way when it happened. You were probably all spooked inside, and that person’s actions just triggered the response.” “Maybe.” For the next twenty minutes time passed in light breezes and crunching leaves beneath bare feet. A silence overwhelmed the atmosphere. They arrived at a split in the path. “Left or right?” Cole asked. “You’re choice” “Left.” On the path to the right a man and a woman followed a small child on a tricycle. The tricycle had colorful streamers hanging from the handlebars that remained still while the child restlessly peddled his back wheel out of the mud.

“This Close to Safety” Haley Fine Film Photography

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Business

Amanda Fraus My tears have evaporated from this page. The ink has raced down between the pale hospital blue stripes and has even crossed the IV infused vertical line that divides my expected work from my own thoughts. Disrupted mentally. Distracted. Devoted. Distraught. I can’t sleep because the darkness is prying my eyelids open, forcing me to get lost in the confusion of the night and the stars and the moon. They laugh at the fact that it’s their fault I can’t drift off into an illusion mixed in with my thoughts and emotions and random events. They are filled with people I have never seen, and maybe I will never see. My mind tricks me to believe things are real because my bones are rattled with sediments of hope and faith that form blood clots in my veins. My voluntary actions are shot and my involuntary are crippled. The constant flow of my dreams and fantasies and life is blocked off by a lie that is sticking to walls that I truly believed were the truth…But they are closing in and everything seems like a distant façade. It is out of reach? Or am I just out of perspective. It mocks me, like the moon and the stars and the night that sew my eyes shut; making it impossible for me to be aware of reality and make believe. It is the conspiracy that rubs my face in acceptance and protects me from ignorance. I have been counting the fibers in the trunk of the car with my hands tied behind my back and tape placed comfortably across my lips. I have been counting the moments till my heart sings its swan song. Even in that moment, I will still be wondering why I am the way I am. Why it is the way it is? Why you are the way you are? I can no longer hide my scarlet letter secrets when my passion has puncture wounds. I will soon be withered away, and my pale skin will oxidize and become yellow and crisp like pages of an old book. I will be forgotten. It is said that when one door closes, another opens…but what happens when the same door won’t close for good nor stay open? Please, blot my coffin shut.

“Hands” Leslie Bernero Graphite

“Las Flores” Graphite Meme Balmori 32


“Looking Up” Julia Soares Digital Photography

Giant Oak in the Yard

by Samatha Gordon When I was seven I aspired to be a baby oak tree that crawled in the backyard who whispered its secrets to budding bushes. He wanted me to grow pine cones under my flesh Mother laughed at my insanity and father chopped away that baby oak tree.

When I was seventeen I aspired to be an undiscovered tree growing crooked curvy within dew filled grass. Who transformed to gold and crimson in the autumn chill, rustled in the breeze but never fell to the ground. Mother began to cry

When I was twelve I aspired to be a massive maple tree “She’s lost all sense of reality.” that stood stoic on the front yard nesting gypsy caterpillars, And father cut down me. who tickled my bare palms. Screaming invisible howls to no one. Mother questioned my normality and father set the wood chipper on the massive maple tree

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Cascading Colors by Stephanie Wank

“Please just read it,” Joey pleaded to his sister Allison. The piece of paper lay face down on the patio table as if sun tanning in the glare of light. Allison clamped her hands around the plastic deckchair handles and lifted her head up toward the sun as she gently closed her eyes. “I can’t,” Allison exhaled while leaving the table. She ran to her room and opened the window to climb out onto the tree limb that almost cascaded into her bedroom. Scaling the tree to the third branch, she straddled the limb and massaged her fingers into her temples as if she was kneading dough. The air felt soft on her skin and the little hairs on her arms stood on edge as she got a slight chill. She plucked five perfect orange leaves from the branch above her head and out of the corner of her eye she watched Joey enter her room, sit down on her bed, and wait for her to come down from her perch. They were both well aware that his attempts were failing and it was getting closer to the date when he would leave. She hated goodbyes; it meant she wouldn’t be able to see her older brother every day and she didn’t want to have to explain to him how much she really cared before he left. 3 minutes and 43 seconds until she would give in and come down, she thought as she looked at her watch. Allison climbed back in through the window

carrying the leaves between her pointer finger and thumb. Joey went over to help her through the window and she handed her possessions over to him so he cold place them in the painted box she had made in second grade. This had become a daily ritual with Allison and Joey and by now there was a collection of these leaves. She sat down on the bed and he put his arm around her. “How much longer are you going to do this to me – torture me like this…?” Joey asked her. Allison walked to her closet and pulled out a picture of a magazine from a folder. “I want this for us,” she said as she pointed to the picture of a happy family advertising dog food on the page, “You don’t understand how much this means to me.” She crumpled the picture to her chest. “I can’t tell you how sorry I am for doing this to you, but this is my decision and it’s happening in two weeks. I’ve known this for a while and I’m coping with it fine. Now why can’t you?” “Because this is the life I’ve always wanted!” she exclaimed as she pointed to the picture in frustration, “Stop ruining my plans!” Calmly, Joey stood up and walked over to the bookshelf. He picked up the box and dumped it out trailing colorful leaves onto the pale blue carpet. As he stood in the doorway, his eyes widened, and he exclaimed, “We all can’t have this life. I’m not the one who ruined it, but my dreams count for something too, right?”

“Self Portrait” Madeline Yee Colored Pencil

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The Barbar Chill by Shivrat Chabra

A mind disturbed a spirit perturbed? Against what does this barbar herd find the need themselves to gird? No chilling beat does through the valley echo No racing arrow does the mountain peck, oh, But still the barbars gather, tense uncertain about their course hence.

“Anytime� Haley Fine Film Photography

They fear not any earthly power but still feel the tightness of the hour. At any moment may the sun now rise signaling their slow but sure demise. For all must die, they know. And yet, for life, they pray, they crow. Not because it is death they fear. But something far more frightening drawing near. Their slow collapse they can see approach. Slowly on their prosperity to encroach. But even this does not their kind faze. Success as they see it , is just a passing daze. So what do they fear, this race of man? What causes them to armor themselves, arm and hand? Inconsequence, it is, that appears to demonically loom, Inconsequence, being forgotten their ultimate doom.

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Metamorphosis by Steph Schaffer

This cyclic transition between caterpillar and butterfly appears endless. Just as your imperfect asymmetrical wings finally spread, you don’t lift off, but nestle back into the shelter of your cocoon. For weeks at a time, you dwell encompassed by your inferior form. Your immense potential to soar is evident to everyone but yourself. You remain a temporarily defenseless, squirming bundle of kinetic energy. Meanwhile, the blindfold obscures your view of the perfection that inhabits your every cell and inhibits you from gripping the peak of your success. You rest centered on a taught tightrope always expecting it to snap and awaiting your fall. On each end of the spectrum lies a different outcome. Though one should be past and the other present, past remains present and present signifies future. Even with a crystal ball, the future lacks clarity. What should be infinite is viewed as unfeasible. Hasn’t anyone ever told you nothing is impossible? As your tiny, furry, critter-like-self slithers across the tight rope with ease, you stop right at the cusp of the point you consistently fail to reach. Millimeters mark the brink of change and from a distance you are already there, but from a microscopic view miles still remain. It is at this point that you give up, yet again, and are defeated by your own inaccuracies. You cozy up in the safe haven of your cocoon once again. The only place where hope still lingers along with the residing truth, the only place where you’ve ever believed in anything significant, the only place where you’ve confronted who you assume you are, though you couldn’t be more wrong. While you hide in the safety of your chrysalis, sheltered from reality, your loved ones unfairly feel your weight on their shoulders, and face your battles alone. With no shield or sword in hand your soldiers combat your disease, an ailment that should have surrendered long ago. You are the sole contender in this unholy war with a chance to defeat. Don’t ever fear that you won’t have an army behind you; multiple people would put themselves in harm’s way in exchange for your life. Your militia is fully aware that you are just a helpless larva and refuses to release your grasp because you’d have nothing left to hold onto. Perhaps that is exactly what you need, but the masses are far too tenderhearted to leave you to your own devices. The only civilian casualties in this conflict would be a result of your giving up. Not only does the addiction conquer you, but it forcefully tackles everyone around you. The powerful impact leaves your defense force vulnerable and hopeless. Lying on the ground around you and desperate for a win are people putting more into your fight than you would ever consider giving. You rely heavily on those defending you, though you are oblivious to their support. The world isn’t out to harm you, but simply to provide a solid foundation for which you can expand upon until you reach limitless heights. Be fearless, especially of yourself. Fear is just a concept, an abstraction with awful intentions. Fear does not exist unless you fertilize it, nurture it, and leave room for it to grow. You are not frightening to others, so you must not be fearful of yourself. All of the trepidation which restrains you could be terminated; never to return. But only you have the ability to exterminate it from your thoughts and replace it with a gentler notion. You are capable of this and anything else you desire. The pressure and guilt are too much for you to handle, but the isolation in your cocoon is of no benefit. It is contrarily detrimental to your triumph which is so visibly within reach. So please, realize how immaculate those flawed wings are in all of their imperfection and float off to somewhere you’ll be blissful and liberated, somewhere those gilded wings can illuminate and iridesce eternally in the shimmering sunlight.

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“Gravity’s Pulling Me Up” Meme Balmori Colored Pencil



Criterion 2010