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THE CRITERION EZINE – SPRING 2018 EDITION President of the College

Vincent Maniaci

Dean, School of Business, Arts and Sciences

Susanne T. Swanker

English Department Head

Lori A. Paige


Julie R. Bodnar

Featured Writers Connor Hicks


D’vine Davis


M. Curry


Rushawna Elliott


Vika Maklakova


Jazmine Baehr


Julia Hoyle


Onaysia Martinez


Jenna Forward


Michael Acevedo


Jilson Salem


Samora Winspreare


Nyrie Holliman


David Padilla


Michelle Jones


Elizabeth Fisher


Connor Hicks


Rushawna Elliott


M. Curry


Vika Maklakova


Rushawna Elliott


Pauline Barry


J. Bodnar

FLUIDITY (cover art)

All text and artwork © individual contributors.

Beast Within by Connor Hicks


Lesson learned by D’vine Davis Now this right here is a lesson I learned I know you say you forgive me And I know you say you love me But deep down I know you hate me I’ve been feelin that vibe lately I wanna let you know I love you I know you do, you say it too I wish things worked between me and you But I guess what we are is gonna have to do

I see you by M. Curry You look at me for a little too long The look on your face is a little too strong You think we are different But what’s different is you You see color as a definition But is that definition true?


Mama Knows by Rushawna Elliott Mama Knows Mama cook, Mama clean Mama wash him dotty jeans Mama shout, Mama Scream Mama Knows Struggle yah suh Struggle deh suh Mama tryin nuh fi leggo Mama bawl, mama crawl Mama knows Mama struggle Teach wi nuh fi barrow cuz wi nuh fi shallow Suh wi haffi tink bout tomarrow Suh education wi haffi value Yes Sah Mama knows

Hollowness by Vika Maklakova It’s such a pity to sit in an empty room, To fill your hollowness inside with fables, To waste your time in bottomless pit. Time goes so fast like a strike of lightning, When you give up on everything, And lost in oblivion. You feel so empty and lonely 5

That you don’t have a sense to live. That all your goals and desires vanished, And left you alone with no passion and no joy. The time flies every hour as one second, But I am still can’t fill my hollow. I feel that something missing, That something was important to me, That something was keeping me alive.


Baseball by Jazmine Baehr Everyone is addicted to something that takes the pain away. It just so happens to be that some vices are considered better than others. It’s unfortunate but the best you can hope for in life is to be addicted to something that isn’t going to kill you. Growing up was a peculiar experience as I got to watch all different forms of addiction unfold. I witnessed a man so self-deluded that he ignored all three of his children fall into substance abuse, just so he could pretend like his family was perfect. When blissful ignorance was no longer an option he too showed his addiction. to baseball of all things… My mother is a drug addict. It's not something I’m afraid to say. I am not alone in saying that as the rate of drug addicts grows larger every day. Today and tomorrow and the day after next children will continue to become part of this involuntary group in which I am part of. They will learn how to cope with loving a person who is an addict. I always thought when my mother would eventually overdose I would be an inconsolable mess. Instead I laughed, the doctor looked at me bewildered and asked what I found so funny. To which I responded … well if she dies at least I can tell people she died doing something she loved.


Lake Street, Acushnet, MA by Julia Hoyle


Her by Onaysia Martinez Soft skin, soft touch You would think it’ s made from real… “Hello!” she says, she blinks and reacts. “I love you. I want you.” Her eyes say with a twinkle. I lover her. I want her. I need her. But does she feel as I do? I ask her but she only smiles an empty smile, One that does not seem to reflect back. “Honey, please tell me do you…?” I gently caress her perfectly smooth arms. I become angry and frusterated. Doesn’t she love me? She feels my leg, I lose the sensation. I shake her, violently now. “YOU LOVE ME! I KNOW YOU DO! TELL ME!” Tears pour down my cheeks into an immensly Painful abyss called my body. She smiles that empty smile. She turns toward me. “Hello!” she blurts cheerfully. I sob. But I still… Love Her.


Tulip by Jenna Forward


Love by Michael Acevedo It's a simple word,
 Yet can cause so much hurt.
 We've all experienced it,
 You meet a girl and fall in love.
 But along the way you manage to lose yourself.
 Outsiders don't understand how we managed to lose ourselves,
 but see it's pretty simple actually.
 When you love someone, you give them your all, and if you're lucky they give you their all, in return.

But most of the time it turns out they don't.
 They don't love you the way you love them,
 And you can't help wondering if you’re not good enough.
 Every time you feel them pulling away you try changing something about yourself in hopes that, that was what prevented them from loving you.
 So, you slowly chip away pieces of yourself
 Morphing into the person you think they want you to be. It's never enough though they always end up leaving.
 You may think they won't and that they'll love you forever and ever Because they promised. They promised not to break your heart.
 They promised to be there for you whenever and forever. But most importantly they promised to love you.
 People are funny like that.
 They make promises they know they can't keep yet make you believe them anyway.


Don't believe a word they say because promises are meant to be broken And happily ever after does not exist.
 They take all the best parts of you and leave you wondering what if... What if I was skinnier? What if I was richer?
 What if?
 That's the thing about what ifs. They don't matter. They don't change anything, All they do is make it unable for you to heal.
 It's the "what ifs" and the "should haves" that will eat your brain,
 And make your chest feel heavy,
 Making it impossible for you to sleep at night because you’re too busy drowning in your misery, And there's no one around to save you.
 It all comes back to the word love. Such a simple word, Yet it can cause so much hurt.

Field of Rubies by Jilson Salem I wake up and rub my eyes Only to see its still dark. I wash my face and pack my things, And wait at the park. No one is around but me and the darkness. From the corner of my eyes I see a familiar friend, It’s the shining brightness of the sun rising again. Not a moment too soon the van arrives. “Good morning sir” the driver says, I respond in kindness. 12

The driver and I joke and reminisce about the other side. When we were younger and use to play side by side, Where the emerald mountains use to collide. I still remember the soft warmth of the earth beneath my feet, now I only feel the rubber of my boot sole; digging into the earth, As if it’s digging its own grave. There’s a sea of bodies spread across the great green field, all picking the red ruby. Although most people measure value in jewels, we measure in fruits. Day to day we rip these rubies from there roots, By daybreak, they have been biblically wiped from the earth. The sun has now become my enemy. Strangling my body with an overwhelming sense of dread. It forces me to make two choices: succumb or overcome. I cannot stop. This is the only option I got. I weave my way around the field filling my basket with strawberries. I go as fast as I can, trying to beat the shadows. For I know when the shadows appear, it’s almost the end. My body aches and my bones are weary, Is it worth it I say, to feel so dreary? I can still hear my mother’s voice whisper in the air, “Make something out of your life Javier" Her tender voice fills me with confidence, That I made the right choice to come to this part of the continent.


The time is done, and the sun has parted, I pack my things and head home. The warmth of my bed is a welcome sight, That overflows my soul with delight.

Nighty Night by Samora Winspeare You'd tuck me in Every night Give me a kiss And say sleep tight And if I was scared I'd sleep in your bed No monster would come Or you'd kill 'em dead As a child I loved Toy Story And I'll never forget Hakuna Matata Means no worries But now things are different I'm no longer that innocent You creep in my bed Only hoping to benefit You feel me all over Then you get inside Tongue kissing your favorite You instruct I open wide And during this time 14

You keep asking if I like it You say you want me to feel good But that's nonsense, I don't buy it The things you do to me You make me do to you You say if I ever told No one believe it were true Some nights are better than others Because you can be gentle, but you can get rough Some nights you go in deeper You say I'm a big girl, so it's time to be tough But then things got different Last night they weren't the same You told me to dress up You gave me an outfit and some lingerie Before, in the beginning I would cry, and I would protest But now I've become so numb I don't even breathe while you molest Although it's not every night This feels like forever Can you tell me why my horrible pain? Is your satisfying pleasure? I'm going to wrap it up Because this poem's way too long I don't think you'll ever understand That the things you do to me Mom Are sooooo god damn wrong.


A Child’s Best Friend by Nyrie Holliman

A Day in the Garden by David Padilla

The normality in the Eden Garden has been disrupted by a series of gruesome murders against Roses. This spree has taken the lives of a family of four Lavender Lassie roses, one white rose, and a young couple which were an orange and pink rose. The police have apprehended a prime suspect to these murders, a dandelion. Today Ismet Dandelion stands trial for the serial murders of these roses.


My lawyer, Dike Heather Lavender, turns to me and does her best to reassure me that everything will be alright. While I appreciate her comfort the fear that her work is all in vain slips into my psyche. I spoke to the police for hours pleading my innocence, but it fell on deaf ears. I know the harsh, unfortunate reality though. No one believes anything that I have to stay because I’m a dandelion. Dike looks over and has caught on to my distress and says, “Don’t worry kid. There is insurmountable evidence to prove you’re innocent. Just try to remain positive.” I took a deep breath and tried to take her advice. Suddenly I heard the door in the back of the court open. I look back to see Alice White Rose, Scarlett Juliet Rose, and their lawyer Eurydice White Chrysanthemum walking in. The anxiety rose up through my entire body because this is the first time I’ve ever seen my accusers before. Before I could catch my breath, the bailiff's voice boomed throughout the entire courtroom exclaiming, “All rise for the honorable Judge Judica Black-eyed Susan! You may be seated.” My moment has come. I began to hope and pray that I will be proven innocent, but the fear refuses to dissipate. The first group of people to speak were the Roses and Eurydice. Scarlett took the stand first. Eurydice asked Scarlett a series of questions, and it was as if they had rehearsed what was being said. They started off by speaking about how wonderful, and philanthropic the Rose linage is, and was. Following this they discussed me, and my connection to the Roses. Admittedly there was no connection, but she speculated that it may have been to steal their money. Dike objected on the grounds of speculation, thankfully, but even though it was struck from the record it won’t be struck from the jury’s mind. Scarlett finished her


testimony soon after. The next to take the stand was Alice, the real reason I’m here. She took the stand and instantly began to slander my name. Her accusation alleges that I broke into the Lavender Lassie Rose family’s home, brutally murdered the four of them, and stole their money. Her testimony was very matter of fact, and harsh. The more she spoke the more overwhelmed I felt. In my mind she was developing a story which would leave the jury without a doubt in their mind that I was guilty. Suddenly in the midst of my thoughts Alice broke out into a hysterical screech, “I know you did it! Why do you keep denying it! You weeds are all the same! You should be ashamed of yourself!” The judge did all she could to silence the jury, who came to an uproar, and Alice. All while this was occurring Alice’s words echoed throughout my mind. As a Dandelion we tend to be the victims of a great deal of prejudice. The world looks down upon us just because we’re weeds, and it is painful. There are those in our society who claim we’re invasive, reproduce too much, and we’re draining the economy and healthcare. The reality is we’re just trying to live our lives. We keep to ourselves, pay our taxes, respect the government, and be responsible and helpful plants in society. My mother used to tell me she read somewhere that us weeds are “plant[s] whose virtues have not yet been discovered”. Dike snapped me out of daze by letting me know that my good friend, Ramona Lamium, will take the stand in my defense. I was with Ramona the night of the Lavender Lassie Rose murders. There is no possible way that they could convict me for these murders knowing that information. Dike asked her about my relationship to her, my character, and what happened the night of the murders. Ramona had only positive things to say about me and stated the fact that I was with her and a group of friends the night of the murders. Dike had no further questions and returned to her seat next to me. She whispered to me softly, 18

“You’re going to be ok. You have a solid alibi, so try to relax.” Eurydice stood up and began to ask Ramona a series of questions that seemed to only result in answers that could paint me in a negative light. Finally, Eurydice asked Ramona, “Before he arrived was Mr. Dandelion delayed in any way?”
“Well he said he hit some traffic on the way over, but there is always traffic in Eden.”
A devious look developed on Eurydice’s face, and she then excused Ramona from the witness stand.
It was finally my turn to take the stand and the fear almost rendered me incapable of walking. I got on the stand, and Dike was the first to question me. Her questions helped put me at ease. She started off by asking about my life and personality. I told her I am a college student studying theater with a minor in history. I told them of my professor Adelaide Edelweiss who I help because she is in a wheelchair. I am a grade A student, and I have never broken a law in my entire life. She asked about my whereabouts the nights of the murder. I told her that I was going to spend the night with my friends Ramona, Priscilla Tiger Lily, and George Hemlock. She addressed the traffic issue, and I did tell her I was stuck in traffic for forty minutes on the Autumnal Highway. When I got past this traffic jam it took me another twenty minutes to get there. After this response Dike sat down, and Eurydice began to question me. She did all she could to poke holes in the story of my personal life, but she couldn’t. She then asked, “Were you really in traffic for forty minutes on the Autumnal Highway?” I obviously agreed this information was correct because that is exactly what occurred. Her next statement through me for a loop. She said,


“Did you know that the Autumnal Highway is approximately five minutes away from the Lavender Lassie Rose family’s home? Did you also know the time it takes to get from that house to your friend’s residence is approximately thirty minutes?” “No,” I said in complete shock, “I was completely unaware of this information.”
“Well that seems convenient to me.”
“What are you suggesting Mrs. White Chrysanthemum?”
“I’ll ask the questions Mr. Dandelion. What caused the traffic jam Mr. Dandelion?”
“There was a three-car collision. I believe that someone was pretty injured because I saw an ambulance.”
 “No further questions.” The jury began to murmur in confusion as to the abrupt ending to her questioning but accepted it as fact. I returned to my seat and sat there in a haze of confusion and terror. Finally Judge Blackeyed Susan asked for the plaintiff's closing response. Eurydice stood and spoke clearly, “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury it is not up to me to convict this young plant of a crime, but it is quite clear that he is guilty. Through this entire process only now did we learn of this convenient traffic jam on the Autumnal Highway. This young plant clearly got off of the highway killed the poor family and had enough time to go see his friends. You can see now that he is doing his best to hide the guilt, and shame, now that he has been caught. If we let him go he will kill again. He would think he will be saved under the guise of double jeopardy. In that scenario our fellow citizens won’t think he did it because if he was let off for one string of Rose murders odds are it wouldn't be him. If we let him go it will happen again. It is weeds like him that makes the others look live evil degenerates. We have to keep him away from hurting other innocent plants, especially ones like that Adelaide Edelweiss. Thank you.”


The judge looked over to Dike and I and proceeded to ask for our closing statements. Dike briefly looked over to me, and said without hesitation, “I would like to allow Mr. Dandelion to close this trial please.” Judge Black-eyed Susan looked at the two of us skeptically but agreed to allow it. I looked at Dike with great hesitation, but she gave me a reassuring glance. I took a deep breath and spoke as clearly as I could. “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury I realize that it is rather unorthodox for someone in my position to give this closing statement, but please bear with me. The evidence provided to the jury has proven that I am not a murderer. I have never committed any form of a crime, and I never will. I was raised to be much better than this. I realize that there is a stigma that may be placed upon us weeds, but please do not let that convince you of anything. Thank you.” After the closing statements the jury took a few hours to deliberate. As each second passed the fear, and anxiety, welled up inside me. I couldn’t help but be thrown between hopeful optimism and morbid pessimism. Finally, the time came, and we were brought back into the courtroom. Dike gave a reassuring pep talk as we sat down, which helped ease my nerves slightly. Judge Black-eyed Susan spoke plainly, “Has the jury come to a decision foreman?”
The foreman, who was an Anemone I didn’t recognize, stood up slowly and said, “Yes we have. We the jury find Mister Ismet Dandelion guilty in the murder of the Lavender Lassie Rose family.”


A chill shot up my stem, and I couldn’t help but sob uncontrollably. I heard my family begin to wail like a chorus of banshees. I looked helplessly at Dike and she was even brought to tears. Judge Black-eyed Susan looked at us and stated coldly, “Unfortunately, Mr. Dandelion the punishment for murder is the death penalty. Your death is scheduled for four hours from now. I would like you to make your peace, and make sure all is in order. Court is adjourned.” She slammed the gavel, and the sound echoed endlessly through my ears as my world fell apart. I was brought back to my cell and made arrangements for my will and funeral. I said goodbye to my family as we all sobbed uncontrollably. Then I had my final meal... I never thought things would have to end this way. The time finally arrived, and I was brought into this solid white room. There were only four items in this room: a window to see those who came, a chair, an IV drip filled with an ominous clear liquid, and a Gladioli. My senses no longer functioned, and I moved robotically into the chair. It wasn’t until I sat down that I realized what was about to happen. I began to have a complete nervous breakdown. I had no idea what my body was doing, but all I could hear was myself screaming, “Please don’t do this! This is all a mistake! I didn’t hurt anyone!” The Gladioli strapped me to the chair and inserted the needle directly into my stem. I began to scream even louder this time, “Please Mr. Gladioli I didn’t commit this crime! Let me out of here please! I didn’t do it! I don’t want to die! Please! Please! Plea-” 22

The liquid coursed throughout my body, and I felt all my functions begin to slow down exponentially. I cried out once more before it was too late, “I love you all family! I forgive you Roses, and I’m sorry for your loss! But my blood is on your hands! Please remember me as I truly was, not the criminal they portrayed! ‘What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered’! I love you all!” My vision finally faded to black, and my heart is... I just watched an innocent young plant be put death, and I was incapable to help. In the midst of these thought a Purple Hyacinth, who was a jury member, ran in. She was beyond distraught, and yelled “A Sundew just ran in and killed Scarlett Juliet Rose! It couldn’t have been him! We made a mistake!”


Bungee Jumping by Michelle Jones My girlfriend and I met a few years ago and realized very quickly that we both had a passion for anything that could give us an adrenaline rush. It was no surprise to me when she began talking about taking a trip to Mexico. I knew right away that this trip would not be about relaxing on the beach, and that she would not be satisfied with just sitting around all day. When we first landed we began doing basic excursions that all the tourists seem to be doing. We filled our days with snorkeling with sea turtles, cave diving, propelling, and zip lining excursions, but we were both wanting something that would give us more of rush. My girlfriend was constantly bringing up how all those things were fun, but there was really nothing dangerous about them. One day while enjoying a drink at the bar we over heard a man talking about a bungee jump that was right outside of Cancun. I knew as soon as we overheard this conversation that my girlfriend was immediately going to want to talk about it. We both have a love for heights, but the thought of hanging over a hundred feet in the air by just my ankles gave me an unsettling feeling. I could see how excited my girlfriend was to do this and knew that this would most likely be happening the next day. As soon as we got back to the hotel room my girlfriend immediately got on the phone and began making arrangements. While listening to the conversation my girlfriend was having I could not help but over hear the words liability, waver form, and causalities. Of course, my girlfriend got more excited, and began telling me how this was most likely going to be the adrenaline rush that we both wanted. The next morning, we woke up a little before seven, and met our bus outside the hotel lobby. I immediately noticed that the vehicle we met was not a bus, but a small van. Upon entering the van, the man began to tell us that they never needed to use any of the larger buses because very few people ever signed up. While we were in the bus the


man gave us the liability forms to fill out. At first it all seemed very standard. They wanted to know if we had any preexisting health concerns that could put us at risk for being hurt. They wanted to know our weight and height to make sure we were given the right equipment. My anxiety began to decrease the more I read on, until I came upon the last line. “In case of equipment malfunction Bungee Adventure will not be held responsible for any injuries, or causalities that may occur�. My girlfriend of course signed the paper without a second thought, but I was beginning to feel that maybe doing our first bungee jump outside the city of Cancun may not be the best idea. I took another look at my excited girlfriend and signed the wavier. We drove in the bus for about two hours until we reached the


destination. I got out of the bus and was immediately hit with the smell of ocean and sand from the beach. There was a nice breeze coming from the west, and I could see that my girlfriend was becoming extremely impatient. We walked for about ten minutes, and as soon as we turned the corner we came face to face with what we would be jumping off of. The tower was a little under two hundred feet and was located right on the water. I could feel myself becoming more and more anxious the closer we got to the tower. My head started to feel dizzy, and my palms became extremely hot and sweaty. My girlfriend got into the boat that would bring us to the tower with the biggest smile on her face. I followed her and began to realize that this was my perfect chance to finally show her that she has never been better than me. The wind began to pick up the closer we got to the tower. We were greeted by three men who began to go over safety procedures. They started telling us that we were not allowed to do the jump backwards because there was a chance that the bungee rump could become twisted. If this happened the bungee rope would wrap around our neck and result with us hanging ourselves before we could be brought up. We could not make the jump together and had to go one at a time. We must keep our feet firmly together while jumping down. They then went on to tell us that if we attempted to move our feet too much on the way down that our ankles could become dislocated or broken. The elevator took us to the top of the tower, and before I knew it the guide has back turned as he prepared the bungee rope. I gave my girlfriend a kiss as I threw her over the edge. As I looked down, a great deal of satisfaction came over me. She landed in the perfect spot right between the bungee tower and small section of beach. I watched for a few more minutes as the waves began to move her lifeless body into the ocean. The guide turned around puzzled and asked where my partner was. I simply told him she changed her mind and decided to take the elevator back down. In a matter of minutes, I had the gear around my ankles and was


griping the edge of the bars. The instructor gave me the command to let go. I took a deep breath and flung my arms out. I opened my eyes and saw the water below me getting closer. My adrenaline immediately kicked in and I knew that this was one of the best excursions that I had in Mexico.

Photo of Brooklyn Bridge by Elizabeth Fisher

Pride by Connor Hicks


No, Abuse, No by Rushawna Elliott It’s so easy to play the victim when all you know is affliction. Suddenly, a life of persistence turns into a crime of conviction. I’m a child, I’m a Christian, but somehow an awful contradiction. I’ve given up the benediction to avoid all the friction. Striving to be a better Christian But daily I’m so distant. Jesus I’m asking for a scripture to take away the mishaps. See, addiction is so deadly But appears to be so friendly. On the verge of selling plenty To move on with the incentives. Glory, Glory, where the help is. I’m seeking forgiveness where no strength is. No, Abuse, No Abduction, molestation, spoliation. Avoiding this confrontation To get a stronger consolidation For a better reputation To live a life of recreation In finding a way to gain salvation For an unforgivable population.


The Breaking by M. Curry The words that lingered off your lips left no substance It’s like I’m walking through a vast prairie of nothingness The darkness is overwhelming Making it hard to catch my breath And as I grasp for the wind The pressure piles on my chest There is a 50-pound weight that ceases to rest And the gravitational pull seems focused right under my breast Can anyone see I’m suffocating inside? I’m in the open, there is nowhere hide.

I Want to Know You More by Vika Maklakova What a week I just had, what a day I just had. No sleep and no peace. Each terrible night with strange dreams filled What should I do with this fear? I can image that nothing happened, but he can't, or he can? I don't know anymore, and this is worse. I feel the fear, I feel the dread, The greatest shiver when I see or hear your power.


O my love, you are so strong, you are so jealous yet so merciful, I’ve known you for whole my life, but in reality, how much do I know you? I want to know you more, so I will love you more, I want to know you more, so I will be afraid of you even more. This was a blessed evening, in the big room. I was standing right before you, I was standing right in front you You gave me a shiver, you gave me an electric shock, That came through my whole body in one second This was last summer, but I already miss it, I know that you know who watches me, but I miss you, I miss your sweet words spoken in my head, I want to listen more I want to know more, please tell me more I remember when you said that you want to know me more. When you whisper in my ear, "I want to know you more" My tears come down, and my heart trembled I felt the warmth, I felt the peace, I felt your love for me.

Fight for Love by Rushawana Elliott You look at me, but it is not me who you see All you see is an image of what you like While all I see is an image fighting for an image You look at me, but it’s all a disguise For I’m afraid that if you see me then you’ll leave What a life of a pauper 30

It’s just the addict Or maybe it’s the self-less ghost trying to manifest I tried to love you, but I didn’t love myself I thought you were my everything I thought you were my strength In desperate times I feel so alive I may have just committed a crime… Love’s got me wrapped up in curtains Opening doors, call in the hearses Of course, they were yours I’m trying to fight it, but the wind keeps on blowing…

The White Stag by Pauline Barry The stag only appears through an opening in the forest encircled with tall oak trees; this is the only place he greets Olivia and Alistair. He vanishes before they get to close…. one-night Alistair decides to follow the stag to see if that can lead them into a clearing of others. A glimmer of hope seems to be shining through that night, and they see about 50 white stags drinking water. Alistair goes to capture one for his deepest wish, he's running with the strength of a dozen horses and grabs a baby stag before he can make any more movement the world around him goes black, and he can only hear the faint sound of Olivia calling his name…

The End 31

The Criterion Ezine - Spring 2018 Edition  
The Criterion Ezine - Spring 2018 Edition