AmLit Spring 2009

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My Minneapolis Louise Brask SUBMISSION POLICY American Literary magazine seeks to promote the artistic community at American University. All members of the AU community may submit work they deem qualified for review. All final acceptance decisions are made by the Editor in Chief and genre editors. American Literary Magazine selects content based on a blind review process. While we attempt to preserve anonymity in all cases, perfectly blind submissions are impossible. Therefore professional discretion is upheld at all times. All copyrights revert to artists upon publication, unless otherwise noted.

treasure chest lids power its torment (Love)

My editor’s note began as a letter to Anna Finn, my predecessor as Editorin-Chief. It’s an enabling device, thinking of my note as a letter; it helps me to think about the magazine in terms of being for someone, someone who cared so passionately about AmLit that she came to lead meetings exhausted from GREs, frustrated by thesis all-nighters, even concussed from intramural basketball. From my perspective, this issue is for Anna, who embodied AmLit more than she led it. She’s a young woman exploding with meaning and thought, but who refuses to insist on any particular meaning. Anna has an understated faith in what Kant called “purposiveness without purpose,” as, I think, does American Literary. Purposiveness without purpose is, for Kant, a way of defining artistic beauty; it signifies the way in which the experience of art is equally reigned by art’s quality of having been created on purpose, but also by the impossibility of ever knowing a work’s specific purpose. AmLit loves purposiveness. It courts and is wooed by care in diction and composition, color and texture. This magazine is a celebration of purposiveness. It makes no claims about purpose. The letter ended up like this: Dear Anna, The pages will be a little glossy. The cover will be linen paper. It has all of us in it (you too). Love, Jamie

found poem from the marginal notes of the norton shakespeare’s venus and adonis

Jamie Mulder

PHOTO -1 My Minneapolis By Louise Brask 0 As The Storm Subsides By Jessica Warren 2 Cause = Time By Zoe Leverant 3 No. 1 By Liz Calka 4 Summer in Harvard Square By Kyoko Takenaka 5 Reflection on Connecticut Avenue By Jessica Taich 6 London Eye I By Kelly Thomas 7 Unity-January 19, 2009 II By Kyoko Takenaka 8 Moroccan Refrigeration By Jessica Warren 9 Untitled By Jonathan Holin 10 Spain II By Danielle King 11 Avila I By Danielle King 13 Downtown By Shea Cadrin 17-18 Bathtub Series By Jessica Taich 21 Jump By Kyoko Takenana 23 Frozen By Zoe Leverant 26 Lights and Shadows By Jessica Warren 27 Ripe By Rebecca Prowler 28 Snarl By Brittany Stewart 29 No. 7 By Liz Calka 32 Colorful Passion By Shauna Ruda 32 Spy By Franziska Kabelitz 33 Zoo By Liz Calka 33 Freedom By Sheya

34 Confrontaci贸n By Jessica Warren 36 Palm Ln. & Landwehr Rd. By Jeffrey Aisen 37 Personalities By Kyoko Takenaka 39 Untitled By Cody Steele 40 Placed By Zoe Leverant 41 Bottle Series Postcard 2 By Kyoko Takenaka 43 Lemon By Jonathan Holin 44Drowned By Shea Cadrin 45 Roma Respira By Jessica Warren 46 Infinity By Sheya 47 See By Jessica Kanter 51 The Lost Has Finally Been Found By Louise Brask 53 Passage By Zoe Leverant 57 Unity-January 19th, 2009 By Kyoko Takenaka 58 Nine By Zoe Leverant 61 Gaudi By After the Rain Allison Gaffney 62 This Is What I Did Instead of Saying Goodbye By Shea Cadrin 63 Spain I By Danielle King 64 Neon By Rebecca Prowler 66 Tourism is Our Number One Industry By Jessica Warren 68 Snow Clouds, May 2008 By Shea Cadrin

ART 14 The Lady Is A Tramp By Alissa Berdahl 24 Dance With Your Fingers, Son By Kyoko Takenaka 25 Untitled By Allison Reimus 30 Silhouette of Sound Child By Cody Steele 31 Same Thing, Different Old Guys By Shea Cadrin 35 Ebullient Soul Food By Evan Fowler 47 Tanjactopus By Kyoko Takenaka 54 Earth Is My Cathedral By Shea Cadrin 55 Sweet Potato By Malina Keutel PROSE 14 The (Re)birth of Venus By Emily Prince 38 Coffee By Emily Prince 56 The Piggy Bank By Chris Conway POETRY 1 A Portrait of a Man by an Exaggeration of my Synesthesia By Emily Prince 2 Poets! Lay Down Your Pens! By Kathryn Bohri 3 Stop Reading. Go Outside. By Nora Pullen 4 Dick Van Dyke By Andrew Lobel

5 To William Blake By Rachel Webb 6 I Looked For Freedom In A Hotdog By Michael Levy 7 Leftovers By Andrea Lum 8 Perforations By Michael Levy 9 Morning Market Stroll By Jonathan Holin 12 We Are All Mockingbirds By Emily Prince 24 Thimbles By Jamie Mulder 25 Prose Bloom Number 1 By Christina Farella 26 metaphor has no value apart from its function -V. By Jamie Mulder 27 Eden Sonnet By Nora Tumas 28 8 Months By Andrea Lum 30 Afternoon Lull By Allyson Upton 31 Of men By Alex Rose-Henig 32 Supper on Sale By Jonathan Holin 33 If I Had the Time to Try By Tess Van Den Dolder 35 Untitled. Diptych. By Christina Farella 36 Driving a small car in the Adriondacks By Rachel Webb 37 Making the most out of this entertaining wait for wheels By Amanda Lotz 42 Lighting the gas fireplace with my dad By Rachel Webb 43 Eating Breakfast with My Grandfather By Rachel Webb 44 Somnambulist Meditation By Christina Farella 45 Digits I play in the lottery By Genna Bellezza

46 Curiosity By Jonathan Holin 47 here’s a dream I wish I had By Andrea Lum 48 What I Saw By Jonathan Holin 54 at the funeral for my grandfather By Jamie Mulder 55 dispassionate titties By Jamie Mulder 61 Indian Summer By Kathryn Bohri 61 April By Nora Tumas

Urrez I Danielle King

62 Tempted By Walt By Irena Schneider 64 Avocado Tree By Andrea Lum 64 Shout, the Pomegranate By Brittany Stewart OTHER 78 Biographies 73 Staff 65 Faculty Contributor

As the Storm Subsides Jessica Warren

Emily Pri nce “I was six when I saw that everything was God, and my hair stood up, and all,” Teddy said. “It was on a Sunday, I remember. My sister was a tiny child then, and she was drinking her milk, and all of a sudden I saw that she was God and the milk was God. I mean, all she was doing was pouring God into God, if you know what I mean.” -J.D. Salinger, “Teddy”

he sits in the grass loudly with trumpets, purple only until he is red red only until he is blue. blue a deep blue with stars like the sky at night which sounds like a still symphony and smells like clear water from the sweetest pond. he is connected by a soft, stretchy beam of light to the setting moon and

to the rising sun and to the shifting constant shifting of the earth. he is the hat in the closet he is the clock on the stove he is the shoe under my bed. he is one thing, he is nothing, he is everything. the sight of him tastes like garden thyme, the smell of him looks like the world.

Spring 2009


The poems! They are already. You can reclaim those days of sleep You can rinse the tears from your pillow, You can learn to knit, Chat up the boys in the booth next to you, Because the poems are already out there. Like this morning: The breeze caught, the curtain curled into the room, And it did not once cry for a pen to distort it.

Be neither the early bird, Coasting on currents of air, Nor the early worm, Navigating lightless earthen tunnels. But a man with a coffee thermos, Pulling out of the driveway, dinging the mailbox and cursing the day. Poets! A new life awaits you! Lay down your pens!

Or just this afternoon: The geese carried the slate sky on their southward bound arrow: their honking and hollering, calling and clamoring was not a plea for your pen to pin them to a white sheet.

You can leave this behind! Meaning is hidden behind veils Of morning news programming (which you have missed every day until now) and pop concerts (which you never had time or money to attend). A nine-to-five does the body good.

Cause = Time ZoĂŤ Leverant

Kathryn Bohri 2

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Nora Pullen

No. 1 Liz Calka

Im sitting at a right angle to god He whispers, “your move� Fuck off, im taking my time Procrastination and sleep and imminent death Theyre taking my time And I am powerless to reclaim it Just a child Playing tag Running in too many directions at once Bargaining with the clock That smugly keeps on ticking Drowning in coffee and coke And coke Anything to keep me sitting here Wasting the leftovers

Spring 2009


Andrew Lobel I gently push the door closed, listen for its breathy click as it fills the wall. And in the quiet that follows, I wait for the cool musings of your slippers across the carpet, thick and full, like my hair once was. I kick off my shoes. I don’t know where the left one goes. Things always seem to disappear around here.

Summer in Harvard Square Kyoko Takenaka 4

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The kitchen is empty. Plates debauched in pools of cold, translucent fat jut out of the sink, laying on top of each other, rising over the edge of the counter to watch me open a beer, propping it against the handle of a cabinet. The bottle gasps as I force it down. The cap falls to the floor. I don’t pick it up. You should have told me That you were not going to be here.

I think you would like the theater at my old high school. it is tucked behind the parking lot, hidden from the lights of the football field, those mighty steel branches with fluorescent leaves blasting into the night. I would take you here, the seats are empty, a hollow cocoon swathed in dusky solitude.



I stand on stage, and my perception of the double doors at the end of the aisle is smudged with dusty black, dwarfed by the darkness, except for the framing cracks of light sneaking in through narrow chinks around the edges. Then, if you were sitting in the audience, imagining me I would be a giant. my shadow arms twisting into long languid ropes, my crooked fingers genius capturing the light in silhouette. You would see the quiet stagehand, the hazel cobwebs of her hair swooping over her face like the black fabric wings billowing around her as she crouches in the corner, she sorts through the plastic covers for the stage lights, the soft sheets bending into every color as her fingertips brush across scratched squares of turquoise and rosy scarlet, the golden cream and indigo blue. these would tickle you the most, and you could put them in your pocket, take them home to Sussex. sit at your table and hold them up to the flicker of your lamp, the dust particles transcending upwards illuminated by the tinted candlelight.

Reflection on Connecticut Avenue Jessica Taich Spring 2009


I looked for freedom in a hotdog because I know you can’t eat them, imagining the nitrates would dislodge you from my esophagus.

I looked for freedom in a hotdog and tasted the mustard on your first square kinish. This special croquet’s walls are rigid— we cannot let the precious potato-steam escape.

I looked for freedom in a hotdog, but I could only see our Bratwurst in Prague. You daringly crunch through the committal casing, But I eat more.

I looked for freedom in a hotdog because you want me to. But I’m imprisoned in pastries, getting by on digested flavors.

I looked for freedom in a hotdog and still have Valencia’s sea salt in my eyes. It doesn’t stop me from gawking at the topless women; you still don’t mind.

London Eye I Kelly Thomas




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Unity-January 19, 2009 II Kyoko Takenaka

“To see a world in a grain of sand And heaven in a wild flower, Hold infinity in the palm of your hand And eternity in an hour.”

I decided to saran-wrap the old year, saving the stray bits left behind, forgotten, and shoving them in the tiny pocket of my jeans. January and February came and went. Then one laundry day I remembered. To my delight, wet and soapy, they were there. I gathered them together like grains of sand, placing each one (so delicate) into the palm of my sweating hand. They were individual: like snowflakes. A stream of light fell in from the crack in the old window. The linty plastic started to glimmer, prisms cast about the room. The ceiling streaked with color. Everything, then, so small, luminescent.

-William Blake

Andrea Lum

Spring 2009


Michael Levy

Moroccan Refrigeration Jessica Warren

Old ladies come to Stepdad’s stamp collecting shop fumbling death, struggling with the electromagnetic door. They come to sell their collections, to pass on their meticulous neverlands where carmine Hitlers neighbor with aquamarine Gandhis. and the sky is late husbands’ pipe and musk and the only criticisms are Fine, Very Fine, and the occasional Extra Fine. Where used emperors have cocktails with mint monarchial Princesses. I price these royal gatherings, spreading twenty-cent typhoid and fifty-cent chronic fatigue— my pencil pillaging these galas of multicolored rulers; their conquests defiled by my pricing catalogue, only to be trafficked on eBay.


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I bit into the bruised apple of the sidewalks and saw a fiery shadow rise above the streets like warm Prozac sunshine. Moldy Oswego shoeboxes wrapped in S.O. bandanas were carried down one-way streets past leftover Chinese and disassembled produce. Strange, I thought, as I licked the air. They swept the dust on the floor into a pile of doom and shined the assorted tiles with long spaghetti mops, but never achieved full luster. When I made noise in the woods the cities shrank and withdrawn loveliness appeared. Leaves became the one source of joy in eyes-shut morning coldness.



My mind opened and I saw the city again, blazing with the same drugstore flames I saw in the morning. And as I came down from my perch, I wanted to close my eyes one more time and let my mind take control.

Untitled Jonathan Holin

I found a Styrofoam cup on the ground, laying with its rimmed lips torn apart, stained with black coffee that an ant still hugged to in death. When I looked up I heard a bird whisper something through the green leaves and saw infinite patches of sky. I lit one with a match to see what would happen. The sky ignited fast. The Styrofoam burned. The leaves nowhere around me exploded. Spring 2009


Spain II Danielle King BEST IN SHOW 10

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Avila I Danielle King

Spring 2009


ince Emily Pr Jack and I were riding along with the wind in our hair and heartbreak on the radio. It was the kind of day that just made you feel human, alive, in touch with everything around you. The mockingbird sang from its perch in the tree, waking the world from its winter with some stolen bird’s call. On the horizon there was a hint of rain but just a hint, and this morning when we left grandpa waving from the doorway he couldn’t yet feel it in his foot. This is how he predicted the weather, grandpa; he’d been shot in the foot during the war. He said the only pain he had endured worse than that was heartbreak, and that was a different kind of pain, the kind that caused a winter in your soul, the kind that made you feel like you were drowning in the rain and burning up on the face of the sun at the same time. Humans, he said, just weren’t built for it. So Jack and I left his talk of losing love and drove on without him, the mockingbirds 12

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leading the way. They’re endlessly interesting creatures, mockingbirds, they exist only to imitate, and their caricature cries marked footnotes on our drive as we headed down the road toward the still winter kissed sun. Jack said all of a sudden, “I feel like a heart-breaker,” as we were recklessly going, just going nowhere. “It’s human,” I told him, gripping the wheel, “It’s as common as rain, to know that all that you do will end up like the rain, falling, just falling and falsely proclaiming, like the mockingbird we are only just imitating, and all of us bound by humanity.” It made sense at the time, with the wind in my hair, and the gas under my foot and the feeling of thawing, like a soul after heartbreak, filling the air that became more and more winterless with every mile we covered, in that van that had started in the dead of the winter. “It’s cleansing,” Jack said, and we made believe he meant rain though we knew he meant the refresh of a heartbreak’s refrain. “It’s nothing like the cry of the mockingbird,” he continued, “because for each thing it destructs it then creates anew, with each footstep it takes it is the restart button of our humanity.”

I took in what he said as I squinted into the sun, my human reflexes giving away what he suddenly knew was a winter

Downtown Shea Cadrin cast over my heart. He smiled gently my way and from his head to his foot was the picture of forgiveness, the eraser on my etch-a-sketch, the rain on my sidewalk chalk, the pure call of a cardinal to my mockingbird self. I smiled back, and in my broken eyes he

finally saw the brokenness of heartbreak. Jack and I, we learned something that day we drove into the sunset; about heartbreak, about humans, about the winters that fill the void mockingbirds can’t, and about taking our lives one rain-streaked footprint at a time. Spring 2009


ince Emily Pr “Hurry UP in there, dammit!” Sandy ran a hand through silky, perfectly coiffed brown hair as he paced back and forth anxiously. An angry face popped out of a door marked “Makeup.” “Mr. Woods, don’t you have other things to do? We’re going as quickly as possible.” “Well-” he spluttered, slow on the comeback. “Work... quicker than possible!” The makeup artist raised his eyebrows and shut the door. “Jesus, I wasn’t nominated World’s Favorite Up and Coming Fashion Photographer of 2046 for my witty remarks.” He practically flung himself into a plush, blue velvet armchair, a throwback to the 1970’s, and sighed in frustration. Truth was, he wasn’t nominated World’s Favorite Up and Coming Fashion Photographer of 2046 for his talent either, and he was well aware of it. It was a combination of his father’s lofty position in the Playboy world franchise and a few stolen credits from legitimately talented but less endowed photographers (so easy to do in the height of the communication age) that won him that title, but he planned to play the game clean from now on. He knew what the public really wanted, and he knew he could deliver it. He was an artist. It was just the goddamn hair and— 14

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The Lady is a Tramp Alissa Berdahl

“Your highness!” a sarcastic voice called out from behind him. He turned around with a witty response on his tongue (this one actually was witty too, as he’d anticipated the sarcasm and thus planned it first) but the breath was knocked from his chest. The girl was stunning, a masterpiece. Before makeup she had been pretty, but after... she was a goddess. And a goddess was precisely what he needed. He composed himself quickly. “Alright Cat—Cat, is it? You look the part, now let’s see if you can photograph the part. Walk with me.” Cat followed him, her white robe fluttering and her golden hair flowing behind her, like a train on a wedding gown. He couldn’t help but turn his head and watch her from the corner of his eye as she gathered her hair and held it as they navigated the crowded hallway, presumably so it wouldn’t get caught on things as they swept past people. She was perfect. He allowed himself a grin, which immediately soured as he walked past a huddle in the hallway and, barely breaking his stride, he grabbed a short, well groomed young man from the middle of it by the collar of his business-casual attire. “Where the hell have you been?” he asked him, glowering with his voice while flashing a fake smile at a model who walked past. She giggled and lowered her eyelids. “I’ve been right there, the whole—” “You’re supposed to be with me.” “Sir I’m sorry, we were just talking about—” “Let me make this clear to you, Johnny—” “I prefer Jonathan, S—”

“Whatever, Johnny. You’re new to the job and you’re relatively good looking, so I’ll cut you some slack. You are my assistant. You go where I go. I should never have to ask you where the hell you have been, and why is that?” “Because—” “Because you. Are. Always. With me. Now get the hell out of my sight.” Jonathan looked up at him nervously and moved off to the side. They reached the set, and as Sandy opened the door, Cat gasped in wonder. Recent technology had redefined the term “virtual reality”: in the past few years, scientists had discovered ways to make some virtual reality so real that the term virtual was almost unnecessary. What Cat had walked into was, to all extents and purposes, an indoor beach. Except, of course, it wasn’t. What use did Vanity Fair have for an entire indoor beach? In reality, it was a projection of a beach, but so advanced and with so much attention to detail that even people walking within the projection would have trouble knowing it was not real, aside from the fact that they couldn’t feel the sand that appeared to be beneath their feet and couldn’t smell the salt of the ocean apparently crashing around them. It also came without the hassle of wet clothing, the annoyance of sea gulls and other creatures, and the grime of ocean water. It wasn’t real. It was realer than real. It was brilliant! Sandy allowed himself an appreciative smile. What a wonderful time to be a photographer. He sauntered off to talk to special effects, filled with a renewed vigor, the kind found by working with a beautiful girl in a beautiful environment. Cat, unsure of what to do, sat down on a chair and adjusted her robe. Her hair weighed on her head as if Spring 2009


it was full of ocean water, though she knew there was no chance of it actually filling with ocean water in this tiny room that was pretending to be a beach. She sighed and absent-mindedly scratched her name in the fake sand with her toe as she waited for them to tell her what to do. Another day, another shoot, another dollar. It was a living, and she knew it was a good one. Long ago had she lost the inhibitions that she had held to back home. America was different, and whether that was a good thing or a bad thing, it did make life much easier for her, a beautiful girl with a beautiful body and very little education. She scratched her head; it was actually starting to itch from the weight of her hair. She wondered why she needed so much of it. That was another thing about America—they all had more hair that they needed. Not literally, of course, but metaphorically. She was broken from her thoughts by a small, nervous tap on her shoulder. She turned around to face Sandy Woods’ assistant. She gave him a dimpled smile. “Hi,” she said. “Johnny, right?”

challenge, she was never really sure. She approached Sandy without shame, despite his gaze, which had suddenly become intensely focused on her. She knew from experience that it didn’t come from indecency or sexual desire— he was just an artist at work. Because it had become nearly impossible to sell anything these days without at least half-nudity involved, photographers had simply started adjusting the way that they saw pictures. One photographer had told her that he couldn’t even picture his photo if a model had her clothes on. Originally she had found this idea foreign, but gradually she had adjusted to it. She walked around in the buff with ease, so much ease that she sometimes had to catch herself and put on a shirt before leaving her house in the morning. That was actually the only thing that still confused her. If Americans were so comfortable with nudity on screen and in ads and magazines, if they had decided collectively that they no longer minded their children exposed to, well, others exposed, then why did it matter so much in real life? Cat didn’t see a difference between walking down the street naked and being on the shelves naked, but she guessed that there was a fine line that she just couldn’t find.

“Well—I like—I mean—yeah, Johnny. You know, or Jonathan, or John, or whatever really. I don’t care. Some people call me Manny because my last name is Manfried. After a moment of deep scrutiny, Sandy knew that his But you didn’t need to know that. I’m sorry, I’m—I’m idea was gold. He smiled inwardly, deeply enjoying the rambling. Mr. Woods is ready for you.” last few seconds of being the only one who knew what he was planning to do. With a sharp whistle, he called for Cat suppressed a laugh. “Thanks, Jonathan.” She stood the attention of the room. up and walked towards the camera, untying her robe and dropping it to the floor in one fluid motion as “Now, I suppose I should tell you all that this is no she went. She had done it so many times; she didn’t even ordinary beach shoot. No, this... this will be art.” The pause. It was a small pride she had—a stupid, worthless people around him smirked a little, and he knew why. talent, but something she held onto anyway. She would Everybody thought that they were making art. Nobody sometimes quicken or slow her pace, or twirl the robe a ever realized that they were doing the same thing as everyone else. He was inexperienced, but he was not little as it came off, just to impress people with what naïve. He knew precisely what he was doing. a natural she must be. Or maybe it was just a personal 16

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Bathtub Series: Anthony & Nick Jessica Taich

Kelli Jessica Taich Spring 2009



Kelli and Amanda


Jessica Taich

Jessica Taich

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Sandy paused ceremoniously and then whipped out a poster, rolled up like a scroll. He dramatically snapped the band holding it in place, and it unfurled into what, after a few moments of awkward silence, people realized was a copy of a painting. It was a very old painting, by the looks of it, and clearly the artist had no concept of how to paint reality. The only relatable aspect of the painting, in fact, was that the subject (who was standing on a large sea shell?) was nude, covering herself strategically with her flowing tresses and a well-placed hand. The painting was unfamiliar to everyone present; clearly Sandy had spent some time digging it up. After a brief, confused reverie, it seemed that everybody realized that they were supposed to be reacting, and there was a chorus of oooohs, ahhhhhs, brilliants. Sandy was temporarily frustrated by the lukewarm response but quickly bounced back. They were just peasants really. They had no idea what the people wanted. He considered skipping the brief, but he decided it was his job to inform them of what they were doing, even if they were decidedly uninterested. “Botticelli, The Birth of Venus. 1400s. I know, I know, this kind of art is passé, every kind of art is passé, everything that happened more than five days ago is passé. Whatever. That’s just what people want to think. What we are going to do today is recreate history. Look at this!” He made a sweeping gesture at the painting, which he had managed to transfer to the fumbling hands of his assistant Joey or whatever. “What is more inferior than this painting? What is more awkward, more unrefined, what is more imperfect than this painting?” He paused and looked around for the light in people’s eyes. Their faces couldn’t be dimmer if they tried. He continued. “Not, of course, that Botticelli was a shoddy artist. Far from it. He was revered! Posthumously anyway. But that’s beside the point. Look what we have! We are going to do this painting, and we

are going to do it better. We are taking this art, a classic piece of art that is ingrained in our culture...” He paused and looked around disparagingly at the people surrounding him. “Well, the cultured of our culture, and we are going to make it ours.” He finished with another grand arm sweep and looked around, as if for applause or admiration or a woman to fling her panties at him with passion. Instead he got a few mumbles, forced smiles, and a small, false but chipper “Alright!” He knocked the painting out of Jimmy’s arms and grumbled as he turned to adjust his camera one last time. Philistines. Cat’s heart was leaping as the shoot got underway. She wasn’t sure if it was the speech Sandy had made, or the beautiful (if fake) surroundings, or the fact that she was actually allowed to cover her nether regions and remain at least three feet away from the other models at all times, but she felt good about this shoot. She smiled accidentally for a frame, and Sandy glanced up at her briefly, annoyed, but she couldn’t help it. This felt too right. Of course she was comfortable with her job, of course she had adjusted to it happily, but it wasn’t until now, until this shoot, that she realized something. She felt more beautiful now than she had ever felt before. She looked around during a very short break as Sandy had someone move the fan, and her eyes locked with Jonathan’s. She smiled again. Jonathan had never seen someone so beautiful in his life. Her body was slender and lithe, and yet somehow it wasn’t overpowered by her glorious mane. Her eyes were sweet and gentle and strong, too, a product of years of struggle, he was sure. Her accent was lyrical and reminded him (like anyone needed reminding, she was so different anyway) of her non-American heritage. For whatever reason, she didn’t have that shell, that armor that American girls tended to grow after a few years Spring 2009


in the business. He didn’t think it would blossom later either; he got a feeling in his gut that she had just found a way around it. Something inside of her had simply accepted the country around her and embraced its culture without ever actually becoming part of it. He loved that about her. He loved her. He was in love with a woman whom he had known for 40 minutes. And that was okay, by the way. It was perfectly acceptable for men to fall in love that quickly—it was also okay for men to fall out of love quickly, too, divorce was about as common in 2046 as visits to the dentist. Once every three or four years. Once every year if you were actually good about it... Relationships tended to rot if you left them alone for too long. ***

Lonnie Baker was a very important man, and he did very important things every very important day of his very important life. One of the many very important things that he did was play the role of Editor of Vanity Fair, America’s longest running fashion magazine. Now, it’s not that he wasn’t a man’s man just because he worked in fashion. He didn’t even need to take steroids. No, he worked in fashion because it was a lucrative business, and because he really enjoyed spending every day with mostly naked women. He would never understand the trend in fashion that had eventually brought it from generally featuring clothes to generally featuring skin, but he was not about to complain. Today, he was doing many important things. One of those things was supervising the shoot of his cover, but he hadn’t actually gotten around to it yet. It was, in fact, halfway over as he strode from his office toward the shooting room. He wasn’t particularly worried—with the World’s Favorite Up and Coming Fashion Photographer of 2046 at the helm of this project, why should he be 20

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worried? He was immediately met with a very good reason as he stepped into the room. “Sandy, what is the meaning of this?” He kept his voice as level as possible as he regarded the scene before him. Sandy looked up from his camera briefly then went back to snapping. “Meaning of what, Sir?” he finally mumbled, irreverently. “You know what I’m talking about. Sandy? Sandy, look at me!” He grabbed him by the collar and pulled until Sandy was standing and looking at him defiantly. “Sandy, I mean, my GOD,” he continued, more baffled than upset. “Her left breast isn’t even exposed! And this business with the hair?” He strode over and pulled Cat’s hair from her hand, as if she were a doll. She looked up at him, alarmed, but didn’t complain. “Sandy. Talk to me. What are you doing?” Sandy burned inside, the indignant fire literally shooting pain from his chest to all of his limbs. He was seconds, no, milliseconds away from striking the man who stood between him and his artwork. Then he took a breath, and he looked around him, and he remembered where he was. He had been drowning in his art, and Lonnie had pulled him out by his hair. He was gulping for air. “I was... I was...” He glanced around, frustrated. Nobody seemed to offer any help, not even a glimmer of solidarity in their eyes.

The two men looked at each other, a challenge now hanging between them. Sandy lost, by turning away from Lonnie and pointing lifelessly to one of the men posing beside Cat. “You,” he muttered. “Get up next to her. No, closer. No, I mean on her, you idiot.” He ran his hand through his hair and glanced at the two female models posing with them. “And you... just... take off your robes.” The fire disappeared from Cat’s eyes, and though nothing had really changed, she no longer felt beautiful. ***

Jump Kyoko Takenaka “Sandy, my man. Look, everybody makes mistakes. I understand what you’re trying to do. But we can’t afford this, Sandy. Have you seen the cover of the newest issue of Cosmopolitan?” He happened to have it rolled up in his pocket, as he had been examining it earlier in the bathroom. The cover was bright pink and featured two naked, writhing bodies. The headline for the cover indicated that, if you bought the magazine, it would teach you to writhe like that, too. Sandy sighed. He knew what was coming. “This is our competition. This is what we have to sell, only better. Sandy, I hired you because I know you have it in you. I know you can deliver what the public wants. I’m afraid, though, that if you continue with this nonsense, I will have to find somebody else.”

Jonathan couldn’t sleep. His brain itched from the day, and it was an unbearable sensation. He looked at his clock for the seventeenth time, and for the seventeenth time it was a variation on the hour of three o’clock in the morning. He had to wake up for work in three hours. He decided that a reasonable way to deal with this problem would be to chuck the alarm clock across the room, so he did, and then he got out of bed and got dressed. He had to do something. Cat couldn’t sleep. She very slowly slipped out of bed, careful not to wake the man sleeping beside her. She had taken him home from a party that night. She forgot his name, but it didn’t really matter to her. He would be gone before she woke up the next morning, and that was okay. In fact, she realized that he would be gone sooner than that when she heard him stir back in the bedroom as she closed the balcony door. Sandy couldn’t sleep. He rolled over to look at his paycheck, which he had set carefully to stand up on his bedside table so that he could see the numbers each time he looked at it. There were a lot of numbers. A lot, a lot of numbers. Was it worth it? He heaved a sigh and flopped dramatically onto his other side, determined to Spring 2009


stop looking. Someday, he would have a wife and kids and Jonathan practically galloped down the street. The a family and he would be able to raise them well, and sun wasn’t actually peeking over the horizon, but then it would be worth it. Probably. it was hinting at it as a rosy glow was cast over a sleeping city. He paused at the menacing gate to catch Lonnie slept like a baby. his breath and neaten his appearance. The magazine he clutched in his hand was damp now, but he couldn’t fix that. He sauntered calmly, in his head imitating the *** cool demeanor of his boss as he entered the building and headed toward the elevators. Whether it was the Jonathan decided that he was probably crazy. He looked general inattentiveness of the guards or was actually up at the building, looming far above his head in his façade of collectedness that allowed for it, he all its grandeur, then down at the key in his hand, managed to get upstairs unbothered. He paused at the then at the delivery entrance in front of his face. door, but only briefly—he knew that if he questioned Yes, definitely insane. He turned the key and shoved, figuring the door would be heavy. It wasn’t, and he his sanity then he would end up not going through with went flying down the hallway. He picked himself up and this, and he desperately wanted to go through with this. giggled nervously. He looked around and was astounded He knocked, at first quietly, then louder, until the at the lack of security around him, then reached into doorknob finally turned. his pocket and pulled out his iPod, which functioned, among thousands of other things, as a portable lantern. Cat peered out through the crack in the door, entirely He pushed a button and lit up the hallway. He paused unsure as to how to feel about the situation. It was six for a minute to get his bearings and then ran, hoping o’clock in the morning, and Sandy Woods’ assistant stood he would make it in time. panting at her door. Despite the utter oddness of the state of affairs, it also for some reason felt extremely Cat lit up a cigarette (non-tobacco, of course—we’ve normal to her (perhaps it was the lack of sleep) so she found new ways to kill ourselves by 2046) and leaned opened the door all the way and let him in. pensively against the railing of her hotel balcony. From the balcony she could see the Vanity Fair building Jonathan had planned words, a lot of words, a whole looming against the night sky. It had a beautiful bunch of words to string into sentences even, but nothing came out of his mouth when he handed her the gothic feel, one of the last vestiges of the culture magazine, cover facing up. He saw her take it in, slowly preservation craze that had taken hold of the country at first, but her eyes got wider and wider and he could some years ago. She could see tiny lights on in tiny feel them practically sucking it all in. He burned for offices inside the building and wondered about the her. people who didn’t need a break from the job that they did. Without nights to so clearly separate her days of “Jonathan... Jonathan? How did you—” work, Cat didn’t know how she would make it. ***


He found words. “Don’t—don’t ask.” He laughed nervously American Literary Magazine

as speech somehow became easier. “I’m probably getting fired. Actually no, I’m definitely getting fired.” She looked up at him, her mouth forming words she didn’t say. “But—” “I love you,” he blurted out. She just continued to look at him. “I mean... I mean, you’re worth it. You’re beautiful, and you’re smart, and you deserve more than this, Cat. You deserve everything. I—” He stopped. She had taken his hand and begun tracing the lines of his palm, all the while staring intently into his eyes. He let out a breath, and she tugged him, wordlessly, toward the bedroom. The magazine lay on the coffee table, and on it shone Venus, goddess of love. ***

Of course, as soon as Lonnie realized the atrocious mistake, he stopped the presses and pulled the magazines off the shelves. He re-released it with tremendous apologies and a veritable orgy on the front cover. Its second release sold approximately twice as many copies as Cosmo that month, and it launched both Cat and Sandy into stardom. Only a few people had recognized the worth of the original copy, and it became quite the collector’s item as time went on. To most it represented a failure on the part of an artist unable to keep up with a fast-paced industry, to some it reflected an attempt to retrieve a definition of allure from a bygone era, and to a few— well, to a few, it was beautiful.

Frozen Zoë Leverant Spring 2009


Dance With Your Fingers, Son Kyoko Takenaka

Jamie Mulder we carry five thimbles in each pocket. they blunt the ends of our fingers, protective gear for living in crowds, dimpled metal helmets that hold their chill, frankly decline to sip the warmth beneath our skin. eager for our first set, we cupped our hands and slipped them on and eyed the girl who unribboned her hair and scattered hers behind the daffodils. her hands creased and uncreased, fingers stretched one by one, rigid and bony and poking out like the air had soft skin. 24

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Untitled Allison Reimus

the relief was great & plain on the face. easily readable, the universal language of facial expression. a smile carried from one island to another through the medium of butterfly migration—fleeting, green & orange. a new, fresh, dewy life, something to examine, & later, bathe in. I pluck it, tenderly, from the bone, breathing in what I have found. the meat is pink with dancing blood, the skin translucent, warm as a freshly laid egg. I hold it up to the sunlight to see how the rays lick through its form. I approve of it; I swallow it whole. the sigh of delicious fatigue was what filled the bubble above our bed. the room turned blue & calm with the stillness of deep seas. currents pushed us back & forth, a giant squid pulsed by. a radio played upstairs, the music was liquid but indiscernible & the light of the sun roved across the ceiling. day went by & it smelled like breathing in your neck with my eyes closed.


arell F a n i hrist


Spring 2009


Lights and Shadows Jessica Warren


uld M e i Jam

eggs to slap with fork tines, to fry before i think to open the blinds; penne to arch beneath shattered basil; roma tomatoes, smooth, oblong; cheese danishes, gently cupping pale eyes, kneaded over lumps of unsalted butter; milk, tugging at its purple twist-off cap, trying to leave. pieces, staring at themselves reflected, tinted in office building windows on the walk home, disrupted every few feet leaping in the gap between panes.


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Nora Tumas She hides beneath the seven sheets of earth She’s tendriled smoke, rekindled in the clay For there it smells of sulfur, and of fern; A perfect place to rest and recreate. Distill her now, before the morning tide; I’ll let you visit your mint julep dream. Just crawl inside the earth, for there you’ll find Her sanguine petals reddening the stream. And wrapped around your neck at birth, the chord Which tried to kill you then may kill you now… Unless you sink your knees in heathered moors And mold your body into clay and dough.

Ripe Rebecca Prowler

You’ll find the one whose spirit never dies, For underneath the floorboards, Eden lies.

Spring 2009


Snarl Brittany Stewart

um Andrea L MENTION E L B A R O ON POETRY H Pregnant. I’m pregnant. Church ladies act all whisper-sweet breeze by graze in sweep down stuffed with pungent perfume. Too many hands pat mine. it’s okay, they say, it’s okay, singlo, it’s okay, it’s okay…


Mary takes me to a bar: it’s tiki-themed, like home, she says, and uses her fake to pound mai tai, after mai tai, completely oblivious to the bartender and the billiards boys, who stare at my belly and wonder—

All too stuffy in a crowded room, I lean against the wall, cool my throbbing back. Someone says, you’re contagious and I confuse my belly for a cyst. They think I have a toasteroven glow.

who, and what, and why?

Last night, I gorged on taco salads & apple juice, waited for you, saw you in the van on TV. You kept driving far far away, road-tripping beyond the extent of my gaze— it never goes farther than my knees.

Mom/Dad/Sister— crowding forward, chit-chattering on everything-but, come in too close as my heavy orb swings forth, chest caves in, crimson blots the floor. Several arms pitch in to lift me up, it’s okay, they say, it’s okay, sing— lo, it’s okay, it’s okay…

American Literary Magazine

No. 7 Liz Calka Spring 2009


Allyson Upton We sit on our balcony, sipping tea and watching as a man in a wheelchair labors up our hill. In fourteen and a half minutes, he will fly down the middle of the narrow street, a blur against the yellowing backdrop of foliage. When friction finally drags him to a stop in fifteen to eighteen minutes, or when he crashes into a parked car in seven, he will turn around. Repeat.

Silhouette of Sound Child Cody Steele 30

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Same Thing, Different Old Guys Shea Cadrin




Of men. Many, I wished to know Not all proved, empathetic. Men who wished for, staccato I bard for them fleeting flow

Octave can constitute full measure Less one note are men pathetic. Such are men I chose to weather. Heptarchic are men colored heather

And open lay but audience To notes, short, skimming erotic Captivated, yet longing sense Of measure more, beats of substance

Eight men as these who’ve sang and gone Left me sad, and cold cathartic Left me sad, and without full song De capo, ninth I seek, my measure too, is wrong Spring 2009



Colorful Passion Shauna Ruda


Holin Let me go, You! Vagrant

from beyond The Seas!

Peacock-eyed rebel! You wooed me with your sweet-talk jive boogiewagging your

repo-parts, flaunting

the gravy.

You zigzagged through the storm and made it out unscathed

I did not.

Spy Franziska Kabelitz 32

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Your racehorses were too fast for me. I bet on the wrong winner.

Sometimes I try to imagine I have a mouth large enough to swallow the ocean so I could walk across it and pleasantly converse with all the vagabonds and sea merchants I encountered We never had that kind of ease, my darling, the days were hard as we lay on lumpy pillows the sunlight dazzling fractured before us the breeze giving up on sweeping through the dirty screen door If tomorrow I awoke with my beliefs buzzing don’t leave me I promise I’ll be better after I cut the grass.

Freedom Sheya

Zoo Liz Calka

Tess Van Den Dolder

Spring 2009


Confrontaci贸n Jessica Warren


American Literary Magazine



the matador pianist teases and presses the keys (recumbent harp; supine guitar;

the walls they do, agedly cave slightly at the middle, inversely obese

bull slain with xylophone ribs) squeezed his chords resilient; arpeggiated; nimble.

unable to control their girths—they consume boarders: lovers; thieves; merchants; lawmakers; nannies; deadbeats

they jackrabbit through boudoirs down the hall. Kimono thrown on a chair

painters; all carrying with them suitcases of memoir; tribal childhood dances, fingers pricked simultaneously

indicates a body bared {somewhere} curved as a the radio thumps, as though a ghost resides


and blood rubbed together—sworn (swooning) kinship. the matador musician bears a resemblance to someone,

within the wires, withered and small, but poltergeist heart beat-beating a Bach chorale

one of beautiful bones, immaculacy from finger-pad to brainstem. A child (bull) watches as he wavers from room

into the golden lit room—the lamps with blue lilies betray their antiquity and sigh; senile.

to room (cape teasing). In the heat, wallpaper peels from walls. His music stops and soup is served.

Christi na Fare POETRY lla BEST IN SHOW

Ebullient Soul Food Evan Fowler Spring 2009


el Rach


The jutting chin of the mountain is prickled with bare branch stubble, while a few stumps by the road are broken revealing sweet potato insides.

Palm Ln. & Landwehr Rd.

From the passenger seat, the sunlight flicks through the thin green fingers of the fir trees and there is only one lane. I tilt my face towards the faded blue of your sweatshirt shoulder the mountain sun behind my sugar maple eyelashes pink, thinly veined. We park by your lake and you walk out onto the ice turn, and look at me, frozen on the crusty snow of the dock walk like a dinosaur you say, the right corner of your mouth tugging upwards plant your feet.


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Jeffrey Aisen

Making the most out of this entertaining wait for wheels. Mm splish tap tap. Exacerbated enough to not have allowed the driver see the short, untainted middle finger which I Tame—rather than thrust in the air. Realizing that he may have not seen me running three blocks behind—up to his fortress of passenger-filled steel. Mmmsplish. Tap. Trickle—does the rain. and all this. Only for a book and a course and a being with too much ambition. Mm splish mm. Tap. Halt. Scan. Beep. “Hi. How are you, tonight?” mmm. vrrr rrr rmm. yeah.

Amanda Lotz

Personalities-Japan Kyoko Takenaka Spring 2009


Emily Prince N SHOW PROSE BEST I some suicides are never recorded.

—“The Meek Shall Inherit the Earth,” Charles Bukowski

Anabelle had gotten the idea of throwing herself off of the roof from Fanny a few months before she died. They had been talking one afternoon on the walk to town, and Fanny started off about birds. It had been this way for awhile, that she had been talking about birds and wings and angels all together in one thought, and everyone had found it slightly odd but had generally ignored it because a lot of people go slightly odd out in Middle-of-Nowhere, America and the thing you were generally supposed to do was ignore it. So Fanny was talking about birds that day, and about how birds can fly, but how do you supposed birds realize they can fly? Do their mothers tell them they can fly, and do they believe it? Do they see other birds flying then understand that they’re the same, and believe it? Fanny supposed that no matter how it happened, birds must have to believe that they can fly before they try it, or else why would they decide to do something so obviously dangerous? Fanny said, it all comes down to belief; that is why birds fly. Anabelle had laughed at how simple she sounded, not realizing that she was serious at first, and Fanny turned and looked at her so hard she felt her skin crawl, and she stopped laughing but couldn’t stop looking. Fanny didn’t say anything for a long time, and then finally she said, Anabelle, the reason we can’t fly is because we don’t believe it. Anabelle wanted to laugh again, but this time it was out of nerves, not out of mocking. She didn’t, though, and instead she thought about it all the way to town and all the way home in silence. That was three months ago. 38

American Literary Magazine

Now Anabelle stood on the roof under the beating July sun and tried to believe she could fly. Her thin skirt stuck to her sweating thighs, and her whole body shook with the heaviness of the air around her and something else, some balance she was struggling to find. She looked out onto her world and was amazed at how tiny it felt compared to how vast it was. Miles and miles of farmland stretched below her, and at some point too far in the distance to actually put her finger on, it merged into the miles and miles of sky above her. It was a clear sky, clear enough that she thought if she had arms long enough, she could touch it, and it would probably feel like glass. She was standing on the roof of a house in a town that was part of an incomprehensibly giant fishbowl. It was too much to take in. She squeezed her eyes shut. In fact, it hadn’t all started with Fanny. It had started that morning, with coffee. She had gotten up to do her usual morning chores, and when she went to the kitchen to make coffee for her husband, the broken orange light of the rising sun streaming through the unwashed window caught itself just the right way on the grounds and she realized they were dirty. There was dirt in the coffee. The coffee was dirty. So was the counter, and the curtains, and the floor, and the table, and the chairs, and her face, and everything else in her whole entire closed-up world, and it’s not like the coffee hadn’t likely been dirty for quite some time, too, so really, rationally, it shouldn’t have mattered. But the coffee was dirty, and the sudden emotion brought on by this realization felt like something was trying to claw its way violently out from under her skin, and it was all she could do not to scream. Anabelle tried to make the coffee anyway, but she quickly became aware that she absolutely was not capable of doing anything correctly at that moment, much less focusing on the object of her utter mental

failure. She put it all down in defeat and walked purposefully out the door with the goal of quieting herself down. She was overexcited, she thought; she just needed to breathe. She sat outside with her back against the dirty siding of her house and looked out over the farm, breathing in and out. In and out. The sun had now risen fully over the horizon, and she appreciated the warmth of its rosy beams against her face, knowing that in an hour, even less maybe, they would be too hot to endure. She closed her eyes, and after awhile she began to feel bearable again. She was not really calm, and she knew it because she could still feel a heady pulse of something foreign in her temples, in her heart, but something else in the sun and the air and the quiet of the morning had pushed it away, into a little corner of herself. It was like somebody had drawn a blanket over her anger, over her sudden fury with the world, and though it was still there, it was for the moment out of sight. It was enough, she thought, and she stood up and went back inside. For the rest of the morning, Anabelle was a machine. She was careful, more careful than ever before, because she knew any movement might jar her peaceful limbo and spiral her back into dizzying realization. She was a machine, she pretended, a machine. Programmed by somebody else, some passionless drone, to do what she needed to do without ever once having to think about it. She did not have feelings, she did not have options, she did not have opinions or thoughts or cares about anything. She separated herself from herself, and that is how she made the dirty coffee, then did the dishes, then hung the laundry, then folded the sheets, then started dinner, all without losing her fabricated state of calm. ***

It had really all started two weeks ago, when Fanny drowned herself in the stream that ran behind her

Untitled Cody Steele house. It actually had probably been three weeks ago, or four weeks, since that’s when she went missing, but they found her two weeks ago. It was a closed-casket ceremony, because the men who found her said that her body had been bloated beyond all human recognition on account of having been down there for awhile. They said they knew it was a suicide because they had found a note, but nobody besides the men who found her and her husband Charles had seen the note, and Charles wouldn’t let anyone else read it or even tell them what it said. Instead he told them that she was not right in the head, and that is why she did it. She was sick, he said, not sad, and the men who found her and the doctor who examined her agreed. The town, which served as a gossip-powered jury in situations like these, agreed as Spring 2009


well; all anyone could talk about were the Signs of her illness, the Signs that she was not right in the head. She was sick, they said out loud, not sad. But really, everyone knew she was sad, and they all secretly hated her for it. How could she, how could she, people would think late at night, feel she has the right to take the easy way out? Everyone is suffering, everyone is sad, everyone is united by the common, dull throb of life, and she has the audacity to desert us? Everybody stayed far away from water for the next week or so, and even though out loud they all said it was out of respect for Fanny, it was likely because they all knew that in the face of temptation and this beating July sun, not a single one of them of them was any better off in the head than she was. ***

Nobody was any better off in the head than Fanny because as it happens there was nothing wrong with Fanny, except perhaps for the fact that her humanity prevented her from becoming a bird, and who does not encounter this problem at one point in their lives? So Anabelle was not any better off in the head than Fanny, and this is why she ended up on the roof. She was good at being a machine, she was very, very good, but even when someone is very, very good at something it does not make them perfect. The moment that Anabelle could no longer be perfect was the moment Ray pulled crookedly into the driveway at one o’clock in the afternoon. He was drunk again, she could see it through the window before he even got out of his truck. For a moment she watched him stumble up the walk and felt detached from the sight, as if she were dreaming or her head was not part of her body. It felt like a vision from another world, like she was standing in one world and he was stumbling in 40

American Literary Magazine

another and something needed to happen to connect the two. Suddenly he tripped, whether on a rock or on his own ineptitude she did not know, and he fell into the grass, laughing uproariously at himself. There was a jolt as the two worlds connected, and she snapped. Electricity bubbled and overflowed inside her, flooding her veins and her mind and her heart, and before she Zoë Leverant even knew what she was doing, she was charging at him with the kettle. When he realized what was happening he began to fight back, grabbing for her arms with his calloused, sinewy hands, and she pulled herself from his grasp and now, with her objective clear in the raging fire of her mind, she turned and bolted for the stairs inside. He let her go, dazed, and watched as she reappeared again on the roof above him. Even in his drunken stupor he understood what was going to happen, and he started shouting for her, bellowing that he’d beat her senseless if she did it, he’d kill her, he’d kill her for leaving him alone. He’d kill her.


Anabelle looked back down to the ground, to her husband and her farm and her life and her fishbowl dream, and she knew what she needed to do. She became aware that the electricity inside of her had dissipated, leaving her with an ocean of calm that cooled the fire

she had felt moments before. She stood on tiptoe and stretched her arms to the sky. She was focused, centered, both more like a machine and less like a machine than ever as she felt her mind wrap around the sky. It was no longer a fishbowl; it was no longer an impenetrable fortress above her. It was an endless, boundless frontier. It called to her; it invited her to loose her ties to the ground and fling herself into it. She could fly. She knew she could fly. She didn’t know why, and she didn’t know how, but she believed it, and that was what mattered. She was a bird, she had wings, she was an angel, she was Fanny. She was going to fly. All she needed to do was jump, step off of the roof without ever looking down, and she would be free. But Anabelle had the same problem that Fanny did, which was that she was not a bird, and so she made a mistake, a misstep, a small error, one that only a being bound by humanity could make. She briefly, only for a moment, unlocked her gaze from the never-ending sky and looked down one more time. She looked down, and her eyes filled with the sight of her house, and her laundry, and her farm, and her town, and Ray, her Ray, in the driveway, slack-jawed with shock and alcohol. This was all it took. The events of her day, of her year, of her life, all crashed down upon her, like a sudden squall on her ocean of calm and at once everything was over. It left her shaking, gasping for breath, and without really thinking, without even being capable of thinking, she slumped, turned slowly, and made her way back down the stairs. ***

Bottle Series Postcard 2

The next day, Anabelle got up and looked at the dirt in the coffee and like any other machine, she didn’t care. Some suicides are never recorded.

Kyoko Takenaka Spring 2009


Rachel Webb


Don’t forget to open the flue. Then turn the gas knob.

I cringe and hold the matchbox at arm’s length, stroking the match against the crackling brown strip as if stroking the gerbil I had when I was six slowly, gently. We’ll be here all night at the rate you’re going. What do you do when you need to light a match at school?

I have a mechanical lighter. with a sturdy black arm that holds the fingernail of yellow flame. Wait until it burns a little bit.

You are chuckling now, the hand cupping the plastic mug of ice water leathery and stained ochre even in December from summers spent with your feet buried into riverbank sand drinking cold beers and watching the Colorado stretch his legs around sandstone cliffs. If I did it for you, how would you learn? I’m not going to be around forever. Besides, I have a cat on my lap.

you do, his onyx tufts of fur wearing thin and dull at the tips, curled into the canyons of your grey sweatshirt. I remember when he was fat, and glossy 42

American Literary Magazine

shadow used to be able to climb the ladder to my bunk bed and slept in the crook of my fifth grade elbow bony, freckled. Now just toss it in, make sure you get it in the middle. Stop flinching, its not going to bite you.

the blue tinged flames snap their jaws, inhale. and simmer into fluttering scraps of burnt orange silk, gently clinking golden champagne glasses. Now was that so hard?

I settle onto the cracked leather of my ottoman at the foot of your chair and glance at you, the faint tendrils of flame hazy in your smudged, square glasses the tortoise arms of their frame long settled within the hair of your temples, fine, grey wisps.

Lemon Jonathan Holin


You insist on a china cup, the black coffee—not a touch of cream—pooling in the saucer wreathed by interlocking blue blossoms etched onto the bone white surface.

Your voice scrapes like the butter knife on the coarse German bread bought especially for you, it is thin and tastes sharp, deep to my wonderbread mouth the butter refusing to melt into the tough brown hide. You tell me to learn to cook spaetzle and wienerschnitzel to let sauerkraut boil for a couple of days the purple cabbage tucked on the back burner of our stove, keeping a watchful German eye on the Taco Bell my sister and I smuggle in when you aren’t looking. You tell me to make breakfast for my husband every day—frühstück—or he’ll leave me like zat, and bang the heel of your palm on the lace cobweb table.

you used to play the piano, the knobs of your crooked fingers were once cupped with stiff lace. you only wanted to learn a few songs, so you could still dance with the boys at the parties.

You cut off the crusts, adding wurst the pink slice of meat laying neatly over the bread, A finely woven rug of pork, studded with onions. You tell me about the Russians, how they stole the neighbor boy’s red bicycle and jab your knife in the air when remembering how they came to your kitchen.

You are ninety today, and demand that I do your hair. I twist the brittle tufts of white, coaxing them down you eyeball my can of hairspray in the mirror, your irises thin, cloudy. you admonish me, Sachte, sachte Gently, gently. Spring 2009


Christina Farella

I have been dimming my view, sluicing a lid across my brain to boil in an earthen stockpot of sludge, slum-mud, ugly walls, ETC. At night, ghosts have slipped out, swirled round me & tipped my good Libra sensibilities askew & atumble, I thrash across my sheets at dawn. The nightmare was phonographs, ghosts, machines, ink flung on walls in the shape of interplanetary messiahs, underwater breathing & cracked microscopic lenses (cracked to show the insides of insects). They blow through the room & press on me. & now a lone insect crawls cross my couch-arm. I named him Gregor, & sometimes he watches.

Drowned Shea Cadrin 44

American Literary Magazine

Sixteen miles, two lefts, one Right, I shape my wheels around that Curvy block that leads me to your Front door. Eighteen stairs, twelve Steps to your Bedroom. Two hundred minutes, One hundred thirty Words, (nine of which were my Name). Four hands, eight Limbs intertwined, two Mouths, one Obsession. Six months, two Weeks, one day, nine Hours since those numbers were Counted

Roma Respira Jessica Warren

Genna Belle zza Spring 2009


Holin n a h t Jona I think her soul must have leapt to the ceiling where it canoed in a river of light produced by an upside-down chandelier acting as the source of destiny for all things absurd. She must have stared at ethereal goldfish and swiped at them with hopeless paws, dodged diamond-teethed alligators and eaten smoked Alaskan salmon with silver knife and fork. (Dish and spoon unneeded, they ran away together again, but this time to the unnerving sound of coughing hairballs.) And when she was finally satisfied with such strange delights, she pushed off from the ceiling and landed back in her elegant body, resuming her curiosity in hopes of returning someplace where the water is less frightening. 46

American Literary Magazine

Sheya Infinity

Andrea Lum

i am sitting in a giant cube. plastic walls surround me, transparent as i shift from one side to the other. vines dangle from whichever wall is the ceiling and i swing between them and tangle them and create a hammock and lay in it, staring up beyond the surface into your widening eyes. you are holding the cube. it measures fortynineish square centimeters and sitting in the backseat of a car, you hum the lines of an idling song sending vibrations down the sides. they flow in through the walls like waves. when the road turns to grass, then dirt, then back to grass, you slip out the car like jello between chopsticks. there is a hinge on a side, now, and opening a tiny door you pluck me out. you are lying out on the grassy field, up above, nothing but the stretched-out streaks from the jets. i dance on your eyelashes, frolic above your lips. your eyes are closed, and i nestle comfortably in the spot between your ear and your neck. who knew one could know a face so well

See Jessica Kantor

when so small?

Tanjactopus Kyoko Takenaka Spring 2009


colored newts in Dolores Capital City, and thumbs down for army chow halls listed somewhere n between Denver and Wichita in “see you later” i l Jonathan Ho N O I fury, while Lebanon’s capital, bombed by T E MEN L B A R O N O H Hydrogen’s golden number 1, and Jerusalem, fused POETRY together; new creation-city Zionallah not yet In response to Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” reached. Saw gophers like visiting Oz from below and poor I saw the best parts of all the things I know blur by beavers’ words in thorny bushes reminding blue with seraphim-like speed in the late afternoon jays who scramble at midnight that time is still of my youth, urgent in the fast-paced wind-tunnel of our quantitatively searching for a way to move beyond the outer beings. vast skeletal smiles of America’s anemic freeways Mardigras and hayseeds in dusty Yale hallways beneath and sun-baked tennis courts, but falling slow the lingering light of old tomes and torn into the unwashed minds of the new dawn. presidential homes. I saw the Dalai Lama speed down I-17 past Prescott, AZ Students gestating alone in crowded buildings. in a red car, wrapped in orange robe, glasses, Saw Pueblo Indians calculating careful profits from baldness, mind like keen firefly filled with country-music decorations and striped men peaches the color of eastern sunrise blowing tarnished whistles at farm animals in and the whimsically humorous who run and leap in their unkempt abodes, chewing peanuts, cashews, Phoenix, and breeze through the childless almonds, potato-chips, while wild guesses lead orphanages of their minds like vulture tourists the rich to the thick and juicy prefix of the picking humanity clean from Earth’s solid eye. backbone. Six green-eyed princes televised outside Plainesville, I saw after-shaved shape shifters of the hippie Alabama suggest a shift in outward ether coloring method walk absurd lines in the sand beside neatly knotted nooses in old Oak trees. beneath starry boulders in downward-chirping Prosecuted for following right and wavy cricket-fields, who took tots’ toys off the market righteousness against free-and-cleared coyotes. for being ungodly and deceptively inedible. I saw alleged suspects of the law, banned insecticides, Toddlers and the elderly sucking ice cream cones environmentalists urging creativity and dry from the bottom, sometimes causing slight celestial points in the city-deathed night-time indignation during sex in cheap motels just off sky all get thrown into the same trapezoidal highways. stew-pot of never-loved uncertainties. Presidential inmates occupying the broad range of Near-emptied synagogues look forward to their next America like couch potatoes and stuck carrots, centennial struggle for survival and darken the milked cows and lilac wallpaper pinned over clouds with their own eternal fuel and fading masterpieces. light. I saw absurd asylums for astronauts funded by neonI saw terror walk paved streets in muddied camping 48

American Literary Magazine

boots, unstable newcomers teased and harassed by the skins of big burly bros in backwards baseball caps, yelling “No!” to anything and everything that spoke softly, “yes.” Saw blurry glasses shoved up, initiated by the sudden quip of a parent’s affection between whack-off soap carvings and a single initialed P.S. at the bottom of frayed manuscript piles. Documents and taxes burned beneath hind-sighted border control. Gambling and loving like mad the gamblers and lovers who went mad: losing hair, eyeballs, chips and hearts on sturdy countertops under dim lights in la vida loca, Nevada. Vodka sipped dry in metropolis desert, though once must have been water. Condensed barley and mirthful carnivores descending Jesus’ glossy robe peck at worthless coins, now sandwiched between thumb and pointer: employment nowhere for shadowy counterfeits who lost themselves in the cold broken winters of regret and mischievous plot loss. Antique cars strum by like emptied drums and nearby tongues dance alone and unheard like vampire bats that never get to Heaven. Traveled straight past sirens towards pointer’s grinning words, “SEE YOU LATER!” even as seductive flashes go unnoticed as if the entire world was made a eunuch! Quickly, carelessly, dirty beef all rolled into one giant hamburger for all of America to the accompaniment of palm pilot choirs, blue and black raspberries shining off the sun’s own holy light in thirsty, nectar-greedy hands. Bakery employees chain divine sourdough in San Francisco to beaten orthodontists’ tools in one fine finish. I saw Titans fill their veins with experience and

get expelled from their own green and blue Edens. Splintered brainsickness vowed to emit coherent light but substituted it for alcohol and fabricated citrus. Gave “touched-by-God” sugar and malted cinnamon to all the clamoring urchins of America. Demolition narcotics and tobacco sold by the handful on every dripping street corner from the burning and punctured mouths of junkies to the snatching clutches of urban poltergeists. I saw friends tripping to Toronto from Buffalo, NY on glacial waterfalls where little girls in purple bikinis tread murky water above playmates’ slithering indexes: copy-pasting the light of dawn to computer screens in never-daytime northeast, while Dublin relaxes and historic Germantown grows even farther from itself. Saw the City of Sweet Something-Extras left wet in the sand and forgotten by nation secretly celebrating its jazz without them. Withered Russia cries incessantly as Trotsky—who sailed out to placid waters only to be swallowed headfirst by Moscow’s own intoxicated melodramas—is still lost from its own bulbous architectural delights. Watched aged artisans catch flights to the East Indies in search of missing inspiration that the police were never able to find, and wives snicker at husbands replacing laz-e-boy chairs while a rare iconoclastic moment incites secret love affairs! Miniscule parties dot the landscape serving only to inflate the ids of pitiful Mediterranean wannabes who, like zebras, watched each other bare it all for a quick glimpse of fame’s gnashing jaw. Saw Michelangelo’s David played for a poor sucker in modern streets, bright Polynesian carvings Spring 2009


mocked at Penn Station, mosques and churches at the center of labyrinth sidewalks never escaping from the wealthy tentacles of believers and catatonic jurors. Lofty, tenantless structures reached only by those who pledge full bodyship to the nighttime romance of Cajun zest and hey-dees spicy flavor. Everything distant and too far off from the Punjabi operatic love scene of the mind where the hard-to-mount monster of the Himalayas howls but is never heard! Fragments of every mother’s boy now want to colonize the sky and ignore the marbled blue and green! Inauthentic salt and battered raped soil inherit scarlet sunsets and lean garbanzo beans that munch on because they know what it means to live in the moment, yet die anyway due to plain lack of notice under busy feet. I watched Disney replace happiness with dirty joy and Tibetan monks bamboozled — or, maybe the bamboozlers — in ching-chong-chubby China by the very ching-chong-chubbies themselves. Dashed and long-jumped over empty and wrestled under the one eye that is every spectator’s cheering hope for total collapse. Athens is tossed back and forth while Persia turns into rural valley city — trying to become presidential but really lost in the back of America’s own liquor store. Chicago and Philadelphia relocated to longitude 140; cold and painful cities swallowed up by warm seas as the North Pole’s estimated worth skyrockets to oblivion! Luxury hotels invade every peninsula’s grassy shoelaces while armies are reduced to fresh greens and painful crunch-crunchings in the mouths of intrepid children on sandy dunes. Watched 15 awestruck “dudes” mark “A” in bloody new 50

American Literary Magazine

website for not so intrepid Archibalds. Back-flipping merchants pack the weightless boulevards; tarmacs carrying luggage place to place in search of never-reached destinations that secretly lie in the steady-beating chestnuts behind every ample curtain of flesh. In a wink romance vanishes and reappears inside a proper beehive, hanging far above Hollywood where grace dove in once and dove out again never to return. Satellite parrots repeat the LA Times’ Sunday Paper Headlines, “We are rodents at the end of an icy incline!” Saw other friends fall in love in Spain only to be pulled away by America’s thousand daily obituaries and domestic obligations. Saw them wake up to cardboard breakfast tables and converse with cartoons that made the show-biz biggie long before the first liquid splash of bone. Heat on full blast, thousands of youths beg to bear witness to the next great urban natural disaster. They want to see cities scream silent metallic cries into the toxic clouds at night! Saw these cities scream icy cries! Saw these unearthly sorrows rain poison and flood the heads of entire continents at the twilight’s last desperate gleaming! Held the long stick of dynamite to my center temple before it all went down! I watched the still-hazy sunset through bird-pooped windshields illuminate broken bourbon bottles that litter the streets every evening and get swept beneath the city’s warm septic carpet to be forgotten and unseen. Saw weightless pigeons scream “Absolam!” in the juxtaposed morning nightfall while ants burrowed through the corners of my eyes symbolizing loneliness. Fresh evidence swings the jury and disgraces lobster

ladies who fine-dine in candlelit rest-ronts to relax their concave souls; sent to prison for being too ripe but not solid enough for high class chauvinism. Indigestion never far off, their men reach for towels covered in their own daughters’ bloody messes and sons’ fetid battle scars. Watched disgracefully on YouTube a love-smitten burglar carve his initials in the trunk of a sapling elm and write something else not quite illegible beneath his hurried mark, but covered it too hastily in mud before it could be read. Accidentally sipped vodka again with Miserable Paul Bunyan in Wisconsin where he thinks and wishes he’s in Russia, but still in America leans back his final cellular brick and comatoses with the rest of the mossy growth that clings South on

The Lost Has Finally Been Found Louise Brask Spring 2009


emaciated handfuls of forest. Disoriented bobsledders slide the whole geological span of existence from Olympus to the green Nocturnal Moon in Amsterdam’s coveted reality. Everything sold in bars and pills; cans and bottles and 2 gal. jugs of fermented cranberry juice spilled over dusty drug-store countertops, licked clean by muscular carnies from previous dramas. Lagoons speck unfound islands like holes in a child’s curious head, and react to sudden pain to create tsunamis, wreck coastal seashells and the hands that picked them up from the itchy sand. Clumsy Aphrodite scorns amorous senses to new exaggerated proportions somewhere in South America, where dodgers artfully escape the warm mattress of death once again, and slow movers are sucked down into the warm crack between seat cushions to be forgotten with lost change and dried chewing gum. Watched desire appear as a leafless tree by busy highway, torn by tire tracks and endless exhaust, fumes and unknown intoxications alive in its silenced bark. Found fourteen cross-country pagodas rusted on the horizon in forsaken climate, lighting the way to no specific place in the desert. And not one oasis found. I saw Morocco’s shadowy glory conceal bullet-sounds beneath the kind old Hindu Goddess hidden within us all. I saw frisky bobcats with iPods dabble in new fire songs looking for an easy lay. Cul-de-sacs that end in useless puns and backseat drivers who throw Molotov cocktails at Paris’ forbidden love when mnageatrois in back alleyway was found to be more displeasing than thought. Condensed clouds of vernacular debris spin out of control in the direction of all our mouths’ 52

American Literary Magazine

vengeful utterances like comets vanishing into Earth’s fiery haze! Large birds carry their own wet feathers from the Laundromat in clumsy wings and amputated talons for being cast out of jobs by maladroit supermarts. Blue and red uniforms worn for the mandatory slavery to green and holographic money! Teachers create new linguistics in golden catacombs and pierce the four-lobed organ that craves nothing but the pure radiant liquid sunshine of the soul! I gazed at wars that recreated wars that never took under the earthly pigments sworn to their hearts at birth, and prejudiced and preordained contradictions yell painfully “Oomph!” in pioneered virtual realities. Garden fertilized strawberries popped daily because of embarrassment and lack o’ wisdom. Round tomahtoes prematurely plucked as well create immense debate between the fruits and rigid veggies in America’s spiritual produce section. I saw tigers hiding in lustful friendship that meant more than money but less than bouncing rubber balls in quiet classroom halls. Watched the First Dollar burn in spiteful rebellion to The Man while the tiny maggots that clutch its hefty weight burst in tears of joy for freedom to be their bright and erotic selves! Was made sick by clever comics condemning cyclic corporate greed pinned tightly to albino corkboards next to Prime Ministers, who laughed at themselves too longingly and cowered behind spider-drawings that bore impossible teeth and pig-skinned Indian abdomens that glowed naturally in unforgettable light. Traced maps of London’s Underground and messages from seductive American women left on sleeping doorposts in summer nights.

Saw happy birthdays and subtle rooftop victories fulfilling eighteen years of unknown wishings. Explored cartoonic picture of elephant loving giraffe, embracing external rhythms in holy matrimonial rumination, and red tree-frogs leaping from invisible ponds standing vertically on the purple wall-papered horizon. Fingered a silver coin from a dance-club in Ecuador, seeking single ladies but finding nothing but pool cue in too-familiar hands. Found friend’s business card and “Black Power” mistaken for Israeli bottle openers and memories at midnight in abandoned rooms diverging as ideas imagined during sleep, but never became optic realities. Pictured interior designs filled with a thousand burning teardrops, charmers cutting off heads and sandy silence forcing sleepless nights with different dreams of perfection, where ungrateful sexes received moistened satisfaction before full bloom had come. Watched dullsville denizens sleep beneath well-wishers’ cheesy concoctions, and the one furious burrower, gin drinker, and cataract caretaker leave on a rocket ship to a new orbital sphere where he joined the company of angels, but departed when he learned that eventually, on one of these tired, litter box days the great translucent scoop of time that labored our world will rise to clean the muddied sands on the doorsteps of our perfect hotels in the handsome afternoon sun.

Passage Zoë Leverant Spring 2009


NORABLE MENTION HO RY ET PO er ld Mu e Jami my mother eyes the patent straps, we jangle the glasses in my pocket, your prickling pinstripes pull my wool skirt, the cupcake paper pleats around my thighs. we’re rising in a church-sized rustle, from curving black platters that cup us like musubi, pink fish cake swept up in our hair. the chairs nose veins like lace behind our knees.

the shiny crisscross, your pink polish nails in the cropped grass. we are all supposed to hold tapers, pale wax whipped stiff like egg whites, like meringue. i try to wipe my dusty palms, rub them smooth with my short fingers, my knuckles fat like prunes.

my ankle clicks in the single file shuffle, rows of ten dollars per chair per day knocked uneven in the flux of heels. double doors swing back at us after my parents slip through. your hand darts over my shoulder, catches the door on its fingertips, and i sneeze in lieu of spilling anything out my eyelids, which you had to help me rim in black this morning. you match the wallpaper, you said, pinning my striped sleeves against the hotel room wall, fingers fanned like a feather duster. we’re on trial, but you know it. i watched, blinking owlishly while the liquid liner dried, you push your long feet into the shoes from your last recital— incidentally, the last time we were made of rice. the thin heels sink in the lawn, but you flick them free without looking down. 54

American Literary Magazine

Earth is My Cathedral Shea Cadrin

Sweet Potato Malina Keutel

you call them, pushing a pillow higher on the bed. you want me to fill them with something, the dewy smell of grass or crisp pamphlets embossed with rainbow flags, the things that rocket from your pores. they feel like they’ve been stuck to me without my permission, balanced on top of me, garnishes. they’re maraschino cherries, pitless and plastictasting, astride the scoop of my chest. you pair words indiscriminately, penciling lines of the colloquial you refuse to forsake—your frenetic connect-the-dots— while i rearrange the lint on the floor. i come to listen, to let you name my body parts.

Jamie Mulder

Spring 2009


eyes as cold as Susan’s quarter. “Susan, shhh…” her father said, putting an arm y a w n o around her shoulder and leading her into the theater. C Chris N O I T N E M “Some of these men lost everything, I don’t want any ABLE PROSE HONOR daughter of mine to talk like that about them.” The quarter glinted, half-buried in the snow, a Susan said nothing, playing with a strand of her spark of silver in a sea of dirty white, and Susan short blond hair as they sat down in the packed theater. looked around to see if anyone had dropped it. She knelt The projector started. down, huddling in her maroon winter coat, and plucked The film was good, and Susan and her father stayed the coin from the curb, staring into the eyes of George for the whole hour. It started with a raucous and Washington. Susan looked up once more to check if raunchy Betty Boop cartoon, to the whoops of the young anyone had seen her take it, and with a quickly pumping men in the audience, and Susan looked up to see her dad heart she stuffed it into her front pocket. chuckling, his arms folded. Susan laughed, too. Next “Come on, Sue,” her father said from the crowded was a newscast of goings-on in America and the world. Manhattan sidewalk. Susan turned to see her tall, Footage of deserted hovels in the Alabama countryside stately-looking dad calling to her from the entrance to was interspersed with inner city Boston and New York the movie theater. “You don’t want to miss the show.” slums plagued with drinking, homelessness and heroin Susan always thought her father was so noble and addicts. Susan drifted off, mildly perking up at a prestigious, even among other men, and it wasn’t just clip of Soviet soldiers marching in lockstep and a because he was her dad. He commanded respect, with his public service announcement called “The Dangers of lined face and calm, easy tone. Even so, things had Marihuana”, and waited for the Bugs Bunny Technicolor changed in the last year. He used to wear suits and go she knew would be coming at the end. to parties in the city all the time, and come home with Sue uncrossed her legs, taking off her jacket. It was records and dance with Susan’s mother in the living a freezing January outside, but the body heat from the room. Now he wore a beaten jacket and a flat cap instead hundreds of people in the theater was stifling. Her dad of his black bowler. laughed along with the rest of the people at Elmer Fudd “I’m coming, daddy,” Susan said, clenching the cold having his face blasted with a shotgun and looked down quarter, taking pleasure in its iciness, making sure to see his daughter fondling the quarter she held in she could really feel it. Her father was standing her hand. proudly, next to a red-bearded street-dweller holding “Susan, where did you get that?” her father a bottle of scotch and crumpled at the foot of the wall. whispered. She stopped cold, noticing the similarities between “I… I picked it up on the street,” Susan said the homeless man and her father’s dress, and growing defensively. “It was buried, I made sure nobody dropped slightly angry. it. Honest, Dad.” “Why don’t any of these men go home?” Susan asked, Her dad was silent. Up on the screen, Bugs Bunny pointing vaguely at the rows of homeless men lining the frolicked around in drag. “Are you sure nobody dropped crowded street. “Nothing but old bums…” A despondent it? You’re twelve now, I’m not raising any daughter of man forcing crackers into his hoary lips looked up, his mine to steal from the homeless.” 56

American Literary Magazine

A severed human hand lay at her feet, its muscles and tendons pouring out of the glove-like skin. Her eyes were drawn up and she saw a middle-aged man with broken spectacles on his face, lying on the ground in a soaking pool of blood. Some people were looking up the side of the high-rise and pointing, and others were pointing at the horrific sight of the blood-drenched wall, and the suit tore apart, his skull near crushed— “Susan, come back,” her father said, covering her eyes and leading her away. “Dad, what happened?” Susan choked, nausea rising in her throat. “Why—why…did he do it?” “Life insurance, I expect,” her dad said disgustedly. “Lost it all in the crash and wanted to…Susan, let’s just go home. We’ll talk later. Do you still have that quarter safe?” “Yes,” breathed Susan. “Well, don’t think of that man anymore. Think of your quarter, and the great things you’re going to spend Kyoko Takenaka it on, all right?” “I’m not going to spend it,” Susan said defiantly. “I’m telling the truth, Dad. Maybe it was a gift from “I’ll keep it safe in a jar and have money, so I won’t God,” said Susan. have to jump out of a window, ever. I’ll keep it in the “Then keep it safe. Hide it away somewhere where piggy-bank.” your mother can’t find it, she’ll use it to pay the “You do that, then,” Susan’s dad said, grasping her electric bill I’m sure,” he said. Susan looked at him and hand and leading her away from the scene. They walked saw that he was smiling. She smiled along with him. toward the Upper West Side, the police and ambulance The film was over, and Susan and her father walked out of the theater. Susan pulled the jacket tight around speeding in the other direction. Susan shoved the quarter she had seized from the her again and said, “In school, Betty said her dad’s in dusty ground into her pocket before any of the other the Bonus Army, and—what’s that?” girls and boys saw. Her breath was shallow and she The crowd was “oohing” and “aaahing,” gathered exhaled heavily through her nose, looking around her around a place at the wall. Her dad craned his neck in interest, and Susan pulled him along by the hand toward like a cornered dog. Her hands squeezed the metal, sweat beading on her white knuckles, staring at her friends whatever it was the crowd was staring at. as if daring them to say a word. They didn’t notice. “—lost it all, he couldn’t take it anymore—” Mrs. Sievers, being half-deaf, spoke in a slurred “—wife and no kids, that’s a relief—” voice on the glories of the American Revolution, of “—somebody call the police!” the bullets at Bunker Hill, and how John Andre twisted Susan moaned in shock as she pushed past the crowd.

Unity - January 19th, 2009

Spring 2009


scratchy brown dress. Susan knew that her pretty clothes had been turned to food for their family.

on the rope as he hung in North Jersey a hundred and fifty years ago. In front of Susan was Becky, a beautiful girl with golden-blond hair and red cheeks. Susan coughed; Becky’s cough was worse. Her father had lost his job on Wall Street, and her entire family fortune. When she was younger, Susan used to play at Becky’s house, more of a mansion—her family had been one of the richest in the city. The kids never talked about money before the depression except in fleeting childish tones, but it was common knowledge in the class that Becky’s dad, like others, had taken lines of credit to invest without collateral and lost it all when the bottom fell.

The chalice glinted, the priest holding it aloft above his flaky scalp and intoning, “Introibo ad altare dei.” Susan held her head high, eyes focused on the shaky man, black cassock spilling onto the floor over his thin frame. Twenty-four young little Catholics stood in the nave of the church, primped by their parents and standing with stiff collars and high chins. Susan wasn’t the only one without a communion dress; she might have been wearing a simple white frock, but Becky’s wasn’t even white. Its ugly shade of puce had elicited hissed remarks from the “Shh…” Tom said, his closed, cattier girls, but the priest had pale fist blocking his lips, eyes said nothing. fixed on the half-deaf Mrs. Sievers “Let them come forward,” the blathering onward about Yorktown. Zoë Leverant priest said, and the two lines of With the covert whispers of a girls and boys shuffled forward trooper ordering a night attack, Tom slowly and without conceit. Susan called, “Lizard!” thought of what the priest had said, about suffering The girls gave sarcastic eye rolls and sighed the little children, and wondered what that could sophomorically as the sixteen boys in the class began possibly mean, her mind on the syllables as the priest rapidly clicking their tongues, the immediate and fruitful noise bursting like typewriter keys over Mrs. held the Body before her eyes, and Susan replied amen, taking in the Host. Susan turned swiftly, the taste of Sievers’ good ear. She paused her lesson, and the boys paper and grain in her suddenly dry mouth, and took the stopped, giggling to themselves. wine from the cup. Susan smiled, trying to hold in her laughter. Mrs. Susan drank. The Blood, or wine, or whatever she Sievers stared at the class for a long unblinking had been taught, touched her tongue, and she made a moment, and then continued on as if nothing had face, turning back to her family. Her dad remarked the happened. The class only laughed harder, and Becky grimace on Susan’s face and chuckled, while her mother scoffed tritely at their immaturity. She wore a



American Literary Magazine

eyed her sternly, eyebrows arched. “You’re in the club now, kid,” Susan’s father said, kissing her on the forehead. “Your mother and I are very proud of you.” “We’re very proud of you, Susan,” Susan’s mother agreed. When the family got home, the walk having taken a quarter-hour, her father stated that as long as they had hot water, he was going to make use of it in the shower, while Susan’s mother took her aside into the master bedroom. Wondering if she was going to be scolded for making a face at the Blood of Christ, Susan walked on eggshells down the bare hallway. The master bedroom was cramped, fitting only the bed and a bureau dresser; Susan’s mother opened the dresser and pulled out a crumpled note. “Susan,” her mother said. “This is for you.” Susan reached out her hand and took the five dollars in shock, taken well aback by the sum. It was one from before the crash; the bill was bigger than normal, with the words The United States of America encircling Abraham Lincoln’s face as though he was sticking his head out of a porthole. “Put it in your little piggy-bank, and save it up, it might be handy some day. You are still saving, aren’t you?” “Yes, Mother, thank you, Mother, I am, thank you.” “I’m very proud of you, Susan,” said her mother, blessing the room with a rare smile. “Don’t tell your father, now, you hear? He’d use it…he’d take it away.” Susan held the beat-up downtrodden bill and ran back to her room, her shoes clattering on the hardwood. She threw open the door and sunk down to the hem of her quilted bed, holding the bill to her breasts while lunging under the box-spring mattress for her bank. Feeling the cold porcelain of the white piggy-bank, Susan stuffed the folded bill through the slit and let it fall to the bottom. Susan shook the bank softly

before replacing it back deep under the bed. Eighteen dollars and twenty-six cents now. She had made a fortune. The door opened and slammed, and a droplet of blood hit the tidy floor; Susan leaned forward to look around the parlor wall to see her father, his hands bloody and swaddled in gauze. Susan’s mother met him at the door, holding his split hands in hers, gazing up into his ragged, lined face. “What happened…?” “I got the job.” “You didn’t!” “I did.” “Oh, that’s wonderful, love,” she cooed, clutching his hands tighter; he winced. “But what of your hands?” “Nothing.” “What do you mean, nothing?” “Nothing happened, love, I got the job,” he answered, looking older by the very second. Susan realized she was unconsciously fingering the two nickels in her pocket as she listened to her parents. “I’m sorry,” Susan’s father said. Susan’s mother loosened her grip on her husband’s hands and backed up slightly, looking down at the dry trickle of blood congealed into a dark brown film on his wrist. Susan added the money up, her mind concentrating fiercely, staring at the blank space on the wall where the wireless had been. Ten more cents made—that would be twenty-five dollars and eighty-one cents. The coins clicked together, but she held them muffled, keeping them secret. “I’m sorry, I just don’t know what we’re going to do,” Susan’s father said, collapsing into the rickety kitchen chair. Susan got up, and silently walked into her room, coins in her palm. Susan walked through the door, eyes adjusting to the dim interior of her apartment, and walked across Spring 2009


the kitchen into the parlor. She had only a scattered handful of pennies in the entire week, but she wanted to add them to the piggy-bank, at least to stop carrying them on her, and not to worry about them. “How was school, Susan?” the voice of her mom called, echoing down the hallway. “I didn’t see you there, Mother,” Susan replied, strolling into her bedroom. “It was fine.” Susan eased herself down to the wooden floor, grasping blindly under her bed, the tips of her fingers brushing porcelain. She reached a little further and pulled the piggy-bank from the bed, laying it on the floor in front of her. The pig’s complacent smile was shattered, and a gaping abyss was laid in where its face should be. It looked as if someone had bashed the poor pig on the ground. Susan feverishly looked inside the piggy-bank— it was empty. The money was gone. “I’m so sorry,” her mother said, suddenly walking into the doorframe. “But…Susan, try to understand… we could go without heat for the summer, but they were going to cut off the electricity…” Susan dropped the couple pennies into the shattered mouth of the pig, listlessly dropping her hand to her lap. It wasn’t as if she was ever going to buy anything with the money anyway. Her chest tightened inexplicably, and a sharp hint of tears burned afresh in the corners of her eyes. She probably wouldn’t have gotten anything with the money anyway. Susan choked, replacing the broken pig under the bed, the six pennies clattering friendless in the jar. Her mother sighed and hugged Susan, clasping her hands in hers. When her father came home, Susan carefully eyed his footsteps across the kitchen from the next room, watching him sit down at the table, drumming his fingers in concentrated circles on the flimsy table. Her mother spoke light conversation with him, asking him about his day, telling him of hers; he said no word to 60

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Susan. As her father sat blindly at the table, Susan wished with all of her heart that he would say a word to her. He stared into his coffee, not acknowledging her presence. With a slight sob, Susan got up and walked brusquely into her bedroom, and closed the door. She had failed him, she knew. While the family barely had enough money to eat and pay bills, Susan had nearly thirty dollars hidden away, an illicit secret. Susan slammed her fists down onto the bed and buried her streaked face in the quilt, breathing awkwardly and shuddering. But please, let him speak to me, she begged an invisible Dei. The wood creaked outside the door, and her mother’s rosy voice breathed through the slats, “Susan, your father always knew about the bank. He knew of it all along.” Susan stopped, her sobs eking away as she thought about what her mother had said. Her mother’s footsteps faded away, unwilling to enter into her daughter’s space of privacy, and Susan stood up, brushing away the droplets of salt on her face. She thought. She pushed her door open and walked out, making her way down the hall into the kitchen where her dad sat listlessly at the table, depressed and dejected. He would have looked bored if not for his pained, stiff movements and twitching fingers. Susan exhaled audibly, and leaned over and hugged her father tightly around his neck. He patted her arm, mouthing something Susan couldn’t hear. Susan loosed her gritted teeth and buried her nose in her father’s hair.

GaudĂ­ After the Rain Allison Gaffney

Nora T umas Leonard Cohen mumbles through the floorboards As a milk flower blooms in my tea I sit down to play piano, Or to watch the earth grow greener Than a stone.

The cherry snow is heavy with the sadness of the evening And the pink rain gathers slowly At my feet, at the hour Planning not to tarnish

Kathryn Bohri

My brown shoes. Summer is still here; I can smell it in the sun-warmed window screens. Even the languid creek denies the red trees. Spring 2009


This is What I Did Instead of Saying Goodbye Shea Cadrin

Irena Schneider There are times when I look over the heads of my professors when they’re gripping the air like a small globe And I find myself asleep on the couch in the dusky gallery of deprivation, And I’d hope someone would take care of me. Mr. Whitman begged me come outside To January, politics vendors, rocky footpaths everything and sans everything Smoky hotel staircases and cold blue skies I fear I’m lost in translation, and he smiles, Me too! Mr. Whitman liked to use long long lines You’d become aware of your own breathing Gulping Impatience, like my icing lungs this instant I’m halfway through this bread line Canister of milk in my hand Watching my white unsmoked breath Crystal cotton feathering from my lips Like my favorite late summer willow Above raspberry branches. Gas pipes thunder past me Street bazaar is clanging like a steaming factory Fish and Soviet frost entangle the air Bluster and rip on smitten silver escarpments, antennae Voices, talking, voices, Things I hear from my metropolitan archbishop pressing down the sidewalk with a crooked cross I finger a lost Bach Sinfonia in my pocket To keep the circulation moving. A man three yards back is screaming God damn it what is taking so long god damn


American Literary Magazine

God I miss you, Johann Sebastian, leaning on the piano forte by the cookies and Pinot Grigio, Window shutters, B mols and pedals, my marked music was an artifice. Aiy, aiy, hooligan, you wait your place! Crisis time, god help us all Women cross themselves, heaving His arms outstretched, hyphens pushing all of— us— revolution’s eating the back of the line. we’re popping like rice crackers Feel a break coming on, Johann, it’s not good Shush the shoving, I’m saying, Muscovy isn’t melting like margarine in hot milk, it’s no mouthpiece for white poetry, no, not in the hobbled centerpiece of this blessed mania, Johann I wish I remembered our conversations, it’s an organ echo mauled a tad by this street hunger I’m hugging my slopping milk canister for dear life excuse me, my tears want freezing, slugging down my cheek horrified, and I watch Mr. Whitman smiling across the street because he liked long long lines that neither of us could translate, or breathe anymore, I can’t feel my fingers playing I can’t feel my life in my throat get out of my way for god’s sake, Sinfonia’s riveting down the sidewalk and women are sobbing I can’t do it I can’t do it, no, I forsake the bread for freedom this line will br eak.

Spain I Danielle King Spring 2009


O how low you hang your luscious vegetable-fruit: Forest-green skins hiding shades of eggplant-purple— rounded teardrop shapes waiting to be held, looming towards us: The children, lying arms wide stretched, mouths gaping open for Summer, hungry birds nested in freshlycut grass, gazing into pockets of sky hidden within a canopy of leaves. Tropical sunshine, dancing fractures of light, escapes into our wet, laughing mouths. Our hands hold your gift. We have pressed our little ears against it, shaking— lonely heavy seed rumbling inside, ready to be released. Slicing down the middle we twist the halves.


American Literary Magazine

Brittany Stewart My fingers tear back the flesh revealing a mass of little robust rubies, protruding. Carefully, pulling each crimson seed bundle, my fingers portray the characters of bulldozers, clearing each flesh cavern until it is bare. Digging deeper, more compartments of treasures, playfully hidden within the oversized rind, appear glistening. Extracting the bitter trinkets splatters the woven white fabric of my shirt with deep red speckles. My mother dislikes stained laundry.


Out slips the seed! Birthed into gasping breaths. Spoons dive in devouring shade-chilled lime-green flesh, that melts like butter, on our tongues.

ea Andr


Rebecca Prowler

s Noble Randon Billing IBUTER FACULTY CONTR first published in The Massachusetts Review, Volume 48, Number 2: Summer 2007

We are looking at a Siberian camel. It is lying on top of its folded legs, long-lashed eyes blinking slowly, wobbly lips frosted with green, contentedly chewing its cud. “Look at her eyelashes,” a woman says to her friend. “She doesn’t need mascara.” “Look at his lips,” a man says with faint disgust. The camel lumbers to its feet and sways gently. Its expression doesn’t change and it doesn’t look away as – “It’s pooping!” a boy yells. “Look at its poop!” The camel strolls along the fence, moving towards a woman who calls to it. “That’s it. Come to me. Come to me,” she croons. The camel stops near her, murmurs its lips over a few strands of hay, swings its head to look at some unknown movement, some object of interest only to camels. “He knows, he knows,” the woman chants. “He walks with the people.” ***

In the museum it is much more quiet. The rooms are high-ceilinged, the floors bare, the light cool and controlled. So are the people, mostly. I stop in front of Domenichino’s The Rebuke of Adam and Eve and look. Adam is half shrugging, half gesturing to a cringing Eve while God swoops down to them, reclining on a couch of angels, a red silk canopy flaring above him. “Driving them out of the garden,” a middle aged woman narrates to her friend.

The friend plays God: “‘Get out. You screwed up – now get out.’” They laugh and move on, their hard heels echoing on the bare floor. A man looks for a moment, pauses, says: “Adam’s like, ‘I don’t know. Don’t look at me – look at her.’” Another brief laugh. A child reads the title out loud. “The Rebuke of Adam and Eve. Mom, what’s rebuke?” ***

When the model walks in the classroom we are all disappointed. Too old, too fat, and – for half the class this too is a disappointment – male. His thinning blond hair is pulled back in a ponytail and a thick handlebar goatee obscures his mouth. He has crow’s feet and sloping shoulders and his deeply cut tank top shows the curve of his hanging stomach. When he shakes hands with the teacher and leaves to change, I imagine him either riding a Harley Davidson or sweeping a metal detector over a beach. The other students, most of them barely in their twenties, all of them at least ten years younger than me, exchange glances. I look down at my block of clay. When the model returns he is wearing a thin teal terry cloth robe and black plastic flip flops. He climbs onto the turn table in the center of the room, adjusts a cushion and sits on a wooden cube. He shrugs out of the robe, which drops to the floor. The room is silent. ***

“Mouna is not a shy woman,” the presenter says. “But she is not used to standing up in front of a crowd and being looked at.” I am in the crowd at the Adornment Pavilion at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival looking at Mouna. Mouna stands on stage, not used to being looked at. When prompted, Mouna holds out her palms so that we can see the henna designs intricately stained into her skin. When asked she lifts the hem of her robe Spring 2009


so we can see the cuffs of her trousers, embroidered with ornate silver vines. When instructed we look at her elaborate makeup, the kohl lining her eyes and extending her eyebrows so that they almost meet over her nose, the bright lipstick, the harsh lines of blush. But her eyes remain aloof, her gaze skimming over the tops of our heads, never meeting our own. ***

He walks with the people? No. This camel hasn’t walked with the people for years – possibly for his whole life. He walks separately from the people, not with them, not alongside them – as he might have in the deserts of Siberia. Instead a waist-high fence and a camel-deep pit keep us apart – but so does our gaze and our speech. We contain this camel – as well as all the other animals at the zoo – with words, narrating each

and every action: “It’s looking at you … It’s getting up … It’s pooping!” Our words walk with the camel. It can do nothing without our commentary. ***

Later in the museum I walk into a room of Van Goghs and overhear the typical docent’s speech: “You can see he had a different world view from the impressionists. Notice the brush strokes … notice his use of color …” Notice his missing ear, I silently add. But then I notice the word notice. At the zoo there was only looking at things – no “Notice that big pile of poop!” or “Notice how fat that hippo is.” The expert instructs us to notice but the people who walk though museums look. In the medieval wing: “Look at their floppy hats!” Of a painting of a painter painting: “Look – he’s painting it. Hey, look at that; that’s pretty good.” Paintings are made to be looked at. They have no life outside of our gaze; we animate them with our words ***

Tourism is Our Number One Industry Jessica Warren 66

American Literary Magazine

When the model’s robe hits the floor he is facing away from me. All I can see is his back, an expanse of rusty body hair, the points of his elbows, and his surprisingly compact behind that almost disappears as he sits on it. But I can also see the faces across the room, the wide eyes flicking immediately to his midsection, looking first at what is usually seen last. Every five minutes he rotates a quarter turn, and twenty minutes into the session I am faced with his bristly chest, his hanging stomach and what sat immediately beneath it – his enormous penis. I blink and look away, at his arm, at the clay arm I pretended to work on. I don’t want the people across the room to assess my face the way I had assessed theirs, but most of all I don’t want to blush. But God it’s huge. It lies like a sultan on a fleshy satin cushion and as the afternoon passes it relaxes and –

unbelievably – uncoils further. Break is called, the model puts on his robe and his flip flops and the class flees to the hall and the steps outside. There, in clusters of two and three, they whisper; those who are alone flip open their cell phones. All look furtively back at the art room as they describe the naked body of the man they have been looking at for the last half hour, their tones ranging from scorn to fascination. I hold myself apart from these conversations, keeping my words to myself. I don’t want to talk about what I had seen – especially with strangers. I don’t want to feel like I have to talk about it. It was a naked man. No more, no less. But later that day, during a longer break, when the rest of the students leave to buy a sandwich or a cup of coffee, I pull out my cell phone and made my own call. ***

Mouna’s gaze does not meet ours, but why should it? When the presenter/interpreter speaks in English all Mouna hears are sounds, punctuated occasionally by her own name. After awhile she stops responding to her name, trusting that “------ Mouna ------ Mouna’s -----” is as benign as “As a woman from the southern part of Oman, Mouna wears a such-and-such head scarf. You can also tell from the embroidery on Mouna’s sleeves that she is from Salalah.” The Folklife Festival is in Washington DC and people from all over the country are there. We make quiet comments to our friends and family – “Look at that embroidery,” “Look at her bracelets,” “It must be hot under all that” – until the time comes to ask questions. “Do you have to cover your head?” Yes, the interpreter says. If you leave your house without covering your head it’s like you’re not fully dressed. “Don’t you find that restrictive?” No. It’s what we do. “How do you clean your clothes?” We wash them, the interpreter says. “Do you use washing machines?”

Yes – if it’s cotton. If it’s silk we get it dry cleaned. “Dry cleaned! You have dry cleaners – the same kind we have?” Yes. A smile. “Are there meanings behind the patterns?” No, she says. We just like the way they look. “Really? I find that hard to believe.” Really. Another smile. Having visited the Adornment Pavilion before, many of these questions sound dumb to my now educated ears, but I remember wanting to know the same kinds of things on my first visit. I had been afraid to ask. Now, though, I start wondering what these Omani women think of American women who are amazed that they had washing machines and insist that each pattern on their clothing had meaning. The stitching on the back pockets of my jeans doesn’t have meaning, nor do the stripes on my t-shirt. What are we looking for through these questions? And what do the Omani women hear in them? What do they see? ***

Is the Siberian camel looking at you? I want to ask the crooning woman. Or only at a shape that’s making foreign sounds and meaningless gestures? I leave the camel and go to the Ape House. A small tribe of gorillas is on display. One paces in front of the glass, one picks through a pile of fruit and grasses, one has its back to us, and one sits removed from the rest, high up on a rock outcropping – a female with rich brown eyes. My gaze meets that of the sitter. I think we are really looking at each other. I want us to be really looking at each other. I want her to see that I am different from the other people here – the boy pounding on the glass (despite the sign that says not to), the woman who grimaces and says “It stinks in here,” the teenager who laughs, pointing – “Look at its tits!” I want her to see sympathy and understanding in my eyes, that we are two primates separated by only a few twists of a chromosome – and a wall of shit-splattered Plexiglas. Spring 2009


The gorilla’s gaze shifts an inch to a spot just above my ear – a spot she stares at just as intently, just as soulfully – and I know that to her I am no different from any other moving sound-making shape on this side of the glass.

the gaze of animals has become. Art shows me back to myself – and me to you, and you to me. Do you laugh at Adam and Eve Rebuked? Do you play God? Or do you stand back silently, listening to others talk, saving bits of what you hear to mull over later? When you stand in front of Rembrandt, what does he tell you? Whatever you read in his gaze, like the gorilla, he’ll look at the next person to walk by his frame – the bored teenager, the struggling art student, the recent widow – in exactly the same way.


In the museum, Rembrandt looks back at me. Not when he is a young man, but in his Self-Portrait, 1659. It is as if he is trying to communicate over 300 years and 3000 miles. The painting is dark, with rich hues of brown in his clothing and his eyes, a slightly duller brown for the background. From these dark surroundings emerges his face, framed by twin clouds of silver hair and a faint goatee under his shadowed mouth. But all of this acts as another frame – a frame for his eyes, which shine out of all this darkness with a pained warmth. I can feel the weight of his stare, the weight of experience behind his stare, and I feel that he is trying to tell me something, even if I’m not quite sure what it is he is trying to say. But Rembrandt’s gaze is not a separate gaze, like that of the camel or the gorilla. Those gazes are independent from mine – even if they pass over me with indifference. The gaze of the art is reflective, as


Does the model ever look back at me? Yes. Occasionally I meet his eyes when he is on the turntable, usually when I am working on his head or face, sometimes (disproportionately often, it seems to me) when I am working on rolling a bit of clay into a penis or Shea Cadrin flattening a ball of clay, like a jelly donut, to rest it on. Whenever our eyes meet, we both quickly flick our gaze away. On break we all stalk the halls of the art building or sit outside, stretching, in the sun. During these breaks the model often eats Goya chocolate wafers and I try to fit this detail into the lives I imagine for

Snow Clouds, May 2008


American Literary Magazine

him – the Harley rider, the beachcomber – but without success. An unseen boundary seems to separate him – the one who has been naked – from the rest of us, protected by our clothes. When our eyes meet outside the classroom I quickly drop my gaze, duck my head and pull the corners of my mouth into that flat, tightlipped smile that never fools anyone. I know how it must look. I don’t want to appear cold, distant, uncomfortable – but I am. I want to keep that distance between us more than I feel the social need to connect. Back in the classroom, his nakedness begins to lose its allure. We are busy trying to replicate his shape in clay and it matters less and less what his shape actually is. The teacher points and say, “See the line of his shoulder” or “See how his calf muscle curves” or “See the angle of his knee.” That I can do; I can see his shape and understand how it can be reflected in my own sculpture. But I can not find a way to see the person who inhabits those lines and curves and angles. In the classroom or outside, naked or clothed, I can not do it. ***

Mouna never looks at me. When she is on display in the Adornment Pavilion she doesn’t look at the crowd there, but above our heads towards the crowd outside. It is hard to tell if she is looking at anything, or only standing in suspension, waiting to be released from the presenter’s droning, her incomprehensible spell. Later I see Mouna dancing as part of the Al Majd Ensemble, a traditional dance troupe from southern Oman. Immediately I notice that she only really looks at the other female dancers. In fact, all the female dancers only look at each other. The male dancers prance and whirl around them, smiling with bright eyes, inviting them closer with a soft word or a swoop of the head but the women stay nearly immobile, each waving

a corner of her robe at hip height, eyes fixed to the floor or deliberately staring into the middle distance. Is this part of the dance? Or part of the culture? I don’t know. There is more than the language barrier between us. When the presenter had asked Mouna to show her hands, her cuffs, her makeup, she used the phrase “You can see …” This both invited me to look but it also implied a hope of engagement, that some kind of exchange would pass between us, the observer and the observed. I could physically see the henna on her hands, but with the interpreter’s help I could also see how and why it was applied. Watching the dancing I can see the motions and gestures, but I can’t see the motives behind them. I am on my own. But of all the Omani women I see, the image that stays with me is one of a masked Bedouin woman. I can look at her – her black robes and her busy hands, a dark velvet mask covering her nose and upper lip – but through this mask I can’t see how she looks back at me. I can see her eyes clearly, but nothing else – no expression, no gesture, no words. I know that she is looking out at the world and at me in it, but I can only guess at her thoughts. She might be looking at my bare arms the way I would look at a woman’s nipple peeping out of a bikini top. She might see my cropped hair as a punishment, a rejection of womanhood, a sign of mourning, a mark of liberation. She might think of my freedom with envy or distrust or pity. Or does she look at me with a more reflective curiosity, as I look at her? I have no way of knowing what is behind her mask, any more than she knows what is behind my bare face. We are two people with nothing between us but distance, a distance bridged only by looking, being looked at, and trying still harder to see.

Spring 2009


Harajuku, x, Hardcore Kyoko Takenaka Jeff Aisen has declined to comment on his current whereabouts and activities. Genna Bellezza is everything you wish you were and everything you wish. you weren’t. Alissa Berdahl is a first year student in SIS that is pursuing a bachelor’s in Arabic and North African Studies. She enjoys sushi and chocolate - although not together. Kathryn Bohri wants to be the Jane Goodall of hipsters, the Bono of rust belt cities, and the Superman of childhood dreams. Louise Brask: You buy exotic fruits to let them rot on your countertop. Shea Cadrin loves life. Liz Calka is painting the roses red. (Not pink, not green, not aquamarine.) Christopher Conway is a freshman from Bergen County, New Jersey who has been writing fiction, nonfiction and poetry since he was 15. Other than writing, he enjoys Irish culture, conceptual art, the Onion, and playing his guitar. Christina Farella is extremely interested in squalor. The title of her manuscript is Modigliani Threw the Seas.


American Literary Magazine

Evan Fowler is a freshman in SIS who originally hails from Louisville, Kentucky. She loves art and is currently taking a painting and a photography class, which she enjoys immensely. Other interests include field hockey, piano, and poetry. One of her favorite things is when something normally perceived as mundane is proven to be beautiful. Allison Gaffney is a junior majoring in graphic design. She has just returned from studying in Florence, Italy for a semester.

Jonathan Holin would not want to shake hands with an antimatter man. Franziska Kabelitz wants to thank the world for the wonderful people Jessica Kantrowitz is a female with a love for beards, jokes, and kittahs! She’s a print and photojournalism student with a need for not only soft-serve, but froyo, too. She also has a great sense of humour, in case you were wondering (and can’t get enough of British spelling, although she is in no way a pompous American)!

Malina Keutel is a freshman from Portland, Oregon. She spends her time sending/collecting postcards, riding her purple bike, and marathon napping. She would like to thank her roommate Gabby and the great state of Oregon. Danielle King is always looking for new people to tell her their stories over tea, at the piano in the practice rooms, or in the salad line at TDR. Zoe Leverant likes wearing dresses no matter what the weather and wishes she had enough money to buy a Canon 40D. If she could do one thing for the rest of her life, it would be seeing the Mountain Goats in concert. Michael Levy likes Transformers, Risk, and talking about emotions. Andrew Lobel wants a black Cadillac so Death can drive him around in the back. Amanda Lotz is a lover of languages and very curious about culture. People may think it is strange, but she wishes Walt Whitman was truly her uncle. Nature consoles her. Hummus is one of her favorite things to eat! Andrea Lum believes that daily intakes of poetry can significantly increase one’s serotonin levels. Jamie Mulder has no idea what this accoutred, frowsty barn is worth.

Grimm Mash-Up

Emily Prince is a History/Literature major in the College of Arts and Sciences. Her varied interests

Shea Cadrin Spring 2009


include coffee, the Discovery Channel, and James Madison. She dreams of being published one day, but knows if that doesn’t work out there’s always money in the banana stand. Rebecca Prowler could live on raspberry iced coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts. Nora Pullen is in the process of eating her weight in applesauce. She has 35 1/2 jars to go. Allison Reimus is a 26-year-old painter originally from Saginaw, Michigan. She is a second year MFA student who lives and works in Washington DC. Upon graduation from American University, Reimus plans to stay in the DC area and paint as much as possible. Alex Rose-Henig is a freshman studying psychology. He loves poetry and has enjoyed participating in AmLit. He hopes to work with AmLit more in the future. Irena Schneider is on a quest for liberty, on and off the page. Sheya likes speaking truth through art. Her passions include nature, literature, and the Arabic language. Cody Steele is a freshman from a mysterious place in or around the greater Philadelphia area. He’d like to thank Mary Kate Myers for her supreme modeling skills, his mom and dad for their support, and Mr. Michael Budden for his patience and dedication to the education of a lowly basic art student. Brittany Stewart is the site of radical indeterminacy. She often trips/bumps/falls into/over inert objects.


American Literary Magazine

JESSICA TAICH likes cucumbers cut up with lime squeezed on top. Kyoko Takenaka craves to stop the eye and move the heart. Kelly Thomas believes all good television shows have been canceled after one or two seasons. Nora Tumas is a stolen CAUTION: WET FLOOR sign. Allyson Upton is a senior German studies major. She no longer only writes poems about Germany and France but also about the beauty of DC. Tess Van den Dolder wishes she were more artsy and hip. This is why she writes poetry. Otherwise she is just another political science student wanting to save the world. Jessica Warren loves befriending new people and cinnamon raisin peanut butter. She can also spend hours talking about the coffeehouse that she is determined to create... that she will create. Rachel Webb found a chunk of light and is rolling it around with her fingertips like a piece of taffy—she is happy.

American University, MGC 248 4400 Massachusetts Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20016


Jamie Mulder


Rachel Webb Brittany Stewart


Jess Warren Rebecca Prowler


Matt Gasper


Ali Goldstein Ben Walker


Josh Little


Michael Levy Andrea Lum


Andrew Lobel


Christina Farella Mary Cutrali


Jenn Dearden Emma Wimmer Lowell Rudorfer


Shea Cadrin Jessica Taich

EVENT PLANNING COMMITTEE Louise Brask Abby McGlinchey Bobby McGowan Alex Rose-Henig Cody Steele Kelly Thomas


Jeff Aisen Genna Bellezza Kathryn Bohri Liz Calka Sarah Cough Brittney Dunkins Lauren Harvey Jonathan Holin Morgan Jordan Malina Keutel Amanda Lotz Kaitlyn Maloney Shannon McMahon Hayley Munn Michael Nadler Virginia Papke Liz Rauh

Untitled Allison Gaffney Spring 2009



American Literary Magazine

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