__MAIN_TEXT__
feature-image

Page 1

spring 2016 spring 2016

1


spring 2016 spring 2016

1


Mission Statement Acknowledgements American Literary magazine, affectionately known as AmLit, is American University’s literary and creative arts magazine. Run entirely by students, AmLit is published twice a year at the end of the Fall and Spring semesters. Striving to showcase the best student writing and visual art within the campus community, AmLit contains poetry, prose, photography, film, and art submitted by the student population, both undergraduates and graduates. AmLit selects content based on an anonymous review process, giving each staff member an equal vote for each piece submitted. The Editors-in-Chief and genre editors decide any discrepancies in the democratic voting process. All copyrights revert to the artists upon publication, unless otherwise noted.

Within the pages of AmLit, we hope you can feel the love that our community gives and receives. We feel it is imperative to acknowledge so many of the people that give the magazine that feeling. We would like to thank our faculty contributor Professor David Keplinger for his poem “Absence.” We also must thank Professor Linda Voris for her contribution “A Poem for the Cows in the Field and in the Barn.” The talent our faculty shares with us consistently inspires so much of our own work. This magazine also could not exist without the careful guidance, inspiration, kindness, and pep talks from our faculty advisor Linda Voris. Our design staff works tirelessly to create the perfect frame to showcase AU’s student art and literature. For her selfless work we must thank design editor, Janella Polack, her assistant Claire Osborn, and her design team. We would also like to thank Andrew Gelwick, Batol Bashri, and Ian MacMillan for their help with the cover and design accents. Jim Briggs of Printing Images has also been with us every step of the way. Thank you, Jim, for answering our frantic emails, putting up with our ever-changing deadlines, and giving us a timeless magazine that we are so lucky to call our own. We need to recognize our Best-in-Show judges: Linda Voris, Leena Jayaswal, Lily Wong, Despina Kakoudaki, and Danielle Myslewic. You have taken time out of your already busy schedules to evaluate our work. Your unending support is what keeps us going. Thank you for always having open minds and open office hours. We look forward to working with you all again in the future. Last, but absolutely not least, we must thank our wonderful advisor, Adell Crowe. This is AmLit’s last semester with the best Student Media advisor we’ve ever had. Adell, thank you for your undying belief in AmLit. Thank you for carving out a place at AU for an arts community that is small, but mighty. Many of us came to AmLit hundreds or thousands of miles from where we grew up, but because of you, Adell, we have never felt more at home. Thank you for listening daily, advising often, and believing always. (Always keeping the candy bowl full in our office was a nice touch, too.) The students that get to work with you next have no idea how blessed they are about to become. Adell, you are a fantastic role model. We love you and will miss you dearly. Thank you, everyone. We wouldn’t be here without you.

spring 2016

1


Passing by The Mall Kristie Chua

2

american literary magazine


Dear Readers, Wow, it happened again, another issue of AmLit! Our winter release party was such a dream that we didn’t know how this semester could ever compare, but AmLit continues to get better and better! We are delighted to bring you Volume 88 of AmLit. This semester, we were so moved by the number of AU students who submitted to us for the first time! It was the best gift to open our email in January during the record-setting Jonas Blizzard and be warmed by new names and new work. The art and literature on this campus is nothing short of awe-inspiring; thank you for sharing it with us. It seems the spring is always filled with hellos and goodbyes, and this season AmLit has gotten our share of both. We were thrilled to welcome so many new students onto our executive board and hear all their bright ideas, but it is also bittersweet to say goodbye to some graduating staff members, longtime submitters, genre editors, an editor-in-chief, and our longtime advisor and friend, Adell Crowe. We are sad to be writing our final letter from the editors, but we are filled with gratitude for all that this position has brought us. Our late-night review sessions filled with clearance Valentine’s Day candy, young poets who brought drafts to workshop in our office hours, and all the beautiful work our genre editors discussed kept us going along the way. There is a tradition in our AmLit family of Roses and Thorns. We start each meeting by going around a circle and having each staff member share the best part of their day (the rose) and the worst part of their day (the thorn) with each other. It is so beautiful to work in an environment where we share our daily lives together. Mikala’s rose of being EIC was the inspiration that she received from the AmLit community daily. They inspired her to write more poems, go to more museums, thank every artist and writer she knows for their bravery in sharing their work, and make AmLit the best community she could. Her thorn of being EIC is saying goodbye. She knows that’s cliche; she doesn’t care. Jake’s rose of being EIC was looking forward to every meeting, every late-night review session, because of every member’s passion and willingness to try, a reflection of the safe space we strive to cultivate in the AmLit community. His thorn of being EIC is leaving the AmLit community at the end of the year, but he expects a signed copy mailed to his to-be-determined address in Chicago next year. It is with humility that we give you the latest edition of AmLit. We hope you enjoy! xoxo, Jake and Mikala

spring 2016

3


MISSION STATEMENT | 1 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS | 1 EDITORS’ NOTE | 3 CONTRIBUTOR BIOGRAPHIES | 94 MASTHEAD | 96 THANKS | 97

Poetry

Art Sophomore Year | Jonathan Murray | 9 FKA Twigs Spread | Andrew Gelwick & Bella Lucy | 22 Sculpture Walk | Natalie Tarasar | 25 1068 | Charles Clayton | 27 Clouds | Andrew Gelwick | 31 Rising Sun | Andrew Gelwick | 46 Tophat Cow | Ben Friedel | 52 The Source | Kacey Keith | 53 Syria | Jonathan Murray | 56 Spanish Mary | Natalie Tarasar | 62 Blue Suaad | Batol Bashri | 68 Pause | Rachel Cohen | 71 Our Beach | Zachary Gleiberman | 72 2194 | Charles Clayton | 76 Untitled I | Ben Friedel | 79 Frozen Goblet | Natalie Tarasar | 83 Athena | Andrew Gelwick | 84 Martyr | Natalie Tarasar | 89 Hello | Jonathan Murray | 91

Drone Slayer | Conor MacVarish | 7 After Visiting in September | Carolyn Schneider | 8 During those Six Consecutive Days | Mikala Rempe | 11 After “Sleeping on the Wing” by Frank O’Hara | Grace Cassidy | 13 Erotica | Barbara Martinez | 14 Lack | Jake Nieb | 17 Dead Dog Dreams | Tam Sackman | 23 After van Gogh’s “Siesta” | Grace Cassidy | 29 Between Screenings of The Birds and Going Clear | Mikala Rempe | 36 Open Season | Pamela Huber | 38 Prescription for October | Pamela Huber | 41 Christmas Eve | Amanda Hodes| 44 House Hold | Sam Dumas | 48 Warnings, for a New Year | Emma Bartley | 50 My Date with Joe Biden | Genevieve Kotz | 54 Only the Margin Left Now | Ellisa Goldberg | 57 The Only Dream I Ever Have About Home | Marisa Fein | 60 The Time Machine |Tova Seltzer | 63 Watching Mother Nature on Channel 64 | Grace Cassidy | 64 Domicile | Sam Dumas | 66 Watching Sunday | Grace Cassidy | 69 In the Month of Thermidor | Thomas Pool | 70 Absence | David Keplinger | 85 A Poem for the Cows in the Field and in the Barn | Linda Voris | 86

4

american literary magazine


Photography Passing by The Mall | Kristie Chua | 2 05 | Charles Clayton | 6 Iowa | Marley Hambourger | 10 Self Portrait | Kelsey Hasmonek | 12 Grannies | Kristie Chua | 15 Honeycomb | Brian Chaidez | 16 Ghosts Above Manzanar | Zachary Gleiberman | 19 Brother | Hannah Solus | 20 Brothers | Hannah Solus | 21 Damaged | Kelsey Hasmonek | 28 Bricks on Bricks | Philipp Ebner von Eschenbach| 35 The Thinker | Ian MacMillan | 39 Chicago | Kelsey Hasmonek | 40 Yuyuan Garden | Philipp Ebner von Eschenbach | 43 London | Marley Hambourger | 45 Chillin’ | Brian Chaidez | 49 Bougie Living Room | Maya Simkim | 51 Sunday Afternoon | Kristie Chua | 55 LIC | Charles Clayton | 58 Cruiser | Scott Mullins | 61 The Well | Kacey Keith | 65 Yin Yang | Ian MacMillan | 67 Untitled | Izzi McDonnell | 73 Udaipur | Pooja Patel | 80 Off the Turquoise Trail | Anna Moneymaker | 87 99 | Charles Clayton | 90 Untitled | Izzi McDonnell | 92 Meet Me at the Court | Scott Mullins | 93

Prose

Film The Trap | Shawn Chenault | 34 Bubula: A Portrait of my Grandmother | Emma Asher | 37 Inner Voices | Kelsey Hasmonek | 59

Bloom | Mercy Griffith | 18 Four Portraits of Detachment | Jake Nieb | 24 Sugar | Sam Dumas | 30 Johnny | Thomas Pool | 42 A Letter to Sherve | Mercy Griffith | 47 Bear Song | Pamela Huber | 74

spring 2016

5


05 Charles Clayton

6

american literary magazine


Drone Slayer Conor MacVarish

Did you hear? This man gunned down a drone for hovering above his yard out in the Kentucky suburbs. Remains of some hobbyist’s love fell hard upon on his home. “Protect my privacy.” I fear you and I are too close to call this an afterwards. I heard on the car radio that he calls himself “drone slayer,” driving past the Home Depot where we hid love notes inside electric grills (you wrote more). Your touch remains in my bedroom here; the ramekin the wool sock the toy crab zipped inside my swim trunks pocket. All that debris, now heavy with consequence. The hobbyist is heartbroken. His drone never touched the house until the man opened fire.

spring 2016

7


After Visiting in September Carolyn Schneider Forgetting is the driveway where your sister’s car sits like yours once sat idling, dripping a rainbow of sparkling, ugly oil down the 40-degree incline. Perched on this hill I have lived with your father for twenty-four years. The neighborhood has been quiet the last few. I look out at the hydrangeas, hardening, some yellow, some brown. They trade the bright blues and purples of their summer skin like healing bruises that I never think to look at anymore. You showed me your house today, the yellow one in the city where I lived once, where someone broke into your car. You didn’t tell me, but I catch you remembering. I would like to see your new bed, still with purple sheets, and lay there together, and trace letters and shapes on your back like before you left.

8

american literary magazine


Sophomore Year Jonathan Murray

spring 2016

9


Iowa Marley Hambourger

10

american literary magazine


During those Six Consecutive Days Mikala Rempe

Warm and stiff muscled, our limbs stretch within & outside of each other. And you ask How many times do you think we’ll kiss today? There was a rare December night when we slept with the windows open, and the branches of your dying pine waved goodnight from the front yard. I leave a black-slivered moon in the corner of your fitted sheet with make-up and dream about the way you would shake hands with my father. In the mornings, you towel your hair almost dry, and I don’t look in a mirror before we leave the house. We kiss goodbye at the crosswalk, and there is a new stranger at my bus stop everyday.

spring 2016

11


Self Portrait Kelsey Hasmonek

12

american literary magazine


After “Sleeping on the Wing” by Frank O’Hara Grace Cassidy

For Karl My car door had frost on the handle this morning: the first all season to be melted by my palm, my fingertips taking some of it with them inside. And I’m still cold. Still wondering if coffee remembers itself before coffee pots. You know I am thinking it’s best I take a minute. I’m so accustomed to chasing away whatever weather we’re having. Perhaps that’s why I can’t remember to attend anyone’s birthday dinners. Or where I was the first time a lover tells me he loves when I laugh at his jokes. Perhaps that’s why the frost always melts against my fingertips. Is it body heat, a heat I have created? Or maybe I’ve been imagining this entire time.

spring 2016

13


Erotica Barbara Martinez

Your shining slickness catches the room’s dim glow — goddamn delicious. The soft bend of elbow gleams with your soft pale curves, entangled against each other, tempting me. I lower my head let my mouth gape with hunger rush to devour you. Using my hands, aiding my voracious appetite. My muscle excavates your being savoring your taste enthralling my salivary glands actualizing my demand for salvation the savior for my ravenous, insatiable needs. When I have finished with you your scent remains on my lips on the tip of my tongue, still lingering. I am tired from eating pasta, I will do the dishes later.

14

american literary magazine


Grannies Kristie Chua

spring 2016

15


Honeycomb Brian Chaidez

16

american literary magazine


Lack Jake Nieb

On a balcony, five strangers stand in a circle. Faces becoming familiar, a baby in blue crawls at our feet. A woman yells and carves a hole in the sky; hanging from a gutter by the tips of my fingers, feet scrape granite in search of support. The baby’s head is bald and round, a grapefruit bobbing closer to the edge, then farther. Royal blue and soundless. I cling to the gutter, muscles unfeeling. (the baby falls the falling baby) There is no ground until I lie there: a black marble restroom with walnut doors; a glass window the size of a portrait. A man’s bloodied face flattens against this glass and there is no gutter, no balcony when it cracks, a spider’s web. It shatters into diamonds, ice scattered across dark floor. Something beautiful, I think, standing in a brushstroke of the galaxy. And no baby.

spring 2016

17


Bloom Mercy Griffith

Rihla dug her delicate hands into the dirt. The soil cracked between her fingers and dust clung to her clothing. The young girl sprinkled the tear-shaped seeds into the hole and prayed for rain. Baba did not let her waste precious water on foolish things. As Rihla covered the fragments of life with the chalky dirt, she recalled her mother’s words: “All flowers need are three simple things: First, love; second, sun; third, just a trickle of water; for flowers, like us, habibi, are strong, resourceful creatures.” These words were more precious to Rihla than the films that played in the city on Friday nights—the words in the cinema were staged and stale. Mama’s advice remained fresh and true, like the figs that fell from the neighbor’s tree. Interrupted by

silverware on plates. Inside, anger rode its steed of cruelty, stamping out the light with hateful hooves. The sand had long swallowed the sun by the time Baba’s rage subsided. With a grimace, he cradled one of his hands that had found the wall when it missed its target. He washed the blood from his knuckles and searched in vain for a place of origin. _____________________ The sand released the sun before Baba awoke; yet not even the sun was up early enough to know where she had gone.

SHE HAD COOKED IT WITH HER MOTHER’S MAIN THREE INGREDIENTS: FIRST, LOVE; SECOND, BAHARAT; THIRD, SALT

a bell signaling morning payer, Rihla wiped her earth-tinged hands on her shirt and trotted back to her home.

Gone. Rihla was gone. Leaving behind nothing but a small bud peeking through the tormented soil.

_____________________

_____________________

Dinnertime. The day had been especially warm, and judging from the expression on Baba’s face, work had been especially hard. A slammed door and a shoved chair raised the standards of Rihla’s meal. She had cooked it with her mother’s main three ingredients: first, love; second, baharat; third, salt. But tonight this was not enough. The dates were spoiled, the lentils were cold, the tabouleh was mild, and the lahm was burnt. Rihla did not hear the words shouted at her from across the table. She did not see Baba raise his arms and clench his fists. She did not feel the sting of his blows nor the ache of his hatred. The table crashed to the floor and dishware carrying Rihla’s careful cooking clattered to the ground. The lights flickered. Outside, neighbors closed their windows and amplified the sound of

Rihla ran. The pain was there, yet it was not as strong as her need to be free. It was not as strong as the words that pulsed in her muscles and splashed her mind with clarity. They were her mother’s words, “Rihla, there are so many things in this world that do not matter. Never lose sight of those that do. First, love; second, courage; third, laughter. If you ever lose any of these, I want you to make your whole life a journey to uncover them once again. Habibi, you can never have enough love, courage, or laughter.”

18

american literary magazine

With her mother’s words guiding her like the night sky, Rihla ran. Her journey had begun. Back at home the flower bloomed.


Ghosts Above Manzanar Zachary Gleiberman

spring 2016

19


BEST IN SHOW PHOTO

Brother Hannah Solus

20

american literary magazine


Brothers Hannah Solus

spring 2016

21


FKA Twigs Spread Andrew Gelwick & Bella Lucy

22

american literary magazine


Dead Dog Dreams Tam Sackman

For the past one month and nineteen days I could not sleep. I bought the ability to function from Zolpidem in exchange for a few nightmares. I’d wait for the permission of the sun to close my eyes. When I was nineteen I woke up to a dark figure sitting on my chest crushing my lungs with a hand over my mouth only I wasn’t actually awake. But now I’ve been having dreams about my dead dog again. The ones where I run my hand down his spine and it gets stuck on every notch. I wake up crying like someone who’s never had a bad thing happen to them.

spring 2016

23


Four Portraits of Detachment Jake Nieb I. It’s June, and the mosquitoes float listlessly through dry air. Three families lounge in collapsible chairs arranged in a circle, the wives next to their husbands, alternating boy girl, boy girl. They chat vacantly while their children are elsewhere in the playground, behind a wall of hedges, lying beneath a grove of trees in the checkered sunlight. Time passes, and the eight kids give up tossing a Frisbee in favor of plastic slides and monkey bars. The youngest is no more than three, diaper ballooning out of his jean shorts; the oldest is about ten, on the cusp of puberty. He is the most experienced. At one point, one of the younger boys, perhaps four, drops his pants and underwear. He squats and shits in front of the slide. No one notices. A boy who could be his twin—though with an air of responsibility—catches sight of the waste and springs into action. He picks up a stick and deftly buries the mess before anyone can step in it. The younger boy has already forgotten what happened, indeed was never even conscious of having done anything at all.

HE WORKS AS A LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT. THE KIND WHO DESIGNS MEDIANS AND WHEELCHAIR RAMPS, PINK SANDSTONE MELTING INTO THE DUST OF THE DESERT.

Walking back through the trees to his parents, the older boy tugs on the wrist of the woman who must be his mother. He whispers something that knits her brow, broken only by a puzzled laugh. No one could hear it without straining, but I know he said Jack pooped on the slide. Don’t worry, I took care of it. As if the gravel would not shift or that this discarded stick were enough. II. Mike lives in a modest home in San Antonio. He works as a landscape architect. The kind who designs medians and wheelchair ramps, pink sandstone melting into the dust of the desert. Xeriscaping is still the fashion, miniature cacti and parched mulch, dry grasses and smooth grey stones. It takes thousands of years at the bottom of a river to erode the stones,

24

but they were probably purchased, mailed FedEx Ground, a package of five hundred sealed in reinforced plastic. No two are identical but they all look the same. I’ve never met Mike in person, but this is how I imagine him. Greeted at the door by his Labrador retriever, underarms damp and stained in the humidity. Top button of his blue-checkered shirt undone and a tie carelessly knotted. If he’s wearing a tie. Only on Tuesdays. Mike orders Chinese takeout again, even though he’s pushing fifty and should be more responsible. A stocked refrigerator is surely a sign of adulthood, one with green onions, a pitcher of iced tea, butter in a glass dish. A Tupperware of leftover baked beans from last night with bits of bacon floating in the brown sauce. Instead, Mike’s refrigerator holds Styrofoam containers of leftover food and a full carton of expired eggs. Tonight, Mike is going to watch television ads and drink beer until someone between the ages of twenty and twenty-five knocks on his front door. The dog won’t bark. There might not even be a dog, I haven’t decided yet. This visitor will enter, remove his shoes on the doormat, and accept an offer to have

american literary magazine

a drink. Beer, or perhaps water if the visitor wants to remain alert. They will sit on the couch in silence while the light from the TV washes them in flicker blue, until Mike reaches over and touches the visitor’s thigh, softly. Always the thigh. Then Mike will lead him into the bedroom, feet pressing into the soft, eggshell carpet without leaving footprints. Everything on his mahogany desk is arranged at ninety-degree angles and parallel to the front edge, the only ordered thing in his house. The guest won’t notice this, only I will, safely removed a few thousand miles. Layers of clothing will be removed, haphazardly yet systematically, a tangle of limbs on unwashed sheets, and the usual groans, gasps, hushed expletives pouring out of them until their skin deflates. Thirty minutes, an hour, maybe more until the guest retreats into the fluorescent bathroom, a salmon-colored toilet and pale


Sculpture Walk Natalie Tarasar

spring 2016

25


green trimmings, where he will pull on his jeans, smooth his hair, pick at his chin in the mirror. Mike will show him to the door in the yellowing socks he never took off. The visitor knows that their sex has been filmed, that was the arrangement. Mike opens a marble composition book and carefully pencils a date and a name below the last, a few days before, hundreds of thousands of nights on film. I know

THE FLASH MOB DISPERSES AND EVERYTHING IS LIKE IT WAS BEFORE. EXCEPT THERE IS NO ICED TEA.

because he’s sent a few to me. The evidence a small part of me wanted to see. I’m afraid to admit that the videos excite me. But I will never shamefacedly disentangle my underwear from the inside out legs of my jeans in Mike’s garish bathroom, never see the inside of his kitchen, never pet his Labrador. Never know if xeriscaping is still in vogue. If I were one of his visitors, I would accept the beer he offered me. Then another. And another. A fourth. A fifth, a sixth, until I wouldn’t know the limits of my body. I’d sink into his comforter and keep sinking, through the bed, the floor, the foundation, into the Earth’s crust farther than anyone has ever drilled. Not quite at the center, but suspended in the mantle, where the loudest sound is tectonic plates colliding overhead. III. On the waterfront, I suck iced tea through a straw. It’s nine, and the heat already has my forehead moist, drops of sweat clinging to my lower back. I want to call my mother to hear someone’s voice, but I also like feeling too warm and alone, the lake water folding over on itself as if propelled by a wind that isn’t there. A couple sits on a blanket holding hands and talking quietly. Children run squealing through the fountain in their underwear. An old-fashioned movie theater complete with an obtrusive marquee faces the waterfront. It advertises The Wizard of Oz, what I used to say was my favorite movie. I can’t remember if I’ve seen the entire movie in one sitting or just fragments of pastel color. I contemplate purchasing a ticket for the promise of cool air inside, but I want to keep walking. Up the cobblestone streets past bars abandoned in the morning. I toss the cup of iced tea and check my reflection in a parked car, fix a

26

few hairs sticking straight up. The face looking back surprises me—it’s calm, relieved. Empty, if anything. It’s still too early for any shops to be open on a Sunday, so I take the long way back to my bench on the waterfront: across a red footbridge suspended over shallow green water that runs into the ocean. The bridge looks newly painted, and I smile at two people hidden behind sunglasses as I pass them.

american literary magazine

On the waterfront, a group of people dances in a square, a single man in the front. I think he is teaching a Zumba class. Half-heartedly, I consider joining for a second before realizing they aren’t following him, it’s choreographed. The block of people divides into two and everyone crouches. It’s just the man at the front, tense while the mass of people pulse on their knees. He walks toward a woman about his age, and drops to one knee. She’s laughing, and crying, and I feel like crying. She accepts the ring, and everyone cheers. I clap too. And the couple on the blanket. The flash mob disperses and everything is like it was before. Except there is no iced tea. I wonder if the proposal is a sign, that I shouldn’t have ended a relationship the night before. Instead I’m just left with fragments. I desperately want it to mean something. IV. I rinse a handful of strawberries in cool water. Their green leaves cling to the skin, and I cut off the unripe white tops. It was sixty degrees today but it’s almost winter; no one would know except from the pile of small, misshapen berries on the edge of the washed out cutting board. My Sharper Image knife is clumsy, much too big, but dull enough I can press it into my thumb without drawing blood. After I’ve shaved the tops, I slice the berries in half lengthwise and drop them into one of four glass bowls. My mother’s, my father’s, my brother’s, mine. I discretely slip every fifth strawberry into my mouth. To test the ripeness. At least that’s what I tell myself I’m doing. I’m trying to hold onto something sweet. When my mom cuts strawberries, she inserts the knife at an oblique angle and twists it in a circle, removing the cone she’s


made by its wilted leaves. There’s something elegant about the discarded points that pile up when she prepares them, so unlike the flat edge of my work, as if I chopped off the tip of my thumb and drained it of blood. It lacks style, but both her delicate cones and my pale thumbs end up in the compost with pizza crusts and napkins transparent with grease, I can hardly tell a difference once the strawberries have been halved, or even quartered. I’m not supposed to eat the little green leaves but sometimes they’re plastered to the outside and I forget to wash them off.

1068 Charles Clayton

spring 2016

27


28

american literary magazine


After van Gogh’s “Siesta” Grace Cassidy

When we see it our bellies are full of harvest beer and kettle-cooked popcorn. We are growing tired, blanketed by concrete walls, in a battle against that chilly window with a crack in the seam. The four-year forecast claims boiling rain for Monday, a heat wave for Thursday, and a breeze somewhere in between. Two men manage to find some hours to sleep during that rare sometime. I wonder which day you’ll walk to Adams Morgan for the cheap Szechuan chicken. Something tells me Tuesday. My tongue picks popcorn kernels out of my teeth as flattened beer comes back up my throat, spilling out from behind my desert-dry and cracking lips. I still live in a basement, this one three stories above ground. I look out to concrete walls, hoping to find the two men asleep under a tree, but instead the basement windows only display my almost-nameless neighbors eating Chinese takeout in dim light. I think they are about to go to bed.

Damaged Kelsey Hasmonek spring 2016

29


Sugar Sam Dumas

“Sugar baby? That’s what you call it? Like those gross little candies?” I’d joked when Andrea had first told me. She smiled tightly and exhaled smoke from our shared joint, watching it catch the sharply cut bars of light slanting through my apartment window. “Look, I’m not asking for your opinion or approval or anything,” she said, ashing in an old coffee cup on the bedside table. “All I’m saying is that being a sugar baby, or. . . entering into an arrangement, or whatever you wanna call it isn’t like, the worst idea in the world when it comes down to it. It’s legal, you know, and the money is ridiculous. I mean, we’re in DC, can you think of a city anywhere with a denser population of old guys willing to pay for a date?” Andrea got up and went to the mirror, examining a tube of mascara while assuring me her newfound hobby wasn’t as bad as it seemed. She’d met her first sugar daddy a few months ago, on the website she showed me that day after I asked about the hundreds in her wallet and the brand new Chanel bag (authentic with certificate). She’d told me most of them simply wanted companionship -- they would pretty much always expect sex but they would take you to dinner and try to get to know you first. Some just wanted a date for their high school reunions or company dinners, others wanted a consistent stream of dates and offered hefty monthly allowances or fabulous vacations in exchange. Some wanted more intense or unusual things – Andrea had met one who had asked her to publicly berate him out by the Jefferson Memorial on Labor Day weekend, another who wanted her to step on his hands and feet while wearing new Manolos. She did it all without hesitation, and used the money to buy hair treatments and fresh flowers and new furniture for her apartment.

“Guys like this really value women, ya know,” she’d said while applying a thick coat of Dior lipstick. “Otherwise they wouldn’t spend so much money on them.”

I work, apply for more scholarships, stop drinking coffee. As I scramble to empty my savings accounts to pay the leftover fees after financial aid, Andrea heads out on a weekend trip to Miami with James, her new “financial benefactor.” She stops by before her flight departs, contemplatively eyeing my cabinet full of ramen. She writes down the address of the website she uses and sticks it on the fridge. “Consider it,” she says as she heads out the door. “Think about how much of your stress could be relieved by meeting someone. I want you to be able to stay here – in school, in DC, in your apartment. I’ll stick with you through anything, you know, but just consider this my way of trying to help out. I’ll call you when I land.” The door shuts, leaving my apartment in an unmoving cloud of Marc Jacobs perfume. With minimal hesitation, I make a profile on the site and send out 23 new messages. Of course I could do this. I can do this. “Mature, adventurous, intelligent, and thoughtful,” reads my profile. “Twenty year old student seeking an exciting and mutually beneficial relationship.” There’s a little sound when the first message comes in, a three part bell-chime sounding from my computer. “Hi there” is all the message says. The photos show just the lower body (for privacy reasons, I assume). Outdoor-loving, 48-year-old lawyer looking for someone to spoil. “Hey, how are you today?” I type back. The outdoor-loving 48-year-old replies: “I’m doing well, just enjoying a beer out in the garden.” (This is some shit my dad would probably be doing. I shake off the mental image.) Me: Sounds like a lovely afternoon

_____________________

Him: I like to enjoy the little things when I can. How’s your weekend been?

In November, my dad calls to say his union is going on strike. For the time being, the tuition and rent help will stop coming. My roommate begrudgingly agrees to cover me for the month’s rent. I pick up more hours at the restaurant where

Me: It’s been ok! I went out with a few friends, finished some schoolwork. It was pretty relaxing.

30

american literary magazine


Clouds Andrew Gelwick

BEST IN SHOW ART

spring 2016

31


After hitting send I wonder if I should have sent that exclamation point. Too enthusiastic? I’m freaking out. Luckily, he responds quickly and we chat for about an hour, making plans to meet later that week for coffee. I pick the location and wait for the day. When Friday rolls around, I wake up early and shower, taking the time to pick out what I’ll wear. The 30 bus on Macomb Street is always late so I head out to the stop a full hour earlier than I would have if this didn’t matter to me. Money isn’t something to fuck around with. When I arrive I make a beeline for the window seat, pull out my phone, and wait. The coffee shop is cold (for some reason the windows are open in the middle of November.) I’ve ordered a dirty soy chai latte which cost $4.25, served to me in a little white mug with a sprinkle of cinnamon on top. The walls are lime green (tacky). Behind the counter a bored-looking barista chews absentmindedly on a thumbnail and gazes limply at her phone screen. From somewhere, loud music plays, Glen Miller maybe. It was ridiculous to suggest this place. It’s 3:02 when the little bell above the door jangles stridently to announce his arrival. I look up and see him standing there: around five-ten, late forties, brunette with grey temples and a tight, clean-shaven jaw. He’s someone I’d pass by on Wisconsin or Western, on his way to pick up the kid from a wildly expensive preschool or coming home from a long day at the law firm. He’s in a green coat and khakis, nice shoes

of yourself. “Go to Young Nails on Tuesday.” She directed upon calling me from the airport in Miami. “On Tuesdays they have half-price manicures and pedicures. You gotta show that you’re worth whatever he’s offering. Make yourself look, like, the absolute nicest you possibly can. It’ll make a difference.” I hope for a half second that he won’t recognize me, but when I look up he’s already headed towards the cheap three-legged table I’ve laid claim to. We make eye contact as he quickens his steps and I shiver a little. I’m not sure if I should stand up. Before I can decide, he’s in front of me. I raise my eyes. “Veronica? Hi.” (My name isn’t Veronica.) “Hello, Brian?” (The bell sound still rings in my ears.) “It’s lovely to finally meet you.” (Why is he still standing?) “I’d love it if you’d sit and join me.” (Veronica smiles coyly.) Brian pulls out the chair across from me and it protests, grating harshly along the dull floor. He sits, exhales, runs a hand through his hair, fingers dancing along the silver temples. “So, how’s your day been so far?” he asks. I shrug my sweater-clad shoulders. “It’s been alright I guess. Fairly uneventful.” He nods. Brief silence. I’m panicking. Some more words tumble out of my mouth.

HE IMAGINES I AM APPREHENSIVE AT THE MENTION OF HER NAME, AND IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWS WITH A PREPACKAGED ANSWER.

with a Rolex not-so-subtly glinting in the low light of the coffee shop. He looks a little different from the pictures online, but so do I. My cheeks heat up slightly when I think about posing for those. It’s an interesting exercise trying to make yourself seem appealing to older men in photos. In them I’m perched on the edge of my couch in a push-up bra, low cut sweater and my best jeans, angling my chin in an attempt to look something like regal. In the coffee shop, I look down at my white fingers gripping the mug, nails neatly manicured and painted dark maroon. The polish label had read “Deep Desires”. It seemed appropriate. Andrea said they liked it if you took good care

32

american literary magazine

“Yeah on the bus this morning, actually, we had to stop and pull over to let this guy off by Georgetown medical. He collapsed randomly and couldn’t get up for like, a solid 5 minutes and he was yelling at the driver and the people trying to help him. It was so weird like, his legs just stopped working. We were all craning our necks to watch him as the bus pulled away.” Brian raises his eyebrows and leans in across the table. “One time in college I saw a homeless guy die right in front of me on the metro. No one knew what to do, I think he had a heart attack. They stopped the train before my stop for a full 40 minutes while the EMTs tried to resuscitate him. Freaky shit.” He leans back and sizes me up, grinning. “So, no classes on Fridays?” I shake my head and raise the cup to my lips.


For the next hour or so, the conversation actually goes alright. He pays for my next cup of coffee and a fancy pain au chocolat, which I try to eat in a demure and alluring manner. (I end up with crumbs in my lap and all over my TJ Maxx sweater.) The man seems genuinely intrigued by me, touching my hand every so often as he gently prods me for details about my life. I tell him a series of half-truths: that I go to Georgetown, I’m majoring in linguistics, I grew up in rural Massachusetts. Veronica wakes up to similar circumstances but deals with them much more maturely than I do. Brian tells me about work on K Street, his time at George Mason, his love for the outdoors, especially kayaking in West Virginia. He has two children and a wife, Meredith. He imagines I am apprehensive at the mention of her name, and immediately follows with a prepackaged answer. “We’re friends and partners, nothing more.” He tries to assure me, as if the fact that he’s married would actually deter me from doing what we’re doing. “I love my wife and deeply admire the person that she is. It’s just that our relationship no longer has a sexual element.” I look down at the crumbs in my lap. He reaches out and touches my forearm. “Listen,” he says, leveling his gaze with mine, “I know this is weird, the fact that I’m married, the fact that we met online and we’re meeting up here, but. . . look, I gave my all to my wife, I give my all to my wife. I built my firm and everything I have with solely her in mind. We were always good together on a mental level, it’s just that. . . well, she won’t touch me anymore, hasn’t really since our last child was born. There’s no physical connection there, and it’s sad and it’s true but I’ve dealt with it. And I don’t think it’s fair that I should be robbed completely of intimacy because that’s what she’s decided. I want to have a say in it too.” I look up thoughtfully and remove my arm from his gentle touch. I can see why this guy is such a successful lawyer. I sip my coffee and blurt, “Does she know?” He shakes his head. “I have a separate bank account for the funds I use with my. . . younger friends, and for going on trips.” He shifts uncomfortably. “Sorry it sounds awful when I say it out loud. Look, you’re only the second girl I’ve met up with so far, the other one didn’t work out. . . this is as new to me as it might be to you.” This kind of talk is uncomfortable for the lime-green coffee shop. The clamorous walls give me tunnel vision. I shouldn’t have thought twice when he mentioned a wife. Veronica wouldn’t have. I feel outrageously vulnerable. It’s time to get it together. “Hey, as far as I’m concerned, when we’re together you don’t have a wife.” I finish my latte and bat my eyelashes over the empty cup. “I’m just here to meet up with a handsome guy I met online.”

Brian seems relieved and eager to change to subject, he’s wondering if we could go back to my apartment for drinks and more conversation. I say ok. We drive there in his Audi and he tells me to play what I want on the radio (Modest Mouse, Chance the Rapper, Amy Winehouse), A Led Zeppelin song comes on and he turns up the volume, tapping along on the steering wheel and nodding his silver-flecked head. My parents used to listen to this song while they cleaned up the kitchen my dad would sing theatrically to my mom using a spatula as a microphone while she tried to focus on the dishes without bursting out laughing. My brother and sister and I dragged our feet as we cleared the table. Brian and I reach my apartment building, a hideous brickorange tower jabbing into the late-fall underbelly of the sky. In the elevator I press the button (11) and fiddle with a coat button as I look to him. Before I know it I’m engulfed in the scent of him and his lips are on mine, dry and unprepared (like playing spin-the-bottle in 7th grade.) His hand grabs my wrist and guides it above my head as he pushes into me and I don’t resist. It’s a long ride to the 11th floor where my roommate isn’t home. We come up for air when the doors reluctantly open. “I’m already so glad I met you.” He breathes. I guide him down the hallway and fumble for keys. In my room (white bed frame, hanging plants, dirty laundry), Brian and I make a process of knotting and untangling our limbs while I watch our clothes pile up on the parquet floor. He smells clean, like leather and soft water and driving an Audi instead of taking the bus. The sun sets outside, red light reflecting off the contours of his back while I clutch convincingly at his shoulder blades and gaze at the popcorn ceiling. At first I thought my ribcage might explode from apprehension and caffeine (thought I’d pass out, wouldn’t be able to do it.) But it’s not hard to feign enjoyment when something is fairly enjoyable. The afternoon comes to a quiet close on the horizon outside the window. My upstairs neighbors stomp around disapprovingly. When it’s done, I sit up in bed and Brian buttons his Calvin Klein shirt, I get up and walk to the bathroom, past my collage of pictures of my friends in high school. (I feel it would be most appropriate to tear it down). My legs are a little sore. I walk Brian to the foyer to say goodbye. “I left you a little something on your dresser because I had such a good time.” He twists a strand of my hair in between his fingers. “I’ll be in touch about more meetings, I’d definitely like to see you again in the future. Maybe three or four times a month? We’ll talk.” When I go back to my room there are five one-hundred dollar bills stacked neatly next to my jewelry box. I take the money and sit on my bed, staring at it and turning it over in my hands. Veronica makes one-half of this month’s rent in just 3 hours of one afternoon. I’d have to work more than a full two weeks at the restaurant to make close to this. I grab my phone to dial Andrea’s number. Wait until she hears about this.

spring 2016

33


The Trap

https://vimeo.com/158031283

Shawn Chenault

34

american literary magazine


Bricks on Bricks Philipp Ebner von Eschenbach

spring 2016

35


Between Screenings of The Birds and Going Clear Mikala Rempe Emma and I pass a hot cup of tea between us in film class. We talk about the weather, and how cruel cameras can be to women. Afterwards we slope down the neighborhood. Mattea and I share another cigarette while Emma talks of stealing lawn furniture right off the neighborhood porches. Would it take the owners days to notice it was gone? Their dogs just staring, and barking at all this new empty air? A small robin’s egg rolls out of its nest cradled in the stoplight. We make it home just before the rain. It reminds me: I might be lucky. Julia is on the couch ten minutes into a documentary on Scientology. I wonder, if maybe they aren’t all crazy; maybe, they just needed-When the credits roll Emma puts on make-up and Mattea asks if we’ve thought about growing life inside of us. We all say yes too quickly. One wonders if she can call herself a mother for the two and a half weeks before she miscarried. The house is cold, but I don’t notice for a while. When we go outside it is the kind of humid that I think only comes to the suburbs. It makes me think that I am lucky.

Bubula: A Portrait of my Grandmother Emma Asher

36

american literary magazine


https://vimeo.com/158030716

BEST IN SHOW FILM

spring 2016

37


Open Season Pamela Huber

I’m always leaving my heart open to catch colds, had the flu for a month this year, a three-week bout of coughs built up in my chest the year before: times for making nests of my blankets in bed, for honey, for sleeping and sleeping and sleeping until a warm hand comes and makes a raincover with the cupped palm of his hand over the cavity. By now the cage around my organs is warped. Ribs rotate as they please, once from a poorly aligned attempt at affection, another time from sleeping alone and not knowing how to tuck into myself with proper form. So pain slides along my bones and settles into the hollow spaces between breathing.

38

american literary magazine


The Thinker

Ian MacMillan

spring 2016

39


Chicago Kelsey Hasmonek

40

american literary magazine


Prescription for October Pamela Huber

How odd to not know the woman I keep dreaming of with emptied out carotid artery where the knife shucked her skin like an oyster. They say it’s not your fault for sending a murderer to meet his victim - and I believe them but still need pills to sleep at night. He stockpiled his pills, hid them in mattresses until he convinced her he was no longer a threat to himself or others, until: teenage daughter returns home at 4 am, finds her sprawled in the front hall on a crimson carpet bed, calls the police just as he does. Opaque little pearl-drop pills rattle to the rhythm of my instep, rattle me to sleep, replace the dreamt sound of knife taps against my windowpane.

spring 2016

41


BEST IN SHOW PROSE

Johnny Thomas Pool

Nine times out of ten, when Johnny would march into the liquor store armed with nothing but that older-than-he-reallyis face and a cheap Chinese fake, he would walk out with the cheapest and most vile bottle of vodka. We loved him for that and not much else. This was all back in high school of course, before we moved away and got our own fakes, or real IDs on our birthdays, and we didn’t love Johnny anymore; or at least I didn’t. I don’t talk to the rest of them that much either. The only reason I’m even thinking of Johnny is because two kids, sixteen at best, tried to hey mister me, which is what we all did before Johnny mowed a few lawns, walked a couple dogs, then stole $73 from his uncle’s wallet—his lawn mower broke and it would’ve cost too much to fix it, and he really didn’t like dogs all that much anyways—to buy that fake. I just laughed and kept walking, like everyone else. The ringing stops and it’s Claire’s voice on the other end; I didn’t even recognize it at first, but when I do I remember when she told me she didn’t love me anymore. I ask her how she’s been doing. She says something about how fulfilling art school is. I don’t really listen; in fact I start to regret that I even asked. I catch that she’s stressed from midterms, all I can manage is a weak “me too.” I’m shocked when she tells me Johnny’s dead, run down last night outside of a Wawa by a drunk driver, not much younger than us. I imagine the driver probably thought he was sober enough to drive; maybe he got his booze with a Chinese fake and a nice smile too. I honestly

didn’t know how to react, he really didn’t mean much to me anymore, of course I was upset, but not as upset as I should’ve been, and I knew that, which only made me feel worse. “I—oh my god, fuck, that’s terrible, I’m so sorry” I manage to say after an uncomfortably long silence on my part, “Oh Christ, I—uh—you know it’s funny, I was just thinking of him earlier today.” After another uncomfortable silence, which is her fault this time, she sneered and scrunched up her face, I know she scrunched up her face because she always does that when she sneers, “there’s nothing funny about this.” I swear to god I almost put the phone through the fucking wall—she sneered the exact same way when she told me it was just a phase—but I don’t because I’ve come too far to let her or anyone else from god-damn Pennsyltucky hurt me anymore. She could tell I was angry so she sighed and apologized. I tell her it’s fine. The funeral is in two days, but I tell her I can’t make it and to give my condolences to his folks. I hang up. I’m still angry and I need a drink. I go to the cupboard but its empty, my roommate and her friends must’ve drunk everything last weekend while I was away. There’s not even a single beer in the fridge. I should’ve taken the money from those kids and bought it all for myself. Finally I find a plastic handle of vodka hidden away in the back of the pantry. I drink it straight because apparently no one else in this house likes to replace orange juice when they finish it. It burns my throat and my stomach, just like in high school. I think of Johnny.

Yuyuan Garden Philipp Ebner von Eschenbach

42

american literary magazine


spring 2016

43


Christmas Eve Amanda Hodes

checkout line at the grocery store my basket full of eggs and butter and I thought I heard your voice behind me pinch “the women come and go” but it was a frosted christmas eve and the bundled clerk was telling the man “in and out grabbing what they need and hurrying home” so as they closed up the store I caught a grey silhouette and harmlessly pretended it was yours hit a bump looking in the rearview at the twinkling dangle lights the eggs all cracked “this happens every time” and I go back and back and back

44

american literary magazine


London Marley Hambourger

spring 2016

45


Rising Sun Andrew Gelwick

46

american literary magazine


A Letter to Sherve Mercy Griffith Inspired by The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner Shreve, I saw you and I told you this letter was not good until tomorrow. So now it’s tomorrow and I hope you’re not reading this today because I told you it’s not good until tomorrow. My Father always said not to remember time, but instead to forget it, so to him the counting of days and recording of yesterdays and tomorrows is futile, but sometimes his words collapsed in my mind, like pillars of mayfly wings Announce You asked me why I didn’t. I couldn’t. Did you ever have a sister, Shreve? Did you? I couldn’t. Did you? the marriage Perhaps you’ll read this and ask why I did. I had to. Did you ever have a sister, Shreve? Did you? I had to. Did you?

They were easy to carry like shoes.

You asked what I got there. I spoke two lies. First I said nothing. Then I said a pair of shoes. They were easy to carry like shoes. under the shadow I don’t expect you to understand; I don’t think you ever had a sister. But the unreality turned possible and when the possible is possible it is probable. And when the probable challenges the world it becomes more than probable. And with support of the more than probable thoughts become ideas become desires become words. But they don’t stop at words. Some stop at words. But we didn’t stop at words. of the bridge Together. Did you ever have a sister, Shreve? I didn’t stop at words. Did you? Sun slanted and a bird singing Birds fly. I wish to be a bird. But not as innocent Committed Birds do not commit. We were supposed to go. Together. We. Together. One. Together. Can we still go together? Did you? The shoes are under the shadow. But they are not shoes. The shadow is gone. But they are under the shadow. Of the bridge. They are not shoes. I wanted to tell you, Shreve, that they are not shoes. I know you do not understand. But I wanted to tell you. They are easy to carry like shoes. They hide under the shadow that is no longer a shadow. But they are not shoes. Gray light like moss in the trees drizzling I know you do not understand. But it is because you did not have a sister. Did you? You would understand the shoes that are not shoes. If you had a sister. Bird singing somewhere beyond

the sun

We’re singing Together beyond the sun

Sincerely, Quentin Compson

spring 2016

47


House Hold Sam Dumas

I. This morning I woke again to my father’s laughter echoing down the hallway and the familiar crashing of my mother’s kitchen rituals. I am certain I will never work as hard as they do. They haven’t asked and I don’t tell them that I can’t sleep here anymore. I have to keep my eyes open till I can watch the sun tease gray-green silhouettes from the maple trees outside. The house makes sounds that keep me awake. Some are from inside the walls. Some from other places. II. Everyone I left at home is doing well for themselves, which makes me sorry for how many things I’ve forgotten. The walls feel it. They groan with the increase in humidity. The back door taunted me when I stepped outside to smoke tonight – she knows I’m a liar and she’s seen my bank statements. I’ve been saying I want to teach American Literature, maybe go to graduate school. We both roll our eyes at the truth.

48

american literary magazine


Chillin’ Brian Chaidez

spring 2016

49


Warnings, for a New Year Emma Bartley

When you asked to come back I gave you the sunny portion of last week’s dream: As small as I am now in a big wedding dress heavy eyelids, sitting in your lap, kissing & ready in my parent’s backyard. With this you were relieved and I was proud & grinning down at my job. But minutes later a man insane, I guess appeared from total darkness and chased us out of the park. He was calling the police he was yelling out These suckers! and, sure enough today there is someone new who is helping me pick out the Christmas gifts for my family. In the hotel bar, my mother is gushing over the fake candles. Incredibly clever! then, suddenly How is he? I don’t know that in a week we’ll decide to stop speaking. Well, I always knew & fingering the paper flame she conjures up the rest of that dream: She enters, and I look up to collect her joy. I am instantly petrified instead. Her glare -you needed to see it

50

american literary magazine


Bougie Living Room Maya Simkin

spring 2016

51


Tophat Cow Ben Friedel

52

american literary magazine


The Source Kacey Keith

spring 2016

53


BEST IN SHOW POETRY

My Date with Joe Biden Genevieve Kotz Joe Biden picks me up in his 1952 Chevy Impala. Joe Biden is wearing his hair combed to the side, he smells like aftershave. Joe Biden takes me to a diner, we both order hamburgers and fries. I get a chocolate milkshake
(he gets vanilla). Joe Biden laughs a lot, but I think he wants to cry. Joe Biden tells me he’s really nervous about his future. His dad has a spot for him at the used car dealership after he graduates. Joe Biden plays with his fries. I think he draws a smiley face in the ketchup. Joe Biden tells me he doesn’t care about used cars. He says he should feel grateful but he doesn’t want to work there. Joe Biden stares at his half-eaten burger. He tells me he doesn’t really know what he wants to do. The fluorescent light above us flickers. Joe Biden ignores eye contact. He seems very sad. I put my hand over his but he moves his away. Later in the car we awkwardly kiss until Joe Biden notices the time. He tells me it’s been fun, and smooths back my hair. I tell him I love him. Joe Biden doesn’t reply.

54

american literary magazine


Sunday Afternoon Kristie Chua

spring 2016

55


56

american literary magazine


Only the Margin Left Now Ellisa Goldberg

Wash my hands fill my glass let me sleep on your floor let everything stop, tableau: You’re chopping sweet potatoes and telling me stories, your back to me, your fine fingers arranging the slices to cut them smaller and smaller, find the frying pan and the rice and the bottle of korma, blur of TV playing in the next room and I love you and I love you and you will never know. I am sitting on the linoleum and frowning at my reflection in the oven door, and you’re barefoot and cooking your lunches for the week: you are assembling your life, all the parts that I will never see, all these moments which for me will never exist. I am drunk and you are straining to reach the highest cabinet; I am drunk and cannot ask if you need my help. You do not need my help. You sip your wine and stir your rice pot and you will never need my help. I am hooking the joints of my fingers into my mouth and you are dumping sauce into your vegetable stir fry and I kissed your shoulder earlier, a loud smacking kiss, and you didn’t even react because this is okay, this is fine, this is normal. I am sitting on your kitchen floor and you are washing your dishes in a shirt I’ve never seen and I know the lines of your body like I wrote them myself, and it doesn’t matter.

Syria Jonathan Murray spring 2016

57


LIC Charles Clayton

58

american literary magazine


Inner Voices https://vimeo.com/158046366

Kelsey Hasmonek

spring 2016

59


The Only Dream I Ever Have About Home Marisa Fein

I am thirteen years old again, sitting in the kitchen of the house where every wall is a sterile white, the kind that turns an almost shade of blue in the shadows of the late afternoon. My mother, in the kitchen, her hands cracked, rosacea lighting up her skin in a soft pink flush, a landscape beneath her shirt, twelve ribs to prove her existence. Me, at the kitchen table, counting the beats in my wrist as my mother washes her hands again and again.

60

american literary magazine


Cruiser Scott Mullins

spring 2016

61


Spanish Mary Natalie Tarasar

62

american literary magazine


The Time Machine Tova Seltzer

The classified ad was a joke. The man in California never really had a time machine. But a woman in a prison in Utah sweat through the night thinking about it; a time machine that really works. The next day she wrote him a letter: If I can’t change the past, I’d rather not survive at all, I’d rather not survive at all. The man’s P.O. box was bursting at the bolts, he started giving the letters away. The post office ladies liked to read the stories, but for him they were all spoiled by the endings. He never really had a time machine. He didn’t want to know about the windows he couldn’t close or the widows who couldn’t forgive themselves. Elsewhere, there’s a boy who is the prisoner woman’s son and he is getting his nursing degree. The woman is glad he does not know her. It is the only thing she is proud of, the only thing she hasn’t ruined. The time machine chooses not to comment. (Inspired by Reply All, Episode 17: “The Time Traveler and the Hitman”)

spring 2016

63


Watching Mother Nature on Channel 64 Grace Cassidy I forgot your pants don’t fit the way they used to. They’re stretching over your knees, the denim wearing thin. I wish I knew the secret of how to make toast burn even around the edges the way you like, or how to make the weathervane point north with just my right hand clamped into a fist over my belly button, idle, my back to the bed. I don’t have the same control you do. Next week you’ll make lemon cake from a box, throw it on a plate and walk into your mother’s kitchen, leaving your coat to wrinkle on the nearest armchair. I’ll be lying on the couch with the question of what’s next to play on the television lingering between your father and me. You won’t talk to either of us. I Love Lucy will roll credits in black and white when you finally acknowledge me, your right hand folding open onto your belly like you’re hiding the rumble of hunger. I will yawn and you will change the channel to hear a meteorologist spit prophecies of northbound winds and wildfires in Middletown.

64

american literary magazine


The Well Kacey Keith

spring 2016

65


Domicile Sam Dumas I’ve seen the arid grid you call home, the street signs and cement trucks, the purple temples on the girls you claimed to love. You wreck and fuck in bulk so I’m spent, remembering the rawness of your vocal folds those times before I treaded home. No inscriptions on this neckline now no cracked-yolk yellow bruises blooming under hide. Something new for you, cornered squat blue split-level six blocks from the bus stop. Calm the way you wanted, closed mouthed with clean carpets. I wish I’d seen your older dwelling reflected off of curtained panes before kitchen fire made the block go up in smoke.

66

american literary magazine


Yin Yang Ian MacMillan

spring 2016

67


Blue Suaad Batol Bashri

68

american literary magazine


Watching Sunday Grace Cassidy

I keep noticing the children that run down Wisconsin, passing the Cathedral in their Sunday best: Their dresses that are about to get ruined; their navy suits: about to rip along the kneecaps. Their parents are always talking gossip with other parents. Other preachers. There’s always talk of dinners. Movies. Things we did together. Breaking up the gossip circle, a child always cries bloody murder until his mother comes running. They’re always crying. I’m always watching from the bench, waiting for the 30N bus to Eastern Market. I’m thinking how nice children could be. Part of me wishes. I won’t ask.

spring 2016

69


In the Month of Thermidor Thomas Pool I. The gritty cold of midtown Manhattan forces me to think blue-grey sea, blue-grey sky, on a cold cape cod summer evening while we bundle up, daydreaming of being vaporized by hydrogen bombs. You remind me to be a good socialist, after I get pissed when I scratch my ray bans. Don’t let what you own, own you. II. We muse on cafÊs on the coast in Algiers, fantasize about sleeping in a king size bed, crisp white sheets and sunflowers lilting in the window box, but all I see are your green eyes.

PAUSE Rachel Cohen

70

american literary magazine


spring 2016

71


Our Beach Zachary Gleiberman

72

american literary magazine


Untitled Izzi McDonnell

spring 2016

73


Bear Song Pamela Huber The sunflowers on the table were wilted when Beatrice slipped through the front door of her girlfriend’s cabin, shoes in hand to keep the creak out of the floorboards. The daylight filtered in with the dust. She turned the doorknob to keep it from clicking as she eased the door shut, and padded over to the bed tucked behind the ladder to the loft. The dark nook swallowed her and she wrapped her arms around Allanah in the shadows slowly, careful not to stir her. She could taste sap and knew that Allanah had been up the mountain early that morning, because whenever she went to study plants there, she tangled her long black hair in the low bower of pine needles that led onto her favorite trail. Beatrice couldn’t stomach the thought of waking before 11 on a Saturday, or the sticky scent, and she whispered Nala, Nala, trying to wake her, but Allanah was enjoying her post-hiking nap and Beatrice fell asleep murmuring into her hair. When Beatrice woke, she smiled to the scent of berries smoldering in a thick compote on the stove. Allanah stirred the oatmeal while humming an indie chorus on repeat to herself. Beatrice got out of bed and began to pull bowls out of the cupboard, placing two silent kisses on the back of Allanah’s neck as she passed behind her to grab the sugar jar. “The berries are sweet enough.” “But I love the extra kick of sugar,” Beatrice answered. “Of course you do, awasos.” “Yes, but I’m your honey bear.” Allanah mixed the compote and smiled as the blueberries burst open in violet swirls. She scooped some into the bowls and passed Beatrice her breakfast.

74

american literary magazine

“Mmm, thanks for the menel,” Beatrice said, rolling her tongue around the Eastern Abenaki word for berry. “Menal,” Allanah corrected her. “So have you decided if you want to come to the show tonight?” Beatrice asked who again was going to be there, and Allanah told her since John was playing, Grace and Teddy would be there, and a pulsing behind Beatrice’s left eye began to radiate pain into her jaw. She wrapped her head in her hands and waited for the pulsing to stop as Allanah reached over and pressed the pressure point between Beatrice’s thumb and forefinger until the pain slowly ebbed down to bits of nothing. “You okay, honey?” “I am now. Thanks. Can we go to Grace’s after the show? The smell of Teddy’s van makes me sick every time we hang out there.” _____________________

Beatrice stopped in at the art studio in the late afternoon to check on how her pot had dried. The clay was a warm red and made Beatrice bite her lips to hide a smile as she ran her palms over it. Carl was at work on the wheel again, like every Saturday, but his nose was flared as he worked his hands around the clump in front of him. He was working on his character series, making the head of an owl, and Beatrice stopped to stand against the doorway watching how his hands dipped and circled around the wet clay, working against gravity to make the shape rise. She slipped out the door after he muttered fuck at the ground and took his feet off the wheel to find the mistake he’d felt his hands make. The day was gray with fog that had rolled in since the morning. The mist hung over campus, and Beatrice could make out the faint outlines of cabins encircling the lawn.


The peaks of Acadia normally rose from the treetops behind campus, inward from the sea, but today Beatrice could not see them. The campus was long and narrow and she could walk it in 15 minutes; the cliffs were only ever five minutes away, and on break in the summer, she and her friends would pick their way down the cut-away steps to the rocky beach to lay on thick blankets in the sun, or pick their way through tidepools in the rockier outcroppings down the beach a ways. When she first transferred here her sophomore year, she loved these outings for proving she made the right choice leaving her mid-Atlantic state school for the north, even

water swept up against her waist and receded, pulling her back with it, but the lodged hand kept her from sweeping away with the sea. When the water receded fully, she loosened her hand and stood up with care, stepping back away from the rocks towards the sandy base of the cliff, bracing herself against the granite as she caught her breath and looked down at her sopping jeans and her waterlogged sneakers. Gripping her sore wrist to stop the throbbing blood from pooling in her new bruises, she climbed the steps and returned to Allanah’s cabin. _____________________

SHE SKIRTED AROUND THE EDGE OF THE ATLANTIC CREEPING IN TOWARDS THE BASE OF THE STEPS, LAUGHING AS SHE SKID ALONG THE ROCKS UNTIL ONE SLIP SENT HER CAREENING DOWN TOWARDS THE JAGGED TRUTHS HIDDEN UNDER THE GREEN CLOTH OF KELP.

if the winters were a bitch. She took shrooms for the first time at low tide in the tidepools, which was stupid of her and could have gotten her killed if John hadn’t been babysitting her. He told her he’d never tripped but assumed they made you feel like how nitrogen narcosis made him once try to share his oxygen with a fish while diving 90 feet down. Beatrice didn’t want to go home just yet and found herself making her way towards the cliffs. She knew it was almost high tide and, looking down the shoreline, she couldn’t see the tidepools or rocks—just rough sea pounding and spraying against the side of the earth, eroding away bits of volcanic ancient mystery. Beatrice picked her way down the steps anyway, eager to balance along the slippery algae still exposed to the late-summer air. She skirted around the edge of the Atlantic creeping in towards the base of the steps, laughing as she skid along the rocks until one slip sent her careening down towards the jagged truths hidden under the green cloth of kelp. She threw her hands out to break the fall but her right hand slipped between two rocks that scraped it on the way down. Just then a huge break sent saltwater jetting up along the fissures of the rocks, surging towards her. The

After Allanah dug through her wilderness first aid kit for the gauze and antiseptic, she scolded Beatrice for being so careless and reckless, and why was Bee always getting hurt while seeking an adrenaline rush, and her voice was full of panic and fear, and Beatrice felt like a stupid southerner for going out at high tide. Suddenly Allanah stopped talking and her eyelids crumbled up real tight as hot tears rolled up. She gripped Beatrice’s face and leaned her forehead against Bee’s, strained her neck forwards to place sloppy kisses on Bee’s lips. “I’ll stop, Nala.” Beatrice said. “I’ll get up early and come meditate with you. I’ll forage or whatever. I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” Allanah said she was sorry too but didn’t move her head, kept it braced against Beatrice as Beatrice had held onto the cliff, assured to be connected to something solid and heavy and unmoving. _____________________ The concert in town was in the basement of some lifestyle store that sold records, the same birch baskets Allanah’s mother had taught her to make as a teenager, and cloth

spring 2016

75


daypacks too expensive and impractical for locals to buy. The summer hadn’t quite left Maine yet and the air was warm enough for the girls and Grace to walk the mile along Route 3 into the harbor. The air snapped with that distinct smell of marine rot that Allanah loved. Grace told her friends about the zine she was going to start on the campus underground, though Beatrice thought the underground started and ended with Grace and John’s punk

76

american literary magazine

rants over the hippie burnouts that kept visiting the school each fall before college apps were due. When the group arrived at the show, John appeared from the crowd and hugged Grace before ruffling Beatrice’s pixie cut and tossing a casual hey to Allanah.


He told the crowd that Teddy was hanging around somewhere and gave Grace a quick peck on the cheek as he heard his name being called for a mike check. Beatrice went to look for booze when Allanah said she was going out for a cigarette. Beatrice caught a glimpse of Teddy chain-smoking out in the alley as Allanah went out a side door. Beatrice found the makeshift bar and ordered a gin and tonic, tapped her feet nervously as she waited for it, her eyes drawn again and again to the side door. When she got the drink, she slipped through the crowd towards the door, which was propped open to let the sweaty room breathe. She could hear Teddy’s low voice.

“Oh just the old days, back when Lana and her mum visited us on the island,” he replied. “So, how are you doing Beatrice?”

“She’s a visitor here.”

“Do you like landscapes?” he asked Beatrice, a smirk stuck on his face.

“Just fine. John’s probably gonna start playing soon.” “So remind me, how did you two meet again?” Teddy asked. “Over the summer at a festival,” Allanah replied. “Bee was hanging out in one of the art tents and we talked about landscapes.”

“Aren’t we all?” “No. Some of us have been here since the beginning.” There was a pause that made Beatrice’s stomach churn. “Don’t,” she heard Allanah say. She hesitated but then bumped the door open with her hip, accidentally bursting through the door and stumbling over her feet as half her drink sloshed to the ground. Allanah had pressed herself against the brick side of the building and Teddy stood back a good foot, quietly sucking on the smoldered end of his cigarette. The two looked so much alike, like fighting siblings framed against the night. He touched his fingers to an imaginary hat as Beatrice walked out and sidled up next to Allanah. “Evening,” he said to her. The night was clear and she could see to the swirls of the Milkyway. “What were you guys talking about?”

2194 Charles Clayton

“She loves them,” Alannah replied teasingly. “But I’ll turn her around.” “Well if anyone could, you could,” Teddy replied, looking strait into Allanah’s eyes. She looked down at the cigarette that was ashing between her fingers. She hadn’t taken a single drag from it. He looked from her to Beatrice and laughed lightly. Beatrice felt annoyed. “Sorry, it’s just that you two seem so different.” “Opposites attract,” Allanah responded as she let the cigarette fall, taking hold of Beatrice by the wrist and leading her inside. “Come on, we don’t want to miss the band.” _____________________ August passed and Beatrice kept her word, going into the park with Allanah every weekend, sometimes even on weekdays. Beatrice loved day hiking last spring through Acadia, but she had stayed on the long circuits around the lakes or up the mountains; Allanah, on the other hand, knew the park’s unmarked trails, slipped through the trees with some inner compass guiding her, only the occasional ribbon of hair left behind as a trail marker in the branches. Allanah worked her way through most of her herbal remedies book, alphabetically, searching for the plants she’d bookmarked for growing in the area. She’d told Bee that the knowledge improved her wilderness first aid skills. The two picked wild blueberries still left in early September, and when Beatrice later complained of a stomachache as they sat by a creek meditating, Allanah

spring 2016

77


passed her a handful of pine needles and directed her to chew. Seeing Allanah in the woods stirred something in Beatrice. In the three months they’d dated, Beatrice always loved the sound of Abenaki words on her Penobscot lover’s tongue, and felt wild with college rebellion when running her fingers down Nala’s russet spine; but seeing her sitting upright, her faintly almond eyes closed and slender fingers relaxed in her lap as she breathed intently, sharp cheekbones catching the midday sun, felt like spying on something old and venerated.

clipped away at the sugar dish, making soft tinkling sounds as Allanah laughed and stroked the paw and spoke in words that Beatrice couldn’t understand nor respond to because all she could make were faint guffing sounds, soft roars of desperation.

In October, Beatrice found that the mountainsides had burst overnight into colors of red and orange and yellow, and the crisp air rolled in and demanded the first leaves fall the next day. They packed a picnic to celebrate their favorite season arriving. After eating, Allanah dozed off and the dry pages of her book slipped through her fingers with a flutter of sound. She didn’t stir, and Beatrice reached for the book. It wasn’t the herbal remedies one, but a small dictionary. She knew how hard Allanah had been trying to learn Eastern Abenaki, a dead dialect her grandmother wanted to reintroduce at the school on the island reservation. Beatrice tried to wrap her mouth around the strange “nd” sounds and long vowels. Askaswego: green. Abazolagw: a boat. Ndabazolagw: my boat. Awasos: bear.

And Beatrice did even though she hated that expression. And afterwards, the sweet buzz of hormones in their brains felt like meditating.

Soon she too fell asleep and dreamed of a having a dinner with Allanah where they only spoke in this secret, forgotten language. For dessert Allanah brought out chopped strawberries and Beatrice reached for the sugar dish but couldn’t grasp the spoon because her hand was a paw, a paw covered in a thick black pelt and her claws

Beatrice awoke to Allanah’s lips on the inside of her elbow tracing their way up to her shoulder blade. “Wake up, wake up, love. Make love to me.”

_____________________

During fall break, Allanah took Beatrice home to meet her family. When Allanah introduced her friend, her mother, Charlee, gave Beatrice a big hug and offered to get her a drink and some snacks if she’d make herself at home. The ranch style house was clean and orderly, with knit blankets thrown over white couches and lilies stacked in clear plastic vases. Allanah’s grandmother, Dot, kept to herself in the corner of the living room knitting some pattern, though she did smile when Allanah introduced the two. Beatrice knew from pillow talk that Dot had never gone home for school breaks, had never gone home at all until she graduated and returned to the island, having forgotten her language and most of her time in school for good measure. But Beatrice couldn’t ask Dot about that. She wasn’t sure what to say to the old woman and watched Dot knit without saying anything until Charlee brought her some tea. Allanah’s mother asked Beatrice all about school and why she chose to transfer and how were Pennsylvania winters anyway? Beatrice answered politely while glancing around the room, looking for the birch baskets or Pendleton blankets that decorated Allanah’s cabin, looking for some trace of her girlfriend in this modern home. The conversation continued over dinner and Beatrice found herself fighting back yawns, apologizing, saying the hour drive must have worn her out. Charlee promised to save her some dessert and encouraged her to go lie down, take a nap, rest up. Allanah squeezed Beatrice’s hand under the table before the latter got up to search for her room. As she left, Charlee asked Allanah if she’d talked to Teddy

78

american literary magazine


Untitled I Ben Friedel

recently, because she hadn’t heard from his mom in weeks and was worried something might have happened back on the island. Beatrice was comforted to find one blanket in the guest bedroom like the one she shared with Allanah when she slept over. She swaddled herself in it and curled up on the bed under a window fogged up by the November chill,

falling asleep and sleeping through the night, unable to rise when Allanah tried to tell her Dot was going home. The entire weekend passed in a blur and Beatrice felt numb throughout it, as though the chill had worked itself into her bones and settled to stay for the winter. The women baked but Beatrice just passed things to Charlee as she asked for them, chocolate chips and vanilla extract

spring 2016

79


Udaipur Pooja Patel

stacking before her eyes. Charlee showed her Allanah’s old photos from high school: her Nala in a cheerleading uniform Beatrice had never known existed, on a float on some racetrack in a homecoming court sash, her smile wide and, Beatrice thought, strained. Charleee talked and talked as Beatrice offered dim smiles and nods of her head. The girls went to a party on Saturday night with Allanah’s old friends who ignored Beatrice. She watched from the corner, clutching her cup of jack and coke, as Allanah played pool with a group of guys who laughed at her jokes as she smirked and pocketed ball after ball.

80

american literary magazine

On Sunday, before the house rose, Beatrice snuck into Allanah’s room at sunrise and found her passed out in bed next to Vonnegut and Cosmo, though she didn’t know which Allanah had fallen asleep to. Beatrice crept around the edge of the bed and examined the bookshelves, skimming over the classic books and graphic novels, running her fingers along seashells and a feather left in a test tube filched from some high school chem lab. She pulled out a bundle of cloth wedged between a book and the shelf to find a smudge stick folded within like a small present. Beatrice didn’t know which herb made it up – they looked different dried out than they did in the book


– but she stuck her nose to it and took a deep whiff. A pack of matches fell from the cloth as well and Beatrice struck one up without thinking, smiled as the golden flame licked the corner of the smudge stick and brought it to life. The smoke that poured forth was thick and white as snow, and Beatrice waved it through the air in swirling patterns.

Beatrice wanted to explain how tedious it was in Belfast, how running around meeting so many strangers tired her. How she hated being called Allanah’s “friend,” even though she wasn’t the first girl Allanah had dated. “Everything here is so normal and you’re not like that.”

“What are you doing?” “Normal?” Beatrice span around to see Allanah sitting upright in bed staring at the smudge stick in her hand. “Put it out,” Allanah commanded. Beatrice didn’t know how and Allanah sprung out of bed, took the stick from Beatrice’s hands as she flung the window open and stubbed the stick out against the side of the house. “You don’t burn these inside. They smell awful. And they’re for ceremonies.” “I’m sorry.” “What are you even doing in here?” She lowered her voice to a whisper, careful not to wake Charlee.

“Yeah. It’s so boring here.” “Beatrice, this is my home.” Allanah said the word home with an ache in her voice, a soft croak that ended the conversation like a chest shutting with a slow thud. Beatrice left and the two packed alone and in silence, storing the fight in the bottom of their bags, so far down they hoped it would find a tear in the fabric and fall out. The drive back north was long and tiring and Allanah dropped Beatrice off at campus so she could walk to her house and sleep off the weekend. The car idled as Beatrice paused with her fingers clutched around the door handle.

“I missed you.” “I’m sorry for burning the smudge stick.” Allanah rolled her eyes. “I’ve been right here all weekend. You’re the one who’s been moody and quiet.” “I missed you.” “I’m right here; I’ve been right here.” “You’re different here.” Allanah paused, sizing Beatrice up, reading for a joke she was missing out on, some impulse-control punch line. “What do you mean?”

“It’s not about the smudge stick. It’s about the fact that you barely spoke to my family. And the fact that the second they weren’t interesting enough, Indian enough, you got bored.” Beatrice recognized the spring-loaded anger in Allanah’s voice, knew she’d been working on this sentence for the past hour in silent irritation. Beatrice was so surprised by the accusation, she didn’t know how to respond. “Nala, I have no clue what you’re talking about. I was excited to see your home –“

“You’re just not yourself.” “What does that mean?” “You just – you act different. You talk more, and you smile to yourself less often.” “Bee, I am exactly the same here; I’m talking a lot because I’m home and want to spend time with the people that I love, the people I want you to love.”

“Exactly. And you saw it. And it wasn’t what you expected even though I told you I lived in Belfast and not on the island; you wanted a goddamn res.” “No, sweetheart, no, that isn’t true,” Beatrice said as she reached out to stroke Allanah’s hair, but Allanah batted her hand away. “Get out.”

spring 2016

81


Allanah said it in a voice that tried to be strong and deep but buckled with the weight of suppressed tears. Beatrice could feel her chest caving in around the base of her throat

way through sculpting. Beatrice found her pot, finished and glazed, and clutched it tight to her on her way home. _____________________

“Nala, please. I love you. Not because you’re Penobscot, that’s ridiculous, but because I love you.” Even as she said it, there was a small, reluctant awareness in Beatrice that knew she couldn’t list a single thing she loved about Allanah that wouldn’t be traced back to this. Her consciousness fought back. Maybe it isn’t me - maybe it’s her.

Allanah didn’t call the next day. The week after break slid by, and suddenly it was December. Allanah wouldn’t pick up Beatrice’s calls. Beatrice went to her cabin and knocked and knocked but no one answered and Allanah’s car wasn’t there. It was too chilly to go into the park that weekend. The days were boring and the nighttimes were cold.

“I like you because you own who you are,” Beatrice continued. “You don’t wear it like a chip on your shoulder. And this whole time I thought you liked me because I was different, because we were different. And now you’re scared. I’m just a visitor here, right? You’d rather be with someone safe like Teddy – ”

On a Tuesday in the second week of December, she saw Allanah sitting in the library reading. She wanted to go over and say hi, say she missed her so much, ask what had happened to them. But as she approached Allanah her nerve suddenly failed and she veered off into the philosophy stacks to avoid being spotted.

“I don’t want to be with Teddy,” Allanah replied with exasperation, “and I’m sick of everyone thinking that I do want to be with him. I just can’t be with you any more.”

She rushed home and pulled out her clay pot, taking it into the backyard, to the center of her small garden there. There was a slight fog and Beatrice could see her breath materializing in front of her in short bursts of condensed air. She fumbled through her purse for the old pack of emergency cigarettes she always kept. She split open the thin cylinder and let the tobacco tumble out and into the pot as she’d seen Allanah do once before. She dug around for a lighter but couldn’t find one, and she threw her bag down onto the ground with such force that it bounced up and turned over, her contents spilling underneath. She couldn’t light the tobacco so she mixed her fingertips in with the dried leaves, pressed the pads of her fingers into the pot and tried to free her mind, find her breath. All she could feel, though, was how cold the air felt in her ribs and how each exhale released a tiny puff of steam with it. The peace didn’t come; the air felt sharp and charged. Beatrice bowed her head down until it was between her legs, resting on the frosted grass. She stretched her back to fold into herself and she stayed there, head braced against the earth, until nightfall.

Beatrice had to get out of the car or else she would puke. She slammed the door behind her and kept her back to the car as it pulled out. She didn’t walk back to her house though. She walked to the art studio and peeked in. Carl was working once again. His face was serene, almost like he was daydreaming his

Frozen Goblet Natalie Tarasar

82

american literary magazine


spring 2016

83


84

american literary magazine


Absence David Keplinger | Faculty Contribution

You were drinking from the lost green teacup in this dream: I am the door, you said, of the sheepfold, the cup suspended halfway to your mouth, which rippled breath along its brimming tea. I think of the sheep crowded into their pen, some falling asleep on their feet, but one of them is baying. It struggles loose, and I feel the sudden lightness of an absence: like the lightness of your hand, in which you held the lost cup, testing its heft.

Athena Andrew Gelwick

spring 2016

85


A Poem for the Cows in the Field and in the Barn Linda Voris | Faculty Contribution And did you milk the cows early mornings, smell of wet and alfalfa dung? Did you wake to their bellowing, soft and low and steadily louder? Did you follow the dairyman around all morning, digging toes in the mud, and the cow dung in your tall green rain boots? Was your father the dairyman? No, he was not. He was a lawyer, or a physicist, or an economist. There you are on the dairy in Connecticut. Was the dairyman Irish or Dutch or short? Missing one finger on each hand from a mechanical accident hard to explain and that I haven’t imagined yet. Did you have a favorite cow? Did your brother follow you around in the barn over the hay bales, in the soft moldering stench? Were they Holstein cows carving out holes in the green flanks of the hills, or orange-colored Guernsey cows spaced on the hillsides like peaches scattered on a tree? Did you lean in and smell the cow’s hot breath? Did you wonder at the size of their blunt heads, the huge square teeth? Did your dreams echo with the sound of chewing, the long, languid, steady strokes?

86

american literary magazine


Off the Turquoise Trail Anna Moneymaker

spring 2016

87


Is the cow an emblem for calm in your childhood, or for risk, all that climbing up and falling from the tractor from the hay bales, from the height of feeling when one catches sight of cows lining the crest of the hill, green below, blue sky above. Gertie, Golly, Bess, Abigail, Samantha, Trudy. And when no one was watching, did you wag your fist in the face of a cow, whispering:

“Oh you, you, cow! I hate you!

You and your blank teats are the reason we can’t ever have anything nice!” Or did you whisper, “Dear cow, hello, I love you, this one, you, more than all the rest, more even than Faulkner loved his cow-heavy Dewey Dell?” The thought of cows – is it a chore in memory, their weighty smell, the exhaust of their breath on cold mornings, returning in memory to the barn, the black square of the door, the last one in or out? Or is it ecstatic, this memory a furrow running through the day, light framing the barn door, first sight and smell of the raw heavy creatures, and you so small, always so small? Did you see the calf stuck to her mother’s side? Did you see a calf born, pushing free, safe in its tight grey-white sack? Did you run to your father to say what you’d seen, could you say what you’d seen, can I say it now? Or did you keep the cow-feeling, the “superb surprise” secret? Is it a secret still, or facing forward into the day, a part now of everyday motion, the line of cows on the stark, sharp hill?

88

american literary magazine


Martyr Natalie Tarasar

spring 2016

89


99 Charles Clayton

90

american literary magazine


Hello Jonathan Murray

spring 2016

91


“ Untitled Izzi McDonnell

92

american literary magazine


Meet Me at the Court Scott Mullins

spring 2016

93


Biographies Emma Asher was born and raised; film, graphic design, psychology 2k16.

Ellisa Goldberg is young, scrappy, and hungry, and she is not throwing away her shot.

Batol Bashri is a yung ting who spends most of her time making art and hyper-analyzing drake lyrics.

Mercy Griffith gets your goat.

Emma Bartley is more commonly referred to as @mtvemma. Grace Cassidy asked her best friend to describe her in three words. They were “never ending menstruation.” Brian Chaidez: Just a kid from Chicago who loves donuts. Shawn Chenault: “My name is Shawn and I hate onions!” Kristie Chua just stopped crying. Charles Clayton: Amateur Storyteller. Professional Bipolar. Rachel Cohen they call her R. Co Polo ‘cuz she’s cruisin’ that Silk Road. Sam Dumas never really got over her scene phase. Philipp Ebner von Eschenbach-German-I’m kinda lame. Marisa Fein requests that all fan mail be sent to her new address in Copenhagen where she is studying abroad. Ben Friedel: sizzling and emanating miasmal vapours, melted into the puddle of noxious virescent ichor before your very eyes. Andrew Gelwick: I am interested in conveying stories through my art and am influenced by Joesph Campbell, kaiju films, Heavy Metal and other graphic novels. Also hmu if ya wanna form a collective. Zachary Gleiberman is a professional shower singer who sends monthly love letters to In-N-Out Burger via carrier pigeon.

94

american literary magazine

Marley Hambourger is from Chicago (Go Blackhawks!) and is a Public Relations and Strategic Communication major. At AU she is involved in the Photo Collective, Public Relations Student Society of America, Sigma Kappa, and the AU Ambassador Program. Kelsey Hasmonek is a photographer and a filmmaker from Northbrook, IL. She is a senior studying Film and Media Arts. She has yet to keep a plant alive for more than two months. Amanda Hodes is probalby still trying to think of a clever bio. Pamela Huber is headed for the forest (hopefully). She is thankful to have been published in AmLit every semester. She’d like to thank her parents for all the angsty inspiration along the way. Kacey Keith is a senior literature, cinema studies, major minoring in communications and graphic design. She makes art and lets the weather decide where her day begins. David Keplinger teaches in the department of literature at American University. He’s translated three collections of poems from Northern European writers, produced an album, By and By, and published five books of poetry, most recently the forthcoming The Book of Distances from Milkweed Press.


Genevieve Kotz: i’m going 2 become DJ Saint Meta as soon as someone PLEASE explains what meta actually means & when i finally figure out this turntable business. Bella Lucy is a sophomore majoring in Graphic Design and Comm Studies. She doesn’t like cheese on her pizza and just recently a cockatoo danced on her head. Ian MacMillan: Hannah Montana said nobody’s perfect, but yet, here I am. Conor MacVarish is not terrific, but he’s competent. Barbara Martinez wishes ice cream and cigarettes tasted better together. Izzi McDonnell: part-time sloth, full-time avocado enthusiast, who wishes her parents were Frida Kahlo and D’Angelo. Anna Moneymaker: Yes, that is my last name. Scott Mullins is learning the craft of a solid sleep schedule.

Thomas Pool thinks van Gogh paints terrifying demon babies. Mikala Rempe wants to get a sesame bagel with avocado from Megabytes and cry about Frank O’Hara with you. Natalie Tarasar is ready to graduate. Tam Sackman loves jokes. Carolyn Schneider is just happy crying, I think. Tova Seltzer recently fell out of her chair and did a cool backward somersault and didn’t get hurt. Maya Simkin is made of slime. Hannah Solus is still alive and totally breathing. Linda Voris is an Assistant Professor of Literature at AU where she teaches many modernisms.

Jonathan Murray ♫·¯·♪¸¸♪·¯·♫¸¸♫·¯·♪¸¸♪·¯·♫¸¸ Jake Nieb is constantly experimenting. Pooja Patel is sober by definition.

spring 2016

95


Masthead EDITORS­ IN­ CHIEF

ART EDITORS

DESIGN EDITOR

POETRY EDITORS

ASSISTANT ART EDITOR

ASSISTANT DESIGN EDITOR

FILM EDITOR

DESIGN TEAM

Mikala Rempe Jake Nieb

Molly McGinnis Emma Bartley

ASSISTANT POETRY EDITORS

Rachel Cohen Franscis Balken

Anneliese Waters

Carolyn Schneider

Amanda Hodes Brooke Olsen

ASSISTANT FILM EDITOR

PROSE EDITORS

COPY EDITORS

ASSISTANT PROSE EDITORS

ASSISTANT COPY EDITORS

Sam Dumas Tova Seltzer

Nolan Casey Sarah Goodwin

PHOTO EDITORS Pooja Patel Ian MacMillan

Sofia Kim

Thomas Pool Conor MacVarish

Kelly Connor L Thompson Tessa Ann Stewart Jessica Dodman Tyler Lin

ASSISTANT PHOTO EDITOR Nicole Brunet

Janella Polack

Claire Osborn

Kyle Mendelsohn Jacob Wallace Mercy Griffith Conor MacVarish Brooke Olsen Matt Barnabeo Shelby Moring Pooja Patel Thomas Pool Emma Bartley Carolyn Schneider Franscis Balken Ian MacMillan Sam Dumas L Thompson

BLOG MANAGING EDITOR Mia Saidel

LEAD BLOGGER Omar Tisza

GENERAL STAFF Daniel Dellechiae Ellisa Goldberg Hannah Solus Sydney Hamilton

96

american literary magazine


Thank You A SPECIAL THANK YOU TO OUR DONORS WHO MADE THIS MAGAZINE POSSIBLE: George and Doree Dickerson Mike Benjamin Diane Dickerson Larry Smith Carlos Martins-Filho and Cynthia Irion Tom Byington Kathy Falewee Carolyn Schneider Diane Chappen Jerry and Shelley Rempe Emma Bartley Dan Merica Corey Newman Emily and Ryan McGee Florence Gubanc Pooja Patel Bruce and KC Graves Julia Irion Martins Elaina Hundley Jake Nieb Mattea Falk Meera Nathan Annie Buller Dayna Hansberger Julianna Twiggs Edman Urias Noah Friedman Julia Hester Tiffany Wong Mikala Rempe Gloria Pappalardo Brendan Williams-Childs Lorriane Holmes Janella Polack AmLit would also like to thank our fellow Student Media Board organizations, The American Word, American Way of Life, Photo Collective, The Eagle, WVAU, Her Campus, and ATV for collaborating with us. We are continually impressed by your dedication and consider ourselves fortunate to be associated with your excellence.

spring 2016

97


AMERICAN LITERARY MAGAZINE American University, MGC 248 4400 Massachusetts Ave, NW Washington, DC 20016 www.amlitmag.com $12.95

spring 2016

1

Profile for AmLit

Amlit Spring 2016  

Amlit Spring 2016  

Profile for amlit

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded