Mission Statement + Policy American Literary Magazine, commonly known as AmLit, is American Universityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s literary magazine and creative arts outlet. AmLit is a student-run organization that publishes twice a year at the end of the Fall and Spring semesters. Striving to publish the best student writing and visual art within the campus community, AmLit is comprised of poetry, short stories, photography, film, and art submitted by the student population, including undergraduates and graduates. AmLit selects content based on an anonymous review process, giving each staff member an equal vote for each piece submitted. Any discrepancies in the democratic voting process are decided by the Editors-in-Chief and genre editors. All copyrights revert to the artists upon publication, unless otherwise noted.
Acknowledgements AmLit is the tangible result of the loving and hardworking community that surrounds our staff. In this first page we must thank our trusted advisor, Adell Crowe, for her wise words, sharp vision, and warm sense of humor. Your dedication to our staff and magazine is incomparable, and we would be a hapless brochure without you. We would also like to thank our Content Advisor and Faculty Contributor, K. Tyler Christensen, for providing us the best advice always accompanied with a smile. Your mastery of the written word never ceases to amaze. Next, eternal gratitude from the entire AmLit staff to the infamous AmDad, Jim Briggs of Printing Images, for his long history with our magazine. We consider it an honorary rite of passage to work with you. Thank you for your patience and continued presence in our magazine. Finally, we recognize our Best in Show judges: Jeffery Middents, Kyle Dargan, Andy Holtin, Iwan Bagus, and Melissa Scholes Young. Some of you have promoted AmLit on the doors of your offices, encouraged new students to participate, and acted as our strongest advocates year after year: thank you. To the new professors joining our team for the first time, we simply sayâ&#x20AC;Ś welcome to AmLit. 2
American Literary Magazine
EDITORS’ NOTE Dear Reader, What you have in your hands is a labor of love. We speak for our staff when we say AmLit Magazine strives to embody multitudes: nostalgic for the written word yet relevant, classic in its form yet versatile. This semester, we have worked toward this goal, maneuvering in the face of budget cuts and toeing the edge of impending print publication obscurity. But we hope this issue proves such aspirations are not too tall an order. With a look to AmLit’s past, we realized today’s challenges will soon be seen as yesterday’s developments -- a trail of progression that AmLit is well accustomed to. In 1977, four students printed a small, much-loved publication of creative art and named it American Literary Magazine. The design was created through QuarkXpress, a seemingly archaic program. There was a total of 16 submitted prose pieces, now considered miniscule in comparison to our upward of 600 submissions each semester. Through the decades, former AmLit members, like us, changed with the times to produce evocative and sustainable content. With our predecessors in mind, we have marched through the last eight months with a fond interpretation of the past and an expanding vision of the future. Today you see the implementation of QR codes along with an entirely brand new genre -- film -- and the beginnings of a new, forthcoming website. This semester we have witnessed a swell in our staff ranks (tripling in size), and the creation of three entirely new internal departments. We were welcomed into an inspiring Media Board collaboration, and gratefully became the works in progress friends of a select group of wise voices who have guided us along the way to our ideal publication. We are not masquerading these additions as mere “improvements.” On the contrary, the new additions are homages to our past as we work to create a beautiful present. Now we are here, magazines in hand, to urge you to explore our new excursions and celebrate our continued successes of poetry, prose, photography, and art. As new Editors-in-Chief, we have been transformed by this humbling experience of growth. There were long hours, carpal tunnel, headaches, and differing opinions. We learned to accept the ins and outs of the exciting and mundane. We are delighted by the talent and hard-working loyalty of our staff; it is because of them that AmLit strives to present the best in creative arts, and it is through them that a tight-knit, loving, and utterly unique community is born again each year. We thank you staff, colleagues, and advisors for continually providing an endless support of helping hands. Most of all, thank you to the students who submitted their work for review and the readers of our magazine: this issue is for you. The past eight months have been filled with manic notes on lurid yellow paper (if you’re Sam), hand and arm scribbles peppered with four-letter expletives (if you’re Michelle), and Tuesday night meetings where new faces come early and old friends stay late. It’s been an absolute pleasure.
Sam Falewee & Michelle Merica Editors-in-Chief Fall 2013
TA B L E O F C O N T E N T S 2
Mission Statement, Policy, & Acknowledgements
T h e o r y o f t h e F o r m s Luke Ramsey
T h e C l i m b Jack Chappen
U n t i t l e d 1 Cliff Owl
U n t i t l e d 1 Sebastian Hampson
O m a h a B e a c h Rachel Ternes
I n c o n g r u o u s Quinn Keating
M o d e r n B u t c h e r Lindsay Maizland
Yo u n g D i v a Lindsay Maizland
T h u r s d a y Pooja Patel
U n t i t l e d Tiffany Wong
I n v a d i n g M o d e r n i t y Lindsay Maizland
C r u s t a c e a n Julia Irion Martins
S e l f P o r t r a i t Brenna Fawson
O r a n g e K e t t l e Rachel Ternes
Self Portrait as Patriotic Marketing Luke Ramsey
H a n g i n g W o m e n S e r i e s Sally Charendoff B EST I N S HOW
A r c h e s Quinn Keating
U n t i t l e d Haley Semian
B o n n i e Brenna Fawson
W e b Julianna Meacham
S h e i l a & I v y Pamela Huber
W h a t ’ s U p i s D o w n Pooja Patel
S u r e I ’ l l G e t I n Yo u r V a n , A n d y . Ali Villalobos
U n t i t l e d 2 Sebastian Hampson
U n t i t l e d 2 Cliff Owl
M i l f o r d a n d M e Ali Villalobos
T e m p l e B u l l Rianna Eckel
T h e C a v e Cliff Owl B EST I N S HOW
E n t o Ben Nigh
D i r t C o u r t D r e a m s Cassandra Heikkila
M o m m y Noah Friedman B EST I N S HOW
T w o Robert Orlowski
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P OE T RY 6
W h e n W e M e e t T h u r s d a y Molly McGinnis
S o u t h e r n C r o s s Mattea Falk
U p d a t e s Jess Nesbitt
T h e A u g u s t N i g h t R o o m s Jackson Anthony
T h r e e f r o m t h e B u s Jess Nesbitt
Oldfields School, 2004
A w a r m e v e n i n g i n b l u e m o u n t a i n s Sam Falewee B EST I N S HOW
N e o n Molly McGinnis
T h e E m p t y Ye a r Lindsey Newman
C i r c u i t R i d e r Luke Ramsey
[ s p l a t t e r i n g , t h u d d i n g ] Mattea Falk
T h e S i t t i n g R o o m Luke Ramsey
I f I V i s i t e d Yo u i n I l l i n o i s Michaela Cowgill
F r o m t h e t a l e o f B r e r R a b b i t a n d t h e T a r B a b y Sam Falewee
D a y l i g h t S a v i n g s Zoé Orfanos
n o d i g g i t y n o k i d d i n g Mattea Falk
S e n d M y A s h e s D o w n t h e R i v e r Brendan Williams-Childs
H e r r i n g R u n Jacquelyn Smith
S c h w a b e r o w , O h i o Brendan Williams-Childs
M u d F l a p G i r l Molly McGinnis B EST I N S HOW
M a n n l i c h e r T r i f e c t a Brendan Williams-Childs
M y F a t h e r ’ s C o u n s e l K. Tyler Christensen FA C U LT Y C O N T R I B U T O R
W H E N W E M E E T T H U R S D AY I want you to ask where I’ve been. I will tell you: in a singing corner of an old apartment, on a stairwell in Iowa City, in the weird light of a borrowed lamp. The adventure is so well-traveled now, sitting beside me in a space-age cafe, that it’s hard to believe we ever stared into the ozone at all or saw helicopters printed there like dark quotation marks and wondered just what kind of question we should place inside. I will tell you, when you get here: I have already ordered coffee and I know all the words to Amelia and you’ll see how catastrophic I’ve become. You were never national in the way most of my tragedies are, but I have missed you like a memorial and I’m ready to stop remembering. Meet me by the register and the rocket ship. I’m the same as I was, except. All I have to offer is my afternoon.
American Literary Magazine
UNTITLED 1 Fall 2013
T H EORY OF T H E FOR M S Single-block wood print in oil soluble ink, 9” x 9” each
American Literary Magazine
SOUTHERN CROSS I am sick. Did I tell you this? Of walking everywhere. Like tonight, downhill to my yellow house and her wrought iron doors, her sweetly curling porch that helps me make believe jambalaya, Spanish moss. Did I tell you I’ve been sleeping like shit lately? Bones tossing, tendons pulled thread-thin, I wake and walk all wound up, buzzing. Now DC’s damp and heavy, my sweat spreads itself like a sheet in a summer breeze so I lift my arms, zombie-like, to air out my pits, afraid of running into you. I feel cruel in all directions. I cough and don’t cover my mouth. Maybe I should buy a gun or a gold tooth. In any case, my hips keep pulling all the wrong people into their orbit. How could you let your friend hit on me? I am always falling for the skinny boys too shy to kiss, to touch. Why did I laugh, instead of cry, when I slipped into the basement, drunk on wanting? On bruising my ass? I push my skin around, the blue, the black, the sweetly ghosting green, making room for even subtler traumas: My parents have bought a house and I am scared. I think about money all day, picturing stacks, boldly printed numbers. Nathan’s graduated, finally, saving up for the west coast so he can fall out of love with Naomi. I wish I was a better sister. I like how you love your siblings so much, even the baby who wasn’t born, but me and mine haven’t talked since that concert, when I, in classic fashion, got too shaky and far-away over a handful of guitar riffs; it’s embarrassing the way beauty affects me. One night this summer I thought you were too beautiful to look at. I scared myself staring at your mouth. Later, aching, I thought in your direction, “I like you so bad you make my back hurt,” and then, “Shut up, stop trying to look smart, I don’t care.” You walked me home and nothing happened and nothing continued to happen until you left the country and wrote to me about another hemisphere’s stars. I was furious with you for not being here. Now, you’re back but everything is wrong. I keep tripping on the steps, pulling raspberries out of my knees. I let myself remember: walking towards you in summer, walking too fast, so that those driving by are turning their heads, are slowing down, cause I’m singing Fleetwood Mac, out loud, every night that goes between in June heat stitched together with mosquitoes’ wings. I’m skipping down the road, gravel jumping into my Goodwill shoes, I’m practicing my Italian with a calico cat, my freshly shaved legs glinting like dolphins, I am walking toward more sickness, a litany of ailments, more runny noses, more sinus headaches and itches down in my belly and joints stuck on themselves, you; I’m walking to you, carrying my slurred speech, my sluggish hopes, my clumsy chat-up lines, and my perverse love of our shared over-aggressive rationalism. My knees are red and falling closer to concrete with each step, I trip, I fall, I’m back to tonight, here, with my angry questions, my wanting to kiss you still; tell me, are you sick of it yet?
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U P D AT E S today i found a giant white sheet you used to outline a paper on movie musicals and wow, was it sexy! sometimes you get richly weird & astound me rubbing your face in the texas dirt, coming back unfazed. i worry the air force is what made my dad an abusive shit & to be honest i’m afraid of what happens next. i’m sad cos it’s not august and i’m not bleeding, just staggering to the left & walking through a haze of gnats. i’ve learned to say “y’all” to whimper from below my desk chair — before you left, i considered making light of this weird dominatrix poem i wrote for you but i got too shy — when i’m alone i prefer to read eileen myles, ariana reines, & scrape off my favorite lines for you. i don’t like to tell people this but i’m lucky i lived past eighteen what with my stupid propensity for death & the way my heart ma coeur! — does its arrhythmic little dance. i don’t like to tell people this but i’m glad i lived past eighteen & stayed alive for you
Bre nd an Willi am s - C hil d s
SEND MY ASHES D OWN THE RIVER i Mary Lanoux is half-blind from methanol poisoning in her redheaded childhood in Georgia but she clearly sees the fires of hell and knows damnation is not only a place but a state of being, that the fire is not on, but rather in, the skin. She marries a man the locals call a cool drink of water hoping that he will soothe her— that she won’t turn him to steam. They move to Alabama. Her waking movements are burning, her steps all on coals and her breath dry from the furnace in her stomach. Fire replaces the rest of her organs in time until all she can see is the red, the orange, the black. I swear we’ll start savin’ then, for that eye-doctor, ifn’ you’re still seein’ colors funny her husband says, but her husband is blinder than she is— to the word of the Lord, to the wasteland of their bayou, to the death encroaching in on them from all sides. The daughters are born like phoenixes, emerging in eggs from the hollow shell of her body. Caroline and Evelyn hold hands as infants and then as girls in Sunday dresses, white and pure to avoid the heat, to keep the sun from browning them. Jacob, the son, comes second and with hardly any pain until Mary holds him to her breasts and he scalds her, his skin a molten iron pressed into the raw flesh of her arms. His gums draw blood from her nipples, his eyes sear through to the wilted brick tower of her spine. He radiates damnation out of his pores and she knows it all too well. Even his tears are hot, acidic— they bore holes in her until her blood becomes a leaky faucet. And now her husband is at church. He is wearing a straw hat and circular sunglasses and a white suit. He is keeping himself cool. Not today, she said, Not today darling I’m just so tired and I know about salvation. She draws a bath. The water is cold and she rests her forehead against the edge, her wrists against the bottom. Her blood congeals in her veins and the sticky sweat of the Hell around her peels off of her neck. Mama, Mama, Mama. Burning little hands on her hips, blistering. Jacob clambering at her thighs. The girls standing so politely behind. Mama Mama Mama Mama. The boy goes under so easily. The water boils above him. His body lies at the bottom, beginning to chill. Outside, it’s still so warm, but, overall, it has become a little easier to see. ii Sixteen-year-old Evelyn can hear colors and speaks to the local alligators on her way to school. She wears her hair long and wild and golden, the same color as her father’s, and wraps herself in cotton sheets. She smokes to extinguish the cigarettes against the wall of the bedroom. The ashes look like leaves if she looks hard enough. “What are you doing?” Caroline asks when she comes in, crossing her arms. “You’re gonna burn the house down.” “Do you want one?” Evelyn asks, rolling over in her cocoon, her neck exposed as her head hangs against the edge of the bed they share. “Jack gives ‘em to me for free.” “No, I don’t want one. I don’t wanna burn the whole damn house down.” Caroline sits on the bed and shakes her head. “How come you didn’t come see Mama today?” “Why’d I wanna go to a hospital anyhow?” Evelyn asks. “Too hot there. Every damn time we go I think I’m gonna puke.” “You should see her,” Caroline says, pulling her shoes and stockings off and her legs up under her. She lets her hair down. “She misses us.” “Does she?” Evelyn thinks about her mother with Devil-red hair and manic eyes. Their mother can’t miss anybody. Or maybe she can. Maybe Evelyn is underestimating. Maybe their mother misses Jacob. Evelyn misses Jacob, at least. Sure, he might live in the dining room urn, but it’s not really him. It’s not his shape, his face, his laugh. Sometimes she sees him when she’s showering and she tells him to go away, that just because he died in the tub doesn’t mean he gets to show up when other people are using it, but she feels badly about the scolding. She sees him, really him, so rarely. “I don’t miss her.” “Yes you do,” Caroline says. “You have to.” Caroline slides out of her dress as though she is peeling out of her skin and forces her way into the blankets. “You have to.” “No,” Evelyn says, “I don’t. I miss Jacob.” “You’re an idiot,” Caroline snaps, opening the window to let the bayou breeze flow into
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R a c h e l Te r n e s
their room. There’s a low buzzing of cicadas that sounds almost like whispering in the right light. Go to sleep, go to sleep, wake up on fire, the flames are in your blood, your family crest is a burning boy, go to sleep, go to sleep. Evelyn closes her eyes, listens to the songs. iii Caroline has cut her hair short, has cut her nails to the quick. Her skirt, beige and bloodstained, comes just above her knee. She thinks about Evelyn, who is halfway across this god-forsaken, blistering, boiling, boring country. Perhaps dealing with the same kind of men. All the same kind of men who come in with dirt in their eyes and shit in their wounds and cry until they are well enough to propose. Field nursing is so dreadful, so exhausting. Papa is so proud. I served, my son woulda served, the least you girls can do is serve the best you can. So here is Vietnam, so here is a tropical Hell, so here is service. The air smells like rot—flesh, fruit, food. Frequently, the ground gives way under her feet and tries to swallow her shoes whole in mud like mucus. The mosquitos are so large she’s taken to naming them after planets. Town, when they can get to town, is as red and filthy as the many wounds the country inflicts. When it’s
O MAHA B E AC H
not burning hot, it’s swept away under inches of water flooded with sediment. Today it might rain. “Won’t ever stop, if it does,” Doctor Del Costa says. “Least not until it’s drowned half the boys out there.” “Well,” Caroline says, “it seems a might easier to bring a man back from bein’ half-drowned than from full of holes, ifn’ you know what I mean.” Del Costa nods and pats her back, and then her ass, but slightly less enthusiastically, as though he is performing a rote action, as though his training told him and when you work with pretty nurses, make sure to touch them just enough to remind them they’re pretty. “You do a good job,” he says, and offers her a cigarette. She declines because how anybody could smoke in a place like this is beyond her. She sits outside the operating tent and waits for the next parade of potential corpses. And they come, a flash of red in an ocean of green and brown, they come in lines, in frantic shouts, in throats rubbed raw by screaming and skin peeled pink by caustic, flaming chemicals. They always come the same—frantic, exhausting. Today they come and they are shouting: “Sergeant Alexander, Sergeant Alexander is on fire!” Poor boys don’t know the whole world is on fire. Fall 2013
iv Franklin Alexander wakes up to the sight of an angel. Golden hair frames the woman’s face, sweeps effortlessly around her jaw. Her nurse uniform pulls tight to her small waist, her beautiful hips and small thighs. Even her knees, which are at his eye-line, are beautiful, pitted delicately like the joints of a doll’s legs. She is holding pure white bandages and it only occurs to him when the details of the tent begin to pour in that he is in immense pain. His chest is numb—and, out of the corner of his eye he sees, a dark shade of purple, nearly black, speckled with ruby and pearl—but the upper parts of his arms are a broken wire in a
lets it run wild on the table as she presses her face against the metal as though it could cool her down. “Seven months. Twin sister and I. I got transferred here yesterday because she said she wanted to see me.” “Sure was nice of them.” At home, Harold has three Labradors, and they’re all much better looking than the one he’s failing to put down on wood. He closes the knife and hands it to her. “I got this before I left. Snuck it in my boot.” “Smart,” she says, as she picks it up and examines it. She looks like a cat in the right light, which must be all the light. “I like the handle.”
It feels like his arm is floating, like his limbs might decide that they prefer freedom to being useful and just fly lazily away. puddle, electricity skittering across the surface, pain unspeakable, unimaginable. For a while, he can’t even process that what he’s feeling is pain. Pain is sharp, quick, localized. This is something with no reference, something alien. He wakes up again in a new tent and the same nurse is smiling at him. “You’re beautiful,” he manages, and his voice is croaking, his vocal cords like a wind instrument that hasn’t been wetted in years. “I hope you weren’t attached to your nipples,” she says, “Because I wouldn’t count on them to grow back.” She has a beautiful smile and a beautiful voice, a slight drawl. A real Southern Belle Angel. Southern Belle Angel, Harbinger of Terrible News. He can only stare as he asks, “What?” “I said,” she coos, as though he were a schoolboy, sitting by his bedside and holding one of his hands. It feels like his arm is floating, like his limbs might decide that they prefer freedom to being useful and just fly lazily away. “You don’t have nipples. Burned clean off. You’ll need to be changing your bandages at least twice a day for the next six months. Make sure you don’t get infected.” He takes a moment to process this. It sinks in like a river through dry land. All he can do is laugh. She laughs with him. In the lamplight, she looks beautiful and even though he wouldn’t otherwise sleep with a woman, his limbs are all falling off and he doesn’t have nipples. What else is there to lose? “Kiss me,” he says, because he knows his face is attractive. It’s the only thing he has left. v Private Harold Brinton is carving a piece of bamboo into a dog in one of the recreation tents when a nurse with a bun of honey-colored hair so large it’s practically a second head comes in. She sits down next to him and smiles, and it’s clearly forced, one half of her lips creeping over uneven, yellowed teeth more readily than the other. “I fucking hate this place,” she says. Harold nods, does not stop trying to correct the ear of the bamboo Labrador. “I understand. How long for you?” She thinks for a moment— takes her hair out of its cage and 14
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“Elkbone,” he says, and remembers to smile back at her. She looks up at him with big blue eyes like fishbowls full of liquor. “Elks live in Montana, right? Are you from Montana? I always wanted to go to Montana. I used to want a horse. Our neighbor had a mule, then it got sick and got eaten by the gators.” He thinks about it for a moment, about the differences between the peaks and canyons of Colorado where he grew up, where he has three dogs and two sisters and a father and a horse, and Montana, where he heard someone had seen a real UFO once. “I’m from Walden. It’s in Colorado. It’s a little different. Are you from Louisiana?” “Alabama,” she says, and hands him his knife back, picks up the bamboo instead. “I like your dog. What’s her name?” “Sadie. How’d you know?” Harold examines this nurse carefully. She might be psychic. He’s heard of women from the swamps with psychic powers, with small dolls and cat-eyes and long nails. Out West, they have their own mystics—the darkskinned hawk women with their wings tied to their hair. He can imagine this nurse with a full set of feathers, red like her lips. “I just know,” she says. “I know a lot of things. You ever see a ghost?” She sits up straighter and her smile finishes forming. “My name’s Evelyn. How many kids do you want?” “Harold. Doesn’t matter,” he says, “I never seen a ghost, and as for kids, as long as they’re healthy, I’ll take any. But I want two dogs. No gators.” “Me neither.” She reaches out and squeezes his hand. vi Twelve-year-old Jacob Brinton, named after his uncle who lives in a small brass can that sits on the top of the refrigerator, listens with great interest as older, cooler, smarter, cousin says that what they have to do is set themselves on fire. That’ll show ‘em. But Jacob can’t think what it would show anybody other than maybe two dead boys, and even if Jacob sometimes wants to die—or thinks maybe he does, since all the doctors keep saying it— he doesn’t think it’s very polite to flaunt it. When he was eight years old, after the first time he tried to chew through the blistered skin of his wrists, Mama came to him and held him tight in her arms and told him It’s okay to be
crazy, baby, it’s okay, you’ve just gotta tell me when you’re feelin’ it. But crazy was a dark word and the rest of the dictionary was soft sounds and bright colors, as brilliant and blue as the flames on the stovetop, where he had learned that hot was a state of being, not an isolated sensation. Then, when he was ten, he swore he could talk to Grandma— that she said she was sorry, though never what for, and Mama just cried and cried until Papa put her in the hospital for a while and then everything was fuzzy and cold. Mama says she feels better. Jacob never really says much at all because words are so strange to see, so much like pins and needles to touch. Now, Jacob follows Cousin Gregory, with perfect teeth and his ocean-town-resident blonde hair, to the beach behind the house. The sky is dark and the lights from the back porches of every tourist with a summer house, crammed into shares packed tightly against Gregory’s year-round residence, shine a murky gold on grey sand. Jacob listens to the sound of all the fish in the ocean looking on with glassy-eyed interest. He lets Gregory take off their shirts and cover their torsos in alcohol and strike the match. With screams loud enough to wake up parents, concerned neighbors, the dead, both boys rush headlong into the blackness of the sea.
vii Gregory Alexander showers with water that runs so hot it leaves his twisted swimmer’s muscles screaming and his skin red and dry. When he pulls on his undershirt, he can feel his shoulder crack open, warm blood oozing into the familiar stains. His wife, Eleanor, stopped trying to wash them out after an argument that ended with a crushed bottle of bleach, a crying child at the top of the basement stairwell, and six of their daughters’ dresses ruined. Under his French-cuff button-ups and navy-blue suits, he is a volcanic landscape. The kitchen smells like burnt flesh. Christopher, the youngest son, is standing at the sink while on the stovetop bacon is sputtering and browning. Alfred, the eldest, is looking on in bored fascination, and the girls are nowhere to be seen. Of course, Eleanor is nowhere to be seen, either, which means she’s not done whoring around with that asshole from work even though the conditions of the affair —she had said Gregory, we can get divorced like normal people or you can let this happen but you can’t always get your way—state that she’s supposed to be back before sunrise. Gregory closes his eyes, takes a deep breath, and then asks, “What’s going on here?” “Hey, Dad,” Alfred says. “Chris burned his hand.”
Julia Irion Mar tins
C R U S TA C E A N Watercolor, plastic wrap, masking liquid, 9” x 5.5”
“Doing what?” “Making breakfast, what does it look like?” Alfred asks, his face, nearly a carbon copy of Gregory’s, a carbon copy of Franklin’s, twisted with flamboyant distaste. “No. Making a nuclear reactor. You know, dad, plutonium. It’s so dangerous.” Christopher nods seriously. “Actually, it does cause surface burns. That’s why people carry it with gloves when they—” “Shut up, nerd,” Alfred says, and grabs the fry pan off the stove. He dumps the bacon on the plate on the table and faces his father. “Well, that’s yours, if you want it.” It’s a dare, and Gregory won’t take a dare from a seventeen-year-old brat who’s going away in the fall anyway. “Let me see your hand, Christopher.” Christopher, who looks like his mother, with soft brown hair and a constantly surprised expression despite nothing being surprising anymore, hesitantly pulls his hand from under freezing cold water and presents it to his father. The burn is kidney-shaped against the side of the boy’s hand, throbbing red and white, unbroken. Gregory can remember his father’s scars, raised like this but thick and pink, gnarled and twisting, as though at any moment they might still burst, as though the chemicals from the war were not in, but rather under skin. “It hurts,” Christopher says quietly. “I wasn’t paying attention. Jenna was distracting me.” “Where is she now?” “It’s not her fault he wasn’t watching the edge of the pan,” Alfred says sharply. Alfred has his mother’s highly particular sense of justice: nothing is ever the fault of the kids. Don’t drag them into this, it isn’t fair to them, if you have a problem talk to me like an adult, Gregory. “He should have been paying attention.” “You sit down and eat breakfast,” Gregory says. “I’ll deal with you later.” He pushes the glass door in the kitchen to the side and heads to the patio where Eileen, one of the twins, older than Chris but younger than Alfred, still in that obedient teenage stage before driving enters the picture, is standing still like a tee, balancing on one thin, shapely leg. The other, Jenna, is lounging in one of the Adirondack chairs, looking at the bees in the flowerbeds, her feet resting on the summer-warmed brick. “How’s it going, pop?” Jenna asks, because she’s a sarcastic, flippant little shit. “Eileen’s finding her Zen so if you’re going to have an aneurysm because Mom’s not back from her date yet, do it, you know, not here.”
“You let your brother get burned.” She looks more serious now. “He said he was okay,” she says. “I checked. Alfie’s getting him a Band-Aid.” “Did you apologize?” “Of course I did.” “Bullshit,” he says. Did she think for one second he would believe her? “Jeeze, pop,” she says, rolling her eyes. “Get yourself a chill pill.” She stands and stretches, her spine popping twice. “Or, I forgot, you aren’t taking those anymore, are you?” “You go apologize to your brother.” “Just do it, Jenna,” Eileen says, placing both feet the ground, standing still as a guard. Jenna crosses her arms. “What? It’s not my fault he wasn’t watching the stove. That’s, like, Home Ec. 101, watch what the hell you’re cooking.” “Watch your language,” Gregory says, and grabs her arm. The boys are hopeless, but the girls can be persuaded. “And go apologize to your brother, or so help me God…” “What’s even the big deal?” Jenna grumbles, weakly trying to pull herself free—mostly for show. “It’s not like one little kitchen accident is going to turn him into Grandpa or your cousin Jacob.” Jenna’s wrists are five inches around. She had to measure for biology in 7th grade, and Gregory remembers it distinctly, is reminded of it every time he twists her arm, holding his daughter’s wrist to her shoulder blade. “Go apologize to your brother,” he says. It was never a negotiation; no matter how much Jenna wanted it to be, thought she could cajole it into being. He wants to take her to the kitchen and force her hand onto the hot-plate, make her understand that it’s no laughing matter, the way a person burns. But that’s not the kind of thing that’s remotely allowed and having a degree in law doesn’t mean he can bypass it, no matter how badly he wants to teach her a lesson. He could never do it; like his wish to set his wife’s boyfriend on fire, or like his wish to swim so far away from the coast of the summer house that the shore becomes an impossibility to return to—to sink into cool Prussian blue. There are some things that he has to live with, and the constant, burning ache of this existence is one of them.
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T H E AU G U S T N I G H T R O O M S Tonight I forgot to fall asleep. My thoughts dragged me. They took me by the hand, like the little Ecuadorian girl pulling me to where she saw the cow give birth. And all the while, that stupid moth. Endowed with such geometry, but no good sense to realize that heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s going to die there in that sink.
THREE FROM THE BUS i. bus oh god it’s better when it’s fast. no air or affect just words. I left you at dawn for a thousand pregnant women for another story. I left you at dawn to puke on the glass partition of a bus. oh god I’m lost. have you ever seen a bird with heavy wings. this man chanting on the daily laughing at my little expedited feet. he thinks I’m queer and smiles, it must be nice to be a man reenacting another man’s poem never really arriving anywhere ii. clinic actually, your cervix is really small and I am surprised anything can hoist itself up there. the vacuum hose is really just the size of a ballpoint pen. Past two pm or thirty weeks there are no procedures oh god no one told me there’s little flecks of barf on my shoes. it’s better when it’s fast. a little pinch and you’ll forget you are a woman iii. bus thank god it’s dusk and the hushing scenes of the city are slipping off into cabs. the jaunty gentlemen and their sexy wives wincing in the increasingly blue night, asking has it stopped raining. admittedly I need the languor. my god it’s better when it’s slow, when I can almost feel alice notley reaching up inside me to make me come right here on the bus! in front of this man who has perfectly occupied grunge, dirty blond exhausted, crooning i’ve climbed through at least three dimensions to find you. well then lover, well then love
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SELF PORTRAIT Oil on canvas, 12” x 12”
OLDFIELDS SCHOOL, 2004 You sit three desks ahead banked in my memoryâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; Your hair coiled into a fumbled bun static tufts tucked behind your ears the height of your mole is as precise as a centimeter & the arch of your back measured pleasure in hushed decibels muffled between fear and excitement. Each night between 11:15 and 11:30, I waited for the bounce of the corridor door & your silent dance to my room. I held my breath: the knob turned, clicked, & unhinged. The dimglow of the Exit sign in the hallway showed your face, tinged with a smirk. Moonlight spilled in angular lines through the blinds onto our bed & winter air slid beneath the windowsill. I held you like I held my breathâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; tight and inside my chest. We snapped into place like 60 inch puzzle pieces, becoming one: hand-in-hand, chest-to-back, hip-to-hip, bentknee-in-bentknee.
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YO U N G D I VA
HERRING RUN He wrote a book report on herring once, in fourth grade. His teacher instructed the crowded class to use any tattered non-fiction book from the school library. He has always loved fish. He used to swim in his backyard pool from morning through night, pruning up, ducking under the rippled surface to avoid mosquitoes. His dad took their pool down a few years ago. He’s barely swum since. He walks a lot now. Weymouth is a walking town. Aged women carry grocery bags through Jackson Square, blocking impatient traffic. Unshaven men slump halfway across town to catch the bus to work. Punk kids, sent away by parents sick of their company, travel in packs, smoking cigarettes, drinking Monster, and kicking over trash cans. Everyone walks, tripping over cracks in the slowly deteriorating sidewalks of the slowly deteriorating town. Weymouth doesn’t have money to fix the sidewalks anymore. South Weymouth has some nice sidewalks left. Respectable neighborhoods cluster in South Weymouth with large colonial houses, neighbors chatting politely before viciously arguing behind carefully closed shades, daughters in yoga pants sexting other parents’ sons in hats representing cities they’ve never been to. South Weymouth isn’t very interesting. He doesn’t go there much.
“He straightens, releasing his clutch of rail and letting blood flow to his fingers.” He spends most of his time in East Weymouth, by the herring run. When herring are in season, without fail he’ll watch the current roll downstream in a mix of white foam and musty swirls. To the untrained eye, it’s almost impossible to notice fish lurking like ghosts beneath the surface. But he’s had plenty of practice. He catches every silhouette. He pictures their bodies clearly, as he rests his elbows on the bridge’s railing. Long, lean, and toned, like solid muscle, with metallic silver scales that reflect only hints of sunlight, tails flick and bodies swerve forward in a constant battle against the surging stream. Every few moments, one gathers enough strength and slices desperately through the surface landing with a splash on the next step, a few feet closer rest. Sometimes one misses, knocking back a group behind it like dominoes. He remembers wanting more than anything to touch the fish, catch one in mid-flight with his bare hands. His dad would lift him over and hold him while he balanced on the outer side of the rail, teetering on the edge. A fish would lurch from the water and he’d shout and grasp his fingers toward it, like reaching for a star in the sky. When his dad took a smoke break and scooped him back onto the bridge, he’d heave himself back up onto the rail and kick his feet as though he too were a fish. He was small then, only a forehead taller than the railing. His dad doesn’t like herring anymore. Today, he takes a smoke break, carefully flicking the ashes far away from the water and crushing them into the bridge with his sneaker. He doesn’t even like smoking. It gives his hands something to do. A group of kids he recognizes from school slink over from the nearby skate park. They are farther downstream. They don’t notice him. They curse and laugh at one another. One throws a can in the water. He ignores them. He tries to follow one fish with his eyes. It’s very difficult. The water is cloudy and churning already, let alone as the herring swerve and nudge in and all around each other. The only one he can follow is dead, bobbing at the top, floating downstream and out of sight. He received the best grade in class on that book report back in elementary school. He doesn’t remember much from the book, but he always tries. Watching them, he remembers there are several different species of herring, the ones below his feet being Atlantic. He remembers that they eat plankton and are eaten by just about everything. He remembers that they travel to breed. They usually live miles into the ocean, swimming in enormous schools for protection, but when the time is right, they swim back upstream to their birthplace and breed. Then they leave again. They swim right up the stream under his feet and then swim away. 24
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Someone upstream cackles at another’s failed skateboard trick. He ignores them. He’s leaning so far over the railing now that it hurts. He straightens, releasing his clutch of rail and letting blood flow to his fingers. Rushing water drowns his senses. Then, very carefully, he swings one leg over and then the other. He sits with toes perching along the edge. His arms hold the rail tightly, giving him balance. He watches the fish. He watches their murky shadows duck beneath the bridge and out of sight. Without meaning to, barely noticing, in fact, he lets go of the rail, leans into the breeze, and falls the fifteen or so feet down into the herring run. He lands on his feet with a forceful thump and a splash, scrunching to break his fall. The current sways him. He plants his hands at the bottom for balance. Adjusting his sea legs, he stands up. He shakes his wet hands and sweatshirt sleeves. He reacquaints himself with the present. He hears the boys down the stream laughing.
“What the fuck are you doing?” one of them calls. The others laugh harder. His pant legs are soaked up to the knees. He feels the slippery bodies of the herring wriggling against him. He doesn’t answer the boys, but looks at the fish. His legs make small rapids around him. The fish pass as if he were another obstacle, a dead fish to float downstream. He doesn’t know what he expected to happen. Perhaps some insight would hit him, some escape route or hidden passage would reveal itself under the bridge. But he wasn’t moving. There were no signs or realizations. There were just fish, whose wet scales bumped and splashed him as they worked against the current. The air is cooling as the sun sinks lower in the sky. His teeth chatter. He shoves his damp hands in his pockets, still ignoring the taunts from the boys at the end of the stream. He trudges forward several yards to a maintenance ladder and climbs up, heavy sneakers sloshing with cold water. Shivering and smelling of fish slime, he walks. He picks up speed.
R a c h e l Te r n e s
ORANGE KET TLE Acrylic on canvas, 18” x 24”
T H U R S D AY
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A WA R M E V E N I N G I N B L U E M O U N TA I N S B EST I N S HOW P OE T RY
I. My mother and I share a bottle and an Alabama horsewoman I will never meet. Know only that every day she rode and banged through three typewriters. I have secrets of my roots a great aunt with cats and a devil on her roof but I’ve missed the journalist of the Birmingham News. Was she soft, the sweet laugh I hear from my mother? Or harder, hair knotted, whipped lean from the wind – ? Hard, I hope. I wonder if she rode horses to heat and master a moving beast, and muscle or step like a sigh from butter-yellow dresses. II. She sold the last horse when her back began to bow, the hands curled. The saddle leather dried with sweat, trailing contours in salt unattended. She could not trade the saddle for a chair. She could not hold a pen, my mother says. Sugar cubes hid in the folds of her lap. III. My mother – she is worried around horses, but has the hardest stare. Seeing her I grow afraid, lift the bottle to make her laugh. I bury the name Irene.
T i f f a n y Wo n g
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NEON The psychic had a neon sign and a crystal ball in the window. I went there on a dare, prepared, to hear the usual: in your future is a man who chews lettuce while doing crosswords and goes dancing, in his future is a girl who went to a psychic and wondered when theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d meet. I sat on a bench and gave her my palm and I said, yes, I know, look at the disasters, there will be a war like a knot in my wrist, there will be an air strike in my early twenties and I think I can handle these things. But the fortune-teller just sat still. Ghosts twinkled in a corner by the radio. Phantom worries clicked like coins on purple scarves. At last, when she moved, the psychic shook her head, and said Each star is in a phase of revision. This is not a deadbolt universe. Sometimes it just needs a second knock. She said, These are your hands. And she gave them back to me.
I N VA D I N G M O D E R N I T Y
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THE EMPT Y YEAR He leaves the lamplight on, wishing to see, bleary-eyed, my 2 a.m. presence creeping under doorway cracks. He knocks, listening for the inhale exhale of stubborn sleep buried under a comforter cocoon. The daily worry of my time misspent. He still makes corned beef sandwiches, white bread, no mustard, for my crack-of-noon breakfast. They spoil.
CAG E - F R E E Santa Cruz has made me useless. I can’t concentrate. I leave my keys in the fridge. I’ve lost three and a half gallons of milk forgetting them in the towel closet, now laden with a green-ish, dyspeptic scent. It remains decidedly Febreeze-resistant. This side of the country is too sunny. Too clean. It washes the thoughts right out of you. I was fired for forgetting. They let me go last week from the temp agency where I was – get this – temping for the temps. Between assignments, I worked as their secretary. I liked going on assignment, though. Most of the time it was secretarial. I spent a couple days at a catering company that smelled like microwave waffles. I mostly faxed sheets back and forth between the GM and the chef, who were always arguing over how many pounds of flour, sacks of Arborio rice, busboys. I worked all of November at a museum where no one looked anyone else in the eye. Then I was at the temp place again, and then a few weeks at a construction company, where I huddled in front of an ancient PC in an on-site trailer. That dinky little thing smelled like cleaning chemicals and spit, and I could never turn around without knocking over a stack of papers. The men were nice though. They called me “honey,” but they were never creepy. This one guy, Jack, started bringing me an apple every day for lunch because they joked I dressed like a teacher. Every day, even after the joke had died and crawled under the trailer to find its peace, there it would be, perched on the edge of my desk teetering like a drunk: one perfect, rosy-cheeked apple. It made me dream of A---, of him teetering before the fall, of the apples in his throat. That trailer, though, it drove me crazy, cowering amid the gravel heaps, the steel girders shooting up into the sky, and the dinosaur-like machinery, with its magnificent, crudely cut jaws dipping in and out of concrete and men and mud. The building was finished mid-February, so I ended up back in the main office. I got fired because I forgot to call my boss, Cheryl, as soon as the revenue reports came in from accounting. Obviously, that wasn’t the whole reason. It was only the most recent in a line of forgettings, an onslaught of little daily dementias. I can’t blame her. When she fired me, she was really nice about it. She kind of smiled at me and looked at her shoes – sensible, brown, 9½W – and told the tightly bunched office carpet, “It’s not working out.”
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S E L F P O R T R A I T A S PAT R I O T I C M A R K E T I N G Multi-block wood print in oil-soluble ink, 9” x 12”
Now I make lists to remember. For example, this morning I wrote: Red Cabbage Cumin Pork Milk Library Law office Eggs (Cage-free but only if you feel like it) Brownie mix M&T I’ve already gotten most of my groceries and dropped off my résumé at the Library and the office, so I cross a few items out, and it looks like this: Red Cabbage Cumin Pork Milk Library Law office Eggs (Cage-free but only if you feel like it) Brownie mix M&T I need to get to the butcher; they don’t sell good pork in the market by my house. Michael and Trish (“M&T”) are coming over later for dinner, and I want to make something especially nice for them. We met in undergrad at Columbia. Michael and Trish, together since second semester, sophomore year, made themselves unforgivably wealthy directly after graduation, working for Goldman Sachs. They left the city and moved to the west coast after three years, making good by working for some eco-friendly start-up. We stayed in touch. I saw a brochure once; lots of smiling mouths, peat-caked hands, infographics in seven shades of green. When I first moved to Santa Cruz, however many months ago, we got lunch. I had fish tacos. Trish looked at me sadly. Michael didn’t really look at me at all. The waitress smelled like ranch dressing and hairspray. I couldn’t tell you what we talked about, though. Thus is my forgetting disease: erratic and unforgiving. But then they went off on some big adventure with their magnificent yopro fortunes, sailing through Southeast Asia, spreading the gospel of recycling on lean, spin-class-toned thighs. They’ve only just gotten back. As I’m leaving, Trish calls to confirm we’re still on for dinner. She tells me they’re looking forward to “normal life” again: “I mean it, Anne, the experience was incredible, just incredible. I am happy to be back. You know, familiar faces, familiar streets. But, the water there – like diamonds! Or, I don’t know, sapphires! It’s almost chemical, really.” “How so?” I ask. “You know that stuff you pour in the toilet bowl? That kind of unnatural blue? It’s like that.” “Shit.” “Yeah. I can’t even tell you. We have pretty water here, but nothing like there. But oh my god, the poverty, Anne. You can’t even imagine.” We talk about malnourished kids, about tsunamis and drainage ditches and a water buffalo with flies for eyes. I can always count 34
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on Trish to keep things in perspective. She’s empathetic to a fault, keenly aware of her privilege, of the life she leads, while maintaining a sort of awe in the face of tragedy that someone half her age would show. She asks how I’m doing and I tell her half-truths. “Yeah, I’m still looking,” I say, sensing the furrowed brow, the nodding on the other end. “I sent out some applications today actually. I don’t know. No one’s hiring.” “And have you been getting out? Seeing anyone?” “Yeah, yeah. I have. Not dating, yet. But I went to a few art shows, a couple museums, that kind of stuff.” I don’t tell her that I dreamed A--- again last night. When he died, instead of mourning, I tried to conjure him with B-12 tablets and lucid dreaming exercises. A black dot in the center of my hand every day for a month, counting backwards from 100 as I drifted off, melatonin and affirmations – they hardly ever worked. Recently, I haven’t even been able to hold on to my dreams long enough to interpret them. They evaporate as soon as the sunlight breaches the blinds. Once, for a dream where a snake swallowed me whole, I looked up interpretations on the internet. The search engine brought me to a site cataloging dozens of variant snake dreams and their significance. Most signified loss of control or imminent death or small penises. In the corner, a little blinking ad showed a red headed woman in a deep purple turban waving her hands around and nodding wisely. I took this to indicate extensive and credible knowledge of the supernatural. The ad promised she had the power to illuminate my future, answer questions from my past. I wiggled the cursor above her ringed nose for a few seconds, and, realizing Swami Amanda’s would probably cost money or turn out to be weird porn, I closed the window. I check the clock and realize I only have a few hours until Michael and Trish come. The butcher shop is only a fifteen minute bike ride away. I skip outside, hop on my bike and coast down Pacific. I pass a few kids playing in the street, whooping and laughing. I turn onto Soquel, see an Asian market and fight the urge to look for mochi. When we lived together, A--- and I would go for dumplings in Chinatown every few weeks. When we traveled to other cities we would usually end up in their Chinatowns, too, discussing endlessly over Tsingtao the appeals of frying versus steaming. In D.C. we talked about what a misnomer “Chinatown” often is. Packed in among the Chinese restaurants and shops, there are inevitably Japanese, Thai, Korean, Vietnamese, their neighbors. This always puzzled us. Should we instead call it Little Asia? Little South-Central Asia? We made no conclusions, though we happily sampled pho and kimchi. A--- loved kimchee, its brightly acidic sweetness, its long limp cellophane leaves. I never really acquired the taste. I made a point to let my mother know, though, when we went out for such meals. It was the kind of food she loved to hate, debase. I told A--- about her peculiar and specific brand of racism, the way it manifested itself most ardently in commentary on food, bodily smells and climatebased theories inherited from her backwater father’s father. He asked how I could love someone like that and I didn’t know how to answer. Later, without telling him, I realized it was a matter of forgiving her, not her thoughts. I dreamed confessing that to him. In the dream, he understood.
After A--- killed himself, I gained weight. “Pounds of grief,” my mother called them, not trying to be funny or ironic in the least. Now, as I enter the shop, I can see the boy behind the counter sizing up my body, lingering too long on the tight cotton across my chest, on all the wiggling, jiggling pouches of flesh. The shop is incredibly clean. The rope of bells strung across the bar of the door jangles loudly. I take in every glinting surface. The meats are packed neatly in the glass case that extends from the front window back along the black-and-white tile floor. The halogen lights shine brightly, reflecting off the rows of gleaming, deep-red cuts, the white fat marbling starkly. I am lost in the light and the leering adolescent’s gaze. I want to scream at him, slap him, something. I forget myself entirely and for a moment am filled with a vision of my slim wrist bloodied, halfway through the glass of the display case, fist clenched tightly above the fascistically neat rows of cutlets.
shouldn’t have been. A liquid clotted with milky bile. Piss-like in aspect. Dirty. Lymph nodes are the kiddie pools of the body; so many little strangers getting in, paddling around, leaving their warm waste. At seven exactly, the buzzer sounds. I open the door, wiping greasy palms on my jeans. Smiles gleaming, Trish and Michael chorus my name cheerily. “Anne! So good to see you!” “It’s been too long!” “Hi! Hello! Welcome,” I hug Trish and give Michael a kiss on the cheek. My list from earlier falls out of my pocket and Trish laughs at me, “Cage-free? Em and Tee?” Her voice flutters over the words, the only things not crossed out. She laughs and dips a hand into Michael’s shirt pocket, retrieving a business-like ballpoint pen. She crosses out their initials; he smiles,
“It was only the most recent in a line of forgettings, an onslaught of little daily dementias.” “What can I do for you, ma’am?” he asks, his eyes sliding innocently up to mine. I can’t remember what I’ve come for. “Ma’am?” I cross my arms. I shake my head. He cocks his chin slightly. “Well. Let me know.” “Pork!” I say, surprising us both, “Pork! Tenderloin. Please.” He giggles out of discomfort, or maybe habit, but recovers quickly. “Tenderloin? But that’s so boring! Try a couple of our rib medallions. They’re much tastier.” He indicates a few pastel pink ovals with a latex-gloved hand, nodding profusely. Each is framed by a thin crescent of fat on the left side. “The fat can cause a bit of a mess, but it also has the most flavor.” I catch him staring at my chest again, but I just nod. He works quickly. I bike home with plenty of time, but as I cook I can’t stop hearing the butcher boy calling my choice “boring.” Months before he flew off the bridge, A--- and I were sitting on the couch, talking about a mutual friend. He told me, “People only make their lives complicated when they’re bored with simplicity.” I laughed, “You think that’s a bad thing?” He leaned away from me, surprised. “You don’t?” “No,” I said, pulling down on his shoulder, picking at his linen shirt. “Who wants to be boring?” Three days later, he came home, extended my index and middle finger in a scout’s solemn promise and pushed them into his neck. I remember it clearly. Saturday. Lots of sunshine. A crow on the balcony next to ours. “Can you feel them?” I smiled, confused, not understanding. He rooted around, making sure to demonstrate the full circumference of the problem. “Like soft little apples. Not quite rotten fruit.” He told me what the doctor had said about the swollen nodes nestled against the wall of his throat, hiding in the lee of his jaw. He had a way of tilting his chin upward slightly when quoting an expert. I didn’t really listen. I gathered there was something in them that
“There! One less thing off the list.” I cringe, not because I’m embarrassed of the list, but because of that one glaring uncrossed phrase: Cage-free. I have always meant to buy cage-free. I want to be able to cross it out. I want to want that kind of thing. I like myself better when I profess to buy cage-free. I even write it down, ask the clerks at the market, “Where are your cage-free eggs?” Sometimes, I pick out a carton and inspect it intensely, turning the eggs this way and that, examining each as though whatever cracks may have infected them would be microscopic. In the end, I never buy them. I’m cheap and for some reason, I feel suspicious of the lack of antibiotics. I’ve heard all the arguments against overloading livestock with that sort of thing – superbugs, etc – but I still worry the organic, cage-free ones will just end up being the sick ones. Caged birds are well-medicated ones. Besides, I think the regular ones taste better. We chatter and negotiate our way into the make-shift dining room, where Trish sets the list on the table. It’s a short trip, since the barely existent foyer opens immediately into the dining area. Trish comments on the drapes – “So dreary!” – and immediately offers Michael’s help with any forthcoming food. I decline; everything’s ready and waiting. We plod through politics and nostalgia and college gossip above salad and pesto crostini. They tease me for keeping such a clean apartment; I was always so messy in college. At some point, Trish tells me, “This is delicious, Anne! You just have to give me the recipe!” I nod, and say, “Of course, Trish,” but I’m looking at Michael in his clean white shirt, a small dab of basil-green clinging messily to his collar. Michael smiles at me, a charming smile, straight and very white. A speck of black pepper clings to the enamel. He has a disarming way of flicking his dirty blonde curls away from his forehead when he’s preparing to speak. “How goes the job hunt, Anne?” he asks with just the right combination of concern and disinterest. Enough stress on my Fall 2013
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name to show he cares, enough nonchalance to absolve himself of any condescension. I slept with Michael while I was still with A---. Only a few months before his suicide, before the swollen glands and the midnight vomiting and the “hang on a little longer sweetheart. We can beat this.” A--- and I had only dated for two years – maybe two years? – I never could remember our anniversary. A--- always did. He scolded me when I forgot, but he forgave easily. I do like spending time with Trish and Michael, but the Michael issue induces a dull twisting in my gut. It’s not guilt, exactly. I know that Trish has cheated on Michael before. I’m not sure if she knows about me in particular, but I know she knows there have been others. Besides, the way he talks to me, I assume he’s simply forgotten. It was forgettable enough. Whiskey and winter air and, afterward, his head on my shoulder while I cried and told him I didn’t want to go back to my empty apartment or the hospital. When we finish eating, I excuse myself to put the pans in the sink to soak. I’ve relaxed. My stomach feels warm and full. The kitchen is adjacent to the dining room, and the sink is very near the doorway, separated from it only by the stove, so I chime in now and again while Trish and Michael lean back in their chairs, chatting through pinot noir number two. Where I stand, they face away from me, angled slightly towards one another as though cheating out to an invisible audience in the foyer. Sometimes they throw details over their shoulders, turning to face the kitchen with me in it. At one point, Trish moves into the doorway: “Let me clean the stove while you work on those dishes!” “No, please! Sit!” I argue, smiling towards the pan I’m scrubbing. I lift one sudsy arm and wave her back. A bit of foam comes loose and floats down like dandruff. “Come back to us, Anne!” Trish whispers, feigning urgency as she falls back into the dining room. She takes her seat and waves both arms like a castaway, as though signaling me from a great distance. I chuckle again, my eyes sliding from her confusing figure – laughing, stranded – through the doorway, resting for a moment on the stove. The white aluminum resembles a rudimentary Pollock. It is glazed with great drops of saffronorange fat, matte from some angles, glistening from others. I hadn’t realized the vigor with which I must have been stirring the fry pan. I can hardly recall cooking at all. The process is lost to me now in the haze of the afternoon. Against the stove-top, the tendrils of fat announce themselves aggressively. They fly in cursive arcs, terminating in dense lipid archipelagoes. Thinner strands of fat tessellate around the larger. What seemed at first haphazard now strikes me as delicate, ornamental, the same elegance as an antique bird cage. The bottom left burner in particular is accented by a few sunny points of errant olive oil, now congealed. “Don’t be a martyr,” Michael teases. “A martyr?” I chide him, “Jesus, Michael!” I roll my eyes, eliciting giggles. “You really need to reexamine your sense of proportion! I’m done anyway; I’ll just grab the cake from the fridge.” “Ooo, what kind?” he perks up, playfully smacking his lips. Trish guffaws and punches him lightly. Sometimes they are scary beautiful together. Like now, their eyes crenellating with health and happiness and the promise of a long future together. I grab a dish towel and dry my hands, leaning against the doorframe.
“Chocolate raspberry,” I say, a playful lilt in my voice. “That was Alex’s favorite, wasn’t it?” Trish’s voice drops slightly in tone and volume halfway through the question. I freeze, eyes fixed on the dish-cloth in my hands. I can’t stop smiling. My cheeks burn a little. “Did you … Did you forget?” Her voice sounds even further away. She seems to be throwing it around the room, like a ventriloquist or a ghost. I hear Michael shift in his seat and then the soft rustle of paper being smoothed in one of their palms. A silence, antiseptically cool, hovers between us. Trish clears her throat but Michael speaks instead. “Anne, did you know? We have new neighbors!” His tone is a little too cheery, but I’m grateful. “You never could cross him out,” Trish says, my list now tight in her little manicured fist. I pretend not to hear. “No, do tell,” I say to Michael, walking away from them. I cross my kitchen, some six feet or so, past the stove, the sink and cabinets, arriving at the fridge. The low thrum of the appliance fills my ears, my skull. A masculine baritone fuzzes deeply in the next room, matched occasionally by short, high peals of interjection. I put a hand to the large white box in front of me, it’s shiny, overbright surface. The door swings open under a light touch and my skin pricks in the cold. I pull out the cake and breathe. In my hands, pruning and soft, the dessert seems weird. Inappropriate, somehow. Lumpy, ugly, overdone. Solitary and dense. I turn to the sounds in the next room, in their low backed chairs. The sound-makers perform small, aching gestures. Swirling the dregs in their cups, letting their hands fall to their laps. I see each of them twitch as though to turn, then resist. I mean to call them, but I can’t remember how. The backs of their heads bob up and down, framed in the doorway of the kitchen. Their hair shines cleanly. The buzzing falters and stops. I see them from a great distance. I forget what I’m doing and my grasp relaxes. The cake slips, pitching forward suddenly, but I catch it. Then it comes: “Trish! Michael!” A “yes” duets toward me. “The cake!” They turn to face me fully, teeth-gleaming, relieved, as I walk toward them, grabbing a spatula from the counter. I set the pan on the stove as they move to join me. We triangulate in front of the messy appliance, the spatula hovering limply between us. Neither of them reaches for it. We have all forgotten the next step. We know vaguely that there is an incision to be made, one small, sweet surgery left, and then, consumption somewhere distant on the horizon. The three of us stare dumbly at the stout dark-brown cylinder, almost black against the white and orange cross-hatching. We stand back. I can feel them smiling, too. The lump sits. It gathers heat. It shines. Among the fats, among the oils, it throws our smiles back at us.
CIRCUIT RIDER Squinty-eyed, my grandfather stared out at the south Georgia heat that testified from cotton fields and napped in peach orchards as he rumbled across counties in the bed of his father’s secondhand pickup, the trusty steed that carried his Reverend father from church to church to preach Hope in the depression and drought that drained towns and soybean paddies. My grandfather could see the dwindling attendance in Statesboro, knew they’d all fled to Atlanta because the bread lines don’t stretch to Macon and what good are communion wafers when you can’t have wine?
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Tired-eyed, my father stared out at the cities that grew along with him, roots spreading wide in the dark loam, highways swelling like his arms, swollen and tough from carrying crops and his belongings from Macon to Savannah to Atlanta as his Reverend father was appointed to churches and cities rotten with notions of separate but equal that died and fertilized the ground where my father was not the only minister’s son who tossed about in his sleep having dreams of mountaintops and promised lands too real and too just to not try to ask free at last? free at last?
Wide-eyed, I stared out at the cities that shriveled to suburbs, collapsed into farmland and crumbling cemeteries as our secondhand sedan rattled across the winding roads, newly paved, that rambled from Nashville to the little church of Bethlehem that my Reverend father served to pay his way through grad school. Out the window, in the spaces between fallow fields and groves of kudzu, I slouch like these grandfather barns, roofs turnt a’krookit and clapboards sagging under the weight of generations. The crops are gone and paint is faded, but therein still lie rusting, the roots and machinery of our nation.
ARCHES Fall 2013
HANGING WOMEN SERIES B EST I N S HOW ART
Microns, pen & ink, ink brush, 18” x 24”
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[ S P L AT T E R I N G , T H U D D I N G ] for Mary a 40 incandescent between my thighs, I peel the label, a gross habit, but I can’t help myself, especially now, the secondary character in the horror movie about to die, too corny to actually scare. I smile above my pile of soggy Olde English dandruff, the captions – i.e. [distant screams] – making this movie surreal & goofy. I wonder if you were joking earlier [laughter audible in the next room] when we talked about ordering pizza. Mary, I worry about our lives like big wet continents floating away from one another, but then I’m here & Virginia is lifting her cheek to mine & I’m telling you with my apology eyes I wish I was better at weed & new people. [branch snapping] Panther Falls was great, I should have told you. When I escape the city, I catch myself [clattering] startled [shattering, breaking] at my own happiness. So Mary [coughing] where to? what’s the plan tomorrow? [paper rustling] are we going to a show? are we [scraping, wheezing] going to stay in bed? will we smoke [sighs of pleasure] four back to back spliffs again? the girl [creaking] on screen [loud sobs] is opening a door she shouldn’t [killer vomiting] & we all know what will happen next, so I stand to microwave a waffle [splattering, thudding]; are you hungry too?
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UNTITLED Fall 2013
Bre nd an Willi am s - C hil d s
S C H WA B E R O W, O H I O Uncle Ray’s alarm goes BEEP. BEEEEP. BEEP. BEEEEP. Doesn’t stop. BEEP. BEEEEP. BEEP. Doesn’t stop. Won’t stop. He sleeps for five minutes while the noise continues. I look at the ceiling. There is a crack in the shape of a rabbit. It’s only a rabbit in the morning. At night, it’s a dog. In the day, I don’t see it. It may be something else entirely. Maybe it’s a spider. This is how people describe cracks in ceilings: a crack in the shape of a rabbit. When they look at them too long, anyway. I am five minutes looking at this crack now. BEEP. BEEEEP. Now nothing. Every morning, the same noises from Uncle Ray. The alarm, the cracking of his knees and spine, the cursing. Every morning, the same noises from Aunt Marianne. She makes no noises. Nothing. But this is always the same. “Up, pup,” Uncle Ray says. Slams a fist against my door. It falls open. Falls is the right word. The upper hinge is broken. Every night, I re-set it, place the door back in its frame. I could fix it for good. Or not. I do not. Every night, I re-set it. “Up,” I repeat. I am. Now I am sitting up and keeping my shoulders back. Posture. Shoulders back and head high. Alive, awake, alert, and enthusiastic. Up. “I’m up.” He’s already gone. It is eight steps across my bedroom to open the window. It is five tugs on the blue string to roll the shades up. There is fog on the beans outside. 200 acres of foggy beans. Uncle Ray tells me sometimes how many pounds of beans our land produces. I forget. The line of the trees at the end of the property looms up. Glows yellow-green halo with the sun behind. I put my socks on. Left first, then right. Left, right, left. Right. Then the rest of my clothes and a hat, because when it’s foggy out, it’s cold. I hope another hen hasn’t died. Last month one froze laying an egg near the edge of the henhouse. Last month it was still winter. Last month there was snow and not just fog. Last month the air was a physical property. Not now. Now. Out the back door and into mist. Through the back window I can see into the house. Aunt Marianne rising. Uncle Ray popping his back again. Next to the coop, the pigs are asleep. The rooster is crowing when I get there. I tell him to shut up. He does. Then he starts talking again. I tell him to shut up. He doesn’t. I tell him he’s going to taste delicious. He doesn’t shut up. I collect the eggs from the hens and tell him he’ll never know his children. He’s quiet. I tell him I guess I’m a little sorry. I’m not. I sit on the ramp to the coop and count the eggs. It takes three minutes. There are sixteen eggs. One of them will break on the way back. Usually one does. The grey hen is getting old. She’ll taste good. I go back to the house. Put the eggs on the counter. Counted eggs, fifteen, on the counter. Aunt Marianne is listening to the radio. She is wearing her nightgown. It’s too big and loose. I can see too much of her tits. Uncle Ray’s vision is going so he can’t get the full effect. It probably looks good to him. Aunt Marianne is listening to the radio in her big nightgown and stirring grits. Instant grits. Instant grits still take five minutes. “Looks like Jackson’s shoring up the nomination,” she says. “Oh,” I say. “Wasn’t talking to you,” she says. “Oh,” I say. I didn’t think she was. But she was talking. I was there. Uncle Ray is in the bathroom shaving. “Yep,” Aunt Marianne says. “Got a goddamn robot wife, that one, wires and chips and all. Ought to put a chip in the boy’s head.” She is talking about me but not to me but she does this often. I am not thinking about myself. I am not thinking about the chips she wants to put in my head and instead I am thinking about Jackson and that I have only ever seen one picture of Jackson’s wife. She doesn’t look like a robot. That’s what makes her so scary. There are robots working the farm over. They look like robots. Square and metal and not smiling. Their faces, if they’re faces, flash different colors sometimes. Titanium and halogen. Help harvest the crops sometimes. Don’t let their husbands run for president. Don’t have husbands. Are real robots. “I wouldn’t want chips like her,” I say, but I don’t think Aunt Marianne is listening to what I have to say about what she says when she thinks I’m not listening but I am. Always.
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Aunt Marianne shakes her head. “Walt,” she says, “Go take a shower. Your mother is coming by.” “Why?” I ask. “Damned if I know,” she says. “Ray told me soon as I woke up. Damned if I know a thing to what your mother does, child.” Good answer. I go. I shower. Uncle Ray keeps shaving his face while I shower. “Walt,” he says while I’m washing my hair. I don’t have much hair to wash. Washing my scalp. “You be nice to your mother, now, you understand?” “Nice,” I repeat. “Yep.”
“She’ll be here for the week.” “Why?” I finish my shower and get out, dry myself off. Ever since I shaved my head showers don’t take time. Uncle Ray is still shaving. Using a long-handled curved blade. His arteries stand out against his Adam’s apple. The deer in the freezer had a wind-pipe long as my inner arm. All thick and white and hard to hold but easy to crush. I cover my neck with my hands. Uncle Ray is still shaving. “I posted her bail,” he says. “Oh,” I say. “Shoplifting,” he says. Fall 2013
“Yes,” I say. I know how to do it better than she does. I don’t, anymore. Do it. Not now. I do know. I don’t do it. I live with Uncle Ray and Aunt Marianne now. No more sitting in detention. No more sitting in juvie. No more sitting. No. Head up, shoulders back. “Okay.” “So have some pity.” “Yep.” Uncle Ray waves his hand in front of my face. Sometimes he does this. I follow his calluses with my eyes. This scared me when I was fourteen. Now I am not fourteen. This no longer frightens me. He’s checking to see that I’m alive. I blink. Blink once for yes. Blink twice for no. “I can’t ever tell with you, boy,” Uncle Ray says. “Me neither,” I say. He laughs, so I must have done something right. --“Hi, baby,” Mom says. Mom always calls me baby. I am not this anymore. “Baby” is a stupid nickname. Babies can’t take care of themselves. I can take care of myself. Of the pigs and the hens and the rooster and the farm and Uncle Ray and Aunt Marianne. Mom is wearing overalls. She looks like a scarecrow. Straw and pillows and cantaloupes. “You look so grown up. How long’s it been?”
“Did you hear, baby?” Mom is asking, leaning in the doorway. “No,” I say, because I didn’t hear anything at all. Maybe the sound of the pigs rooting behind the house. “Baby, Jackson’s coming through while I’m here. You wanna go see him?” “He doesn’t support corn subsidies,” I say. “Is that a yes or a no, baby?” “Go with your mother,” Uncle Ray says. “We’ll watch it on TV.” “Okay,” I say. And then there is a silence. So then I say, “What will you do in Kentucky?” Even though I don’t care. She starts to talk and Aunt Marianne’s cat comes down the stairs from the attic and we look at each other until I have to look away and Mom is still talking and the cat walks silently by and nobody acknowledges it at all except for me. Outside, the fog is lifting from the fields and the mice are starting to wake up and tonight the cat will sneak back in. I know why the attic smells like death. Tiny little bird skeletons. Mice turned to mold. I can’t bring myself to clean it. When it’s noon, and Mom is still talking, Uncle Ray’s watch goes BEEEEEEP BEEP BEEP and that means it’s time to run errands. Aunt Marianne herds my mother into the kitchen, their feet sticky on old linoleum. “You have a good time, now, baby,” Mom says. “Bring us something good to eat.” “Good,” I say. “I’m up.” “What, baby?” Mom asks, staring at me.
The deer in the freezer had a wind-pipe long as my inner arm. All thick and white and hard to hold but easy to crush. “A year,” I say. A year and six days but she doesn’t care about the specifics. In the last six days I have collected nearly a hundred eggs. I have fed the pigs nine times. I have. It has been a year and six days. I can’t do the math. More eggs than she would care to know. “A whole year?” she asks, and pats my head so hard that my scalp tingles. “All grown up.” She’s said this since I was fourteen when she moved me in with her brother. “Grown up,” I repeat and shrug. “Maybe.” “Where are you going to college?” she asks. Uncle Ray just laughs. I laugh even though it isn’t funny. “Walt dropped out last year,” Uncle Ray says. “Come on, Mattie, come in, let’s get you set up. Where you headed out to now?” “Disappointed in you, son,” she says. I think to me. No other person is her son, after all. But she’s not looking at me. She’s following Ray into my room. Continuing her conversation. “I’m thinking about Kentucky. Maybe Indiana.” “Indiana’s nice,” Uncle Ray says, and neither asks why I haven’t moved so I assume that it’s fine that I am standing still in the living room, looking at the county road outside where nobody ever drives except us and the neighbors and sometimes tourists who get lost outside of Wapakoneta. They can’t pronounce it. We have one movie theater. They call us quaint. I used to slash their tires for fun. Quaint is a word for people who don’t have knives. They won’t call me quaint. A word for people who shouldn’t exist. There is no should in my existence. 46
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I look her in the eyes. I blink twice but I’m alive. She doesn’t have to wave her hand in front of my face. “I’m up,” I say again, and follow Uncle Ray out the door into the summer air. ---William Robert Jackson thinks he’s charming. Thinks he’s kind. He thinks that the fact he’s made of flesh and blood makes up for the fact that he fucks a woman more metal and silicone than human being. He talks so well. He talks a lot. He gets boring after a while. His hair is parted to the side. His smile is fixed and bright. His eyes are blue and shining on the big TVs in the auditorium. He has cufflinks made out of petrified wood. He talks like he knows us. “I know you feel like we’ve failed you in the past,” he says, “And you deserve better. And I’m going to make it up to you. I’m going to ensure opportunities for every young person in America. I’m going to make sure that this is really a country where a kid in Idaho has the same chance to be a cop or a doctor or a CEO as a kid in Manhattan.” His shoes are polished. Shoe polish is flammable. I want to set him on fire. He says something about inclusion and enforcement and the entire crowd begins to clap so loudly that everything goes black. And now Mom is doing her makeup in the car. Using the rearview mirror to fix her lipstick. We are sitting in the parking lot of
a McDonald’s. There is a cup of sweet tea in the cup-holder. “Well, baby,” she says, “I think Indiana will be a nice change for me.” “I don’t want him to be president,” I say. “Hmm?” she stares. “I don’t want him to be president,” I repeat. “Then don’t vote for him, honey,” she says, “I think he’s cute. Too bad he married a cyborg, of course.” She laughs. I don’t think it’s funny. The car is making a rattling noise. Sometimes I am scared that the car knows more than we do. Metal likes speaking. More and more anyway. Pretends it’s human. I don’t tend to answer. “Of course,” I repeat. “Baby,” she says. She touches my neck. Her nails feel glossy. She’s a magazine. There are black letters on her face. She is breaking news. “Do you have a single original thought in your head or do you just parrot back what people say?” “Parrot?” I ask. “No.” “Baby, you’re not helping your case by saying what I say, you know.” She readjusts the rearview mirror. Bright red and white neon McDonald’s signs reflected where her face used to be. “Are you happy with your Aunt and Uncle?” “Ha-” I stop. Think about the words. Shaped in loops like the arches behind us. In peaks like the steeple at the church Aunt Marianne attends. In little irrigation valleys. “It’s… okay.” “Would you want to come to Indiana with me?” I don’t even have to think. “No.” “Are you sure, baby?” “I’m not.” She’s staring at me. I clarify. “A baby.” I can support my own head. “You’ll always be my baby,” she says. Scripted. In juvie, they said I was scripted, too. I heard on the radio there are over 6,000 cameras in New York City. We don’t live in New York City but sometimes I think we’re still being filmed. She takes the car out of neutral and we merge onto the interstate. I’m glad to be out of the city. I’m glad to be away from eyes I can’t look back into. I’m glad to be done with William Robert Jackson. It’s misty out. I think about fog on the beans. About every individual pod. The lights from oncoming cars are like short cuts in the night. We are the same to them. Everyone is stabbing blind tonight. “Not really,” I say finally. “What do you mean?” She doesn’t look at me. She keeps her eyes on the road. Mom is a lot of things. Also a good driver. “They put a chip in Elizabeth Jackson’s brain when she was a baby,” I say. “Did you know?” “Everybody knows, baby,” she says. “And they fixed her legs up. Lots of babies get brain chips.” “Not me.” “Well, no, baby, your father…” she stops. My father. My father now dead. My father now dead in prison. My father, with his nails in metal eyes. My father with knives in synthetic hearts. My father. With the right ideas. “Was smart,” I say. Mom just laughs. She laughs for longer than is necessary. She laughs for a long time. I never made a joke.
BEEEEEEEEEEEEP. Uncle Ray’s new alarm. Relentless. BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP. I am awake before he is. I am in his bedroom to turn it off. It is pounding in my head. Aunt Marianne smacks my hand. “Get the fuck out, Walt,” she says. She is obscene when she sits up. She sleeps naked, apparently. “Ray, get your fucking kid out of here.” Uncle Ray throws a tiny metal angel at me. It hits my forehead. “Your alarm,” I say. “Is bad. Change it.” I leave. I am already dressed. All I need are shoes. I wait a moment outside the door when I hear Aunt Marianne. “Ray, I’m going to put a goddamn neuropsycho-what-thehell-ever chip in that boy’s brain.” “We don’t have the money for that.” He’s laughing. “No insurance, no money.” “Well, how do we get insurance for something like that?” “Vote for Jackson.” He’s not laughing anymore. Neuropsycho-what-the-hell-ever. Neuropsycho behavioral modification. Neuropsycho implantation. I have never been laughing. They have never made a joke. I’m up. --I am packing to leave. Tomorrow I turn 19. Today, now. 12:01 AM. I have four sweaters, six shirts, three pairs of pants, an extra pair of shoes. Five hundred and twelve dollars—stolen, earned, begged, never borrowed. The cat is watching me from the hall. I would take it, but cats don’t travel well. The shirt I’m wearing is itchy. Thank God. Every unpleasant sensation is still a sensation against flesh. I am made of flesh. I checked, this morning, last night, just to be sure. There is still blood in my hair. I’m not going to wash it out. I am human. I bleed. I will bleed to make a point. I will bleed on anybody who disagrees with me. I am human. I am human and I am leaving. The door creaks. The pigs are asleep. The chickens are asleep. Uncle Ray and Aunt Marianne are asleep. I’m up. I make my way across 200 acres of soybeans. I take some for memories, some to eat later. The highway is empty as usual. 14 miles to Wapakoneta. The first car that sees me picks me up. An old guy with a long beard. “Where you headed?” he asks. “Where are you headed?” I ask. I don’t need an original thought in my head. I need answers. “Chicago,” he says. “Chicago,” I say, “Okay.” “You going there?” “There. Yep.” We cut the darkness until he says he’s tired. We pull over at a gas station. I get us pork rinds. Inside the store, everything is the same bright white. The diver is asleep when I get back. I try to follow his example. Leaning against the passenger seat and the window. Trying to close my eyes. But it’s six in the morning and I can’t get the sound of Uncle Ray’s alarm out of my head. I am trying to relax, trying to breathe. BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP
THE SIT TING RO OM Cold red leather runs along the lengths of my forearms and traces the places my grandfather wore down sitting sitting sitting before ending in brass buttons that pin the crimson chair above the creamy carpet flowing out to swirl around the table he made, always crowned with yesterdays newspaper and a bowl of unshelled nuts and pool up in ripples beneath the fake wood panels of the chubby retro television married to a much younger, sexier receiver that filled the room with the sultry sounds of cable and stumble up the stairs presided over by the paintings my mother made, clowns and coats of arms, and the grocery store next door, the way it was before it burned all timber and good cheer.
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BONNIE Oil on canvas, 48” x 36”
Pamela Huber 50
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SHEILA & IVY
DIRT COURT DREAMS
vimeo.com/79399454 Fall 2013
MUD FLAP GIRL B EST I N S HOW PRO S E
Stories on paper always have beginnings, but mine was never this way. It doesn’t start with my parents any more than it starts with the cop, or Julio, or the bar across the street from Sadie’s Diner. One day you walk in on your own life getting it on with someone else’s story. And you take a few steps backward and grab the edge of the refrigerator and wonder how it happened. I bus tables at Sadie’s Diner on 15th and Broadway. Not the Broadway in New York – the Broadway that crosses a spread-out town in the middle of a spread-out state. If this town were a loose tooth, that Broadway would be the string connecting it to the mouth of America. But we serve good pie and coffee, and that’s got to count for something. On Sunday mornings, when I sweep the front steps and mop up whatever guts last night’s drunks have spilled on the sidewalk, pigeons fly up out of nowhere. It’s like the night stuffs them into the most uncomfortable corners of the building, and my footsteps startle them awake. They remind me of paper planes. They make the manager yell about messes on cement. I’ve worked at Sadie’s Diner since the summer after high school – just over a year. It’s the “after” I never imagined – not the sorority-girl-perfect college years I dreamed up – but not bad. On weekends, in the morning, I’ll stand outside and smoke a cigarette and watch the town light up. The sunrise on windshields. The neon blonde in the window kitty corner. A crushed Pepsi can glittering in the elbow of the curb. Julio comes in at about 9 a.m. He sits at the counter thumbing through Newsweek or Time, grinding his molars as he reads. He used to be a ticket taker on a subway in New Jersey, and when he talks about the energy crisis or the debates between Clinton and Obama, his voice picks up that old rhythm, like it’s rattling through a dark tunnel graffitied with insights and bars of sun. He’s got a Super Mario tattoo sleeve on his left arm, and when he lifts his coffee cup, a smiley-faced star near his elbow frowns. Sometimes I flinch when he reaches for the sugar or swats a mosquito with the paper. He asks me why. I never know what to say. Where would I begin? With my step-dad, a man on a keyed Rice Rocket with a thing for Twizzlers and Buddy Holly beer, and who, even though my mother was beautiful, couldn’t take his eyes off her daughter? Julio looks me up and down. I slide him a hunk of peach cobbler, and he pays before he touches the fork. “I’ve never hit anybody,” he says. I tell him I know. “No one’s gonna hurt you,” he says. I smile and go into the kitchen, because I don’t believe that. When I start the dishes, Angeline’s already pumping her old gospel tapes through the back room. Today it’s Sam Cooke and the Soul Stirrers. An entire choir fits in that tiny space. It pounds through the soup of the day (beef tomato) and the knife block and the hiss of cheese sandwiches clamped into the grill. I don’t mind. I imagine the entire antebellum South tipped upside down, or maybe right-side up, ruffling the watercolor skirts of rich ladies sitting in tea rooms. On good days, it lifts the grease in the air. Angeline leans over the sink for a spoon, her arm hanging in my face, and steps back, wiping her hands on her denim apron. Earring-sized triangles of dough are stuck to the hem. She smells like coconut soap. 52
American Literary Magazine
“Aislyn,” she says, “You been smoking again?” I shake my head. I dry the pie plate, paying special attention to the leaf-shaped divots on the rim, scooping out the water drops like I could find a winning lottery number underneath. “I know you old enough,” she says, “but just ‘cause I’m old enough to die doesn’t mean I’m going outta my way to do that.” I want to tell her that I didn’t go out of my way to do any of this. You do what you have to. When your step-dad blows his money at a casino over spring break and your mom runs off with the guy at the winning slot machine, you generally don’t end up enrolled in college. You find a job at a diner in town and realize that life could be worse. My mom writes me letters every couple of months, left-slanted handwriting in runny ink on hotel stationery. Life could always be worse. Angeline opens her mouth again to say something. Sam Cooke and the Soul Stirrers shuffle toward the refrain, and through the cutout I see Julio lift a palm to flag down more coffee. And then a scream hacks everything up. Outside, two horns blare and someone yells, “Fire!”
W H AT ’ S U P I S D O W N
Julio inherited The Mud Flap Pub from his late father, who inherited it from his late father, who built the bar from scratch. He moved here about a year ago, after his dad’s liver failed. My stepdad used to go there on the nights Mom worked late shifts at the Blinker Gas Station a mile north of where we lived. He took me once when I was ten, just to get french fries, and I felt sure right then that I would never fit into the adult world, this place with thick shutters, glowing bottles propped against mirrors, sequined women propped against men. I sat there and sucked the ketchup off my fingers, drawn to the black light above the sink where the bartender leaned, cradling vodka and mixers and sliding truck drivers stemmed sculptures of ice and alcohol. And I had glanced at the woman in the window made of neon tubing, semi-clad in a blue 1940s bikini, reclining on her elbows against the sign that read “Mud Flap Pub.” She owned her situation, her blonde hair hot on her shrugged shoulders, like the best thing to do was feign apathy. And I followed that example when my step-dad went to smoke in the alley with a Latina waitress he’d been complimenting all night, and I let my fingers curl under the seat of the cracked Fall 2013
vinyl stool until they touched cold metal. There was something about her that I admired. She was so carelessly sexualized. I watched that silhouette, in her neon nonchalance, and prayed to her like she was the patron saint of ten-year-old girls left in bars. I pretended not to notice the man who took my step-dad’s seat, a guy in a heather grey t-shirt with the solid stomach of a mother carrying twins. I knew about children and serial killers. I stared at my reflection in the mirror behind the bottles and tried not to look ripe for dismemberment.
tagged the masterpieces of the train tracks across his body to remind him where he came from. I want to paint Julio an equally vivid explanation, a picture drawn just as painfully and permanently across my body by someone else’s hands. I would choose a scene from seventh grade when I sat at the kitchen table after dinner, bent over English and Math books, my shoulders cinched with hours of studying for finals. My mother would be in her room, the radio blasting its sorrows louder than hers. The motorcycle growled into the
“I suddenly want her to approach me, boldly, and give me the advice my mother never did.” He had a wide, close-lipped smile and his hands moved about like lead bats, checking pockets for cash, for credit cards, snapping open a wallet so I could see a collection of produce coupons, ticket stubs from a Tim McGraw concert and a membership card for the same national rifle club my step-dad belonged to. The man could have been my step-dad, had someone been able to deflate all his rage. He almost seemed sophisticated; when he moved he shed a halo of aftershave and hardwood floors. He was talking in a wet, weighed-down murmur to the bartender and you could hear the saliva click in his speech. He had moved here to be closer to his daughter. She was getting married. He wanted to walk her down the aisle, and have a Stale Ale with her husband right here in this bar. I tried to picture my step-dad doing the same, and realized, with a kick of guilt, that I wouldn’t want him to. It’s funny, the memories that rise like smoke when you watch something burn to the ground. Julio’s standing outside in a loose crowd of customers, doing that thing with his jaw and rubbing his neck with one hand. Sirens wind cool and predatory through the afternoon. A fire engine is parked along the red length of curb outside The Mud Flap Pub, and four firefighters in uniforms made of yellow fabric and reflectors assess the situation with clipboards and radios, while three others drive a hose into the smoke and spray down the surrounding buildings. The neon sign with the neon woman is almost ignited; she looks like she’s being prodded with pitchforks of flame. She’s even more victorious than usual, smirking, hair coiling over her blue bikini strap, eyes fixed on someone in the distance. She’s finally free, after years spent under the gaze of oily men with tan lines where their wedding rings should be. A Jack Russell terrier trots to the fire hydrant nearest Julio, and lifts its leg. Julio laughs. “What happened?” I ask him. “Beats me,” he says, “Guess the ghosts don’t want me here.” I smile, and he turns suddenly to face me. I jump. “Why do you flinch like that?” he asks, and I notice the tentacle of a fresh tattoo reaching up his neck from underneath his button-down. Ever since he started coming to Sadie’s Diner, he’s become secretly illustrated, like a couple of inner-city kids 54
American Literary Magazine
driveway, the screen door banged against its frame, my stepdad’s drunk clanging through the house came closer. His shadow jumped on the wall, swinging a beer bottle like a police baton. It was the way so many nights began. Yesterday I saw a mug shot of a man with teardrops tattooed on his cheekbones, and the words “Fear God” on his eyelids in navy blue ink. When you escape from prison, you leave with scars. The sirens bring me back like cold water. Julio’s scratching his neck, staring at the fire trucks. I ask him, “Was anyone inside?” I know the answer – the bar doesn’t open for another three hours. Do unnecessary questions qualify as lying? Julio shakes his head. “No,” he says, “But they better put it out before the fire hits alcohol. If that happens, the whole thing’s going down.” Fifteen minutes later I’m back inside Sadie’s Diner, soaking up Julio’s spilled coffee with Angeline’s apron. Apparently someone knocked a vat of tomato beef soup all over the dishtowels in the kitchen while I was gone. As I’m patting dry his latest copy of Newsweek – Global Warming Deniers Well-Funded – our jingle bell bracelet bangs against the glass door and I glance up from behind the counter to see a cop standing awkwardly by the gumball dispenser, like she wandered onto the wrong set. Her graying blonde hair is tucked in a bun, and she has a freckle on her ear like a single earring. She seems vaguely familiar – a distant aunt? A movie star who only plays a detective? She approaches the counter, her combat boots slapping the linoleum. “Ma’am, I’m gonna have to ask you to evacuate this building,” she says in a Louisiana accent. I recognize that voice – her identity rushes back to me. I’m surprised she doesn’t know me, but then, not so surprised. She snaps her gum and continues. “The fire over there is getting closer to the main fuel supply, and we want civilians to clear out as a precaution. Thank you, Ma’am.” She nods once, and walks back outside. I join the cop and Julio and Angeline and three women with pink and blue camo print nails and flippy hair, wearing boxy white t-shirts that read, “Nampa Army Mom’s Coalition”. I know
these ladies from their meetings at Sadie’s Diner every Thursday. They order non-fat lattes and rhubarb pie and spoil scenes for each other from their favorite Hispanic soap operas. The tallest of the three notices me and winks at Julio. “How’s the little girlfriend?” she asks him, grinning. The little girlfriend. Pin-up girl, mud-flap girl. “Aislyn’s out of my league,” he laughs. I imagine myself as he sees me – a too skinny white chick wearing buffalo plaid and jeans with eagle emblems stitched over the butt. The cop saunters over to us, one thumb hooked on her belt of weapons. Her eyes are bored and hard. “The good news is, we don’t suspect it’s arson,” she says, “So far it looks like an electrical fire in the back room, which doesn’t have smoke detectors. That’s a fire code violation. We’re still looking into it.” She turns to Julio. “I’m sorry sir, but at this point there’s not a lot the firemen can do to salvage the building. It should hit the alcohol any minute now, and then it’ll burn fast.” Julio nods solemnly, as if to give his history a moment of silence. Still, his eyes glint like pocket change. I can almost see his thoughts racing back over old train tracks, tunneling back into the life where he belongs. He leans toward me and whispers “Watch. When it finds the booze, the flames will be invisible.”
Ali Vi l l al ob o s
And Julio’s right: I count one Mississippi, two Mississippi, and the roof caves in, and the rest of the structure begins to vanish in waves of sheer, quivering air. The Mud Flap Pub is being Etcha-Sketched back into dirt. I focus on those sheets of nothing. I notice the cop flicking glances at us as we watch the thing burn. I wonder again if she recognizes me, if she remembers the girl at the motel she was called to all those years ago, on the complaint of domestic disturbances, how the bugs orbited our porch light like tiny planets, humming. I wonder if she is remembering the girl who shied away when she reached to tilt her chin up, examined the scrape on her cheekbone, the five dimeshaped bruises on her forearm. How she shone a penlight in her eyes, and saw nothing. I wonder if she regrets being so young then, and writing it off as a warning, accepting the excuse that I fell in the shower. I wonder if she knows how forgiving children can be. I catch her eye and smile without my teeth. And I suddenly want her to approach me, boldly, and give me the advice my mother never did. I want her to take my hands and say in a voice that eludes procedure, “It’s ok. There’s nothing different we could have done. We live in a world where things catch fire. Let the past burn itself clean.” Of course, this doesn’t happen, though I like to imagine it did.
S U R E I ’ L L G E T I N YO U R VA N , A N DY. Fall 2013
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I F I V I S I T E D YO U I N I L L I N O I S I would bring you a bouquet of milk teeth. Not tulips or daffodils or any other bright, flowery thing. I would give them to you, teeth tied together with yarn, and say Look! Our bones have been resting together in a tin can all these years in our parentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s duplex. I think you would be happy to hold them in your hands, unable to tell them apart.
Bre nd an Willi am s - C hil d s
M A N N L I C H E R T R I F E C TA 1. He learns God by playing God by stepping into a role and taking a deep breath and pulling the trigger. All boys are murderers in the West. It’s in their blood, starting in their heart and pulsing out, electric beat after electric beat, starved for oxygen and so frantically circulating, to their veins, to their hands, to their fingers that hold the weapons, their nails that dig deep into flesh. God is only word for Mormons, the rest of them see Heaven in the split blackness and stillness that is the end of a life. To know God is to be God is to hate God is to forgive God is to acknowledge that there is no such thing as God, only an October day, a green hunting pass, a bright orange jacket, an assurance that some Higher Force does not want this animal to live. At ten he can articulate that it is important to kill to know the value of a life. At seventeen this articulation means something. Before, when there were no words, when there was no meaning, there was still death. Always the neighbor boys with frogs and boiling water and gelatinous firestarter and a total incomprehension of pain, suffering, cruelty. They didn’t mean to hurt anything. They would argue that, probably, it didn’t hurt. At twenty he lies awake at night and whispers that he didn’t mean it. He had to learn. Everybody has to learn. What it is to end a life. His nightmares are wide-eyed and spastic, leaking blood, coated in thin amphibious slime. 2. Father takes him dove hunting in a part of the state he’s never been, a left turn at the fork seventy miles north of town, another dip in the square that is a never-ending series of hollows ringed by mountains. People build their houses at the base of stone spines and hope the trees will grow as ribs around them, protecting the softness of their solitary lights shining bright into cloudless, star-shot darkness. When he’s old enough to drive, he drives in darkness, and he focuses on homes miles away that glow like siren lighthouses; if he were to try touching them, he would be swallowed up in the crashing waves of desolate rock and prairie. But now he is holding a shotgun and Father is walking ahead so practiced, so nonchalant, so isolated he doesn’t even bother with orange. A maroon and white baseball cap pulled firmly over a high forehead and a sturdy Roman profile and eyes like the boy’s and then the doves emerge like blood from a puncture wound, a steady stream heading towards telephone wires and Father takes a shot, says fuck it to whatever damage he’s causing. The boy stands still. Feels very far away. 3. There is a motion in the pines, swift and silver and sharp. There is a shot. An echo.
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B EST I N S HOW F I L M
vimeo.com/79367446 Fall 2013
American Literary Magazine
F R O M T H E TA L E O F B R E R R A B B I T A N D T H E TA R B A B Y Sly Brer Fox has ears that twitch like ticks and sweatbeads in his fur. Knee-deep in southern drawl I am a thing that cannot move, a tar baby. Scrub dandelion plains and thistle-gourd weeds, the briar patch lies hungry. I sit on a rutted dust road. This hot-white Georgia is for the Baptists but my maker was a relentless fox; I have no ribs to give. Instead I rub my greasy shoulders with the shakers and snake-walkers, deadened plow-horses, broken porch swings. I say, “give me your crazies defeated by sun; I’ll wrap them away.” A rabbit approaches. If this tar had a mouth I’d tell him no – Touch me and I’ll swallow you whole.
D AY L I G H T S AV I N G S I had just painted the fourth nail white when Muna said, so what happens at two? To be honest, I’d forgotten. I tried to recall as I slid the vacant hue onto the fifth finger, but my mind was flagging under the weight of foreign words and rhythms that lodged thick stanzas of gauze in my ears. But then Hanèn turned to her and said, it’s one o’clock again, and each Arab girl looked at her cell phone to check the time. I paused over the second hand and asked, is time lost in the Middle East? With five white fingers, the girl from Iraq said yes and played an American band.
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vimeo.com/79256517 Fall 2013
NO DIGGIT Y NO KIDDING after Nick Flynn o faceless / o forgiveness my body / is empty my skin is full-up hey / faceless my skin is all mud / all mulch / it’s a problem hey future how are you / so pregnant so rotten hey i am unwell / o / i am un / furling my mouth is a chapel is a pit is no good hey faceless hey / future i thought the body was limbs was light went forever (corporeal / corpuscle / corpulent) o easy mistake / bag it up / I was wrong / the body is nothing my mouth is a well how deep / does it go no / dig out now dig out / in the fires / go out ankle-deep how hot full far / dig out now dig out / i am a trench a quarry a church / a car full of trash / two lungs full of shit “i am someone’s father / i am someone’s son” don’t put me in water again / don’t drown me in the temple / tight to its skull / hey body perspiring / in dirt / body hiding / hey i mean it / o body no kidding / be better / this urge to dismantle / no bullshit no way / forgive the confusion / say not become holy / say won’t then keep turning / i mean it no diggity / no body / make what is inside go out / go on / go to the chapel the landfill the grave hey black earth hey / faceless hey blood-hot and holy/ if my mouth is busy / if my mouth is a chapel who says its prayers hey yo hey yo i want dial soap / i want bricks of gold / i want to be clean dig out / i shower twice a day / dig now dig out / i scrub / so it hurts hey yo hey yo hey yo hey o forgiveness o faceless water ash chapel o future corpuscle come on / o body / the water / bill is insane (amen)
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Ali Vi l l al ob o s
MILFORD AND ME
K . Ty l e r C h r i s t e n s e n
M Y FAT H E R ’ S C O U N S E L FA C U LT Y C O N T R I B U T O R
You’re burnin’ daylight. The cows wake me first, my father second. It’s seven in the morning. The smell of his Barbasol reaches my bedroom door long before he does. His feet move in a slow but forceful cadence up the stairs. I listen. My eyes burn as I muscle them open. I know when he’s standing outside my bedroom, because I can see the shadows of his feet at the bottom lip of the door. I imagine him making the moves: bringing his tight fist to his mouth, creating a small but narrow opening, then pressing his lips to his fist before trumpeting the shrill, the familiar, “Reveille.” I know these moves, because in private I’ve tried to imitate the chorus—my father—myself. This is what he does every morning when I am fourteen years old. He opens my door and he flips the light switch and says, those cows aren’t going to feed themselves, you’re burnin’ daylight. You are the captain of your own ship. My father asks me where I got the alcohol. I stole it. From where? From the cooler at work. We’d put it in with the trash and then unload it in my car before dumping the trash. I’m sorry. My father shakes his head. It’s not like I can bend you over my knee. He says you’re the captain of your own ship. I fear the consequence of having to tell my boss the truth about his missing inventory. You’ll work something out, my father says. I will stand, unmoored, in front of my boss on Monday. Buck up. My mother is sitting on my bed next to me, rubbing my back with her hand as I cry into my palms. I am sixteen and I have just lost all of my hair to this thing that I can barely even say, Al-o-pe-cia, without stumbling over the closely packed vowels—so many vowels in one word. My mother is crying with me, and for me, she, too, has no hair. I hide my baldness beneath a hat, and she hides hers beneath a wig. I’ve been crying like this for months now, tired of explaining to Anthony Shurtliff why I wear a hat to school; tired of explaining to Mickey Bare that I’m not gay; tired of feeling pulled apart by sex and hair and what it means to be a man in Mud Lake, Idaho—straight and hairy. My father has been listening to me cry on the other side of my bedroom door. He opens the door. You’ve got nothing to cry about, he says. Buck up! I know now what he meant—be strong—but then, I thought, I’m not like you. I’m sorry. I’m trying. Let’s nip this thing in the bud. I am twenty-one. I am a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Atlanta, Georgia—white shirt, tie, bicycle, and nametag. I have just confessed to my mission president that I think I am a homosexual—I suffer from same-sex attraction (SSA), he tells me. Please help me, I ask him. Hours later, I am on the phone with my father, and he tells me that, he, too, had a nice visit with President Glauser. I tell my father, I’ll do whatever it takes. I tell him that it feels good to finally have this all out in the open. He says, Let’s nip this thing in the bud. My mother is on the line, too. When is your first counseling session? On Wednesday. In Atlanta. We talk quick of logistics: the insurance agency won’t cover my counseling sessions, because they deem same sex attraction as a “pre-existing” condition. I tell my parents that I’m not sure what this means. My father tells me, it’s okay. He’s glad to pay for the sessions. They are desperate. Days later, in a letter, my father writes, “Tyler, I love you like no other male will love you because you are ½ me.”
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There will be no empty chairs in the next life. Christmas lights twinkle in my periphery. I am twenty-four years old. I am sitting on the sofa with my father. My mother is upstairs crying into a pillow—we’re all crying because I am lost—even with the door closed, the muffled sound of her cry can be heard. My father tells me that it’s just going to take time for my mother. He says I wish I could tell you that you can’t go to Salt Lake City. This is the decision I have made: to leave home, the church, and to embrace my homosexual identity in a city four hours away. My father tells me that the key to this house will always work. He says, if I could take this burden from you, I gladly would; I would carry it myself. And, we are an eternal family. He says there will be no empty chairs in the next life. Days later, my sister tells me that, the other morning, she says, my mother woke to find my father sleeping in my bed.
You’re more like your father than I think you know. My father is unsmiling. The farm has calloused his hands, chapped his knees, and busted his knuckles. But here he is soft and suited up—baby-blue dress shirt and gray vest. He is father. His arms are tightly wrapped around a baby whose dark eyes are beads and whose round cheeks are slack. The baby is also unsmiling. I am the baby. My expression is the expression of my father’s—stern, stolid, steely. I am dressed in white, and my hair is silken and, in the light, golden. Behind my father is a door with a window and the primary colors—green, yellow, and gray—of the landscape, Idaho, home. I’ve come to love this photograph. I’ve come to appreciate my father’s counsel—I’m much older now. I’m on the phone with my mother and I tell her that I can’t sleep at night. I tell her that once I’m awake, I’m awake. It’s five in the morning, I tell her, and I’m awake. I hate it. She says you’re more like your father than I think you know. I tell her that I know.
BIO GRAPHIES J a c k s o n A n t h o n y My story begins in the passenger seat of an Edible Arrangements van. J a c k C h a p p e n PLEASE HELP! I am in fear for my life.
On several occasions Michelle Merica has tried to kill me. One time, she even lit her own house on fire in hopes of my demise. Friends, family, and police don’t believe me. SAVE ME!
S a l l y C h a r e n d o f f is a psychology major and minors in studio art. She has an odd fascination with dead bodies... Her family thinks she is a lunatic.
M i c h a e l a C o w g i l l wants your flannel. R i a n n a E c k e l aspires to be a sea turtle, but realizes this is a pretty unachievable dream. S a m F a l e w e e is 80lb felt, smooth bright white - silk uncoated. Full color, perfect bound. M a t t e a F a l k One time I got pulled over while listening to
“What’s Love” by Fat Joe ft. Ashanti. This is the most important thing about me.
M o l l y M c G i n n i s spends most of her time eating Lucky Charms, listening to Halloween soundtracks from the 50’s, and trying to justify her lit degree. She has work forthcoming in Cleaver Magazine. A u s t i n e M o d e l is a senior, majoring in literature and minoring in creative writing; an aspiring bonne vivante, with a passion, above all, for word-smithery. J e s s N e s b i t t dark & holy. L i n d s e y N e w m a n wants you to meet her in Montauk. B e n N i g h is my name and I study film and play music. More importantly, I am the creator of Shpawncore. Please look it up on Instagram.
Z o é O r f a n o s is a senior in School of Public Affairs with
aspirations towards law school, an international career, and being able to cook. She enjoys creative writing, Fred & Ginger movies, and the dignified possession of curly hair.
R o b O r l o w s k i “tubesteak.” C l i f f O w l I’m currently attending American University this
B r e n n a F a w s o n is a fan of King Lear and rainbow
Fall while interning full time at the USDA. In my free time I love to explore the DC area with my 4X5. Can’t wait to see what I discover next.
N o a h B e n j a m i n F r i e d m a n is currently watching
S e b a s t i a n H a m p s o n is a senior Lit major who has
ambitions to figure out what his ambitions are.
C a s s a n d r a H e i k k i l a is a junior film major, cinema
studies minor. She loves animals, especially her cat, Zig. She doesn’t know what she wants to do with her life yet, but probably something in film.
P a m e l a H u b e r gives a fuck about an Oxford comma. Q u i n n K e a t i n g gives low fives instead of high fives. L i n d s a y M a i z l a n d is a freshman double majoring in
broadcast journalism and international relations. She calls both Michigan and Shanghai home, and hopes to someday explore North Korea.
J u l i a I r i o n M a r t i n s has recently collaborated with
Kanye on a rap duet, “Cocaine on My Scarf, Cream Cheese on My Glasses.” Look for it in stores around February 14.
J u l i a n n a M e a c h a m is going to be a cat lady in the
distant future. By choice, of course. Also, she thinks life without art is stupid.
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P o o j a P a t e l is a film and biology major. She has yet to L u k e R a m s e y is an art and writing student from Memphis, TN. He likes art and writing. Most of the time.
H a l e y S e m i a n Cangyan Shan, Hebei, China. I actually came here because I saw it in a photo on Tumblr, how lucky! In this beautiful country with the person dearest to my heart. Nothing quite compares.
J a c q u e l y n ( J a c c i ) S m i t h is a freshman environmental science and literature double major. In her free time she enjoys crafting, playing rugby, and learning neat stuff. R a c h e l T e r n e s is a junior studying psychology, French, and art. She loves many, many things, but she especially loves painting and photography. A l i V i l l a l o b o s Das it. B r e n d a n W i l l i a m s - C h i l d s wants to talk to you about transgressive fiction and regionally specific Gothic literature.
T i f f a n y W o n g cried when she saw Edouard Manet’s Le
déjeuner sur l’herbe at the Musée d’Orsay. No one stared at her because everyone understood.
T H E C AV E
B EST I N S HOW PHOTO G R APHY Fall 2013
S TA F F
Blog Editor Nolan Miller
Editors-in-Chief Sam Falewee Michelle Merica
Assistant Blog Editors Jessica Perry Mia Saidel
Design Editor Emma Gray
Guest Bloggers Emma Bartley Ve r a H a n s o n Ben Phillz Jeoffrey Pucci Luke Ramsey Denis Sgouros Casey Simmons T i f f a n y Wo n g
Assistant Design Editors Angie Cook Julianna Meacham Copy Editors Iz Altman Lindsey Newman Assistant Copy Editor Adrian Romero-Cazares Art Editors Luke Dawson Ramsey M i k e Wa n g Assistant Art Editor Lindsay Maizland Photography Editors Julia Irion Mar tins T i f f a n y K a - L y n n Wo n g Assistant Photography Editor Leah Gussoff Poetry Editors Mattea Falk Lorraine Holmes Assistant Poetry Editors Emma Bartley Mikala Rempe Prose Editors Elaina Hundley Bre nd an Willi am s - C hil d s Assistant Prose Editors Mackenzie Keck Kara Kornhaber Film Editors Jack Chappen Molly Harbage Assistant Film Editor Kathleen Escarcha 70
American Literary Magazine
Sr. Social Media Coordinator Lilly McGee Social Media Coordinators Ve r a H a n s o n Gabriella Salazar Director of Marketing Innovation S a m Wo l l a k Marketing Coordinators Bryana Braxton Ta y l o r D i c k e y Event Coordinator Jordan-Marie Smith General Staff Te t a A l i m Emma Benjamin Emily Blau Brenna Fawson Sebastian Hampson Radhika Handa Pamela Huber Vi c tor i a Kim Christine A. Kowlessar Cassidy Luciano Paula Martinez Katherine McCauley Molly McGinnis Meghana Nerurkar Alex Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;D onnell Janella Polack James Schwabacher J a k e To k o s h Elena Arroyo Jacqueline Litwin
A special thank you to our donors who made this magazine possible: George and Doree Dickerson Mike Benjamin Diane Dickerson Larry Smith Carlos and Cynthia Irion Martins Tom Byington Kathy Falewee Diane Wayman Theodore Chappen Dan Merica Corey Newman Emily and Ryan McGee Florence Gubanc Bruce and KC Graves Julia Martins Elaina Hundley Mattea Falk Meera Nathan Annie Buller Dayna Hansberger Julianna Twiggs Edman Urias AmLit would also like to thank our fellow Student Media Board organizations, The American Word and AWOL for collaborating with us. We are continually impressed by your dedication and consider ourselves fortunate to be associated with your excellence.
American Literary Magazine