AmLit Spring 2007

Page 1


American Literary seeks to promote the artistic community at American University. Members of the AU community, including staff members of American Literary, may submit any work they deem qualified for review.

All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor in Chief and genre editors. All submissions are notified of acceptance status as promptly as possible.

American Literary selects content based on a blind review process, meaning that the artist’s identity is unknown to the reviewers. While we attempt to preserve anonymity in all cases, we realize there is no way to guarantee perfectly blind submissions. Therefore, professional discretion is upheld at all times and all submissions are treated as anonymous.

EDITORS’ NOTE Dear Reader,

Our business goal this year was to build momentum for American Literary by using our

increased budget, our larger staff, our new logo and brand awareness, and several campus

events to continue the magazine’s success in the future. But we soon found that our personal goal was to enjoy AmLit’s successes in the present. Although both of us are planners and

logistical thinkers, we’ve learned, throughout the past year, to slow down and appreciate every step of the semester’s process. Just imagine our excitement when the designers announced that the final design theme was the illegitimate love child of Bauhaus and Italian Futurism. Or

our mesmerized delight while listening to a student poet performing at our Open Mic event. Or our visual orgasm triggered by seeing a prose piece and a black and white photograph paired ingeniously after a layout session.

First semester in AmLit was a part-time job for us because of logistics, but second semester

became a release from the rest of our busy senior schedules. Whenever Tuesday night at 8:30 p.m. rolled around, we happily checked one senior thesis and one intern uniform at the door,

sat down with our chicken tenders, mixed some fry sauce, and tucked into wholesome AmLit

bonding time. Of course we had business to handle, but at least 20 minutes of those meetings consisted of unadulterated cackling and mayhem.

We have thought a bit about our legacy, wondering if future staffs would remember us for

our management style, our insistence on full-color issues, or our gift of a remote server for

the design team. But after seeing the lit-mag sparkle in our staff’s eyes, we now realize that our legacy is the collective experience that we helped kindle this year. How fantastic for us

to realize that next year’s AmLit family will bring ideas and creations that we could not have

dreamed! Both of us, for sure, will be checking our mailboxes eagerly for new issues when the first snow falls, and again when the sun finally stays out until seven.

We cannot leave without first thanking our tireless guides, Dana Williams-Johnson and Chad LaDue in Student Activities, our office buddies at AmWord, Jim Briggs and the hardworking

folks at Printing Images, our amazing staff for their dedication, imagination, and laughter, and the artistic community at AU for their participation and support.

TABLE OF CONTENTS Submission Policy 1 Editors’ Note 1 Julian Erin Anne Rangel 2 Alice Reese Vaccarezza 4 We Were Kings Of The Day Natalie Matthews 4 Rio At Dusk Leila Batmanghelidj 5 Star Airplane Meg Imholt 6 The Dream That. . . Jen Smoose 6 A Dream Is. . . Jen Smoose 7 Simon & Garfunkel Songs Anneke Mulder 7 Junebug Max Rubin 8 Drunken Mishap Laura Warman 9 Mornings in Karnataka (A Sestina) Julie Smolinski 10 Untitled Joanna Thomas 11 Paradise Lindsay Glade-Massana 11 Open Mic Anneke Mulder 12 The March Jessica Stone 12 What She Wanted For Betsy Was A Heroin Chic Boyfriend Joanna Thomas 12 Bass Charlotte Kesl 13 Square Montana Graboyes 14 Thanksgiving, Bar Mitzvah And The Convenience Of Horizontal Summers Joanna Thomas 14 Something Normal, Please Joanna Thomas 15 H&G Charlotte Kesl 15 The Last Week Carmen Machado 16 After Linda Pastan [To A Daughter Leaving Home] Maria Braeckel 17 Fold Kristen M. Powell 17 Let Her Go Max Rubin 18 Black Curtain Molly Norris 19 Fixing Her Hair Sarah Alsgaard 19 Last Night, I Dreamt My Grandfather Dead Anna Finn 20 Untitled Erin Anne Rangel 20 Untitled Montana Graboyes 21 4:34 PM Jenn Dearden 21 El Baile De La Quinceañera Paco Cantú 22 Untitled Andrew Lobel 23 Reading To You Anneke Mulder 24 Dilapidation 1 Laura Warman 24 Dilapidation 2 Laura Warman 24 Flood Kristen M. Powell 25 [Remember When I Wrote You Love] Maria Braeckel 25 Time: I, II. Russell Durfee 26 October Jessica Bautista 27 Autumn Carmen Machado 27 Red Ties, Yellow Jackets RJ Pettersen 28 Scratched Out Shea Cadrin 31 Noon-Thirty Vera Forster 31 Matisse Lithograph Charlotte Kesl 32 Because Quiet Anonimity Never Made Anyone Great Rachel Webb 32 Pop Montana Graboyes 33 Untitled Montana Graboyes 34 This Song Is Called Love Anneke Mulder 34 [I Once Took Those] Maria Braeckel 35 Chiole (Southern Chile) Leila Batmanghelidgj 35 Untitled Danielle Bowes 36 Untitled Katelyn Pepper 36 Sestina Julie Smolinski 37 Dirty Sarah Alsgaard 38 Untitled Sarah Ziherl 39 2



Francisca Alberto Halpern 40 Leather, Dearest Andrew Lobel 41 When I Was Fourteen Carmen Machado 42 Vaclarske Namesti Jessica Bautista 43 Night’s Garden Jessica Stone 43 Ron Friedman Story Tom Joudrey 44 Dell City Paco Cantú 45 Bare Essentials Jacqui Kemp 47 Jaurez Electricity Gauges Paco Cantú 49 Lecture Notes, February 8 Rachel Webb 49 Bath Time Andrea Bottorff 50 Tuft of Life Kelly Barrett 50 A Washington Christmas Samantha Palmer 51 Recital Anneke Mulder 51 Near the Place Where Stefanie Was Born Carmen Machado 52 Untitled Jessica Warren 53 The Feather (I) Miriam Callahan 53 Brandywine: Faith Brandon Bloch 54 Brandywine: Cadillac Brandon Bloch 54 Brandywine: Yin & Yang Brandon Bloch 54 Brandywine: Aftermath Brandon Bloch 55 Brandywine: Mud Tracks Brandon Bloch 55 Swift Kristen M. Powell 55 Villanelle Sarah Lockman 56 Untitled Jenn Dearden 56 Woman With Green Kathleen Lefevre 58 Untitled Erin Anne Rangel 60 Untitled Leila Batmanghelidj 60 Great Wall Temple Molly Norris 61 Il Prete (or Il Ragazzo) Rachel Webb 61 Faculty Contributor 62 Biographies 66 Staff 68






on a dusty hilltop covered in weeds

down the slope

and straw brown grass tickling our thighs,

into the sky

sitting cross-legged with scratchy stems elbows perched on knees like gawky birdwings

poking out of a twig lined nest ready

expecting to fall but instead, rolling

across sun baked earth

to take off

until sprawled, we laugh

and the boy beating of her drum

skirts above our knees

as the brass squawks of his trumpet tumbled down the hillside landing

in a heap of tangled notes and phrases and we chase them, stumble-running

and laugh

newspaper hats crumpled vest buttons gone, panting perfect ruling that time that place.



I wish I may I wish I .blink. might have the chance




to wish, not think.






break in my chest like yolks

seep through

pale sweet skin

overfill my skinny hands til warmth licks over my navel


JUNEBUG MAX RUBIN C’mon dear, the June bug’s here to burrow in your bunny ear

And hear the sounds that rumble ‘round the ground and make their way through town The city is square, the buzzing air, the coke, the smoke, the millionaire

His wife behind the knife, the line, the white kids snorting white supplies The kids in drag, the servant’s rag is slipped into his master’s bag

And he’s put to sleep, falling out in the backseat, and buried out in the backstreet of his burning house So coats of arms and lucky charms are both setting off fire alarms

And farmers fear the famine’s years, the crops are cut, the sheep are sheared The boss’s son, he weighs a ton, the steak, the cake, the feast is on

And through the phone, “The dial tone; it’s dead,” they said, “Our cover’s blown” And in between the trampolines there’re babies on balance beams

You’re acting smug, my jitterbug, but you haven’t looked under the rug

The plug will get us both; I know the answers to their knock-knock jokes

The TV’s glares and our blank stares, they’re clear right here but not right there The charges mount, the garbage count, it piles for miles until we’re out

And in the moat the bodies float, “They’re dead,” they said, “Let’s share a smoke And nurse a drink.

What’s with these kids, what did they think? That they’ll rat us out make us pink? Give a sharp nudge and a sly wink? No way.”





Wafting through my bedroom came the calling of barefoot vendors in the street.

Mingling with the scent of old rain and spice they dawdled amongst the sidewalk chaos and led parades of grubby little children romping about in the Indian sun. I was never awoken by that sun,

or even by the salesmen’s calling.

It was my hosts, who shouted like playful children,

(“Dahling! Buy bananas from the man in the street!”) that pulled me from sleep into that vast chaos, full of noise and color as pungent as spice.

Even as the curdling air, with its hint of spice and aged garbage roasting in the sun, was a reminder of the human chaos.

Aroused by daylight and domestic calling

I would roll over the balcony, onto the street as jittery as the toothy children. I was prodded by those children

their skin smelling of stale cooking spice.

They seeped out of the cracks in the street, not fazed by the orange heat of the sun. Excited with the questioning and calling 10

they formed a body of chaos.

“Auntie, why so white?” asked the chaos. Such is the rude curiosity of children. Yet at the sound of them calling me Auntie, I excused the spice

of their inquiries. My skin hot like the sun

with bashfulness, I remained in the street. There would be more mornings on that street, as I grew fluent in chaos

that is life in India, its energy intense as the sun, as unrelenting as those chirping children.

Yet I couldn’t resist, its flavor like red spice, its voice as musical as the vendors calling.

The sun burned that street into my thoughts. It’s calling me to return to the chaos

and to the ruddy children smelling of spice.







through the kitchen door, i can hear

her voice, carbonated like champagne. five minutes until

shoelaces stare back at us, while she rocks

onto the sides of her chucks, taken with the microphone



nibbling her cheek.






Something about a flaming red. He was this luminous boy.

Meet him on Orchard Street.

Guzzle cheap beer on the velvet couch upstairs, vertically so. She was at the Salvation Army.

He was in Massachusetts fishing for fidelity.

She indulged in basement polaroids [of drug addicts]. He drank organic lemonade, emotionally.

Well, at least this day did not go to waste.

Two cats eat chicken wings from the floor.

The griots hum their strange fruit project. Like tumbling.

Like catching tangerine grasshoppers.

Like comets [turquoise pieces of rocketing universe].





Stole a hefeweizen from the fridge and a lemon

Unclasped my bra, kicked my panties into the bushes And seduced you.

14 14



JOANNA THOMAS You are as foreign

As a beaver in Japan, he said

Above the stove’s hiss and sizzle Beams of orange light

Spilled across the linoleum

And those two moments of peace Evaporated

I heard hunger in his voice

And the dull thunder of his ignorance from the bathroom Something normal, please

The artichokes are shoved to one side of the plate I am operating As offspring

Of middle-aged, mildly overweight dreams Thirty-three years of storytelling Waffle irons and pennies

Chronic shopping center blues

An empty jar of peanuts in his hand

And baseball cards strewn across his lap





When you told me that I looked old,

I ran to the bathroom faster than I had

legs to carry me. They plodded behind

as my torso hurled itself into the warm, damp

womb that was your last shower, the fragrant mist hovering in the air that I have smelled lingering on your neck.

My fingers reached for the mirror, my hands

scrambled over the glass, cutting a clear arc

through the steam, revealing my cheek and eye and humidity curls.

I leaned in close, like when

we were children and cupped our hands along

the arch of our browbones, watching our pupils yawn and inhale. We allowed light through the cracks of our fingers

to watch the two step of constriction and dilation, shocked at the twisting and unthinking of the reflex.

My face was older than I’d thought it was, but

younger than I’d feared. I fell next to the toilet

and vomited, caustic liquid springing from the edges of my mouth. Relief and disbelief swirled and soured in the basin. Kneeling on the ice tiles, I heard

you calling me, unrepentant, from the hallway.




While you shifted

sushi, standing patiently

with distance,

as I flattened the bamboo

for our guests, eyeing

my own fingers dipping

the rice toppled

the brittle seaweed

reminding me of snow

at eleven to roll

your attention, more trustful

beside me

chopping, chopping,

on the wood table,

for freshness,

into the water while you held

over my fingers,

out to me,


I kept waiting for the tear

of the seaweed as I

patted the rice down.

FOL KRI D Growing warm in the late spring sunshine, Dew-wet ashen wool clings to their hides.


Greasy and thick, freckled with steadfast briars, Their coats will be taken for others’ coats:

Shorn from their bodies, then carded and dyed. Soon the homespun will be knit by old hands, Rheumy and gnarled with age and work.

The dry nectarine yarn will be pulled taut

Between the needles as they grow heavy. The feat given to a favorite

Grandchild who instead of thanks will stammer,

Faced with a gift she doesn’t like and can’t swap. Later forced to wear the itchy fiber To an over-warm family gathering.

The sheep that cultivated the dense wool Remembered only as a chafing whisper.


N O I B G U R R E X H A M T E L I:

Let her ride down the subway after midnight

Let her comb her hair like she sees in magazines

Wear the coat that she picked out for the winter

And the sundress that she bought to flaunt in spring

Make a note you can sleep in for an hour

When at last you don’t have to pack her lunches

‘Cause she wakes herself up and walks with friends to school, you know When it’s time for her to cross the street, let her go.


When you took her on a date out for her birthday The band was hot and played her favorite song

Now she’s seeing other men and you see doctors To figure out the secret you got wrong

And when it’s time to bring her a gift for the ring on her finger

And its sparkles deepen your heart’s inner weeping

It blinds your eyes with its radiant glow

When it’s time for her to walk the aisle, let her go.


Let her cold shaking get to you at bedtime

Let your grandchildren remind her who they are

Now you’re both old and you know that she’s forgetting The name of your face, the color of your car

When she rests on the last bed that she’ll lay on

When you speak to her but you know that she can’t listen


And the nurses change her sheets now just for show When it’s time for her to fly away, let her go.



D R A A R G I S L A A H H R A E H AR S G IN 19

LAST NIGHT, I DREAMT MY GRANDFATHER DEAD Last night, I dreamt my grandfather dead. My sturdy-pawed grandpa My gravel-voiced grandpa I dreamt him an end

And an open-mouthed hole I dreamt him right in

To the deepest dark hole And when I woke up

Dripping - tears, snot, relief Knowing I’d dreamt it,

I took grandpa-sized breaths And still half-asleep

I sent staggering thank-yous to Gods in dark holes

Of loose dentures, Stomped cotton

And the rusted row boat, But Old Blue - the truck -

Sent her love note right back Said car crash, said semi, Said sold all his clothes

She showed me a fire, seven-years old So hot that his quarters (a gambling man)

Had faded together


In an old coffee can.




UNTITLED MONTANA GRABOYES Some days, long after the sun has risen,

4:34 PM

I find myself still unable to move

From the warm shell that envelopes me. I stagnate in afternoon solitude,

Allowing the hours to pass unmarked

While my mind retreats into lucid dreams. On these days, rotting in my lethargy, I prefer to fantasize of futures

In which my mood will not inhibit me. But finally he comes to me, and he

Wakes me swiftly from my deluded self,

Causes me to move, pushes me to function. I cannot remember now where I was before He

woke me.


E D E L I A B Tú





Two fish were conversing one day. They swam in gentle circles, enjoying the tiny rushing of the

current and the lazily swaying seaweed stalks. A heavy light rained down on them, but in the water it created a feeling of openness and calm. The first fish said to the second,

“I think it would be better to live in a lake than in a river. In a lake, life is slow and pleasant. One can

become familiar and intimate with his surroundings. The world is steady and disruptions are few. Even the worst storm would affect one little, merely a nuisance upon the surface. I should think it would be a wonderful life.”

“I disagree,” replied the second fish, flipping his tail quickly and moving slightly ahead of the first, “it

would be much better to live in a river. The world is in constant motion, and no two days can be the same. There

are always new fish to meet and new things to see. There are fantastic currents that can take one wherever one could want to go, and always will one reach the sea. It would be a life of novelty and freedom. I would always live in a river, if I could choose.”

The first fish closed his eyes slowly, opening them again with the same hard but friendly stare. “My

friend, in a river one is always in danger. If there is a storm, it will cause the waters to rise, and the currents to become more powerful. One could be thrown about like any grain of sand, and when the storm passes,

deposited upon the bank and left to die a dry, lonely death. On the rivers there are the great tubes that deposit

rot and waste, or those that can suck you up, never to be seen again. It is not possible to have a home, for one is

always moving, and it is quite impossible to return to where one has come from. I would never live in a river, had I the ability to choose.”

The second fish swam a tight circle around his companion, seeming quite agitated. He regarded the

“Lakes are so uninteresting. Nothing ever changes, because nothing can change. One lives one’s

seaweed that bowed and rose in gentle turns with a light, darting stare.

life unfulfilled, experiencing nothing new. Life simply repeats and repeats, until one passes and floats to the surface. Daily it is the same fish one sees, and the same places one goes, with absolutely no variety.”

“A storm may be new, or different from the ordinary, but that does not make it good. Variety is such a

“Variety is the very spice of life!” cried the second fish, tilting upward to emphasize his words.


Around them the world breathed softly, everything imbued with an almost imperceptible soft

movement that soothed the two greatly. On the bottom, a small blue pebble was lifted by a brief gust of current and floated frantically for a moment before landing, barely moved from where it had originally been. The two regarded it with cold eyes.

“Variety,” said the second fish.

“But still unmoved,” said the first, sighing and releasing a little bubble, which fluttered toward the

surface. Their words were quickly lost, overtaken by a soft whirring in the distance.

Above them, three filthy, peach-colored stubs appeared just below the surface of the water,

releasing tiny orange flakes. Both the first and second fish raised their eyes and swam upward to receive them. As the flakes fell, the two leapt toward them and nibbled quietly. They regarded each other with cold, empty

eyes, while a short ways away the motor hummed and released fat, glossy bubbles that would pop unceremoniously upon reaching the shimmering surface of the tank.


reading to you Anneke Mulder

each word ravishes

strong on my tongue like honey or sage.

heavy fir trees gape unabashed

over warped window panes, our rice boils

sleepily in the kitchen.

dilapidation 1 & 2



Tearing open the wet newspaper, I try to recall the time when

First I had neatly packed the box. Its now soggy hull crumbles;

Its flaps tremble with a charge of wind. I pull the first of its cargo,

Running with newsprint, onto my lap. It is cool and soft, almost pleasant



On this close-aired day; I am Reluctant to ruin the feel

By discovering what was lost. As a child, I was known to collect Two of every useless, little,

Lovable thing, later packing

Boxes full, to be opened only When I never needed them, Instead in want of a carton.

(But this sopping bundle has no twin.) I gently peel back its dank shroud Discovering the damp face Of an old forgotten friend.

She, carefully sewn, is the one

Passenger saved from this shipwreck. A gift from a long-gone aunt

Whose meticulous work was loved Long after her face became faint. The doll rests in the July sun, And I admire, zoo-like,

The last of a dying breed.


remember when I wrote you love

letters every one and five-sixth days, unable to bend my limbs

into angles or floss the side of number seven until

I sloppily scrawled adoration of you and the promise of tomorrows on blue lines -

immediately rewriting it with deep breaths of patience, as if the clarity of the z

proved how confident I was in my love for you?



Sun soured leaf

crippled and ailing

the pancake pitter pattern of babies feet anticipates

the crunch. Stomped out

riding the muck and rising, Rising

like a beanstalk

your brown bag closet closed sensation. High, high

we hide our faces from this view

prostrate and blinded:

one more flat footed fantasy. We cling like

sweet morning mold

where spring is jumping off from flesh and fervor solid and sordid decaying

. I I , I : E M TI in smiling or in holding on.


You come ugly


you high-pitched bloody squeal.

Beheld by ankles

and eyes around. Still strung up

a malign marionette

in your cricket twist. A snip and a smack into existence.

A passive whirring

the last blood rush to your cold curl fingers.

Spiders dead and dueling

from their backs into the sky. Salty rain

with no dirt

for the future feed.

Slippery linoleum, flesh

waiting in silver fluorescence 26

for the fridge and the fire.




Carmen Machado


It is drizzling; each drop disturbing the glass

Of the puddles. It is as though some artist paid

Dearly to lacquer every surface in cellophane and

Moisture, to soak every surface dark and sodden, the Landscape dropped into a tumbler and rolled like

Olives. I miss the texture of the sky, the echoes of

Clouds like roughly pulled cotton plants. The artist, he Must have turned out his wallet for this chill, this

Muted sound, this aching quiet. He must have handed over his Last penny, the last glint of copper in the gray,

Rooted around in his linty pockets for that last slit of Sunlight, suspended on his damp palm. He better

Pray that I don’t find him, bargaining the last warm Orange parts of autumn away for Turpentine.


Shelly Nilsson was a most uncommon beauty. Her kneecaps reeked of gardenias. The pores on her

left forearm oozed allure. Her irises evoked the sparkling turquoise of the Ligurian Sea, despite her Swedish heritage. She was a dove.

“Good night, Ivan,” she cooed. “I love you very much.”

Ivan Van Dye was a stuttering atheist. His chest smelled like egg salad. He wore a tremendous night

shirt that gaudily broadcasted his allegiance to the Denver Nuggets.

Curling into the fetal position, Ivan rolled away from Shelly and sighed.

“I love you too,” he muttered, his tone either indifferent or weary.

Too tired to consider his tenor, Shelly turned toward Ivan’s back and wrapped her arms around his

chest. She closed her eyes and, imagining the world around her in orange and white, fell asleep with a hint of creamsicle on her breath. “Picture your world in two tones,” Ivan had told her once, long ago. “It knocks me out every time.” Ivan’s sleeping strategies had rubbed off on Shelly. Shelly’s allure had rubbed off on Ivan’s enormous night shirt. She was fast asleep.

All the while Ivan’s dread welled up within him, rising to the point where vomiting dismay became a

strong, if not inevitable, possibility. He glanced at the clock. She had been sleeping for four minutes. It would be soon.

Suddenly, a slicing shriek escaped from Shelly’s throat, ricocheting off the nape of Ivan’s neck

and flying into the night. It ballooned inward and outward hurriedly, burgeoning until, with a tremendous

crescendo, it sounded like a rusty chainsaw lacerating the steel frame of a Chevrolet Suburban. Ivan eased

himself from Shelly’s arms and rose out of bed. In the darkness, where sound transcends all other senses, the cooing dove had become a dying rhinoceros.

Thus, a dying rhino chased Ivan down the stairs and into the kitchen. Echoes of street lights played

on the kitchen walls in foreign, geometric figures. A subtle drizzle pitter-pattered on the roof, providing a

steady, shuffling rhythm for Shelly’s avant-garde meanderings. An orange rested inert on the table, shadows digging sockets into its unsuspecting rind.

Ivan brooded. Amongst the shadows, the rain, and the avant-garde, he had never felt so Byronic—so

much so that he felt compelled to grab a skull and quote the Byronest hero he could quote, Hamlet. Ivan defied Hamlet’s character and reached decisively toward the center of the table. Instead of catching the orange with his hands, he caught the table’s edge with his night shirt. Ivan tripped and tumbled to the floor, a percussive spill that momentarily syncopated Shelly’s sleeping symphony.

The rain’s tempo tripled. A flash of sheet lightning captured a suddenly stunned Ivan, his gaze fixed

from the floor on a foreboding shadow: the silhouette of a jungle beast—a rhinoceros, perhaps —its insatiable jaws wide open across the kitchen wall. The light expired as soon as it appeared, exposing Ivan to the music and the music alone: a historical collaboration between Captain Beefheart and the rhinoceros.

Thunder clapped. Although the bestial shadow had since merged with the night, Ivan was sure that

its source was alive and well in his kitchen. Death by goring was imminent. Still stunned, Ivan could not will

himself out of the animal’s way; he did not move when he heard its forceful stammer, nor did he move when its

cries shook the ground he occupied. Ivan was paralyzed inside the sound of Shelly’s all-encompassing snoring. The beast moved toward Ivan; within several yards of Ivan; a few feet from Ivan; inches above his chest. Ivan winced.


A snout crashed into Ivan’s chest and started sniffing it vehemently. It was Walter, Ivan’s obese

“Hey,” Ivan sighed. “You almost gave me eight heart attacks.”

golden retriever. Walter smelled and looked like a dog.

Ivan couldn’t perceive his voice beneath the commotion upstairs, but Walter, with his superior sense

of hearing, understood Ivan completely. He apologized with a sympathetic bark.

“What—What’d you say, Walt?” Ivan replied, suddenly energized. “You want to watch some late-

Walter woofed suggestively.

Walter woofed emphatically.

night TV?” 28

“And you’re also up for a late-night snack?” “Of course you are! Let’s go!”

Ivan snatched a bag of cheese doodles he’d inexplicably kept in the refrigerator and led Walter into

Late-night TV was a fixture of fun for the brothers Van Dye. While Walter adored infomercials,

the den. Upstairs, Shelly snorted in 11/17 time.

Ivan enjoyed televangelism programs. The two argued often about the merits of each, although Ivan usually had the final say as to what they actually watched. The two sat down on the couch and Ivan turned on the television.

A man in a red tie and a yellow jacket appeared on the screen. It was Ivan’s favorite garishly-dressed

preacher, The Good Reverend Joyner Abrams. Ivan and Walter recognized his voice but not his face, which

appeared smudged and ruddy because Ivan had forgotten his glasses upstairs in his bedroom. He did not want to invade Shelly’s space.

“Walter!” Ivan exclaimed. “Bark if you think religion is bunk!”

On the television screen, The Good Reverend began speaking in tongues. “Babatunde!” The Good

Walter woofed obsequiously. Ivan tossed him a cheese doodle.

Reverend proclaimed. “Babatunde Olatunji Ola-Olatunji Olatun-Jesus! He is the Lord! Amen!” Ivan shook his head. Babatunde Olatunji was a Nigerian percussionist.

“Walter!” Ivan exclaimed. “Bark twice if you don’t subscribe to false hope!”

Walter woofed twice. Ivan tossed him two cheese doodles.

Ivan’s inadequate eyesight played tricks on him, blending The Good Reverend’s red and yellow

clothes. He had a faint, albeit fake, orange glow about him, one that covered the screen as The Good

Reverend, still shouting the names of African musicians, ran like a decapitated chicken across the stage. The televangelism program cut to a commercial break. Ivan and Shelly simultaneously scoffed.

“Do you have a chronic head cold?” a voice suddenly asked Ivan and Walter. “Stuffy nose? Snoring

A well-dressed, middle-aged man appeared on the television screen. “Reprieve has finally arrived!”

problem?” Ivan was rapt with attention.

he proclaimed. “And her name is Win-D-Ears!” Ivan’s eyes opened wider than ever before. “Win-D-Ears diverts breath flow from the mouth and nose to the ears, allowing for better air circulation and an altogether healthier lifestyle. It really works. Just ask Phyllis Montgomery from Bakersfield!”

A wrinkly woman hobbled onto the television screen. “It really works,” Phyllis croaked.

“It must work,” Ivan whispered, captivated.

Paul Bunyan may as well have been sawing lumber upstairs. “Wait no longer! Call or visit our office now!”

The phrase “Open 24 Hours” flashed across the screen as Ivan struggled to read the Doctor’s

address. “Our number is 514-555-2132,” The Good Doctor said aloud. Ivan also had a 514 area code. “Visit our office at 283 Shepherd Street in Bakersfield, Illinois.” Ivan’s jaw dropped. 283 Shepherd Street was two blocks away from his house. “Win-D-Ears! Salvation from snoring has arrived!”

“I need to get going, Walt.”

With Walter’s approval, Ivan sprinted out the door and slammed it shut. The storm had subsided,

Walter wagged his tail in assent.

leaving a supple mist to encase Ivan’s fast-moving legs. The sky was cloudy, its color plum-like. A

dysfunctional traffic light lingered above an intersection, its yellow and red bulbs mixing in Ivan’s mind. He had forgotten his glasses once again.

Ivan couldn’t focus on the present, so he turned his attention toward the future while mentally

counting house numbers. 309, 307, 305. Shelly’s snoring problem would be gone forever, and they would live happily ever after. 297, 295, 293. They would get married, and he’d never need to avoid her embarrassing problem again. 289, 287, 285. She would be perfect. 283. Ivan walked up to the driveway to confirm his

location. It would be soon. A sign on the door read “Dr. D.Q. Montgomery.” This was the place. Ivan knocked.

“Hivan Dye Van Dye,” he gasped, breathing heavily. “Ivan mean, Hi, Ivan Dye Van Dye.” Ivan’s stutter

had developed as a result of introducing himself. While he naturally strived for “Hi, I’m Ivan Van Dye,” Ivan didn’t succeed often. Tonight was no different.

Dr. D.Q. Montgomery chuckled, his nostrils flaring as he laughed. “You must be exhausted!”

“Come on in,” he said, grinning. Montgomery’s smile was broad and toothy. “I’ll make you some

Ivan walked inside. He was too afraid to speak, so Montgomery continued with his pitch. “What’s

Ivan laughed timorously.

“Why y-yes, I am.”

Montgomery hollered. His breath stunk of espresso. coffee.”

wrong? Are you deaf? Win-D-Ears won’t help you hear, you know.”

“You are here for Win-D-Ears, aren’t you?” “Are they for you or somebody else?”

“For my girlfriend, Shelly.” Ivan smiled. It would be soon.

“Shelly? Shelly Nilsson? That’s the finest piece of ass I’ve ever seen! How’d you end up with —I

mean, how’d you like your coffee? Light? Sweet?”

Ivan ignored Montgomery’s preamble. “Light and sweet, please.”


Montgomery grabbed a coffee pot and tried in vain to pour coffee into a mug.

“God damn it!” Montgomery yelled. “Shit! I’m running dry here!” Cursing his depleted coffee supply,

Montgomery plowed out of the room and up the stairs. “Let me get you a contract so we can get the job done!” Evidently Montgomery kept his contract collection in the attic.

Ivan looked around Montgomery’s living room. A bulb beneath a yellow lampshade illuminated a

tacky print of Van Gogh’s Starry Night. A Salvation Army armoire sat stoic in one corner while a rotting couch

wasted away in another. A framed certificate hung near the faux Van Gogh, a diploma awarding Derrick Quintas Montgomery a Ph.D in English Literature. Ivan was too tired to consider how Montgomery’s mastery of the English language related to his knowledge and application of alternative respiratory techniques. It didn’t matter.

Montgomery ambled into the living room, slamming a pen and paper onto a waist-high coffee table

and a red and yellow toolbox onto the floor. “Just sign here, here and here.” Bowing, Ivan signed, signed and signed.

“Wonderful. We can perform the operation as soon as you’d like.”

“Great! Great!” Montgomery hurriedly led Ivan out the door.

“How about now?” Ivan asked. “I live two blocks away from you.”

Ivan and Montgomery walked briskly through the moist suburban morning. Sprinkler systems

sputtered without purpose, their meaning stolen by nature.

“Man,” Montgomery muttered. “Shelly. Shelly Nilsson. What’s wrong with her?”

“Snoring? Are you kidding? That’s it!? A small price to pay for such a beautiful woman, if I do say so


“Snoring,” Ivan replied.

Ivan sighed. “I—I just can’t bring myself to talk to her about it.”

Montgomery halted momentarily, allowing the mist to stretch about his torso. “You’re kidding,

aren’t you? Does she even know about the operation?”

“Of course not.”

“What the fuck, man?” Montgomery tripped over his shoelaces. “What the fuck?” Montgomery

paused again and pondered. “She does according to that contract you signed. We’re covered. The show must go on.”

Ivan fell silent again, the quiet he created hanging heavier than the pre-dawn fog. Montgomery cut

“So how ‘bout those Nuggets?”

Montgomery exhaled noisily and followed Ivan up to his door. It was unlocked. Walter greeted them

through it with a heavy-handed attempt at small talk.

“They’re great. And we’re here.”

at the door, barking forcefully at his unexpected visitor. His teeth were bright orange. After Ivan left, Walter had eaten an entire bag of cheese doodles.

“Babatunde, Babatunde!” The Good Reverend proclaimed on the television inside. A pile of vomit sat

“Shit,” The Good Doctor said, opening his tool box and grabbing an orange power drill. “I can’t even

Montgomery marched headfirst up the stairs, buffeted by a sonic boom of snore. Within seconds,

insouciantly before the couch. The whole house reeked of acid and cheese doodles. hear myself think! I need to solve this problem right here, right now.”

the grinding roar of power tools joined Shelly’s snoring chorus. Moments later, both sounds disappeared. “Fuck!” Montgomery shouted, dropping his drill.

Ivan and Walter ran upstairs to survey the scene. Montgomery lay on the floor fetus-like, facing away

from Shelly. She snored no more. The dove rested peacefully, a sharp screw lodged deep inside her ear. Walter woofed mournfully. Ivan winced.





Looking around to see if anybody notices She begins to peel

And makes a neat pile in the center of her napkin Then she splits the fruit into eight parts Whimsical wedges

Of a crazy clementine. Checking once again the gaze of those around her She picks up a single segment and

With her long-fingers and man-like nails Rips the transparent skin The silvery shell

Of a tipsy tangerine. Then she puts it to her lips And they close like a kiss

Sucking out the globules In the center of the fruit

The tantalizing teardrops Of an oh-so-tiny orange.

Scanning quickly her surroundings She grasps another fragment And her lips close again

Her tongue retrieves a droplet A splash of juice

Of a mischievous mandarin. Soon she forgets to look around

Each time she takes another morsel And laughs in her wide eyes At her sticky hands

And her special perfume Of solitary sunshine.




I will acquire a day,

(And a crisp, college-rule notebook). And I will spend my minutes, My seconds

On the vinyl orange benches

Frantically scratching your stories. And the whole

[inwardly pulsating]

Crowd of you will become more than Slightly twitching statues.


Marble fingers fumbling with tangled headphone cords,

Chiseled eye slits fascinated by tunnel walls.

Carved, pursed lips pondering folded newspapers,

For now the Metro is a gallery,

Adorned by the serene figures of those wise Italians, Michelangelo, Raphael, Donatello.

But I can give you whole, breathing bodies Assign you names,

Imagine family reunions, college degrees,


The ballpoint pen hammering your stone smooth, impenetrable skin, Creating cracks.

And a whole simmering

Scintillating, squirming history.


I just need a flickering glance, Accidental eye contact.








her name

is like mine, but it skips while mine floats.

she licks my nose with the tip of her tongue; i teeter as it curls, holds me mired and enthralled.

i sink into her lips bathed in mint and beeswax... “now love me,” she says,

throws the door at its jamb while

the lights inside spark.

swaying, she pulls at my waist, her eyes splash on my cheek.



photographs of you in the Saturday morninglight,

with leaves falling outside and flowers blooming between your thighs. I once took those

photographs of you in the Saturday morninglight,

shadows running in


sprawled over earth-lines,


I once took those

rivulets down your legs, offering lines

to write myself into.








The fields were speckled with cows as Aunt and I took sips of tea

and gazed at the green expanses of farm.

Leaning back in the cushions on our porch

we sighed in the honorable presence of our cat, whose fur clumped in tufts like clouds.

The sky hosted a slow parade of clouds

that drifted in shapes of bears and cows,

ships, white blossoms, a dismembered cat.

Uncle boomed up the steps, smiling at the tea

and paused while reaching for the door of the porch to rotate and join us in admiration of his farm. His boots were crusty with dirt and farm,

each step sprinkled clumps of mud clouds

onto the marbled, wood panels that lined the porch. He chuckled, “I’m as grimy as those cows”

and knew his dress was unsuitable for tea,

even though it was only me, Auntie, and the cat. But soon we were abandoned by the cat,

as she sauntered off to slink about the farm

(she’d grown bored with the sophistication of tea). But Aunt and I stayed, content with the dull clouds and the drawling calls of angst mother cows

echoing just an earshot from our thrones on the porch. Then, leaving a path on the porch,

Uncle took his exit cues from the cat.

He trekked inside, trudging heavily like the cows,

to retreated momentarily from the life that was the farm, where worries hovered like clouds.

He put on the kettle to make a new pot of tea. We slurped the last cold drips of our own tea,

managing to finish the old batch on the porch.

Inside, the kettle whined and blew out steam clouds while the front door was greeted by the fickle cat,

who had already grown tired of prowling the farm,

with its splintered barn and scenes of slow-moving cows. Those cows would still be present for our next cup of tea,

completing my picture of the farm as seen from the porch

as it sheltered us (me, Aunt, Uncle, cat) from unforeseen clouds.







Cast: Hugh - Businessman Homeless Woman

(Setting: A city street. A HOMELESS WOMAN paces near the entrance, muttering to herself about the cracks in the sidewalk. HUGH comes out of a book store, coffee in one hand, briefcase in the other, and sees her. He tries to move away from her but ends up walking right into her.) HOMELESS WOMAN: ...useless. No point in sidewalks. No one wants to go anywhere. We never asked for sidewalks. No. Not sidewalks. Too many cracks. Too few holes. Nothing interesting. HUGH: Excuse me.

(He tries to move away and notices that she follows behind him. He keeps nervously looking over his shoulder and sees she’s right behind him.) I’m sorry, I don’t have any change.

(A woman dressed in a dark business suit appears from around the corner, chatting on her cell phone.) HOMELESS WOMAN: Sidewalks are just some conspiracy. Sidewalks keep us away. Make us stay away from each other. That woman will almost get hit by a car. She’ll step off the sidewalk, a taxi will almost hit her. She’ll start screaming and keep walking. That’s because she doesn’t like sidewalks. There’s no point in sidewalks.

(The woman steps off the curb and is almost hit by a taxi. She screams but keep walking. Hugh watches this with growing horror and fascination.) It’s just not reasonable to ask someone to like sidewalks. No one likes sidewalks. I have to walk on these damned things all day long. My feet are sore. I hate the sidewalks. So boring.

(Hugh turns around to her.) HUGH: How did you...? HOMELESS WOMAN: (Without looking up at him) Sidewalks are awful. HUGH: That woman! She was almost hit by a car. I heard you! I heard you saying she would be. How did you know?

HOMELESS WOMAN: It’s all so dirty. I’m so angry these sidewalks aren’t clean.

(Hugh laughs nervously.) That little boy is going to kneel down and lick the sidewalk. His mom will scold him but it’s ok. It’s ok. I just stood there yesterday. Yesterday was very cold, I know; I was outside. I know it’s clean. The sidewalk’s always clean where I’m standing. Everyone must stand near me. They’d always be clean. Those sidewalks.

(A boy up the street waits by a car where his mother rifles through her briefcase in the passenger seat. He 38

kneels down, sniffs the sidewalk and licks it just as his mother turns around. She screams at him and he just gets up and shrugs.) HUGH: Unreal. Absolutely unreal. Are you joking? What TV series am I on? Who are these people?

(The homeless woman continues muttering and shuffles away from Hugh, batting at the air as she walks. Hugh follows her.) HOMELESS WOMAN: That man will get slapped in the face. He’s just got to learn about sidewalks.

(Hugh watches as a man steps out of a shop and gets slapped by a woman who is standing outside. They start yelling at one another as the homeless woman and Hugh walk by.) That dog will run around in circles three times before she catches her tail. It’s because the sidewalk has friction and the dog can finally slow down time enough to catch her little tail. Sidewalks have too many cracks in them. It makes them so dirty when there aren’t many people on them.

(Hugh shakes his head in disbelief as a little dog on a leash circles exactly three times before catching its tail.) That man will die. HUGH: What?

(He reaches out and grabs the woman’s shoulder. She looks straight ahead — not at him.)



What did you just say?

(Hugh looks around desperately but it’s near rush hour and the sidewalk is filled with people.) Which one? Which one’s going to die? HOMELESS WOMAN: I’m going to stand right in that clean spot of the sidewalk.

(She moves against the wall of a bank, pressed as flatly as she can against the wall. Hugh hesitates, wondering if he should follow her or not. He looks at the people on the sidewalk in front of him and makes his decision. He stands in the middle of the sidewalk and holds his arms out at the crowd.) HUGH: Every guy that can hear me, please, listen to me and stay away from here!

(People make wide berth around him, not meeting him in the eye. They keep walking past him, however. Hugh


grows frantic. He shouts at the top of his lungs and pushes people away from him.) Stay away! Some guy’s going to die if you don’t listen to me and...

(A car suddenly rams into Hugh, killing him instantly. Blood flies, hitting everywhere except where the homeless woman stands. His briefcase hits the wall inches away from where she is. Coffee hits the face of one spectator, making her scream and claw at her face. The homeless woman shifts her feet and looks down at the sidewalk.) HOMELESS WOMAN: Sidewalks are always so dirty. Very dirty. (Looks at her feet) This spot is clean, right where I’m standing. My feet are sore but at least they’re clean. It’s too hard finding just the right spot but they like to follow me so I’m never dirty. I hate looking at dirty sidewalks, though. They’re disgusting. I never wanted...




(She walks away from the scene, muttering to herself.)


Her leather creaks

like a horror movie (her name) at her intrusion into this piece

Her arms

of writing.

like skinless tentacles writhe around my

hunched and tearing shoulders as I stoop

and grope for words

their shapes within the

over this lightless desk.

in the darkness, looking for formless night.



when I was fourteen, a wart wrapped itself deep

inside my toe. in the office, the doctor promised

relief. I imagined it popping out neatly and leaving a

finger-sized cavern, dropping like a bloody cork into a ringing metal dish.

mom held me down, a toothbrush between my

teeth. I kicked into

his waiting hands. I screamed obscenities she didn’t think I knew. I swore

the doctor was etching his initials into the white of my bone.

the scalpel, I have learned, can

only be wielded with the precision of an exacto-knife. I think of my failed

fine arts

final project

and wince at the memory

of cardboard cut unevenly, wavy innards shredded into fluff.







When Ron Friedman died on June 28, 2006, I submitted the following editorial for publication:

Ronald Friedman was

the most decent, virtuous, self-regulated man I have

ever known, and, at my age,

am ever likely to know. Ron’s passing brings to close the

last chapter of a life devoted to twin purposes: his family

and the cause of social justice. Notwithstanding matters of personal divergence in our

later years, I never lost my awe of his flurry of energy, razorsharp intellect, and tireless

commitment to the masses of

downtrodden across America.

Many will remember

when Friedman gained

notoriety in the eighties as a fierce litigator taking on

the entrenched institutions of corporate, consolidated power. Friedman rocketed to fame for spearheading

the anti-trust lawsuits that broke up AT&T in 1984.

Critics branded him the “legal darling of the left,” and in the

forthcoming years he bore that title out. Friedman slapped

law suits on everything from computer corporations, to weapons manufacturers,

to logging companies. And

with few exceptions, he won them all. In the latter part of the decade, Friedman

teamed up with prominent

lawyer Catharine Mackinnon, crafting sexual harassment

law-suits, successfully suing 44

manufacturers of breast

implants, and even shaping corresponding legislation in Congress. A master of

wielding media attention,

Friedman ignited firestorms of media scrutiny that

mercilessly drove companies

into panicked settlements. In

a decade of otherwise stalwart conservatism, Friedman

replaced Chomsky as the lone, chic intellectual of the left.

Following an

inevitable settlement against a government sponsored-

company, Vice President H.W.

Bush famously commented: “If you want my guess, Friedman’s pathological hatred of power comes from some bilious

problem with father figures

that is too fetid to explore.” The attempt at vilification

merely heralded my friend’s victory, sealing his legacy

as the bulldog of consumer

interests. Standing over his

shoulder through these titanic battles, his steadfast humility and understated humor never ceased to amaze me. Even

after Ron faded from public

view, he never surrendered his core values in the projects he undertook.

But perhaps Ron’s

enduring fame will reside in

his legacy as a writer. Often

writing in tandem with his legal endeavors, Ron published

scorching polemical essays in The Nation and The New

Republic, advocating, among other things, the abolition of all economic inheritance rights. No one in the “bawdy bourgeoisie” was safe from his blistering wit. He would later turn his ire to skewering these same publications for what he labeled their “gutless, fencestraddling, masturbatory moderation.” The ends of justice, he believed, need not be moderated. I met Ron at the height of his fame. First interviewed for the position of his public relations director, he grilled me for hours on legal minutia. Afterwards, in what I would soon learn was characteristic warmth, Ron took me home to have dinner and meet his family. Thus began a cherished friendship that would endure for decades to come. While his death comes under unusual circumstances, he lived a full life for which he’ll have no regrets. I’ll remember Ron most not for his concentrated devotion to civil progress, but as a doting husband and father. His was a life rarely seen and not soon to be matched.



His was a life rarely seen and not soon to be matched. This last sentence, after all, may even be

true. The rest, well, may be true in point of fact, but the impression it conveys is so contrived to distort, so

repugnant to my inner conscience, so utterly pernicious as a defining summation, that I tremble to consider that God tenders no mercy for the cruelly solipsistic. But then—what matters God to the Atheist?

That is done now. I make no apology to God, nor anyone else. What I herein submit is no public

testament but an inward confessional, a last attempt to reexamine the palimpsest of memory I have labored unceasingly to bury. It is the truth only insofar as I deign to confess, or rather permit to unleash upon my conscience to ignite self-contempt.

Mr. Bush the senior would not have been so quick to invoke Freud had he seen my friend’s home.

A simple glance at the steeple-like towers jutting up from Friedman’s villa would have neatly dispelled

his theory—erecting enough phalluses to impress the Marquis de Sade. But in like regard to the tenured

Marxist professors at Yale and Harvard, no one had the irascibility to grumble at Friedman’s lavish personal indulgences, reaping the rewards of a system he vowed daily to abolish.


I was as old as Friedman at the time I took the job with his firm. I’d started out with a philosophy

degree from the University of Chicago, but I soon realized that knowing the nature of the good life was not

synonymous with the fulfillment of social ambition. I’d grown up on a dairy farm in Pennsylvania. I spent my

childhood shoved into the cramped spaces of rural life—in sprawling fields as constricting as a straightjacket. For me, this idyllic pastoral illusion was no different than predestination to hard labor. Though I couldn’t

have articulated it at the time, country life seemed like the smothering of the soul, the stripping of humanity to its vulgar necessities. It offered no prospect for expansion—only the steady cycle of enervation and

decay unmixed with the cultivation of the intellect and wider pleasures of the political life. I vowed to shed

the heaps of cow dung and swaying wheat fields. At UC, philosophy became the diametric opposite of that 45

acquiescent tedium, and for a time it satisfied me. But I also came to sense its stigma, an implicit resignation

to social mediocrity that was so abhorrent to my reactionary sense of worth. I flinched at the knowing laughter that said, “Oh, no purpose, no direction? How ignorant and quaint (—he won”t eat well).” I transitioned to law school and, as a matter of course, to my first job as legal counsel. I married another lawyer a few years older than me, with small hips and a keen eye for wounded legal prey. I wasted no time in readjusting myself to a

system with its own rules, disburdening myself of those nagging universalities, those fixed external truths which threatened to ensnare my advancement.


Frankly, I couldn’t tell you a damn thing about Ronald Friedman. I never called him Ron in my life—

though I did think it provided some endearing flair to that editorial, no? His tart, effusive public personality, trading eloquent barbs with public intellectuals, belied a steely, impenetrable mask that he wore always in

private. He didn’t interview me for his public relations director, and I’d been working for him for weeks before I ever caught sight of him in person.

He was a hefty man by middle-age, with aristocratic jowls that clashed with his proletariat

pontifications. We worked for years under a frigid personal silence. His wife (the third, and, I can now say, final)

was equally icy, with high, sculpted cheek bones and an aquiline countenance. Ronald Friedman’s complement, though I dare venture mixed with a disposition intersected by some painful resignation which I have never

unpacked. The interns who shuffled papers in their cubicles snickered the pseudonym “Zenobia Frome” in

reference to her. The resemblance, indeed, was striking. A collision with her might well have prompted Derrida to reassess the obsolete notion of binary good and evil. I met her only a handful of times at the requisite corporate parties. She possessed a patrician haughtiness which I found terrifying. These were the only instances I ever saw or spoke to her. I know nothing about her.


My interaction with Friedman went on like this for years. I toiled with the same amoral fervor of

hypocrisy as every other suit and skirt around me. Evidently, we were the corporate advocates of the working poor. But neither my colleagues nor I bothered to couch our rapacious ambitions in any Machiavellian rationalizations. The relativism of the modern day had penetrated that last boundary of ethics and had conveniently

swept away those hegemonic pretenses of justice. After all, exploitation and cruelty were never the ends, and, distanced by the bright ink of a fountain pen, these vices, so cutting in the abstract, tend to shed their sting. And we actually did score some minor victories, I think. Rich women do have safer breast implants. I served

Ronald Friedman’s interests with competence and vigor, and through bribery and exploitation, racketeering and laundering, we trudged on in our grim happiness.


By the mid-1990s, the armor of Ronald Friedman’s firm had begun to show chinks. Catherine

MacKinnon had taken her feminist legal interests elsewhere. (When she left, Friedman is rumored to have sent her doctored photos from a porn shoot, her body getting nailed in every orifice. She knew Friedman—she

did not sue.) As prosecutors began sniffing the rot, circling the weakened body of a faltering empire, I felt

neither fear nor guilt. The anesthetizing agent of narcissism had long since paralyzed any moral scruples. I had invested my life in Friedman, and our fates were locked in a bind that—even if I’d wanted to—would not allow

“RICH WOMEN DO HAVE SAFER BREAST IMPLANTS” me to disentangle myself. (I say this as a matter of plain fact—it carries no dissolution of guilt.)

A few months later, Friedman announced his retirement. Days after that, to our astonishment, the

few dozen of us from the upper corporate echelon received invitations to his house for a retirement party. The location: not his New York penthouse, but the sprawling estate in upstate New York.


I sped along the twisting mountain roads alone. My wife and I had mercifully given up the pretense of

marriage after our infidelities had escalated to the point of fucking our catches in adjacent rooms. My tux had

the vague fit of another straightjacket I’d once tried to escape. Cresting the hill, I gazed upon Friedman’s home for the first time. The main house seemed etched into the mountainside more than built atop it, its elegant

symmetrical structure announcing its defeat of chthonian nature. Towering pine trees abruptly contained the edges of the expansive surrounding yards, wrapping around the contours of the manicured lawns in abstract furrows that seemed purposefully devised. Pulling into the driveway at dusk, I spied lines of limos and wine bottles. Torches lined the walkways in painstaking symmetry. 46

Ronald Friedman was nowhere in sight. Most of the other guests had already arrived and were

now milling about wielding wine glasses and plastic smiles. I wandered among them, the soft violin concerto


floating through the lulls in our conversations. When Friedman did arrive he was grave and distant, acting

as host only at moments that keenly required a leader. His wife was absent without explanation. Dinner was everything one would expect, with ornate table settings and too many courses. I sat next to a fat man with

blotches on his skin. I’d worked with him at the firm. He was a crotchety dinosaur—an Andy Rooney without the sardonicism. As I peered across the table, through mountains of candles and caviar, I heard each man’s

words articulated with pleasant insincerity. Melville’s image of the chapel in Moby Dick leapt to mind. These

silent islands of men and women, wallowing in their silent and incommunicable griefs. No—listen to me. The Christian church was not the culprit.

As guests began leaving, Friedman pulled me aside and asked me imperatively if I would speak to him.

We retreated from the din of caterers clearing plates and glasses, and stepped outside into the open night. In shadows made warped and grotesque by the flickering torches, he lit a cigarette and inhaled, craning his

neck toward the sky. He explained the financial alterations which he insisted I make to his wife’s holdings in the corporation. Shifts in insurance payments which he could not deal with personally. The channels of his wife’s

finances needed redirection in case of any mishaps. Friedman stamped out his cigarette and began picking at a hangnail.

Chirping crickets hummed along with his voice. Above us, through outlines of fluttering leaves, I

could see stars glistening on top the rich backdrop of black and cerulean sky. Juxtaposed against this swirling cosmos of unadulterated nature, I listened to the sizzling acid of Friedman’s words that crystallized into a malevolent purpose. Malevolence. We engendered that abstraction, that word, that meaning—it had no existence which preceded human intelligibility. We own our frail and transitory language, and we own the

corruption which it makes possible. I now know Locke erred in demanding self-preservation—that should have been his essential abrogation.

My eyes had years ago taken on a sunken, translucent quality, like they’d retreated from this

surrounding Eden. They told stories of a haggard inward existence. I often wonder if my eyes, on that night,

ignited with some glimmer of anguish attached to a moral sentiment. But if it was there, it was an enervated anguish that pronounced defeat before even giving inward battle. I nodded my affirmative, and drew away

from him. My foot tripped over a root jutting out of the ground, and I limped toward my car in pain. It had begun to rain, and the drops pelted against my face. God’s surrogates for the tears of a maimed soul? You laugh, perhaps, but I felt those drops sear my skin in reproach.

*** 47

In the following weeks, I carried out my loyal duty, for duty, I believe, is attached to the alliances

we make, and, thus, I cleaved to the orders of Ronald Friedman. I quietly redistributed the funds and altered the papers insofar as I could. It was an easy task, it being after all the very same underhanded business for

which I had practiced for years. Only in this instance, it held the acrimonious sting of a worser crime inherent in its formulation. For all I knew, I had been made an appendage of like crimes in the past, but never with my knowledge, and this epistemological caveat, so negligible in appearance, chafed against boundaries with which I had never been familiar. But by months end, the deeds were done, and my vote of affirmation was sealed in the letters which bore my steady signature.


They were deeds, as it were, that were nullified in their effects. In another month, Ronald Friedman

was dead. Brake failure as he was leaving his home. He flew off a curve and smashed into a cluster of trees. His wife had a slight fever that morning and could not accompany him.


The death of a giant seems to prod journalists from their torpor long enough to cover a retrospective

story that should have been dug into as it unfolded. Perhaps they’re inspired by the prospect of a cryptic

riddle. I suppose each man does have his Rosebud—so long as you don”t take that to mean that each man

has stashed away an isolated reservoir of felicity. I don’t care to dunk my head in the illusion of a saccharine Julie Andrews performance. But I do mean that each man withholds some mystery. Friedman’s riddle is as impenetrable, but I fear it is far less glamorous, far less artistically immaculate than that of Charles Foster

Kane. If my editorial herein included is any indication, these journalists find themselves sorely outmatched

by the machinations of mercenaries like myself. No matter. If fractured postmodernism is all we can muster,

so be it. The holes of this story may tend to frustrate, but it is a frustration which must be endured. Why, you

ask, did Ronald Friedman throw a party—the first party he had thrown in likely thirty years? This mystification

is no deliberate aesthetic ambiguity. He was surely a man who loved his pleasures—cigars, wine, hookers–but he needed none of us for those consumptions. As it turned out, it was a celebration of his own demise, the

redirection of mortality to a different victim. Perhaps God decided to pay tribute to the one virtue that could be drawn out of Ronald Friedman—his annihilation.

As I think back to that night, under that grand, patriarchal oak tree towering over us in the darkness, I

wonder if I wasn’t wrong about those eyes. Whether if I’d peered with greater severity, I could have cut through to some withered layer of remorse within his soul. Remorse for a life blotted out by egotism. Surely he saw the protruding blue veins of my clenched hands, saw the tremble in my neck, felt that anguish deflected back into the awakening of his own sympathies.

No—these are the ramblings of an old man, whose attempts to reassert the evil of man—a

preposterous and arbitrary designation—have bored you. I should have foreseen you were far too liberated

to invest yourselves in such folly. Go back to your Chomskys, your Buckleys, your Mother Teresas—your great figures of intellectual and public virtue. Those public personae which are, no doubt, the sincere outgrowths of internal lives so clear of the stains of hypocrisy. This Friedman, this aberration in the grand scheme, this

albatross that hangs about our neck like a moth veering so tenaciously toward the flame—why need we bother with peeling back the layers of such an unfortunate singularity? Then again, you might be thinking, what’s the big deal? Friedman was no special case. And I say, that is the big deal.





She always did insist that pure bliss lies solely in the simple things; The series of precise bullets march down the margin with deadly precision, Followed by quick, urgent dashes—

Which are soothed by the maternal patience of explanatory parentheses. (Because the beauty is in the systematic.) Throughout the hour Quick wrist flicks,

Combine with the supple, sinuous curvature of the wet black ink. Capturing the myriad, intricate functions of the hypothalamus Or the scarlet, blooming passions of the French Revolution, Under the close supervision of an austere bleached page, Hemmed in by the faint, steady azure lines. Even mistakes are lovely,

Those neat, intentional blemishes

Like the hardened pools of paint dear to Pollock.




ANDREA BOTTORFF My tender knuckles and nipples and knee bones, Pink mounds peaking from

Beneath the slick meniscus

Of a late night sudsy bloom. I left the door open Just a bit—

My bait—releasing steam And I waited until

Two candles burned out, But you never came. I didn’t either.

I didn”t either.






vibrato expands inside me,

slides down my throat, sugar-crowned,

to balloon through my bad knees. bowing

is the smoothest thing you do. suave thighs

hug your cello, you tip.

two chair legs leave the floor.





This space is open, raw, wholly

fragile and deceptively strong, infant

fingers wrapped around my own. I swallow,

each delicate digit a vice. There is too much here.

From the far end of the room, the door stands

open; it stands and it sticks and women in white pass by like fireflies, flashes of light in a dim hallway. They come in, move out, come in; they twist my arms like bread. My sister swears they don’t,

but she sees my hand, skewered with an IV, shaking. She takes back her daughter.

The women in white, they wander in, they produce long syringes, they depress plastic plungers with thick,

unconcerned fingers. My sister steps out and I stare wildly, eyes

darting from glistening tiles to ugly shoes to black scuffs that cross and crisscross each other.

Scuffs that hold a secret message, perhaps, maybe a means

to divine my fortune, a time when every cell of mine will stretch outward and into everything, when I will crawl into the cracks along the plaster and into the rubber of the bands and the dials and switchboards and bed

pans and light fixtures, when I will be absorbed by everything that eats me now.

My sister returns with coffee in a Styrofoam cup. She has been chewing on the edges; her daughter is balanced on her hip. She comes over, touches my arm. She says it’s okay. Her daughter takes a solitary

finger and rubs the soft blonde fuzz on my skin. I look where she’s

pointing, and the veins run blue and flow into my hand, tributaries and deltas crisscrossed with hair and moles, the blood excavated like oil. I close my eyes, dizzy with my own topography.

My sister’s daughter coos and I can see her bobbing infant head

working on my equation. I haven’t left this bed in two months, and she is

just that old. She was born not far from this room, screaming and red faced and wrestled from a slick and stubborn canal. She was born inside of these white walls; they opened to release her. I will die pressed between them, lungs deflating like day old balloons.

I can hear footsteps through the ceiling. Gurneys sliding,

shifting, but sounding like a ballroom dancing class. I pray that they will dance right through their floor, fall through broken plaster and

drywall but continue to spin, crashing into stainless steel trays and tearing down sea foam curtains and one, lone tango dancer

aerating my chest with the heels of her red stilettos, spinning and gesturing and waiting for her partner.

My sister falls asleep in the chair, stuffing peeking through the upholstery like

an unfinished patient, asleep on the surgery table in an empty room. I pick at the

thin bedspread and wonder what it would be like to fall asleep in a room of three and

wake up with only two. I lift my chin, I rub my heart. My sister sleeps, but her daughter watches me, eyes like dark pools in the quiet; soft, liquid questions that I deflect with my breathing.




There is a feather in


my pocket I kept it

from poking my right shoulder all night

by plucking it carefully,

so as not to disturb your even soft breathing,

from your featherbed.









Twilight touches the remembering sea. The candied blue darkness drifts down Folding itself over a dinghy,

Passengerless, wavering alone

And exhausted at the empty dock.

LE L W O P . M N E T S I R K

Its crimson paint recalls eager sailors Now quieted by time and time lost.

Wafting blimp-like against the pilings, One can tell it traveled faster once:

Speeding through a slower, sainted time. Now it rusts, abandoned at the dock,



Its corroded hull gelling with the bay.





Matilda sat on the edge of the long bed, the stiff quilt tucked tightly under the

mattress, her hands folded on her lap. She awoke early, had been waking early for years now, but she still never knew what to do with herself in those quiet predawn hours. Though she spent most of her hours alone, the silent mornings were especially tedious. She watched

the numbers on her digital clock flicker with each changing minute until a delicate stream of sunlight peeked through the curtains and the radio alarm crackled on.

After turning off the alarm and setting it for the next day, Matilda ran her index finger

above her lip, smoothing the silver hairs, which grew sporadically, matching the soft fuzz

on her chin that appeared thicker every morning. There was always some new sign of aging,

beyond the expected wrinkles and fragility, as if her body needed to broadcast the wearing-

down of her soul. Everything dried up as she aged: first her periods, with which Matilda felt she

lost her connection to femininity, then her skin and hair, even her saliva; she never appreciated

the luxury of her body’s moisture until it was gone. Even her heart had dried, like a volcano once flowing with molten love and slowly hardening into a thick rock over the years. Sometimes

she felt a spark, a little magma boiling under the surface, but the crust was solid and her heart was almost extinguished. It kept beating though, and it felt pain, the naked, pulsing pain of loneliness, so Matilda believed it might still have potential.

She filled the teakettle with water in the cold kitchen and set the burner on high

before putting on her glasses in order to turn up the heat on the thermostat. The piercing whistle of steam escaped the kettle before she was able to pull down the selection of tea

bags from the pantry and she scuttled to the stove to stop the metallic shriek. She chose Earl


Grey, added a splash of milk and sugar to her deep mug, and carried the tea to her seat by the


window. Sipping carefully, Matilda considered the day ahead and gazed absently at the desk in the corner. Piled with books and magazines, the worn surface of the desktop was entirely hidden, and the clutter spilled onto the floor.

Matilda knew that today was not the day to clear off her workspace, not the day

to release words onto the page, to feel the infinite possibilities of her pen against a blank piece of paper. It was never the right day, she hadn’t really written in years, and she no

longer knew if she had any words; they may have dried up with her body. The thrill of her first

publication, a scattering of stanzas in a quarterly magazine, faded slowly but completely and the multitudinous plaques and empty honors scripted onto paperweights remained stacked in boxes under the basement stairs. Her husband packed the awards, at Matilda’s request,

before he moved out and she hadn’t seen or thought of them since. She did keep the published

volumes of her poetry within reach, tucked neatly on the bookshelf in the den, but the lines and verses were foreign to her now with empty imagery and shallow themes.

After her son’s death poetry didn’t make sense. Jonah pervaded her thoughts and

dreams but she couldn’t put him into words and she couldn’t read what she had written about him in the past. He was gone, and poetry couldn”t bring him back. At seventeen Jonah had been taller than her husband, taller than her father had been, and his adolescent features

were diminutive against his towering frame. He told Matilda he didn’t have time for poems but


when she cleaned his room she sometimes found copies of her books under pillows and behind his dresser. She always put them gently back in place and never told her son that she knew he made time for her poems.

It may have been the suddenness of his death, or the obscurity that enshrouded it, but Matilda did

not accept the finality of his absence for many years. Even once she knew he was gone, once she stopped

seeing his lanky body in the shadows, she always smelled him. A slight pungency in the corners of the house, teenage sweat and oil melded with the sleepy milkiness of childhood, caught her off-guard more than once.

Maybe today she would go to his grave, stand on the plot she assiduously chose, next to the Japanese maple

that dropped vibrant leaves every October. It was bright and clear this morning, and daffodils were bursting all across the lawn, their sunny faces tilted with dew. She wondered what Jonah thought of daffodils and chided herself for never asking.

The local newspaper reported his death as another teenage suicide, painted Jonah as the victim of

dangerous depression and careless drug use. Her husband sued, and won, but the words had already done their damage. Matilda wondered later if the overdose had been accidental after all; was that even possible? She read

and reread books about drug abuse and articles about overdosing, she examined the colored charts and stared at the graphs, she went to support groups and individual therapy, but the newspaper’s painful declaration

echoed in her bones, throbbing with potential truth. It no longer mattered now; the permanence of Jonah”s death was the only fact that remained twenty years later.

Swallowing the last sweet sip of her tea, Matilda rose to wash the mug and make toast before her

shower. She would indeed go to the grave today, as long as there was no funeral in progress upon her arrival.

Despite the years since Jonah’s ceremony, the unadulterated rawness of funerals was too much for her to bear. Once she finished her toast, spread with apple butter and margarine, she took a pair of scissors outside to cut some daffodils for Jonah and the brisk spring air welcomed her.

She still saw beauty in the world, in the rapid bubbles of boiling water, the complex network of pulpy

flesh in an orange, the quiet arc of a falling leaf, but she didn’t know what to do with it anymore. By giving the

flowers to Jonah she would keep their beauty from getting too close to her and give them a purpose because she saw herself as a lost cause. Though she acknowledged its presence, all beauty was lost on her without words. Sadness was lost too; anything that should move her, which used to move her, fell flat.

A sudden repetitive screeching caught her attention. Bark sprayed from the old oak tree toward the

back of the lawn as two squirrels perched on a branch fought violently. Still fat from the abundant acorns that

“SHE STILL SAW BEAUTY IN THE WORLD” Fall, the squirrels ran across limbs, spiraled down the trunk of an adjacent tree, bounded up again and leapt to

the ground. The larger one barreled back toward the old oak and up its thick branches while the smaller squirrel scurried in fast pursuit. Matilda stood transfixed by the battle, watched with her mouth slightly open, stunned, as the larger squirrel reached into a gaping hole in the tree with remarkably human dexterity and pulled out

bits of pine straw and a tiny wriggling creature. While the smaller squirrel, which Matilda now recognized as the mother, screeched hysterically, the large squirrel lifted the fighting bundle over its head and threw it to the ground. It bounced once then lay still.

The infuriated mother flew at the squirrel as it reached into the hole again, biting its neck viciously

with raised and boxing paws and eventually chased it out of the tree. She scrambled down the trunk to the

lifeless mound, her child, bent precariously on the ground. She carefully tended to the tiny squirrel, worked her paws over its body and pushed it cautiously to see if there was any life left. She paused suddenly as her ears perked to the possible approach of the attacker, then sat silently beside the broken body.

The brutal ferocity of nature wound its powerful arms around Matilda and pulled the air from her

lungs. She didn’t notice that she’d dropped her scissors or that the door to her house was still open, but stood, wrapped tightly in her blue cotton robe, frozen with awe. The squirrel’s mother huddled close to the body and

Matilda’s buried grief bubbled forth. She backed toward the door, her gaze unmoving from the poignant sight, and forced herself inside, slamming the door behind her. She tried to shut the cruel death out of her home but the mother’s pain leaked into Matilda and she choked back tears before weeping unreservedly.

Watching from her kitchen window, Matilda saw the agonizing realization of death come over the mother

squirrel as her gentle prodding ceased, her bright black eyes closed. She saw the silent goodbye pass between the mother and offspring, a goodbye Matilda never made. Because she wasn’t able to voice her farewell to Jonah, or to put it onto paper, she felt she’d never really said goodbye, but the silent glance of the mother

squirrel over her dead child’s body contained all the sorrow and the love and the anger and the isolation Matilda could ever have hoped to express. She pulled her robe tighter across her chest to contain her burning grief but


WOMAN WITH GREEN KATHLEEN LEFEVRE his name was on her tongue and rushed forth:


In the curled ball of fur in her yard Matilda saw her son and, as the mother squirrel ascended into

the hole in the oak, she felt the ache of moving on, of a life lived without him. She watched the tree for several

minutes, replaying the incident, so unbelievably honest in its brutality, and scanned the yard for the malicious attacker. Matilda recognized that this mother had something to cast her anger toward, something to blame, and a flicker of jealousy struck her. Her empathy outweighed her envy though, and she craved the mother’s understanding before deciding to bury the frail body of the squirrel.

Moving hurriedly, Matilda chose an empty shoebox from beneath her bed and pulled old towels from

the hall closet. She cut thick strips of terrycloth and lined the box, layering the pieces to cradle the body.

She briefly considered decorating the box or filling it with nuts and seeds but her rationality reigned in such

frivolous thoughts and she proceeded to take the box outside for a simple ceremony. She felt simplicity was best for sincerity, and the sincerity of this goodbye was imperative.

Setting the box beside the tiny squirrel and glancing frequently for the mother’s attention, Matilda

cupped the lifeless body into her bare hand and laid it gently into the box. She carried the provisional coffin

toward the soft spring ground alongside the shed, where sprigs of grass had just begun to sprout and she dug into the loose dirt with her hands. The earth was warm and forgiving as if nature was now welcoming the life

it had just so forcefully taken. The soil’s silky texture calmed her and she understood that this burial was the right thing to do. The shoebox felt so artificial though, and once the hole was deep enough Matilda took the young squirrel into her hands and laid it gently in the exposed ground.

She wanted to say something for the squirrel, a tribute of sorts to the shortened life, but she knew

that she actually wanted to speak to Jonah, and a mother’s words to her deceased son seemed appropriate for

the squirrel as well. Matilda remembered instinctively that in one of the books she found in Jonah’s room before he died she had noticed his attention to a certain poem, a simple villanelle she had written the previous year.

She was so moved to see that he’d highlighted the title and underlined words and phrases that she’d hoped he 58

found tender or provocative; he must have known the poem was about him. It was an uncomplicated poem,

straightforward and traditional, but she included it in the collection for its personal significance. She had often wondered what it meant to her son, how it felt to read himself in her poetry, though they never discussed his reaction.

Because she had not written about Jonah since his death, because she didn’t have the words to say goodbye,

she used this poem to bury the squirrel, this child of another woeful mother. She gazed toward the oak for the squirrel’s approval, which Matilda decided was implicit, and began her recitation. The lines came back to her unexpectedly, vividly, and the composure of her voice surprised her: At night your breaths move steadily and slow,

Your languorous movements heavy with dreams,

And nocturnal whisperings I’m desperate to know. Before my eyes, your slumbering body grows, Childhood passing in the moon’s soft beams,

At night your breaths move steadily and slow. I quietly absorb your sleeping body’s show,

Watch eyelids fluttering with secret scenes,

Those nocturnal whisperings I’m desperate to know. The simplicity of sleep exudes from every flow, Each subtle shift is exactly what it seems,

At night your breaths move steadily and slow. I can never tell how your mind will go,

With what thoughts your sleeping brain teems,

Scattered nocturnal whisperings I’m desperate to know. I’m drawn to your lips, their gently curving bow,

Sprinkled with starlight, the fragile skin gleams,

Because at night your breaths move steadily and slow,

Releasing nocturnal whisperings I’m desperate to know.

As she spoke the final line, Matilda pulled the earth over the squirrel’s body and filled the hole

tenderly. She picked a few daffodils and laid them on the slight mound, pressing two fingertips to her lips and

then the ground. There would be no daffodils on Jonah’s grave today but she felt certain that these were just as valuable. She would never know what Jonah’s nocturnal whisperings had been but she felt the slow steady

breaths of his sleep in the passing breeze. She never asked him what he liked about the villanelle; he may have

liked the structure, the rhymes and repetition, or he may have liked the idea of Matilda watching him sleep. But

what and why fell away because here he was, in her words, words he kept to himself but always shared secretly with her.









IL PRETE (OR IL RAGAZZO) The subway is kind to those who are bitterly forlorn.



Relentless fluorescent ceilings, And flashing concrete panels Made for blind staring

half-closed, weary red eyelids shrouded by black rims, chewing on cracked bottom lips

And placid targets. Babies are optimal,

Or anyone mildly perusing USA Today

Or prepubescent girls clacking superior, polished, impossibly inky spiked boots in rhythm with their splintered conversation. (I rode all over the city)

Trying to discard the sensation of a claustrophobic sternum. Because my ribcage was still aching

From hunching over the tiny blue dots on my yellow pillowcase, Focusing on them for waves of salty, heaving minutes. Thirsting for you to whisper.

La manco. La manco.



I am concerned with the state of ‘creativity’ today and especially how educational institutions can

offer an environment that supports and nurtures creativity. In my classes I offer such an environment by

emphasizing experimentation through studies and practice. Process is paramount. Trial and error are key. I encourage students to stay in

the mental state of a beginner and not to hurry to become an expert. I am convinced that creativity is grounded in nature, and the current threat to creativity and imagination in contemporary culture is directly related to a lost connection with the natural world. As an art educator my objective is to emphasize and, hopefully, rekindle

this connection. I have had success in taking students on field trips - silent hikes – to reacquaint them with the significance of nature to their art. Students often discover to their amazement that their imaginations soar with silent meditative observing.

My own work is influenced by the Taoist notion that the truly ‘experienced’ person delights in the ordinary and

the Bauhaus emphasis on an art for everyday life. My paintings celebrate the insignificant and the profound-the beauty of existence.





BIOS Sarah Alsgaard “Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.” —Goethe “The old believe everything; the middle aged suspect everything; the young know everything.”—Oscar Wilde “Si Ursus parlait latin, c’est qu’il le savait. “—Victor Hugo Kelly Barrett Kelly takes too many pictures of pretty things, but she thinks that is okay because most of the time, she lives a pretty life. She always tries to pick out the broken chips in the bag, insisting that they taste better. Also, Kelly knows the secret. Leila Batmanghelidj Leila often gets flack for taking too many pictures too often and not really savoring the moment, however, Leila believes that a good way of “savoring the moment” is by capturing it, with a camera. She spent a fantastic junior year abroad learning Spanish, taking pictures and traveling extensively. Leila is a senior in SIS and is expected to graduate this May. Jessica Bautista I’m Jessica Bautista, a junior from Texas. I just got back from a semester in Prague and I really like the smell of fresh plastic. Brandon Bloch Brandon Bloch is a first year MA graduate student in Film & Video at American University. His artistic background is in fine arts (portraiture, painting, and illustration) and graphic design. Brandon has also produced a number of short documentaries on auto safety and the impact that car accidents have on individuals and our society. In the Fall of 2006, for his Principles of Photography class with Leena Jayaswal, Brandon photographed a series of black and white digital photos at Brandywine Wrecking Yard in rural Maryland. The series illustrates a rarely-seen side of our nation’s car culture with stark imagery and symbolic references to the afterlife. Andrea Bottorff Rowdy staff meetings, paper babies, and the name Anru. I will miss these the most. Maria Braeckel [sometimes i’d stand by the royal wall, the sky’d be so big that it broke my soul] Shea Cadrin Shea Cadrin is a freshman graphic design major at AU. She loves apples, water, and open windows. Miriam Callahan My name is Miriam Callahan. I like words with an equal number of r’s and l’s. I hope you like my poem. Paco Cantú Paco Cantú is from Prescott, Arizona. Jenn Dearden Jenn likes tea, naps, interesting conversations, adventures, and the little things. Life is all about the little things. Russell Durfee I like the Russian authors and admire the remarkable quality control of Davenport coffee. Three cheers for the little town of Hilton, NY!! Anna Finn I have never been able to outguess. Vera Forster Apparently, it is unhealthy to eat tangerines as described in “Noon-Thirty.” Other than that, Vera is waiting until peach season. If you need her before then, she is lying out on the quad. Montana Graboyes Philadelphia native and SOC major. Can often been seen around campus wearing gold pants and red boas, when she’s not using her powers of invisibility. Alberto Halpern Alberto Tomas Halpern grew up in Marfa, Far West Texas. He was the staff photographer for The Big Bend Sentinel newspaper in Marfa, TX for three and a half years. His work has been published in The New York Times, Spin Magazine, Paste Magazine, Country Weekly Magazine, ArtForum Online, The Texas Observer, The San Angelo Standard Times, The Desert Candle, and Home & Garden Television. He was a recipient of a Texas Press Association Award for sports photography. Alberto Halpern is a freshman in the School of Public Affairs at American University. 66

Meg Imholt Batteries not included. Tom Joudrey Tommy Joudrey is a senior literature major. He enjoys Janis Joplin, Katharine Hepburn, Camille Paglia, discourse on Virginia Slims, The English Patient, and unrequited love. Jacqueline Kemp I often make a frame with my fingers to look through. Everything looks better in a frame. Still searching for a word that rhymes with orange. Charlotte Kesl Charlotte Kesl has a long southern drawl and is, for some reason, graduating a year early. Andrew Lobel Andrew is a freshman. He’s in JLS, but should be in SIS. He enjoys overusing the phrase “cultural wasteland.” He kidnapped the Lindbergh baby. Sarah Lockman sometimes wonders if life really equals the words of biography Carmen Machado If you want to reach her, stand on a large hill and call her name. Natalie Matthews Natalie is from Michigan (yes, she can show you exactly where on her hand) which has taught her what real snow is and to love MSU basketball. She is a freshman in SIS currently experiencing the joy that is elementary Japanese four days a week. She enjoys running up escalators, reading The Washington Post (online) and staying up ridiculously late for no reason. Natalie loves playing “Where’s Waldo”, watching gorgeous movies and, of course, everything about AmLit. Anneke Mulder Anneke Mulder likes to float in midair at the tip of a swingset’s arc. Samantha Palmer Samantha DiNapoli Palmer was born and raised in the small northern Kentucky town of Verona. Fulfilling her lifelong dream of being in D.C., she joined the AU community in 2004 as a student in the SPA. Samantha has been taking photos since she was 4 and finds that she is at her happiest when looking through a camera lens. Though black and white photos are her favorite, Samantha finds inspiration in anything from a snowy day on campus to the cherry blossoms at sunset. Samantha would like to thank her KY and D.C. families for all their love and support, as well as not making too much fun of her for filling her dorm room walls with picture frames. Katelyn Pepper Katelyn sends out a huge THANK YOU to her parents for their role in keeping the monetary tapeworm that is photography happy and fed. RJ Pettersen RJ Pettersen hosts a radio show on He is having a phenomenal year. Kristen M. Powell Kristen M. Powell is allergic to cats, dust, long winters, and boredom, all of which make her sneeze. In her spare time, she makes lists and draws eight-pointed stars. Max Rubin Max Rubin has mixed feelings about his work being studied in high schools across America. He prefers that you call him Julius. Julie Smolinsky Julie is a second semester sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences. She hopes to put herself and her education to good use one day. She likes tea and the smell of her pillow in the morning. Jen Smoose I am a graduating senior in SOC. My two prints are a part of a series of self-portraits shot in the summer of 2006. Iwan made me want to reshoot a critique from the previous semester. Sometimes reshooting is a good thing. Jessica Stone Jessica Stone is an over-analyzing islander who enjoys celebrity sightings and her grandmother’s world famous salsa dip. Joanna Thomas wan·der·lust [won-der-luhst] n. 1. a strong, innate desire to rove or travel about 2. a very strong or irresistible impulse to travel [Origin: 1902, German “desire for wandering” (see lust)] 67

Reese Vaccarezza Reese’s 101 Things To Do Before Death (abridged) 1. Learn how to ride a bike. 12. Try paella, at least once. 55. Publish a series of three haiku poems in the New Yorker. 83. Pet monkeys in the Amazon rain forest (minus possible rabies transfer).v 101. Learn the Vaccarezza family secret. Laura Warman Laura is awkward. Jessica Warren Jess adores Sufjan Stevens and the Kennedy Center’s chandeliers. And her roommate Zoe. Rachel Webb Rachel is, indeed, from Utah. She cherishes plentiful ink, red rock, the heater by her bed, and pure, crystalline moments. She has a constant craving for blue, and patience. Sarah Ziherl I breathe the White Mountains, Nordic skiing, peak bagging, Turkish coffee, airports, foreign stamps, and infinite conversations until my lungs explode in tumultuous delight.

STAFF Coeditors in Chief

Andrea Bottorff

Maria K. Braeckel Design Editor

Meg Rowland

Assistant Design Editor

Laura Warman

Art Editor

Kim Steinle

Assistant Art Editor

Shea Cadrin

Copy Editor

Emily “Peach” Smith

Assistant Copy Editor

Sarah Alsgaard

Photography Editor

Joanna Thomas

Assistant Photography Editor

Kelly Barrett

Poetry Editor

Rachel Webb

Assistant Poetry Editors

Michael Levy

Prose Editor

Helena Johnson

Assistant Prose Editor

Ali Goldstein

Directors of Communication

Tyler Budde

Director of Event Planning

Marcia Williams

Assistant Director of Event Planning

Megan Dunn


Jess Barkan

Anneke Mulder

Sarah Lockman

Jenn Dearden

Helena Johnson Staff

Danielle Bowes

Natalie Matthews

Jewel Edwards

RJ Pettersen

Jenn Dearden Vera Forster

Alison Katsigiannis Andrew Lobel

Amanda Ongirski

Zoe Stathopoulos Jessica Warren

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