Jon Berry community spotlight
poetry by Katherine Stephenson
He disturbs the petite, white flowers carelessly, igniting some fierce indecision. I do not recall the time when cognition became a competition, nor the weight of a word lacked measure. His eyes say more than his lips ever will. A bottleneck swallows pride, choking on sip after sip of indignation. A collection of memories, mixing with the spark of this: the coffee is too cold, the water is too warm, the drinks are too sweet, and you are too much. In spite, I dance through my insidious stupor dangerously close, teetering even, on the edge of some drop. One false step propelling me into a reality where I refuse to dwell. I should have been a necklace of pearls, spilling down some geriatric neck, wrinkles mixing with the salt of the sea and the salt of predisposition, and I lacked the comprehension or, frankly, the coordination to use my words and my hands to explain to make you understand.
Editor-in-Chief Aurélie Krakowsky
Layout Editor Daniel Dawson
Web Editor Katelyn Kerns
Art Editor Janina Plascencia
Photography Editor Rileigh Wilkins
Poetry Editor Mekiya Walters
Prose Editor Caleb Andrew Ward
editor’s note Thank you, loyal followers and curious newcomers, for picking up Atlantis’s sixtyeighth edition. Over the years, it has become customary to print the summer issue in black and white, and tradition is important to the Atlantis staff. For this reason, we have also continued to add the features titles on the cover. Although the summer 2014 issue contains no color pages, this does not prevent the content from leading you on a journey through prose, poetry, and visual arts. Your excursion begins on the cover with an eye-catching photograph of a man, charged with emotion and depth, and this feeling continues throughout the magazine. This edition is shorter than previous issues, but you will not be disappointed. The contributing artists have proven their talent using various mediums and techniques, and the writers portray innovative thoughts and feelings. Our features writer has profiled Jon Berry, a thriving college dropout and actor, and the Bourbons, a group of young musicians with a unique sound. I would like to commend the dedicated Atlantis staff members for their hard work and patience during the process of producing this issue. And, of course, I would also like to thank our readers for picking up a copy of Atlantis. Without your enthusiasm and encouragement, this magazine would not exist. Kick back, relax, and enjoy Atlantis’s 2014 summer issue!
Feature Writer Madison Roberts
Aurélie Krakowsky Editor-in-Chief
Copy Editor Jordan Mallory
Proofreader Ryan Geoffrey Smith
Caro Pelhan Spencer Brenes Neely Cardwell
Promotions Coordinator Mary Kresge
Promotions Assistant Kristen Hutchinson 2
Wilkin Hanaway Jennifer Withrow
Ryan Budd Kailyn Warpole Victoria Flanagan Danny Thomas Kyle Brown Rebecca Waegerle Sadonna Gunder Jacki Gross
Lori Wilson Colin Jacobs Hannah Giles
contents Art 4 12 13 17 20 21 24
Photography Night Owl by Camille Snyder Positivity by Emily Branch The Believer by Randa Alhosawi
Peaks at Dawn by Kiera Googins Untitled by Randa Alhosawi In Time by Amryn Soldier
Prevalent by Kayla Seedig Unsolved to the Last by Jamie Watson Swamp by Tessa Pfeifer Friday, July 20th, 12:12 a.m. by Kayla Seedig
Featured Artists 10 18
7 8 14
Community Spotlight: Jon Berry Q&A Sessions: The Bourbons
Cold Natured by Katherine Stephenson
Neighbors by Victoria Flanagan
inadvertant wives by Chelsea Taylor
Siren at Salter Path by J.T. Bryson
The Walking Man by Courtney Fisher
The Goat in Me by Nicole Herbert
Fiction & Nonfiction 6 22 26
Autumn Flight by Ryan Budd Silver Circles by Jacob Mohr A Sigil in the Sand by Chris Snow
about the cover “During stressful times in a person’s life one might feel literally submerged under all the pressure. This image portrays the feeling of extreme stress to the point of being in a psychological state of complete numbness. “Submerged” was taken using a 35 mm film camera.” Garrett Campbell on his photo “Submerged”
Night Owlâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;scratchboard, ink, and digital art by Camille Snyder 4
poetry by Victoria Flanagan
I saw him again as the plaid, tattered wraiths of my curtains were caught in rare wind. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d watched him roam into my yard from time to time, bent down to hunt out slugs or precious bits of mica, so I knew he had a tendency to wander. When his parents began to shout, he stuffed his ears with his tiny fingers and started to run. I felt the stinging of his knees as they parted the rough grass, cutting a line to the creek. By the time it was quiet again, he was shirtless, raw knees grinding in the silt, tapping soft pittered rhythms on the waterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s surface, and I was there, fighting the memories of water in my lungs. His bruises looked smaller from the warmer side of the window, and I felt the ghost blows of heavier hands on his back. He looked at me and asked if this was where God had died. I thought, me too.
“ My stomach tangles and I feel as if I’ll wretch, but the children notice nothing. I will fly soon, and watch them shrink with outstretched arms as I spin across the sky.
nonfiction by Ryan Budd
rimson, sunglow, marigold, and mahogany consume the valley below.The sudor of odoriferous firs and pines catch in the crisp breeze atop the mountain. Fire climbs the branches of every tree, but there is no smoke. Autumn. The thorny bramble around me lashes, imprisoning its sodden sable jewels. Scratches suffered are well worth the sweet bursts. I will bake them into a pie then scrub the stains from ungrateful shorts and shirts. My children whittle points onto long switches in the open field. They spear spoiled crabapples and fling them into the flames. The misshapen puce-spotted pommes soar from the ends of their sharpened willowy limbs, sail across azure, and then sink into the warm glow of the valley. I listen to the whistling tree leaves and the thump of the crabapples on the mossy forest floor. The scent of hot, wet rust, and I feel the bramble lash across my shoulder blade. I save a bouquet of wild baby’s breath from the blushing inferno and tie it with a strand of regret.
My mother comes up the mountain with a wickerbasket and a fat flannel blanket. I grasp her burgundy palms, goopy with uncooked bits of biscuit dough. We spin against each other in the open field, just like Daddy did with me on the beach in the soft sand.Her feet lift from the ground. I let go. She takes flight, like a boomerang that’s never coming back. She soars from my grasp, across the sky, and then sinks into the maroon monsoon. The children and I sit on the blanket and smother our biscuits with the berries I bled for. I wrinkle my nose at the messy carmine kiss smeared across my son’s face. My stomach tangles, and I feel as if I’ll wretch, but the children notice nothing. I will fly soon and watch them shrink with outstretched arms as I spin across the sky. Or maybe they will spear me with their switches and catapult me into the valley like a crabapple. Then I will collect myself in a pile of frozen ashes and dream of spring. 1
Peaks at Dawnâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;photo by Kiera Googins
poetry by Chelsea Taylor
“good morning, tulip. coffee is ready.” her voice is half-whisper, and i, fresh from the shower, bumble in a steamy haze of halfsleep. she twirls her way toward the couch, creamy yellow dress aflutter, while i sweeten my coffee with her quiet singing. each of us plays the accidental housewife, each in love with our makebelieve domestic setup. our early autumn mornings echo the summer nostalgia we can’t seem to shake. “if anyone looks at me today, i’m going to cry,” i sniffle. she understands the anxiety, somehow better than i do. my throat constricts as i imagine the public space. she fills the space beside me and fills my palm with her gentle fingertips. i scramble some eggs to match the dusty, lemon sunrise in the windows, and she relishes the tongue-rolling comfort in reading aloud her favorite e. e. cummings poem. remember when i would wake up crying? give up and go back to bed over trivial things—burnt toast, the wrong weather, the results of my daily weigh-in? no, that was before this life. i used to be small and insignificant; i used to have nothing to lose.
Untitled—photo by Randa Alhosawi 9
Jon Berry by Madison Roberts
D Photo by Belinda Keller
espite attending two different colleges for four and a half years, on the day of auditions during his final year in acting school, Jon Berry made the conscious decision not to show up, knowing it would mean he got cut from the program, and essentially dropped out of college. “It seems a little bit silly, perhaps, but I didn’t want to give myself something to fall back on. I decided early on that this was what I was going to try to do, and I was going to stick with it, no matter how hard it got. That might end up being a horribly bad decision, but acting is a part of who I am at this point. It’s something that I would just not be happy not doing,” Berry said. Just a few, short years later, Berry is an established actor in Wilmington, North Carolina, having starred in six productions (including Les Misérables and Evita) and has added two roles in hit television shows to his resume. For Berry, who is originally from Dayton, Ohio, but made the move to Wilmington a year and a half ago, a degree was not necessary on his way to stardom. He got cast as Jean Valjean in
Les Misérables, the dentist in Little Shop of Horrors, and Fred Gaily in Miracle on 34th Street. “You’re never going to get cast because of your degree. You’re going to get cast because of either—unfortunately, it shouldn’t be like this, but it is—either the way you look or the way that you act,” Berry said. “Either you’re right for the part, and you get it, or you showed them something that they didn’t know that they wanted, and they say, we have to have that person.” Berry received the biggest compliment of his career to date by being cast as the role of Jean Valjean in Les Misérables, which he said was amazing and unheard of at his young age of twenty-seven. He says that role and entire production has encouraged him to be proud of his work. “I had one person tell me that my version of ‘Bring Him Home’ is permanently etched on their heart. To me, that was just the nicest thing I have ever heard anybody say to me because it meant that something that I did meant so much to them that they are going to carry it with them for the rest of their life.”
Jon Berry performing as Jean Valjean in Les Misérables. Photo by Chrissy Ogden Marsh
Berry said he knew from a young age that he wanted to be an actor and began pursuing his career at home in Dayton before receiving a phone call from his aunt in Wilmington. She told him about the opportunities the city could provide for both television and theater. “In Dayton, I was a big fish, and I was really afraid to leave because I was going to be a little fish in a big pond. I would have to work my way back up. Being able to do this and be appreciated in Wilmington has made me feel more confident in my work.” Despite having won the Best Newcomer award from the Thalian Association in January, he admits there were times where he questioned his ability, but never his career choice. “Part of the reason I became an actor was because I was moved by work that I saw, and I was inspired by works that I saw, and it brought me out of my seat, or moved me to tears, or brought me out of who I was. That’s the kind of acting I want to do,” Berry said. “Sometimes I don’t feel like I’m necessarily there, and it gets frustrating.” While talking on the phone to his mom, venting about how discouraged
he was with his acting and his performance in five recent film/television auditions, Berry received a phone call that helped his acting career begin the transition from theater to film. He landed a one-episode, casted role on the hit TV series Nashville and Drop Dead Diva last fall.
okay what’s the next thing? You have to stay grounded, and you have to stay hungry, and you have to keep working towards that next thing, remembering you can’t really rest on these two projects—as cool as they might seem.” Berry said that although he is working mostly with musical theater, his
“ “‘‘‘‘‘‘‘‘‘‘‘‘‘;;;;’’”In Dayton, I was a big fish, and I was really afraid to leave because I was going to be a little fish in a big pond. I would have to work my way back up.
Although it was not a major role, Berry said he was “honored and excited to have landed them” because it was his first time working in film. But he was forced to take a step back after completing those roles. “It’s really about remaining grounded and realizing that even though you’ve booked this job, you still have a lot of work to do in order to establish yourself. I don’t want to sound like I was ungrateful or anything, but immediately after that, I got home and was like,
ultimate goal is to have an established career in film where he can pick and choose which productions he wants to be involved in. He plans to move to New York City in July to further pursue that career. 1
Positivityâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;oil on muslin by Emily Branch
The Believerâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;sculpture by Randa Alhosawi
In Timeâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;photo by Amryn Soldier
Siren at Salter Path poetry by J. T. Bryson
You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. —Matthew 16:3
After Sunday morning Communion, beyond the fisherman’s wharf— where seagulls that ravage a shoreline of bread crumbs, the organist reclines on a beach towel, wearing nothing but an emerald bikini. Her shoulder straps fall down bronzed arms to reveal the flesh that never seems to tan. Her black hair is still wet from her last plunge into the sea, and salt never dries on her skin. But—I’m not saying I find her enticing— nobody else strains their neck to see her. Shrimpers take little notice, and local boaters aren’t crashing their schooners into the jetty. But I pity the wretch that marries her on a red sky morning! He’ll gaze into her lustrous eyes, lean in for the kiss, taste briny lips, then notice dry leaves whirling in her soul.
Prevalent—illustration by Kayla Seedig 16
Photo by Charlie Harless
by Madison Roberts
ith an eclectic mix of blues, jazz, funk, and rock and roll, The Bourbons have found their niche in the music industry. The band is composed of four members: guitarist and singer David Lee, bass player and singer Joshua Godwin, drummer Will Dewey, and guitarist Alex Herring. They are located out of Benson, North Carolina but play venues around the entire state. Alex and David are students at North Carolina State University, while Will holds a job in heating and cooling, and Joshua is a network engineer.
How did you come up with the name The Bourbons?
David: We were all together, and we were just talking and trying to come up with a name for what we were doing. Alex said he had a class where they talked about the bourgeoisie— which means common people. We were going to go with that, but then we found this French family of royalty called the Bourbons. We just thought it was a really cool name for a band. How did you come together as a band?
David: I went to first grade with Alex. We knew Josh went to the same elementary, middle, and high school as us, and we started hanging out with him in high school. Will, we kind of knew of in high school, and we got up with him when we needed a drummer because he had a good name on the street. Alex and I have been playing together since eighth grade, and Josh used to come around and videotape us. Our drummer at the time moved away, and we kind of disbanded for a while. Then we got back together, we started playing, and we’ve been together ever since. What is your favorite song to sing and why?
David: I think mine is “Wear It Out.” It’s one of our originals, and it has attitude. It’s really fun to play live and has a lot of energy. Will: “Wear it Out.” It’s a very good song. Alex: “Wear It Out” makes you feel like James Brown, but, for me, it’s “Oh Tomorrow” because I have three parts in that song. Nobody expects me to do anything, and I end up getting to do what I want to. It feels awesome. What is the most rewarding thing about playing in a band?
Will: Making people move. That’s really what it boils down to. If everybody around us is having a great time, then it really influences us to have a great time on stage. Alex: Plus, we get to play around on our guitars the whole time, and nobody says anything about it.
Is it difficult to balance your day jobs and music?
David: I was out from eight to nine today with school and work, and Dewey [Will] and Patches [Josh] are both nine-tofive. I don’t know what the hell Alex does, but it’s pretty hard to balance it. We’re really busy. It’s hard sometimes to find a way to all get together, but me and Alex are about to graduate. When I graduate, I don’t have any professional job lined up or any graduate school lined up, so the main goal for me is music. I will probably get a regular job to pay the bills, but then I want to do this. Alex: We won’t have the chains of higher education, and we are hoping that music gives us the tools to break free. Josh: I think the whole point is to eventually not have to work. I’m hoping that our music can take us far enough so we won’t have to hold those random jobs because music is what we are all passionate about. Where would you like see The Bourbons in five years?
Josh: I don’t even know if I want to be with these guys in five years. They’re killing me right now. Nah, I’m just kidding. I want to be on the road and to get somewhere big. Alex: Actually, we’re trying to see all of the national parks, and that’s our main goal. In the mean time, we’re trying to play some gigs here and there, just enough to buy some beef jerky. Do you have any advice for anyone trying to pursue a career in music?
Alex: Get a real job, and get very good at it. You have to go out there, and you’re never going to make shit happen in your basement. That’s the hard fact you have to learn. If you want to make something happen, you have to reach out and grab it. Meet people—that’s how you book gigs and stuff, and you have to get people behind what you’re doing. 1
Unsolved to the Last—oil painting by Jamie Watson
The Walking Man
poetry by Courtney Fisher
I used to live in your color— the pensive weave of pomegranate cloaked in black-cinnamon curls, and your raucous laughter, the fast pouring laughing that kept me unspun. But now I know you are not Mondrian and Miró and Léger. You are empty precise lines, the slim stretch of solitude and limbs painted apricot-bronze patina. A blank faced everyman lacking lips and tongue and teeth— And I have seen you flinch from the bite of the pinion sitting on the spindle of your shoulder.
The Goat in Me
poetry by Nicole Herbert
Scales the wilderness in you, seeking some wide-angled place of worship. Like plate tectonics, it’s potent—ever shifting to feistier heights. I believe in you: You re-shape landscapes, tame dreams. There is no tragedy. But the satyr in me can’t be contained; it erupts.
Swamp—watercolor by Tessa Pfeifer 21
was no aggression in his eyes, no
fiction by Jacob Mohr
aul Bellamy saw the shape of her walking through the double doors of the convenience store, saw her in the fish-eye mirror, whose eye could peer into all the hidden spaces behind the flimsy, white metal shelves and stacks of cans and boxes all around the store. She walked in and shook the water off her blue raincoat—momentarily obscuring his view of the Williams’s boy, Mitch, reading some trashy publication off the magazine rack by the door—and headed to the back of the store where the refrigerated shelves were. Mitch’s pimple-studded face turned and squinted at the girl’s behind with some interest but turned back to his literature once he lost sight of her behind the pastry shelf. Outside, the rain continued to pour. Paul watched her as she perused the alcohol in the back, trying to gauge her age by the reflection in the fish-eye mirror. She couldn’t be more than seventeen, he wagered to himself, but it was so hard to tell at this distance. Girls like this come into stores all the time like this, trying to flash a fake ID or their older sister’s driver’s license. Paul had a girl show him her breasts once. He hadn’t asked for it; she just sidled up to the counter, plopped a six-pack next to the register, and pulled up her shirt. She was his neighbor’s daughter from two houses over and only fifteen years old. The Williams’s boy sneezed twice and placed his magazine back on the rack before wiping his nose with the back of his hand, and then the hand on the seat of his pants. He ambled up to where Paul was standing and slid a pack of cigarettes towards him. “For my older brother,” he said. “Sure,” Paul replied. Mitch was nineteen, and the state of his lungs was his own concern.
“You know her?” he asked, gesturing to the girl’s reflection. Mitch looked, and shook his head. “Nah. Guess she’s new.” “Or from out of town,” Paul supposed. “Those’ll be six thirty-five.” Mitch paid for his cigarettes and exited the store, pulling his jacket up over his head as shelter from the torrent, and Paul went back to watching the girl. She’d lost interest in alcohol and was now browsing the sunglasses display, rotating the case back and forth and peering at her reflection in the lenses. After a few moments of this, she plucked a pair of aviators off the rack and trudged up to the register. At this point, Paul got his first real-good look at her: she was a tall, skinny thing, and oddly proportioned, all elbows and ankles and gangly youthfulness. She had a pale, almost yellowy face, framed by curtains of indeterminately dark hair, still damp from the rain, with pale pink cheeks, and very chapped lips that were almost white with dead skin. She’d put on the aviators on her way to the register, hiding her eyes. “Four ninety-nine, miss,” Paul told her, squinting at the tag dangling off one side of the sunglasses. “You’ll need to take those off so I can scan them.” The girl frowned, and began to fiddle with one arm of the glasses but did not remove them. To his surprise, Paul found himself wondering if she was going to make a break for the door, and he thought about how he would react if she did. The convenience store had been robbed at gunpoint twice in the past three years. Both times, a pair of young men had come in near closing time wearing hooded sweatshirts with the drawstrings pulled tight. One would come and pull him over the counter, sit him on the ground, and put the barrel of a gun to his head while the other cleaned out the cash register. If
emotion at all, just a tired, dead-eyed look . . .”
there wasn’t much money in the register, they’d grab as many twelve packs as they could stack in their arms and run out, calling backwards for Paul not to follow them. As soon as they left, Paul would call Jonah Leland down at the police station, who’d come around with another officer and get descriptions of the boys and maybe a mug of coffee if there was time after. Paul never found out if the perpetrators were caught. Jonah was always talking about Paul getting a shotgun or something to keep behind the counter, but Paul kept thinking about the second robbery, about how the boy holding the gun looked. There was no aggression in his eyes, no emotion at all, just a tired, dead-eyed look, as if even though the gun was in his hand, he could barely comprehend what was taking place. “Do you take American Express?” the girl asked, in a hollow sort of voice like she was speaking through a throatful of phlegm. Paul said he did, and the hand fiddling with the sunglasses dropped and seemed to hesitate before plunging into her jeans pocket and fishing out a pink metal wallet with a clasp, and half-a-dozen credit and debit cards inside. She slid the American Express card out of its plastic sleeve and handed it to him. He swiped it. The little screen on the register flashed zeroes. “No good,” Paul said. “Sorry, miss.” The girl frowned, and handed him another card. “Try this one.” Three cards later, they found one that still had some money on it, and Paul rang up the sunglasses, feeling a little relieved as he punched in the numbers on the little keypad. “I’ll scan those now,” he said, gesturing to the girl’s face.
Again the girl hesitated, but she complied, folding the sunglasses before setting them on the counter. Her eyes were bright and clear and deep mud-brown. Paul scanned the tag and handed the glasses back. “Come back any time,” he said, and the girl turned to leave. “Wait, miss,” Paul called after her. “I forgot to give you your receipt.” There was a brilliant flash of lightning, followed by a boom of thunder, and an explosion shook the convenience store as a transformer exploded outside. All at once, the lights in the store shut off, plunging the girl and Paul into near darkness. Paul saw the girl whirl around and stare at him, and felt his next breath catch like a fishhook in his chest. She had night eyes, rather like a cat’s but brighter, with little white disks gleaming in the dark where her pupils should be. Paul made a small gurgling sound in his throat and did not move. The lights came on. The girl squinted in the sudden glare, and her eyes were mud-brown once more. She and Paul regarded each other for a moment, neither of them moving. There was no sound except for their breathing and the steady drumming of the rain. Finally, the girl walked up to the counter and reached out to take the receipt from Paul’s hand. Her fingernails scraped painfully on Paul’s palm when their hands touched. “Thanks,” she said. She put on the sunglasses and walked back out into the pouring rain, crossed the road, and vanished. 1
Friday, July 20th, 2013, 12:12 a.m.â&#x20AC;&#x201D;photo-lithography by Kayla Seedig 25
A Sigil in the Sand fiction by Chris Snow
1 in which he begins to see the men of his dreams
alcolm Maness indulges himself with dreams of opium dens. Sprawling on his mattress, he pretends that his room is a tent and that the light sifting through the bent and broken blinds is emitted by hanging oil lamps instead of streetlights. In his lonely and oppressive bedroom, he conjures a heady atmosphere of heavy hands, and imagines—or is it true?—that breezes sift over the windowpane and deliver fine particles of sand that cohere and create a living man at the foot of his bed. And if, with the blinds raised to the moonlight and the windows thrown wide, enough sand blows into his room, might he not then have an entire harem of sandmen, a brood of husky brothers that put him to bed with their strong hands upon his body, while singing hymns of their adventures in foreign lands; would he not drift into the deepest of slumbers with their Aeolian voices soft in his ears, rich as the whispers that spill ancient secrets? At night, hedonist erotica peppers Malcolm’s dreams. He glimpses sandmen crowded into crystal elevators that lower them into the deep of the earth, into underground caverns awash in flames where they wave enormous arc lights in blinding semaphores of salvation for their frantic brothers. In another dream, the waters of the Nile turn to steam as sandmen in Malcolm’s felucca raise snow white sails to a furious and thrashing Egyptian wind. In yet a third dream, sandmen in robes of silvered linen and crushed, coppered velvet gather before an enormous deity encrusted with fiery rubies and verdant emeralds, where they chant in overtones that draw the moon so near the rim of the Earth that the dream world trembles with dread. In the morning, Malcolm wakes with the sun warming his face. He pushes his back against the wall, puts sunshades over his sleepy eyes, and massages his calves and thighs. Soon his caresses lull him back into fantasy, and he yearns for his sandmen and for his own private opium den in the desert.
selves more readily, and he pays rapt attention to every detail of their heavy chests, that rise and fall like an erotic machinery of forbidden mystery. Malcolm takes these sandmen to his bed, to his opium den. Upon the altar of his blazing imagination they sculpt their sand flesh into mythic animals and totem objects. Often they dissolve into sand snakes that curl around his feet and calves, twins slithering against the ticklish inside of his auburn thighs. When they have rendered him aroused and edgy, they bring him to the relief he seeks. 2 in which he releases them from time
alcolm saunters down the long slope of his backyard, sunlight hot against the nape of his neck, and disappears into the forest where he follows the sluggish creek to the wreckage of two overturned cars—so old and rusted through that the wind scatters them as easily as campfire ash. He had pitched a small orange tent here, beside this landmark of ruined metal—crumpled chrome and shattered glass. Malcolm crawls inside, zips the flaps together, and reclines upon a sleeping bag. Assured of privacy, he removes an hourglass and a ball of tinfoil from the knapsack he had carried with him. Peeling the foil away from the skull pipe, he strikes a match against his thumbnail and puffs on the sweet, pungent brain inside.
Turning the hourglass over in his moist hands, he watches the spill and tumble of sand—back and forth, round and round. Malcolm succumbs to the gathering heat in the tent and dreams of his sandmen. They know each other intimately now; he has named each sandman down to his last grain. His harem comes without his having to call, and soon their fingers vibrate at his temples, their thumbs knead the tender inside of his wrists, and their palms press upon the swell of his robust shoulders. The mild summer breeze cannot cool the tent, and Malcolm languishes in a humid sweat. The sand watches him reach behind his head and pull away his shirt; the sand sees the glint of moisture on his chest, the As he grows older he begins to see real sandmen. Perhaps they damp tufts of hair under his arms, and the glistening hollows had always been near, haunting him since the cradle and hid- above his curving clavicles. He rolls the hourglass along his ing somewhere in the corners of his eyes, just out of sight. But chest, teasing the sand as it spills in the glass—back and forth, with the onset of young adulthood, they begin to show them- round and round. Standing the hourglass upright upon the 26
flaxen level of his stomach, Malcolm hears a drone in his ears like the plaintive wail of an orphaned infant. It is the sound of the sand begging for release. Then, as if to please him, the tantalized grains resolve into perfect little Platonic solids. With a sudden twist of his hands, Malcolm snaps the wooden casing and cradles the pinched phial between his thumb and forefinger. Sensing escape, the solids dissolve into an excited sandstorm. The vibrating glass splinters and cracks apart; breathing sand pours onto his chest in strange loops, an Ouroboros that waits but a moment on the wet of his chest before deforming into rapid little sand crickets, springing upon his face and darting into his mouth, nose, and ears. Malcolm pitches in a flailing spasm, collapsing the tent as he struggles to spit and breathe. He wakes in the late, afternoon heat of a waning sun, the fallen tent, an orange blanket upon his body. He does not move, but waits, listening to the crickets chirp, the birds argue in the canopy, and the calm ripple of the stream just beyond his tent and rusting wreckage. Moistening his parched lips, he tastes sand at the corners of his mouth; blinking, he feels it, fine as silt at the corners of his eyes. The sand is inside of him now; he senses the grains sailing on the hot blood coursing through his veins. Malcolm knows that the sand is changing him. He knows that he wants this, and that he is unafraid.
and decorated him with discipline in front of the crying girl and her frantic mother. He had cried then too, lost amid the shuffle of skirts and raised voices, but now he smiled with the memory of his misadventure. After all, boys will be . . . what exactly? The sandmen made a sieve of his dreams, sifting memories from his mind. Nags Head, North Carolina. In his ninth year, he had stood at the top of the dunes on the Outer Banks with the famous lighthouse behind him and the ocean in the distance. The wind had whipped sand against his cheeks and the backs of his hands and his little legs. Stinging all over from the sand in the wind, he had barely been able to open his eyes to look for his family, whom he had lost among the dunes. But he had not cried in the hazing grains, had not even been afraid, for the sandmen had found him and given him strange comfort. Sweating in the heat of his den, Malcolm turns lazily on his pillow and tastes silted kisses on his lips. In his ears, the drone of wind and the voices of men:
We were there on the dunes when you were a fair and comely youth; we are here with you now that you have come of age, and we will be with you, for you, forever. 4 in which he learns that he is loved 3 in which he remembers when he met them alcolm engineers an ancient world in a terrarium filled with sand. On one side, he arranges little solar barks he desert sun streams through the broken blinds into the oven of Malcolm’s den, as he lie daydreaming upon his with onion-skin sails in the sand beside three foil pyramids. hot mattress. Heavy hands, coarse and rough, fall upon the On the other side, he plants Corinthian columns in a circle small of his back. The sediment of fingertips moves in tight around an obsidian altar on a raised dune. Between them, in arabesques behind his ears, along his forearms, and the curv- the center of the terrarium, Malcolm draws a sigil in the sand. At night, a hanging oil lamp illuminates the terrarium. ing crest of his hips. The sandmen draw his dreams away from their arid tours Equine bodies gather from the grains, rising and falling in the and set him down in the sandbox of his sixth year, amid metal quick, forming centaurs and satyrs. Sandmen run through the cars, birthday dump trucks, and the pigtailed girl whose sneer- columns and circle round the silvered pyramids. Their feet ing face he had shoved into the sand so many years ago. She never leave the sand as they run; mounds of sand merely shift had jerked and kicked to little effect with his full weight on her at their hooves and ankles. At the pyramids, sandmen dive back and his palms in a firm press against the back of her head. beneath the solar barks and rock the little boats upon waves His mother had wrenched him up and out of the sandbox of glittering silt. At the temple, they perform mock sacrifices
upon the obsidian altar. Malcolm watches their husky bodies dissolve and resolve as they drape themselves one upon another in orgiastic frenzy. Foregathering at last upon bended knees in the sigil in the sand, they bow their heads beneath his shadowed eyes in their sky. The sigil opens, and a whirling vortex gathers sand from the four corners of the terrarium. The sandmen derange, the pyramids sink, and the columns collapse into a sphere of sand, rising upon a thick and sturdy neck. Carving itself into a portrait bust, the sand squares its jaw, brings a polish to its cheek and chin, and with a finished face, opens its eyes. Malcolm looks directly into features that perfectly mirror his own: crooked nose and ringlets of hair that hide the scar on his forehead. He puts his lips against their likeness. Their mouths fall open, and a sandpaper tongue tangles with his. Malcolm closes his eyes and dreams of shining suns and warm skin, of being loved and surrounded by none, save his glittering men of silt and sand. 5 in which he sees into their past
alcolm shrugs off his clothes and dusts his body and bed with handfuls of sand from the terrarium. The broken blinds are raised to the night, and his windows are wide open. Grain-filled breezes pelt his skin and flakes of mica glitter along his sweaty flank. He sprawls supine upon his mattress and waits for heavy hands to rub him out to sleep and dreams. But instead of blessed slumber, they bring visions of their past. Soaring beneath a cloudless expanse of amber sky, Malcolm surveys a foreign desert landscape. Hordes of singing slaves trudge through the sand with fettered feet. Huge woven ropes burn their massive shoulders and blister their mighty hands. Blinding sand storms shape and polish rough-hewn blocks of alabaster and measured slabs of precious marble on the sleds they heave behind them. Malcolm hears the cadence of their work songs, sung in voices deep and rich. Sand sticks to the sweat of their bodies and gums the blood and mucus round their wounds. They look as though made of sand. The desperate cast their failing bodies into the path of the sleds and are crushed beneath the heavy stone, pushed under the sand to drown in the desert of their masters. Others rot where they fall in the arid heat. A raging wind whitewashes their bones and feeds them to a desert that swallows skeletons whole. Generations of sandmen labor beneath the double-sun, building their masterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s temples. Generations cower beneath the endless crack of a foreign whip in an alien sky they do not recognize. Generations see no future and forget their past; for theirs is life without life, and death without death. Generations carry a sorrow even greater than their burden. 28
Malcolm awakes sobbing, sand sweat oozes from his pores, and his cheeks shine with the sediment of his tears. His grief oppresses him, but there is movement in the terrarium, so he rises from his nightmare bed and peers into the glass. The sand has gathered into a pile of crumbling bones. Candlelight from the only lamp above the terrarium shadows a skull with etching upon it. He cups it with a sweaty hand and puts it to the bidding flame. Upon its forehead is his name: malcolm.
6 in which he dissolves into the harem
he sand is very still as he backs away from the bones in the terrarium and crawls naked through the window, out into the humid dark. The sand is silent in his body as he slips beneath the moonlight, creeping like a shadow toward the playground of his youth. The night has a way of changing things, but the park is just as he remembers: swing sets glint silver in the dark, and hollow metal rockets wait for daylight with their noses to the moon. The sterile shine of inclined slides still reminds him of autopsy tables. Malcolm moves past roundabouts that do not go round, and tire swings that do not swing. A skeletal jungle gym towers ahead of him, and behind it, a sandbox waits patiently. Malcolm kneels, heel to haunch, at the edge of the box. The sand understands his purpose and shifts in welcome, spilling over the edge and creating a canyon in which to receive his moonlit flesh. Malcolm reclines into the box as readily as he slips into his own sand strewn bed. The sand returns slowly at first, grains filling the spaces between his arms and torso, his fingers and toes, feet and legs. The sand even takes care to carve an ornate Baroque leaf with which to conceal his sex, like Adamâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s after Eden. Malcolm takes one last breath before the sand rolls all of itself upon him in one great wave. He struggles mightily as the sandmen work upon his body, wearing away his flesh and whitewashing his bones. Slowly, Malcolm calms and the sand settles. In the quiet of the playground, the harem drifts, rising from the sandbox lazily at first, but then with speed, into the night, toward the place of the Horizon of the Double-Sun. 1
Summer 2014 | Issue 68
Thank you Bill DiNome, the Student Media Board, The Bourbons, Jon Berry, Bourgie Nights, Gene Spear, fish tacos, Adobe, lots of brain food, tempurpedic mattresses, UNCW Printing Services, comfy chairs in fancy offices, sugar highs, Domino’s, coffee, tea, frolicking unicorns with glossy coats, gangsta’ rap, honey, hedgehogs, Chicago Manual of Style, iMacs, heated blankets, the Creative Writing Dept., Moscato, Dexter Morgan, our readers, and pomegranates.
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