Issuu on Google+

A V A N T

a literary magazine


A

vant is published biannually by the

undergraduate

students

of Rowan University and exclusively features undergraduate work. Meetings are held every Thursday at 5 p.m. in the Publication Suite, room 220 of the

Mark M. Chamberlain Student Center. Submissions are reviewed anonymously and voted upon during weekly meetings. To

be

considered

for

publication,

students should submit their poetry, short

stories,

creative

nonfiction,

photography, or scanned artwork to avantzine@gmail.com as an attachment, along with the title of the work and contact information. Avant is printed by name of company in Deptford, New Jersey. All material is copyrighted, Avant 2011.

Volume 54 Issue 1

A V A N T


Table of Contents

writings

Written in bed by Alex Vogelsong ........................................... 5 Being Candid by Samuel Fine ................................................... 6 to be misunderstood by Stephanie Kohler .............................. 7 Snail Trails by Alex Stolte ......................................................... 8 Old Shoes by Adam Toscani ...................................................... 9 MERICA by Kevin Soojian ....................................................... 10 The Night of Drank by Dean Terrell ........................................ 11 Seaquakes and Stomachaches by Frank Martini ................... 12 Going Fishing by Tom Richards ............................................... 13 Lion’s Club by Lauren Ward .................................................... 14 Columbo by Cara Rothenberg ................................................. 16 Too much can hurt by Kevin Soojian ...................................... 17 Climate Change by Samuel Fine ............................................. 18 Canvas by Kimberly Erskine .................................................... 19 Margaret by Tom Richards ..................................................... 20 Prometheus, Maybe by Alex Grover ...................................... 22 Better Half by Lauren Wills .................................................... 24 Origins by Samuel Fine ........................................................... 25 Eating the Stars by Lauren Ward ........................................... 26 4 Buddha’s by Justin Totora .................................................... 27 After Sleeping with my Ex One Last Time by Lauren Wills .. 28 Hairless Endeavors by Frank Martini .................................... 29 Mistaken for a Foreigner by Jayne Dzuback ......................... 30 Thanksgiving by Rebecca Romeo ........................................... 31 Nexus by Alex Grover .............................................................. 36 A Man Who Works With His Hands by Justin Clark ............. 39 Loose Ends by Samuel Fine ..................................................... 41 The Shadow by Anita Sipala ................................................... 42 Post Break up Anorexia by Emily Vaughan .......................... 44 Pavolov’s iDog by Samuel Fine ............................................... 45 The Lush by Laura Cymerman ................................................ 47 Recoil by Gabrielle Ostapovich .............................................. 48 Lots by Emily Vaughan ........................................................... 48 Bukowski’s Bitch by Emily Vaughan ..................................... 49


Table of Contents

photography and art

Abandoned House by Dominique Klimek .............. COVER Built to Perfection by Lesley Colladay ..................................... 6 No Destination by Lesley Colladay .......................................... 7 Reflections by Joanna Draszcz ................................................. 9 Horseshoe Bend by Joanna Drzaszcz ..................................... 10 Lake Mohawk by Dominique Klimek ..................................... 12 Sebastian by Dominque Klimek ...............................................13 It’s Only a Game by Danielle Cook .......................................... 15 Penny by Kristen Conner ......................................................... 17 Moth by Kristen Conner .......................................................... 18 Homage to Mondrian by Joanna Drzaszcz ............................ 19 It Was Always Raining by Joanna Drzaszcz ........................... 21 Door of Notre Dame by Jolene Hernadez ............................. 22 Walk Home by Katya Palsi ...................................................... 23 River of Laughter by Danielle Cook ....................................... 24 More Than Moss by Sam Fine ................................................. 25 Untitled by Beatrice Carey ..................................................... 26 Tea with Buddha by Jayne Dzuback ...................................... 27 Abyss Self by Katya Palsi ......................................................... 28 Snap Crackle Pop by Katya Palsi ............................................. 29 Feria de Abril by Rachel Mancini ............................................ 30 Virginia by John Logue ............................................................ 35 Lake by Dominique Klimek ..................................................... 36 Exiting Golden Gate Park by Tom Frenchu ............................ 37 Sensory Overload by Tom Frenchu ........................................ 37 Eucalyptus Heavens by Tom Frenchu .................................... 37 Phoenix by Katya Palsi ............................................................ 37 The Path by Lauren Wederich ................................................ 37 Lilypads by Jessica Howery ..................................................... 37


Table of Contents photography and art Island Home by Jayne Dzuback .............................................. 38 Red Dirt Shirt by Lauren Wederich ........................................ 38 Orange Horizons by Lauren Wederich .................................. 38 Sand at Sunrise byJessica Howery .......................................... 38 Paralleled by Kristen Vaughn ................................................. 38 Eiffel Tower by Rachel Mancini .............................................. 38 Lonely WInter by Jessica Howery .......................................... 41 When the Sun Goes Down by Leslie Colladay ....................... 41 Wind Turbines by Joanna Dzraszcz ....................................... 45 Ocean City by Joanna Draszcz ............................................... 46 Greener on the Other Side by Lesley Colladay ...................... 47 My Fair Lady by Jolene Hernadex ......................................... 49


5

Written in Bed, Revised Over the Ben Franklin Alex Voglesong

you’re gripping me while you sleep I woke up too early and now I can’t drift back but if I close my eyes and focus on the cool city breeze washing over my body eventually the occasional passing car sounds like the ocean’s gentle purr pigeon’s coos become seagull’s caws and that tinny music floating up four stories drfits instead from just a few umbrellas over I’m certain that I’m at the shore. I peek from under my eyelids and see a beachfront motel balcony where a dingy apartment building once jutted into the cottony sky I grin I’m getting comfortable on the loose sand he’s still wrapped up in the taught sheets then when he wakes up and asks me to hold him I oblige but rubbing his skin makes me wonder if I need to reapply sunscreen on mine...


6

Being Candid

Samuel Fine

She holds herself so high she has Saturn’s rings hanging around her head. But if you upset her (trust me, you will) the halo falls to the floor and it sounds just like a plastic hula hoop with pixie-stick stripes. And if the blue in her eyes comes out to play, run for your life, unless you’re resigned to losing it all in the hourglass sands of her chest, waist and hips.


7

to be misunderstood Stephanie Kohler

finches swandive into my windshield, leftover oak leaves dance and move as squirrels under my tires; i’ve killed nothing, but i take cover in a barefoot slouch. lemon epidemics, they mold and i save the good ones from the powder, sweet and sour ducklings in an oiled ocean. hothot showers with bubbles bursting; i lose the mirrors, find the moon and nudity soaks the color-blocked rug. all along sinning, my calendar says it is july thirty-second, and my potential whistles like a teapot in heat.


8

Snail Trails

Alex Stolte

It’s raining now. A girl with a zebra umbrella walks by, gives me a look, and turns away quickly. She’s wearing sweat pants rolled up at her wide hips. “Hey,” I holler at her, half-heartedly. She turns back at me, cutting off the view of her tight ass. Her eyes stare at me, questioning if she should bother to walk over. I make the desicion for her. “Fuck you,” I tell her. She walks away, but not without first giving me a look of confusion and slight anger. I imagine her crying when she gets back to wherever she was going. Her button nose leaking. She wipes it on her long black sleeve. Little snail trails, silvered up her sleeve.


9

Old Shoes

Adam Toscani

Old shoes, some shoddy vernacular Crawling around conveying the same. Old souls, young souls – Dustier wisdom with another pour. Old farts, some young heads, a Bearded old fat guy sloshing around In the foam. Old lungs, young lungs, talking heads, drifting fists. They took those old shoes out to The lot – They parked those fists And hugged it out. Two drunken assholes at the Bar.


10

MERICA

Kevin Soojian

As a boy, I’d bash bumblebees with brooms, but now I’m a father with tequila goggles and bald eagles look like bees so forgive me please I did not mean to hurt this species it’s just that I’m too fat and lazy to even care about what dies, about if I step outside in my underwear and let the rest of us know where we are headed.


11

The Night of Drank Dean Terrell

Heavy heads bumping against limbs Without any care. Close like our shoes piled in corners; A toast to us all for surviving The beginning of our new lives. Screen pixels light the edges Of the wooden frames and We line like fish, Drunk on beds. Questions of measurements Make my head spin. I mold the bed with my bones Comfortable and sunken, But sick and trek to the stalls Solid food falls into bowl, And I’m pried upon with sympathies. Poor little thing she cires I interrogate myself, and Soon surrender to soft arms And milkly legs bruised. Beautiful with character. The sun shakes its head at us but, I face away, pressing my dry lips against A cotton back and blurry hair. The responsibles walk in rays While I toast to another day.


12

Seaquakes and Stomachaches Frank Martini

The ocean is ailing pale and green, she murmurs and moans, leaving behind splatters of dark clumps and strands. Inhaling, I share her illness through tongues of brine and the antique scent of sea salt. We embrace, lying patiently in the sweet serenity of the sand.


13

Going Fishing

Tom Richards

The eyes are still moist, more so than you would ever have suspected. Each sphere a golden corona sinking inwards to a black abyss. The gills leak blood. Every time I fish I watch death come to a helpless creature. In those eyes, I see the last tethers of his life erode and I watch something die. I think one day Death will notice those helpless eyes and see the fear and the helplessness and He will take me instead because of how many times I’ve watched him come and go through those deep dark eyes.


14

Lion’s Club

Lauren Ward

Daddy’s truck pulled into the driveway. It was a Wednesday night. I waited until I could hear the water of the shower, then I ran into his room. Blue jar, green jar, brown jar. Which cologne would I pick for him tonight? I set the sapphire one on the top of his dresser, my six year old hands pushing it as far back from the edge as it would go. I knew he would find it there. Next were the pins – so many to choose from. I ran my nails over the engravings, admiring my Daddy’s acheivements. My favorite was gold and purple, the one with the lion on it. He walked downstairs in his dress pants and fancy jacket. He took the pin from me and smiled, thanking me for my help before he left for his meeting. Twenty years later, I do not know where those pins are; maybe still in his dresser that now resides in a room he shares with a woman who is not my mother.


15

Lion’s Club I do not know if he still uses the same colognes or different ones. I have forgotten the scents, his smile, his embrace. I only remember the goodbyes.


16

Columbo

Cara Rothenberg

He appeared on my TV screen the other night. Sporting that wrinkled beige rain coat, cigar falling out of his mouth. Watching him pace around the killer’s kitchen, pensively rubbing his temples, reminded me of you. Of us, actually. You in your usual corner of the couch, balacing your martini on your belly. Six-year-old me, waltzing into the living room, swimming in one of your rain coats, my teeth clenching a brown Crayola marker in hopes of impersonating our favorite well-mannered detective. You laughed, your martini did a dance on your belly. I curled up next to you, and right before the show began you kissed my hair and asked me how I got to be so pretty. I told you I wasn’t, and you laughed again. I hid my face in your shoulder when things got too scary, but Lieutenant, that deceptively observant bastard, caught the bad guy in the end. He always did. You saw that episode before, I know you did. You had seen them all years ago. But you acted like you hadn’t, joining in on my gasping and shrieking. I can’t say I watch very often anymore. I’ve been busy, I suppose. But if you could– If you wouldn’t mind – just please send my regards to the Lieutenant.


17

Too much can hurt Kevin Soojian

When I hop the fence, I do it slowly As to assure that my junk Does not get clipped, And I laugh at my friend Because he hopped with confidence And for that Did his parts end up stitched.


18

Climate Change

Samuel Fine

We argued all night about how there could be snow on your ground while there’s green in my tree. You said, “It belongs there where it fell to rest.” I said, “But I still feel the Sun on my breast.” You answered me slowly, so as not to forget to steal back your pieces of what I had left. But despite your best effort, you couldn’t deprive me of the feelings keeping us alive.


19

Canvas

Kimberly Erskine

I was born at the hand of a painter Created through his gentle brush Made into an object of beauty. There are some days when I’m a mere abstraction, Composed of water-colored puddles, A blurred, rainy vision. Other days I’m monochromatic red, Like the flame of a candle, Refusing to burn out. Long hours made me beautiful –– But only to the naked eye, Underneath all my layers... I am merely canvas.


20

Margaret

Tom Richards

Margaret, eyes of green like moss in spring that creeps across a cool rock unchallenged. She will never now return, her precious mortal frame fallen to the creeping predator hiding, suppressed within her blood; the blood that flowed in thin red ribbons down her chin each time she coughed a piece of her own body. Margaret, her hair held up with colored ribbons, each as intrictae in pattern as in beauty. Her hair once smelled of books. She read them in the library, where the aging times enveloped her in the scent of earth and paper. And as her sickness left her with foddy eyes and a shaky hand I read to her the lines she could not read herself. Margaret, vibrant and eternally alive blushing with the joy of her eternal thrill. She was the one I loved. The one who loved me, who came to me in the night with fear in her eyes looking for strength. Our love was strong but it was not enough to overcome what flowed within her blood.


21

Margaret I loved her when she burst with life, and still I love her now. I once felt the feverish icy chills and blazed upon her head, and saw the tears that fell upon her hand as well as the blood they sometimes accompanied. Now I pound the earth with bloody palms myself. I am just as spent as she was, unable to taste the fruit of life. The time I have left I will spend cursing this disease that killed my Margaret. Who paved the way for Death to press his bone-dry mouth to hers and breathe her life away.


22

Prometheus, Maybe Alex Grover

So the neighborhood is on fire – and you’re holding a torch. The town ablaze in a fiery mob – burned bodies in burned body bags, reheated toaster strudel– they blame you first, since you’ve always been quiet, and you’ve always been smart. So you say– “A spark that inspires, despite its flames, is justified forever.” They hang you anyway, as an arsonist. Biut the real arsonist left town three weeks ago, on a little trip to the sun-roasted Bahamas. He’s still there. I guess he had a pretty damn good idea if, with darkened mind’s ingenuity, his brain begat some crazed mechanism of flamecraft, and his fire started now. So the neighborhood is on fire, you’re dead, strung like a noodle, the real arsonist is on vacation, and we’re in a town meeting led by sweaty mayors, pastors, and other glorytrotters fantasizing our gloated victory as a brilliant cavalcade with latex balloons and dollar-store streamers.


23

Prometheus, Maybe You didn’t really have to say what you did. It was funny, but you didn’t have to– you were always the one with the bright ideas. But I guess after today there won’t be any more good ideas left in our little, smoldering, residential development.


24

Better Half

Lauren Wills

I came across a picture of you and your baby daughter, both of you fat cheeked and grinning, the world ripe and sweet as summer, just waiting for your laughter to unfold. Cross my heart, I’m not the type to settle, and since you I’ve had my share of men, transactions of calloused fingers or a rough tongue in a battered corner. But every now and then I think selfishly, what if, why not, we’re still so young… or of the way you blushed and stammered “wife,” before I told you, cold, it wasn’t time to quit the game. And now your blood sings in another’s veins, your life knitted to hers with a thread so strong it has no name. Tonight I’ll find another to scrub you from my pores, and try to forget you, a gift to you and yours.


25

Origins

Samuel Fine

Don’t fret the noise. It’s just me taking a brick to the glass facade of your clean cut world. Let me handle the shards and study the rough edges, no longer hidden inside of those panes. Show me the sand that went into this glass and roll out the rocks waves break into sane. I want to swim in the lava, bubbling up from underfoot, then watch it cool off and morph into rock. And I want to ride on asteroids hurtling through space, slamming young Earth so hard it becomes molten. In fact, do fret the noise, so I can see what happens when the glass breaks back.


26

Eating the Stars

Lauren Ward

I plucked the stars from the sky, dwarfs and giants alike. I cut ribbon from the Milky Way to tie them all together. You said they were beautiful but already dead, or dying. You made me eat them. They tumbled down my lungs. Galaxies ballooned inside of me. You asked how they tasted. Like cinnamon and salt. I left the stems at your feet, nubbled beyond repair. You reached out to deflate me but I wafted away. No one will burst my belly of hope.


27

4 Buddha’s

Justin Totora

Four Buddha’s meditating in a hollow gave voice to their enlightenment. The first Buddha said, “Everything is nothing.” and he wept for humanity. The second Buddha said, “Nothing is everything,” and he wept for the world. The third Buddha said, “Everything is everything and nothing is nothing,” and he wept for existence. The fourth Buddha said nothing, then ate a sandwich, jerked off, smoked a cigarette and took a nap. When he woke up he was happy.


28

Sleeping with my Ex One Last Time Lauren Wills

I never do this, as if this time I will believe it. I realize in the evening, sleep, and wake still knowing that I can’t just leave it be—how me. Everything there was to take was taken, excepting my naiveté, that old friend who laces her cold fingers with mine. When you left, you sucked the gravity from the room, though some still lingers around the bed, whispering don’t get up, let sleep take this hit for you again. If only the drizzle inside my head would let up enough for me to wake and end the refrain of sleeping when your absence becomes too much. But my bed’s the only place I still recall your touch.


29

Hairless Endeavors Frank Martini

He had no body hair. Where it was, I do not know. I know if I had to rid myself of my body hair, the first thing I would do is stuff it in my pillowcase. I know what you’re thinking: “But wouldn’t the hair poke through the pillow material and irritate you while you sleep?” To this, I say no. Of course it wouldn’t. My hair is soft, and smells nice. Unlike this man, whose haunting odor and unsightly appearance will be forever stained upon my nose and eyes. Surely his body hair must have uprooted itself upon its own free will and taken root upon another, more pleasant smelling person. I stared at this hairless man through the glass. He sat in the corner of the room with his head down. Was he asleep? I couldn’t be sure. Perhaps he was dreaming of me. I knew he was jealous. I could picture him just hours before, the poor ogre sobbing himself to sleep whilst coveting my long, flowing locks, that of which no dandruff or louse has ever lain curse upon. I rapped my cane against the glass. “Wake up! Scoundrel! Tell me where you hair has gone to!” He struggled to lift his head, hands wiping the crust from his groggy eyes. “That’s it! Wake up, mutant! Tell me why your hair has forsaken you!” He turned and looked at the glass. Dark waves seemed to emit from the black circles under his eyes, stretching to eclipse his tonsured head, as if beclouding some sort of strange, hairless planet. He opened his mouth to speak, but no words came out. Only hair.


30

Mistaken For A Foreigner Jayne Dzuback

As I step up to the weighing station at a bad Chinese buffet in Philadelphia, the young Asian woman behind the counter asks:

And I couldn’t tell you one thing about the sprawling Italian countryside my great-grandparents left to start a new life in America.

“Are you Italian?”

So I tell the woman behind the counter, “no,”

My first instinct is ‘yes,’ my great-grandparents (on my mother’s side) were from Naples. My mother and I are cursed with anemic, Mediterranean blood. I have an olive complexion, And hazel eyes. In a split second, I realize ‘no,’ I am a native of New Jersey. My olive complexion turns a deep tan every summer from going down the shore. My family only eats one fish, (shrimp with angel hair pasta) on Christmas Eve. I know two words in Italian, neither are appropriate to say in public.

I am just a bottled blonde from the garden state.


31

Thanksgiving

Rebecca Romeo

“I’ve always thought these looked like something,” my mother said, plopping a spoon full of green and orange tortellini on my plate. “What, ma?” I said, grabbing the plate back from her. “They kind of look like,” she ran her tongue across her bottom lip, removing most of her plum-colored lipstick, “they look like assholes.” My brother-in-law, Matt, laughed silently to himself, covering his face with a paper napkin. His face swelled with redness, and he reached over the table to take my mother’s Budweiser from her. “I think that might be enough today, Denise.” I quickly finished my assholes and took my plate into the kitchen. My sister was leaning over the sink, scrubbing a pan covered in brown, caked-on grease. She was mid laugh, when I cut her off. “I don’t understand what is wrong with her,” I said, emphasizing each syllable of every word. Christine finished rinsing the pan, and carefully dried it with a floral dish towel. She looked over her shoulder at me, as she reached for the next scummy dish in the sink. “She’s just drunk. And whatever, it’s Thanksgiving. Listen, are you staying with us tonight? Cause if you are, you need to be out by like nine tomorrow.” “What? Why? Tomorrow is my only day to sleep in all break,” my voice echoed in the cramped kitchen. “Then stay here,” she said, tossing her hair behind her and turning the water off. I pursed my lips, calculating a way to say what I wished to, without sounding like a heartless wench. “I would rather give myself a lobotomy.” “Then be out by nine,” Christine said, dumping the rest of the tortellini salad in a Gladware. “Why, what are you doing?” I asked, handing her the transparent blue lid to the container. “Just be out, Julie.” Christine shoved the container into the fridge, slamming it shut behind her with her foot. A piece of paper held to the fridge by a dolphin shaped magnet slid down the side of the off white surface, curling over as it hit the ground. “Fine, I’ll be gone,” I said, picking up the piece of paper. It was a printed-out picture of Matt and me at my twenty first birthday. He was holding a red funnel up above my head as I sucked in as much cheap beer as I could. My sister stood on a chair next to me, screaming “go, go, go,” until I had slurped the last drops of Natty Ice out of the tube. I put the picture back on the fridge and left the kitchen. I went into the porch, which isn’t actually a porch because it’s inside and has an outdated TV and stereo in it. Matt was sitting on the couch across from my father,who was snoring away on a camping chair beside him. I went and sat next to my brother-in-law. “Hey man,” I said. “What’s going on?” “Nothing much.” He was concentrating on a crossword puzzle, which was mostly


32

Thanksgiving empty. I read one of the clues: A _____ Runs Through It. “Dude, it’s river,” I said, pointing to a row of five spaces. “Oh,” he said, as he carefully wrote out the word in his messy print. My father twitched in his sleep. His chin was buried deep in to his neck, his glasses sliding down his nose. In that moment, I noticed how little gray hair he had. The gray hair he did have was in patches on his unshaven face; some on his left cheek, a little on his chin. Even in his sleep, his face was carved with the years he spent married to my mother. The wrinkles above his bushy brows were the deepest; he always furrowed his forehead when he yelled. Matt laughed to himself as a commercial for some reality show flashed on the screen. “You gonna watch that, Jul?” He laughed again, and filled in another answer on his puzzle. “Not if you paid me,” I said. “I’d rather watch the grass grow.” “Yeah, Christine already has the DVR set. Can’t wait,” he said, rolling his eyes and putting the pencil down. My father started coughing, and his body curled over as he struggled to stay in the chair. He awoke, and mumbled a string of incomprehensible words, finishing with a very clear, “damn it, Julie.” He leaned up out of the chair, repositioning his thin-framed glasses on his nose and coughed again. “Julie, where’s your mother? Isn’t it late? They need to leave, don’t they?” He asked, pointing a bent finger at Matt. “She’s still eating, I think,” I said, picking at my lips. I pulled off a newly formed scab and wiped my fingers across my lip. A smear of red blood was left on my knuckle. Christine came into the porch, wearing her coat and carrying a crock pot. “I’m just gonna put this outside—it smells like shit,” she said, moving closer to the door. Matt stood quickly. “Wait, what is it?” he asked, taking the clear top of the pot off. A putrid scent of burnt meat filled the small porch. “Jesus, what happened? That looks like a whole chicken,” he said, examining the pot’s contents. “My mom never added the broth,” Christine said, “she left it plugged in for two days and never added the broth.” “Well—Chris, you should’ve watched it. You know she had her first beer at like two,” Matt said. “That’s an entire chicken wasted.” His voice deepened, and he let the glass top fall onto the ceramic crock pot. “This was the one thing she had to do. Cook the stupid chicken,” Christine said, as she tore away from Matt. “Besides, Julie was supposed to watch her today.” “What? I’m sorry, I didn’t sign up for that,” I said, standing up and opening the


33

Thanksgiving screen door for my sister. It creaked open, and she set the pot on the steps. “OK, enough,” my father barked. “Someone go find your mother—it’s late and Matt’s got work in the morning.” I left the porch and went to find my mother. She was sitting on her plastic-covered couch in the living room. She leaned on the arm of the couch, twirling a piece of her blonde bob up to her scalp. A photo album sat sprawled open on her lap. It was my sister’s wedding album from the past summer. I looked over her shoulder and saw myself wearing my bridesmaid’s gown. It was pastel pink and shimmered in the sunlight on the beach. In the picture, I stood beside five other bridesmaids on the shore of Point Pleasant, holding a bouquet of lilies neatly arranged in a tear drop. I held my bouquet high, almost to my chest. The flowers covered my plunging neckline, which I had pleaded with my sister not to choose, as well as my stomach, which was, at the time, still bloated with alcohol from the previous night. My sister stood right next to me; thin, enveloped in an off-white mermaid-styled wedding gown. Her hair, unlike my dull, brown side sweep, was beautifully positioned atop her head in a neat, gathered bun, complete with golden blonde extensions for extra volume. Just seconds before this picture was taken, I had scurried down the aisle of sand that weaved through the dunes and divided our family and friends. It was high tide, and right before the wedding party had arrived on the beach, my sister’s guests, dressed in their summer-time bests, were soaked to the ankle with cold, New Jersey ocean water. “Mom, you know you left the crock pot on, right?” I asked her, taking her still full beer from the glass coffee table in front of her. “No, that was your father,” she said, reaching for the glass beer bottle that was no longer there. “Where’s my beer?” She turned, looking on either end table. “You didn’t have one,” I said, hiding the bottle behind me. “Oh. Jul, remember this?” My mother asked, pointing to the picture. “Yeah, I remember,” I said slowly. I remember how the hot sun penetrated through my sheer dress, leaving beads of sweat on my arms and neck. I remember how I had been wearing my mother’s Spanx, which constricted my stomach, butt, and hips from their natural size ten to a tight and barely breathable size eight. And I remember my father, hobbling down the sandy aisle with his cane in one hand and my sister grasping his other. They moved through the seated guests, my father concentrating hard on each step he took, my sister smiling over her bouquet. Matt was waiting at the end of the aisle, looking neat in a black tuxedo, his eyes in a tight squint, battling against the sun. His childhood friends were lined up behind him in height order, all of them covered in a thin layer of salty sweat. Right before Christine’s veil was lifted, and my father kissed her on the cheek, Matt had lifted


34

Thanksgiving his sleeve, revealing his gold Rolex that gleamed in the sun. He had checked the time, then took my sister’s hand into his. Christine came into the living room, holding her nearly empty wine glass. “What are you guys doing?” She asked, then she swallowed the rest of her wine. She stood next to me, looking over my shoulder. “Oh,” she sighed. “Chris—” My mother started saying her name, but she was gone from the room. I followed her down the hall and into my mother’s bedroom. She sat on the waterbed, sinking deep into the frame. I sat next to her, pushing her up as I sunk in, ripples of plastic crawling across the bed. Our reflections sat across from us in my mother’s vanity mirror. There I was, my almond eyes lined with chestnut brown pencil, and my otherwise pasty white cheeks, splashed with a hint of rosy powder. My hair, at its longest, fell messily down my shoulders and to my elbows, with split ends sticking out in every direction. Compared to Christine, I was average in every sense of the word. She sat beside me, with her browned skin neatly covered in shimmery powder, making her glisten even in my mother’s dimly lit bedroom. Her blonde hair was neatly placed to one side, pulled back with a bobby pin. Her only imperfection was the one tear that was gaining momentum, rolling down her cheek. It fell, landing on her dark jeans and disappearing. “What’s up?” I asked her. Her eyes fell to the hall. “Jul—Matt and I are separating. Don’t tell Mommy and Daddy, though.” I sat for a second, letting the words roll over me in waves. “What? What are you talking about? You just got married, I don’t understand.” Christine looked at my reflection in the mirror, her eyes now filled with tears. She waited a moment before saying anything, and adjusted the wedding ring that clung to her finger. She pulled out her tan colored bobby pin and let her hair fall past her face. My knuckles made popping sounds as I pulled them back one at a time. She began to breathe in quick staccatos. “I’m seeing someone else. No, he doesn’t know, and I won’t tell him.” She continued to answer my questions, without me asking them. “You don’t know him. It’s only been a few weeks, but he’s—different, he’s nicer to me.” I imagined my sister sitting in her and Matt’s home, drinking a glass of her typical Shiraz. There would be a knock at the door, and she would rise to answer it, but first checking her make up in the reflection of her and Matt’s family portrait from their honeymoon. Her lover would be standing there, maybe wearing a suit, or maybe just a pair of jeans. He would be older, his five o-clock shadow graying near the corners of his mouth. Her phone would ring from her Juicy Couture hand bag, but she wouldn’t answer it. Matt’s ringtone would still be “Wedding March”


35

Thanksgiving from August. I shivered, picturing my sister with this faceless man. Matt came in, holding her gold purse and her faux white fur coat. “Ready? You’re mom just passed out, we should go.” Christine stood quickly, and told him she’d be just a minute, as she rearranged her hair in the vanity and blinked away any tears. I also stood up, and casually tried to shuffle past Matt, avoiding his eyes. He stopped me though, and put his leg up between me and the door. “You coming with us, Julie?” I kept my wet eyes on the floor, counting every dull fiber of the dingy, blue carpet. Christine cleared her throat from behind me, and I responded with a barely audible “uh, yeah, thanks.” He let me by, and I walked through the living room, past my mother snoring in a strange pattern on her plastic-covered couch, past my father throwing Budweiser bottles in the trash, and out into the cold November night.


36

Nexus

Alex Grover

You lay in bed with me, cuddled close, and you hear the howl of a wild train– passing along its 1:48 am hunting trails of metal footprints. And you whisper, “what’s a human without fear?” The sheets ruffle, chikingly close, and you see the scowl of a dirty man– covered in chains in the corner of the room, eyes plumes of smog. And you whisper, “can you hold me tighter?” 3:15 am is crimson, 5:26 am is paranoia, the window sky is not real to the sleeper who dreams through instinct, and sees through rpimal needs. You whisper to me a simple, “darling?” But you are me, a dirty old man bound by certain chains, who listens for a feral locomotive, wondering when it will strike.


37


38


39

A Man Who Works With His Hands Justin Clark

The stale smell of dirt and ash comes in with the frigid Fall air as the dirty old man stomps his feet on the welcome mat. A young boy remains glued to the television set, discounting the noise from the next room. “I’ve got a load of lumber being delivered tomorrow; I’m going to need you up bright and early to help me move it into the barn. Now go brush your teeth and get to bed.” As a child I dreaded these mundane tasks. The tedious chores my father bestowed upon me every weekend that had me going to school on Monday with calluses on my hands and dirt in my coat pockets. I would liken it to slave labor if it weren’t for the fact that my old man did ten times the amount of work that my small frame could ever endure. I never understood why my father worked so hard. He was retired. Our family owned a sizeable plot of farmland in the middle of nowhere. We didn’t grow any crops or raise cattle. The only animals that called the farm home were a pair of horses and a mangy dog that, at times, I swear my father loved more than his own son. Every day the old man would be out there working on something different: seeding the grass, hammering nails into the barn, bailing hay. The farm never actually managed to bring in any money, just kept my father busy. As I got older I became less patient with my father and his seemingly cyclical list of chores. I asked him why he didn’t just hire some laborers to come in and get this place fixed up once and for good. He told me, “Never have someone else do for you what you can do for yourself.” My self-righteous teenage mind could not even begin to fathom this statement. He went on to say, “A man who works with his hands is the one who truly does God’s work; more so than the preachers, more than the missionaries, more than the goddamn Pope himself.” Once my father began to blaspheme the Pope, I knew it was best to just drop this line of questioning. That summer after Mom died, I didn’t see much of my father except for when I would wake up in the morning, peer out my window and see him elbow deep in another project. We seldom talked, even sitting across from each other at the dinner table. I knew he was grieving but didn’t know what to say or what to do to console him. By then the horses had been sold off to breeder upstate and all that was left was that mangy dog, diligently shadowing my father as he worked. One morning I came outside to find my father sitting on the porch drinking a beer, the dog at his side seeming tired and lethargic. My father told me that the dog wouldn’t be long for this world. It was getting old and could barely muster enough strength to hold itself up. I looked down at the dog lying there, miserable, in what I had to assume was a puddle of its own urine. My father spent all day sitting outside with that dog. It must have been the only day he hadn’t worked all


40

A Man Who Works With His Hands year. He just sat there with the dog, drinking beer after beer, until the sun had just about set. Later he came in, walked past me in kitchen and went up to his room only to come back down about a minute later. He went out to the porch, picked up the dog under his arm and carried him out to the barn. I poked through the blinds to see what he was doing. The barn doors closed behind him and no sooner than I had lost interest a loud BANG echoed from outside. My father walked out of the barn, across the yard and into the kitchen. He wore tiny specks of blood across his expressionless face as I noticed the .32 revolver tucked into his belt, the one he kept in a lockbox in his room. I sat there stunned as I watched my father wash his face in the kitchen sink and walk back outside. He grabbed a shovel from the side of the porch and marched right back into the barn. An hour or so later, I sat in the living room watching television as I heard the back door creak open and the familiar sound of my father stomping his boots on the mat. Washing his hands in the sink. Going into the fridge and cracking open another beer. He walked into the living room and stood there holding his beer as I looked up at him from my chair. We both just nodded at each other, understanding what had just happened but not knowing how to appropriately express any kind of sympathy or regret. I forewent the opportunity to ask my father why he didn’t take the dog to the vet. They could have put him down humanely – no mess, no fuss. I knew what he would say, “Never have someone else do for you what you can do for yourself.” He didn’t enjoy doing it but felt that it needed to be him to put the mutt out of its misery. For him, it was something personal between a man and his dog. My father was a man who truly did God’s work.


41

Loose Ends

Samuel Fine

In a show of surgical self-consciousness, she peels the fallen hair inch by inch from the front of her shirt. I consume myself with the question of whether or not she knows how I wish for the fortune of finding such a loose strand of hair left behind on the sheets of my bed.


42

The Shadow

Anita Sipala

As the egg implants within my wall you hide beneath crib covers and then the time arrives legs still wet from the expulsion of life you sneak behind me without notice, and make here your permanent spot a presence pressing close to spine watching while I count ten fingers ten toes Today you make my summer days shorten you bring those first brow scuffs with whooping cough raging temps midnight sheets of vomit broken bones the bloody nose that grows those forehead furrows You instruct me how to wear out floorboards how to pray each rosary bead, as you whisper teen driver drinking smoking weed how you make the mind flash like rolling film credits steering wheel wrapped around a tree body in ditch, with every passing second that ticks


43

The Shadow All these thoughts you never stop or rest at bedtime you follow me I hear you breathe breathing‌ breathing breathless as I tuck in the nursery covers you move closer wanting to fall between the sheets and dream the dreams of angels


44

Post Break Up Anorexia Emily Vaughan

You don’t know what empty is until you’ve drained a bottle of wine dropped nickels in the bottom just to hear them rattle and shake clanging against the puckered glass hill at the bottom of the bottle, that has a specific name, but who can recall things like that at times like these. At times like these when you lay in the grass watching the prickling sun drop down between two dying moth ridden elms. When you haven’t eaten for three days, because really, what could fill this void? This crater? That red wine and a pack of Camels cant. Even the soft distant laughter of children can’t crack your dry pink lips into a half smile. While your chest is collapsing, your stomach lining rubs against itself squelching and rumbling in a gastrointestinal quake of regrets and all you can think is “Hey! Shut up!” While you poke at the source and rub at itchy salty eyes, burping up some acidic form of self doubt, filling your mouth with the gassy flavor of a bottle so cheap it cant afford a cork, just a twist off metal cap that slices your finger so you mumble a thick string of curses sucking blood from your thumb.


45

Pavlov’s iDog

Samuel Fine

A meaningless bell confounds my glands. Please turn off that iPad alarm.


46

Sailing to the Moon Markirah Shaw

On gentle swells of liquid onyx Rocking back and forth.   Lit by swarms of tiny diamonds, arrow pointing north.   Awake the ghosts to catch the wind and take us far from shore.   Away from smoking ruins toward the dream of something more.   On high, the lonely crow-man sings across the shifting dunes   of the shining city made of Tin that ‘waits us on the moon.


47

The Lush

Laura Cymerman

He figured she probably wore some type of fancy underwear the kind he couldn’t handle without fumbling,  on that body he wouldn’t dare attempt anyway. Her laugh, evoked by a stronger man, shook her silhouette and  skipped atop the bottles, making ripples in the crowd before drowning its confidence. And so he sat, heavy on the barstool  like so many before him, stirring up his drink with smooth assurance a comfort his hands were incapable of applying to the curves of a woman. The thick, round, wet glass was the only figure he’d consume tonight. The only shape that would satisfy his needs. His lips, clumsy, opened up parting for yet another disappointment.


48

Recoil

Gabrielle Ostapovich

You, are so secretive, kneeling in the hidden corners of an altered brain, emanating the exquisite scent of undiscovered pleasures, especially at this moment. Your porcelain skin shivers, a welcome distraction from the inexplicable dismay rising in my throat.

Lots

Emily Vaughan

The thumb sized moonsquashed, flat as a dime against the darkening september sky Dipped, pouring a pool of milky light at our waiting feet. We walked along the rusted gates, leaning in a graceful mating ritual over the piles of abandoned tires brimming with stagnant rain water breeding life to tiny winged bugs. We drank wine from the bottle, bloody dribbles, staining our chins, lighting a fire in the deepest pits of our empty stomachs, burning up our throats in fevered conversation. We slid down crumbled stone hills kicking up black-red dirt with the toes of our sneakers,

letting the dust spin in clean puffs, settling in our hair, in the swirls of our ears, caking in the sweaty cracks of our blue moon-dusted skin. I stood rooted on a giant wooden spool empty of its wires or heavy chains, staring at the only treeburning in a golden rush of industrial floodlights. You watched me, the ring leader of sparkling dirt and muddy midnight light, and I felt your love fall like ashy embers across my shadowed face.


49

Bukowski’s Bitch

Emily Vaughan

I fell in love with that ugly dead poet who dragged his knobby German nose greasing the pages he scribbled that I read floating from line to line until I was dizzy. His words spun through me barbed catching on my flesh hooking into my guts clogging my veins choking every weak breath, Just as I imagined he would’ve had we had a four month flingGetting drunk on cheap port hanging off his stinking mattress frying mid-afternoon eggs in just a bra, my bare feet sticking to the peeling linoleum twirling whiskied ice cubes around my teeth my tangled red hair falling across my faceThe subject of a hundred retched poems.


FALL 2011 Editorial Board

Cara Rothenberg ................ Editor in Chief Jayne Dzuback ..................... Senior Editor Lauren Wainwright ............. Layout Editor Alex Grover ................................ Treasurer Ron Block ............................. Club Advisor

General Staff

Adam Weiss, Alexandra Voglesong, Caitlin Conroy,

Kim

Gabrielle Justin

Erskine,

Frank

Martini,

Ostapovich,

Jalina

Wayser,

Clark,

Kat

Masterson,

Kevin

Soojian, Lauren Ward, Lauren Willis, Mary Webster, Samuel Fine, Tom Richards

Contact

avantzine@gmail.com (856) 256-4538

A V A N T


Avant Avant Avant Avant Avant Avant


Fall 2011