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Baseline Literary Arts Magazine


Baseline Spring 2014

A Women’s Literary Arts Magazine


The creative endeavors of the female artist continue to receive less recognition and respect than the creative endeavors of the male artist. The founder of Baseline magazine is unable to accept this tradition and strives to claim a space for women (and those that identify as women) that will enable their creativity instead of stifling it.


Baseline Issue 1

Copyright Š April 2014 by Baseline Magazine Artists All Rights Reserved

Editor: Whitney Paul Cover Design: Whitney Paul Layout: Whitney Paul Fonts: Castellar, Times New Roman

Baseline.virb.com


Table of Contents

Art The First Day- Melanie Seeger

10

Cracked by Paige Gittelman

20

Dandelion 1- Amy Reader

32

Dandelion 2- Amy Reader

33

Fiction Sarah- Jamie Feldman

7-8

Nonfiction A New Perspective on Life- Amy Orr

12-14


Poetry Against Eagerness- Carly Joy Miller

1

Admit- Carly Joy Miller

2

Skinned- Carly Joy Miller

3

Let Us Rub Ourselves Clean- Carly Joy Miller

4

Grandmother repeats the apostle’s heed- Carly Joy Miller

5

Black Woman – CasSandra Calin

16

Jeremiah 29:12-14- CasSandra Calin

17-18

I See You- Grace Dawson

22-23

Let My Body Remember- Grace Dawson

24-25

Homesick- Grace Dawson

26

Sleeping Patterns- Grace Dawson

27-28

Thoughts- Grace Dawson

29-30

Under my Skin- Sparkman

35-36

The Ballad of Patience and Jealousy- Sparkman

37-38

Chameleon-Sparkman

39-40

Birds Trapped in an Attic- Sparkman

41


Carly Joy Miller


1

Against Eagerness -Miller My body bridges you— it spits you into what the opposite end of the world calls morning. And words, they ride the darkest fowl on the cusp of evening. My body, which has traveled twenty-five years, constructs a tent from the cheapest linens, twigs a time. Yes, body, its folds of fat, its odd cricket chimes, are a primal, beautiful scream, flogged in adjectives, which chip the nail, bite the nail, drive the nail down to ruddy end.


Admit-Miller It is not true that the boy next door shined his shoes for you. He did not unfold his pockets for lint, check the creases of shirts for stains. No, girl, he never put his arm out for you. That chivalry is dead. It is not true that a man submits his coat to puddle so you can avoid potholes. He wants to see if you can drown. He wants to see you standing in his mother’s kitchen doing dishes with an apron-choked waist. He wants to palm a prophecy, newfound-blush on your face. And will you let him, girl? Call yourself the girl in no need of rescue? How’s that for blunder. You are the girl of broken home: wrenched your teeth to clutter your mouth with jaggedness. And what was the prize besides blood on your fingers? You are the girl of half-holler if holler were no more than a whistle. Sing on skint-knee. Bellow and bruise your fine-tuned plans for survival.


3

Skinned- Miller I know surgeons seize your breasts with care. We tend what scars us. Brokenness never asks—it snaps with its thousand blind brooms. Voice— when I ask take the marrow, leave the bone, surgeons handle a human orange with just their nail tips—dissect slice from spice to make sure they bite sweet flesh.


Let Us Rub Ourselves Clean-Miller Let her understand: my faith relies on the last frayed fireflies I believe power citylights. And let her understand that when there is a shortage of items left to burn— wooden chairs, the hair, an attic box that I am still so eager to lick with a match— let her reclaim her body as electric vessel. Let us witness morning on the other side of the window. Let us greet it, warm-bellied, full.


5

grandmother repeats the apostle’s heed-Miller In high noon hours, I become fat-fingered soul, my hands the first to falter from a soul. I look at my faults, all keen-eyed, sturdy logic. I try to keep some form of faith. Even the stretch-marks on my hips I believe to be some confused holy grip hoisting me up or pulling low. I am no gardener, have lost many bluebells to mustard seed, soul. Beautiful how warm weather leads to pointing blame at the body.


Jamie Feldman


7

SARAH-Feldman Sarah looks after us whenever Mummy goes away. That’s when we get to eat chocolate bars for dinner and stay home from school and go to the lake all by ourselves. Sarah is really nice and fun but she is also really different from Mummy. Like sometimes Sarah gives us coffee at breakfast time but I remember that Mummy said that it’s bad so I never drink it. Sammy tried it once, but she said it didn’t taste very good. Maybe that’s why Sarah always puts so much sugar in hers. A few weeks ago, Auntie Janet came and took us to stay with her instead. It happened the day when Sammy fell on the big rock at the lake and hurt her knee. Sarah wasn’t there and she never has any bandages anyway. Not like Mummy does. So I used the tape from my pencil box and stuck it over top of Sammy’s cut knee. I kissed it all better just like Mummy does so I knew she’d be okay. I guess Auntie Janet didn’t know that, though, because she put a new bandage on Sammy’s knee and took us away to her house. At first, Sarah would call us there and we talked about whatever I wanted. Once we talked the whole time about unicorns, but Sarah always talked too fast and Auntie Janet would take the phone away after only a couple minutes. Eventually Mummy called us to see if we were okay. She sounded really sad. Mummy always talked really slow when she first got back.


Yesterday Mummy took us home. Sammy accidently knocked one of Sarah’s coffee cups off the kitchen table and it smashed into a zillion pieces on the floor. But instead of making Sammy say she’s sorry, Mummy said sorry to us! I don’t know what she did to be so sorry. Maybe it was because she was going to make us eat a ton of salad for supper and make sure we did all our homework from when Sarah was here. We had to go to bed early, too, but that always happened when Mummy was home. At night I went downstairs because I couldn’t sleep and saw Mommy sleeping on the sofa. I hope Mummy stays longer this time. She’s the only one who knows how to kiss Sammy better so we won’t have to stay with Auntie Janet again. Maybe Mummy can teach me how to do it right because I think she has to leave again. I saw all the mail from when Sarah was here in piles on the coffee table. Mummy’s wallet was there, too, and some of the cards had spilled out. I saw the one that Mummy needs to drive the car and it said Sarah Smithe next to the spot where you print your name. I guess this time I’ll have to be more careful, but at least we’ll get to stay home from school and eat chocolate bars for dinner again soon.


9

Melanie Seeger


the first day - Seeger


11

Amy Orr


A New Perspective on Life- Orr Control. Few things are more desirable. If we’re honest, most of us would like to control not only our own lives, but also the lives of those around us. Wouldn’t it be great if your children actually followed your advice? If your boss agreed with your proposal? If the winning ticket had your name on it? We all want things to go our way and we truly believe life would be better if they did. The optimist within us always hopes for the best, but the realistic part of our nature knows that we live in an unpredictable universe where things rarely end up as we envisioned they would. When I look in the mirror, I am faced with a clear reflection of life’s unexpected twists. I covet the straight hair that blesses many of my friends but my head is covered by an untamable mane of curls. Truly. On a trip to Kenya a few years ago, I donned an actual lion’s mane for a touristy picture. In the photo, the beast’s wild locks look so similar to my own hair that it is nearly impossible to tell where one ends and the other begins. I dream of sleek, stylish strands, but instead chaos springs from my scalp. I have tried expensive products and treatments, but the results are fleeting. My hair has a mind of its own and it refuses to conform to my expectations. I can curse its obstinacy or I can accept it for what it is. In some ways, my crazy curls are a gift, a daily reminder that most aspects of life are beyond my control. As a mom, I adore my children and think about them constantly. When my older daughter was born, I began researching ways to expand her intellect. Throwing myself into parenthood in the same way that I had thrown myself into my career, I immersed her in every manner of auditory, visual, and emotional stimulation. If a program promised to connect synapses, I enrolled her immediately, eager to make sure that I was providing all possible opportunities for enrichment. I worked to help her thrive in each new setting; however, I grew frustrated when our outings were punctuated by outbursts of uncooperative behavior. It embarrassed me that she was less compliant than the other babies in her classes. Despite my sincere desire to be a perfect parent, I saw myself as a failure when my little girl violated social norms. I’d like to say that I had the confidence and awareness to rise above these silly judgments and value my daughter for her independent spirit; instead I felt


13

chagrined. I wanted to fit in and succeed in my new environment and it bothered me to stand out from the group. I loved and nurtured my little one to the best of my ability, but she continued to express her thoughts and feelings loudly, and sometimes inappropriately. As she grew, she continued to be passionate about her preferences, but she learned to channel her emotions more productively. In classic fashion, she fell under the spell of horses and spent her elementary school years captivated by all things equestrian. When her heartless parents refused to buy her a pony, she found short and long term solutions. She asked for a saddle for her birthday and had her daddy mount it in a tree in the yard so that she could ―ride‖ any time of the day. She also began saving her allowance so that she could purchase a horse for herself one day. My strong-willed daughter is now a sophomore in college. She has outgrown her horse phase, but she still cares passionately about her dreams. We are open and honest and similar in many ways. In fact, her straight hair has started to transform into a mass of curls. But, unlike her mother, she is embracing the change. In fact, our free-spirited girl decided to dye her wavy locks green. Do I wish that her hair had its natural hue? Yes I do. But she is a bright, happy girl and she is making the choices that seem right to her. Those decisions are hers to make and they are beyond my control. She is a twenty year old who spends most of the year at a university on the other side of the country. I can attempt to alter her actions or I can step back and let her be. Having tried both approaches, I have discovered that acceptance is much healthier. Both of my girls have grown up under the umbrella of my beliefs and understandings, but now that they are becoming adults they must decide what they truly believe. Hopefully their core values will align with mine, but I can’t force compliance. Although I often offer my opinion about the course I think is best, they will ultimately steer their lives in the direction they feel they should go. Life is not lived in a vacuum. In positive and negative ways, my personal journey will be always impacted by my interaction with others. It is impossible to predict how those around me will behave, so it is better to expect the unexpected. Ultimately, my path will follow a trajectory which is different from the one I had originally planned, but that doesn’t make it any less fulfilling. I know that, in addition to sorrows, surprising joys await me. I will encounter people that will lift me up and others who will bring me down, but each of these individuals will move


me forward in some way. I’d love to know how my story will turn out but I am only a contributing editor. My hair and my life will always defy control.


15

CasSandra Calin


Black Woman- Calin What good are you to us? Your opinions will not slake our thirst. And your thoughts are not what we desire to experience. We’ll experience your beauty. Black woman But only to possess it as we pluck you from the ground And set you up upon our mantel In glass vases til you wilt And when you’ve wilted Black woman When the fire is gone from your eyes And the fight from your heart Who will be our entertainment Black woman But even if you won’t It’s not so bad you’ve been brought low For who will be our stepping stool Black woman If you aspire to bigger and better things Who will wear our fool’s gold rings? We’ll commit to cherish you Black woman The way that a drunk cherishes his dog We will never leave you be And never let you leave For if you leave, Black woman, Where will we rest our head? And whose inferiority will stroke our ego? We have quite the relationship Black woman Why fix what should be broken? And what good to me is a repaired door? When I love the sounds of the squeaks Squeak for me Black woman Moan like the floorboards that have resigned themselves To being walked all over. What good are you? What good are you to us? Black woman

With your clothes on you serve us no purpose With your dignity on, you won’t serve us at all What can you do for us? Black woman If you will not be walked on. If you will keep your clothes on. You have only one function, Black woman You are good for nothing else.


17

Jeremiah 29:12-14 -Calin My stomach grumbles Tight pains clench in my abdomen Involuntary moans push past my lips And into the universe You hear me You know that you are exactly what I crave I’ve gone forty days Without hearing your truth And forty midnights of hiding from you But my grumbling stomach Gave me away And my head’s feeling faint Sleep doesn’t satisfy me Drink won’t soothe or ease I need to eat I am hungry for you I don’t care if you burn my tongue I don’t need milk to wash you down I am hungry for you I will seek you With all of my heart I am too weak to walk


But too hungry to stay still So I will slowly crawl until I’ve found you and am filled


19

Paige Gittelman


Cracked - Gittelman


21

Grace Dawson


I See You- Dawson Tell me to fuck off Joke, and be angry if you want to but I see you. Deny it if you choose, but I know I know you better than all the flippant bullshit you throw at me I know how much you can be. I see the teacher in you The someday playful dad The open, uncalculating friend I’ve seen the reluctant lover, afraid to feel uncovered You are only in a fog. A fuck-the-world, irresponsible haze of not knowing. Hesitation and muddled inspiration all that you put in your own way I see you waking up In the look you give me when you let your guard down That provocative glint that you still let slip when I catch your eye The self-conscious shyness you betray when you look away too soon Laugh at me, go ahead giggle and poke me, press your fingers against my skin, then kiss me into the wall, until I forget where we are, and there is only you and this kiss Wait No, that wasn’t new It was only a dream You were always too good to be true


23

Yet I wake inhaling your rough sweetness that seeped into my sleeves, and the bruises are still fading, after sinking in. Your fingers mar my delicate skin, and the marks you made don’t lie. Even though you aren’t mine, don't tell me it’s not true. I see through you. I see you


Let My Body Remember - Dawson Startle me into the memory of you Bring me up short with your hand on my shoulder Shake me, I’m shaking Don’t wake me, I’m dreaming Come drift, drink me in, let me drown a while Your kiss feels to me like a deep sigh Like relief breathing easy Come breathe with me Kiss me again Let me taste your lips Tease me, dig in, and bruise my hips Leave your hands on my skin so I can’t forget Leave shadows of you, soft and dark as velvet Only the sharpness of your fingers and eyes reassure of the violence of feeling alive Apologize for nothing, unsure child Hide your face, shake your head, second guess my desire Hesitant boy, come unsettled with me Conspire with me Calm your restless unease Just breathe with me Let me inhale you, harsh and bitter Heady in winter, your conquests so ginger, desire is thinner than air touch my hair, pull me closer, entangle with shivers forget where I end and you begin to question again You are a balm Let me absorb you Sink in like sin Seep deeper than skin


25

Give my body a memory My bones will hold the feeling of you When my mind lets you go And like stains, you will fade I will cry, I will try to hold fast, but sooner or later my grip it will slacken and tire and loosen and You will remain asleep, beneath the surface Let my body remember When my mind has let you go


Homesick-Dawson The winter landscape, stark and bitter, cold and detached as is my own heart now estranged and lonesome from my love. As five o’clock approaches and I’m westward bound for home, Atop the Blue Ridge Mountains flames as beautiful a sky as ever I have seen in all my life The golden sun that gilds the clouds descends With it sinks my heart, and the knowledge is sinking in that as I draw close to home you speed each second farther from my reach, perhaps never to be found so close again. The place to where I find myself returning holds no comfort, and homesick has nothing to do with home but means desperately missing the way your hand feels on my cheek, the scent of your kisses, and your absent touches, like habits, on my belly and leg when you first awake.


27

Sleeping Patterns-Dawson I couldn’t sleep last night Lover, I could only lie awake Barely dozing I could only dream of you Humble me, my dear with your courage to face the night Stumble blindly without fear of regret I’ll stand by you, shed my desires and learn to share this space in which you dwell Teach me humility, with the strength of your affection and with age beyond your years you possess my wonder and respect I will reflect the way you choose to show me tenderness Unburdened, sleep you peacefully I’ll only ponder the rhythm of your breathing and the meaning of your murmured dreaming Don’t kiss me in the morning When I’m missing you the most Absentminded, soft and sweetly wander the contours of my body, resting leadenly My favorite times are these spent in secret, close and peacefully Don’t bring yourself to move an inch except to pull me closer don’t you slip away, just stay and talk with me Find the places I love best and rest there calm and naturally as if you always knew how it was meant to be I couldn’t sleep last night


I could only lie awake dreading the moment I forget your courage to face the night without stumbling or fear of regret


29

Thoughts-Dawson I’m having thoughts of you again I can try to push them down but around every corner, there they are Insistent, just like you They clutter the walls and crowd the halls every other sigh, a thought of you They are falling like leaves from maple trees that line the streets of my memories Sycamore branches reaching like antlers beseeching and pleading for me to release them Tall aspen boughs unearthing my doubts they don’t shout, won’t even speak aloud if they could they would shatter, they just wave and shudder clatter like ice, melt away just a film like oil on skin My body is polluted with your touches overrun and overtaken don’t let me awaken the tidbits of memory floating on the lakes, reservoirs of the hours of ours thoughts flowing deeply


creeping to the surface built up and emerging perturbed by your fingers and words, they quietly plumb the depths with only a brush, a breath a light touch that begets ripples upon ripples, waves upon tides of drifting, sifted remnants, polluting what used to be an empty still serenity


31

Amy Reader


Dandelion 1 - Reader


33

Dandelion 2 - Reader


Sparkman


35

Under my Skin- Sparkman Fickle. That’s what you are, fickle and stubborn. Like a bull that snubs the red curtain instead of charging. Like a stray piece of lint that won’t come off my jacket. Your inkling perch on my neck irritates where it once tingled. I pull up for air but you swallow me with your ugly molting duvet. You needle at me, pricking my buttons for your fickle amusement. You with your stubborn ficklness burrow, under the right side of my left thumbnail. Making yourself a lopsided nest where you stick out, fickle and flaunting. I feel you kneading against my skin. There’s pressure, pulsing and itching as I bump you against a door a handle a hand of another before they feel you and let go. I push and scratch you, but you scratch and push deeper. You make your fickle nest bigger. You want to stay put. But I’ve decided you’re no longer welcome. So I bite. I bit you and rip you out. You stand erect in defiant shock,


blinded by the light you hid from. Seconds last for hours before you stagger away on bended knees. Your nest is no longer here.

You make a nest with someone else now. A nest that may or may not prickle. My thumb lies vacant. Now there is a hole. There is no pressure, but emptiness. An empty sting that screams at me. Screams when I cut limes for the drinks we used to make. Screams when I spill salt in our booth at our restaurant. Screams when I try to wash the remaining thoughts away. Screaming, stinging, empty hole.


37

The Ballad of Patience and Jealousy- Sparkman Patience serves dinner on two matching plates. Everything’s ready by 6:58. He sits down not eating, deciding to wait, For he doesn’t like eating alone. Jealousy sits on a stool in a bar, Glaring at couples in each other’s arms. She reasons they’re stupid and love can’t go far, So she takes to her drinking alone. Patience starts reading as dinner gets cold. He knew this would happen, though he wasn’t told. But he knows that dinner would not be so bold To get up and walk out the door. Jealousy stumbles, her thoughts lost in haze. The August night sky turns sullen and gray. She bitterly thinks of the things she would change, Her clothing, her city, herself. Patience looks out at the thundering sky. The patter of raindrops closes his eyes. The clock in the kitchen reads 2:29 As he rests his head on his book. Jealousy follows a cat who’s a stray, Wondering if he’s felt her kind of pain. She offers him comfort, but he runs away. She slowly sits down on the curb. Patience stirs slightly, he dreams he can fly. Whenever he wants he can soar through the skies. But he decides not to, he walks every time For his loved one is stuck on the ground. Jealousy watches rain drip from her nose, Briefly unsure of where she should go. She wants to deny it, but deep down she knows


She’s chasing something she can’t catch. Patience awakes from his dream with a start. A feeling of warmth spreads throughout his heart. The murmur footsteps comes through the dark, The sound he’s been waiting to hear. Jealousy stands at the end of the hall. Holding her rattling head in her palms. Patience goes to her, so that she can fall Back into her place in his arms. Jealousy cries and Patience is calm, They’re finally where they belong.


39

Chameleon- Sparkman I walked with my head and my shoulders Held high Because that is the mark Of a person with confidence. I walked this way So people will think, ―That person has confidence.‖ But now I am somewhere Where having confidence Seems out of place. Because the precinct on the corner Of 32nd and 6th avenue, Is filled with people Who have a real reason to be here. Reasons more significant Than taking 64 dollars And 92 cents worth of clothing Out of Macy’s Without paying for it. Walking with confidence in a precinct Is reserved For people who took at least 500 dollars worth of clothing. I walked with confidence Past the Macy’s security guard Because it’s assumed That people with confidence Have done nothing wrong. So if I walked past with confidence He would think, ―She’s done nothing wrong.‖


Too bad the alarm sensors on the door Didn’t think the same.


41

Birds Trapped in an Attic- Sparkman My thoughts spin flap and scream Like birds trapped in an attic Unsettling dust that thickens stale air Bump, crash, shatter The windows are liars My thought-birds fly to false freedom Meeting the smack of invisible walls Who laugh at my thought-birds As they land on locked boxes of useless collections But my thought-birds won’t stop They flap through gray cobwebs That hang forgotten on rotting wood walls Bump, crash, shatter Flutter, crash, smack Flutter, crash, smack Until there is silence Silence as my thought-birds lie dying On the moldy blue carpet Their tiny hearts beating Bump-bump-bump As they stare at the ceiling With broken wings


A Note from the Editor Thank You to all of the artists that submitted work to the magazine. Your interest in Baseline truly enabled this first issue. I’m also quite grateful to VIDA for advertising for Baseline and encouraging women to submit to the magazine. Finally I’d like to thank you Professor Henry for all of his kindness, encouragement, and the assignment.

-Whitney Paul



Baseline issue 1