Bostonese TYPO REDACTED Stylus wuld like to hartily apologize for a misteak in last semesters’ ishue. In “Going Up,” “filing” shud of been “filling.” Sari. STYLUS AESTHETIC Passionfruit moon, a fish eye, frying fish in cast iron pans. Call me home to fish in my cabin in the maple leaf fish forest. Wash my dirtied feet in the lapping lunar lake. Awoooo! say the words of my great aunt twice removed— fishing. We’re over the moon. IGNITE THE HEIGHTS BC is on a hot streak! We’re on our way to a bowl. Stylus looks forward to whatever fills it, as long as it’s not buffalo wings. We’re not looking to set our mouths on fire. Good luck
to the #dudes on our ten-pin team as they continue to set the world aflame—starting with Stokes. MILEY CYRUS CRASHES STYLUS BALL Members tweet about the party in the U.S.A. “@flamingheart: Check your privilege, Miley.” “@bangerznmash: But can you actually stop?” “@kabasinsky: #Miley wrecking the whole night.” “@slothysauce: Wait, Miley Cyrus was there? All I could focus on was Hannah Montana.” “@xtinapetrol: Bumped into Miley and she licked my face. Does that count as first base? #stylusaesthetic” “@kylexwhy: Miley for Editor-in-Chief! Let’s help her #climb all the way to the top.”
STYLUS Volume CXXIX Bostonese
Fall, 2013 4
Number 1 Staff
Verse Places I remember spilling champagne The Willowemoc Calumet Strike Stillborns Trivial Pursuits The skies of Homs The Mud Flats Downfall Playroom Route 80 Ferment and Grow Old baby On Sundays Meditations in Chinatown If I Tried During Strawberry Season On a Lake, West of Worcester I wish youâ€™d let me write you into my Tecate Dinner Date February Waiting
10 13 17 18 29 33 36 53 54 66 67 70 71 72 88 91
Christine Degenaars Bailey Spencer Marie McGrath Kristie Dickinson Patrick Reynolds Alex Gilligan Michelle Burger Michael Kadow Christine Degenaars Bailey Spencer Natasha Bednarz Michael Kadow Helen Spica Marie McGrath Christine Degenaars Michael Kadow
99 100 102
David Kunkel Lauren Audi Marie McGrath
Prose Distance How We Start When the Ice Settles In Crowded Beaches A Guaranteed Match No Service Hands Running White
14 21 37 55 74 84 93
Catherine Malcynsky Helen Spica Sophia Gorgens David Kunkel Alexander Trimes Jim Andersen Sophia Gorgens
Art Green Victoria Rojo Are we there yet? Untitled Happy Hippo Love and Longing Untitled Aquatic Internalization A Cairn on a Late Summerâ€™s Afternoon Tree of Colors Responsibility Sunshine and Cherry Blossoms Reaching for Memories Medium as content as medium as content medium
Cover 9 12 16 20 24 28 32 35 39
Robin Kim Alexia Blackhurst Carys Goodwin Robin Kim Arlo Perez Vasilisa Gladysheva Adrian Tatro Arlo Perez Ericka Schubert Jackson Rettig
43 48 52
Kayla Foley Shintaro Nakajima Xuan Lin
Vasilisa Gladysheva Tashrika Sharma
The Rumination of the Mastication of the Candy House (Hansel und Gretel) Play Thing Concatenation Seas to Stars Mom Untitled St. George Yokohama Stroll The Lost Ram Identification Symbolism Self Portrait I I wanted to make something that couldn’t fit into Stylus’s office or Steve’s not here but I can take a message Untitled
65 69 73 77 80 83 87 90 94 98 101
Carys Goodwin Tashrika Sharma Megan Flynn Madeline Chadwell Erin Furlong Shintaro Nakajima Dolan Bortner Ericka Schubert Vasilisa Gladysheva Xuan Lin Tashrika Sharma
But you can’t see them Today, as we don our Waders and cut half Way across the creek, casting for Shadows and shad and rainbow Trout. The fog has fallen in here From the mountains and we Creep, concealed, with waists deep in water And chests and arms caught up among Those misty Catskill clouds, waiting— For that fleeting snap— And for the reel to make That free-for-all creaking Crackling sound from across the hopeful, Chill-hazed half-spring. Only Then will we recall those printer paper Cautionaries and remember the word: Intruder. Christine Degenaars
Calumet Strike Christmas 1913 Turns out it’s the same with bodies as copper: malleable. Doesn’t take much to flatten them. Not like the fiddle, which would splinter from the pressure of real fire, strings shooting out like veins, or the old-world porcelain turned to shards in the panic of locked doors and company scheme. No, it’s neat, really, the way all it takes is a planted shout and bodies fall soft, stacking themselves for coffins shipped in from across the state. Bloodless, whole. Little girls in red dresses ready to roll out into the snow. Bailey Spencer
Catherine Malcynsky I stirred at the sound of a crinkling plastic bag, loud and to my left. Peering through my lashes, I saw the pudgy Chinese man beside me fiddling with his bag of peanuts. As the haze of sleep between us cleared, I let my eyes wander over him while his thick fingers chased nuts around his tray. I gave him a name: Hector. I gave him a hobby; he collected vintage baseball cards. I also gave him my house. He would live in it, and convert the sitting room where my daughters fiddle with their grandmother’s dolls into a room for porcelain plates and fancy silverware. Hector would hang a black-and-white picture of Central Park over the mantle in the foyer, and obsess over its placement. Where my husband smokes cigars and takes conference calls, Hector would play billiards. He would finally hang curtains over the wide kitchen window, never feeling the need to stare out from the glass each morning until he finished his two cups of coffee each morning. The cabin air smelled like leather and bubble gum and generic dog shampoo. I gazed around me at the varying shades of grey and blue, and watched the flight attendants’ slick, manicured buns as they bobbed up and down the aisle. As a tall, thin blonde passed, I named her Paige. I gave her a love of fettuccine alfredo and deep purple nail polish. And I gave her my car—she would like it, the smooth leather interior and knack for speed. She would hang a peach-mango air freshener from the rearview mirror and put her Starbucks cups between the seats. She would take it for long drives down quiet roads, the way I had meant to once. The low, periodic chimes of the plane reminded me of the doorbell, and the way my golden retriever barks at it. I gave her to the lanky teenage boy across the aisle I named Lennie. He would hear her howling despite the clunky white headphones over his ears; he would call her into his kitchen, smiling when she bounded towards him. She would jump up and put her paws on the knees of his baggy jeans, and Lennie would laugh and take time out of a busy day to kneel down beside her. Lennie is not a dog person yet, but she has a way with kids. I slid my feet out of my shoes and rested them on the bag I had tucked beneath the seat, a smile tempting my lips as I recalled the barefoot freedom of childhood. The sunlight slanted through the inch of window unmasked by the plastic shade, highlighting the ballet 14
The skies of Homs I may have seen a map of the weather, or a map of the towns and villages, images of a pale brown world I will never know. I don’t see the frigid air’s knives hit the chewed veins of leaves churning under specks of sand, the onslaught of the cold’s scream clenching the warm sky— squeezing it until its treasures clop and coagulate on the compacted dirt road. Is it a romantic sin to think of each bubble of water filling with sand that spirals to corners of the droplet, until petrified in the perspiration of murder’s work; paused and still, until another sand globe absorbs it— and then dead once more as drops clank on the rusty bunker covers hiding those stone-eyed huddled masses, who all know from the changing death numbers that pixels on screens drearily attest to; enlightening silent men and women holding an Economist and a paper coffee cup that does not shake and spill into the cracks of the keys. My hand does not shake, I cannot hear, but know that the sky heard one hundred thousand murders. I must be sin, so I imagine the diligent pixels’ reports in red and white; the pings on the flakey orange rooftops covering the sounds of a wailing desert; and the wave that is, and will always be coming, after the current. There is a wave becoming, 29
while the whimpers of refugee mounds of flesh wait with anxious and frozen bones for the banal pull of intelligent lightning to calm the desert’s descent into madness. The sky is in pain from the cold fronts’ glorious massacre of the warmth. Is it possible to curl into a ball, and believe in terror and pain from seeing imaginary whimpers waiting for the last of the warm clouds and boiling tears to curdle and vanish into the ether and the Next? There is death on the wind that sounds much fresher with each newborn gust. I cannot face them, but know that the wind can cut. The sound of bullets and thunder are the same in New Orleans and Homs; I will never know the Kalash- nikov. I am sorry. I must be sin. I am sorry for the freshness that is sickening in its ordinariness— freshness that condemns history to be always new, and never stale enough to admire its orgasmic profundity— freshness that snaps the warmth into pieces, thundering into the baby sky welcoming that black sky welcoming change, ruthlessly. All around those fictions boldly frothing to escape the shiver of dulled rage— freshness that cannot stand to see those who eternally wait under a rusty metal rooftop.
The storm is old, and will be older soon when the pixels shimmer, and all know another world of red and white with steady hands on paper cups on a partially cloudy day.
Are we there yet?
Sunshine and Cherry Blossoms 52
Ferment and Grow Old November mornings, I chip frostflowers from the windows like salt. Eisblumen, my grandmother would say, and like she did, back in Swabia, I season my cabbage with their water, pack wooden buckets on the back porch, layering silk with brine. The barrels overflowâ€”my Black Forest floor, sauerkraut sprouting strange here in sugar beet land. Sharp among the sweet, she came from fairy-tale stock, trees older than the stars. She knew the value of warm milk and soft consonants, words thick and knotty as her wool sweaters. I push seeds into the kraut-turned-loam, break the salty crust, the hoarfrost, to plant a patch of ancestral home. Peppercorns and caraway are born of strings. I watch the surface splinter and divide, see my fortune in the lines. Bailey Spencer
nuts… Hey how’s your bisque? What’s it taste like to you?” She leaned forward, raised the small ceramic crock to her mouth, slurped the remainder of its phosphorescent orange contents, and gingerly returned it to the round indentation in the tablecloth, leaving a smudge of Marshmallow Peep pink lipstick along the inner rim. “Definitely a strong lobster flavor, yeah. It’s nothing like the langoustine stew the tribe served, though. But that was probably much fresher, you know? They would catch them—” “Do you think they cooked the lobster properly? Was it too rubbery? What about the consistency of the bisque itself?” “Everything seemed fine to me.” She peered over at Jay’s bowl, “Are there even onions in there?” “Supposedly.” He lifted his spoon from the broth and they both watched the clear brown liquid dribble, onionless, back down to the crock. The little brown ripples expanded unobstructed and crashed weakly into the container’s worn walls. “No, no,” Kelly observed. She sprung up from her seat into the narrow aisle, flailing her white napkin in an effort to attract the bearded waiter, currently struggling to take an elderly couple’s order two tables down. With a sigh he tucked away his pad and walked briskly toward the beacon. “Yes, how is it I can help you, madam?” She dropped back into her seat, “He ordered French onion soup.” “Yes, and I—” “There are no onions in it.” The words flew out quickly. “The menu said Vidalia onions. Where are the onions?” Jay looked down into his broth, imagining his pale baby face with a wooly beard, but the waiter pulled the crock away before he could reach a verdict. “My apologies.” Endeavoring to be cheerful, “I’ll bring you a new bowl, one with plenty of onions, right away, sir!” A sans-serif 14 flashed through Jay’s memory. “No, no, it’s fine—maybe if you could just remove it, from the check. We’re ready for our entrees now, anyway. And, if you could bring us a wine list please.” The waiter shrugged and pulled a roll of thin, splotched paper from his apron, leaving it on the table in front of Jay before returning to the old couple, still in the midst of forming their orders. Jay unfurled the sheet, attempting to anchor the curled edges with his 75
utensils, and began to peruse the selection of reds. Tonnerre Oiseau $7, Pieds Nus $10, Lie Baril $8— “Really? You’re not going to make him bring you another?” Jay shut and opened his eyelids with his thumb and forefinger before looking up at his date. “You ordered French onion soup and they gave you, what, French onion broth! As a restaurant they’re obligated to give you what you ordered.” “It’s no big deal, really. I’m actually looking forward to my, uh, wagyu bonsai burger. Yeah.” “Huh? That’s what you ordered? I didn’t even see that on there.” Kaley furrowed her wide brow and puffed out her lips. She would have resembled a chimpanzee if it weren’t for her hair and the bursts of gold paisley littering her chestnut blouse. “It was on the moo page.” “Oh. Well, anyway, I would never have served that soup to a customer. I have some experience as a waitress, you know, from before I went down to the South Pacific. It really gives you perspective, working with the public, meeting a whole range of characters.” “I can imagine.” Jay reflected fondly on his high school job working as a busboy, downing half-finished mugs of beer in the kitchen, quickly, so the maître d wouldn’t see. “What about you? Remind me, what kind of work are you in?” “Well, lately I’ve been writing for this online magazine. I do like, food articles… and sports and music articles. And some editing work.” Jay slouched low in his seat and sunk a hand into the pocket of his worn Levis, retrieving his smartphone and taking a few quick pictures of the wine list from different angles. “It’s been pretty good so far, I mean, I enjoy it at least—what kind of wine do you like? They have a pretty extensive selection—” “Oh, I don’t drink wine. Or any alcohol really—my psychiatrist recommended I pump the breaks on that vice. But I was allowed to drink kava during the tribal ceremonies.” Jay cocked his head and looked down, flicked through the photos then shoved the phone into his pocket, as if his mother had just scolded him for having it out at the table. “It’s this plant that they grind up and mix with water. It tastes like mud but it makes your lips numb,” she reminisced, “and your tongue, and you kind of just feel really… really relaxed all over.” She let out a deep sigh and stared into the space just above Jay’s head. 76
After several long, quiet moments of gazing, during which Jay turned around twice himself to be certain that his date’s stare was directed at nothing more than the dim ceiling lamps— effectively employed lighting decreases diners’ vision, so that their sense of taste may flourish —the waiter returned bearing entrees and an air of apprehension, unsure of whether or not he was interrupting something. Squinting, the waiter followed Kasey’s eyes, searching for an invisible meteor shower, while Jay took the opportunity to rest his face in his palm. “Um…” The waiter cleared his throat, loudly enough to bring Kelly crashing back to reality. She shook her head and her hair swung slowly as she looked up at the interloper. “Quinoa-crusted ahi for the lady, and a bonsai burger for the gentleman. Enjoy.” He began to walk away but then paused, pivoted quickly on his heel. “Oh, I’m sorry. Have you decided on a wine?” “We’re fine with water, thanks.” She raised her fork, was about to pierce the first slice of tuna, disrupt the colorful flares of wasabi mayo and ponzu that danced across her plate. “Wait, no!” Jay interrupted. The waiter spun quickly to face him, then shut his eyes tightly, opened them and turned to wander off toward the kitchen. Jay fumbled with his phone and leaned across the table, began taking pictures of Kaley’s food. “You don’t mind if I just… for the website I was talking about. I’m writing a review of this place.” “Well, what about our date?” A strawberry glow expanded across her angular cheeks as Jay leaned back in his seat and began taking shots of his own dish. “Oh, the details of the dates themselves don’t usually make it to my posts. My editor discourages it,” he smiled. “I could work your name in there though, if you’d like.” K——’s lustrous bisque was fine and definitely had a lobster flavor. Jay finished arranging the two plates to fit in the frame, his bonsai burger focused in the foreground while Kasey’s ahi added a blurred splash of red to the dark surroundings. “Oh. Well, I don’t see why not. Zippity-Dooh-Date actually interviewed me like a month ago—I was one of their success stories.” “Whaa?” It slipped quietly from Jay’s mouth at the exact moment his phone mimicked the snapping sound of a camera shutter. His eyes were still on the screen. 78
“Excuse me?” The display depicted her pointing at the concaved white rectangle that held her tuna, several moments after she withdrew her hand and the plate. “Uh, yeah, I’m all done. You can—” “So what’re you going to write?” She half covered her mouth, thin fingers spread, in an attempt hide the glowing green seaweed salad. “Give me the sentence.” “Huh? The review? Yeah, it’ll just describe like, the décor, the service, the foo—” “No, I know what a review is. I can read—I’ve taught kids to read. I mean, my sentence.” Jay looked past Kelly at the clutter of dark tables and unoccupied wooden chairs with ergonomically designed backs, crafted to contour to patrons larger than he. Among the jumble the waiter delivered appetizers to the elderly couple. They stopped interrogating their utensils to look up, nod appreciatively, and then resume, tiresomely begging their starters for an answer. Perhaps they too had met through some service, one specifically for seniors. A service for seniors who still, even at twent—seventy-seven cannot quite determine what type of person they are compatible with. For up-to-date seniors who acknowledge that, really, they need not be concerned with compatibility at all, now that technology has produced programs that can mathematically determine guaranteed matches. Yes, matches; multiple people who have been proven, by cold, complex, objective algorithms, to be ideal—or at least X percent compatible—partners for you. You can fall in love before you even meet… But from the way the woman reached over to sample the man’s Moroccan Crunch salad, casually, comfortably, Jay knew they first met decades ago, in person. It was only at that point they fell in love. … a calm, cozy couples’ retreat from hectic Manhattan life. He turned his attention back to his untouched burger. “Well… I’d start by describing how the ahi looks, and, uh, then talk about the taste, probably…” “No, like, the exact sentence. Or what you think it’ll be. You know? Like maybe start with my name—identify it as my tuna to bring me in.” He raised his head and gradually let his jaw hang, as if his roller coaster car had finally reached the track’s peak and now paused, allowing him to admire the steep chasm into which he was about to plunge. He filled the void with bonsai burger and chewed for too long, tasted all twenty-two-to-thirty-six percent of the wagyu, the 79
be there hypothetically, like if you do get there right at ten then there literally won’t even be anyone there. Because the kids, okay, the kids are always outside having recess—they have a morning recess, don’t even ask me fucking why—and it doesn’t end until like ten fifteen, but then like they have to walk inside and whatever else they do out there which takes like an hour because they’re basically midges, okay obviously not an hour but like yeah, like it takes a long time. Like fifteen minutes, I’m not exaggerating. So I basically don’t even understand why I have to be there at ten, I’m like, to my volunteer coordinator I’m like, “I literally didn’t even miss one single thing, because the kids were outside anyway, as always,” but then she’s like, “You’re late, can you please be on time next time?” Lady, if you freaking knew what I’d been through this morning. Like I basically sprinted out of Lower to catch the Comm. Ave bus first of all, because I was having breakfast with Sydney, and Transloc was pretty much being a bitch and not working correctly which it basically never does, for me at least. Sydney, she’s at my placement she just goes a different day. I think you’ve both met her, actually yeah she was actually there last weekend. Yeah. Like she’s blonde… loud… she has like kind of big teeth? Okay maybe you don’t remember but trust me she was there. No, like I really did see her, I’m like a hundred percent sure. But whatever, so anyway yeah we had breakfast which was probably literally the only good part of my day. That was a digression, what was I saying before that. Oh! And, okay, so also plus like it wasn’t just the seizure guy it was also before I even got on the T like when I was waiting at Res I run into freaking Naomi, like yeah, like Naomi from Asia in the World. So basically Naomi was being like exactly what you’d expect, like classic Naomi, like “Oh,” like, “What classes are you taking this semester? Like I’m so interested and like, I’m taking calculus, like what are you taking?” Girl needs to calm the fuck down. But so long story short she is basically annoying and needs to calm down. I know that’s not a good excuse for being late or anything, but it was just sucky. But like there’s honestly nothing for me to do before ten thirty! Freaking Shauntea— that’s my volunteer coordinator, the bitch—freaking Shauntea is like, “There’s plenty for you to do here,” and I’m like, “Really? Because last time I came in at ten I literally just sat here and went on Imgur and did nothing, so.” Except there’s actually no service at freaking Jackson Mann, so, no Internet I mean, actually there’s neither, so I basically just sat in a chair and did nothing. Literally nothing. Hope you’re happy Shauntea. Also Shauntea basically talks about her 85
cool daikon and the tangy hoisin barbecue sauce. After swallowing, Jay forced a cough and simultaneously murmured something that sounded like Kaylsey “’s quinoa-crusted ahi arrived on a curved and rippling platter, the seared tuna’s deep red providing an astounding contrast with the green bed of fresh wakame beneath it.” They locked eyes for what Jay decided was the first time during the meal. Kaley pulled away to examine her plate, then resumed her staring contest with Jay. He blinked. “Yeah, I’d have to agree, that’s a pretty good description…” Jay’s shoulders relaxed and his lips parted as he basked in her approval. “Except my name’s Daisy.” “Well. Uhh—” “You didn’t even know my name.” She didn’t raise her voice, but each word adopted an edge. “I know your name—Jay—but you couldn’t even take the time to learn my name. I mean, do you even want a relationship? Are you even trying?” “Well. I’m here. Aren’t I?” He sat up and smelled the char wafting off his burger, tasted the meaty remnants of his last bite caught between his teeth. After reviewing the clues he concluded, not without uncertainty, “I am here.” “Are you here, Jay? Because I wasn’t sure.” Her eyes were fixed to his. Jay had never considered how rapidly skim milk could freeze, should the temperature be cold enough. “Yes,” he groaned. “Because if you don’t want to be—” “Honestly? Right now? I’d probably prefer to be anywhere else. Like, maybe Bermuda—we went once when I was twelve and the bartender put rum in my piña colada. But I’ve also heard the South Pacific is great.” “Oh, I get it. Like you could even get service, understand what’s it’s like to be out, out there,” she pointed emphatically in no particular direction, “helping people who really need it.” Jay turned and swept his eyes over the cramped dining room, his brief bout of interest dissipating as abruptly as it had surfaced. After a second review, the poorly lit restaurant, peppered with maybe a handful of patrons, now seemed shabbier than its portrayal in the Zeke’s website gallery. It also emitted a soft, tired wheeze, like mudcaked bicycle tires deflating halfway through a trail, or a hot soufflé collapsing before it leaves the oven. He observed the old man hoist himself out of his seat in slow 81
motion, but with all his energy in the movement, and turn anxiously to look for the waiter. “I think that woman’s choking,” said Jay flatly, pushing out his chair. “That’s the best excuse you can come up with? Do you even know CPR?” Kel—Daisy didn’t turn but just watched Jay, stunned. The woman’s wheeze seemed to gather force with each of Jay’s slow steps down the endless alleyway, apparently much more finite than he anticipated, crescendoing in a matter of seconds. And just as he arrived in front of her, the recollection washed over him that, no, he did not know how to perform CPR, or even the Heimlich for that matter. Jay stood there watching the old woman, felt the old man watching him. He shuffled left, then right before he noticed the waiter amble in from the kitchen. Jay felt small, sheepish as he waved over the server, watching the sleeve of his one-size-too-large pastel polo sway from his slender arm. “God, you really don’t know it.” She brushed by him, her voice echoed the violent clack of her flats on the scuffed walnut floor. Jay watched as Daisy wedged herself between the old woman and the next table. She flung her left arm over the woman’s shoulder, across the body, and anchored her hand beneath the woman’s right armpit. The heel of Daisy’s right palm beat two dull thumps between the old woman’s scapulae and an abrasive hacking flooded the dining room, like the death knell of a small furry mammal crushed beneath a Prius. A bronze wad of Vidalia onion, sweated to perfection in a twenty-quart stockpot that very morning, shot from the old woman’s throat, plunged, with a soft plunk, into a piping crock of French onion soup. The hearty, aromatic broth splashed onto Jay’s baby face. He felt his complexion turn the deep red of quinoa-crusted ahi.
I wanted to make something that couldn’t fit into Stylus’s office or Steve’s not here but I can take a message
Fall 2013 Issue of Stylus, the literary and art magazine of Boston College.