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edition 70, volume 2

university of nevada, reno

editors’ notes

I thought the previous issue of Brushfire would be my last one as Editor-in-Chief. As it turned out, I was wrong. Here’s another one by me, with substantial (even majority) input from Marshall Delbecq and Nicholas Huffman. It’s been real. Seriously this time. — edgar garcia, EIC Although Brushfire receives and publishes submissions from all over the world, it’s often local artists who speak loudest. (Perhaps, because they shout right in our ear.) This edition is especially defined by an industrial-age battle pervading Reno today: how the lust of a workplace’s vacancy creates a vacancy within ourselves—or, in otherwords, how our need for a paycheck overshadows our need for selffulfillment in this short life. We’ll miss you, Edgar. ­— marshall delbecq, VAD



POETRY turn the page


kate groesbeck

low self-esteem


nicholas ruggieri



bailey gamberg



max emme

summer in lorraine


jessica mehta

after the black room


paul ilechko

hazardous materials


sarah henry

postcard from kansas


keith froslie



griffin peralta

workers’ comp


elliejean nestaval

dirty habits


krisna balolong

150 years of molt


daniel putney



virginia watts

PROSE going under


zo arpeggi



kate lasell

C ONTE N T S VISUALS station 14


jean wolff

warm weather movie/ cold weather movie 16


ross allison



tyler ewing

reclining nude


holly day

grow through what you go through


zariah dally



anita savell

laundry leonids, from: fend for yourself


rebecca shmuluvitz

through my darkness.


sara thacker

warm weather movie/ cold weather movie 15


ross allison

pink mess


doris rapp



danja akulin

la frontera


vanessa lopez

gouache makes you blush


britney torres



laurene bois-mariage

big galoot, from: portraits


bruce riley

it’s cacteye, not cacti


doris rapp



mikala yepez

anarchy, from: the letter on itself and man


ana jovanovska

STATION 14 jean wolff


turn the page ­kate groesbeck The worst part was the lack of choice. I so purposefully choose the words that I use in my story. I sketch in light pencil and I erase and I edit and I erase and I start again. But he came in with a black Sharpie and scribbled all over my pages, pages that he had no right to write on. For some reason, I can’t seem to turn the page.


low self-esteem nicholas ruggieri I say, “HERE, TAKE MY HANDS,” and he reaches out, but he is surprised when they fall off, into his own arms. He says, “WHAT THE?” and I tell him, “MY HANDS ARE CURIOUS ABOUT YOU,” because this is perhaps the sexiest way to give someone your bloody hands freshly chopped off your forearms. He disagrees. “I THOUGHT YOU JUST WANTED ME TO HOLD YOUR HANDS.” I think this is strange, because I clearly do want him to be holding my hands, so I say, “I DO WANT YOU TO HOLD THEM AND I WANT YOU TO BE CAREFUL WITH THEM.” Now he says, “I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH YOUR HANDS,” and he is standing there, looking at me, looking at my hands in his hands, my arms without hands, his arms with an extra pair of hands, hands that I sure don’t want, that I thought he must have wanted, even without me attached. 3

warm weather movie / ross cold weather movie 16 allison


imminent bailey gamberg

Trumpets blared in my saccadic soul at the sight of glass frames and messy hair. A twinge of familiarity. The fleeing sun set a tone of residual ripples layered across my broken sky. A gust of rejuvenation. Lungs of exhaust and exile exhale; breathe you in. Droplets of your fingertips scatter across my skin in untraceable patterns, shimmering and strewn against the vibrations of my heartbeat’s desperate thrums. Chaos is intoxicating, but someday.


jellies tyler ewing 6



milk max emme

The dinner bell rings, Four glasses set out Filled to the brim With the whiteness. And we gulp, gulp, gulp. The dairy man comes In the frosty, blue light. He slides the plastic jugs Onto the porch without a sound. We never see his face. We rustle our favorite cardboard boxes, Shake out the crunchy particles That tinkle into our ceramic bowls. Drown it all in white. One day, I replaced the creamy ritual With a plant-based substitute. Soon, only water. I let myself be empty, The hollowness sickly satisfying. Mirrors wink at me My hand slides over my stomach—flat. Always lifting my shirt to check To see, was it still.


I had to run, run, run—on nothing. In the morning, afternoon, at night, After school, I ran in circles. Sprinting up and down the cul-de-sac Passed my bedtime. Three glasses at dinner now. The cook dishes up for everyone, Except me—I had to have less, I burned more—but I had to have less. Mom grabbed me roughly. Her whole hand wrapped around my arm Like it was a wrist. She dragged me to appointments. They shook their heads and jabbed Mean fingers into my chest. They took my blood, They ran tests, Pinched my skin to measure it. They held me down, And poured milk Down my throat.


grow through zariah what you go through dally 11

homecoming anita savell 12

summer in lorraine jessica mehta

Hot air balloons can only crash— it took me fifteen years and five thousand miles to watch nylon candies en flambÊ fall like parade castoffs from the sky. In open fields, hands sticky with crepe drippings, the lot of us craned our necks and clutched our phones waiting with hungry impatience for the cascade of exquisite collisions.


laundry leonids, rebecca from: fend for yourself shmuluvitz


15 sara thacker

through my darkness.


paul ilechko

after the black room

In the mirror of the black room, with black-painted walls of blackly humorous artworks and arcane bric-a-brac, my face turns to skull. This is the climacteric. Earlier, I floated along through parks and streets in joyful abandon, watching the world melt and recreate itself with brighter shapes and colors than ever seen before, a sense of indefinable and almost boundless delight washing over me. But after the black room, all was darkness. Wandering, head down, through endless repeating avenues, all of them the same, all of them filled with a cognizance of overwhelming menace, my body turned into its own antagonist. The sunshine turned to a bleak and dismal wash of cloudy sky,

the warmth to a bone-chilling damp; and still we walked on, not talking, unable to create words that could ever express the horror that was building inside, the fear that grew and grew, like an alien incubus taking over my nervous system, working outwards from some deep and formerly hidden place of a deeper pain than I ever knew existed inside of me—and then, suddenly, it was gone. The dam had burst, and sunlight filtered back into the world, briefly flashing red as it sank into the river, sank into a perfect, peaceful night, the ordeal finished, tongue once more available for creating sound, body free to stretch and ease itself into this new and fascinating night, this place and time of peace and bounty.

hazardous materials sarah henry A dancing woman burst into flames which sizzled from her head. Her mouth became a black smear. The dress was impossible and on the floor— a black circle like lightning struck. An elderly doctor exploded while sitting at home. He burned so brightly, even his shoes disappeared. In his cups, a medieval knight was drinking barley ale when it happened to him. * Hazardous material lurks in antifreeze and in your medicine chest. If grapefruit mixes with certain drugs, they produce annoying insights. Too many carrots make the skin turn orange. A plastic bag is not a toy. * Ever since the reactor at Three Mile Island leaked a toxic threat, I drink Polar Water from a clean dispenser. The public water supply might kill a cow. Milk is radioactive and I am going vegan. 17

warm weather movie / ross cold weather movie 15 allison


PINK MESS doris rapp


going under zo arpeggi

I don’t like candles and birthday cakes, white pearlescent layers and waxing fire. Flames make me anxious, make me search for water, keeping me distracted, not paying attention to my birthday. Isn’t there a stray piece of fabric over there? Near the sink? No one is watching the cake. I imagine the candles sliding off. I have to keep an eye on the cake. I don’t like attention and blowing out candles, never did, never will. I have nightmares—frail and stuck in a wooden chair—surrounded by family? Can’t blow out the candles—not enough air. I don’t have any candles on my birthday because I have a strong distaste for numbers, and besides, I prefer ice cream—cold, creamy, and rich. My high school psychology teacher had us write down three adjectives describing our favorite food—cold, creamy, and rich. She said those adjectives should describe your relationships, your desires, your hungers. I do hunger, cold—men. Callous, detached, one night stands and leaving in two-day old pairs of jeans. I do hunger, rich—women. Full of pain, having left someone before me, complex, complicated body systems. Not simple, rotary mechanisms. On my eighteenth birthday, creamy—no candles and not a cake, but my favorite food, scoops of doughy beige clumps, in a tiny pink spoon. On my eighteenth birthday, I go to the strip club. But which one to go to? There are strip clubs on the strip and there are strip clubs downtown. There are strip clubs in the casino and there are strip clubs on Industrial. There are strip clubs that are more like nightclubs and there are nightclubs that are more like strip clubs. There are strip clubs where the women are topless and others where they are also bottomless. There are strip clubs where you try to avoid sinking too deep into the seats, try to avoid touching the remains of desolate sweat that has gathered in the creases and wrinkles of leather. 20

When I was nine I woke up like a normal day and noticed that my parents bedroom light was on, the bedroom door cracked two feet open. I tiptoed to the edge and peered in—the room was empty. I woke my sister, told her about the open door and told her about our parents empty room. We waited for our parents to come home—didn’t know where they went—they never told us where they went. Leaving in the afternoon, leaving my sister, thirteen, to look after me—they did this often, but they were always back by morning, always back in time for morning. The morning that our parents didn’t come home we waited in the living room because there we didn’t have to address the open door face to face. Could pretend for a few hours that everything was okay, that no parents and the open door was normal.

“naked women staying away from me, sensing surely my complete cold water shock, sensing my empty pockets.”

The open door was not normal—I knew this. The door should stay closed until three. Normal was my parents sleeping until the afternoon. We made sandwiches to pass the time. I still remember. My sister let me play Playstation until the weight of the open door was too much for even that. We waited. I remember praying. When the sun set our grandparents came to pick us up—our parents door still open. Because it’s my eighteenth birthday, the bouncer lets me in for free. Because it’s my eighteenth birthday, I go to the strip club where the women are bottomless because that’s the only club my friends can get me in. I sit in stunned silence watching bodies caressing poles, caressing others’ bodies. Naked women staying away from me, sensing surely my complete cold water shock, sensing my empty pockets. The car had slid out near state line, my Dad explained. They were taking the exit for Buffalo Bill’s casino—stopping for coffee. Slick asphalt because it had rained. My parents weren’t wearing seatbelts. My parents don’t like laws, rules, suggestions, safety. The Mustang with the V8 engine went sideways, and then went over, and over, and over. “But why were you coming back so early in the morning?” my sister 21

asked. I was too young for those kinds of questions — too young to put the pieces together in that way, too young to be anything but relieved with my dad’s arm only in a sling, with my mom’s neck only in a temporary brace, too young to be anything but relieved that they were still alive. But my sister had three years on me, old enough to know that Monday at six in the morning was not a normal time to be driving home from Vegas to California. My sister was old enough to know that my parents had been keeping secrets. Even though I don’t like candles, birthday cakes, parties, I know that the strip club is supposed to be fun. That’s why I came, after all. It is my birthday, after all. I am going to have fun. I am going to be normal.

“my parents don’t like laws, rules, suggestions, safety.”

The speakers rumbling from unseen corners announce the first dancer of the hour will be on stage soon. I wait. I wait and try to forget who I am. I try to remember that it is my birthday. I try to remember my friends, who have dragged me out here to have fun. My friends are near—but I can’t seem to notice them. I am so far, so far in secrecy, holding my parents’ secrets, holding my own secrets. Once my mom was able to take the neck brace off we moved to Las Vegas. Our parents waited until all of the boxes were unpacked before gathering us in the living room. I feel so alone, on a leather chair, the snare, one-two-three, the snare. I am all alone on a leather chair. My friends are gone. The sparse eyewatchers along the stare are stage and gone. It is just me and the stage and my birthday and all of the candles I don’t have the strength to blow out. I am alone with all of the fun I am having. It’s time for the first dancer of the hour to start. Our parents told us why they had been driving from Vegas to California at six in the morning when the helicopter had to come and take them away. Meaning, my parents told us their secrets—my mom’s secret. It’s better not to tell, they said.




keith froslie

postcard from kansas

i turned it over its stamp depicted an old windmill behind it five wind turbines in a field of wheat

then i sat gently in the rocker and studied the postcard on its front two turkeys toms strutting through a cut milo field the first glimmers of day behind fans of iridescent tail feathers

first i eyed the sage-covered foothills and trails behind my house it’s almost time for the daily 3 p.m. show the squealing i’m so scared and nervous bunny parade thumpingleapingskittering frenetically from the imagined baying brace of arthritical fat beagles addicted to the musk scent

quietly i padded to the screened back porch trepidation in my shuffle a postcard clutched my thumb apprehensively flicking its corner the postal carrier she smiled i think think she read my post i stood in midafternoon slanting sun which was painting a medley of dapple-splashed warmth onto a blue frayed area rug with two curled cats ∞ whisker twitching i took a deep sigh held my breath a bit longer than usual christmas last i stopped smoking curtailed the drinking but i wanted both now if not to just soothe smooth the edges


kansas luv question mark the blazes you say who do i know in kansas who misses me wants my forgiveness i rolodex the memories the broken hearts then select a particular leached pain ah no it becomes my surprise rises to the surface like a bloated body untethered from the tangles of pond bur-weeds

dear w thomas now i know why dorothy left kansas the wind blew her away lol am still sketching have opening in okc—bricktown this sept 14 still think of you please forgive me hope u r still woodcarving miss u luv xoxo

i searched hard for more traipsing turkeys in these fields postmark burr oak ks 66936 jul 4 2012 usps i read each word carefully keeping the name hid with callused thumbs for last for surprise


not even a postcard with turkeys


i can be a forgiving man hell at some point in time you gotta cross it and i forgave myself christmas last

oklahoma september maybe i can go perhaps retrieve my heart emptiness has been staring me down like the double barrels of a shotgun my finger on the trigger of loneliness what else am i doing just killing time in nevada however from the sea of troubles an occasional lifeboat of hope can be seen distant riding the swells

years without hearing from her today from kansas

bang bang bang the sutures in my soul started to itch char screech thought she was in nyc years submerged nay buried in the big apple art scene not like not like she left me for jesus my brows knit miss u exclamation point exclamation point found myself absently humming blue eyes crying in the rain


la frontera vanessa lopez


amazon griffin peralta

That was the day I covered the wall clock with duct tape so its driving slowness would not weigh on my work like a millstone I clocked in and saw you was jammin’ a wrench in the servos, laughing like time off for a national holiday I heard the soulless timer chime: hurry up hurry up hurry up and apply! Ten apps a day, tank empty, rent late. I saw steel arms moving boxes forever. Goliaths around whose ankles we scurry. David was an ad campaign.


I saw John could still stand, slamming monsters before microwave meals. I saw birds trapped in the rafters, clipped in by the same one-way doors that caught me under these low career ceilings. Talking is not allowed, but I wave at Employee 6, picking orders beneath a battalion of cameras, his legs giving in his box: I saw teeth spit out like glass breaking against the machine. I saw him stand like nothing happened. Keep working like nothing happened, the colossus of productivity dragging us by our bootstraps into the mechanism of our own disrepair.


workers’ comp elliejean nestaval

Remember Diana and her pinky through the tomato slicer. Ketchup on T-shirt. Getting to touch Diana’s hand. Soft. Maybe love is pouring peroxide into the sanitizer sink.


gouache makes britney you blush torres


dirty habits krisna balolong

Lewd bodies strewn over a bed, eyes of plastic lust. Their beckoning bodies and open legs Like knives sawing against my fat flesh. Venus of the screen taking countless forms— Blonde, Brunette, Asian, Shaved, Amateur, Solo, Tits you can bury your face in. Her moans penetrate the senses, Speaking to the dark crevices of your soul that I am unable to reach. Nakedness and beauty, The female sex reminds me of her And all the wanton women you’ve given yourself to. They taunt me endlessly For the times you were their lover, and not mine.


recollages laurene bois-mariage


big galoot, bruce from: portraits riley 35

fen kate lasell

This week during show-and-tell, I told the class how it’s our favorite holiday coming up. I told them how we are worshipping trees and dirt, and the spirits of the past billion years. I told everyone what you told me, so they’ll all be good mud-dwellers. I told them about how the spirits live under the swamp in bright, squishy layers. Then I shared them Daddy’s book but I didn’t say it was Daddy’s. Ms. Soper knew but didn’t rat on me. I am helping Daddy with the sales. I said, Everyone, have you read Jim C. Darling’s Encyclopedia of Swamp Learning and Lore? And I told them they can read more about the spirits in the LEARNING section under “decomposition,” but that they’ll have to buy the book to read it. Then today it was finally Halloween. I stayed in bed though. I did not try to get up and beg Daddy to have breakfast candy. I was feeling so low-down, like my belly was filled with silt. We’ve been like this lots of mornings, except for sometimes when Daddy makes pancakes or other times when I go into your bedroom and sit on top of him and paint his nails until he says Judith! In a mad but nice voice. But most days Daddy and I stay in our rooms. Today Daddy came into my room and sat down on the bed and gave my head a scratch. I do not feel in a celebrating mood, I told him. Me neither, Daddy said. Let’s dress up exactly as we feel. I feel moldy, I said to him. And then he did a laugh that turned into a little bit of crying. I feel small, Daddy said. Like that Toad Bug on the windowsill. OK, I said. I’ll be the Moldy Maiden. And you be a Toad Bug. The Moldrin’ Maiden, Daddy said. The Maiden of Mud and Dark and Moldrin’ Places. After that, Daddy and I had candy bars for breakfast. Then Daddy got some mushrooms from the swamp and stuck them on my tiara from last year. And I took an old blanket and made Daddy a brown triangle Toad Bug cape. Except I did not feel like getting candy from the neighbors. When we see them now, they apologize and whisper to Daddy, how am I doing, even though I’ll be standing right there. Instead, Daddy and I played in 36

the swamp all day, climbing the tupelos and giving the bumbles their sugar syrup. The best was when Daddy and I played Swampmaidens. He’s not as good as you at it but Daddy said too bad, he’ll have to do. We sat on the boulder by the pond and Daddy braided my hair. I scratched some moss off the boulder and gave it to him. Tabitchula, I said, which was all of a sudden his new Swampmaiden name. Put this moss in my hair. Splendid, Tabitchula said. Swampmaidens share each other all their secrets, I told him. Then Tabitchula shared that not many people know it but there used to be whales around here. I made both of us be quiet then, in case we could hear their fossils singing. When we got back to the house, Daddy had a phone call and I ate more candy. I could not stop dancing around, just like in harvesting season, when I eat too much honey and the whole world tickles. I stopped when I saw Daddy holding his head in his hands, almost like he didn’t already have a neck to keep it up. We’re going to town, he said. I didn’t want to go but he said it was important. He cut the honey boxes down into big squares. Imagine there is a marsh panther, he said, trying to eat the swamp. We need to scare it away with our signs. I had a lot to say to that marsh panther but I still don’t know how to write. I sat there thinking while Daddy made his sign, remembering when you explained to me how Daddy’s book worked. The LEARNING part, you said, is like detective work. Daddy takes a leaf or a skull or an insect and follows it back through time like a thread. LORE is when you can’t quite understand a thing, but you got a feeling, and you make something up, a story, or a character, or a song, so as to get closer to whatever it is that can’t unclench you. I remembered your example of when you were little and afraid of the dark. To get you less scared, Grandma told you that at sunset, a giant bird catches the night in his mouth and pulls it across the sky like a blanket. Then you felt like you were being tucked in. I sat watching Daddy write and I thought about that giant bird. Nights here have not been so good, being as you are still not ever there in the morning. Then I was looking at my cardboard and my face ran down with tears and my nose was uncooperating. I like how Daddy let me be like that, not like Ms. Soper who rushes to me and says, Are you OK, Judith?? in front of the other kids. With Daddy, I just sat there wiping my snot off, and that’s how I got my idea. I drew a big mouth with fangs and a long, pearly body. I didn’t give 37

her eyes or ears, just two slits for a nose and a huge mouth, so she can yell and scare the marsh panther away. I explained her to Daddy in the car on the way to town. Her name is Fen, I said. She’s got no eyes or nose so she can’t see or smell good enough to get out of the earth. She’s been down there for a billion years, feeling everybody one by one come down and join her. She’s cried so much for each of them that her whole body’s become wrapped up in mucous. But it’s like a cocoon that keeps her safe under the ground so as she can do her special job of protecting all the spirits. If the marsh panther comes, she’s gonna get mean and yell at him ‘til he leaves. Interesting, said Daddy. So, she’s like the tongue of the earth. Nope, I said. She’s just a prehistoric worm-dino. Alright, said Daddy. You know better than me. Then I patted his seat on the back. What did you write? I asked him. Save Our Swamp, said Daddy. When we got to town, there were people on the hall steps with signs. Dolores was there with her mommy and daddy and also Mr. Swift. He shook Daddy’s hand and then we went inside. Inside lots of people were quiet and some were yelling. I recognized Mayor Nelson in the front of the room. I’ve seen him lots of times before at the diner, squirting ketchup by accidentally onto his tie. He had some men up there with him and right opposite them in the front row was Ms. Soper with her own sign. She was standing and almost shouting. Mayor Nelson had to stop talking because her pipes were bigger. Then he started whispering to a fat man next to him, who was wearing a too-tight, too-hot suit. It was making his body look like our marsh, all wet and spongy. I imagined if I poked his belly, tadpoles would scatter beneath his skin. Mayor Nelson yelled into the microphone and introduced the fat man as Sal from Potash United. A lot of folks booed including Daddy. I did exactly what they did, acting very involved with my sign, holding it up even though my arms were tired from all the tree climbing, and yelling and even stomping my foot. The mayor explained about mitigation, a word I didn’t know that stuck in my mind like a troublesome burr. Ms. Soper cut him off, saying DON’T EXPLAIN IT TO US, BOB. EXPLAIN IT TO THE KIDS. I was feeling very jazzed so I ran up. Daddy tried to grab my shoulder but Ms. Soper waved her hand at me. HELLO, I shouted. I AM THE KID. 38

Mayor Nelson was looking madish and pointed at me until his friend came down off the stage and started leading me back to Daddy. What do you think about this? his friend said. This man Sal’s going to borrow our swamp for some time, and in exchange, you’re going to get a new desk at school, and new books, and we’re going to have new roads in town and a new library and lots of other things. I wanted to ask what else could Sal do, and specifically could he bring you back from wherever you went. But then Ms. Soper grabbed my shoulders and swatted at Mayor Nelson’s friend yelling, BORROW? BORROW?! The mayor’s friend kept talking to me, ignoring Ms. Soper. Sal’s gotta dig up the swamp, he said. But when you’re grown up, he’s going to give it back, and it will look just the same as how you remember it. LIAR, Ms. Soper was yelling really loud! And then everyone started yelling and Mayor Nelson stepped back from the microphone, shaking his head at Sal. I stared at Sal, who was going to dig up the swamp. He had the blue eyes of a marsh panther. I dropped my sign then and ran up on stage, poking him in the belly. Turns out there were no tadpoles in there. But when I poked him I could hear Daddy say one of those words we’re not supposed to say and then I heard Ms. Soper laughing like she’d gone crazy. LISTEN UP, I yelled at the fat man Sal. I KNOW A MONSTER MUD-DWELLER. SHE’S RIBBED LIKE A WORM AND SCALED LIKE A SNAKE. SHE’S GOT BIG TEETH AND SHE’S GONNA COME ON UP OUT OF HER MUCOUS SHELL AND EAT YOU IF YOU KEEP ON. Then Daddy was on stage, lifting me up and backpedaling. But I kept on. AND DON’T YOU KNOW NOT TO WEAR SUITS IN A SUBTROPICAL REGION. Which is a term I learned from Daddy’s book.

“lore is when you can’t quite understand a thing, but you got a feeling, and you make something up, a story, or a character, or a song, so as to get closer to whatever it is that can’t unclench you.”

We had to go after that. Daddy told everyone we passed that I had too much candy but Ms. Soper said, Good job kid you get extra credit. 39

In the car, Daddy and I had quiet time until we got back to the swamp. Then we parked by the pond and turns out Daddy had another candy bar in his pocket that was melty but still very eatable. Is whatever borrowed Mama gonna give her back? I asked him. Daddy was silent for a long time, licking chocolate off his lips. I don’t know what I’m supposed to say to you, Judith, he said. Daddy has been saying this a lot recently. Sometimes he also says, I don’t know what to say to Judith, and then I know he must be talking to you. Like I did the other times, I just gave him a pat on his back. Do you remember, I asked him, how Mama said that every day the cypress and the herons and everything down to the beetle gets fed up on the ghosts in the earth? Is she down there now? I asked. Same as the dinos, marsh panthers, and all the creatures who passed? Is she headed there to compose down in the mud? Daddy still had his brown cape on, which was supposed to be the hard shell of a Toad Bug but it was all soft and wrinkled from when we were yelling at Mayor Nelson and Fat Sal. He was looking out at the trees across the pond, with their scruffy beards hanging down and getting wet. He was still, as if he was part stone. I made my voice low like his. Decomposition, I said, is a process by which detrivores and decomposers break down dead matter so that it may be recycled back into the earth as part of the nutrient cycle. Daddy was shaking his head and smiling at me. You’re smarter than me, he said. Then he said real quiet, I’m screwed. So I gave him another pat. The Toad Bug, I kept going in his writerly voice, is generally oval, flattened with hidden antennae and bulging eyes. Also known as the Laughing Bug, I said. Next I tried to say the one about the Bladderwort but I laughed every time I started. Daddy laughed too. Are you mad at me? I asked him. For yelling? No, said Daddy. You are very rambunctious. And the world needs that. I asked Daddy what he needs and he looked at me very surprised. You know, he said. One thing I do not need is more candy.


150 years of molt daniel putney I come alive in the dirt in between my toes. The minerals of this high desert sand tell me the stories of mountaintops and wastelands from far ago. The breaths of summer air dizzy me, the son of the heartland burns my flesh. I cannot see except for the brown of my skin, the brown of my dirt. The trail at my feet, in my blood, leads me to the ancients. I feel archaeologists rediscover me as I am lured into the Great Basin. I toss stones as if they are my toys, pet sagebrush as if it is my pet. The calluses and scratches on my hands remind me why I am here: I do not know my real body. This land has consumed me, thrown me into the dirt. Every bite of a fire ant, the rattle of a snake, petrifies my bones. I become the stalactites in the caves, the petroglyphs on the rocks. The dry heat melts my Pacific coat, replaces it with the minerals at my feet. I am the desert taken root.


it’s cacteye, not cacti doris rapp




cradle virginia watts

In the nighttime I see him again in his crib Moon washed Talcum white Blue veined Blonde lashes invisible He curls his fingers into a fist A tight and sweaty quarter Squeeze Squeeze Let Go A clear bubble pops shiny from his mouth I click off the monitor, stupid thing To his puffing He is seeing something Rolling fields A red strawberry stark and calling The swing and its flat, wooden seat With the stinging bee Where he will sit one day What do babies dream? What do babies dream? I creep to the window To lighted boxes across the street My neighbor carrying her dark-haired baby girl Back and forth All the way across the English Channel Where all the happy babies sail The waters are choppy and dark But the boats that carry them They’re not


Painted in the primaries Red and Navy and White Stripes at sea I sing along with the merriment and salute them Until they drift away Mothers don’t believe in magic Mothers don’t believe in magic I run my finger across the wooden dresser I chose so carefully for him The books: pat the bunny The plastic wheel with buttons To push for sounds and songs and flavored colors Like the summer popsicles I imagined he’d eat at the end of his soccer games He will score goals Get high fives Dunk baskets Solve math problems Succeed at physics Run for class office Go to Duke or Wesleyan Become a journalist, an architect An archeologist Ride a camel through the desert Adopt the local garb Loose white trousers and a rust-colored turban In the nighttime I sank quietly to his floor Eyes to kneecaps A wish


That mothers weren’t so good At throwing glitter into smoke No need of tea leaves Crystal balls Incense A slender black wand with a pearl tip A misty room A crushed velvet gown sewn of midnight blue satin Gold hoops Moonstone rings Disembodied voice boxes Tarot and turquoise eye shadow No need No need Life rises and condenses at our fingertips And all around our feet Mary and her serpents We never have time to think fast enough When a star falls outside our window But it doesn’t matter We know everything already


anarchy, ana from: the letter on itself and man jovanovska


editor-in-chief edgar garcia

visual arts director marshall delbecq

public relations manager claire carlson

staff literary editor nick huffman

zine editor percy neavez


A special thanks to all our volunteers who either contributed as panelists or copyeditors, or both. The thoughtfulness, skill, and dedication each of you brought to the creation of this vjournal was inspiring, and we are grateful for your efforts in helping Brushfire grow as a publication and as a community. joey bottino shyene joubert maddie rose john tuttle nathaniel benjamin presley dodge paul winfrey peter zikos

colophon The Brushfire is the oldest literature and arts journal at the University of Nevada, Reno. Established in 1950, this nationally recognized, biannual publication provides an opportunity for emerging artists and writers to publish and share their work. With each iteration of the Brushfire, we strive to represent the diversity, originality, and interests of our community. Athelas is the body copy throughout the book. minion pro is used for the headline text. A. Carlisle & Company of Nevada printed this FSC-certified, 8.5 x 5.5-inch book on 100-pound paper. As a UNR organization, we also strive to be the creative outlet for our student body. Our priority is to connect with the various art communities throughout Reno. However, anyone may submit to Brushfire. While we focus primarily on student and Reno-based work, we continually receive and publish art from across the country. To all of our submitters: we greatly appreciate your creativity, dedication, and love for the arts and freedom of expression. You are what makes Brushfire unique. Thank you. Brushfire recieved the 2016 ACP Best-0f-Show Award for Literary Magazine, and recieved an honerable mention for the 2017 Pinnacle Awards.

WANT TO HAVE YOUR WORK PUBLISHED? Brushfire publishes bianually. We accept all printable forms of art. Our deadlines for the spring and fall semesters can be found online. To learn more about submitting, visit us at unrbrushfire.org Have beef with the journal? Let the Editor know! brushfireeditor@asun.unr.edu Copyright Š 2018 Brushfire and its individual contributors. All rights reserved by the respective artists. Original work is used with the expressed permission of the artists. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. The opinions expressed in this publication and its associated website and social media are not necessarily those of the University of Nevada, Reno, or of the student body. Brushfire is funded by The Associated Students of the University of Nevada.

journal layout cover art artist backcover poem author

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edgar garcia, marshall delbecq desire to be unseen eli goldstone too many notebooks rosie gailor

FSC logo

too many notebooks rosie gailor

(I am a blank page, I am the margin; I am the lines left to linger. I am the space to be filled in, I am undecided. I am the possible. I am the left to rot and linger in damp attics and dusty shelves. I am all of the potential but none of the gusto; I am capable but I’m not able. Unwilling, unmoving, disheartened; o, what is to become of me? What could have been the changing of worlds and the opening of eyes becomes the lingering of pens held by shaking fingers, uncertainty and voices in heads, doubt and doubt and doubt until the mountain becomes unclimbable and the page remains blank. Pen nibs never dampen and stain paper; the ink remains in its cage, its plastic barriers, never to know the joy of being. Being: breathe, Chapter One, “�, and, or happily ever after.)

Profile for Brushfire Literature & Arts

Edition 70, Volume 2  

Brushfire is UNR's oldest literature & arts journal. Brushfire publishes biannually, check out our website for more info! unrbrushfire.org

Edition 70, Volume 2  

Brushfire is UNR's oldest literature & arts journal. Brushfire publishes biannually, check out our website for more info! unrbrushfire.org

Profile for brushfire