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Brushfire Universit y of N evada, Reno literary arts journal Kelly Bridegum, editor

Special thank you to Amy Koeckes for her advising assistance, the Brushfire staff and especially Ashley Dodge for always going above and beyond, the ASUN senate for their financial support, the Old Northwest Advisory Board and the City of Reno for their sponsorship, Sierra Nevada Industries, Inc. for their sponsorship, my mother and grandmother for their support and encouragement, Taylor Anderson for all his work on the Publications Bill, the talented artists and writers that comprise the contents of this book, our volunteers and submission reviewers, Anthony Sodenkamp, Charlene Gey, Delaney Battista, Mareena Wasylenchuk, Robyn Oxborrow and Scott Godine, for generously giving their time to help make this book a reality and everyone who submitted.

Published by the Associated Students of the University of Nevada, Reno. Opinions and viewpoints expressed are not necessarily those of the ASUN, faculty, staff, student body or administration of the University of Nevada, Reno. Copyright Š 2008 Brushfire and the individual contributors. All rights are reserved by the respective authors and artists. Original work is used with explicit permission of the artists. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without written permission from the publisher.

Artwork on cover: Once We Get To Her Room, Lauren Randolph, digital photograph Design and layout by Kelly Bridegum, editor additional layout assistance provided by Ashley NoĂŤl Hennefer and Ashley Dodge Fonts: Existence, Gill Sans, Jane Austen, and Verdana

Printed by Registered Ink Printing Co.


Sierra Nevada Industries, Inc

Brushfire literary arts journal 60 v.2 Table of Contents Introduction:

Bittersweet Escape • 4 Before the Brushfire • 5

Sublime Escape:

Introduction • 7 Alpha and Omega • 6 Giraffe • 6 Imitation • 8 Lost at Sea • 9 Full Rescue • 9 Arch • 10 Imagine What Earth Is • 10 Simplicity • 11 Space Jam • 11 Youth • 12 Wisdom • 12 Fireworks • 13 Untitled •15 Mirage • 15 Her Shadow • 15 Solitude • 15 I Kissed A Stranger • 16 Delicious • 16 Genocide Over Tea • 17 Glisten • 20 Endless • 20 Frickle • 20 Doves • 21 Seasonal Dreams • 21 Red Rock • 22 Purple Haze • 22 Walk Rail • 22 Iowa • 23 Xalapa Anoche • 23 Natural Mystic • 23 Untitled • 24 If Only We Were Ants • 24 Bench • 24 Riding the Silence • 24 Waves • 25 Take A Stroll • 25 Untitled • 25 Untitled • 25 Blue Lagoon • 26 Breath • 26 Why We Can’t See the Stars • 26 Crepuscule • 26 Welcome to the City • 27 Mimicry • 27 Untitled • 27 Trees • 27 Chrysalis • 28 A Collection of Haiku • 28

Daily Reveries:

Introduction • 30 Untitled • 31 Untitled 3 • 31 For Only So Long • 31 Dissimulation Through Isolation • 31 He Smells a Grandiose Scenery #1 and #2 • 32 Purple Sun • 32 Union Park Café • 33 Prize • 33 Once We Get To Her Room • 34 A Loophole in My Dreaming • 34 Electric Lime and Merlot • 34 Flirting • 34 Anisoptera 9/26/07 • 35 A Good Kiss • 36 Royal Flush • 36 Modern Medusa • 37 Urban Exodus • 38 How I Will Propose: A Letter • 39 Forbidden Fruit • 40 More Than Happily Ever After • 40 Untitled • 41 Candlestick • 41 If Eyes Could Talk • 41 Beach No.3 • 42 Beach No. 2 • 42 Beach No. 4 • 42 Summer • 43 Waiting • 43 Lynsey Nanny • 44 It’s Almost Over…For Me Anyways • 44 A Parody of Walt Whitman’s Song Of Myself • 45 She Paints the Sky • 45 Eighteen and Over Night • 46 Moses Jones • 46 Ingrid Circa 1970 • 46 Footstep Ghosts • 48 Red Diamonds • 48 Paint • 49 Cyndie • 49 The Lady in White • 50 Narcissus • 51

Familiar Nightmares:

Introduction • 53 Dictation Over Interest • 52 Another Happy Ending But With a Twist • 54 Knight • 54 Imaginary Order • 55 Symbolic Order • 55 Mirror Stage • 55 The Living and the Dead • 55 Manners and Lessons From Men • 56 Untitled • 57 Making Amends • 57 In the Middle • 57 At Night in My Apartment I Hear • 58 Too Soon • 58 Drowning My Sorrows • 58 Goddess of Fury • 59 Anonymous Portrait • 59 Anime Aliens • 59 Headlights • 60 Untitled • 61 Masquerade • 62 On Your Skin • 62 Gone to Work • 63 What Will I Tell Your Grandson • 63 Marmalade Day 1990 • 64 Split • 64 Sad Definitions • 65 To Meet • 66 Your Touch • 66 Grandma • 66 Grandpa • 66 What She Said • 67 Sarah • 67 There’s a Puddle Between Us • 68 Country Time in the Playhouse • 68 Lost in the Garden • 68 Page X • 68 Brianna • 69 Sally Ann • 69 She Was Only 18 • 69 The Forgotten • 70 Mortality • 70 Underground Catacombs Budapest, Hungary • 70 Last Winter • 71 Remnants of Fall • 71 Twisted Nightmares and Open Windows • 72 Scream • 73 The Kitchen • 73 Our Violent Desert • 74 Shiteater • 75 Get It Off Me • 75

Ordinary Abstractions:

Introduction • 76 Fishing • 77 Rust • 77 Rope • 77 An Afternoon in China • 78 Gravitational Disturbance • 79 Lattice • 80 A Massacre of Hyphens • 80 The Poet • 81 Windows Pier • 81 Lamp • 81 Age From Within • 81 Fast Lane • 82 How To Lose A Girl • 82 School Night Prose • 83 Decembe • 83 Cityscape 1 & 3 • 84 My Name On Its Spine • 85 Television • 85 Primary • 86 Converger • 86 Untitled • 86 Para El Presidente • 86 Smood • 86 Timid • 87 Iron Nouveau • 87 Sklo Modry • 88 Sklo Zluty • 88 A Ghost • 90 Say • 90 Color Combustion # 4 • 90 Back-Hoe Man • 91 Geckos in Still • 91 Neon Sign • 92 4th Street Project • 92 American Caste • 92 Breaking Toothpicks • 93 Where It All Ends Up • 93 Mirrored Equivalence • 94 History Retold • 94 Transition • 95 Branch • 95 Celled • 95 Worn Beyond Years • 95 I • 96 II • 96 III • 96 An Engineering Poet • 97 The Demise Series • 98 House • 98 Baptist Bus • 98 Shadow • 99 The Irishman • 99 DMV • 99


staff photo • 100 surf our site • 100 get published • 100 aid and abet • 100 artist index • back cover

Ret reat in Dreams Bittersweet Escape and N ight mares Kelly Bridegum, editor

Six hundred and seventeen days I have been editor of the Brushfire. I have read and looked through over two thousand submissions, eight hundred and thirteen in this semester alone. I have spent two thousand nine hundred and forty seven hours coaxing and kindling this fire. And it is with this edition I bid it farewell, confident you have the fuel to keep it burning. This parting is bittersweet as is this volume. It is filled with the magic and beauty of everyday life and the horror of our worst fears and most common nightmares. From images of pure suspense to tales of timid flirting we are reminded that nightmares come suddenly, dreams are always drifting nearby, and that nothing is ever exactly as it may seem. Our daily lives are reflected in both our dreams and our nightmares, our escapes and our abstractions. These dreams, nightmares, escapes and abstractions are our most familiar and most comfortable places. It is in them that we have the strength, creativity and ability to transform our worlds, find release and rekindle inspiration. On the pages that follow you will be offered a bittersweet escape—glowing in the noonday sun and sweeping into midnight shadows. Each individual piece will change your course with subtle differences and patient irony. These artists will challenge your notions of society, power, death and beauty. They will tempt you with their elusive perfection and captivate you with their grotesque illusions. I hope you find retreat in the sublime, solace in the sorrow, hope in the whimsical, and freedom in the abstraction. Let yourself get lost in words and find yourself in a photograph. Let the prose and the paintings speak to you and entangle you with their autobiographical and fictional fantasies and fates. Find something to love and treasure the journey.


4 | introduction

Escape with us and let your dreams and nightmares run free. Let us entertain, intrigue, confuse and satisfiy your creative craving. And let go of everything you know and everything you think you know and give these artists and writers a chance to transform your world into something intangible and magical that can only be found staring at a painting or humming through a lyrical verse. As editor, I have a great degree of fondness for this publication and hold the artists and writers that walk amoung us at this University in great asteem. For without these artists, these writers, these scholars, there would be no call, no need for something completely shrouded in creativity and as priceless and wonderful as the Brushfire. In the words of Nnamdi Azikiwe, “Originality is the essence of true scholarship. Creativity is the soul of the true scholar.” And the Brushfire is one of the only truly creative, unique and scholarly student publications that we have. As I ferry this last issue filled with the love, hate, hurt and confusion expressed by these artists I must thank you for allowing me to be the messenger that delivers the artistic accomplishments of so many individuals in our community. I hope that my editorship and the Brushfire has fostered creativity in our community and inspired you. Thank you for picking up this copy today and being part of the ongoing growth and success of the Brushfire. Enjoy this issue and remember that the Brushfire will continue to burn, long past the last time you read it, long past the last memory it made for you. As long as there are scholars, the Brushfire will burn.•

A rt emisia and Desert W olf Before the Brushfire Ashley Noël Hennefer, assistant editor It is another Spring, and another issue of the Brushfire has been created with the hard work and passion of the students and artists of Northern Nevada. This spring and issue also mark a new record in the history of the Brushfire: eight hundred and thirteen submissions recieved. But the Brushfire was not always what it is today. The publication began as part of the Artemisia, University of Nevada, Reno’s current school magazine, and former campus yearbook. The Artemisia began 101 years ago as an outlet for student expression. However, the Artemisia focused its creativity in a new direction, and the need for a literary arts publication still existed. Thus the Desert Wolf was created, back in the 1920s­—a small but well-designed literary magazine, its cover depicting, among other things, a howling wolf, UNR’s most famous symbol. This was UNR’s first step towards a full literary and arts journal. The publication focused on essays and poetry with illustrations, but there was still no true student publication for visual art. Interest waxed and waned for several years, and eventually the Desert Wolf faded away.Years later, in the 1950s, the spark was ignited again, and the first issue of the Brushfire was created, and here it stands today, flourishing more than ever. Despite the many changes over the years, the dedication has always been here. There have always been artists and writers at the University of Nevada, Reno, searching for a way to share their work and passion with others. Students had a vision long ago to create something that would continue to burn throughout the many generations of students who attend this university. From the ashes of each idea came a new and even better publication than the one before it, providing the university, and our surrounding

A new year, a new month, a new day. The blue sky above, The good earth beneath, And all that. Your glands are re-primed, They overflow, Ain’t it great?
You bet! Glad tidings, Sung by birds, Highly spirited situation, Just great. You’re alive. A tremendous thing. Have you been thankful?
Have you shouted?

you danced?
WellDon’t you think it would be nice? Remarkable.
Truly beautiful.
Let us clap our hands, You first. Smile hugely, And I will give you a prize. This is new! A brand new thing! Another Spring. - “The New Day” by William Eaton, Brushfire 1954, volume 1 number 5

community, with something much needed—a free and unique outlet for artistic expression. William Ace Remas, the Editor of the 1967 edition of the Brushfire, wrote, “We know that these kinds of things [creativity] are happening here at the University of Nevada. We know that people are doing something in the arts. A publication which would adequately represent these efforts is a wonderful opportunity, both for the University and the members of the community who have an interest in these endeavors.” The Brushfire has always stayed true to its name—it has no definitive path, and its future, as is true of all things, is uncertain. But the Brushfire will continue to burn where there is creativity to keep it fueled, where there are students passionate enough to take risks with their art and words. Because once a brushfire is ignited, it takes a lot to stop it from spreading.•


history | 5


Alpha and Omega Alpha and Omega

by Jennifer Richards

Scintillating starlight Wishing that I might Graceful as the brush strokes Of prayer in that painting Yearning for protection God’s omniscient luminous presence A paradise lost


6 | sublime escape

“The ease you find to slumber here, As in the vales of heaven...” * The thick velvet curtain closes The alpha and omega falling Rebellious angels and burning wings Icarus, my darling, the great declination The close of an era

An apocalypse in such wide eyes Of terror, compassion, sorrow Wishful eyes That I might comprehend What dreams may come. *Shakespeare’s Hamlet


Joseph Vestal • digital illustration

me Escape Sublime Escape

by Kelly Bridegum, editor

Sublime Escape is exactly that, a sublime escape. It offers a pathway through beauty and freedom. It celebrates the peaceful and revitalizing moments that we witness and experience everyday of our lives but do not always take the time to allow them to offer us escape. The pieces of art and writing throughout this section are ironically poetic and simply perfect. The work is beautiful and completely unraveling. These artists will challenge your knowledge of our culture and the philosophies that have shaped our society. It is through their references and their ironies that they have found release and created beauty.

Let the color in images like Giraffe by Joseph Vestal or Youth by Leah Madison wrap you up and carry you away. Float through time and space in the poem Imitation by Josh Culpepper and contemplate the problems facing society and individual beliefs with Genocide Over Tea by Seth Lagana. While some pieces over the next few pages you may find repulsive they will offer you a different perspective: hope where there is none, beauty in the tiresome and the freedom to escape and enjoy.• Kelly is a senior majoring in Photography. When she is not working on the Brushfire, and that’s rare, she can be found hiding behind a camera and taking photos.


sublime escape | 7

Imitation Imitation

by Josh Culpepper

I walked to the edge of creation in this wrinkled brown bag crumbled leaf town to watch the mountain smother the simple Promethean horse-drawn forgetfulness of the sunlight’s fire. Ginsberg sat beside me as a yellowed sour water-stained pamphlet with ink-splattered thoughts that tempted and twisted my ink-splattered mind. The rusted belts of red iron stretched for miles that would reach and entangle the drenched hills of northern California and reverse into the flat Midwest and the arching dome of the East with its bright Apple light. Where vast coliseums of reinvented patriotism douse the skyline that eludes the deep waters of the Hudson and the Euphrates. Where the sun breaks in confetti streamers that pierce and feast on our eyelids, no frumpy midlife crisis in that light, no cracked bells tolling victory by our endless brick calendars. Where I ran along the rail lines dumbstruck and assuming that this flat busted chicken-fed sweat track connected me to so many hard loose conjoined skeletons in other states, in other worlds. Where Ginsberg waited with coins in his blue green brown white eyes and hummed emphatically at the prospect of my understanding the rush and onset of the hushed evangelical lovely deep tones of the colors of these tracks. Where I lulled imagined hallucinated the sweet sunlight of King and Dylan singing chimes of Freedom and deciding on which cowboy or astronaut or Indian to prophesize over, even with bullet holes inhabiting Kennedy. Where babies mourn the loss of their aborted mother’s tranquil innocence and scorn their father’s careless prophylactic skulls. So, I unhinged a fragment of railroad and held it behind my arms like a device of Golgotha protest, And spoke solemnly to my mind or soul or heart or brain and to Ginsberg too if he can still hear the melodious droning of worker bees,—We’re not the linked shackles of enslaved establishments, nor the endless asphalt aspiring to consume a wrecked and ravaged America, we’re the color of the sunlight’s purple and yellow amphetamines and the rendering of every artist’s pointed tabletop brush that traced fathoms of Poseidon and Icarus flailing on tepid tawdry extravagant waves, surveyed by cameras under the great chains of centuries of fabric mountain aluminum atomized wastebasket dreams.


8 | sublime escape

Lost At Sea Lost At Sea By Dana Kraft

A distant voice cries out but aloud is never spoken. The waves closed in on me as my opportunity ripped from my fingers. Locked in a trance, sinking into regret, lost in a sea of blue. Then I reached out and touched you.  The pull lifted me out, a pathway is given. Hope lifts me out of my sea legs and change comes along. No longer kept in secret like a mermaid, I’ve been given a chance to stand out. Actually walking in the impossible, fulfilling my dreams, as being lost seems so far away. A chance to smell the land and breath the air that seemed so far away. No longer sinking into the wild blue, but standing . Realizing that dreams come true, no longer lost without you.

Full Rescue

Cary Crites • photograph


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Imagine What Earth Is


Maxell Richardson • photograph

Imagine What Earth Is by Teresa Reynolds

Imagine earth an ice rink Where feet slip and slide Struggle a mental balance Where coldness seeps in bones Warmth of human kindness Are we that bold? Imagine earth a garden Where weeds a tangled vine Crushing living blooms Scratching earth to survive Plant the seeds again Are we that bold?


Imagine earth a book Worn and tattered pages

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Science of wonder and thorns Rumble through the pages Separating sadness and gladness and partners us with fate. Perhaps the earth is just a place Where one, an individual face Where choices are ours to make And put in pies we bake An ice rink, a garden, a book Whatever we want the earth to be We must be bold.


Samantha Iosello • digital photograph

Space Jam

Cary Crites • photograph


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Youth & Wisdom

Leah Madison • oil and acrylic on canvas


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Fireworks Fireworks

by Ashley Noël Hennefer

It was late, well into the night, when you shook me out of my sleep. I opened my eyes to complete darkness and the feel of your breath on my skin, kissing me awake. Come with me, was all you said. The air was cool for an early July night. My head was still fighting off temptations of sleep, drifting back into dreaming, but you were wide awake. We drove fast through the Valley, speeding through the town until we were out on the highway, heading straight into the desert. Where are we going? I asked. You just winked at me and said, Happy Fourth of July, baby. I knew that you couldn’t give a fuck about being patriotic. I knew then that you had gotten the fireworks. You and your friends had been talking about it for weeks, despite the recent outbreak of forest fires, despite the everdesperate pleads from the community and firefighters to not attempt to create your own spectacle for the holiday. We pulled up to a trail and you hopped out, running around to my side to open the door. You held me by the waist and lifted me out of the car and I told you indignantly that I could get out by myself even though secretly I liked the way it felt when you held me like that. You hoisted a backpack and sleeping bag onto your shoulder and grabbed my hand, leading me into the endless sea of sagebrush. I could barely see a few feet in front of me but you walked effortlessly, a man on a mission. Or rather, a boy in college all too excited about setting things on fire. I tried to lecture you about how dangerous this all was - being alone in the wilderness without so much as a flashlight, illegally using fireworks when you knew how dry the earth and brush was at this time of year. I reminded you of the fire in Tahoe, destroying homes and beautiful trees and acres of land. You hushed me and told me to live a little and I shut my mouth, thinking instead of the first time I ever saw a house on fire. I remember seeing the flames burst through the windows, the wood and plaster and sweat and tears turning to dust in a matter of seconds. I remembered the smoke rising from the ashes and tightening my chest, making me cough for hours. I remember thinking sadly of the possessions inside, memories turned to ash. I shivered at the thought of flames, of smoke engulfing my lungs, of houses burning to ashes. You asked me if I was cold and before I could answer you pulled off your sweatshirt and draped it over my shoulders, feeding my arms through the sleeves as if I were a child incapable of dressing herself. I scoffed and thanked you sarcastically but secretly I loved the thought of you taking care of me, how you reacted at the first sign of my discomfort, despite having misunderstood its cause. You laced your fingers through mine and walked a step ahead, leading me through the sagebrush, warning me about rocks and cracks in the ground that you stumbled upon. Your palm was sweaty and when you glanced back at me I could see the outline of your profile - smiling like a little boy. You couldn’t wait to light the rockets, see the colors light up the sky. I put the thought of wildfires out of my head. I admitted to myself that it was exciting to be out here with you, whispering in hushed voices, clinging to each other in the dark. I wanted to see fireworks, sparked from your hands, igniting the sky. I’d always been fascinated by lights, reaching out to stars and Christmas lights when I was a baby. My eyes were always searching for the moon. You gripped my hand tightly, excitedly, the way you did when we made love in places we weren’t supposed to - the college library, a bathroom in a restaurant, the floor of your parents’ bedroom. I felt the same sense of rebellion, the thrill and fright of being caught, but this time there was a sense of danger, the threat of starting a wildfire if we weren’t careful. We were always starting fires, you and I. We could set the world on fire, I thought. My stomach clenched at the concept; our passion burning up everything in sight. Can love do that? Is it enough to make the world crash and burn at your feet? We reached the bonfire, an oasis of light and heat in the middle of the desert. Your friends greeted us, slapping hands with you, nodding politely at me. Everything was set up, they said. They were literally bouncing, ready to spring into the sky with excitement. Let’s do this, you said. I heard a determination in your voice I had never heard before. You looked at me and nodded, as if you were doing this for me, as if you wanted to show me something amazing. I should have told you that you had shown me something amazing since the day I met you.


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You pulled out a book of matches while the others had lighters and I liked your originality. I watched your fingers grip the match, striking it until it sparked. The light illuminated against your face cast shadows under your eyes and you looked years older. You counted down from three and all at once the fireworks were lit and sent rocketing into the sky. Look up, you said. Look! You looked up and watched the rocket soar, waiting for the explosion. I loved it when you looked up; I admired the straight, carved line of your jaw, the way your eyes became wide and bright. You ran to my side and clung to me, pointing to the sky like a child beckoning his mother to look at a balloon. I wasn’t watching the sky; I didn’t need to. The fireworks exploded in your eyes. You looked over at me and I smiled at you and I wondered if you were going to kiss me then but you just stared as the colors lit up the dark desert sky. The fireworks exploded, one after the other, booming loudly. When I was little I used to have to put my fingers in my ears to block out the noise, but now I kept my hands by my side and let the booming resonate in my chest. I watched as the sparks fell from the sky, hissing and buzzing and crackling, watching as they all burnt out before they reached the ground, harmless. I felt giddy and my hands were trembling and I laughed along with you at my side. As soon as it started it was all over. We were once again surrounded by darkness, save for the light of the bonfire. The guys whooped and cheered and sat down around the fire, pulling out cigarettes and bottles of alcohol. You pulled me away from the fire and kissed me suddenly, hard. Your hand tangled itself in my hair and you held me against you, protectively, as if proving we were safe, that nothing had caught fire. Or maybe you had and that’s why you kissed me like you did; compensating for the lack of danger. In your other hand you held mine tightly, gently crushing my fingers, but it felt so good being held like that. I felt something inside of me build and I tried to keep myself from exploding into a million little pieces in your arms but I felt so drunk on love and rebellion. I could have sworn there were a million colors spinning around us but when you pulled away and I opened my eyes it was just you and your pale face staring back at me. I awoke the next morning before sunrise, inhaling in the scent of cigarettes and campfire smoke that lingered on your sweatshirt. My head was buried in the curve of your neck and shoulder and I tried not to wake you when I moved but you opened your eyes anyway and smiled at me knowingly. You didn’t drive as fast on the way home. Once the fun is over, there’s no hurry to get anywhere. I watched you as you drove; you looked tired, your facial hair casting a shadow on your face which made you look even paler than usual. When we were back in Valley you glanced over at me and laughed. I told you it would be fun, you said. I tried to suppress a smile but you caught me anyway. You took me home and we collapsed in my bed. I kissed you asleep and even when your eyes finally closed I could still see them dancing behind your eyelids. There were fireworks still in your eyes long after daybreak.

(page 15 captions, clockwise from top)


Brandon Ellis • digital photograph


Samantha Iosello • digital photograph


14 | sublime escape

Her Shadow

Charlene Gey • digital photograph

Solitude Solitude

By Aubrey Oconner

Lying in fragmented silence Listening to a bird’s melancholy theme. Mist simmers between empty spaces of wet grass In the moments just before dawn. Frost cloaks each windowpane With illusions of beauty, Bumps prickle along flesh Saturated with guilt. Upon the wrinkled bed, the scent of a broken promise Lingers in the folds of lust. The approaching sun will not penetrate this chill.


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I Kissed a Stranger I kissed a stranger by Jennifer Richards I kissed a stranger.

The woman was arching her back in desire on the fuzzy 24 inch screen. The beer was salty and satiable on my broken lips. The shouts of fury, anger and happiness were only magnified by his hand cradling me and his fingers ever so slightly interlaced into mine. The obscenities and plebian post erotic commentary were only enlightened by his soft smile and simple statements. “I’ve made a place for myself.” And the inebriated haze was clearing; the party was dying all around us. Coldness. Snow and sleet. The dark starless night. A lonely car ride home. He’s walking away, all hope is fading, and my fantasies of the boy with the highlighted hair and generous demeanor are all slipping away so suddenly. He murmurs “it’s so cold out here,” the snow is flying, whizzing, whirling down his shirt and I’m standing beneath him, in the cold, so far from where I’ve been. So far from who I am. And I look up, and it’s warm. His soft lips tempting mine. And I’m slipping again, but he’s there to catch me and ignite me. Digits. Smiles. Goodnights. I’m grasping the small of his back and he’s touching my lips softer than the breath of the stars on this lonely night. He’s gone again. I kissed a stranger.


16 | sublime escape


Neil Steiniger • digital photograph

Genocide over Tea Genocide over Tea by Seth Lagana

We watched as people walked by. She squinted at the sun. A breeze cooled the backs of our legs, and the blossoming quad beckoned the buoyant spirits hibernating. Spring held certain promises. She wiped the hair from her eyes and mouth. We heard wind chimes. That’s all it takes. She said the UN needs to send 26,000 peacekeepers to Darfur. I asked if they needed to be armed. She said yes, 26,000 peace keepers – armed. I asked why not soldiers. She said the peacekeepers aren’t allowed to use their weapons. I asked if the Janjaweed had guns. She said yes. I said okay. I asked her if all the 26,000 peacekeepers spoke a common language. She didn’t know. I asked her if the peacekeepers knew how to communicate with the Janjaweed faction. She assumed there were translators. She said communication didn’t matter. I laughed. She said I didn’t understand. I asked her what’s expected of the peacekeepers if there’s no peace in Darfur. She said that the presence of 26,000 men would dissolve the Janjaweed faction, deter them from committing genocide. She said that the Sudanese government would respond. I asked how. She said the Sudanese government would comply with the UN if peacekeepers were sent to Darfur. I didn’t agree with her. I told her that her solution was too simple. She was angered by this comment. She asked me for a better solution. I asked her if the Janjaweed were rebels. She said no. She said that the Sudanese government orders the Janjaweed. I asked her why.


sublime escape | 17

She said the country has been at civil war. I asked her why. She said the fight is over a number of things, but mostly ideological reasons. I asked her for the ideologies. She said religion, Arab Muslims and non-Arab Muslims; the Sudanese government was fighting the non-Arab Muslims. She said a difference in religion was a big problem. I said we should all become atheists. She laughed and agreed. There was silence, and we both knew that atheism was too idealistic. I asked her who supplied an impoverished country with the resources to create weapons. She said China. I asked her why. She said oil. I said China is too dependant upon foreign oil. She said yes, just like America. I said yes. And we agreed on that subject. I asked her why we don’t encourage the use of alternate energy sources, that’s the solution – less oil dependency equals the end of genocide in Sudan. She said it would work, but that it would take too long, that we need immediate action. She said People are dying as we speak – hundreds of thousands. I agreed with her. And we both agreed about people dying. I said that it took African Americans five hundred years to become fully liberated. She was confused. She asked me what that meant. I said that an immediate solution is impossible. She disagreed with me. She put her hands over her face and spoke in her palms. She asked for other solutions. I told her that we needed a better Ambassador, someone who could fully express him or herself. I told her we had a serious lack of expression from the U.N. She agreed. And we both agreed that our president wasn’t competent enough to fully express himself to important leaders that held enough power to end genocide in Darfur. And for a moment we both thought of how depressing that was. She said America had enough power. I disagreed.


She said America could solve the problem by sending forces to Sudan.

18 | sublime escape

I said war. She said deterrence. I disagreed. She swore that the Janjaweed would withdraw. I disagreed. I told her thousands of soldiers with guns would only instigate violence, war. She disagreed. I asked her if China would allow the United States to invade a country they are allied with. She said who cares; the United States is more powerful. Her assurance was disheartening. I asked her if she thought of the situation escalating into another world war. She said no, that’s absurd. At that moment I thought of her, in some desert battlefield, running. I asked her if she would fight. She said she would. I said really. She said yes, even if the situation escalated into a world war. And for a moment we thought of being heroes. She said 26,000 peacekeepers would work, why not try. She said that people are dying. And, again, we both agreed that people are dying. She said more casualties can be prevented if the U.N. acts now. I asked her if she was so sure that the Janjaweed would suddenly withdraw if they came under 26,000 peacekeepers with guns. She said yes. I disagreed. She pounded her fist on the table. Black tea splashed over our cups. There was a pause. She rested her elbows on the table, held her face with her hands. She was staring into her tea, avoiding eye contact. I told her that armed men are too proud. I told her I believed in warriors; even if the Janjaweed are outnumbered, one man will sacrifice his fear and approach 26,000 strong with bare knuckles. I told her it only took one death, one warrior’s martyrdom to initiate war – a madman, hell-bent on heroism. She agreed, and we both dreamed of this heroic figure, charging 26,000 strong. And for a moment we understood courage. And our heart beats were faster.


sublime escape | 19


Chase Daley • photograph


20 | sublime escape


Kyle Weerheim • photograph


Cary Crites • photograph

Doves Doves

by Brianna Thompson Peer outside like a convict peeking through the bars squinting at the light. Peer outside and tell me that this blinding snow isn’t like the forbidden sun the freedom that every prisoner in every prison looks at Longingly. tell me that something so beautiful as the white Furling of a bare branch isn’t something to reach for and burn into your memory.   Tell me this brilliant snow isn’t kept from you by a glass window by the intoxicating, clanging jail gates of a warm Home. the knowledge that temptation of this frigid swirling wonderland can be fogged away by a single breath.   Tell me that your lids aren’t drooping in the delicious entrapment of central heating and hot cocoa.   and finally tell me that every blinding peek outside isn’t like Peace after a pillow fight. Weightlessness in the air, the feathers settling like tiny white doves.

Seasonal Dreams Seasonal Dreams by Rebekah R. Sharpe

Snowflakes falling Silently coating our world Swiftly descending Soft, yet briskly cold Soothing, while sipping hot cocoa by the fire

Flowers peeking through ice patches Fascinating the children with their determination to survive Fear of being crushed under a careless foot Finally blooming into beauteous things Failing to make some stop and smell the roses Laying in the sand Letting your hair be swept up by ocean breezes Laughing and telling stories ‘round the campfire Looking for a friend during hide ‘n’ seek Losing yourself while being absorbed in a novel Raking leaves just to jump in the pile afterwards Rousing oneself to go to the first day of school Raising money for school tuition Reuniting with friends at a barbecue Readying for the bitter cold months ahead


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Iowa Iowa

by Ashley Dodge Scattered plains and fields distance themselves from Industrialization; afternoon rain brings tornado warnings, the towns are small but the land is wide. Open to acceptance and unpopulated for miles, filled with distant memories evening hauntings surround the hills leaving behind something quite unusual, but yet comfortinghome.

(page 22, clockwise from top left)

Red Rock

Rebecca Holmstrom • photograph

Purple Haze

Kyle Weerheim • photograph

Walk Rail

Maxell Richardson • photograph (top to bottom)

Xalapa Anoche

Richie Bednarski• photograph


Cary Crites • photograph


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(Page 25, clockwise from top left)


Charlene Gey • photograph

Take a Stroll

Chase Daley • photograph


Tyler Keck • photograph


Tara Acquafondata • photograph

Riding the Silence Riding the Silence by Aubrey O’Connor

The smoke from your cigarette curls around my shoulder Like a ghost rising out of your fingertips. The sound of your breath unravels over my skin, Sweet and sexual in its path. Reflecting images play behind my eyes Each one a vivid portrait of my pretty anxieties. Outside crickets punctuate air Heavy with the scent of escaping time, While the untroubled moon waits for night to flee.

(Top to bottom)


Tyler Keck • photograph

If Only We Were Ants Chase Daley • photograph


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Anthony Contini • photograph


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Blue Lagoon

Blaine Dugan • digital photograph

Why We Can’t See The Stars Kyle Weerheim • digital photograph


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Cary Crites • photograph


Maxell Richardson • digital photograph

Welcome to the City


Cary Crites • photograph


Tara Acquafondata • photograph

Kelly Bridegum • digital photograph


Anthony Contini • photograph


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Caitlin Johnson • digital illustration

A Collection of Haiku A Collection of Haiku by Ashley Dodge

Reason cannot be explained unless there is a way out of the box.

Binding papered wood black ink spills on empty sheets turning blank to blotched. Rope intertwines two pieces of broken fragments scarring pain with hope. Soaring in the wind it never touches ground never finding home.

Stars from Heaven fall down to shores of sand below finding home cold, wet.


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Daily Reveries

by Ashley Dodge, event and assistant poetry coordinator Beauty can be found in anything. It’s that simple. It just can. No matter where you are, if you look hard enough, beauty can be found in something, somewhere. For many of us, beauty is found in the sheer surrealism or absurdity of our weary dreams and daydreams. We often find ourselves drifting off and staring at the ceiling, with our eyes glazed over when suddenly we pop back into reality, leaving behind whatever it was we were daydreaming about. These daydreams, these reveries are our simplest desires that our mind has kept hidden away until the precise moment they appear while we drift off. . Like dreams, reveries can often seem unreal—some include ghosts that dance, others drift to lands of love and loneliness, seeking their precious prince or the perfect kiss. These common occurrences can give way to inspiration and ultimately to a release of what we have kept locked in our heads.

Daily Reveries The only way we can capture these fleeting reveries is in poetic prose, a dreamy photograph, with paint on paper. It is only then that these unreal, these unseen things, these desires and daydreams become real. It takes patience and understanding to discover that reveries are not just everyday whims but an escape—an everyday escape from the mundane routine that we so often allow ourselves to succumb to.• Ashley is a junior majoring in Journalism. When she is not busy planning Brushfire events or working on the publication she can be found daydreaming and writing poetry of her own.


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Untitled 3


Tara Acquafondata • photograph

Emily Clark • digital photograph

For Only so Long...

Remy Glock • digital illustration

Dissimlualation through Isolation Chase Daley • digital illustration


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Purple Sun Purple Sun

By Allison Tyler

Colorful stories were for ears with powerful drums, Golden drums of exotic and smooth leather, well worn, Ready to make beautiful music, stories. My drums are old. They never worked, since the day I was born. They are not gold and no music is made from them. But my eyes are my ears. I can see birds chirping as they land on a branch Sunshine breaking through the dancing leaves. I can see a washing machine churning as it twirls blankets. I can see dogs barking ferociously as they smell a stranger passing by. I can see the yellow meadow humming with the delicate morning wind. I grew my own world of storytelling, I spoke to only me. I told myself stories outlined with moving mouths and lined faces. It was a coloring book where I filled in the colors. I may have colored the sun purple Instead of its true yellow. But it was my own story. Only I could understand it. I may have sloshed colors in the wrong places. I may have looked at the wrong picture. Yellow sky, purple sun, red meadow, and green ravens.

He Smells A Grandiose Scenery #1 and #2 Thomas Boyer • c-prints


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Union Park Cafe Union Park CafĂŠ by Kathy Jakolat


Bowing to no one, not even the wind I watch the sun dapple the trees as clouds nest in their branches. I feel the delight that living brings.

II. The east village ebbs and flows as ambient sounds blend into the delicious decadence of watching, reading, writing, finding joy among the words.


Jane Kenoyer • acrylic on canvas


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Once We Get To Her Room & A Loophole in My Dreaming

Electric Lime and Merlot

Kelly Bridegum • digital photograph,

Lauren Randolph • photograph

Flirting Flirting…

by Stacie Elliopolus

(Performed in Silence)

Over here! Over here! Over here! Yes! Yes! No, not her! (you asshole) Me! Yes! Over here! Me! Why hello there, what say you? Wait! Don’t go! I’ll move to the left so you can see my good side. Here, now look. No dammit! Not at her! Look at me! (what is it with this girl, does she not appreciate my effort?)


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Yes, you’re looking! Wait, don’t go… Our eyes just started to talk. Why do you keep looking at her?!

-CRASH!Weird. Did something just break? Oh good, come over to help clean up. And when you bend down, I’ll bend down and touch your hand to my hand and you’ll look straight at me, our eyes will lock, and they’ll do much more than just talk.

Anisoptera Anisoptera 9/26/07 by Charlene Gey

Early, before I head off to class, I check for messages. One new text: Sorry I couldn’t answer the phone. Having a late nite tirade w/my weights. It was a rough day. Love u.@ *** It’s half to one on a Wednesday, and I’m listening to footsteps and conversations, the laughs and dives for missed frisbees in the quad. Brick keeps its chill, as I sit on the steps, my legs almost‑posed in a cockeyed fashion. I haven’t decided if I like these shoes yet. The sun’s warming me, gradually, resting on my shoulders. I guess I allowed myself to get lost in that thought; while even as I took in the scenery, all I could imagine was your arms pulling reps, your back tensing, the sharp, determined inhales. Steel to skin, chill against climbing heat, soon to become one temperature. There is a very specific grace in exertion. The leaves, through a sudden cold snap, have begun to change color. A very small portion of them are already making their way to the ground. Sweat ran down between your shoulderblades, stroking newly tightened muscle, much the same way these golden leaves find their way to the soil.They don’t have pressure forcing them straight down; they’re allowed to take the scenic route, twist a circle, float lightly, fluidly. If I was so lucky I’d be part of you, and if I had my choice I’d never leave you, and I’d travel down your inches as slowly as possible, noting every pore, every curve, and maybe you’d push me back up; a hand to the forehead, perhaps, so I can rest along the gleaming darkness, somewhere between gel and the spikes of your hair. God how I love your hair. You remind me of a dragonfly: quick humor, light tread ... and though physically you feel immobile, in your mind you can go anywhere. Such a vast spirit with immense possibilities ... maybe you’ll end up my way some day. But I know [being of such a similar personality myself] the danger in coaxing, and it is a far worse crime to trap a winged creature and hold it captive for sake of its beauty and the delight you draw from it; the second one with wings feels it’s in a glass jar seeing life but never really feeling it the colors and its beauty start to drain. Such a terrible loss the world has to endure, with meager chances it’ll ever fully get it back. I could never force you, to keep you here with me; I could only hope that what I have to offer [if I acquire any more along the way] will be rich and sweet enough to sustain you, to keep coming ‘round again. I would wait forever for you, patiently. I’ve never known a gentler or more powerful force. I wonder if you’ve ever known autumn; ever seen the leaves turn and drop, ever felt the cold stone, the early evenings, the need for heat and extra layers ... watched as the branches of the oak turn bare to skeletons, followed breath from warmth in your lungs to smoke rising into the chilling sky. If not, I’d love to show you. I would love to share my favorite season, the beauty in decay ... the shared gracefulness in release.... the Autumn Effect.


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A Good Royal Flush Kiss A Good Kiss by Jeff Gesick

A good kiss, is impossible to describe. its like candy, only sweeter. its like swimming, only wetter. its like a park on the 4th o’ July, only hotter. and its like playing in the mud, but sometimes messier. A good kiss, is something like all the greatness of childhood only, not quite.

Royal Flush

by Tara Dawn Connolly

In your face casino city, odd choice for a woman who does not gamble. Prefers the safety of books and tea to the smoky glitz of roulette days. Then you appeared, with dark brown eyes, more exhilarating than a queen-high straight flush. Luring me with your bettor ways to take a chance on craps. Dice roll out of the cup towards me with the taunts of a school yard dare. Snake eyes, one and one, like you and me, a prime number with primal needs. If lady luck looks away say you will be here still, addicted and craving more. The sweet taste of this gamble, I’m all in.


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Modern Medusa

Jaime Swift • watercolor


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Urban Exodus

Bethany Surber • digital illustration

How I will Propose A Letter How I Will Propose: A Letter by Shirley Diaz

I don’t know who you are yet, but I know that I will find you. I will love sitting around and listening to music with you. Some Judas Priest, the Faint or maybe some Atreyu or the Dead Kennedys. We will discuss books, politics and revolution. I will love your tattoos and the color of your hair. You will know me more than anyone else. We can tell each other anything. After all the places we’ve been and all the people we’ve met our favorite thing to do will be to sit at home, chill to some music or just lay around and think for hours. We will never even have to say a word, just be with each other. Right now I am alone and I wish you were here now. By the time I give this to you I will never be able to imagine ever feeling like this again. Alone with all of my thoughts and all of my feelings and no one to share them with. I am just a lost eighteen year old girl. It’s my first semester in college and I still don’t know what I’m going to do with myself. I just know that I want to be with you, whoever you are, see the world, and bring peace and justice to it. If I am giving this to you it is because I love you like no other with all that I am. I love everything about you and definitely the sex too. I don’t know if I will actually ever give this to anyone because I would have to be one hundred percent sure that it was the one. Wow that’s a lot to say, the one. But that’s who you are. You are the one.


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More Than Happily Ever After More Than Happily Ever After by Dana Kraft

The slipping grip of your hand letting go, the shattering pieces fall to the floor, insufficient hatred flies to fill the void I try to hide. A yearning for a fairy tale ending ripped from me. Those rose colored glasses removed filled with images of you with me Are now only a dream.

As the grip lessens and you walk away, your absent presence stays. To believe in something so true and pure is more than just knowing it will occur. Fighting for something more than okay, I shield myself from the mundane. A battle to the death it’s going to be, to have a pure love with me.

Forbidden Fruit

Rebecca Noelle Evans • digital photograph


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Untitled Untitled

by James Haddock Jr

He was laying on his bed this Saturday evening, reading Joyce, not fully understanding the author’s train of thought. Next to his head sat cigarettes, a lighter, and a small folding pocket knife. Noise of the rustling curtains and the whoosh of the free breeze coming through the window relaxed his body. Then, he heard singing. Ave Maria as it were, sung by a perfectly beautiful soprano voice. He sat up on the bed, pausing quietly to confirm that what he was hearing was in this world and not just his own. Standing and then walking, he approached the windowsill and leaned against it with elbows. Yes! Indeed there was singing drifting down the narrow streets of Lija only to arrive in his appreciative ears. Ave Maria. Between the pit-plat, pit-plat of a tennis volley below, he could distinguish the crescendos of the song that was dear to him. Surely, this music was emanating from someone’s speakers. He was moved. Grabbing the cigarettes and lighter and then slipping on shoes, he left his room and stepped to the street. “I must,” he thought to himself, “find this music.” The crescendos gradually diminished without him, and he was teased. He lit a cigarette. Walking down the glowing sidewalks, he could no longer hear the song.Then he realized it would be impossible to find the source. He proceeded down the street until he reached the church square. He placed himself upon a bench near old men, who were lazily conversing and smoking in the broken shade on benches, under short trees.

Candlestick & If Eyes Could Talk Chase Daley • photograph


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Beach No.3, Beach no. 2, & Beach no. 4 Jane Kenoyer • acrylic on canvas

Summer Summer

by Nicole Davis

I miss those days when a bathing suit became your second skin and the sunshine was your most constant companion. When the days were measured in jumps through the sprinklers and your worth was proven by the distance you could spit watermelon seeds. It meant mud puddles and sand in your shorts and catching fireflies before bedtime. They were the days of aloe vera and calamine lotion and the lingering smell of Coppertone that no amount of showering could wash away. Its hotdogs you could hear sizzle from the grill to the bun, an endlessly flowing stream of lemonade, and a red Kool-Aid smile you wore proudly, a badge of honor. Its was a century long and still ended in the blink of an eye, those innocent summers of years departed.



by Jeff Gesick

The man sits in a car, patiently waiting. It isn’t a distinguished car, or a special car or even a nice car. Just a car for a man to sit in. The man shifts his weight absentmindedly. He isn’t uncomfortable, it’s just what one does while waiting in a car. He yawns, rubs a hand across his face and shifts again. He has big hands, the kind used for opening jars, carrying loads and lifting children; the kind of hands good for smashing. But the man isn’t smashing, he’s waiting, and patiently at that. He looks pensive, like he’s thinking deeply, but he isn’t. It’s just the way his face is. It is a face made of angles, a big geometric thing that a child cartoonist could do justice. The man doesn’t mind, it’s just a face. It’s just a face, and he’s just a man who is just waiting. At least that’s what he wants you to think. But he isn’t just a man, and he isn’t just that face; he is quick and strong and fierce. He has thoughts, deep thoughts, thoughts so deep you would drown before you left the shallows, and he could lift you, and throw you, high. But for now, he simply waits. Patient. He is oh so patient. Patient, calm, even happy. There is nothing in the world to draw attention to the man. Until that is, he finishes waiting. You come near the car.The man moves swiftly. Before you can do anything, he is out of the car, grabbing you, lifting you, dropping you into the backseat of the car. You and the man speed off. You squeal with delight. He laughs. You call him dad.


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Lynsey Nanny

Lynsey Nelson • photograph

It’s Almost Over for me anyways It’s almost over…for me anyways by Kevin Clifford

These are my final days as a student, And I’m not the least prudent

When most teachers just uselessly sing?

Of which every bite now tastes like slimed eels.

For with all the strength of my lungs I shout, “I want the hell out!”

Why is proper advisement so hard to receive, All I get is people with their minds on leave.

I want to use ePaws on whatever part of the day, But all it tells me is nay, nay, nay!

I’ve had it and I know when enough is enough. I’m tired of it being tough.

For with all the strength of my lungs I shout, “I want the hell out!”

Work is only where I want to go, But there is always one more act for the university puppet show.

Can’t I just park to go to class, Without being fined up my ass.

I just want to ride the shuttle, With the wailing brakes being subtle.

For with all the strength of my lungs I shout, “I want the hell out!”


Why do I pay per unit like a king,

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I’m tired of eating all the school meals,

A Parody of Song of Myself A Parody, of Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself by Ashley Dodge


I imagine myself, and celebrate myself, The young and vibrant piece of nature that I am, Sitting in the bedroom awaiting the final alarm telling me that it’s time to go, time to go, I dream. I move myself from one place, to another, walking in and out Of crowds, filled with many students, I observe as I find my way to class. Yes, I imagine myself, In the classroom trying to stay awake, while students around me do the same, Heads bobbing like fishing hooks in a stream. The window panes are frosted over, sun rays pouring in with a soft and warm glow, I sit and stare in this classroom which casts blurry eyes downward, in a sleepy stare, With the soft hum of the laptop on the student’s desk next to meI sit in this class and I dream, dream. 2 My bedroom is full of color, so much color in this room that I live in, It provides me with a sense of completion and fondness, for coming home, coming home to a place where I can relax, after a long day of work, classes, and more work, but not the kind that leaves me saddened. Yes, I sit here in my room full of colors, the pinks, blues, and purples, I take them in, relax, and feel the warmth of those colors surround me.

She Paints the Sky

Kelly Bridegum • digital photograph


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Eighteen And Over Night Eighteen-And-Over Night by Andy Balchunas

“Somewhere, someone puts all of their faith in a fast car.”- The Format

Mike had the phone to his ear, crevassed between his cheek and shoulder. He paced back and forth across the living room knowing that the nerves he felt were entirely unjustified. His read over the seven numbers on his palm, written in black ink. The digits were faded but still discernable. Under the numbers, in bubbly feminine hand-writing was the name “Mandy.” Mike’s thumb on his other hand was under his cheek, poised, hovering over the last of seven numbers, 6. If he pressed it, through the miracles of technology, he’d be given a direct line to a certain person, woman, well, girl actually. His unfamiliar number would flash across the screen of her cell phone, most likely to be stored for future use. Mike inhaled slowly then released his breath as his hand tightened and his thumb came down on the final number. He let the tone of the 6 ring out for a few seconds before releasing the button. “Please enjoy the music while your party is reached,” said the universal, methodic voice of ring-back tones. No Justin Timberlake, No Justin Timberlake, No Justin Timberlake; he’d unconsciously invoked this mantra in the microsecond pause between the connection and the ring. Mike’s ears were flooded with the artificial sound of synthesizers, drum machines and simple bass riffs, all so loud they masked the music’s lack of complexity. Then the lyrics came: Justin Timberlake distorted for effect, whining in the key of C about how he’d taken it upon himself to bring “sexy” back. Bring it back? That was ridiculous. He’d seen plenty of sexy just last night, or what passed for it these days. Mike recalled an article in Rolling Stone where some reporter had the nerve to compare Justin Timberlake to Prince. What a joke. Prince could melt the fretboard on a Les Paul. Mike stopped pacing across the living room, and went to hang up the phone when Justin Timberlake cut out, replaced by a voice that was just as high. It was the voice of US Weekly; female, infected with youth and insecurity. “Umm. Hello?” Mike did his best not to groan out loud. He felt the urge to run upstairs to the bathroom mirror and check for gray hairs. To run to the store and stock up on


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Moses Jones & Ingrid circa 1970

Jenny Nelson • acrylic on canvas

Centrum Silver, laxatives, Depends and “Is this Mandy?” he said, hearing the practiced confidence creep up from his vocal cords and drop his voice half an octave. His anxiety vanished, his pulse slowed to the rhythm of a giant pendulum. “Yes, um who this is?” “I’ll give you one guess. Only one. You guess wrong then I’m hanging up,” Mike said. “I don’t know umm”Mike didn’t let her finish. Damn he sounded cool; Steve McQueen on valium. “Fine I’ll give you a clue, well two clues, because I really want you to get this right. Okay?” “Umm” “I was by far the most attractive guy at West House on Friday and I’m also the poor guy, being haunted by that smile of yours.” When booze makes the memory of her hazy it’s important to keep things generic: eyes and smiles, and hair. It came right on cue. The laughter of an intrigued eighteen year old girl, slightly forced for overcompensation’s sake. It was young enough to be called a giggle. But Mike only heard the fatally injured zebra calling out to a herd that’s already miles away. He could almost feel the warmth from Mandy’s cute little cheeks blushing through the phone. He felt like roaring. Instead, he turned to the clock in his living room. Last time it had taken a minute and a half.This time he would give himself a minute fifteen, no, a minute even. Mike licked his lips as if to lubricate his words. They flowed with such ease. The trick was resurrecting that confidence he felt after a few drinks. The treat was yet to come. “Umm…Mike?” “Damn that was too easy, the first clue always gives it away, I shouldn’t have given you something so obvious, guess I really must’ve wanted to talk to you.” “I didn’t really think you were going to call.” Mike watched the clock tick down, thirty eight seconds left. He had to hurry this along, skip all the useless foreplay. After all this wasn’t about foreplay. “Well how else could I ask you out on Friday for Blues and Brews at Sunset Calm?” “You have tickets for that?” So young and full of questions, he thought. But there was simply not enough time. Twenty- eight seconds to shatter his personal record. “You said you live in Three Pines dorm right?” “Umm, yeah but” “You know what the new Mustangs look like? “Umm, yeah, my ex-boyfriend drove-” “Look for a black one with the custom red leather interior. It’ll be parked outside at 7:30. I’ll have the top down.” There was a pause and Mike counted down: ten, nine, eight… “Umm…yeah great, I’ll see you on-.” Mike hung up the phone. A few congratulatory seconds ticked by. He’d shattered his record. It was truly getting too easy. And she’d be there he was sure. Outside Three Pines on Friday, all dolled up and looking for someone to notice. She wouldn’t even mention how he’d hung up on her. Too damn easy. Next time he’d try it in Spanish or maybe see how many F-bombs he could drop in a minute…no 45 seconds. Yo tango una fucking Ford Mustang con interior especial y rojo. Mike laughed out loud. Then realized he’d forgotten to tell her something important, something mandatory he’d overlooked. It was enough to disqualify him, at least a ten second penalty. As he reached for the phone to hit redial, he cursed himself. His old record still stood. He’d forgotten to remind Mandy to bring her fake. The young pretty ones always had to bring their fake.


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Footstep Ghosts Footstep Ghosts by Ethan Evans

The footstep ghosts are whispering rumors, coordinates and folktales. A blind mess of past staggers blanket the winding sidewalks,

linger lost on a local street that stretches out and never sleeps. These wraiths survive on memories of when pine needles fit perfectly between toes and didn’t stab or shame them. As each year gets late air grows up, bribing the trees to bare their mangled bones. And in a final chlorophyllic fling the leaves might fuck a footstep ghost, well situated for a night or two, then move on to other apparitional lovers, leaving tired phantoms with every gust of wind.


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Red Diamonds

Jane Kenoyer • color pencil on paper

Paint Paint

by Harry Baker

Symphonic waves paint her voice. And the words become lullabies, Washing away the unkempt fabric That coats my appetite for lust. Her sienna eyes burn out the stars As sequins fall from the opaque sky Glazing the pastel ground, Footstep after footstep Lets me know she’s closer than I believe. The hue of her skin, A fragile complexion Unbreakable inside. Tender hands smear warm stains Of soothing seduction And though she exists across oceans, Brush strokes, ever so gentle Always paint her on my canvas Of dreams.


Jane Kenoyer • pencil on paper


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The Lady in White The Lady in White by Beverly Siegel

           The house and gardens are old, full of many people’s dreams, and once in a while a seed germinates and suddenly blossoms, as if to remind us of those who lived before. It’s hard to know how long the latent seeds spent in the living soil, or what movement caused them to suddenly germinate. On breezy days, the antique wind chimes resound like wooden castanets as the air currents from the mountains coil and twist around the old crab apple tree. They are rusted now, and have lost their timbre, and they sit so high on a branch of the tree that only the sparrows can reach them.             It wasn’t from the crab apple tree that the old lady hanged herself, clad in a long white nightgown on a hot night in summer. It was from a huge redwood with a girth of five that extended its branches high above her roof. The redwoods sit in a grove, their roots intertwined by the rock pond where the huge speckled Koi swam. Now there are frogs that dive into the pond  and jump from concrete ledges of a waterfall, spreading circles of remembrance, that soon disappear like the life of that poor old woman.             On the inside of the garden were pathways laid in basket weave of ancient red brick, highly praised for their age like the patina of fine antiques that once filled the house. The patio is sunlit except for a shadowed area off the shingled porch roof that encloses the sunroom. On the edge of the long deck that extends down the side of the house are wooden window boxes once filled with petunias that flowed out over its sides in a cascade of pinks and purple blossoms. On the left side of the porch sits a faded living room chair, threadbare at the arms, and covered with dust and splintered wood chips. A rusted chainsaw, some shredded out-of-date magazines and newspapers, and a broken kitchen table share the right corner of the front porch. Above the carved molding hangs a metal hook where a dull red terracotta moon looks down, its face smiling.             A series of wooden stairs, built up the side of the hill, cuts through the lots located at the back of the house. There are more than two hundred steps leading from the shady tree-clad street up into the hills and the fire trail behind the house. In the old days, in early spring, deer came out of the forest to eat apples off the trees. There were once almond orchards up there, too, and fragrant remnants of fruit that once filled the air lay rotting on the sides of the staircase. To the east of the old house is a Eucalyptus grove that smells medicinal and towers over the oak and pines.             Before the old woman died, kids from the neighborhood scrambled up those wooden stairs and breathe in the smell of fresh baked bread and fruit pies that wafted from the half-opened kitchen window. Sometimes there were exotic smells of coriander, mint, and curry that made their noses tingle. The kitchen was painted bright orange then, and had a silver and black wood-burning stove they could see through the window. The door that led outdoors to where the tin trash cans sat was painted bright yellow. Now the glass window at the top of the yellow door had a jagged crack that led diagonally from the top and splintered in the right-hand corner.               All of the neighbors wanted to see inside her house but she never invited them. She met them at the door with a smile, her long streaked white hair curled up in an elaborate knot on the top of her head. It was often too dark inside to see through the windows. And how many excuses could they use, they said, to get the old lady to open up her house? They simply gave up in the end, and left her in alone.             The mouth of the driveway that led to the front of the house was all that most people saw of her yard from the street. The garage was underneath the house at the end of the drive, and for years the old black Lincoln Continental that she drove just sat there and deteriorated. In the old days, people would see her as she returned from town, driving up the winding road to her house on top of the hill. She wore elaborate hats made from the feathers of exotic birds, and caftans that made them wonder.             Some people said they occasionally heard the repetitive pounding sounds of classical music coming from a piano within the house. The flap of a madras curtain lifted in the breeze as the harsh sounds of the keys spilled into


50 | daily reveries


Jaime Swift • pen and ink on paper

the open air from the window. By winter, the ivy had attached itself to the walls and its leaves covered the downstairs windows of her house, and turned bright red, and shamed the neighbors with their display of silly artificial Christmas decorations.            It was ironic that this beautiful house, built by a famous San Francisco architect, with its wall of framed windows in the back would be called the “ghost house.” Kids who walked by the house picked up their pace and ran past it, laughing nervously at the thought of the woman in white who swayed in the wind.             Only a fading memory of the house exists after a wealthy New York couple bought the property in 2001. Some of the older neighbors watched as heavy machinery tugged and broke through the walls of the old place. The new owners built a beautiful white stucco mansion with a red-tiled roof and six-foot-high Italian fountains that expelled continual bursts of water into the air. Birds loved the fountains, and filled the garden with their sweet sounds of spring. Her garden still exists, however, but now it is somewhere down below new top soil. But occasionally a bright red Oriental poppy or another plant will volunteer among the architecturally planned garden beds and pathways to show its face.     


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Dictation over Interest

Familiar N Devin Hosselkus • mixed media on damaged panel


52 | familiar nightmares

Familiar Nightmares

by Ashley Noël Hennefer, assistant editor Haunting memories, unreal visions, wishes that never come true, fears that surface in the midst of happiness—nightmares come in all different forms, but they share one commonality; everyone experiences their impact at sometime in their lives. Whether a child experiencing their first taste of the destruction people can cause one another, or a teenager trying to forge a different future, or a person of old age realizing the inevitable finality of death, nightmares change throughout the course of a lifetime, adapting to the obstacles we face at different points in our existence.

Nightmares One of the most frightful things about nightmares is their occurrence in ordinary situations. Nightmares can be masked behind facades of happiness or perfection, or hidden within dreams. Nightmarish dreams of the most vibrant colors, a painful taunting of an unattainable aspiration, or in black and white, a reminder of dashed hopes or goals never come to fruition. Nightmares also bring out the fears that lay in the deepest crevices of a person’s heart and mind.

In the following pages you will find nightmares from every part of the spectrum— surreal portraits and eerie images; poetry of love lost, love never found; prose about facing one’s fear, owning up to mistakes—all of these encompassing the familiarity of dismay and anxiety we all experience. But there are two sides to every dream, and despite the anguish, terror, despair and heartache nightmares can cause, they always offer one escape—a chance to awaken.• Ashley is a sophomore majoring in English and French. When she is not working on the Brushfire she is creating infinite fictional worlds and characters with her prose.


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But with a Twist Another happy ending but with a twist by Marc Maranon

I’m gonna tell you a story darling And it’ll end with a twist I’ve either fell a hundred stories Or we’ll be locking lips I’ve given away the ending so that there’ll be no doubt But I’m still hoping that you know what I’m talking about I called you on the phone And poured my heart out to you And now I’m sending you a letter In case you moved But all the little wires have all burnt out And the postman lost my loving on the way to your house

Tell me baby What do I mean to you Am I a candidate for something Or a shot to the moon I love your serenade and hope it’s more than a shout Cause you’ve got my heart beating more than it’s allowed I’m ready for some running And saving up for the dash Just give me a sign baby And I’ll be over in a flash It’s more than your face is why I’m attracted to you And if you gimme me a chance you’ll see those boys are untrue Last night I closed my eyes And imagined a tryst There was this super-cute girl And she was shaking her hips She threw me on the floor and I hit my head Noticing my smile as we kissed all the way to the bed I woke up in a shock And saw my open door Maybe you had left And possibly went to the store But I went to my keyboard and saw a photo of you It’s silly really what an imagination can do But if I see you I’ll try not to hit my head


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Tara Acquafondata • photograph

I’ll keep my elbows stiff And listen to every word you said Your smile is bright enough to drown out my whole house And a nice little evening to me is with you on the couch So start this maybe I’ll be on the list I’ll be your second-best answer And your best kiss I’m betting all my hope that you’re not acting the tease And at the end of the night I’ll fall for your scheme So kiss me baby I won’t bite But if you like it that way I can be here all night And this is the ending that I know should be true I am just a rook the checkmate’s all up to you

(top to bottom) Imaginary Order, Symbolic Order & Mirror Stage Amelia Nickol • acrylic, charcoal, oil pastel

The Living and the Dead The Living and the Dead by Suzanne Roberts 1. Cousin Debbie is a medium. I ask how she sees things that have not yet happened. She explains time— says, It all happens at once. You, in the painterly light of Nice. And there, in the Normandy rain. It’s the day after my birthday. We climb beach dunes, walk among the dead. Scars in sand, barbed wire, and gray skies remember. 2. She won’t charge relatives, But everyone, she complains, wants a freebie. I don’t ask any more questions, but she adds, It’s the same way with the living and the dead. I imagine them all— then, now, the what-ifs, each spinning on its own axis. Memory creates the orbit. We ride the ferry, cross tumbling waters, pass Sleeping Bear Dunes, land on Manitou Island, hike to the center—lie together in cattail shadows, invent names for lakes, frogs, trees.

3. We all have the gift, says Cousin Debbie. We got it from Nanny. She read tea leaves. The future is there— you just have to access it. But like Tiresias, Nanny’s gone blind. None of it’s fixed. Our hip bones touch, barely, but enough for the damp skin to stick. The ceiling fan whirls in your blue iris. I float on top of you, the dangle of my hair on your eyelashes. The dawn of Christmas seeps through the blinds. 4. Cousin Debbie sends me an “Are you a Seer?” quiz. My score reveals a high level of psychic ability. See, says Cousin Debbie, I’ve always said, it runs in the family. We watch for birds in Puerto Escondido. You touch my shoulder. The dawn tugs at stars. We paddle the early morning waters, hope for a glimpse of the white pelican, the great flamingo, with the pleasure of knowing nothing for certain.


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Manners and Lessons From Men Manners and Lessons from Men by Seth Lagana

My father had ten stumpy fingers, with thick yellow moons adjourned to each tip, like a bunch of spoiled bananas. They were rough, torn and scarred; he installed glass for a number of years, and although panes would slice through his skin to the bone, he managed to sew back every limb. Remnants of thick scars decorated his knuckles, and his palms were scabbed in rich calluses. When I rode passenger in his old pickup, he would wrap his alabaster hands around my unsuspecting thighs and squeeze until I giggled. My father’s hands looked like a glued puzzle, linked with chalk and grime. My father always explained to me that fingers were important, and warned me that they didn’t grow back like the tails of lizards. “Remember: you have to keep ’em on ice, get to the hospital,” he said. “They’ll stitch you up, piece by piece.” “Yes sir.” When my grandfather was waiting for surgery, my father clutched his forearm. I saw two generations, matched in blood, squeeze until their knuckles turned white. When I still believed in God, I prayed with my father for the doctors to safely remove the cancer from my grandfather’s prostate. My father held my hands delicately, as if his softness would dictate whether or not God heard us. “Stay away from cancer,” he said. “And women.” I was ten years old. My father once told me, in Texas, if someone broke into your house, no matter what their intentions were, you could end their life. In the scattered rural utopias surrounding Armadillo, communities agreed upon their own laws. You could kill someone in Texas, and get away with it. My father told me a story about how a man snuck through his window one night. Impetuously, and without hesitation, my father reached for a hatchet on his nightstand and wedged the steel blade into the man’s skull.The man ran away, frantically, scurrying through dead sagebrush and fallen pine needles. My father remembered watching him run, with the hatchet lodged in his forehead, screaming for God to help him. My father can remember the moon, the brilliant blue, enveloping the man’s body, creating a silhouette that reached the back wall of his room. I remember when he told me this story. He stared into his hands that were wrapped around a bologna and mayonnaise sandwich. “They never found his body,” he said, Wonder Bread crumbs decorating his shirt. “You were born two years later.” I never asked him why he had a hatchet on his nightstand. I assumed it was something about Texas. At dusk, after a long day of fishing at Echo Bay, my


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father and I would drive through swarms of bats that spilled out from surrounding caves near the highway. Thick clouds of them. I remember asking him, every time we encountered these flying mammals of the southwest, if they were safe flying so close to the truck. He laughed, told me that bats were quicker than old trucks. And I believed him, until we hit one. The sound: a gauche thud, as if we hit an open palm. The death of the bat, the strewn entrails smeared into the windshield, reminded my father of his friend that was killed running his brand new Ford pickup into a wandering Clydesdale on a highway outside of Big Spring,Texas.The horse was a Cloverdale County Fair prize-winning thoroughbred, spooked by a couple of kids with firecrackers. They found this man’s body in a ditch off the side of the road, over thirty yards away from the point of collision. Apparently his friend crawled for thirty yards until he stopped and died in a patch of weeds, underneath a blue Artemisia. “Remember to always wear your seatbelt,” my father said. “Yes, sir.” We stared ahead of us, spurning the lights of the city. I remember a playoff football game. I cleared forty yards to make a blindside block on a key defender, giving us the go ahead touchdown to send us to the finals. I had knocked the young boy unconscious. His chinstrap had come loose, and his facemask had bludgeoned his nose. Thick dots of blood trickled over his cheeks and spilled out over the fifty yard line. I remember hearing nothing, save for the boy’s mother screaming her son’s name. The coaches rushed the field and crowded the young boy. I remember seeing my father. He was giving me the thumbs up, taking pictures. “Football’s a man’s sport,” he said, taking long drags from his unfiltered cigarette. “I’m damn proud of you.” His palms dug into my thigh. After the games he would buy me fast food. We would rent a movie, and he would ice my ankles. I would take cold showers, and slowly wash the sweat and grass from my eyebrows. We never had clean towels, so I would sit on the toilet and air dry, picking scabs and counting bruises as if proudly sorting through the skins of wild game. Always anxious to discover something my father would be proud of. Real work. And when they unclenched, they took my grandfather away. The sound of the unfastened wheels echoing down the corridor into the emergency room, and my father’s hands were buried in his pockets.


Making Amends

needle, thread and plaster

dead bee

Dominique Palladino • enoty pomegranates, ground pomegranate seeds, Dominique Palladino • plaster, honey, beeswax,

In The Middle

Devin Hosselkus • charcoal on paper


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At Night in My Apartment I Hear Too Soon At Night In My Apartment I Hear By Christy Cencer

He’s leaving. He’s taking the microwave and the broom. He’s trying to explain this to her, but she keeps interrupting him, raising her voice. And while it’s not loud, it still sounds screech. He waits while she talks, allows the words to come out of her mouth, allows the emotion to escape into the air. Then he repeats himself, “I’m taking the microwave and the broom and my…” but once again she cuts him off. This time she walks away.

Drowning My Sorrows

Veronica Deleon • acrylic on canvas


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Too Soon

by Jeff Gesick

your beauty crests much like a wave. it hits its peak, so brilliant, too much then comes tumbling down just to wash away always a disappointment

Goddess of Fury

Alana Berglund • pen and watercolor on paper

Anonymous Portrait

Jamie Swift • mixed media

Anime Aliens

Jett Chapman • graphite on paper


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Headlights Headlights

By Brodie Roman

I get sick of the day to day grind, treading the wheel like a hamster--making money, spending it on crap, living life. Sometimes, it seems like life’s just one long rut of work and sleep. Sometimes you have to take a break. That’s why I found myself on Route 44 heading north to Oregon. I remember it was the third of June, and it was a beauty of a night, full of moonlight and insects. I passed a bright yellow sign with the black silhouette of a deer leaping across something--the road presumably. I found myself wondering why deer were stupid enough to leap across a highway at night in oncoming traffic. But I suppose evolution just hasn’t caught up with the wheel yet. I suppose you have to cross the road eventually. I checked my speed and slowed down to 70. The speed limit was 55, but I was trying to make good time, right? And besides, the road was deserted. I hadn’t seen another set of headlights for miles. I came around the next corner doing fifty and just about shit my pants. I had to swerve around a bloodbath. There in the middle of the road was the dismembered corpse of a large deer. I admit I ran over the head a little bit, even though I did my best to avoid it. The main body was splattered across the middle of the lane like some kind of demonic Jackson Pollock painting: intestines crawling out of the belly, limbs and unidentifiable chunks of flesh scattered about like piñata candy. My tires skidded out on all the blood. “Holy shit!” I cried, regaining control of my vehicle and slowing down to a safe speed. What could have done that? A semi, maybe? It looked like somebody shoved a stick of dynamite down its throat! I was shaking a little bit. “That definitely calls for a joint,” I thought. I opened the middle console and pulled out my bag and some papers. I pulled over onto the shoulder and rolled up a fatty. Then I lit it up and slipped back onto the road with the window cracked and the stereo turned up. For a while, I watched my speed, playing it safe, but as I smoked more and the music got louder, my foot started to get heavy. Soon I was speeding along again, still smoking, oblivious to the danger and death I had just witnessed. I still had a good third of my jay left and I was just starting to enjoy myself again when I saw the flashing lights in the rearview. I couldn’t believe it. Well, I could, I guess. I was only speeding recklessly and smoking weed on a two-lane, deerstrewn highway at night. But really, who was the cop that was working this remote stretch of road at this time of night? There was only one flashing blue and red light on the vehicle behind me—a bike cop then. The light had a strange quality, kind of shimmering, and the cop’s siren sounded like it was on


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slow-mo or it was coming from underwater. I guess the boys out here aren’t exactly well-funded. I tossed the roach and rolled all my windows down--like that wouldn’t be suspicious-and came to a gradual stop by the side of the road. “Fuck,” I cursed under my breath. I was fucked. Even if I wasn’t arrested, I knew I’d be paying out the ass for this. At the least, I’d lose all of my weed for the trip. And speeding. And DUI too, probably. The bike cop came to a stop behind me and turned off his lights completely. “That’s weird,” I thought, “Usually they like to keep their lights on to make a spectacle. I guess he figures it’s not worth it since there’s no one around.” The guy sure was taking his time. I looked back but I couldn’t see anything. “License… and… registration.” I whipped around at the sound of the voice next to the driver’s window. The officer was highway patrol from the insignia on his leather jacket and he still had his helmet on. He talked funny, but I thought maybe it was just his helmet muffling the sound. “Uh...sure,” I stammered, handing him the documents I had ready. As he reached to take them, I noticed a pungent sweet-and-sour smell coming off him, like rancid beef but worse and mixed with an earthy, cellar smell. He must have dragged that deer over to the side of the road back there. He took the papers and examined them without a word, then handed them back to me after a few minutes. This time, I noticed the arm of his jacket and his glove were frayed and torn; in bad shape. “Man,” I thought, “These guys must have to beg for money out here. No wonder he pulled me over; he needs the dough for a new uniform.” He didn’t say anything for several minutes, just stood there, a slight reflection from my headlights glinting off his mirrored visor. Why was he wearing his visor down anyway? It was a little creepy. My butt-cheeks clenched in anticipation of my arrest. Suddenly he leaned into the vehicle and I caught such a big whiff of that spoiled-mustard smell that I almost puked. He leaned his black helmet in close to my face and rasped, “I’m letting you off with a warning this time. But I know your name and I know where you live. I suggest you keep it under 55 or you’ll have Sgt. Gary Hefford on your ass. Understand?” He said it so intensely it freaked me out, even though it was a bit melodramatic and I felt relieved at the same time that he was letting me off. My car had to reek of pot. I could see my bloodless face reflected in his mask: enlarged and

distorted, quivering slightly, eyes red and dilated, a small drop of sweat trickling down my temple. “Yes. Yes sir, don’t worry about me. I’m sorry, sir. I’ll be careful,” I croaked out. “Good. Take it from me,” and he leaned in so close he was almost touching my face with his helmet and the bile rose in my throat from the rotten-meat-and-curdled-milk stench, “Speed… Kills.” He pulled back and turned towards his bike. He walked with a halting limp, favoring his right leg. He shuffled back to his bike, hauled himself onto the seat, and started up the motor. He revved the engine up and it sounded like a mountain caving in. I thought I heard cackling laughter as he swung his bike around and tore off down the road the way he came. I followed the glare from his headlight until it disappeared around a corner. I breathed out hard. I didn’t know how long I’d been holding it. What the hell was that? I didn’t think police were allowed to make threats like that. ‘I know where you live?’ Fuck. I was just glad he didn’t mention the weed. Even though he was obviously a wacko, at least he was a cool wacko. I pulled back onto the road, staying well under the speed limit. Might as well play it safe. I was a little bummed I threw away that jay, but I had plenty more weed where that came from. Besides, all that adrenalin might have killed my buzz, but I wasn’t going to be smoking again any time soon. After a while, I started feeling better. I even let the speedometer creep up a little, but not too much. I could still smell whatever was on that cop. I wondered how far I was from the border and squinted at the green road sign up ahead. My eyes were a little blurry, so I wiped them and squinted harder. The sign didn’t give the distance to the next town, but what it said made me slam on my brakes and come screeching to a halt. I gaped open-mouthed, pale and trembling, my hands clenched in a white-knuckled vise around the steering wheel. There, in glowing white letters on the bright green sign I read: IN MEMORY OF TROOPER GARY HEFFORD 1945 – 1981


Rebecca Holmstrom • photograph


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Masquerade Masquerade by Rost Olsen

Sparkles of broken glass blanket the carpet in our living room.

The picture from our cruise crumpled on the ground, next to a demolished frame. George Benson sings softly on the radio: “Are we really happy here with this lonely game we play?...� The rest of my CD collection lay scattered across the den mixed with shards of what was her china set. The wooden studs in the loft imprinted repeatedly with the likeness of a kitchen chair. My boxers lay on the couch next to her bra where we threw them after our passionate quarrel. The wall in the bedroom beaten and pummeled from prolonged, heavy rocking and pounding from cedar wood bed-posts. The scent of confusion fuses with that of strawberry KY. The climax is now passed.

On Your Skin On Your Skin By Ashley Benoit

Tracing, tracing these lines on your skin Breathing lifts the arm up not encased in sheets of linen, black The chill outside these comforters, rustling

Flickering in the lights above these pictures stained in my memory and they are yours - forever So I press upon you now in this gentle motion and surely the matter-of-factness of this situation is clear I must, must I? Kiss the warmness on my lips Of your skin, and to your lips And forever, what of us may become I do not know -- no matter.


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I will surely remember these strange curvings of pictures on your skin.

Gone To Work

Devin Hosselkus • oil on canvas

What Will I Tell... What Will I Tell Your Grandson by Tara Dawn Connolly

When he begins to ask about you? Shall I focus on the obvious saying: “He was 6’3” and broad-shouldered With bear-paw hands that held me tight, Lips always warm, welcoming, wanting And dark brown eyes I never found my way out of.”

Would it be better to focus on professional achievements? “He won the Pulitzer for fiction during his successful career (Sure Cormack McCarthy travelled the road too But he never held pace with your grandfather) And his book sales put some wizard boy to shame.” Perhaps I should tell of your education And your inspired years in Iowa, Sitting in the former desk of Flannery O’Connor Until you graduated summa cum laude. Maybe you would have him know how we met, The day two strangers were lost in Oregon, Our first kiss in perfect Portland rain. Would he be interested in how you proposed As we sat on a rock in the middle of Truckee River? Which story would you want me to tell? Would he be interested in our early days, As we sat in a silence only we understood?

Maybe you would have him know how we moved, The day we left the desert for Carolina heaven, Our first home in the Park Square district of Asheville. Perhaps I should tell of your excitement And your cherished days as you awaited fatherhood, Sitting on the loveseat searching for a name Until we finally agreed on Dominic. Would it be better to focus solely on the truth? “He was diagnosed as terminal in 1998 (Sure they said treatment could make it bearable But it never held pace with your grandfather) And time took him before his son was born.” When he begins to ask about you Shall I focus on the obvious saying: “He was everything I could dream of, With plans for a future big enough for two. A man that embraced life and death head on Who offered a love I never found my way out of.” What will I tell your grandson?


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Marmalade Day Marmalade Day, 1993 by Tara Dawn Connolly

The single window never offered much light but the daily glow of the oven more than made up for it. Cornbread, buttermilk biscuits, asiago cheese bread, the raspberry kiss of a bakewell tart greeted me after school each day. TV dinners and takeout did not exist in Mom’s kitchen. Empty words were rarely spoken, we preferred to converse in tradition. The recipe for Granny’s cranberry oatmeal cookies offered more love than three words could dream of. We shared the joy of fresh jam three times a year, better than ice skating with my friends, those who never understood our kitchen conversations. I skipped marmalade day in October of 1993, giving high school homecoming a try. Mom was a stickler for tradition though with oranges, sugar, and pectin simmering on the stove


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The conversation changed that night. Me, alone and out of place on the dance floor. Mom, alone and out of place in the emergency room. I spent the next three weeks alone in her kitchen preparing new dressings every few hours for burnt flesh on her face, neck, chest, and arms rather than salads of rice, romaine, or pasta. The visible wounds have healed but tradition has been replaced by ineffectual wordiness. The warm glow of the oven went out that night, displaced by the humming of the microwave. One thing has never changed though, the single window never offered much light.


Justin Manfredi • pastel on paper

Sad Definitions Sad Definitions by Joel M. Lippert

“Disharmony” I am not myself, and I don’t like this ME... Don’t like this me you are now experiencing.

“Karma” I am making the object of my anger feel what I feel, When my anger is unwarranted and I love this person.

“Unbalanced” And I can’t get evened out, Can’t get to the me that I sometimes like, Can’t pull the plumb-bob out of my crooked ass.

“Conflict” I suddenly hate the thing, the place that I love, but is that unusual? Maybe not. But I want out, don’t I? Don’t we each want in&out at the same time?

“Ego” Rears its hungry medusa-head. It feeds on the empty air of unvoiced appreciation. The lack of acknowledgement makes the serpents hungrier and more assured of their habits.

“Punishment” I suffer my foolish self sadly, And beat my companions over the head with my bloody sleeve and pound of flesh. Where did I learn this?

“Pity” You are not invited to this party of one, Yet you have no choice but to observe from your mood-proof glass bubbles. Waves of reflected light, and your humanity, render the glass useless, and I apologize.

“Fatigue” I exhaust myself with selfishness, And I tire of boring you with my righteousness and self-loathing, But I’m on a roll...

“Blame” Is all mine on this two-way street of communication. I left the right side to coast down the middle and high-centered on the median – With three fingers still pointing back at me...

“Retribution” Too could be all mine – I could keep this up forever. But I kiss you on your cheek instead, and am no longer sadly defined.


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To Meet To Meet by Jeff Gesick

I wanna die, in chinatown. and I wanna drown, in soho. And I wanna go, to bourbon street. And I wanna meet, at home.

Grandpa & Grandma

Ana Levya • acyrlic on canvas

Your Your Touch Touch by Jeff Gesick

your touch, sends shivers down my spine. but not in a good way, more like a gross old man, romantically inclined. or like, a large bug on my ear, crawling squirming oozing, smacking it, guts do smear. your love; however, makes me smile, since it involves me not, but instead my dear friend. here’s his number, I’ll dial.


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Sarah Sarah

by Diana Harper

It’s Sunday. Sam put aside God to come and yell at me. It’s raining, drizzling really. I have been sitting under the same tree for so long I have gone numb. Sam is across from me, arms round his knees. Words don’t warm us, they linger, cold now. Sam is different, he’s matured. He pretends I did not break his heart. He is sipping from his water bottle, telling me about college. He tries to speak and the water runs along his chin. He is eager, always going two ways at once. It was endearing once. He is looking at me, talking about college, still. We were going to go together, should of, he reminds me. We would have grown up and had children, would have taken classes together, fell in love over stale pizza. A child’s dream. I don’t say anything. His face hardens, the lines deeper. I want to hate him, but he is all I have left. He shifts his frame until he is beside me. I cannot move, unable to touch him like I used to. It’s easier now, not to touch him. I used to, but he always moved away, recoiled, like it hurt him. So I stopped trying. When I first left him he promised to let me go, to move on. Yet he returns, weekly, demanding I answer him. He never listens. Six months is a long time. People change. Sam is consistant in his ploys. “If you could have one thing back, what would you want?” He asks. It’s our game, the what if. I want to say, “Kissing. Heat.You.Those long nights on your lap with you rubbing my ear until I fell asleep.” For I want to sleep, he makes me so tired. I am suspended in a strange half existance. He waits. I keep silent. The game continues. I watch as the rain trails down his face, gets caught in his hair. I feel something inside me expand, contract. My silence is not because I hate him, which is what he thinks. If I told him I still loved him, despite the distance life put between us, he would haunt me, until there was nothing left of the boy I loved. Yet I keep waiting for him to save me, to come to me, yell, learn to move on, anything. These days all he does is lure me into showing life. My eyes ghost over him. He doesn’t make any indecation he saw the movement, so lost in his own heart. I wonder why he is the only one who tries anymore, who comes to me, sits beside me, tells me anything. I suppose he doesn’t understand, love isn’t forever. “What if we had married in spring? What would our children look like?” There is a new desperation to his games. “Stop!” I lean forward, press my lips to his. I pass through him, feel the electricity of his grief. He shivers, his flesh grows numb. I could stay inside him, slowly pull his life out. Instead I sink back, into the earth. “Sarah! Sarah! I felt you!” “What if you moved on?” I tell him, but he doesn’t hear. He will be here tomorrow. He will not understand until its too late. Death is the greatest truth. It’s too late.

What She Said What She Said by Mollie Booth What She Said:

What He Said:

There are times when, into the stillness of night, His body turns cacophonous into mine. And the rain applauds the window That frames him as he moves. These times, I feel the bed Clothes close around my throat And he is more in my body than I am, All mass and smell and damp kissing flesh. And I wonder briefly about the bliss of identity.

I turn to her twisted Into the knotted root of our sheets Where she blooms on the pillow, eyes open. Darkly empty she stares, Black windows that show No reflection of her or me or what we were Once when I could see in her a light Beyond all dark rooms.


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A Puddle

There’s a Puddle Between Us by Kim Norton

I never meant to break it Nor cause any slit or bruise I suppose it never belonged in my grasp at all But while it was I knew it, cherished it Drew inspiration Marveled at its tenacity Now, as it lies on the floor Tattered, leaking My own heart weeps within me Aware that my apologies can do no mending My pleas can bring no solace All I can do is look

Country Time in the Playhouse Jeana Bertoldi • photograph

And beg of you Beg that you might pick it up Not that my pity be quenched Not even for your own redemption But darling, don’t you see As long as it so remains Defeated, embittered Why, it’s the world that is at loss


Lost in the Garden by Tara Dawn Connolly

The changing of the leaves is awkward this autumn. Brilliant hues replaced by lead-colored sands of an hourglass that never turns. I trudge along a desolate path of this once beloved garden now overgrown by bushes reminiscent of life. My dog barks breathlessly at flickering stars of heaven’s warehouse where jesus stores the souls of his departed, where jesus forgets about the living saints stumbling here in a degenerate garden .


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Page X

Jeana Bertoldi • photograph


Jett Chapman • graphite on paper

Sally Ann Sally Ann

by Tim Howland

“Come and walk with me tonight.” I say to Sally Ann. “The moon is full and shining bright Upon the cool sand.”

Your mother warned you not to wander Past the edge of town; But luckily she’s fast asleep And never heard a sound. Now we’re all alone my dear Walking hand in hand, Basking in the moonlight As I drag you through the sand. Your cheeks aren’t rosy anymore And you’ve gained a pound or two, You were so afraid of death my dear… But look what it’s done for you.

She Was Only 18... She Was Only 18… by Aubrey O’Conner

The sun was still Disconnected from the horizon, Its descent bleeding Across the sky. A solitary car sat in the abandoned lot, Oil dripping from the engine to sizzle on the black tar. Passing cars too busy to notice the struggle Hurried home to get dinner on the table. He smashed her life across the window With one loud crack of the bullet. They found her cloaked in a field Painted blush under the pastel sky. Her lips, Swollen and blue, Parted where a breath should have issued. Not far from her he lay sprawled, His eyes glazed. Awaiting a purgatory of his own design.

We mustn’t stray about all night They’ll all be coming soon, The townsfolk with their torches bright Led by the bitter moon. So let’s be getting on my dear I’ve made the bed for two, Dawn’s evil light’s just ‘round the bend… And I’ve got plans for you.


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The Forgotten The Forgotten

by Suzanne Roberts

Mother said she’d been thinking about another cat, said she hated her boyfriend, that she was no longer passive aggressive. I, she said, have given it up. Later, I asked, Where’s Daddy? Mother ignored me, hummed mostly, sang only the lyrics she knew: The power of the music of the night, hummed again the forgotten words. What, I insisted, have you done with Daddy? She continued humming, notes not fleecy

but angular and metallic. She walked to the cupboard—he was no longer on the shelf—opened it, said, See. He’s fine. He’s right in there. A file-o-fax sat atop Daddy. Those, Mother explained, are divorce papers from all of his ex-wives. You mean both? I asked her. Yes, Mother answered, That’s right. She continued humming, La dee da doo dee da doo, her mouth like a peony, opening and closing.

Mortality Mortality

by Suzanne Roberts

Cousin Simon picked up a coral snake today, thought it a king snake, couldn’t remember the rhyme— red on black, friend to Jack, red on yellow, kill a fellow. My brother-in-law Britt tattooed his medicare card, blue and red, onto his forearm. His own private initiation to old age. A reminder, he says, always there in the periphery. Uncle Albert is a medium. He works at an online psychic network as Brother Cleo. He says someday, I’m sure to marry someone older


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and worldy. He never foresaw the death of his own son. After Grandfather died, Nanny began dating Cousin Michael. She was 80. He was 42, and she kept him in beer and cigarettes. He took care of her, even after she began talking to the girl on the ceiling, selling salt from a bicycle on a tightrope. Mother has kept Daddy on the shelf for the last 12 years. When she dies, she says, she hopes I keep them both safe in the closet.

Underground Catacombs Budapest, Hungary

Tyler Antonio Monteleone • digital photograph

Last Winter Last Winter

by Nick DeRose

He walks alone in the darkness, stumbling through the graveyard on an icy Christmas eve. He’s blind in the overcast night but he has no need to see, having walked this path so many times before. Frostbitten litter lays dead and still, preserved over the frozen graves. He clutches his side as he reaches the grave on the hill. The wound is still streaming blood, pouring through his weakening hands seeking new veins to spread warmth in. Hot and slick it drips from his fingertips, falls through the still air, and melts the frost from the brown grass. Finally he collapses over a grave, sputtering blood, choking on her name. Lying wearily, blinking his eyes trying to focus the grey moonlight over her marker and read the names there. After all these years her face still burns vividly in his mind and he begins to weep as he rests his head heavily over the lost warmth of her breast. Foggy coughs settle around his head in eerily twisting halos as he stares into the clouds. Searching for stars he remembers how she used to hold him. His head cradled over her expectant tummy, rising and falling with her breath as he stared into her eyes. Steam rises from pooling gore, twirling into wisps that tease the waning life in his skin. He has dutifully returned to his wife and unborn son every Christmas since, sitting alone and wishing he could hold her in his arms again. The past doesn’t matter anymore, tonight he will be with her again. He closes his eyes and softly smiles when he feels her finger tips caress his blood spattered face. No more time left to grieve, he is with her tonight. The ashen moonlight fades to black and she appears from the darkness. She lays down beside him and he puts his arm around her warm parturient stomach. He revels in the happiness he has found once again and a smile cracks the drying blood on his lips. In absolute silence she smiles back as he coughs on the frozen air. Lovingly she gazes into his eyes as dark red blood flows into the icebound soil, now determined to share its waning heat with her. His eyes shut one last time as his last breathe diffuses into the Christmas night.

Remnants of Fall

Tiffany Sebesta • digital photograph


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“ ”

You wouldn’t believe some of the stuff my mind comes up with name: Mareena Wasylenchuk year: Freshman major: Art medium: Drawing Twisted Nightmares and Open Windows by Ashley Dodge Jazz music fills the air inside Starbucks as the afternoon cold brings in coffee drinkers to gaze upon which menu item to purchase. Sitting in the far left corner of the room is Mareena Wasylenchuk, waiting patiently for her friend to come back to the table with her purchase. Once seated, we chat comfortably as if we are old friends just meeting after years of absence. Conversation remains casual and soon gravitates to Mareena’s artistic inspirations. “Um… I like to see outside,” Mareena says. “The windows have to be open.” Mareena’s creative escape is portrait drawing using charcoal pencil. Her artwork has been inspired by many of her favorite movies, such as Cloverfield and Pan’s Labyrinth. “I just love the way that the movies are filmed,” Mareena said. “Pan’s is filled with so much imagery, it’s so creative. Cloverfield is so real, and though many people I know don’t like it, I do. It’s so real and that’s reflected in my artwork.” Mareena goes on to explain that aside from drawing her future plans include film directing and video


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Portrait of the Artist Rebecca Holmstrom • photograph game design. Her portraits could easily be a reflection of those movies she wishes to create or direct. “I have really demented dreams, very twisted dreams,” Mareena said. “Apart from movies that’s where most of my inspiration comes from.You wouldn’t believe some of the stuff my mind comes up with!” The conversation slowly dwindles down into typical college conversation- where to live next year, the current teachers that drive us all crazy, and then somehow leads to lawn gnomes haunting a town in South America. When the wind blows open the doors next to us and we all jump, we know that it’s a sign that it’s time to move on. For now Mareena’s dreams remain pictures of a fragmented story trapped inside her head until she can make sense of how to place them on paper. One day a camera crew may help bring to life the nightmares that haunt her, but for this small period in time, she finds her escape in the passion that is drawing. •


Mareena Wasylenchuk • charcoal on paper

The Kitchen The Kitchen

By Emmy Drake

It’s odd how it all began. So fast it went too, I mean she came and then she just left. Not a sign of it. Not a sound about that dreadful day. No. It was just come and go. So then what was I to do at eight years old? Of course I did the usual, live every day. Walked in to find no friendly, “hey, Pumpkin, how was your day at school?” Or, “I’m over here. Come sit down and let’s look at your work from today.” So I started looking for her. Yes, I still remember rounding the corner of the kitchen to find it. I ran over to call 911 when I noticed a gun lying next to her.


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Our Violent Desert Our Violent Desert: And in the Autumn of 1991, My Cousin Showed Me How to Beat Up Girls. by Seth Lagana

The duel was scheduled for noon. My cousin, a fourth grader, would square off against my femme predator, the dirt bitch that haunted my dreams. Under our feet, pine needles and soil. We galloped the land like the mouths of talking donkeys. Up and down, over dunes and sagebrush, desert stones and rabbit skulls. Our home, acres of dirt and gravel, enriched with Coney Weeds and cacti. We caught wasps and beetles from neighboring hives and irrigation reservoirs. My father jury-rigged quail cages. And in the sweet fall months we would collect quail carcasses in the night. We had so much meat; we used a large portion of it for dog food and bait for bass fishing at Echo Bay. My father, an amateur butcher, used my old t-ball bat to knock the birds unconscious. When he was finished, feathers and beaks scattered throughout the cages, he would lean the bat up against the back door of our house. “Don’t touch that bat,” he would say. “Yes sir.” On the morning of July 11, 1804, a duel took place between secretary of treasury Alexander Hamilton and vice president Aaron Burr. They used Wogdon pistols in autumn. They rowed through the Hudson River, to a secluded area chilled by divine granite from Palisade cliffs. Light rain blew in from the north. The grounds were moist, crystallized by early morning demons, dew, and summer’s fraught labors.Two escorts attended. They stood in fear of death.Their fingertips cold. Wigs dripping. There were no words, only wintry stares. Escorts held their coughs, and wheezes. The leaves held on for dear life; nature, the humorous and majestic entity, held her soggy breathe. Nothing but the sound of flowing water and scuttling beetles. Burr drew first, with his right hand, from a slanted holster stretched over his left hip. A punctual bullet, so forthright and amorously assembled. Hamilton, dawdling, queer, and ill-focused, fumbled with the hair trigger. He buckled. Two shots were fired. After the smoke settled, and the echo from the barrels resonated into nothingness, Hamilton toppled over. He lay there, shivering. Burr’s bullet ricocheted through Hamilton’s midriff, rupturing his false ribs, his liver and diaphragm; it was lodged in the second vertebra. There was no sound, save for the spreading ravens.


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Hamilton was dead. On his death bed, holding his granddaughter’s hand, Burr stated drunkenly, “Had I read Sterne more and Voltaire less, I should have known the world was wide enough for Hamilton and me.” My cousin met Heidi Pierce in the elapsed desert lot kissing Sunrise Mountain. Many escorts were in attendance. Children intrigued with violence. And I was there, atop an invasive stone dumped and forgotten. It was raining. Some were playing in the mud. The suspense was immeasurable. Heidi’s brethren, like obnoxious jesters, exposed themselves, and used their dirt language like Bonaparte’s slaves. My cousin and his acquaintances stood motionless and servile. Enduring Norsemen. They all spat. Heidi cracked her knuckles. My cousin stepped forward and stood silently. Rain slapped at the mud beneath them. Heidi charged first, her fists clenched, moving awkwardly. She was tenacious. But my cousin, powerful and calm, stood still and expressionless. All of us began to root and chant. “Hit ‘er,” I shouted. Heidi began to dance. Her tongue stuck out, as if licking her lips extracted some unknown concentration. She spat and cursed under her breathe. She threw the first punch, a palpable hook from her right. Brandon expected it, and he ducked. And then it happened. In the autumn of 1991, my cousin showed me how to beat up girls. Brandon threw a faultless jab, something he was born with, like giving the thumbs up. It was an engrained motion, as if some blood before his held remnants of a prizefighter, and he genetically inherited the performance. Heidi took a shot to the mouth, underneath her chin. Foolishly, she didn’t anticipate the blow. Her derelict tongue was still watering her cracked lips. There was screaming. Heidi lost almost one third of her tongue. The punch closed her jaw. Her teeth wrapped around her tongue and continued to slice until her crowns met. She held her mouth with both hands and collapsed to the mud. There was blood. Heidi’s tongue, unsought on the desert floor, lay deathly and alone. The colors, like the quail blood, were brilliant.

We all ran away. The desert sun seeping through clumsy nimbus clouds. We left Heidi to fend for herself. I remember hearing her cries as we ran through the streets. The fight. The mud and the grime between our toes. The vastness of those acres. The motorcycle tracks and empty beer cans full of sand and spider webs. The austere comfort we gathered from dirt between our knuckles, in the webbing between our fingers, in our noses, in our ears and hair. Almost as if the desert swallowed us whole like a tidal wave, hell bent on the moon’s menacing stare. We fought in that desert. We fought kids and the soft sand near rodent holes. Our desert. We could beat our chests a thousand times, and chant like warriors. The small lot of land was where I was introduced to brutality. And we licked our cracked lips at the bruises and bloodshed. We were the desert. So, days after the fight, I tried to kill a quail with my bat at the cages behind our house. I selected one out of many, and cornered it. I raised the mended bat above my head. The bird glanced up at me, oblivious of its endangerment. Standing there, motionless, I grew anxious. I felt southern wind press up against the face of the cage. The sun was setting, and the cold shadows from the neighboring mountains spoke humbly. I couldn’t do it. I lowered the bat to my side. I kicked the bird in the ass and watched it scurry for grain.


Ali Sullivan • stoneware and acrylic paint

Get It Off Me

Ali Sullivan • stoneware and acrylic paint


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Ordinary Abstractions Ordinary Abstractions

by Rebecca Holmstrom, assistant art coordinator

Ordinary abstractions explore the fine line between convention, meaning and intention. The artists on the following pages attempt to identify what exactly abstraction is and how and where we place meaning. Whether it is literal abstraction in a photograph or painting, or
 a meta-fiction created in a written piece, these artists have taken a step away
 from the expectations of traditional art, and focused their talents on new and
 modern techniques. The visual artists play with many different styles and concepts such as 
color, line, space, shape, form, repetition, shadow, reflections, and texture,
 while the writers explore new ways to construct poems and prose.        Art, as a whole, can take on a number of different forms. Abstraction as a technique encompasses several interpretations of form and meaning and is a reaction to realist and other trends in art, it is a type of conceptual reduction. You will find types of abstract expressionism, work that is solely about itself and you can get lost in it, like Rust by Erinn Thomas.You will also come across more modern and minimal types of abstraction where form is used to convey meaning. For example, in Baptist Bus by Tyler Keck of a shattered window the feelings of isolation and loneliness are conveyed. In the poetry and prose, many of these writers have 
experimented with meta-fiction. They play with what the mediums they are working in mean and are writing about writing. Over the next few pages, you will be able to see how form conveys meaning.
 While much of the work is conceptual or pure abstraction it will affect you emotionally with form, color and repetition. These artists have proven 
that even though some of these new and modern techniques are different and do not have to be about beauty or profound meaning, they are in fact extraordinary 
pieces of work that challenge how and what we define as art.• Rebecca is a junior majoring in Business Administration and Photography. When she is not working on the Brushfire she likes to relax with friends.


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(clockwise from top left)


Tyler Keck • photograph


Erinn Thomas • photograph


Jeana Bertoldi • photograph


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An Afternoon in China An Afternoon in China by Jonathon Ebert

“What’s that sound?” asked Jordan as she lay, sprawled out on the white sofa of the ninth floor apartment. “It’s the movie,” responded Dave. “It sounds like bees though.” “Duh, we are watching the X-Files movie and they are being attacked by bees,” responded Dave sardonically. “If the TV screen was a little better, you would see that they are in that dome thing and they’re running from the bees.” “But it sounds so real,” responded Jordan apprehensively. “You’re stupid,” quacked Dave in his usual offensive fashion. “Jordan’s right Dave, if you would stop being such an obstinate person for one minute, you’d realize that the sound is coming from the kitchen, not the TV,” I said as I sat there, observing the situation unfold. I decided to investigate. “Oh my God! There are about a thousand bees in the kitchen,” I shouted to the other two, shutting the kitchen door before they get into the rest of the apartment. “Are you serious?” asked Jordan as she rose from her stupor to look into the kitchen. “I’ll call up maintenance.” “Ugh, I hate this country, it’s so screwed up,” said Dave. Even if Dave would get off his chair for one moment and stop drinking his beer, all he would do is complain about China. Dave irritated me; even though sometimes I found his observations so completely out there that I could not help laughing, at him, not with him. For his cynicism, we called him Lucius Malfoy. Both Jordan and I scrambled, attending to the bees in the kitchen. For all we knew, these bees could be killer bees, known to attack people and even to stay above a water source, waiting for the unfortunate victim who decided to jump into a pool to escape their wrath. From the cautious looks we took to view the bees, it became clear to us that they were belligerent little antagonists ready to terrorize us at a moment’s whim. We needed reinforcements. Jordan picked up the phone and called the security group at the front desk. “Ni hao, women yao HELP, yinwei women zaogao, ni zhidao BAD STUFF.” Through the broken Chinese, she told them we had big problems and needed help fast! “Whar yar yar AMER-I-CAN whar har yar GO yar har whar,” responded the man. His Sichuan dialect was thicker than the acclaimed 72-ounce steak in Amarillo, Texas, and neither of us knew what he was saying. All we knew was that his Chinese carried an incomprehensible, muffled sound through the phone. After all, we were only students that had lived in China for a few weeks. The couple of books we had learned did not emphasize any language activities involving how to get rid of bees. In fact, I think I would toast an author that would include ridiculous situations in their Chinese language book, because the many events that I witnessed while I lived there, seemed to always be a little out of the ordinary, comparatively speaking, to life in the U.S. “I have no idea what he said, but I think he said that he would come and take a look,” said Jordan with hope. Five minutes later, a knock at the door. We ran to see who was there, though we knew that it would be the security people from downstairs. “Ni hao, ni hao,” said the guard. He wore an officer’s uniform fit with an official cap. The only give away that he was not a police officer was his white socks with black shoes. The good-natured guard walked over to the kitchen as we pointed with faces aghast, akin to one of those cheesy horror films from the late 1990s. Smiling, he took a peek, the smallest of peeks, on the scale of nano-peeks and came back over to where we were, running, and with the same look of people running from the aliens in H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds. Through his extremely gargled Sichuan dialect, we discerned that the kitchen was beyond his ken and he needed to call in the big guns. We thought he was being metaphorical, but we soon realized that the metaphor was actually a strange reality. After a heated discussion over walkie-talkies, the guard sat down and looked relieved. There came another rap at the door. I answered and what I saw made my mouth drop nine floors. Standing at the door were six members of the elite. They were soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army. Luckily, they were unarmed except for a suitcase that one man was carrying. I presumed that it was their bag of tricks. Jordan and I stood there completely lost for words. Dave, on the other hand, had choked on his beer when they entered, but went back to watching his movie. He is a man that does not scare easily. The soldiers pulled the doors back, with a kind of heroism that you only dream of ever witnessing, let alone accomplishing yourself.The bees began to swarm, infuriated at the audacity of these soldiers, for disturbing their peaceful, unwanted existence. Suddenly, there came screams in Sichuan dialect. I ran to the kitchen opening, to a horrific scene of murder! The soldiers were swatting the bees with their hands and stomping them on the ground with smiles on their faces; it was quite a sight. At once, the


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soldiers realized that the bees had their lair in our stove vent, an unlikely place of dwelling, except in the mind of a ferocious bee. The soldiers shouted to each other and concluded that the only way to annihilate these bees was by attacking the vent on the other side of the wall. They came to this decision immediately, for one of them jumped onto our sink and started hanging himself out of the window, nine stories above the ground. As he was hanging, one leg to the wall, and the rest of his body in attack mode, he started swatting the bees outside. Soon they realized that they needed more firepower. The guard came up to Jordan and started describing what he needed. “I think he said that he needs money to buy a can of bug spray.” Being the gentleman that I am, I took out one hundred kuai and gave the man the money. “I hope they know what they are doing.” At this point, the soldiers had nothing they could do, so they lit up their Panda cigarettes with their limited amount of matches and sat down, while we all exchanged awkward smiles. Jordan tried to offer them food and drinks, but they refused.Twenty minutes later, our friend, the guard, returned to the apartment carrying two cans of Chinese bug spray and change for me. Immediately, the soldiers were back at their post spraying these bees, but trying to spray bees while they are in mid-flight is an extremely difficult task. To facilitate the matter, one of the soldiers asked for a lighter. Unfortunately, for our resident Texan, the only lighter in the entire two-story apartment belonged to her. We grabbed it and gave it to the soldiers. Boom! Pow! Slam! The soldier had taken the lighter along with the bug spray and created a makeshift flamethrower. If the soldiers were not smiling before that, they were now, in fact, they reminded me of my friends lighting Roman candles on the Fourth of July. For safety purposes, the soldiers opened up their suitcase to reveal an orange suit equipped with ropes that looked like the suit worn by Dustin Hoffman in the movie Outbreak when they first visit the Ebola-stricken village.The one soldier put this suit on and again climbed onto the counter and hung from the side, while he started flaming these bees. It quickly turned into a cutthroat fight out of the Wild West, only lacking cowboy hats, and soon the bee colony had surrendered. We were all ecstatic, but we realized that we could not enter the kitchen for a minimum of five days. The can of bug spray they had used was extremely potent and could cause instant watering of the eyes on contact, so the security guard advised us to stay out of the kitchen for several days. We did not know if the can of spray was DDT or something more toxic, so we behaved ourselves and stayed far from the kitchen. Standing on a field of victory after the fantastic performance of the bee extermination, the good-hearted PLA soldiers packed up their gear. It was only then that I realized that the soldiers were no older than myself, with similar mentalities of trekking through life, while dipping in adventure and humor. At this moment, I understood that although my life in America was completely different then my life in China, my attitude was not so far off from the attitudes of the young soldiers.

Gravitational Disturbance Thomas Boyer • photograph


ordinary abstractions | 79


A Massacre of Hypens

Heather Horn • photograph

A Massacre of Hyphens by Joe Crowley

The hyphen’s dying, so we’re coldly told by the Oxford English Dictionary. Sixteen thousand OED will bury because, in part, this mark is growing old. It’s said to clutter up the e-mail and the texts. It’s got “ungainly horizontal bulk.” It’s become a funky punctuation hulk. Hey, hyphen-hangman, tell us what comes next. Will you scatter dashes’ ashes, put a damper on the dot, the apostrophe, the ampersand? Poison the parenthesis? Tomahawk the tilde, crucify the comma? Wait! Let’s trade: Return to us those hyphens you have stolen. We’ll be pleased to send you sixteen thousand semi-colons.


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The Poet The Poet

by James Garcia

“what are you doing?”

i’m writing poetry

“but, it doesnt rhyme...”


“aren’t poems supposed to rhyme?”

not all of them. Poetry isn’t all about sunsets and feelings

“then what is it about?”

whatever i want it to be.

“i dont get it.”

that’s why i’m the one with the pen.

“are you sure you know what you’re doing?”


(counter Clockwise from left) Windows Pier Charlene Gey • photograph Lamp Garrett Johnson • photograph Age From Within Cary Crites • photograph


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How to Lose a Girl Fast Lane

Athiwan Yaemmuan • digital photograph

How to Lose a Girl by Karl Giese

I never meant to hurt you before deserting you into the world that rejected you without expecting to accept the neglect of unleashing a child into the wild system of liars and lovers and thieves and mothers longing to discover how to start a heart torn apart but it was the way you knew it was true that I really loved you otherwise the years of the tears mixed with fears and ‘Hello Dear’s would only be a facade such as the God you prayed to that I’d stay with you through and through the dark and the light and the regrets and the spite on the night that I took your hand and promised you I would never leave and you believed but I deceived because you and me were never meant to be one of the some of the many of the none that will pass with such crass and beautiful syntax containing ‘I love you’s and ‘I miss you’s and ‘I want you’s and ‘I need you’s; to summarize, love is an idea, not an emotion. Choke on the words.


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School Night Prose School Night Prose by Jovan Albertson

I drank and watched the lights envelop the city and I was surrounded on my little island. There was a couple behind me and they argued. He called her a bitch and she left the small bar and then passed my table on the balcony. I watched her walk down the street. She walked and walked and I hoped she would find her way home, someday.

I lifted the beer and regarded life and the people around me who say such awful things. I had class in eights hours and tonight I was drinking with two empty seats.

“Hello,” I would say, “tell me all the things you think.” The lights of the city began to desperately wane as they do when you’re alone and drinking and looking at nothing in particular. I wondered how many people would get lost on their way home tonight. To my surprise my friends showed their faces and, suddenly, the night wasn’t so cold. For now it wasn’t cold and finally my seats could talk back.

December Neil Steiniger • photograph


ordinary abstractions | 83


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Cityscape 1 & 3

Rebecca Holmstrom • digital photograph composite

My Name on its Spine Television My Name on its Spine by James Garcia

i’ve always wanted to write a classic the kind of book that everyone wants to have read but nobody wants to read and i know that though i may scribble it down on paper publish it and sell it to the world it may sit on a bookshelf unread unrecognized and untouched. but, at least it will be there collecting dust on the shelf my name on its spine right below the title.


By James Garcia

sometimes at night I sit in silence and stare at my reflection in the TV screen and wonder if anyone would at all be interested in a movie about my life.

could a camera really capture who I am? what is my story? would I even watch, or hit eject and put something else in? something written about someone else, someone else’s life…

it may never sell but it will be there and that’s okay, because writers are seldom recognized while they’re living


ordinary abstractions | 85


Cary Crites • photograph


Thomas Boyer • photograph


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(left to right) Untitled Tara Acquafondata • photograph Para El Presidente Richie Bednarski • photograph Smood Cary Crites • photograph

(Top to Bottom) Timid Kelly Bridegum • digital photograph Iron Nouveau Thomas Boyer • photograph


ordinary abstractions | 87


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sklo modry & sklo zluty Thomas Boyer • photographs


ordinary abstractions | 89

A Ghost A ghost

by James Haddock Jr A ghost! With green teeth like the sea or a bar of soap. Plain and simpleA ghost. A ghost.


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Say Say

by James Haddock Jr Today is one of those jumbled days I hope not to see you, I won’t talk if I do Today is one of those days, I think of how I love you.

Color Combustion #4

Rebecca Holmstrom • photograph

Back-How Man Back-Hoe Man

By Brianna Thompson

It must be great To be the back-hoe man Ripping up the old asphalt. He is paid to tear things up, Demolish what is useless Run over small items in his way. In his big yellow machine He pushes levers And a mechanical arm of Godzilla Claws into whatever he wants.

It must be nice Being paid to wreck stuff, Sitting in a high seat Controlling skinny wands And making a royal mess of what used to be structure. It must be super Ripping things to pieces all day With a claw stronger than you. a hard hat just in case, and the orders to: pull tear disjoint crumble obliterate dismantle eradicate just undo it! Make the incredible sounds of War against molecular integrity. That old concrete is in the wrong spot, Take it out with a bang And when you dump it, make it crash so hard that the sound is carried down the gutter like tears.

Geckos in Still


Cary Crites • photograph

ordinary abstractions | 91

4th Street Project

Ryan Ghan • photograph

Neon Sign

Heather Horn • photograph

American Caste American Caste by Matthew Maggy

The rotund aristocracy sits in golden chairs, Quaffing the cup of wealth, Taking more, offering nothing, Wallets tight, so nothing gives.

The Bourgeoisie exists restrained behind white picket fences, Reading books about finance, Raising children bred for material consumption. Destined to maintain, never to rise. The working class toil in a pit of inescapable debt, Paycheck to paycheck they reside in simple, stressful lives. They long for riches and settle for less, Behind the illusion of being middle-class.


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The poor stay hovelled in cardboard boxes; Outstretching weary hands to callous passersby; Devoid of hope, clinging to sanity with diminishing resolve. They trudge; to and from unforgiving concrete corners of despair. The young upstart is destined to leave a positive print on history, As the one to abolish despair, Remove the illusion, Pull off the restraints, And loosen the wallets to action.

Breaking Toothpicks Breaking Toothpicks by Alana Cooper

Galloping White horses movements that evoke your haunted soul White floor surrounds you and a white porcelain bowl Two sticks slide into a long voyage down a wet opening Fury rising Images that refuse to escape You hit a reflection Nobody Just tiny pieces of shattered glass Your arms are hanging head is drooped Knees pressed against a white floor You start to endure something less than pain Palms become clammy one lifts back up A splatter hits the now red porcelain bowl

Where It All Ends Up

Kyle Weerheim • photograph


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Mirrored Equivilence Thomas Boyer • c-print

Ha, ha, ha! Zip, Zee, Zah! (1899)

Look at this muscle power! But, I thought you liked low-cut dresses? (1963)

When they make a student example, And professor, my friend of you. (1902)

It’s all a gamble. Life. The wheel keeps turning. (1971).

Nevada, my Nevada, thy praises we will sing, Let the gray-hewn mountains echo, where our vibrant voices ring. (1919) “They Shall Not Pass,” But we are always ready to serve you.  (1926)

So, you may want to hurry, “I wonder if students will still be the same as we were.” (1981)

Characterized by modern art, The book will have served “Buck Grabbers”. (1932)

The audience was thoroughly entertained by these talented people, Thank you for understanding and taking the brunt of my stress! (1993)

Don’t ask me why, The Polkateers danced demonstrations for several local “Mad Chemists.” (1949)

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. We created memories that will never fade, and we found ourselves. (2002)

They toted home the homecoming float award, Bow towards the statue, infidel! (1951)

History Retold:


94 | ordinary abstractions

History Retold a poetic retelling of each decade that the Artemisia has been published. Some lines are from actual poems, while others are created from single words and sentences.

by Kevin Clifford


Richie Bednarski• photograph,


Cary Crites • photograph


Thomas Boyer • photograph

Worn Beyond Years Emily Clark • photograph


ordinary abstractions | 95

I. if a day should come when falls the sun, and all color should fade, light blow away. when the black of bleached bones rolls over hills. if all is Gashed by mad apathy and spite. all will wail with the weight of world’s woe. yet in my silent solitude I shall subsist, invulnerable because I Love Her.

II. The day has come when falls the sun into the swirling voids of gray. Misty swarms make colder days, hopes are smashed like so much clay.

III. It beginsdarkness swirls, cold, silent. Empty. then a spark light warmth. Growth. A spreading flame of desire, of truth. Yet... Chaos.

Within, throughout, deny, redoubt, Rebuild, enjoy, regret, destroy. The phoenix cools to dust the world needs a new Prometheus. (once i had a sweet fruit, and though its juices ran freely, and though all was good, i could only taste cold and black —a shadow of sense cast backwards by nothingness)

The line is made. Division creates order. Limitations are imposed. The unknown become known and tyranny rules. All is constrained until pressure cracks appear, lengthening, dividing, destroyinguntil darkness swirls empty. but there is still a light not a spark, but steady. the light of experience. and it begins.


96 | ordinary abstractions

I rarely write with a definable message

name: Scott Godine year: Sophomore major: Engineering Physics medium: writing Portrait of the Artist Rebecca Holmstrom • photograph Despite the artistic value of poetry, poets don’t always come in the form of Art and English majors. Scott Godine, a sophomore and an engineering major, breaks the mold of a typical writer. Currently declared as an engineering physics major, Scott has aspirations to be an architect, author, musician, psychologist, or “anything, really.” Scott’s chosen mediums are poetry and short story, although he has aspirations to write a full-length science fiction novel. “Lately I’ve been writing mostly poetry, predominately because it’s easier to put ideas into words in a short, concise format like that,” Scott said. “I do enjoy writing longer prose stories, but I need to have a pretty firmly defined narrative, and I more often just have abstract ideas that lend themselves better to a freer form of expression. When I do write prose, science fiction has always been my favorite genre, so I usually tend in that direction.” Scott has been writing on and off since he was a child. “I first wrote stories when I was home schooled, around the age of 9. My mother took me to a Young Writers’ Club, composed primarily of other home schooled children, at our local library.” He cites some of his favorite sci fi writers as Iain M. Banks and Douglas Adams. “More generally, Tom Holt, Clive Barker, H.P. Lovecraft. I’ll read anything I can get my hands on. As far as poetry goes, e.e. cummings is a favorite of mine.”

An Engineering Poet by Ashley Noël Hennefer Inspiration for Scott often comes unexpectedly. “[It comes from] anything—music I’m listening to, something I’ll see, most often things that just pop into my head unbidden,” Scott said. Aside from poetry, Scott dabbles in other aspects of art, including graphic design and music. “I do some image creation in Photoshop and Illustrator, as well as playing the piano and being a wicked sick guitarist,” he said. He fell into writing because it was a “way to channel my imagination into a more accessible and concrete form.” “I was always a quite imaginative kid,” said Scott. “And I read voraciously.” As for the impact of his writing on others, Scott said he hopes they get “whatever they want to get out of it.” “I rarely write things with a definable message, and if I do, well, then I’d certainly hope that people get said message out of it.” Scott is unsure where his literary future is headed, but for now, he tries not to take life too seriously, priding himself on his imagination and quirky tendencies. “One of my favorite bands is Gogol Bordello, I dry my hair in the morning by head banging to thrash metal, and I have a complex that prohibits me from having anything less than a full discography of any musical artist in my collection. Sort of.”•


ordinary abstractions | 97

The Demise Series The Demise Series by James Haddock Jr Richard

Richard Beers was a big man he flew over Denmark and Japan. The stuff that killed him came in a can; Richard Beers was a big man. Susie

Susie Salamander went to the park. She spanked her dog which caused him to bark, the coroner said her actions weren’t smart. Susie Salamander went to The Park. Tim Tim Chew felt a poke, he tried to swallow, but startled, he choked. His girlfriend thought it was only a joke Tim Chew felt a poke.



98 | ordinary abstractions

James Haddock Jr • photograph

Baptist Bus

Tyler Keck • photograph


Melonie Shier • photograph

The DMV Irishman The Irishman

by James Haddock Jr See the Irishman? He can’t stand, but he can stand the rain He’s been drunk today with wind and water He’s gone and lost his love Now he waits for night, but the longer he stays, the more he’s washed away


by Jeana Bertoldi

He said Smile People were there but not really there She smiled for a picture And Tears broke from the dam Blurry walls People weren’t there And he said Have a nice day


ordinary abstractions | 99

Ashley Dodge event coordinator assistant poetry coordinator

Ashley Noel Hennefer assistant editor

Kelly Bridegum editor

Nick DeRose assistant literature coordinator

Rebecca Holmstrom assistant art coordinator

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Brushfire Issue #60 V.2  

Brushfire Archives Edition 60. Volume 2. Fall 2005-Spring 2006 University of Nevada, Reno