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Clock Strikes Thirteen Buffalo Seminary Literature Magazine Spring 2012

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Table of Contents

Poems & Photography of Hannah Porter ‟15…………………………………….……3 “The Blue Pants Bible” by Sarah Gardner ‟12……………………………………….….5 Poems & Short Story by Maribel Leddy ‟14……………………………………….….7 “Power” by Kathryn Sands ‟13……………………………………………………….….15 “Poetry for Those Seeking an Identity” by Eliza Hopkins ‟13…………………………17 “Walk the Line” by Emily Cardullo ‟12…………………………………………………25

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Poems & Photography of Hannah Porter „15

“Untitled”

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In Black and White The whole world is black and white, good and evil. Some parts are light and easy, too easy. Light enough to be squelched in the wrong hands. Ruined by the touch of too rough a stroke. Some keys are too high, wounding the naked ear. Some too low, creating earthquakes from ominous vibrations. But some are just right. A beauty-filled song to anyone whose ears it graces, on the perfectly balanced piano. Not too heavy, nor too light But a flawless and serene note Itching to be played on that perfect piano.

Dedicated to My Beautiful Mother I long for my mother to be well. Daily, she suffers ceaselessly yet remains calm like a storm brewing underneath a peaceful lake. I long for her legs to make use of themselves. It pains me to watch someone who was once a graceful, beautiful dancer, a ballerina, choreographer, and able-bodied person become so frustrated. Will she ever be that person she was once again?

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The Blue Pants Bible by Sarah Gardner „12 As any jeans-wearer knows, size is not the only consideration. It is, in fact, one of the last, for size differs from store to store and from brand to brand. Like snowflakes or people, no pair is exactly the same. Some have buttons, some have zippers, some have both, and, most confusingly, some have none at all, and yet still manage to stay put. There are wide-leg, boot-cut, boyfriend, skinny, and ultra-skinny jeans. There are jeans that are made to look like leggings and there are leggings that are just pretending to be jeans. There's acid washed, dark washed, faded, or, God forbid, jeans that aren't even blue at all! So, the problem lies not in finding a pair, but instead in finding the right pair, a task comparable in stature to writing a 30-page term paper or giving an oral report. Walking into the store, you feel as if you're receiving a grade for this. Palms sweating, cheeks blushing, you approach the rack. The jeans look innocent enough, hanging there unassumingly. You experience momentary elation--any of these jeans could be the right pair--but this elation is quickly eclipsed by an all-encompassing dread. What if I don't find it? God, I have to try on all of these jeans? Taking a deep, pseudo-calming breath, you begin to rifle through the rack, ruling out half of them on the first pass. Your breathing eases slightly. After another ten minutes perusing the jeans lined up like soldiers for battle, you've found three or four pairs that could potentially work. You proceed to the try-on room, already assuming defeat. Once inside the small cubicle, you hang them up. Which to try on first? Should you try the eight? Or the ten? You go with the ten, because on the off-chance that the eight is too small, you won't run the risk of feeling bad about yourself when you have to try on the bigger size instead. Then again, what if the ten is too small? You don't let yourself think about it; double digits is bad enough as it is. The first pair is light-colored, with zippers transplanted from the waist to the ankles, and only a single button to hold them up. Precarious, but cute. At least, you thought they were cute on the hanger. On you? Not so much. The waist is too tight, but the ankles are too loose. You try to hike them up a couple more inches, sucking in your stomach, but to no avail. You look like a hillbilly with a cameltoe. You lower them, this time to the floor, stumbling as you pull the offending zippers off of your feet. Once off, the jeans lie on the floor, glaring at you reproachfully. "You actually thought I'd fit you?" They seem to ask. You pick them up, sighing, and realize you didn't read the label. Low-rise. You laugh to yourself, knowing low-rise is a no-no for someone with any fat to speak of. But, yet again, you had fallen under the spell of yet another one of those temptresses meant only for the modelesque, falsely lead to believe that you could pull it off. Yeah, right. Through with the first blue-collar criminal, you snatch the next from its hanger. These are high-rise, you make sure of that. Dark rinse, almost black. Wide-leg, boot-cut. Old lady jeans, in your opinion. You close your eyes, sliding them experimentally up one leg, then the other. They feel alright. You zipper, button, and open your eyes. Your legs are swimming in a deep blue abyss, drowning in pants. You laugh yourself silly; at least this time they were too big, not too small. 5


With the next pair, you make another big mistake. You stretch them out before putting them on. All of a sudden, you're overwhelmed by how large the waist is. God, you think. Am I really that fat? You slide them on anyway, and they fit. Not perfectly, but well. You don't care--these are for fat people, and you're not fat. After slithering out of these, you stare down the last pair, going down your mental checklist. Dark wash? Check. High-rise? Nearing old lady proportions. Buttons and zippers in the right places? Check. Size? They'll probably fit, you think, eye-balling them. You ever-so-carefully slide them off the hanger, and unfold them, holding your breath. They look deceptively skinny, and you worry briefly that you've fallen for the wrong number on the hanger trick again. You decide to try anyway. The jeans feel heavy in your hands as you prepare to put them on, like a diver at the edge of the board, ready to take the plunge. You put first one leg in, then the other, ready for the inevitable tight, can't breathe feeling that accompanies those jeans that always look right on the hanger. It doesn't come, and you pull the jeans up all the way without even needing to suck in your stomach. A button and a satisfying zipping sound later, they're on. You look in the mirror and gasp, almost tearing up. Finally, a success. You sit down and find that no bulge escapes. You're convinced you're dreaming--you've never found a pair of jeans that fits as well as these do. They even have that worn feeling that comes with jeans that have been broken in, so to speak. You smile, running your hands up the legs and feeling the buttery soft denim. Standing up, you take another look in the mirror, and stop. These are your jeans. The ones you wore into the store. You're caught somewhere between a strong desire to laugh and an even stronger desire to cry. These jeans are your jeans. You bought them three years ago in this very store, and they still look as good as new. Hell, you thought they were new. You sigh. Maybe you don't need another pair of jeans after all.

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Poems & Short Story by Maribel Leddy „13

Withdrawal It was in this dark room that it began. He remembers everything about this room because it is impossible to forget a place where such evil, the angel, arose-a room such as this where the cravings commenced. He was tied to a chair straight-backed and oddly formidable, and a single bulb hung from the ceiling with a string, dangling and dirty, there to pull for light. (Oh but there is no light here not in this room of hate and anger, not in this room of no forgiveness, not in this room where he said he was a religious man). There was great pain born in this room; the soles of his feet still sting with remembrance and his arms still tingle with the feel of the wretched needle. A deep yearning was birthed in this room; a yearning that follows him around and around, a yearning that taps his shoulder every so

often, or whispers sweet threats in his ear. (Oh but nothing here is sweet it is all cold and bitter and dust. There is no sun or no shadows cast but there is a grave and graveyard out back). When he dreams of this night, spent in this room, he awakens covered in sweat and his heart pounds with the kind of fear that eats you alive and the kind of longing that burns you away. It is a hunger that can never be truly fulfilled, a thirst for a drink that will never be there, an ache in his bones that cannot be cured, not by medicine and not by light. No, this ache, this burn, began with medicine, if it can be called that, it is a way to destroy life, and it destroyed mine, as I, the pretender, was once good.

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The Empty Spaces of a Puzzle There is a space between her legs, Where half the world used to be. But now, It‟s gone. She came down from her high, Her high of youth and naivety, And crashed on the ground, Burning to a thousand embers. There is a place we used to go, And I was sure it was heaven, But now, I‟m not so sure. I rose up and cast them away, Away with the wind and a song, A thousand ashes blowing over a bed, A bed where she once lay. There is a puzzle for every piece, And they were so easy to solve. But now, Not so much. It was his words and his touch, That swallowed her whole, Starting with her heart, And ending with the space between. There is an innocence in my eyes, Which once reflected in hers. But now, Hers are empty. And as we sit together, Lonely like never before, I ask a stupid question, one of the very few, Did it hurt? There is a way I see the world, And she saw it that way too, But now, She doesn‟t. She looks at me with empty eyes, And a space between her legs, And an unsolved puzzle for her piece, And says, no, it did not.

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Mirror Land Snap Crackle Pop The sounds hiss from different directions, grazing, grating her ears and forcing her to whip her head about, searching for them. They are nowhere to be found. She goes back to relaxing against two pillows, spread out over her bed and fingers taptaptapping away. Her sister once told her that if she tapped too hard, too strong, she would break the keyboard, and then it would be difficult to tap. She doesn‟t care much; she‟ll get a new computer or something. She reads the words on the screen, broken up into sentences and paragraphs. It‟s a good start, but not good enough. The edge from before is gone. She struggles through another page before a word stops her. Is it „bitterness‟? No, it‟s not. Is it „emptiness‟? No, definitely not. She thinks. What is the word that causes the rusty, metal feeling that laces through you and burns you but has a sweet, sweet edge because you‟re a masochist? Jealousy? Not even close. She thinks some more. Maybe loathing or hatred, or the feeling of simple, simple pain. She does not complete the sentence and exits the document without saving. Five pages, lost forever. There, now she feels bitterness. Oh, it‟s just as she thought: less metal and more flower than the word she was looking for. Goddamned words, they ruin everything. She opens a new document and tries to start again. She needs something, anything, even a single word will do. It doesn‟t come. Her fingers tap uselessly, and in her frustration, nonsense appears on the screen. She stares at the unforgiving, blinking cursor. Maybe she should try this on paper? She thinks of a blank, lined page with a pen hovering over, resilient, but unused. She winces. That would be much worse. At least here there‟s more to look at. She turns on music, but the words are jumbled together and she doesn‟t understand his voice anymore, even though she‟s spent the last week repeatedly listening to this song. “Mama, just killed…” Snap Crackle Pop There it is again, like burnt, crumbled chocolate-chip cookies she finds herself unwilling to eat- the noise is annoying and it cuts through the classic song. She doesn‟t find solace in the song, though, so she pauses and searches around once more. Nope, nothing. Her imagination is toying with her. The cartoon cereal figures aren‟t there, and neither is the burning, breaking flesh she imagines behind the sounds. So much for that. Her sister taps her on the head and laughs, sucking on a Popsicle. Oh, wait, her sister isn‟t with her. Instead, she‟s tucked downstairs somewhere, in her favorite blanket while the TV goes on. Her imagination has gone wild again, creating these doppelgangers. Her imaginary sister laughs again, and says something while she stares on in amazement. The doppelganger disappears, and she is left in peace. Snap Crackle Pop Ew. It was even more disgusting than before. Maybe she needs to get out of her room or something. Her sister pops back in and talks about her new-found social reclusiveness, but she waves the ghost away and continues to stare at her screen, which remains stubbornly blank. Ah, 9


if only she had a sudden, brilliant idea. A zap of a thought that would hit her like a lightning bolt and burn a hole in the ground where she could set up a lab for scientific data on the incredibly strong bolt. Ugh. Her imagination is creating stupid metaphors again. She pictures the ground, but it turns into slick, bloody, lines and charred skin. She gulps and looks around. No, nothings there. As usual. She tries again, typing something random on the page. It‟s a name. She thinks she recognizes it vaguely, but she cannot put a face on the name. She must have made something up again. Oops, she‟s been doing that a lot today. She does put an emotion on the name, though-emptiness. Although the word still isn‟t metallic enough to be that word. But emptiness itself reminds her of a lot of things-- like her little cousin. “Did it hurt?” “Not until afterwards.” She thinks there may be a secret rabbit robot trying to take over her brain-- those words haven‟t haunted her for a few days now. She wishes they would go away and leave her be. Her little cousin is empty. She fears the girl wants to be emptier. She once read a book about anorexia. The girl in the book was convinced that starving herself would make her insides clean, pink, and empty. She would be bones and air, and she was okay with that. The imagery in the book reminded her of stained insides and gushing blood, redness and purpleness, and blackness. It reminded her of chopped up food and pieces of floating drink and smokers‟ lungs. She loved that book so much she bought it on her Nook. The imagery never left. Sometimes she wished she could be anorexic. That way, she could find a way to disappear into nothing and have an excuse for it. The only way she knows how now is by sliding herself into daydream land where there aren‟t any limits. Daydream land is easily broken. And people wonder why she hates talking in the car; the car is the perfect place, after all. Emptiness. She thinks it might be easy to feel empty. Snap Crackle Pop Hiss There it goes again, the orchestra with an added instrument. It is an ugly instrument. Like someone playing the trumpet who doesn‟t know how to play the trumpet, or that screechy sound you get when you put your bow on the violin wrong, except less loud and more subdued. A hiss. She blinks and looks around. Her screen is starting to warp in on itself. Maybe she should write more random words. Now… what‟s the word she‟s looking for? Risk? Hm, maybe. Boldness? Yes. She thinks so. She can vaguely remember a time when she was bold. There were horses and claws and cat ears in that time, and she used to fling herself upon bugs and use the jungle gym as her very own rainforest. She was a monkey, of course. It changed in steps of three, she thinks. First there was her impatience, something that has leaked onto the way she does things today. She hit the soft sides too hard in an act of impatience and the horse took off like a rocket. She was not ready. She never is. Then there was the sliding, falling, sliding, and the snap. The snap was loud to her, loud and nervous. It boomed throughout her consciousness as she fell hard on the ground. She cried that time, but after that, she cannot remember ever crying again over an injury. She wonders if her sister knows this. The last thing was the horse, stopping. In truth, it was a noble thing and it could have run her over. Her mother 10


ran, her trainer ran, and then her sister and father ran. She was already in the hospital. After that, there was no more recklessness to be heard of, and her boldness had drained away a little. She learned to be insecure in three steps. Of course, she still rots for attention. She always has, and has difficulties with being subtle. They don‟t see it as her, a weed, reaching out for attention, the sun, they see it as her being her, but she knows what it really is. Selfishness, she chides herself, is not a good thing, my dear. She knows, but she doesn‟t really care. Like most people. “I’m lazy, not selfish!” “You’re both.” It was a tease, but her sister was right. She is both lazy and selfish. And a procrastinator, but she inherited that from her sister, so she can‟t really say anything about it. The cursor blinks, reminding her. She decides to write about her sister. Snap Crackle Pop Hiss Again, the sounds whisper. They glide over her skin repeatedly; a friction that would feel good had it not been over-done. The skin is oversensitive now and unable to take it, turning red. She narrows her eyes at the room. There is nothing. Like always. She sighs and gives up again. She is not as great as she‟d like to be, really. Her mind wanders continuously, and she wonders about everything and anything. Everything is anything, after all. But anything is not everything. It‟s the square-rectangle rectangle-square complex again. She loves it, but she hates math. The world slides out as she thinks, and the screen goes black, which remains unnoticed. Her world slides in, and it is everything and nothing. Everything is nothing, nothing is everything. Much different from the square-rectangle rectangle-square complex. In her world, there is endlessness and limitlessness. She is free, free, free, but she is also empty. The emotions in her world have grown dull, because they are not real. In her world, everyone is beautiful, their large eyes and thin hips, their shiny hair that is tossed perfectly in the ever-breeze. The ugly people in the real world are what make it up though. Each emotion is important. Her world is fake, plastic. Ugly. She can imagine anything she wants, from the smile upon a face like hers, but too perfect to be hers, to the gaping hole in an arm, tinged with red on the outside and gushing red from the inside. She has never seen a real one. She isn‟t sure she wants to. In her world, a gun is shot and goes through his chest, everlasting moment. He falls dramatically, the wind playing with his hair and his eyes wide, but beautiful. The sun hits his pert nose and then he is on the ground. There are people running for him, crying out, sad eyes and taut lips, rushed hands and rushed feet. It is not like that in the real world. She doesn‟t want to go back, because he lives. The picture shifts to something much happier. The characters of her dreams are dancing, synchronized and flawless as they wrap arms around the empty air beside them and smile and bounce prettily. Their outfits are short, sexy, and their legs shine. They have no hair in bad places or little, unwanted red bumps. Their eyebrows never grow to be too bushy and their freckles always look cute, not weird. She winces at the oddness of the people, but loves it at the same time. She thinks of her sister, her cousin, and emptiness, and she is pulled to the more realistic place in her thoughts where memories lie, over-lapping each other and blurring together. Faces 11


and names escape her for moments, but if she thinks of a specific person she could name them in an instant. In the recesses of this mind, there is a mirror. The mirror represents all, to her. It is not a completely reflective mirror, although she would be lying if she said looks meant nothing to her. She knows they shouldn‟t. They do. She has a feeling that as life goes on; the vainness will drain away with the rest of her teenage life. But the mirror also shows her the reality of everything. She hates the mirror. It hangs like a pendulum, but it does not swing, something that has always irritated her. A pendulum should swing. It shows her thoughts and beams them out and creates ugly rainbows and pretty rainbows and real rainbows. Ugly and pretty aren‟t real; she‟s old enough to know that. Her sister pops in the mirror, the self of her sister that stands there silently with an eyebrow raised as if to say „Fuck you, too‟, or „What are you going to do now, idiot?‟ She knows the insults don‟t mean anything, they both do. Insults meant something when insults were ugly and when ugly was real. Ugly might exist in her mind, but she knows that in reality, there is no ugly. Does that make sense? Her mirror sister shakes her head, expression unchanging. She stares at the image, unsatisfied at the fact that although some days all she does is stare and stare at her sister, trying to memorize the face and the lines and the waves, she cannot ever get it perfect. Nothing is better than the real thing. Her mirror sister is incomplete. She thinks it may be that she got the condescending gleam wrong, or her sister‟s hair doesn‟t actually wave that way, never. It‟s like a tootsie pop: the world may never know. She smiles at her mirror sister, and the expression on the ghost‟s face clears. It smiles back. She is happy and reaches an arm forwards to hold hands, if her sister will let her. The mirror is shattered with a Snap Crackle Pop Hiss She is jolted from her world and tugged sharply back into the real uglypretty world. She glances around, but knows she will find nothing. As it is supposed to be. She notices the screen is black and edges the computer back to life, muttering curses under her breath. She should study for her history test tomorrow. She won‟t. The feel of a classroom bursts through her, the hardness of the chair and the corners of a desk. This is not her history classroom now, though, this is her third-grade classroom. Her arm is in a cast and her eyes are on the pages despairingly before her. She tried to convince herself she could write with her left hand. She could not. She steals a glance towards her friend. Her friend is busy, and she does not want to disturb her. So, in crinkled, disgusting letters, she writes with her left hand. She writes three lines and gives up, deciding to sit there and wither. The crackles of paper in the classroom taunt her. The eyes of her teacher remain firmly on his desk and she almost giggles. Almost. Even for her third-grade self, the one with tape on her nails and chaptered books in her mind, that is too weird. She waits for ten minutes, although it feels like forty. The crackles finally stop. She has never felt so alone. She almost, kind of, likes it. Snap Crackle Pop Hiss 12


The sound comes back, but she does not look up from where her fingers are tapping insistently. There is nothing there. There is never anything there. There will never be anything there. She knows this. The lesson has been learned. It might have taken a few tries, but she will not tear her eyes and thoughts away from this screen. It is too good to pass up, she is on a role, and her heart is throbbing. Her brain is exalted, reveling in the gorgeous words that flitter through it and create each wonderful, beautiful sentence before her. The glorious sentences form paragraphs of made up information and it is amazing. She is breathless, taken away. This is what she lives for. This high, this moment. She refuses to stop. Nothing is pretty, as she knows, but for a moment, everything is beautiful. For once, she does not have to hit the backspace key for minutes on end just to get a single word out. She will not get stuck this time. Her very own story takes her to a time, or takes her mirror to a time (it is the only part of her that can seriously multi-task) when she was in fifth grade. She was growing up. It was their first class in learning about sex. She thought she knew so much already. She knew nothing. She is glad she knows now, but she misses not knowing anything. The first time they talked about it, she secretly chewed gum. These teachers would not know that the kids were not supposed to, and her real teachers were off discussing some new project she would hate. The room was stuffy, filled with giggles and artificial smells and the loud voices of enthusiastic sex speakers. They were learning, but it was hard. She blew a bubble with her gum without thinking. It made a beautiful pop as it smeared over her lips, no longer bubble-shaped. A friend next to her turned and smiled, then motioned for the packet. She smiled back and handed it over. This is what friends did. She popped the gum again. They explained the mechanics of sex. She popped the gum. They asked questions about private parts. The class giggled. Her friend popped gum with her. They smiled at each other. She lost her innocence while they popped gum and giggled and talked about sex. Her story is fifteen pages now. She is proud. She wonders how long she has been typing and knows that it is too long. She tells herself that too long is good, and that she will stop soon, though. She still has to study for that history test. She knows it won‟t happen. This is too good to pass up. Her story is about a sleepy boy. A sleepy boy and cigarettes and Las Vegas and finding himself. Well, she‟s trying here. Maybe it should be about a girl, because she knows girls better, but she likes boys. She likes them a lot. Snap Crackle Pop Hiss The sound is barely noticeable anymore, but her consciousness does acknowledge it. In the story, the boy skateboards and falls down and breaks his elbow. It is his left elbow and he can still write. He will never be alone. The boy remembers how to be bold. She has still forgotten. She sighs, but does not allow the words to stop. This is too beautiful. She cannot wait to be able to do this as a living. To sit here and not eat and not sleep and not think, not really, just write. It will be wonderful. It is wonderful. She cannot feel anything but the tapping. Her hands are cramping up, but she doesn‟t care. She is so very… happy. Her mirror takes her to another time while the boy learns about sex and pops gum, but retains his innocence throughout it all. She is in eighth grade, and feeling glorious. She is finally at the top of the patch of middle school. One more year and she‟ll be a real teenager. Her legs are longer, her arms are stronger, and she feels more awkward than ever. They sit in a circle at her friend‟s house. The boys are only boys she knows, the only boys she has ever known, and she feels bold around them. Well, 13


close to bold. Not the kind she‟s always been looking for, though. A boldness in a sense. They are her friends, and she can be whatever she wants. Right now she is rugged and rough and a little bit sexy. A thought occurs to her that she doesn‟t need to be sexy, she‟s too young, but she pushes it aside. This is fun. And she has her warnings up, her guards up. That sex talk took more caution than she thought. There will be no smoking or drinking or sex at this party, and if there is, she will leave. It just doesn‟t appeal to her. Her friends are laughing and open, and she is too. They talk about the awkward things and privacy and they cut open walls and minds. It is fun, it is cool. There is nothing wrong with talking. Truth or dare turns into spin the bottle, which she sits out of because she wants her first kiss to be special. But it‟s still fun. She grabs a Coke and opens it, the noise makes a hiss as it opens and she brings it to her lips, smiling at her friends‟ antics. They try to get her to join in, she playfully refuses. At the end of the night, walls are built again. When she wakes up the next morning, the feeling is gone. There was never any walls being broken down, there was never any adrenaline rush or funny, stupid, sexy jokes. She acted weird and unlike herself. A Coke can sits on the nightstand next to her bed and she stares at it and feels young and old at the same time, stretched out and dirty, but not too much. Telling truths under adrenaline kind of hurts, but she‟s willing to forget if they‟re willing to forget. Everyone does and the night is almost never mentioned again, except for the funny highlights. They forgot the jokes about jiggling thighs and getting high and drinking, the fights and the tears over the stupidest things. It is just one night, and while she craves another, she is also scared of it. Too young, she thinks, much too young. Snap Crackle Pop Hiss The sounds do not penetrate her at all this time. No, she is lost in a land where a boy makes everything right and perfect and retains his boldness, togetherness, innocence, and youth. He is naïve and sexy and he never makes too bad of a mistake that it can‟t be fixed. She finishes the story feeling proud of all twenty-three pages and a little sad that it doesn‟t really go like that. The emptiness of the room reminds her of her little cousin and of anorexia and hard lines and hard bones. Brittle bones that break. A snap is her memory of her broken bone that taught her to be cautious. A crackle is her memory of her loneliness, that once found, cannot be lost again. A pop is her memory of chewing gum while she learns and how learning takes away your innocence. A hiss is her memory of losing part of her youth, even though she really didn‟t do anything. Emptiness and bones is her little cousin, A mirror is herself. A popsicle is her sister. She likes the popsicle best, she thinks.

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Power by Kathryn Sands „13 A sense of space returns to me. I‟m standing in darkness; but I can‟t really call it that. I can see the beginnings of a sunrise peeking over the sleepy horizon, tingeing the clouds a solemn red. Or maybe it‟s the end of a sunset, spreading its last bleeding fingers across the sky, trying to hold onto what it once was. I wouldn‟t know for sure. Time has no meaning where I am. Feeling comes back in fits and starts. Stuck on this needlepoint, I can feel the rough texture of stone scraping against my bare feet, toes curling against the ledge, trying to hold on. My hands are likewise curled, clutching against the sides of my personal precipice, trying desperately to cling, like the sunset, to what I once was. There‟s wind, too; harsh, cold, biting wind that whips against my exposed skin, cutting into me without leaving a mark. My eyes are open. I slowly come to realize that as I force myself to blink, cutting off that bleeding sun for a swift instant before it reappears, magically, in my line of sight. I decided that it was indeed a sunrise, not a sunset, as the long tendrils of light were getting larger, instead of disappearing into themselves. It almost seems like I could reach out and grab hold of one of the rays of light, they were so close. I shift my weight to do just that, clutching on with one hand and two feet, stretching out my right arm to the spreading light. I slip. I flail, trying to regain what little balance I have in my predicament. My heart pounds as another part of me returns: memory. How had I gotten here? I search my newfound consciousness for the answer and draw a blank. I couldn‟t remember what had brought me to this edge. But it didn‟t really matter, did it? I was here, and there was no turning back. There was only one way down. Sound comes next, my ears returning to function with a loud pop. Suddenly, I find myself immersed in conversations, whispers on the wind carried to me from my past. Gossip, laughter, and ridicule have followed me even here. They‟re inescapable, really. I try my hardest to block them out, but the best I can do is force them to the back of my mind, hearing without really listening. They aren‟t silent, but they aren‟t important anyway. Then comes taste. I can feel the smog of the city on my tongue, swallowing down pollution with every breath I take, infecting my lungs with the dirt of civilization. The air up here is far from clean. It carries all of humanity‟s sorrow, and I‟m forced to drink it down. Almost immediately after comes smell. I try my hardest not to wrinkle my nose as the sound of trucks and horns beeping is finally coupled with the ever present smell of exhaust and fumes, and the sewage smell of the city‟s worst areas travels as high as my perch. I cough, my body wracked with shudders as I try to clear my lungs without plunging to my supposed death. I end up with my head bowed at the end of my fit, eyes locked on a hundreds- foot drop to the bustling city below. Oh, yeah. I wasn‟t supposed to look down. I was up high. I had climbed every ladder, jumped every hurdle, to get to this point. Hurt friends, strangers, people, all for the sake of height. Of status. That was what I was up here for, I remembered. Social status. I was the highest of the high. Everyone wanted to be me, especially the people who are what I once was. Lost, confused, and alone in a world where such things were shunned and dangerous. They were easily deluded into false grandeur, and they started the climb. And for what? A smog filled atmosphere, the taste of soot on your gossiping tongue. Eyes that sting from exposure to the dirt and darkness. Ears that are filled with hatred and lies. A mind 15


that is as corrupted with everything I had never wanted to be. Memories that are lost, and deemed unimportant. Disappointment and regret beating in my chest, and an ache for what I once was. The fall is a long one. I‟ve come so far and climbed so high. I clutch tighter to my crumbling tower, unsure as to whether or not I can actually do it. Let go of everything I have accomplished and plunge, fall, dive to my social death. Is it worth a few injuries to become someone I am not ashamed of? Someone who can make her own decisions, and not let others influence her? To start again, from the bottom, and climb a sturdier tower, with stairs built of compassion instead of a rickety ladder built with lies. I breathe another disgusting, gossip-coated breath. My tongue is frozen to the roof of my mouth, and I have to peel it free. My voice, my own voice, hadn‟t been used in so long that my tongue had fallen into disuse. I gaze for another eternity at the world below me, which I now know to be covered in dirt, and wonder if I could ever be the same again. I decided immediately that I didn‟t want to be. To be the same meant that I would make the same mistakes, and I couldn‟t make this decision twice. To throw everything away once is a statement. To do it again is a crime. The sun still has to burst free of the horizon, which is clinging to it just as hard as I am to my ledge. But in the end, the sun will rise. One by one, my fingers detach from my crumbling tower. First one on my left, then on my right, and repeated until I‟m hanging on by just my thumbs. I‟m leaning out, most of my body hanging over the edge. I can hear the whispers getting stronger, the wind whipping around me violently, trying to force me back in place. What is she doing? Why would she give it up? She would never actually do it. …Stupid… Their voices don‟t mean anything to me now. I spend my last few instants on my lightning-struck tower grinning, before I push myself into free-fall, my laughter cutting through the biting wind as a knife through butter. Their words mean nothing. They never meant anything. As I plunge back to the beginning, my own voice laughing of its own will, I have the warm certainty that I will land on my feet, able to break into a run and move of my own will, for the first time in a long time.

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Poetry for Those Seeking an Identity (A Collection of Eight Poems) by Eliza Hopkins

Spin the Bottle It was only a game, I try to Convince myself afterwards, Lying beneath the open midnight sky. The breeze rustling over the sheet, over My sunburnt skin, A whisper of another caress, Just as soft . . . My eyes trace the trajectory of the myriad stars, the moon full As the restless night progresses, and I am aware of my Lips As I never was before. Just a game, I remind myself, Meaning nothing. It wasn‟t real. No doubt, I‟ll turn old, remain unlearned in this art. You aren‟t. I remember a time when you Hung on my every word. I had Power over you, Your eyes tracing the trajectory of my motion, The only star in your eyes, ta pleine lune – The waxing crescent of my laugh You drank in with those melting chocolate orbs, Rich and dark as the Nutella we Spread thick on our breakfast baguettes, Your dimples giving you away for the child you were. We are older now, and our puppy innocence Still clings like a cloying fragrance, Clouding my memory. But you have traveled on without it, And left me grasping at the tattered ribbons of its scent.

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I am Faerie, not Fair(y) There were five of us Faeries – Bess, Meg, Nellie, Abby, me – Just five that summer In our kingdom by the sea. Sister-orphans, comrades in mischief, Faeries Dedicated to the Peace We fought off the insect-warriors The clicking, glittering Maja. Only we could see their three-clawed – footprints – – gouged – – in the sand – We tracked them silently through the gorse Armed with home-made spear and bow Traced secret charms in the gravel path Chanted incantations over sacred eucalyptus bark pushed out to sea From our tree-root fortress On the wooded shore. We hoped our parents wouldn‟t miss The stolen Weetbix The kiwis The pieces of Cadbury Slipped stealthily from hand to childish hand on their journey to Faerieland. They had more than space to travel through. A painful gulf of senescence cleaves the Grownup World and (ours).

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whitch she waits a l one by herself a dark storm cell of imprisoned thoughts, chained emotions ensnared in her frail frame you can‟t call it a room this place where she must wait – it‟s a tower of quandaries and quests unfulfilled by quasi-knights in shining armor – she has none to brush away the tears from her lashes of the cat – whitch she might be – subject to – incantations of her ancestors and her own mind she doesn‟t to be a l one she waits to the sounds of silence quiet buzzing of her ringing ears as she stares at the opposite wall her bed a tangle of unfulfilled promises from– whitch she wakes – every night the window is barred to her soul to the outer world and so she must wait (silence – tears – prison) until the dawning light touches the tops of the 19


pine trees across the vale and wakens the ogre of the dying moonshine

Color — In My Mind I set this picture up – staged it, then turned the camera over to my mother so I could Slip inside this world of my own creation. I liked the way the fabrics hung from the shop doorway, A rainbow of Brazilian colors: Bright Bold All scarlets and turquoises and limes. Looking at it now, somehow I don‟t fit In with all this vivacity. My clothes are baggy, drab greys – To hide my pale body from the sun‟s sultry glance, Not accentuate my non-existent Curves Like these sarongs would do. The fabric I am holding in my thin fingers is decorated with Circles. They look almost Indian, the way they Curve in on themselves in ornate rings, Concentric spheres of Blue within red, Water within fire, Inner calm within the storm. They are eyes, tempest blue like my own, Drowning inside my own untapped reservoirs of Passion, of Love. As they claim, the eye is the Window To the soul. But I can‟t fathom mine from this cloth, From a moment immortalized by my camera lens – One type of two-faced mirror. Behind me on the cobbled street, Framed between colored doorways carved into whitewashed walls, 20


A young man rides his Bicycle, Unnoticed by either me or my mother. I don‟t know his name. But do I even know mine?

His Laugh It‟s my favorite, Just a half-instant, barely captured by the flickering digital shutter – Kinetic laughter still vibrant, Quivering behind the plastic permanence of the album. Eyes crinkled shut, mouths tilted back to gulp in the intoxicating joy of the moment, My sister and I don‟t seem to notice my mother behind the camera, Too focused on my dad‟s antics of a moment before – I can‟t remember exactly why we were laughing – Dad‟s the only one looking out, Tanned, muscled arms wrapped fiercely around my sister‟s lankiness, Her skin pale from years of sunscreen, despite the sun‟s tropical fire. He‟s winking at my mom through the eye of the lens, Smiling as if to say, Look, love, look at what we have created: These girls, our family. The strength, the contentment in my father‟s gaze is a Testament to his choices, a Challenge to the naysayers who argued he couldn‟t, a Concession to the power of his dreams. He is the hero of his own private odyssey, And we are his muses. Alone on the ocean, just the four of us onboard, The future hasn‟t yet swept over us, Tidal wave of hurry, of worry, of minutes scheduled to the second, Tsunami of land Still waiting, a tiger‟s pounce beyond the Atlantic horizon.

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Ganga They say you carried Whiskey in your boot while stalking around the family farm, Shouting at the hands. They say you slept with a Pistol under your pillow every night. They say you‟re Native American. I picture raven-feather braids hanging down your back, A pair of matched blades, Straight as a magic wand – You‟re Pocahontas, Sitting Bull, Kaya my American Girl doll. Tall and proud, a noble savage. But was that you? Too many stories have Reached my ears from Grandmas, aunts, cousins, dad. They say my great-great-grandparents Adopted you from some unknown place. Everyone says, and I don‟t know. I wonder If that raven hair shone like sparks of starlight Reflected in the midnight stillness of my summer pond, Shadowless ripples sipping at the bank, Cicadas whirring, Fireflies etching indelible lines on the insides of my eyelids as I blink. I wonder If you would be proud of me, care for me, Or if you‟d be just disappointed your descendants Forgot All the details, the quirks, the expressions, gestures that together create You, Your laugh – was it Gentle, a young mother‟s caress to her newborn child; Grating, an officer‟s bark to his men on the battlefield, a cowgirl‟s holler to her bronco; Many-layered, an origami of hidden smiles, rich as your mother‟s farmhouse gravy. At least I know this: 22


They say you carried whiskey in your boot.

Prince{ss} Princess. She poses In her tower built of golden filigree and airy dreams, Alone with thoughts that Dance along the narrow tortuous alleys of her mind. She is waiting for her Prince. Or so they say. Can anyone ever really understand the Little fears and joys that fill up the Frail parabolas, ever-changing hyperboles of a Young girl‟s Mind? No, she doesn‟t suppose they can, though Through their prides and prejudices they can Invent the tale of her existence, A fairytale bursting with romance and Damsels in Distress. Protected by the glittering exoskeletons of Her saviors, the specular specter of her father‟s Sword, always a man at her side to Beat away harm with the testosterone of his Club, never once asking her if she needs this Protection. She is not as Perfect as they depict her. She has Flaws. She does not eat only Soups and refuse to chew for fear of looking crude. She relishes the Power of her mind, the uniqueness of her Originality. Her body is the quiet coiled strength of a Panther stalking her mate, the satisfied winking gaze of a Politician making a cunning point, the sultry sashay of a Paramour gliding to a tryst, the ethereal transience of a Dewy spiderweb in April. Of course, she fills her dreams with Handsomeness, with Chiseled features and bleached hair and lopsided smiles, 23


And she awaits her Prince in the golden tower among the Clouds. But she has other activities with which to fill her Days besides leaning out the open Window of her mind and into the fluttering Adventures of her nighttime existence. She is her own Prince, followed by the double “ss” of her Curly tresses. Complete in herself.

Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink I once wrote of the sea‟s hush and sigh as a butterfly‟s wing-beat on the sand, how it pulls and tautens against The firm guiding hand of the blue horizon, setting boundaries that marked off my world, parceled it into neat categories of water, air, earth, and fire from the distant stars. I relished the divisibility and the unity. Everything blue. Everything crisp. Everything alone. Everything a mirror in which I could examine my changing reflection. reflection. Now through these reflections all I find are scattered rays of shattered light, not quite illuminating the surety of my childhood. Where is my horizon? My once-treasured oneness is a cracked glass waiting for repair, waiting silently, patiently while the precious water shivers out the disconnects in drips and drops.

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Walk the Line by Emily Cardullo „12

I walk the line, The foul line, With two seconds left to go. I step behind the line, And watch the net like I‟ve never seen it before. The ref says, “One Shot!” And my heart skips a beat. The scoreboard reads 41-40. This is the last stand. It is now or never, For a last chance, To be the best in the land. I bend my knees, And then lean back, then I let go Of the world for a while. It‟s just the ball and the basket, And the crowd goes silent. But will it go in?

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Litmag 2012