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Bullet Quarterly BOOKLET of seventeen non-fiction works and eleven black-and-white photographs from students of the College of William & Mary.

VOLUME II WINTER Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The College of William & Mary Williamsburg, Virginia


BULLET QUARTERLY

Contents

Panel

Foreword, opposite

Emma Aylor EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

Saturday, 5 Perfect Passive Participles, 6 Fear of Falling, 7 Dirty, 8 Ekphrasis Blue, 9-13 Volcanic Soothes, 15 Sonnet on the Rocks, 16 Words, 17 Untitled poem, 18 Sloga, 20-21 Of Oak Trees and Aguaceros, 22 Wild Boy, 25 Moss, 26-27 The Cauldron, from Macbeth 28 Against the Sound, 32-35 About the Author, 37 Not a Writer, 38-39 Photographs: 4, 11, 14, 19, 23, 24, 29, 30-31, 34, 36, 39

Rebecca Moses PRESIDENT of the Untitled Society Naomi Slack ASSISTANT EDITOR LAYOUT Rebecca Starr Jordan Sutlive Matthew Carpenter STANDARDS Ryan Styer SUBMISSIONS Emma Cleary SECRETARY Jesse Gumz PUBLIC RELATIONS Jacob McCollum WEBMASTER EDITORIAL BOARD: Elizabeth Carman Dana Rose McKelvey Tim Eklund Claire Pittman Chris Engebretson Nick Reck Claire Gillespie Gabby Steinfeld Mac Harris Adam Jack Jarrett Ley Pocket Sun


WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 5, 2012

Foreword

Mauve takes offence at my having said, “I am an artist”—which I do not take back, because that word of course included the meaning: always seeking without absolutely finding. It is just the converse of saying, “I know it, I have found it.” As far as I know, that word means: “I am seeking, I am striving, I am in it with all my heart.” –van Gogh to his brother Theo, May 1882

When Bullet Quarterly and the Untitled Society were founded in November of 2010, I needed them like medicines, fixes, ways out, things larger than me. I don’t remember so much of that time; there are no spaces between the months of that year prior in which I lived any recognizable life. These are unsafe memories, and I am afraid of them. Before Bullet and Untitled I was living and writing alone. I thought there were no writers or artists on campus for me to find, thought the necessary consequence of wanting to make something is ending up alone with it. Because I did not belong anywhere else, I swept myself a space in this community and found myself, finally, believing in something: that art, divorced from identity and written with candor and intensity, is bread and water, holy and plain, concrete spirit, necessity. In this confessional space, we eat the river until we are full. We are given permission by something not ourselves but not other. We are suspended in the specific water of what we are. Yours,

Emma Aylor Editor-in-Chief


4 I wish I wore a hoodie.


WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 5, 2012

Saturday

I’ve been awake since Half-past chicory coffee and raspberries, So are the pastries on tables, Flower cascades, Tiny stroller-dogs and stroller-children, Awake. Still sleepy, peanuts roasting in a pile, And pick-me-up parents wield sunscreen And watches and places to go. I watch in sun and porches, A quarter till home.

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Perfect Passive Participles It’s the sex, that having had it, takes a lot out of you. It’s not her face, which so obviously came to your mind, that bothers me. It’s that you, having had the sex, which took a lot out of you... You didn’t look at me. Your eyes, which having been closed, when opened, resolutely looked everywhere but me. When, in the act, which took a lot out of you, you did not kiss, or touch, or look, I understood. But after the sex, which took a lot out of both of us, you could have acknowledged that I came, too.

6 Lover’s hands under covers are cold.


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Fear of Falling

Cobble streets, lovely as they are, stand funny beneath my feet. I am only a train, whistle on a bridge, only a track, a rung and I am steady. At points I turn up the fan and open my mind. In between I wobble to the window, look at the sky because it’s better than down, wobble back. I wear shirts with patterned holes because they’re what I own. I buy my clothes with the money I made from creating summer for children. I am steady. I don’t understand people who are afraid to talk to each other or even just afraid. I pretend everything is a game and fear is the factor but never the goal—that’s right, isn’t it? (Someone I used to know would reassure me but I’m not sure currently where they are or what they stand for.) I will win one day because I, of course, am steady. I wobble to the window again and (don’t) look down. I wish someone would create summer for me—I am cold. I shut the fan down. I am a train and cobble streets feel funny beneath my feet. I am steady.

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Dirty If you slap a moth, Black-grey powder will stick to your fingers. Or I could watch it, Dusty, ashen wings As shadows on black mold In a shower—afraid to Open my mouth to steam— And its black body flies in. I could close my mouth. Dust-and-water paint Run down my lips Like mascara in my eyes. I could spit the thing out, A polka dot on the floor, And later dry, swept outside In a pile of dead magnolia leaves.

8 I’d sleep with his green eyes


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Ekphrasis Blue

1. We are enamored with ruin. Our secret and ecstatic wish: let it all fall down. 2. My favorite time of day is dusk, when the sky burns, the sun riding the horizon. I wish I could walk behind myself and look up the hill at the golden lens flare bursting through until I am nothing but one of those black silhouettes that I saw in your photos. The ones on the cave walls. 3. I long for consorted shadows, splashed from the sun. At dusk, we would walk together and watch Helios pull the sun down, light pouring down our mouths and navels. 4. It’s the inhale before the night, dusk. And it’s when I inhale again do I realize that no gulp or gust of air can fill the void you left, when you left. 5. He was, and maybe remains, the jeweled-eyed one amongst stones. Dark hair and desert skin. 6. His bed was blue beneath the dark clouds, beneath our embraces. The water, the wind, the land—the very tempest gave itself to us. But he, but you, fell into the crush and out of the billowing eye. You couldn’t withstand the pressure of the night. 7. An ekphrasis is a description of a work of art that depicts a person, place, or event.This is my ekphrasis of the desert skinned jewel, my ekphrasis blue. 8. A month or so ago, I was turning down a path on the trails that I run and I saw a large, grey vulture swoop itself onto a branch of a fallen tree. I stopped running and stared. It surveyed the area and then paused when it saw me. For a brief moment, we stared at each other, into each other. It tilted its ugly bald head when I slowly bent down to snatch a stick, and as the stick was in mid-air the vulture was already flying away, the beat of its wings like the exhale of a larger predator. 9. You ran just to fall, steep and low—and I ran for the golden rays of dusk. If only there was a collision. 9


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10. Apollo—divine god of music, prophecy, light—was enjoying a game of discus with his beloved youth, Hyacinth, one afternoon until the wind god Zephyrus took notice. Zephyrus, jealous of Apollo for Hyacinth’s beauty, grabbed the discus while in mid-air and flung it onto Hyacinth’s neck, killing him instantly. Apollo grasped the body of his fallen lover, and it was either the dripping blood of Hyacinth’s neck or from Apollo’s tears did the first hyacinth sprout. 11. The wind—billowing and great—took you from me, too. But I’m still trying to translate whether it was your neck or my own that Zephyrus’s hurricane severed. 12. A few weeks ago, I was running on the same trail when I noticed quick movement to my right. I stopped running. Two deer, with their fluffy white tails alert, were thrashing through the woods, down the hill. One of them stopped not too far from me, and tried camouflaging into the wood, but I had already snatched a branch and thrown it to the deer’s left, while stomping my feet as if I were on the pursuit. The deer broke into a sprint further down the hill and into the woods. 13. I am enamored with the wind, the blue bursts of rain, the cuts of your elbows and knees. Let it all fall. 14. Regardless, I will cover your bed with the hyacinth as a reminder of the storm, the storm that literally tore into us. 15. When exposed to pure darkness (as if darkness were malignant), the retina is unable to grasp and sense, so it collapses upon itself, it retires. It disconnects. Conversely, when exposed to intense illumination—brilliant light—the retina is dazzled and incapable of distinguishing clearly. I’m finding it difficult to distinguish whether or not it was darkness or light that made you move. Did I collapse and retire, or was I just unable to fully distinguish you from the whole? 16. Maybe I’m just throwing sticks at myself. Keep running, I shout, keep running down the hill, into the chasm, into the mouth. I’ve undergone my own katabasis just like the old greats. But unlike Orpheus, or Hercules, I masochistically torment myself with the afflictions of hell, of myself. I’ve spent so much time sitting by the fire I haven’t realized the ash on my face and chest. It’s the same ash that was etched into your callused and cut palms, the pores of your face. 10 Right now I taste like you.


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17. When we all plummeted into the hurricane, I prayed that the sky—as dark as Krishna—would roll into us deeply. I wanted blue submergence, deep gulps and blows to my stomach. The dense and hanging clouds beckoned us home, there, in that billowing, swollen storm. 18. I remember the foaming falls of the piano keys playing that night—the night Apollo wept. 19. Enthusiasm en•thu•si•asm /εnθuziæzәm/ 1. intense and eager enjoyment, interest, or approval 2. archaic, derogatory religious fervor supposedly resulting directly from divine inspiration typically involving speaking in tongues and wild, uncoordinated movement of the body. Origin: early 17th century (in Sense 2): from French enthousiasme, or via late Latin from Greek enthousiasmos—from enthous ‘possessed by a god, inspire’ (based on theos ‘god’). 20. I am enthusiastic about the unconscious, where the meddling, boiling repressions lurk behind your blue Adriatic eyes. I am enthusiastic about my ruin. I am possessed and uncoordinated. 21. Akka Mahadevi’s hair grows wildly over her naked body while she wanders the world praising Shiva. Her rejection of the world, of the self—the destruction of ‘I’—is admirable. It is believed that though her name is of a woman, her soul, mind, and body belong to Shiva himself. And of the world and its luxury, she said, “I’ll have none of it.” 22. I never said I clean off my own ash. In fact, I would smear the ash all over my face and limbs like Helen if I could, if Achilles hadn’t grabbed her hand. Yes, I croon, I am Hecate—the darkness in light, the lunar lore, the crossroad goddess. 23. Not Apollonian, but hedonistic Dionysian, with my cup filled and raised—that’s how I’ll end it all. I won’t distance myself with reason and rational acuteness, no, I’ll engage myself intimately and chaotically. Apollo mourns for Hyacinth from afar, from the sublime dreams that need distance for closure. I’ll throw myself onto the intoxicated fire with the sword in my stomach just like Dido. 12 Hush child, your ears are cold.


WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 5, 2012

24. And even now, in the beginningless end, I am still running within the flames, within the blue storm, within your faltered heart. 25. I once wrote a letter to death. I assume he received the letter well, considering the vast amount of nightmares that tortured me the nights following. Dancing wildly like fire, they flickered almost like the shadows upon Plato’s cave. I guess those many-armed shadows—gruesome, blurred, sad—were the envoys of the dance, the one before our descent. 26. I, too, shall have none of the world, of you, of myself. It’s the storm and the ruin I want. It’s no secret and ecstatic wish. Let us fall down. 27. I can’t remember what I wrote, perhaps an invitation to dinner or maybe to dance, but I wanted—and still want—nothing more than to just see his face. See the face that sees ours, that watches us patiently while we live our lives waiting, too, for his move amongst the flame. I don’t know if he’s human—with big weathered cheeks, mouth, muddy eye—or if he is divine, both transcending and eclipsing. 28. But even if I couldn’t stare into his face, I would suffice for a walk, one with no words but just distilled silence. Silence amongst the quivering shadows of us—you, jewel eyed man, and I—burning at dusk.

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14 Just write whatever you want, dude.


WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 5, 2012

Volcanic Soothes

Under Venusian, Vesuvian jetty, “I have felt no Eros.” Don’t be stupid, boy. “Have I felt love’s caress?” Fuck, drink your Natty. “Want will fillet me” Love: what red-hot, ceroplastic, fluent joy! “Flamma demanat, sonitu suopte!” How pyretic—dear god, euthanize Cupid, goy Bitch who hosts fun’s foy. “Why does not love bind me hand and feet?” –Tolstoy Passion’s ubiquitous, there’s no love lee. Lust’s one lyre with which every poet can cloy. Love isn’t lovely. Love, gorgeous razing; like lava will irrupt; Bubbly, plastic, sweet as lye, sour as pome. Lust’s smog suffocates every charming home, Love swathes dawn as gloam. Love beckons: seed vineyard in her fruitful loam. Tendrils soar, leaves green, your soil won’t corrupt. Claret grapes flourish, perfect to be plucked— Then love will erupt.

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Sonnet on the Rocks

Beneath the bridge in Montague, I skip stones, and the time runs by on heels of creek. Beyond my field of vision, a train snakes by with coal for scales. Smoke belches to mark its path. The speed of skipped stones causes the creek to froth, casting out faint circles on the rippled reflection of sky. It’s been ten minutes of this—no, ten weeks, or have days and months and years finally left me alone? But in the distance, the house beneath the willow tree is bright— and while the time leaving my hands as stones feels right, beneath the bridge is not what I’d call home. In the house, there is cake from Yreka Bakery (inadvertent palindrome), and the crumbs promise a time lapse of a different kind before the leftovers are thrown in the creek, with coffee grounds, and lemon rinds.

16 My mood depends on my drink.


WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 5, 2012

Words

I write my deepest secrets on the walls Of the alleyways Searching for a truth buried in my mouthless face Read between the lines of my consciousness— Stumble over a scratched out word to Consider the mistakes that make me sing The rain drums heavily on my shoulders as I crawl The streets mock me with mud puddles that are too clean for me to drink I scratch my name into a limousine—each letter is like a dying breath And as I fall (Stumble over a scratched out word) All I’ve written is Regret

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Handprints with heartbeats pressed like a petal between pages, full, fragile.

18 I wish this was a haiku.


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Sloga

BULLET QUARTERLY

You have heard the call to prayer five times. The first was in the morning, when you woke with the sounds of birds you did not know the name of. As usually happens after a full night’s sleep (the sort of sleep after which you might congratulate yourself for your health, your foresight, your wisdom), you are truly awake. Every sense receives the world in earnest: You hear your Bosnian friends talking and laughing, you smell kahva (Bosnian coffee), and you are tempted by the waft of distinctively strong Bosnian cigarettes. But you did not sleep well. Or rather, you did not sleep for long. Last evening, after the final call to prayer reverberated across the Dinaric alps and the Sarajevo valley, you headed to one of the few remnants of former Yugoslavia: a night club called Sloga. In the early 1990s, the club underwent the same shelling as neighboring buildings, leaving a pockmarked façade that is hard to ignore. From the hills above the city, Orthodox Serbs assaulted Muslim Bosniaks and the places they loved, cultivating a sense of terror perfectly opposed to night-life culture. Bodies stopped swaying, calls for more rakija were silenced, and budding romances between Bosniaks and Serbs—once common in the “European Jerusalem”—were either extinguished or kept a dark secret. Yugoslavia fell, and with it fell the urge—and the right—to dance. But last night, when you entered Sloga around 23:30 (Bosnians use military time) you felt warm. You understood when an ex-pat friend shouted in your ear that sloga was the Bosnian word for “harmony.” If you wanted to reduce time to increments or people to stereotypes, your night would feel long, and you would grow tired. If you wanted to make sense of the DJ’s alteration between ancient Bosnian ballads and Rihanna, you would miss the point entirely. Ignoring these trivialities, you notice better things: Around you stand Bosniaks, Croats, Serbs, and, you soon find out, Australians, Norwegians, and Kuwaitians. Some fled Bosnia during the war and have returned for the summer, but some are just like you—discoverers of an unusual place of worship. A sense of comfort overcomes you as you notice the cigarettes resting in everyone’s hands, drawing circles in the dark like sparklers in the hands of a child. In Bosnia, no one is judged for smoking. Like dancing, smoking is a relic of the old Yugoslavia—a ritual that neither Bosniaks nor Serbs can claim as their own. If you’re lucky, you will dance and 20 Watching the war happen on television.


WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 5, 2012

smoke at a table in the middle of the club, where your circle of friends will collide, pulse, and sway with other circles.You will feel a bit powerful as you show off your superior (or so you think) dance moves, but the dance floor democracy remains. Other dancers mirror your own communion with the beat, and the circles move in perpetual, concentric fashion. House music, too often called shallow and cheap, fuels this dance floor harmony or sloga. The nights I went to Sloga, I stood in such circles. I looked with wonder at the building’s interior: an open space with towering ceilings, a stage at the front, and walls painted a deep red. I felt in that space what Bosnians might have felt in cathedrals or mosques before the war—a mystic sense of belonging that is older, and hopefully more true, than the religious divide that characterized the nineties. The deep red of the walls was passionate; performers onstage led us in a prayer of sorts; and our shouts stretched tall to the ceiling, causing Avicii to echo like a Gregorian chant. But I digress. You are at Sloga not to philosophize, but to feel. Save the philosophizing for the walk home at 4:30. In the half-light, as you trudge up winding streets to the hills where the shelling once came from, you will feel a bizarre faith in people, no matter how egregious their stereotypes, their hatred, their mistakes. In the day’s first call to prayer, an Arabic refrain will sound across the streets. God is greater. God is greater. After a brief sleep, you will wake up in perfect clarity. The kahva, the cigarettes, and the Bosnian phrases you cannot understand will sound more like sloga than war.

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Of Oak Trees and Aguaceros We used to walk together in the rain, down the long muddy gravel drives in rural Pennsylvania, just listening.You would slip your hands in your pockets to shield them from the chill and I would reach mine out to wipe the droplets from the leaves on the oak trees just above our heads. And the night felt still and at peace when we were together. We would run to your old-school green Honda and sit in the front seats and I would call my boyfriend, who I was always neglecting, and we would laugh about things he wasn’t good enough to know about. But he would listen, patiently. Then came the anger. Anger for me being with you. Fear and jealousy over someone I wasn’t dating, I couldn’t date, I didn’t even want to date. It wasn’t until a year later when I realized it brought me joy, an actual physical reaction, to show him what amistad sounded like. The discomfort that lingered after each fight was replaced by that warmth, that enveloping laughter, brought about in that forest green CR-V. He deserved to know what he and I didn’t have. It was wrong, I admit. But when you and I listened to the rain falling on the wooden roofs together and talked about our golden lives, where we thought were going, the existence of a greater being, and only things seventeen-year olds, in all their self-determined glory, would find important at that moment (even the next day, we would find them frivolous and quaint), well, we felt. We just felt. I never felt anything with him.

22 I would rather be an athlete.


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24


Wild Boy

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 5, 2012

James had two perfect eyes, olive shaped and olive in color. His hands were long and slender, like the passing of a night sky right before daybreak. His nose curved down and bubbled out like the tip of a frosting dispenser. But most of all, he was always as silent as a mule, but a smart mule at that. It was a Friday when he picked himself up, slung his faded leather rucksack over his perfectly scrawny chest and ran those skinny fingers through his cropped purple hair, running away from the very thought of running away. Yona remembers it in late April, some others remember it late May. Whatever the case being, it was warm and James left his musty, pinched, burlap-colored saddle of a coat draped over the wooden chair in the kitchen. He had sat in the kitchen that very morning, looking into the mirror above the sink only to look through his reflection, the very being that was him. People would say he left civilization because he was a coward. Others would say he stayed in Gradysville his whole life because his mind was really somewhere else. Whatever the case was, he looked through himself, looked far away, ran through himself and back again. But the truth was, he never stayed. Sure, physically, he was all there. They found him crouched in the underbelly of the cypress tree crushing the ferns, with an unrestrained, wild taste on his forehead But he was not there. He licked his lips and snapped his neck. They say they dragged him back by the backs of his knees. But I don’t believe it. All along, they left him in that forest of pale, wooden stakes, nestled among lush, green carpet, only to be forgotten and content. I know it is so. Because I was there.

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Moss

Have I always hated? Have I never loved? Truly, I may have never. Not in that way, at least. I’ve been in love, yes. With a dog. With a mirror. With a brick wall.

Like playing sewy, But when you throw the ball It just comes right back to you. Try again. Another target. What about dropping the ball and walking away? I’m not sure I could handle the lonesome thud of a stranger pegging things at my wall. It is not silence, at least. So I could just play poker alone. One-fifth of me would win every time. But I’d rather find that opponent. Someone to hedge my bets against, an eye from which to hide my hand. Someone to deal the cards, at least.

26 Success will be my middle finger.

I’m like a champion fencer. So swift and agile is his sword that no challenger will rise. His shoulders burdened by shameful talent, as his tenure awaits its rival. It never comes. Perhaps, it never will. His name will be recorded, his fate unchanged. Until he spars with a straw man.


WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 5, 2012

And when he parries, he falters, swings left and nearly misses the Duchess, only to filet himself. Then it’s over. A world of anguish squirms from his gills, and he can finally breathe without the mask. His final partner, the soft summer air cooling his wounds, taking in the steam. It is a partner, at least. There are women in studio apartments with mascara streaming down their faces, All sodded, and sappy, and filthy. Her grace all tied up in one man, waiting for his thumbs to wipe her charcoal tears. Mein kampf is deeper. It is not uncertainty for want of love. This is my hate, sprung from God knows where. I don’t think they would understand, I think their eyelashes are too dense, A bamboo thicket on their vision. Which, if clear, would tell their inner vaudevilles that an acquittal is in order. That it’s not worth it. I see the truth, at least. Was it always this green? Or did I let it fester, as mossy patches do? Until it covered everything, Like Kudzu, killer of the South. It’s all engulfed now; pointing North. Saying, move along, The next camp is brighter. There are colors there that you can’t even imagine; All here is out-grown. All here is moss.

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WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 5, 2012

The Cauldron, from Macbeth Un-cleaned stage prop; London, 1608

“Boiling can’t be undone. Sex, inchoate— Throwing hexed menagerie to bubbles, As if burning could brew more than troubles, Though virgins could stew the whole butcher shop, No spirit will eat droll cut of worship. Drinking foul broth to show them bound futures, As if seeing wound will sew them sound sutures; Though love’s fire makes tender,Youth, beware—heat Braises till nothing binds bones to their meat. Animals, they slosh within my iron, Make slaughter like carcass slain by lion; Young loves will never wait, till they see blood, But blood’s too late: the harm is firm and good.”

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WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 5, 2012

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Against the Sound It’s hard to describe my first experience with storms. All I remember are the countless nights I woke up to the roars at my window and how I quickly rolled onto my stomach, out of bed, and onto my mother’s bedroom floor. I used to scrunch myself as low as possible between the wall and her wooden bedframe in attempt to hide from the dances of lightning. If the storm frightened me intensely, I would cry soundlessly—mouth gaping, wet face—as I poked at my mother’s shoulder. She would wake up and either put me back into my own bed, sitting on its corner until I fell back to sleep, or just throw back her own covers and tell me to snuggle in. But even if there actually wasn’t a storm and all I felt was the tumbling of heat lightning, it was the dark, the quiet stillness of the house that frightened me. It’s strange how at night everything became washed in blue, from the pouring moonlight, but I feared getting out of my bed because I thought something could be looming in the corner, down the hall, around the kitchen. I just knew something had crept into the house and now waited for me to trot from my side of the hallway to my mother’s. I think this fear may have stemmed from my brother. He always slept like a dog while I tossed in my bed, or shifted between the wall and my mother’s bed frame. Once, I remember he and I got into a fight and he shoved me into mother’s long, narrow closet. “You’re not coming out, ever!” he shouted before slamming the door and snapping off the light. At first I shouted, and cried, and tripped all over my mother’s shoes while my brother cackled and howled. But then I remember kneeling in the corner, below my mother’s church gowns, and just falling asleep on the floor. She was furious when I told her what he did to me. I remember her following him into our room and punishing him. I cried for him and I feared my mother—feared 32 Chinese food and sex and netflix


WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 5, 2012

the punishment behind our bedroom door—but he deserved it, I guess. She scowled him that night at dinner while she unfolded her napkin and snapped at him for not finishing his lasagna. Whenever I wake up in the middle of the night, I sit straight up in my bed and look across the room. The windows stare back at me, frigid and blank. The soft rays barely pour past the sill into the room. When I hear the clinging of clouds, the deep, glottal roll of the sky, my stomach heaves and all I could do was exhale heavily. Everything is slow and bigger. It always seemed as if the rain fell the heaviest whenever we were driving to Maryland to visit my mother’s family for the holidays. Once the sheets were really thick and I could barely see the headlights in front of us. I put my hands together and closed my eyes. “Why are you praying?” my mother asked, quickly glancing from the wheel. I prayed because I didn’t want us to get into an accident. I prayed because I wanted us to make it for Thanksgiving. Because I wanted to survive. And I guess that’s the root of all of this—survival. What’s more terrifying than a thunderstorm is a hurricane, and I had no idea what to expect before my first experience. My mother had bought canned food, candles, coloring books, flashlights, and called her family—everything seemed too big, too grown and looming for me to really understand. It all started with wind, great wind that whistled and tore at the side railings of our house, my mother’s garden, the dog house next door. Then the rain. It fell rapidly and flooded part of our neighborhood, drenched parts of our burgundy carpet. 33


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“The easiest thing to do is just sleep,” my mother said after putting down another layer of towels at the front and back door. “Sleep, and it’ll be over before you know it.” So that’s what I did and am still trying to do. There’s something deep and hollow that echoes for me to seek refuge between the flickers of light, between the walls. The world is quiet here, the void calls. When 34 Despair appears soon after cookies disappear.


a storm hits I find myself at the windows with my fingers on the damp glass trying to connect to clash of it all, to the familiarity of the uncontrollable. The gusts still pulse in my room, in my heart, and it’s between the intermittent beats that I see myself faltering. During the last hurricane, I waited for the eye so I could walk outside and explore. The world was silent under the wind’s whispers. The sky swirled and billowed like the steam of boiling water. I slipped into a part of the bigger sense, the ritualistic tandava that creates, maintains, dissolves. Rain soaked through my shirt, my feet sifted through the mud, lightning fell nearby. I was witness and exposed between the dark and the light, the cloth and the flesh. My host and I sought refuge in each other from the storm—the lightning sharp, bitter, lustful—and our eyes only met in the flashes, as if we were searching for ourselves between the landings. I felt him sit up in bed. The sheets pulled across my shoulder, and I saw him just fixed there, sitting straight up in the dark. It was then—within that swirling wind—did I see my younger self in bed, too gripped to move. And it was then when I felt the grip of thunder on my chest, the rain in my eyes, the silhouette of the same looming figure of fear, in the room, watching us from between the bedframe and the wall.

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36 There’s a bee in my backpack.


WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 5, 2012

About the Author

He was born in Germany, the son of a military family. This was in 1992. After two years he returned to Virginia, barely able to speak. (His first word was “mama,” which retains no literary significance. It simply is.) His father and mother were and are physical therapists, and some of the earliest memories he has of them is lying on their thick carpet, their fingers identifying his muscles for him. “Here’s your latissimus dorsi,” they’d say, and sometimes their first dog would stumble over and lick his face. Despite the day he needed stitches through his eyebrow (after falling from the skeleton of an almost-built playground), he was a healthy boy. He was growing, he was taller than most. Religion was one of the multivitamins he took every morning. He spent years singing in a boys’ choir, volunteering at Vacation Bible School, crying openly in a basement at a church retreat in New Orleans in seventh grade in 2003 (all of this before the realization that he was gay, all of this before college, at which he would begin to measure distance by cigarettes, and would lose his virginity in a backyard blurred by unnamed alcohol). There were times when his youth leader would say, “And if you know someone who is a homosexual, please introduce them to God,” and he would swallow his fumbling sexuality, hide it between the folds of his intestines. (There are still times he daydreams about those days. He imagines raising his hand and telling the pastor, “Say to my face that I’m going to hell. Say it. Say it.”) So that was the end of that. (No one in his family knows.) He spent his adolescent summers reading in the backseat, reeking of chlorine. He graduated high school in 2010, captain of the swim team, top 2% in the class, text editor of the school’s literary magazine, president of the National Latin Honor Society, semi-popular, considering suicide. But after bouts of therapy and coming out to close friends, he is better now, he is, he is. He has been published in a few literary magazines, won a few awards. He has been told he writes “as though you’re on fire.” He is assured of his ability. His main topics are his relationships with friends and family, because he wants them to understand him. (Said another way, he writes about them to simplify them, to reduce their thoughts into digestible clauses. He writes about them because he wants to structure his life through syntax, and because through his writing he owns them, is capable through prose of stripping them away like strands of sunburnt skin.) He writes because it’s the only way he can truly speak. (I write because at times I don’t know how to scream.) He is a junior in college, an English major. He alternates between college in Virginia and living with his family in San Antonio, Texas. His first dog, the dog he grew up with, has been dead for some time. He has two dogs now. 37


Not a Writer

BULLET QUARTERLY

I used to be a writer. Somewhere hidden in the desk of my fifth grade teacher lies my best work. The raven still sits at the top of the foggy tower. The people frozen in my words. Never to move again. But I am not a writer. I study other people’s writing. I have penis envy of words. I want their skill, their ability to string metaphors together that don’t break half way through. I wonder if they write because they want to or if they feel they have to. Or even, if they write because they fear they have nothing to say. I wonder if they worry that their best work is behind them. Just as mine is. If they worry that their perfection is fading. I will never know, because I am not a writer. I study other people’s writing. I read their work carefully digging their meaning their meaning’s meaning and their meaning’s meaning’s intention. And maybe there is none. Perhaps their words flow like word vomit. Pretty word vomit. 38 Good for you; eat that cheeseburger.


WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 5, 2012

I have things to say but no way to say them. Because I am not a writer.

39


BULLET QUARTERLY

Credit Plates Bullet Quarterly was founded at the College of William & Mary by Christina Trimarco, Faiz Hussain, Nick Reck, and Rebecca Moses on November 12, 2010. The Untitled Society was founded by Rebecca Moses in the Spring Semester of the 2010-2011 academic year. Following are the credits of the Fall and Winter issues of Volume II in 2012: PAMPHLET of five works Volume II FALL Sunday, September 30, 2012

with special gratitude to our publisher Fidelity Printing, Inc. under the direction of our staff with Emma Aylor EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Naomi Slack ASSISTANT EDITOR LAYOUT Nick Reck EDITOR EMERITUS

BOOKLET of twenty-seven works Volume II WINTER Wednesday, December 5, 2012

and with special note to contributors Claire Gillespie Adam Jack Aiesha Krause-Lee Jarrett Ley Dana Rose McKelvey Justin Miller Claire Pittman Michelle Repper Vivian Smith Gabby Steinfeld Zoe Weinstein Anonymous under the direction of our editorial panel.

with special gratitude to our benefactors The Publications Council of the College of William and Mary Bullet Quarterly and the Untitled Society are student-run organizations at the College.Their future hinges on a wealth of submissions, the dedication and sacrifice of its members, and conditional funding from the Student Assembly. Pieces for the future issues may be submitted in the form of photographs, fine-line drawings, and non-fiction to our website, bulletquarterly.com/submit. The Untitled Society can be contacted at untitled@bulletquarterly.com. PAMPHLET Volume III SPRING February 14, 2013

BOOKLET Volume III SUMMER April 2013


Bullet Quarterly: Vol. 2, Winter