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Collected writing from The School of The Art Institute of Chicago


A Creative Writing Guild Publication

Spring 2011

back (bak) n. 1.

a. The posterior portion of the trunk of the human body between the neck and the pelvis; the dorsum. 2. The part or area farthest from the front. 3. The reverse side, as of a coin.

Back is student work from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Published by the Creative Writing Guild Edited by Cait Stephens Funded by Student Association @ SAIC April 2011 Special thanks to: Faculty sponsor Sherry Antonini, Jes Takla, Student Association, the Service Bureau, The Creative Writing Guild’s precious members, and all contributors. <3

All work is copyright 2011 by it’s author. All rights reserved.

v. backed, back·ing, backs 1. To cause to move backward or in a reverse direction: back up 2. To furnish or strengthen with a back or backing. 3. To provide with financial or moral support; support or endorse 4. To provide with musical accompaniment. Often used with up. 5. To bet or wager on. 6. To adduce evidence in support of; substantiate: backed the argument with facts.

v.intr. 1. Of a past date; not current: a back issue of a periodical. 2. Being owed or due from an earlier time; in arrears: back pay. 3. Being in a backward direction.

CONTENTS: Back(v2) Nicola Tsoi 1


State of Being Verbs Jeni Crone 6

Vrinda Agrawal

Kinetic Energy




Ian Endsley 3


Jeff Sherfey 4

Some Days Are Unfortunate Vrinda Agrawal 5

Brianna Palmore 9 Vrinda Agrawal 11

The Lugubrious Lady on the Edge of Lake Michiganâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Future Coast Jeff Sherfey 12

Sleepless on A Wrecking Ball Through Concrete Cait Stephens 13

Back(v2) by Nicola Tsoi

Arnold Hunchback with backache. Backrest, backside in backseat. Backpedal, backtrack! Flashback.


Back story playback. Back then. Backwater backlands. Backbone backup.

by Vrinda Agrawal


watch the light move unblinking till the shadows swallow space

Back door. Back pay. Backfield fullback, backstage running back and cornerback want payback. Backstab.

accept the darkness the same as light

“Backgammon.” Quarterback backs out. Backfire, caught in backwash and backlash. Tries to fight back, back down, back away and back off, but is answered back. Backhanded. Blackout.

look through but never forget beyond the glass lies only a fall

Linebacker’s backyard. Tied backwards on a throwback horse’s horseback, bareback.

these are tall buildings.

“Fall back!” Pull back. Backend, backslash. Payback. Hunchback in backbar with backbreaking backpack. Look back. “I’ll be back.” 1



Two beers was four dollars. I paid with quarters, so that was sixteen quarters. Plus another six quarters as a tip. The bartender looked bored, or angry. The bartended smiled weekly and picked up the beers, said ‘thank you’, and walked across the bar floor to where my friend sat. Our table was under a neon sign and it was glowing red and said ‘open’ backwards. I set the bottles down on the table and my friend picked up one and looked at it, tried to twist the top off. After a second my friend stopped and asked, “are these twist offs?” “I don’t think so.” The beer in my hand didn’t say anything about it. “How are we supposed to get them open?” I looked back behind him, to the bartender who was putting chairs upside-down on top of tables, then back to my friend. I set the bottle’s cap so the bottom ridges of it pressed into the edge of the wooden table. I looked at my friend one more time, then swung down at the cap. With a crack the top of the bottle broke off, with the cap, and fell to the ground. A little beer came spewing from it and landed on my shoe. My friend was laughing. “Hey!” The bartender looked angry. “You guys get out. I’m closing anyway.” We got up and left. Outside and across the street I looked back to the bartender putting the light out of the open sign. It still said open, but it was darker. I took a drink from the broken top of his beer and opened my friends beer in the same way as before, this time against a stone ledge and only taking the cap off. I’m getting better, I thought. Then I saw the blood dripping down my wrist. 3


by Jeff Sherfey A lass engulfed by golf course, by a moss tree alas, squats, waits with great alacrity. She snookers tall, tawny, lanky boys, laughing at passing humming carts, plaid stocked. By another mossy tree a nonnative peahen saunters, stares at her, lays droppings, elegant and regal. And then a worm-burning golf ball rolls to her And it’s like a back turned eyeball.


State of Being Verbs by Jeni Crone

I lit candles like one would for a séance a glow to fill the drop out of sound,

Some Days Are Unfortunate by Vrinda Agrawal

Yesterday was like the fruit, rotten, but only at its core.

breathe and break voice must slow tongue detained behind teeth a hairline fracture seeps settling a divide.

The bad after taste, turned into another day and all warnings were ignored.

Were we to be ice skaters skidding to an edge

Though the promises for tomorrow may not, will not be kept, there are no reasons, just know: some days are unfortunate.

we wouldn’t be saying a word to build back the world were there road enough to drive we wouldn’t know how anymore Being as I am I would point a broken kaleidoscope at the day unresolved and eroding the system of mirrors and symmetry. Being as I am You see me as though I have been carved by a storm, Should I be a lot of things I am not



in my car until the rain stops

I would not do would not have done


what I shouldn’t.

win pocket knives at a balloon darts booth


We could, I wouldn’t put it past us

I could whittle your form from a bar of soap and invoke voodoo,

To emerge on the thirty-seventh warm day of the year

I wouldn’t.

being like


we could,

we to be a lot of things I can not ,were

Were an entire universe

we to be a lot of things

to be imagined,


I wouldn’t put it past us.

can not,



I to be a masochist,

could eat soft pretzels in a shopping mall,



you a plot device,

could go to an obscure festival

If I could cast you



the edge of a severe weather report

no more than a character


We might. 7


Kinetic Energy by Brianna Palmore

Kinetic energy. Energy of an object moving of itself. By itself. Moving forward without stopping. Moving forward moving forward moving forward. Forward two years. Rewind two seconds. Brake.

Past events are pulling taut and snapping and cracking with tension. I am pulled and I am tightened and I am strained and I am crushed by the force.

Every night I used to fall into the hairline cracks on my sheets. I used to sink and sift and struggle against the heavy sands of time. I forgot where I was and when. I had been someone different. I was someone new. Who was I going to be tomorrow? All night I struggled with myself and with who I had been the day the hour the moment before.

I never look over my shoulder anymore.

One glance in the market or over the counter or under the subway can take you back slipping and sliding through those shadows youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve crawled so far away from. Like oil they suck and drip and bleed over everything. A dark bloody stain. 9



by Vrinda Agrawal

to leave is to create a distance you can leave a person or a place when you leave leave slowly a little at a time till you are completely gone because when I leave suddenly the void becomes more prominent though it is only empty space it feels heavy.

the physical distance is insignificant when compared to the distance between night and day it separates your sleep and my awakening.


The Lugubrious Lady on the Edge of Lake Michigan’s Future Coast by Jeff Sherfey

streewhy, streewhy, streewhy imbeen someny swe imbeen someny swea a loch a resees bunnelled tanapeer. a peer the detso encroshan lershan epponna a copy. heethit copies creeuss deciley soba lanarda. streewhy, streewhy, streewhy grolick dress lick ropes lick flames spi’in thinner solsss desire spi’in thinner solsate. en curner sawhere


Sleepless on A Wrecking Ball Through Concrete by Cait Stephens

Your drinking too much and staying out too late, recounting tales long past. You’ve hosted many parties, with the remnants of the bar, dancing on broken glass. There’s no sweetness in your mouth, no truth in your eyes. Everything you touch turns grey.

You haven’t slept in weeks, been buying love in the streets, with money you haven’t earned. The cities underbelly will eat your insides, but it won’t be substantial enough. It’ll need a drink, so you’ll have one too. What hurt can one more do? A man’s doomed to repeat, the lessons he won’t learn. History is hardly kind.

Your life lacks meaning. Your future is bleak, but the stomach and heart are weak. It’s more than a habit. It’s a way of life. But if you can blame someone else with an affectionate tone, the ugly truth wont sound so bad. Perhaps your demons will just go away. 13


The Creative Writing Guild CWG is a student group at The School of The Art Institute of Chicago. Funded in 2008, the group aims to share experimental and traditional writing through a semesterly publication, reading series, and weekly radio show. The guild meets once a week to plan, edit each others work, and write collaboratively.

CWG is always accepting new art, poetry, short stories, fiction, non fiction, music and sound pieces, improvisations, noises, performances, radio plays, and performed scores for our publication and radio show. Submissions should be sent to The Creative Writing Guild, at, with the authors name, the title of the piece, and an indication of where you would like to publish it (radio show, blog, next publication...)

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CWG Spring 2011 publication "Back"