Li Hall Rawlings Perritt Elledge Sale McLean Myers Ulrich Yue
Carrick Boyle Penley King
POETRY Kossakovski Moore Hall Clark Patwardhan Lieth
CELLAR DOOR FALL 2015
Aisha Anwar Isabel Hagwood FACULTY ADVISOR
Professor Michael McFee
Emma Biggerstaff Ansley Foster
Sarah Gray Lesley
WEB EDITOR DESIGN & LAYOUT
Aisha Anwar Isabel Hagwood Emma Biggerstaff Ansley Foster
CONTENTS VISUAL ART Golden Hour Leisure and Erasure Nice to Meat Fragility 1 On Vacation Tired Lush II Body in Frame Rousseau Shipwrecked thankin’ bout u
Lucy Li Jackson Hall Noah Rawlings Megan Perritt Connor Elledge Anna Sale Cassidy McLean Jen Myers Jackson Hall Calvin Ulrich Emily Yue
6 10 14 16 25 27 32 33 36 39 42
Ashton Carrick Tess Boyle Tess Boyle Ben Penley Andrew King
7-11 17-19 22-26 29-31 34-35
FICTION The Loneliest Island Valentine’s Day Happy to Help Make You Happy Burnt Blueberry Pies Carving With the Nightstone
POETRY Here The First Dissection Getting Tested Suddenly Sea Foam Mule Waste Management Pigeonhole Digging
Fedor Kossakovski Lauren Moore Jackson Hall Heaven Clark Fedor Kossakovski Jackson Hall Lauren Moore Sumeet Patwardhan Linnea Lieth
COVER : Euphoric Secretion Tuong Nguyen
5 12-13 15 20 21 28 37-38 40 41
John “Survivor” Blake studies Creative Writing and African American Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University. He was a finalist at the National Poetry Slam in 2007, has been published in multiple literary magazines including the Two Bridges Review and the Malpais Review. He was nominated for a “Champions of Change” Award issued by the White House, and travels the United States teaching at universities, public schools, and behind bars for both youth and adults. He has published his first full collection of poetry, Beatifully Flawed.
Randall Kenan is the author of the novel A Visitation of Spirits and two works of non-fiction, Walking on Water: Black American Lives at the Turn of the Twenty-first Century. He also published a collection of short stories Let the Dead Bury Their Dead, which was named a New York Times Notable Book in 1992. Kenan is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Whiting Award and the John Dos Passos Prize and teaches Comparative Literature at UNC-Chapel Hill.
Peter Filene grew up in New York City and received his MA and PhD from Harvard University. He describes his photographs as having “an urban sensibility,” and they come mainly from New York, Chicago, Boston, and Paris. He is a FRANK Gallery Member Arist, a local photographer, and a Professor Emeritus of American History at UNC Chapel Hill. In his free time, he enjoys volunteering for Meals on Wheels, teaching at Duke Lifelong Learning, and conversing with his four grandchildren. He has twice won the Blue Ribbon, Best in Fine Arts in Arts at the Meadow, in both 2004 and 2005. He is currently working on two series of photgraphs: double exposures in the camera; and straight shots of peeling posters.
AWARDS 1 st
The First Dissection
Burnt Blueberry Pies
Carving With the Nightstone
HERE Fedor Kossakovski More familiar than it should be, the photo sent from Mars. I feel I’ve been there. Mojave Desert’s iron sand more solid than the grainy panorama, but only for a second – that, too, slips away, my mind an upturned hourglass. There was a time I clambered canyons red and young and jutting crust, made habit out of place. Was it windy? The crisp gust of realizing I’ve never been anywhere but
Lucy Li, Golden Hour
THE LONELIEST ISLAND Ashton Carrick Sand-caked. Salt entangled hair soaked up with briny water, perfect to suck on. The sand felt hot and gritty. Hot and gritty skin. She could feel her skin burning and it was lovely, like the sunshine was being laced into her cells, like it was being stitched into the lining of every fiber of her being. Hot sand turns to glass, she thinks. Maybe I’ll wake up in a glass coffin then. She lies on her left side and watches the world through the gaps in her hair. She’s begun to wonder if she’s made the others up, if they are merely manifestations of her imagination. They seem less real than she is. But no, these are the dangerous types of thoughts. Bad bad bad. I cannot have these. She digs her hands down into the sand as if to assure herself that this place is real. As if to hold on to it. Yes this is real, because the sand is burning her fingers. When the crates had been hauled up onto the shore, she’d been the first one out knee deep in the water pulling the creaking wet wood in, hoping to find something in them that wasn’t there. Don’t worry, I read books about islands when I was a kid, I know how to survive, I know what I’m doing. Why had they even wasted the effort? So they could die slower? Because it was their duty to survive? Who was it benefitting? Get up, Michael told her now. Get up and help. She lies there conflicted. Apathy is a tranquilizer and the breeze bears the pollen of lotus plants. She noticed that her nightmares had begun to change. Before, they were normal, about gassings and kidnappings and frightened people trying to kill each other. Now she spent hours tossing feverishly on the sand floor of the hut dreaming of being stuck in endless lines at the grocery store, being hopelessly lost in the shopping mall. Maybe that’s the real nightmare she thought. Is hell just waiting in a grocery store line for all eternity without moving? Lilly Lilly you’re oh so silly, can’t you see what you’ve just done? Cracked open crates, wrappers and packaging fluttering in the breeze. What? she says, I was hungry. Enraged and starving, Jim is at her throat and then Ben is pinning him in the sand. Selfish selfish selfish Lily. I’m not selfish, I just panicked, she cries. I tell her that this world is not a world for people who panic. Anthony Williams could see music. When he pressed his forehead to the cold glass window, he could see sonatas and overtures. The yellow and red leaves fell, not listlessly, but with a purpose. He saw flourishes of notes in the birds that flew from elm and holly trees. Every person on the gray London Street had a song, a story. Sometimes it feels like the world is slowly collapsing around her, silently crumbling, dissolving, exploding in slow motion. The green on the palm trees are not fronds but is a green fire consuming the island, eating its way through everything very slowly. She thinks that if she could pick one way to die, that it would be to be consumed by the green fire of the island. At least I would look pretty while it was happening. She does pushups. Pushups, lots of pushups. Why do you do so many pushups? She was once strong inside and out but feels that she’s become frail on the inside like a sandcastle waiting for the tide to come in and obliterate it back to nothingness. If she strengthens her shaky. Why do
you do so many pushups? John asks. It’s how I deal with things, she says. That’s a weird way to handle it, he says. Yeah, well I’m doing better than Wendy. His face goes white and he begins to cry. Wendy took a nosedive off a cliff last week. Sorry to bring you into this, Wendy, I was just angry. They were all discussing something important-sounding, oh god Jack went back out there he won’t come in what do we do? Out where? she asks. The monster that had brought them here and spat them out onto the shore like a lost tribe of Jonahs hung from the shoals, a floating mausoleum of buffets and waterslides. She found him huddled in his cabin surrounded by soggy Mickey Mouse heads. She dragged him through thick waves and dumped him on the sand. You forgot one God, don’t worry I got ‘em. Ah, but who’s going to drag you out when you need it? he answered. The fire is bright and mesmerizing. She watches the coals light up and sees little hovels with fires glowing in them. She realizes a whole world exists in the embers, a pulsing world of activity all on its own. Highways and houses and life. There’s a world down there, she says. No one listens to her. People are living and dying down there, she says. Liz tells her that the only people dying are the ones on this godforsaken island. And then there’s Emily. She loathes Emily but she loves Emily. No not like that, like the way the weaker left hand loves the dominant right hand, wants to be the way the right hand is. Inseparable and jealous she hates it when the others even talk to Emily which is ridiculous and she knows it. She gives Emily the least bruised part of the banana, makes sure she is always back at the campfire before nightfall. Emily has no idea she does these things for her, she probably thinks I’m just like everybody else. She automatically thinks of a distasteful Captain Hook joke. It’s weird seeing an arm by itself and not attached to a body or anything. It looks like a puppet made of flesh that she could stick her hand in and wiggle the fingers. But it wouldn’t make sense to have a hand puppet of a hand—it’s redundant. I’m sure John wouldn’t mind a redundant arm now. And why did a wild boar think it needed an arm anyways? For what? Does it even know how to use one properly? Time is slipping away ceaselessly. She feels that very acutely. Before it was like this whole thing was just a huge chunk taken out of her life to be wasted, an annoyance that she was allowing to happen. If she really tried to envision helicopters and boats then they would appear. She just hadn’t tried hard enough. But now she had spent hours daydreaming on the rocks willing choppers to materialize out of thin air and she’d discovered that she couldn’t do it. This is not a break from my life, I think this is my life. This is not a drill. Jim told her she couldn’t hunt and she got angry and went out and speared three goats right in the hindquarters and dumped the steaming carcasses at Jim’s feet. Oh they’re so impressed and they invite her to hunt with them and she says no that just because she can doesn’t meet she wants to. She realizes that her anger is a valuable tool, but maybe “tool” is the wrong word for it. She sits cross-legged in the water to cool off and lets the little waves rush up to her like children coming to hear a good story. Who were these people really? How many of them were there? It seemed like they’d started with a million and now some great apocalyptic plague had descended upon them, ripping them up like weeds until only nine remained. Or was it ten? Michael Lilly Jim Ben John Wendy Jack Liz
Emily Herself. Weren’t some of them dead? She hadn’t kept track and somehow they seemed amorphous, too many J-names, too unknown to be real, too much synonymous with the island to have existed apart from it at any point in time. They were really just one person split into different parts—it was easier to keep track of them that way. She knew the important things about them like which were the best at making fires and which could catch fish with their bare hands and which were good for nothing and which were susceptible to crying fits. But maybe that’s all there was to know about them in the first place. This is really not what she thought it’d be. No romantic building of tree kingdoms and befriending parrots. Not like in all those books she read as a kid. This was mostly boredom, hanging from a tree pretending to be a sloth because they don’t have responsibilities. She rubs her hand along the rough branches, Maybe I’ll get a splinter that’d be a nice change of pace. Is it three rescue breaths and fifty chest compressions? Or five rescue breaths and twenty compressions? It might be two and thirty. Stop screaming Michael, I’m trying to think, I’m trying to save you stop distracting me. People come to places like this for vacation but the place’s choice for a vacation is not inherent in the actually place but is merely a result of the place being the opposite of the place most people are. If we all lived in places like this, she thought, we would take vacations to office cubicles. We’d be delighted to sit in traffic, to do taxes, to finally take a break from tanning and boogie boarding all the time. Michael’s body looks like a dead ghost decorated with melted red candies. Who’d have thought that trying to save him would have made him bleed out faster? The froth at his mouth makes it look like he threw up bubble bath. Death by candies and bubbles. Maybe the island is inhabited by evil little children, she thinks. Maybe I should tell the others. Ben throws a chewed up plant onto the ground in front of her. The real question is whether he knew what it would do to him before he ate it, he says. The headaches come with hot searing pain like someone is frying an egg behind her eyes, like a hot skillet is pressed up against her retinas. She finds the darkest part of the thick jungle, buries her head in cold mud, please make it go away. It feels like there are undulations of pain going through her brain, like she’s picking up forgotten radio waves, hey maybe they can use her to call for help. The gash is nice to stare at, gory sure but the aesthetic of red blood on tan skin cannot be missed. Not her fault, she and Jack were cutting wood and he came down on it. She’s not even mad, she should be thanking him. She is lifted and carried to the beach, maybe I am a jungle queen and my servants are ushering me to my throne. A dirty shirt on her foot, she concentrates on the pain, very nice because it’s real and has a physical cause she can touch it and make it worse and she knows it’s worse because she touched it. Finally something else to think about, the left foot. She lays on the floor of the jungle staring up at the kaleidoscope of leaves and sunlight shifting above her, the light playing across everything like a xylophone, shadows swirl and she’s in the center of a hurricane of trees and wind. If she lets herself go she can believe that she’s in a fairy land and this island is just some big plaything. But in fantasies mosquitoes don’t nibble on your dry flesh, the sun doesn’t bake your skin until it peels raw, your throat isn’t swollen from the heat, your hands and feet aren’t sliced and scabbed over with clotted sand.
Jackson Hall, Leisure and Erasure
She is retching and retching dryly on the wet sand, the rain pounds the island, pounds her with freezing drops that steam and sizzle when they hit the beach. When she’s done she rolls on her back and her mouth tastes like acid, from the rain or from the vomiting? Inhale, exhale, the rain goes patter-patter. It’s raining it’s pouring the old man is snoring. She wants to go to bed and never wake up. She closes her eyes hoping a wave will wash her away, but much to her disappointment she feels herself being dragged back into her hut. She apologizes to Emily. I’m sorry that you’ve only known me like this. I wish you could’ve known me before. I swear I wasn’t like this I was normal I did laundry and ate cereal and had a favorite pair of shoes I was better than this this is not who I am. Emily disinterestedly assures her that it’s okay, that she believes her but the look on Emily’s face says, Whoever you are now is who you are. She lays in the pond with her head just submerged, her hair spreading out like tendrils in the water. She feels a rough palm on her neck. She is being drowned—no she is being saved. Why is he staring at me like that? She shivers. I didn’t need to be saved, she says. What were you doing? Ben asks. Pretending to be dead, she says. Don’t do that, he says, whittling the end of a spear. You got all eternity to be dead, while you’re alive, be alive. She told Liz to keep coughing, cheering hysterically, telling Liz to keep coughing. You have to get it out, she said, the blackness in there, the black stuff that’s what’s making you sick don’t talk to me about pathogens and chemicals it’s the blackness come on get it out of you. Liz coughed for a week and then lay still but never coughed up the blackness just clear saliva and eventually red. As they buried the body she stood scornfully watching. It’s Liz’s own fault, she said, she didn’t want to let her blackness go. *** One day a long time later she glanced back at the little group huddled on the beach as she lay on the rock in the lagoon trying to remember who she was and she began to recall those books about islands that she’d read as a little girl, great classics that no one read anymore that were the source material for a thousand daydreams. Under closed eyelids all of a sudden these stories came flooding back and she could see them, their crumbly yellowed pages, crinkled thick with dust she could see the words so clearly like they were right in front of her. Certain bits of phrases and sentences suddenly surfaced in her memory like weighted corpses that had lost their moorings in the water and came bobbing to the surface: …the truth is, the sailor is really a girl and her name is Emily…insisted Jack but he landed only a few minutes later, unhurt in the sand…at Elizabeth’s urging, the entire family left on a searching trip around the east coast in our sailing ship…find the white rock I had observed last evening, and ascertain whether it was there or not Ben Gunn had hidden his boat…there’s a breeze coming, Jim, said Silver, who had by this time adopted quite a friendly…saved Tiger Lily from a dreadful fate, and now there was nothing she and her braves would not do for him…it was the terrible tick-tock of the crocodile, they all heard it—pirates, boys, Wendy…do you want an adventure now he casually said to John…Michael stood on tiptoe in the air to get their first sight of the island… Her eyes opened and she looked around and saw the single hut on the deserted beach. The clean sand unmarked by footprints. The dying fire she’d started that morning. The crutch she’d made for herself out of a tree limb after she’d accidentally sliced her own foot in half. And she realized for the first time that she was the only one on the island.
THE FIRST DISSECTION Lauren Moore I held a heart in seventh grade. Lump of meat, stopped clock, a slick weight in my nitrile gloves. Pigâ€™s heart, similar in size and weight to the ones inside the sixteen students now bearing down with unstained scalpels. After the first muscle cut, I found ventricles. A jagged split in half, messier than the image on the worksheet, the diagram I smeared red to label aorta. Inert blood on a yellow pencil. One boy wiped his hands on the girlsâ€™ aprons, and was told to knock it off. The meat almost squeaked against my gloved fingers, the heart skidding from side to side in its metal tray as I tried to steady it. If I pressed too hard, it was okay. Nothing would leak out, only the bruised smell of aldehydes and disinfectant.
Still, I tried to be gentle. The narrow muscles inside stretched like cocked rubber bands. There were empty spaces within the heart, places to fit my thumb. Ventricles big as rooms. A valve flapped wet and the worksheet directed us to cut it open. I saw the little pathway, imagined the force of its openings and closings. The gate now swinging open, unlatched.
Noah Rawlings, Nice to Meat
GETTING TESTED Jackson Hall The minute hand Is wedged between the three And the four. A sign Is hung under the clock, Reading, “Average wait Is approximately Thirty minutes.” The staff Has offered a complimentary Stack of magazines Set on the table: Cosmopolitan, Men’s Health, GQ, Sports Illustrated, And Esquire arranged Evenly on top Of one another. I reach to pull out A copy of Men’s Health Tucked in the middle Of the pile, and hold it In front of my face. Shirt unbuttoned, silk tie Slung around his shoulder And trailing down along His airbrushed abdomen, the model Poses before a backdrop Of pure white, interrupted With typeface previewing tips On heart health, winter style, And relationship advice. His thumb Is hooked inside His black Levi’s. Flipping Through the articles, I halt at an editorial On fantasies, then run My index judiciously along The text, following The story of a man And a woman, while I cross, and then Uncross, my legs.
Megan Perritt, Fragility 1
“Can you help me in here Patricia? It’s not doing what I want it to do,” the new lab technician said. She’s referring to my vein. My vein is being uncooperative. Not enough blood is coming out. She’s been tapping on my veins for the past five minutes, tying and retying the tourniquet around my upper arm. “Your veins are just so tiny, honey.” Patricia, a large woman with too-red lipstick on, comes into the room, chewing and swallowing the remainder of something, which I find troubling. I don’t think she should be eating right now. “Alright, yeah. Unfortunately, I’m just going to have to this again. You okay, sweetie?” I nod, sort of. I’m not good at having people insert and reinsert needles into my veins. It’s one of my worst qualities. I’m working on it. She removes the needle, reties the tourniquet, straightens my arm, and helps my fingers into a fist. I turn my head away as she gently rubs a disinfectant onto the area awaiting a puncture wound. “Sorry. I’m a wimp.” “You’d be surprised how wimpy people can get,” Patricia says. “The bigger the man, the bigger the show.” I turn my head back around prematurely. The needle is out of my arm but the vial of my blood is in Patricia’s hand—still in sight. She’s holding my blood. It’s darker than I remember it being—or think of it as being. It looks heavier than I know it is. There’s a tray of vials all filled with other people’s blood on the counter near the sink. I watch as the vial with my blood gets added to the tray. All the blood looks the same even though it’s not. I imagine the blood next to mine belonging to a middle aged man. He has abnormal hemoglobin levels. The blood next to his belongs to a little girl with high blood glucose—hyperglycemia. Someone’s blood is going to show anemia and someone’s white blood cell count means cancer. My doctor will call me to confirm that my cholesterol is still high. But all of the blood—stacked close together, nearly touching—looks the same. I wonder what happens to all of the blood after it gets tested. There’s a bin in the corner labeled “medical waste.” Does whatever that’s left of our blood after it goes to the lab wind up somewhere like that? It’s almost romantic—the idea of the plasma and cells of complete strangers getting mixed together. Chemistry. “Happy Valentine’s Day,” Patricia calls out to me as I leave the office. I pass a large, tough-looking man on the way out with a long, gray beard. He’s wearing a NASCAR jacket and holding a vase filled with red roses. I can hear Patricia’s squeal of excitement as I shut the door behind me. I have two more appointments today—all routine check ups. I’m not sure how it worked out this way. Next is the dermatologist. I’m the youngest in the lobby by 40 years. There are six of us waiting for our names
to be called. The man beside me is talking to me about some problems at his church. He needs to get there soon because there’s no one there to meet the men who are supposed to fix the roof. The church has a leaky roof. I tell him I’m sorry to hear that and that I hope he gets out of here soon, and I mean it. He thanks me and I sneeze and he offers me a tissue from the box on the table in front of us and I thank him. There’s a woman sitting across from us with white, wispy hair and a cane that’s starting to talk to everyone collectively about her daughter. “My daughter just moved to Louisiana. You see, she had to move down there because she married the captain of a tugboat. Not a lot of tugboat jobs around here.” She laughs. We all nod, politely but not totally uninterested, and she continues. “She called me yesterday, my daughter did. She called to say she was wearing flip-flops to the grocery story. It’s eighty degrees there. In February! Can you believe that?” We shake our head no. No, we can’t believe that. “I visited my daughter last month and I have to say I would never want to live in Louisiana. My daughter has alligators in her backyard. And everywhere you go there’s this smell of petroleum in the air. You can’t escape it. And there’s a whole lot of difference between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, if you know what I mean.” I don’t really know what she means but I nod my head and the frail woman by the door says, “I would rather be cold than live with alligators in my backyard.” Everyone nods in agreement. I think that we all think that the woman with the cane is strange but I also think that we all want her to keep talking to us. It’s nice being talked to in a friendly way. “The one thing I do like about Louisiana is that everyone there calls you baby. I mean I went to Walmart and the little girl working at the register called me baby. Imagine that. Me, getting called baby.” She smiles and laughs quietly to herself and continues. “Anyway, I’m getting my moles checked out today. Last year they had to cut some cancer right out of my face. Right here on my cheek. I can still remember how horrible the scar looked the day of the surgery. I thought I was going to have to wear a mask for the rest of my life. But it’s healed quite well, hasn’t it?” She gets up from her seat and walks around to each of us to show off her scar. It’s about three inches long—right across her left cheek. When she gets to where I’m sitting and bends down to show me her face, I smile and tell her that I can hardly see it. “It looks great,” I say. And I mean it. I want to compliment her. I want to make her feel good. A nurse comes out and calls my name and I leave the lobby with her. She tells me to have a seat on the exam table and I do. The doctor will be right in, she says. And he is. He checks my face first, using a magnifying tool. I notice how strange it feels having someone examine me so closely. I’m not sure what to do with my eyes but I decide to just stare back at him. Next, he asks me to pull down my shirt. He needs to check my chest. Exposing myself to my male doctor feels safer and more intimate than it should. There’s a new mole there, he says, but it doesn’t look problematic. He pulls up the back of my shirt to look at my back. It looks good, he says. “Everything looks good.” There are bowls of conversation hearts in the lobby of the dentist’s office, which seems contradictory but, in reality, is actually a brilliant ploy. I give in and grab a handful, noticing the words on one as I throw it into my mouth: “Why not?”
A cheerful woman in pink scrubs calls me out of my seat and brings me back to pick out the flavor of toothpaste I’d like to be used during my cleaning. Next, she lets me choose what channel I’d like to watch on the television hanging from the ceiling. I can tell she’s enjoying listening to whatever talk show is playing so I tell her that this channel is fine. “What beautiful teeth you have,” she says to me as she scrapes away the tartar and plaque. Does she mean to reference Little Red Riding Hood? She didn’t have to say that. She’s cleaning my teeth and complimenting them simultaneously. She didn’t have to say that. She asks me how my day is going as she holds a tube in my mouth that will suck my spit away. She seems to be genuinely interested. She massages my gums after she flosses in between my teeth, scolding me sweetly for failing to do so myself. I ask her how she’s celebrating Valentine’s Day and she points to a picture on the wall of two young, laughing boys—they have their arms around each other and are holding dripping popsicles. “We’re going to see a movie,” she says, smiling. I smile back as she hands me a toothbrush. And even though I’m not really happy, I mean it when I smile. I really do. Max is coming over when he gets off work. It will be late—after dinner. He’s sorry. I take a shower and blow-dry my hair and put on makeup and pick out a dress. I don’t know why. We aren’t going anywhere. We aren’t going to do anything. He called earlier to tell me he will have already eaten. He’s sorry. It’s okay. We aren’t really even together. Not anymore. We aren’t together but we are going to be together tonight. It’s complicated, I tell my friends. It’s okay, I tell myself. I don’t think that either of us wants to be together but we don’t want to be alone even more. While I wait for Max, I brush my teeth twice. I stand in the bathroom rubbing my tongue against my teeth, amazed and how smooth they feel. I smile into the mirror. The dental hygienist was right. I do have nice teeth. They’re not perfect but they’re straight enough and white enough. Nice enough. I go to the living room and sit on the couch. I pull off the Band-Aid that Patricia left on the crook of my arm. There’s a circle of blood on the soft side of the Band-Aid and a small red dot on my arm from where the needle was. There’s already a bruise. I pick up a magazine from the coffee table. There’s an article on the upcoming Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans. I wonder if the tugboat captain and his flip-flop wearing wife will be going. I wonder what they’re doing tonight. Max knocks on the door and I let him in. He’s smiling. I’m not sure if I am. I mean to smile. His hands are behind his back. He yells surprise, jokingly, pretending to be embarrassed, as he hands me a flower he’s taken from the vase in the apartment lobby. “Sorry,” he says, but he’s not. “That’s sweet,” I say, but it’s not. He asks me how my day was and I ask him how his was but we don’t mean it. He pulls me in close to him. Our faces are almost touching—he’s examining my face but in a greedy, detached way. We kiss and, through comparison, I’m reminded of how thoroughly my teeth have been cleaned today. Max unzips and slips off my dress that I’ve just put on. It’s new—red, but darker than I remember it being in the store. He hasn’t noticed. It’s okay. I hesitate, briefly. “You okay?” I’m not good at this. I’m not good at this anymore.
SUDDENLY Heaven Clark The backyard Dogwood bloomed just in time for your birthday. I rest my spine against thin bark, leaning my head back as my eyes close and I drift— thinking of tightly pinned curls, back when I’d watch you smooth on dark lipstick and pale pantyhose, taking notes for my own 30’s. As the branched birds sing, I remember your voice, slow and alto, projecting Billy Ocean through the wooden panels of our one-story home and slowly fading into the breeze is the musk of your perfume, covering Saturday mornings’ sweat and pine-sol. I lose the scent between the flowers.
SEA FOAM Fedor Kossakovski Not ghosts exactly, more bones, osteoporotic, no longer bearing weight of water, fossils of the waves that thinned too far, flesh stripped away – the sea foam’s fogging up the beach. It’s gripped by some ectoplasmic dance as if, at any moment, the spume will flick from gobbet to amoeba, slime mold, mollusk maybe, roll up the dunes, establish laws and cities, grow cynical and, finally, return to see the sea, to walk the beach, step briskly over foam. Behind me, plumes teeter over cliffs of footprints for just a glimpse – ancestral brine washes both away.
HAPPY TO HELP MAKE YOU HAPPY
Underneath his red, smock-like apron, the cashier wore a long sleeved t-shirt. I couldn’t really make out much of what was on the shirt but I could tell it was a superhero. Not one of the main ones—I would have recognized the character if it was Batman or something—it was some obscure one that you’d have to have scrounged through stacks of comic books to know. Or maybe he was just being ironic or something and had gotten the shirt from a thrift store and had no real connection to the character at all. Who knows? The boy, about my age or maybe a year or two younger, slid the bottle of face wash that promised to rid your face of acne without clogging up your pores or drying out your skin over the scanner and tossed it into the plastic bag that was almost full. “Hey, when did supermarket folks stop asking if we had a preference of paper or plastic,” I asked. “I don’t know,” the boy answered. “Do you want paper instead?” “No,” I said. “I don’t care. I was just wondering.” I looked at the boy’s nametag before I walked out of the store. His name, Chuck, was written in big block letters and underneath his name there was a smiley face and, written in a cursive font, the phrase, “Happy To Help Make You Happy!” I knew that I wouldn’t ever see Chuck again. And that was okay with me. Isn’t that strange? I talked, however briefly, to this kid and I found out his name but I knew nothing about him and I’ll never see him again and I’ll never find out what will become of him. Isn’t that strange? I mean isn’t that just bizarre? It’s like when you’re on the bus and you’re sitting next to some person and you’re smelling their smell and watching them read some magazine or book or you’re listening to them talk on the phone to someone or you’re noticing them pick at their split ends or something. The bus, eventually, comes to your stop or the bus comes to their stop and one of you gets off the bus and then you never see each other again and you know you’ll never see each other ever again and that knowledge doesn’t even make you sad. Sometimes, when I think about things like this for a long time, I just get really uncomfortable and have to think of something else really quickly. I also sometimes worry that I am the only person who even thinks about things like this. Sometimes I worry that all the people I know just think stupid things all day long. For example, the other day at school, my friend asked me if I knew that it was a scientifically proven fact that men have an innate attraction to women who have a specific waist to hip length ratio because it signifies how fertile they are or something. Then, my friend said that, after she had found this out, she had looked at herself in the mirror for a while in order to decide whether her ratio was biologically attractive. She was just curious, she said. This friend of mine isn’t even stupid. I mean, she’s really quite smart. So I just don’t understand why she spends her time thinking about stuff like this. Who knows? It’s not that I don’t care about whether boys find me attractive or not, because I do. Back at school, I used to find myself dreaming up these bizarre dream-like fantasies while sitting in the library, waiting for inspiration to strike me as I tried to write a paper. Some really good-looking boy would plop down in the cubicle next to me and comment that he loved my shoes. Then we’d realize we were perfectly compatible and really a perfect match. So, it’s not that I haven’t thought my fair share of silly, juvenile thoughts. It’s just
that I think that I’ve come to realize there are more important and worthwhile things to think about. The first Sunday I was home from school, we went to church because my mother wanted me to “regain a sense of normalcy.” We went to an episcopal church and in the Episcopal Church there is a lot of standing and kneeling and there is communion every Sunday. My dad always stood out in church. Openly an atheist, my dad had always politely refused to engage in all of the “activities” of a Sunday morning church service. He never got up for communion. He wouldn’t rise and kneel with the rest of the congregation. He never sung any hymns or recited “The Lord’s Prayer.” Unlike the other churchgoers, however, he never dozed off during the sermon or during the readings from the Bible. By the time a service was over, he would always have filled his entire church bulletin with notes about biblical stories and people referenced by the priest that he would Google when we got home. He always wanted to learn more about the religion he didn’t believe in. When I was younger, I never understood this. He always agreed to go to church with us to be part of the family. Why couldn’t he just fake it a little more? I was angry that his defiance made us all look strange. But now I knew he wasn’t being defiant, he just had no desire to conform and had no shame about acting on his beliefs. I didn’t really believe either. Not anymore. But I still stood and kneeled and sang and drank and recited on that Sunday. After the service, Suzanna Harding, this truly awful girl I graduated high school with, came up to me. She had won the senior superlative for “best smile” because her teeth looked like perfectly aligned little pieces of Chiclet gum. I had always thought her smile looked evil—the one outward indicator of how horrid her personality was. Her long, shiny blonde hair that curled at the ends rested lightly on the cotton fabric of her rose colored sundress. She embraced me tightly and then stepped back, looking at me with serious, concerned eyes. Scanning me, almost—searching for information. “I just, I just can’t even fathom,” she said. “I mean, when I heard I was just, you know. I mean, how does someone do something like that? How could she? I can’t imagine how you feel.” My skin, suddenly, was very hot and I remember feeling my hands involuntarily begin to clench, forming tight fists. It didn’t seem right for people like Suzanna Harding to know about it. I glared into her eyes for a moment too long, I guess. She shifted uncomfortably, as if realizing she had made a mistake. I didn’t want to show any emotions to someone like Suzanna Harding. I had rehearsed so frequently a generic response to people’s questioning. She had just caught me off guard. I took a deep breath, smiled, and regained composure, thanking her for her concern and assuring her I was OK. That night, I was lying on the floor of my bedroom in my parent’s house, staring at the ceiling. With my eyes, I traced a crack that looked oddly like a cockroach. It was definitely expanding towards the left. My mother’s voice called from up the stairs, asking me to come down for dinner. Since I had come home from college for the summer, she had been intent on helping me get back to normal. She cared a lot. But she didn’t understand. At the table, my parents spoke politely about uninteresting events that had taken place while I’d been away. The next-door neighbor had gotten a cat, mom’s coworker had gotten a speeding ticket. Stuff like that. They talked to each other carefully, as if they believed each word they spoke had the potential to send me spiraling into a mad fit of sadness. I half-listened to them while I ate the pork and potatoes and thought about death. Not in a depressing or morbid way—just in a curious way. In between bites, I held my breath for a little longer than normal, marveling at how close we all are to not being
anything at all. I wondered when the exact moment was when the soul left the body, when they separated. But then I had to stop thinking because I wasn’t even sure these days if I believed in the idea of a soul at all. I mean, if the brain stops, what’s left? Thinking like that made me anxious. Not sad, just anxious. So I forced myself to stop thinking and I went back to cutting the meat on my plate. About once a week I would go over to see Lily’s mom. We would go through and organize the things in her room, carefully thinking of one anecdote to share about every one of her belongings before deciding whether it belonged in the “donate” pile or the noticeably larger “keep” pile. I always kind of hated this. It didn’t really feel right going through all of her things. It was just too intrusive. I don’t know why I thought like that, though. It wasn’t like it was causing Lily any pain now. Every weekly meeting usually ended in tears. After an afternoon of attempting to be completely upbeat and positive, Lily’s mom would eventually break down. Sometimes she’d see something that reminded her of some strong memory of Lily, and sometimes it just came out of nowhere. I remember her as looking so small then: a woman in her mid-50s, wearing a J. Crew cardigan, pearls, and khaki pants, crying on the floor in a fetal-like position. I would hand her tissues sometimes, pat her back, but I would never cry with her. I don’t know. It didn’t seem like my place. Lily’s mom gave me time alone in her room, but I rarely stayed for very long. It felt very empty to me—very staged and uninhabitable, like a display in a museum. Whatever memories I had in this space felt far away now, more like a story I had once read in a book. My parents had me go to therapy for a while. Every session I’d have to fill out these emotion worksheets. I got a real kick out of those. If I hadn’t felt depressed at the time I arrived in the office, I ended up feeling depressed by the time I finished filling out the worksheet. “On a scale of 1-10, how difficult is it for you to finish a simple task like watching a TV episode or reading a newspaper article?” “On a scale of 1-10, how often and how strongly do you feel like you are worthless?” “Rate your current anger level on a scale of 1-10.” I mean, Jesus. How do you choose a numerical value to give to questions like this? The other day I burnt a piece of toast. I felt angry after that. What would that be? Maybe a 2? Perhaps a 2.5? Often, the angriest I’d feel all week was while I was filling out these stupid worksheets. Sometimes I did wonder, though, what Lily’s worksheets would look like if she had been asked to fill out. My therapist was this young mousy looking woman who spoke in a boring, deep voice and who never smiled. I was surprised about the no-smiling thing. I felt like a therapist should be very chipper or something. I guess not. She kept a noise machine on in the room during our sessions, I guess to make me feel comfortable or to drown out our voices so that people in the lobby couldn’t hear. Unfortunately, I used the same noise machine at home to help me sleep. So, I always felt very tired during these sessions. We’d sit in silence a lot. I guess she was waiting for me to begin the conversation. She’d get the hint after awhile. She’d slowly move from questions about what I had done during the past few days to specific questions about my feelings. She’d ask me if I felt angry at Lily and if I felt guilty for what happened. Expected questions. Irritating questions. I’d learned to expect them and answer them, though, and they didn’t really bother me after awhile. This, of course, made me a terrible patient. The most interesting part of therapy, for me, was the lobby. When I was waiting in the small room lined with dull magenta colored couches and slender tables covered with
Connor Elledge, On Vacation
copies of health magazines and hand sanitizer, I’d watch and study the people around me. I wondered what was wrong with everyone else. Some people would read, others would nervously fidget or tap on their cell phones. Some people looked a little disheveled but most looked normal, whatever that means. I wondered what I looked like to the other people in that room. I felt like I looked pretty normal. I wore nice, clean clothes. My hair was clean and styled. I felt like I kept a pretty neutral expression on my face. But I was also analyzing everyone else in the room so maybe that made me look pretty weird. Who knows? I wondered what numbers they all had circled on their worksheets. Had the young mother to the right of me whose kid was playing with a toy car on the floor given herself a “9” on the question about worthlessness? Part of me really wanted to look at everyone’s papers. But part of me really didn’t care at all. I didn’t know these people. It didn’t matter. One day in mid-July, I walked home from one of my sessions. It wasn’t a far walk, maybe a mile and a half, and it was through a nice neighborhood park. It was a really hot day. I could feel the sweat drip down my spine and lodge itself on the small of my back and I kept having to wipe my glistening hairline with the back of my hand. Kids in bathing suits and babies in diapers played in the park’s fountains while their parents waited on the park benches nearby. The only person under the age of 30 on the benches was a boy about my age. I recognized him because of his superhero-adorned shirt. I don’t know why I did this, but I went up to him and asked him about it. He was noticeably excited I had asked him and gladly spouted off a lot of information about who the superhero was and why he liked him so much. I don’t remember what he said. I just remember sitting down next to him and half-listening while watching the kids play in the water. I don’t know why, but I felt comfortable. Nothing was romantic about sitting on the bench with Chuck from the supermarket. I still knew nothing about him besides his un-ironic love of relatively unknown superheroes and he knew nothing about me. But suddenly I felt tears well up in my eyes and I felt my chest tightening. But I wasn’t even really sad. I can only describe the way I felt at that moment as relief. I noticed that Chuck had stopped speaking about the character on the shirt but he didn’t ask me what was wrong or comfort me or anything like that, which I was glad about. He didn’t get up from the bench either, which I was also glad about. He just sat a comfortable distance away from me on the bench that we, two people who didn’t know one another, shared and looked straight ahead while I quietly cried.
Anna Sale, Tired
MULE Jackson Hall Laboring eunuch of the old plantation, faithful servant lugging the yoke of creation, of the subsistence yielded from oat and root, child hybrid of jack and mare to begin and end the familial line, a hulk emerging century after century from clay, the mule lurched forward, bearing the gravity of its fable. Driving through Yoknapatawpha, saddled, whipped, it lowered its head before the river bed, hawed to the deltaphantoms of its old incarnations caught within the current, then kicked God who stood at the side, who held the rod. Then the Lord, snatching the mule by its mouth, tore its head from the shoulder, conjured the blood into a neck of flames, then spoke, â€œAll your suns, all your moons, you will roam, weeping, among the hills, cast out of death.â€? A wind descended from heaven, and the beast was sucked into the gust, and then tossed across the earth, landing on its back along the Andes, the Sahara, the panhandle. Scattered through creation, the mule staggered up, and went on.
BURNT BLUEBERRY PIES Ben Penley Dan opened a bakery in his basement because there was a sale on industrial-grade ovens. He bought two of them and sold two hundred pies to fifty-six Fairfax families over five weeks – more than the cupcake store in town had sold in five months. He had worked in the Sara Lee bakery for twenty years, watching as machines kneaded and baked the loaves and pies. When his ovens came, he didn’t go back. A zoning ordinance ordained in 1962 disallowed Dan’s business – “In residential areas of Fairfax, no home shall be permitted to sell baked goods prepared by industrial-grade ovens.” But he ran it as a sort of speak-easy. Instead of beer, he sold Bear claws. He had placed a sign in his front-yard to attract the first few customers – “Dan’s Basement Bakery – cheap and good.” When the first day was over, he took the sign down and relied on word-of-mouth for the rest. He sold the goods as he baked them. It was on good faith and the continued promise of pastries that the townspeople and neighbors didn’t talk to the homeowner’s association. But Dan was sure there were decent citizens and upholders of the law, vying to end his unjust business practice. And so it remained a well-known secret among town. The setup was this: guests entered through the front door and followed arrows to the basement, where Dan was found on regular business hours. The guests would order their pastries and coffees and sit at one of the plastic tables that filled the room. There was chatter, mostly about the décor hung on the walls – an old quilt stitched by Dan’s late grandmother, football paraphernalia, and framed photos from his early life. The guests would leave once finished, thanking Dan for his risks and the quality of food. Often, Dan would sit with his guests and enjoy a favorite of his creations – a slice of blueberry pie. He used an extra stick of butter and brown instead of white sugar in the crust. He would eat from a paper plate and smile a blue smile when trading stories. He liked speaking of his time in the Sara Lee bakery – how once he dropped a toothpick in the dough and it was baked into a loaf. He spoke of how he’d won first place in a bakery-wide eating contest by eating five of those loaves (without the toothpicks). He spoke of his decision to open a business and encouraged others to do it. He was making more money than he ever had and people were appreciating what he did. There was a father and lawyer who frequented the basement bakery. He told Dan the traffic, Tupperware, and powdered faces around his home were causing a great suspicion and to stifle the snoops and snitches, he should relocate – maybe to a nice place in town, across from the cupcake store. The cupcake store was going downhill, the father and lawyer said. He ordered a pan of lemon bars, with extra powdered sugar, and left.
Dan couldn’t relocate because the industrial-grade ovens were heavy and he had no moving team. He didn’t want a moving team. He, to his knowledge, had no reason for one. He wasn’t filing his taxes and he wasn’t keeping the papers. The town could snoop and snitch and the town could get nowhere. --To bake the goods, Dan needed the ingredients. He bought select produce, dairy, and grains from a grocery that neighbored a Dollar General and a pre-school. A detective could use these receipts – receipts for fifty pounds of flour and twelve dozen eggs – as evidence to incriminate Dan. But there were no detectives in Fairfax – only a sheriff elected by the people. It so happens that Dan, on one of his weekly visits to the grocery, encountered a fan. The cashier, still a boy in his early twenties, told Dan he knew of his business from word about town. He told Dan that he would be marrying Violet, the girl of his dreams, the girl he’d known since grade school, and nothing would make him happier than to have Dan provide Violet’s favorite – blueberry pies – for the event. The cashier said he couldn’t afford a proper ring but he’d pay well and in advance. To “sweeten the deal,” as the cashier said, he also offered Dan a discount on ingredients. Dan was hesitant but as any good businessman, was looking to expand his clientele and agreed to the arrangement. He would print-up a few business cards (omitting the address) and bake a few of his finest pies in preparation. --It was a June wedding and the heat was stifling in Dan’s basement, what with the sun and the ovens. The cashier had planned for a large party – Violet’s relatives were inviting their colleagues. The cashier’s were doing the same. Dan closed his regular operation and prepared thirty pies. He packed them in his van for safe transfer. The wedding ceremony was inside an air-conditioned Methodist church. The weekly Sunday school was rescheduled to make way for the holy matrimony and among the congregation were a few confused parents and children. The crowd was large and Violet’s father, the sheriff elect, walked her down the isle. Her wedding gown trailed behind her and the cashier stood, with the same cashier-smile he’d given Dan, by the altar. Violet and the cashier, on that June day, were wed. The reception was held outside on the lawn. There were white-tarp tents and plastic tables and a makeshift dance-floor. The sun was bright. Dan had come early with the other caterers to prepare. In one of the tents, he displayed a few of his best pies and business cards. The crowd would first eat their fish and chicken and salads. But soon Violet and the cashier would share in the ceremonial husband-and-wife pie eating and the other guests could sample what Dan had prepared. The married couple shared their first dance to “Wagon Wheel” and the crowd got excited over that, dancing around the couple and growing hungry again. The time came – the cashier cut one of the blueberry pies and fed it to Violet. A blueberry and its juice slid down her chin and just missed her wedding gown. Everyone smiled and everyone took pictures. The couple was happy and the crowd was happy.
The crowd, now, formed an orderly line to receive the pie. Many took their first bite and returned to the back of the line, in hopes for another slice. But soon there was a murmuring, a hushed discussion regarding the baker and his business practices. Violet’s father, the sheriff, loved the pie. He regretted the main-course because it kept him from enjoying more. But he listened in on these hushed discussions. A basement bakery, no matter the quality of pastries, was unlawful. He approached Dan, ushering him away from his tent, about five feet to the side. The sheriff, now that he had him alone, praised Dan for the pies. Dan thanked him and asked if there were any more events to cater, maybe the annual police academy graduation. The men in blue could surely use a few blueberry pies, Dan told the sheriff. Dan underestimated the sheriff ’s love for the law (or overestimated his love for pies) and soon found himself being questioned. The sheriff asked for the location of Dan’s bakery – he hadn’t happened upon it in town. He said that he was growing tired of the cupcake store and could use a little variety in dessert. The business cards, the sheriff noted, didn’t list an address. Dan didn’t have an answer and the sheriff, on word of the rumor, asked if the bakery was in the basement. Dan paused before answering. There happened to be a makeshift game of two-hand-touch football just by Dan’s tent. Men on the force were playing men of the grocery. The game was tied. The section of grass adjacent to Dan’s tent had been set as the “touchdown” zone for those on the force. They had the ball. The quarterback – a rookie out of high school – threw to a receiver on the right flank. The receiver, watching the ball, ran out of bounds and into Dan’s tent, toppling the table and overturning the remaining pies. A few in the crowd rushed to clean. One in the crowd rushed to eat the remnants from the ground. But most in the crowd stood, at a distance, murmuring. Dan began gathering the soiled pie-dishes. He carried them to his van and congratulated the sheriff for his daughter. --The sheriff obtained a search warrant for Dan’s basement on probable cause. The raid, from the sheriff ’s perspective, was successful. There were baking sheets full of scones, croissants, cakes, and blueberry pies, each wrapped in plastic with a price attached. The industrial-grade ovens showed signs of use. The cash register and small seating area were just as incriminating. The sheriff upheld the law in what soon came to be known as the Big Basement Bakery Bust of Fairfax. The father and lawyer defended Dan in court but Dan was found guilty of a zoning infraction and sentenced to a year in the county prison. Its library, Dan has said, is full of dessert cookbooks.
Cassidy McLean, Lush II
Jen Myers, Body in Frame
CARVING WITH THE NIGHTSTONE Andrew King Papa dying and I cry, and then eat; mashed barley out of a bowl while Mama tends to him down below. Our ladder pokes out the hatch, bathed in smoke that billows like waves of heat, only black. Says Mama, poison makes the smoke black, so why does she take Papa inside where it all gets trapped? Herbs, I chew the wheat, grinding it between my teeth. Mama knows the herbs. Papa won’t get better, not even when the curling smoke reeks of healing. Papa is dying. Papa is dead. … Sweat coats my skin where the sun has drawn it out like water from the river sands. I remember digging, scooping until murky pools form, and wonder if my skin is like dirt. The tool trails red marks where it presses into my hand, harder than real stone. Darker. Sharper. It doesn’t come from here. I don’t know where, but it came to me from Papa’s wicker basket, the one Mama wove him. I use it now, chiseling an actual stone from the riverbank, the first true thing I’ve done in days. Flakes of rock land on the ground next to my sweat, and I can see Mama on the roof, blazing and shadowed by the sun setting behind her. She watches. I stab the stone again, harder than I should have. The groove now too deep, the stone now ruined. Burning with fury to rival the heat of the sun behind Mama, I hurl it to the ground, where it bounces among the rock chips and my sweat. I almost throw Papa’s tool, but stop when orange light catches in its purple heart. Held up to catch the sun’s final rays, pieces almost move inside. Not whole things, but pieces. … Today, the walls stink. Mud-smell oozes, slithering like a clutch of foul slugs. They mate with the fumes, acrid and stinging, burning in my eyes. Mix, swirl, and sink. They cluster in the space where Papa sat, where his best spear still rests against the wall. I watch them wreath around it, and my breaths come in half mouthfuls, fearing poison. Mama crouches in the smoke, letting it wrap around her like a snake. She lets it squeeze her, Papa’s skull trembling in her hands. She is putting mud and shells in the empty sockets of his eyes. His dark rock rests in my hands and I rub my thumb against it, tighten my fingers around it like Papa before. Discarded stones dot the path from the river to our home, broken lines riddling them like sickness. Papa’s tool is as smooth and pointed as it has ever been. I feel like I am choking. … Sun. Mud. Smoke. Shells in Papa’s eyes. … “Work,” Mama tells me. “Live. You’ve had enough time.” She doesn’t understand that I am working. Papa’s stone has hardly left my hand.
I yell at her; words I can’t even remember, and then turn back to my pile of rocks. It’s almost there, and I can see it—flashes of it. It’s there in parts. Soon, I know, in full. “Come back!” she commands, and for a moment I see myself turning the tool on her. Her who would bury Papa like he was never there, because his old spear, his favorite is gone. Given away by Mama. “We won’t use it,” she says. More smoke curls in the space where it used to rest. All that is left is his skull, stashed beneath our floor with the others, and the tool, for it out of all his legacy I have laid claim to. … We watch the man boast from the market outskirts, watch him flaunt his new weapon, Mama’s weave hanging in wicker baskets under our arms. He holds the spear, holds it aloft. Stabs with it, only air but the motion still spikes a nerve in my stomach. My teeth grind, and I wonder how she could do it, how Mama could trade his spear for a few meals. Breathing, trying to calm down, I close my eyes, open my mouth—I need more air. Still, the violent gnashing of teeth. I see Mama, fuming like the firepit as she glares. And then the bustle of barter is nothing. All the people peddling their goods are gone, because it’s just me and Mama, and I have seen what at last I have looked for. How she culled Papa: His spear, his clothes and tools—is still awful, but maybe forgivable. I remember how his skull shook with her hands, and can at least see how she might not want to remember; how she might want to forget. I touch the back of her hand with mine and the spell is broken. We move on to sell our things. … Outside again, where the haze cannot reach me. Chipping at a stone, fresh from the river. My hand falls and dashes. Falls again, slashes. I chisel at the stone, and the lines, the grooves—they fall into place. People will know after. They will know what our lives were worth. That it is something beyond skulls with vacant eyes—eyes that brim with mud and shells. That we are still alive. On the stone, I make something that they too will see, will know, and by extension know us, see us. On the stone what I carve is the sun.
Jackson Hall, Rousseau
WASTE MANAGEMENT Lauren Moore The hill rises out of nowhere. Here the horizon bows to the county landfill. Green and tall, perforated with methane extraction pumps, it is the last foothill of the Uwharries. Led by the solid waste planner, our shoes scuff on tufts of prairie grass off the gravel path. For the field trip he rolled out maps to show us all the landfill’s eighty acres plus the surrounding neighborhood, downwind. Dozens of little roofs visible now from the hilltop. He says it was activists who turned them against it. They didn’t complain when it was sited, didn’t show up to protest when it was built. But when Mr. Harris called the Town and said he couldn’t host his grandson’s birthday barbecue because of the smell, it became an environmental justice issue. Now everything’s an issue. There is a thin film of pollen on the silver extraction pumps harvesting the byproducts of decomposition, turning them into energy.
Not all organic matter ends up inside the earth. Some is recycled elsewhere. There, west of the landfill in a corrugated metal building past a tower of mulch and stacks of mattresses, they collect oysters: raw building material to bulk up reefs. Piled up beyond the trash, mounds of craggy shells, long abandoned, give shelter to growing larvae nestled in clear brine. As many as ten spats can latch onto a single shell. Can you believe it? asks the planner. Oysters grow best on the backs of their dead mothers.
Calvin Ulrich, Shipwrecked
PIGEONHOLE Sumeet Patwardhan A bird: crushed, decapitated, exhaust-fried, gory. Herding, its jarred kin linger, mourn nearby. Obviously, passersby quaver. Rubberneck. Spectacle titillates unengaged viewers: weary, Xeroxed youth. Zeros.
DIGGING Linnea Lieth I woke to my fatherâ€™s quiet voice and ran to the front porch, almost hitting her in the clumsy swing of the glass storm door. She lay motionless in the morning chill, a perfect fur crescent on the concrete just before the doorway. That hole took my father a long time to dig and I watched from the kitchen window as the man who had scolded me for crying over fights with my mother, broken toys and bullies hunched his strong shoulders and paused, laying the shovel down on the cold red clay to wipe his eyes.
Emily Yue, thankinâ€™ bout uu
CONTRIBUTORS Fedor Kossakovski is a senior Chemistry major from South Pasadena, CA. He likes his science fiction from the ‘60s and his ambient electronica from the ‘70s. Lucy Li is a sophomore Pre-Public Health major from Bethlehem, PA. She enjoys a good poop joke now and then. Ashton Carrick is a junior Communications major with a double minor in Writing for the Screen & Stage and Creative Writing from Charlotte, NC. Her ideal date is April 25th because it’s not too hot, not too cold, all you need is a light jacket. Jackson Hall is a senior American Studies major from Montgomery, AL. He’s best friends with his girlfriend, Karylle Abella. (I love you, Muffin.) Lauren Moore is a senior Environmental Studies major from Cary, NC. Her personal heroes include Ray Bradbury, Janelle Monae, and Divine. Noah Rawlings is a sophomore Comparative Literature major from Cary, NC. Walking around campus he feels scared, happy, peaceful, anxious, in love, desolate, excited. Megan Perritt is a senior Studio Art major with a minor in Math from Miami, FL. She would love to be able to eat chocolate all the time without consequence. Tess Boyle is a senior English major from Burlington, NC. She hopes that, one day, she’ll be capable of writing a blurb for herself that is, at once, exceptionally charming and exceedingly informative. Heaven Clark is a senior Exercise and SportsScience major with a Creative Writing minor from Mooresville, NC. She is an elementary literacy tutor, and also enjoys working with special-needs children. Her special talents include making fried oreos and quickly recalling SpongeBob quotes, relevant to any life situation. Connor Elledge is a senior Advertising major with a minor in Studio Art from North Wilkesboro, NC. He vehemently hates bicycles. Anna Sale is a Business Administration major with a Spanish minor. She can play expert on Guitar Hero and once cried at a Red Hot Chili Peppers concert. Ben Penley is a junior Chemistry major from Hickory, NC. He likes to go on road trips. Cassidy McLean is a senior Studio Art major with a minor in Religious Studies from Wilmington, NC.
Jen Myers is a senior Women’s and Gender major with a minor in Anthropology from Philadelphia, PA. They make noise, deodorant, and seasonal mug cakes. Andrew King is a freshman Pre-Business major from Davidson, NC. He and Ptolemy would be best friends if the guy’s stubborn ghost would quit snubbing seances. Calvin Ulrich is a sophomore Studio Art major from Wake Forest, NC. He is a huge fan of Lord of the Rings and Star Wars. Sumeet Patwardhan is a junior Philosophy major with a Creative Writing minor from Chandler, AZ. Aside from reading, writing, and performing, Sumeet also enjoys running when it’s nice outside, listening to Childish Gambino, and eating banana ice cream. Linnea Lieth is a junior Studio Art major with a double minor in German and Creative Writing from Chapel Hill, NC. Aside from these areas of study, she is passionate about children’s book illustrations, fashion and design blogs, and collecting tiny trinkets. Emily Yue is a sophomore Journalism and Studio Art major. You can catch them playing Zelda in between classes. Tuong Nguyen is a senior Biology and Studio Art major with a minor in Women’s Studies from Cary, NC. He is a proud owner of over 100 plush toys.
INFORMATION Cellar Door, the official undergraduate literary magazine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is published twice annually and welcomes submissions from all currently enrolled undergraduate students at UNC. Guidelines for submission can be found online at http://studentorgs.unc.edu/thedoor. Please note that staff members are not permitted to submit to any section of the Cellar Door while they work for the magazine. All undergraduate students may apply to join the staff of Cellar Door. Any openings for positions on the Poetry, Fiction, or Art selection staffs will be advertised online.You may contact us via e-mail at email@example.com. SUPPORTING THE CELLAR DOOR Your gift will contribute to publicity, production, and staff development costs not covered by our regular funding. Contributors will receive copies of the magazine through the mail for at least one year. Please make all checks payable to “Cellar Door” and be sure to include your preferred mailing address.
Cellar Door c/o Michael McFee Department of English UNC-CH Geenlaw Hall, CB 3520 Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3520
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The publication of this issue of Cellar Door was made possible by the generous financial support of the UNC Creative Writing Department.
© CELLAR DOOR ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 2014
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