Cellar Roots vol 45

Page 1





All content copyright by Cellar Roots Student Media Board of Directors Cellar Roots EMU

Letter from the editor Dear reader, After a year of a hiatus, I am pleased to welcome to you the return of Cellar Roots. Returning Cellar Roots to the public has been my goal this year after witnessing the talent and creativity of the students at Eastern Michigan as student and as an arts journalist for the campus newspaper. I have attended gallery openings, poetry slams, concerts, and a host of events from the Creative Writing Department. I talked to these students about their work and have came upon their stories, their passion and their creativity for expressing the human condition. This has driven me to bring Cellar Roots back to them so that they may have a chance to be published and for their work to be exposed to a wider audience. The road to the development of Cellar Roots this year was not easy but I have found help along the way from a team of students who not only made my eyes water with their many jokes but who were understanding and dedicated to bringing this issue to life with me. For this issue, we have selected the best representation of student creativity. Cellar Roots did not have a theme for this year. We did, however, find a pattern of narratives amongst the submissions. As you flip through, you will see a collection of narratives and art that reflects the human psyche and characters who are trying to figure out an understanding of their reality. These pieces will have you thinking about your identity, your family, your memories, your experience with love and your position of figuring out your place in the world. That’s why we have chosen the cover art ​Contemplation ​by Sasha Guo. This piece represents the introspection and the diversity that is within. A balance of dreams and reality and all of the parts and experiences that shapes us as a human being.


I want to thank Kevin Devine for helping and guiding me and this team to restoring Cellar Roots back on campus. I would also like to thank Christine Hume of the Creative Writing Department for helping to spread the word about us. The contributors and the team who has made this issue possible has my thanks as well. I would lastly like to thank you, the reader, for supporting student work and for letting us share with you the creativity and diversity of Eastern Michigan University students. I am honored to have partaken in this magazine and I hope that you enjoy the voices that have been brought to the light.

Sincerely, Kelsey Hawkins-Johnson Editor- in- Chief


CELLAR ROOTS STAFF Kevin Devine.......................................................Director of Student Media Kelsey Hawkins-Johnson......................................................Editor-in-Chief Dana Beyer.....................................................................Art/Layout Director Abigail Vollick............................................................................Copy Editor Kayla Rose Robison................................................Submission Coordinator Rheanna Reeder.......................................................................Fiction Editor Al Davey...............................................................Non-fiction/Poetry Editor Maria Kornacki...................................................................Visual Art Editor Hannah Zwolensky...................................................Performance Art Editor .............................................................................Assistant Visual Art Editor Gary Simmons..................................................................Film/Music Editor .............................................................................Assistant Visual Art Editor Emmanuel Bates.............................................Event/Marketing Coordinator Josi Ezinga............................................................Social Media Coordinator Carly Grills..................................................................................Web Editor .....................................................................................................Proofreader Cashmere Morley.....................................................Head Graphic Designer Smrithi Srinivasan............................................................Editorial Assistant Chloe McCrystal.......................................................Assistant Poetry Editor Samantha DeRosia...................................................Assistant Fiction Editor


TABLE OF CONTENTS POETRY Dixie Cup.....................................................................................................6 Maternal Instincts.........................................................................................8 Lighthouse..................................................................................................17 Colors of the Night.....................................................................................26 Adelaida Ivanovna......................................................................................30 Seasons of Humanity..................................................................................40 The World Overwhelming Entry #38.........................................................53 The World Overwheming Entry #45..........................................................54 Domesticated..............................................................................................59 Will-o-Whisperer........................................................................................76 He’s Mine...................................................................................................83 How to Kiss the Moon...............................................................................91 Frustrations of the Wind...........................................................................103 The Answer is D.......................................................................................104 Success.....................................................................................................106 PROSE Real Man....................................................................................................10 Did You Ever Stop and Think.....................................................................19 Blueberry Tea.............................................................................................29 Pacing.........................................................................................................32 Grandpa’s House........................................................................................42 Sands of Time............................................................................................55 The Good Samaritian..................................................................................61 En Masse....................................................................................................66 Next Tuesday..............................................................................................78 Bows and Arrows.......................................................................................87 My Red Wedding........................................................................................93


TABLE OF CONTENTS CONTTINUED ART Our Bones.....................................................................................................7 Queendom.....................................................................................................9 Define Masculinity......................................................................................16 Blue No. 2..................................................................................................18 Head in the Clouds.....................................................................................25 Kissed by Yellow Fever..............................................................................28 First Impressions.........................................................................................31 Mind Trick..................................................................................................39 Ppl..............................................................................................................41 Little America.............................................................................................52 Sundry.........................................................................................................58 Bathing Black Girl.....................................................................................60 More Than Tuesday’s Dinner.....................................................................65 Dirt.............................................................................................................73 Drip Drip Parting and Pulling....................................................................74 Striking in Chiffon.....................................................................................77 Contemplation............................................................................................82 Peculiar Happenstance...............................................................................90 Mellifluous................................................................................................102 MUSIC EMU Express.............................................................................................75


Dixie Cup Can language ever explain? Like taking a dixie cup to the ocean Having the six ounces of salt water to explain Looking at the endless Illusion of infinite horizon. Sure the shore is beyond at other side.

By Matthew Scicluna

Six ounces of water to describe Sea foam green, monochromatic blues Cranial brain, fat and wet, Ecosystem of creatures working together, Working against, plants and pests Vast depth no light at the floor Black sight, a bed of origin Long billed birds Prey on the surface Searching for sustenance. Oil spilt, obsidian Thick globs suffocating, Precious little things. Clean was pre-human. How heavy can that six ounces of water be Joined by the other oceana Submarines succumb to the pressure tempting is the exploration of the bottom. Ask me to say something about myself I gargle, foam at the mouth. Gasp, a dry drowning


Our Bones

Gina Hewitt


Maternal Instincts By Rheanna Reeder I am the mother of words, letters don’t dare settle in the confines of my throat and find a home but rather march out on the runway that is my wisdom, formatted to fit in the edges of one’s mind so perfect by the weaving of my long, withered hands. I curse the children of mine that dare to droop upon the skin of another’s cupid’s bow because I carried the curves of the world injustices against my twisted spine for too many years before the blood and sweat of my body traveled around the Earth enough times for your alphabet to be birthed from my vision for savior, and I didn’t lose myself for others to lose their nerve. I am the reason the cavemen sang and loved and why lies seem to make up more of the atmosphere than oxygen. I have watched my creations save and slaughter men, leave them wounded beyond mortal repair, but I still hold them to the tattered shreds of my leftover heart to remind them of the power inside their bitter curves and sweet sounds as they dance their way across the misfortune of our endless circles of life.



Bria Erby


Real Man

By Christian Nelson

The sun hadn’t been up for more than two minutes and Reginald and his father were up to greet it. His father was much more welcoming to the soft rays of the star than Reginald could ever be. How someone could be so happy to be awake before the birds, Reginald would never understand. Yet Reginald’s grievances seemed to never reach his father. So, they started their daily routine. Reginald washes all the the dishes in the shop. They’re not dirty because they get washed the night before, like always. But Reginald’s father values a pristine kitchen. As a result, the counters and the floors and the tables were scrubbed clean after the dishes were done, and the counters and the floors and the tables would be scrubbed once more before opening. This was the adventurous life that Reginald led. “Don’t forget the windows, son,” said his father while he was dicing vegetables. “The customer can get a clean outlook on life with a clean window to look out of,” exclaimed Reginald’s dad. Every time his father said this, Reginald had to suppress a bit of vomit. How anyone could think that was a good saying would baffle Reginald for the rest of his life. After finishing the windows, Reginald sat down. The store opened in an hour, but he could only take a five-minute break because the counters and the floors and the tables had to be scrubbed once more. The young boy was already tired just thinking about the day ahead of him. Hours could go by before having more than five customers at a time sit in the diner. Then there was the dreaded rush where all the townspeople would flock in as if they were suffering from famine and Reginald would have to scramble to serve them all. Reginald let out a heavy a sigh thinking about it all. He had about two minutes left before he had to get back to work.


“Chin up boy. You look like the life is being sucked out from you. How ‘bout I clean the counters and tables and let you have at the floor?” said Reginald’s father with his signature grin on his face. “That’d be splendid!” Reginald got up and quickly picked up his bucket and started cleaning the floor. While pushing the brush back and forth, Reginald asked his father why they don’t hire a full-time worker. He had asked this question before and already knew the answer. He only asks it in hopes of his father revealing he is indeed hiring one and just forgot to tell Reginald. Alas, it was not meant to be. “Now son, you know I only hire workers for the busy season. We do just fine here. Besides, running this store will help mold you into a real man. Cleanliness, hard work and the will to serve are the ingredients to a real man. You understand, Reginald?” Reginald nodded. He knew his father wasn’t right. At least not completely right. Surely, there’s more to a man. He looked through the clear window, out to the castle’s courtyard Reginald wondered what exciting things went on there. “Parry! Strike! No, you waited too late, parry! For the gods’ sake Arthur jus-session dismissed!” The knight removed the wooden sword from Arthur’s neck and sheathed his sword. He saluted Arthur’s father and went along his way. Arthur let out an exasperated sigh. He never wins these spars. He has come close, but his father insists that he spars with only knights. “​This will give you an edge no other knights your age will have. And the sharpest ​edge​ wins the battle.” ​His father’s words always rang in his head after a sparring session. Probably because his


head always rang after a sparring session. “Arthur, when are you going to learn?! You have to get more AGGRESSIVE! The enemy won’t wait for you to strike him down! And if you do get knocked down, you have to get back up! ALWAYS!” he said as he lifted Arthur up from the dry ground. The imposing figure looked down at his timid son and sighed. Arthur prepared for another speech that conveyed his father’s disappointment in him. It would be disguised as a pep talk, but underneath it all was the worry that Arthur would never be an outstanding knight to uphold his father’s impressive legacy. “Son, I’m not asking you to be an excellent scholar or an impressive weaver. Hell, I don’t even mind that slop you call cooking! Ha ha ha ha!” Arthur did not find the remark humorous. He really tried at cooking. “Anyways, all I’m asking of you is to pick up a sword and yield it. And yield it properly. Yet, you show no improvement! None! After all these seasons, you can just now last a minute with Alex!” Alex was the shortest of the knights and had a wiry frame, yet he used this to his advantage and moved with demon-like speed. Arthur was only able to “best” him last week because Alex’s shoulder was injured, a fact unknown by his father.

“Maybe I’m not meant to be a knight, father. If I haven’t taken to it by now, maybe I never will. So why am I still here bearing this weight?!” Arthur was quite furious now or rather had been furious for some time and is just now getting release. He also used ‘weight’ literally and metaphorically, but he doubted his father picked up on either one of the meanings. His father had a scowl on his face. Arthur immediately regretted his outburst. He really needed to work on his anger. His father looked around to make sure no one else heard the disrespectful retort and then


pulled, armor and all, his son to the side of the weapons shed to stay out of the public’s eye. His father stared Arthur down, attempting to hold back his anger. He placed his hand on the young boy’s shoulder in a way more menacing than comforting. “Now listen here, boy. I worked day and night for countless seasons to get where I am today. Knights in this yard and the yards beyond this land praise and fear my name. I’m not asking you to slay a dragon or copy my feats. I’m telling you to be a capable knight and more importantly, a man. For you see, what makes a man is what makes a knight. You have to be aggressive, you have to be capable of beating the odds, and you must be willing to serve your people! Now go wash off!” Arthur’s father stormed away and Arthur sulked off to the bathhouse. On his way, Arthur made sure to get a glance at the most beautiful part of the kingdom: the royal garden. The variety of plants never ceased to amaze him and one of these days he hoped to run into the gardener to inquire about the position. Arthur quickly scuttled away as he noticed the prince was entering the yard. The young knight-in-training walked away with resurged feeling of hope, thinking there has to be more to what makes a real man. Lyon examined the vibrant scene laid out before him. The plethora of greens, blues, reds, and yellows would be enough to delightfully overload the visual senses of those not accustomed to the garden. The young prince looked up to the sky; the clouds were a pure white and fluffed and spaced in an almost deliberate manner. Lyon closed his eyes and inhaled the most delicious of breaths. He then went on to complete his journey. He walked to the end of the garden, which was just as gorgeous as the rest of the field, and found who he wanted to consult with.


“A penny for you your thoughts?” inquired Lyon. “Now, we both know my thoughts are worth more than a mere penny. But, my thoughts never come at a cost for you anyway. So, continue.” “Most appreciated. Earlier today, I heard the head butler informing his son on what makes a real man.” “Oh? What did he say?” “Something or another about working hard at being exact and being aggressive in directing the staff. Although I’m sure he wanted his son to focus on the core traits.” “Hmm. Doesn’t surprise me he made those remarks. I have heard such talk for years now. I suppose you came to me to hear my say on the matter?” “Of course,” replied the prince, “I would deem it unwise to not seek your opinion on the matter.” “I’m flattered you believe so, young Lyon. I have come to believe that any man that can condense himself to a handful of traits is a man who will always be lacking, whether he admits it or not.” “Do go on.” “What makes a man, my prince, is the same as that which makes a human. And what makes a human remarkable or forgettable is the quantity and quality of traits that humans possess. Anyone who believes otherwise will not make it far in life I’m afraid.” “As usual, you have provided me much needed clarity.”


“I am glad I was able to assist you. However, if there is one trait that I do value most—and I’m surprised the butler failed to mention this—it is the willingness to serve your people.” “Hmm. I suppose that is a good trait for royalty to have,” said the Prince. “I would think so. Now come, be a dear and accompany your mother to the kitchen. I need you to distract the cook so I can sneak a piece of pie.” “I highly doubt they’ll fail to notice you, just as much as doubt they’ll stop you from doing so.” The Queen laughed and walked with her son to the castle.


Define Masculinity

Bria Erby



By Al Davey

The beacon of light from the tower on the shore, lets me know I am worth being saved. Storm stricken skies turn my world into a recital: the dangerous waters performing a frightening ballet with the wind as their partners. Water flies as the strong gusts thrust in the air. Not enough to drown me, but enough to turn over my boat. When I am in the water I can’t see the light, but I soon find my way to the surface and breathe in the damp air. I feel the light before I see it – right behind me. My legs kick, my arms pull, I try to keep the water out of my nose. I refuse to drown. Several waves knock me over, engulfing me with their suffocating tides. I do not, I can not, open my eyes under the salty water – I must return to the surface so I can find the light again. My kicking feet and pulling arms restart, despite the strain, weakness, and fatigue. Relief flushes through my body as I feel the stones beneath. Walking now, I inch closer to the shore, and my blood warms the water behind me.


Blue No. 2

Madeleine Nemecek


Did You Ever Stop and Think?

By Michael Neal

You walk into a room set up much like one would expect a therapist's office to appear. It is a small room; square in shape, long in length, slightly shorter in width, and—what you suppose—is average in height. The walls are are an odd pastel color, ‘Lilac, perhaps,’​ you think. You further, that ​‘the hue is gentle enough that it gives the room a calming air about it.’ On the wall parallel to your position in the doorway rests two open windows, bringing in the summer breeze alongside a soft morning glow. There lies one window both to the left and to the right of what appears to be a rather meticulously centered desk. You take note that it is the only piece of furniture which establishes the room as one of career. To confirm that your placement of trust in this counselor was a solid one—and ensure your apprehensions of being conned by some nutjob was just your mind entertaining bad guests—hung in the shape of an inverted triangle behind the desk and between the two windows are three degrees all perfectly precise in their placement. All of them from accredited institutions of higher learning. All in fields of behavioral and psychological fields of study. A large, burgundy leather chair sits comfortably behind the desk, and in front of said desk, two plush duvets rest slightly off kilter, opening up any potential occupants to one another and their counsel. The color of the chairs being a soft herbal green. ‘Thyme,’​ you label it instinctively. Pushing away thoughts of the rest of the office’s generic grayish carpet, the scattered abstract art pieces, and the couches of lavender paralleled against the walls to your sides, you re-center yourself on the task at hand; you are here for a disclosure of your mental well being,


and its being not so well. And so far—other than some haphazard directions from the unpleasant secretary—​‘this’​ doesn’t seem so bad. The colors are helping relax you; you had a light breakfast today before you came; the doctor is obviously accredited; you have no need to worry. You are not crazy. Which is why you specified your searches to psychologist and not psychiatrist; medication would be for the sake of redefining your being, counseling for the purpose of reshaping your experience; your issues are solvable, not in need of treatment. A very important distinction you made to the insurance claims adjuster, your boss, your coworkers, your mother, and most importantly yourself. It’s simply that you were raised never to take help you didn’t really need. Ignoring the possibility of sessions in the future talking about denial, you return to examining every corner of your therapist’s office. Without your therapist anywhere in sight. You seat yourself in the left side duvet, running your hands along along the plush fabric, reveling in the shade of color named after an essential household seasoning. A color which you are only able to provide such a label for, as it is exactly the shade of the new towels you bought last month. A purchase thus marking the end of your budding emergence into the adult world; towels that matched the color scheme of your bathroom. Living on your own after being hired straight out of undergrad—a lucky break, unheard of these days in your mind—in a new city, in a new place far away from everything you’re used to, hadn’t quite been the cause for therapy, but you’re willing to admit it has still been nerve-wracking. What with all you only knowing how to cook being smoothies, only being able to use the blender you’ve had since freshman year of undergrad, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to


say there was some concern for alarm. Especially considering your blender was an actual piece of shit. The towels you bought on an innocent whim of sorts; a whim which you entertained when you saw the towels while shopping for a new blender, later realizing after you got back to your apartment what immense and deep seated hatred you felt for the towels you had, promptly making the decision to race back to the department store to buy, what may perhaps have been far too many of the same kind of towel. The point is; you liked—and very much still like—the towels, far more than you thought you would like them. The large, quite possibly excessive, purchase, to you, was justifiable, as you have finally gotten a hold on color schemes, and the towels were a perfect match for the bathroom. In any case, the towels, and quite possibly the coordinated color palette of the bathroom, had been something of a small comfort as of late. Not to mention how, where, and with what you had spent quite a bit of time. Time spent staring listlessly at the floor; time spent vomiting after particularly intense nightmares; time spent sitting in the shower until the water ran cold in the dark. The towels had been a nice padding to cushion all the time you spent on your bathroom floor. You could never put your feelings into exact words, nor pinpoint their exact origin, instead turning them into instinct and reaction. An irritability settled over you—a twitchy panic jolting your nerves—sparking them like a dead car battery you couldn’t will yourself to change out. These feelings, these flickers, you felt, could be handled; shut behind a door, which just needed a few more locks here and there when its deadbolt came undone without your prompting. These feelings were in need of management. Not therapy.


And you eventually ‘managed’ everything so well, your work began to reflect it. Scattered; inattentive; late; sloppy; uncouth; in need of revision; troublesome. All of this climaxed on a particularly frustrating Tuesday, where every little particularity had served to be the bane of your existence: you kept misspelling simple words, you forgot your lunch at home, the vending machine was out of your favorite snack bar, your goddamn pen just wouldn’t stay in your hand, and after struggling with the godforsaken container of coffee creamer which refused to open for you, an innocent-faced college intern—not that much younger than you—incorrectly attempted to be a good samaritan, instead becoming the microphone with which you used to vocalize your rage, your frustration, grief, fear—and coincidentally spill the coffee creamer—all over a now terrified office aid. Your boss pulled you aside, and you apologized. From which point you promptly broke down. Your coworkers offered you kindness, masked behind some judgement and of course some apprehension. There was just as much understanding as there was helpful input, given to you alongside the contact information for your company’s insurance handler. You were given time to sort things out, an assurance your work would be waiting for you upon your return. But if you are being honest for once in your life, to give cause to the downward spiral which lead up to this point has been something you would have rather overlooked. You suppose it started on an average day during your walk to work. You had been walking down the same street you always walk down on your way to work. You had been walking down the same street at the same time with your same cup of coffee you always have while on your walk to work. And while walking down the same street at the same time with the


same cup of coffee while on your walk to work, a live—then dead—body smacks into the concrete pavement to your left. There is a thud, and an indescribable sensation blows through your body. There is shock, and noises of panic and fear replace the air. There is chaos, and you stand there frozen at its origin point. 911 is called. Cars are stopped, and emptied of their occupants, proceeding to halt traffic and cause the oblivious drivers behind them to honk their horns in protest at the ridiculous and unexpected stop. In the midst of it, you realized that you had dropped your cup of coffee, and a wet warmth pulls your attention to your trousers. You find your left pant leg soaked with a dark stain of caffeinated glory, but give it no more thought as you see ‘it’. Or rather, as you see them. The body laid flat on its stomach. The head caved in and turned outwards to the right with a small pool of red viscous surrounding it. The—former​—​owner, occupant, possessor, or whatever you would call a living soul that leaves their vessel, must have landed head first. Or flipped or turned in the air, or​— Your thoughts are cut short by the calls of good samaritans coming to help, and sirens of ambulances coming towards the scene from a distance. You bend down to examine the body and see if there is any sign that could possibly lead to a false hope of saving this … individual. And it is at this point when you are caught amongst the chaos that you catch the gaze of the deceased. Their detached eye is positioned just about a foot away from the head, directly in line with your vision. You hold eye contact with it. This organ, detached from its host, unblinking and depthless and full in its singularity. The pupil frozen and dilated, expanded to the point in which


it overshadows the iris. Its cornea bloodshot and perhaps a tad yellow. The slim visible line of the iris dark, murky, and ambiguous. You hold this organ’s gaze, letting your mind be consumed by the sheer unobscured emotion that would forever be a part of this disconnected vitae. It seems to question you, forcing you into a chain of reckoning, all the while as it beckons, “Do you see me?” A door slams shut and jolts you out of your revery. “My apologies for the delay,” says an individual whom you can only assume is your therapist. At least, they look like how you would assume a therapist to look like. “No worries,” you tell them. “I was just caught up in my thoughts.” “Anything I should know about?” “Depends if you’re ready for a rather long story or not.” They smile, looking at you with a gentleness and what you can only describe as appreciation as they take in your response. “Come now,” they brighten “I’ve heard plenty of stories. And I’d just as much love to hear yours.” Where do you begin? ...


Head in the Clouds

By Nikeah Howard


Colors of the Night

By Maria Kornacki

Blue There was a mysterious little girl in jet black pigtails that sat frozen like a doll on the park bench every Saturday morning. Her porcelain cheeks rosy, sensitive to the aggressive New York City air. She always had this wandering twinkle in her eyes as if she was looking for someone, but not sure who or where. I didn’t want to disturb her peaceful presence, but I flashed a smile her direction one day. The light fell to the ground before it reached her gaze. The same way the autumn leaves did when she disappeared the following morning. I haven’t seen her since. White There was this old man I always seemed to run into on my chase to make the subway for my commute. I feel bad for the poor guy because I have a habit of leaving late, causing me to shove recklessly through the crowd. He probably thinks I’m just another hooligan with a fiery teenage angst burning inside me, but there’s more that meets the eye. His bones so frail, it gives me goosebumps just thinking about how he survives out here in the winter. Alone. All the colors blurred together as I tripped over my untied boot, smacking right into the man’s curved back. I rapidly brushed the snow off my black jeans and lifted him up like a newborn baby in my arms, praying nothing was broken. A photo of a little girl laid atop his brown shoe. We made eye contact as his light blue eyes shifted to a smoggy grey in the blink of an eye. It was his granddaughter. He can’t remember the last time he saw her. Red There was a torn scarf that caught my flawed eyesight when I opened the blinds this


morning. It was crimson and cradled between two bare branches hugging my window. The sun seemed to have just awoken as well, but it was already blazing a hole through my plaid pillow case. As if my alarm trumpeting through the speakers wasn’t enough to slit me from my deep sleep. I rubbed the crust away from my eyes, stretching for my glasses. Still half asleep, I groggily made my way towards the blinds, but my body went into a state of shock when my sock and soon to be bare flesh were punctured by my little brother’s toy firetruck peeking out from under the corner of my bed. Are you kidding me?! I shouted, biting my bottom lip. Stained and in miserable pain. Where’d it go? I could’ve sworn a scarf was right there! I directed my baffled gaze lower, scanning the ground for any evidence to save my sanity. All that appeared were hot pink tulips wrapped around the tree’s trunk. It must’ve been an illusion. Green There was an ornamental tree I used to rest under, in between the shadows of beaming light during the summertime. A secret getaway no one could ever find me in. There was something solacing about feeling lost. I placidly floated towards its compelling mass as it welcomed me with open arms. I didn’t speak much at the time and neither did the tree, but it had a way of conveying understanding under its draping limbs like elaborate yoga poses. It became subtly apparent that someone else had been where I was breathing before. A familiarity in the air as though they had witnessed the same tree and inhaled the same flow of slow-motion energy. It was like a word on the tip of my tongue, but then it was gone. I exhaled and let it go. “The wisdom’s in the trees, not the glass windows.” Jack Johnson lyrics were the last to hum through my headphones as I drifted off to a slumber on a bed of moss.


Kissed By Yellow Fever

By Nikeah Howard


Blueberry Tea By William Borley He thinks about this a lot. More than he ever tells anyone. Usually less ​I’m going to​ and more ​I could and no one would stop me​. Last time it got serious, he climbed the stairs to the roof of Annabel General and… couldn’t do it. He tried but in the end Holly wrapped him in a blanket and took him home. Jamie pours his tea from the kettle into a mug that says ​#1 Uncle!!!​ and gets maybe halfway across the room before he trips. The mug shatters, freeing blueberry tea to spread maroon across the kitchen tile. He steps over the mess to grab a rag from by the sink, and it takes him a moment to realize his step wasn’t quite long enough: a shard of ceramic pierces his sock and skin, and blood mingles with the red tea soaking his socks. He just did the laundry. Well, he’s fairly sure he won’t need stitches. He does have to kind of hobble his way to the bathroom so he can even pretend he knows how to use a first-aid kit. Wincing, Jamie pulls off his socks, pours a tiny bottle of alcohol disinfectant over the cut, and bandages himself best as he can. Thankfully, the tea situation is easily remedied by handy application of a broom, dustpan, and a couple old towels that Holly uses when she dyes her hair. By the time Holly gets back from work, it’s almost like nothing even happened. Besides the conspicuous gauze wrap around Jamie’s foot. He’s curled up in his armchair, trying not to get bored by a dry book about Yousafzai’s political history.


Adelaida Ivanovna Adelaida Ivanovna Sips her ginger Soda Soda

Adelaida Ivanov

Adelaida Ivanovna Cuts my soul Like a razor Adelaida Ivanovna Sapphire, hard and blue Whisper O Fortuna Shield your neck From the gale Adelaida Ivanovna Winter burns coal-ed Your hands felt For a light switch Adelaida Ivanovna Runs by without looking over her shoulder.

By Matthew Scicluna


First Impression

By Lorena Ganser



By Rheanna Reeder

The harsh wind felt like blades slicing through the girl’s cheeks, turning them a bright red that seemed to glow against the darkness of night. The sound of it mixed with the noise of brittle leaves, crunching beneath her bare, aching feet as she walked down the empty road. She focused her attention on the pain of it all in a desperate attempt to avoid the thoughts that were pounding within the recesses of her skull. She could still feel his hand upon her flesh, his calloused and rough fingertips tracing their way along the curve between her ribcage and hip bone, the memory of it causing her body to shiver even harder in the cold, autumn air. Her numb hands trembled as she put one of his cigarettes to her pale lips and flicked at her lighter. Only when she got a steady enough flame to allow herself to coat her insides with the warmth of smoke did she begin to relax a bit, her mind slowly settling with each exhale. She looked around in an effort to figure out where she was. She’d been walking for over an hour and was lost, her surroundings completely unfamiliar. She debated calling her mother, her cellphone heavy in the pocket of her thin jacket, but didn’t want to deal with the lecture. Earlier that day, she’d told her parents she was staying at a friend’s house to work on a “school project” and didn’t feel like dealing with the consequences of the lie right about now. She had enough on her mind. The plan for tonight was supposed to be simple. She’d be dropped off by her mother at Laura’s, change her clothes, and he’d pick her up and take her for dinner downtown. It would have been even more simple, but she wasn’t ready for her family to know about him just yet. They’d ask him far too many questions and it would ultimately end in them forbidding the relationship once they found out his age. He was five years older than her, having just turned


twenty-one last month, so she decided to wait awhile before introductions. At the diner, they ate, drank, and talked, the words flowing endlessly and quickly between the two. It was these conversations that made it easier to look past the age difference, the mountains of similarities between the two quickly apparent within moments. After dinner, she was supposed to head straight back to her friend’s where they’d spend the night laughing and gushing about him, but he had another idea. “So,” he said as they walked out of the diner into the chilly, night air, lighting a cigarette the minute he was out the door, “want to go for a walk around the block? I know it’s getting a bit late, but I’m not exactly ready to end the night.” She agreed, still fully captivated by the azure eyes staring at her through long eyelashes as he let her take a drag of his smoke. They could convince her of anything. They walked for a while, making their way through the city’s streets, much longer than they’d meant to and sharing a number of cigarettes as they went. His large, muscular arm was wrapped around her tiny waist in an effort to keep her from freezing to death. It was an uncharacteristically cold night for early October, and she certainly hadn’t dressed for it. She only wore a thin jacket over a tight, low-cut shirt, a green skirt, and her mother’s old Mary Janes. The only jewelry she wore was her favorite necklace, a gift from when she turned four. It had her name, Annie, engraved on it with a white diamond above it, all in a small, silver circle. While she looked quite nice, it definitely did not keep her very warm. The only thing she was thankful for about it was that she hadn’t worn heels. She usually wore them whenever they went out because otherwise he completely towered over her, his height being one of the reasons she fell for him in the first place. They talked the entire time, her staring up at him, and eventually made


a circle back to his old, slightly battered car. She gratefully climbed in, her teeth chattering. “Jesus Christ, it’s f-f-freezing,” she muttered as she rubbed her hands together. “Could you please turn on the heat? I can’t feel my toes.” “Yeah, sure, no problem.” He set it to high and let it run for a second while she defrosted. “Hey, so, I was thinking, you want to go back to my place? You’ve never seen it and we’ve been going out for a bit. It’s also pretty warm.” She hesitated a bit, thinking about the “girl’s night” she’d be wasting. She’d always been curious about his apartment, but at the same time, she’d never been very eager to visit. Still, she didn’t exactly feel ready to end the night despite the cold filling her body. “I guess,” she finally said, slipping her icy fingers through his, “but only for a little bit, please. Just until midnight. I have some, um, work I need to do.” She didn’t want to tell him she was hiding out at friend’s house The drive over was fairly quiet, one of the few silent moments they shared since they’d met. He played with the radio but the music that poured out of the tinny speakers didn’t fill the gap in words. The only noise she could register was her heart suddenly pounding with nerves. The inside of his studio apartment was warm, but barren and small, with only a handful of furniture decorating the place. Near the kitchenette and the entrance was a small table with two mismatched chairs, and the living room/bedroom consisted only of an unmade futon, another small end table with an alarm clock, and a TV and stereo. The only decor that she could see was an unframed print of one of Salvador Dali’s most famous paintings, hung crookedly with tape above his unmade bed. It was nothing at all like she’d expected. From the way they talked, she’d expected something more put together and neat, at the least. Instead, the inside just made her feel


even more uneasy about coming to visit. “I know it’s not much,” he said as he kicked off his shoes and threw his leather jacket on the table, heading over to the fridge, “but I don’t usually spend a ton of time here. School, work, parties and all. Usually I spend most of it here sleeping or eating or doing whatever I have to get done. Drink?” “Uh, sure,” she mumbled, carefully draping her jacket over one of the chairs. She left her shoes on, as they fit well with the rest of her outfit. He handed her a cold bottle of off-brand beer with the top already off and the label peeling. She slowly took a sip, cringing at its bitter, overly fizzy taste. She had never really drunk anything besides a few sips of scotch at a party before, and cheap beer wasn’t exactly how she wanted to start. “Thanks.” He nodded, smiling at her as he took long chugs from his own, downing it in under a minute. “You know, babe, you look really nice tonight,” he said, placing his hand on her hip and drawing her closer, kissing her hard on the lips. She melted into him despite her surroundings. She’d always liked it when he called her that, it made her feel more mature for some reason. It made her feel as if they were made for each other and it would all work. Eventually, he pulled away. “So, what do you want to do?” “I don’t know. We could just watch TV, I guess” She looked around the sparse apartment trying to get ideas before just settling on the obvious. “Or I wouldn’t mind another kiss,” she hinted, walking further into the room. He smirked at her, following her and then perching himself at the end of his futon/bed. “I would be okay with that,” he conceded, patting the spot beside him. She sat down and


kissed him again, getting lost in the taste of his lips and the way he wrapped his arms tight around her. They stayed like that for a while and soon he was easing her on to her back so that they were lying down. She felt vaguely uneasy about it, her heart beating a tad harder, but did so anyway. “Hey,” he said, his voice low and raspy, much deeper and edgy than normal, “Do you think you could take off your shoes? Sorry, I just don’t want my bed getting all dirty.” “Oh, um, yeah. No problem, sorry.” She nervously sat up and began fiddling with the buckle on her shoe, struggling to get them undone. Earlier that night, she’d told him a story behind those very shoes, how her mother had given them to her when she was quite young to play dress up with, and how they’d always weirdly fit no matter her age. “Oh, here,” he muttered, annoyed, quickly undoing them and ripping them off her feet. He pushed her back down, kissing her roughly. Her body stiffened, shocked by the outburst. She pressed her palms to his firm chest in an effort to create some form of barrier. He simply pressed harder against her, his lips moving to her neck. She could feel his fingers crawling up the hem of her shirt, making her stomach turn. She wanted him to stop. “Hey,” she whispered, her voice shaky, “could you let up a little, please? I’m sorry, I just don’t know if I’m ready for all this.” “All what?” he said, lifting his head. His blue eyes felt like ice against her. “Come on. We’ve been going out for a while now, you know? You’ve had to expect this by now, babe. You know I really care about you, Annie. This isn’t freaking high school, and I thought you didn’t want ​a ‘childish relationship.’”


She thought back to that conversation, how it was after they had just met at the local bookstore. She’d smoked her first cigarette that day, trying to impress him when they walked to his car so he could drive her home. Back then she had felt so infatuated, so mature as she talked to this handsome, older man. But now, as he pressed his lips against her collarbone and slid his hand further up her shirt, caressing the skin below, she was repulsed. “Stop,” she begged, pushing him away. He forced himself harder against her, pinning her body to the messy bed, the one she realized was already extremely stained and filthy. “No. I don’t want this, I’m sorry.” “Shh.” He moved his hand to the button on her skirt. “Babe, please. It’ll be okay, I promise. We work so well, Amy, and you know it. Don’t ruin it all” He bit at her neck, pulling tight on the chain on her necklace to get to it. She stared at the ceiling and tried to block it, him, out. She locked her eyes on the poster above them, trying to find something to focus on. He pulled at her necklace again in an effort to reach the skin on the hollow of her neck. She felt the chain tense and then snap. Bits of silver flew everywhere. “STOP!” She pushed him off of her with a surprising force, throwing him flat onto the futon. She moved swiftly to her feet and ran toward the front door, grabbing her jacket on the way and leaving her necklace clenched tight in his fist. Behind her his voice bellowed and bounced against the thin walls, scolding her for leaving and begging for her to return. The only sounds she really noticed were the slamming of the door and the noise of her bare feet stomping against the stairs as she ran down them. She didn’t stop until a few minutes later, when she was well away from him and his


apartment and her lungs were threatening to burst in her chest. Her body felt clammy and cold, her mind racing and leaving her where she was now, left to wander the streets. She lit yet another cigarette to shut out the memory from her mind for a while, burning her thumb on the hot lighter. Her eyes were searching desperately for a familiar location as she struggled to find her way back home, back to her own bed where she would lie awake all night trying to get feeling back into her now numb, frozen body. She would take a scalding shower first, though, in order to scrub away the feeling of him on her once soft skin that was now covered in a fine layer of goosebumps. After another hour of walking, she finally located a familiar street and let it lead her back to her house, around three or four in the morning. Her toes were a pale blue by then, covered in a layer of broken leaves that had fallen from the trees to lie dead on her feet. The wind and cold had only gotten worse. She trudged her way onto the front porch, noting how none of the house’s lights were on. Not even the porch light, the one her parents had always kept on whenever she left the house at no matter what hour. She struggled to grab her key from the pocket of her jacket, her hands still shaking violently from the weather and him, and slowly opened the door. Her bare feet stayed numb against the carpet.


Mind Trick

By Mona Beydoun


Seasons of Humanity

By Kenzie Zaitzeff

Spring was the redeeming season: it was revived plants seeping through the soil; it was a renewal of life; spring was the freshness of air; but most of all, spring was change.

Winter was the harshness of regret: winter was the cold death; winter bore hatred and insecurity, the flags of the adversary; but spring was the atonement.

Summer was the thirst for justice: forced restitution, quenching the piercing drought of winter; summer was the blind pursuit of ideals; the establishment of equality; it was the action following spring.

Fall was the prostitution of morality: fall was the arrogance and hypocrisy; fall was the betrayal of the persons it swore to represent and protect; fall was the self-destruction, it created winter whilst pretending to be spring.

Spring nourished new seeds with the blood of the plants winter took; “never again will there be such a season,� it exclaimed; unaware of its position on an ever-changing wheel; spring was the atonement; but nobody remembered, and nobody changed.



Madeleine Nemecek


Grandpa’s House

By Jeffery Moss

The screen door pushed against my back as I juggled the keys and a stack of cardboard boxes while unlocking the front door. The house still smelled like old people. Stale, musty air and a hint of boiled cabbage. It was full of furniture, clothes and books that were all older than I was. I pulled the curtains and opened the two smaller windows on either side of the picture window. They were stubborn, and released with a creak. Cool October air lifted the drapes and rustled the magazines on the coffee table. I inherited the place from my grandfather. I didn’t deserve it, but that’s the kind of man he was. He thought a second chance would help me get back on my feet. It still didn’t seem real. It was more like I was visiting and he'd walk out of the kitchen any minute. I wandered from room to room overwhelmed with the idea of packing up his belongings. I had no clue where to begin. Someone told me I should have an estate sale or hire an auction company and they’d empty and sell the place for me. Lake front property was high dollar. I would be able to pay Chucky back the $8,000. But I couldn’t sell my grandpa’s home. His house on Hen Lake was the only constant in my life. I played on that beach as a kid, built bonfires by the water when I was a teenager and spent every Thanksgiving and Christmas there up until I was 18 years old and my parents died. I was too young to realize the pain Grandpa went through then. It could have brought us closer together but my grief was full of anger. He’d already lost his wife. When he lost his son and daughter-in-law it never once occurred to me the pain he must have suffered. One of the spare bedrooms was converted into an office. A mammoth mahogany desk held a typewriter and a desk lamp. The racket of him hammering away on that old Royal still


echoed in my mind. Hundreds of books lined the walls. It seemed like as good a place as any to start. I knew I would never read any of them. One by one, I stacked books in boxes. The bottom shelf was full of photo albums. Old black and whites from when my dad was a kid. Birthdays and holding fish he’d caught. Graduation from college and my parents’ wedding. And newspaper clippings from the 12 car pile-up on the highway in the winter of ’89 and the program to their funeral. Grandpa even had an album full of photographs of me all through my childhood and a handful of articles from when I played football and baseball in high school. A manila folder was stuffed in the back of the album. It contained paperwork from the courthouse and attorneys regarding a couple of my run-ins with the law. I had no idea he kept those. Tears welled in my eyes. Pounding at the front door startled me. I yanked on the blinds and saw Chucky’s green El Camino in the driveway. That ridiculous car with a bed like a pickup truck made my skin crawl. Chucky staggered in. He had been loaded for three months straight. Since his mother died that past summer. He hadn’t spoken to her once in nine years. After he ripped her off, she said she wanted nothing to do with him until he got his life straightened out. And then she was gone and he never made it right with her. He numbed the pain with drugs. It was the only way he could cope with the grief and the guilt. He’d always smoked weed and drank booze, and then he turned to heavier drugs. He even broke the cardinal rule and started using the products he sold. Coke. Heroin. Crystal. All the stuff he told me when I started working for him that I was forbidden to even think about using.


Chucky had never been one to follow rules. When we were kids he was always in trouble at school for something. Cheating. Fighting. Vandalism. Not much changed thirty-some years later. I felt sorry for him for a while, but his pity party was nauseating. “Hey nice place,” he said looking around the living room. “Thanks,” I said, hiding my irritation. “I like that console TV. Is that still hooked up to that antenna tower outside?” he said, pointing at the old television with the wooden box built around it with decorative spindles and drawer pulls. I thought for a minute he might be a human and offer his condolences to me, but he was too busy feeling sorry for himself to notice he wasn’t the only one who lost someone. “So I was thinking,” he started. “You got this big house all to yourself and you’re paying me on the loan, so why don’t I crash here for a while and you can pay me…” he did math in his head. “Say, sev… eight-hundred a month instead of a grand, and that’ll be like rent.” He had me by the balls and he knew it. Borrowing money from Chucky and his partner Hector was a big mistake. I knew it at the time but I didn’t have any other options. I paid Chucky one thousand dollars a month for a year straight and almost every penny went to interest. I thought being a part of the crew would get me a better deal. I was wrong. The principal $8,000 kept me under Chucky’s thumb. ** The next day I went to see Hector at his auto repair garage in downtown Blair. Chucky and Hector teamed up several years back. Chucky was in charge of the drug ring and Hector was


in charge of the chop shop and stolen car end of their business. They used the repair shop as a front and did their dirty work at night. Hector waved me into his back room when he saw me walk into the garage. I expected him to be pissed at me for showing up during regular business hours. He knew I was there about Chucky before I even said a word. “You have been real fair to me, Hector. Chucky was too up until a few months ago.” Hector nodded in agreement when I mentioned Chucky. “I need to get out from under the money I owe you guys.” Hector’s eyes narrowed in confusion. “Is there anything I can do to get caught up on the loan?” Hector took a notebook out of a file cabinet and thumbed through pages. “You’re still making payments to Chucky on that eight G?” “Yeah,” I said. “He knocked the payment down to 800 now that he’s living in my grandpa’s house with me.” I could tell by his face we weren’t on the same page. He started to speak, then hesitated. “You’ve been square on that loan since July,” Hector said, tapping on the paper. I was relieved, yet confused. “Chucky’s been real sloppy lately. I can’t have sloppy,” he said. It took me a second to connect the dots. Chucky played me. I overpaid by $3,000. Carrying on the rest of the conversation wasn’t easy. All I could think about were the extra jobs I did for him and the times I was out collecting cans and bottles to keep from being light. Chucky made a fool of me. I wanted him dead. “I don’t want to sound like I am showing you any disrespect,” I had to concentrate on


what I was saying to keep my thoughts straight, “but I need out. I am glad to hear I’m square on the loan. I wouldn’t ask if I wasn’t, but I can’t do this anymore.” Hector nodded. I could tell he knew where I was coming from. “Not just yet. We got some loose ends still and I can’t have loose ends. Let me see what I can do. I might have something. One or two more jobs,” he stopped, but kept eye contact with me. “Big jobs."

I was across the garage when Hector called out to me. He jogged over. “Until I get this straightened out, don't let Chucky know we spoke. When does he expect another payment?” “Not for a couple more weeks.” “Good. You let him keep thinking everything is normal. Just for another day or two. I'll text you later and let you know when we can close this out. Okay?” He could see I was not too thrilled with the idea. “I’ll be in touch,” he said and extended his hand to me. I shook his hand and walked out. *** I walked by the shoreline to get my mind off Chucky. Dozens of Canadian geese floated across the lake. Grandpa's fishing boat sat upside down on the beach near the dock that jutted out into the water. The same dock I watched my father and grandfather put out every spring and take in every fall when I was a kid. I hadn’t thought about the dock. It had to come out of the water before winter. I put on Grandpa's waders and grabbed his tool box. The soft lake bottom was congested


with weeds. My foot sank into the muck and stirred up a cloud of silt when I stepped into the water. I made my way out to the deepest section of the dock and started pulling the bolts from the collars and brackets that held the wood to the metal poles. It took me an hour to get the deeper sections onto shore. The shallower sections rested on cinder blocks and were easier to bring in. The work was just what I needed. Pulling the dock made me feel like I belonged on the lake. When I went back inside Grandpa’s house, I found Chucky sprawled out on the living room couch. Fast asleep. My cigar box was open on the coffee table. My weed was spilled around another empty fifth of whiskey from the liquor cabinet. Pain surged in my jaw and hands from clenching my teeth and fists. My face went hot. Anger consumed me. I stormed to the back bedroom and rummaged through the closet where Grandpa kept his hunting rifle. A layer of dust covered the gun case and his cardboard box of ammo. I loaded several rounds into the magazine, racked one into the chamber and ran back to the living room. The time had come for his miserable excuse for a life to come to an end. I cocked the hammer back, pressed the muzzle against Chucky’s temple and wrapped my finger around the trigger. I held the gun to his head. I kept it there, trying to muster the courage to fire the weapon, until my arm grew tired and my muscles ached. My phone chimed. I lowered the rifle. I couldn’t kill him. I had never even been able to shoot a deer in the wild. Even though he screwed me over, I still saw the scared seventh grader sitting next to me outside the principal’s


office when we got caught stealing candy from the marching band’s fundraiser. We were close back then. I returned the rifle to the closet. Chucky never even woke up. The chime was a text from Hector. He had two jobs for me. First, I needed to pick up a package from the shop and after that I needed to ride out to Metro Detroit with another guy so I could drive a van back to Hector's shop. I left Chucky on the couch and drove up to Blair.

Hector wasn't in the shop when I got there. One of his mechanics gave me the box. It was small, like an old audio cassette case. I had seen hundreds of those. I knew exactly what was inside. The mechanic relayed a message from Hector as he wiped grease from his hands on a rag. “He said to stash that in your house and then come back and ride over to Vic’s with Danny.” “My grandpa’s house? That’s in Roosterville. I just drove all the way up here.” “Hector was very specific. That box can’t be in the vehicle on the way there or the way back.” He pushed the edge of the rag into his pocket. “Don’t question him. He has his reasons.” I spent the entire drive back wondering why he wanted me to take the package just to sit on it. Chucky was still passed out on the couch. I stashed the box in Grandpa's underwear drawer and headed out for what I hoped would be my last job working for Hector. **** It was after 2:00 a.m. when I returned to Grandpa’s house. The television flickered in the


living room. I clicked it off. The room went dark and the house was silent. The hallway was partially lit by the bathroom light. I reached in to flick the switch. The drawers and cabinet doors hung open and had been rooted through. Grandpa’s diabetes bag was dumped out on the counter. Chucky wanted the needles. Of course. I was ashamed I didn’t realize earlier why Hector wanted the package in the house. I burst into Grandpa’s bedroom. White cotton boxer shorts were strewn everywhere. The cardboard package, ripped to shreds, littered the top of the dresser. I ran to the bedroom Chucky claimed and found him sitting on the floor with his back against the side of the bed. Cold and lifeless. A syringe hung from his arm and his face was frozen in a smile of satisfaction. I sat down next to him. All at once I forgave him for everything he had ever done. Time grew hazy. I sat there until my phone chimed. Hector sent me another text. Bring me her broomstick and I’ll grant your requests. I had no idea what that meant, and I didn’t really care so much about deciphering Hector’s code as I did about having a dead body in my house. Friend or not, I couldn’t leave him. I couldn’t call the police. I couldn’t bury him in the yard. The lake. The idea sailed through my brain with a wave of relief. I was no stranger to losing loved ones, but I couldn’t wrap my head around what I felt about Chucky. Having to dispose of a dead body gives a person a sense of urgency that doesn’t leave time for asking why and shaking one’s fist at God. Grandpa had a couple of nylon sleeping bags on the shelf in the garage. I pulled them


down and grabbed a roll of duct tape and a flashlight. I unrolled the first sleeping bag and pulled it over the head. When I leaned the body forward away from the bed it slumped over. I slid it around so the body was straight and inched the sleeping bag all the way down. I started to wrap the tape around to keep the material tight against the body, but stopped on the first pass. I couldn’t just wrap it up. It had to be weighed down too. I went outside, by the water, and found four football-sized rocks and stuffed them into the sleeping bag. I pulled the second bag over from the opposite direction and wrapped so much tape around it that it looked like a silver mummy. I started to drag it to the back door, but the bulk of it was too awkward to get a good grip. I went back to the garage and found a length of rope. When Grandpa took me fishing years ago and showed me how to tie a Palomar knot, I bet he never thought I’d tie one around a body. I dragged it out by the water. It took every ounce of strength I had to heave it up and over the edge of the boat. I put two cinder blocks from the dock inside and tied the loose ends of the rope around them. I rowed across the eerily calm water. The dead of night made it difficult to gauge how close to the middle of the lake I was. The light on the back porch of the house was just a glint. I lowered one of the blocks over the side to act as a guide. It banged against the aluminum and made so much noise I was sure I would stir up a flock of ducks or wake a nosy neighbor. The boat leaned heavy to one side as I managed to push the second block over. The pair of weights helped pull the body up and over, and nearly capsized the boat. With a splash and a gurgle Chucky sank to the bottom. I collapsed onto the bench and caught my breath before rowing back in.


The morning’s first light broke the tree line when I stepped into the muck at the water’s edge and pulled the boat onto shore. My biceps seared in pain. I hadn’t had a workout like that in years. Exhaustion washed over me. I stumbled into the house and then went to the living room ready to flop onto the couch, but stopped. The picture window overlooking the front yard perfectly framed the El Camino outside as it glistened in the sunshine. Perfect. I had forgotten all about the car. I had to get rid of that too. I pulled my phone out and read Hector’s text again. Bring me her broomstick and I’ll grant your requests. It finally made sense. I drove the El Camino up to the shop and left it in the parking lot. I thought about my grandfather as I walked all the way back to Roosterville. And Chucky. I knew I’d never be able to look at the lake again without thinking about him resting in the muck. I just hoped he stayed there.


Little America

Nikeah Howard


The World Overwhelming Entry #38; January 8th, 2017 The silence is deafening. I can hear the room and all That it is The very presence of my being here seems to warrant the loudest of gazes, the Loudest of unspoken questions. This room - the empty space - feels like it’s screaming with building tension. Is it me that is the cause of this? Am I the reason for all this felt chaos and unease? I feel like I am, yet I cannot say that I am. For I simply do not know. What’s going on inside their Heads? What are they thinking, they there, across the room? I want to know, desperately what they’re thinking; the precious thoughts inside the head. All of it is deafening, and it’s deafening because it makes me feel so strongly; so strongly about you, about this room, about all the things that I think are being Thought inside your head, while mine is racing at the speed of light - far past the speed of any true sounds I may sense. When I was younger I used to hear a train at night, when I alone, sometimes just out of nowhere. It wasn’t until I was much older and used

my hands to cover my ears and shut out all the noise did I

By Michael Neal

find out the chug and tug of that train was the sound of my own blood pulsing, thumping in my eardrums and against the walls of My cranium. Simple noise to me takes on lifes - completely different worlds of their own design drawn by my mind and its endless rushing of thoughts. I know - I realize - this encounter in this room - in this space - that drowns our thoughts in questions must hold similar anxieties for the both of us, but please trust me when I tell you that it’s not the quiet that disturbs me. It’s the noise, the loud and present noise that accompanies the vibrations of your held down breath the thoughts itching across your eager tongue, waiting to articulate them. Let me take this moment to find my own quiet amongst all this noise. I’ve fought to find my solace and cherish my own inner peace. For my pride is held, not in the things I do, or the people I make amends with, but within the comfort of myself; secure and unrelenting.


The World Overwhelming

By Michael Neal

Entry #45; January 15th, 2017 I look outside and see the rain and the people in their cars as they drive by. I see more than the colors, hear more than the sounds all around in the surroundment. I feel the motion and think the thoughts, let my hormones fuel and guide me; all of it out of my control going on and off of nothing but my own ambitions and will. Power on and power through, power onwards; run up that hill and reach for all the stars to be seen in the skies. And yet I can’t help but think about how boring it all seems. And I wonder if Whitman got this bored writing poetry? Probably not.


Sands of Time

By Alexander Prindle

Everything was set. The sky was clearer than it had been in weeks and the pod wasn’t going to get any less dilapidated. And anyway, I’m just so sick of all this damned sand. It is finally time for me to leave and get back to the carrier ship. This whole mission has been a disaster, why did we even need to scout an arid planet when we had already determined it was worthless? There was something important about coming here but it was so long ago I can’t seem to remember what it was. Mounds. Something about mounds on the planet? No, that couldn’t be it. That’s stupid, we wouldn’t come down here for mounds of sand. Doesn’t matter now, everything is set, nothing can stop me from leaving now. No mounds, or hills, or mountains, or hills, or valleys, or dunes, or mounds of sand are going to stop me this time. If I wait any longer the pod will sink right into the ground with the rest of them. “Wh…” the astronaut’s voice barely came back to him, it had gone unneeded for so long it seemed to have been swallowed by the harsh planet as well. “What about them? What should, what can I do about them! NO, I’m getting the rescue beacon out and flying off this shifty rock!” He walked up to the pod door, something he hadn’t dared to do in a long time, because he feared what came next. This was the only pod that survived the trip down to the surface, there was only room for two people in each pod, not that it mattered much anymore. More importantly it had a beacon, a beacon that could bring the carrier back to save him from these… 2… 4… some years of being stuck here. But, how could he leave them? It was his fault they were here in the first place. Don’t look at it. Don’t look at that rock. Maybe it was Chance’s fault that he was in the dorm bay when that cliff struck it. Maybe Jane would have survived the landing if she had just


strapped into the flight seat like I had asked her to. Frank, well, he wanted to just leave them here, mangled to the point that it looked as if the ship itself had tried to devour them. We couldn’t just leave so he had to go with them. Now the sands are consuming them slowly, but surely those bumps are sinking into time. I’m trying to stay, to make sure they go away for good, but I must leave soon. I must leave or the pod will join them down there, I will as well. The door opened without too much resistance, although sand poured from the seals of the door, reminding him just how long it had been since he sat in a pilot’s chair. He found the beacon and readied his voice for a long-winded message. Remembering what he was trying to forget, he flipped the switch on the bottom of the device and began to speak. “Mayday, mayday. This is Seed-Four requesting emergency pick-up on planet tagged ARD-4197. Mission was catastrophic failure, repeat, catastrophic failure. Faulty rear thruster caused collision with surface upon initial survey. Three of the four crew dead, cadavers deemed irretrievable. Mission duration… Five years. No possible habilitation points found. This message will repeat” After stopping, he realized the message may not be ordered correctly, but at this point it didn’t matter. All that mattered now was getting into the upper atmosphere so the beacon could transmit. A deep breath later, he slowly lifted his hands to the control station, ready to leave the place that was slowly trying to envelop him. Looking up, out the bit of glass used as a viewport, he saw the planet’s last grasp at his life, a sandstorm blowing towards him at rapid speed. This was it, if that storm hit the pod it would be buried and no one would come, no one would know what happened, no one would know it was his fault… He wouldn’t have to face the families of those he lost, and he wouldn’t have to face himself. He moved his hands away from the controls


and walked outside. Time would fix this. Time would make all his pain go away. All he had to do, was wait.



Cassidy Moravy-Penchansky



By Rheanna Reeder

Somehow, we managed to build a house within the spaces between our palms, rooting its foundation the shaky words that fell from our lips and the nervous thoughts that once quaked the Earth below us but now filled the blank walls in haphazard decor. We laid down our hardwood floors with the rhythm of our trembling hands against each other’s skins and hung patchwork quilts that depicted hollow dreams as curtains, letting the sun illuminate the future we’d threaded into fabric and let it keep us oblivious to the reality hidden in the battered glass we knew rested in the flower boxes.

would sink into the Earth, the edges reaching through the smothering caress of mud only to be pushed further down by the weight of our limbs leaning upon fresh paint, leaving stains of our bodies against the wood that would only be visible as I walked down the broken path of missing bricks, but I pushed it to the recesses of my mind in an attempt to find comfort inside the house we desperately wanted to call a home.

I’d keep myself blind as we painted our rooms with swirls of smoke and worry, keeping each other close as we shivered against the draft from the door we had hung upon rusty hinges that never seemed to close tight enough to keep us warm when darkness fell throughout the empty halls we’d crafted to be as convoluted as our affection.

But I never failed to notice the crooked way the fence we’d crafted


Bathing Black Girl

Bria Erby


The Good Samaritan

By Ri Mrez

Nothing much can be said of Clyde. Except that he lived. And then that he died.

“That’d be really funny,” I start, haughty tone that my mother always warns me about slipping into my voice, “if it wasn’t true. Clyde had, like, no life.” Of course I’m only saying this in the car on the way home as we rumble over the cracked pavement. Someone should get out here and repave it. Someone with money. God knows we have enough of those in this town, not that any of them are generous enough to show it in a way other than their speedboats or six lane private bowling alleys or whatever it is they keep in the basements of their Godzilla houses. The Pope could knock on one of these houses asking for donations for the orphans of Haiti or whatever and these people would do nothing. Except it seems like one of them shelled out enough for a nice funeral. Clyde had less money than a gambling addict in Vegas. Good thing my mom’s not privy to my private thoughts. She’d never shut up about my haughty tone. The seatbelt is chafing against my neck but I don’t move, doing that thing where you stare out the window and try to look at everything by itself until your eyeballs feel like they’re gonna toss themselves out of your skull and roll away. “Who cares about some burnout? Who’d they even get to write that...” I wave my hand around as though somewhere out here is the word I’m looking for. “What’s it...Eulogy. Ms. Jade?” A horse would be proud of my snort as I picture


the face of my scrawny, darting English teacher. “So that’s what she fills her lonely nights with. Writing dumb poems for dead guys.” “And you could do better?” My mother snaps, shooting me a look. Her eyes are all puffy and her nose is red. You know how weird it is to see my mom cry? This is the woman who laughs at the end of the Titanic and brandishes her community college history degree to tell me all about the inaccuracies. I think this is the second time I’ve seen her cry. And I can’t blame her for the first. Tiberius was a good dog. And yet here we are: the full waterworks routine. I sink deeper into my seat, muttering to myself. “What?” She demands, turning her head and fixing a hawk-like gaze on me. “Mom! The road!” As we veer back (I wonder if anyone will call the police about that stomach back there, thanks mom), I shrug. “I just wondered if you knew him at all.” In my sixteen years of living, Clyde had only been known as ‘Clyde? Yeah he knows his way around a car.’ Not that he owned one. In old movies you see people calling the doctor and then boom! The doctor’s at your door with a giant black bag and whatever it is that passed for medicine at the time. Clyde was like that except with cars. He fixed your car, you fixed him a meal. Just sorta one of those unspoken rules. “A little bit...” I barely catch her whisper. Somehow I think she’s talking about more than just the time the car needed its brake pads replaced and we couldn’t pay the mechanic. Clyde dropped by and did some sort of magic to extend their lives for another year and mom made him a peanut butter sandwich. Less than she usually fixed for him but, yeah, we were short that month. “A little bit,” I repeat. I can hear her swallow over the rattling of our car.


“Maybe...More than a little.” Did I just find out something I really don’t want to? “Er...How much more are we talking about here?” With a grimace probably more evident than I intend I scooch to the other side of my seat. “Like...Illicit lovers more or he also mowed our lawn more?” That finally gets a laugh out of my mom. “Nothing like that, sweetie.” She assures me me, giving the first smile I’ve seen since Clyde blew his face off trying to fix an engine that would have been too far gone for the Lord above. That was the kind of guy he was: so desperate to help some family he didn’t know that he didn’t give up even when the heat had gotten so bad the plastic components had begun to melt. In the end Clyde’s face sorta looked drippy too, I’m told. Wasn’t there. It was a closed casket funeral. “I wrote the poem,” she finishes, as though it doesn’t need anymore explanation. But it does. “Why?” We’re pulling into our driveway now. Trailer sweet trailer. As I swing open the door and step out she hesitates, hands still on the steering wheel. I’ll wait. After a few seconds she gets out and I close my door. “We were friends in high school,” she says simply. “I made it to college and he didn’t. Never thought it was fair.” Purse in hand she heads through our front door. “He was the kindest person and I had good grades. So I was the one who got a chance and Clyde...Well, he didn’t. He was simple, you know.” With a huge sigh she hangs up her purse and jacket and walks into the tiny room that serves as our dining living kitchen room. There’s a piece of paper magneted to our


fridge that she hands me. “Not a lot of people realize that. That he chose to be simple. Made everything easier.” She shrugs. “Living and dying.” Mom leaves and I’m left holding the crumpled paper, wondering why she and Clyde never got back together after she graduated. I flip the paper over.

Nothing much need be said of Clyde; He was the kindest man, And he lived as he died.


More Than Tuesday’s Dinner

Gina Hewitt


En Masse

By Micheal Neal

You like it here. It’s always so nice here. There isn’t anything bad here. When I come here, it’s alway just me. … You find your senses dulled and your mind cleared of any noise or potential chaos. Reverberations that hollowed out your body are now carried across the ether and beyond you, enveloping you in their gentle waves. There is light coming from above. It entrances you with its refraction across the surface of the endless beyond. There is no harshness, no glare or blinding shine. You feel, very strongly, that there is only gentleness here. Below you there is darkness, ambiguity, uncertainty, mystery, and unnerving depth. You float between these seemingly conflicting worlds amongst the obscurity, floating. Just floating. Biding your time. There is calmness and peace here. Though you feel enveloped by sensation, there is no pressure, all surroundings lacking any weight. Here lacks a danger you’ve been told to be wary of many times before. What was it? What were you supposed to be cautious of? What could possibly warrant any concern? You hazily recall memories encased in fog, whispers and wanders of kicking, thrashing, and anxious fears. Your nerves tense, your throat tight, your being gripped in panic. But you don’t feel like you should leave just yet. You want to be here. Why are you so afraid?


Here, you find nothing but your own. Your place, your peace. The shocks of the world are irrelevant, dulled of all impact and tired. There is nothing here but the swirling of an endless beyond. Here, there is no excess or excitement. Here, there is no tension in your body, there is no uneasiness, no hesitation. Yet attempting to push you to the surface is a bodily reaction contradictory to your state and status. What nonsense is your body spouting now? You want to be here. Why can’t you just stay here? The tension, the tightness keeps coming on stronger. Your lungs feel desperate, the air and breath short. Your throat is spasming as it struggles to release the old dry dust in hopes it shall taste oxygen, fresh and new. ​Everything is fine,​ your mind tells you, ​stay here. Be happy. Relax. Frantic and pleading do your eyes twitch and jerk as they look on to your limbs and beg them to move, make progress towards the surface. ​Let us breathe, ​it whines, urges, screams, ​we need to breathe. Your mind dissuades you from the thought, or rather dissuades itself. You feel no worry, no concern. The tightness, the uneasiness, the discomfort, and the terror belong to your body. Not you. You are fine. The urging of your senses still hits dull. There is no need to move, no need to thrash and struggle for nothing. Nothing, no point. ​No point at all ​your mind reasons ​we are fine. It is they, the body that is weak, that is mortal,​ it tells you. You continue to float here. Among the dull, among the endless, among the beyond that steadily, gently caress you.


The body is now seizing. The mind goes on, rambling. There is a dissonance among the beyond. You feel it, unpleasant and unwanted. There is light from above, there are rays breaking through and grace you with diffusions of colors. Imagine if the sky had become your senses; your mind a prism giving way to a spectrum of hues which you had never understood to be real. They dance across your soul. There is clarity about you. Where are the body and the mind? Are they still here? When can you find them? Faintly, there is a thrashing, seizing hostility paired with a racing and rambling stream of subconscious delusion, all of it coming together as an irritating buzz. There is fury and fervor, feverishly gnashing with something like hysteria. It feels dangerous. You stay unmoving. You wish not to deal with them. They are too much, too panicked, too far frightening. You wish to be here forever. Wish to lay among the bounty and the beyond. Here lies serenity. Why would you leave her? And then a drone sounds about you. It feels to you both hollowed and hallowed, gentle and rich in its hum. The sound is accompanied by an indescribable push and push and you are rocked to and fro, being rolled along in the strength of its newly made tides. A mass passes by you, a drone and a presence becoming more solid, yet still dull and unclear. You can’t yet feel it, not truly. The mass passes by you once more. They turn and circle back around once more after that. The drone now feels like a question, a pondering and perhaps a marvel found in you. This


does not distress like the buzz and the noise, like the body and the mind. You feel they, the mass, are a part of this calm. This beyond. They can stay with you if they like. They, the mass, continues, swaying you back and forth, making a game of gliding you along with them. The mass stays with you, circling round and around in appraisal. The drone is soothing, a hum reverberating within you. The vibrations bounce off you and you return them in kind. The mass’s pitch hitches in what you can only feel as excitement. The energy picks up, the humming becoming more rhythmic, more songlike. The notes are joyous, the mass jolly and jumping, on a one-two-three-four, one-two-three-four, one-two-three-four, JUMP! You are left unmoved, but left feeling amused. Or rather you may be unmoving yourself. But the mass moves you, shifts you, their dancing singing dancing you, inviting you along in their fun. You feel the want and pull of the mass seeking you to move from inaction to its inverse, and turn this dance into a waltz for two. You find the elation of the mass intoxicating, if you’re feeling honest. You feel yourself filled with their joyousness. You are smiling, and you feel happiness, and you are no longer filled but are emptied with what you only feel can be laughter. You take note of how the dancing and the rhythm of the mass starts to quicken excited by your reciprocation. The pace is picking up, the speed getting a few more steps, the energy all encompassing, the space sizzling and sparkly. You find no tension or resistance as you hum and dance along in this liveliness as you are moved and moved more by


the mass. You are at peace and you are at one with yourself and this obscure feeling you feel so strongly. “Are you having fun?” you feel the mass laugh. More than I can put into words, you feel yourself respond. “I’m glad,” you feel the mass smile. The rhythm, the waltz, the dance, continues on and on at both your prompting and the mass’s, really both you prompting it and it prompting you. All of it entranced and entrenched by what can only be eternity, you feel. “When did you learn to dance like this?” you feel the mass question. It just sort of happened as it turns out, you feel. “And when did it ‘happen’?” Just now. You feel that the mass is amused as you were amused by it, the dance, the rhythm, waltz beginning to slow in time to keep up with the reverberations of the chuckling. It evokes a feeling of adventure and spontaneity with you, helping send the dance into a flurry of energy and exuberance. The pace quickens, the laughter increases in its splendor. The joyousness swelling and swells and all you feel is laughter: its wonders, its light, its brilliance, and​— As you and the mass whirl about one another, perhaps in dance, perhaps in endless restlessness, you and the mass seem to just spin and spin, ever more rapidly, faster and faster. As you continue your orbit your attention is pulled away by some sort of shaking seizing tickling the edges of your being. It is accompanied by a rambling, and insane crazed irritation, an onslaught


of words and sensations and ideas, infinite and meaningless, deranged and hostile. You are disturbed, distracted by what you can only exactify as unpleasant, ugly, disgusting. The rhythm begins to break. The noise consuming you. The mass slowly starting to feel scarce and distant. All of it, all of this, dissolving into detachment, feeling ever more unreal. You are excited with uncalled for chaos, overwhelming chaos, chaos without purpose. “Are you there?” you feel the mass worry. Where is here? you question. The mass falters and the dance is broken ended. You and the mass are left in distilled silence​—​this now nowhere​—​the voided ocean of constrainedly endless beyond, this​— “How did you get here?” the mass tenses. What? “How,” the mass posits once more, “did you get here?” All at once, the body and the mind you had felt you had left behind, the seizing, the shaking, the rambling noise, come back all at once. You feel desperation in your lungs, struggling to grasp the surface, your mind and your body shouting at you to “​GET OUT” “GET OUT” “GET OUT” “NOW!!!!” There is a blaring siren ringing in your ears, a pain and pressure pounding against your skull, your throat clenching and choking, contracting with stale air and salty sea. Your eyes had


been clenched tight, your hands clawing at your throat. Your body has been trying oh so pathetically to stay and hold itself back away from what it needs to satisfy what you wanted. I want to stay here, you urge. “Where is here?” the mass retorts. You rise to meet the question and … … open your eyes up to see your bedroom. Your body is breathing heavy, Your head is hurting something fierce, Sweating like a rainstorm, Anxious like a shaking dog, And you are left to wonder, “What just happened?”



Madeleine Nemecek


Drip Drip of Parting and Pulling

Sasha Gao


EMU Express Liza Calisesi Maidens, Conductor

SopranoSoprano Alissa Amell* Alissa Amell* Al DaveyAl Davey Samantha DeRosia DeRosia Samantha Heidi Griffen Heidi Griffen Dana Hansen Dana Hansen CatherineCatherine Jahns Jahns Kaylee Klepaczyk Kaylee Klepaczyk Lauren McBain Lauren McBain Nicole Minor Nicole Minor Nix* CourtneyCourtney Nix* Lucille Pugh Lucille Pugh Ashley Trobaugh Ashley Trobaugh

Alto Alto Madelynne Brown Madelynne Brown Emily Daniels* Emily Daniels* Kailah Hardy Kailah Hardy Stephanie Hiner Stephanie Hiner Krista HowardKrista Howard Rachel Kindred Rachel Kindred Mar Linski Mar Linski Sidney Phan Sidney Phan Lauren Shears Lauren Shears Margaret Woodard Margaret Woodard Bass Bass Miles Bednarski Miles Bednarski Jacob Kielmann Jacob Kielmann Joseph Perrotti* Joseph Perrotti*

Tenor Tenor Ryan Bodary Ryan Bodary Andrew Suchy Andrew Suchy Kyle Tillman Nicholas Weston Rehearsal Accompanist Kyle Tillman Nicholas Weston Rehearsal Accompanist Emily Katynski *Indicates EMU Express Board Emily Katynski *Indicates EMU Express Board



By Matthew Scicluna

Hello, trapped by a fat Sodden tongue, sounds like “Howl”. An accusing “how low are you.” It was suppose to be polite, Not much going on, Never is, times sure are Changing. Me to me to. I’m sorry. Don’t Be. There you are Apologizing again Did you see no I saw, have you Heard, yes I did Wait. Now I’m listening


Striking in Chiffon

Nikeah Howard


Next Tuesday

By Jeffery Moss

I’m invisible. In downtown Blair, all it takes is a ten-dollar haircut and a sweatshirt with the logo of the nearby university. I sit in the dark corner of the coffee shop on a late Tuesday morning for hours. Waiting. Unnoticed. Black coffee burns my lip and tongue with each sip. Pain is a welcome distraction. I tap on my laptop and pretend that I am not aware that my computer is twice the size and I am twice the age of most everyone in the building. Once I am gone, they won’t remember I was ever here. Amber is late. I can’t help but worry that she is not going to show up again. She is the one. I have known from the instant I saw her walk out the door of the Arts and Sciences building four Tuesdays ago. One of the baristas from behind the counter comes out and throws away empty coffee cups and wadded up napkins left on a table three feet away from a trash can. Some people are assholes that way. She comes within arm’s reach but never looks at me. Her black trousers are strewn with cat hair. That means she’s single. I can’t help but like the way her buttocks sways, just slightly, while she wipes down a tabletop. I too feel like an asshole when a disturbing thought crosses my mind. If it doesn’t work out with Amber, maybe the barista could be the one. A television hangs on the wall in the opposite corner. The sound is off and closed-captions for the hearing impaired scroll the bottom of the screen, partially blocking yellow crime scene tape quarantining a section of wilderness. A body bag, strapped to a gurney, is loaded in the back of an ambulance. At first, I am struck with


worry, but the footage is grainy. Aged. The show cuts to a news broadcast and I can tell from the anchor’s hairstyle that it’s not today’s news, it’s one of those true crime shows that use DNA tests and generations of insect larvae to solve cold cases. On someone’s front porch people hug and sob and cry. So many of those shows crowd the airwaves these days that people have become desensitized to murder. You never hear about serial killers anymore. Not because fewer people are going around killing others, but because the ones you hear about have to be real butchers to get in the spotlight. The whole thing makes me feel like the hand I was dealt came from a deck missing a card or two. Mocha-caramel-frappuccino-half-caff-soy. I hear Amber’s voice and I can see our unborn children. The world seems fair again. From where I sit, her back is to me. I have never seen her hair down before. She curled it too. I appreciate the effort she makes. She sits down four tables away from me without even looking in my direction and keeps her back to me. No smile. No eye contact. No polite acknowledgement of a fellow human being in her presence. Typical. Chicks make me so angry sometimes. If she would interact with me in any way at all, I could finally introduce myself. I really have to curve my arm and hand around to chew the side of my thumbnail that I like. I bite the corner. Deep. It draws blood. I can taste it. Amber sends text messages on her phone while her netbook opens to her Facebook page. Her profile picture is different again. She always goes online before


working on her Sociology. The second website she opens is more secretive. She glances back at the counter before opening her online dating page. I don’t even have to struggle to recognize it. I have done the 30-day free trial membership on all of them. And I am still alone. Amber is admirable. She stopped for coffee and worked on her homework immediately after leaving her class. I was more the type to wait until the last minute to do my homework. What a pair we would make. I can’t stay mad at her. I bet she is one of those people that doesn’t really speak up much. I bet in Sociology class there are students who can’t wait to share their view of the world. Amber seems like the kind of student that would only speak when called upon. But a person can only bottle up their feelings for so long. I bet she has her moments where she really tears into people. Like if someone was going to cut a vegetable or a block of cheese directly on the kitchen counter. I bet she would shriek and pull the knife right out of their hands. Amber checks her phone, finishes her mocha-caramel-frappuccino-half-caff-soy and packs up her books. I know my window of opportunity is closing. I can’t sit here like an idiot Tuesday after Tuesday waiting for her to make the first move. As soon as she starts getting up I shut my laptop down, but keep gazing at the screen or just the top edge as I watch her go out the side door and walk back around the front window and down the street. Once outside, I can’t find her. She has slipped away again. I curse myself and walk toward my car, crossing the street by the baseball stadium. I am so busy bitching at


myself that I almost miss her when I walk past the vestibule at the bus stop. She’s inside, on the bench, her phone in hand. I smile, circle back toward the stadium and occupy myself with the posters of the ball players while I wait. It feels like the first time I saw her. Finally, the bus arrives and Amber gets on. The bus pulls away and across the marquee above the front windshield are the words “EAST BLAIR.” That’s all I need to know. Next Tuesday, I will be on that bus.


Contemplation Sasha Gao


He’s Mine, Pt. 1

By Taitiaira Herndon

Open your soul Unfold all your dirty thoughts Let me get lost in your words I will learn to love you at your worst If I don't Don't give me your best Repress, repress until I eventually confess I obsessed over your every action Thinking attraction was based on response But I realized that when I stopped responding My feelings did not She told me, "you have got to show yourself Expose yourself" I was afraid to know myself I'd always thought to grow, myself I needed someone else to water me To alter me To shatter my heart And foster me


Tatiaira Herndon I care for myself But I lost me When I became too busy trying to keep you To keep you I need you to want to stay I've let you go But stayed the same Cried the same Lied the same When she asked me what's wrong I denied the pain Tear stains and blue veins I never tell the whole story I always put others before me I'll pour later I'll find myself on that bathroom floor later Calling on the Savior to save me You've changed me And to grow it takes a lot of pain and grief It takes an experienced, quite, disguised thief To sneak right into your mind


Tatiaira Herndon Pick your locks And then you'll find Yourself falling I've been stalling Because I know it takes others more time It doesn't take me long to find the right vibe I get high off atmospheres I overthink then shed some tears I'm trying to shed all my fears But they're too attached They attack Like white blood cells Most love fails I'm trying to tip the scales And prevail I have to escape my shell I have to stay away from this hell I have to stop crying silently trying to recall when I fell What I've felt and what I feel is not the same The two interchange


Tatiaira Herndon I have become my own enemy Heart at war with brain My worries are vain I'm trying grow all while staying the same I am just as attached as my pain Don't say his name Don't play his game What if he's not playing? What if he means all that he is saying? What if, from the start, he planned on staying? I am ashamed I accused him of the things those before him had done.


Bows and Arows

By William Borley Birds flicker on the edge of Cyril’s vision. Well, maybe moths. Or bats. Shadows,

occasional black splotches that flutter in and out of the sunlight filtering through the horizontal blinds onto his fake-wooden desk. The girl who sits in front of him — Charlotte? He's never been entirely sure — snaps him back to attention with a well-timed ​thump​ of her world history textbook on her own desk. “He called on you,” she whispers, and turns back to the blackboard. “Well, mister Thierry? Didn’t you do the reading? What happened to HMS ​Valencia​?” No, he didn't. He's already forming an excuse to get out of the rest of the period: ​last night my mom took me to this Yousafzaian place for dinner and I think I got food poisoning, can I go to the nurse?​ He's had to get more creative, exponentially more detailed in his lies to skip class as the year’s gone on and Perkins quit accepting a simple ​I don't feel well​. There's causality diagrams drawn on the board in a rainbow of chalk, but for what, he's got no idea. Cyril clears his throat and says, “It. Um. It sunk off the coast of Boquete after a routine trading voyage out to Tatsumi-Osaka. No survivors.” Perkins raises his eyebrows. “Correct! What makes it different from all the other sunken ships out of Brittany?” All eyes are on Cyril, or it feels like it, and he's very aware of how he forgot to shower this morning. “One of the crew washed up on the beach two weeks later, and… um. And.” And his voice fails him yet again. “And, mister Thierry? Does anyone want to help him out, miss Moreau, since you were


so keen on it a minute ago?” Charlotte sits up straight, her hair catching brilliantly red in the light. “He was wasted down to nothing. He didn't die til after people found him.” “Right again! You all better remember that, it's going to be on the quiz Thursday. Now, regarding all these lines on the board…” Perkins finally takes his attention away from them, and Cyril can breathe again. Instead of risking the slim, slim chance that Perkins will let him leave, he opens a spiral notebook and starts doodling. Charlotte turns his way again and says, “I think that's the first time you've answered right all year.” And he didn't even get the whole question. “I guess so.” He shrugs, his pencil tracing absent-minded drawings on the lined paper. He answers right in arts all the time, but his arts teacher doesn't pick on him. He doesn't mention the multiple conferences he and his moms have had with Perkins about this exact thing. ​How do you do so well on tests when you can't answer anything if you're called on? Cici said he has anxiety, but he never really paid attention to the outcome of his visits to Dr. al-Binha. He only cared that they stopped, finally, after far too long. Six months later and he still hasn't looked at the papers stating his “official” diagnosis. “Are you always that zoned out?” she asks, drawing a tiny, perfect heart upside down on the top of his paper. “What? No, um, I got distracted,” he says. There are still flashes of black on the edge of


his vision, on the edge of his scratched-up desk. “Yeah, I noticed. What's all this? Like, are you going into manga? Cause, Cyril, you gotta be able to draw more than just this.” Charlotte doesn't say it in a cruel way, but Cyril almost panics. The paper is covered in eyes. Insanely detailed, or just outlines. Like they're really real and not distracted graphite lines, all of them stare directly at him. Cyril is reminded of why he doesn't doodle. He crumples the paper and says, forcing a tiny laugh, “Haha, yeah, just practicing a little.” “Mister Thierry, miss Moreau! Since you're so busy goofing off back there, I’m sure you already know why Shinjuku stopped trading with the former Belladonna city-state in 1804?” Perkins looks so self-satisfied with the question. Cyril has no idea, and prepares himself to give this week’s sick excuse. Perkins rolls his eyes, seeming to wait for yet another excuse for Cyril to not learn anything today.. “It, uh. Mr. Perkins, I think I’ve—” and he covers his mouth with his hands, emergency fast — he's not supposed to ​actually ​feel ill. Perkins gives up. “Miss Moreau, can you escort him to the nurse? Anyone know the answer to my question? No? It’s because the Shinjuku parliament could tell Pall Violets was about to go to war…”


The Peculiar Happenstance

Cassidy Moravy-Penchansky


How to Kiss the Moon By Cassidy Moravy-Penchansky 1. Discover your longing Last night you looked up and for the first time beheld the moon, full-faced and calling. Her detachment enchanted you. She was icy and distant, the sea beneath her. But even the depths of the ocean cannot reflect her splendor. She sparkled like jewels, frozen diamonds in the cold night sky. Her glassy light rippled, emanating down to earth to shatter you open in the sincere nightfall. Moonlight pooled on your face and you floated, not wanting the day to dawn. You must reach her. You must. 2. Watch a coppice grow You crawl with impatience but are going to need a full forest of wood for this epic endeavor, so, you bide. The minutes inch by as the trees inch up under her weakening glow. It seems like forever but finally you wield your axe. Cleaving left and right, the forest will tumble. Trees will fall, toothpicks before your determination. You will slice them into boards, readying them for their role, most essential. You may need to work for days, maybe weeks but it will be well worth the wait when you feel the cool powdery moon beneath your touch. She’s up there waiting, she watches you every night, and every night she slips farther into the cold blackness of the cosmos. If you don’t hurry, she will disappear. 3. Build the latter Now that you have all of those boards, you’ll need a hammer and nails. The work is grueling; you will sleep well. Keep working, strike harder. You must make a forest of footsteps, your path to abandon. You drive each nail in with a single blast but it’s not fast enough! She’s trying to slow time, but the waves keep rolling. Her power over their ebb and flow does not extend to that length, but your latter must. As it is finished, you feel the night shine. 4. Put on your best clothes Do you want to look like a fool after all this effort? No. Don’t look so eager. Smooth out those wrinkles. The purple will go well with her subtle silver glow. The shoes don’t matter. 5. Climb the ladder Barefoot you soar. One foot after the next, hurry! The sky is swallowing her and if you don’t hurry she will surely be gone, lost to the indifferent night. Urgency mangles your brow as you pull yourself up. Higher


you rise. Quickly, the nightingale chimes! 6. Hold her gently You reach her and she barely remains; lingering as a silvery sliver of her once-round self. You grasp her wispy form and draw her into your embrace. Her frosted contour will warm in your encirclement. 7. Kiss the Moon Your lips graze her smooth cheek and she flushes, fading black, consumed by the darkness, but you hang onto her shadowed silhouette not letting her fully wane. One night. She has one night before the sun illuminates her face once more and she returns to the other side of the sky. You float down the ladder at her wing. Tonight, when you get back, with the moon’s memory wound tight around you, you will dream of the bright, mint scent of moon dust and her soft, slight smile.


My Red “Wedding”

By Maria Kornacki

Mi madre hands me a red pouch and rests her hand gently atop mine as if she was saying goodbye to it for the last time. My first official “grown-up purse:” it was her grandmother’s, who gave it to her for her special day, keeping the tradition alive. They say the biggest day for a girl is her wedding day. It seems as though every girl has conjured up in their mind their dream wedding in intricate detail since the day they learned how to walk. All eyes on the girl in white, as she gracefully glides down the aisle, a storybook ending. Simplicity is pleasing to the ear. Well, today, I am not that girl. I am a 15-year-old Latina. I am the bold, apple red dress, strutting proudly at the forefront of all my relatives for my Quinceanera. A girl shifts into a woman like a baffling magic trick. Mi abuelo used to call me princess and tell me how much I’ve grown every time we saw each other. He could never put his finger on how time caught up with me so rapidly, yet so elegantly. Perplexed by the way I carried myself and acquired the same sassy hand mannerisms as mi madre whenever we played cards. Perhaps, I was more of a magician in his eyes.​ If only he could see me now​. I eventually figured out that he would always let me win every time he taught me a new game I wasn’t grasping right away. If I was losing, I would fold my arms under my pits and pout my lips like a 4-year-old who was just told they had to get ready for bed. Mi abuelo always kept spare change in his pocket and would slyly slip a quarter behind my ear to make it look as though it was there the whole time to cheer me up. In utter shock, I would ask how it got there, but he would just smirk softly and shrug. A true magician never reveals his secrets.


My mom took me to Leonardo’s Bakery to pick out my cake. The whiff of vanilla teasing my nostrils and the ding of the door when it opens are the fondest memories I have of this quaint place. Leonardo’s was our trusty petite bakery, which we had been relying on for birthdays and anniversaries since I was born. I flashed my finger at the tallest white frosting cake the bakery had, with glitter covering the top layer, eyes locked on my mom to lure her in with my power. It wasn’t a wish anymore, it was a command. I was power hungry and this cake would be mine. Iridescent twinkles of light reflect off of my dress, dancing on the walls, in sync with the disco ball hanging from the ceiling. Sweat beads shimmer like gold at the end of a rainbow. I am the luckiest girl in the world and nothing can bring me down. My brow furrows and my fantasy is abruptly interrupted by the ghastly sound of my uncle drunkenly babbling over everyone. A tuba in a room full of flutes. He’s chuckling like Santa Claus over his own off-colored jokes (If Santa rode a Harley, never brushed his teeth, and always wore ripped jeans), but we both know they’re borrowed and blue. Blue used to be my favorite color. Cotton candy blue to be specific, like the day my uncle took Sammy and I to the carnival when I was 8. We pulled up to our town’s carnival just up the street from our house. My parents dropped us off in the packed parking lot near the neon multi-colored banner at the entrance that read: “Foulington’s 10​th​ Annual End of Summer Carnival” where my uncle would be meeting us. “There he is. Wow. Those are some…slick wheels, no?” My mom pointed to my uncle sitting atop his shimmering motorcycle in his washed out blue jeans with the gaping holes. He could’ve been mistaken for a greaser on the set of ​Grease ​if it were the correct time period…and if he was still in high school.


“You kids have a muy buen tiempo! We’ll be back around 8.” My mom waved and then blew a kiss to Sammy and I from the rolled down window of their SUV. “Yeah, we will!” my uncle replied jokingly. As soon as they drove away, my uncle had his eyes fixated on his motorcycle, scanning it front to back, and then gripped the right handlebar firmly. “Ain’t she a beaut?” he said with a grin, showing his yellowing front teeth, the left one overlapping the right. I snarled and rolled my eyes. “It’s sweet! Can I ride?!” Sammy moved towards the seat. “Ohhh, Sammy. You’re too young. Why don’t you stick to Hot Wheels and tricycles for now?” He chuckled with his half-cough-half-laugh. “C’mon, Sammy. Vamanos. I see your favorite ride!” I patted him on the back and we ran under the banner to get in line for our wristbands. I turned my head back to my uncle slowly making his way over to us. “We’ll meet up with you later!” “Where?” “The cotton candy machine next to the face painting!” “Alright, see you guys later, I guess.” We all wandered off into the overwhelming cloud of popcorn, dirt, and sweat. Sammy and I arrived at the “Speed Racer,” Sammy’s favorite race car ride, which basically just goes around in a circle and lifts up off of the ground every few minutes, but the little kids go crazy over it. The line was already getting long and filling with chatty parents and their toddlers. “YELLOW CAR.” Sammy whacked me on my wrist.


“What?!” “There’s a yellow car on this ride!” “That doesn’t count, ya dork. We only play that game with real cars.” I raised my eyebrows and whacked him back. “Yayyy! It’s our turn!” We got on the ride and my eyes were already analyzing the next place I wanted to go. 4 rides and 3 games later, we finally decided we were both hungry. “We should probably see how Uncle is doing.” “Cotton candy! I’ll race you!” My brother’s eyes widened as he darted towards the cotton candy stand. I caught up with him in no time and then he tried to kick me in my calf, but missed and tripped. He was right where we told him to be: smothering the blue cotton candy on the bench right behind the stand. “Oh, hey! Look who it is. How have you two been?” I could see his blue-stained tongue as he was struggling to get the words out of his sticky mouth. “Look what we won!” Sammy held up his stuffed animal tiger along with a pair of light up sunglasses while I held up my tiny teddy bear and a necklace. Uncle slapped his thighs and then groaned as he stood up from the bench while licking his lips. “Wow! That’s awesome. I need to get me one of those little bear things for my dog, Rascal. He’d love it as a chew toy.” “We’re hungry. Can we have cotton candy now?” I interrupted. "Sure. Great idea, I’ve already had 3 of the blue raspberry ones. I forgot how good


those were.” I couldn’t stop staring at his mouth and the disturbing movement of his blue splotched lips. “Can I have the blue one?” Sammy asked the worker. “Of course. And for you, Miss?” “Ummm…rrr...red.” Sammy gasped. “But you always get blue raspberry!” I could feel the heat in my cheeks rising up to my eye sockets. “You’re right, Sammy. Never mind. I want blue, please.” “Look! They’re the same color as your shoes!” I looked down in a clouded state of mind. “How about when you two are done, we try out the old Ferris wheel.” “The what?” I asked anxiously. “You’ve never been?! Oh, you have to. It’s only the best ride at the carnival.” “But it’s so high.” “It’s just like riding a big bike,” he insisted. To this day, I still have no idea what he meant by that explanation. ​How does one immediately equate riding a Ferris wheel to riding a bike? One is clearly on the ground​. His mind was always stuck on his black motorcycle. It looks polished from afar, but then you get up close and can see a film of dust forming, tiny scratch marks already visible, and then your distorted reflection. After much hesitation and self-convincing, I inhaled, clenched my fists, and shifted towards the line with my eyes following the wheel all the way up to the top. It didn’t look ​that intimidating. I gulped the lump down my throat and my body suddenly became tense. I didn’t have much time to back out though because before I knew it, we were already next in line.


“You’ll be fine. It’s supposed to be relaxing.” “This looks fun!” Sammy ran into one of the seats. “Please keep your hands and feet inside the ride at all times,” the muffled voice announced. My left arm was hugging the side of the cold bar so tightly, my sweat stains froze right off onto them. Sammy was squeezed between Uncle and I, contentedly swinging his stubby legs back and forth. ​Relax. Maybe this isn’t so bad.​ As we approached the top, I glanced at the view to my right. I stopped for a moment to notice Uncle peacefully staring down at the parking lot. I wondered what he was thinking. “YELLOW CAR!” Sammy whacked me in my gut and I jolted forward nauseatingly. “SAMMY.” Something about his punch made the 2 blue raspberry cotton candies I ate make my stomach fully aware they were still being digested. “ANOTHER!” He stood up and backhanded my shoulder. “Ooucch, Sammy! You’re gonna get us in t…” This time we all jolted forwards. Uncle had apparently dozed off and shook his head like a dog drying off from a bath. “What’s going on?” The ride stopped at the top and suddenly, my knowledge of how high the ride actually is was in full swing again. “Hey, kid! You need to sit down and stay down,” the worker yelled from the speaker. To make matters worse, he was having issues getting the ride started again. “I think I’m gonna be sick.” “What’s that supposed to mean?” The panic in my uncle’s dilated eyes set in. “Hey, start the ride down there! We got a sick kid!” my uncle roared down to the worker. The last thing I vividly remember were the faces of the people in pods below us, looking up in confusion and concern, and then a small blue river of chunks spilling down from


my quivering mouth. The last time I ever rode a Ferris wheel and the last time my uncle ever took us to a carnival. ___ Anyways, back to my little brother, Sammy. The life of the party and the lighter fluid to my flame. He’s wearing a black sock and trying to kick me underneath the table with a blue sock that he thought were the same pair. He just knocked over my grandmother’s glass of water, trying to reach for the cookies. The night simmers down and the spotlight burns holes in my cheeks, cringing at my parents proudly announcing stories of my naivety, the skin pink like my overpriced lipstick. My mother is imitating the time I was five and she found me in her closet, trying on her sky blue stilettos, with lipstick over my eyelids and cheeks. She also felt the need to mention my evident Disney princess obsession, followed by the time I was 10 and rode my bike down to the local toy store, attempting to steal a pair of Cinderella shoes. I was convinced they contained actual powers if I put them on and my mother refused to get them for me my previous birthday. I then attempted to chuck the shoes at the employee chasing me, who then called security. Hearing these stories aloud makes me realize how careless and attention-seeking I was. Now I am the center of attention and suddenly, I want to fall down a rabbit hole into my own little technicolor world. I watch the candle on the table flicker as I forced my eyes shut for a moment. My papa then chimes in, champagne glass in hand, with a story of the time I was 12 and accidently locked myself out of our house on the way home from my best friend Julia’s house. Julia, unaware of what happened after I left, was chuckling through the entirety of the story. I


slouch lower in my seat, hoping my sweat will melt me right into the carpet. I had spent the night at her house, and walked home the next day still in my PJs. This also happened to be the day our foreign neighbors were getting ready for an extravagant wedding. I was blushing a little, but then panic crept in when I realized the door wasn’t opening and no one else was home. I vigorously shook the doorknob three times expecting the third time to somehow be the charm that would unlock the door. My papa was at a dentist appointment, so I sighed and then awkwardly waited in the driveway for at least a half hour as everyone in their fancy attire glared at me in my sleeping beauty PJ’s, which I refused to grow out of. One could also say this is a representation of how my uncle looks when he crashes our family events. The story progresses and my papa then informed me of Sammy’s plans being cancelled for the day meaning he should be home. I rolled my eyes as Sammy came to the door and the vein that runs like a river, directly down his forehead was popping out as he bursts out a high-pitched laugh. I stare at him across the table, snickering the same way, mouth open wide, and my papa’s mustache bouncing up and down in time with Sammy. Sammy then motioned a strange dance move through the window. I squinted at his lips and realized he was telling me to do the Macarena and then he’d let me in. I hesitated at first, but I was desperate, so I did it, but that wasn’t good enough for Sammy. Nothing is ever good enough. My little brother had me wrapped around his finger like a puppet as I was suddenly under his command. I stepped back and flailed my arms even bigger, as my dad got home at the same time. Instead of helping me out, the first thing he did was take out his phone like a teenager during a schoolyard fight, and started recording me. Sammy’s empathy finally kicked in towards the end when he hopped over next to me and joined in. I didn’t think I’d have to relive this moment, but papa brought the footage for


my entire family to watch on the projector. It was somewhat more humorous to watch now, but I still forced out a fake laugh. I shrivel up like the ruffles on my dress that barely made it through the night.


Mellifluous Cassidy Moravy-Penchansky


Frustration of the Winds

By Stephen Brannon Jr.

Air masses bear angels with tidings ill Brilliant faces, but such sad words they spill Sadly, towards me it strolls In its wake a dark cloud rolls “Wailing Wind of East Street What news is there for you to repeat?” A young woman was selling herself with zest Though track marks and bloodshot eyes show need to rest Short of her quota, yell ‘timber,’ down she goes Each kick of her pimp’s boots puts her near death throes The scars are sore hieroglyphs of agony Bleak past, bleak future, she may never be free. Over dusty porches, past sealed windows Ruffling flags and clothes whenever it goes “Billowed Breeze of West Avenue What reports are there to review?” A hungry teen needs money and sells drugs Worth it, ‘til it’s not and his chest meets slugs Deeds he has done put an undertaker in shock Can barely read, he recognizes one word, “Glock” Does dark deals under an unthinkable heaven The only number he’s learned, 1911 Angry, it comes at us shaking street signs In fury it may snap full grown pines “Rapid Roaring Squall from North Lane Of what injustice do you complain?” The creek has a young kid’s body in rot Under false pretense there they were brought Sex, ancestry and name unknown Bruised was their skin, broke is each bone Each year their ranks grow by so many I will call them “Every’n’Any​”


The Answer Is ​D When you

By Maria Kornacki

know the way out but…. Something as miniscule as doubt manages to E X P A N D when it’s frozen. Hovering over multiple choice bubbles and impulsively lands on a B No! Stings. “The right answer is C, not B you buffoon.” It’s a bee not a wasp, I can never remember which one is which? Both sting, it’s all black and yellow to me.


See? I could never see the right answer before it was too late. Perhaps I should start over from the beginning.



People talk about the Root of all evil But what about the Root of all success,

By Marcus LaGuerre

The acorns from this Success tree Have been implanted in all Living beings, Growing mighty oaks or lesser pines, Still creating the minefield of a world We know today, A world filled with minds Both primitive and evolved But all dangerous, Running on one prime directive Fight or flight, All creatures have been Given wings to fly into life, Whether artificial or natural They’re all formidable, Mechanic or organic They cause panic, To spread like wildfire, I admire the beauty of These imperfect beings, Will to live frees them From the cage of doubt When the heat of fear Singes their back, They either run or attack, Tackling life’s infinite Challenges with two simple tacks, That split second decision Is what always makes the match.


Contributors Mona Beydoun Junior, Literature, BA William Borley Junior, Chemistry, BS Stephen Jr. Brannon Senior ( 2nd bachelor) Information Assurance, BS Al Davey Freshman, Written Communication, BS Bria Erby Senior, Drawing, BFA Lorena Ganser Sophomore, Painting, BFA Sasha Guo Junior, Sculpture, BFA Taitiaira Herdon Freshman, Psychology, BS

Gina Hewitt Sophomore ( 2nd bachelor) Drawing, BFA

Nikeah Howard Freshman, Computer Engineering, BS

Cassidy Moravy-Penchansky Senior 5th year, Visual Art Education, BFA

Jeffrey Moss Junior, Written Communication, BS Neal Junior, Communication and Psychology , BA and BS Christian Nelson Sophomore, Biology, BS Madeleine Nemechek Sophomore, Electronic Media & Film Studies, BS Alexander Prindle Freshman, Information Assurance, BS Rheanna Reeder Freshman, Social Work, BSW

Matthew Scicluna Senior, Psychology, BS

Kenzie Zaitzeif Senior, Special Education K-12 Cognitive Impairment-Elementary BS

Maria Kornacki Junior, Creative Writing, BA Marcus LaGuerre Freshman, Simulation, Animation, & Gaming, BS Ri Merz Freshman, Geology, BS