Inscape Central Methodist University’s Magazine of the Arts A Project of CMU’s Mu Lambda chapter of Sigma Tau Delta
Issue 37 / 2012 Editors Brittanee Jacobs Kate Kellner Ashton Zimmerman
Faculty Advisor Dr. John Porter
Inscape was founded in 1975 by Central’s Tau Tau Tau honorary fraternity,
Mu Lambda chapter of Sigma Tau Delta (the International English Honor Society), and the legendary Scribblers and Scrawlers.
Inscape is funded by CMU’s Student Government Association.
© 2012 by Inscape, Central Methodist University’s Magazine of the Arts Inscape is one of the creative endeavors of the students, faculty, and staff at CMU. This unique publishing opportunity is one of many educational experiences that CMU’s Department of English faculty provides. The Department has a distinguished record of placing students in graduate and professional study as well as in Education and other professional fields. If you would like further information about CMU’s Department of English, contact Dr. John Porter Department of English Central Methodist University 411 Central Methodist Square Fayette, Missouri 65248-1192 firstname.lastname@example.org (660) 248-6307 Or visit www.centralmethodist.edu/academics/english/index.php for more information. The Inscape staff and Sigma Tau Delta wish to thank the staff at General Printing, Columbia, Missouri, for their assistance in producing and printing this issue.
Table of Contents Editors’ Note.................................................................................................5 Wake Up and Write! - Rachael Jones.....................................................7 Castle Walls - Brittney Blakemore............................................................8 In the Starlit Hour - Brenna Wheeler (Kilgore Trout Award for Fiction).................................................. 10 The White Coats - Rachael Jones.......................................................... 14 The Insects & Maybe the Lord If He Does Exist - Kris Kuoppamaki.15 August Twenty-Second - Jordan Brennan............................................. 18 Creatures of the Night - Angel Smith.................................................... 23 Condemned - Rachael Jones.................................................................. 24 Deafness Made Me Hear - Kate Kellner (Gordon Hadfield Award for Poetry)......................................... 25 Lavender - Joe Jefferies......................................................................... 27 Reflections of Society’s Expectations for Me - Brenna Wheeler...... 28 Love Hidden Beneath Roses - Brittanee Jacobs.................................. 29 Wedding Vowels - Brenna Wheeler..................................................... 30 Flames of Love Turned to Ashes - Courtney Dennis.................. 32 The Pain of Freedom - Sean Faulkner.................................................. 33 Burning Guilt - Ryan Adams.................................................................... 35 Smoke - Brittanee Jacobs........................................................................ 39 Descendants - Ashton Zimmerman......................................................... 40 Salty Sovereignty - Brittanee Jacobs................................................... 41 Lo Que Usted no Puede Tomar - Ryan Mallady (William L. Spencer Award for Foreign-Language Poetry).... 45 I Love Bread - Knial Piper....................................................................... 46 Where Do We Go from Here? - Brittney Blakemore........................ 47 600 Entangled - Brad Dudenhoffer (Elizabeth Stapleton Award in Art Education)........................... 49 Downtown - Joe Jefferies........................................................................ 50 Spokes and Tires - Elise Schreiber........................................................ 51 Carnival - Kelsey Forqueran................................................................... 52 Exposed - Brad Dudenhoffer................................................................. 53 Washington Cathedral - Elizabeth Flanders....................................... 54 To Be a Princess - Caryn Jackson........................................................... 55 Boo Radley - Brittanee Jacobs............................................................... 56 3
The Last Day of Summer - Elizabeth Flanders.................................... 57 Cowboy Gear - Eileen Stacy.................................................................. 58 Jaunting Cart - Courtney Ohlms............................................................. 59 Beauty of the Earth - Kelsey Forqueran............................................... 60 A Light Breeze - Elizabeth Flanders...................................................... 61 The Pond - Brittanee Jacobs................................................................... 62 Rustic Tribute - Amber Sammet.............................................................. 63 The Warm Breeze - Caryn Jackson...................................................... 64 Great Man Who Lived His Life! - Geofrey Bilabaye........................ 70 Little Ladybug - Ashton Zimmerman...................................................... 73 This I Know - Brenna Wheeler................................................................ 74 Princess Buttercup Rides into War - Brittney Blakemore (Thomas F. Dillingham Award for Non-fiction Prose)................ 77 Forever and Always - Kate Kellner....................................................... 79 Linger - Joe Jefferies............................................................................... 86 The Black Blanket - Brittanee Jacobs.................................................... 87 Moments of Reflection - Ryan Adams.................................................... 90 7.6 Pounds - Doyle Bohr.......................................................................... 91
Front Cover Irish Dreams - Courtney Ohlms (Byrd Cooper Kirby Award) Back Cover Peeling Back the Past - Amber Sammet (Byrd Cooper Kirby Award)
Our cover begins the journey of Inscape. All of the pieces craft a path to an understanding of how we fit together in the puzzle of life. There are different kinds of journeys all throughout these stories. Sometimes they are treacherous, and you may want to give up. Other times you must begin a new adventure. We all have our own inscape, our own way of seeing the world. No matter the voyage, all of these experiences compose your very being. Literature is a tool which unifies us, and art fills in the gaps that words cannot express. Life is about moving forward and the journeys you undertake. This year, Inscape is our journey. Let it be yours. Brittanee “The Legend” Jacobs Kate Kellner Ashton Zimmerman
And to Kate, we’re starting a new journey, but we leave you to yours. -Brittanee and Ashton 5
in路scape /in-skeip/ n. word coined by British poet Gerard Manley Hopkins for the individual or essential quality of a thing; the uniqueness of an observed object, scene, event, etc.
Wake Up and Write!
Wake up! Give a penny for the thoughts of the writer, a dying variety. Shatter the world into shards of disregarded propriety. Cast asunder the terror of preconceived inabilities. Let musings flow freely onto the page with swift agility. Write! Consider not the critic, readily willing to condescend. The art of writing requires the aptitude to amend. Conceive new worlds; with a flourish of creativity. Present a passion for obscurity and ambiguity. Wake up and write! Please do not write from coercion. Write not by persuasion. Do not write for wealth. Write for yourself. Wake up and write!
Nighttime. Stormy weather. The path leading to my destination is dark, misleading. My heart is racing. Racing quickly. My feet begin walking, walking away from the castle which I love. This is a journey that I need to make. A journey that has been looming over my head for years. Things around me are trying to pull me back in. Creatures in the pathway, blocking my way. I tell myself to keep moving. I tell myself it’s necessary. Small lights illuminate the pathway as I move. People standing all around me, begging me to stay. To stay with them. No, I tell them. It is time for me to move on. It is time for me to grow up. Even though I am saying this out loud, I know it is a lie. Regretfully, the lights fade away. I am in the darkness again. The people around me have left my side, never to be seen again. I know I am on my way out now. On my way to another world. Or am I? Three more people step in front of me. The three people I don’t want to see. My heart is breaking, tears streaming from my eyes. My tears match their tears. My heartache, to theirs. Three people. Two boys. One girl. My best friends. They have shared more of themselves with me than anyone else in the world. In my world. This is my world though. My true world. They keep asking me to stay. To go on more adventures, to have more fun. It isn’t about the fun, I tell them. I need to do this. I need to leave 8
your side. I hug each of them and say goodbye. My heart beats slower now. Slower than ever before. Finally, I reach my destination. A large red train glimmers at me in the darkness. A sign of hope. I know I can do this. I know I can survive without this world. It can’t be my security blanket anymore. It just can’t. I have been here too long. I have worn out my welcome. My hand grasps the doorway of the train. This is the time to say goodbye, but I realize I can’t. I can’t say goodbye because there isn’t ever going to be a goodbye. I know, deep down in my heart, that it will always be there. When I need a shoulder to cry on, When I need a good laugh. It will be there. The train disappears. I am in my bedroom. The book in my hand, glistens as if by magical light. My hand is trembling as I place it on the bookshelf next to the rest of the dust covered novels. My childhood has ended. My adult life must begin. Alice had her wonderland. My wonderland is different. Mine is full of witches, wizards, trolls, and hippogriffs. I will never find another place like it, but not for lack of trying. Hogwarts was my home. But now I must life live, outside of those castle walls
Kilgore Trout Award for Fiction In the Starlit Hour
Alone again on a Friday night, the librarian took out his iPod and turned to his 1940’s playlist. The music may be six decades old, but if all else failed, he knew Miss Ella Fitzgerald could always melt his stress away. He was just beginning to nod off when his thoughts were interrupted by a slim young woman incessantly ringing the bell at the front desk. Annoyed, he rolled his eyes as he removed his poison green ear-buds, “Can I help you?” The young woman gave him a sour look then turned on her heel and walked haughtily away. As he sat there contemplating the most politically correct wording for a library sign meaning, “No Assholes Allowed,” the woman returned, walked right past the desk without a word, and out the front door. She was dressed all in gray: dress, blouse, headband, and pearls, the only exception, her bright red, high-heeled shoes, clicking against the tile as she walked. He shook his head, only further annoyed. The fog outside was thick and wet, and the chill she let in as she opened and closed the door was so very characteristic of late autumn, he had to glance up at the calendar to be sure it was really only the end of September. It felt more like November. A very few moments later, an older man in a white sweater-vest passed the desk on his way out. “You’ll need more of a jacket than that out there,” he warned. But the older man just smiled indulgingly and walked out into the night. The clock on the wall ticked away another hour. Ten o’clock. In an hour and a half he would be able to close up the library for the evening and make the cold trek back to his small one room apartment on 124th street. He sighed as he leaned back in his chair thinking of his childhood home, the kitchen always warm on nights like these, so different from his current unadorned lodgings. Again the woman interrupted his musings, her foot beating out a rhythm on the floor in her impatience. “Can I help you?” he asked again. She did not reply but 10
only turned to leave, her red shoes clicking, red headband bright against her dull hair. He watched her leave, contemptuous of her rude behavior, the sound of her footsteps echoing off the cinderblock walls. Had he seen her somewhere before? A gust of wind, let in by her leaving, made him shiver drawing the attention of a pair of men in white dress shirts. “Are you feeling alright, buddy?” “I’d be better if she’d quit opening and closing that damn door.” The two smiled politely and left. A glance at the clock said it was now 10:30. When he looked back she was standing in front of him again, fire red lips pursed, matching red nails drumming on the desk top. “Is there something you need?” he asked her in exasperation. The woman smiled as she stepped back away from the desk, click, click, click. “What do you want from me?” She only stood still with that small crimson smile beneath her haunting gray eyes. “The library’s closing in an hour,” he told her, annoyed. Smile still pasted in place, heels clicking in time with the tick of the clock, she walked slowly toward the front door. There was something about the way she looked at him, the way she looked through him, that seemed distantly familiar. Had she been here during his shift before? No, he knew her name. Or he used to know her name. It started with an e. Emily. Elizabeth. Maybe i. Iris, Ivy.Eirena! “Eirena!” She stopped, but only for a moment, before she walked quickly outside. That foggy cold slipped into the space she had occupied only seconds earlier, spreading to fill the room, obscuring everything from view. The wet air smelled like November. Maybe it was last year, maybe it had been two years. He shivered violently and rubbed his arms up and down trying to generate heat. Suddenly the room was much smaller than it had been, white and cold. Something tickled the back of his brain; there was something he was supposed to remember. He tried to 11
hold on to the image of Eirena, the thought of her, as he groped for the door. He found the knob and turned it. He was surprised to find the door unlocked, but then he couldn’t remember why that should be very surprising. Stepping outside, he found it was exactly like the inside, white with no end to be seen. But somehow he still felt enclosed, trapped, he couldn’t breathe. Eirena stood waiting for him, a broad smile painted on her beautiful face, gray eyes shining, wearing the most violent shade of red, head to foot. She was terrifying and he remembered her. For a brief moment he remembered everything. The smell of her skin and her hair, the sound of her laugh, the way her lips felt against his; and the last time he had seen her, in November, covered in red. “Eirena, it wasn’t my fault! Eirena, listen to me, please!” She only smiled, with those red lips. “Eirena!” “Can I get some help over here!” a woman’s voice, coming closer, but not his Eirena. Three, no four, people were with him now, pulling him away from her, just out of reach, the three men who had passed by the front desk earlier, and the woman who called for help. They were talking to him in soothing voices, trying to coax him back into his white, barren room, back away from Eirena. It had been so long since he had seen her, his Eirena. If he could only hold her for a moment. He felt a pinch to his bicep as he was being pulled and pushed through the doorway and he remembered. That pinch, the little stab that would take Eirena away. Eirena. He had to hold on to her. He had to keep her in his mind as long as he could. She was further away from him now, smiling broadly, but a smile that didn’t reach her eyes. “Eirena!” he gave one last call of desperation, before the door shut, one last appeal. He felt his eyelids growing heavy, felt himself being placed into his desk chair. Then his eyes shut. Another hour or so and he’d be able to lock up the library for the night. Soundlessly he began to tap his foot to the music in his ears: 12
…I think of you Night and day, day and night, why is it so That this longing for you follows wherever I go In the roaring traffic’s boom In the silence of my lonely room I think of you…
The White Coats
Twisted stairways descend into sterile hallways of loneliness and purity, where nobody is anybody and white coats are authority. Blocked doorways lead to rooms of faded personalities and dulled senses of being, closed off from civilization. Windows are spattered with rain, as eyes behold the notion of freedom that is only the other side of social acceptance. Faces stare blankly in a medicated assumption; nothing but a prolonged perception of a rapturous reality. Chess boards rest with knights unworthy of their rank, kings upholding a sovereignty of continuous silence. Love, hate, war, and peace are nothing more than words that weigh heavily on the tongue, nothing but a hindrance. Emotions are an encumbrance to the aspect of living; theyâ€™re lost in a distant past, mixed in the maelstrom. Souls are washed away with injections and pills administered by the white coated wonders that we trust.
The Insects and Maybe the Lord if He Does Exist Kris Kuoppamaki So here I am once again sitting and waiting, unbeknownst to anyone or anything except the Lord maybe, if he does exist and the small insects that fly by. I am fully consumed in the shrubbery and darkness that swallows the park once the sun retreats beyond the horizon. Yet there is still light, but only enough to keep your mind from wondering what might be out there as the light poles can only provide so much. I sit in fascination as the insects swarm about the light like a school of frantic fish, much like the thoughts in my head. Only mine seem to be attracted to the darkness. As I observe like many times before, I see her walking peacefully along the path to her demise, but only I know this and maybe the Lord if he does exist. I watch intently as her body moves along. There are no expressions or feelings given off, she is just walking. For what reason a person walks through the park at night, I donâ€™t know, but for the last month it has given me a great enjoyment. The only motive I can think of is that maybe she wants someone like me to find her here, in the dark, and all alone. Nevertheless I suppose I will miss it. As she passes, she glances over her shoulder like maybe she knows, like maybe she knows Iâ€™m here. Maybe she feels my thoughts overflowing and fleeing in all directions as she moves close and eventually past me. As her silhouette fades down the path there is nothing more I can see, and I begin to move throughout the wooded area within the park quiet and calm like a cool breeze. It is almost scary that I know the area with such familiarity that I need no light to guide me to where I will once again sit and wait. I have mapped out the park and timed it perfectly to where I will arrive in time for her to enter and exit my view. Only this time I will escort her out. As I come to my destination I can clearly see the bench. My jealousy and hatred of the bench is almost equal to my fondness of her. As every night, it is the one who feels her warmth, the one she visits, and the one she says goodbye to. Her repeated returns to it are unbearable, while my loyal returns go unnoticed. Tonight though 15
it will be my turn to feel her warmth, to visit, and be the last to say goodbye. Elegantly as every night before she enters my view rounding the corner fully covered in the light of the light poles. If she only knew now to run, as fast as she could, to run with all her might until her body collapsed as the pain felt there would be less of that momentarily. But no, she walks, slowly, calmly, and she eyes the bench. “Don’t! Turn around!” Part of me wants to yell, but the other keeps me quiet. The dark part of me which I can’t escape is un-relentless, as it drags me towards the inevitable. She moves closer now and as the bench is reached, she sits. She has no view behind herself. In my state of jealousy, I still admire the great courage it must take as a woman alone in the dark by herself. No one to hear her screams muffled by my hands which will surely cover a better part of her face. As she sits quietly and calm, back fully against the rest of the bench, I reveal myself from the darkness, but only to the insects and maybe the Lord if he does exist. As I approach her I am now within arm’s reach of her. I stand and admire her blonde hair which looks beautiful and healthy. Shining from the glow of the light poles, I want to compliment, but I know I cannot. As I admire her beauty I lean in close to her ear, and whisper “I…” She turns suddenly! Appalled, scared, frantic. She tries to flee, but I grab a handful of her beautiful blonde hair and yank her close to me, reassuring my grip as I release and grab a bigger handful. It feels like silk between my fingers. She lets out a scream so high pitched it sounds un-human. She attempts to flee in opposite of me, almost as if she refuses to look at me. With my hand in her hair, and a firm grip I turn her face, as her body follows towards me. She’s kicking and hitting at me her hardest, flailing all over the place like when a fisherman pulls the catch up onto the boat. Her repeated attempts to free herself give me such a feeling I can’t help but slightly smile, and watch her try and try again, even though it is clearly apparent she wishes it to end. Her screams are starting to fade along with her effort as 16
she has exerted herself so much. I put my other hand upon her throat. I feel the warmth of human flesh, I feel her pulse beating, beating like that as if she would have run like I wanted to tell her. In such a situation I would think her pulse would be at its peak, but at this moment it quickens, almost a constant. As the pulse increases I squeeze with my hand that reaches almost all the way around her small neck, her eyes are full with tears bursting free at the eyelids and running down her beautiful face. As my grip is almost no further than it can go, I feel her slipping away. I release her neck as a tear splashes onto my hand. She takes one huge gasp of air; I feel her body quiver and shake in my hand that is still lost within her blonde hair. As I take one last look at her, I rear back and drive my fist repeatedly into her face, the face that was once so beautiful, so unconcerned. The tears are joined by blood now and eventually lost within it. I position my hand again on her neck and squeeze until there is nothing felt, nothing, nothing like me. I step back and ponder at her now. She isnâ€™t beautiful anymore and so my desire fades instantly. With no reason to be there I leave, once again entering the shadows to carry on accompanied by the insects, and maybe the Lord if he does exist.
[Video camera turns on. Battery: 100%. Time Stamp: 08/22/2011, 06:45:26 A living room comes into view, fashioned by a bachelor. Within view is a TV screen, flashing anime battle sequences. Camera rotates about 90o, displaying a sloppy living space, fixing on the face of a man in his late twenties. The camera is obviously on a tripod, considering its smooth motion. The man has five o’clock shadow, scruffy blonde hair and shocking blue eyes. Shadowed bags under his eyes indicate hours, if not days, of no sleep.] “So I finally figured out this ‘geohashing’ thing and it’s pretty intense! I mean, I enjoy having an excuse to actually use the Bachelor of Science in Mathematics I spent years working for… Anyway, it’s this algorithm where you take the starting number of the DOW stock exchange for the day and it gives you a random location to explore. I mean, the web has a generator that does it automatically, but I found out the algorithm and do it on my own. Maybe I’ve been a bit obsessed by it, I don’t know, but after three straight days of places I couldn’t go to, it spits out a location just outside of town! I started a blog about it, even though I’ve only been to two places since I started. But this time, just to show how nerdy I am, I’m making it a video post.” [Man reaches out, tilting camera down, pointing at the desktop. A small, metal gadget is in view.] “I got a new GPS just for the occasion. I also got a six pack of Bud Light, since this is a celebration! Wow, geeked out, there. Um, well, I’m heading out now. See you all soon!”
[Man reaches out again, Video camera turns off.]
[Video camera turns on. Battery: 100%. Time Stamp: 08/22/2011, 07:22:44 A forest is in view. Tall trees loom overhead, displaying autumn 18
colors. The sky is cloudless and blue. The camera whips around as though handled by an amateur videographer. Muffled sounds indicate uncertain hands.] “I’m back! Unfortunately, my car, which was once healthy as a horse, died for no good reason. I just had it serviced and the gas was at ¾’s full, so I’m just baffled. Anyway, according to my GPS, we’re a couple miles from the spot. Um, my phone doesn’t seem to be working either, right now. I was just texting a couple guys in my meetup group just before I parked and they said they were almost there, so hopefully I find them pretty quickly. Uh…” [Camera rotates clumsily, looking up into the man’s face. The bright sky makes his face almost indiscernible, his head a silhouette. He’s nervous.]
“Pretend I didn’t say that thing about texting and driving.”
[Camera raises a bit, revealing thick woods, a back road, and a blue Honda parked just off the shoulder. The wind kicks a few leaves up and a black shape flashes among the trees. Video is momentarily interrupted by a burst of static. The man looks around, not noticing the interruption, still looking nervous about texting and driving. After a short pause, the video camera turns around, facing a field rimmed with woods. The man mumbles a bit, something about his technology failing him. Footsteps crunch as the man walks forward several paces.]
“I think I’m close…”
[Camera drops down to man’s hand, clutching GPS unit. It is blinking a series of numbers. Hand withdraws and camera raises again, slowly rotating in a full circle. The woods almost completely surround the plain, the blue car far from sight. Another black shape flashes in the woods and the recording is again interrupted by static. Again, it goes unnoticed.] 19
“Well, it’s about seven forty-five. This is the place, I guess… I don’t see anyone in my group and my phone is still f***ed up…” [Camera reveals white iPhone in green casing. A pale thumb appears, hitting the home button. A glitchy display comes on the screen, almost resembling a picture of the man. Nothing is discernible. The phone vanishes, followed by the sound of something in a pocket. Loud swearing.] “I can’t believe this! I just got this thing and it’s already broken! God, what a morning!” [GPS unit appears in screen again. There are no numbers on the screen, even though a green light indicates power. The man, still swearing, tries to play with the GPS to no avail. The GPS disappears and it sounds like it goes into a pocket as well. Then the camera looks back at the man’s face. It is red with frustration.] “Well, world of geohashing, let us remember this as the day that technology failed a faithful servant. I just hope that Apple sees this video and” [The video freezes in the midst of his rant. The picture becomes pixilated and the sound becomes a whining shriek. Video camera shuts off.] [Video camera turns on. Battery: 75%. Time Stamp: 08/22/2011, 07:45:00. Interior of the car. Only the back of the passenger seat can be seen. Grunts and groans indicate the man is having failed attempts at something. Stomping and slapping can be heard.] “Carfax.com my ass… This car was obviously a lemon and the damn system of life refuses to acknowledge my pleas for help. My phone and GPS are still glitched, and my camera…” 20
[Muffled sounds as the camera is picked up.Loud tapping
on the side. The camera is turned, revealing the man’s face and the road just outside the window. The sunlight has faded. The man grins widely.] me!”
“Looks like I spoke too soon! At least something here likes
[The microphone blanks out as an earsplitting sound rattles the car. Man’s face goes pale and eyes wide as he looks around, trying to find the source of the noise. Muttering in fear, he gathers the camera close to him as he opens the car door and steps out onto the road. Camera swoops left and ride, showing a completely abandoned road. Then it pans around, showing the empty plain and still woods. Above, the sky has grown cloudy, but sunlight still comes down in beams.] “Like I said, my car is a total lemon. It was probably because I was trying to start it…” [Camera pans again. The microphone blanks as another earsplitting sound resounds across the plain. Camera drops several feet as the man throws himself to the ground. Static interrupts the video again and the time stamp flickers from 08/22/2011, 07:48:43 to 00/00/0000, 00:00:00. After two flashes, the time remains at zero. The road is in immediate view at the bottom of the screen, the man’s hand flashing in and out of view. The camera slowly scoots across the road, hiding in the shade of the car.] “That…was…not my car… I have no idea what’s going on right now…” [A scream echoes across the plain. Camera whips around, revealing the grassy slope. A tall figure stands alone on the grass, dressed in camouflage. The man’s heavy breathing intensifies as he slowly rises. A flash of static and the figure is gone. The sound stops. The camera waves around a bit, eventually raising to meet the man’s distressed face. He is mouthing frantically. The camera 21
turns back to the clearing and begins to advance slowly. Video begins to pixelate, the field muddled and unclear. The man nears the position indicated earlier and abruptly, the camera returns to normal clarity.] “Hello? Hello? I know you’re here, I saw you! Don’t you try to play a joke on me, you…” [A loud thud and the camera drops. The picture crackles once with static. The half of the lens not obscured by mud shows the plain, sunny and peaceful. The clouds have gone and the sunlight falls to the earth unhindered. A black shape slides by, pulling another shape behind it. The sound crackles slightly for several moments. The figures vanish. After several long minutes, the time stamp resumes: 08/22/2011, 07:51:33.]
[At noon, the battery icon blinks. At one, the camera dies.]
Creatures of the Night
Dusk takes the sky, blackening the world save for the big, nightlight in the air. The moon replaces the sun, gleaming silver or rusty orange and welcomes nocturnal animals. These creatures, hungry and re-energized by their sleep, crawl out from their deep, dark holes having waited for the warm sunlight to disappear into the night. Bats take flight in the sky, flapping their wings, with hungry, sharp fangs and claws ready to grasp their prey. Wolves with big, glowing eyes howl up to Mother Moon hunting in packs to catch their dinner. Raccoons and opossums seek to satisfy ravenous hunger, their empty stomachs and noses lead the way. Fireflies blink in the darkness with light like little stars detached from the sky. All night creatures, great and small, walk the Earth looking for nourishment and life.
As the rain rhythmically rapped the ground I cast my eyes downward. I saw not the clear reflective tarmac, but a color of rage, I saw red. Red, like anger, red like love, red, like a river flowing inside me. I saw a stone face, like a gargoyle, posing in a contorted mask of terror. Marble eyes looked beyond me, beseeching a specter that wasn’t there. A metallic clang brought me back to reality, and I saw for the first time what I had done. The rain pounded on the blade of the knife, washing away the evidence of my crime. A scream rang out inside my head, but dared not escape, lest I be found. I was a worried wreck. What would I tell them when they came? I thought of fleeing, or blaming another, but I knew I was now condemned. I was a dead man. I sat by the body, and reached for a cold, marble like hand. “Forgive me, I know not my crime. I do not believe you deserved to die.” I couldn’t hold back my sobbing, and contemplated taking my own life. Oh, how I wailed, on the ground pleading the uniformed men to let me stay. But they lifted me like a marionette, and dragged me in a way resembling a rag doll. They pushed me into the car, and I watched the rain fall on the windows. I wished that it could ooze into my mind to wash away my thoughts. I wished that it could pour into my heart to wash away my life. But I was already dead. I had been sentenced, and after what seemed like 10 lives, my door creaked open. Approaching me was a man in white. An Angel, I thought he was my guardian angel. He motioned for me to sit in a chair, and wheeled me away down the blank hallways. Stopping in a small room, I thought God had come to rescue me as I lay down again. But only more Angels waited, watching me with solemn looks upon their ashen faces. “Do you have any last requests?” one asked, so I requested they bring back the dead. “Sorry, we cannot do that.” These were no angels if they couldn’t bring my victim back. The rain fell from my cloudy eyes again, because I felt betrayed by the saviors in white. “Then I ask nothing of you, but to tell my story when it rains, to those who will listen.” As an answer, I felt a prick in each of my bare arms, heading to my poisoned veins. Cool rain was washing my insides, cleansing all of my impurities, heading for my heart. Then there was nothing but darkness enveloping me, and I knew it was finally over. It seemed like I was dead. “I’ve administered the sodium thiopental. He’s unconscious.” “Administering pancuronium…He’s relaxing…And, he’s paralyzed.” “Administering potassium chloride…He’s going into cardiac arrest.” “Time of death Wednesday August 19th 1:09 am”
Gordon Hadfield Award for Poetry Deafness Made Me Hear
You were born without the ability to hear things for yourself. For years I was your translator, changing child-speak into movements you could understand. Water was your kryptonite, taking away what little hearing you had on dry land. To this day you hate to swim even though that was where I flourished. I will admit, sometimes I was embarrassed, why couldn’t your ears just work? Eventually my reasoning matured; you couldn’t help the gift God forgot to give you. Rather, you used it to your benefit, shutting out all sound when you were bored. In our younger years others found it cool, but the older we grew, the harsher the words you couldn’t hear became. So I stopped translating those words. I fought your battles for you. Jacob, why can’t you see that, I took the blows and I shed your tears. Somewhere over the years, I missed a few of the insults and chinks grew in your armor. You are no longer innocent of pain. I blame myself for not always being there. I failed and I am so sorry. Will you ever forgive me for that? Your blood is beating in my heart and mine is pulsing in your veins. Our relationship extended more than family; you were my closest friend I became the elder and the braver. But I always wanted to be the protected. 25
You donâ€™t believe in prayer anymore, another poem in itself. But I cannot tell you how many times I begged on my knees Dear God, please, give his cross to me.
A pure memory, gently doused in fragile instinct. The touch of lips— soft, silk. Sweet like milk, flowing like water, the memories are returning. The draping of sheets across your body, gentle cotton swept by caressing breeze, dawn-lit—free. A gentle smile, eyes closed. Birds in the distance, sweetly singing songs to the percussion of your heart. Bliss. A memory like a heart beat— alive, changing. Only, forgetting, missing parts, growing old. The magic is caught in the folds— my mind, the sheets. Hands brushing, legs gently crossing— the things I’ve forged, the memories I’ve constructed. Lavender dreams now fading, miraculous moments— paradigms trapping me. Wishing.
Reflections on Societyâ€™s Expectations for Me Brenna Wheeler A church, bouquet, white dress, long veil, bright smile. The bride, goddess, perfect. Why do they think I must put on such stress, draw up, compile that which may be perfect? Linens white, pink; ideas they have for me. I will not be perfect. This bride is not what they assume, no fluff, excess, pointless frivolity. The cake, the tears, the crowd, filling the room, I donâ€™t want it! Ridiculous and vain. Instead I ask for peace and calm. I love quiet, gentle details, lilting refrains simple and sweet, a small affair above the noise, clamor, excitement and the strife. The bride? Not me. I want to be your wife.
Love Hidden Beneath Roses
Love, when written in poetry, becomes meaningless, exhausted with images of sex as red roses and crumpled sheets. In a poem, love is a thread connecting two fragile beings, weaving its way through them, making a chain as inseparable as water and baptism. Writing my love down steals the meaning away from me. Love takes on a life of its own, entirely different from the way I experience it. I feel it in moments, in actions. Is it an action, this elusive word? I try to pin it down, but it flits away from me. Is love like a swan as clichéd poems before this one tell us? Swans are often irate, and not so elegant, but the poems lie and say they are. So it is with love. Love, love, love… The more I write it down the farther it goes away from me. A concept I no longer recognize or relate to. “She felt love wrap itself around her like sheets woven from—” No. Just, no. And there’s no real synonym for love. I tried to find one. There are ones for hate, though. 29
A is for the dAY we met And the dAY we’ll wed A dAY I’m longing for A is for that dAte Printed clean and strAIght On crisp invitations (Probably sent lAte) E is for the Evening Of thEse words wE’ll sAY Promises to kEEp E is for thEse rings PlAced lovinglY on loving hands E is for thEse hearts And the wAY you make mine bEAt I is for mY smIle The matching one on your fAce ExcIted and brIght I is for the trIumphs and the troubles That wE’ll fAce in lIfe, The confidence I have That wE’ll get through together O is for the hOpe wE have For our future together HOpe and fAIth to endure O is for the hOme wE’ll mAke Brick bY metaphorical brick The plAce in our sOUls Where wE’ll live, and cherish each other 30
U is for this Union One YOU plus one mE Joined in the sIght of heaven U is for the mUsic From our courting From the wedding For our lIfe Our love is grounded in our fAIth And in our friendship beginnings MAIntAIned and cultivAted gently YOU’re mY best friend And the man I want to care for And bE tAken care of bY A E I O YOU’re mY love
Flames of Love
Turned to Ashes
We lay in this bed, My aching heart pounds, Almost out of my chest. You brush against my arm, But only by accident. My heart and mind conflict, As I find myself at these crossroads. One says to leave while the other longs For the days of the past: The days when I loved you, And I was loved back. As you sleep peacefully, I picture your bronze-flecked eyes, And remember when one look into them, Sent chills through me. But, those days are gone now. We fake our way through life now, Pretending flames of love still burn. Every day is weighed down by struggle, And hope of a new beginning swamps my mind. My heartâ€™s only want, Is for us to be together; in love again. But who are we kidding, Our love is long gone.
The Pain of Freedom
Her eyes avoid mine, racing around the room searching for anything but contact between us. She suggests that I demand she leaves which is not the first thing on my mind nor is it a thought at all. She continues to put words into my mouth faster than I can speak. As she hurries around the floor, searching for her clothes, I stand in awe at the catastrophe which evolved from a simple discussion. As she dresses herself, I attempt to defend myself. It is in vain. She stands at the door, spilling implications; I sit in at my desk, helpless. It was not always this way. At first, love is an excited forever accompanied by a severe shortage of affection. Yet, it has developed into an affair which exudes passion, only for a dying minute, before hours of suspicion and accusations completely devoid of trust. A silhouetted play of our life together thus far plays before my eyes. The soft hands which I once held now violently gather her belongings. I already know how this will end. Her suggestion includes a full conspiracy. Full of anger and statements I have never made, she defends her actions before I can defend myself. Confused and partly concerned, I wait in disbelief for this to subside. Where are you going? I cannot make a thought any less simple yet any more important. She has made an internal battle so externally loud. I do not beg, let alone ask her to stay. In her mind she has already reached a verdict. She continues to execute the play in front of me as I sit powerless. I remember the first time I tried to kiss her; she dodged my attempt leaving me confused and irritated. I should have noticed the flags which should have risen. My foolishness pushed me forward. Here, now, my foolishness keeps me planted as I watch her walk out the door. No advice from my father could have ever prepared me for this situation. No movie or television show could have educated me on what steps to take. No artist could sing the pain I could have never anticipated. I am desolate in the frigidness of winter. Time will only be able to tell if I am better off. For the moment, I am dreadfully awaiting a substantial freeing of my calendar. 33
How am I supposed to return to the life before her? How am I supposed to glance at her without becoming overcome with sorrow and jealousy? She will never know the weight of my heart as it falls into my stomach. Breathe in. Breathe out. I force a cadence to keep from hyperventilating. I force a cadence to keep from losing my mind. I think to myself that I have already lost something great today, no need to lose anything else. A tear falls, causing me to leave an awkward gap in the paper at my fingertips; permanently marking the occasion. Her scent; it lingers. Her impression in the sheets; it taunts me, reminding me that moments ago my world still turned. The distrust in her voice haunts my ears; I pray it is not the last tone by which I will remember her. There is but one hope I now wish to find and that is joy.
It is 3 a.m., and it is the third night in a row he hasn’t been able to sleep. The screams inside his head become unbearable time and again; unable to shake the voices of countless people burning. Not just burning, but melting under the flames of his guilt—a flame that will never go out. It began as an ordinary Sunday night—on an airplane back from a New York business trip. Back to the meticulous and mundane tasks of the law firm, Calvin Cherish, a large city law firm associate, continued his evening by looking over documents for a small proceeding taking place the next day. He took a drink of his water, while listening to the on-flight movie via cheaply-made headphones, unwinding from the previous day in the city. He could still hear the bustling of subway systems and the continuous honking of horns over the noise-filled headphones. He had felt like an infinitesimal particle among the vast sea of people, consistently shifting and flowing with the faceless crowd. Calvin was staring mindlessly at the paper, daydreaming and unable to focus on the material needed for his case tomorrow. He kept falling back to the previous day; his mind running wild with the notions of regret. His regret didn’t stem from winning his case, or the stereotypical businessman adultery occasion. The strong consciousness of regret came from always being away from his family, and never calling. Never finding the time to talk or spend time with them, his wife husbandless and child almost fatherless. “Sir?” the flight attendant asked as if waiting for a response. “Sir, would you like anymore to drink?” Snapping out of the daze, Calvin looked up from his paper. Politely he said, “No thank you, I have plenty.” Reality became apparent once more for Calvin, and he began looking over his documents again, recognizing the untimely turbulence. He glanced down at his watch and noticed that his flight still had two more hours, including a one-hour layover in Dallas. He realized that he wouldn’t arrive back in Los Angeles until around 9 or 10 in the evening, making his desire to be home less and less. The turbulence began to grow as Calvin tried to focus on his 35
paperwork; different people began to awake feeling the strong shaking of the plane, yet not panicking. It all seemed routine to Calvin and the others. After around ten minutes of the shuddering, the passengers began feeling somewhat uneasy; Calvin could see it in their eyes, and he began to feel nervous as well. No sooner than Calvin had noticed panic starting to set into the nameless passengers, the pilot started over the intercom. “I would like everyone to remain calm,” the pilot said stammering over his words, “we are experiencing heavy turbulence, and would like to relay that everything is all right. It should be over soon.” Towards the end of the pilot’s rushed speech, the passengers began distressingly speaking to one another about the plane’s predicament. Calvin’s first reaction was to listen to the alarmed feelings of his panicked flight-mates. “What’s wrong with the plane, Mommy?” inquisitively asked a girl no older than seven or eight from the seat behind Calvin. The mother whispered silently back to her daughter, unable to be heard by Calvin. Calvin thought her words might be those of relief and care. He slowly took a drink of his water, his hand quivering due to the turbulence and a sense of anxiety. As the instability of the plane persisted, it became apparent to Calvin that something was wrong with the trembling plane. Suddenly the chime of the seatbelt sign rang throughout the airplane, and Calvin heard the sobbing of the little girl behind him. He turned his head and was able to see the girl holding on to her mother tightly out of his peripheral vision; suddenly the plane nosedived. Screams were heard as Calvin was thrust forward out of his seat into the aisle, unable to fasten his seatbelt in time and hit by several other passengers on his way forward. Calvin struggled to find something to hold on to during the descent, but all he could manage was to grab the leg of a passenger. During this time the pilot somehow corrected the flight momentarily and was able to level the plane briefly. Calvin felt relief, but only for a split second. Screams, screams, screams. The only thing that penetrated Calvin’s mind. The noise of the descent drown out by the passengers shrill screech. Calvin could see the mirage of screams before him. 36
Not the people, but it was as if the sound formed an entity inescapable to his brain and then the crash. The plane bottomed out on the ground, but to Calvin the only thing visible was the tearing of metal and the launching of bodies around him. Blood-curdling yells and screams were the soundtrack to the shredding of seats and corpses around him. Seconds felt like an unfathomable eternity. Calvin felt lacerations carve his arms and legs, glass and hot metal cauterizing his blood vessels on their way through his body and then silence. Not a silence of burning metal and fabrics, but a silence of the screaming. Blind to the visionary word, “scream,” that flooded his mind previously. With his mind fluttering, his vision blurred, and instantaneous pain scouring his body, Calvin came to his senses and realized that he had to escape the burning plane. He needed to flee from the wreckage, but had yet to find out if he was able to move. Pain shot throughout his whole body, and he could feel the cuts on his arms, legs, and torso as well as the bruises that showered his face. When he tried to move, he quickly realized that his left arm was twisted behind him and pinned between shards of metal, inevitably broken. He pried and pulled at his shattered arm trying to free it from the wreckage, screaming and almost fainting from the immense pain. After eternalized seconds of pulling, his warped, mangled arm was freed from its captivity. He looked around trying to find escape, tears and blood in his burning eyes. He could not locate where he was in the downed airplane. Left, right, up, down, nothing but unrecognizable burning flesh and incinerated metal contorted into undistinguishable shapes, making it impossible to tell where he was in the plane. As he staggered to his feet he heard and caught a glimpse of the little girl crying and begging for her mother to wake up. “Mommy, wake up! Mommy, please wake up!” Her mom lied motionless under shards of wreckage. Gasping for air, Calvin crawled through the mangled plane towards the little girl and once next to her, he realized her mother was dead. His eyes slowly focused on the other the other passengers, and the comprehension for the reason the screams had stopped sunk in. Everyone except him and this little girl were dead. Every last person frozen by death’s 37
grasp. Calvin tugged at the girl, yet she resisted, staying next to her dead mother. Desperate and before he realized that he was saying three words that would haunt his very being, he yelled at the little girl, “Your mom’s dead! Come on!” Calvin shouted at the little girl as if all socialized humanity had left his mind. He didn’t speak to her as if she were a little girl that had just lost her mother and had not realized it yet. As soon as he said it he watched her face go cold and lifeless. He realized what he had done to her, and could never take it back. The little girl began crying hysterically and he grabbed her arm once more. He started dragging her through the wreckage to find a way out, any way out, while she cried and struggled against his grasp. Calvin finally found a way out through a gaping hole in the airplane. Seats, metal, and burning bodies littered the ground outside. Once out of the plane, he picked up the little girl and hobbled as far away as possible from the flaming hysteria. The little girl cried and screamed the entire time. All she wanted was her mom. His wife lies next to him in bed, comforting his restlessness, trying to lull him to sleep. Calvin, torn by nightmares night after night, unable to feel the warmth of his family. He didn’t cherish life anymore. The regret he once had for neglecting his family, turned into the regret of three panicked words, “Your mom’s dead!” He felt as if he had ruined the girl’s life, even though it wasn’t his fault the plane crashed. It didn’t matter in his mind, only his words did. It is 3 a.m., and it is the fifth night in a row he hasn’t been able to sleep. The screams inside his head become unbearable time and again; unable to shake the voices of countless people burning. Not just burning, but melting under the flames of his guilt; a flame that will never go out.
I never say yes. Sometimes people ask me if I want to, but I can’t let myself do it. I fear the simplicity of its high, destructively lingering in the air— gray and weightless— well, nevermind. They know how it affects them. While they escape into a realm of imagination, a mockingbird mimics the sounds they make, destroying their minds from only one hit. It makes them change. The mockingbird keeps returning to their fantasies. They fall into this altered state— one that they can never leave. That smoke— it will never die. What do I fear in this poem? Offending others with my complex thoughts. I don’t care what my friends choose to do, but I don’t want to give in— to temptation, to addiction. 39
We don’t know stars like they do, the ones who dance among them. We don’t know other beings, not like the ones they play with. “Hello” to them means nothing, just an archaic greeting. Green Earth is our backyard. They frolic in all of space. While we pick money, not love; they choose giving over greed. Music rings from what we play. Song surrounds their true being. Our simple world has not seen, the wonders they see daily. War has no place in their lives. These nightmares we can’t escape. Right now, they are our future. In time, we will be their past.
I power on my cell phone one last time. The screen lights up with the familiar Motorola logo. A few seconds later the notification bar displays the number of text messages and calls I’ve missed—74 and 21, respectively. I scroll through my friends’ and family members’ attempts at contacting me, and during the process I received a couple more messages. No matter who the sender is, they all look the same: “Where are you?” “Why aren’t you answering your phone?” “Please don’t do this.” “Give me a call when you can.” “I love you.” Several names return over and over as I scroll through the list. I power off the phone and take a firm hold of it. I stand up and look across the river to the powerful Arch gleaming in the sunlight. I hesitate, but only for a second, before launching my phone into the Mississippi River. “Are we really gonna do this, man?” Ben asked with a troubling sound in his voice. “Of course, Ben. Look at it this way: no parents, no school, no practice, no worries. We can go wherever we want. You’re not backing out on me now, are ya?” I questioned. “No, man. I’m just making sure this is really what you wanna do. I’m in if you are,” Ben answered. “Yeah, I am. Okay, here’s the rest of the plan. I just emptied my bank account and stopped by Kelly and Jim’s for the monthly allowance. I’ll be back to school in about an hour. I only need to grab a week’s worth of clothes. Then we can head out. Does that give you enough time?” “I’ll be ready. See ya soon,” Ben replied. “I can’t believe we’re doing this!” Ben shouted. I grinned. “A little too late to turn around now. Guess we’ll just have to go through with this!” “All I ask is for us to be able to stop at White Castle. We’re heading to St. Louis anyway,” Ben said. “Duh. No more worrying about what we eat since we’re not 41
running anymore, right?” “Hey Owen. Did you turn off your phone already? I’m about to turn mine off because my parents should be getting home any minute.” I looked down at my lap and saw the dark screen on my phone. No second thoughts. You got this. “Yeah, man. I shut it off right when I got to the dorms. I can’t deal with it buzzing all the time from the texts.” I pulled the key out of the ignition and slammed the door shut. Damn, I hope I didn’t wake him. I walked slowly over to the river bank and sunk down into the cool, green grass. The sky glowed with shades of red, orange, and yellow. This is the first sunset of the rest of my life. No interruptions. Just me being me. “What’re you doing, man?” Ben asked. I didn’t realize he’d gotten out of the car. “Just thinking. Getting ready to leave my mark on the Mississippi. In a real Huck Finn-kind-of-way,” I responded. “Wait…I thought you were just gonna keep it turned off so that way you’d have it for emergencies? You’re not gonna…throw it…are ya?” Ben hesitantly asked, already knowing the answer to the question. “Yeah, man. I got to. You can keep yours—no worries. But this is the only way I can leave it all behind,” I explained. “I guess,” Ben replied. I woke up from a dreamless sleep. The clock read 6:04. Two more hours. I looked up at Ben. For a moment, I regretted bringing him along. I knew deep down he didn’t want to be here. On any other Monday we’d be rolling out of bed and putting on our running shoes, hoping not to be late for practice. Classes would fill the time between our morning run and afternoon practice. Not anymore. My life has begun. I couldn’t deal with life anymore. I was sick of running—it was no longer fun. School seemed pointless, especially when I didn’t know what I wanted to gain from a college education. I couldn’t stand being in my house any longer—my dad and stepmom let the 42
other kids run wild. Melissa, the love of my life, was still with that jerk Tyler. I regretted getting rid of my phone at that moment. I wanted to see if she had tried contacting me. Oh well… “Whenever you want to stop at the next McDonald’s, let’s do it. We can pee, eat, and switch,” I told Ben. “I saw a sign for a town about 10 minutes ago that said 25 miles ahead. So we should be to one soon,” Ben explained. At 1:00 a.m. the previous night I stopped somewhere in Mississippi for gas. While waiting in line at the checkout, I spotted a black journal bound to a book by Thoreau. Thinking of the film and movie Into the Wild, the inspiration for my trip, I picked up the pack. Not a bad way to remember the journey. I placed the Red Bull, the notebook, and the book on the counter and scrounged up some cash to pay for the items and the gas. Ben and I got to the Gulf of Mexico around 9:00 a.m. When we got there, all I could think about was the U.S. map Mrs. Atkins had hanging in the front of her room. Ah, freshman geography, how I miss you. NOT! I’d never seen the ocean before, except on TV, movies, pictures, etc. Ben was fiddling with his camera as we walked up the boardwalk. I tried switching out the battery for him, and my attempt was successful. In unison, we looked up at the ocean. Our jaws dropped simultaneously. We were in awe. I took off my shoes and rushed down the beach and into the water. Ben was only steps behind me. Because of my excitement, I tripped into the cold, clear water. I let out a scream of joy as salty water filled my throat. THIS is why we left. Ben, a creature of habit, decided to go for a run. Beach running is good training, he tried convincing me. I was so over training and anything to do with pleasing other people. I, on the other hand, decided to explore my new surroundings. Before heading out, I loaded my backpack with a bottle of water, some granola bars, a pen, my copy of Walden, and the new journal. I had starting reading Walden during Ben’s first driving shift. The guy had some valid points—becoming a hermit and truly ex43
periencing life. Not having to deal with other people. Living off the land. The fella who wrote Into the Wild definitely took some stuff from Thoreau. I continued reading from where I’d left off earlier. After a while, though, I could no longer focus. I took out my journal and pen and started to write. I began with recounting the trip Ben and I had already taken—where we stopped, the people we’d met. We set out like the pioneers on the Oregon Trail, searching for somewhere better than here. Chillicothe and Kansas City were not meant for me…I never wanted to hurt anyone, although I bet I probably have. I had more calls and texts that day then I’d ever had before. I contemplated deleting my Facebook, but decided against it in case any emergency arose. Melissa was the only one I told face-to-face. It didn’t seem to matter to her though. I wonder what she’s thinking now…The sand beneath my feet. The wind in my hair. These feelings can never be matched again…That salt is what got me though…it represents the underlying reason for this trip—for my life—my true purpose. It tasted like freedom. I walked back down to the beach to wait on Ben to decide where we were heading next.
William L. Spencer Award for Foreign-Language Poetry Lo Que Usted no Puede Tomar
Usted puede tomar mi casa Usted puede tomar mi ropa Usted me puede robar la dignidad Y robar todas mis pertenencias Pero nunca se puede tener en mi conocimiento Por eso es mía y sólo mía Usted puede tomar el aire que respiro Usted puede tomar la comida que comemos Usted puede tomar el pelo en la cabeza Y robarme mi don de la vista Pero nunca se puede tener en mi conocimiento Por eso es mía y sólo mía
I Love Bread
Some people want money Some people want time Some people make music Some people make crime But I am just fine with some yeast and flour An oven, some water, and maybe an hour People will say, “He is crazy! He has lost his head.” But all I need is a loaf of bread Oh, I shop, shop, shop In the bakery store My baby said, “Stop!” “You don’t love me no more.” So my woman left me alone in my bed But it’s okay, I got my wonder bread So give me some wheat To fill my soul Little Debbie, Sara Lee, A stick of butter, and a Hawaiian Roll Life don’t always make a whole lot of sense I still don’t got money to pay this month’s rent But, I still thank the lord for the way he arranged A loaf of bread to only cost a buck and some change I don’t care if I go crazy and live in a shed I will always love me some bread La, La, La, I love bread!
Where Do We Go from Here?
Setting: A large, empty gymnasium. The senior class of 2011 has just made it through their graduation, and now a small group from the class try and sort out their futures- with or without one another? Characters: Samantha, Haley, Shawn, and Chris (The room is completely deserted, aside from the group. There are streamers, balloons, and confetti all across the floor. Samantha is seen wearing her graduation cap, a short red dress, and black heels. Haley, still dressed in her graduation gown, is leaning her head on the shoulder of Shawn- her boyfriend. Shawn is sporting dark denim jeans and a t-shirt with the high school’s logo on it. Chris is wearing his gown as well. He is seen laying down on the bleachers- his cap over his face. The gym is brightly lit at the start of the play. The group has been sitting alone.) CHRIS: (laying down, his face covered by his cap) Well, that was lame. (the sound of his voice, muffled) SAMANTHA: (rolling her eyes) Shut up, Chris. I thought it was alright, seeing as we had total dumbasses on the graduation committee. (Samantha was removed from the Senior Class committee after she tried to sneak alcohol into their prom. She was still very bitter about it.) I coulda done it better though. So, only three short months until college… (The four friends are quiet and solemn. They had always told one another they were going to stay together and attend Hillside University, a few miles out of town. At least, that was their original plan.) CHRIS: (changing the subject) So did ya’ll get Serena’s invite to her grad party? I think I’m going to go check it out tonight, one last hurrah before my prison sentence ends. (Chris hadn’t ever been the academic type, he was more concerned with parties and girls. He has a secret he is keeping from his friends. He didn’t get accepted to Hillside, instead he will be staying in town to work as a mechanic for his uncle.) HALEY: (lifting her head away from Shawn’s shoulder) You would only be worried about partying, Chris. I was thinking we could all 47
go to a movie or something tonight? Or head out to Joe’s Diner? This could be one of the last times we have toget- (She stops talking, covering her mouth with her hand.) SAMANTHA: (Turns to look at Haley, a look of confusion on her face) What do you mean by that, Hales? Summer has only started, and we have the next four years to go to movies. I got my letter from Hillside last week, forgot to mention it. (She flips her long, blonde hair around as she speaks.) SHAWN: She didn’t mean anything, just meant that we couldn’t have that much time together…to be high school students. (looks at Haley) CHRIS: (Sits up, removing his cap from his face) Haley’s right. We should do something, I can hit up Serena tomorrow. (laughs, raising his knuckle towards Shawn while winking) SHAWN: (hits Chris’s knuckle, laughing slightly) So, what’s playing tonight? (Shawn looks at Haley again, this time making eye contact with her. The two of them seem to be having a silent conversation. They too have a secret they have been keeping. They just found out that Haley is pregnant and they are going to be getting married the very next day.) SAMANTHA: I don’t know, I think the party sounds like a better idea. After today, I could use a drink. Or seven. (elbows Chris playfully in the shoulder. She had always liked him, but couldn’t ever convince herself that telling him was the right thing to do.) HALEY: (Shrugging her shoulders, she looks at the empty stage in the middle of the gym.) I’m not much in the partying mood tonight. I’m kind of drained, maybe I should just go home. (trying to avoid Samantha’s gaze) SAMANTHA: Oh, come on! We just graduated, we need to get our drink on! (laughs again) CHRIS: (Smiling at Samantha) I think you should slow your roll when it comes to the ol’ keg, Sammy. SAMANTHA: Pot, meet kettle. Kettle, meet pot. (Extends her hand towards Chris, politely.) (Chris shakes Samantha’s hand, laughing. He pulls her towards him into a hug. The friends sit quietly for a few moments.) SHAWN: Seems strange, doesn’t it? We don’t ever have to come 48
600 Entangled Brad Dudenhoffer Elizabeth Stapleton Award for Art Education 49
50 Downtown Joe Jefferies
Spokes and Tires Elise Schreiber
52 Carnival Kelsey Forqueran
Exposed Brad Dudenhoffer
Washington Cathedral Elizabeth Flanders
To Be a Princess Caryn Jackson
56 Boo Radley Brittanee Jacobs
The Last Day of Summer Elizabeth Flanders
58 Cowboy Gear Eileen Stacy
Jaunting Cart Courtney Ohlms
60 Beauty of the Earth Kelsey Forqueran
A Light Breeze Elizabeth Flanders
62 The Pond Brittanee Jacobs
Rustic Tribute Amber Sammet
64 The Warm Breeze Caryn Jackson
back to this place again. Doesn’t seem real. HALEY: I know what you mean, this place has been the center of our lives for the past four years. Now we just have to leave it all behind? Samantha: Don’t worry, we get to go to Hillside and kick ass there just like we did here! CHRIS: (runs a hand through his shaggy brown hair) Dunno about that, Sam. You’re going to kick ass, I’m just going to coast behind you. SAMANTHA: Oh, whatever. You’re smart when you put some effort into it. And stop sleeping around every night. HALEY: You’re going to be great, Sam. You don’t even need all of us to be great at Hillside. SHAWN: (Nods his head in agreement) Haley’s right. Don’t even need us… (Chris had also received his letter from Hillside, along with a full ride with the basketball team. Haley didn’t know about that, he hadn’t told her yet. But he did tell Chris.) CHRIS: (stands up and walks to the center of the gym) You’re one to talk there, Shawny boy. Or should I just start calling you Michael Jordan, now? HALEY: What’s that supposed to mean? SHAWN: (glares at Chris) Nothing, babe. He’s just being stupid. Like always. CHRIS: (shouts from across the gym) Ohh, sorry. Didn’t know it was a secret! HALEY: What secret? Shawn? SAMANTHA: (looks back and forth between the couple and to Chris) Is there something you aren’t sharing with the rest of the class, Shawn? SHAWN: (stands up, walking towards Chris) I tell you to keep your mouth shut for one time in your life, and you can’t do it!? (yelling) Is that how things are going to be now, Chris? Maybe I should just tell them your damn secret too, then! CHRIS: Shut up, Shawn… (looking towards Samantha) Just, don’t. Haley: Shawn, what is he talking about? (walks to where Shawn and Chris are standing) And whatever it is, why haven’t you told me? Why, Chris? SAMANTHA: (stays on the bleacher, watching the fight) SHAWN: Because I had to tell someone, Haley! I’m just too young for all of this, I can’t do it. 65
HALEY: (tears well up in her eyes) You can’t do this? What about me, Shawn? Do you think I am ready for this either?! CHRIS: Wow, I didn’t know that a basketball scholarship was that big of a deal… (walks back to Samantha, sitting down) (Haley’s eyes widen and she turns away from Shawn. She covers her eyes with her hands. Shawn puts his hand on her shoulder, but she moves away.) HALEY: A scholarship, Shawn? That’s the big secret? The one you thought you had to keep from me? You didn’t think I might have been happy for you?! SHAWN: I know you would have been, but I didn’t want you to think I needed to take it. I told you I was going to help out with things…And I am! SAMANTHA: (growing irritated, stands up. Her heels make a loud clicking sound in the quiet gym.) Can someone please tell ME what the hell is going on here? Shawn has a secret, Chris has a secret, and I am starting to think that you two are keeping something to yourselves as well. Now I am going to stand here until someone explains themselves! (tapping her foot, impatient) HALEY: Sam, I wanted to tell you. But I couldn’t. No one could know until after graduation, they wouldn’t have let me graduate. I have been hiding it for weeks now. (takes off her graduation robes to reveal a tightly fitting dress, over a small baby bump) CHRIS: (jumps up from the bleachers and runs towards the others) Wow, man. Shawn, you didn’t say anything about a friggin’ baby! You just said you and Haley were getting hitched! SAMANTHA: MARRIED!? (Her eyes are now filled with angry tears) A goddamned baby and now a wedding on top of it!? Really, Haley? You didn’t think that was something I should know? I mean, I already put your name down on my roommate application…I didn’t exactly see a line for offspring of the student though! SHAWN: Samantha, stop it! HALEY: You’re going to have to find another roommate, Sam. Admissions told me students with children aren’t allowed to live in the dorms. And my parents won’t pay for anything other than a dorm. So, I am not going to Hillside. Or any other college for that matter. I am just going to stay here and work. Raise my baby. (Tears are streaming 66
down her face quickly) CHRIS: You aren’t the only one, Haley. (Haley, Shawn, and Samantha all look at Chris) I’m not going to Hillside, got denied. They said I was academically unstable. (laughs) Ain’t that a bunch of shit? It’s okay though, got myself a nice gig lined up here. SHAWN: Chris, man… I wasn’t really going to tell them. You coulda kept your mouth shut. CHRIS: Why? Everyone else was airing their dirty laundry, thought I would join in too. SAMANTHA: I wasn’t. Because I don’t have any. Because I actually followed the plan we came up with. You know, the one where we said we’d stay together? Guess that was just a bunch of lies, huh? (looks at Haley, then to Chris) SHAWN: I talked about it with my parents, Haley. (pulling her away from the other two) They told me I should go to Hillside. They said they would take care of you and the baby if I went. I could come home on the weekends, help out? HALEY: Are you kidding me, Shawn? Or do you think my being pregnant is making me stupid!? I’m NOT going to let you go live your life while I sit in your parents’ house with an infant! (slaps him) You told me you loved me, remember that?! You said you’d stay with me forever! CHRIS: (shouting towards them) Guys, come on. Don’t do this. SHAWN AND HALEY: Stay out of this, Chris! CHRIS: (looking at Samantha) Sammy, listen… SAMANTHA: No, Chris. It’s fine. CHRIS: No it isn’t. I know we had a plan. I had a plan of my own as well. As soon as we got to Hillside, I was going to… SAMANTHA: What? You were going to what? (looking back to Haley and Shawn, trying to hear what they are saying) CHRIS: It doesn’t really matter now…but I was going to ask you out. Figured it would be a new town, new start. SHAWN: Haley, that isn’t what I meant! Of course I loved youHALEY: Loved? Past tense? SHAWN: No! I just, well I… HALEY: Shawn, you were right about one thing in all of this. SHAWN: I was? 67
HALEY: (laughing) Yeah, when you said you weren’t ready for this. You couldn’t have been more spot on. (yanks a silver chain from around her neck, causing a large class ring to fall to the floor) Go to Hillside, Shawn. Don’t worry about me at all. SAMANTHA: (tears coming back, this time tears of sorrow) Why doesn’t it matter now? CHRIS: You’re leaving. Going to Hillside, I’m sure you’ll find someone a lot more important than me. A college reject. SAMANTHA: What the hell took you so long? Why didn’t you ask me before? How could you be so stupid!? CHRIS: (shakes his head, takes a step back from Samantha) Yeah, I am stupid. I’m not like you. I can’t do trig or cite shit in MLA format or whatever, but there are a lot of things I can do. I can be a good guy. I can love, I can make people happy. I could have made you so happy, Sam. SHAWN: (bends down to pick the class ring up) Haley, you don’t mean that. I don’t want to leave you. HALEY: Obviously you do, Shawn. Or this wouldn’t even be an issue. And I actually thought you cared about me. And the baby. SHAWN: I do, Haley! (Haley pushes him away and goes back to sit down on the bleacher. She begins sobbing uncontrollably. Shawn walks back to Chris and Samantha.) SAMANTHA: You could have made me happy by following through on our plans, Chris. Now I’m just disappointed. (walks back to the bleachers) CHRIS: (Watches Samantha wrap her arm around Haley) So, you’re really going to leave her? SHAWN: Shut up, Chris. CHRIS: Why? You love her, I know you do. I see that dumb look you get on your face when she’s ‘round. What’s a baby going to change? SHAWN: (yelling) It changes EVERYTHING! Don’t you realize what I’m going to have to give up if I don’t go?! CHRIS: Don’t you realize what you’re going to have to give up if you do go? (shakes his head and walks away) (Shawn walks to the door of the gym, looking back at all of them.) 68
SHAWN: See you at Hillside, Sam! (slams the door shut) HALEY: What am I going to do? (sobbing) SAMANTHA: (moves her arm away from Haley) Should have thought of that before you got knocked up. Look me up sometime, Chris. At Hillside. (leaves the gym) CHRIS: That’s likely. (rolls his eyes) Listen, Haley…I don’t know if it means anything or not…but I am here for you. HALEY: Thanks, Chris. But it really doesn’t mean anything. (leaves) CHRIS: Where do we go from here? (looks around the empty gym, then stands up and leaves) (Somewhere in the background, a janitor shuts off the lights. The gym slowly darkens and the bleachers disappear, but their teacher, Mrs. Stevens, told them all to sit down. As she made her way to the door to check out the situation, a very quiet announcement came on over the intercom.)
Great Man Who Lived His Life!
It was a cold morning. I woke up excited and happy that I was finally in high school. It was such an exciting day to start the first day in that class. It felt perfect. I looked around and saw everyone wearing a smile on their faces, knowing this was our one chance to make it in life. I was elected class leader, which is what I always wanted to be in high school. I sat down a little embarrassed and said to myself, “Ha! Things are just falling in place right away!” The first teacher who showed up in class was Mr. Chamwali. I looked at his attire and said to myself, “Is he the economics teacher?” He paused a while before he said anything, and then he asked, “Who is the class leader?” I raised my hand, and he asked me to submit to him the names of every class member before noon. “Yes, sir!” I replied. Everyone started talking in little groups about what they heard about him from the seniors. Many said he was such a tough grader. His ideologies in economics were tough and completely different from any economist in the world. So I said to myself, “Wow, Geofrey welcome to high school!” The next day started calmly yet exciting. Mr. Chamwali showed up early that morning. In all of my life I had never seen him a minute early or a second late to class. If you were even one minute late, you weren’t allowed to enter class, just to remind you next time to keep time is as important as what delayed you from class. As we were getting along with his economics class, things proved to be much harder and more difficult every time he showed up to class. I immediately noticed the number of students decreasing considerably in one month. I asked myself very often, “Are you sure about your decision, Geofrey? You know, this could be fatal or something.” Because I was a class leader, he immediately caught my name. (He was also pretty good with names I realized later, but one thing that always stressed me was the fact that he often times chose me to answer his questions.) Sometimes I didn’t even understand what he was asking me, so I remained quiet hoping next time he wouldn’t ask me any more questions. He kept asking me questions no matter 70
what response I gave. For a moment, I could feel the weight of the world placed on my shoulders. I had to make sure I read about the topic every day before he showed up to class, just to make sure I could answer his annoying questions. I ran to my mother and talked to her about that class. She laughed at first and looked at me in the eye and said, “To get gold, you have to dig through dirt. I think you should be happy.” I completely felt the despair in my heart. I thought, Even my own mother could not be there for me when I need her the most. But I said, “Let me see what will happen tomorrow. I know these are terrible scores, but let me live my life expecting to see a miracle. Maybe, if it happens well, I will believe in miracles for sure!” Soon I realized my knowledge about economics quickly expanded, and my score became really high compared to the first exam we took (my score was pitiful). I started liking that class. I made sure I made it to class, 30 minutes before Mr. Chamwali was there to review everything he taught, so I could answer his questions. This time to review was my fun thing. Mr. Chamwali soon became my best friend and the favorite teacher to imitate. During break time, someone would always go in front of the class and act like him. It was so fun. No one expected to like him after he gave everyone the lowest scores of their lives in the first exam. Some of them even thought of dropping out of high school thinking school wasn’t their thing after all. Everyone else did very well in that class. We became the best economics class at school and in the whole region. It was such a remarkable success to ourselves and our school. We all agreed to accept the fact that success in life is always derived from discipline and hard work, and that enthusiasm should come from within one’s heart, not anywhere outside as an influence that lasts for a short time. In my personal opinion, Mr. Chamwali lived up to his full potential. He didn’t want to impress anyone or disappoint anyone, but made us realize that before anything gets better, things must get worse. I remember I have never seen the whole class like that in my entire life. That really was an experience that we as a class will never forget. Most of us decided to take all the tests we did badly 71
on and post them in our rooms as a reminder of him. Today I can’t be more thankful that he was my teacher. I have realized that no matter who tells you a teacher is horrible, just experience the class for yourself before you make conclusions. I want to say thanks to Mr. Chamwali for teaching me to work hard and to give it my all when I’m chasing my dreams. He made me realize that respecting and loving my teachers is the way to succeed. He is someone who lived up to his full potential. He was one incredible person who sacrificed his life to help his students succeed. It is true, “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” Mr. Chamwali died this year. I only wish I had one more chance to see him before he died. I pray that God Almighty may rest his soul in peace. 3-3-2012
Little ladybug, I wish I could be you. Not because I want to be a bug, or I want to be tiny so I’d get squished. Not because I desire to be dotted or I want to be called a “Lady,” or even because you seem so carefree, cheerfully stopping at whichever leaf pleases you. But I’d like to be you. Just like I’d like to be the meadowlark, the mockingbird, or even the raven. I’d like to be you. Or your cousins the butterfly and the firefly. Little ladybug, I so wish I could be you. Because, my friend, you can fly. If your meager legs get weary, you can lift up your tiny wings and the wind will gently carry you away. You can travel vast distances with ease, and wave to all the other bugs as you pass by. You can fly higher and higher until you almost reach the sun. You can feel the magic of flight that I will never know. Airplanes just aren’t the same.
This I Know
Music is a thing that touches the soul when nothing else can. A thing that can reach inside a person’s being and hug their spirit. There are times in a person’s life when they carry a particular song with them, inside them, through work and stress, because that is what is pushing them through until whatever trouble has passed and they can see daylight in their heart again. When they’ve built up all the walls they can and shut out the people around them, who would help if allowed, when they’ve locked out everything they can, somehow, some song slips through the hairline cracks in their emotional mortar and gets inside. Some song makes them feel. My favorite song catches me every time, especially when I don’t want it to. My favorite song holds the most complex truth I could ever know. My favorite song has made me smile, has made me laugh. On occasion, my favorite song has made me cry. My favorite song is “Jesus Loves Me.” I am 21 years old. My favorite song is supposed to be current and hip. It’s supposed to have a thumping bass line, superficial lyrics about sex or break-ups or teen love. It’s supposed to be on the radio, and it’s supposed to be my favorite song for a month or so before I pick a new one that is remarkably similar. But almost anyone who’s ever met me knows I’ve never been much of one for things I’m supposed to do. For some reason or another nearly everything I’ve done has turned out differently from what was expected. I guess I’m just different. And my favorite song is no exception. I am 21 years old and my favorite song is “Jesus Loves Me.” It is my favorite for several reasons. The melody is simple and easy to learn and easy to get stuck in your head. It’s easy to ornament and turn into something even more beautiful. I have yet to hear a version of it I’m not in love with. One particular arrangement for piano by Fred Bock that combines “Jesus Loves Me,” with Claude Debussy’s “Claire de Lune,” is my currently reigning favorite. I heard it for the first time four years ago when my then boyfriend, now fiancé, sat down at the piano and this beautiful music fell out of his fingers and into the surrounding air, completely enveloping me in itself. It may be my favorite version at the moment because 74
he plays it for me when I ask and when I need to hear it. But it is beautiful in its own right as well. But even more than the notes themselves, I love the lyrics. Jesus loves me. It’s the single most important thing I’ve ever learned. The fact that the creator of all the world and all of its inhabitants is not merely aware of my existence, did not just decide it might be interesting to make me and see what happens, but loves me. He loves me and is concerned for my well-being, my hurts, and my happiness. “Jesus loves me, this I know. Little ones to Him belong, they are weak but He is strong.” Jesus is more than willing to hold us in those times when we can’t stand for ourselves anymore. And I can’t stand an awful lot. When I’m so caught up in all of the work that’s piling up for me to do and so afraid of everything outside of the safe little cocoon I’ve built around myself that I’m suffocating in the miserable world of my own doing, Jesus is strong enough to pull me out, and he loves me enough to actually do it. “Yes, Jesus loves me;” insignificant, spineless, worthless me. Clearly I’m worth a lot more than I thought because Jesus loves me. But for some reason it’s hard to remember that. That’s the kicker. It’s simple but overpowering. And it’s easy to forget. Something so life changing as the fact that the God who put all of this wonder around me in motion actually loves me, should not be so easy to forget. But I do forget. Back into the cocoon crawls the butterfly because she still thinks she’s a caterpillar, spinning walls of sorrow instead of hope. But Jesus loves me; my favorite song reminds me so. What I love best is the way the music and the words are so intertwined; the way the recalling of one recalls the other and I’m spinning, but for once I’m off on a train of thought that won’t end in a fiery crash. When I hear “Jesus Loves Me,” I can be carried away on a wave of God’s awesome love and care for me that deposits me gently on the beach, instead of breaking on the rocks. A song is the perfect medium for the message I need to hear so many times; music being that one thing that can penetrate through when I don’t want anything to do with anything or anyone. Jesus uses the music to reach me where I am and remind me gently, “I love you,” which means I’m going to be okay; because butterflies aren’t supposed to 75
hide anymore, they’re supposed to fly. “Jesus Loves Me” is a children’s hymn, a Sunday School tune for little kids. But Jesus loves me are the deepest most meaningful words I’ve ever heard. Jesus loves me, this I know.
Thomas F. Dillingham Award for Non-fiction Prose Princess Buttercup Rides into War
In hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have gotten so greedy. I tried to take on too much, tried to conquer too much, and tried to do too much. I had a chance to create an ally with another army, but I declined the offer and instead attacked their land. Many battles were fought, men were lost, and enemies were made. It seemed like the fighting lasted for days on end, and it was to no avail. In the end all of my soldiers lost their lives, and I lost my first game of Risk. Most of the time I really enjoy playing board games, but this time I probably should have declined the offer to play. Just like the famous quote from The Princess Bride, you should “never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line.” I should have stayed away from that board. But I didn’t. Instead, I decided to play with the two people I shouldn’t ever play games with: my boyfriend, Darin, and his best friend, Luke. Now, I am normally pretty awesome when it comes to board games, but this time was pretty different. The game of Risk is extremely complicated, and I didn’t think I was ever going to figure it out. The main point of the game is to conquer as many countries as possible while trying to protect those countries from being overtaken. In order to take over a country, the player must roll a higher number than you (the defender) on a standard die. At first I was doing just alright. I only had one man on each of my countries, but my opponents did something very wrong: they forgot I was still in the game. As the first few rounds of the game went on, they were too busy trying to knock the other out of the game to realize that I was slowly dominating the world. One of the first things they told me about the game was that it was damned near impossible to conquer (and keep) all of Europe. This was due to the fact that it was connected to a lot of other countries that could easily move in and take my men out. What they didn’t know though was that I was bound and determined to take over Europe. And that was exactly what I did. And then I made my way over to Asia, and then all the way 77
down to Australia. Before either one of them realized it, I basically owned half of the world. I couldn’t believe that I was actually beating the two people that I couldn’t ever beat in any sort of game. But I should have known my winning streak wasn’t going to last forever. While waiting for Luke to finish his turn, Darin tried to make a deal with me. He told me he wouldn’t attack any of my territories as long as I didn’t attack his. He wanted us both to go all out and attack Luke’s land. I should have seen this coming, because if there is anyone Darin likes to beat up on in board games more than me, it’s Luke. I did think it over, but for some reason I didn’t want to do it. I felt like I was being protected just because I was the girl playing with the boys. I lied to him (probably not smart) and told him I would do what he said, but when my turn came around…I attacked his territory instead. He didn’t handle that too well, and in one of his turns he managed to take back half of Asia from me, as well as killing about twelve of my men. Long before I was even born, Vizzini sent out a warning that I should have remembered, “never get involved in a land war in Asia.” I really wish I would have remembered. From that moment on, it was a completely different game. Instead of slowly coasting through the game, I was being attacked and killed with each and every throw of the dice. My troops began to deplete, and my heart began to sink. Darin was knocked out of the game before me (HA!), but that left me facing Luke. It seemed at the time to be a bigger (and more epic) battle than Westley becoming the new Dread Pirate Roberts, and I knew I was destined to lose. But, just like Westley, I didn’t go down without a fight. Granted Westley got his happy ending, but my tiny Risk soldiers definitely did not. I managed to tear down half of his monstrous army before I finally rolled my last time. It was down to Western Australia being the only territory that stood between Luke and his victory. I kept my men down under the entire game, but he finally took all of them out. So I lost my first game of Risk, but one thing is for sure: it won’t be my last time.
Forever and Always
Setting: A clearing in the woods. Characters Sally: 18 years old Larry: 18 years old Bright lights open on a young boy and girl sitting on a swing hanging from a huge oak tree. They are casually dressed, the girl in a modest sundress and the boy in jeans and a nice shirt. SALLY: Sunshine. That’s what I’m going to miss the most. I love feeling the warmth on my shoulders and having to shade my eyes in order to see anything. LARRY: (Exasperated) Well. Now I don’t want to say mine. Why do you always gotta be so sentimental and deep? SALLY: (Laughing) Larry! All I said was I would miss the sun! That isn’t deep in the slightest. LARRY: (Trying not to smile) Oh whatever. (Small Pause) I’m going to miss M&M’s. Pause SALLY: (Giggling) M&M’s? That’s what you are going to miss in heaven? LARRY: See! I knew you would laugh! I mean, they are so chocolaty and colorful…when I was a kid, anytime I had a bad day my mom would pull out a Fun Size package of M&M’s from a secret stash. While I ate them, we just, talked. (Pause) I know. Not as deep as sunshine. SALLY: (Grabs LARRY’s hand) Larry, that is the sweetest thing I think you’ve ever said. LARRY: (Smiles) Sweeter than the time I said you were prettier than Jessica Alba? SALLY: Yes. Because we both know that is a lie. LARRY: (Looks at her innocently) I don’t think it is a lie. SALLY: (Looks back at him) God, I love you. LARRY: (Kisses her forehead) I love you too. Pause 79
SALLY: Okay, okay. My turn! Favorite place on earth. LARRY: Disneyland. SALLY: (Pause) Larry. You’ve never been to Disneyland. LARRY: I know. SALLY: You are such a turd! Answer the question! LARRY: Fiiine! I see you don’t enjoy my humor! (Thinking) Okay. You know my Aunt Dana? SALLY: Yeah. LARRY: Jason and I built a tree house when we were ten. Anytime I needed to think, I climbed up there. Actually, (Laughing) the night I asked you out, I was there, pumping myself up. SALLY: Really? Aw, you never told me that. LARRY: (Nods) Your turn. SALLY: My barn. I love my cow and my horses. All the hay. It’s home to me. Pause LARRY: Too deep. SALLY: (Shoves him playfully) Stop saying that! I can’t help it! I just answered the question! LARRY: Sally! I’m messing with you! Besides, (devilish grin) I like your barn too. SALLY: (Whisper) Larry! Shut up! What if someone hears you?! (Gets up and looks around) LARRY: Sally. Who would possibly be here? There is no one here. SALLY: I know, Larry, but it’s just the principle of the thing! You can’t go around talking about our (look around then whispers) sexual escapades. Especially not here. LARRY: (Hugs her from behind) But I like our sexual escapades. Don’t you? (Kisses her on the neck) SALLY: (Giggles) Larry! Stop it! Stop! Come here. (sits down and pulls him down with her) Just hold me. Pause LARRY: Caroline. SALLY: No…I’m Sally. LARRY: No! Not you! (Places his hand on her stomach) If it’s a girl. SALLY: (Pause) Larry. LARRY: What? 80
SALLY: What if it doesn’t happen? LARRY: What if it does? SALLY: But…you don’t know how it works. I want it too, so badly, but what if we get there and… LARRY: Sal. Don’t think like that. Pause SALLY: Emily. LARRY: Leia. SALLY: No Star Wars references. LARRY: Man…that means Han Solo is out if it’s a boy. SALLY: Definitely out. But…I do like Luke. LARRY: Laurence James Cooper the Third! SALLY: (Looks at him) No. Jonathan? LARRY: Every Jonathan I know is a pussy. My kid won’t be a pussy. SALLY: Our kid will be whatever he or she wants to be. LARRY: (Fake Sigh) Fiiiine. SALLY: (Giggles) I know you will be a great dad. LARRY: You will be an even better mom. SALLY: I’m worried we’re too young. LARRY: We are too young! We are eighteen. But, we are ready. We can do it. SALLY: (Quietly) You always sound so confident. LARRY: Sal, come on. You know we are basically the superhero couple! We can do anything! SALLY: (Standing up) I don’t understand how you can be so nonchalant about this! LARRY: About what? (Stands) SALLY: Everything! The car, the baby! Our families! Our friends! You don’t care what people think and you just go on believing that everything will be hunky dory! Larry, we don’t know what is going to happen. We don’t even know where we are going. I wish you would just grow up and see that life isn’t perfect. Life has mistakes. Our lives have mistakes. Pause LARRY: Please tell me you didn’t mean that the way it sounded. SALLY: (Realizes what he means) Shit. No, no, I didn’t. I’m just…I don’t know, frazzled. 81
LARRY: (Slowly walks to SALLY and places a hand on her stomach) This is not a mistake, Sally. This is a miracle. You and I, we created this tiny little being that is growing inside of you. Sure, not an ideal situation, but still. We have done something so special, how can anyone possibly think it is wrong. SALLY: (Small smile) Small towns are rough. LARRY: (Shrugs) We’ve survived so far. Come on, let’s sit back down. (Leads her to swing) SALLY: God, you drive me nuts. How did I get so lucky? LARRY: (Big grin) I know, I’m a real catch. SALLY: Yeah, with a big ego too. LARRY: Oh, don’t worry. I have you to bust my poor ego daily. SALLY: Eh, you need it. Pause SALLY: (Looking around) I wish we could just stay here. It’s awful pretty. And peaceful. I wonder where we are exactly. (LARRY remains quite, head down while SALLY keeps talking.) SALLY: I wonder if there is a way to do that, stay in this spot. Build a small cabin. You hunt and fish so the food would be fine. Maybe it’s this nice year round! (Notices LARRY’s silence) Larry? Babe? Are you okay? LARRY: I’m sorry. SALLY: What? LARRY: I’m sorry. SALLY: Larry, why are you sorry? You didn’t doLARRY: I brought us here. I didn’t mean to, I’m so sorry! I didn’t see him, the corner was just so sharp, but I swear I wasn’t speeding, I slowed down like you told me to! God, Sally, I never meant to do this, I never wanted this for us! I wanted us to have the perfect life! I wanted to be a family! (LARRY begins to cry. SALLY holds him, blinking back her tears.) SALLY: Oh Larry. Oh baby, I love you so much. It isn’t your fault, I swear it isn’t. Oh, I love you. I’m so sorry. (Grabs LARRY’S face and makes him look at her)Whatever is happening, whatever will happen, we will be okay. LARRY: I know I act all happy-go-lucky but, I’m just as scared as you are. I just, try to be strong because I know how much you worry. I 82
need to be confident so that you can believe that it will be okay. SALLY: Larry, I’m sorry. I-I put all of this stress on you. I need to learn to keep my mouth shut, don’t I? (Weak smile) LARRY: (Smiles back) Maybe just a little. SALLY: (Rests her head on his shoulder) We can’t fight. LARRY: (Sarcastic) Why ever not? I thought fighting was your favorite activity in this relationship! SALLY: I hate fighting and you know it! I just…have a very argumentative nature sometimes. And you, Mister Laurence Cooper Jr., have the habit of bringing out the best and the worst in me! You just do things that make no sense. Like for instanceLARRY: You’re bringing up my homework aren’t you? SALLY: Like your homework! I don’t understand why you don’t just do it when it’s assigned. LARRY: Not everyone is perfect like our Valedictorian, Miss Sally Jacobsen. SALLY: Or when you drive all the way around the parking lot and park in the very back for no apparent reason. LARRY: It always comes back to the parking spot doesn’t it? SALLY: You know I love you, right? You’re just insane. LARRY: (Scoffs) Hardly. SALLY: Did you really just scoff at me? Are we really going to go down that-(stops suddenly, clutching her chest) Ow. LARRY: Did you just hurt yourself sitting on a swing? SALLY: Oh God! Ow! (Still clutching her chest, SALLY falls from the swing onto her knees.) LARRY: (Kneels down next to her) Sally! Sally, what’s wrong? What hurts? SALLY: It’s my chest! I think-ow! I think, they are trying to bring me back? (Looks up to LARRY, clearly scared) LARRY: (Immediately has a look of panic on his face) No. No, no, no. They can’t. They can’t take you away from me! (SALLY continues to gasp and hold her chest while LARRY grabs her by the shoulders) Sally, you have to fight it please. Please don’t leave me. SALLY: Larry, I’m trying! It hurts so bad! Please, please just make it stop! (Sobs from the pain. After a few seconds, SALLY takes a huge inhale of breath and holds it for a little bit.) 83
LARRY: Sal? Sally? Sally, breathe! (SALLY finally exhales and takes a few deep breaths.) Sally? Did they stop? SALLY: (Nods and leans against LARRY) This means I’m really gone doesn’t it? LARRY: I think so. SALLY: We aren’t going back are we? LARRY: I don’t think so, Sally. SALLY: Where are we going then? LARRY: I don’t know. SALLY: I’m scared, Larry. LARRY: I know. SALLY: Are you? And you don’t have to be strong for me, Larry. Just be honest. I need to know. LARRY: (Thinks before answering) Yeah. A little bit. SALLY: Just a little? LARRY: I can’t be too scared. As long as I have you, nothing can really be that bad. SALLY: (Attempting humor) Look who’s being deep now? (Both LARRY and SALLY turn to look at each other. The lean in for a deeply, passionate kiss. They are scared. This shows. When they break away, they simply put their foreheads together and hold one another.) SALLY: Will you promise me something? LARRY: (Nods) Anything. SALLY: (Fighting tears) No matter where we wind up, whether it is good or bad. No matter if we have our baby or not, promise me that you will always be right here, holding my hand. Promise me that you will always love me, that you will always keep me sane. Even when I drive you crazy, or pick fights, or get really stressed out, promise me you will always, always be here. Always. LARRY: I promise. SALLY: (Smiles and extends her pinky) Pinky swear? LARRY: (Laughs and links pinkies) Pinky swear. But, now you have to promise me something. (SALLY nods) Never stop driving me crazy. Never stop picking fights. Always let me hold your hand. Always be there for me. SALLY: Promise. I promise. LARRY: I love you. 84
SALLY: I love you too. Forever. However long that may be. LARRY: Forever. (Lights dim, and SALLY and LARRY grab each other tightly.) Sally, do you feel that? SALLY: (Nods) What does it mean? LARRY: Sally. I think it’s time. (Stands up) Are you ready? SALLY: Not really. LARRY: Come on Sal. I’m right here. Always. (Extends his hand.) SALLY: (Hesitates for a second, then reaches up for his hand. LARRY pulls her to her feet. They hold hands watching SL as a bright light slowly appears.) I’m scared. LARRY: I know. SALLY: Forever? LARRY: And always. (Still holding hands, LARRY and SALLY start walking, slowly to the bright light. As the walk, a voice comes on overhead. LARRY and SALLY do not hear this voice.) VOICE: Three days ago, Larry Cooper and Sally Jacobsen, both age eighteen, were killed in a tragic car accident. Cooper lost control of the vehicle and hit an oncoming car. The other driver, Ed McComb, was only slightly injured. An autopsy on the teens later revealed that Jacobsen, the Valedictorian of her class, was two months pregnant. This is indeed a tragic loss for not only for their families, but the community as a whole.
I slept in fields of flowers. Hours had passed me by, I’d been blissfully unaware of everything— It was pure as clouds, lightly drawn across blue sky. It was silver as morning sun, spilled across dew dropped grass. I’ve heard the chirping bird, I think someone had written it to be hope— I thought someone had called it to sing; or, maybe I’d misheard, maybe I’d misunderstood. I called out to innocence, beckoned my youth to return. I heard myself on the wind; I heard you singing in the water clear. Silence, listen to the summer, feel the solstice. Let yourself idolize the cosmos. Linger.
The Black Blanket
“Do you trust me?” he asked. I nodded my head. Well…do I? “Then, trust me, and get in.” He opened the rusty passenger door of his black ’97 Chevy Blazer. The screech it made when it opened or shut usually made my ears cringe, but I didn’t even notice it this time. I closed my eyes, but not before I stared into his. There was a mystery in those disarmingly blue eyes—secrecy, really. He pulled a black bandana out of his pocket and tied the blindfold around my head, covering my eyes. My icy hands lay motionless in my lap. He gently picked them up and held them for a couple seconds. I never wanted him to let go, but I knew he had to eventually. He released them and shut the door. I heard the screech this time. He got in the driver’s seat and started the engine. The adventure had begun. This boy in the driver’s seat was the love of my life, only I didn’t know it at the time. He was 22 years old. Stubborn and stoic, he never looked the part of a hopeless romantic. We had been dating for a few months and were serious; well, he thought we were serious. I had never dated anyone exclusively before arriving at college, and as a freshman, I certainly wasn’t about to give my heart away to a senior football star at a Division-I university. Despite the blindfold, I could figure out where we were— heading north on US-63. Ha! He hadn’t planned as well as he could’ve. Me-1, Stryker-0. Then, the scale tipped his way. I felt the old SUV downshift and slow down. It was too early for the Moberly exit, so where on earth were we going? He scored the tying run early in the game—1 to 1. Being a country kid, I can smell gravel from a mile away. Sure enough, we ended up on a gravel road. Since I thrive on competition, I gave myself another point for recognizing this. 2 to 1. The constant clinks of rocks hitting the underbelly of the vehicle soothed me—it felt like home. Man, I missed home. Paired with the twists and turns, it was a reminder of hitting “our” gravel road back home, and this was the time I would typically fall asleep. I started to doze off, but shook myself out of it. I had to remain awake; I needed to 87
figure out where we were. The clinks began to subside so I knew we were slowing down. We were approaching our destination—whatever that was. Our path turned from gravel to grass. What the hell is he doing? I remained quiet and awaited our stop. After several minutes of off-roading, we stopped. He left the Blazer running—I presume for me to remain warm—and got out, telling me to “wait.” What other choice do I have? After what seemed like an eternity had passed, the screech sound echoed throughout my ears signifying the opening of the passenger door. He removed my seat belt and grabbed my hands while helping me out. I remained blindfolded and walked hand-in-hand with him up and down the hills of what seemed to be a pasture. “Who the hell do you know that has land? Did you even ask someone—?” Before I could finish my sentence, his warm hands covered my mouth. “Shh! Will you relax? We’re almost there,” he explained. He suddenly stopped and unlaced his hand from mine. He grasped my shoulders firmly and whispered in my ear, “Trust me.” I nodded, and this time, I meant it. He left my side for only a few moments. He returned and removed the blindfold while instructing me to keep my eyes closed and sit down. I did just that and laid back with my head snuggled between his head and shoulder. “Okay, now open your eyes.” I opened them wide and shut them just as quickly. I love him. I really do. I opened my eyes again. The score changed drastically. Stryker-19, Me-2. I’d never seen it like this before: the black blanket ranged as far as I could see; nestled in the darkness were millions of glimmering celestial balls. We were on a hill that felt like a mountain in height. For miles and miles I could not see any artificial light. It was, to say the least, sublime. “Remember the first time we hung out, and you told me what you loved the most about home?” he asked. “What do you love most about home?” I had tried avoiding serious conversation with this guy. He was a football stud, a senior, and in my mind, a player. Even though we were at a party, my eyes 88
could no longer evade his gaze, so I surrendered. “The sky,” I answered simply, slightly annoyed. “The sky?” he asked. I stopped searching the room and his eyes caught mine. “Yes, the sky. You can’t see the stars here. There’s too many buildings and people. I miss lying in my backyard and looking at the sky,” I explained.
He knew me. He had paid attention to something truly dear to my heart, and he made home not appear so far away. I was homesick—I hadn’t been there in almost ten weeks—and he made it better. We stayed out there all night, just talking and gazing at the sky. It was the best gift I’ve ever received. Every Sunday for the rest of the semester, we visited the secret spot, which the exact location I’m still unaware of to this day. Stryker-38, Me-2.
For once, I’m not upset that I lost.
Moments of Reflection Cool waves wash over my feet— It’s times like these That make me feel so alive. A moment that cannot be Described by mere words, or Through actions. I can only give This feeling its justice by comparing The wildest dream with The greatest adventure; to Intertwine the softest whisper With the loudest thunder. Each subtlety of life adheres to The vast vagaries of the unknown. Mystery entranced by the Expanding abyss of wonder. Living that takes hold of Every joy, care, fear, And sorrow mixing them Together like the centrifuge Shattering, creating a fusion Of emotion. A mixture that embodies Every hope and desire Of a lifetime shrouded And pressed by worrying Hardship. It’s in these serene Or blissful moments that I can say, wholeheartedly, I have no regret.
I am far too hungry and thirsty to sleep. My stomach growls again, louder this time. My eyes have been closed for at least an hour, but sleep has yet to find me. There are some leaves blowing against my basement bedroom window and a cricket is playing some instrumentals somewhere in my closet. Normally I don’t hear these sounds, but tonight everything seems to be keeping me awake. I am far too hungry and thirsty to sleep. I sit up in my bed and reach blindly for the television remote that sits on the window sill. There is no light in my room to see the buttons, but it doesn’t matter; I know the position of every last rubber protrusion. As the screen lights up, I deftly press the one key, followed by the three. KCII radio has a channel on TV and it is the easiest way for me to see the time, 2:17 a.m. and 36 seconds. 37…38…39. I have to be up in a little less than four hours and the seconds are ticking away, mocking me. It is Friday morning, and I have only one more day to get my weight down to 103 pounds. After wrestling practice last night, I weighed 106.6 pounds. That means another night with no dinner, but more importantly, another night with no water. My salivary glands can’t even produce enough liquid to keep my tongue wet. On Saturday, my team will be participating in a tournament, and my coaches and teammates expect me to win. Three-and-a-half pounds never seemed like a lot before now. I angrily throw my covers off of me and swing my legs over the edge of the bed. My parents decided not to carpet my bedroom floor, as the basement is prone to flooding, a fact that I am quickly reminded of as my feet touch the glacial concrete floor. With the TV on, there is just enough light to make out a pile of dirty laundry that Mom has been nagging me to pick up. I can smell the sour odor of my workout clothes and decide that she might be right, this time. I leave my room behind and head toward the stairs. I think I will torture myself by checking out the fridge. As I open the door to this culinary treasure chest, I can almost hear angels playing harps and babies giggling, until I remember that I can’t have any 91
of its contents. Mom does a pretty good job of keeping my favorite foods out of the house during wrestling season, but I can tell that she has just gone grocery shopping. Sitting on the bottom shelf is a liquid pillar of goodness, a 64 ounce red Gatorade, which I’m sure is for me to drink on Saturday… after I weight in, of course. My mind starts racing with all of the mathematical formulas needed to rationalize taking a drink. My mouth holds exactly one-tenth of a pound of liquid. I know this to be a fact after doing several experiments on the locker room scale. I decide that I can easily lose four pound between now and Saturday morning. 3.6 lbs. to lose + 4 swallows of Gatorade = a first place finish at Saturday’s tournament. My plan is great, in theory. The orange lid of the Gatorade bottle twists off so easily, almost as if the container’s contents want to be consumed. Fruit Punch aroma hits my nose like an actual punch. This must be what vampires would feel like around a bleeding person. The salivary glands that couldn’t keep up earlier sense what is coming and start to pump out every last drop they have. As I bring the rim of the bottle up to my mouth, my arms trembling with weight of the bottle and my lips trembling with anticipation of its contents, I think to myself, “Four swallows.” I tilt the bottle up, and the ultra-sweet elixir enters my mouth. My world goes completely black. What in the hell did I do? I’m holding the Gatorade bottle. It is nearly empty. My chin and chest have small amounts of red liquid running down them and the realization of what has transpired is starting to kick in. I drop the bottle on the floor, run to the bathroom, and throw the toilet seat up. I have never made myself vomit, but there is a first time for everything. As I cram my whole hand down my throat, there is a battle ensuing. My body, which has been starved for nutrients, is trying desperately to hold onto this precious gift, while I am consciously trying to induce regurgitation. After several minutes of this struggle, I know that my body has won. I’m back to doing math though, now, it is much more frantic than before. Sixteen ounces is equal to a pound. Sixty-four divided by sixteen is… “HOLY SHIT”! I just drank four pounds of liquid. I am seven and six-tenths pounds overweight. My reflection stares back 92
at me from the mirror above the sink. He shakes his head in disappointment, as tears begin to form in the corners of his eyes. After several minutes of lying on the cold tile of the bathroom floor, crying and slobbering like a baby, I pick myself up. I reach for the white porcelain handle that controls the hot water from the sink and give it a twist. As I rinse my face off I still canâ€™t believe how stupid I am. Now as I look up, the person in the mirror has a different expression. His face is one of stern determination. He knows what must be done now, whether I like it or not. I dry my face with a hand towel and head back to my bedroom. I am not there to sleep. I am there to put on my running shoes.
Ryan Adams is an English major who has plans on becoming a high-school English teacher. You can call him Mr. A. Geofrey Bilabaye, a sophomore computer science major, is from Tanzania and is a Pittsburgh Steelers fan. Brittney Blakemore is a senior English major with a small obsession with Harry Potter. She’s currently working on an invention that will transport her into the story. So far, looks promising. Doyle Bohr is a freshman from Armstrong. He is majoring in athletic training. His favorite wrestling move in high school was the Crouching Tiger. Therefore, he can mess you up, then fix you up. Jordan Brennan is a junior theater/English major from Marshall. Contrary to popular belief, he did not, in fact, dance with the devil in the pale moonlight. He aspires to be the next big thing since sliced bread. Courtney Dennis is a junior from Sierra Vista, Ariz. She is a communication major and plays with balls all day. Softballs that is. Brad Dudenhoffer is a chemistry major from Columbia. It’s taken him 10 years to graduate. Once he finishes his time machine and becomes The Doctor’s new companion, those years won’t matter. Sean Faulkner is from Lee’s Summit. He is a double-major in marketing and psychology. Elizabeth Flanders, when she isn’t taking pictures or drawing, spends her free time learning how to save lives as a nursing major. Kelsey Forqueran is a double-major in communication and political science from Malta Bend. Her favorite hobby is playing guitar, but we think it is taking photos because she is quite good at it. Caryn Jackson is a senior double-majoring in biology and Spanish. Ella aspire a ejercer la medicina internacional. (She aspires to practice international medicine.) Brittanee Jacobs is an English major from the Home of Sliced Bread. She is still extremely obsessed with her future husband— Gerard Butler. A wedding is planned for late fall 2012. Joe Jefferies is a freshman from a town you’ve never heard of. This Fayettian is a double-major in polisci and English. Someday, he will rule the great U.S. of A. 94
Rachael Jones is a foreigner who hails from Mother England. She is double-majoring in theatre and English. She aspires to be a writer/director when she leaves this great nation. Kate Kellner goes by a lot of names, sometimes Kate the cursed. She often forgets who she is. Don’t worry, she’s just a theatre major. Kristopher Kuoppamaki is from Marionville. He is a business major and part of the track team. Ryan Mallady is a senior from Salem who plans to set sail on the seas as a sailor in the Navy. Okay, maybe not quite, but the alliteration had to be done. He does have plans to join the U.S. Navy. Courtney Ohlms is a freshman from St. Charles. She wants to become a professional photographer, but she needs to tame her emotions first (she cried when she found out she was on the front cover!). Knial Richard Piper II is a senior criminal justice major from Springfield. He is an ROTC cadet at Mizzou with aspirations to obtain his JD and be a JAG officer in the U.S. Army. Don’t mess with this tough cookie. Amber Sammet is a freshman from Owensville. She loves photography. Elise Schreiber is a sophomore communication major from Missouri’s fine capital. She loves running and singing. She wishes she had her camera at all times. Sometimes, she runs, sings, and take photos all at the same time. A sight to behold. Angel Smith is a junior from the fine town of Fayette. She is a computer science major who happens to love poetry just as much as cold hard technology. Eileen Stacy is a junior psychology major from Fayette. She worked in Wyoming last summer and took awesome photos. Brenna Wheeler is an education major from Pleasant Hill who has plans to teach middle-school English. One of her unique talents is being a r ock star at playing the triangle. Ting. Ashton Zimmerman is an English major who appreciates strange and unusual things. She is a huge geek and will proudly remain one for the rest of her life.
Congratulations, 2012 Inscape Arts Winners Gordon Hadfield Award for Poetry Kate Kellner, Deafness Made Me Hear Kilgore Trout Award for Fiction Brenna Wheeler, In the Starlit Hour Thomas F. Dillingham Award for Non-Fiction Prose Brittney Blakemore, Princess Buttercup Rides into War William L. Spencer Award for Foreign-Language Poetry Ryan Mallady, Lo Que Usted no Puede Tomar Byrd Cooper Kirby Award Courtney Ohlms, Irish Dreams (Front Cover) Amber Sammet, Peeling Back the Past (Back Cover) Elizabeth Stapleton Award in Art Education Brad Dudenhoffer, 600 Entangled
Thanks to the English faculty and members of Sigma Tau Delta for their help with the judging of Inscape awards. 96