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AD ASTRA PER ASPERA: “To the Stars Through Difficulties”

7th Edition F Spring 2004

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EDITOR Crystal A. Lavoie P RODUCTION M ANAGER Tracey L. Smith A DVISORY EDITORS Dr. Paul Rogalus Dr. Liz Ahl A SSOCIATE EDITORS Josh Breault Jack Bronn Matthew B. Howes Sarah Lewis Cara Cristina Losier Jennifer M. O’Donnell A SSISTANT EDITORS Robby Binette Matt Bonin Marianne Bradley Anna Draves Ed Dugas Angela Hartmann Jess Hoyt Nina Livellara Angelica Mele Carol McCarthy Skip Morse Meghan Shea Darcy Winward CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Nathaniel Blake Paris Landry Andrew F. Mannone Rob Masse Angela Ricciardi BUSINESS M ANAGER Justine Handler A RT D IRECTOR Rick Schlott O NLINE EDITOR Jack Bronn WEB M ASTER Josh Breault

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SUBMISSION GUIDELINES: Submissions are open to students, alumni, faculty, and friends of Centripetal. All submissions must be typed. No hand-written submissions will be accepted. Fiction (up to 3 stories) should be no more than 1,000 words per piece; poetry (up to 6 pieces) may be any length, any style. Submissions should be e-mailed as an attachment to poetswriters@mail.plymouth.edu. All submissions must contain name and contact information for the author, as well as a brief biographical note. Centripetal accepts one time North American Rights for print and online publication. All rights revert to the authors upon publication. VISUAL SUBMISSION GUIDELINES: Photographs should be either brought to the Poets & Writers Office, HUB 037, mailed to Suite A14, or e-mailed as an attachment to poetswriters@mail.plymouth.edu in .TIFF format. Paintings may be photographed and sent in the same fashion. All submissions must contain the title of the piece, the date it was created and contact information for the author, as well as a brief biographical note. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS: Plymouth State Poets & Writers would like to thank the following for their support of this edition of Centripetal: all of the contributors, with special thanks to the Plymouth State University Student Senate, the Hartman Union Building Staff, Jon Link, Nicky Ross, Jake Stevens, and the English Department. We would especially like to thank Dr. Paul Rogalus, our advisor, without whom this would not have been possible. COVER ART: Nathaniel Blake, “Asperous Pilings” March, 2004. 19 HIGHLAND ST. F SUITE A14 PLYMOUTH, NH 03264 F (603) 535−2236 poetswriters@mail.plymouth.edu oz.plymouth.edu/~poetswriters

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C ONTENTS 7th Edition F Spring 2004 5

ED MANZI

F

Artist, My Strategy

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GORDON FRASER

F

Toilet

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CARA CRISTINA LOSIER

F

Bereft

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JON LINK

F

An Old Culmination Reacts: Letters From A Sad Chiropractor

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CINDY RIZZA

F

Frames, Sweetheart

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JED M. HOWARD

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10 Reasons

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CINDY RIZZA*

F

Untitled

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ALEX BALSEN*

F

Untitled

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CHRIS RUSSELL

F

Old Apartment

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NATHANIEL BLAKE

F

Untidaled, Pardon

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TYLER MUSTY

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Substance Buddies, My Life As A Fruit Fly

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DARCY WINWARD

F

The Relationship, Machine on the Mountain

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MATT BONIN

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Picture Show

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ALYSSA DIGIULIO*

F

Untitled, Untitled

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ANDREW F. MANNONE*

F

Treading the Line

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PARIS LANDRY

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and one, Mmmm.

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MATTHEW B. HOWES

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A World of Rapid Confusion and Colorful Crimes

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LIZ KELLEY

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GPA

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ERINN WHITMORE

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Empty Parking Lot 11 p.m.,

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SCOTT COYKENDALL

F

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SKIP MORSE

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Adam’s Apple This is why the mango wins I Love Taking Trips Downtown 43

JUSTINE HANDLER*

F

Windy City

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JASON MCKENZIE*

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Naked

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CRYSTAL A. LAVOIE

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The Accident, Naked

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SETH OWEN PERDUE

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Hiding Grandpa, Winter’s Announcement

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ROSELLE ANGWIN, ROBERT GARLITZ, AND RUPERT LOYDELL

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Old Tracks

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LIZ AHL

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The Line, Flight Attendant

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STEVEN SPRAGUE

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Second Grade, Robot Love

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ROB MASSE

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Peppermint Farter

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NATHAN GRAZIANO

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Sunday Night Poem, At Kerouac’s Grave

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JENNIFER M. O’DONNELL*

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Contain Your Ghost

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RICK SCHLOTT*

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Untitled

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KRYSTINA HAJDUCZEK

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Title Fight

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JENNIFER M. O’DONNELL

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There are No Wishbones in

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RANDY BROOKER

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JASON MCKENZIE

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Lambs, Awaiting Cadenza Iquitos, Cancer Birds You’re & I’m, a buzzing bunch of flies & the sweet smell of shit 69

MICHAEL LONGO

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Kali Yuga

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SHAWN MICHAEL LAMPRON

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Iraqi Sunset

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ELIZABETH C. THOMAS

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News Flash

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MAUREEN O’BRIEN

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In the Footsteps of Monks

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NANCY GAUTHIER

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History Lesson Lost

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NOTES ON THE CONTRIBUTORS

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FRIENDS OF CENTRIPETAL

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CONTRIBUTIONS

* Featured Artwork

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CENTRIPETAL

ED M ANZI A RTIST Hollow Flower

MANZI

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MY STRATEGY March wind blew at 5 a.m. cold. The crows cawed frantically. I scratched your head to wake you. Asked if you thought The crows had a tough time staying in the trees. You said, “I bet they have some kind of strategy.” “Hmmm,” I replied—placed my head against your breast Went to sleep.

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G ORDON FRASER TOILET

“H

er paintings are entirely without form. The use of a single line would make her work, at the very least, palatable,” I’d written in my review. Two days later, in a seafood restaurant—I can’t remember where—my sister would call me “brutal.” I would shake my head (cracking a lobster’s back—pulling out pieces of meat with my hands), “Just one line,” I would say, “I didn’t see a single line.” While my sister spoke, Georgia Matthews, the formless painter, was packing her luggage—moving to the mountains of West Virginia. Overnight, she would go from international acclaim to total obscurity. Extinct. A Neanderthal. For five years. She wouldn’t reappear until January of 2003. When she did reappear, she did it with a mountain of new work. Sculpture mostly. Paintings… a few. Made a huge gala event out of it. Wore a ratty cocktail dress with shoes that didn’t match. Hired Brenda Webber to invite investors and critics. To call me. I wore my olive green suit—the skirt cut too high—with a thick heeled pair of black shoes. Trendy. Looked like a chrome dildo. I fit right in with the would-be debutantes, each hiding her age, and the lecherous millionaires, each disguising his ignorance. They were buying art. Culture. Eating it up like a fifty-five dollar filet mignon. I was drunk. I stood in the back—hidden—near what Georgia (whispering to me an hour before) called her masterpiece. The Lie. It was covered in a white sheet. I sipped a martini and stared. It looked like some stupid cartoon ghost. Not mysterious. Not frightening. Just a stupid white sheet. Two others, women, clucking hens, gabbed incessantly to my left. One of them, an ancient bird with a brown feather hat, reached out and touched a steel sculpture. It looked like a penis. “I heard she did nothing but read criticism of her work all day for two years,” she said, and, “I heard she wallpapered her house with copies of that New York Times article,” the other—shimmering white hair and a bright orange dress—said. “Obsession,” said the first. “Any way you look at it,” said the second. I had to go to the ladies’ room, but Georgia was going to unveil The Lie—just for me, she said—at nine o’clock. Three minutes. FRASER

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Where was she? I stood still, trying to imitate a potted plant. Or a sculpture. Anything that wasn’t drunk. I could still hear the hens. They were giving me a headache. “It’s unhealthy,” said the first, and, “Looks like a bag lady,” said the second. Then Brenda Webber came out and announced that they’d found Georgia Matthews dead in the ladies’ room. She’d drowned herself in a toilet full of her own urine. At first, they thought she was a homeless woman. Brenda looked spent—standing there in front of us. Fat hung heavily around her hips. Immobile. Like stone. She used to be beautiful, I thought. Surrounded by men… women. She’d gotten lonelier since her marriage. Busier. Harder. There was a long, awkward silence. We milled around, waiting for the ambulance to arrive, and no one said a word. I got another martini from the bar and, when the two paramedics came through the main door (unsure—“Is this the right place?”), I watched them load the old woman onto a stretcher. One of the men had short brown hair and thick muscles that rippled beneath his blue shirt as he hefted the corpse. I wanted to make love to him, right there, on the stretcher. In front of everyone. Brenda Webber held the door for the two men, flirting like a sixteen-year-old girl. They ignored her. Wheeled the stretcher out. And once they were gone, the buyers went mad. Rich. Drunk on their wealth. Giddy. I heard the word “investment” echo throughout the room. It only took twenty minutes. Nearly every piece was sold. Brenda looked exhausted, but she had the silly grin of a child who, by some error of a parent’s judgment, had received too much allowance money this week. But I was still drunk, and still sitting at the bar. I waited. Had another martini. Brenda flirted with the bartender. Slowly, I wandered over towards The Lie. The only piece left. A waitress was vacuuming the floor. Brenda called over, “Do you want it?” I didn’t answer, but stared at the stupid ghost. I stared for a long time. Finally, I couldn’t take it. I lifted the sheet. There, on a plain white canvas, was a single line—bold, straight, and definite.

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C ARA C RISTINA L OSIER BEREFT I feel her footsteps on my face in raindrops while I lie, chest heaving, on backyard grass. Inside, I hear her voice in the shudder of the wind, flaking shingles from the roof like fish scales. In the settling creaks of old-house bones I feel the rhythm of uneven footsteps navigating narrow halls trailing weathered fingertips over faded wallpaper. I flatten my left breast before the mirror, wrap the diaphanous sea-colored scarf around my head this time, and I see her there behind me in the place beyond reflection. At night, my tears water her sheets, and I can smell her scent against my cheek. Her bedroom door rests halfway from its frame, and I live her in my memories in wait of her return.

LOSIER

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JON L INK A N OLD CULMINATION R EACTS : LETTERS FROM A SAD CHIROPRACTOR

April 12th: i wouldn’t say i was pretty because i know you wouldn’t call me pretty i want to talk to you without the sun speaking in eastern european and what you said wasn’t as funny as uranus which isn’t even funny anymore because someone decided it’s pronounced “your-en-ess” now... that just feels wrong wrong, were the astrologists tired of hearing ass related planetary humor—tell dr. telescope i am sorry i hurt your feelings but please don’t take my puns away from me April 13th: if i hide an easter egg under your seat would you find it—i don’t think you would or at least you’d have some trouble at first, maybe even get angry and ask me to either take you home or show you the egg—should i reply, can’t you see it... i already explained that it’s on uranus dr. telescope, again i’m sorry April 28th: could i tell you your own name without you hearing it... if you don’t respond to these letters they’ll become rhetorical—i wonder if an ostrich realizes how funny it looks... they are ridiculous

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April 29th: since i have brought up animals i should admit that i think a dolphin might be the perfect animal to punch— the bottle-nosed dolphin being especially punchable... and couldn’t this be one of the most pure forms of darwinism the animal that looks least fun to punch—say a porcupine or rhinoceros survives while those animals whose looks insist on punching simply die out May 1st: sometimes i wonder if you get these letters maybe i should have addressed them to someone else May 2nd: i can’t tell you how often i exhale in one day but if you come here we can spend the time counting each breath let’s say your name is helen, helen did you know that helena is the capital of montana helen i am not a bottle-nosed dolphin do not punch me like you would punch one May 3rd: helen to test my theory i punched a koala today and at first it seemed okay, but then the fucker clawed me something fierce what’s worse is that shawn the zoo keeper banned me from the zoo for life—he said there was no merit in my experiment

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May 9th: i read my old letters and now i have been thinking about planets all week—who names these things... name of a god name of a car name of a cartoon dog and then earth was that ever the name of anything... where did it come from helen how do you explain this—ask dr. telescope May 20th: helen what i hate most about planets is that you can’t punch them. May 21st: what do you think would happen if i could punch a planet? each star transfers its own heart to the sky in a perfect year helen i hate to say it but i wouldn’t punch these even if i was paid to, helen do you think someone would pay me to punch them? would you—helen i need twenty dollars. May 22nd: too much trouble stopping for people in cross walks it seems like it was all of my time this week—where do these people come from that they can stall me with such proficiency even with my heavy breathing and dark eyes i sometimes don’t want to see the size of my skin in its own won home but waiting in a car i can’t help but notice it—and they know it... the fuckers. helen do you hate them too? May 23rd: oh helen i almost forgot to write to you today would you have forgiven me—even if you wouldn’t i’d still love you, helen maybe

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i’ll write myself a love poem from you and call it why walls sometimes have clocks it would not be a very interesting poem i am sure, but helen you are the poet and that is what matters most. or is fixing the light above the sink what matters most today, sometimes i wish you were here to tell me. May 25th: today i imagined punching a zebra this is something i don’t normally do, but now that i know how funny it looks maybe i’ll do it again tomorrow and maybe i am a bad person for thinking about so many things being punched, but helen i am not a violent man the ocean ebbs but it also... helen i don’t know what the opposite of ebbs is May 28th: i just found the letter i wanted to mail you on may 16th under my sofa i am sorry you didn’t get it in the proper order because i know that we both like order so much, but helen i confess that mine is different, wasn’t it you who told me that participation in numeric schemes was voluntary? from today on 16 comes after 28. my system is flawless May 16th: helen i only have six pieces of paper left to write you letters with. each of them is a wax tongue of a pretty bird whose song i don’t know and can just barely hear. if your name is helen why do i know it so well? i want to ask you to read me these letters one day so that i can remember their sharp syncopation in your voice if you can even speak helen then repeat your name to no one but me

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C INDY R IZZA FRAMES you’re really not that far away actually you’re next to my pillow stuck on with scotch tape i used enough so you don’t fall off sometimes i lay down next to you and i stare into the black that i know is your face if i squint hard enough i can see the outline of your head the sunlight in your hair you’re here with me an inch away if i close my eyes i can see you hear you like frames of an old movie sensory puzzle pieces spilled behind my heavy eyes

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SWEETHEART Today we are handed sugar-coated endearments to caramelize our hearts therapeutic confections we swallow for the occasion and after the twentieth “be mine,� my senses are numb to their acidity and I have forgotten what love tastes like.

RIZZA

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JED M. HOWARD 10 R EASONS

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woke up with a skull-crushing headache. My eyes were so dry that they burned. After blinking the cloudy residue away, I saw red and brown swirls beneath me. With both arms, I pushed myself up with my legs still trailing behind me, and looked ahead of me and then back over my shoulder. I was lying in a hallway. The walls were a creamy, off-white color, the floor red with a light brown floral design. I saw many doors on both sides of the hallway, both in front and behind me. I rolled myself onto my back and sat up, leaning against the nearest wall. I pulled my dingy blue baseball cap over my eyes to shield them from the vicious fluorescent lights that lined the ceiling. I tapped my left front and rear pockets to check that I still had cigarettes and my wallet. Both were still there. I reached into my front pocket and pulled a crumpled pack of Du Marrier cigarettes out and opened the lid. One left. The white walls, red and brown carpets, and the cylindrical ash cans along the stretch of hallway began to conjure sentiments of familiarity. I was at my hotel. I slid sideways along the wall until I nudged up against one of the dark grey ash cans that lined the halls. Holiday Inn, I thought. Montreal… Canada…we can’t smoke in hotel halls at home. I placed my last cigarette between my lips and, with great effort, dug around my right pocket for my lighter. The dry smoke scratched my throat. It tasted like a mouthful of ashes. I let my head drop backwards against the wall. I was staring down another short hallway, the bottom of a greater L-shape, adjacent to the longer hall I had awoken in. Laboriously, I stood up. I recognized the door to my room, and the one next to it as my buddies’ room. I lumbered to my door and knocked twice. My girlfriend, Kali, had taken the key card from me the night before. I placed my ear against the door and knocked again, presumably louder. After trying the handle, I was convinced that she was not inside. I had no idea what time it was, but I was assuming that she would be awake. The window at the end of the hall let in an awful, burning white light; the sun was high. Several of my friends were staying in the room next to mine. Maybe she was in there, I thought. I wanted to throw up. My stomach felt as though I had chased a handful of thumbtacks with a glass of bleach. I stood in front of my door, staring dumbly at it.

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I started to remember the strip clubs, at least the fact that there were nude women and that I had been in at least one. I couldn’t remember a beer in my hand, but sipping often from glasses filled with clear and brown liquors. I wasn’t sure if I’d touched a beer at all that night. I thought I remembered Kali sitting on my lap. No, the girl on my lap was nude. A blur of blonde hair. I walked to my friends’ room and slapped the door hard. My buddy Jason cracked the door and peeked out. After seeing it was safe, he swung the door open. He stood before me swaying slightly in his boxer shorts and a “Club Super-Sex” T-shirt. His eyes were swollen nearly shut, but he wore a faint grin. The room smelled of stale smoke, sweat, and burnt coffee. “Pretty damn rough one, huh?” he said. “I wish I knew,” I moaned, holding my forehead up with my thumb and forefinger. I glanced around the room through my fingers. “Has Kali been in here?” “She dropped your key card over there by the TV a while ago. It’s on top of the dresser, I think.” My stomach twisted. Why had she dropped the key off? Why didn’t she answer our door? She wasn’t the type to wander the streets of such a city alone. Where could she have gone, I kept asking myself. Scanning the room I saw three more bodies, another guy and two girls, contorted in strange positions around the room. Nobody went with her. “This is not good, my man,” I said, “Kali didn’t answer the door. Did she say anything to you when she dropped the key off?” “Nope. I just saw her drop the key on the bureau and leave. I think Lauren opened the door. Wake her ass up.” I stepped over my buddy, Matt, and walked up to the bed Lauren lay half in, half out of. I pushed on her back until she looked over her shoulder at me. “Morning. What is it?” she asked. “Where’d Kali go?” “She didn’t say. I’m so hung over I didn’t really talk to her. She just said to give you your key if we saw you.” “If you saw me. Didn’t anybody see me lying in the damn hallway last night? I’m lucky I didn’t get arrested or mugged,” I said angrily. “We tried to wake you up. You were out; stone cold.” I pursed my lips and shook my head. I stepped over Matt again HOWA R D

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and grabbed my key from the dresser. Jason was lying down in between the two twin beds again. Another girl, Rachel, lay in fetal position on the other bed. “Did she talk to Kali?” I asked Lauren. “Nope. She’s been sleeping the whole time.” “Damnit,” I said and left the room in a hurry, hoping to catch Kali in the hall or in the room if she had come back. I slid my key card into the scanner four or five times before the red light turned green. The room was quiet; one bed made, the sheets on the other slightly rumpled. Her bags were gone. It didn’t smell like bars and strip clubs in there. All I could smell was a faint vanilla scent. I was scared. I didn’t know what had happened to Kali or why she’d left the hotel. I didn’t even know what had happened to me. I figured she was pissed because of the lap dance, that she’d taken a walk to think before seeing me conscious. On the undisturbed bed was a small piece of paper, torn from a complimentary hotel note pad. At the top of the paper it said “10 Reasons Why.” It was a list of events from the night before. Events carried out by me, and in lesser examples, describing my involvement. They were numbered 1-10 in ascending order of severity. It was a terrible list. The lap dance wasn’t even mentioned.

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Cindy Rizza

“Untitled” November, 2003

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Alex Balsen

“Untitled” November, 2003

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C HRIS RUSSELL OLD A PARTMENT You were waiting for me to speak for I don’t know how long. I just wanted to look at it for 5 minutes, you know, to focus on how I was going to fit everything into the lens of my eye. Sure, yes, it was small, but huge in a way. The walls like smoking crème, I didn’t see anything at all, and the ceiling, white against the wall. But it had a crap-load of closets, one, two, three, four, four of them. and I like that dead man’s Murphy bed behind the biggest one. Oh, all right, OK, fine, I hated the mother, how the economy size refrigerator beside that old fashioned ice box was just floating around in there with the even smaller stove, though the bathroom had a tall window, a long tub. I could love a bath every night, and if I seal the deal, lay back, and, with the piping water rising up my gopher cheeks, close my puffy eyes in silence… But where were the outlets? Whatever, I’m going to take it, except for that rat-ass foam cushioned floor. Yank it. Move the grizzly boy to the dumpster, wherever, because I don’t know how long I can stomach living on packing material. RUSSELL

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NATHANIEL BLAKE UNTIDALED squabbling for scraps of shit squawking out goddamned annoying screeches fed by fucking tourists and fisherman throwing back a catch only worthy of winged garbage disposals wobbling on a warped pier or wading in waves and wake; seagulls are really nothing more than indolent pigeons with fucking webbed orange feet.

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PARDON “pardon my fucking French,” he used to always say shrewdly. But sometimes, when he was in a hurry or perhaps even doing it entirely wrong, he would simply proclaim: “pardon my fucking.”

BLAKE

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TYLER MUSTY SUBSTANCE BUDDIES

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n acquaintance from high school—this kid named Joe—he was a real jittery thing. Crazy to believe with all the pot he smoked. His eyes never stopped twitching, and he’d jump at the smallest things. Two undershirts weren’t enough to keep massive sweat stains from stretching down his sides. After high school, when I’d be home for a while, Joe and I wound up together at random times. We weren’t friends—we were substance buddies by default. He was old enough to buy my alcohol, and he didn’t care if I drank in his car. During long nights that became mornings, Joe carved his red Ford Aspire through the back roads of Woodsville. I thought he smoked an impossible amount of pot while I got blasted on cheap beer in the passenger seat. The torn up surfaces of those roads hadn’t seen a paving job in years. But they always brought us somewhere. One morning, the night was fading into dusty, blue light. We found ourselves at the P & H Truck Stop, this landmark off Interstate 91 in Wells River, Vermont. With the daylight getting ready to push down on us, we carried one another into the dining area. Joe drew stares. His shaved head and two-pronged goatee were a rarity, I suppose. I tried ordering the famous turkey club, but Joe had to help. All he wanted was coffee. The disgusted waitress walked off without saying anything. For that, we wouldn’t tip. Joe got up to use the bathroom, and I cradled my head in my clammy hands, waiting for something to happen. I must have started nodding off because the waitress slipped my plate under my face in no time. I gave her a shrug, a peace offering, but she walked off just the same as before. Joe still wasn’t back, and his coffee was getting cold, so I took a sip while it was still good and started to eat. I was halfway done with my sandwich—barely breathing— when Joe came back. “Here you go,” he said. He tossed this little orange box across the table—backhand style, using mostly his index finger like a poker dealer. I took

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another large bite, as much as I could fit in my mouth, before picking it up to see what it was. That was my mistake. “STIMULATE HER,” it said on one narrow side, “EXCITE HER,” on the other. Staring back at me was this dominatrix wearing thighhigh black boots and brandishing a whip. Out of the package fell a glow in the dark cock ring—this thin strip of plastic intended for “visual and physical stimulation.” He’d obviously gotten it out of the novelty vending machine in the bathroom where you could also purchase flavored condoms. I tried choking down my laughter but only choked on my sandwich. A gnarled lump of bacon, homemade wheat bread, and turkey fell onto my plate along with a small, foamy puddle of vomit I somehow controlled. Joe and I were removed right away by the huge, sweaty shortorder cook. I laughed the whole way to the Aspire, crawling some of the way on my hands and knees—wracked by great abdominal heaves. Not only had we not tipped, we hadn’t paid. Joe wasn’t so amused. He walked with this quick, jerking, straight legged motion, looking over his shoulder the entire time. I drank the last two beers of my eighteen pack on the way to my house. I offered Joe one because he was so spooked. He refused, turned up the Radiohead CD he always listened to, and constantly checked his mirrors. In my driveway, under a new day, as Joe dropped me off, I apologized. “Sorry, man. I…I guess that wasn’t so funny.” “Nah,” he said. Eyes twitching. Huge sweat stains. “All I paid for was that lousy cock ring. Next time, remind me to order something to eat.”

MUSTY

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MY LIFE A S A FRUIT FLY

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ecaying organic material; that’s what they rely on to live— these fruit flies. It’s only got to be moist and dying, and the fruit flies move right in. That was me one summer. My girlfriend had ejected me from her apartment for very believable reasons, and I was hard up for a place to stay. A person I knew through another person, this guy Michael, suggested I stay in his basement for a while. I could help with the rent, he said, as much as I could. And maybe I could help out around the house once in awhile. He needed cash—I needed a roof—a perfect fit. My room was made of cement. It smelled of old stuff and had green puddles. The mattress was cornered between the ancient furnace and an incomplete wall that morphed into the earth toward the top. But when I lay on my back at night, I didn’t see stars, so this was acceptable. We fell into routine right away. On average, I paid about a third of the rent and Michael paid almost everything else. This made sense though, because I never got phone calls, the basement wasn’t heated, and the only electricity we didn’t share was the single light bulb dangling above my mattress from a rusty chain. I did most everything else. Dishes. Emptying the trash. Vacuuming. The general tidiness was up to me. And Michael was filthy, not your everyday slob. He left trails wherever he went. Dirty dishes, grease-stained clothes, bottles of dip spit, crushed beer cans. I found unopened mail postmarked years earlier, and once, under the couch, a used condom. When the stove stopped working, Michael only bought food he could cook on the grill. The toilet began overflowing with every flush, so Michael pissed outside and shit at work. Because he paid for the luxuries of living on Slight Hill Road, these were my responsibilities. More out of curiosity than frustration, I decided to perform an experiment. Michael refused to even bring his dirty dishes to the sink for me to wash, so he obviously never picked up a sponge. I began to pile the dirty dishes in the sink and leave them there without even rinsing them. Lots of things found their way to the

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sink—uneaten bits of hamburgers, discarded fruit salad, hardened Chinese take-out, and half-empty glasses of warm beer. After a little over a week, fruit flies were born. A general crowd swarmed over the waste bin of dishes, but every plate or bowl you moved let loose a new group. Thin black clouds hovered above the lines of food-covered plates along the counter in each direction. The disgusting little dots danced in the air, apparently drunk off whatever it was I chose to discard in the sink. Michael irrationally had cupboards full of dishes for only one person, but when the dishes ran out, I stopped eating at his place. I took my food on the outside. Michael, he began rinsing the least dirty dishware. He would open canned spaghetti onto plates that were covered with the salty residue of a previous meal. Bread crumbs from a forgotten sandwich were sucked up by the dressing of tomorrow’s salad. When the least dirty dishware ran out, Michael bought paper plates. The day before he bought paper plates, Michael said, “Hey, man, we should do the dishes.” He wasn’t angry. I think he was nervous that the dishes would never be clean again. I didn’t do them. Michael bought paper plates. A few more long days passed, and the smell of rot was everywhere. The upstairs bathroom with its overflowing toilet was the only possible refuge. And the flies were out of control. I had to accept it that some things never change. Everybody wants to, but it’s always hard. Some people are the feeders and some are the organic matter. I took my rightful place among the fruit flies and did the dishes.

MUSTY

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DARCY WINWARD THE R ELATIONSHIP It’s 5:30 a.m., I’m drunk and half passed out, and somehow, you think I want a relationship. Oh, yes please, I’ve never wanted anything more, but could we break up around 6? I gotta be up early.

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M ACHINE ON THE MOUNTAIN Science had betrayed him. Blackness tried to invade His body glued on with leather Yet, within and below He painted with color His creations. Acceptance became his desire, Used For his magnificent structures. Death And once again he was alone Until she danced beneath his innocence And he provided her the comfort of imperfections. He showed her how to believe And she forever dances beneath the art of his brilliant hands.

WI N WA R D

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M ATT B ONIN P ICTURE SHOW White all around a cluttered confused eardrum the weak plunge of a minute hand a broken masterpiece, viewed through a glass poster welcome to words and neon signs spoken through Big microphones screaming at you to watch listen.

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Alyssa DiGiulio

“Untitled” 2004

Alyssa DiGiulio

“Untitled” 2004

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Andrew F. Mannone

“Treading the Line” 2003

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PARIS L ANDRY AND ONE

click on a pedal twist some knobs then strum and twist and strum and repeat until the chord sounds just right the note rings just right and everything is just right and the sadness feels safe begins to creep through the discordant harmony of the d-chord slide hammer and sus4 another musician pays homage to the illumination of the blues another musician is lost in that luminescence

LANDRY

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M MMM. standing in the crack light looking out my kitchen window at a traced out, double back reflection of a girl eating ice cream and I don’t know anyone who can do that outside the erotic ah, I wonder about the mouth when it eats ice cream and licks lollipops but sucks popsicles and always savors the right word to penetrate open ended and remark that the mouth is a place of wonder in the doubled out, traced back reflection of my kitchen self.

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M ATTHEW B. HOWES A WORLD OF RAPID CONFUSION AND COLORFUL CRIMES Her way is opaque plywood charm Supplied on the two-ply tie-dye farm As she bounces the brine shrimp, to light-bright beat, Off the glare of the incandescent toilet seat Where even grime gleams With clean self-esteem And she polishes her pride —What you once tried to hide— While her truck-stop ensemble assembles with fret The erector set jet to pay off her credit card debt Then she blinks to the king of the kinks while he softly slinks To instinctively inspect the pink ice-rink hijinks And he aids in the contusion of paraplegic pantomimes In a world of rapid confusion and colorful crimes. They evacuate the vacancy Where they evaluate your latency Because the fire-drill kills Any hope of cheap thrills As the karma collector spills His bucket of overdue bills At the feet of the queen of The Clown Age Who loses her sage, flies off in a rage Signaling the barracuda barrage to barricade The raid on Lesters’ lackluster lemonade parade But the blokes have already paid The new Street Sweeper Charade Who chokes as he’s slayed While the heat leaper gets laid And obnoxiously yells: “Virginity sells, I tore off her wings and stole all her bells To aid in mean things and untimely spells In the fusion of obscure paradigms All in a world of rapid confusion and colorful crimes!”

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Don’t ignore what the mirror man tells When his false identity swells And he pinches the pockets of Peppery Pan To get her attention and ask “Who is that man?” And it is her contention, “You won’t understand You don’t belong in this land, please remove your sand. Away you should crawl, it’s time you were through. After all, who invited you? You’ve reached your conclusion, reality chimes. Say goodbye to the world of rapid confusion and colorful crimes.” As you rise in your bed And examine your head You come to the contention That it was all indigestion. You turn on your side and began to count sheep As you embark on the ride to your next phase of sleep.

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L IZ K ELLEY GPA

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iz tells me that she isn’t afraid of dying; that’s why she tried to kill herself. What a blow to my ego, after telling her about my trip to Europe, my flight getting canceled. She’s struggling to live, and I can’t reach out to her without thinking about my lab report, my presentation for Lit class, my mid-terms, my tan lines. I walk around campus and I think about Liz, about time efficiency, about phone calls that I should be making. I walk through the park and I see children on swing sets pumping to get higher, and hippies playing hackey sack who already are higher. All of my thoughts come out like lines of prose and it aggravates me because I shouldn’t be taking advantage of this gravity, and yet I know that I should write this down and send it to some literary magazine, just another thing to check off on my list of things to do. Boxes not checked because I have a GPA to maintain and a work schedule and beers to drink. My stomach reminds me that I haven’t eaten in twelve hours, and my droopy eyelids remind me that I haven’t slept in twentyfour hours. Now a suicide watch; am I so insensitive that I could put something like that on a list of things to do? Liz says she isn’t afraid of dying and I think, of course not, because it’s the living that is the hard part.

KELLEY

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E RINN WHITMORE EMPTY PARKING LOT, 11 P.M. the red nail lacquer on her fingernails was chipped, and he looked at it contemptuously. her face lay freckled and pale underneath his eyes. his voice was raspy and she said she didn’t care to smile. he said he didn’t care if she ever smiled again.

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ADAM ’S A PPLE if we all held hands and hummed, would they stop? if we all put down our drinks picked up a newspaper, would it help any? rush hour comes and rush hour goes and televisions replace all intelligent conversation and the French are anti-war and the Turks won’t grant us permission and lying in a cave somewhere, some al Qaeda operative scribbles down his plan; in some gutter somewhere some hobo carefully plots out his next steal-and-fake-it move and in the eyes of Zeus, they are exactly the same. but the Muses do not care and Eden might as well not exist and the Fates keep spinning their webs because who cares if God exists? after all the dirty bombs and suicides, God has probably disowned us all, anyhow.

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S COTT C OYKENDALL THIS IS WHY THE MANGO WINS for Liz Ahl I. In her Beginning Poetry class, Liz tells me, word war has broken out among the poets. Nose is typed on a card and tossed in the trampled ring with the snarling fidget (who last year massacred hammer and worm, then shrank away from milk in the quarter-finals). I lean my cheek against the cool bus window and imagine these brevet poets sorting words into piles of soldiers and sheep. “Some of them think it’s childish,” Liz explains, “but some see right away how gasoline always beats mango.” II. On the pegboard behind my workbench, four hammers are lined up again like jail breakers. Putting away my summer projects, or hiding them until next year, I keep finding the tools I had set aside when the phone rang or a car door slammed in the driveway. Here’s the sanding block cobwebbed beneath the naked oak desk abandoned when my daughter tumbled out of the Mountain Ash. Here’s the spiral notebook where I had started a poem about grackles when Tabitha slipped in to say the kids were at the neighbors’ and we had the house to ourselves for two hours. It’s always some life getting in the way of chores. III. When I was a kid in Missouri, we poured gasoline on thistles. We didn’t know it sank straight into the groundwater. It was cheaper than herbicide. The thistles died and did not live again.

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IV. I know why I always put death into my poems: she’s my star player, the sure thing. What if death sat on the bench and let someone else play for a change? Christ! What if death blew out her knee stepping off a curb in front of a night club or crossing a pasture of wild clover? Where would I turn? Love? Nature? Oh please! V. I know 4,138 people who someday plan to get drunk on Mango Rum Batidas and walk barefoot on a white beach under a big moon spitting ice cubes at their lover. Maybe it’s cliché, but they don’t give a damn; every morning, it brings them back to life.

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SKIP MORSE I LOVE TAKING TRIPS DOWNTOWN I love to slow-glide the caramel of fresh candy-apples, being careful not to bite. To smell that sweet, fresh pollen floods my brain. My favorite though are chocolate covered cherries, that, with a little nibble and persistent tongue, can be turned inside out, letting loose the cherry and the syrupy inside.

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Justine Handler

“Windy City” March, 2004

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Jason McKenzie

“Naked” 2004

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C RYSTAL A. L AVOIE THE ACCIDENT So in 5th grade I invited Tanya to sleep over. She slept over a lot and even though she always smelled like pee and never washed her hair, She was my best friend. I had bunk beds. Tanya slept on the bottom that night— and woke up at 6 a.m. She told me she had to baby-sit her brother, it was an emergency. I woke up at 9 to my mother gagging. She held up sheets covered in shit, and told me Tanya probably shouldn’t sleep over so much anymore.

L AVO I E

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NAKED In preschool I had this really cool E.T. undershirt. I wore it to school under my clothes (every day) and during nap time, I would want to look at it. So I would enclose myself in blankets and strip down but after awhile, the routine got sort of boring—so I decided to see how many times I could strip and redress within the hour. Then one day, the teacher said I could wake everyone up since I was the most well-behaved but I was naked, so I just started yelling. After that, I kept my clothes on at school. L AVO I E Seventh Edition Final Proof 2.0

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SETH O WEN P ERDUE H IDING GRANDPA I was seven, my cousin nine, when grandpa died. The pleated skirt gathered around the casket fascinated us; we burned to know what hid under there. Maybe grandpa. I was too small to see my grandpa’s cold face above the brass pallbearers’ bar. We were geniuses when we discovered the wheels the skirt covered, and the brake releases to each. That skirt hid more than people knew as we started wheeling my grandpa’s corpse down the aisle. People screamed, we giggled at our fun, until a hand, under my arm, dragged me out. Two days later, grandpa was in a small wooden box; my cousin and I couldn’t figure it out—grandpa was big. Standing above crashing waves on rocks at Nubble Light, grandpa, drifting on the breeze, went out to sea.

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WINTER’S A NNOUNCEMENT The overhanging reeds, their hiding place, exposed, and like water, they pour upwards from Newfound Lake. Canadian Geese take flight against gray cloudy skies. Their white underbelly camouflage ripples the air, steering my thoughts. A brief rest ended by a cold night of snow; their V-shaped silhouette mirrored on an iced edge. The trees, deprived of warmth, scratch at the sky. Pale sunlight pierces a section of the firmament and the geese tilt direction, circling ‘round, heading south. And as the ripples on the water melt away the geese disappear into the clouds.

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ROSELLE A NGWIN, ROBERT GARLITZ AND RUPERT L OYDELL OLD TRACKS

Over-sweet smell of bacon and french toast fills the house, visitors up from southern cities, here to ski fresh snow. I should have been a hunter, bred a pack of prize hounds. I should have gone to India before the firstclass ticket reached $8,000 round-trip. Raspberries bloom in that peculiar red that’s pink, that’s soft as fur, as dust balls in the corner of the living room. No point in wishing what I might, I should prize life and hound possibilities as they offer themselves to the senses. Snow only covers up old tracks that the wind has left. In the sky footprints of birds. Clouds peel themselves, slough flakes like skin. Behind them Big Sky Mind remains obscured. Don’t leave it too long; jump as high as you dare while you can. I’m a migrant, lost at the edges of the firmament. Light is as lost as we are. Whether wave or particle—however it gets from there to here, near to far— I can’t see it knowing where it is or what’s going on. Me neither. I really don’t like sunset or sunrise, annotating the end of every long day, the way it all sinks into nowhere. Here in the half-light today a fox, a flurry of redwings, sharp green scent of new nettles, yellow smog over Plymouth. Indoors, moments of complicity with small things: dog’s breath on my foot; red mug, steaming tea. My life’s unraveling, glue dissolving. 49 Seventh Edition Final Proof 2.0

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I read about a woman who danced and kick-boxed so hard at a time like this she created an orbital wind of silence around herself and her right hand shriveled due to language deprivation so I won’t do that. How not to dissolve, then? Fray into loose threads let the winds blow, do what they will till you are spent, blue silence, merely another ‘ring of light on the dark water’, or that unbearable much-quoted feather on the breath of God. Sing. Dance. Whirl. Give up language. Let yourself dissolve into the place where all stories start. A slip of paper falls out of a book, handwriting from ten years ago. We drove into the mountains today, high frozen crests buffeted by wind and sun. Emptiness reawakens me after the short warm visit and talk. Your new gray kitten named Thompkins has four double paws. Dejection creeps around the room, looking for somewhere warm to sleep. What did I write to myself, so long ago? Wise advice? A poem? Some kind of prophecy—instructions for the future, to make our world better? No, a small list of things to buy. Not needed then or now.

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L IZ A HL THE LINE It divides the fire from the water— a thin stretch of land, a horizon, blackened and backlit by sunset. The line is everything— demarcation, still point, the encircling arm of the tangible world. The watercolorist knows how we love the line—knows not to set it dead center, knows we want something between our sky and our sea. The poet also knows how to toss a line our way, taut dark rope by which we might suspend ourselves between experience and language’s shadowy rendering. Look how we’re drawn to it—that horizon, that measure: plain assertion of everything we treasure.

AHL

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FLIGHT ATTENDANT Old school: a stew halfway through her day, running on Aqua-Net fumes and sheer will— long blonde hair swept up into a storm brewing, peachy cake foundation in need of a powder— she’s nonetheless queen of the crowded cabin and shushes the three men yakking in the exit row during her monologue about flotation, oxygen, pathway lighting, flap insertion, etc. She shushes them quickly and efficiently, short-skirted school marm, and they are very shushed indeed as she finishes. If she strode over to my row and thrust out her arm, snapped open her hand beneath my chin, you can make book I’d shamefully spit this wad of ear-popping Juicy Fruit into her palm.

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STEVEN SPRAGUE SECOND GRADE Before the age of medicated youth, teacher pegged me as lacking self control. Attention deficit was not a disorder. It was an eccentricity. Teacher occasionally told me to “zip it” in class. I would stand up on my chair and make rough rhythms with the fly of my jeans. My classmates went wild for my insubordination. My parents were phoned nearly every day. Teacher threatened to staple my lips when I was really “out of control.” My quips, however, never ceased. I called her bluff and marched to the head of the class stapler in hand. With a deep breath I depressed a crisp clasping crunch. My pursed mouth became bound. I still have a scar on my lip.

SPRAGUE

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ROBOT LOVE My girlfriend was a robot for Halloween. I wanted to dress up like a monkey and fight her. I didn’t do it because it had been done before. No one wants to be unoriginal. Especially while wearing a monkey suit. My girlfriend moved mechanically around our apartment with stiff motions. She washed dishes and reminded me of the girl from the TV show Small Wonder. When my girlfriend ran her hands under the water she pretended to short-circuit. We tacked the label from her Halloween costume to the wall. On it there was a photo of a boy in a robot suit. His shoulders were shrugged. His face was dour. We never pretended the child was our own, but we loved him. We named him Devo.

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ROB M ASSE P EPPERMINT FARTER

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hen Mitch told us that his farts smelled like peppermint we thought he was drunk, or stoned, or just telling stories again. He was always telling us about how he could make his body perform a series of weird tricks, like making a lung collapse or shutting down his liver for short periods of time. Once he spent an entire two weeks trying to convince us he had no bones in his neck. He’s kind of weird, but he’s good for a story and a joint, so we hang around with him. After about a month of him telling us his farts smelled like peppermint, Mitch was turning into a buzzkill. We knew there was no way it was possible. He eats cabbage at almost every meal, smokes like a chimney, and drinks more than Jake, Tim and I put together. As far as we were concerned, no part of him could smell like peppermint even if he bathed in it. It turns out we were wrong. A few months ago the four of us were driving around town looking for summer jobs when the whole car filled with a peppermint scent. Mitch sat back in his seat with his silent-butdeadly grin and proceeded to laugh at each of us and say “I told you so.” We begged him to do it again, but nothing came. Once we found out about Mitch’s gift it didn’t take long for the whole town to find out. All of Oakton was buzzing with rumors of why he smelled like peppermint, and people would try to take a quick sniff whenever he walked by. For some reason, the fact that Mitch’s ass smelled like a star mint had everyone talking, and Jake was the leader. If there were ever a company that publicized the stupidest things imaginable, Jake would be the president. It was his idea to go international. We sent a letter to the Guinness Book of World Records, telling them about Mitch and asking them to mention him in their next book as having the sweetest smelling fart. A few weeks went by and there was no response. We sent off a second, more professional letter claiming that Mitch had the most aromatic flatulence, but we were ignored again. The rest of us were ready to give up, even Mitch, but Jake was determined to put us on the map. He bought a box of mason jars and we brought them over to Mitch’s apartment. The plan was to get Mitch to fart and somehow catch it inside the MASSE

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jars and seal them before it escaped. Jake would then send it out to Guinness and we would finally be famous. It never worked, but we did find out that we could smoke weed and catch the smoke for later. After a while the commotion died down. Mitch earned the name Peppermint Farter and Jake had some T-shirts made, but it never went any farther than that. One guy tried inventing potpourri underwear, sold a couple of pairs, and then called it quits. Now Mitch thinks he can make his wrist whistle. It’s always something with him.

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NATHAN GRAZIANO SUNDAY NIGHT POEM It’s the same scene as last week. A defeated sigh after dinner followed by a flash of hope as I look out the window and watch the wind toss our empty garbage cans down the street toward a stop sign. And I convince myself I’m not going to work tomorrow. Or Tuesday. Or ever again. For the next five minutes I allow myself to bathe in the balm this thought provides. Then circumstance pulls the plug and the warm water swirls away. I’m naked in tomorrow’s cold tub. My daughter is asleep in her crib, her small thumb stuck to her lip. The mortgage sits like the Buddha on the first block of our calendar, as my wife talks to her friend on the telephone about dinner plans for next Saturday night. Outside the garbage cans stop. As if commanded by the sign.

GRAZIANO

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AT K EROUAC ’S GRAVE At the tombstone in a quiet cemetery in Lowell, strangers leave pens and cigarettes and books beside wilting flowers. Two young poets from opposite parts of the country that he died to immortalize share a Coors Light and stand on the grass above his grave. They nod to each other, as if to say, Even Jack Kerouac died.

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Jennifer M. OʼDonnell

“Contain Your Ghost” 2004

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Rick Schlott

“Untitled” February, 2004

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K RYSTINA H AJDUCZEK TITLE

FIGHT

I want to be like you Sitting there Where you used to stand. Now, all defeated and hunched. Happy. Unaware that you’re dead. It’s my fault, Or hers, Or the right hand man’s. You blame us and sear us. Dare us, To look up to your former shadow Against the stars. You say that anger and pride Are base emotions. Well, ready your armies, Urge them to fight the fight Of their lives, Because I’m not leaving my little base. I’m dug in too deep. Oh hell, forget the armies, Stand alone against me. Toe to toe. Slap me. Hit me. Pretend that this is action, Movement. Pretend that your life Really is alive. Blood and teeth, And the taste of envy In my mouth. 61 Seventh Edition Final Proof 2.0

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JENNIFER M. O’D ONNELL THERE ARE NO WISHBONES IN L AMBS Next year’s trouble the false promise of a copper-tone, heads up buried in the left breast of a hairpin head spin. Life dependent high wire; a pit of baseless prediction. Next year’s hero an Easter massacre, a Lucky for you/Too bad for him bloody limb in a basket of limp-legged trix. A red stain reminder and a 9 lives reward. Next year’s formula a lock of twisted digits wind in the wake of a too late habit. A careful stitch in stride, and vigilant eye cradle transactions left lifeless by the only hands indigenous to fortuity.

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AWAITING C ADENZA

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t was an ordinary Monday night filled with frequent feet and haloed city lights. Rolling back my shoulders, I gave a contented sigh to each anticipated crack of joint satisfaction. My eyes slowly adjusted to the murkiness of the evening—cones took over rods and colors cleared as pupil dilation ensued. Fully focused, a familiar red streak faded from the corner of my right eye. I began to take in the scene, tucking my knees under my chin, and sat silently perched upon my wind-whipped stoop to observe. Already, time read 7:37 in the evening (according to the clock at the corner of the block). Her old-fashioned dress hung over her knobby frame of loose skin and harsh angles. She fondled with crooked fingers, the tight awkward mound of white wisps which stood at attention at the top of her head. Letting out a faint cry, she slowly folded herself down to pick up a possible paper bag that sat at her bare feet. She fiercely pointed an arthritic finger at the dimly lit window where her neighbor sat—surveying her every move. I noticed the gracefulness she demonstrated was truly amazing and completely out of character as she hurled her favorite flatware at his awaiting window. The silver spoons whirled convex over concave through the air, and were stunned by a resonating rejection. The icy pitches echoed into the night, leaving in their wake stunned faces and turned heads. She continued to pile knives and forks onto the hood of his car, lined them up in an imaginary sequence, and occasionally paused only to mumble incoherent accusations into her chest at any ignorant, non-cultured passersby. I watched as she slowed. A drained looking expression washed itself clean across her face, and suddenly, without warning, her knees bent and her bare feet leapt from the concrete which caused her to erupt into a frenzied fit of laughter. My eyes widened in astonishment at this unusual taste of insanity and I pulled my knees closer to my chest. I couldn’t help but smile. Slowing down once again, I noticed that her fists had fashioned themselves into tight little balls. In a huff she threw herself down onto the curb and completed the motion by cocking her head up to look at the sky. Her narrow neck glistened with sweat in the 63

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lamplight, illuminating age across her face. I wiggled my toes and soon found myself looking up as well. No stars tonight. I lowered my eyes to her, and before I knew what happened, we both jumped. She was fixated on me. I uneasily shifted, but couldn’t help but notice her child-like actions. I watched her carbonize my position, and timidly she dragged her heels to her under-thighs. She slowly rolled her shoulders back up straight and wrapped her wiry arms around her knees. She looked sane— pleasantly peaceful. The shriek and pound of the neighbor’s screen door broke our contact. She stood and followed her pointed digit to the back of her house; it dragged along the chipped fence that separated her from the rest of the world. A low hum faded—as her form befell— engulfed by the creeping shadows that hung from a canopy of lingering leaves. The colors held no significance in the black and white of the night.

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R ANDY BROOKER IQUITOS I. hot jungle air, the moist breath of a lover, whispers against my neck. Andean orchids scent bittersweet ditches of shit and mud. thatched roof, glassless window, dirt floor. II. slow-boats sit low, leaking in the dun water of the Amazon. slick, pungent mud sucks my shoes. an irresistible glide toward sunlit cumuli. pink river-dolphin’s back breaks water, ephemeral flashes. hidden in her murk, predators lurk. III. morning’s soft embrace seeps into my berth—a low slung hammock swinging. spider monkeys mock my quietude. a solitary drop of dew dangling at the tip of a banana leaf gives an inverted vision of sky and Earth. IV. the Shaman’s brew frees me from myself. limbs floating flashes of light nausea spiral butterflies chanting: leee, leee, leee… vines are serpents entwined under the pregnant moon. the jungle is alive, and it is inside me. BROOKER

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THE C ANCER BIRDS grackles or swifts, huddled shoulder to shoulder around the flue of an old brick chimney. Black on dull red they sit in carcinogenic comfort. Tailpipes and smokestacks, cigarettes and burning tires, chimneys and dump fires are all birds of a feather. The homeless man cackles and spits, huddled shoulder to shoulder in the cold, around a barrel of burning trash. He brings a brown paper bag to cracked lips, and picks a butt from the ground. There is no warmth to be found.

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JASON MC K ENZIE YOU ’RE a sailor’s tattoo— a sweet raised flesh reminder of an acquired taste, a burning thousand shots of grain that soothe the dusk into daylight, a bloodletting from the roughness of edges, a cross-legged Old Rosie with a heart of gold intentions

& I’M drunk on bloodwine & the venom of daybreak, forsaking eyesight just to drown in your flame. Wrapped in curse & sacrifice like ivy on the bricks, savage as a jawtooth with eyes as wild as whiskey, I’ll carve your face in the belly of a god— even if it kills me.

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A BUZZING BUNCH OF FLIES

&

THE SWEET SMELL OF SHIT

hell yeah’s & hi fives like a cage of barbed hardons contained the too broken ballerinas we paid to resort to the bare floor stages in order to taste their makeshift fame they could have been shoveling shit— listless as bit ridden bitches tending matted haggard wounds with salty slapping laps soft as fists cascading currency like tiny paper rapes all the while maintained the cadence of cold moaning that waned when the booze became the better investment the floor pole, 2 more shows & time to go on— we went in 18, & came out ‘cross the Rubicon.

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M ICHAEL L ONGO K ALI YUGA I. The Power Pyramid I IN EYE H ELD TIGHT UNSEEN SA NGR AL HEGELIAN SYNTHESIS CONSPI R AC Y PSEUDONYMOUS CULTOFTHESUN NEWWORLDORDER II. The Master of Decay

Balanced On A Leg Feed i ng Atop A 4 Point Pyramid Always Growing

B l o o d Mortar Bricks Of Fear Pushing Outward Origin Eternal

(Enki)

(Enlil)

LONGO

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SHAWN M ICHAEL L AMPRON I RAQI SUNSET Sipping vodka and Vicodin, Iraqi sunrise Shades my arms. My jaw lies low, scoring Stone skeletons, Bombs by Baghdad brunch. Afternoons are dry wine and Sly desert candy, Eating livers and grins. Rum shots like razors pass Blistered lips, Sand blind vows of never. Budweiser bullets, Versed in Hell, I’m sleeping Iraqi sunset.

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ELIZABETH C. THOMAS NEWS FLASH “If you tolerate this then your children will be next”*

For my daughters

US Patriot Act signed into law Threats of violence shut down New Hampshire middle school for 5th straight day The Bush administration reverses a 25-year-old Clean Water Act Brutal slaying of gay black man racks Appalachian town The day after the US attacks Iraq, student poets are victimized by their school administration for writing poetry promoting an anti-war stance “Your children will be next.”* It’s my granddaughter’s 2nd birthday. She and I practice wishing. Already she is a good candle blower if you don’t mind a bit of spit with your frosting. Dora the Explorer tops the cake and purple balloons (her favorite color) float around us. Adults rush to set out paper plates and I consider how blessed we are. Instead of popping balloons it could be bullets. Instead of plastic noise makers it could be bombs. THOM A S

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At this moment in time, her second birthday, she is allowed to wake each day to parents who love and care for her, in a house with four walls and a roof without expectation of harm. The lights will go on when dark needs to be pushed away, the water will run when thirsty. She sneaks a flower from the cake— her cheeks pink as frosting, hair ribbons to match. I smile when she looks up at me, yet also feel a shame I do not want to get too intimate with. What have I done to deserve this day except write a poem? And what does any of it mean while the world comes apart around us? My two daughters approach, pregnant bellies both lead the way. They stand on either side of me, a hand on each shoulder. I am surrounded with the expectancy of life and it takes my breath away. My granddaughter climbs into my lap, touches me with frosted fingers. “Nonie,” she says. “No cry. Make wish.” *Excerpted lyrics from Manic Street Preachers

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M AUREEN O’BRIEN I N THE FOOTSTEPS

OF

MONKS

The spiraling stairs, hidden from the faithful, frightened me most. My unsure feet were too large to fit comfortably on. I imagined the young novice led upwards toward Heaven for the first time to ring the bells of Compline, guided by a wise brother and a torch if he were lucky. I was a novice in my earthly pursuits. Divinity was not on my mind as my hands grasped at smooth walls, praying empty prayers that I would not fall.

O’BRIEN

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NANCY G AUTHIER H ISTORY LESSON LOST Glass Columns that touch the clouds. I can see right through them if I want, Right through to the gritty T-station in the distance. Or I can look at the numbers engraved On the panels. They are frosted Like ghosts. 24412, 46217, and on and on and on. The numbers reach the clouds, too. Eternal life On glass, close to heaven but not quite. Smoke from under my feet carries my breath Upward through these glass towers. These reincarnated chimneys. Smoke and wind blow Past the numbers and into the sky like invisible ash. A woman at a stone marker fingers her necklace. People stop and look, wondering and then knowing. I touch the glass to make sure it’s real. I feel the numbers; They are real, too. Bergen-Belsen, Buna, Auschwitz. All real. I touch my heart To make sure it’s still beating. And it is. And my mother, disinterested by this place, And annoyed by crowds, Bulldozes through history.

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NOTES

ON THE

C ONTRIBUTORS

LIZ A HL has been published in Isotope, Prairie Schooner, Southern Poetry Review, 5AM, and other literary journals. She teaches poetry, writing, general creative writing, women’s studies and other courses at PSU. She is not fond of most condiments. ROSELLE ANGWIN is a Devon-based author of a number of books, pamphlets and articles, and Director of the Fire in the Head creative and reflective writing program. As a member of the Genius Loci group of environmental artists she works frequently with visual artists on outdoor and other projects, and has collaborated with musicians as well as with Rupert Loydell. With Arts Council of England funding, she’s currently writing and editing Writing the Bright Moment, a collection of essays and exercises based on the work of FITH. ALEX BALSEN (ART) is a student at Waterville Valley Academy. NATHANIEL BLAKE is a junior, majoring in English, from the mid-coast of Maine. He has been previously published in Born Human & Now Stuck That Way, a book of short stories, and also in the online version of Centripetal in Spring 2003. He was bitten in the eye by a cat when he was six, and now hates cats. M ATT BONIN had a beard. R ANDY BROOKER is an English major from North-Central Maine. He now resides in the White Mountain Region of New Hampshire. SCOTT COYKENDALL received his MFA in Poetry from Bowling Green State University. His poems have appeared in Hayden’s Ferry Review, Quarterly West, Calliope, and Poet’s On. ALYSSA DIGIULIO (ART) is a loose thread and a cowgirl. She rides a red polka dot horse. GORDON FRASER is a senior Theatre/Dramatic Writing and English/Writing double major from Laconia, NH. His work has appeared in the Laconia Citizen and The Clock. ROBERT GARLITZ teaches at Plymouth State University in central New Hampshire. His poems and essays have appeared in Three Candles, Ranam, Mudlark, Sierra Nevada Review, The Lucid Stone, Tangents, Stride, Slope, Centripetal, and Exquisite Corpse. With Rupert Loydell he recently published a book of mirror haibun entitled Snowshoes Across the Clouds. His critical study of Kenneth Burke’s theory of language and religion is due out in the fall. NANCY GAUTHIER is an Anthropology major from Hudson, NH. This is her first published work. She hopes to live long enough to see the Red Sox win the World Series. NATHAN GRAZIANO lives in Manchester, NH. He’s the author of Frostbite, a collection of short stories, and Not So Profound: New and Selected Poems. His work has appeared internationally in numerous small journals, such as The Chiron Review, The Owen Wister Review, Maine Street Rag, and Bathtub Gin. He aspires to become a rock star someday.

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JUSTINE H ANDLER (ART) lives in an igloo and loves to frolic aboot with her right-handed polar bear Toque. She loves your friend Sue in Canada and attempts to date Mounties in her spare time. And curling IS a sport, Eh! K RYSTINA H AJDUCZEK is a Humanities major from Sheffield, VT. She has been published in previous issues of Centripetal and other literary magazines. JED M. HOWARD, from Brookfield, NH, is a senior English/Writing major with a minor in Business Administration. He has been published in the 6th edition of Centripetal. M ATTHEW B. HOWES is a third year English major at Plymouth State University. He has previously been published in the Centripetal, The Clock, and the Comp Journal. Matt is also the Director of the Cult Movie Program in Poets and Writers. He is best known for his fluid knees and he hopes to sleep on the streets of New Orleans one day. LIZ KELLEY is a student at Plymouth State University. Her work appears in Centripetal because it is a family requirement. SHAWN MICHAEL LAMPRON is a twenty-two-year-old English Education major from Wolfeboro, NH. PARIS LANDRY lives, writes, and philosophizes in Plymouth, New Hampshire. CRYSTAL A. LAVOIE is a senior at Plymouth State University. Her work has appeared in Centripetal, Babel Magazine, and The Chiron Review. She likes popsicles and kittens. JON LINK lives in Northampton, MA and knows how to beat the fembots. MICHAEL LONGO is completing his third year at Plymouth State and is on the thirtythird branch of Charlemagne’s descendents. He has been published in the 4th and 5th editions of Centripetal, and is currently News Editor of the Plymouth State University newspaper, The Clock. CARA CRISTINA LOSIER is a Pirate. RUPERT LOYDELL is the Managing Editor of Stride Publications, Editor of Stride magazine, Reviews Editor of Orbis, Associate Editor of Avacado magazine and a regular contributor of articles and reviews to Tangents magazine. He is a Royal Literary Fund Project Fellow, following a RLF Fellowship at Bath University. He lives in Exeter, Devon, with his wife and two daughters. Recent publications include The Museum of Light and Endless Divisible, and four collaborative works: Snowshoes Across the Clouds, with Robert Garlitz; A Hawk Into Everywhere, with Roselle Angwin; The Temperature of Recall, with Sheila E. Murphy; and Eight Excursions, with David Kennedy. ANDREW F. M ANNONE (ART) has been published in The Clock and Plymouth Magazine and has served as Centripetal’s ‘technical guru’ for the past two years. He is Editor Emeritus and currently the CIO of The Clock. A senior, poised to graduate… someday… he is a Theatre Arts major with a Design and Technology option. ED M ANZI is a graduate of UNH Durham and is a prolific poet. He is the most ‘chill’ guy Dan has ever met.

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ROB M ASSE cannot think about anything to say except the Dalai Lama. He has been published in past editions of Centripetal as well as Poetry.com, The Clock, Plymouth Magazine, and NHPR. He would also like to let the word know that he is a macaroni artist and will soon venture into the medium of angel hair pasta. JASON MCKENZIE (ART/AUTHOR) has attended Plymouth State in two consecutive centuries & hopes to finish before the advent of a third. He writes so that he can go on with his life. SKIP MORSE is from Canaan, NH and will always continue to love life. TYLER MUSTY is from Piermont, New Hampshire; a town of under 1,000 people and one traffic light. He has been published in Centripetal. JENNIFER M. O’DONNELL (ART/AUTHOR) is as crazy as a two-legged horse. That’s pretty crazy. M AUREEN O’BRIEN is a senior majoring in Medieval Studies and is a member of Sigma Tau Delta. SETH OWEN PERDUE is a senior English major at Plymouth State University. He wears funny hats and has been published in The Clock. CINDY R IZZA (ART/AUTHOR) is a first year studio art major at Plymouth State University. She is a creative writing enthusiast, and a friend of all things colorful. CHRIS RUSSELL is a cult hero. R ICK SCHLOTT (ART) is a graduating senior who has been counting down the days to graduation since sophomore year. STEVEN SPRAGUE is a junior English major from Claremont, NH and has been published in Centripetal. ELIZABETH C. THOMAS is a published poet who designs and teaches writing programs to promote literacy for schools and organizations throughout the U.S. An advocate of youth in the arts, she is the founder of UpWords Poetry—a company dedicated to promoting programs for young writers. She hosts a website at www.upwordspoetry.com. ERINN WHITMORE is an English major at Plymouth State University. DARCY WINWARD is a graduating senior from Atkinson, NH. She is an English/Writing major with a women’s studies minor and has been published in the Centripetal and The Clock.

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THE CLOCK The Student Newspaper of Plymouth State University

As the weekly student newspaper of Plymouth State University, The Clock reaches over 4,000 students, faculty, and staff. Distributed free of charge on every Friday of the academic year, The Clock can be found across the Plymouth State campus and at over a dozen downtown locations. In addition to the traditional print edition of The Clock, we have ventured into the explosive growth of the World Wide Web, enabling us to reach an unprecedented amount of viewing audiences than ever before. Advertising in The Clock is an efficient way for your business to attract the attention of many members of the Plymouth Community.

Contact Information: Advertising Manager — Sunil Ghei Chief Financial Officer — Brandon Wilber Editor-in-Chief — Seth Owen Perdue Managing Editor — Brooke Thornton

Advertising c/o THE CLOCK HUB Suite A9 Plymouth State University Plymouth, NH 03264 News Room: 603.535.2279 Ads Phone: 603.535.2947 Fax: 603.535.2729 Attn: Ads Email: ads@clock.plymouth.edu editor@clock.plymouth.edu www.TheClockOnline.com

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FRIENDS OF CENTRIPETAL A SPECIAL THANK YOU TO... Our Advertisers Alumni Association Biederman's Campton Printing and Design The Clock The Common Man Inn Eagle Pond Authors' Series Graduate Studies Continuing Education and Outreach Kase Printing PACE Plymouth Book Exchange Plymouth State Bookstore WPCR

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Centripetal Spring 2004

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