SALVATION LIES IN THE HANDS
OF THE CREATIVELY MALADJUSTED.
IN WAKING A TIGER, USA A LONG STICK -MAO-TSE TUNG
9th Edition F Spring 2005
EDITORS Nathaniel Blake Ed Dugas P RODUCTION M ANAGER Molly Sutherland L AYOUT EDITOR Alex Crangle A DVISORY EDITORS Paul Rogalus Liz Ahl A SSOCIATE EDITORS Robby Binette Kevin Avery Alex Crangle Cara Cristina Losier Martha Meacham A SSISTANT EDITORS Stephen Sprague Christine Messina Andrea Lucas Lindsay MacDonald Skip Morse Sarah Gilbert Justin Quinn Stephanie Buck Rachel Kirkpatrick BUSINESS M ANAGER Lindsay MacDonald A RT D IRECTOR Cindy Rizza P ROMOTIONS Robby Binette Sarah Gilbert
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 attachments to firstname.lastname@example.org. All submissions must contain name and contact information for the poet/ author, as well as a brief note on the contributor. Centripetal accepts one time North American Rights for print and online publication. All rights revert to the authors upon publication. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Plymouth State Poets & Writers would like to thank the following for their support of this issue of Centripetal: all of the contributors, with special thanks to the Plymouth State University, the Hartman Union Building Staff, Bob Villa (for the roofing paper), Biderman’s Deli, Rodney Eckstrom, and the PSU English Department. We would especially like to thank Dr. Paul Rogalus, our advisor, without whom this would not have been possible. Cover art by Cindy Rizza; 2005.
CENTRIPETAL IS PRINTED BY K ASE P RINTING, I NC. 13 H AMPSHIRE DRIVE, UNIT 18 HUDSON, NH (603) 883-9223
19 HIGHLAND AVE F SUITE A14 PLYMOUTH, NH 03264 F (603) 535−2236 email@example.com oz.plymouth.edu/~poetswriters
CONTENTS 9 th E d i t i o n
F Spring 20 0 5
The Context of Words Means Little, (Nothing to Gain Except..) Time
10 EMILY BALASZ
The Misshapen Silhouette of a Watery Grave
12 MATTHEW GUNBY
The Birth of Tragedy
14 ANNABELLE WINTERS
W hy I am Thinking About Queen Anne, Dogs like to Eat Freshly Fallen Snow
17 KAREN MUNZ
18 MATT BONIN
The Decline of Religion in America
20 ANGELA RICCARDO
21 ED DUGAS
Break-Time, Contemplating the Bed-Time Lucidity Adultery
22 LISA HAMMOND 23 ALEX CRANGLE
On Our Way to Fallin’ in Love, Sunspots and the Late Radiance of You
25 MARLA MORRIS
Eve Was Framed
26 JASON MCKENZIE
The Weed, Broken Piano
29 KEVIN AVERY
Word- Clutter, Uncertainty (As a Sort of Revelation)
A Phobias Rain, Ms. Pronounced
The Bargain Tent on the Brink of Collapse; Consequences of Applied Pressure; the Last Days of the Holy Wars; the African Coast Falls Off, The Rising
Complaints About the Smell, Hygiene
Extended Eyelashes, Next
No One Gets Off This Playground Alive
In the Eye of the Storm
22 Steps to Being a Kevin
New England Summer, SnowW hite
Feeling Again, Fury
You So Proud
Funeral; Death a Thousand Miles Away, Indelible Mark
Ref lecting a Year, On the Question of Faith...
Nebulae, I Walk The Cameleon
A Snowy Day
W hy I Was Afraid to Cry
Untitled, Metro-North, Southbound
ON THE CONTRIBUTORS OF
M IRANDA P ERRY
THE C ONTEX T
WORDS M EANS L IT TLE
I. When it is done, we crawl back to our separate corners to nurse wounds beneath the shadow of solitude; quietly, to avoid attention. II. The shock worms its way out, slowly and leaves me hollowed. Though I appear solid where touched I cave in and reveal unused tunnels. III. There, what was said is slashed apart, hung like tattered flesh left as a reminder. Our words echo in the hollow, directionless and haunting.
G AIN E XCEPT...) TIME A LONE
I rise before the sun while the alarm clock lies in wait. In the bathroom, in the dark, I place a pill upon my tongue and swallow with eyes closed, accepting this sacrament that keeps me cycling, tricking my body into the monthly miscarriage. With avoidant eyes half-lidded my hand finds the faucet, cranks the handle branded with a ʻCʼ (for the shower also likes false pretenses) and as the hot water is unleashed I move beneath it, draw the curtain and the countdown begins. Alone, I am free to savor the hollow in me and to deny it; filled. Later, I assume positions in silent defense; whatever it takes to avoid confession, to keep veiled my charade. My hand stays the water and my time is gone, only enough left to mummify myself in towels, anoint limbs with lotion and quickly brush my teeth before the knock comes and the sleep-husked voice asks, “Are you almost done?” 7
C INDI R IZZA TEA L EAVES
Iâ€™m mirrored as an herb drained of my juices that now steep steaming in a watery hole. Swirling in aimless direction of blossoming currents that speak of the time I have spent. Slow-motioned, diminished, gone.
L ORI GIGUERE WAITING The click of nurses shoes. I wake. I listen for his breath. It comes, ragged and wheezing to my ears. His bony fingers rest in mine. The constant beep of the heart machine reminds me heâ€™s alive. I cling to that sound. I hope it stops. I hope it doesnâ€™t. Pain runs through his hands to mine. The morphine -- useless now. The rooms smells safe. Sterile. False. Death masked in clean sheets and Jell-o. We lie together. Waiting.
“Do you believe in God?” she asks. You are driving down a back country road on the kind of afternoon that makes you thankful you didn’t take that job in the city. The leaves are crimson and the fall air dry and clean. She begged you to take out the old Mustang and you grudgingly agreed. As usual, you are glad you listened to her. “Yes,” you say without hesitation. “Why?” she asks. You could tell her about the time you were ten. You fell off your bike. You hit gravel on a back road and skidded into a ditch. You flew forward and went head first into a tree. You lay there bleeding, going in and out of consciousness. You saw Him then: beautiful and gracious. You could tell her about the time in high school: the party in the woods where you dropped a hit of acid for the first time. You curled into a ball in the coarse needles that littered the ground and stared into the woods. He was there, mighty and terrible. She is still waiting for an answer. “I don’t know.” you say, staring straight ahead. “You have to know,” she said. “You can’t just say you don’t know and get out of it.” “I said I don’t know!” you snap. You turn up the radio and James Taylor comes on. A tornado of leaves spins down the road and dies before you pass it. She stares out the window, silent the rest of the ride. That night in bed you kiss her. She is still mad at you but she gives in. You shiver as her eyes meet yours. You caress the curves of her body and face. You trace the curves of her lips with your fingers and see Him again.
E MILY BALASZ
THE M ISSHAPEN S ILHOUET TE
WATERY G R AVE
Polished, the steamed black molecules skip over the edge of my eyes adjusted to foggy fingers. Pluralized in thick drapes of hushed bark. Time has breathed me in like Vapo-rub, while the harbor and I reflect images into childhood. Opened up beneath my bungling toes, the sandy shore spirals like clockwork. The seagulls left poisoned feathers under browning snow. A promise of safe return. I hatch a sea-faring mother whose only purpose was to see her young grow under the luminescent kaleidoscope of moonlight which glints past me, drowning in the water.
M ATTHEW GUNBY
THE BIRTH OF TR AGEDY : S PARROW â€™S R EPROACH TO ITS C AREGIVER
My wing broken My fault Flew too high Bound to fall Nature adjudicated The verdict: Slow death Then, You came Tended my wound Saved my life Taught me to fly again Taught me to be As I had been I lived because of you I lived for you Then, You set me free To live my life But what happens When I fall again? Who will love me Now that you are gone? Nothing changed Inevitably I shall fall, again Saved today To die tomorrow To die again To fall forever That is why GUNBY
I reproach Your kindness I despise Your benevolence I doubt Your motives I declare your guilt But, I cannot hate you For caring about me Any more than The phoenix Can hate The final flameâ€™s Dying ember. I begged for mercy And was saved From Purgatory And though I fall To Hell I cannot blame God Deus ex machina Resolves nothing.
A NNABELLE WINTERS D OGS L IKE
E AT F RESHLY FALLEN S NOW
A fifty degree day without the sun. Foreign warmth trapped beneath the day before a snowstorm sky that is hard grey and can be cracked with a chisel. I am in a state of winter time out-of-shape. But still, I take the unseasonable warm as a call to be unseasonably active. I run on rural pavement. Icy, salty, and frost heaved. It soon begins to feel like a childhood game of capture the flag. I am wearing bright red and against the peaking out brown lawns and graying tired snow, I see a bright yellow go around the corner, and pass, sharing the road, a sharp blue also breaking hibernation. Up one long, slushy hill, a white pick up truck slows to match my crawl. His elbow resting in the open window and heâ€™s long grey bearded. Blue eyes and thick glasses. Red flannel. He asks, have I, on my run, seen his yellow Labrador? I havenâ€™t.
The storm is guaranteed. As grocery aisle shelves empty, checkout lines grow with carts full of bread and water. I imagine the old farmer, his salty white truck matching the weather more and more as he looks for his Pal. As I near home, the air is thinner, colder, and ready for snow to slip through. A yellow tabby cat jumps a crusty snow bank and takes cover inside a three season porch. I pass blue, red capped fire hydrants and hope The Labrador is doing the same. The next day, after norâ€™easter, snow padded pavement keeps feet indoors. Snow still falls in slow motion in the woods, exclusively from the frosted trees. But the ground doesnâ€™t know the difference. I wonder if dogs do.
WHY I’M THINKING
Q UEEN A NNE
I had a dream recently, about giving my someday-daughter a red Radio Flyer Tricycle. She had a pink smile and her eyes were green like the Greek hero’s. Her feet were the same size as the pedals, and she never took corners too fast so she never fell. Awake the next morning, I saw the shiny trike in the window of a familiar shop.
K AREN MUNZ F ULL FAITH I am societyâ€™s new sacrificial lamb. On the altar of our religious politics, brought up to believe without question, but questions are all I have. So tell me, who is right and who is righteous? Aggravated by all these arguments, I only want what everyone else wants. Can love conquer these corrupt institutions, insisting that love and lust be defined delicately while the unwilling souls of their sins are silenced? Gathered around the gates of our Gods we stand wondering when walls of fear will weaken. Relish in your religious reasoning, but donâ€™t forget to reserve respect for me. This is who I am. I am not your monkey with trained responses and smiles. I am not their martyr, expected to live life teaching the same lessons. Burned by both worlds in which I live. Just pray for me and my happy life. Fuck the futile attempts to live in full faith. Fuck the future that swears it will change. 17
M ATT B ONIN
THE D ECLINE
Near starving we starched the peaches so they wouldn’t spoil. It was a long-ass drive through Montana, and Saskatchewan was our holy grail, our straight cathedral. At a bar in Antler we saw the nuns. They had recently been unemployed and drinking was their new trade. Jesus came out of the bathroom to verify what the nuns had said and told us he doesn’t wash his hands. We all drank and laughed. Jesus was a riot. He gets violent when he drinks and he started yelling about how Moses screwed up his plans for the Jews. And if he ever sees him again he’s going to torture him with water droplets. “Jews were manufactured to be slaves,” he shouted. After shots of tequila Jesus was in an uproar. He began flipping tables and cursing at us. Apparently we forgot to say grace before indulging in buffalo tenders.
He was starting to piss us off so we dragged his dirty-haired hippie ass up Mosquito Butte, to the edge of a jagged ledge. “We’re sick of driving in circles,” we told him. “Summon up your father. Have him take us into Canada or we’re giving you the shove.” The fucker jumped.
A NGELA R ICCARDI UNFULPHILLED
The Red Cross nurse asked me, “Have you ever accepted money for sexual favors? Have you had unprotected sex with anyone born before 1977 in the past 5 years?” Reclining in a blood donor cot with a pump sucking cells from my veins, I thought about them: the few men I’ve been with, those boys. I couldn’t call them lovers, since I’ve loved almost none of them. They were people I saw or dated, or they were boyfriends. Very few inspired anything but lust. It occurred to me that I’ve never slept with anyone named Phil: a few Mikes, Eriks, Johns, but no Phil. And I wondered why. Perhaps it was because I am of Generation X. There aren’t any Generation X-ers named Phil. But then, my list of sexual partners is not exclusive to those born in the 1970s. There was that one summer, 1993, just after I graduated high school. The summer camp art director took an interest in me, alleged he was twenty-nine. I believed him – with his cool hair and Lennon glasses. But now, looking back, he couldn’t have been a day under forty-five – laugh wrinkles around his eyes and mouth, complexion like the surface of the moon, bad teeth. He liked my clay figures, called them erotic, sensual, provocative, asked me how old I was. “You’re eighteen, right? Going off to college soon? How you gonna pay for it?” He rubbed my thigh, claimed connections to some scholarship committee – didn’t matter where or with whom because, by the end of the summer, I knew it was bullshit, anyway. I didn’t get any scholarship, so, technically, I never accepted money for sexual favors. I didn’t let him touch me, but that doesn’t matter. His name wasn’t Phil, either. RICCARDI
ED D UGAS BREAK-TIME I work at the library. Outside, by the entrance, is a compartment for returnables. It says, ‘Book Depository.’ With Sharpie and Post-it in hand, I change it to read, ‘Book Suppository.’ Later that day, my boss finds the tag. He tells me about it and I shake my head in disgust. “I think someone’s out to get you, sir.” Paranoid, he tells me he’s watching his ass for the rest of the day. And I chuckle and say, “Exactly.”
B ED -TIME L UCIDIT Y
My brain plays the role Of both Saturn and children. Beautiful torture.
L ISA H AMMOND A DULTERY To be wanted by more than one, to feel dangerous; alive. To ache for something more than what you have, to deceive. To feel sexy and vivacious. To be consumed by an act so naughty and deliciousâ€Ś is to live for the first time. To lie, to mistrust. To pull the covers over your eyes. To need more, to hate what youâ€™ve become. To not be able to turn back To suffer. To feel dirty and undeserving. To be reduced to [that] is to die a little more.
A LEX C RANGLE O N O UR WAY
The room is lit by rows of children who look just like you chewing aluminum foil between quivering teeth. The way you look ahead to a future, preparing to make a lovely donation of yourself spinning an earthly illusion beneath your padded feet. There’s ancient rolled up maps crowding each other on a dangling rack while an opinionless man explains the emergency exit procedure – like we’ll ever escape this basement. I hear a girl across the room say: These shoes were designed by Carlos Santana… and I imagine spray painted burlap covered in rivets. Then the mouth-breather two rows over says we’re dying from cow-farts and counter-radiation while the grasshopper people of Saturn suffer headaches and visions of us in lives they’ve never lived; unwilling recipients of benevolent pirate broadcasts of Mr. Rogers from somewhere in the jungles of Indonesia. Mcfeely was a mercenary sniper turned interstellar UHF savior. He was into mercury juggling and leather; our safety word was cookie. So, I look over and see Santana’s shoes are brown vinyl pumps and I’m confused; I sit smoking in the nearly dark, staring at a scaly moon on which you are a gray, eroding rille: two centimeters deep and a hundred miles long, arching your back in an unbroken crescent across the surface. 23
L ATE R ADIANCE
Magnolias bloom in white and pink outside the bay window. There’s a sign on the lawn saying ‘Welcome to the Existential Crisis Rest Away Ranch.’ Entire families visit for the weekend to use the brain spatula. Me and Billy, we use it three or four times a day. Billy hasn’t left the east wing in ten years and he committed at twenty, just like me. Billy is afraid of water. Once a week, they wrestle him down and sponge him off. He doesn’t want to leave but doesn’t want to stay. He is lost somewhere between the ideas of his life and his death. Thomas Moore, a regular guest, calls it, “a place neither here, nor there.” I find the showers comforting. They remind me of showers with you. My soapy hand moving over your breast and along your side until large pieces of you scramble and vanish. When I close my eyes there’s an outline of you in a dull, illusory purple like that spot in your vision after staring at the sun. CRANGLE
M ARLA MORRIS EVE WAS F R AMED
She stood among the flowers and the trees, idly staring out the window; hands in the dishwater. She and I stifling out strength. Yes, I do less work, but because I do it right the first time. Eve was framed. They’re all running off to join or protest a fight. They’re all wearing flowers in their hair, donning their flannel shirts and acid wash jeans, or strutting with their implants and belly shirts. The more we are the same; the less we are different. Eve was framed. An army of one; barefoot and pregnant. Get ‘er done, and I mean my dinner. Be all you can be, but you have to be like me. Eve was framed. Slithering and sliding Satan found poor Eve. Not an apple at all but chocolate and cheap flowers; the first Valentine. Appealing to her weaknesses, crippling her forever in the eyes of man. Shit, she was merely a woman on the rag. Bleeding, because Adam couldn’t keep it up. Eve was framed.
JASON MC K ENZIE THE WEED
the clock struck blindly & two bottles of wine told me to try it. it was up against the door of the empty men’s room, or in some bushes outside around the corner; the lighting was very poor. she got the kind of naked that put an end to too much boozing & a month of masturbation. she whispered, “come on” & i took it as an imperative minus the preposition. two weeks later, she asked jack the bartender my name & tracked me down. she explained about Catholicism & obligation on my front porch. we married in the back yard & everyone got shitfaced but her; she nursed you upstairs & when you fell asleep, she snuck a butt by the bathroom window.
B ROKEN P IANO mom was gone for six years and when she finally came back she had a limp. i joked that she must have fallen off her six white horses but the man who brought her didn’t laugh. i mumbled whatever you say, hair-do and at dinner i tried to tell mom about the dreams, but chrissy was crying and had just shit herself and mom said, still? and my left eye told her you have no right. how appropriate, i mused (either inside or out) that she should have brought home a man named frank. i perfected a mean impersonation that went like: “to be quite frank…” yuk yuk. chrissy laughed at it last tuesday when mom and frank went to tango lessons. i thought how ill-timed, but mom said i need a life too, you know. the lead heavy weight above my eyes advertised my stale routine: well, to be quite frank… fuck you and fuck patrick swayze. if it wasn’t for grammie, i’d still be shitting myself too, you bitch. i wish all the drinking had damaged frank’s hearing. he dirty danced on my face plate, but less in the girl-boy way than in the i-work-out-and-eat-meat-andhad-a-daddy kind of way. fuck frank.
tell me, how is alabama this time of year? mizzoura, shit bag. oh, iâ€™m sorry. i naturally assumed they had to cut cartography from your curriculum to save room for ballet. how rude of me. then he kicked me in the nuts so bad i shivered. eighteen is like a gift from god, and god is a deadbeat daddy whoâ€™s been court ordered to pay it. a coke slut mother and her mullet-headed fuck buddy are the two biggest reasons i wish pop had just pulled out.
K EVIN AVERY WORD -C LUT TER
Reality is cluttered by words— or is it itself words? lit lamp, tabletop, banana bread— girlfriend: tea, oven-range, refrigerator— woodgrain: all empty containers. All is quiet. The kitchen is lit by a free-standing lamp and 3 people—2 women and 1 man—sit in the diminished penumbral shadow of that shaded light-source—that metaphor for language. They perceive the kitchen-world which they presently inhabit— even now, in this poem—but those apprehensions of their encompassing space-time make no sense until the intervention of language has conferred description. And even then, when—if— you think about it, do those descriptions make sense? Words conjure images, but cannot conjure the thing— reality as mere mediation. How silly to believe definition implies meaning. All is quiet— but even silence is betrayed by language and the silly word that distills its essence into a form that phenomenon does not imply. 29
AV E R Y
UNCERTAINT Y (A S
R EVELATION )
Red-blue-blue-red reflections, rapid in every direction. Night and unnaturally lighted stalks of golden, harvest-ready corn. A chip-and-seal road—not quite blacktop; not quite gravel. The cars at the edge straddling the border of road and countryside. Leaning against the car—right arm hugging the top curve of the open driver’s side window—now confident that it’s safe, that he won’t be shot. Says the officer, smiling: “No identification? Young man, how am I supposed to confirm that you are who you say you are?” A pause. Some internal reflection. Says Martin Prufrock, smiling: “Well I suppose you’re just gonna have to trust me.” “Us cops, we’re not trained to trust. Skepticism is a sort of golden rule of police work. And really should be of life, too.” “I wouldn’t disagree,” says Martin Prufrock in conversational tones. “But I can only ever make assurances concerning my identity. In many ways, it’s really up to everyone else to accept those assurances.” “What? Are you some kinda metaphysician here?” The officer slightly amused. “Can you deduce why it is you’ve been pulled over?” “I can—my philosophy degree ought to be useful for something, no?” A pause. Martin’s hesitation inviting the officer’s complicity with his philosophy majors’ in-joke. The officer’s expression—laconic—reflects composure. “Back at that 4-way stop I’m certain I just sorta slowed and rolled straight through.” “And why’s that? Why did you disregard the sign?” Amused again. “Didn’t your degree specially train you to read signs?” “Well yeah, semiotics was covered pretty well…but to AV E R Y
answer your question,” Martin Prufrock feeling a creeping anxiety but recognizing the need to remain conversational in tone. “Besides being pretty much smack in the middle of nowhere and having little in the way of regular traffic—the danger for collision being relatively low—I read the sign as I saw it.” “And how, pray tell, did you see the sign.” The officer’s vocal tone hinting that his response to whatever Martin’s response is will be incredulity. “Well, the sign is shot full of holes,” Martin began. “And while I know those bullet holes aren’t law-sanctioned bullet holes, they are an authentic marker of the sign’s extreme rural location. So I made the choice to read the sign literally. I saw the stop sign as possessing permeable physical qualities—the buckshot holes—and translated those qualities, rationalizing that the sign’s directive to stop is also a permeable directive—this far out—and so I just slowed to confirm the non-existence of oncoming traffic and rolled on through.” “I see.” “Which decision now seems rather ironic.” “I can’t wait to hear why.” “Well, if you accept my story—which is not mere bullshit, by the way; this is how I actually perceive the world. If you accept my argument of the permeability of identity—in this instance, the sign’s permeable and thus uncertain identity—well then I’m in a real bind because it’s going to be just that much more difficult to convince you of my own identity, which you have fairly called into question. I’m kind of straddling the edge of a contradiction here.” A pause. The black boot of the officer toeing the not quite blacktop, not quite gravel, chip-and-seal road. “Either way,” the officer breaking the silence, once again affecting his self-amused expression. “At least we’ve got a pretty thorough understanding of the circumstances we’re dealing with 31
AV E R Y
here.” “You bet we do.” Martin again trying to establish complicity. �
Later, Martin Prufrock will relate the episode to his friends as they all sit in the cool autumn air around the warmth of a campfire. As storytelling is often meant to do, Martin’s telling of the anecdote will intend to establish a complicit camaraderie amongst the group being told. But perhaps the flicker of firelight will reflect shifting shadows—physical casts of doubt—across Martin’s face as he orates at the edge of the light’s reach. Or maybe a skeptic in the group will challenge the authenticity of the account, whether it’s been embellished or ever even happened. Either way, the circumstances surrounding Martin’s telling of the episode remain indistinct, for now. All we can be certain of is that he will be called a storyteller.
AV E R Y
L INDSAY M AC D ONALD SWEATER In the bathroom Essence of fresh citrus suds Lavender and honey soap Apricot and almond face scrub The complete organic package Slather the dewy skin with Colloidal oatmeal lotion Hydrocortisone-store brand-1% The purest vitamin E oil Thick cream-chocolate fondue Scented limbs slide through-tight The warmth wraps up my nakedness The one previously dubbed The “flasher sweater” by me And the “sexy sweater” by you Sink into soft caressing blankets Feeling good and all sweater Note-booking at 2 a.m. Your head resting against My slippery wool clad torso Your’s is a shallow breathing Consistent babies sleep And I simply scratch Where the coarse threads Itch susceptible skin.
A DAM SKAWINSKI A P HOBIAS R EIN Youâ€™re spying from a window seat, prying on cluttered streets, hoping to shroud your mind in ease but nothing seems to remedy your needs. Huddled masses plague your feet staying focused on some rhythmic beat as an erg inside attempts to flare a scorching fire, blazes within that window chair. Time moves slow as do the wheels that turn below you at your heels sitting quiet, no words spoke a deafening silence weighs down your throat. And finally when it seems to stop doors open fast at a distracted spot realizing then that youâ€™re not yet there so you sit, frozen in that window chair. SK AW I NSK I
M S . P RONOUNCED Once captured emotion, indigenous branded â€˜cross my chest your causehip in trends, never thought dissolved, while anticipation marks my breath, departing bits emotion laid now to rest. She, silk lined silhouette, graceful sway of coarse nit hair- capstone upon incensed smile, fragrant in foreign scent and eyes of high esteem peering downward dream scattered roadsHe, hardships of slipping, backbone severed, streaks of yellow where blood should trail, fell captive, capsized below platinum encrusted waves of deception, disillusioned in the midst of smoke filled, white-walled asylumswishing old in new age roles while lungs take deep frost bit coldand shattered molds roll silent down down down 35
SK AW I NSK I
MOLLY SUTHERLAND THE BARGAIN TENT ON THE BRINK OF C OLLAPSE ; C ONSEQUENCES OF A PPLIED P RESSURE ; THE L AST Y DAYS OF THE H OLY WARS ; THE A FRICAN C OAST FALLS O FF that cabinet grandmama had with blue hinges green with fade, spoil of metal buttons where oak knobs should have been waiting for palms and greasy fingers to pull orange hem of hand-crafted doilies contrived guards guarding the burn pox of a warm brick left too long to sit left too long where marble had once fashioned a counter that cabinet grandmama had grandpa called the Bargain Tent, Knick-Knack Capital, Firewood no pots, kettles, china, or fine wares in there a miniature weathervane smuggled onto its shelves from a yard sale’s meager booty a hero cape from Halloween, fake grapes heaped behind the doilies atop the flimsy, peeling blue green woody shelf about to collapse – those drifters books grandpa would say oh how grandmomma loved to read herself a travel book atlases would do fine too A Fox for a Song: The Story of the Hunt, The African Coast, The Third Month in Moscow, Andes to Appalachia, The Last Days of the Holy Wars, Nessy: Scotland’s Big Foot McMurtry’s Economic and Topographical Atlas of the World
as tall as I stood for my age tender and tranquil in my slender and immature limbs clumsy I was for sure nearly reaching to half the height of that blue green woody shelf Iâ€™d pull slowly the buttons of the center drawer deep and heavy beneath the heaping grapes leaned into the oak both palms pressed anxiously Iâ€™d push once, push again as the tight and swollen boards gave way to my weight and pressed palms, tip of my toes slipping twisting quickly outward and away, one eye on the floor the same book always toppled from its precarious perch the African coast fell off and the last days of the holy wars hung, balancing.
THE R ISING
Birthed in the fading red clay mud pocket At the sinew of the delta’s groin Wretched into poverty and the aching shame Of being black where the white man reigns Congregations rise in torrents of joy Writhing in rhythm to the choruses of the hymns Bare them not into the shadows of their ancestral limbs Lynched for the sins of the white man’s ignorant fears Burning crosses and effigies scrawled out Graffiti of hate and mongrel men appear Like amendments to their Bible Tie off the frayed and weary edges of subservience Their colorful spirits keep arising from the fires From the breathless swallows of the witches’ deaths From worn and tattered nooses laid to rest Their colorful spirits keep arising from the fires A phoenix from the ashes reborn in a new colored hue A flesh burning smoke stack collapsed at the heels Of the multi-colored face; an emerging single ethnic race Rising to take the white man’s place Without ignorance, fear, hate, or second place.
C RYSTAL L AVOIE C OMPLAINTS A BOUT
My great-grandfather blew his brains out in the late 60’s. Nama found him. He’d been dead for a few days. Neighbors complained about the smell. My grandmother found him dead, his brains were everywhere. He was an eye doctor. He changed his name to Seymour, thought it would attract patients. He punctured my grandmother’s eardrum while examining her, deafening her in her left ear. Dr. Seymour was not an ear doctor. Great Grandma hid at home while she was pregnant with Nama. She was embarrassed of her large belly -it meant people would know she was no longer a virgin. He married Great Grandma late in his life. When Nama was young, a picture of them ice skating appeared in the Globe above the caption,
L AVO I E
“Grandfather and Granddaughter Enjoy a Winter’s Day.” So he was pretty old, but he got around. He had affairs with all the ladies in his office; he never slept at home. He had a bed and refrigerator at his office. And Great Grandma was a tyrant. When my mother was young, Great Grandma would follow her to school in her monstrous Pontiac. She would chase her down the street and through the woods if Mom got off-course. Nobody worried when my great-grandfather didn’t return home that week in 1968. My grandmother stopped in to the office after receiving complaints about the smell. His will was on his desk; his brains were on the wall. My family says everyone in South Boston was at his funeral. There were only four people at my great grandmother’s funeral, including me. L AVO I E
I had this friend who stopped brushing her back molar in hopes that it would abscess so she could get some Vicodin.
FELICITY K ING C AMOUFLAGE My insides frizz. I flatten in soppy, sweat-laden bars, and curl in scented flannel linens. My broken strands are visible. Split personalities easily accessible and let loose the individuality escaping in the wind. Falling in the billowy framed visage masking imperfections with a silky condition, and slick of a stick, disregarding scented memory. Flipping out and dancing sensually aligned with awestruck shards and cocked expression begging for flawless attention I tie up, brush up, fold up, coverup- wearing a hat to hide my face 41
L AVO I E - K I N G
TYLER MUSTY A LIBI From these rotten rooftop shingles, we watch the big rigs back into loading docks at impossible angles – every day thinking the next one won’t make it, thinking the industrial park will begin to eat them up and never spit them out. And airplanes take off from the airport at the top of the hill, disappearing into the sky long before the sounds of their engines cease in our ears, but not before we feel the same disappointment – the same frustration at the expectation that planes will come falling from the sky. If only we could forget this place – this place so badly in need of a roofer – maybe we could go deaf to the planes we knew would fall but never did, we could go blind to the trucks that somehow always cut the angle. Maybe we could stop hating ourselves long enough to forget about gravity and lift our hands from this roof ’s sharp edge to cover our ears and our eyes, so that we might realize the existence of places other than this dangerous ledge.
C HRISTINA BROWN C LOSURE
Your touch sours my skin, makes me suck and pucker my lips, my tongue, my blood congeals under your fingers. The world stops. Smoke curls, vodka spit; my heart struggles, the valves quiver. Your faded jeans, the stiffness of your hair, eyes faked blue you curl your toes over the lips of your sandals shrug, look away, squashing my questions into the ground like a spent cigarette. While somewhere, a little cherub shivers. (My heart sputters and chokes like an old engine then shudders). The world stops. & you, gaze out the closed window carelessly.
One leg shudders, betraying your cool-cata‘tude. See, the key to breaking/tearing istodoitquick one lethal slash- spill allll the blood. But you give a little jab before you (slowly) walk away.
JUNK Slunk over the couch, your legs jumbled in the blanket coiled, like a fat white slug. The stench of your sexiness is feral, rabid; finds it’s way into my guts, then twists and grabs and digs a hole and sleeps. You watch dumbly as I strip the nails from my fingers like flower petals, and swallow them down with the last of my pride. I don’t know if my body ever really liked your body. Maybe it was just the strung on the promise of you.
A NGELA H ARTMANN E X TENDED EYELASHES
Tremors follow your sobbing fits. I stand next to your bed, watching your eyelashes reach for something hope perhaps. You speak of things that have chipped away at your will to continue, your weakness paralyzes me. Christmas day is fading fast. I still remain by your side, guarded your eyes dart around the room blue and cold â€“ just like mine. This moment is the first we have experienced as mother and daughter, for well over ten years. I cradle the thought of touching your forehead. To elevate the loneliness crunching, hurting. I build your confidence with the blueprints I designed when I needed guidance most empty foundation. Inhaling your chain-smoking sadness a poignant thought strikes me, as I, alone, remain by your side. A collage of broken memories has enveloped you. But there is one that remains, never fading my eyes are cast downward, your biggest mistake continues breathing. 45
NEX T I met Moira when I was in second grade. My mom dropped me off at my new school, and I cried until my bright blond hair matted with tears. I spent the majority of my childhood falling out of canoes – especially when we weren’t allowed to go swimming – and getting lost in the woods. Eight years later I cried when I moved. I finished high school and we lost contact, even though I memorized her number. I wrote her thousands of letters that never made it to the silver mailbox with its tongue rusting. At my brother’s funeral I felt a tap on the shoulder. The childhood memories clicked, as I stared into Moira’s face. She hugged me and told me our childhood promise still stood, “if somethin’ happened no matta what” we’d always be there for one another. I have not seen her since that moment. It has been years. I shiver to think whose funeral will give us our next meeting.
NO O NE G ETS O FF THIS P LAYGROUND A LIVE
Do you remember the schoolyard, games of kickball, sketch ball, “kick the kid,” and b-ball? Do you remember the schoolyard? Do you remember being there, playing tag with a bag of rocks? Do you really? Now fast forward too many years and you’ll remember him being there all alone. You snickered and you laughed at the poor kid, the weird kid, the freak, like it was the girl with no breasts who they called a pirate’s dream, a sunken chest, like they were the retard who everyone thought was a hermaphrodite so they tried to see him pee. Remember how they were at the mercy of bullies, licked by spiked tongues and drowned in salt water and growing pains? After all, they were the lost ones who smoked Marlboros in tree houses at ten then coughed in the carbon smoke. They were the ones smoking pot out of MacGuyver style bongs and drinking themselves stupid all alone. Do you remember them and how their blood was splattered
on so many gym walls? Do you remember them striking back? How the roots of Columbine hit your psyche like an ice pick to your back and got you saying “I think I remember that kid.” How they injected heroin at fifteen and admitted it openly to a school physician? How they openly played with fire, and “accidentally” set bullies ablaze or how they ruined your biology project by stabbing the fetus pig to a pulp with a butterfly knife and then finally sticking it grossly to a science lab table? It all goes back to the playground: are you in or are you out? Did you let them play? Did you share or maybe you were the bully who ended up covered in lighter fluid and set ablaze? Was that you running and screaming for the burn ward crying for your mommy? Was it? I’m not sure, I don’t remember.
JEN O’D ONNELL IN
“You’ve already had six glasses, hun. I don’t think you need anymore,” Frank smiles, looking for a small gesture of agreement from any of the men or women sitting around the table. Nothing. He looks back at his wife, who, drunk and humiliated, excuses herself from the table and gracefully stumbles over to the bar; he watches her hips sway to the live jazz in her black dress. Frank shakes his head and sighs. “Excuse me.” He places his napkin onto the table and he too does his best at masking his intoxicated swagger. Frank spots his wife and watches her order a drink. Stunning. She sees him walking towards her and angles her face away from him, creating a mask of dark blond hair in defense. “Babe.” She doesn’t respond. “Hey.” She turns her head and looks at him. Her cheeks are flushed. She is drunk. He smiles. “Look, I’m sorry. I… I was being an ass. I’m just trying to impress Mr. LeFebre. This is just a huge account… he likes my show. I’m just nervous. Please… come back and sit down.” The bartender hands her a glass of Merlot. “It’s on his tab,” she smiles and motions towards her pathetic-looking husband. Frank places his hand on the skin where her black dress scoops deeply until plunging to the small of her back. She looks at him through thin eyes. “You, Frank, are an ass. I swear on your eyes, if you ever speak to me that way, or embarrass me like that again…. I’ll go back after I finish this.” She raises up the glass. “If it weren’t for this alcohol, I would’ve already been gone, you know. Those stingy, pedantic assholes. I mean, for Christ’s sake, these art freaks don’t even know who Diego Rivera is,” she slurs, “Idiots.” Frank nods his head. “Just a few more hours or so… then we can go home.” Frank glances back at the table and nods at Mr. LeFebre. Even his tie is loud with impatience. “And that guy…” she begins, “did you see his shoes?” Frank gives his wife one more rub between her shoulder 49
blades and smiles as he walks back over to the table where the art critics sit picking at their uptown meal. “It’s no wonder why middle class Americans are overweight, look at this portion of rice,” complains Mrs. LeFebre. “Disgusting.” She pushes all but a quarter of the grain to the side of her plate as if her point wasn’t clear enough. Frank looks beyond the critics and up at the bar where he sees that his wife has been watching everything. She smiles and tongues the round of her wine glass. Frank grits his teeth and smiles at one of the conversations that are taking place at the table. He looks back up at her. She is leaning over and pulling up her stockings; she smiles at him again. Frank brings his knees together and takes long gulps of his ice water. He gives her big eyes as to say, enough. She pouts and hikes her dress a little higher, still pulling up her stockings. The table is up in arms about food portions, so Frank excuses himself to make a call to the sitter. He stifles a proud march over to his wife who is sitting on the stool, glowing in defeat. “Time to call a cab?” she asks as she is led by the arm to the coat rack, the wine in her glass teetering like the tide. “Not yet,” Frank responds as he swiftly nudges his wife into the Gentlemen’s Room.“Hello?” he awkwardly throws his voice towards the empty stalls. “Perfect.” Frank locks the door. “Honey,” she slurs, “I don’t know if this is a good idea,” she sets her glass of Merlot on the white marble counter and smiles. Frank’s shoulders reassure her as he struts over to his lady. Vixen. She laughs at the desire in his eyes and backs into the nearly seamless red wallpaper, rendering herself, for the moment, submissive. “It will be quick, common…” Frank coaxes. “Oh, I don’t doubt that.” She raises a flirty eyebrow and hitches up her black dress mid-thigh. “Not out here you little harlot.” He reaches up her leg and pulls her into the stall by the string of her panties. “Heyy!” She squeals and is silenced by the familiar lust O’DONNELL
of her husband’s kiss. Frank closes the door behind them. She hastily unfastens his belt and the bottom of his dress pants, and slides them down to his calves. “Now, sit,” she demands, lowering him down upon the noticeably clean seat and straddles him. He lifts the tight black dress up her thighs and circles his hands over her thirty-three year old ass. He slides the crotch of her panties over to the side, she’s wet. “You want some?” she asks. Frank nods as his wife sits on his lap and slides him in. He looks at her, mouth agape. “Mmm,” she leans back and pushes her palms against the walls of the stall, “you feel so goo…..” “Sorry sir, I don’t know how it locked,” a voice apologizes from the entrance to the bathroom. The couple freezes and smiles. “Carry on,” replies an aggravated and authoritative voice. “Frank,” she whispers in his ear, “shit.” She lifts her legs and wraps them around Frank as to hide a second pair of feet; she is swollen with suppressed laughter. “Frank…” she whispers again then stops. “Frank?” It was Mr. LeFebre’s voice. “Is that you?” “Uh, yes… Mr. LeFebre?” Frank replies with his hand over his wife’s nearly explosive mouth. “Yes, well,” he says dryly, “we’ve been talking about this and that, and we have decided that your work has proved itself worthy of display in our gallery. Congratulations.” Frank’s hand fell limp from the mouth of his wife. “Ahhhhhh!” she screams, jumping off of his lap and looking at her husband square in the face. “I….I… Thank you sir,” Frank sputters. “Lee?” Mr. LeFebre questions the female yelp and black heels visible from his stall. “Um… hi,” Lee responds looking at Frank with a bit lip. “Sorry,” she silently mouths to her husband. “What are you doing in here?” he asks. 51
“I….” “These women never know when to stop drinking,” Frank explains matter-of-factly, “she kept throwing them back and now she is paying for it.” He raises his hands in the air in an overly dramatic shrug. Mr. LeFebre says nothing. Lee grins at her husband, looks directly into his eyes, and as promised, lunges to collect them.
H INT They drank long before the earth starched itself flatback beyond the sea floor blossomed its life into gore. They tore like gulls at their lids, like orange peels and waxbut I, I slept there and dreamt. I dreamt myself in cement shoes walking on convex clam shells destroying the moon of mother’s milk. She would have handed me a newborn or better yet a candle and a little white drop with which to destroy it. O’DONNELL
E MILY P ERRY
22 S TEPS
-Blow harder into a balloon than you ever thought possible, or have Kevin do it. -Wear as many bright colors and patterns as you can at the same time. -Rip all of your clothes to shreds so they’re unrecognizable, then sew them back together using bubblegum and duct tape. -Hug every person you see regardless of if they look funny, act funny, or smell like cabbage. -“Read” at Open Mic by letting out a large burp into the microphone. -Get excited over animals. Chase ducks across a Burger King parking lot, kiss smelly goats, and nurture your girlfriend’s prize mice. -Hit Shelby in the mouth with a paintball and come home with welts, insisting that you didn’t deserve them. -Be a ninja, or a pirate. OR pick one and date the other. -Get tested for drugs for sitting in a parking lot because you look like yourself. -Have a little Piglet to your silly ole’ bear. -Send 30 screaming 20 yr olds over the Peanut Butter Pit, but don’t laugh when Diane rips her pants or Emily falls into the Pit and dies. -Put up with everyone saying “you’re such a great friend, and your brother is sooo hot.” -Own a bandana in every color. -Pick up every random, disgusting thing off of the ground and add it to your bracelet. -Make everyone feel better with a “Yeah, Buddy” and a smile.
-Torture us in the HUGR mobile, formerly the PENGUIN mobile, by listening to the William Shatner song over and over and over… -Piss everyone off by leaving your shit everywhere, then give them hugs when they do the same. -Love honestly, and freely. Take chances in love no matter how strange or odd the individual. -Find and love a person who wears toe-socks in winter. -Ruin your car in a sand pit, then borrow Pete’s bike and ruin that too. -Watch Sesame Street on Ice with your best friend, not caring that you two are the oldest ‘kids’ in the audience. -Show everyone how to be who they really are.
C HRISTINE M ESSINA
NEW E NGLAND S UMMER
Patti and I meander, making our way to the playground draped in shade. She had asked, “Want to go swinging?” A spur of the moment decision, framed by an almost autumn August evening. I bring a warm shirt. The air is heavy with questions she feels too old to ask and too young to experience. We tiptoe like characters in a Judy Blume novel, preparing the way by avoiding the obvious. “If you swing high enough, you can see the sunset.” A brief glimpse of fire before our faces droop on the downward swing. “Nothing gold can stay,” Patti sighs. “Robert Frost wrote that. I don’t remember the rest. Does it hurt the first time?” I tread like a cat, not wanting her to startle. “Well, it’s a little uncomfortable.” I hush for the children passing us by, growing older while we wait. We laugh when they’ve gone and the moms who follow glare in our direction with a strong instinct to protect.
Absurd to think how Patti was once the one who would take the most risks, and now it’s me who watches over her, mindful of what she should know. I reach out. “Don’t worry, it isn’t like what everyone says.” We hold onto the swing-set frame together, then let go and twist our swings so close that they touch. S NOW WHITE His lips were dry and flaky, the way an orange looks once peeled. As he knelt to kiss, he knocked his knee on her golden bed and cried vulgarities. The dwarves were shocked. When he touched his lips to hers, they stuck like bread dough to an unflowered cutting board. As he pulled away, a part of her lip tore with him and she awoke, bleeding. She shrieked and slapped him, a red welt her signature. Her dragonbreath walloped his senses. She wanted to run, but her atrophied legs buckled. That’s really why he carried her away. MESSINA
NORA TOOMEY L EDA
You’ve got black ink on your pinkies signs of overuse your truce between pen and pituitary this year I learned that skimming through obituaries can help find a job seems odd to fill dead people’s shoes. I think I’m starting to understand hat words have multiple meanings or seasons, where they just mean a little more. On the third floor there’s an attic a paint flung graduate a heartache advocate and mouths that stitch and crash. In Sunday’s paper, I scanned the want ads for ‘accomplice’ I long for this, conversation: a series of heavy moments passed and I’m looking for that fill again.
TO O M E Y
K AYLA SMITH -TARBOX F EELING AGAIN
Maybe tomorrowsadness will fade. Maybe tomorrowI will slowly learn to hate you still lingering in my mindturning my heart black and blue. eyes stay open long enough to watch the sun sink day seeping into nightsleep and dreams composing my love againrebuilding what you tore apart.
S M I T H -TA R B OX
I am the one who chews pens Until they crack and bleed My irritation Snaps and sizzles Head spins like Everything is going down The drain Gurgle gurgle burp drip drip drip My rage has swallowed me Whole Heartedly I plot to kill Useless noise Slashing at the air Bleeds Black widow spider I am Crawling up The nape of the neck To tickle your ear Hear me Out I will not stay calm I am the one who E x p l o d e s.
S M I T H -TA R B OX
JOHNATHON SASSI GW EN
i’d be lying if i said i didn’t hate you you make me feel terrible i want to rip my skin off and tie it to a telephone pole in front of your house so everyday you’ll see it flapping i want to dig a moat around my head so you can’t get in or out without me allowing you to i want to send you all the letters i’ve written you and accidentally let burn one by one because i was scared of the words your mouth might make like “yes” or “no” or “you have weird shoes” i hate the way you look at me like you care like you might actually stop if you saw me on the side of the road somewhere or say hi to me in the hallways as we pass by which you do and i hate you for that too sometimes its enough for me not to get up some days just so i won’t see you the other day i saw you in the cafe you passed by smiled and waved i pretended that i threw up and put all my food in the trash i threw away the idea of saying hello i don’t want to hear your voice i hate your voice it makes everything else sound so dull and i spend the next month trying to remember why i like music at all SASSI
its happened twice now and i hate you for it your smile, i hate that too it makes your whole face look more beautiful than anything i’ve ever seen and everything else looks ugly so i close my eyes and all i can see is your face and how it compliments your body perfectly and how much that upsets me so i open my eyes and you’re not there and i hate you for it i go looking for you across the campus and find you every time its sickening how close you are makes me want to jump out of my window and write your name in the air on the way down with my finger so nobody would know i love you
D ECOMPRESSED solid steel walls uninviting and cold slowly closing in trash compactor squeezing everything beyond recognition pictures of better times slowly bend and fold into small paper cranes boxes with locks are broken and their contents spilled out bones crack and then disintigrate to powder in an evil bloody torturous rage finally the heart bursts and takes love with it and me, i’m in the middle 61
K ELLI THOMPSON YOU S O P ROUD
I’m in awe of you strutting by my window 8:29 A.M. Me huddled over my journal Sesame Street in the background coffee cup and English muffins scribbling white girl problems and you so proud even when it rains shoulders back head held high carrying a black umbrella regal walking to the bus stop I saw you in Candler Park Market I tried to thank you, but I wasn’t sure it was you— my inspiration existing only in motion giving birth to my dreams outside my beveled window
THOM P S ON
STEPHANIE BUCK S IDEWAYS R AIN
Youâ€™re like sideways rain; the kind that you only catch a glimpse of before it hits the ground, and even then my head is cocked to the side trying to figure it out. You splashed on the sidewalk in a more tragic and painful way than it looked, and now there is nothing left of you. Every part of you broke apart when you hit the ground. You recreate yourself each time until the next storm comes along and you are falling faster, more furiously and out of control. Seeing the puddles the next day, I see you in there, in the pool, trying to muster up enough strength to get back into the universe. The clouds come back and I shake my head at your peculiar way of always being sideways.
F UNER AL ; D EATH
THOUSAND M ILES AWAY
Related strangers embracing to find comfort... Mom’s voice slow and deliberate on the other end of the line; “Here, talk to your dad.” Someone hands me a handkerchief... I heard the phone cord creak in protest, a sharp inhale, my father prepared himself to speak. Signatures in a book, and I wonder why... “She is gone.” With that simple sentence my father’s voice faltered and he began to sob softly; the cry of a child close to sleep. Empty glasses scattered in odd places... I stood in my kitchen with the cordless phone pressed to my ear, seeking contact with something that wasn’t there. Light conversations and heavy food... I made a coffee and looked at the sink full of dishes. “She is in a better place, Daddy.” The words fell from my lips no emotion to back them up. Chicken bones piled on paper plates... There was a stillness that wrapped around me, yet over the phone I could hear the cries of my family as they looked on the shell of a person they loved.
PA G E
Goodbyes and family photos... I wished that I could tell them, â€œShe is gone,â€? and have them realize there was nothing more to morn over. Promised visits will never be kept... The body that lay there before them, the body I could not see, was not the person they held so dear.
I NDELIBLE M ARK
Slip inside the deep Pull out the girl Wait and watch Create the dancer In that yawning place Let the ocular light shine Take the ember Breathe on the glow Push with your zephyr Tell her to burn.
PA G E
L IZ K ELLEY VIRGIN
She reads four romance novels a week, she believes in the power of love, and she cherishes the idea of it. She watches movies about war-time soldiers fighting on foreign battlefields, hanging on to their lives because their true love is waiting for them to come home. She believes in fairy tales and she aspires to one day be the princess who is awoken from a long slumber by her true love, the only man who would ever understand her. Sheâ€™s been looking for an untainted love her whole life, waiting for some man to take her in her arms and tell her sheâ€™s the only one for him. She believes in happy endings. Tonight she will lose her virginity to a bartender with bad teeth who makes sounds like a sinking ship when he ejaculates, and she will think, this is what love is. We will miss her, our heroic virgin, our damsel in distress, who for just a few more hours is still drowning herself in the idea of love.
K RYSTINA H AJDUCZEK R EFLECTING
These are the days of endless poetry when my lips fly through the incantations of daily praise. There are stanzas that stand on their own with no help from my inside jokes. And I find that literary merit means nothing, but the sun through the trees is well respected. I hold onto moments like ice, feel them slip, fall away, and know some things really do come full circle. Who knew that these would be the days of endless nights? When the stars are more than just poetic fancy.
Break and smash, shattering, all the way down. A body leaving its mark as it falls, bounces, blood dripping from rocks. This is the end of a failed leap of faith. You jumped. Reaching out to God. Hoping to fall into his hands. Who knew that God wasn’t watching when you yelled, “Watch me jump.” Maybe in your next lifetime. Body, slack, lolling, down on the canyon floor, Arizona sun crisping flesh. You will have to wait for him to notice. Some things are best done alone. As one man, as an island, but today, lets bend the rules. Grab my hand, and we’ll take a running start off the edge.
NATHAN H ICKS NEBULAE
Twin cylinders, crevices existence has filtered out. tubular, tunneling passages Born unto the kaleidoscope, I witness bearing, twisting glitter in a false shell boring into clouds of space. shimmering, embossed Divine and deadly by reflections they spin on axis, of the erased. at zenith between features. I twist the dial, Boiling and bubbling seeing in another light existence becomes nothing – beneath a blanket nothing becomes sight. of language In a grey mist it gathers and lyrical vocalizations. in greens, splashed against a blue haze. Beautiful waves, washing, Down the tunnel, cleansing at the pinnacle, I stare at a portrait at the point of revelation. of an entity in transition, Shifting patterns of light, of an angel precise dynamic oppositions and rank polarize factions of gases, with everything. a rebellion of grace – A martyr, at the gates I sacrifice myself, of Heaven and Hell: sacrifice everything – staring forth, a gaze a black and white photograph, of piercing luminescence a daguerreotype you can put forth – pinned to an upside down cross. that which is divinity Proven fallible and I will be the demon. I am beautiful, Star gates open and unburdened – flowers bloom beneath by the vision of you. the nebulae of celestial bodies. Angels and incubi hand in hand behind the empty 69
I stared harder and then deeper. I could not turn my eyes, wondering if you could â€“ see through my disguise. Your eyes shown blue with sibyl truth that would not catch my mind, and as I stood, I knew I should, but the words I could not find. In wax I do remain, a man without a name searching for something be -yond the wane of this, colorful, in need of harmony. My wings flutter, my tail flickers, Iâ€™m a beast without a form; so why must I repose in bliss, and never find the norm? So angelic, I steal another demons meal from the maw of morality, waiting for day to pass and night to yield reality. Hymnal disfigurations satanic incantations, these are the life HICKS
-blood of the things that last and that which feeds my strife. Dark leaves to dust, white powdered lust beneath the earthly groans. so feed silence to the deaf, who will never hear these tones. Falsity of zealot, and faith, forgot -ten, on your voice I take your heart from â€˜neath your breast and give you not a choice. Behold a changer, a shifter, as I proclaim myself a saint walking causeways of your making because Iâ€™ll not let you repent. I am the voice of your aggression, the breath of your distrust, I shall feed off your depression and take your pain in throes of lust. Die away forgotten one, be gone from my false gaze. I walk as the chameleon, within my hollow place.
A S NOW Y DAY On a snowy almost Winter Monday, in graduate school an agreed upon snow day between professor and student. What a treat to kick back in pajamas, watch snow and eat refrigerator found chicken soup made better and healthier, even with rice noodles and spinach. A little leftover ginger ale, an indulgence in times of ‘that stomach flu goin’ round.’ Making hand print holiday cards to send to friends in infrequent communication from Wisconsin, Tahiti New Mexico and Quebec. And writing poems, odes to the impending Solstice missives to former lovers indulging, in banks of pure virginal snow, breathing in and coughing out the fluff of Winter. Doing real business north country style where friends double as colleagues, experts on building energy efficient, green buildings FINE
as we, from this corner of the globe, plan strategy. How to gently and lovingly take over the planet through peace and new understanding and green living and I pause... for a moment of guilt as I turn down the thermostat, shut off a light. A counter move to a fool’s president who rambles like a born again politician wishing me the merriest of the season as he drops bomb and gunfire in foreign lands on people who pray differently and live on top of fields of oil that we’ve convinced ourselves that we need to keep warm on a snowy winter’s day. A day where I can stop listening to the reporter’s peppering of questions to a man in fluster and turn my heart to more nourishing thoughts like the slippery noodles I’ve just poured into my soup and the crinkly silver and bronze paper and inks that await my hand in turning them to holiday cheer. 73
A NNETTE BEAUDOIN
WHY I WAS A FR AID
My mother is sand. Her glimmering in the sun is beautiful and constant, but when you step onto the beach and let the cold rush of the waves swim past your ankles, you can feel pieces of her beneath you giving way to the relentless passion of the salt water. A portion of her is gone, and when I stand there for long enough I wonder how there can still be more of her below me, not allowing me to fall or slide through to the center of the earth. It was this sand that I’d feared I’d become. I could feel it inside. The waves of emotion filling up my chest and moving up to my head. I could feel the saltwater pushing behind my eyes. I didn’t want to blink or open my mouth for fear of pouring the water everywhere. I was afraid to empty myself. Afraid to be contained of nothing. Just a hollow, pink shell. It’s funny - the things no one would think you could remember, but do. Just like how I remember watching the Challenger explode on live TV. Watching my mom as she suddenly gave a gasp, covering her shocked face and crying into her hands. Sitting in front of the television, I climbed onto the couch and hugged her. All I knew was that she was sad, and that you give sad people hugs. That was in 1986…I was two. I felt a similar mixture of sadness and confusion a year and a half later when my parents got divorced. I was fully aware of what my mom meant when she told me that “Mommy and Daddy don’t love each other anymore.” I realized how it wasn’t my fault. But I couldn’t understand how love could be turned off just like that. I couldn’t comprehend what was going to happen next; all that I had known was suddenly lost. I don’t think I cried then, confusion probably set in too hard for me to realize my sadness. It did eventually come: years later, lying in my bed, an adolescent. Angry at the world because I couldn’t go to the school dance – or something stupid like that – if I lived with Dad he’d let me. Teenagers, always longing to be where they aren’t. BEAUDOIN
I remember the first time I experienced death. My mother told me - just barely old enough to understand the concept - that my cousin had died. At 13, his heart stopped because there was a pinhole in it. Life over at so young because of a pinhole. This frailty overwhelmed me. My physical presence became solid and real, yet breakable like a glass doll…waiting to be dropped. All it took was a pinhole…and here, I scraped my knees all the time. I remember the wake. The casket was at the perfect height for me. My cousins’ Mexican features looked bloated and pale and false – like he was made of wax. I wondered if it was really him who lay there. I even thought that it could have been a joke, or maybe we were at the wrong funeral. Or maybe it was a dream. Everyone around me whispered that he looked great – “the same as always!” They lied. I couldnt pray in front of that. I couldn’t cry for that. It was an empty replica. A hollow, brown shell. It was the summer before fourth grade and I was in my babysitters’ hot, smelly, blue-carpeted van. She had gone inside the drycleaners for just a couple minutes, and within that time, her son unbuckled his seatbelt, held me down, and tried to reach his hand up my skirt. Everyone else around us was strapped in car seats, not comprehending the reason for my fighting. My kicking and screaming and scratching. My nails were long…I drew long thin lines of blood on his face and arms. When his mom got back into the car and I told her what had happened, he said he was tickling me. She told us to “stop goofing around.” This was the daily routine for two years, but I never cried. I refused to show him any hints of weakness or femininity. I am passionate injustice. I am Jane Eyre. I hadn’t cried in years by the time my grandfather had died during my sophomore year of high school. I had taken the news with a sigh of relief – he had been battling gangrene since my mom was in high school, and we were all glad it was 75
finally over. Standing in the line next to the casket and shaking hands, I listened to these people I had never met tell me stories describing what a good person he was. My eyes suddenly started filling up with tears. I excused myself, turned the lock in one of the bathroom stalls, and suddenly found myself sobbing uncontrollably. I was afraid I’d start crying and would never be able to stop. Afraid that all the divorces and wax-deaths and forceful hard-breathing men and teen injustices and would finally turn me into my mother. This was my worst fear – only, unlike my mother, I wouldn’t be able to stand anymore. I would just slip away into the ocean and be lost. And I was for a while – the saltwater just poured and poured out of me. I was no longer the cold, hard, stone that I had strived to be. What makes this important, though, is that it stopped. I’m not sure how or why, but the tears just ended and I didn’t feel like an empty shell, I felt new and changed and clean. The air entering my quivering chest felt refreshing and cool. The next night I was on the phone with a close friend, explaining to her why I was absent the day before. I heard myself say to her, “And don’t think of me like a wuss or anything…but I cried.” “Oh, God, no,” she responded, and just this tone in her voice made me realize that I had done nothing wrong. That it was okay. This wasn’t a sudden epiphany, but instead a small step toward expressing who I truly was. After all these years I no longer needed the protective armor I had created for myself. I am now smooth and strong and feminine. And I now realize how I should hope to become sand like my mother. I should want to feel the cool waves that remind me of my existence. All the while knowing I’ll still be able to hold my ground…despite the undertow. BEAUDOIN
NATHANIEL BLAKE UNTITLED
the pen is mightier than the sword until the pen runs out of ink & then even a putty knife is mightier than the pen. unless of course its one of those sophisticated executive fountain pens with their sharp pointed nibs. those are definitely mightier.
M ETRO -NORTH , S OUTHBOUND
exhaling; a bitter breeze blows my breath whirling down the white plains platform. the gust sends a styrofoam cup rolling past other litter, down the rails like tumbleweed down a dusty western street. i stand in the cold dawn among blacks & hispanics silently awaiting the early express to grand central terminal. they prepare for another day of serving the rich; slavery wasn’t abolished; it’s now a corporate illusion, justified through minimum wage. when the train arrives i watch them shuffle into the cars like trained laboratory mice; consumers tricked into dreaming about an illusive wedge of cheese. the train races past the masters’ stone tudors in scarsdale & hartsdale; the back nine of their snowed in country clubs line the railway. we race past the row houses crammed in crestwood, tuckahoe & bronxville, packed together with such order that you cannot help but contemplate it all. the dorms at fordham elevate the skyline, eerily similar to the projects of tremont & melrose in the bronx that follow, only they’re much more expensive.
regardless they both stand like prisons full of helpless cells, teasingly receded from the city, far enough to lose all aspirations. we brake crossing the harlem river bridge & come to our first stop: harlem, 125th street; doors open on the right, the conductor announces. a few graveyard shift women sluggishly exit the train, exhausted from their red eyed early hours; custodial nightmare, completely unaware. but more enter, chasing their eminent fate, their unseen downfall; as our train rushes toward the epicenter, the next ground zero. with the poor end of central park to our west, we zip down park ave, dropping underground at 96th st, joining the sewer rats & endless trash. flickering light bulbs appear as we slow, coming to the end of the line; trying to hide the darkness, covering up any seeming uncertainty. the doors open & they scurry like lemmings following each other off a cliff. & i think i understand a little more, how wickedly this awful world truly works.
Annette Beaudoin is a junior English Ed. major from Weare, NH. Outside of reading and writing ALL the time, sheʼs active within Residential Life and the PSU Theatre/Music Dept. On a side note, her boyfriend thinks sheʼs hot. Robby Binette is a senior English major from Newburyport, MA. His writings are a creation of his paranoid schizophrenic imagination that he creates to escape a bizarre mind altering perception of reality. His work has appeared in Centripetal, The Record & The Clock. Nathaniel Blake is a hollow flower. Christina Brown is from Franklin, New Hampshire & has a love affair with poetry: they come together to spawn weird & dysfunctional babies. Angela M. Hartmann is still obsessed with the ocean. Nathan Hicks is a first year English major because his biggest goal in life by far is to have two pennies to his name. He is from Southbury, Connecticut and he loves monkeys, because monkeys own. Karen Munz was born in Kenosha, Wisconsin where she picked up the mid-western accent, don-cha-know. She has been published in Paraphernalia and in the Comp Journal my freshman year at PSU. Tyler Musty’s stories have appeared in Centripetal. Ivy Page is from Milledgeville Georgia, and now lives in Campton New Hampshire with her husband and two daughters. She has been published in the NHCTC-Claremont Visions student publication and has writen poetry, short stories, musical lyrics, and free verse. 80
Angela Ricciardi is an adjunct lecturer for Plymouth State University. She has had work published in The Historical Journal of Massachusetts, An Anthology of Teachersʼ Writing, Centripetal, Wanton Words, and Mobius. Her poem, “Security” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Angie currently lives in Dorchester, NH, but is a closet Mass-hole in recovery. Cindy Rizza is an artist. Adam Skawinski, please phone home. Kayla Smith-Tarbox doesnʼt claim to be a poet but once in a while she gets a thought that turns into something and she writes it down... and it feels better than sex. Kelli Thompson has a redundant address. Ed Dugas is a guifted and talonted English Major who writes real good. Lisa Hammond enjoys small talk and the occasional long silence. It is also a distinct possibility that she thinks her shoes are cooler than yours. Christine Messina loves women in a non-sexual, awe-inspired type of way Molly Sutherland swam to shore. Alex Crangle wakes the tiger with a long stick.
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