vol u m e 14 w fall 2012 w is s u e 1
fa l l 2012
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v o l u m e 14 w i s s u e 1
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Centripetal is produced once per semester by PSU Poets & Writers out of Plymouth State University in Plymouth, New Hampshire. We are a studentrun media organization dedicated to publishing, writing, and hosting open mic nights. If you’d like to get involved with Centripetal or see what else we do, please contact us directly via email at email@example.com or through Facebook, Twitter, OrgSync, and Centripetal Online.
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Centripetal is printed by True Colors Print & Design 57 Main Street Plymouth, NH 603.536.3600
Writing Editorial Assistants
Art Editorial Assistants
Kaniya “Tye” Bridgeman Ryan Cameron Kimberly Chandler Kaitlyn “Drapes” Curtin Susan Dennet Renée Johnson Chelsey May Andrew “AJ” Maznek Alexis Myers Megan O’Gara Kristen Leigh Russell
Ryan Cameron Kaitlyn “Drapes” Curtin Danielle Cushing Renée Johnson Kristen Leigh Russell Cecil Smith
Assistant Copy Editors Stephanie Alicata Kaitlyn “Drapes” Curtin
Haley A. Sciola Editor
Michael DiTommaso Poetry Editor | Senior Copy Editor
Patrick Liam Oâ€™Sullivan Prose Editor | Layout Editor
Harrison DiBona Cover Designer | Graphic Art Editor
Paul Rogalus & Liz Ahl Advisors
Vanessa Weego Cover Image
Contents Stephen Page Lost Art (with apologies to Elizabeth Bishop) Connor MacDonald The Last Straw Gregory Dillon Scherer Untitled Christian Passen Eminem Describes Foucault’s Theory Robby Binette Writers Wanted: No Pay, No Sleep Guaranteed Connor MacDonald Alliterative Hell Megan O’Gara Thirteen Ways to Look at a Kitchen Table Michael DiTommaso I, Digress Gregory Dillon Scherer Untitled Nate Graziano The Mole on My Ass Megan O’Gara The Nighteaters Cecil Smith Jeremy Stephen Page Saying Goodbye Patrick Liam O’Sullivan My Army Friend Danielle Cushing Mushrooms Haley A. Sciola Still on the Field Janna Kupper Lessons Cecil Smith The Father, the Son Gregory Dillon Scherer E for Effort Carleigh Sullivan Tattoo Gun Danielle Cushing Division iv
1 2 4 5 7 9 10 13 15 16 17 18 21 22 23 24 26 27 29 30 42 Volume 14
Vanessa J. Alander Powder Keg Kimberly Chandler Holes Lexi Sebilian Poem Nate Graziano The Man Code Kristy Stiles Walk of Shame Kelley Wren Tip of Widow’s Peak Tyler Carignan An Earshot from Tobin Heather Lindsay Gerber Patrick Liam O’Sullivan because falling down hurts Haley A. Sciola Priorities Kayley J. Fouts A Prayer Tyler Carignan October Reflections Carleigh Sullivan Headfirst Kathi Smith Nest VI Kayley J. Fouts Personal Prey John Dascoulias Take Me Out to the Ball Game Jessica Bierschied Trapped Leah Loraditch Red-Eye Gazes John Dascoulias The First Thing I Ever Understood Was a Punk Song Heather Lindsay Camera Leah Loraditch I’m Much Better Than Your Fake Girlfriend Issue 1
43 45 46 48 49 51 52 53 54 55 57 59 61 62 63 65 66 67 68 69 70 v
Acknowledgments First of all, THANK YOU to everyone who submitted work to Centripetal for making this whole thing possible. Thanks must go out next to all contributors and editors for spending long days and nights putting this together, and on that note, thank you Plymouth State University and the Hartman Union Building staff for allowing us to work in our office late into the night to meet our deadlines. Thank you kindly to True Colors Print & Design for continuing to phsyically put this together with us. Next, we appreciate our fellow student organizations on campus, especially The Clock Student Newspaper, The Conning Tower Yearbook, and Art Club, for helping us advertise, network, and recruit your members. Thank you kindly to the PSU English and Art Departments for informing students about the opportunity to publish their work in Centripetal. Finally, thank you to our advisors, Drs. Paul Roglus and Liz Ahl, for lending advice and support and for always challenging us to learn and grow each semester from this rewarding endeavor.
“Writing is something that I love to do, and something that I have to do. It helps me to come to terms with the world around me, and the world inside of me—whatever mess of thoughts and emotions are running wild inside of me. Kurt Vonnegut said that ‘Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow.’ That sounds about right to me. And when we share our writing with each other, all of our souls grow and connect with each other—which is pretty cool to experience.”
-Paul Rogalus, Advisor to Centripetal & Professor of English, Plymouth State University
Lost Art (with apologies to Elizabeth Bishop) The villanelle’s an easy form to master; just sitting down to write with the intent of sticking to the form averts disaster. Write something every day. Accept the bluster of famous poets, the hours madly spent. The villanelle’s an easy form to master. Then practice writing shorter—writing faster: haiku and triolets, cinquain and cent O!, sticking to the forms averts disaster! I wrote a sestina—all the last words were anagrams (though one was slightly bent); the villanelle will be an easy form to master. I wrote two sonnets, both lovely ones. And master Donne could do no better—as he’d assent sticking to the form averts disaster! —Even writing this (the joking tone, the lustre of completion)—no lie! It’s evident the villanelle’s not a difficult form to master though this use of the form (Admit it!) resulted in disaster.
The Last Straw It was like fingernails on a chalkboard had erased the writ-
ing on the wall. They say curiosity killed the cat, but I planned to act cooler than a cucumber and be twice as careful. Lemar thought he had an ace up his sleeve, but all bets were off. His Achilles Heel was that he was all thumbs, and I made sure all hands were on deck for what was about to go down. He had put all his eggs in one basket, and that’s when all hell broke loose. I tried to tell him all that glitters isn’t gold, but absolute power corrupts absolutely. There was no turning back. He’d cashed in his chips and sent me down the river. It seemed I was at the end of my rope when I saw the light at the end of the tunnel. The answer to my problems spread out like a map before me, as clear as day. I knew what I had to do. It cost me an arm and a leg, but in no time I was free and clear. Lemar wouldn’t get off as easy. This meant war. It was the 11th hour, and I had made it to the wharf as the crow flies. I had thought my partner was about as useful as a lead balloon, but he was there at the drop of a hat and armed to the teeth. There were thugs as far the eye could see, but as luck would have it, they all seemed to be asleep at the wheel. Still, we were about to walk into the lion’s den, and I hadn’t even told my partner the whole story. Quicker than a New York minute, I gave him the long and short of it, and when he saw the big picture, it sent him over the edge! He turned into a loose cannon! But we kept our heads and went in, quiet as a mouse. As we neared the office, I wondered if we had bitten off more than we could chew. But when I saw Lemar I knew I had to give it to him, both barrels. I thought we should take it by the book, Issue 1
but one look at my partner and I knew it was time to bring down the house. The door burst open and I yelled, “Reach for the sky!” Lemar looked like he’d just seen a ghost, and rightfully so since I was back from the dead. “Looks like I caught you with your pants down Lemar. You’ve been burning the midnight oil, eh? Been busy as a bee. Well, the jig is up! It’s time for us to bury the hatchet.” Lemar was tense; he knew his back was against the wall. “Listen, Monroe, you got it all wrong—” “Save your breath.” “We can get you back in the saddle in no time!” “Are we really going through the same old song and dance, Lemar? You left me for dead! But now I’ve seen the light. I see which way the wind blows, and I don’t need any more skeletons in my closet. Say your prayers.” And that’s the way the cookie crumbled. I wasn’t gonna string him along. I needed to be short, sweet and to the point. Get in and get out. My partner and I made quick work of the wharf and got the hell out of Dodge. You tend to stick out like a sore thumb with blood on your hands, but I felt like my hands were clean. I rode off into the sunset with my head held high. My work there was done.
G re g o ry D i llo n S c h e re r
U ntitl ed
Eminem Describes Foucault’s Theory My pistol is cocked, as he braces the blow Three…two…one… hold the phone! You can’t kill the author, like you can’t kill me Forget the literal for a moment, let’s think Figuratively Writing is an art, and I am the artist I possess a power, the viewer couldn’t think to harness I enter your mind through your ears and your eyes You can try to take me down, but I’ll cut you down to size I’m the author, not the literal being I’m the author function, I present purpose and meaning I’m like a specter—a fly on your wall I’m not a person, but my legend stands tall I’m the text—God’s gift to man I’m my own birthright; do you not understand? I’m in your books; I’m on your T.V. I don’t care about your feelings or about Who or what wrote me! I’ve got a life of my own, though you wish to intervene No say is final, at least not without me Ignore the author; ignore the years and the dates But don’t ignore me and what I have to say
Who are you to judge? Who are you to decide? You’re just another reader Flipping through the pages of time I’m not a Marxist, a subject or self I’m written in stone and I’ve been left on your shelf. I never change; there’s no beginning or end No conclusion is final; no decision is set What you see, is what you lack to acknowledge The text is WRITTEN, take THAT to college I am just I The facts are here to C Subtract I from the text And Simply B…
Writers Wanted: No Pay, No Sleep Guaranteed To my fictional and non-existent editor, so just so you know that writing lately has gotten very hard; I can’t do any prose or poetry if my life depended on it There have just been too many problems lately: school problems, drinking problems, money problems, women problems, family problems, sleeping problems, drugs problems and a lot more personal problems that I do not have the strength of heart to admit, even to the likes of you I can’t sit in a room and drink like Bukowski and write I can’t lock myself up for days like Proust and by God, I can’t produce eight novels in a month like Stephen King I’m fucking sorry, okay? Dearest editor, I have writer’s block, if that isn’t too hard for you to believe I need to find inspiration in the littlest of situations and right now, my problems don’t make good poetry It’s not that I’m not writing, but do you really want to hear about my trip to the supermarket or how I fear going to the post office because 7
I’m afraid of seeing the wrong person? Does this make good poetry? Is this the literature of life? Maybe, but frankly, I’m sure you don’t want to hear it I’ll write things for me and me first, before I think of people like you who are still craving for the next great American novel Lord knows, my life isn’t that adventure right now So please believe me, dearest editor My problems are my problems and my writing is my writing not yours, not the world’s and certainly not the reading public’s It’s not just my fear of rejection that says this but my need for privacy and the knowledge that no one needs to know how fucked up I really am So just to let you know, quality poetry right now isn’t coming I’d rather hang myself than cut my wrist and bleed good verse for you
Alliterative Hell Alluring anecdotes allude above asking about Below bedrock boils, but basking beneath Countless creatures; clawing, craving, creeping, crawling Damned demons dreading daylight devour darkness Everlasting, everduring, evermore effecting eruptions Flames fly, flow freely, fueling fury, foul Golems; grief, gluttony, greed, glowering grimaced glances However, hiding, howling horrifyingly, hallowed hearts hoping Inconsolable, inconceivable, incidentally, I irrevocably insist Jabbering jaws justly jailed, jeering jargon jambled, Killers: Kings, klans, Kubla Khan, Kremlin, Lusty louts looking, leering, loathing lost lovers like locusts, Many mask mania, madness marking maimed minds, Nightmarish nasties, nefarious neâ€™er-do-wells, Oh! Ogres of oblivion Passing pain, pushing problems, pestering people, persistent Quagmires, quandaries, quarrels quickly quadruple, Rage readily rising, rousing rampant rebellions rapidly, Storms spring suddenly, shaking sanity, startling senses Tearing trees, tossing trucks, terrible tormentors Underneath uttering unspeakable urges, Vile vagrants, vivaciously vying With weak wills. Xenophobic Yammering yearns for A zombifying zoomorphic zenith.
Thirteen Ways to Look at a Kitchen Table 1. Sitting, fresh and new It begs for a home. To watch the trials and celebrate the victories, The table longs to live. 2. Remnants of the night before Guilty, ashamed. A red solo cup, a clear bottle, A spill of sticky brown liquid. 3. Candlelight flickers As the two sit and discuss The diamond ring In the wine glass. 4. A glob of grape jelly Sits unassumingly next to a sippy cup Filled with skim milk. 5. A young girl looks down at her book While a woman screams from the table To a man washing dishes In the kitchen sink Issue 1
6. Spinach and broccoli are not the boyâ€™s favorite, But Rufus gladly licks the plate clean, From the canvas of the floral tablecloth. 7. No food on the table this Sunday afternoon. Just disappointment and tears Over the letter on the table From a boss with too much power. 8. A stack of loose change And a bag of McDonaldâ€™s Are shuffled on the table Amongst mangled final notice bills. 9. Almost no room for plates At the Christmas dinner. Too many pies and dishes of ham, Too much love and too many secrets. 10. Fake money and Monopoly pieces, Stray popcorn and red M&Ms, Park Place, R&R Railroad, Lots of smiles at the table tonight. 11. A cloud of flour hangs over the table, Piles of apples tumble and fall, Little fingers poke at pale dough And giggle at spoonfuls of sugar.
12. A basket of pills And a glass of water Are resting comfortably, While wrinkled hands observe the setting. 13. Stinking of bleach And scrubbed clean by a scratchy sponge The raw wood grain soaks. The light overhead buzzes, flickers then dies out.
I, Digress From the front of the long, drafty classroom, the wrinkled,
grey professor was standing, delivering his diatribe to drowsing, nearly deaf, and struck dumb students. “The use,” said he, “of the passive voice,” he continued to say, “is to,” he proceeded unsurprisingly, “be,” he penultimately concluded, “avoided,” he then finally, really did conclude, to the static, listless faces of that particular class. All of the students were bored like that, except for one lonely student with dark hair and eyes like mud on a hot, mid-august day after there had been a small sort of snow, which came unexpectedly early, but then much to everyone’s surprise is replaced with the kind of hot weather no longer appropriate for that time of year, at least in New England, which is where this story takes place, in a brown and grey, wood paneled lecture hall in Boston, Massachusetts—though it should be noted they were actually in Cambridge, which is governed by the same apparatus as Boston proper, but is a sort of sub-town, not actually on the island, who was like a fish in water, sure as the Pope shits in the woods. It was to be a singular, mostly white, though with some blue lines and one red one, paper airplane, which, being built by one particular, much less studious student, would come crashing down on his parade like a headless horseman in a china shop. It was not known to Jeff, for Jeff was the name of the one particular person to whom the previous paragraph was aimed in its entirety, except, of course, the bits of it that were there to help support the other stuff, that he, being there at that moment, notes spilling on his paper the way Jeff Gordon—no relation—hugs the turns at 13
250 miles an hour in good weather, was about to be subjected to. Its long, crafty creation was made all the more satisfying for Wilhelm, who wasn’t present in the room at the time, though would later hear this tale related with many a mirthful chuckle when Greg, who was sitting next to George, the person who was making the paper airplane in question, sat next to him in the next class. So it was that that particular, aforementioned airplane, which, though it had not been yet mentioned, was indeed one of the more standard kind of the craft, pointy as a porcupine’s bottom, and which, stealthily, carefully, was almost haphazardly aimed quite specifically at the back of Jeff ’s head, and lobbed like a goose taking wing. And sure as Suzy’s third nipple, it lazily sailed, gracefully swinging its white splendor through air and dust until it found its ultimate resting place in the curly, dark, almost greasy hair which was on the top of Jeff ’s head in the back. When through his lips an utterance was blurbed, the professor, now proclaiming punctuation marks which are most oft used to ill effect, stopped his sentence in the middle, quite lost as to where he was on account of the fact the way he narrates his own sentences in his head requires that “saying” phrases are added every few words, which, as it would turn out, is horridly confusing, and lead to... ...uh, where was I... Anyway, Jeff got detention for throwing paper airplanes with the back of his head.
Gregory Dillon Scherer
U ntitl ed
The Mole on My Ass I thought it was cancer, the malignant type, my certain death, when a raised mole on my left ass-cheek turned from brown to black. I started to accept the idea of my early demise and imagined my friends, drunk and devastated, at my funeral, a mountain of soaked tissues on a podium in the front of the funeral hall, my casket behind them, as they all lied about what a great guy I was, spinning fictions to make my family forget the time I was lit at Thanksgiving dinner and announced my wife’s first pregnancy by shouting: “The old lady has a bun in the oven.” But that story won’t be shared beside my coffin, where my cat will keep quiet vigil for days.
The Nighteaters The Nighteaters. They sit in ratty camp chairs Gobbling up stars, Sucking brisk winds and loitering on rundown country roads. Their taste buds tickle at the thought of sundown. Their mouths fill with saliva At the smell of a woody campfire. The Nighteaters swim, Their naked bodies muted by the cruddy pond water. A tiny flicker from a lighter illuminates dirty, Worn out faces. The Nighteaters drive, Windblown hair sticking to their sweaty faces, Drinking the glow of car bulbs and streetlights on a black, oily canvas.
It was the first birthday I had been to that didn’t have
balloons. The house was damp and wooden, brown all over without a stitch of celebration in the grooved 80’s standard panels along the walls. My mother had looked sad all day. She had this way she thought was hiding it, turning her face to try and make me forget that look had ever been there. She took her turned frown-face to our relatives, and they gave her one in return. All of the adults had gathered in the kitchen, hugging slowly, firmly. I remember that seeming funny to me at the time; I couldn’t understand why they all looked so scared to touch each other. “Why don’t you go play with Stephanie and Justin, hm?” they offered. I wanted to ask them why they were so quick to turn us away, and why none of them were smiling, and where my cousin Jeremy was. It was his birthday after all, and it seemed awfully rude that he wouldn’t be here. His father, Uncle Lyle, was just sitting in the corner of the living room, staring into the floorboards like a TV screen; blank, empty, bored. I remember running off to see my cousins, playing with them for a while in their rooms and trading Pokémon cards. Stephanie had found a whole collection of them at a yard sale, so she had plenty of extras to spare. I was still honing my youthful kleptomania, so when she turned around to go grab some dolls for us play with I grabbed a handful of those cards and stuffed my pockets full of them. I can still remember walking around funny for the rest of the day, hoping that no one would glance down at my thighs and see the bulges. I was never ashamed of myself then; I never thought, “This might not be the right thing Issue 1
to…” but it didn’t matter then. I didn’t know it could. “Why isn’t there any cake?” I asked. My mother seemed heavier for that, and she just looked to the ceiling, blinked her eyes, and choked back a breath I couldn’t even begin to understand back then. “There just isn’t any.” “Well, when are we going to have cake? Birthdays have cake.” I scrunched up my face, confusion coloring me until all I had left was a sour looking mouth that had bunched its way under my nose. I don’t know if she’d shooed me away then or just walked out. She was always the type to walk instead. Either way she ended up back in the kitchen, and every one of the grownups was staring at me, as if I had just set the tables alight and danced on everything that burned. As if I had taken something from them by saying it out loud. As if I had invoked Beetlejuice, called to Bloody Mary in my bathroom mirror thrice. They all looked more afraid than angry. They had left me there, a sad little sapling on the living room floor, waiting for someone to tell me that something wasn’t right, that I had known it all along; for someone to let me know that my instincts were more than stomach cramps eating away the day. Uncle Lyle still stared at the floor boards. I had never seen him cry before, and I didn’t see him do it then, but I could tell that he wanted to. Everyone always got this look on their faces when they wanted to, as if there was a breath they wanted to purge that had put a pressure behind their eyes, eyelashes fluttering from the strain of keeping it in. He was a strong man, bred from the Navy and slaughtered inside until everything became noise and his own body was nothing more than a sounding board for solitude. His eyes were empty as gin bottles at the end of a summer’s night at my grandfather’s home, leaving reminders of slurs and headaches to 19
come. I never wished for him to feel better, but I wanted him to stop; it was something that would make me feel better. “Jeremy is…well he’s just gone, okay?” my mother would say at me, her eyes red around the edges (no silver lining to be tainted), tired from thinking and over thinking about how she could have stopped this, about how she could have prevented him crawling out of his bed and into the living room at some time in the a.m. She had drawn her face tight with wondering if she, had she had the odd desire or interest in wandering all those twenty miles east, could have seen him doze off in the Lazy boy his parents had bought only months earlier; if she could have stopped him from pulling that lever towards him with a tired, heavy foot; if she could have kept him from falling so deep into the plush 500 thread count cushions that he never noticed. But the lever was pulled, and the chair folded in and sealed tight against him. How hard those cushions must have been against his soft ribs, pushing and pulling the bones apart to find a young heart to plunder, force, and make yield against their pressure. I’m sure he never noticed. I hope.
Saying Goodbye Perhaps it is the sunset in my eyes, or maybe just the smoke from off the fire. There is no other reason a man cries. It may just be an eyelash, dust that flies up into my down-turned face, nothing dire. Perhaps it is the sunset. In my eyes a harsh upbringing lingers. He was wise, my father; taught me manliness requires there is no other reason a man cries himself to sleep each night. Nor should he rise anything but chipper—one to admire. Perhaps it is the sunset in my eyes that made them water. My cheeks baptized again in your name—tears you’ve inspired, there is no other reason a man cries. Perhaps it is your bold incessant lies, perhaps we were just fated to misfire. Perhaps it is the sunset in my eyes, there is no other reason a man cries.
Patrick Liam O’Sullivan
My Army Friend
I watch my friend’s eyes tell his story as my story breaks the horizon of my thought:
For a moment I am six, standing in the front yard wondering what the squirrel thinks, if a squirrel thinks. I wonder if the dangers of the road are lost on him. I sit and watch him sit. Up the road I see Father’s blue truck approach. I stand, frantically waving. He sees me, he tiredly smiles and he waves back. He doesn’t notice the fear in my eyes and the motionless squirrel doesn’t notice anything. I am terrified. I am sure that my father will crush the squirrel with warm tireskill it with his drowsy lids. His longed for return home kills me for a moment. I watch it happen slowly. A sick pop. I watch my friend’s eyes now kill me again as he tells me of his soul’s slow suicide. Issue 1
Haley A. Sciola
Still on the Field It’s been two years since today, and I still won’t say your
name. Definitely not on paper. We once walked the halls of high school knowing each other’s names, though neither of us ever acknowledged it. Different circumstances never brought us to talking, but on the field hockey field, I watched as your slap shot hit the post and Mulligan tapped it in. Goal. I aspired to be like the varsity athlete you were. Younger and on JV, I was kept from really knowing your best move, and your threshold. Nigel says your reverse sweep was killer. Sully said you could drive the ball post to post. I didn’t know you could only keep it up so long before their center middy really shook up your cleats. On your last day, I wasn’t actually there to assist with my field hockey stick on the sidelines, nor get the team to rally against your self-inflicting rivalry. I’m just here now with the thoughts from after the game: Coach is pissed we lost, Stiles keeps cursing your loss of momentum, and on the theoretical bus back home, I’m wondering why I care so much about your goals and your assists records both on and off the field. No talking; just a running mind, painfully active after each bump hits my wheels, sprinting back and forth committing suicides on the field. I keep breathing as I grit my teeth through another practice. I’m just hoping to condition myself into shape, to guard against obesity and disease, depression, suicide. After one of these attempts, maybe it’ll mark my final lap of racing thoughts and Issue 1
exhaust my mind enough so there’s no more thinking left up there, no more endurance left to endure. Just, finally, quiet. Do you think you could promise to be silent in me, two years after your last shot, after the last sprinting suicide you didn’t survive? We once walked the halls, but now you’re still sprinting through my consciousness as you run across the field, playing your best game, easily balancing a ball on your stick. Get into position now, run some drills, and maybe the lights will come on after dark. Maybe your family will smile today and celebrate your goals and your assists. And without a word, I’ll keep my equipment bag open, trying to tally up my own past records and figure out when I should leave it and you on the field—for good.
Lessons Being thrown from the nest Has its perks it seems. Though it breaks the soft heart And fragile wings. Took a drought of absinthe and arsenic; Found that it doesn’t cut the pain As much as it used to. Often times I’m led astray By fox-fire and old ghosts. I’ve left a trail of breadcrumbs Made from the empty cocoons. I don’t know if I’m dreaming Or if I’m dead. The only thing I know, Is that my new comfort is a cage.
The Father, the Son The only times I connect with my father are the times when I’m drunk and he’s not there. I’ll sit alone at my kitchen table, (two Steel Reserve cracked open and one on deck) and talk. I talk like his face is in front of me, the scruff of shittily shaved double chin, and year-yellowed teeth trying to shine beside them, only to curl behind the lips in fear because he knows I’m losing interest. I talk like he’s listening and looking for more in me than a reason to find an excuse to pretend my toes have stepped too far onto “his” dirt scraped kitchen tiles. I talk about how we never talk about that night, when I was shriveling in my parents’ bed sheets, praying whatever trust or nightmare that had lead me there would be frightened away when the thunderous sleep breath of my father shook in their ears. 27
The thunder never came. There was more to fear from a curious finger in the dark; the monsters were all you and me, pretending I was still asleep. and me, pretending you thought I was my mother. and me, ceasing to wish this little boy would grow up to be just like his father.
Gregory Dillon Scherer
E for Effort They argued all day in therapy Yet he bought her red roses From: the kids It was obvious they were not He barely even knows me He should have known lilacs They would easily wither in two days That is what she believed: â€œLonger the flowers will last, The more somebody loves you.â€? Dry desert petals. And a wrinkled stem. They were dead... Within the hour
Tattoo Gun “You still have time to change your mind,” Quinn’s mother
says. “I’m doing this,” Quinn responds. Her tone is confident, but as she looks up at the chalkboard and notices the fixed prices of tattoos, she wonders if she should get a portrait of Madonna instead. Her eyes wander to the display of piercings beneath it, and she tries to keep her face straight when her eyes land on some that make her want to cringe. “What’s taking them so long?” “They’re busy Mom. It’s tourist season here.” “I should have had your father come with you instead.” “You wouldn’t let him,” Quinn mutters under her breath. She can’t stop her leg from bouncing up and down. Her eyes dart around the shop trying to find something to distract her as the silence between her and her mom becomes unbearable. There are two or three pictures hanging from the purple walls. Quinn can see where the tattoo artists draw outlines from her spot, but nothing is interesting enough to make her forget the quiet that is wrapping itself around her neck. The young tattoo artist approaches her with sparkling eyes and a kind smile. “Are you ready, Quinn?” “Yes,” Quinn replies grinning. *** Quinn quickly hit ‘send application’ and closed the browser as her door opened. Whipping around in her chair, she hoped she looked innocent as her mother entered the room. “You better be doing homework.” “I finished it already.” Quinn stilled her nerves. She needed Issue 1
to tell her mom about the application; however, she had a feeling she would be dismissed again. “I wanted to…” Her words caught in her throat as her eyes met her mother’s impatient ones. “What?” “It’s nothing. I was just wondering if I could go to the movies tonight?” “I don’t think so. It’s a school night.” “Please? I’ll be back by curfew.” “I said no, Quinn. We can watch a movie tonight if you want, but you’re not going out.” Quinn’s shoulders slumped, and she mumbled a defeated “okay.” Her mind wandered to how she would tell Anne that she had to reschedule their date again. Quinn would tell her mom about Anne if she knew her mother would react positively. However, she could already hear her mother ranting about how foolish it was of her to start a relationship her senior year when she needed to be focusing on her future. “I talked to Mr. Pierce today about your math grade. It’s slipping, Quinn.” “It’s one bad test, Mom. I’ll bring the grade back up!” “I’m just worried about you. You can’t go to a good school with an academic scholarship if your grades are bad.” “Do you think I don’t know that? God! I can’t deal with this right now,” Quinn stated before she rushed out of the room. Once outside, Quinn began to run as fast she could. Her heart pounded in time with her feet hitting the pavement as the world around her faded. When she stopped, she discovered she had run to the park she had frequented as a child. She remembered not being able to go on the monkey bars because her mother was afraid she would fall off. She could only swing so high without her mother standing next to her, and she wasn’t allowed to slide down the slide when other children were near. She climbed a tree at the edge of the playground and perched on a branch. What would Mom say if she saw me now? Quinn 31
asked herself as a giant grin spread across her face. A breeze blew her hair back and she lifted her head to gaze at the sky. Birds floated lazily in the wind currents. Quinn tried to memorize the movement of their wings, the way the sun hit their feathers, and the sense of freedom she felt looking at them so she could recreate it later. *** The tattoo gun buzzes to life behind Quinn. She takes a deep breath as the sound of the gun comes closer. She glances at her mother who is standing across the room with a stern expression on her face. Quinn’s nerves are offset by the anger that has entered her system. The tattoo artist makes the first line and Quinn is surprised that all she feels is a pinch. She watches as a large man is led back into the station she’s facing from the lobby because he’s feeling queasy. Out of the corner of her eye, Quinn watches her mother come closer to look at her back. “This is a big decision.” “I’m not changing my mind. It’s what I want.” “My first tattoo was a small Celtic knot. I wasn’t sure and it’s permanent, you know?” the tattoo artist states. Quinn glances back at his tattoo covered arms. Quinn rolls her eyes. It can’t be that big of a decision, Quinn thinks. Even in her own head she can hear the sarcasm. Her eyes wander around the open space. She can see into the lobby, for the only divider is the wall with the chalkboard of tattoo prices. Quinn wonders what she looks like, as she perches in her chair, to incoming customers. The sensation strikes Quinn in the stomach causing her to feel as if she’s spinning. It’s a sensation Quinn is familiar with. She has felt it every time she has had her blood taken. Her eyes dart around the room; she’s not sure what she should do. Maybe she can fight through it. “Can you stop for a second?” The feeling is getting stronger, Issue 1
and she knows sooner or later it will override her control. “Change your mind?” her mother asks smugly. “No. Can you hand me my Gatorade?” “Are you all right?” the tattoo artist asks. “Yeah, I just need my drink.” Quinn takes the bottle with a shaky hand and drinks as much as she can. She glances at her mother and notices the concern that flashes across the woman’s face before she slips into unconsciousness. *** “Can I come over?” Anne asked. Quinn was glad that they were on the phone and Anne couldn’t see her reaction to the question. “Yeah, I guess, if you want to.” “Are you sure?” Quinn knew this was her chance to say no, but she couldn’t bring herself to do it. She always had to cancel plans with Anne, and though the girl understood, Quinn could feel the strain it put on their relationship. “Come over.” “All right. I’ll be over in fifteen minutes.” Quinn put down her phone and wandered over to the mirror. She examined her pale skin and delicate features before she found her blue-green eyes. To her they were the eyes of a stranger; however, to the rest of the world they were the eyes of her mother. Every time she went out, she ran into someone that would tell her she was looking more and more like her mother every day, except for her hair. Quinn noticed her roots were growing out and made a mental note to buy more hair dye soon. Sighing, she opened her door and ventured toward the kitchen. The familiar sight of her mother sitting on the couch with a tumbler in her hand stopped her in her tracks. “I have a friend coming over.” Quinn could not take her eyes off of the glass in her mother’s hand. She regretted not making up a reason why Anne couldn’t come over. “Is your homework done?” 33
“It’s Saturday.” “I don’t want you procrastinating, Quinn. It makes for lousy grades. You know how much this…” “I know. It’s done. When’s Dad coming home?” “I don’t know. He called and said he’s working late again. You know that man; never a moment of rest.” Quinn tried to divert her eyes from the tumbler; she knew it was obvious what she was looking at. Disgust washed over her. “Wipe that superior look off your face young lady,” her mother snapped. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” “Yes you do. I always see that look in your eye like you are better than me, because you don’t drink. One day you will.” “No I won’t. I don’t need that shit…” “Language,” her mom stated. “…to solve my problems.” The bitterness and resentment was overwhelming in Quinn’s tone. “I said the same thing to my mother...” She dropped the level of her voice and Quinn had to strain to hear the last part of her sentence. “...And look at me now.” Quinn heard a car pull up the driveway. “Anne’s here.” She rushed to leave the room. Her mom’s statement caused a cold numbness to penetrate her heart. “Why don’t we do something tonight instead? Tell her you didn’t realize you had to help me rearrange the living room.” “I can’t. I think we’re going out.” “Where?” “Somewhere.” Anywhere but here, Quinn thought. Quinn opened the door as Anne was about to knock. “Let’s go.” “But I thought…” “Please.” Quinn looked at her girlfriend and saw the concern in her eyes. “Okay.” Issue 1
As Quinn opened the door of the car she noticed her mother standing on the steps. “Come back inside, Quinn.” Quinn hadn’t noticed the slight slur in her mother’s voice until that moment. “I’ve already made plans.” “Please don’t go.” “I have to.” She closed her door and turned to Anne. “Go, please.” “But your mom…” Quinn told Anne it would be fine. She told Anne her mom wouldn’t punish her for leaving and that she understood even if she didn’t act like she did. Anne pulled off to the side of the road and turned to Quinn. “Are you going to tell me what happened back there?” “It’s not important.” “You haven’t said a word since we left your house and you’re doing that sulking thing.” Quinn shook her head and peered out the window. “Talk to me, Quinn.” The silence hung heavily around them. Quinn closed her eyes and focused on the sound of her own breathing. She attempted to forget the indelible words her mom had dared to utter. Quinn needed to erase the anger that was flashing in white hot streaks before her eyes. She knew it was essential to let go of the reservations she had about who she would become. It was so easy to slip into the pattern, but she couldn’t: she wouldn’t allow herself to. “I bet she just wants the best for you,” Anne said quietly; however, Quinn could hear the strain in her words. “I know she does, and I know she loves me. It’s just, I don’t know, it’s hard to explain.” “Try.” Quinn opened her mouth, attempting to force the words out, but nothing happened. She didn’t know how long she sat with her thoughts racing before she tried again. 35
“It’s like she needs me. I don’t know if she would make it without me. My dad’s never home and she gets so lonely. I feel bad for her, but at the same time she is pushing me to do all these things that aren’t me. She has my whole future planned out. What happens when I’m not there anymore?” “What do you mean?” “I’m her best friend. What’s she going to do when I leave for college? She’s my mother; I’m supposed to be there for her.” “Wrong,” Anne snapped. The anger in her tone was overwhelming. “You’re her daughter, and she is supposed to be there for you. She can’t use you as a crutch, and you can’t let her hold you back. She needs to figure herself out just as much as you need to figure yourself out.” “It’s just…” “No, no excuses,” Anne interrupted. “I can’t stand what she does to you, Quinn. It’s not fair. It’s too much pressure. I don’t care if she’s your mom; she doesn’t have the right to do this to you.” “I know,” Quinn stated after a few minutes had passed. “Do you?” Anne took Quinn’s hand and laced their fingers together. Quinn nodded. “Yeah, I do.” The car again became silent. Quinn waited for what would come next. She knew it wasn’t over as the unspoken words pushed down on her shoulders and stole her breath. Quinn knew what they needed to talk about. They had needed to talk about it for months, but neither girl could force themselves to form the words that would give life to unwanted possibilities. “I applied to the college we talked about,” Quinn said. “What will happen to us?” Anne asked. The hesitation behind her question floated between them before wrapping around their joined hands causing fingers to tighten their grip. “Well you applied too, right? So we have nothing to worry about.” Quinn could sense the uncertainty in her tone and Issue 1
the need to convince not only Anne, but also herself, that her statement was true. “Yeah, but what if one of us isn’t accepted?” “Why wouldn’t we be accepted?” “My grades aren’t as good as yours, Quinn. And what if that means I can’t afford it, because I can’t get enough financial aid?” “I don’t know,” Quinn said, shrugging. “I guess we will figure it out if that ends up happening.” “I don’t want to lose you,” Anne stated in a whisper. “You won’t.” Anne sighed. “Does she know?” “No.” Quinn felt compelled to add, “And that’s the way it should be.” Quinn closed her eyes and smiled. She felt the weight lift off her chest. It was only for a moment, but that was long enough for Quinn to take her first real breath. *** Quinn watches the powerful wings beneath her catch the current; beating randomly as they soar through the sky. She beams and holds out her arms. The sensation of the wind rushing against her skin fills her with adrenaline. Rapidly the sky darkens and the rain comes. Thunder clashes and lightning flashes around Quinn and her companion. They dart toward the ground for protection; however, the wings have become slippery and Quinn can’t keep her grip. She finds herself plummeting toward a pool of black. She realizes she is oddly calm as she falls from the sky. When she reaches the black surface, she bursts through the barrier to the other side. Quinn is now standing in the middle of a road. Looking around she notices that all of the aspects of nature in the city: the trees, the small animals, the grass, and plants are different shades of orange; while the buildings and cars are dark blue. She moves to the sidewalk as her eyes dart to each towering building 37
and in the direction of each new sound. “Quinn.” How could anyone know my name? she wonders. I’ve never been here before. Quinn turns around and is greeted by a man with a kind smile. “Are you ready?” “Quinn, can you hear me?” Her eyes snap open and focus on her mother. She nods as she fights back the urge to cry. Her skin is clammy, and she can feel her limbs shaking even though she’s sitting. “Here kid,” the tattoo artist says. Quinn breathes deeply as she takes the Coke and lollipop the tattoo artist is holding out for her. “This should make you feel better. Are you all right?” The genuine concern in his voice is evident. “Yeah. Sorry about that.” “It happens more often than you would think. Your adrenaline probably crashed.” Quinn nods to acknowledge she is listening as she holds the Coke to her mouth as if it were fluids from an IV. “A similar thing happened to me the first couple of times I got a tattoo.” “Really?” Quinn asks as she smiles weakly. He nods. “Let me know when you’re ready.” “Quinn, you can’t possibly continue this nonsense. You just passed out! You obviously can’t handle this. How about I pay for you and then we can go back to the campsite?” “This isn’t something I can do half way.” She smiles at the man sitting behind her. “I’m ready.” *** Quinn grasped the envelope in her hand as butterflies fluttered in her stomach. She quietly moved through the house hoping not to attract her mother’s attention. Successfully she slipped into her room and closed the door. With shaky hands, Quinn scanned the letter and giggled. I got in, Quinn stated to herself. I got in! Pulling out her cellphone, Issue 1
she sent Anne a quick text informing her of the good news. The door clicked open, and Quinn scrambled to hide the letter behind her back as her mom came into the room with a basket of laundry. “Quinn! I didn’t realize you were here.” “I just got home.” “Could you grab the mail for me?” her mother asked while she crossed the room. She started to pull Quinn’s clothes out of the basket and place them on her bed. Quinn quickly pivoted to hide the letter in her hand. “I already did.” “Thanks. Any news?” “No.” Quinn heard the slight quiver in her voice and how it had slightly raised as she replied. “Are you all right sweetie?” “Fine. I have a lot on my mind. That’s all.” “Did something happen?” “No, it’s just homework stuff. I’m trying to figure out how to get everything done,” Quinn explained. She hoped her mother wouldn’t pick up on her lie. “What’s that?” “What’s what?” Quinn parried as she attempted to stifle the animal slamming its cage around in her stomach. “You have something behind your back.” “No I don’t.” “Stop this nonsense. Let me see.” Sighing, Quinn handed her mother the letter and waited for the repercussions. The smile was wiped from her mother’s face as her eyes moved further down the paper. “What’s this? This isn’t a school we agreed on.” “You mean it’s not a college you forced me to apply to.” “I never forced you to…” “Did you ever consider that I don’t want to go to the schools you made me apply to?” 39
“This isn’t part of the plan, Quinn.” “You mean this isn’t part of your plan. Have you ever noticed that I show no interest in business management or science? Have you ever come to one of my art shows? Because I’m a decent artist, and more importantly, I love art. It’s what I want to do.” “What about your future? There’s no future in the arts.” “My future? It doesn’t really seem like I have one at the moment, but you sure do.” “Don’t be overdramatic.” “When will you finally get I can’t be who you want me to be?” Quinn said in a defeated tone. “It’s not who I am.” “Does your father know about this?” “Yes.” “And how does he feel about it?” “He said if it’s what I want he will support me. I wish you would give the idea a chance.” Quinn rushed on not allowing her mother to say anything when she opened her mouth. “We could look at the information together. I even know someone else who’s applied there. Remember my girlfriend, Anne?” Quinn’s eyes widened as she realized what she had just done. She knew what was coming before the words crossed through the border of her mother’s lips. “Your girlfriend? That’s why you want to go to this school.” “No I…” “You’re doing this because of some silly dream that you and this girl will be together forever, aren’t you? I thought you were smarter than that, Quinn. Well let me be the first to tell you, sweetie, that you’re sadly mistaken. Life doesn’t work out that way. It’s not a fairy tale; you need to focus on your future and not this teenage fling that…” “STOP!” Quinn roared. “Just stop. This has nothing to do with Anne. I has to do with me, and if you think otherwise, you are the one that is sadly mistaken.” “This is ridiculous,” her mother said cautiously. Issue 1
“No, it’s not. It’s what I’m choosing to do with my life.” “There’s no future in the…” “Arts? I know. You’ve already said that,” Quinn stated weakly. “Will you at least consider the other schools you’ve applied to? Who knows? Maybe you’ll like them, and if not you could transfer or change your major. You and Anne could do a long distance thing. I can’t imagine her parents are thrilled about this either.” “No,” Quinn said. “Does it have to be the University of Edinburgh?” The desperation in her mother’s tone was clear. “Scotland is so far away.” Quinn set her jaw, “I need to do this.” *** “You’re done. Why don’t you check it out in the mirror before I cover it,” the tattoo artist says. Quinn glances at her mother who has been scowling in the corner since the young woman refused to leave earlier. She turns so her tattoo is facing her mom. “What do you think?” “I think it’s a choice you shouldn’t be allowed to make yet. It’s permanent, and you’re too young.” “You didn’t have to come if this is such an issue for you.” She notices the anger creeping into her voice. “Someone needed to be here for you.” “I know.” Quinn looks her mother directly in the eye. “Thank you.” Moving over to the mirror Quinn looks over her shoulder at her new tattoo. What she sees causes her to smile so widely it hurts. It’s perfect, Quinn thinks as she stares at the birds flying across her back.
Di v ision
Vanessa J. Alander
Powder Keg In search of …an outlet …a release Need to ground myself escape the feelings warring inside Pent up energy what is it’s source? I know… you know… I’m afraid that all those that can see me know… Never have I needed the touch of another the attention of one beyond me the look of longing the look of carnal wanting If you were here now, next to me You’d ignite my fuse That’s all I need… One, good, powerful, well placed, lingering touch. 43
I need help in grounding finding my footing slowing my breath regulating my heartbeat concealing my desires Right now, with everything built up electrified Unsure if space or collision is best Space
keeps things safe within lines no more boundaries crossed but each of us unfulfilled
Collision brings spark flame fire passion with a side of feelingsâ€Ś But who doesnâ€™t like a good firework show?
Holes There are holes in this house, Four holes in her heart, Holes in the floors we step on. The carpets are gone. A man with a hammer in his hand Uprooted the stubborn fabric like weeds And planted the hard wood. Now we can hear her high heals Sighing in every room. There are holes in this house And holes in her heart That she dresses with antique furniture And ancient ruins of childhood, To keep the sadness out. To preserve the precious lives That no longer reside in those Waning rooms. There are holes in this house That match the holes in her heart. We ignore the empty echoes and Point blame at anyone but ourselves. She wipes away the dust From abandoned shelves. She tussles with laundry still. Shirts, jeans, towels, all not her ownâ€” And she tip-toes around the holes Sheâ€™ll spend the rest of her life Trying to fill. 45
Poem As lovers, we dance around each others’ arms praying we don’t hurt one another too badly. Falling from love has never been a pretty thing. Just as it has never been an easy thing to understand. The smell of your deodorant mixed with chain smoked Marlboro Reds reminds me of what I used to call home. Lately, it hasn’t felt like home. Lately, nothing feels like home. My hemlock hands shake as I wipe the tears that I wish I had from your cheek bone. The necklace you gave me for our first anniversary rests on my chest bone My stomach knotted like a rope swing As I tight-rope walk between fixing this and finalizing it. I’ve been having a hard time putting into words the difference between loving someone’s being and being in love with someone. All I really know is that I don’t think I want this anymore. Lately, my heart has been closer to my hip bones than my brain And Lately, I’ve been wishing my backbone was a hell of a lot stronger than my wish bone. My heart is full of marathon runners. It won’t sit still. Like an Athenian messenger, It runs back and forth until I can’t breathe. My ghost love is all I’ve had to offer you for months. Issue 1
I could only play pretend for so long. There are only 11 species of animals in the world that practice monogyny. Swans are known to form lifelong monogamous bonds years before sexual maturity. Their never-faltering loyalty breaks only after their partner dies. You are my dead swan. My sense of fidelity is nothing to be proud of. I don’t know what monogamy feels like anymore. All I know is that We weren’t meant to fall in love when we did. Our swan bodies are too young to feel this close, connected, claustrophobic. So I guess My feathers got restless quicker than yours And I’m trying so hard not to break your wings as I fly away.
The Man Code The Man Code says you can get drunk for her, once, cry if your eyes are itchy, if your face needs hydration, then buck up and fuck a stranger, find the loosest girl in the bar and lead with your best line. You might try: Did it hurt? Did it hurt, beautiful, when you fell from the sky? Whatever you do, when you get her back to your motel— the one where you’ve been living for a week since your wife asked you to leave, and it reeks of stale cigarette smoke and Febreze, with a toilet that tilts ten degrees to the left— be sure you put away the picture of your six-year-old son, the one you’ve kept on the nightstand, where your boy is smiling and the space between his missing front teeth seems big enough to drive through with a truck of apologies. Once the girl is naked, and you’re naked, and you’re both writhing beneath the bleached sheets, be sure not to say that you miss your wife, be sure you don’t whimper and offer her the cab fare home. The Man Code says, if you do, you’re definitely a pussy, a homo, a human being.
Walk of Shame Lust: It’s a powerful thing when it grabs you by the throat.
It throws you down onto bed sheets and tears off your clothes, creating a heap on the floor of lace underwear and cheetah print bras. It can make nails dig into her back, leaving evidence that it arrived. Nothing tastes sweeter than something you’ve craved for so long. Her body rises and falls like waves lapping the beach. You hear the noises escape from her mouth as you give her what she needs. Think of it as a favor granted. She fulfills your repressed desires in return. Wrinkled sheets and sweat surround you. Whose bed is this? Vibrations of the bass from the room over make your heart jump. Alcohol morphs the furniture, making straight lines blurry. Never in your wildest dreams did you picture yourself under the covers with a girl like this, her blonde, curly hair cascaded down her back like water. The gloss that was now on your own lips was so smooth, reminiscent of her skin when it touched yours. You can trace the outline of her hipbones; admire the dark blue inked stars that reside on them. There’s a certain uncertainty about this moment, but you don’t care, you just want passion that collides with intensity. You don’t even remember what color her eyes are. Baby blue, no, denim, no brown? What does it matter, you’ll never do this again. She’ll never look at you in daylight and remember the night that you fucked her in some random bed at that sorority party. As you say her name, in different breaths each time, your phone rings on the dresser. You’ll swear and quickly pick it up, scan the number and begin to panic. You lost track of time, you’re like Cinderella who has just missed her pumpkin coach and now has to embrace that life isn’t always perfect. But, you 49
know all about imperfections, don’t you? You know who that number belonged to, didn’t you? You know that your girlfriend is waiting at home for you. You know that this girl beside you isn’t her. It’s all hitting you now. The guilt sinks in like quicksand, you’re stuck. You’ll shakily stand up, awkwardly pull your tight, black mini skirt up over your hips, half hook your bra, and throw that crimson top on. Everything is spinning as you try to slip your heels onto your feet. You can’t tell if it’s more alcohol than shame, or if it’s a combination. You’ll take just a second to let the night soak into your mind, to make every last detail a memory that you can come back to, yet you want to take back so badly. Did you get what you wanted? You close the door to the bedroom, make your way through the booze crazed college kids and their solo cups and let the cold autumn air take your breath just as that girl did hours before. You’ll walk the same path home as you did to get there in the first place, retracing your steps in the opposite state of mind. All you want to do is sleep and throw up and drink gallons of water, whatever it takes to make this goddamn headache go away. No matter what though, this night will haunt you. You’ll take a few deep breaths before you fall asleep. You know that you did wrong. You know that the only time you can return to those bed sheets, those curls, that night, those inked blue stars, is in your mind.
Tip of Widow’s Peak I walk up to you and stand just far enough away Your pale hands, much larger than my own, reach for me I lean into you, not knowing what to say Just breathing I watch your hands raise like white silk stretched over your bones They smooth back my hair out of my face Looking into crystal eyes, seeing they are worried Questioning my silence The hands, as if mechanical, rub my widow’s peak The sensation spikes my courage “I know you love me, but will you ever leave me?” “If I love you, why would I leave you?” The response is less than reassuring Again I press into your body.
An Earshot from Tobin Watershed forest spreads wide and tall, she is florescent tunnels, a vivid grid of white and yellow equators. She is the field of bones, Torah alluded, rib cages enveloping the jagged pale peaks, milky marrow flushed into the gutters of her trenches. Her air is froth and sleek to swallow, churned up in her mighty dust bowl of static dreams and spotlights shying away, shying away my smothered peace. Iâ€™m claustrophobic in the wide cut channels of her arms and legs. Iâ€™m Ezekiel in the field of bones. The smog of perpetual decay, glossed over with roulette success. I would love to curl up with her as she expelled the other minions. I would love her favor, even if it meant a silver peaked canopy with each sunrise; a family of steel trunks with tempered bark. Watershed forest: the idea that built the machine. She lies naked on the east coast, a showerhead for heaven, raining her glow towards the moon. From this vantage, spat out into the speckled earth, she sparkles with fireflies in a billion jars, all lined up on the picketed horizon. Issue 1
G er ber
Patrick Liam Oâ€™Sullivan
because falling down hurts because I wanted to be different then to love and lose I just got lost in her falling because I wanted to I told her I never came I just went down it spirals infinitely faster together is better than separate hurts if alone we wander and wonder to what end is this love
Haley A. Sciola
Priorities Press me up against our white wall, your chest into my breasts as your lips attack my lips. This is not cliché; this is foreplay. From here our breathing beats, beats at our mouths and my feet banter as I stumble off balance, our skin heating up with our rhythm. I grit my teeth as I pull in your raw lips and give them a love bite. Stepping forward to regain my footing, my fists start pounding and my feet are hounding me to stall—don’t fall— but worn rubber soles still give me the slip, so I seek a grip on the floor but not on myself, yet—Not before I chuck you against the closet door and we repeat the sequence, adding: the toosh grabbing. I battle with your belt, but you smack my needy hands away. “Waiting’s important,” you say to me. And I retort: “No it’s not!” And then I tell you about my allergy to patience. My passion parades through my moan as you yank at the top of my shirt. You’re the peak of my to-do list, making my A, B and C tasks sink to Z because Maslow’s hierarchy has never known me, though perhaps you could help the pieces of this pyramid make sense and operate after this moment, just as long as the cost of our love is still time well spent. Lead me towards more love with you and as your student I’ll study hard and uncover universal truths, as long as we are the universe.
My innate naïveté finally nails you down as I profess my passion: “I need you now!” Pointing towards your primal pride, my thoughts finally stop. I forget about prerequisites, classes, lists and lessons. I refuse to reflect on consequences and the pretense that this perfect distraction can remove all my other duties—if only for its duration. Maybe I should think about what I could do besides you at this time, but there’s a word I’m forgetting that indicates bustling with you and your body is more important than all other things. Scapegoat my short-term memory or maybe my hyperactive heart, but I know I can’t land on my feet or check off the Cs, Ds and Zs in life without you. So just for a second, and maybe not in metaphor, hold me down. I’ll wait. Make me agonize with that candle-like glimmer in my eyes, and when we finally force our flesh together, I’ll feel our hearts full and forever taut like tightrope walkers across the ropes between life and our bed. And with our love, I promise I’ll internalize my true priorities— After we finish, of course.
Kayley J. Fouts
A Prayer save me from me, help me shed this body that was born broken at Your hands. call the rain to come and wash this body out to sea where my organs will be pickled in the cold brine. take me and feed me to the flames of my fury let them lick my skin. let my ire devour me my body is seared with a fine layer of char and then drag me into the desert and invite the wind to wipe the ash away from my skeleton. bleach my linen bones in the stinging ultra violet sun. can me. jar me. preserve the last bits of the me that You loved. 5 7
admire me. the me that was. frame my photographed smile in my bones with screws and nails to hold rib to radius to femur to ulna. stare at me, at the ashes of my skin on the mantleâ€” my skin that you licked from toe to lip. so dismantle me. because only from my complete destruction will I be able to finally resurrect myself. I will be reborn out of my own hopes and tears I will grow wings whose hollow bones and downy feathers will carry me away to heaven.
October Reflections I. You blushed the night I prayed to you, rusty harvest. A cobweb of wispy clouds you pulled, enshrouding that embarrassment. I love you, and talk of the cogs of life, some removed and others aligned. Sing back to me that prayer, my solemn heavenly pumpkin, into the foggy window panes reflecting the damp night where I am married to an october bride popping merlot and fond grins; I grovel. II. I remember, as I pray feverish, that night in the vehicle of dents and schemes when you took the black knife, brittle plastic, pinned my hand to the black armrest, leather of cheap stitch and pulled at my arm flesh with a light tug of the dull teeth. I grinned as you pushed harder, the penny blade pressing white grooves into my arm turning scarlet red. I loved the giggles 59
at my pain and recoiling from the lighthearted torture. It was the excuse to push you away. With that nudge I never felt closer than having you scrunched over, laughing on the far end of the passenger seat. I like to think, as I restrained your eager destructive hand, I imparted some hope into that cold and distant frame, so intimate; somewhere lost overseas. There you were, where I didnâ€™t have you. There you were, so long back. III. The bashful moon blushed in the stagnant gloom as she inhaled my flattery. For all my requests she couldnâ€™t mend the wrong.
Headfirst Their laughter is the rustling of autumn leaves, Their promises of love fresh in the crisp, savory air, The trees shed their colorful coats as the lovers’ pasts disappear. As the snow begins to fall they move forward: hands linked tightly. They can breathe in the sharp winter atmosphere, The world of white brings reassurance to the beginning, Their love is found in the warmth of the fire And in sweet coco kisses. As the snow vanishes they move forward: fingers loosely intertwined. Unspoken words are the spring’s fresh mud, New colors tempt their wandering eyes, The bustling of new life reminds the lovers of their hollowed existence, The bird’s shrill songs echo their raised voices in the impending heat. As vibrant green grass grows beneath their feet they move forward: side by side. The lovers’ anger sizzles like the stifling sun, Their regretful words are insects swarming them in the humidity before the storm, Warm summer rain erases their tears, The stillness of the summer morning brings them clarity. As the leaves begin to turn they move forward: each in their own direction.
N est V I
Kayley J. Fouts
Personal Prey as your eyes flicked over my skin I suffered their stare scratching me optical finger nails those cuts reopening old wounds: when you pulled at the hem of my dress I could have sworn that you were pulling out my hair your gasp of desire my gasp of pain our nakedness not skin on skin but your metal on my bloody exposed muscle you had all of me and I had none of youâ€” I order that spite in a shot glass, clear liquid sloshing in my stomach as I sloppily shush my thoughts with inebriated hands on unfamiliar zippers and buckles I hope you are watching 63
I close the men’s room door behind me the hinged wood swings I feel your fingernail glare digging up my back thinking thoughts that you shouldn’t have thought ever I’m giving a strange boy none of me the stranger strips me only to find hardened metal little does he know it’s contagious
Take Me Out to the Ball Game You’re tough. The hardest pitch could break the bat or you’d get knocked out of the park. Your skin is white and made of smooth leather. And your red laces, the guide to the perfect pitch. I’ve seen you bounce in the dirt, and fly out to center. I’ve felt your sting to the face before. A feeling that can shake even the toughest but I’m still not afraid. The crack of the bat is the soundtrack to summer. The smell of burgers and dogs on the grill make every game feel like I’m there, even if I’m just watching it on the TV. When winter comes, with the offseason and the park is buried in snow. I find myself pacing with you in my hands. I’d pick at your laces, and practice finger placements: fast ball, splitter, curve and knuckle. Anxiously waiting for spring training to start again.
Trapped Trapped by the rush, Held captive by the high. Pleasure at the sharp point Of that smooth new syringe. Mix that brown into the cap Of the clear water bottle. Let the clean cotton swab absorb The drug like it’s the one addicted. Pour it out on that smooth glass, Scrape it together with a weathered i.d. Roll up that last dollar bill, nice and tight Inhale and feel that burn, shudder with delight. Lose yourself for a moment or two Forget who you are But not for too long Don’t get caught in that unknown identity. It’s too late now. You are lost in yourself Trapped by the rush, Held captive by the high.
Red-Eye Gazes We are all tired of overpriced, bland sandwiches wrapped in cellophane and handed to us with a terse smile, of overpriced bestsellers and the grinding of suitcase wheels on moving walkways. We are all moving at the speed of harried, fifteen minutes to get to terminal C, five minutes to stand in line for our grande dirty soymilk hot chai lattes, an hour with our shoes off in security, our mismatched socks and chipping toenail polish aired out for the world. We are all packed together in lines and huddled crowds, wishing we could escape the masses of agitated parents and bluetoothed businessmen, the slick floors threatening to send us crashing into each other. Our sides brush lightly but we donâ€™t look back to apologize, or check for vital signs: near collisions are a way of life. We are all going nowhere, this hub of activity and inactivity, bodies slouched in pleather seats, bleary red-eye gazes fixed on anything that stays stationary, wishing we could avoid the uncomfortable pause as we reach the vertices in our hyperbola and get as close together as possible before flying off in opposite directions. 67
The First Thing I Ever Understood Was a Punk Song I need to hear “those trusty chords” or even better, that song “wayfarer”. I need to hear Chuck Ragan open up and wail over an acoustic guitar. His voice, all whiskey hoarse and breathless, swaying and spitting on stage like every show was the last he’d ever play. This scene is where my dreams are brought to life, where everyone gathers to sweat and collide. We belong despite our differences because we are a family and the music is what keeps us together. Standing on a crowded floor, amidst a haze of cigarette smoke and stale beer, I can’t imagine being anywhere else packed in shoulder to shoulder with people I’ve never met. It is here where the immediate makes memories. Candid moments of passion erupt in deafening chaos and noise. A Les Paul guitar screaming through a Marshal Amp, can solve any problem in our lives. My ears will ring for a lifespan but these moments will linger in my mind like the grainy black and white photo, from the Clash’s “London Calling” album cover. This snapshot, a view to all that is punk rock aggressive and raw.
I’m Much Better Than Your Fake Girlfriend I’m not out to make you stray, but I’ve seen that look in your eyes. We’re all dissatisfied in some way, and I think its time you came out to play. Don’t get me wrong, I’m growing wise, and I’m not out to make you stray, but you’d look good with a bowtie and bouquet or maybe just a bag of french fries. We are all dissatisfied in some way, I’m no exception, so don’t let me fade away behind your comforting excuses and lies. I’m not out to make you stray, but I can tell you really want to stay overnight and talk through the sunrise about how we are all dissatisfied in some way. I know this all seems a bit cliché, but lets make a compromise: I’ll admit I want you to stray, and you’ll admit you’re dissatisfied in some way.
vol u m e 14 w fall 2012 w is s u e 1
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