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Blue Review

Literary & Arts Magazine Charlotte Latin School Vol. XXIII 2017


nce upon a time, there lived an ordinary girl named Scarlet in an ordinary kingdom. Scarlet liked ordinary things, but most of all, she loved her kingdom.

Charlotte Latin School 9502 Providence Road Charlotte, North Carolina 28277 704.846.1100

Blue Review

Literary & Arts Magazine Charlotte Latin School Vol. XXIII 2017

Controlling the Weather Once upon a time, four Blue Review editors perused art portfolios seeking inspiration for this year’s magazine. They were on a quest for pieces worthy of exemplifying their vision of confidence, adventure, and whimsy. While a driving rain pounded against the window for the fifth day in row, the editors grumbled morosely–the perfect artwork remained elusive as ever. Close to surrender, they suddenly spied a series of playful, colored pencil illustrations featuring a spritely girl with fiery red hair. The sun emerged, and all four editors rejoiced; Paige Davis’ stylized heroine, Scarlet, and her accompanying fairy tale embodied the exact values they wanted to convey. Scarlet’s kingdom, and this year’s magazine, were saved! After that rainy week, we realized the capricious nature of weather paralleled our experiences in high school. Inundated with endless tests, stress, and unpredictable obstacles, each day was like dodging stinging hail, avoiding treacherous patches of ice, or trudging through seemingly endless rainstorms. We envied Scarlet’s ability to take control, even when the odds seemed against her. These reflections carried us forward as we organized our Blue Review. The first chapter, “Ordinary Things,” embraces comfort, safety, and emphasizes our personal histories. “The Forest” transitions to fiction and the terrors of our nightmares. The final chapter, “Mixing Potions,” is inspired by Scarlet’s ability to transform her surroundings and concludes with an uplifting, positive tone. Our own stories are unfinished; there are more storms ahead that even the strongest potions won’t vanquish, but like Scarlet we hope to possess the confidence to banish the monsters under our beds and forge bravely into our unpredictable, magical futures. 2

The Job’s Pretty Great Lead/Layout Editors:

Mallory Evans | Ansley Nurkin | Annabelle Oates | Mattison Shreero

Faculty Adviser: Lori Davis Co-Adviser: Tiffany Fletcher

Copy Editors

Financial Support

Jasmine Leahy (Lead) Catherine Clover (Associate) Kathryn Goodwin (Associate) Rachel Lebda (Associate)

Charlotte Latin School

Art Editors Madison Cacheris (Lead) Chaney Howard (Associate) Matigan Simpson (Associate)

Communications and Floater Editors Cecelia Berens Michael Yang

General Staff Bianca Bellavia Adele Berhe Clare Downey Lulu Holtz Bela Marcus Rhea Shetty Henry Smith Elle Trejo Kai Vincent Laura Zielenski

Administrative Support Arch McIntosh Fletcher Gregory Lawrence Wall Hunter Murphy

Technical Support David Bullock Magical Technology Unicorn Luis Neves

English Faculty Support Alan Becker Richard Harris Maria Klein Amanda Labrie John Pardee Robin Siczek Sterling Thomas Tracey Vanneste

Art Faculty Support Richard Fletcher Clark Hawgood Will Thomason

Promotional Support Latin Arts Association

Vivi Bechtler-Smith Kelly Gardner Charlotte Latin School Media & Graphics Courtney Oates April Baker

Creative and Other Support Sean Clark-Weis Chandlee Freudenberger

Blue Review Vol. XXIII

Scarlet’s Kingdom Ordinary Things Poetry 10 17 19 22 25 29 32

Self-Portrait Song of the Alaskan Tundra Drop of Water The Inauguration Lake Night What I Found Below Bill’s Birds

Michael Yang Ashton Barlow Michael Yang Paige Davis Adam Bear Mattison Shreero Kate Mace

Free Verse Free Verse Free Verse Free Verse Free Verse Free Verse Haiku

Nonfiction 13 14 20 31 35

Rocks Expressive Painters or Mad Men? Turtle Dive Different Is Better How Long Does It Take to Miss a Sister?

Mattison Shreero Mallory Evans Annabelle Oates Catherine Clover Anna Calloway

Memoir Critical Essay Memoir Memoir Memoir

Jasmine Leahy Paige Davis

Short Story Flash Fiction

Fiction 27 37 4

A Bench for Viewing Counting

Art 11 12 15 16 18 20 23 24 26 28 30 32 34 36

Looking through Windows Antelope Canyon Colorful Clogs Future Sicilian Waters Fish Print Encapsulation Leafy Dotscape Walking in the City Eggs Atalanta Winning the Race Stranded Sister Angular Architecture

Mallory Evans Ansley Nurkin Annabelle Oates Delaney Phillips Mattison Shreero Michael Giftos Matigan Simpson Madison Sellers Isabel de Armas Patrick Paschal Michael Yang Bela Marcus Meredith Reese Bridget Fish

Watercolor and Ink Photography Oil Pastel Digital Design Digital Photography Printmaking Colored Pencil Acrylic Acrylic Sculpture Oils Photography Charcoal Sculpture

The Forest Poetry 50 53 59 62 67 71

Trying to Leave window seat Persephone Shunning the Chemistry Flip A Sunflower in the Wake

Michelle Charles Sophie Madjarova Riley Singer Charlotte Kohn Adam Bear Nell Downey

Free Verse Free Verse Free Verse Free Verse Free Verse Free Verse

Emma Gerden


Nonfiction 68

24th of December

Blue Review Vol. XXIII

Fiction 41 43 44 47 49 55 61 64

American Voices in Dialogue The Weight of a Hand I Didn’t Know Any Better A Monstrous Fog Scarecrow Unearthing the Truth Rain Trapped

Ethan Holtzman Eliza Rich Emma Gerden Moon Cheong Jasmine Leahy Mattison Shreero Adythia Suresh Margaux Pollan

Historical Fiction Epistolary Flash Fiction Experimental Fiction Flash Fiction Fantasy Experimental Fiction Experimental Fiction

Metamorphosis of Arachne Drifting Tiles To Each Their Own Destruction Pensive Gia the Forest Girl Skull Girl Setting Sun Twisted Orchids Secrets Ophelia Clotho Plus Minus Fruit Salad Water Cave

Michael Yang Erika Kim Emily Holtzman Juliana Vorhoff Mallory Evans Hayes Woollen Jack Fernandez Morgan Mathews Moon Cheong Michael Yang Ethan Zhang Mallory Evans Michael Yang Sarah Watson Bela Marcus

Graphite Mixed Media Mixed Media Photography Charcoal Photography Photography Graphite Charcoal Photography Oil Paint Clay Colored Pencil Acrylic Photography

Art 40 42 45 46 48 51 52 54 58 60 62 64 66 69 70

Mixing Potions Poetry 79 81 85 89 95 6

Bamboo Without Water Breakfast of Champions Rehearsal of a Sant’Euphemia August The Living Infinite

Moon Cheong Adam Bear Gracie Matthews Nell Downey Rachel Lebda

Free Verse Free Verse Free Verse Free Verse Free Verse

Nonfiction 77 83 87 92

It’s Not A-mewsing Maps Chewing: A Conundrum On the Road

Gracie Matthews Mattison Sheero Hannah Barnes Vanessa Ramirez

Critical Essay Artist Statement Humor Memoir

Escape Sports 101

Mallory Evans Veronica Leahy

Flash Fiction Satire

74 76 78 80 82 84

Barren Zebra Cranes Toast Constellation Reaching

Photography Acrylic Graphite Oil Paint Pen and Ink Watercolor

86 88 90 93 94

Painting of Bella Post Op Big Horn Portrait in Green Portrait of Gracie

Hannah Barnes Molly Green Moon Cheong Michael Yang Mattison Shreero Martha Elizabeth Watson Hannah Burlingame Anna Covington Emma Mathews Madison Cacheris Cecile Stouse

Fiction 74 91


Acrylic Oil Pastel Acrylic Oil Pastel Colored Pencil

Blue Review Vol. XXIII



day an extraordinary wind blew into her ordinary kingdom. The sun refused to set, and the kingdom plunged into chaos.

O rd i n a r



y Th

s Blue Review Vol. XXIII

t i a r t r o P f l Se

ng Michael Ya

I accidental, I a wisp, I nothing-mote borne on cosmos exploding (out- ever out-wards from brightest iota) blink – and am gone – I automaton, I cell, I a star (at a distance) where stars beget stars


Mallory Evans | Looking Through Windows | 50x30 | Watercolor and Ink

Blue Review Vol. XXIII


Mattison Shreero

Ansley Nurkin | Antelope Canyon | Photography 12


ld boxes of rocks sit precariously on my bedroom shelves. I glance at them occasionally, and with each stolen look I’m taken back in time. Each specimen represents a time and place, like an old song that conjures an intense, nostalgic feeling. For as long as I can remember, I have been a collector. Rocks remind me that there are other realities beside the one I’m currently living and that history persists beautifully. When I look at the matte-gray stones on the highest shelf, I’m three-years-old again and picking up these smooth pebbles as I swim in my grandparents’ backyard pond. The massive koi fish drift below my treading feet as we both soak up the chill of the water to escape the stifling, humid Florida air. “Mama, will you hold these rocks for me?” Both she and I forget about the many rocks in her pockets and later that night, our washing machine rattles like a hailstorm. The cratered stone in the corner feels smooth in my palm. It’s my junior year of high school and I am an ocean away from home, immersed in the niches of a new culture. The shoreline of Agrigento is coated in stones smoothed by centuries of saltwater. To some they may seem a trivial component of the vivid landscape, but they enthrall me beyond belief. My friends and classmates fade out of my peripheral vision as I scour the ground. An intriguing shell catches my eye and I pop down to pick it up, failing to notice the large piece of ruby rusted metal sticking up out of the sand. With blood running down my elbow, I return triumphantly to the group, pockets heavy with stones. The propped up piece of labradorite takes me back to the gift shop-like cheesiness and

forced consumerism of the crowded Sicilian market-place. The clustered environments of each booth separate one reality from the next. I am drawn to a kiosk operated by a proud, dark-haired Italian man with a weathered face that matches the rugged rocks and gems he is peddling. I gravitate towards this certain piece of labradorite, as if its colorful luster was simply forcing me to its side. I turn the chunk of rock over and over in my hand, fielding the occasional geological questions from a fellow classmate. My rapid-fire explanations of basalt, agate, and pyrite do not go unnoticed. The vendor, stealing another inquisitive look in my direction, finally inquires in a thick Sicilian accent, “You know about these, no?” Most of the rocks are from home. The tree house in my backyard, though ravaged by years of mold, carpenter bees, and pounding summer rains, was my childhood sanctuary. Its wooden beams are lined with granite and quartz, collected over the years from the forest of possibility that was my backyard. As I approach college I revisit this sacred place, and though I forget my exact age or who I was when I chose a specific stone, their unimaginable age and metamorphic process are a part of my foundation. These old rocks are my timeline and my cornerstone. The story of my life and who I am is defined within them. I fear that without them my memories would fade much too fast. Nowadays rocks are added to my collection at a much slower rate, but each new addition is a more powerful memory than the preceding. These simple stones tell the story of my life thus far. I look towards the future with anticipation and armed with the knowledge that it is written in my nature to leave no stone unturned.

“ It is written

in my nature to leave no stone unturned.”

Blue Review Vol. XXIII


n artist’s self-expression can translate into something tangible to be shared with others that will hopefully push them to feel something significant. While Vincent Van Gogh and Salvador Dali not only lived in different eras but also painted in dissimilar styles, both artists shared immeasurable fame and a lasting imprint on modern art. They also shared personality traits, yet in two of their influential pieces, The Starry Night and The Persistence of Memory, their interpretations of Impressionism and Surrealism differed. From Van Gogh’s mental illness to Dali’s outrageously eccentric personality, their reputations honed their unconventional creativity into spectacular art. Comparing and contrasting these artists’ pieces exposes the natural origin of artwork through emphasizing human emotion and its importance in society. Van Gogh’s mastery culminates in The Starry Night, in which refined yet also original technique incorporates together cohesively. The vibrant and original use of color sets Van Gogh aside from the typical painters of his time and complements massive swirled paint strokes that create a visually pleasing image. Painted from the window of his room in the St. Paul Asylum, he illustrates a night scene surrounded with mystery that challenges the typical realistic paintings of his time. While the painting’s nighttime setting seems insignificant, The Starry Night emerges as the first time Van Gogh painted this particular scene from his window at dusk. He utilizes short strokes and flowing shapes that breathe motion and life into the painting instead of sharp definite linework. The fluid brushwork he applies to the canvas adds an effortless element that guides the eyes around the painting as if following a story’s narration. The Starry Night transforms into more than a painting because it illustrates how Van Gogh’s story full of darkness and light directly reflected his changing emotions. The bright portrayal of the moon and stars provide a dreamy, fanciful tone that sets this particular piece

of art apart from typical Impressionist art that usually highlights colorful day scenes. This original modern interpretation transformed Van Gogh’s reputation into the famous Western artist he is know as today. Dali often chose bizarre and atypical images for his paintings to achieve surrealistic qualities. In The Persistence of Memory, the melting and broken pocket watches he depicts on a beach–like scene are anything but ordinary. He represents each individual object realistically, but the arrangement of them beckons his audience to consider the extraordinary. The beach’s bleak landscape likely translates the broken society Dali perceived around him and the motionless figure trapped beneath the pocket watch, or time, can serve as an optional self-portrait of his true feelings. As opposed to Van Gogh, Dali combined elements of reality and the surreal to create something edgy to contrast with classical art and convey his message to extract questions from the world. Van Gogh and Dali share more in common beneath the surface, for the two esteemed artists share a history in mental illness that did anything but hinder their work. Their troubled minds aroused the rawness and depth that characterized their paintings. Dali lived and created fearlessly by acting spontaneously, and that translated into his paintings. Although generally deemed a madman, Dali often deprived himself of sleep in order to strike artistic genius and paint in a subconscious state that helped him create artwork that reflected his true being and deepest thoughts and fears. This method resulted in incredibly complex and enriched work, whereas Van Gogh’s element of sanity worked in a painful manner instead of the whimsical insanity that personified Dali’s. While Van Gogh likely suffered from a mental disorder similar to schizophrenia, he found light and a source of happiness through painting. This expression of feelings and pain brought Van Gogh success after his death once the public discovered his artwork. The blaring contrast lies in the fact that Vincent Van Gogh’s

Expressiveor Painters

Mallory Evans



Annabelle Oates | Colorful Clogs | 32.5x27 | Oil Pastel


suicide and suffering originates from his mental illness; however, painting brought hope and euphoria to an otherwise troubled man and allowed him to touch millions of others posthumously. Van Gogh and Dali cannot merely be disregarded as madmen considering the incredible quality of the work they left behind. An unconventionally talented duo, Vincent Van Gogh and Salvador Dali continue to dominate the art world long after their deaths because they supplied their most famous paintings with emotions and elements of dreams. Their reputation for mental

illness adds important aspects to their work, for Van Gogh uses his pain and transforms it into something beautiful whereas Dali manages to use outrageous elements in his art in order to question reality and time. Both artists convey articulations of their dreams into their work which adds intrigue and mystery to further incorporate depth and meaning. Enriching paintings like The Starry Night and The Persistence of Memory allow onlookers to experience lost emotions and question reality, and they symbolize the impact and significance of authentic artwork on society. Blue Review Vol. XXIII

of the


Delaney Phillips | Future | 40x30 | Digital Design






he endless beauty from sky to earth Rising above the clouds Are those that watch over us, Giving their gift of water. Their rocky and snow covered peaks Reach towards the darkening sky, Casting their shadows across the land. The Aleutian mountain range dances The longest day this Solstice Alongside the Yup’ik people In the Heartfire sunset. The endless beauty from earth to sky. The endless beauty from earth to sky Beneath the highest peaks, Lies the vast valley and heartbeat Of the Earth’s canvas, Connecting us as one. Across the frozen tundra, The gift of elk and caribou roam free. Our families see them as they graze Near the patches of Gnarls Green grass, Between the cracks of the Arcane Blue And Morrow White glacier of summer. The endless beauty from sky to earth.

Blue Review Vol. XXIII

Michael Yang


Mattison Shreero | Sicilian Waters | Digital Photography

Swirling sheets of secret life-stuff the flows, currents of this microcosmic microbiome. The beauty of the water of the mind is a scaffold in vagary, empirical ladder or telescoping imagination. Extend to guess dinoflagellates, diatoms, nematodes housed by a drop of water. Ball in three dimensions, radius R: boundary taut, inclusive. Reflective projection on this mirror distortive, internal war of numerous forces. To attract, repulse, or flow, or walk as a particle walks, chaotic but determined in a drop of water. We have a system, ascending descending mirror raga tone of rain, rhythm of the stream of the voice. Patterns in the subtle, reverberation infinite echoing. Sound ripples faster through a mind submerged, a drop of water. So many words for a drop of water. But no word can be the cool wetness of this little rain-fleck, rolling gently on the surface of my palm. Blue Review Vol. XXIII


Michael Giftos | Fish Print | 20x25 | Printmaking

Annabelle Oates

It was a breezy day in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and I could taste the salty air on my lips. Water splashed on my hand as the boat hit several bumps on the ocean floor. My mom’s contagious laugh spread throughout the boat deck as everyone clutched their seats. The sky and ocean seemed the same shade of blue, and the vibrant green shrubbery added contrast to the rocky islands. Oddly shaped houses fit into the crevices of the islands, perched up like birds’ nests. After thirty minutes of coasting, the boat slowly came to a halt near three large rocks called the “Indian feathers.” Our guide described what we would be seeing underwater, but I focused on the 20

fear of what lurked beneath the surface. With pale, shaky hands I pressed the clear mask over my eyes and nose and slipped on my flippers. Knots formed in my stomach as I waddled over to the side of the boat. “Just jump AB, don’t be a wuss!” my older brother yelled out. His confident smile angered me; I knew I couldn’t let him win this battle. I took the plunge. My hands sliced through the numbing water. As I gasped for air through the plastic mask, my mom yelled out, “Be careful and stick with Camille!” I forced a smile but images of sharks and barracuda thrashing through the water whirled through my brain. I can’t even feel my body and hungry sharks are probably swimming below me. How is this supposed to be safe? A group of teenagers swimming alone in the depths of the ocean with no real supervision. Are you fricking kidding me?!

I finally built up enough courage to start making my way over to the reef. I kicked. Faster and harder until all I could see were the bubbles surrounding Camille’s flippers. Suddenly my eyes jumped back and forth between the electric colored corals. Treading water, I realized the fish wanted nothing to do with us. Marine life of all sizes swam and crawled diligently around the reef. The organisms ranged from small lobsters to great barracuda patrolling the waters like cops on duty. The parrotfish were obviously the celebrities of the reef with eager snorkelers surrounding them pointing at their elaborate scales. The colors fed my hungry eyes. My tired arms splashed through the water as I struggled to fight against the current. I was grateful to see the boat. Grasping the metal ladder, I heaved myself onto the deck. My stomach growled as the boat’s engine started up. My mood lightened when I suddenly remembered our lunch plans. We were stopping at The Soggy Dollar on Jost Van Dyke Island–but we would have to swim into shore. Starving, I eagerly swam as fast as I could to the white sand beach. Passports and towels were clenched in my dad’s hand as he struggled to keep them above water. The sun warmed my back as I sat awaiting my meal at the beat up picnic table. I noticed how this one tiny restaurant was overflowing with people from all over the world. Italians in Speedos smoked thick cigars as native Islanders played bongos and sang happily. Women from Spain, France, and the U.S. laid out on the pristine beach tanning in unison. The different languages swarmed around me like bees collecting honey. I was in a trance as my brother set my food down on the table. The fish was glazed in a golden brown batter and the fries were cut and seasoned to perfection. As I bit into the fish, steam rose into the air. My insecurities seemed to fade as the warm cod satisfied every taste bud on my tongue. The last thing on my mind was how detrimental the calories I just consumed would be to my figure. After I devoured my lunch, I swam back to the boat slowly. Yet again, the boat started up and headed to the next destination. One of the crew members described our last snorkeling spot as Turtle Island and my eyes lit up. The water appeared calmer and soothed my nerves. I dove in hoping to see turtles like Finding Nemo’s Crush, the hippy surfer turtle from my childhood. After a couple of minutes, a large sea turtle grazing along the sandy ocean floor caught my attention. Its short, stocky limbs fluttered up and

down propelling it forward. It looked up with glassy eyes as if to say, catch me if you can. This was my final chance before it would glide away back into the depths of the ocean, so I channeled my inner mermaid and followed. My hands shook as I propelled myself deeper to the bottom of the ocean floor. A shock of pain traveled through my ears as the pressure built. I closed my eyes, ready to give up and return to the surface, but I wasn’t afraid. With one last kick, I reached the bottom. My hands shook as I gently grabbed the turtle’s shell. The large animal pulled me to the water’s surface. I felt almost like a creature of the sea myself, my brown hair flowing. As soon as we broke the surface, I gasped for air. A smile spread across my face, and this time I eased back onto the boat. Mom gazed at me in awe as I told her about my magnificent tale, wrapping a towel around my shivering shoulders. My mind slowed to the rhythm of the waves lapping against the side of the boat and my eyes fluttered shut. From sunrise to sundown, I had been one with the sea and the islands. My worries faded to nothing, a feeling I had not felt in a long time. The serene beaches and intoxicating ice blue water had revived my anxioussoul. As I looked out onto the horizon, I rested.

Blue Review Vol. XXIII

The Inauguration

Paige Davis

This is my presidential speech Surprising, right, since only two people voted for me My mom and I, we went out the polls Pressed my name on the ballot while you sat at home And on that same couch, you are watching me now Saying, “This won’t be too bad,” “I bet she’s just loud” Well, guess what, from now on my opinion is yours Cause I’m cancelling your rights and anything of that sort Now you yell, screaming, “We’ll get you impeached” But I sent the house and the senate out to the streets I’m president for life, a dictator, quote on quote evil And you’ll be dealing with me until you all shrivel Nuclear bombs, the army, they’re all on my side And confront me, I’ll be frank, you’ll most certainly die So I bet you’re bellowing now, “What has this country come to?” Well, I have the simplest answer, it came down to you Well, now that that’s finished, my last Inaugural speech Let’s commence my reign by you bowing down to me


Matigan Simpson | Encapsulation | 20x15 | Colored Pencil

Blue Review Vol. XXIII

Madison Sellers | Leafy Dotscape | 22x23.5 | Acrylic


O night, come, bring to the earth your sorrows, so we may intertwine and float together on this lake.

lake night Adam Bear

Sitting in quiet contemplation, I revel in the leaves that float past, each one like a fleeting dream. The voice of night is seductive; never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander for a spell in abysses of solitude; to lose itself in mazes of inward contemplation. On an ocean of inky darkness, the calm spell of mystery. Her voice a caress on the waves, a bird, light as it lands upon this rock submerged. Eyes like a gust, ephemeral winter winds, far does your echo take me, far over these misty mountains cold, to castles in Spain and to an endless beyond. But that is not here, not yet, and I must wait. My golden vessel continues on floating, brushing past each of these leaves, each a moment missed, one that could have been, another only wanting to be. O night, you and I are much too similar. One never knows the recesses of his soul, and I will never glimpse the deepest corners of your being. O night, reflect for me my spirit, like a mirror cast upon starry skies. Show me, unworthy, humbled, the infinite unrolling of your tremendous majesty so I may know better, my mind, like your abyss that is no less bitter. O night, I beseech thee, plunge with me into the depths of this lake and listen, for one moment, words not meant to be spoken. O night, leave the earth a little later, do not go gentle now, not without a fight. So sweet is the concert of her eyes singing hope. Is there a truth sweeter than that? Blue Review Vol. XXIII


B V e

iew nc h ing for Ja sm

ine Le ah y

Isabel de Armas | Walking in the City | 19x27 | Acrylic 26


wo young women and Thomas Edison sat on a bench. Well, two young women and a bronze statue of Edison. The three of them occupied one of dozens of benches in the park, each adorned with its own bronze historical figure. Between each bench was a rose bush, blooming with lavender and pink buds. The wind was soft yet alert, periodically tickling the women’s skin like a reminder to reapply their makeup and fix their hair. The distant whisper of classical piano music accompanied the faint sound of gurgling fountains. “Can you guys take a picture of us?” a small teenage girl, surrounded by her posse of identical brown-hair friends asked as she ran holding her phone up to the two women. “Sure.” “Me and my two friends are trying to recreate the Abbey Road cover,” the girl explained as she and her group moved into their respective positions on the white-striped road in front of the benches. “Get it? Three friends to represent all three Beatles!” As the girls ran off after having their picture taken, neither they nor the women seemed to remember that there were actually four Beatles. “Hey, isn’t that your band director from high school?” one of the women said, pointing at a man in his sixties walking down the row of benches in the distance. “Yeah,” the other replied. “I wish I had kept in better contact with him over the years.” “Go say hello to him!” “I don’t think so–too much time has passed. Why reintroduce myself?” “Okay, then.” They both sat in silence and watched the aging man slowly and deliberately walk by each bench, stopping momentarily to view every single one individually. He stopped longer in front of a bench with John Coltrane sitting on it. In fact, he

remained standing, fixated on the Coltrane bench, locked in a melodic trance. “Um, is he ever going to move? What is he doing?” “Beats me. No one could ever figure out what was going on inside his head during band class.” “He’s been standing in front of that bench for ten minutes now! Are his eyes closed? I can’t tell from here.” “He always closed his eyes during class whenever he liked the sound of our playing.” “But there’s no band playing here. I would probably just fall asleep if I closed my eyes out here on such a quiet, beautiful day.” “Yeah, maybe.” “Oh God, my roommate is blowing up my phone,” the other woman remarked, biting her bright red lip as she checked her cellphone. “She’s been trying to force me to go to this stupid party with her tonight for weeks now. I better get over there before she kills me. It was great catching up with you!” She stood up from the bench and hugged her friend before inching back towards her car in her high heels. The remaining young woman turned to Thomas Edison, “You think I should go say hi to him?” She looked in the direction of her band director, “He seems a little occupied at the moment, doesn’t he? What do you think he’s doing?” The statue’s brassy eyes stayed fixed ahead. “Well, you’re not very helpful,” the woman muttered to herself. She gave another glance to her band director who was still facing the Coltrane bench with eyes closed. She decided to close hers too. The whistling wind hit her face in waves. Vivace! Vivace! Vivace! When the woman opened her eyes, the sky was blackening and her band director was gone.

“The statue’s brassy eyes stayed fixed ahead”

Blue Review Vol. XXIII

Patrick Paschal | Eggs | 22.5x17x5 | Sculpture




t a h

u o F I

lo Be

d n

Mattison Shreero

Lying on the bottom I look up to discover what must be seen through the eyes of those below Poignant sunlight dances across, casting ripples that leap and dip in the beams Drops of the sun turn to downfall The instant dissipates, replaced by gentle shards

The surface becomes fractured (or was it always like that?) It is pelted by the never-ending rain The water gives way to catch every drop in its grasp But in the end it was I who broke the moment Forced to resurface How fickle this need for air

Blue Review Vol. XXIII



t I n s e B r e ett fi f

r e C at v herine Clo

Michael Yang | Atalanta Winning the Race | 45x50 | Oils 30


y mother put her finger to her lips as if she wanted to say something to me, but I didn’t care. I was at battle. Well, not at battle, but tag brought out the sheer need to win. Camaraderie went out the window. The day was warm, muggy, and bright. May Day Play Day, the highlight of any lower schooler’s year at Charlotte Latin. Because I wanted to look cool, I immediately ditched my family at the action-packed school festival. As I ran around my family for the umpteenth time, my brother, Nicholas, stopped me. His short stature and child-like features made him look like a twelve-year-old, but he held the title of the oldest child. Sweat began to form on our foreheads as we stood outside. The people around us talked vociferously, making it hard for either of us to speak. My brother wanted to play with me. I thought to myself, he cannot play with me. My friends will notice. My friends cannot notice. I cannot be weird like Nicholas. I ignored his question and left the scene of the crime, pretending I had not seen my family at all. Nicholas shouted after me, trying to get my attention, but I pretended that I didn’t hear. Why Catherine no play with me? I want to play. Why she won’t play? Nicholas has trouble enunciating his words, and the placement of such words in a sentence is awkward. His stride is lopsided; as he walks, he sways back and forth. Schoolwork is Nicholas’ kryptonite. It is an understatement to say life has been a struggle for him and the rest of our family. All I wanted was for him to be normal so we could be normal, for him to be a perfectly wrapped present adorned in gold and silver ribbon encasing a pristine glass ball inside, instead of how I saw him now: a beat-up cardboard box filled with shattered pieces of glass. He will speak to anyone and everyone. Social status means nothing to him, and he approaches everyone with a smile. At school he interacts with all the normal kids, and they love him more than I could have ever imagined. I pondered: why did I feel so embarrassed for him? I didn’t know. I was mortified because of the way he talked, and I hated people seeing him as abnormal because to me, he is just Nicholas. In reality, it may be because I don’t want people to think I’m different, too. Carrying my large sleepover bag with the bright colors and flowers, I meander down the perfectly cut grass of the soccer field on my way to meet a friend for her birthday party. It is a cool and crisp May afternoon, the bees buzzing about and pollen scattered everywhere. My brother holds hands with me, as he enjoys doing. The only reason he walked with me was to meet my friend’s mother. He truly loves their parents more than my actual

friends. I greet my friend and we begin talking about the simple things that comprise our sixth grade lives: boys, how hard that math test was, and how Suzie is foolishly trying to be part of our group. When her mother arrives to pick us up in her black Mercedes, Nicholas happily heads over to her car, joyfully starting a conversation with her. “Hello, Carly’s mom! How you are today?” Nicholas asks, face shining. I make eye contact with Carly’s mom, dreading the expression I know I will see. She casts a disgusted glance at Nicholas. “Who is this?” she asks me, her voice clearly reflecting her disdain. “This is my brother Nicholas,” I reply, anger and embarrassment beginning to bubble up within me. I will never forget the revolted look on her face; it made me feel physically sick. I tell my brother I love him, give him a hug and a kiss, and step into Mrs. Corrigan’s car, waving at Nicholas as we pull out of the crowded parking lot. Why Catherine so upset? I love Carly’s mom. She so nice to me. I hope she have fun. I didn’t know how to feel after that experience. The sensible part of my brain was telling me to be angry that she disrespected my family, but another part of me was ashamed. I was humiliated, but not for Nicholas–for me. Did she think I wasn’t good enough now that she had met my brother? Why does Nicholas always have to embarrass me? Why can’t he just be normal? Looking back on those times only a short four years ago, I now understand. Nicholas isn’t weird or strange; rather, he is gifted. He possesses the ability to lighten the mood of everyone he speaks to and those who are open enough to let him in. I am actually quite envious of the qualities Nicholas possesses. I have never, ever, met someone as outgoing and talkative in my life. Other people’s opinions never affect him; he knows and loves himself, and his contentment in the world translates to others. I try to learn from him every day to be happy with myself and not think about how others view me. My brother and I now walk along the germ-filled floors of our local mall. We swing our linked hands back and forth, skipping along the hallway without a care in the world. Nicholas’ laugh radiates throughout the mall, bouncing off the walls as if he were made of rubber. I laugh too, not concerned with the odd looks other shoppers toss our way. All that remains in my mind now is making sure he is living his seemingly unfair life with as much joy as possible. Nicholas may look like a brown box on the outside, but inside there is a unique, a perfect, diamond that radiates happiness and love, and everyone who allows themselves the opportunity to share his innate beauty will never be the same. Blue Review Vol. XXIII

Kate Mace


ill’s irds

Cedar W ax Flickerin wing gw Rothko dipped y histles our wing s Vibranc y in fligh in hue t


Bela Marcus | Stranded | Photography

Red-Shou ldered Ha wk Cries pierc e solitude Crescent sil houette ho vers Cinnamon breast soar s

Common Gra ckle Lurking throug h the trees Nightmare in te chnicolor Skulking overh ead

Blue Review Vol. XXIII

Meredith Reese | Sister | 25x15 | Charcoal



g n D o L o es I w o



Take to Miss a ANNA CALLOWAY

Finally, the day has come. My dad just finished cramming the last of my sister’s bags in the trunk. As I get in the car, she orders me to the back seat. I will not miss her. Her going to college presents a golden opportunity for me: new clothes and new responsibility. It will take me just over five weeks to rethink this. Week one: I could not be happier. Despite the absence of her sarcasm, nothing seems out of the ordinary. I can still text her every day, so why stress? Rather, I focus on my ever-important backto-school wardrobe. Why go to the mall when I have a closet full of my sister’s clothes waiting for me? I tiptoe into her previously off-limits room and see all of her left behind clothes. First I try on that purple blouse I have always loved. After twirling around in front of the mirror for a few minutes, I try on her shoes. Then I slip on her ripped jeans. I even treat myself to putting on the sparkly dress I helped her pick out for homecoming. Lucky me: part of my new school wardrobe has just arrived! Week three: I expected better. My parents have tickets for a concert and agree to pay me to watch my brother. Best. Job. Ever. I cherish this new role as the responsible older sister. I know the drill from when my sister used to watch us: feed him, make him do his homework, and put him to bed. Easy! The first part of the night goes well: he eats his dinner quickly and reluctantly does his homework. After helping him finish his math worksheet, I start

to put him to bed. Cue the beginning of a babysitting nightmare. Being ten-years-old, my brother resists me fiercely. He runs around the house demanding a later bedtime. I should chase after him, right? Wrong. This only encourages my brother’s raucous behavior. As he continues to use our home as his own personal racetrack, I think of my sister. How did she put up with us while babysitting? How did she make it look so easy? I swallow my pride and call her for help. No answer. She must be busy with her new college friends. I wish she would come home. Week five: I miss her. Fighting with one of my friends, I need advice from my older sister. Halfway up the stairs I realize my mistake. How could I have forgotten? My family and I dropped her off at college over a month ago! I pull out my phone and text her instead. Though it won’t be the same, it will have to do. She does not respond until the next day. Does she not realize that I have been worrying about her for the past 24 hours? I used to know her whereabouts all the time. A call from Mom interrupts my thoughts: dinner. Sitting down at the table with the rest of my family, I start to eat. I try my best to ignore the empty seat next to me. I try to think of all the perks of my sister being gone. However, I can no longer find the upside. I feel tired attempting to fool myself that I do not miss her. Five weeks, two days, and 12 hours later, I want my sister back.

“I feel tired of attempting to fool myself that I do not miss her.”

Blue Review Vol. XXIII


Bridget Fish | Angular Architecture | 15x15x30 | Sculpture


Paige Davis


er heels clicking slowly on the pavement, she followed the hoard of her fellow, zombie-like coworkers. At 7:25 each morning she always seemed to be following, marching with them through revolving doors to the elevators. And once she regrettably made it to the sixteenth floor, she would, as always, peel off from the miserable mob to find her scratchy, blue swivel chair. The terrible, scratchy, blue swivel chair that placed her right in front of her real enemy: the computer. She knew she was supposed to find this job exciting. She knew that she should see the numbers flash across the screen and find a game of chance. She knew, at the very least, that she should have caught on earlier she wouldn’t like this at all, that she shouldn’t have been persuaded by the strand of numbers on her paycheck. But none of that had happened or ever would. Instead, she would spend each day looking at that dreaded screen, occasionally staring down at her constant cup of coffee and letting its steam create little water droplets on her nose. She would spend the morning counting down to lunch, the afternoon counting down to 5:00, and after 5:00 counting down until she’d read all those irrelevant emails. Above all, she knew she chose this because she liked numbers. She just hadn’t known that she would spend so much time counting.

Blue Review Vol. XXIII


ecause Scarlet loved her kingdom, she searched and searched for a solution.


Her searching took her to the forest. Tiptoeing carefully across fallen branches and gnarly roots, she heard a thunderous crack. Alarmed, Scarlet decided to run and run and run.

Blue Review Vol. XXIII

Michael Yang | Metamorphosis of Arachne | 40x20 | Graphite

Dialogue American Voices in

Ethan Holtzman

What happens when renowned pamphleteer Thomas Paine engages in a Hamilton-inspired rap battle with fiery preacher Jonathan Edwards? Scan the QR code to bring the battle to life. 40


“In this verse I threaten [you] with the vengeance of God” “On the wicked unbelieving” or some loathsome arthropod Oh, deist Thomas Paine–allow me preach some Christian etiquette, and teach you wicked sinner how we do it in Connecticut Welcome to The Great Awakening–it’s 1741 I preach damnation like it’s nothing–I preach hellfire for fun Let me take you to church, Thomas, feel the fury of God’s fire You’re suspended by a wire And you’re dangling like a spider! Oh! Here to spit some straight hellfire when I’m preaching on the mic Here to wake you up from evil or the hand of God will strike I’m the guilty shaming thriller and I’m praying for you sinners Find witches in this country like my name is Arthur Miller Revolutions, a waste of time, that’s why I preach damnation There’s no hope of salvation with divine foreordination Feel the wrath of God when I spit this sermon Or you’ll be damned to hell if you don’t get to learnin’ That I tread the path that the holy trod– You’re a sinner in the hands of an angry God


“Tyranny, like hell, is not (so) easily conquered” But watch as I pick up the pen and this demon preacher is squandered Thomas Paine on the pamphlet here to serve some common sense That your sacrilegious sermons shall be surmounted with my defense I’m in the hands of my people, not your angry God Got the support of this Republic and my Founding Father squad! In this following verse “I offer nothing more than simple facts” “Plain arguments and common sense” supported by savvy syntax–yes! It’s the time of the Crisis–in 1776 Allow me to shed some enlightenment on the ‘religion’ that you depict No “prejudice or prepossession”–but I’m here to diss hypocrisy

And “hold up truth to your eyes” so you can gaze upon democracy “God Almighty will not give up” my people to perish So Jonathan, how do you preach damnation to your parish? “I thank God that I fear not. I see no real cause for fear” But that’s simply common sense from a simple pamphleteer


“O sinner!” “Fear him!” God’s not on your side You’re born with original sin! Not virtues, rights, or pride “You’re a burden!” “He Abhors you!” “Abominable” things! And with these sins you think you can revolt against a King? A wicked perversion of patriotism, civic virtues maligned “Vaunted affection employed...for the destruction of [all] of mankind” Meanwhile the selfish sunshine soldier keeps on winning Motivated by greedy self interest, while Christians keep on sinning


I was going to be civil, Jonathan, perhaps you have misspoken But ye cannot reconcile that the “last cord now is broken” “Oh ye that love mankind” raise your voice against these dealings! For the Almighty implants in us “inextinguishable feelings” “Wise purposes” of freedom, not to be quenched by fear Or “shrink (us) from the services” of the cause we hold so dear We prioritize the needs of our nation So God will grant us salvation Conquer tyranny as we conquer hell Leaving freedom ringing from the liberty bell Speaking of fire and brimstone, let me show you a certain fire It’s called the “flame of liberty” and its “coal can never expire” Contrary to you, Johnny, my faith shall not be inhibited I’m consoled by the fact that the “power of hell be limited” God gives us universal rights, and for nature that’s enough So, that “the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph” Blue Review Vol. XXIII


Erika Kim | Drifting Tiles | 20x13 | Mixed Media

Weight of a Hand ELIZA RICH

Dear Virginia, The image of the ghostly hand follows me. I feel its presence on my shoulder at all times. The hand is imprinted with past pain and interactions. I try to fix and wash away the way I feel. I think I have healed but then I’ll feel the weight again on my shoulder. I can feel every crack and dent it has obtained in its treasure map of scars. Who knew something of significance could weigh so much? But the more I am aware of the ghostly hand the more I learn to adapt to its presence. I adjust my posture and continue my day. Ignoring the weight and pretending I don’t feel its grip on my collar bone. I am lucky there is no match to the hand. The rest of its person has been lost and all that remains is the ghostly story one hand can tell. I have contemplated telling others of the hand. Of the night I first saw it. When a humid summer day turned to a rainy night. My dog, Leonard, tore through the front door away from the storm. Lightning flashed as he ran to the corner of the parlor and lit up the night sky. He dropped a small, gray object at the foot of the hearth. The object was shriveled but did not squirm. I cautiously crossed the room and searched the object with my eyes. I tried to read the slashes, assuming it was words or hieroglyphics. Unfortunately, I had already cupped it in my hands before realizing what it was. I let out a terrible screech and tossed it into the fire. I watched as the hand burned in the flames. It crackled but did not move. It was dead before the flames could get to it. I am telling you this because I do not want others to worry for me. I am now stronger because of the extra weight and I can carry more. My peers will one day feel the hand, and they will have less time to adjust. But I feel a responsibility to hold it for them now. You would think I’d be jealous of their breezy lives but I am not. I am happy for them. I watch them walking around on air and I know it’s because I’m taking a sacrifice. I have a feeling you can understand my situation. I want to know if you have a solution to getting rid of the ghostly hand. With Love, A Friend

Blue Review Vol. XXIII

KNOW any better

I didn’t


Our footsteps echoed, faded maroon lockers stretching on forever. Chess club and service project posters hung half-heartedly on the wall. I pushed my hands in my pockets and walked quickly. If my friend hadn’t forgotten his sneakers, we wouldn’t even be here. My stomach grumbled and I glanced at the watch on my wrist, and I wondered what was for dinner. A high school kid only has so much to worry about; failing grades, fighting parents, and food. As we rounded the corner I smelled smoke. Maybe we should have turned around. But the back hallways always smell a little smoky, and I was only thinking about dinner, and how could I know that people were waiting for us, because I’m just a high school kid that doesn’t know any better. I pushed open the locker room door and rough hands grabbed my jacket collar, slamming me against the lockers. I doubled over briefly in pain as a metal lock cut into my back. When I stood back up, blinking to focus my vision, my hands were still in my pockets. Who keeps their hand in their pockets in a fight? There were five or six of them glaring at us in that tiny room in the empty school. “Leave him alone!” my friend shouted. He stood defiantly in the doorway, his hands clenched

in tight fists, because he didn’t know any better. I stayed against the wall. Worthless, half-hearted poster. “The fag speaks,” one of them said, a cigarette hanging out of his mouth. He was wearing the same jacket as me, he was on the basketball team with me, he was in the same English class as me, and I couldn’t even look him in the face. I stared at his shoes, untied and beat up, and didn’t even say one thing, one thing. “Let’s have some fun,” chimed in another voice. I didn’t know what to do. What does a coward know? I stayed against the wall, rubbing my arm even though it barely hurt. They surrounded my friend like birds. Blood rushed through my ears and I saw blood on the ground. My friend, my best friend, who rode bikes with me in second grade, built a treehouse with me, let me copy his math homework, lived down the street, read all the time, trusted me, wanted to be a writer, who liked another boy at school, was broken on the tiled locker room floor. And the five or six ran away. They were cowards too. I peeled myself from the wall and I didn’t know what to do. Inside my pockets, my hands clenched. “I’m sorry.” I blinked and noticed my eyes were wet. “I’m sorry.” That’s what cowards say. And I am a coward, so what else could I say? I didn’t know any better.

“I didn’t know what to do. What does a coward know.”


Emily Holtzman | To Each Their Own Destruction | 8x10 | Mixed Media

Blue Review Vol. XXIII

A Monstrous Fog Moon Cheong


Juliana Vorhoff | Pensive | Photography


wonder if your world was as dark as you led it on to be. Did they try to cage you up? Put you behind raw wooden planks, the burnt streaks and untainted color masking your voice? Or were you looking instead, at the light as it glints on the acetate, patches distorting the image, never still. Always moving, always changing the picture without even having to reach out. And what if at night, when the darkness seeps in through the windows, the white frame illuminated, the wooden planks a mere memory encapsulated in pitch black. Can you see yourself in the looking glass? The green grass? The brick walls? Do you feel the splinters dig into your skin as you try to climb out of the rectangular openings boxing you in? And what do you find when you’ve finally stepped through? Ash covers the ground where you’ve placed your foot. Nothing but ash and empty space. I must have stumbled into some sort of nightmare if the corners of this vision are melting away. A rough outline, a smeared canvas. I’ve always known the paths I must take. Parallel and perpendicular paths. I keep laying down new wood, building upon the foundation that has been covered in rust. Do I dare place down a piece diagonally? One thing is for certain, the building continues to rise, layer upon layer, despite the monstrous fog eating away at rotten wood. I see the seed you dropped in the corner. It won’t grow in a dark place like this. It will suffocate and dry out before it has even gotten the chance to wither. It will never see the rays of the sun or grow between the cracks in the wood. Instead, it will lay in the ash, forgotten by the passerby. But do not worry, we will take it out of its place, out of its hiding, away from this haunted house, through the looking glass and onto the grass. There, it can make its roots, dig into the lives around it and cement itself. It will sprout, eventually poking its leaves through cracks in the brickwork. It will live. But only if our grass does not burn to ash and our spaces are not boarded up behind planks of wood.

Blue Review Vol. XXIII

Mallory Evans | Gia the Forest Girl | 26x27 | Charcoal 48




ary jumped as her foot crunched a pile of leaves. She turned around and only saw tall, thin trees. The forest had swallowed her little, eight-year-old self. She continued deeper into the woods in search of her friend. Her dad’s tuxedo jacket dragged along the autumn ground as she held it loosely in her hands. She balanced a red baseball cap and pearl necklace on top. Finally, she found him, her scarecrow, nailed to the soft earth, unfazed by the gentle wind. The girl slipped the jacket onto its arms, draped the necklace around its neck and put the cap over its cloth head. Beautiful. Proud of her fashionable creation, Mary hastily ran out of the woods to get her parents. She wanted to show them. Maybe they could all have a tea party. When she returned to her spot in the woods with her parents, Mary fell to her knees. Sobbing. A crow was pecking the straw out of the center of the body of the scarecrow, whose black button eyes captured the moon so innocently. Mary’s parents tried to shoo the bird away, but no one dared get near the snake coiled around the scarecrow’s rotting wooden post, eating pearl after pearl off the necklace string as if they were a small mice.

Jasmine Leahy Blue Review Vol. XXIII

Trying to Leave I’m bored Scrolling through suggested videos “Finding a Reason to Stay” I click Everything is in meticulous order Letters lined up straight on the table Mom, Dad, Brother Black suit, pressed to perfection Dressed for his own funeral Ready to go, no reason to stay The world around him cold, closed, black As the skin that defines him Rope snaking from the ceiling Taking things into his own hands Is better than leaving it up to some man in blue He pulls up a chair Around his neck Ready to go, no reason to stay Don’t do it, I think 50

He steps off My eyes snap shut He and the thin rope crash Ceiling to floor His attempt a failure He gets up His sadness is my relief Maybe he’ll try again tomorrow

A Second Try I’m still watching Staring through my screen, hypnotized It’s tomorrow He’s better prepared this time The menacing coil hangs from the ceiling Thicker, stronger than the one before Perfect order, not a speck of dust left behind Ready to go, no reason to stay No suit this time Just a blue button down Neat and clean

Michelle Charles




Like everything needs to be Like he’s been told he needs to be He climbs onto the chair again Rope around neck again Find patience! Die not! Wordsworth’s words, but they fail To soothe the pain Of a life lived in oppression Ready to go, no reason to stay But he feels his phone vibrate in his pocket Looks at the screen From Megan: “Wanna hang?” He chuckles at the irony I don’t know what to feel One reason to stay He steps off the chair To stop with his plans? Or to follow through? A black screen I guess it’s up to me

Blue Review Vol. XXIII

Hayes Woollen | Skull Face | Photography

Jack Fernandez | Setting Sun | Photography

window seat Sophie Madjarova


sun drips through grass, trapped in an amber dream-soaked slowness, trees weave light to flutter easy by the breeze, while sudsy by the car, dog-barks-hose-replieswith smile pressure too high for streak-free shine; colored dresses are unleashed but drag behind pony-pig-tailed fiends who grapple for worms and frogs till charcoal brings back the hunger of a whole neighborhood: bellies full, metal chinks, distant wind chimes in, “table full.� Beyond bedroom-watching lies a selective bliss.

Blue Review Vol. XXIII

Mattison MattisonShreero Shreero


n earthing the truth :

The Trials of an Assassin


Morgan Mathews | Twisted | 16x21.5 | Graphite


aeria was the name she selected all those years ago on the day of the naming ceremony. At precisely midnight on her thirteenth birthday, Taeria announced the name she had chosen for herself to no one in particular. There was not a soul in sight, just the soft whisper of the trees to keep her company. She liked the name. At first it was foreign, but as time progressed Taeria came to embody that which her name symbolized. It was not too bleak, not too common, not too strange, and contained just the right combination of letters to add an air of mystery as others came to know her, or to not. Naturally, not enough mystery to immediately alert them of something unusual. Her identity, and what came with it, must remain both safe and secure for the time being. ... Taeria knew she was sprawled out upon the washed-up pebbles next to Lake Itern before she knew she was awake. She took a shallow breath and carefully calculated her surroundings before opening her eyes to the midday sun already beating sweat down her cloaked back. Gods, it was hot in the northernmost regions. Taeria peeled her eyelids back, submitting to the reality of her situation. She knew where she was, but not a lick of how she has come to be there—a predicament that was stunningly, shockingly, frustratingly, familiar. Worried first about the outcome of her latest mission and second about who or what may have brought her here, Taeria jumped to her feet despite her dehydration and pulled her last, and favorite, dagger from a secure pocket she had sewn into her shirtsleeve. Honestly, she was surprised he didn’t find this one; it wasn’t that well concealed. It was, however, an amazingly gorgeous dagger, capable of inflicting serious pain as well as looking fabulous with its gold embroidered hilt reflecting the poignant sunlight. A quick and calculative three-sixty spin revealed no immediate threats, and after a deeper look at her surroundings Taeria came to the inescapable truth. There was no one and absolutely no signs of life anywhere near by. This could mean one

of two things: 1. She had been brought out here and left to rot, or 2. She had brought herself here without recollection of the event. She prayed to every god she could think of that it was option 1 and not 2, but she knew that wasn’t the case. Taeria drudged along, step after painful step, until she found some well-needed shade and water under a nearby tree. The shade provided a chance to evaluate her numerous wounds and the water a moment to escape the dehydration threatening to permeate her barely-lucid mind. All she could recall was leaving her home this morning and setting out only to wake up here, unsure of what had happened. Her wounds included a couple of bruises here and there, a shallow cut across her shoulder, and a possible sprained wrist. As the injuries were minor, Taeria let some well-needed sleep overcome her, hoping to regain a fraction of her energy before dealing with what she knew was yet to come. Minutes or hours later, she awoke to the sound of nothing. There was no sound besides the wind and no movement or signs of life at all. She had yet to see so much as a bird since she awoke deserted on the lakeshore. Taeria abruptly turned and impulsively slammed her uninjured fist into the trunk of the shade tree. As she fell to the ground with a sigh of defeat she let one first word escape her mouth, only to be followed by many more. “Damn…” she muttered, and not just because a trail of blood was beginning to form its way down the path provided by her blistering knuckles. She groaned and slowly rose to her feet. “I see you’ve found a new playground to throw your toys in,” she said, her voice rising to a disgusted yell. “Just because I’ve got the first maze memorized certainly does not change the logic of the thing.” Brilliant, just what I need. Adrian warned me long ago that this mission would take a turn for the worse, but of course I never do listen, do I? I’ve just got to prove myself, over and over and over. Taeria picked up her dagger she had Blue Review Vol. XXIII

thrown to the ground in frustration and began her trudge along no path in particular. Her direction didn’t matter. She knew how this game worked and was not about to suffer any fools again, especially those who insisted on messing with her life. ... Almost exactly three years prior to that day, Taeria had experienced something similar —awaking in a foreign terrain, nothing and no one in sight. The first thing she noticed after she had assessed her surroundings was a crude note crumpled in her pocket: “Find your way out and maybe I’ll leave you alone. V.”

reached the ears of the region’s king. He wasted no time in discretely hiring Taeria to do the tasks he deemed not worthy of doing himself; in other words, his “dirty work.” Her first missions proved successful and though she despised the king with every fiber of her being, the threat of being killed or tortured at the mercy of the kingdom was all but appealing to her. So instead she slowly gained the king’s trust, waiting patiently for the day he would release her. However, her hopes immediately vanished when he put her to the ultimate test: she was to kill Vespasian. Vespasian. A name known to every mortal in the kingdom and one that often elicited the

Of course she knew who it was from; it doesn’t take a detective to solve that one. … Even at a very young age Taeria was talented in ways that the other kids weren’t. She was, and still is, agile, light on her feet, capable of leaving no trace of her presence, and wickedly fast with a dagger and any other weapon you could think of. These qualities soon attracted the attention of one of the most notorious assassins of their city, Adrian Grynn. Under his guidance and brutal training, Taeria was formed into the human weapon she is today and became a name feared by many and revered by others. Now she’s known as the “PA” of the city, the Personal Assassin, not the Personal Assistant. Soon, very soon, news of her

occasional whisper. Something beyond human, someone not quite human, someone with powers that most others feared, someone pompous enough to name himself after a Roman emperor for gods’ sake, and someone she knew could easily become the cause of her downfall. But Taeria knew that if she could locate him, she could also be the end of him. … And that’s how she ended up awakening, not once, but twice, without recollection of how she got there. It was all because of Vespasian and his “powers.” Taeria had deduced at this point that he was able to invoke some sort of memory loss; only the gods know what else he can do. As it turned out, he was capable of much, much more.


But he knew she was after him, and he was certainly prepared to evade her until the end of his life; he never was one for confrontation. The first time Taeria discovered that he had placed her in what seemed like an “invisible maze” of his own construction. She stumbled around for days, weeks, unable to escape, slowly going crazy. Taeria only found her way out by chance, but in the process she had nearly memorized his insufferable little “maze.” So when she found herself in yet another maze, she prayed it was like the last one, but of course he was smarter than that. She began what she knew could be her last mission.

her hands into. As a last ditch effort, she pushed aside as much dirt as she could, uncovering the skin-like material beneath. With a soft recognition and a whispered conclusion she vigorously stabbed the earth below her with the last dagger she had guarded so cautiously, somehow knowing that her final mission was now complete as golden-red blood gushed and bubbled up around the ground’s open wound, and carefully hoping her time was not yet up. Now that is a better way to end this godsforsaken mission. Vespasian’s powers proved fatal to him in the end. Inducing memory loss, shape-

Familiar. ... Much later, Taeria was on her last string both of patience and of life. Abruptly she fell to her knees, bringing her life’s struggles and sorrows with her. She dug her hands into the cool soil below her to root herself to something, anything, and let one small sob escape her. This is my end. The most notorious of the assassins, doomed to die because of dehydration, can’t even manage to escape a simple maze. Gods what an end, remembered for one failure, not for any of the victories. Maybe it was the thirst, maybe the hunger, maybe she was hallucinating, but Taeria felt a soft surface under the dirt she had dug

shifting, and invisibility all helped him become the villain he was, but they came with a cost—a single wound to his skin, and he was dead. And this, and only this, is the reason that he was so evasive and the reason that Taeria’s simple stab led to his death.

Blue Review Vol. XXIII

P ersephone

Riley Singer

Moon Cheong | Orchids | 15x8 | Charcoal 58


here do you sleep, Persephone. From the earth you rise,

Alone. Nobody speaks about it; We have forgotten that the seasons Did not used to change. I want to remember What it was like Before the days grew shorter. Did you cut your hair Under the earth In spite of your mother. And you drank What you weren’t supposed to, And you starved yourself For weeks. Did you know, The earth grew colder Mourning dear Persephone. I can feel you, Moving deeply. I can hear you In the sound Of the darkness falling softly Upon my skin, avenging sleep. When the torches flare, I shudder; As you’re dragged down from the meadow I watch your crimson fingers linger Furrowing the sky of Demeter. And when you leave, My body suffers. Pomegranate seeds divine. For the caverns of the earth Become the hollows of my mind.

"For the caverns of the earth became the hollows of my mind"

Alone I pace upon my ruins. Your mouth is filling with the flames. For I’m at the mercy of your weather, While you do sleep, Persephone. Your mother thinks you writhe in ruin, But I taste you in the nectar That sears like fire going down. Your mother weeps But you can’t hear her Where you sleep below the graves. Do you know how long they toiled To wrench you from the maws of hell Until the gods and all their fathers Forgot who in the shadows dwell. Upon leaving I will meet you Regardless of the seasons’ change. Upon leaving I will find you, My deeper self; Persephone.

Blue Review Vol. XXIII



Michael Yang | Secrets | Photography 60

The first time I saw her was just outside this umbrella shop. I mean, it was the first time I saw her again. I already knew who she was, I just didn’t know I knew it. It’s complicated. I promise I’ll explain, this is just the best place for me to start. Anyway, I came out of this umbrella shop. It was a pretty disappointing place, to be honest. They didn’t even have any good umbrellas. Some of them were huge and the others were definitely too small for any normal person. It was a little cloudy, but not enough to worry me that it might rain, so I felt like taking a walk. And then I looked across the street and saw her, standing and looking into a candy shop. But she wasn’t looking into the shop. It looked like this kid was looking at the reflection in the glass at me. Naturally, I thought that was kind of freaky. I mean, anyone would think that’s kind of freaky. Plus, I was pretty stressed out. I’d gotten fired from my third job in three months that morning, and now I had to figure out some way to pay for rent and groceries and electricity and water and Internet and get a new job and somehow keep myself moving through it all. Too much to think about. So I went umbrella shopping. That’s something I’ve always done done. Ever since I was a kid. Whenever I get really stressed out, for some reason I go umbrella shopping. I don’t think I’ve ever actually bought an umbrella, I just like looking at them. I never really like any of the umbrellas. As I said, they’re never the right size. So back to this kid. I was having this horrible day and all, and now I see this freaky little girl staring at me in the reflection of a candy shop window. I tried to ignore her and just walk away, but she kept walking with me. And she kept staring at the glass, staring at me. And what’s weird is, no one else seemed to notice her. She looked weird, too. She had really disheveled, short black hair, and I could tell even from across the street that she had blue eyes. Really blue eyes. The kind of blue that cuts right into you. She had these ratty sandals on, weird blue leggings, and, get this, she had on a Pokémon T-shirt. And not the new games or the new anime, but the 90s version. It had a picture of the really old Ash and everything. This girl looked like she’d teleported from the 90s. And she looked really familiar, but obviously I didn’t know why then. I know now. I’ll explain in a bit. So I kept trying to run from her and she kept following me until we ended up at this park. I hadn’t been to this park in ages, since I was little. I can’t even remember the last time I went to that park, that’s how long it’d been. Anyway, we were both in the park now, so I figured I could talk to

this mysterious girl. Maybe find out who she was. The see-saw was the only empty part, so I went over to it and sat down. She walked over, hesitated for a while, and sat down. What’s really freaky was she never broke eye contact with me the entire time. Not even once. And when she sat down on the see-saw, it didn’t even move. I looked around to see if anyone else noticed this kid had not even moved the see-saw when she sat down, but the park was empty now. Weird. And now it was cloudy. Like, really cloudy. Rainstorm cloudy, and I did not even have an umbrella. I remember really wishing I had bought that umbrella. There was a really nice white one with red polka dots. It was a little small, but it would have been better than nothing in this rain. I realized I had stood at some point, thinking about the rain and the umbrella. I looked at the girl and she was gone, which was weird. I had not seen her get up. But I guess I was too busy thinking about everything else that I had not noticed her leave. I could sort of smell her, too. It was pretty faint, but I could tell it was sort of metallic. And then something really weird happened. I am still not sure what it was, but I will just write it down here and let you figure it out. I was suddenly myself, but at 10-years-old. And guess who was with me? Yeah, that weird girl. I knew she seemed familiar, but for some reason, I couldn’t remember this stuff. We were in that same park, making sand castles. Except these were really big sand castles. I remember why we were making them. There’s this museum on historical tombs just down the road from the park. Sounds boring, I know, but it’s actually kind of cool. There’s a lot of stuff in there on the Taj Mahal, and the pyramids and stuff. So we imagined we were making really nice tombs for everyone we knew: our parents, our friends, neighbors, you know. We were kids. Now that I think about it, it was actually kind of dark. Anyway, these huge sand castles were like our height when we were done. We’d dig a giant hole first with these shovels we’d borrowed from her family, then we’d fill everything in except this ring around the edge, and then we’d build a giant castle in the center with the sand. And if we needed more sand we just brought it from around the park. It’s a good thing it was pouring rain because we’d definitely have gotten yelled at if anyone else had been there. And when we finished the giant sand castles, that memory just cut off. I still couldn’t remember her name. I went back home. It was pouring rain and I was feeling pretty worn out. My arms were really tired for some reason, like I’d just lifted something really heavy. I fell asleep as soon as I got back to my apartment. Blue Review Vol. XXIII

shunning the chemistry Charlotte Kohn


hile my nose is warm It is not on fire Yet my eyes race to put it out To cancel out the cool rushing feeling The backs of cheeks Warm up underneath And spread up to my ears Defense mechanisms react Big and small Overlapping in an uncontrollable nuclear fission Protecting what it has become In the name of chemistry

Alchemy would be easier than the Attemptable explanation for the Confusing internalization. Meager moments open to interpretation Leave you susceptible to oral deconsecration Of all that you have worked up to accustomation. Your plans simply fall through And hit the floor below the belt Of your pride, now shrinking from the ceiling So now your nose is warm and running Far away from the rejections of your feelings To escape the dreadful chemistry You spent so long creating 62

And now you’re debating simply forgetting all your education To move on to something less of a situation For your pride and your heart To go on and on without affliction or affection. So to go now and shun chemistry Is all that’s left for us to win the positivity Of an always shifting social anarchy With or without the defense of our ability to flash freeze it with CO2(s)

So now with good vibrations let’s follow a wave away from chemistry’s limitations.

Ethan Zhang | Ophelia | 18x24 | Oil Paint Blue Review Vol. XXIII



Margaux Pollan

Mallory Evans | Clotho | 8x5x2 | Clay

ou’re still watching me. I round another corner, shooting glances over my shoulder as I move my feet, one in front of the other. The squeaks of my now dirt-colored, formerly white Chuck Taylor’s bounce off the spotless marble walls, the sound echoing under the thirty-foot high ceilings, reminding me that I am alone. I slow to a stop in yet another dimly lit and unfamiliar exhibit, goosebumps rising up my spine as a sudden chill rushes past my body. Where am I? Golden masks stare at me from behind foot-thick cases of glass, eyes glinting with the memories of the mummified faces they used to shield from evil. My own memory flashes back to seventh grade history class as I vaguely recall why the ancient Egyptians entombed their kings with cases of precious personal belongings and piles of valuable metals. In the afterworld, wealth meant safe passage. Safe passage. Safety. The unmistakable echo of your footsteps reaches my ears, and I whip my head towards the sound, my chocolate brown streaks of hair falling out of my haphazard bun, bringing me back to the the real world. I wrap my arms around my torso, closing my eyes as an inappropriately maniacal giggle escapes my lips. It’s just my luck that I would wind up in the only empty exhibit, in the most visited museum in France, by myself. Except for you. ... “Maria, you realize the French don’t eat croissants every day, right?” I unwrap my fourth croissant of the morning, peeling away the white complimentary buffet napkin from the buttery surface as I free it from the confines of the bottom corner of my barely-held-together black purse, not having moved since being shoved there after breakfast. I gaze at the delicious combination of butter and chocolate before I pop it whole into my mouth. “Woll, I’m noht Frunch em I?” I respond playfully around bites of croissant. 64

My mother rolls her eyes at me as we shuffle our way down the stairs of the museum entrance. The overwhelming odor of cramped bodies suffocates my senses as the June sun pounds over hundreds of tourists, beating down with a magnified white heat as a result of the glass panels of the famous Louvre pyramid hanging above us. I take a deep breath, fan myself with my museum brochure, and resort to people watching. People from all around the world cram into this room. I catch glimpses of selfie sticks in the hands of people from Asia, DSLR cameras glued to the hands of white, middle-aged men being pulled along by their wives, and nothing in the hands of the college students, their backwards facing backpacks carrying everything their hands can’t. Everyone is excited, everyone is agitated, everyone is sweaty and sticky and in a rush to check this attraction off their list so they can move on. Everyone except for you. Your hands are empty. You don’t carry a backpack. Your stare is fixed, and it is fixed on me. You are just a man, around forty with no hair and sporting a fanny pack. You wear an off-brand polo shirt, Reeboks, and faded blue jeans; they are too long for you. Everything about you makes my eyes want to skip over you, not pay attention, find something more interesting. Everything except for one thing: your eyes. I will remember being at a loss for words when the museum police ask me what color they were in a few hours. They are beautiful, deeper than royal, more intense than ocean, and brighter than a clear sky all at once. Your gaze makes me feel safe, warm. Like nothing could ever go wrong. I cock my head. You do not look away. I have not liked blue eyes since. ... One foot in front of the other in front of the other. Your heavy footsteps shock me back into motion. They pound against the marble at a steady pace, with no intent to speed up or slow down, I hear your arrogant certainty that they will lead you

back to me every time your foot returns to shake the ground. My own feet fly as I sprint out of the darkness of Egypt, leaving the glinting golden masks behind with a nostalgia, the source of which I still cannot place. The twists and turns that plagued me my first hour in the museum disappear as I surge forward, away from Egypt, away from you. I catch a glimpse of red and propel myself toward the bright SORTIE sign hanging tantalizingly above the ten-foot doors of the museum’s main exit. They burst open with the force of a thousand fourteen-year-old girls instead of only one, and I am outside and I am free. Deep breaths overcome my body as a I raise my hand in front of my eyes, shielding them from the unforgiving sun. “Meet me at the gift shop in a couple hours okay?” My mother’s voice surfaces in my mind as I remember the deal we made in the museum lobby. And so my Chucks move again, scraping across the pavement outside the gift shop, a separate, free-standing building apart from the museum. I find my way inside, my body collapsing with relief and exhaustion onto an empty indoor bench next to the cash register. The gift shop bell rings, yet another tourist coming in to buy a poster of the Mona Lisa. I do not lift my head. The tourist drops down next to me, the bench groaning under his weight. A gravelly “salut” leaves his mouth, a smile crosses his lips, and a hand constricts around my right arm. A gust of icy peppermint breath lingers in front of my nostrils; what a fitting flavor of gum you chew, considering the color of your eyes. They didn’t catch you that day. I wish I could say that I fought my way out of your grasp, that I teared and scratched and became the hero of the story. Instead, the arrival of an elderly woman yelling to the police guards ended up being the action that sent you running. They didn’t catch you, but you are not free. You will always be trapped in my nightmares.


Blue Review Vol. XXIII


ife during Wartime. Boys and girls scatter as rubble falls down. It’s an over-wrought power ballad, We may be infinite but this world is not. Post-war, you can find me caressing the ruins and thinking of Lucretius. Is life not just one long struggle in the dark? I have become a myth, the war gave me a fever that took me to the root of the world. I have walked this road once before Militarized and industrial, love in battle, the endless dance of man and machine. I have seen the attack come, bodies torn asunder by clouds of thermite and napalm. What can sending a kid to war really do? Because just a few mothers’ sons will never really be enough. Not until half of our names are etched out in a wall, and the other half ruined from the things we saw. So all hail the corporatocracy. The word of God written in binary. We’ve lost the right to be a democracy. Free souls ground to dust in the government refinery.

Blue Review Vol. XXIII




DECEMBER Sparkling lights lined the banister and wrapped around the tree. The air was sweet with the smell of cookies, and holiday candles burned on the mantel. Below, a fire lazily crackled in the logs. My family mingled and laughed as a Christmas jingle played softly in the background. I ran around with my cousins, darting between the legs of grandparents and aunts and uncles, counting down the hours until Santa came. And then the room is empty. It’s raining outside, patting gently on the window, and only red embers are left in the fireplace. A shiver wraps around my skin. The lights on the tree are dim and the only source of light in the darkened living room. A floorboard creaks under my sock. And the family photos on the wall are shadowed, and the silence is heavy, but I don’t mind the dark, and I don’t mind the quiet; I would rather live in a cold reality than a dreamworld. Under the tree, a toy train whistled on an electric track. It darted through the stacks of gifts, curving around the trunk of the tree, colorful cargo boxes trailing behind it. My cousins and I sat beside the tracks in our new Christmas pajamas, soft and festive, watching the train’s wheels spin. My brother yawned and a great-uncle noticed. “Santa will be here soon,” he said. He had a red-and-white striped coffee mug in his hand. Wrinkles that creased his face multiplied when he smiled widely, and glasses sat on the edge of his nose. My cousins and 68

emma gerden

I ran to the window, trying to find a red glow in the night sky above the darkened silhouettes of pine trees. And sitting in the living room, I wonder what happened to the train. There’s a point in my brain where I just don’t remember it anymore. Maybe it’s another forgotten toy, collecting dust in the attic. A rumble of thunder pulls my thoughts away, and I wrap a blanket around my shoulders. Briefly, I miss my family, but being alone is not so bad, and I glance at the fireplace. I glanced at the fireplace when a warm hand touched my back. “Time for bed,” the voice said softly, and I looked into the young and smiling face of my mother. Family members started to trickle out the door, Tupperware boxes of leftover cookies in their hands, but not my cousins, since we always spent Christmas Eve together. We went into the bedroom and my mother turned off the light. But as we heard her footsteps walk away we vowed not to fall asleep, because we were young and sneaky and innocent. And we nestled up against each other in our matching pajamas in front of the window, our wide eyes searching the sky, whispering excitedly about the next morning. I hear my mother’s steady breathing as I go to my room. I get into bed and pull up the comforter, squinting at the window. An airplane blinks as it passes on the horizon. There is no Santa. There is no Rudolph. But that’s not a bad thing, and I’m not sad; reality is cold and hard and refreshing.

Sarah Watson | Fruit Salad | 26x24 | Acrylic

There’s a point in my brain where I don’t just remember it anymore. Blue Review Vol. XXIII

Sunflower in the Wake


Nell Downey

Bela Marcus | Water Cave | Photography 70

St. Bernard In the heart of the city The streets are a gray slick Glinting with oil, rainbows in the rubble. Ninth Ward Miles of blacktop, Shimmering with waves of heat quenched by the storm Dissected by power lines. Streets strewn with remnants, plastic bags A teddy bear, grandmother’s watch A book of poetry. Katrina has passed. Dawn unspools, its silken threads falling. Sunflowers rise from the concrete. Soraya Velvet queen Golden crowns bristling brightly Anointed by the dawn’s dew. Blake’s Salvation. Unflinchingly, they face the sun. They remember. Do you?

Blue Review Vol. XXIII


ustering her courage, she entered a gloomy house. Down an unsteady staircase she went. It squeaked and creaked and quivered. Discovering a table of potions and a mysterious list of magical recipes she experimented, watching in awe as a deep fog descended upon her kingdom. Rainbows, hail, and cats and dogs plummeted from the sky outside the window. With newly awakened powers, Scarlet realized she controlled the weather.





Blue Review Vol. XXIII

Penelope drifted through the crowded high school hallway quiet and invisible since she preferred to remain unseen, like a faint ghost floating and transparent. Ordinary and introspective, she imagined these words branded across her too big forehead, yet at the moment she set aside her peers’ assumptions for Penelope concealed a precious secret. While other students in the hallway obnoxiously bragged about their reckless antics the previous weekend, Penelope gazed at the speckled tile and slipped past the other students towards the exit, a haven hidden from vicious gossips and insecure bullies. A perk of being barely noticed even by teachers, Penelope spent the majority of her time during school hours in a secret refuge behind the school.


Mallory Evans

Hannah Barnes | Barren | Photography 74

With her face shielded by a curtain of copper hair, Penelope reached the aged oak tree on the outskirts of Jefferson High. She laid down her treasured books with titles that danced across the covers and leaned her head back against the comforting, steady trunk. Like an amicable nymph the tree staidly caressed her in times of turmoil and desperate surrender. Penelope’s eyes lazily closed as the tree’s shadow protected her small frame. She allowed her thoughts to drift, for often Penelope resided inside the confines of her mind. Besides the school’s counselor and her worried, erratic parents, Penelope rarely entered conversations, and she grew tired of the conversations that centered on her meek demeanor. Instead, Penelope escaped the mundane waters of adolescence and emerged into a vast ocean of adventure and mystery. She found solace and freedom in novels. While renowned adventurers journeyed through foreign lands in search of ancient artifacts, Penelope surged alongside them fighting off obstacles with ease. If only she could stifle the snakes of ruthless teenage girls like Perseus conquers the hissing Medusa, Penelope’s stories would improve her reality. Day after day she devoured words and pages, yet Penelope never tried taming the storm of adolescence that whipped its fierce tendrils in the form of unforgiving teachers and scalding rumors. She slowly closed the book resting in her hands and stood up. Calling upon the strength of Hercules and the spirit of the Muses, Penelope raised her head high and marched towards the school.

Blue Review Vol. XXIII


Molly Green | Zebra | 33.5x33.5 | Acrylic




Prologue he ancient, wooden door labeled “Apartment B” creaks open, and a potent scent of powdery cat litter, ammonia, and rancid tuna assaults the visitor. Beware–you are about to enter the lair of the infamous Cat Lady. She squints as the late afternoon light reaches her weary eyes. A threadbare bathrobe sags over her wiry frame, stained house shoes scuff the floor, and a chubby calico lounges across her shoulders. Kittens mew from the wells of her pockets. Who deserves more pity–the tubby cats butting against her stubbly legs or the woman herself, who has, by society’s standards, “let herself go?” Originally, the term Cat Lady denoted a middle-aged single woman who acted peculiarly. Over time, the phrase became a slang moniker for a never-married older woman. At present, the phrase signifies a lady set apart from society by virtue of her single status, without psychological overlay. As a matter of fact, the label no longer necessarily involves owning a cat. For every out-of-control Cat Lady, we label many more as such. The fact that a woman remains single certainly does not mean that she is unhinged or undesirable. *** A history of related terms provides a context in which to examine the sobriquet “Cat Lady”. The word Spinster originated in the 14th century. At first, Spinster referred to a lady who spun wool. In the Middle Ages, a single woman had few options by way of supporting herself, and spinning provided one such opportunity for employment. Over time, Spinster took on another meaning, namely a single woman past marriageable age. A later term, Old Maid, originated in the 18th century and described a woman past twenty-one who remained unwed. Failure to marry by this age created the assumption that she would never marry. Children still play the Victorian card game Old Maid, which rewards players for discarding cards in tidy pairs. Play ends when all cards have been matched, leaving the loser clutching a single, unmatchable card– the Old Maid. The game portrays unmarried women as terminally flawed. For example, the Old Maid card typically depicts an ugly, gray haired, angry woman wearing glasses. Beyond the physical illustrations of the Old Maid card, the term also suggests the inability or unwillingness to conform to social norms. Regardless of her character or other laudable qualities, society deems her a “loser”. An unjustified disparity exists between the terms “Bachelor” and “Old Maid.” Social conventions deem it

Gracie Matthews

acceptable for a man to remain single by choice. The word “Bachelor” elicits an image of a well-dressed, virile man, reminiscent of Henry Higgins or James Bond. Tall, dark, and handsome, he may have any woman he pleases. Unlike the dowdy Cat Lady’s, the Bachelor’s single status creates the aura of choice, rather than a default fate. The terms Spinster, Old Maid, and Cat Lady demean women and their choices. Is a woman less valuable outside the confines of marriage? Of course not! She may be smart, uproariously funny, or kind. Perhaps she has a wonderful job or cares for elderly parents. Can one assume that women who do not marry have never been presented with the opportunity to do so? Of course not! In many ways, remaining single empowers women. Long before the modern feminist movement, the 14th century spinster could support herself successfully. In the Colonial period, single women enjoyed legal advantages. A woman could own real estate, bring lawsuits, and maintain personal property. However, once a lady married, her property rights transferred to her husband, and her legal status became that of a minor. Regardless of the benefits of remaining single, significant societal pressure to marry existed. Epilogue The ancient, wooden door labeled “Apartment B” brushes open and the rich aroma of chicken piccata, Chanel No. 5, and lemon furniture polish welcomes the visitor. You are about to enter the home of the infamous Single Woman. Her eyes brighten and a broad smile illuminates her face as she greets you. Untying an apron from around her well-tailored dress, she ushers you inside while a young tabby winds around her black Louboutin pumps. Light and welcoming with a dusting of cat fur, the coziness of the apartment makes you feel at home. On the walls, a diverse array of artwork chronicles the world-wide adventures of Single Woman. You recognize her niece and nephew draped across her couch as they watch television with a pudgy Maine coon. Soon you learn that some of her most inspiring friends–a singer, a poet, a banker, a teacher, and a neighbor–will join you for dinner. Of course, the preceding labels only begin to describe these engaging individuals. What to envy more–our friend’s professional accomplishments or the vibrant atmosphere she creates at home? This visit holds the promise of a memorable evening. Care to call her a Cat Lady? Blue Review Vol. XXIII

Moon Cheong | Cranes | 10x20 | Graphite


Moon Cheong

Do you remember, The days when we would walk down the street Hand in hand Picking up fallen leaves Do you remember, The soup Small mushrooms and toasted bread Buttoning sweaters to go outside Do you remember, All the times when I thought I wouldn’t make it Tears all over the pillows And how you helped me get out of those dark corners Of course What is bamboo without water? Thank you for being my water.

Blue Review Vol. XXIII

Breakfast of Champions

Adam Bear

Michael Yang | Toast | 12.5x9.5 | Oil Paint 80

I wake up. Plagued by a haze of hunger and drowsiness, Drained of life before the clock reaches seven. I begin the march towards an endless battle, Towards imminent death lest I ingest my antidote. And the question pounds in my head, oh this question, this question forever recurring and I never have an answer... What kind of cereal should I eat for breakfast today? Opening the cabinet I am confronted with a myriad of choices. Frost described two paths in a wood well in front of me I’ve got seven and each one tastes like a small slice of heaven, refuge in a box... Or so I think Like the lucky charms my being is just a façade, bland, boring existence masked by color and sugar Like the lucky charms my meaninglessness is disguised by a front of sweetness Like the lucky charms life is just one big fake, take away the false identity of sugars and what are you left with? Bland pieces of wheat cereal. How very granola. Look to the left of the shelf and there might be hope, I need a savior, a captain, crunchy or not O captain my captain where are you? If this is a nautical metaphor then help me I’m drowning, If this is a nautical metaphor then I’m adrift in this sea of milk, trapped at the bottom of the bowl like the last soggy fruit loop no one wants to eat. I’m craving something more, crave those crazy squares, I need to recharge and reboot so I can relive and reimagine, I’ve gone completely cuckoo for coco puffs, I feel a little bird brained, like a toucan longing to be alright Tony the Tiger is walking with me, hand in hand towards my grrrrrrave. What I’m saying is, I’m trying to determine my future through one colossal bowl of cereal What I’m saying is, my spoon will barely reach my mouth, I slip and spill, a pathetic mess, 2% milk and 98% insecurities What I’m saying is, I can’t climb out of this bowl the walls are too high to see the top, someone pull me out, reach in with that silver lifesaving device and scoop me up to safety What I’m saying is, if I don’t eat my cereal I won’t be cheery….oh Blue Review Vol. XXIII


Mattison Shreero



never-ending expanse of knowledge, secrets, lives, and improbabilities wrapped into four 90-degree angles, maps are never just maps in the eyes of those who learn to see more in their pages. A map can give you insight into different worlds (yes, more than one). Often, these worlds are possibilities of something new or something incredibly old. They are twodimensional renderings of a three-dimensional entity flowing through time and supplying life and shelter to those who

Constellation | 11x16 | Pen and Ink

inhabit it and sometimes to those who don’t. If you are able to put aside and disregard the actual city, its history, and those who live in it, any map can be much more than it appears if you take time to give it more than just the average, meandering glance. Shapes and images might appear in the negative space between. Juxtaposition between the vertical and horizontal is created. Oceans become land, and lands become oceans. A mythical sea creature spiralling, waiting in the depths, only to surface when the chains that have bound it for centuries release their hold and rust away on the ocean floor, now no more than just what they are, less than what they were before. A fictitious battle between two unknown civilizations, both ready to tear apart the known world for what they believe is right and just. The struggle of the water, and all that is locked in it, to escape its pre-designated boundaries and flow into entities beyond. Innumerable small details creating something much larger, something to be interpreted by each viewer. Occasionally, maps agree to come to life and settle under the tip of my pen as something entirely new. They provide a platform for expression, a contrast between something old and something new, an abstract notion of something much more concrete than it seems. It is only with their help that I am able to take small drops of ink, destined to be something more, and transform them into small details to take and turn into a cohesive, collaborative image that sometimes only makes complete sense in my mind. This image created is, in its simplest form, still a map, but to me it has become a variety of songs blasted through my earbuds while I sit hunched over at a table for hours on end, month and months of effort, my every wish and thought placed into a convoluted shape or detail amongst others as a way to express what I mean without really divulging what I mean. It is a story created in my mind and built with my pens. It may tell the story of the location, it may tell the story of something completely unrelated, or it may tell the story of my endeavors there or elsewhere in the past, the present, the future, or the possible. As you sit there day after day it will happen again, day after day: one moment you’re aware of your surroundings, and the next you’re enveloped in the map and the music. It’s as simple, and as complicated, as that. Blue Review Vol. XXIII



ea rsa l of a

Martha Elizabeth Watson | Reaching | 25x12 | Watercolor 84

n Sa

h p u e E m t’


Gr ac i s e Matthew They move as though through water, corresponding in a globe of sound. Both with us and completely alone together. Instruments weave around each other in a continuous line, as full and delicate as filmy lawn. This art is haunting, beautiful, sacred filling the ancient basilica from which the members of the quartet seem inextricable. Every few minutes of music, one breaks the veil to flick an unseen speck from the spotless material. When they begin again, the song is subtly changed, exposing nuance even more refined. There are no concert tuxedos or gowns. They wear the t-shirts, flip-flops, ponytails of rehearsal. This magic transcends the physical. It fingers the veil separating the mortal from the immortal, brushing against the divine in a language unknown to us who listen. But still, we listen, and in listening we hear.

Blue Review Vol. XXIII

Hannah Burlingame | Painting of Bella | 25x22 | Acrylic



A Conundrum


Hannah Barnes

y lips contort as I hold back the urge to stand up and slap the fork out of his hand. I watch as the fat from my grandfather’s steak oozes onto his plate between bites. My insides scream as the gurgling and smacking erupts from his mouth as he chews. Why can’t he shut his mouth? Why does he sound like a garbage disposal grinding trash? Why does this bother me so much? I attempt to mask the bubbling frustration as the chewing reverberates inside my brain like fingernails on a chalkboard. My mother’s eyes shift to meet mine and fire off a warning shot not to say a word. She notices my hands balling into fists and my teeth grinding trying to ignore the horrendous disturbance that is my grandfather’s chewing. I receive the occasional reprieve when he leans over to talk to my grandmother. But between the bites of steak, which hang from his lips and the corners of his mouth, I can see the entirety of his meal as he speaks and hear only the smacking and slurping echoing from his lips to the depths of my eardrums. Not only my grandfather, but all of the older men on both sides of my family carry this annoying trait. Picture my Thanksgiving dinner. Cousins, aunts, uncles, and close relatives of all ages gather around my grandmother’s oak table. Stomachs growl. Adults sip on my grandfather’s extensive wine collection and laugh. I sit in my chair as my legs swing back and forth beneath the table with steaming garlic potatoes

piled upon my plate covered in thick, brown gravy. We all bow our heads to say a prayer for all we are thankful, but secretly I am praying to be anywhere but at this table. Everyone immediately dives into the turkey on their plates and laughs as the sparkling cider passes from person to person. I sit staring at my savory, delicious turkey because all I can hear is the chomping and smacking of my uncle and grandfather at the head of the table. I know they were raised to chew with their mouths closed, so why do they chomp like savages? All chewing: loud, openmouthed, close-mouthed, crunching, gnawing, chomping, smacking, slurping, guzzling, scarfing, grinding, gulping, and munching, makes the hair on the back of my neck raise and goosebumps form on my arms and legs. My heartrate skyrockets within seconds of hearing someone loudly enjoying a meal. Concealing my disgust proves to be difficult despite my Southern etiquette upbringing; I physically cannot hide my expression of utter disdain. I accuse my relatives of poor manners during the holiday. Over the years, I’ve conditioned my family to dread meals, which in any other household are a joyous occasion. I snap at my friends in the cafeteria. Perhaps, just perhaps, it is me that is the problem. I don’t see others balling their fists enraged at Thanksgiving or in the lunchroom. Maybe I have an obsessive compulsive disorder and need medication. I sincerely hope it’s not chewable.

“Secretly, I am praying to be anywhere but at this table.”

Blue Review Vol. XXIII

Anna Covington | Post Op | 24x36 | Oil Pastel



Nell Downey


n Wednesdays we go to the graveyard Traverse iron skeletons, Wrap our arms around twisted metallic spines. We say the names until they sound like music Roadmaster Riviera, Buick Skylark, Mustang Cobra The headlights, like eyes milky with cataracts, Stare blankly into the distance. We make shadow puppets in the glancing beams of our flashlights, Sink our heads into the cracked brown leather, Put our hands on the hood, where electricity used to pulse Once hot, stilted heartbeats now rusted. We write notes to each other, stick Post-its on the dash. We talk mindlessly, About fishing hooks and butterflies and monsoons and heartbreak. Sometimes she burns sage, says it will bring us clarity. It isn’t true. But I don’t mind. We bike the half-mile back to her house. Sit on the porch, the screen door snapping shut. Dangle our bare feet, dipping electric-blue toes Into the copper-red clay. The whine of mosquitoes is our lullaby

Blue Review Vol. XXIII

Emma Mathews | Big Horn | 20x10 | Acrylic

Sports 101 veronica leahy



pproximately three months ago, my fellow MIT peers dragged me to my first football game. The whole way there, my friends teased, “What kind of college student hasn’t been to a football game before?” Now that I have had such an enriching experience, though, I must acknowledge the utility of having a fundamental understanding of the sport. Once you can play basic football, you can join a club team or simply have fun throwing the ball with your friends. Or, in my case, I can design virtual reality football games now. I feel more embedded in American culture and at the end of the day, almost everyone can extract much enjoyment from the game in one way or another. From the synthesis of all of my research, I can confidently say that it is not a complex sport. Just by observing one football game and furiously taking notes, I have determined the overarching strategies of the game. From my observations, the best football players consider pre-game rituals as sacred as the game itself. You must first consume large quantities of carbohydrates before the big game. Most often this manifests itself in the form of neon-colored Gatorade. Players may even pour this glowing liquid on their heads or on the heads of others (I struggle to find the strategical advantage of performing such acts). The carbohydrates allow the players to break the organic material into usable energy (most likely in the form of adenosine triphosphate, or ATP). Now that you have supple ATP to run metabolic processes that deliver oxygen to your body, you’re physically prepared to play. But, perhaps for spiritual or superstitious reasons, players congregate in tight circles. I’ve been informed that the youngsters of today call it “squadding up.” Nonetheless, this sweaty mound of flesh and shoulderpads sways from side-to-side, peppered with grunts somewhat akin to the behavior of an Ursus Arctos (a brown bear, for those who do not engage in the use of authentic scientific nomenclature). From a viewer perspective you may appear silly, but you should understand its essential role in the game. The big game starts. Some form of randomization, in which each team has a 0.5 chance of getting picked, decides which team starts with the ball. Twenty-two people total occupy the field of 57,600 square feet. The kickoff forms a beautiful parabola.

You should reduce the quadratic coefficient as much as possible, thus making the ball travel far. Call me crazy, but I wonder if players could more easily catch footballs deflated by one or two psi… Anyways, as the game progresses, you will most likely have possession of the ball at some point. In this case, run. Avoid the colossal, testosterone-ridden bodies attempting to fling themselves at you. Do not panic if someone assaults you during your glorious sprint down the field; this is all part of the game. In the football game that I observed, one of the players fractured his clavicle bone, I believe. You must therefore understand the potential repercussions of playing such a violent sport, and do not expect the other team’s players to spare you. Your team strives to amass more points than the opposing team. Touchdowns count for six points, thus serving as the best way to earn points. Imagine a touchdown like primary active transport in the membrane of a cell. Polar molecules cannot simply diffuse through the phospholipid bilayer of the cell, so the cell must expend great amounts of energy to pump the substance across the membrane. In our case, you cannot easily pass through the phalanx of sweaty men on the opposing team, so you must spend energy and use strategy to break through their defensive wall. Just as the cell can use the newly added molecule for specific functions, you can now use the points for the touchdown to help your team win. If you can think in terms of membrane transport, the game feels so much easier! Then, if you achieve the touchdown, someone on your team can earn an extra point through a field goal. If you have trouble finding the goal posts, they look just like diagrammed transmembrane receptors. I should also mention that most football players jig after completing a touchdown; each player’s celebratory dance differs. It’s almost as if each team has a tribal dance: some “dab” while others spread their arms out and mimic an aircraft swooping through the field. You can develop your own interpretive dance. By this point, you have a rudimentary concept of football. Maybe you use this guide at the NFL tryouts. Maybe you use this guide to construct physics problems. Maybe you use this guide because you feel like a social outcast, longing to relate to American football culture. Or, maybe you use this guide as a PE teacher, ready to give your star student an A+ on her final paper. Blue Review Vol. XXIII



Vanessa Ramirez

Saying I road tripped with my dad to California is a pretty good anecdote to present to people. I won’t tell you about the stops we made in each state, venturing into trinket stores advertised with huge, signs screaming their existence twenty miles before their appearance, or eating at the restaurants I selected by Googling the nearest places that had good reviews (or didn’t, depending on how hungry we were). I won’t tell you about how drunken strangers made us laugh and the glowing structures made us gawk in Las Vegas, or how I fell head over heels with the beaches and streets and people and atmosphere of California, a love that only falls second to the infatuation I have with New York. No, I won’t tell you about all that because as fun as the destination was, I found the journey there held a kind of experience you couldn’t get at any endpoint. The original plan was to fly down to Texas, let my dad look at a few mid-life crisis motorcycles, and then drive back up to Charlotte in a rental car to get a faux father-daughter road trip experience. However, sitting in our hotel room, bathed in the light of a San Antonio sunrise, my father grew nostalgic for the summers he spent meandering through town after town, state after state on his motorcycles in his early 20s. I awoke with a proposition presented to me with glinting eyes that said he wouldn’t take no for an answer: to drive the rest of the way to California and then back again to Charlotte. And so that’s what we did. One quick phone call to my enthusiastic mother, and we were off, barreling down Interstate 10. Aided by Maps on my iPhone, we were pioneers, taking on the expansive stretch of land the sides of the highway had to offer. Johnny Cash crooned from my father’s phone speakers as I watched as the sandy, flat terrain, peppered with only cows and windmills, turned to swooping and giant mountains, cradling small towns in their bellies. The long hours we drove were filled with stories about my father’s life that I hadn’t yet heard (and some that I had), passionate discussions about our sometimes opposing ideas of the world, and off-key renditions of every song that bloomed from my father’s phone that we at least halfknew. On all previous family vacations, we had known where we would be sleeping before even embarking on 92

the trip, but I found us driving through dusty, rundown towns in Texas with nightfall spilling itself across the horizon and no idea where we were going to rest our heads. While I was having a minor panic attack, my father was rolling his eyes and pulling into the first hotel off the highway in a city that didn’t seem to only be inhabited by 10 people and their cows and securing us a room in less than 30 minutes. From then on, as we rode through New Mexico and Arizona, I shed my anxious skin and adopted that of my father—a positive outlook that everything would work out. We rumbled through the roads, approximating the amount of miles my father could drive before nightfall and calling my mom to inform her what city we’d be staying in that night. An unstoppable force, my dad was fueled by 30 minute slumbers at rest stops, gas station delicacies, and an unrelenting go-getter attitude. We were up around 7 am every day, scarfing down a hotel breakfast before checking out and high tailing it back into I-10. It had become routine after a few days, like we had always been nomadic, hotel-hoppers and this was just our way of life. I won’t ever forget the day we finally made it to California. The night before, I had told my dad how many miles we had left, which elicited a snort and a “We can do that, easy.” I was hoisted out of bed at the ungodly hour of 4:00 a.m. before being half dragged by my father, another piece of the luggage that strung along behind us. By 6:00 a.m., we had blown a kiss to the reflective green sign welcoming us into the Golden State and pulled into the parking lot of a Whataburger. The once foreign food chain now seemed welcoming after becoming one of our go-to stops for meals, but I was hesitant when I was handed a wrapped hamburger and a cup of Coke for breakfast. “It’s acceptable because we’re on the road,” my dad laughed heartily at my conflicted expression. If I had learned one thing on the entire trip, it was that most of the time, my father knew what he was doing. I took a bite of the warm, juicy burger, melting in the flavor of beef, pickles and ketchup, followed by a generous swig of Coke that stung my insides. I could feel my body wanting to kill itself, but my taste buds were screaming that this truly was the breakfast of champions. We were on the road.

Madison Cacheris | Portrait in Green | 28x35 | Oil Pastel Blue Review Vol. XXIII

Cecile Stouse | Portrait of Gracie | 20x20 | Colored Pencil


inf inite




Sunlight penetrates the water and gleams in the distance Sand shifts slightly as the waves roll above Bubbles float to the surface in a cheerful dance Majestic sea creatures swim around the dynamic rocks

I breathe deeply, my thirsty lungs satisfied I kick cautiously, my legs as my engine I turn my head slowly, my eyes staring at a canvas of color and life I think humbly, my thoughts creating pictures in poetry The light-reflecting, finned critters invite me to their home The strange, fuzzy plants wave hello to me The serene, cozy water hugs my body The calm, peaceful silence comforts my mind I am a stranger in this new world Only known to the friend beside me All of my knowledge and experience drift away from me, Floating towards an infinity of memories

Blue Review Vol. XXIII




hich was exactly what her kingdom needed. And you know what, the job’s pretty great.

Colophon: The body text is Minion Pro. Headline fonts include Avenir Next, Trattatello, Zapfino, and Cochin. We explain the theme in the editors’ note. 500 copies are printed and distributed free of charge to the school community. The Blue Review staff has access to one iMac desktop and three MacBook Pro laptops. We are grateful for the school’s support in covering printing and other expenses associated with Blue Review. Our publisher is AlphaGraphics, Charlotte, North Carolina. We used 100# cover stock for the cover and 100# text stock for the inside pages. Blue Review was created using Adobe InDesign CC. Charlotte Latin School is a member of the following professional organizations: North Carolina Scholastic Media Association and the Columbia Scholastic Press Association. Editorial policy: Blue Review is created as an after-school activity. All 504 students in grades 9-12 are eligible to apply for the Blue Review staff. The lead editors select general staff based on their interest in the Blue Review. All student editors are appointed by the faculty adviser. The lead layout, copy, and art editors are juniors or seniors who are current staff members. Lead layout editors are responsible for every aspect of publication, including conducting staff meetings and editing sessions, selecting the theme, delegating tasks to the associate editors, etc. Working together, the lead layout editors design all layouts, so they are not credited individually on each page. The art editors are responsible for cataloguing and

photographing the artwork. The copy editors oversee the editing process and organize all print submissions. Associate copy and art editors are in grades 10-12; they assist the lead editors. Students are encouraged to submit works of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and art in all forms, and English and art teachers can recommend pieces they feel merit recognition. Submissions are blind: the students’ genders, races, names, and grade levels are not disclosed during the selection process. Pieces may be edited for grammar and/or space, but content is not censored by editors or adviser. The staff adjudicates the works based on voice, style, creativity, and literary merit. From the selected pieces, preference is given to senior work.

Across Fallen Branches 2017 Scholastic Awards Writing Awards

National Medal Award

American Voices Award

Silver Medal: Gracie Matthews

Individual Silver Key

Claire Friou

Senior Portfolios

Thomas Aucamp: Poetry Ashton Barlow: Poetry (2)* Bridget Fish: Poetry Claire Friou: Journalism Emma Gerden: Flash Fiction* & Humor Charlotte Kohn: Poetry Jasmine Leahy: Memoir Margaux Pollan: Memoir Vanessa Ramirez: Memoir* Margaret Redic: Poetry Riley Singer: Poetry* Tory Wilkison: Poetry Chris Williams: Poetry

Individual Gold Keys

Silver Key: Charlotte Kohn HM: Mattison Shreero

Best in Show Nell Downey: Poetry

Art Awards National Medal Award Silver Medal: Hayes Woollen

Senior Portfolio

Gold Key: Juliana Vorhoff

Art Pop Award

Individual Gold Keys

Ella Lavelle

Greer Campbell: Sculpture Handy Culver: Sculpture Isabel de Armas: Painting* Bridget Fish: Digital Design, Architecture & Industrial Design* Michael Giftos: Printmaking* Ella Lavelle: Digital Art Emma Mathews: Drawing & Illustration Morgan Mathews: Film & Animation Matigan Simpson: Drawing & Illustration* Hayes Wollen: Digital Art* Michael Yang: Photography* Ethan Zhang: Painting

Binder’s Award

*featured inside

Greer Campbell: Best in Category

Individual Silver Keys Hannah Burlingame: Painting* Madison Cacheris: Drawing and Illustration Bridget Fish: Photography Molly Green: Painting Ainsley Juckett: Sculpture Mattison Shreero: Drawing & Illustration* Isabelle Sumichrast: Drawing & Illustration Michael Yang: Mixed Media (2)

Hannah Barnes: Memoir* Nell Downey: Poetry (2)* Claire Friou: Critical Essay Gracie Matthews: Poetry* & Critical Essay*

Blue Review Literary and Arts Magazine  

Charlotte Latin School's Upper School Literary and Arts Magazine

Blue Review Literary and Arts Magazine  

Charlotte Latin School's Upper School Literary and Arts Magazine