Front Cover Art: “Skateboarder” by Amanda Gurene Back Cover Art: “All in a Semester’s Work” by Veronica Love
Castings Literary Journal Christian Brothers University
Thanks to the Judges: Divya Choudhary Rena Durr Scott Geis Federico Gómez-Uroz Stephen Grice Karl Leib Teri Mason Beth Nelson Maureen O’Brien Nicholas Peña Sarah Pitts Kristen Prien Jana Travis
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Karen Golightly CBU English Department Editor: Anna Swearengen
Published by: CB Printing and Solutions
Winners Fine Art 1st Place: “Silence” by Quinn Lin 2nd Place: “Candlelight” by Quinn Lin 3rd Place: “Limón” by Jayme McKeever
Photography 1st Place: “Memphis Bridge” by Shannon McDonald 2nd Place: “Guitar” by Cameron Bowman 3rd Place: “City under Our Knees” by Simon Hua
Poetry 1st Place: “Silhouette” by Jessica Ambers 2nd Place: “With a Crinkle, Crisp, Crunch of the Sheet” by Nida Pathan 3rd Place: “Today” by Angela Toomer
Prose 1st Place: The Gentle Forest by Anna Swearengen 2nd Place: Dream Logic by Thomas Swett 3rd Place: Errors by Liz Kellicut
Table of Contents “City under Our Knees” by Simon Hua…….....7 “Silhouette” by Jessica Ambers……….……….8 “Mirror” by Quinn Lin………………………….…9 “Tapping “by Anna Swearengen……………..…..10 “An Empty Morn” by Connor Robinson...……….10 “Silence” by Quinn Lin..………………..…….11 “Home” by Camille Caparas….…………………..12 “Flower” by Michelle Fair………………………..13 “Golden Touch” by Simon Hua……………....…..14 “Waterfront” by Alicia Russell….....…..…..……..15 The Gentle Forest by Anna Swearengen…........15 “Hope” by Simon Hua………………………...….18 “Candlelight” by Quinn Lin…………………..19 “Street” by Nathali Blackwell...…………………..20 “Will You Wait for Me?” by Stephanie Moll.……20 “Memphis Bridge” by Shannon McDonald..…21 Dream Logic by Thomas Sweat………………22 “Sweet Mystery” by Glynis Wilson...…………….26 “Elderfly” by Connor Robinson.……………….…26 “Limón” by Jayme McKeever……………...…27 “Flower-Studded Poet” by Anna Swearengen...….28
“Bubble” by Amanda Yates………………………28 “With a Crinkle, Crisp, Crunch of the Sheet” by Nida Pathan……...……………………….29 “Girl with Horse” by Cassie Beaver..…………….29 Error by Liz Kellicut…….…………………….30 “Tock” by Connor Robinson……………………..34 “Drizzle” by Simon Hua……………………….…35 “UnStAbLe” by Stephanie Moll………………….35 “House on a Hill” by Keara Lipscomb……..…….36 “Sands” by Michael Berry………………………..36 “Mom‟s Garden” by Brittany Jackson……………37 “Today” by Angela Toomer……………….….37 “Slender Beauty” by Jayme McKeever…………..38 “Distorted Eyes Are Dying” by Bridget Fowler.....39 “Three by Four” by Danielle Morris..……...….….39 “Schmetterling” by Connor Robinson……………40 Operation Butterfly by Amanda Yates..………….40 “Saying and Doing” by Simon Hua…….…….…..46 “Colored Thread” by Anna Swearengen……….....46 “Portrait of a Duck” by Connor Robinson………..47 “Earphones” by Camille Caparas...……………….48 “Sea Inside” by Anna Swearengen…………….…48 “Guitar” by Cameron Bowman……………….49 “Succession” by Travis Whiteside..………………50
“No Fairytale” by Keara Lipscomb…..…………..50 Breadsticks by Thomas Sweat……………………51 “Earnestine and Hazels” by Lauren Pintar………..53 “Little Blue Surprise” by Free McCay.……….…..54 “Cow” by Michael Berry…………………………55 “Awaited Voyage” by Zaniesha Davis..………….55 “Clock Tower” by Brittany Jackson..………….....56 Pool Party by Thomas Swett…………………….57 “After the Rain” by Sarah Longoria...……...…….61 “Old Man” by Michelle Fair……..……………….61 “Woodpecker” by Nathali Blackwell………….….62 “Wedding Limbo” by Nida Pathan.………………62 “Portrait of a Girl” by Quinn Lin…………………63
“Fence of Dreams” by Jayme McKeever
Third Place: “City under Our Knees” by Simon Hua
First Place: “Silhouette” by Jessica Ambers Our lives are like a movie And, as I replay scenes of you, You materialize as a figure on a screen, Light shining over the memories, Casting a shadow on what‟s left, A silhouette Standing tall in a fisherman‟s hat, A single hand holding your pipe. I remember The buttery aroma of eggs and toast Pulling me from the warm comforter, Pitter-patter upon cool tile flooring. The kitchen I could stride in ten steps, Filling with laughter and learning, Knowing to thank you when Santa brought that Easy Bake Oven. Growing green beans and blackberries, Rows and rows of red, ripe tomatoes, Skin browned by afternoon sunshine, Staying outdoors all afternoon Plowing and planting in the garden. You taught me to sing to the plants because, Like me, they would grow up big and strong, And a little encouragement never hurt anything. The man-like maple tree Growing sturdy in the backyard With a single hole in the heart of it, Protection for squirrels and bunny rabbits, Not just the grown up ones, but the babies too. You would swing me high up To play between the brawny arms,
A “y” that formed a perfect seat. The faded, stained tie in my closet Still permeated with your special scent: A cologne of tobacco. In time, that movie in my mind Rarely reels of memories. But even today, When a breeze blows that fragrance, Your silhouette stands next to me.
“Mirror” by Quinn Lin
“Tapping” by Anna Swearengen My feet lie bare unto my mother. Soil smothers the soft white skin, Walking the tap, tap, tapping, Rapping on her door, Begging to enter, Beseeching to return To the womb of rooted richness— My white clay melting Into red, yellow, brown, black, A smack of oneness, A final, peaceful Death. “An Empty Morn” by Connor Robinson
First Place: “Silence” by Quinn Lin
“Home” by Camille Caparas Love them. Two soft brown hands care for twelve with planned precision they wash, weed, warn watch six buds bloom despite (to spite) the thorns. Tell them. Two tired brown hands gesture to twelve tiny puzzled eyes “Your daddy is far away now” (in the land of whites a better place) “but he‟s doing it for us.” Hold them. Two strong hands explain to her who is feeling her mother‟s hurt, “I cannot take the pain away,” (though I want to for your sake) “but I am still here for you.” Remember them. Two wrinkled brown hands— the lines that have seen and trace back to hills of missed birthday parties to jungles of “When is he coming home?” to mountains of lonely nights to rivers of infidelity that have flown underground raging and unseen for so long— leathery, capable, scarred grown in the wilderness of domesticity. Forgive them. Two aching brown hands hold no one now; empty as this house
“When are you coming home?” (where coconuts fall from killing heights) “I miss you.” Love them. Two brown hands care for twelve. “When are you coming home?” Twelve eyes look back say “Soon,” but continue to live in the land of whites while two brown hands hold only each other.
“Flower” by Michelle Fair
“Golden Touch” by Simon Hua
“Waterfront” by Alicia Russell
First Place: The Gentle Forest by Anna Swearengen Have you ever stood at the highest vantage point in a place where the green goes on and on— from beneath your feet out to the very saw-blade edge of the blue sky? Cloudless, so the indelible green is a book fold to the indelible blue and both book pages envelop you in endlessness. You are standing apart, yet you have never been more a part, never more inseparable from anything and everything. Ever thought: I could have sworn I heard it: the trees talking? Whispers passed from leaf to leaf, carried on the wind. A rustling symphony of sound. Their shadows documenting their gay discourse as the branches dance with the passing wind.
I use to be those trees. That green. I use to soar over the sky that settled over me, and envelop the people that looked down on me and up through me, and I inspired expansion in the smallest of creatures: the human. And they expanded me to beauty and awe and reverence and religion. I knew such unity with them. I felt their heart beat beneath my knotted breast. I felt their spirit pulling me from trees and soil and birds and beetles to immeasurable vastness. I knew how such unity was created, by simply strolling through me, on me, beneath me, into me. Like a whisper enters an ear and the spoken words are locked forever within the mind. Like a crying heard from far away that seems to echo regretfully within your own chest. Like embracing an old friend who is both a comfort and a pain. I know how such unity was created and broken. Like splitting the earth from the sky. A mother from her child. By walking out of me and never turning back. An indifference that begins the story of how I was made humanâ€”to the last inch. You do not know loneliness until all the edges of the world begin to fray and all the unity turns to dissipation. I grew quite lonely. Miserable. Like I had lost a part of myself when the humans turned and walked out. And then I actually began to lose parts of myself. No one ever expects such a thing: a friend to cut your right arm from your body, a father to take the left leg, sister an eye, lover your heart. Trees falling, falling everywhere and not a sound heard. The humans could not leave without cutting me from them. Cut from them any recognition of grandness in me.
I heard the trees being felled. The saw scratching upon the bark with a dreadful, chilling sound that cut my silence. This silence crackedâ€” streaks of breaks flooding across the surface of the air as the saws cut into the flesh and worked across the surface of bare skin. The trees creaked, as the last bit of flesh gave way under the weight and crashed on the floor of me. Unearthly crash, like the sea when it sucks into itself to throw a jolting wave onto the shore. I felt the trees being burned. Ageless miles of jet black spears and stumps, jutting from the earth like mangled arms. Turned to flint stone, bone-hard and smooth. Acrid taste and smell. I slowly began to rot like a half-eaten carcass. My soil grew brittle and cracked. My creatures perished or fled. Bits of me strewn here and there and everywhere. No longer enveloping and endless. Just patches and strings trying to hold a fraying fabric together. The smallest things they made with me: mocking little wooden buttons adorning lapels, polished pencil splinters weaving in and out of fidgeting fingers. And they hid from me in boxes they made with my bones. Trees lining the floors of brass-plated businesses up to a brass-plated door that would open occasionally to remind the wood of what it was. Green to a dead polished gold, umber or naked gray. I was dead. Trapped in a long sleep of hopelessness. Trees still stood, birds still sang, plants still grew. But I seemed to hold my breath in one bursting intake that made my edges burn and ache. The unity was fizzling away into a neverness I had never known.
First, I felt myself creep from the creatures and the plants, and then from the trees down into the earth. I stayed there in the soil, so asleep that time passed like moments of crystallized eternity. Hanging weightless in the breathlessness. Then I felt it: the fingers. I awoke as from a sleep and imagined—thought I imagined—fingers. My fingers. My feet. My chest, a heart beneath. Pounding, pounding, thud-d-d-thud-d-d. And then I realized that I was suffocating, breathing dirt. I pushed up through the earth. Breaking and cracking about me. And I saw that I was human. With nothing more extraordinary than a memory spanning over billions of years, I look no different than any other human. If you passed me on the street, you would never know the difference. The trees still speak to me. They whisper of the seasons and times come and gone. I see the trees that once flourished where the cities lie. A ghost of them, a whisper. I try to touch their age-engraved bark, but my fingers meet air. “Hope” by Simon Hua
Second Place: “Candlelight” by Quinn Lin
“Street” by Nathali Blackwell
“Will You Wait For Me?” by Stephanie Moll I awaken from slumber, rise from bed, and touch the floor with my naked feet. The shades are open; I feel the pain from the luminous light of the morning sun shatter my tender, weak eyes. I prepare for today‟s unknown, for the battle ahead. As I step outside, the cold air rushes into me; my body becomes brittle. I retreat to my car, start it up, and listen to the crackle of the awakening engine. I am on my way. Will you wait for me?
First Place: “Memphis Bridge” by Shannon McDonald
Second Place: Dream Logic by Thomas Swett “I dreamt of killing you last night,” Julie said without preamble, as Bill poked at a breakfast of eggs, toast and orange juice from behind his thin fortress of newsprint. A fortress which he lowered to regard Julie with raised eyebrows. “Huh?” he grunted. It was still early in the morning, which to him meant before noon. He had never quite gotten out of the college mentality that weekends were meant to be slept through. “I dreamt of killing you. Last night. It woke me up, and I couldn‟t get back to sleep, so I just lay for hours staring up at the ceiling, wondering whether I should wake you up or try to smother you with a pillow.” The eyebrows twitched higher, a pantomime of alarm. “That‟s how I killed you in the dream. By smothering you with a pillow. I think I stabbed you or poisoned you a few times too, but it was mostly the pillow thing.” “Yeah?” Bill managed non-eyebrow communication. “Yeah. You struggled a lot, but you were really weak, or maybe I was just really strong. Either way, it didn‟t do you any good.” “Ah.” He paused on a swig of orange juice, swishing it in his mouth as he considered what to say next. He swallowed. “I dreamt about sleeping with your sister,” he said, and instantly realized that was probably the wrong move with a wife that was already dreaming of homicide.
Julie regarded him coolly over her cup of coffee. She hated breakfast and didn‟t get hungry until well past noon, but she liked keeping Bill company, liked how unguarded he was in the morning, like a sleepy puppy. “That‟s so sweet, honey.” “Is it?” he asked, blinking. “Oh yes, it is. You‟re trying to make my dreams come true.” She smiled a smile that had humor mixed in with something all-together more jagged. “Ah,” he said. It took a second for the threat to filter through. “Ah. Well, in my defense, you were there too.” “You‟re not helping yourself,” she chided. “Your mother may have also made an appearance.” “Bill!” “The Gray Fox strikes again,” he mused. A distant part of him wondered to where his instinct for self-preservation had run off. “You promised you‟d stop calling her that!” Julie glowered. She had a very fine glower, Bill decided. It brought a brilliance to her eyes, a spark of vitality that had been lacking of late. He squashed that thought with a tremor of guilt. It was not her fault. It was not her fault. He mustered another response. Fan the flames, the devil inside him said. “It‟s not my fault she has legs to die for! Eyes like limpid pools! Hair like white silk! And her ears…” He shuddered in apparent ecstasy. “Her ears?” Julie asked, caught in the borderlands between a smile and a moue. “Don‟t get me started on her ears,” Bill said. “We could be here all day.” Julie snorted. “Why did I marry you again?” “I‟m a paragon of manliness?” Bill suggested. “Yeah, no.” Julie shook her head sadly. “Ouch. Okay, I‟m a poet. Chicks dig poets.”
“Heh. Try again.” True, he had written her a love sonnet when they were in college, mostly, he now freely admitted, as an unsuccessful sally to get into her pants. But she had never seen him put poetic pen to paper since then. Whatever art that lay in his soul was a shallow well—easily drained and painfully slow to refill. Still, she remembered the sonnet, the movement of emotion behind it, the soul, if not the words. Bill, meanwhile, had paused to consider. “Hmmmm,” he said, and bowed his chin into his fist. “Then you must love me.” He spoke like a man discovering some great and secret truth, some hidden knowledge that redefined existence. “Must I? Why would I do that?” She teased, but there it was again, the jagged edge beyond the teasing—half hidden, half poking out like glass in the sand. “Honestly, I‟m not sure. I suspect it‟s a freak occurrence, a lapse in judgment from a woman of otherwise impeccable taste.” “Sounds about right,” she agreed. They smiled at each other and that was that. She sipped at her coffee, eyes dark and hot to match the brew. He drained his orange juice in one victory swig and rattled his fortress of paper and ink. They sat in silence for a while, a warm, comfortable silence, a morning silence, filled with sunlight and freshness. In that silence, time seemed to stand still, like the waters of a pond. Each moment lived a full life before dying. Finally, after generations of moments, Bill asked, “So, why did you kill me?” Julie started, as if she had forgotten him. “Huh?” “In your dream. Why did you kill me?” “Maybe I sensed your dream, and my dreamself decided to wreak bloody vengeance upon you, O despoiler of sisters and mothers.”
“Nah. I was just smothered, right? If you knew about my dream, it would be so much worse.” Bill smiled to himself, mischievous, self-satisfied—an imp‟s smile. “True.” She paused, and trouble stirred in her eyes, a darker shade of black. “I can‟t remember and I‟m sorry.” She began to cry, clear, crystalline purity sliding effortlessly out of those dark eyes. “Why are you sorry?” he asked. “Oh, shit, don‟t cry.” And he reached out to hug her close, to crush out the tears, to blot them away with strength and warmth, all he had to offer. He tried to at least. He was confused as the tiled kitchen floor rose to meet him. His glass, blurred with a film of leftover orange juice, shattered on the floor next to him, knocked down by his fall. He tried to pick himself up, to brush himself off and joke it away, but he could not stir. And then she was there, still crying. “I‟m sorry,” she said. “In the night, I was so sure, but now I can‟t remember.” Bill‟s eyes asked her why. “Can‟t remember,” she sobbed. “It faded away I‟m sorry, so sorry, I‟m sorry.” And Bill‟s eyes asked her why, and Bill‟s brain remembered, “Then you must love me.” And then he had no more questions, only dreams, dreams not of murder or sisters or gray foxes, but different dreams, dreams clear and cool and wholly alien.
“Sweet Mystery” by Glynis Wilson Hard, cold, round mystery, Tough skin like a frog‟s back, Smooth, slick, and slimy. One bite of the sweet unknown Quickly ran my childhood days Of jumping rope through my mind, Sticky hands and dirty faces, As the smell of nectar filled the air, As the mystery of the unknown Squirts down my throat. Unwillingly, I swallowed, Bitter skin left in my mouth, Blue stained tongue, As if my oxygen were cut off— Memories quickly turned to regrets. Here I go again, Longing for more, Left with a little piece of heaven On my heart. I thought I would never get enough of this liquid sweet sunshine forcing down my throat.
“Elderfly” by Connor Robinson
Third Place: “Limón” by Jayme McKeever
“Flower-Studded Poet” by Anna Swearengen If poetry grew like flowers Through my many written hours, I would be covered with blooms And from lack of room Would grow flower on flower And bud on bud And would be the flower-studded poet, Whose skin would bloom in spring And who would never die, As long as I was rained on by the sky.
“Bubble” by Amanda Yates
Second Place: “With a Crinkle, Crisp, Crunch of the Sheet” by Nida Pathan With a crinkle, crisp, crunch of the sheet He flung his thoughts into the cerulean sea Ripple, tinkle, the sheet drowns never to be seen No more crinkle, crisp, crunch of the sheet, sheet, sheet. He escapes to a Shangri-La far beyond ordinary With a small sip, slurp of bliss he washes away reality Sinking into quicksand, the waves whoosh and whip over him As his thoughts forever in sapphire sink, sink, sink. Whereas his corpse clashes, crashes like bells of a chime For once the scenery is tranquil like his tears, tears, tears. If the crinkle, crisp, crunch of the sheet resurfaced He could have another chance to breathe, breathe, breathe.
“Girl with Horse” by Cassie Beaver
Third Place: Error by Liz Kellicut Okay. Nothing is happening. Nothing‟s moving at all. Computer, this is not cool of you. Not at all. Are you even remotely aware that I have a paper due by 9 a.m. tomorrow? Of course you are. That is why you do these things to me. I‟m on to you. Why do you do this every single time? All day, all month, all the damn year, you work just fine. Until a paper is due. Then you decide, “Uh oh! Liz has a paper due! Time to go batshit crazy!” And you do. And I‟m surprised. Every time. Let me click a few times. I know nothing‟s going to work, and so do you. But it helps me to visualize my frustration. Come on, come oooonnnn. Nothing. Okay. Stay calm. Breathe in, breathe out. Did I save what I‟ve written so far? No? Shit.
I‟ve really got to stop winging these things and realize that computers don‟t cooperate. I‟ve already written three pages. If I lose those three pages, I‟m going to have to write from memory, not to mention redo all those citations that every student dreads. The writing‟s going to be shoddy, and then the professor is going to know that I did this the night before. Er…I mean…last week, according to the date on the paper, which I will more than likely have to retype. Okay, okay, okay. This is not a big deal. Hit Control-Alt-Delete. Maybe if I can get the Task Manager up, I can— Damn it. It‟s frozen too. I hate you Bill Gates. You have bestowed upon the world a machine that we can use to our advantage that now takes advantage of us. Suddenly all those Sci-Fi movies are starting to make sense. These things really could kill us in our sleep if we let them. Well, that, and if they didn‟t freeze up all the time. Oh, I‟m sure you‟re laughing about that on the inside, computer, laughing maniacally like the evil machine you are. Alright, you stupid computer. You better let me do what I want or I will throw you across the room and then beat you with a baseball bat until you are a million little pieces on my carpeted, bedroom floor. You hear me? I‟ll totally do it!
…Yes, you called my bluff. Not only did I pay seven hundred bucks for you, I don‟t even own a baseball bat. Maybe that‟s why all you computers are so expensive, so people don‟t have money to get a baseball bat to beat the living hell out of you with. Maybe… My finger is hovering over the on-off switch. My brain knows what I have to do, but my pride won‟t let me do it. How can I possibly let you, a machine, win? I am a human being, created from ridiculous amounts of genetic code! I have a brain and a nervous system and all other things functioning! The only thing I need to survive is food and water— —Oh and money. And music. Oh! And shelter…and…never mind. I‟m still a living, functioning being, that doesn‟t need to be plugged into a wall in order to work. So I should be the superior one here. I‟m in my second year of college for crise sakes! Surely I can make this work. I‟m no technophobe. But this isn‟t an issue that can be taken up with my nerdy friends, or with Geek Squad or whatever. You, computer, have made this personal. You can‟t do this to me. I created—
Well, I didn‟t create you, but I had a lot to do with the fact that you‟re not stuffed in a box in a warehouse. Was it cold and lonely there, Toshiba? I hope it was. I really do. I could get a new one of you, you know. I don‟t have to deal with this. There‟s a new one of you every day. Every single minute, you‟re growing a little older, a little more obsolete. That‟s right. I can go out to Best Buy or whatever, right now, and get one. …You caught my bluff again, didn‟t you? I‟m a college student. I don‟t have any more money. I spent it all on YOU… and the occasional chicken sandwich. Damn. I really don‟t want to push the button, but this paper isn‟t going to rewrite itself, and it‟s not like I can wave a magic wand and presto it‟s fixed. I‟m not Harry Potter or anything. Hell, even if I was, you probably would just explode or something because you don‟t cooperate with anyone. Maybe that‟s why Harry Potter writes all his papers on parchment. Old school, but productive, I guess. I don‟t think my professor would find it very funny if I turned in my paper on parchment, written in quill, though. Or…he might find it absolutely hilarious before demanding I turn in the typed copy. I say if anyone ever tries it, he or she should get at least twenty extra points for effort. Then he‟d at least get a twenty.
All right. Fine. You win. I‟ll turn you off, let you rest. Maybe I‟ll go cry on my couch for a few minutes because I‟m so irritated. Then I‟ll slump back to my room, lesson-learned (for now at least), and type this damn paper all over again—making sure to save early and often, as the teachers all through middle and high school told me to. Is that what this is? Teaching me how to be a good student? Because I would be an awesome student if you didn‟t freeze up and ruin my hard work, just because I forgot to save. I guess, in the end, it‟s still kind of my fault. But I still hate you.
“Tock” by Connor Robinson
“Drizzle” by Simon Hua
“UnStAbLe” by Stephanie Moll The tempestuous wind swirls about me. My flimsy body flung to and fro. I feel light as a feather. Picked up by the swirling winds. The funnel of my feeble body ceases. I plunge down, down, down. SPLAT!
“House on a Hill” by Keara Lipscomb Through a film of dry dust, Peeking out of thick, scratchy air, Lays a lopsided house. Rotting walls, dumpster dragged, Flapping blue-tarped roof, “Home Sweet Home.” Small calloused soles step On a stairway of stripped tires, Meet a welcome mat Of grainy dust and dirt. At the decaying doorway Of the house on a hill.
“Sands” by Michael Berry
“Mom’s Garden” by Brittany Jackson
Third Place: “Today” by Angela Toomer Today, when I woke up, I felt the old heaviness put to rest. Spring called out to me To come outside, To participate in the green and blue world. To roll my shoulders back and align my spine. So what can I do but obey? Follow this irresistible pull, This tugging at my fingertips? Come play. Come laugh, and shake off the dark. Let it slide down my back. The fragments of you still rattle around in my brain, Some broken shards of glass that my hands are drawn to,
Red and purple stained glass, each distinct and sharp. Mostly shoulders and a familiarity. The extraordinary creation of a habit and a rhythm Of being with another. It all whispers in my ear, asking me to remember. Asking to destroy, to toss everything through a window In a new sort of passion. But today. Today I can celebrate myself and sing myself. Because this was how it began.
â€œSlender Beautyâ€? by Jayme McKeever
“Distorted Eyes Are Dying” by Bridget Fowler
“Three by four” by Danielle Morris Grit, grease, pain, and anguish. She keeps her head high as she walks the path. To class, to the bus, to home. She is not ethereal, shimmering blonde hair and deep green eyes. The boys, the girls, the lovers. The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. The tears, the prayers, the begging. She smiles, and it illuminates the world. The screams, the scowls, the bruising. She is enamored with life. The abuse, the neglect, the whimpers. She needs the support of those who pass right by. The running, the hiding, the cowering. She grits her teeth and pushes through the barricades. Over mountains, through oceans, across plains. Her creations are the children of her stubborn effort. Paint, charcoal, clay. The pain she feels tapers off when she makes herself forgive. Again, again, again. The anguish, though, is almost more than she can handle. Insanity, insanity, insanity.
“Schmetterling” by Connor Robinson
Operation Butterfly by Amanda Yates It was summertime and I was seven. The pavement scalded my bare feet as I lugged the blue plastic wagon across the sidewalk towards his house. “Why‟s his house have to be so far away anyway? There are tons of houses next to mine, but his is on the other side of the world.” But Zane was my best friend on Countryside Road, and it was a big road, so it was okay that I was missing Arthur for this. I stopped for a minute to refasten the overall strap that always came unsnapped, and I let my feet cool off in the wet grass in our neighbor‟s yard. I opened the top of the wagon to check on the goods; they were looking kind of dead so I poured some of my water in there to wake them up. The wagon contained everything we‟d need for our business: the Hello Kitty cash register that my sister had gotten for Christmas, the two quarters that Zane had contributed (it was the money the tooth fairy brought him for his big chewing tooth in the back), the butterflies we‟d
caught in Mama‟s flower garden in the back yard (they were ugly butterflies, and small ones, but my teacher said butterflies always start off ugly and small), and the sign we‟d made with Zane‟s smellygood markers that said, “TIN SINTS APEESE.” We were all ready to start selling and I figured we‟d be rich as millionaires by the time second grade started. Zane had told me to meet him at his house before Arthur came on, but I was late because Mama would made us have naptime after lunch while she ate her sandwich with the orange stinky pepper cheese called “pamintow,” and watched her bad TV show, the one where people kissed on the mouth in it (I saw that on a commercial but Mama didn‟t know). She always said, “It‟s not a little girl show,” but I wasn‟t a little girl anymore. I was a big girl, and I was plenty old enough to see people smooch. And I was going to prove it by starting Operation Butterfly with Zane. I was going to become a grownup. It all started in the back yard. Zane had come over and we were bored, just sitting outside, eating pretzels and fighting over who got to be the car piece in Monopoly, which we didn‟t really know how to play. But to me, boredom was a natural part of summer. If you didn‟t spend summer outside, then it wasn‟t really summer at all. In my mind, there was no place so magical as my backyard; the sun was huge and it beat down on us relentlessly, but the grass was always cool, even wet somehow. The big patch of tall sunflowers that grew by the fence was perfect for a game of hide-and-seek, and a variety of interesting creatures lived in its shadows. When a breeze picked up, it sounded as if the entire world was whispering its secrets, its stories, to me— the things it would confide to no one else. I was the confidante of nature. The smell of summer was one
of my favorites; it smelled of sunlight, of grass, of chlorine, and of happiness. It felt of cool sheets; of warm wind coming from electric fans that exhausted themselves trying to circulate the still, humid air; of damp grass prickling my knees and the palms of my hands; of hot concrete, scraping against the tires of my bicycle; and most of all, it felt of opportunity. Summer was endless, in those days. And I had a plan. If I could start my own business, and if me and my assistant Zane could make a trillion dollars, and if I could show all that money to Mama, then she would believe me that I was a grown up and she wouldn‟t make me have naptime and she would let me watch her kissing show with her. And then summer would be perfect. “So, do you think it‟ll work?” Zane asked, while using a stick to dig a hole in the ground for the burial of one of our less fortunate butterflies. “Of course it will,” I replied, as I tied wildflowers together into strands as decorations for the funeral. My confidence in our business had not yet faltered, despite the multitude of damaged merchandise. I was invincible, and so was my business. Just the butterflies weren‟t. “We‟ve got to start feeding them, that‟s all.” “I guess so.” With a loud crack, Zane‟s digging stick snapped. “Darn it! I‟m sick of doing this. It‟s your turn to dig.” “I can‟t. I‟m busy.” “No you ain‟t. All you‟re doing is playing with flowers.” Zane didn‟t like when I did girly stuff, like making flower decorations. “Yeah, flowers for the funeral. Funerals have to have flowers. And crying and stuff.” “Well you can cry all you want, but I‟m going inside to watch Arthur.” He stalked away,
leaving me alone with a hundred butterfly corpses, a wagon, a Hello Kitty cash register with fifty cents in it, and wounded pride. “Yeah? Well Arthur‟s already over. So ha!” I was characteristically determined to have the last word. Plus, he wasn‟t the only one disappointed about missing our favorite TV show. “Nuh uh, my mom got it on tape!” And with that final, devastating blow, he slammed the door. I walked home that afternoon in solitude, hauling the wagon behind me at such a furious pace that I stubbed my big toe on the sidewalk and scraped half the pink nail polish off of it. But by the next day all was forgiven, and I knocked on Zane‟s door that morning with a box of Goldfish as a peace offering. “Circle, circle, dot, dot, now you got the cootie shot,” I said, poking his arm. This was our daily greeting, and he cheerfully returned it to me. It was our big day, possibly the biggest day of our careers. It was the day we began selling butterflies. It was early on a Saturday morning. Plenty of people were out: old guys with headbands were running very slowly, though they looked as if they thought they were running very quickly; boys on bicycles throwing newspapers at people‟s houses (I always wondered if the grownups knew about that); blonde ladies with poodles walking swiftly down the street. So I really could not understand why we hadn‟t sold a single butterfly. We had the sign we made, which was still very pretty even though it had lost some of its smelly-goodness. Zane was holding it high above his head and waving it in the air where I knew people could see it. “Butterflies are way cooler than lemonade,” Zane grumbled in the general direction of the kids
running the lemonade stand across the street. But the lemonade stand was actually making money. And we were not. Some time later, we spotted a group of boys walking towards us. They didn‟t really look like nice boys; they looked like sixth graders. Everyone knew that you avoided sixth graders. It was a life or death kind of thing. “Zane, hold up the sign!” I hissed. We had been taking a Hi-C and Oreos break, but now it looked like it was time to get serious. So Zane raised the sign above his head, and I put on the politest, most businesslike smile I could manage. As the boys moved closer to us, I could hear that they were laughing. So I made my smile even wider, because I wanted to be in on the joke. “Hi, do you want to buy a butterfly? They‟re only ten cents,” I said, breathless with excitement. But my statement caused the boys to laugh harder. They had found something humorous in my question that I did not understand. “They‟re really good butterflies,” I added, my smile fading. “It‟s true! Want to see?” Zane blurted. He opened the top of the wagon, and the boys peered inside. But instead of quelling their laughter and replacing it with a burning desire to buy a butterfly, as Zane had intended, it only fueled their giggles, and I half expected them to fall over. “What‟s so funny?” I demanded, growing angrier by the second. “You‟re trying to sell us…” One of the boys paused to catch his breath, and then began again. “You‟re trying to sell us moths? What in the world would I want with a moth?”
Very few times in my life had I ever been unable to think of something to say. This was one of them. But Zane, the shy one, used this moment to find his courage. It was like he‟d been to Oz and back in half a second. “These are not moths, they are butterflies,” he said, shockingly calm. “If you don‟t want one, that‟s fine. But you can‟t stand here and laugh at us.” I could‟ve sworn I felt my jaw touch the pavement. The sixth graders laughed even louder, but they didn‟t say anything else to us. They just walked away. Later, when I asked Zane why he wasn‟t scared to talk to the sixth graders, all he said was, “That‟s what the boyfriend‟s supposed to do.” I didn‟t know that Zane was my boyfriend until that day. But I guessed it was okay as long as I didn‟t have to kiss him or anything. Not even the cootie shot could protect me from lip cooties. Zane and I went home after that. We hadn‟t sold a single butterfly/moth, and we never tried to again. But what I learned that day was something I never forgot. Being a grownup was not about having a business, or an assistant, or a trillion dollars. Being a grownup was being brave, like Zane was. It was standing up to the sixth graders and telling them to back off, without calling them “stupid heads” like I would have. It was letting Zane be the car piece in monopoly, and giving him back his fifty cents from the tooth fairy even though he said I could keep it. Even though I still had a long way to go, it was the first step I took towards becoming a grownup.
“Saying and Doing” by Simon Hua “Colored Thread” by Anna Swearengen Just at the thought of losing you, I am lost within a misshapen, moth-eaten tapestry— Made with bands of sorrow and worn threads of your face. I find my pen bleeding black onto my fingers, The paper unstained by words, And my feet, once a rosy glass weighted to the floor, Seem to melt into pale sand, And my heart, once fresh with bluest blood, Pulls in all that made my skin a rosy pink And turns to coal dust, smearing my veins black, And my eyes instantly dry, Turning the surface to copper-colored rust. I am pulled free only by a single, colored thread:
It is not your skin or face I love, But the colored thread within you, Dyeing your every ring and grain, Threaded in me like tree roots woven and spun into the earth. After memories deteriorate with gray matter And pictures brown with tips of salty fingers, After your face wrinkles and sags and is dappled brown, When your lungs are as dry and wrinkled as old newspaper, And my bones no longer gleam white, My body rotting and worm-eaten six feet underground, I will never be without you.
â€œPortrait of a Duckâ€? by Connor Robinson
“Earphones” by Camille Caparas A bit of gold connects precious waves to roads of circuitry tangled with use but familiar just the same. And though science can and could explain the journey from drive to drums the destination between two extremes is up to you.
“Sea Inside” by Anna Swearengen
Second Place: “Guitar” by Cameron Bowman
“Succession” by Travis Whiteside “No Fairy Tale” by Keara Lipscomb Laughing to hide the pain Memories don‟t feel the same Things change, people move on Happiness does not exist in my home Praying day and night, “God PLEASE HELP.” Why does it feel like no one‟s there? My life‟s no fairy tale, I‟m no Cinderella Never finding true love, No one can find my glass slipper It‟s lost never to be found Heartbroken, never to be mended Why piece it back together Only for it to be broken again? I‟ll never love again Took my heart out and threw it away Now my only happiness is my peace of mind Knowing I‟ll never be hurt again.
Breadsticks by Thomas Swett “Waiter.” Bobby waved at a man in a server‟s uniform who may or may not have actually been their waiter. The restaurant was all shadows and candlelight, which, Bobby supposed, was meant to be romantic, though it just gave him a headache, and all the waiters had on the exact same uniform of crisp, button up shirts, red vests and black pants. It made it extremely hard to tell them apart, but in the end they were all waiters, so it probably didn‟t matter anyway. At least the darkness helped to hide his stained and rumpled suit. “Hey, waiter, can we get some more breadsticks over here?” “Put your hand down,” Donna said. Her own hand, flashing freshly painted red nails that matched her dress, shielded her face from view as she stared down at the pristine white table cloth. “You‟re embarrassing me.” “What? I‟m just asking for more breadsticks,” Bobby protested. “It‟s not my fault they only give you a dinky little basketful. Price of this place they should wheel them in by the barrel.” “Listen, this is a nice place. There‟s no buffet. There are no arcade games, no mascot characters, no screaming children. The waiters speak with accents, there‟s a wine list and everything on the menu is in a foreign language.” “I still don‟t see—“ She held up one freshly manicured hand to silence him. “This is a nice place, a classy place. Try to act like it.” “What does that have to do with breadsticks?” Bobby asked, leaning on the table with his elbows, making the water in their glasses slosh and the lone candle between them jerk and waver.
“It‟s…please, just trust me and leave the breadsticks alone. You can have all the breadsticks you want when we go to Olive Garden, but not now, okay?” “I don‟t see why you‟re getting so worked up about this.” “I‟m not—” Donna paused to breathe, in, out, in, out. She smoothed her hands down her red dress. “Do I ask a lot of you?” Bobby blinked. “What?” “Do I make demands? Nag you constantly? Remind you of your many, many personal failings?” Bobby tried to process the question, his brain working overtime. Still, all he could say was, “Um…What?” “No, I don‟t. I don‟t complain about having to take care of the kids all by myself because you‟re too tired after work—” “My job‟s stressful, honey, and—” “I don‟t complain when you‟re out of work and still won‟t help with the kids because you‟re busy looking for a job. I don‟t complain when your mother visits. I don‟t complain when I have to skimp on the groceries or risk bouncing checks, or when you go out drinking with your friends and come back smelling like cheap cigars and someone else‟s perfume. I don‟t complain, but…I do want one night. One night every once in a while when I can pretend things turned out differently, like how I‟d planned instead of…” She gestured vaguely at him with her screaming red nails. “Instead of this. Instead of you.” “I‟m sorry, honey. I think I understand now.” He placed a comforting hand on top of hers and offered her a tentative smile. Their waiter came, bearing plates of food and a new basket of steaming
breadsticks, which he started to set upon the table. Bobby stopped him with a dismissive wave. “That‟s okay. We don‟t need any breadsticks.” He smiled at his wife and winked. “That‟s not—” Donna started, but choked off into a wordless growl. She grabbed the basket of breadsticks, threw it at her husband and stormed away. Bobby sat covered in garlic butter and oil. “And she wonders why we don‟t go out more.” He turned to the waiter who was looking on with the wide eyes of someone who had just witnessed a car accident. “I think I‟ll need the check, and a few boxes for the food.” He sighed, picked up one of the breadsticks and, after a moment of silent contemplation, bit into it. “Shouldn‟t you go after her?” the waiter asked. “It‟s fine,” Bobby assured him, smiling with a mouthful of chewed dough. “I have the car keys. She‟s stuck with me.”
“Earnestine and Hazels” by Lauren Pintar
“Little Blue Surprise” by Free McCay yours is a strange request
open your mouth lean back
secretly screams now a throbbing coward perched in my throat
my eyes close tight I plead under breath let this time be different
your laughing demeanor belies unflinching insistent commands
open your mouth lean back
breathy giggles disguise bubbling perspiration my mind races back to boyhood embarrassment vivid slow-motion replays of Charlie Brown football
exploding anticipation quenched the promised surprise placed on my tongue little blue berry damn…
fumbling backseat faux pas
“Cow” by Michael Berry
“Awaited Voyage” by Zaniesha Davis Pride swelled in the beating sea, Like a roaring tide Wringing out tears in flowing streams on a smile. As he placed his left hand On the wheel and the other to the sky, Swearing to steer his passengers in this journey, I could, the late Captain King, declare “We will get there.” My first ride of choice, Age permitted.
Miles away, I can see the shore In the distance. The breaking line Of the sand and tide Push me to swim in the deep waters Where my ancestors store their treasures. So I wave at the future, Just as this virgin Captain O Waved at his reflection in me, A passenger, Greeting the hush of the sea as kin Because for the first time, I am a part Of We the People.
â€œClock Towerâ€? by Brittany Jackson
Pool Party by Thomas Swett “God does not want me to go to this pool party,” Chase said, staring out the car window sullenly. “Did he tell you that? Because personal divine revelation isn‟t admissible without some external sign, so unless it‟s written on a stone wall somewhere in a fiery hand, you‟re still going,” his mother replied, attention mostly on the road. “I‟m not saying he‟s specifically against me going. I‟m saying that he isn‟t specifically for me going either. There‟s no commandment that says „Thou Shalt Go Unto Youth Group Pool Parties.‟” “He did say to honor your father and your mother. Since your father isn‟t around, that means I get twice the honor.” His mother swerved over into the oncoming lane to pass a fleecy-haired old lady. Chase could tell she was feeling particularly Christian that day as she refrained from flicking the other driver off as she passed. “I don‟t think that‟s how that works,” Chase said. “Of course it is,” his mother said. “It‟s simple math.” “I don‟t think math and religion mix.” His mother looked at him, her eyes narrowed. “I think there‟s also that proverb. How did it go again? Ah, yes, I think it was „The eye that mocks a father, that scorns obedience to a mother, will be pecked out by the ravens of the valley, will be eaten by the vultures.‟ Do I need to break out the birds?” “No,” Chase said, wishing she would keep her eyes on the road.
“Are you sure? I‟m feeling a little scorned here.” “No, no, no scorn at all,” Chase assured her. “Good,” she said cheerfully. “We‟re here.” She jerked to a stop in front of a large, white house in the suburbs. “Get out. Have fun. I‟ll be back in a few hours. Probably.” He shot her a sullen look as he got out. “Scorn,” she warned. He rolled his eyes and left, not looking back as she peeled away. He made his way to the backyard without going through the house. He could hear splashing and the chatter of dozens of people. He could smell the chlorinated water and roasting hotdogs. When he pushed open the splintered wooden gate, he saw the party in full swing. People clustered everywhere, swimming, talking, eating, beating the hell out of each other with those little flotation noodles. He twitched at the sheer number stuffed into that one backyard. After the first few minutes, it wasn‟t that bad. People mainly stuck to their individual social groups, not bothering him beyond a few perfunctory greetings, after which he was able to safely sink into the background. Then they started organizing games in the pool and he was stuck, forced to participate or be singled out. Category was not his idea of a fun pool game. However, he found himself lined up under the diving board with everybody else as someone called out types of candy. When the guy hit M&Ms, half the line surged forward. It hadn‟t been the candy Chase had been thinking of, but he figured it was close enough and surged forward a second later, hoping to lose himself in the crowd. The boy on the diving board jumped after them. Chase, due to his
second of hesitation and spindly arms, lagged behind just enough to get body slammed by the jumper. He struggled, thrust underwater, unsure which way was up or what had happened, the only thing in his mind the impression of force and brief skin to skin contact. When he finally found the surface, one of the group leaders pulled him out of the pool. “Are you okay?” the group leader asked, visions of lawsuits no doubt dancing in his head. “What?” Chase answered, still a little concussed. “Great. It‟s your turn to dive.” He sent Chase stumbling towards the diving board. The new category was dinosaurs, so Chase stood on the diving board, trembling with nervousness, his back towards the pool, listing off every dinosaur he knew. “Brontosaurus,” he said. “Brachiosaurus, Panoplosaurus, Camarasaurus.” He was burning time, he knew, and his legs weren‟t getting any less shaky as he went, so he took a shuddering breath, blurted out “T-Rex,” turned and dove into the water. Most of the line, a good twenty kids, took off when he said T-Rex. He only had to tag one and it was over. This was complicated by the fact that he had all the aquatic dexterity of a brick, a spindlyarmed, mildly concussed brick. The other swimmers swept past him and he floundered even more desperately towards them. Out of the corner of his eyes he saw a flash of yellow, and he lunged toward it. He felt skin against skin and almost smiled in victory, except when he drew back his hand something yellow was clinging to it. He looked at it curiously, a sudden horrible suspicion growing in him. He looked at the brown-haired girl he had just tagged, who was staring at the yellow thing in his
hand with a kindred expression of growing horror. She had on a yellow bikini top. His eyes trailed down. Through the distortion of the water, he saw a distinct lack of a matching yellow bikini bottom. He looked at the thing in his hand again. The brown haired girl screamed. Chase gave into his first impulse and fled the scene. Or tried to. As he floundered away, bikini bottom still in hand, one of the group leaders decided he was in fact trying to steal the bikini bottom and dove in to stop him. The group leader overtook him easily and grabbed for the yellow fabric, incidentally shoving Chase underwater in his scramble for it. He had almost wrenched the bottom from Chaseâ€&#x;s flailing hands when he saw an expanding cloud of grayishgreenish-yellowish-pinkish something in the water. Chase had accidentally swallowed pool water and quickly returned it with interest. The group leader surged away, forgetting the bikini bottom in his hurry, and vacated the pool along with nearly everyone else. Chase was left spitting and spluttering, holding a stolen bikini bottom, treading water in a milky cloud of his own vomit, his only companion the brown-haired girl, who was trying to stay afloat one-handed, as she used the other to cover her privates. Distantly, from behind a swimming veil of barely suppressed tears, Chase wished he had scorned his mother and taken his chances with the vultures and the ravens. It couldnâ€&#x;t be worse than this.
“After the Rain” by Sarah Longoria Tree trunks glistening wet and black. Roads dark and glittering, doused here and there with pools of pale blue sky. Flowers dripping drops of color. Grass turned gloss by Nature‟s tears. The world is lovely after the rain. “Old Man” by Michelle Fair
“Woodpecker” by Nathali Blackwell
“The Wedding Limbo” by Nida Pathan Oh, how I gaze wildly upon the sight before me, The exuberant colors piercing my soul. The echo of Urdu across the hall fills my ears greatly. Restlessly, I wait for my family and friends to enter. Today, oh, today is my sister‟s wedding day. Much excitement is bursting through my veins. Her pomegranate red dress captivates the sun‟s rays Causing the sun to set with the expected omen of rain. The elegance in her posture draws the crowd to silence.
Now, the women begin the traditional Pakistani customs, But inside I am torn for my happiness is taken for ignorance. My dearest sister I do not want to let go. I keep my feelings hidden in my heart; The slanted smile on my face I still show. It is presently midnight—a new day has begun. Happily, my sister departs to her new family, Leaving me to my lonesome. Oh, how I gaze indifferently upon the sight before me; The realization of change is hurting my soul.
“Portrait of a Girl” by Quinn Lin
Copyright Christian Brothers University 2011
Published on Nov 14, 2011