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Castings Literary Journal 2013 Christian Brothers University Thanks to the Judges: Divya Choudhary David Dault Sandra Davis Scott Geis Jeff Gross Karl Leib Beth Nelson Maureen  O’Brien Vincent  O’Neill Sean MacIness Dan Messinger Nick Pena Brendan Prawdzik Jana Travis Faculty Advisor: Karen B. Golightly Editors: Danielle Morris Paulena Passmore Jennifer Sharp Published By: CB Publishing and Solutions

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Winners Prose First Place: Look Away by Madeline Faber Second Place: I  Can’t by Amber Lipford Third Place: Lost and Found by Sarah Longoria Fine Art First Place: Full Moon Phase by Hannah Nelson Second Place: Mourning Elegance by Desireé Mitchell Third Place: Eviction Notice by Hannah Nelson Poetry First Place: Roma by Danielle Morris Second Place: Running Errands by Candace Lester Third Place: Haiku by Amanda Shaeffer Digital Art First Place: Untitled by Alvin Siow Second Place: Untitled by Alicia Russell Third Place: Untitled by Alvin Siow

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Table of Contents Inaction by Matthew Birch…………………………………………..…………5

Untitled by  Alvin  Siow…………………….………………………………..7 Blind Blue Taste by  Zaniesha  Davis………………….…………………………7 Bunnies for Christmas by Camille Caparas ……………………………………8 Resentment by  Joy  Robertson………………………….…………………….….8 The  Ghosts’  Hall by  Paulena  Passmore…………….…………………………14 I Call on the Bird by  Emily  Phillips……………………………...…………….15

Look Away by  Madeline  Faber.…………………………………………....16 Untitled by  Marie  Joiner….……………………………………………………18 Man XI by  LaDarrious  Dortch……..…………………………………………19 Why Did God Choose Me? by  Sara  Swisher…………………………………..20 Untitled by Alexis Blum…….…………………………………………………20

Roma by  Danielle  Morris….……………………………………………….21 Time to Relax by  Christini  Fernando………………………………………….21 Tete-Tris by  Desireé  Mitchell……..…………………………………………...22 The Storm by  Jennifer  Sharp…………………………………………………..23

Full Moon Phase by  Hannah  Nelson…..…………………………………..23 I  Can’t by  Amber  Lipford…………..……………………………………..24 Johnathan by  Alexis  Blum……………………………………………………...25 Dream Big by  Tachele  Anderson  ……...……………………………………...25 Note to Self by  Maneesha  Palipane…….……………………………………...27 Fleeting by  Valerie  Mills………….……………………………………………28 the nature of the colored man by  Amber  Lipford……………………………...29

Untitled by  Alicia  Russell  ………..………………………………………..30 Grime by  Danielle  Morris……………………………………………………...31 Let It Sleep by  Camille  Caparas………………………………………………..33 Untitled by  Alvin  Siow……….………………………………………………..33

Running Errands by Candace Lester…….….…………………………….34 Glamour by  Christini  Fernando………………………………………………34

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Mourning Elegance by Desireé Mitchel…...………………………………35 Haiku by Amanda Shaeffer……………..…………………………………36 Parking by  Camille  Caparas……….…………………………………………  37

Lost and Found by  Sarah  Longoria……..………………………………….37 Clarity by  Bianca  Cowan………….…………………………………………...46 Don’t  Give  Me  Some  Bullshit  About  God  Either by Jessica  Richard…………47 Risk by  Paulena  Passmore…………………………………………………….49 Trust by  LaDarrious  Dortch……..……………………………………………49 Ampoules by  Jessica  Richard…….…………………………………………….50 Initiation by  Bianca  Cowan……….…………………………………………...50 Dear Dad by  Maneesha  Palipane……….……………………………………..51 Untitled by  Connor  Bran………….…………………………………………...52 Untitled by Loan Ly……………………………………………………………52 Song of Light and Shadow by  Larry  Woodley………………………………...53

Untitled by  Alvin  Siow………….…………………………………………56 Untitled by  Maneesha  Palipane………………………………………………57 Been Home a Long Time by  Madeline  Faber….………………………….…...58 Echoes of Silence by Bianca Cowan…………………………………………...58 Negative by  Emily  Phillips…………………………………………………….59 Agraphobia by  Tachele  Anderson…….……..………….…………………….60

Eviction Notice by  Hannah  Nelson………………………………………..61 Ours by  Emily  Phillips………………………………………………………...62 The Rapist by Amber Lipford…………………………………………………63 Quiet Cold by  Emily  Phillips………………………………………………….64 Cover: Hope by Christini Fernando Back Cover Poem: Alas…Sheet  of  Paper  by Jordan Smith

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Inaction By Matthew Birch I was walking down the rain soaked streets watching the neon lights dance everywhere around my shiny, wet little world. The rain was calming. The chill that the rain brought with it made the hair on my arms stand up. As I walked across the huge intersections I could feel myself, and I knew that I was alive. It was a particularly foggy autumn night in Xiamen, but the air was clean and crisp. As I strolled down the street, I saw people clambering into stores, and restaurant owners kicking out loiterers seeking shelter from the rain. I must have looked strange. A big foreign guy walking through the rain in Southern China must have been out of place for the people who saw me. In   China,   Chinese   people   don’t   just   see   you.   They   observe   you.   I   was   being observed by thousands of eyes, young and old. Sometimes it can make you feel like a zoo animal, just something to be seen. However, the roles would change that evening, and I would become the watcher. My uncle was getting ready for bed. I decided to take a stroll in the beautiful weather; well, beautiful in my eyes, at least. After walking in the cool weather for about thirty minutes, I decided to get something warm to drink. I walked into a tea house and ordered a small glass of Oolong tea. As I sat there, with my hands cupped over the tea like it was a great hearth, I thought deeply about my life and the beauty that was before me. After   I   had   finished   a   few   cups   of   my   tea,   the   waitress   asked   “Do   you   want  another  sir?” I  didn’t,  so  she  told  me,“Here  is  your  check,  you  can  pay  at  the  counter.” This was a polite way to rush me out so they could get the next person in. So I complied and departed from the tea house. Tea, at least good tea, makes one feel different. The only feeling I can compare it to is similar to when the dentist gives you laughing gas. I felt light, warm, and slightly drowsy. At that point I decided to walk back to the hotel and call it a night. I took a different route on the way back. I passed through alleyways. I went through apartment complexes in an attempt to stay dry. About a block away from the hotel, I saw something very upsetting that caught my eye. In an alley, I saw an elderly woman lying down under an awning. She was sleeping on cardboard. It was the first time I had ever seen such poverty. She seemed severely malnourished. She was balled up to keep warm,  as  she  didn’t  

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have a blanket or a coat on. The shop she was sleeping next to was closing. Through the window I could see the owner pulling down the metal sheet for the door. Then I saw the owner of the shop walk up to her and shoo her off. He nudged her with his shoe until she woke up and he told her to get lost. She wasn’t  surprised; she  wasn’t  angry.  She  had  no  response.  It  was  obvious  that  this   was a routine occurrence for her. Then she folded her cardboard bed and put it in a trash bag. She shuffled out of the shelter of the awning and back into the rain, and trudged on through the alleyway. At this point I was staring at the shop owner. He lit a cigarette and folded his arms. His purple and black lips pursed as he puffed a ball of smoke and proceeded  to  let  out  a  deep  cough.  I  didn’t  want  to  stare  at  him,  but  I  had  to.   After a few moments he glanced over at me and said, “What   the   hell   is   this   foreigner  looking  at?”   I  didn’t  say  a  word.  I  wanted  to  tell  him  he  was  a  jerk  and  that  woman   wasn’t  hurting anything to sleep under the awning – but  I  didn’t.  I  walked  away   like I always do. Then I thought to try to catch up with that woman. I wanted to give her some money, so she could at least buy a blanket. The rain had stopped by now, and the gutters were pouring out a mix of dust, dirt, and water that the rain had released from the rooftops. The streets were filled with black soot. The temperature started to become increasingly humid. I walked down the alley for a few minutes in search of the woman, but I couldn’t  find  her.  I  was  willing  to  give  her  everything  I  had  in  my  wallet.  I  didn’t   need it. I could get more in the morning. I got back to the hotel and took a hot shower. Afterwards I got under the covers and tried to sleep. Then I felt a deep guilt within me. My stomach turned and contorted as I thought about it. Like the Chinese did to foreigners, all I did was watch. I could have  helped  her.  I  tried  to  console  myself  by  thinking  maybe  she  wouldn’t  accept   my  help.  I  didn’t  want  her  to  feel  like  I  pitied  her.  I  didn’t.  I  sympathized  with   her. No matter how much I tried to think about something else, the image of her being kicked was burned into my retinas. The beautiful, cool night that I started my walk on turned into a crucible – a crucible that I failed. I had made myself miserable with my own inaction.

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First Place Digital Art: Untitled by Alvin Siow Blind Blue Taste By Zaniesha Davis She closed her eyes and hoped for the best, knowing, now,  that  she  couldn’t  avoid  the  worst.  She  chose to intake what she thought was safe to indulge. After all, she  couldn’t  see  any  immediate  harm. What happened on her palette was unexplainable – no longer a mystery. Although it started off dry, it ended gritty and juicy. But,  it’s  not  over  as  she  contemplates on her blinded choice to sink her teeth into temporary sweetness. The blissful flavor has slowly faded. Her eyes open. She has put a blueberry in her belly.

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Bunnies for Christmas by Camille Caparas Resentment By Joy Robertson “Joy,  are  you  almost  ready?  We  won’t  have  much  time  if  you  don’t  hurry   and  get  dressed,”  my  mother  yelled. “I’m   coming!”   I   dug   deep   into   the   layers   of   clothes   in   my   drawer,   that   moments earlier were neatly folded. Does this match? I wondered. I held a multicolored shirt up to my chest, while comparing the contrast of the loud 1980’s   spandex   shorts   I   had   on.   At   six   years   of   age,   I   just   couldn’t   understand   matching. “Joy,   your   mother   is   ready   to   leave,”   my grandmother directed up the stairs. “I’m  almost  ready,”  I  yelled down. Well, I like this shirt and these shorts, I thought, as I twisted my torso, examining every angle in the mirror.

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“Joy!” This must be matching I decided; I grabbed my purse, which was an oversized rabbit that appeared to be running in midair. His back unzipped for convenient access to all the necessities: plastic keys, a mirror, brush, and wallet containing only change. I walked backwards down our stairs, using my arms and legs as if descending down a ladder; I had not quite mastered their steepness. My bedroom  was  on  the  second  floor,  across  from  my  mother’s,  but  it  was  only  used   for playing. Sleeping occurred downstairs between my grandparents. “Joy,   do   you   remember   what   I’ve   taught   you   about   matching?”   my grandmother asked, as she looked me up and down. “Yes,”  I  answered  defensively. “Honey,  your  shirt  is  wrinkled  too.  Let’s  go  and  pick  out  another  outfit.” My  mom  came  to  my  rescue,  “We’re  already  running  late,  and  if  we  wait   too  much  longer,  she  won’t  be  able  to  see  all  the  sights  on  our  trolley ride. She looks  fine.” After a short drive, we arrived downtown, parked, and walked to a trolley stop to wait. It was a warm day, but I never felt hot, only the increasing chill of the air and my company. My mother was older in her 40s, with black hair, fair skin and freckles, quite opposite from my own appearance. Family members always told me that we look nothing alike, but our eye color was the same. We both had green eyes, the color of love. My mother felt an infinite amount of love for animals, but she loved people more limitedly. She had been manipulated and hurt by many, my father included. The look of anxiety and shyness exuded from every pore in her body. When sitting she slumped her shoulders and head forward, never comfortable in her own skin. My maternal grandparents adopted me at six months old, adding to the tension with my mother.   She   was   both   jealous   of   my   grandmother’s   relationship   with   me   as   a   replacement mother, but also the closeness I shared with my grandpa as his daughter, something deeper than her own relationship with him. She unknowingly burdened me with her resentment and anger. We heard and soon saw a trolley slowly approaching. “Is  that  as  fast  as  it  goes?”  I  asked  my  mother. “Um,  yeah,  I  think  so,  Joy.”

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“Oh,”  I  said  half  disappointed,  “I  thought  it  would  go  a  little  faster.” “It’s  not  a  ride;  it’s  a  form  of  transportation.  People  use  the  trolley  to  get   around  downtown.  No  one  wants  to  be  scared.” I did, imagining a ride at Disney World where the trolley was a giant enclosed roller coaster, speeding up and down hills, around sharp corners, and coming to screeching halts to pick up passengers. “It  will  feel  faster  once  we’re  on  board,”  mother  explained. “Really?”  I  excitedly  asked.  She  had  spoken  the  sentence  which  allowed my imagination to soar. I imagined sitting on the trolley, the driver flipping a switch labeled supersonic, and shoulder straps appearing and dropping down from the ceiling, just so everyone could remain safely on board. I wished it would go upside down like the Revolution at Liberty Land, a ride I desperately wanted to ride in order to show up my friend Jasmine, who met the height requirements.   Why   couldn’t   this   be   my   first   upside-down roller coaster? We should have gone to Liberty Land, I thought. “Toot  toot!”  The  trolley  driver  pulled  down  on  the  horn. “He’s �� almost   here!”   I   yelled,   forgetting   about   my   discontent   seconds   earlier.  I  grabbed  my  mother’s  hand. “Okay,   get   back   from   the   tracks.”   Using   her   arm,   she   nudged   me   backwards. He   wasn’t   going that fast, I thought. The trolley stopped in front of us, and by pulling a lever on the floor, the driver opened the doors. I began inching forward, looking at the trolley and back at my mother, anticipating an order to stop, somewhat tiptoeing in order to avoid detection. I looked at my mother. She scanned the trolley, watching passengers exit. She said   nothing,   so   I   didn’t   hesitate and ran for the open door of the trolley. “Wait!”  She  clothes-lined me again, and pulled me backward off the step, mouthing apologies to people getting off the trolley. “Okay!”  I  loudly  reacted  to  her  unnecessary  roughness. Once  it  was  our  turn  to  board,  I  rushed  to  find  a  suitable  seat.  “Not  this   one,”  I  gripped  the  back  of  the  seat,  “or  this  one,”  I  touched  a  seat  several rows back,   “Maybe   this   one,”   I   sat   down,   and   slid   close   to   the   window.   My   mom   instantly followed, sitting  right  beside  me.  “I  don’t  want  to  sit  here  if  you  sit  next   to  me.”  I  stood  up  in  protest.

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“Joy,   please   sit   down.”   She   grabbed   my   hand   in   an   attempt   at further control. “No  Momma.  I’m  big!”  I  snatched  my  hand  away and walked to the next seat back. “I  want  to  sit  here;  the  window’s  open.” “Okay,”  she  humored  me,  exhausted  by  her  motherly  duties. The trolley moved slowly through downtown. I sat kneeling in my seat, enjoying the cool air blowing off the river, on an otherwise warm day. I pressed my fingers against the lowered glass, reaching my arms farther out of the trolley window, wanting to touch that which I knew my mother would not want me to. “Keep  your  hands  in  your  lap!”  she  snapped,  swiveling  backwards  in  her   seat.  “You  could  lose  an  arm.”  Resting  her  hand  close  to  her  armpit,  as  if  she  was   about to do the chicken dance, she rubbed her elbow, lifting it up and down to simulate a missing limb. “Joy,   it’s   not  funny.   You   think   everything  is   a   game.”   She never smiled. I pulled my arms back in, until she turned away, then I resumed enjoying the feeling of the wind swirling down to my fingertips and back up to my elbows.   I   didn’t   like   to   listen   to   my   mother;   I   didn’t   think   she   had   very   good   ideas, and children want answers. I   thought   back   to   last   year’s   birthday   party.   I   was   given   a   book   and   cassette tape on the life and extinction of dinosaurs. An educational birthday present,  rarely  anyone’s  favorite; in fact, I think the only worse present would be one of those craft sets that was far too difficult for their prescribed age group. Those gifts, upon receipt, would be placed in a closet until they could be regifted, ideally, not to the original giver. Following my party, we brought the presents home. My mom helped me to organize them in my room. She was almost instantly drawn to the dinosaur book. “Joy,  you’re  not  allowed  to  play  with  this  toy,”  she  said  pulling  herself  up   off the floor. “This   is   against   God’s   teaching and thus of the devil, so I will dispose  of  it.” “What?  No,  that  was  a  gift,  to  me.  It’s  mine,”  sniffling  and  with  a  quick   wipe of the sleeve, I dried the tears of attachment. “No,  this  is  not  appropriate  for  you.”  She  left  the  room and kept the book. She created a huge issue out of something I probably never would have played

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with. I spent months looking for that toy. Everyday, before she arrived home from work I would search her room, looking in every potential hiding place. I eventually found it hidden under sweatshirts in a drawer. I remember feeling somewhat annoyed that I had spent so much time looking, and it was hidden in the first place I should have looked. She never noticed I took it. “Look, there’s   the   river; it’s   so   big!”   I   was   amazed   by   the   width   of   the   Mississippi that becomes truly visible from the elevated view of the train tracks. Silence from my mom. The trolley made the Riverfront Loop and started back down Main St. towards our car, stopping periodically to let people get on and off. The breaks squeaked, echoing through the trolley as we came to a halt along the Main St. Mall. I studied the vacant and crumbling structures, while taking advantage of the stop to stick part of my torso out of the window. “Sit  your   bottom   in  your  seat.”   She   turned   her   neck,  peering   the   rest  of   the way with her strained eyes, only for a second to bark an order. “The  trolley  is  stopped,  mother.” “Okay,”   she   sighed,   not   even   willing   to   exert   the   energy   to   turn   back   around. I smiled, having got my way, which was rare with my mother. She usually smothered me with worry. I turned back to the window to see what was holding us up. Leaning out, I looked to the front where people were getting on and off. “Why  is  it  taking  so long?  I’m  ready  to  start  moving  again.”  I  tapped  the   side of my seat, waiting for her response, even though I already knew the answer. “It  takes  time  for  everyone  to  get  on  and  off.” I pulled myself back up and out of the window to inspect the progress, and noticed the trolley driver jogging into a small deli. I was frustrated; I breathed heavy, and noticed a man walking towards the trolley. I looked past him, still scanning for our driver. The man had disheveled gray and white hair with a long full beard. He wore a military style jacket with a t-shirt  underneath  bearing  the  words,  “Read   the  Bible,”  across  the  front.  

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Was this man some kind of preacher? I wondered. He was carrying a Bible, shouting passages at those of us on the trolley. I was intrigued. I watched him violently wave the Bible through the air. He must be a preacher trying to find some new converts. His tone sounded strangely familiar, and reminded me of many of the sermons I had heard while visiting and array of churches with my mother. “Hi   little   girl,”   the   man   now   stood   right   in   front   of   the   window   supporting my outstretched body. He muttered and rambled apocalyptically about God. His words were incoherent. Then, the man reached towards me with both hands. I was frozen, shocked that he was so close and trying to grab my arms. “Do  you  want  to  come  home  with  me, little  girl?”  The  man  asked,  even   though  this  was  not  really  a  question,  because  he  didn’t  wait  for  my  response.  He clasped his sweaty hands around my wrists, sliding them farther up my arm with each tug. My lips trembled with fear, and tears began to wet my cheeks. I lurched backward against his pull with every ounce of strength in my small body, and yet I was still moving out of the window and toward the man. My imagination was   no   longer   my   friend.   I   am   getting   kidnapped.   He’s   going   to   kill   me,   I   thought. Still unable to scream, the man had now pulled me far enough to grasp my armpits, for one last lift, up and out of the trolley. The tunnel vision began to subside; I felt anxious hands on the back of my shirt, and ultimately, my waist. My mother came to my rescue. She pulled me back into the trolley, and shut the window, in what seemed like one motion. I breathed heavy and my heart pounded against my rib cage. I fixed my bewildered gaze on her yellow-green eyes that matched mine, begging for an explanation or reason for what had just happened. My mother blew out a breath trying to bring calm to the intensity of the moment. “He   needs   to   read   the   Bible!”   This   is   the   clarity   she provided for my confusion and terror. Needless to say, for the rest of the ride I had no interest in hanging out the window and sat quietly on the seat next to my mother, only shifting occasionally  to  turn  and  check  that  we  weren’t  being  followed.  She  didn’t  seem   worried.

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Once in the car, I was tormented by my thoughts. I decided the man looked like a truck driver, and every trucker who drove near us raised my suspicion that we were being followed. I was convinced this man was a kidnapper; I was his target, and that he would relentlessly search until he found me, and then I would never see my grandparents again. “Joy,  let’s not tell your grandparents about that man. It might scare them, and  they  might  not  let  me  take  you  out  again.” “I  won’t.”  I  don’t know why I agreed. And  I  didn’t  talk  about  it.

The  Ghosts’  Hall by Paulena Passmore

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I Call on the Bird by Emily Phillips

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First Place Prose: Look Away By Madeline Faber How much longer could this possibly last? I snort with the horses that whinny   along   either   side   of   this   tragic   crowd.   This   isn’t   heat.   The   sun’s   indignation backs the church staple folding chairs. The female reenactors murmur like moths with black lace fans. One stands below the giant magnolia tree of Forrest Park swaying gently in her heavy mourning gown. My pantyhose are righteously adhered to my thighs. The elastic swells with sweat and cuts into my   gut.   Everyone   jokes   about   celebrating   General   Nathan   Bedford   Forrest’s   birthday  in  July,  Memphis’s  cruelest  month.  There  isn’t  much  else  to  joke  about.   My grandmother swats at my bare arm. Our party of seventy or so rises to salute the Confederate flag. In addition to the widows of Confederate ghosts with their empty hoopskirts, there are gray-uniformed soldiers with longbarreled muskets, the people who petition history books, their cascades of badges and loyalties glinting unmoving in this heat. Barefoot children are spilling lemonade and a disconcerting biker gang hovers a bit beyond the haze. My toes are pinched from conforming to pointed shoes, but I know from all of the  godforsaken  Sundays  here  since  I  was  a  child  that  we’ll  break  for  chatter  and   sugar cookies once Dixie is roused. Women with collars buttoned to dripping chins clutch wreaths and flags. At a signal from the band, they lay them at the base of that bronze cavalryman. I feel a tug at my yellow sheath dress. “It  just  shames  me  so.  Those  fake  wreaths  are  so  tacky.  Our  chapter  only   uses   fresh   flowers,   you   remember   that,   now.   I’ll   come   down from my resting place  if  you  ever  lay  fake  flowers  on  my  grave.”   I  nod  to  my  grandmother.  Or  at  her,  rather,  because  I  can’t  see  past  the   brimming bows of her sun hat. She shakes her straw crown three times vigorously. The crowd hollers, and I know we’re   already  on   the   last   verse.  My   grandmother holds her hat and swings it. In  Dixie  Land  I’ll  take  my  stand to live and die in Dixie. Away, away, away down south in Dixie. Everybody cheers and the little kids run up the aisle waving their chopstick flags. The 52nd Regimental String Band of the Sons of Confederate Veterans adjust their ascots and launch into something rollicking. I note the police car parked  behind  the  statue.  There’s  one  every  year.  To  keep  trouble  down,  I  guess,  

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but  it’s  pointless  because  there’s  a  militia  here  anyway.  My  grandmother  wants   to speak with a bearded general on a tawny horse. “A   good   man,”   she   knots   her   uncompromising wrinkles in sincerity. “And  always  good  to  your  grandfather.” I remember the last time we took my grandfather to the park. He was humming then about what he was going to plant for a season thirty years ago. My heart was heavier than the air, so I left him in the car with the AC running. He  didn’t  even  know  where  we  were. I   support   my  grandmother  over   treacherously   exposed   tree   roots.  Don’t   be   mistaken;   she’s   a  strong   woman.   There’s   a  Dillinger   in   her   ten   gallon   purse   this  moment,  I’d  bet.  She  blew  out  the  hearing  in  one  ear  years  ago  from  time  at   the shooting range. She’s  a  perfect  shot.  She  knows  her  target,  but  she  can’t  listen   to  anything  that  doesn’t  flow  in  that  direction.  She  stops  to  dab  her  brow  with  an   embroidered handkerchief and launches into a familiar diatribe. “Listen   to   me,   now.   This   country   wants   to   write us out of history. You don’t  just  carry  your  ancestors’  name.  You  bear  their  cause.  Young  people  now   have no sense of place. You have to stay rooted and faithful to your past, Katherine.  Do  you  hear  me?”   I  say  yes  ma’am.  We  encounter  a  cluster  of  cooing women in snoods and drooping shawls. Like mosquitoes they   swarm   around   us.   It’s   soft   and   unobjectable,   of   course,   but   they   recognize   young   blood.   These   flags   won’t   fly   another generation without inculcation. My grandmother beams. “This  is  my  beautiful granddaughter, Katherine. Today is her eighteenth birthday.”   The ladies ruffle their enormous skirts in delight. I shake each of their gloved hands. “This  is  Missus  Mary  Anne  Williamson.  She’s  president  of  the  Daughters   of the American Revolution, Arkansas chapter. You should be expecting her DAR  papers,  Mary  Anne,  now  that  she’s  of  age.”   I nod to Missus Williamson. When I was a child, I thought these women were some kind of fairy princesses. She has a melodious voice and speaks to me like a blessing. I feel a similar comfort. “Eighteen   years   old,   my, oh my, what a special time indeed. You are a beautiful young woman like your grandmother has always told us. And smart too,  I’m  sure,  just  like  her.  You  must  be  looking  at  nice  colleges.”  

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I tell her that I sent in my application to Dartmouth and Middlebury. She tilts her head, and the women float away. I spy one later in the afternoon, her gloves neatly folded, bending unashamedly over a piece of watermelon. I turn around, and  my  grandmother’s  lips  are pressed thin. She speaks quickly. “I’ve   told   your   mother   I   won’t   pay   for   any   Yankee   school.   They   think   differently from us up there. They are different from us. You can go to Vanderbilt  like  she  did  and  I  did  before  her.  You’re  better  than  that.”   Her edicts and that echo To live and die in Dixie infect  me.  I  say  yes  ma’am,   but – I suddenly feel light-headed under the oppressive heat. The reflection off the   General’s   statue   is   blinding.   I   look   up   at   that   monolith.   Beyond   all   of   this   ritual, the papers, the pins, the thirty-gun salute, his stern eyes see cause. Sometimes   I   wish   I   could   feel   that   anthem,   to   pledge   to   anything   “my   life,   reverence,  and  undying  remembrance.”  I  can  feel  a  fever  shudder.  I  know  I  need   to   sit   down,   but   I   can’t   stand   those   sticky   off-white chairs another moment. Before   I   know   what’s   possessed   me,   I’ve   taken  off   my  shoes.   My   grandmother   howls.   I’m   walking   through   the   dirt.   I’m   throwing   my   leg   over   the   magnolia   branch.  I’m  tearing  my  tights.  I’m  straining  my  arms.  I’m  pulling  my  knees to my chest and tucking in my nose. I look the General right in the eye.

Untitled by Marie Joiner

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Man XI by LaDarrious Dortch

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Why Did God Choose Me? By Sara Swisher Every day I see people suffering. Every day I see people who are worse off than me. On the corner, a homeless man sleeping in a cardboard box. At the bus stop, a little girl with a mother covered with track marks. At the grocery store, a little boy with bruises from his father. Why did God choose me? Why am I not the one suffering? Why am I not the one sleeping in a cardboard box like the homeless man on the corner? We  don’t  choose  the  circumstances  we  are  born  into. Why was I born with good ones? Why am I not the little girl with a mother addicted to drugs? Am I just lucky? Is life all about luck? Why  can’t  the  little  boy  with  bruises  be  lucky? Why did God choose me? Am I supposed to give that homeless man a coat? Or  hug  that  girl  with  the  mother  who’s  a  drug  addict? Or be a good role model to the abused boy? Am I the one to lift these people up?

Untitled by Alexis Blum

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ď §First Place Poetry: Roma By Danielle Morris The grape plucked from the vine sours on my tongue; The cry of the eagle rings sharp bells in my ears. The ruddy pastures toss about in the wind, Kicks brittle dirt into my eyes. Signs of scuffle still linger along the paths, A history that the wind will carry away, Erase from memory, obliterate from the records. High noon rises; This land is bitter, resentful. The allure of beauty long since gone dwindles, Citizens becoming immune, restless, complacent. Corruption leaks into the streets, Infests the purest of intentions, Oozes between breaking families. Nothing remains sacred. Everything falls to ruin. Requiescat in pace.

Time to Relax by Christini Fernando

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Tete-Tris by DesireĂŠ Mitchell

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The Storm By Jennifer Sharp Will someone please tell me when this storm will end ‘cause I cannot take no more of this pain. These frightening thoughts are running rapid through my brain. I  feel  like  I’m  at  my  wit’s end. Everything I tried leads me to a dead end. I’m  always  in  a  panic,  worried  about  who’s  there  for  me  and  who’s  not. “Will  you  be  there,  or  will  you  leave  me  when  I’m  distraught?’”     That’s  the  question  I  ask  myself  every day. This paranoia and stress has my mind going astray. I  feel  like  I’m  slowly  losing  my  mind In  life,  I  feel  like  I’m  getting  left  behind. As  I’m  washing  my  sorrows  away  with  my  tears, I wait for something or someone to take me away from this storm.

First Place Fine Art: Full Moon Phase by Hannah Nelson

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Second Place Prose: I  Can’t By Amber Lipford I grew up hearing that I   can’t all the time. No one believed in me. And if they did believe, I never heard a mumbling word from them. Looking back on my life, I see that I could have, I should have, I would have if someone would have believed in me, if someone would have invested the time, the love, the patience with me. No one cared, because I did not matter. It did not matter. It did not matter what I did, what I became (as long as it made me a lot of money), what I said, what I did not say, what I wore (just as long as it was pretty.) But when do those things ever matter? I wanted to be a writer so badly. I wanted to write historical fiction novels. I remember the words so vividly that I had drawn together to create what was like a beautiful start to a bright future, but somewhere along the lines, I stopped. I stopped writing. I stopped believing. I stopped caring. Maybe it was because no one cared. No one noticed. No one showed any interest. No one wanted to care. Maybe that’s   what   it   was.   Or   maybe   it   was   school.   Maybe   it   was   my   social   life   that   I   wanted to work on, but did not have the guts to. I wonder all the time how it would be if I had kept on writing despite what anyone said or thought. What would my writing be like now? What would my life be like? Would I have a better life because I knew where I would fit in? I would fit in perfectly with those who knew how to express themselves on paper and as time drew on, knew how to express themselves in person. The soul who wrote, who put her all into her writing, has died and as much as I want to resurrect her, it is just not working. I don’t have the time now. I don’t   have the drive now. I don’t have the materials now. I don’t have the passion now. Since everyone else stopped caring and stopped believing, I did too. I   know   now   the   words   “I   can’t.”   I   married   them   early   in   my   childhood.   I   live   under   the   same   rooftop   as   them.   We   created   the   children   “I don’t,”   “I   won’t,”   and   “I’m   not”   and   those   kids   follow   me   around   everywhere.   Never   give   me   a   breath. Never allow me to just sit alone and think. Never allow me to follow those dreams I have always had.

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One   day   soon,  I   shall   divorce  “I  can’t”   and   these   horrible  children.  I   can’t  stay   here  anymore.  I  can’t  keep  living  under  a  roof  where  my  dreams  can’t  reach  the   front  door.  I  can’t  live  my  life  on  a  leash. I  just  can’t.

Johnathan by Alexis Blum Dream Big By Tachele Anderson I never knew that dreams came in sizes Just like jeans fit to thighs and Necks fit through ties, they Come in sizes, see I Came to this realization the other day when A nearby salesmen told me that my dream was the wrong size. I was aiming too high, reaching for the sky When the dome of this one story home was the limit,

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For me at least. I  swore  confidently  that  I  wouldn’t  cease  until  I  reached  my  dreams His eyes seemed to laugh at me, unbelievingly, Staring down his nose, analyzing me from head to toe Sizing me up before saying, “No.” Apparently  my  dream  didn’t  fit. The measurements needed adjusting, a little touching Up. They were too much for me to handle, Or so he said. The man led me to a smaller rack, Fed me lines of what I lack And more hurtful, what I had. The  melanin  that’s collected in my skin Was a blemish, as was my estrogen. He  was  tryin’  everything  he  could To daunt my intentions, but as I mentioned I  dream  big  excessively,  and  I  wouldn’t  be  deterred From my aspirations. I  wouldn’t  be  coerced  into  concurrin’, I am her, the One who opposes, who chose to Search  for  somethin’  to  aspire  for, Conspire to achieve. Something to attack and pick at until I bleed …like  the  day-old laceration A  child’s  sole  infatuation,  worked  at  with  desperation And unmatched determination. I am she, and I am me. So  you  be  you,  be  the  light  that’s  shinin’ Even  when  they  argue  that  the  dream  you’re  buyin’ Is too big to fit. Let  them  know  that  you’ll  grow  into  it. That’s  what  I  did.

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Note To Self By Maneesha Palipane Words and thoughts Use them with caution What you think Is what you do most of the time. What you say is seldom What your actions will follow Aspire to inspire people With your character, and behavior Not your appearance. The beauty lies within. Don't be the judge of others But let them judge you Because over time People who matter to you Will know who you are. The real you. Speak your mind out-loud, Let alone how insane it may sound. Because meaningful feelings defeat Empty thoughts hands down. Don't bear all the worries in the world Don't feel like it's all descending on you Because it's not. If there's a problem, Cry a little, and go fix it. Because every little problem Has a solution. Learn to smile Through all the tears To laugh, through all the pain To learn, through all the heartaches. Because at the end of the road, Someday, As you look back,

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You will connect the dots, And feel thankful For everything For molding you into who you are!

Fleeting by Valerie Mills

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the nature of the colored man By Amber Lipford They like to relive history Never taking out the mystery Of what the future COULD hold Deeply dug into their own misery Saying  it’s  a  conspiracy Because of what? Their ignorance of bliss The targets they missed The pain they kissed “No,  this  is  just  a  list of some shit you made up, some  thoughts  you  dreamed  up.” It is so depressing to see a race Get so close to the sun, So close to where they can feel the heat Inch up their skin Only  for  them  to  look  how  far  they’ve  come Only for them to see how far from home They really where And  fall  back  down  “there” There, where the depression lies There, where fears arise There, where love and hope die There,  where  the  babies  won’t  stop  crying There, where the child ALWAYS stops trying The comfort zone they call home A place where they are never alone Someone is always willing to fail Someone is always willing to tell Someone is always willing to bail Someone is always willing to yell “free  my  friend  from  that  cell” How about you free yourself

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From your home, better known as hell? They never amount to anything Because they are stuck in a never-ending rut Of despair. Well,  it’s  the  nature  of  the  colored  man.

 Second Place Digital Art: Untitled by Alicia Russell

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Grime By Danielle Morris “We   should   get   a   puppy,”   said   Dixie.   Her   ponytail   slipped   over   her   shoulder and tickled his nose as she leaned over the back of the couch and hugged   him   around   his  neck.   “Like   a   lab  or   a   shepherd.   A  little  one.   I   think   it   would  liven  this  place  up.” “A  puppy?”  Alex  rubbed  her  arm.  “Why  do  you  want  a  puppy?” “Who  doesn'ʹt  want  a  puppy?”  She  laughed  and  tightened  her  hold. “I  would  imagine  people  who  are  allergic  to  animal  dander  don'ʹt  want  a   puppy.” She  laughed  again.  “It'ʹs  a  good  thing  neither  of  us  are  allergic,  then.” He   pushed   her   hair   out   of   his   face.   “We   should   get   a   puppy   because   we'ʹre  not  allergic  to  dogs?” “No,  we  should  get  a  puppy  because  we  want  one.”  Dixie  released  him,   but only to step to the side and somersault over the back of the sofa. She came to a rest with her legs crossed on the cushion, facing him and beaming. “Do  we?” “Well,  duh.  Who  doesn'ʹt  want  a  puppy  when  they'ʹve  got  a  big  house  and   a  big  yard?” Squeezing  her  knee,  Alex  said,  “I  would  imagine  people  who  don'ʹt  want   their yard and  furniture  ruined  don'ʹt  want  a  puppy.” “Alexander.”  Dixie  huffed,  but  she  was  still  smiling.  The  dimples  in  her   cheeks winked at him. “It'ʹs  true.”  His  hand  slid  up  to  her  thigh.  “Why  do  you  want  a  puppy?” She caught his wandering fingers, pinching each   of   his   knuckles.   “I  just   think  it'ʹs  time  for  us  to  get  a  puppy,  you  know?” “Time?”   he   repeated.   One   of   his   dark   eyebrows   rose,   disappearing  into   his wispy bangs. “Yeah.”   She   rubbed   his hand between both of hers, and for a moment, she fingered his wedding  band.  “We'ʹve  got  stability.  Maybe  it'ʹs  time  to  make  our   family  bigger.” “Aren'ʹt  both  of  us  enough?”  Alex  glanced  around  their  living  room.  For  a   moment, he pictured his beautiful house besmirched here and there with bits of mud, scuffs, and gates in every doorway. It would be a losing battle to keep the

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puppy way from the nice furniture. Dixie wouldn't keep it off the sofa or out of the bed. She wouldn't even keep her own feet of the coffee table. “We   could   have   more.”   Her   voice   had   softened.   “Our family could be bigger,  more  complete.  We  could  be  happier.” “With  a  puppy?” “Or  whatever  addition  we  want  to  add.”  Her  fingers  caressed  his  wrist. “You  want  a  cat  instead?”  Alex  asked.  He  pulled  his  hand  from  her  grip. “I  like  kittens.” He stood, looking over his living room again. Scratched door frames and mutilated cushions? No, thank you. “I   don'ʹt   want   a   cat,”   he   said,   passing   the   flat   screen   on   the   wall.   He   walked  for  the  kitchen.  “And  I  don'ʹt  want  a  puppy,  either.” Dixie threw her feet over the  side  of  the  couch  and  followed  him.  “Why   not?” “I  like  my  house  undestroyed,  my  yard  landscaped,  and  my  air  smelling   fresh,  not  like  wet  dog  or  cat  litter.”  Alex  opened  the  refrigerator. Dixie'ʹs  arms  crossed  as  he  poured  himself  a  glass  of  water.  “So,  you don't want  to  make  a  few  sacrifices?” “No,  I  don'ʹt.  We'ʹre  fine  as  we  are.” “You  never  want  to  make  our  family  bigger?” His eyes met hers over his glass of water. The sunlight streaming in from the window caught the single slice of cucumber he'd added. For a crisp, fresh taste,  he  told  her.  Even  his  water  was  snooty.  “No,”  he  said.  “I  like  my  house  the   way  it  is.” “A  house  is  meant  to  be  lived  in.” “And  we  live  in  our  house.” “And  the  two  spare  rooms?” “Are  for  when  our  parents  visit.”  Alex  took  his glass to the dish sanitizer. He hated when she called it a dishwasher. “I  don'ʹt  want  anything  from  you  but  for  you  to  think  about  it,”  said  Dixie,   scowling. “I  will.” “Fine.”   She   turned   away   from   him.   It   was   a   warm   day;   she   should   be   spending it outside.  “I'ʹll  be  back  in  a  little  while.” “Wipe  your  feet  before  you  come  back  in.”

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She didn't bother putting on shoes or socks before she went outside. She didn't bother responding to him either. She didn't make promises she didn't keep, and she always gave in to what he wanted, but it would be much more satisfying to walk on his sparkling wooden floors with dirty toes.

Let It Sleep by Camille Caparas

Untitled by Alvin Siow



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Second Place Poetry: Running Errands By Candace Lester The frozen rain stings my face, as my forgotten umbrella is coated in ice. The cold of the bench seeps through my layers Reaching between my ribs leaving the space between hollow. I  wonder  can  you  see  me,  I  pray  you  can’t. The tears stopped yesterday. I sit in the freezing rain remembering the first twenty minutes of your life. Free from tubes or needles, No pain or medication, no blue veneer over grey skin. Tomorrow I will forget that you will not be there when I get to your room, my hands freshly scrubbed, to mold your tiny fingers around mine and disappear into a moment.

Glamour by Christini Fernando

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ď §Second Place Fine Art: Mourning Elegance by DesireĂŠ Mitchell

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Third Place Poetry: HAIKU By Amanda Shaeffer Morning ritual: Reading the bumper stickers Down the aisles of cars. I'm on top of things; It's all planned out—What? I thought That test was NEXT week! Commuter student— “Which  guard  will  I  see  today?”— Pulls through a gateway. With tax, that comes to Just exactly two cents More Than I have in cash. That vending machine Neither knows nor cares that it Ate my last dollar. Soror and frater . . . It seems funny how Latin Names things that are Greek. Dash across campus, Climb the stairs, only to learn Class has been canceled. The elevator Takes its sweet time, as always: Hurry up and wait.

A popular course— One minute after midnight, Sign up, nab a spot.

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Parking by Camille Caparas

Third Place Prose: Lost and Found By Sarah Longoria My tooth was loose, on the right side, bottom row. I nudged the back of it with my tongue, feeling it wiggle in place with each little push. And then it fell out. I jumped, then spat it into my hand. Uh oh. I clenched my fist around it and ran. I slipped on the rug in the hall, almost falling, banged my elbow on the bathroom doorway, crashed into the sink, jerked the light switch on, leaned into the mirror, and opened my mouth. There  it  was.  A  gap  where  my  tooth  had  been.  Why?  I  wondered.  I’d  just  started college;  I’d  lost  my  last  baby  tooth  five  or  six  years  ago… Then the tooth right next to the gap fell out too. I spat it into my hand with the other one. Oh shit, I thought as I winced at the gaping hole in my teeth. What the hell was I going to do?

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No sooner had the question crossed my mind then all of my teeth began to fall over like dominoes. One after another after another and another. I tried to hold them in place with my fingers, but it was no use. I bent over the sink, gagging. Saliva oozed out of my lips and my teeth clattered on the white porcelain—clank-clank,  clank.  I  couldn’t  count  how  many  teeth;  I  couldn’t  think;   I   couldn’t   breathe;   my   heart   was   beating   so   hard,   I   thought   it   might   burst   through my chest. And then my entire body jolted, and my eyes flashed open. Darkness. I clamped my hand on my mouth; I could feel my teeth. Then, I remembered to breathe. With each punch my heart made, I took in a sharp breath. The combination made my chest sting. It  was  only  a  nightmare.  It’s  okay.  It  isn’t  real.  You  still  have  all  your  teeth.  It’s   okay,  Sarah.  It’s  okay. I kept repeating these things in my head, over and over again. Eventually, my heart settled down, my breathing slowed, and I fell back asleep. But  it  wasn’t  okay. This   wasn’t   the  first   time   this   nightmare   had   haunted   me.   It   wasn’t   the   second   time,   either.   I   couldn’t   count   how   many   nights   I   had   sprung   awake   horrified, because I thought I had lost all of my teeth. It pursued me by day, too. I walked around worrying—what if I was to trip and bust my teeth on the concrete? I could feel the shockwaves traveling through my teeth; I could hear the shattering sound they would make; I could see the shards lying on the concrete—and it sent shivers down my spine. I remember my first loose tooth. The first time I noticed it wiggle in my mouth, I hopped up and down and ran to find Momma. “Look!   Look!”   I   pointed   to   my   tooth.   “It’s   loose,   Momma!   It’s   loose!”   I   grinned. In   the   week   that   followed,   when   I   wasn’t   eating,   talking,   or   sleeping, I was working on that loose tooth—pushing it back and forth with my tongue. This worked well. After a while, it got hard to eat. I would place my food on the left side of my mouth away from my loose tooth, and chew gently, making  sure  I  didn’t  bite down on it. Leaning my head to the left made it a little easier, but it still took an awful long time. I narrowed my eyes and scrunched up my nose, focusing.

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My  mom  noticed.  “Sarah,  why  are  you  eating  like  that?  Is  it  your  tooth?   It’s  okay  if  you  eat  on  it.  That  will  help  it  come  out.” I shook my head. No way. That might be bad. That might hurt. After  dinner,  Momma  called  me  over.  “Let  me  see  your  tooth,  Sarah.”   I  didn’t  move. “I  promise  I  won’t  touch  it.  I  just  want  to  take  a  look.” “You  promise?”  I  cried  from  across  the  room. “I  promise.” “Really?” “Really.  I  promise.” I inched towards her, crossing my arms around my little body. She placed one hand on my back and the other underneath my chin. “Okay,  sweetie,  open  up.” I hesitated for a moment, then did as she said. Her hand went straight for my tooth. I shrieked and tried to run away, but her hand on my back had me trapped. I felt a great pressure on my tooth, a sharp twinge, and then a spurt of something warm and metallic. “Ouch!”  I  clasped my mouth. “There,  it’s  all  over  now.  Wasn’t  that  easy?”   I looked up at her and lowered my eyebrows. “Here,   look,”  she   took   my   hand   and   dropped   my   tooth  in  it.   “Now   the   tooth  fairy  can  come  and  see  you.” My eyebrows shot up and my heart leaped. The tooth fairy! I cradled the little, white tooth in my hand. “When  will  the  tooth  fairy  come?  Where  do  I  put  my  tooth?  How  will  she   know  where  to  find  it?  How  much  do  you  think  she  will  give  me?” My mom smiled, and I smiled back. I never let her look at my loose teeth again. I learned how to rip them out on my own after that. In second grade, I learned from the kids at school that I had buck teeth, and I learned that that was bad. “What’s  wrong  with  your  teeth?”   “Your  teeth  stick  out.”   “Why  can’t  you  close  your  lips  over  your  teeth?”  

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“Your  teeth  look  funny.” “I  want  teeth  just  like  Sarah’s!” They  joked  and  laughed  about  it.  But  it  wasn’t  funny.  Not  at  all.  I  hated   my teeth. And I hated going to school. I felt like everyone was always watching me, always looking at my teeth, always laughing at me. I stopped answering questions  in  class;  stopped  talking  to  people  I  didn’t  know  well;  stopped  trying   to  make  friends.  I  didn’t  want  people  to  see  me.   I tried to make my lips go over my teeth. I tried so hard. But they just wouldn’t.   Sometimes at night, I put my fingers on my teeth and pushed as hard as I could. I thought that maybe if I pushed hard enough and long enough, my teeth would go back. Even just a little bit. That Christmas, Mom and Dad bought me a “My   Twinn”   doll,   named   Sarah, just like me. I squealed and bounced up and down when I unwrapped her. Then I danced around my Dad while he took her out of the box. I snatched her up into my lap. Her little legs squeaked as I bent them into a sitting position. I stroked her long blonde hair; it was the same shade as mine and soft; she even had my bangs. I touched her hazel eyes; they were plastic, but they were the same color as mine. I ran my fingers over her smooth face, stopping at the bottom left side on two brown specks; those were the same two freckles I had. Then I traced her pink, closed lips. She was beautiful. She came with two matching outfits—one for her and one for me—shirts with green, blue, and purple stripes with long sleeves and curly cuffs, khaki jumpers, and blue scrunchies. I scurried to the bathroom to change my clothes, so I could look just like her. We   wore   our   outfits   to   Nanny’s   house   that   day   for   Christmas   dinner.   I   carried Sarah in my arms, beaming. She and I went up to everyone in my family and gave them hugs and kisses, then we went down to the den with the other kids. I sat on the couch with my cousins, placed Sarah on my lap and folded my arms around her.

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“Your   doll   is   so   pretty,   Sarah!”   my   cousin,   Emily,   said.   “She   looks   just like  you!” “Yeah,  except  her  teeth  don’t  stick  out,”  another  cousin  laughed. Emily  gasped,  “Don’t  say  that!  That’s  mean.” “But  it’s  true!” I stopped smiling and placed my doll on the couch beside me. I wished I had left her at home. Third grade was worse   than   second   grade.   I   was   in   Mrs.   Walsh’s  class, and I sat next to Ryan. Ryan had tan skin, a big head, black hair, and brown eyes that were spaced a little too close together. It started out as an innocent game. He said something, and I repeated it. He said something else, and I repeated that as well. “Quit  copying  me!”  he  said. “Quit  copying  me!”  I  said. “Stop  it!” “Stop  it!” Back and forth and back and forth. “I  have  buck  teeth!” My heart stopped, and I lost my breath. A sharp pang pierced the back of my  throat.  I  had  never  said  that  before.  I  couldn’t  say  that.  No.  I  could  never  say   that. I looked up at Ryan. He was smirking, and his eyes were gleaming. He knew. I  did  the  only  thing  I  could:  I  pretended  I  didn’t  hear  him.  “What?  What   did you say?” He  seized  the  opportunity  and  sang  back,  “What?  What  did  you  say?” He had won the game, but that was okay. I was done playing. The summer before fourth grade, my mom took me to the orthodontist to get braces. First, they took a lot of pictures. That made me cringe.

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Then they had to take molds of my teeth. I crawled into the cold, pleather seat and swung my feet back and forth while I waited. The dental assistant came in and asked me what flavor I wanted. I told her cherry. Cherry sounded like a good idea. It  wasn’t.   She spread a heaping gob of pink putty into a mouthpiece, and then told me to open wide. The cold slime sunk into the cracks between my teeth, gushed over my gums, and threatened to crawl down my throat. I thought I was going to throw up. “Don’t  move,”  she  walked  out  of  the  room  and  shut  the  door  behind  her.   I laid back and waited.  Minutes  passed  like  hours.  I  couldn’t  swallow,  so   my mouth slowly filled up with cherry spit; it slid down the back of my throat. I was drowning. My fingernails dug into the arm rests of my chair. I clenched my eyes shut and tried to think of something else—braces,  I’m   getting  braces,    that’s  nice,  my  teeth  will  look  so  good,  I’m  drowning,  maybe  I’ll   get  pink  ones,  or  blue  ones,  perhaps  green,  I’m  drowning,  where  is  that  lady?  Is   she   coming   back?   I’m   drowning,   she   needs   to   hurry   up,   I’m   drowning,   I’m drowning. The door! Thank goodness! As soon as the assistant took out the mouthpiece, I swallowed everything that was in my mouth—spit and bits of cherry goo. My stomach heaved, but I managed to keep it down. “Okay,  now  we’ll  do  the  bottom  row.”   I started to yelp, but covered my mouth. I   couldn’t   wait   to   start   fourth   grade.   The   week   before   school   started,   I   went to orientation. I bounced down the halls, looking for my name on the lists on the doors, to see which class I would be in. “Hi,  Sarah!”  Said a pretty girl with long blonde hair. My head whipped back, searching for another Sarah. There must be another one behind me that this girl was talking to. She was the girl everyone liked, the girl everyone wanted to be. She never talked to me. All I saw was an empty hallway. I turned back to the girl. She was looking at me.

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“Hi,   Courtney.”   My   hands   clasped   together,   my   fingers   wringing   each   other. She  smiled.  “You  got  braces!  Did  you  get  them  this  summer?” “Yeah,  a  couple  of  months  ago.”  I  breathed  out. “They  look  really  nice!” “Really?”  my  lips  curled  up. “Yeah,  I  like  the  green!” I  grinned.  “Thank  you.” Fourth grade was going to be good. Every six weeks, I went to the orthodontist. First, I got to pick a new color for my rubber bands. Blue, purple, hot  pink,  orange.  I’d  be  able  to  go  through  all   the colors before I was done. Then the orthodontist would trim the wires in my mouth and tighten them until my teeth felt like they were going to explode. I usually  couldn’t  eat  until  the  next  day  or  so.  Advil helped a little bit. Chocolate Frosties  my  mom  bought  me  from  Wendy’s  helped  even  more.   Finally, the day arrived to get my braces off. I jumped up onto the bench at the orthodontist and lay back before he had the chance to tell me to. He clipped the wires first and eased them out. Then he yanked the metal bands off of my back molars. All that was left were the brackets. They had been glued to my teeth for years. He took a metal instrument and began to scrape my teeth. He dragged the metal down my tooth until it smashed into the bracket. Then he did it again, and again, over and over until the bracket loosened enough for him to rip it off. Then he moved on to the next tooth. How many teeth did I have? I wondered. The metal screeched against my teeth. Each scrape sent jolts through my jaw. I twisted the rim of my t-shirt into two wads and clenched my fists around them. I tried to swallow the pain, but every now and then, a whimper escaped. The orthodontist kept saying it would be over soon. I hoped he was right. And I hoped I would have teeth left when he was done. After he had scraped all of the brackets and glue off, he gave me a paper cup to go and rinse my mouth out with. I hopped off the bench and filled my cup up at the sink, swishing the water around in my mouth. I spat it out and popped my head up to look in the mirror.

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I recognized my face, but when I opened my mouth I saw someone I had never seen before. My heart leaped. I smiled until my   face   couldn’t   stretch   anymore and examined my teeth one by one. They were perfectly straight. I closed my lips over them and then smiled again. They were beautiful. They  wanted  to  take  pictures  for  my  records.  This  time,  I  didn’t  mind. I smiled all the time, after that. And I loved getting my picture taken. I couldn’t  tell  my  teeth  had  ever  stuck  out.  No  one  could.  And  no  one—except my family and the kids I went to elementary school with—no one knew they had ever stuck out. I never talked about it with anyone. And I refused to look at pictures of myself from back then. Each time I did, my face burned and a lump rose up in the back of my throat. In my sophomore year of college, my mom asked me to speak at the fifth grade  retreat  she  was  leading  called  “Christian  Community.”  The  retreat  focused   on different ways that we can tear down or build up the people around us. She wanted me to talk about the way I had been torn down when people made fun of my teeth. I accepted. I loved working retreats, and I wanted to help. I had never talked about being made fun of with anyone except my family before. But it had been so many years. It would be okay. Writing it all down was easy, refreshing even. When the day of the retreat arrived, I put on my dark wash jeans, blue shirt, and hot pink sweater. I slipped on a pair of sparkling earrings and my silver shoes. I decided to wear makeup that day. I got to the retreat while the kids were at lunch. My mom had packed me something  to  eat.  I  nibbled  on  cheese  and  fruit,  but  didn’t  eat  much.  My  stomach   was churning. My heart started to speed up when the fifth graders came back. Before I saw them walk through the doors, I heard them—stampeding down the hall in a swarm of high pitched shouts and laughs. Then I saw them. There were so many, forty or fifty at least, a whole herd. When they had taken their seats, my mom shouted to quiet them down “All  right  everyone,  listen  up!  We  have  a  special  person  who  has  come  to  share   something  with  you  today,  my  daughter,  Sarah.”

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My heart was pounding, now. “So,  let’s  be  respectful  and  listen  to  what  she  has  to  say.” I eased towards the front of the room, watching my feet step one in front of the other. I turned around to face the crowd of kids. My throat was drying out, so I swallowed a few times, and then I began: “Hello,  my  name  is  Sarah  Longoria and  I  used  to  go  to  school  here.” Easy, I thought. I could do this. It was okay. “There  was  a  time  when  I  did  not  like  to  go  to  school.” Remember to breathe. Take a breath. “In  second  and  third  grade.”   My chest was tightening. “My  classmates  made  fun  of me  because….”   A  sharp  pain  pierced  the  back  of  my  throat.  I  couldn’t  speak.  I  couldn’t   say it. Tears glossed over my eyes. I gripped the pages of my paper, trying to collect myself. Then, I noticed the silence. The only sound I could hear was my own sputtering breaths. I looked up from my pages. All of the children in the room were frozen in their seats. They were all looking at me—their eyes wide, their mouths slightly ajar. They were waiting. I looked into their eyes, one child after another. I had to say it. “My  classmates  made  fun  of  me  because”— my voice was a knife in my throat—“I  had  buck  teeth.” Tears were streaming down my face. “I  can  remember  each  and  every  time  someone  called  me  ‘buck-toothed.’” My voice became more and more shrill. “And   each and every time someone laughed at me and made faces at me.”   My   voice   cracked.   I   didn’t   think   I   could   make   the   words   come   out.   I   looked  up  and  my  eyes  met  a  little  girl’s  blue  eyes.   I  shoved  the  words  out.  “I  was  so  ashamed  of  myself.  I  hated  myself.  It was  one  of  the  worst  feelings  in  the  world.”  I  clamped  my  hand  over  my  mouth,   clenched my eyes shut, and sobbed, my whole body shaking.

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Then I felt a warm hand on my shoulder. I turned around and saw my mom with tears in her eyes. I took a deep breath and  continued,  “The  hurt  of  being  made  fun  of  stays   with  you  for  years,  but  that  hurt  can  be  healed.”  Tears  were  still  dripping  down   my  face,  but  my  voice  had  softened.  “We  have  to  remember  that  God  created  all   of us, and that He created us good. We are all different, but we are all good, and all  lovable.”  I  smiled. My  mom’s  arms  wrapped  around  me  in  a  huge  hug  when  I  had  finished   and the children clapped for me. I walked to the back of the room and dried my face with a tissue. Later during the retreat, a little boy, about four feet tall, with black hair and tan skin, walked up to me. He looked up at me through his glasses and his brown eyes met mine. “You’re  just  like  me,”  he  said. My  heart  melted.  I  let  out  a  breath  “Really?” “Yeah.  It’s  the  same  for  me.”  His eyes never left mine. “I’m  so  sorry,”  I  tried  to  keep  my  voice  even.  “It’s  really  hard,  but  it  does   get  better.” He nodded. I smiled.

Clarity by Bianca Cowan

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Don’t  Give  Me  Some  Bullshit  About  God  Either By Jessica Richard A bright light shined   in   my   face.     It   wasn’t   a   police   person,   but   it   reminded me of one of those God beams. Not pure white, but a yellow white that  means  the  person  has  done  something  dirty  and  they’re  about  to  be  smote.     It was fitting though, because I should have been blown apart into little sexcraved starved pieces. There I was minding my own business lying on a pew in the church during a youth retreat. The hard back pinned my arm fat up beneath my pit and moved all the jiggle from the bottom of my thighs around to the inside. The seats  hadn’t  been    redone  in  years  and  just  last  Saturday  I’d  seen  one  of  the  little   girls whose known for peeing on themselves sitting right where I was laying, rocking  and  shaking.    I’d  tried  to  make  sure  I  didn’t  end  up  here.    My  little area was all made up; I saved the only good pew and layered it with two holey comforters. My pillows where wrapped in protectors and zippered cases, and an outlet was right across from head so I could keep an eye on my phone. But wouldn’t  you  know, one of the old busy body abstinent chaperones had to come and make me move, because boys and girls were sleeping on opposite sides of the  main  aisle.    By  the  time  I’d  gathered  all  my  stuff  and  was  ready  to  move, the only pew left was the piss-stained one, and I had to go about trying to find a place to lay my head between stains. “All  right,  let’s  all  be  clear.    There’s  no  funny  business  going  on.    You  all   stay on your side of the aisle, got   that?”     With   her   hands   on   her   outrageously   large hips, Ms. Bone had stared at us each in turn with her good eye. That was two hours ago. Now she looked down and the beam of light swung from my face to my genitals.    “Oh  my  God,  what  is  going  on  here?    Jeremiah,”  she  said. “Jeremiah  get   up  now.    Sarah  pull  your  pants  up.” She  didn’t  need  to  say  any  of  this.    When  the  light  hit  my  face, Jeremiah had tried to stand up, but tripped on the edge of my cover, fell back, and rolled away beneath the pews. I reached down to try to yank my pants up, but they got caught on something sharp and a loud rip tore through the dark. “I   can’t   believe   what   you’re   doing.     Sarah, I said, get   up.”     Ms.   Bones   grabbed my arm and pulled hard making waves slosh across from her fat to mine. I stood up and finished pulling my pants up while she dragged me out

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into the center aisle. The lights turned on and heads starting popping up and looking around, their eyes dilated and black. “Everyone  go  back  to  bed.    Turn  that  light  off.”     Her  nails  pinched  into   my arm on the word “off”. At the back of the church she found Jeremiah on his belly, wriggling back to his side the same way he had come to mine.

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flashlight found his face, and he grinned briefly. A piece of hair curled in his teeth. “Uh, Ms.  Bones.” “Get  up, Jeremiah, and come with me. And what is that in your mouth?” He ran his tongue across his teeth and pulled out the hair with a quick move  of  his  hand.    “Nothing, just  some  food  from  earlier.” Ms. Bones grabbed his hand and pulled the piece of hair out from between his fingers. The hair twisted between her fingers in the beam of light. She looked at me with her eyebrows raised and her mouth open, but  she  didn’t   say anything and pushed us through doors and hallways until we stood outside the  pastor’s  office. “You   two   should   pray   the   good   Lord’s   forgiveness   for   the   punishment   you are to receive from Him, for this most vile of sins committed under his own roof!”    With  that  she  knocked  on  the  door  and  waited  for  the  pastor. She  didn’t  need  to  say  that  either;  I  was  already  being  punished.    The cool air filtered through the hole in my pants and with a shock I realized my underwear as well. It touched my tingling organs which had not calmed down, despite   being   caught.     Jeremiah,   a   boy   who   I   hadn’t   noticed   until   five   hours   before, stood beside me with my residue mixed with dirt from the floor starting to dry and get sticky on his fingers. On his face, at the left corner of his lip, was the faintest red smear and with the twinge of a cramp from my left side, I knew I had just started my period.

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Risk By Paulena Passmore Yeah, first look Says  I’m  too  much  to  handle But  that’s  just  the  first  look. The  first  word  says  I’m  a  smart  aleck And the first step says I’m  a  rebel  without  a  cause. But, just because I fit the mold Doesn’t  mean  I  act  the part ‘Cause  there’s  more  beneath  this  skin Than bone, muscle, and guts. There’s  a  heart  that  goes  tick  tock   And a spirit that wants to burst With all that life has to offer But, Since  you’re  too  afraid  to  take  a  risk, I’ll  take  one  for  you And walk away.

Trust by LaDarrious Dortch

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Ampoules By Jessica Richard All of this is but a crock. Pottery badly shaped from the beginning Cracked covered over with rough patches and loose glue. The bottom falls out and what mess is this That stains? Stains what? It covers nothing, for space is black. No white cloth sits patiently beneath waiting To be covered in tar. Omnipotence does not lack that wisdom In the minds of those who create it. Those minds, those sandwich bags Thin cut from the same pattern. Made from cheap plastic holding only Slightly more from those already Decayed cloth vessels of rarest wisdom. They are all soiled and left to rot. And that ambrosia empties out the bottom, Snakes round through cracks holes chips and flecks Filling it up that gas, that stench. Air.    Breathe  it  in,  it’s  air.

Initiation by Bianca Cowan

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Dear Dad By Maneesha Palipane Today. I stop. I bow down at your feet. For everything I have been through Has led me to where I am now. Today. I stop. I bow down at your patience. For allowing me to experience The pain, the sadness As well as the joy and laughter Over the years...day after day. Today. I stop. I bow down standing beside you. For you have shown me Everything I have believed in. I have a reason to keep on believing. And I know I will not fail. I stop. Salute you, Because the gratitude is beyond words. I bow down at your feet, For allowing me to feel, The feeling, I'm feeling, At this very moment. I miss you Daddy!

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Untitled by Connor Bran

Untitled by Loan Ly

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Song of Light and Shadow By Larry Woodley The sickly cry made my entire world. The sticky red flowed from his chest like wine, My blade rested deep in the heart of a god, and our shared universe was condensed to shock. Lord  Faramor’s murky black eyes grew wide in surprise As  his  brother’s  sacred  blade  lapped  up The bubbling pitch that was his blood like a starving hound. The  runes  etched  in  the  flat  of  Heaven’s  Edge  glowed, Bright and hot, Glorious as the splendor of Lord Malareth of Light. Faramor screamed as his blood boiled like hot oil, Black smoke billowing forth from his torso. He tried to speak, perhaps to beg. But nothing came up but a hacking cough, But gurgling tar spilling down his chin Into that matted dark beard. But a sob of sad, whining realization. In that moment, we both knew one thing. I wielded the sword of the God of Light To devour the life of the Lord of Shadow. I watched a god die today, by machinations of his All-Good brother. I watched a god cry today, forced to learn the fear of death. Lord Faramor slid off my blade And crumpled to a heap on the floor. And I said a silent prayer, To  whom,  I’m  not  sure,  over  the  corpse  of  a  dead  immortal. Then  I  felt  it,  Lord  Malareth’s  promise.

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The holy splendor left the Shadow Slayer, And its runic power crept up my arms. No, not power. The concept of forever. Infinite lifeforce crept through my nerves. Boundless vitality rushed through my veins. “You’ve  done  well,  my  champion,” Boomed a voice from the heavens, “I  loved my brother, but he was a monster, A  horrible  blight  on  the  realm  of  men.” “Yes,  m’lord,”  I  said  as  I  took  a  knee, Sheathing the blade in the earth itself. A blight your hands were too pristine to clean. A ray of gold, blinding and bright, Fell from the clouds on the godslaying blade. And up it rose into the skies. “A  murderer,  he  was,  thousands  dead, Villages pillaged and plundered and burned. But the Lord of Shadow was God of Death. Who can keep the world in order if nothing But  light  and  life  exist?” “You.” The word came simple, but the word came strong. The golden runes of godly power glowing on my body Lost their holy light, and the feverish heat of Malareth Died out and died hard. Those godly symbols were black and cold.

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“I  promised  you  life  eternal, And with that comes a second gift. Just as my realm is light and life, You’ve  inherited  the  title  of  God  of  Shadows. You  decide  the  balance  now.” And there I stood, dumb and silent As the corpse lay at my feet. My responsibility? To slay the old and weak and sick And bring the hopeless cold night? The heavens darkened as the thought dawned on me, And I was left alone with my new mantle. The cloudy night was only silent, heavy. I was new. No longer me. I was darkness. Death. Night. Winter. Everything Malareth was not. I’d  be  the  new  Faramor. A hated monster, cruel and deadly. All for the machinations of my lord. The  God  of  all  that’s  “good  and  right.” A  cold,  chill  hatred  took  my  heart.  I’d  be…. Everything Malareth was not. Honorable. Just. If it was death I had to bring, I’d  make  it  peaceful,  painless,  sweet.

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If I had to drag the night into the world, It would be a time of dreams. If the power of death was in my hands, Out  of  Faramor’s  crushing  grasp, The world would be safer, Warmer, Brighter. The shadows became my entire world. My gentle touch sheparded the dead To the realm of their eternal sleep.

Third Place Untitled by Alvin Siow

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Untitled by Maneesha Palipane

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Been Home a Long Time by Madeline Faber

Echoes of Silence by Bianca Cowan

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Negative by Emily Phillips

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Agraphobia By Tachele Anderson

As  I  lay  dreamin’ Images  streamin’ ‘Cross  a  movie  screen  in  my  head Everything goes still. Picture it. Nothing’s  more  innocent Than a valiant, vigilant youth, Super girl will rid the world Of the foul and uncouth. The  antagonist  that’s  prowlin’  ain’t  what  she  expected. He  stands  erected,  unaffected  by  the  fact  that  he’s  suspected. His  approach  is  unalarmin’ So  naïve,  she  don’t  believe Any  harm  can…come  from  him. Mistake number one. ‘Cause  see,  that  was  his  intention. To harm the weak beyond mention. He is sick and demented And…she  was  just  so  innocent,  so  he  took  the  chance. At the time, she was too young to know better A gullible go-getter, She had much to learn, But she’s  older  now…. So  much  colder  now…. And  what’s  worse,  she’s  afraid  of  men. Afraid  to  let  one  in  ‘cause  it  feels  like  sin, Afraid  to  feel  one’s  touch,  ‘cause  it  burns  so  much. Like a crutch, She revels in femininity, Releasing bouts of energy and pain through creativity,

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Turning toward the Lord, her ever merciful divinity. Hard  as  she  fights  it,  the  dreams  keep  on  returnin’ Reoccurin’  nightmares  that  leave  her  heart  burnin’ She’s  learnin’  that  the  dreams  just  don’t Worry  ‘bout  how  fast  they  go, No way to stop or make it slow, She’s  hurtin’…. With the persistent recollections Of their lip to lip connection Devouring  their  soul  like  an  infection…. She’s  afraid.

Third Place Fine Art: Eviction Notice by Hannah Nelson

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Ours by Emily Phillips

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The Rapist By Amber Lipford

She sat silently rocking back and forth and shaking constantly in her straitjacket. The padded walls seemed as though they were encompassing her, for all she could see was white. All things that entered and departed from the heaven of hurt just slightly added and subtracted from its blandness. Her caramel brown skin almost always fought with the brightness of the room, except when the night fell upon the room and the whiteness was toned down to almost bearable. The ebony hair that leaked out of her scalp never helped the situation. There was only one time during the day that made her content. She waited anxiously every day for the time when her therapist would cross the threshold and give her some whiteness that actually made her happy inside: a smile. That was the only person that she allowed into her room. Some days, that anticipated moment of joy seemed as though it would never come. Today was the day. She was going to reveal the information that the therapist had been trying to pry out of her since the day she drug herself through the doors of Lakeside Behavioral Health Institute. She was going to expose the vivid details to her encounter with her attacker. A guard escorted the therapist through the door. She took a seat in the chair that the same guard had provided for the duration of her stay with the patient. The guard meandered over to the patient to undo the straitjacket like he had to do every time she met with her therapist, and this time she wrestled and fought for him not to touch her, so he left it on. The meeting of the therapist and the patient always started out with a moment of silence and for the patient, a moment of glaring directly at her therapist, attempting to get in her head before the therapist had the chance to get into hers. It always hurt for the therapist to see her patient struggling because someone got close to her, but she could not express her feelings to her patients so she decided to just go ahead with the treatment. “Hello.  How  are  you  today?”  

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The words just appeared to saunter out of her mouth. They touched the   patient’s   ears   with   the   slightest   touch.   As   the   patient   opened   her   mouth, no words spilled. Only creatures. Bugs of all sorts.

Copper

colored roaches, metallic purple junebugs, dusty yellow bees, slimy slugs, and the list continued. Some of them were dead and only pushed out by the live ones, yearning to make an escape. She attempted to speak once more and centipedes began to inch their way past her throat into her mouth and hung past her chin as they fell onto her lap. A stream of them flowed down her body to her feet like a river. She could do nothing, but sit and watch as the insects trekked on all of her purity, infecting it with their diseases and their stained colors. The recollection of the rape could never be told was the thought that recurred in her mind. She thought that the fear and confusion that plastered her face would signal the therapist to get help, but instead, the therapist pulled out her Masonite clipboard and pen and began jotting down words that had not even been spoken by the patient, utterly ignoring the fact the room had been filled with bugs that had fallen  out  of  the  patient’s  mouth.  

Quiet Cold by Emily Phillips

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Castings 2013