Cayman Robson • Lydia • 2011 • Acrylic on Canvas • 16 x 20 inches
Charis Loke • Amino Acid Horoscope • 2011 • India Ink and Digital Coloring • 12 x 9 inches
Lydia Bryan • Frootloop • 2011 • Oil on Canvas • 20 x 24 inches
Isabel Sicat • that’s how it is on this bitch of an earth • 2011 • Graphite on Paper (Double-sided) • 20 x 16 inches
David Bryant • Remnant #2 • 2011 • Clay, Pearlized Pigment, Abalone Shells, and Flowers • 39 x 24 x 26 inches
Maya Diablo Mason • Why Some Men See in the Dark • 2010 • Charcoal and Chalk Pastel on Paper • 18 x 24 inches
Simeon Kondev • Baba Katya’s BF • 2011 • Ballpoint Pen • 5 x 8 inches Katharina Windemuth • Untitled • 2009 • Watercolor Pencil • 24 x 18 inches (On Reverse)
Grant Heinlein • Waiting On The World To Take Us • August 2011 • Digital Print
Angela Mellon • above Mysaf, Syria • 2010 • Color Negative Photography
W H AT I S C L E R E S T O R Y ? Clerestory Journal of the Arts is a biannual literarary and arts magazine that draws submissions from undergraduate students at Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design. By offering students an opportunity for publication, Clerestory hopes to inspire young artists to continue their creative pursuits, help maintain a high bar of quality for the arts at both campuses, stimulate conversation about student work throughout each school and beyond, and foster engagement between student artists and the wider community.
M a n a g eme n t
A rt & vi d eo
Emma Janaskie • Managing Editor Elexis Trinity Williams • Junior Managing Editor Tabitha Yong • RISD Editor/ Web Editor Kathy Do • Marketing & Finances Allan Sakaue • Marketing & Finances
Robert Gordon-Fogelson • Editor Lydia Bryan Beatrix Chu Jake Ellis Anna Gaissert Adriana Gallo Isabella Giancarlo Pierie Korostoff Elisa Leser Maya Diablo Mason Jaclyn Ponish Cayman Robson Isabel Sicat Katharina Windemuth
P rose Adam Davis • Editor Christopher Anderson Madeleine Denman Michelle Meyers Anna Poon Kimberly Takahata
Desi g n
Kevin Casto • Editor Vera Carothers Tess Carroll Cody Fitzgerald Elaine Hsiang Greg Nissan Jamie Parkerson Janey Tracey Michelle Wainer
Isabella Giancarlo • Editor Fahmina Ahmed Beatrix Chu Cody Fitzgerald Adriana Gallo Polina Godz Robert Gordon-Fogelson Pierie Korostoff Jiaying Lee Connor McManus Jonathan Poon Tabitha Yong
MUSIC Momo Ishiguro • Editor Michael Danziger • Junior Editor Houston Davidson Simon Engler Cody Fitzgerald Jesse Gerber Sophia Krugman Will Radin Tristan Rodman Daniel Stern Dan Zhang
The editorial boards of Clerestory select pieces to be published through a blind democratic process over a period of several weeks each semester.
Poetry Greg Nissan • Windows Yvonne Yu • Template Martin Menefee • The Scribbler Ethan Beal-Brown • Untitled Elaine Hsiang • Blackberries & Cigarettes Vera Carothers • Oddtop Brother David Scofield • It’s My Turn, Frank O’Hara! Michael Goodman • Tonsure Ethan Beal-Brown • Desires Nicole Hasslinger • .
Prose Nick Gomez-Hall • Grown Up Boy Cara Dorris • Tupelo, Mississippi 1972 Andrea Dillon • BODYPOLITICS Elaine Hsiang • Oi, gente Antonia Angress • Brother
David Bryant • Remnant #2 Maya Diablo Mason • Why Some Men See in the Dark Cayman Robson • Lydia Charis Loke • Amino Acid Horoscope Grant Heinlein • Waiting On The World To Take Us Angela Mellon • above Mysaf, Syria Lydia Bryan • Frootloop Isabel Sicat • that’s how it is on this bitch of an earth Simeon Kondev • Baba Katya’s BF Katharina Windemuth • Untitled
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Audrey Ellis Fox • i’m like (2011) Lachlan Turczan • Problem 4 (2010) Michelle Wainer • Acute Perspective (2011) Kelly Winter • Lip Service (2011)
Nihilist Disco • Drones The Fête • May Day Slonk Donkerson • Nobody Knows This Is Somewhere Frograham Lincoln • Attention Sampling Disorder Spirit Sisters • He Stolen Jars • Stitches Mikkus • Peaking Cloud Machine • Is It Snowing? Audrey Ellis Fox • Real Love Michael Goodman • Many Times Erica Renée Ehrenbard • Nothing’s Impossible Kid Chocolate • Serge
Visit clerestoryjournal.com to listen and download music from our Fall 2011 tracklist and to watch this semester’s selected video art.
Windows greg nissan
All I have learned from this century is to be like grass and only speak when spoken through. Silence is a series of small sounds; your human hiss is miniature wind, or larger. Size—sometimes aspacial, a measure of everything prior.
All I have learned from this century is that friends are faces that keep me places. Lovers omit “obviously” at the end of every sentence. Poetry is the sound of sirens while you sleep, not loud enough to wake you but to assume some crucial role in your dream.
Template yvonne yu
We begin with pieces: snow white ribs, palmed dollar coins, sweet chalk lipsticks, drugstore booze, mother’s arms adorned with silver. Children’s games: he-loves-me-nots, mind-memory imagining how fingers taste Remember that dark-dyed roots grow into men who leave hyphens out when they comma in. They aren’t neat. They leave maps all over the skin and leftover scarlets on the breakfast table: syrup congeals into paperweights for the morning-dust under your nails. Every corner meets your gaze. Honey rises on the bumps of the flesh soaking mazes into muscle-memory
Take the first letter of every line in his hand and form a perfect symbol story for these houses were not built for children. When I wanted to bite him on the neck he said: “Don’t leave marks. I don’t like to show off.” The body has a memory too; it remembers how to pull our fingers onto our fingers and forge them into puzzle-edges Shower lights burn black into my back blades when I take my own advice
The Scribbler Martin menefee
the scribbler draws you with simple black lines he draws you, he draws you in, with mythical
precision, fills your body with impressions of stars he shadows you at night in the lime light, shades your harsh glares into the echoes of a bitter moon telling him to stop he wonâ€™t stop he writes you letters, scribbles them into pictures of words shining the night sky towards dawn
Grown Up Boy Nick Gomez-Hall
a As far as I know this is what happened: Two trees were being trees in the forest. They were being trees right next to each other. They were growing up and getting bigger because of the sun and the soil and the water in their roots.
Trees have feelings and these two trees were feeling like they wanted to get their branches all tangled up together. So they did. The branches were shy and scared. At first they just moved closer, bridging the distance from one to the other, only brushing lightly when a breeze blew by. But soon the smallest branches were so close that they couldnâ€™t resist reaching out and holding on. The little branches held to each other the way a baby holds onto my finger, and as I watched the baby grow up, I saw the branches twist and tangle their way further together until even the thickest ones were wrapped up in familiar embrace. When I stepped back to look from a distance, it seemed like the trunks were leaning on each other. It went on like this for some time. The moon would rise over the dark forest, and under the cover of night the trees would inch closer together. Their roots reached across the earthy divide. They pulled themselves together. It had been a while since Iâ€™d traversed that dark forest and when I finally did make it out for an evening walk past those two trees, I could barely tell that they used to stand apart, alone.
b Recently, while feeling sad, I wrote a story about two trees that were in love. The trees had fallen in love the way trees often do. In the story, I never said, “the trees are in love” or anything like that, but I think you still understood what I meant. While writing the story, I was crying a little, and I wanted to write about how my heart felt. It felt like lightning. If you haven’t read the story, it’s about two trees that are very close, so close that all their branches are tangled up and their trunks lean together. Anyway, my heart was hurting so I wrote this: “And then a bolt of lightning struck the trees and heat from the lightning sizzled into their trunks and burnt them a little and split them apart by a few inches. It wasn’t enough to send them toppling sideways, falling heavily to the ground, helpless pieces of charred wood smoking on the forest floor. But the new space between them, caused by that thick rogue electric dart, was enough to make things feel distant and a little bit wrong. On cold evenings when the wind whipped through the narrow passage, the trees
would struggle to reach across the divide and keep each other warm.” I didn’t actually write any of that but I thought about it for a while, eventually giving up and deciding that it would be over dramatic. If I had written it, the rest of the plot would have gone like this: 1. The trees grow old next to each other, staying on friendly terms 2. The constant flow of wind widens the gap between them slightly over time 3. The trees die 4. The trees get decomposed by little bugs that decompose trees 5. The nutrients of the dead trees gets absorbed into the roots of other trees 6. Positive conclusion about “the cycle of life” / “how I will feel in the hopefully not too distant future” I’m glad I didn’t write that story. It really would have been too much. Not too much for me to write, but more like once I had written it, the other tree would have said, or at least thought, “Nick, that’s really too much”, and she would have been right.
c I was standing on the corner and I was a little bit lost. I wasn’t sure which direction to go, so I decided to make a map and follow it. I had a pencil and a large piece of map paper, which was great because it was just what I needed to make the map. I wasn’t sure exactly where I was or exactly where I wanted to go so I figured I should start out by drawing as many places as I could think of. I drew a library, the ocean, all the continents, my house, my room, the parks, the old restaurant, America, the post office, etc. I kept on thinking of more and more places and things to add to the map so what I did was I made a list on some napkins that I had in my pocket and then I drew each one onto the map. Once I had finished drawing the map I held it in front of me with my hands clenched and my arms straight out, stretching the paper flat the way you do when you are trying to make people think that you understand maps. I don’t have a copy of that map any more but it looked a little like this, but with more pictures and brighter colors because I filled it in with crayons once
I finally made it home.
—-> > > > > > > > +++++ ++mimimimimimimi+++++++ —— —-> > > >mimi mi++ ++——>>> > > > >mimi++++ ++++> > > >
Key ———— : places you have been ++++++ : places where people love you > > > > > : places where people have loved you mimimimi : i love you
It was a good map, and it made me feel better even though I was still lost. When I did finally make it home I decided to write a letter to myself about myself, that I could keep in my jacket pocket so that if I ever got lost again I would have a letter in my pocket reminding me what’s important. The letter went like this:
Dear Nick, I think you are doing your best job at being a grown up boy. Being a grown up boy is a hard thing to be. Being a grown up girl is a hard thing to be. Being a person with some feelings is a hard thing to be. You are lucky because you have all the things you need and all of the people you need. Some people need you. Thereâ€™s no need to take everything so seriously but if you need to go for a walk, just go for a walk. No one is going to stop you if you just get up and go. While youâ€™re walking you can imagine the future and then walk faster to try and get there quicker, or you can look at a small puddle and wish that you were rain. If you get lost on your walk, you can make yourself a map to help you figure things out. I packed your pencil and map paper in your lunch box. Mimimimimi, Nick. Love, Mom
Untitled ethan beal-brown
The photo marquee and Blasting roses pass us On this boulevard of mania Which extends past cloudy Show tunes and baby teeth That litter the ground. Lipstick smiles and canvas bag Caresses, to each her own While the rest of us spin. Which strikes me as the First time Iâ€™ve mentioned
My childhood since I left home, The first time the faint ocean smells Wafted from the shore, inland, to meet me Here where there are no smells But those of the city and burning rubber And waiting, the smell of waiting Which is post-nasal drip and stained mornings. Whole moments refuse to parcel out The magnolia trees outside my apartment Thrust their roots deep beneath the pavement Into the rocky soil below. Half spoken words drift in the air Like parade balloons in the town parade of 1974. These two feet cement themselves together Sodden testimonials to the passing of evenings Asphalt heat waves and This is all too much.
Tupelo, Mississippi 1972 cara dorris
â€œDid he fuck you?â€? she asks. Marianne sits on the edge of the coffee table, legs crossed, cigarette swinging side to side like bait. The smoke smells sweet. I like the smell. Back then I didnâ€™t know the difference between getting fucked and having sex. All I knew was that one morning I lay with a boy in the grass of a rusty field. A week later, I passed the same field where an old man with crossed eyes dragged a wagon and picked corn and sometimes blackberries from the burnt yellow fade. He yelled hello as I passed and spoke with his tongue in his teeth.
“He said it wouldn’t hurt,” I tell her.
“Do you know how many boys have fucked me?”
I don’t tell her enough. I don’t tell her that I’m afraid there’s only so much joy in each of us. That even Eden had a crack in its insulation, and so lost in the lilacs and the tulips, the flaming sword and the angel’s awful, beating wings, even God forgot the warm just weeping out, unnoticed.
I don’t tell Marianne about that week later at the field. That day I saw the old man’s black hair in the grass by the broken red wagon and the red blooming from his midsummer head like a heart and the boy and some other legs kicking his head into the dirt. I don’t tell Marianne that the boy waved to me and called out.
“But now I’m gonna have to marry him,” I tell her.
“Do you really think I’m gonna marry any of them?”
Marianne laughs. She laughs hard and raw and painful. She started wearing glasses after she went away to school, and she can almost hide behind them. Almost.
I don’t tell Marianne that my arm went up and waved back.
Blackberries & Cigarettes elaine hsian
I picked up a burning cigarette and traced your face with the smoke Now my sweater smokeless is etched with your name I canâ€™t seem to convince my washing machine that itâ€™s mine.
I dream in photographs of wanton deer grazing blackberries disguised as baby grapes My blender spits liquid lust when I force two fruits together and my second toe is longer than my big toe Tuesdays and Fridays only But itâ€™s Monday and I brought you baby grapes wrapped in the sweater etched with your name And you, who found me tickled by the grass fingers on your lawn decided to lie next to me and put my cigarette out.
bodypolitics andrea Dillon
First I will wallow in my addiction. Later I will discuss cunts and enlightenment. I am addicted to caffeine. I once tried to shake my addiction but quickly gave up caring. I came into an espresso machine that a rich man left in the office. He left it in the office not because he forgot it or was displeased by it, but because he is rich. I took it from the office. This is because I am not rich. I am upper-middle class, the lower end. Do you understand? The machine takes single-use pods that rich people
mail order from storage units in Europe. The pods come in black, brown, gold, silver, green, and purple. I bought espresso grounds from the café down the street. “Do you have a tamper?” asks the barista. “No,” I say. “You should get a tamper,” she says, and wishes me luck. I tamp with a plastic spoon and shove the grounds as far as I can into the sinuses of the machine. Water ceases to flow into my cup.
I am a non-customer with a complaint. I have an addiction. I am handicapped until it is fulfilled. I expect espresso in the richest democracy on earth to be handicap accessible. Cunt coloring. I was to color in an illustration of a cunt.The feminists considered this an empowering activity: “this is my cunt which I will now present to you in all of its colored glory.” Germaine Greer is a feminist who thinks cunt is “one of the few remaining words in the English language with a genuine power to shock.” I favor other words. I favor other techniques. I rub tealeaves and orange peels on my cunt until it smells like Xmas. Then I leave it blank and present it to the feminists. They snap in approval. A few of the feminists I’ve recently met are among the nicest people in my circle. I feel at home with them. They wear interesting clothes. They talk casually about sexuality: “When I want to relax, I shower, meditate, and masturbate. One at a time.” They talk about identity: “I am a daughter.” They talk about privilege: “I grew up in a house in which there were more than 50 books.”
I grew up in a house in which there were more than 100 books. There was a new espresso machine. My father got rid of it while it was still new. He got rid of it not because we were rich, but because he preferred drip coffee. Espresso machines were for rich people. We drank too much coffee to mail order pods from European storage units. My father is a doctor. My mother was a doctor. She retired to lead tours of the guppy tanks at the aquarium. My parents took me to the aquarium as a child. My parents read to me as a child. For every lost tooth I received a paper dollar under my pillow. When my mother forgot, I would receive it the next night. My body was paid to grow. It is not a sin to make an income off of a body. This shows ingenuity. This is self-starting. I have been thinking about exotic dance. I have not been practicing it publicly. The difference between praxis and mimesis is a crux I shall resolve at the present moment. Praxis is one who dances for money. Mimesis is one who dances for any other reason.
I did an interesting dance today (mimesis). I pretended I was a jellyfish. I imagined my muscles, once under my control, as gelatinous blobs of mesoglea. I imagined my body as water. I could not move my limbs. Only the water of the imaginary sea could move me. It is difficult to imagine a handicap. It is difficult to deny tension. An example. I may exert force by rolling slowly or by rising to my feet. I am engaged. I may surrender myself to the forces of physics by allowing gravity to pull my body through the floorboards. I am neutral. I am nothing. We define ourselves by fighting the natural condition of things. Do you understand? This is not a lecture about tension. I am hardly qualified. See Jacques Lecoq’s Theatre of Movement and Gesture, especially the chapter on French mime and space. See YouTube’s Amazing Wart Comb Jellyfish Sex. See David Lambert on the secret sex lives of animals. See my love life. For tips. On how to botch tension. Have you ever kissed a gay man? Yesterday I pretended I was a virgin bathing in a
pool. A gay man watched me from behind a fallen log. I engaged him in Muay Thai. He choked me with one black arm and locked my wrists in a stockade. My tongue lolled about like a great slug. This Xmas, figure out why I’m in love with the aesthetic of subjugation, the aesthetic of violence. I admire writing that communicates and that slaughters any possibility for apathy. On occasion I lie. Lying is a practice of the rich and the poor, both of whom lie to get richer. A beggar in the park chases after me with a thin gold bracelet that a fashionable Florentine several strides ahead has supposedly let slip from her delicate wrist. My best lies come without preparation. Under pressure, the subconscious manufactures false realities that troll the highways of communication unnoticed by even the lips, the teeth, the tip of the tongue. My mother is Angelina Jolie. My father is Angelina Jolie. I have adopted the entire continent of Africa. Every morning I eat six raw chickens for breakfast. I use their feathers to floss between my teeth. I am gay. I am black. I fear commitment. Emulating apathy is my mechanism for coping with hurt. I have never been rejected physically, but I have been rejected emotionally.
I once threw myself from an airplane. I once sailed the seven seas. I once socked a pickpocket in the eye. Today I have listed truths and lies. I do not want to stop. I enjoy the mystery. It is beginning to rain. I am beginning to share secrets with strangers. I am beginning to remember my body. On a sidewalk slick with rain the sight of a young man’s legs tangled in the frame of an overturned bicycle dissuades me from riding in weather conditions that preclude the functioning of my break pads. I fear heights only because of the urge I feel to jump. In Man on Wire, Philippe Petit walks a tightrope between the Twin Towers. This act is against the law. So is lying to the authorities. Last night I thought seriously about enlightenment. John Trapasso did not quit teaching because he hated our 7th grade class or because sitting us down on September 11th exhausted him of authority. He quit to go to India to seek enlightenment. In a postcard to my 8th grade self he wrote: “I am in the capital of Burma.” In a postcard to my 8th grade friend he wrote: “I am in a cave somewhere.”
In a postcard to our 9th grade friend he wrote: “I don’t know where I am.” I must find John Trapasso. Seventh grade was too early to appreciate radical African literature and a vocabulary list that included words like sex appeal. Enlightenment brings with it compassion for the greatest of enemies. All that surrounds the door to enlightenment is dulcet and nonverbal. Arrival connotes humility. If I could only live up to the room—if I could only enter! I advocate the self. I advocate the body. Lettuce for the first course, the second and the third. I want to starve. Let the body house the self but do not let it grow. I want no paper dollars. I want to hunger for tension. See Margaret Hoover’s American Individualism: How a New Generation of Conservatives Can Save the Republican Party. See William Wunderle’s Manual for American Servicemen in the Arab Middle East, especially the section on individualism versus collectivism.
The lettuce has turned to ash and my arms are cold. See my body. Being pushed. Like a jellyfish. I quit the moment I covet definition. Recognizing agency is not a sin. It is cunning. It is ingenious.
*Note: This work originated as an imitation of Wayne Koestenbaum’s “Masochism.”
Oddtop Brother vera carothers
The first time I met you I was pursuing my morning routine of basking bare bummed on Venetian sundecks and you were the sun and you stuck to my skin in phosphorescent chunks then. Then, as time went on, you suffocated my pores, you burnt me through and through until my butt cheeks were pink and rough as a stuck pig and I was officially a burnout. And then you left, winking from the backseat of Apolloâ€™s vulgarchariot, always leaving, while your oddtop brother-in-law the moon looked on, always looking on, with wet, balsamic eyes at the peeling paint of my red-wash-fence back.
It’s My Turn, Frank O’Hara David scofield
From a young age I was naïve enough to know I was a genius. All the bored wealthy mothers Of my friends begged me to ski. The girls kissed me on the playground, they kissed me in the classroom. As good pilgrims do I ran away and laughed. The future spoke to me, it wore a head of straight blonde hair, it said, “no one sees a Friday coming like you see a Friday coming.” How did I get so humble now? I played pigeon-toed beneath a big tree, often. What an artist!
Oi, gente Elaine Hsiang
I walked into a bohemian milieu yesterday and decided to become a pilgrim. There are just some things I don’t believe in anymore, like how there are not four walls but six, no boxes but gradients, no smoke that kills, but the smell, oh, it’s terrible. And there’s this girl I want to judge. She eats pita chips with chocolate ganache and wears saias listradas. Spake honey mustard Português—you can ask me why I’m learning the language and I’ll just tell you it looks nice, but no no. Meu nome é Elaine e o mundo é a minha inspiração. I have been writing quotes on my arm ever since.
Brother antonia angress
My mother wakes me in the night. She is far away, but she wakes me because I forgot to put my phone on silent before bed. “What? It’s late here.” I try not to sound mean, but I can tell I do. I will apologize later. My mother’s voice is tinny and garbled and distant. She tells me that my brother has tried to kill himself. I note that she says “your brother” and not “Raphael” or “Rapha” or “Raphie,” as though he is a stranger that only I am related to. I want to ask how he did it, how
he could have possibly done such a thing, are you sure he’s not just pulling your leg, but my mother sounds unfathomably weary and angry and I really don’t want to talk to her anymore. “Is he okay?” I can hear my father’s voice in the background. It is loud, urgent. My father is usually sweet and funny and soft-spoken. I don’t like his disembodied voice so I hold the phone away from my ear so I don’t have to listen to it anymore. “I have to go,” my mother says. “We’ll call you later.” The phone call has woken up my roommate, but I am too agitated to feel guilty right at this moment, even though it’s a Sunday night and I know that she has an early class tomorrow. I turn on all the lights and pace around the room. Post-phone call, everything has been thrown into sharp relief: the cracked spines of my books, the dust bunnies gathering in clumps underneath my desk, the fact that the Decemberists poster above my bed is decidedly lopsided. My roommate is a former camp counselor. She throws off her covers and grabs my shoulders and tells me to breathe.
“One deep breath,” she says. “Can you do that for me?” I open my mouth to tell her that I am breathing, that I’m fine, what the hell is she talking about. It turns out it is possible to forget to breathe. My brother and I are curled up in laundry baskets, pretending to be puppies. I can tell that Raphael is starting to outgrow his basket; its plastic sides are stretched out and discolored. He has taken my favorite blanket to line his dog bed. I was generous and let him have it, but now I can see that his nose is dripping and that the snot is getting on the blanket that I sleep with, and it is just disgusting. “Give it back to me,” I order and try to tug it out from underneath him, but Raphael howls and my mother comes running to chastise us. My mother tells me sometimes, when I’ll listen, that my brother and I didn’t always get into fights. My mother says to me: “You don’t remember this because you were too little when it happened. When Raphael was born, you crawled into bed with us. Think about it, the three of us together in that narrow hospital bed.”
And I cover my ears and dance around and say: “La la la! If I don’t remember it, it must not really have happened!” I tell my boyfriend about Raphael and he looks shocked and maybe slightly embarrassed, which in turn makes me feel embarrassed for bringing up the topic. We have only just started dating. I don’t want to be that crazy girl with the suicidal brother that he tells all of his friends about after he dumps me. The crazy is leaking out of my ears and mouth and eyes and I know that he can see it. He hugs me and says: “I’ll distract you. We can smoke some weed. Maybe watch a movie or something.” All I want to do is kiss him and kiss him and kiss him until my lips are raw, and not speak and hardly breathe. He won’t kiss me for more than a minute or two. I tell myself it’s a normal reaction. People don’t like to mix sex and death. Especially not so early in a relationship. But I want the sex because it will make me feel alive; it will push away all the death until I can’t sense it poking at my skin and trying to get inside me, and maybe it will convince me for a few gasping seconds that no one could ever die.
A week after it happened, my boyfriend still won’t sleep with me. It’s midterms and he is too busy, he says, too tired. Later, maybe tomorrow. And every time it’s a struggle and I cry out of sheer frustration, and he points at my tears and tells me: “See? I can tell you’re too upset for intimacy.” So finally I snap and say: “If you hadn’t led such a charmed life, you would understand what I am feeling right now.” He storms out of my room and tries to slam the door behind him, but it’s one of those doors that swings shut painfully slowly, so the effect is rather more comical than dramatic. Later, I bring my boyfriend a slice of cheesecake as a peace offering. I am afraid he will never forgive me for what I said to him, especially because I know in my heart of hearts that it is true and that I was right. My brother and I grow up in a little white house between a field of banana trees whose fruit never ripens and a wide expanse of guarias moradas, vividly purple orchids that bloom only in April. My next-door neighbors have a daughter, a pleasantly round-faced girl named Karla. She often
babysits my brother and me when our parents need to shut themselves in their office and finally get some work done. I am always jealous when she comes to play with us because my little brother Raphael is the one she coos and fusses over, the blond one with the dimpled limbs and the shadows of freckles on his wide-open face. I am the black-eyed one, the dirty, tantrum-prone muchacha terrible with unruly everuncombed hair. A devil-child. When I misbehave, Karla pinches me. My hands are forever dotted with little red spots. Out of sheer childish malice, I pinch Raphael when she isn’t looking. His face scrunches up and he wails pathetically, and though I always feel guilty afterwards, I can never bring myself to stop. For weeks after it happens, I don’t take painkillers. I am on migraine medication, and when I quit cold turkey the headaches come back with a vengeance. I request extensions on papers and projects and shut myself up in my darkened room with a cold compress on my forehead. There are pills that I do have to take, like my birth control, but I hide them in drawers and pretend they don’t exist until I actually have to swallow them.
My father is the one who calls me to explain that Raphael took a whole bottle of aspirin. My father says: “He must have gone to a pharmacy and bought it with his own money.” “Why do you assume that?” I ask. “Well,” my father replies, “we took all the pills out of the medicine cabinet after he started saying that he was going to kill himself.” And now the secrets spill out, one by one. Things my parents kept from me. Things I never guessed. Things I cannot see because I am not at home with my mother and my father and my brother. For instance, that there is a broken pane in the glass door between the kitchen and dining room from where Raphael threw a plate in a fit of rage and despair. That the skid marks on the linoleum on the first floor are from when he hurled a chair down the stairs. That Raphael has started wearing only long-sleeved shirts. I tell my father that it gets cold in San Francisco sometimes, that sometimes you need to wear long sleeves, and I can feel him shaking his head all the way on the other side of the country. I don’t take painkillers anymore because I can’t stand to think about my brother coolly walking into
Walgreen’s and carefully selecting that bottle of aspirin (the generic kind, because it’s cheaper), and then paying for it, knowing that he was paying for the thing he was going to use to off himself. So the headaches become a part of my day-to-day life. They become like the bells of University Hall: like clockwork and always in the background. I try to pinpoint the moment my brother became sad. It’s difficult to pin down. I remember him being tremendously anxious over school when he was fourteen, but I also remember him gleefully getting high with his friends and ordering pizza when he was sixteen. Mostly I remember moments of anger, flashes of utter despairing rage against the world. They came out every so often, popped out of him unpredictably, and slowly darkened his boyish golden face. It was as though the anger and the sadness came around to visit every so often to keep us on our toes, to show us that they were always there, just beneath the surface, even in the moments when Raphael was genuinely smiling and happy. And so it took a year or two before my parents began to realize that something was seriously wrong.
In those moments he often scared me. Raphael, all six feet of him, powerful in his despondent fury, wailing his grief. I didn’t like him when he was like that. I hated him sometimes, and he hated me, and we screamed terrible things at each other. I was afraid that I would snap one day, that I would get the urge to do something irreversible, like push him out of a second story window, and the thought sent me into waves of panic and lightheadedness. My brother has the face and body of a man, but nature has been cruel to him. He is far from having grown into himself. “Remember, watch what you say,” my mother instructs me over the phone, “He’s profoundly depressed. Anything could set him off.” “I know how to talk to my own brother,” I snap. She begins to respond with something equally nasty but then thinks better of it. I hear her handing Raphael the phone, and then I hear his breathing. “Rapha?” “Yeah, I’m here.” “Are you okay?” I realize immediately that this is a stupid, stupid
question, and I hate myself for it. Raphael doesn’t respond at once. “Yeah, I guess,” he says finally. I find that words are not coming to me. I chokingly tell him not to do it again. Then I tell him I love him. A moment of awkward silence, then he says “Well, bye” and hangs up. I am sitting in the Sundance Kabuki Theater watching a film that my brother has directed and that has been accepted into the San Francisco Film Festival, youth category. It is called Portrait, and it is about a depressed teenage girl named Margot. Raphael wrote it, shot it at home and in his high school, and edited it himself. I am sitting next to my brother; he is tall and solid beside me; when I take his hand he doesn’t pull away. The handheld camera circles Margot’s head. She is played by an ethereal black-haired girl. She is smiling a little bit. My brother narrates: “In the future, Margot will attempt suicide twice, the first time only as a consideration on the roof of her school, leaping like a feral cat onto the wire blocking her from her death, falling to the asphalt below. The second time, she will take
large amounts of Viagra, possibly out of curiosity or as a possible means of death. She will go into a deep sleep and wake up the next morning in awe, leaving the experience behind her for the rest of her life.â€?
Tonsure Michael Goodman
I want a tonsure! I’d wager it’s time for a tonsure. An areola a la Cistercium; sip mater nostra’s water, no strings attached, no additives but for nativity dictum. Yeah. A tonsure. Sure sounds neat, a tonsure. In monsoon season I’d still stay duck-dry Distilled in anointments, anodyne, still dripping, Sopping with lipids. Livid oil all over. Love it. Don’t hold me holy, though! I don’t want to be liable I’m no bible myrmidon murmuring babble, dribbling myrrh Onto blessed bib. I’ve cribbed my best vestments from cradles, inveigled my spoils from scribners with both vigor and vinegar. No valor for me. Palaver, parlor tricks with a thick man’s pallor.
But I still want that tonsure! I’m sure this time. Thought it over long and hard. That’s what I need. A tonsure. I am wanton and I want one tonsure. One ton of bantams would run amok in the hallowed kingdom, But I am just one man. And I have lived a middling lot. Some here, some there. Some deeds. Most middling. Some with edges that would suggest precious metal,but yet to be buffed. Some mean and monolithic.Yes, I’ve done some deeds. And I’m unafraid to say that these deeds, be they cornshucking, be they hornswoggling, be they ogling in the sworn hush of pitch black boulevards, I’m unafraid to say that these deeds are rather average.
I realize this, though! Does that not make me a monk?! Depilators! Grab your shears! Steer me straight! Shave my scalp concentric! Gentries, enter my savings into your dowry! Marry me to your mentor, who staves cirri with his neon beams. Let me on board! Why tie me to past trials? Let me in the priory, a priori. Not even for hope of northern ether, Or for winnowing from the nether window, Not for minnows nor humpback whales; scale matters not. Not for posey rosaryI want that hair.
Desires ethan beal-brown
Oh how I wish I could trade all my desires for simple bread and water. Somewhere soon after my birth I got to needing, needing. Funny, isn’t it – wind in the dark trees the sky bristling with electrical energy as a storm broods, approaches. Tickle me, tell me it ain’t worth it ain’t nothing in the whole world worth frowning like that for. But seasons pass inside slower than out in the shifting air. Got to wait a hundred years till I’m broken and want no more.
. Nicole Hasslinger It was a closed form but she felt wide open. Egg yolks pretend that they arenâ€™t rotting, Long after their shells have been cracked. That day breakfast didnâ€™t happen until sundown.
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Published on Mar 4, 2013