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dossier spring 2008

Carnegie Mellon’s Art & Literature Magazine



letterfromtheeditors Dossier Editor Claire Morgenstern Dossier Design Editor Rachael Clemmons Managing Editor Cecilia Westbrook

Reading Staff alex baran A. Ewing Alayna Frankenberry Patrick gage kelley kristen lukiewski

mairu orbay nicole rappin TARA MOORE Cover Image JosÉ Aurelio Baez “quotable”

Thank you for opening what is the third issue of Dossier since its revival in Spring 2007. We hope if you’ve made it this far, you will continue to turn the pages of this edition (especially since it’s all in color this year). This was the first issue published by the new Dossier editors— emphasis on “new.” We’d like to thank the previous editors, our readers, and the wisdom of one Cecilia Westbrook for helping us through this process. After two successful semesters, we’re beginning to feel we’re no longer a fledgling publication. Now we’ve begun to face the challenges that a student organization must overcome to become a real presence on campus, such as staying organized, managing staff, maintaining relationships, and figuring out how best to advertise. We’re still working the kinks out of the process, but it’s beginning to get easier. We especially want to thank our stellar reading staff for sticking with us through this process and for doing so much hard work. To put it mildly, we were elated by the quality of art and literature submissions we received from all corners of campus this semester, and this issue represents only a small portion of them. Our goal is to create a magazine that not only contains high-quality work, but that represents the entire Carnegie Mellon community. Although Dossier is an art and literature magazine, it is by no means only intended for art and English majors. We received submissions from undergraduate and graduate students across all disciplines. We hope that students in every major will be able to relate to Dossier in some way, whether it’s identifying with a particular poem or discovering the secret creative talent of a longtime classmate. We’d like to thank all students who submitted, whether their work was published or not, for their willingness to open themselves up and share their thoughts with us and the campus community. Harnessing one’s creativity isn’t easy, but sharing that creativity with others is to dare to show a little more of who we are, and we thank those students who submitted for taking that risk. We’re proud of the issue we’ve created, but we’re even prouder of the people who helped us—our readers and you all who submitted. We encourage you to share this issue with friends, family, and community members, and to take pride in your work or the work of your peers. In addition, the quality of the magazine is only as good as the work that is submitted. We invite you to submit your work to future issues of Dossier. In the meantime, grab a stack of Dossiers and distribute them at your will. We hope you (and others) enjoy the issue.

Claire Morgenstern

rachael clemmons


art & photography 4 Mother and Baby tracy o’connor 6 Bombshell Beauty josÉ aurelio baez 15 Bridge of Birds robin chen 17 Early morning biking michael chen 18 Virgin Lizzee solomon 21 Intensity jared luxenberg 23 Characters jisoo kim 25 Bhangra in the Burgh allison piper 29 Road Couch robert kaminski 30 Dear Mother jisoo kim 32 Raise High robert kaminski 32 Remaking Hazelwood lauren connell & andrew werner 34 Voyeur’s Dream lizzee solomon

20 It’s Been Long Mairu orbay 24 Green Cliché in D Minor ari z. klein 26 Tunneling North julia brown 27 Water Grave abiola fasehun 29 The Mouse kristina popiel

prose 8 Mike Tyson is Dead casey taylor 22 We, Sixteen rachael clemmons 35 A Commentary gabriel routh

biographies 38 baez—luxenberg 39 mogin—taylor

poetry 5 Indulgence sarah mogin 7 Queen of Holes julia brown 14 Vinh-Phu, 1965 abiola fasehun 16 Silent— Be Good mark elliot cullen 19 Sleeping is Just Closed Eyes alif sajan



Mother and Baby tracy o’connor

Calendars measured in handfuls and binges Debit card debts, and half-empty syringes Addictions from habits, goodnights into comas Weary eyed dropouts demand their diplomas Fraternity houses foundations of cards Embraces in alleys and couches on yards It's now and it's want and it's crave and it's need Taking for granted indulgence brings greed Easing off vices and into your hold Your body felt soft and my fingers were cold I didn't feel tight and I didn't feel full Ecstatic then peaceful, content in a lull


How tides seem to shift when the evening begins How yesterday's calm makes tomorrow a sin How often and always fall short of routine We curl into one and engulf the between

sarah mogin

Unclasping your arms makes today's morning after I second guess love and forgiveness and laughter Your words haven't changed and your breath hasn't soured Our days and our weeks turn to minutes and hours





The Queen of Holes juliA brown

I rise at dusk to put on my colander crown. I pick up my scepters: shovel and knife. The palace is empty as always: no king, no court. I touch a curtain; it turns to net. I touch my breakfast; it turns to Swiss cheese. It is time for work. I call my army of moths and scissors. All night we creep through your clothes, make mouths, open pores. Before bed, I eat void into the center of wedding rings. I kneel and pray bullet wounds into soldiers. I sit down to sew that empty space between you and your lover.

Bombshell Beauty josÉ aurelio baez




Frank stands by the ring while De’Andre spars with Joey. He shouts to De’Andre and reminds him to keep his hands steady. He tells him to take it easy.

Mike Tyson is Dead casey taylor

“Save some of that for Antonio tomorrow,” he says. De’Andre slows his bobbing down, but keeps throwing strong jabs. Joey looks at Frank and winces. He mouths the words to Frank: He’s ready. Frank already knows. He has been training De’Andre almost ten years. De’Andre is a heavyweight, and a damn good one. He has an unblemished professional record after nine fights, all nine coming by knockout. His amateur record is 24-2, with the two losses coming by way of decision. “You’re gonna give ‘em hell tomorrow night,” Frank says. De’Andre keeps throwing jabs, strong thuds echoing throughout Southside Boxing Club. De’Andre faces off against Antonio Bevelacqua on Friday night at the Youngstown Convocation Center. It is his first fight against a world ranked contender. The World Boxing Council has Bevelacqua ranked 19th among championship contenders. Frank is excited as he watches De’Andre spar. He thinks De’Andre has the right tools to succeed as a heavyweight. He has a devastating right cross and a strong left jab. Frank likes his swagger outside the gym, too. De’Andre has a lot of girlfriends, but he treats his family right and stays away from the night life. Frank thinks his values are in the right place, but he also knows how to talk. De’Andre finishes up and leans against the ropes to talk to Frank. “Anything else, boss?” he asks. “Nope,” Frank says. “Do some jogging or something and cool down a bit.” “I’m gonna bust his ass tomorrow,” De’Andre says. He



gazes up at a life-sized bust of Kelly “The Ghost” Pavlik and shakes his head. “I’m gonna rep Youngstown like our man up there.” Frank doesn’t care much for Pavlik. He thinks he has heart, but he doesn’t like the way he boxes. He figures he’s the only one in Youngstown who has second thoughts about Pavlik’s abilities. He’s almost too blue collar, Frank thinks. He wouldn’t survive outside of a rundown dump like Youngstown. “Cameras coming?” De’Andre asks. “Yeah,” Frank says. “Make sure you shower up after you cool down. We want you looking pretty before you bust that nose up tomorrow.” Frank laughs and throws ghost jabs at De’Andre’s face. “Come on, boss,” he says. “You know it ain’t gonna happen.” De’Andre bobs and returns the jabs. “It will if you don’t keep that goddamn guard up.” They laugh and De’Andre steps out of the ring. He skips rope and goes to the locker room to shower. “I think he’s going to kill it,” Joey says. He stands in the middle of the ring and wipes sweat from his face.

would’ve motivated Mikey to go to college. Gretchen is in the kitchen making meatloaf. Frank kisses her on the forehead and smacks her on the rear. “What’s cooking, baby?” he asks. “You got a fight tomorrow,” she says. “You know it’s meatloaf.” Frank knows that Gretchen wants him to stop training. She sees how it wears on him. When it comes time for a fight, Gretchen gets nervous. She is afraid of Frank’s temper when he is upset about something. She remembers thinking his tough guy mentality was sexy in high school, but some nights she wishes she’d married an accountant. She does her best to make him happy, though. She is Catholic and she knows marriage is a commitment for life. Frank wanders back to the living room and sits in his favorite green leather recliner. Mikey doesn’t acknowledge him. He stares at the television screen and laughs. Zaniest Celebrity Moments is on Fox and Mike Tyson is the subject of this week’s episode. “Aren’t you talkin’ out of turn,” Mike says to a female reporter. She mutters a response and he cuts her off.

“I hope so,” Frank says. “I think he’s ready.”

“I usually don’t do interviews with women unless I fornicate with them. So you shouldn’t talk anymore. Unless you wanna…you know.”

“You know he is,” says Joey. “Kid’s got it all. Couple of the writers at the Vindicator think he’s gonna be Youngstown’s next champion.”

Mikey laughs hysterically, slapping his thigh as he leans against the armrest on the couch. Frank stares hard and keeps his mouth shut.

Frank spits at the ground and stares at the door. He hates waiting for the press to show up.

Always just sitting around, Frank thinks.

He hates the way that Tyson is mocked in today’s world. Every year, he watches boxing get less relevant and he remembers the days when Mike Tyson was champion and people still cared. He prays for a savior to rise out of the rings, with power and flair like Tyson, to save boxing from sports’ dungeons. Frank thinks Tyson’s fall from grace is the greatest tragedy in the history of sports.

Frank’s son Mikey works at a tire warehouse in Youngstown. He goes out every night with his friends and comes back smelling like booze and weed. Frank tries to love his son, but he is always disappointed in him. Mikey is tall, with broad shoulders. Frank thinks he could’ve been a fighter, or some kind of athlete. He thinks athletics

He has never seen another champion like Tyson in all his decades around boxing. He had the flair of Muhammad Ali and a power in his punches that was never equaled by any other fighter. Frank feels so bad when he watches Tyson act out and threaten media members. He wishes he was his trainer.

** Frank gets home late and his son is on the couch.

I could’ve warned him. I would’ve made sure no one cheated him out of his money like that, Frank thinks. He hopes that De’Andre can rise to power like Tyson did. He hopes he can develop some of his raw talent, along with his right cross, to help him become the next Kid Dynamite. On the screen, more Tyson clips are playing. “Man, listen, right,” Mike says. “I don’t know nothin’ ‘bout bein’ the heavyweight champ. Only thing I know, I know how to fight, right. I’m a nigga. No, really, really, really. I’m not saying I’m a black person, you know, but I’m a street person. I don’t even want to be a street person. I don’t even like typical street people. But, that’s just who I became and what happened in my life, and the tragedies in life made me that way. You know, I’m Mike. I’m not malevolent or anything, I just am. And I just wanna, just, live my life.” Mikey lets out large eruptions of belly laughter. He shakes his head back and forth, ignoring his father’s stares from across the room. “He’s right about that,” Mikey says. He points at the screen. “He is a nigger.” Frank’s had enough. “Watch your mouth,” he says. “What? He’s not?” “He was the greatest champion in the history of boxing,” Frank says. Tyson is still talking on screen. The volume on the television is too loud to ignore. “I’m a big strong nigger that knocks out people and rapes people,” Tyson says. “See? He said it again!” Mikey says. He starts laughing again. Frank grinds his teeth. “Face it, dad,” Mikey says. “Your hero’s a nigger.” “That’s enough!” Frank shouts. He stands up and towers over Mikey on the couch. “You say whatever you want, Mikey, but you won’t see Tyson asking for an application at the goddamn tire yard.” “What’s that supposed to mean?”

Frank hates arguments with his son. Mikey always asks stupid questions like that, as if he doesn’t actually understand the insults that Frank throws his way. He is tired of repeating himself. “It means whatever you want it to mean,” Frank says. He sighs and lets his arms rest at his side. “At least Mike Tyson never squandered away his talent.” “Yes he did,” he says, laughing. “He most certainly did.” “Goddammit,” Frank says. “Not intentionally, he didn’t. Don’t you ever know when to quit it?” Frank moves closer to the couch and hopes he can intimidate Mikey into being quiet. He has so much on his mind with De’Andre’s fight the next night. He doesn’t need to be reminded of his son’s shortcomings. Luckily, Gretchen interrupts. “Meatloaf ’s on,” she says. “You two better wash up.” Mikey storms past them both toward the bathroom. Frank looks at his wife for support, but she just wipes her hands on her apron. Frank mopes to the dinner table. They eat quietly. Frank smothers his meatloaf in ketchup. He loves ketchup. ** The arena is buzzing on fight night. Joey tells Frank that the place is sold out. Frank won’t tell De’Andre. He doesn’t want to get him nervous. The fighters make their way to the ring and the crowd cheers loudly for De’Andre, the hometown favorite. Before the introductions, the ring announcer approaches the microphone and a spotlight shines on the VIP box. “Ladies and gentlemen,” the ring announcer says. “Let’s welcome home our champion, Kelly “The Ghost” Pavlik!” He drags the “o” sound in ghost for what seems like five minutes. The crowd gasps and turns its collective gaze toward the VIP box. Pavlik stands up and throws a few ghost jabs at the air and puts his fist up. The crowd watches in awe, as if Christ himself is in the building. They gasp with each jab and follow it with thunderous applause when Pavlik raises his fist. Frank looks at De’Andre and winks. He leans in to whisper to his fighter.

“He’s rooting for you,” Frank says. De’Andre shoots Frank a puzzled stare. “I talked to his trainer before the fight,” Frank says. “He told me Kelly wishes you luck. He says to make Youngstown proud.” Frank doesn’t know Jack Loew, Pavlik’s trainer. But De’Andre’s face lights up and his eyes squint. He smacks his gloves together and hunches his shoulders. Frank smiles, happy that his tactic worked. He rubs De’Andre’s shoulders as the ring announcer introduces each fighter. De’Andre has a strong showing for the first few rounds. Frank tells him to work his left jab to set up the right cross. De’Andre works the body and ducks a few heavy punches from Bevelacqua. He dominates the scorecards and the crowd cheers him with every punch. After each round, Frank tells him to go for the knockout. “He’s getting tired,” Frank says. “But not you. Keep looking for that cross and put him on his ass.” Bevelacqua is penalized for throwing an elbow during a tie up in the seventh. Frank screams his head off at the other trainer, but he doesn’t think he understands him. It doesn’t look like Antonio Bevelacqua’s corner speaks a word of English. “Foreigners,” Joey shouts. “What can you do?” De’Andre gets mad about the elbow and looks for the counter. He wants to punish his opponent. Bevelacqua leans in with a hook and De’Andre slaps it away. He sets up his right cross and throws it at Bevelacqua’s jaw. He ducks, and De’Andre’s hand hits the side of his head at a funny angle. Frank sees his fighter wince and snap back, quickly tying Bevelacqua up. “It’s broke, boss,” De’Andre says during the round break. “What do you wanna do?” De’Andre spits in his bucket while Joey works a small cut above his left eye. “You’re still leading on the scorecards,” Frank says. “Can you hold on?” De’Andre nods, but Frank is skeptical. With five rounds left, he knows it’s doubtful that De’Andre can keep his pace up. If he can’t work the jab, he can’t wear Antonio down,

De’Andre gets mad about the elbow and looks for the counter. He wants to punish his opponent. mike tyson is dead

which means he can’t counter punch or hold off a series of punches.

pound the bar, angry about what Frank has said. Frank ignores them.

Frank’s skepticism is confirmed in the tenth. De’Andre can’t throw a solid punch and he keeps leaning away from Antonio Bevelacqua, trying unsuccessfully to avoid jabs. He winces with each block, and he keeps dropping his guard. Bevelacqua capitalizes, catching De’Andre with a hard uppercut to the jaw and knocking him down.

“He’s just a goddamn middleweight,” Frank says. “He can fight, but who really cares?”

De’Andre struggles to regain his senses. He looks around the ring and finds his trainer. Frank can’t watch him struggle anymore. A knockdown is all Bevelacqua needed to win the scorecards. If he lets De’Andre get up, he knows he’s just setting him up to get hurt again or get knocked out.

Frank downs both whiskeys and signals for two more. The bartender is slow to respond, still bitter about Frank’s criticism of the pride of Youngstown.

Frank pushes his hands down toward the ground and mouths the words to De’Andre. Stay Down. The referee calls the fight. Antonio Bevelacqua stands on the ropes and puts his fists in the air. The Youngstown crowd applauds him and it breaks De’Andre’s heart. Even The Ghost is clapping. ** “Don’t fret about it, Frank,” Joey says. Frank orders two more whiskeys and stares at the bartender’s ass while she bends down to grab the bottle of Jack. De’Andre is in the hospital getting his hand examined, but Frank already knows it’s over. He is drinking away his frustration and disappointment.

“He’s the champ,” Joey says. “He’s no champ.”

“Champs need swagger and they need balls. They need knockouts,” Frank says. “That’s why no one cares about boxing anymore, because of fighters like Pavlik. No one wants to see technical boxing. They want to see brass. They want heavy hits and knockdowns, brutality. They want Mike Tyson.” “They’ll come back around,” Joey says. “Boxing ain’t through yet.” Frank shakes his head. “You’re just in a bad mood.” “No,” Frank says. “It’s over. There’s never gonna be another Tyson, or Ali, or any of those fighters. All we got now is these goddamn middleweights and welterweights dancing around the ring. There’s no one mouthing off and knocking people out.” “Frank,” Joey starts.

A broken hand, even without ligament damage, means De’Andre won’t be able to train for a few months. Then, after that, he has to work on getting his right cross back, which is difficult after being weakened by the fracture. He won’t be the same fighter for at least a year or two.

“Nope. It’s done. The heroes are gone and they’re not coming back.”

He hasn’t even proven himself yet, Frank thinks. We’d have to start from scratch.

Frank doesn’t respond. He thinks about Youngstown and Friday night fights. He thinks about the glamour that surrounded boxing in a blue collar town like Youngstown. Things haven’t been the same since boxing lost its luster. Youngstown keeps getting more and more dangerous, shootings and street fights and gang violence. It isn’t how it used to be. Frank knows it’s illogical to think it all has to do with the decline of boxing, but he also doesn’t believe in coincidence.

“Funny thing about The Ghost showing up,” Joey says. “Coming to see our boy.” “Doesn’t mean shit,” Frank says. The bartender hears Frank and gasps. She shakes her head and walks away to talk with a group of men at the other end of the otherwise empty bar. She mutters to them and they

“Come on, Frank,” Joey says. “Don’t get so down. De’Andre will be all right. Kid’s got heart. Ain’t no broken hand gonna keep him from climbing back in the ring.”

“Kid had a plan,” Joey says. “You both did.” “Everyone has a plan ‘till they get punched in the mouth,” Frank says. He drinks more whiskey. He has to piss. “Let’s just change the subject,” Joey says. “How’s Mikey?” Mikey’s an asshole, Frank thinks. He doesn’t talk the rest of the night. He just stares at his reflection in the mirror behind the bar and watches the wrinkles under his eyes sag with every drink. **

Frank kisses Gretchen’s forehead and walks into the living room. He plops onto the couch next to Angela and reaches for the remote. In the kitchen, Gretchen and Mikey hold hands across the table and talk quietly. “Do you mind?” Frank asks Angela, motioning with his head to the television. Angela shrugs, unsure of how to respond. She doesn’t want to tell Frank no in his own house, but she doesn’t want her daughter to wake up. Frank clicks the television on. “Frank,” Gretchen hisses from the kitchen.

Frank drives home. He has a bottle of Wild Turkey in his passenger seat. He pulls the car in the garage and sits in the front seat for a few minutes. He slams the garage door when he walks in.

He shrugs his shoulders and mouths the word: What?

“Shush,” Gretchen says from the kitchen. All the lights are on. There are goddamn balloons everywhere and pink streamers hanging around the kitchen.

Frank looks over at Angela and her daughter. Her daughter is stirring a bit. He turns the volume down so the television is nothing more than a quiet hum in the background. He leans forward on the couch to try and hear better.

Frank starts to ask what’s going on, but then he remembers. Gretchen is hosting a birthday party for Mikey’s pothead girlfriend, Angela, and her three-year-old kid. All the guests left a long time ago, but his family and Angela are still awake. Frank doesn’t approve of Angela. He argues with Mikey about her all the time. He tells him that she’s no good and she just sits around and spends Mikey’s money on weed. He says Mikey shouldn’t have to take care of her kid.

“At least turn the volume down,” Gretchen says. Mikey frowns.

After a few moments, Angela has to go to the bathroom. “Can you hold her?” she asks Frank. He looks at her and she is shifting her daughter, preparing her for the transfer to Frank’s arms. “No, Angela,” Mikey says. “You don’t have to make him do that.” Frank shoots Mikey a hard stare, but he ignores him.

“What’re you shushing me for?” Frank says. He is still holding the bottle of Wild Turkey.

“Bring her out here.”

Gretchen nods toward the living room where Angela is sitting on the couch with her daughter. Her daughter is sleeping, her head resting on Angela’s shoulder. Angela smiles at Frank.

“Still,” Mikey starts.

He turns back to Gretchen and puts the bottle of whiskey on the table. Mikey and Gretchen don’t ask how the fight went. They know that if De’Andre had won, Frank would’ve already said something and he wouldn’t be drunk.

Angela hands he daughter to Frank and he cradles her in his arms. She nestles into his chest and he leans back on the couch, staring straight ahead at the television. The baby starts cooing in her sleep. Frank stares at her and she chews on his shirt. The light blue cotton gets darker as she drools

“But she’ll wake up,” Angela pleads.

“Dammit, Mikey,” Frank says. “I can handle it. No use waking her up.”



on his chest. She looks so goddamn pretty. He looks at Gretchen and Mikey, still holding hands. Angela is standing behind Mikey, rubbing his shoulders. They are watching him hold the baby and smiling at him. He looks back down at the drool on his shirt.

Vinh-Phu, 1965 abiola fasehun

Mike Tyson is dead, he thinks. The words sound fine in his brain. They don’t sting like he expects. He is at Tyson’s funeral, there on his living room couch. He smiles when he thinks the words, a subtle eulogy for his hero. He looks at Angela’s daughter again. She is still drooling on his shirt. He thinks about Mikey as a kid and how he used to eat crayons straight out of the box, just like they were cheese doodles. Frank starts to giggle. He giggles so hard, he almost wakes up the baby. He looks at Gretchen and Mikey and they’re giggling, too. Even Angela is smiling. Frank keeps giggling, even after he hands the girl back to Angela. He kisses Gretchen good night and hugs his son. He sleeps in the next morning. When he wakes up, Gretchen cooks him runny eggs with ketchup.

Men cover their privates with plastic cups in case of an ambush from stone gorillas, hiding behind coconut palms. She goes in bare, the colors of war, in which she once bathed, dripping into streams of the Hat-Giang River. They had gone over the plan of attack a million times. They would take the formation of finches, on the 60th day of the lunar eclipse. Men running in a V, flying against bullets. But birds always come back. Her hands, gripping concrete planks, her body a stone in the mountain’s rivers that whispered die young in her ears.

•mike tyson is dead•

In her mind, burrowed fear: villages smeared in red and orange, colors of cries and desertion, cupping the delicate water of fishponds, with every spill from her hand, another life lost. She could leave them all behind, leave the men to fight a man’s war. Leave the child in Vinh-Phu Province, his legs in a V, above the rubble of conquest, to be smothered in red and orange, to be hushed by burning bamboo. In her blood ran the warriors of Trung Trac and Trung Nhi. She picked up her gun and held fast to the cross against her chest. Her legs cut against the rivers pull, die young, she heard, die now.

The Bridge of Birds robin chen



sipp the graceful mayor dips her teats into the garage

Silent— Be Good mark elliot cullen

owing herself to the breasts of our nature dropping her into the sock of a raining night so that we are puddles in her mirror dripping

Early morning biking michael chen





Virgin lizzee solomon



Sleeping is Just Closed Eyes* alif sajan

I stare into the organs that do the staring Synapses press the keys for me, I tell you if you were gone I’d be Still A row of keys being pressed (All is ill) Controlled by wired impulses The sound would echo looping like a program wrapped in infinite recursion Two facing mirrors, The noise in my head.

*check out for the accompanying musical track for this poem.

It’s been long Since I’ve felt the pungent innocence From the days of nosefulls of Cloroxy pool water And the taste of orange crayons. Now, Now I know I won’t get to see God When I look out the window On the plane ride to Miami. The silent, purple feeling Of endless possibility Has been replaced by the gray of uncertainty About the location of certainty. And it was today That I caught a glimpse of The cosmic stuff they call life, and emotion, When we merged, Feeding the cosmos we uncovered during our “private convention” The stuff, That cosmic stuffWhich was most certainly our invention.

It’s Been Long Mairu orbay

It was at that time, When it all came to me. And dusk called, And I waited, Quietly and somberly I waited For what was to come: That which never came As it was already in me, Already there And from within it stared. Like celestial glittering Of unsung inertia. Because we wait, We wait for sense, Not knowing that perhaps that is precisely the greatest of condemns. As life passes us by, as life leisurely passes us by.



Intensity Jared luxenberg




We, sixteen rachael clemmons

It was a spectacular year. The first time I ever skipped school, I’d piled in a car without knowing the driver at Lena’s insistence. We went all the way to Hanover to watch a movie, but instead Lena and I played dress up in the back corner of a small clothing store. We fell over laughing when we slipped on neon fishnet shirts and nearly transparent skirts that were about as long as our underwear. Spring break was day trips to Columbia to the Krispy Kreme Factory, where Trevon flirted his way to a baker’s dozen of assorted donuts — we greedily devoured those chocolate icing and rainbow sprinkles in the back of Alba’s car and fitted Krispy Kreme paper sailor hats on our heads. We went to the mall to play with an overpriced puppy we named Koot; and we wandered the aisles of the Disney store there, where Vogue incessantly snapped pictures of Trevon making out with an enormous stuffed Minnie Mouse. Four years have passed, and when I tell Lena about this essay, she laughs hard and says, “But the couches needed to go though.” For thirteen years, I lived in that same little townhouse with the bay window my mother loves. She used to rave about it — it was just so quaint. I liked to look out from those windows in the kitchen and stare at the wildly tall sumac tree that sat in the middle of our teensy front yard. One day, when I was still sixteen, I came home to the tree violently broken across the series of disintegrated cement steps that lead to our front door. The blizzard of 1996 had crudely exposed the rocks in our sidewalks long before the smooth sumac decided to die. My mother has been consistently renovating our house in baby steps — wood floors in the kitchen, refinishing the cabinets there and adding shiny new knobs to all of the drawers, a huge elaborate mantel for the fireplace — but the change in furniture is the most apparent. When I come home now, I’m greeted with the opening in the living room hosting two smooth white leather chairs and a matching sofa that is just long enough for me to fit my miniature


Last year, my mother replaced the worn furniture in our living room. The old furniture was smooth and spongy soft, though not quite threadbare, and adorned with the greatest memories of my sixteenth year. body on. The same glass table sits between the couch and the two chairs, and the other side of the living room has a long, lone ottoman in brown leather. When I was sixteen, an enormous L-shaped sofa glistened green, taking up the whole left corner of the living room. The right corner boasted all of the space, taken up only by a small set of oak drawers and a chair and ottoman of pink and green floral. On that green sofa, so large and comforting, soft and shabby, my comrades and I would curl ourselves into each other’s bodies, nestled into the corner where the two pieces of the sofa met. Trevon and I would trade our crude witty banter while Vogue and Alba collapsed on each other laughing at us. Everything ended with “No, no, I love you! I’m kidding, kidding, no, I’m kidding!” And everything ended with laughter and we’d tangle ourselves in each other’s limbs again, we’d get serious again. Trevon and I would beg Alba and Vogue not to go to college, just to stay one more year in high school with us. Let’s stay friends, let’s be together still. We’d beg Trevon to tell us what sex was like, tell us so we didn’t have to find out for ourselves. He’d refuse, instead throwing his head back with that raucous roar of laughter and his closed fist covering his mouth. He laughed at our audacity, even though it was expected. We were glad that he didn’t tell us though, because we didn’t want to imagine Lena and Trevon like that. We barely wanted to imagine ourselves like that. Then, the three of them would bombard me with their own questions — where is Anton? Why aren’t you with him? You’re so mean to him, it’s hilarious. It’s also sad. It’s hilariously sad. Sometimes, these inquiries were posed mere hours after Anton had left me and the nook of that beloved couch. It was in that living room, a year later, that I let him weave his fingers into mine for the first time. That was the only time — he was in college, and I was uncomfortable. But I did spend much of my junior year on that couch with him


under the curious eye of my mother. She would let him into our little townhouse and promptly go upstairs and close her door. She liked Anton, so studious and oh-so-witty. Alba, Vogue and Trevon were graceful and warm replacements for Anton, with their arms locking into mine and their unhinged laughter echoing off the thin walls. And the other chair is not to be forgotten. There, Trevon and I would squash our scrawny bodies to fit, and he would wrap his spindly arms around me. We were serious then — we spoke frankly of anything we could wrap our minds around. How will things be when we’re in college, in different places? Will we still be friends? We’ll be friends, no matter. I believed it then, I believed things would change but we’d be the same.

Characters jisoo kim

My last memory of that living room, as it was, is from two summers ago. The sun spilled into the kitchen through the open blinds, and into the living room through the huge window by the mantle, its’ curtains tossed to the sides. Vogue and Alba were throwing me what we titled a “boob-going-away-party” before I headed to surgery. My clever friends had created a festivity themed around boobs and daiquiris, my dining room table covered with two blenders, bright plastic leis and individual cupcakes posing as individual breasts. A huge breast piñata laid on the floor underneath a poster adorned with a quick breast drawing that ushered my guests to sign and say their farewells. After everyone left, Alba, Vogue and I collapsed on the couch, just like we had two years before. We barely spoke then; we simply let our bodies fall into each other and we sat in comfortable silence.

•we, sixteen•



Green ClichĂŠ in D Minor ari Z. klein

From the beginning I found myself caught between you and the idea of ugliness I wondered about the possibilities of the word How its singularity could dislodge your seductive eyes How it could trail your stairs with scrapings of dead weeds How it could siphon all of my oxygen into your lungs Though if we stood as one sun rising over a puddle of acid rain would your reflection be the same as mine If you called off our wedding one hour before would you show up anyway head to toe in black rags My mind had the ability to perceive an agreement of beauty & it retained knowledge that was not of you You are the zigzagged line that runs down the center of an imaginary broken heart You are the demon who climbed the fence into heaven

Bhangra in the Burgh allison piper

Tunneling North! julia brown

We are outlaws, running from the law. We are tunneling north! North where there is space, where there is no one to tell us what to do. We rub our faces with ash, yell to the worms, This is a stick up! and throw the ground wide open. My partner and I slip inside, cover our tracks in a cloud of gunfire. Underground, we play blackjack with cadavers. Before we leave, we tip our hats, take their valuables, and tunnel on: miles of dirt and mold and mud to push through. When we get out, we’ll run across the tundra naked. Scream into the clear bowl of sky, the cold air hurting our lungs.



Water Grave abiola fasehun

I A train plowed through the midnight morning, the rage of black horses pulling us forward. Inside the burning pit, clouds of hot smoke blushing in color, found their way to the top, escaping for us to see. II In the dark we gained the courage of wild men, sick with anxiety. A lone light against the night hung. I can make out the shadows of woods, their impressions line my eyes. I know not where I am going, I know not where I have been. III When we pass along the rivers, my heart lulls against its bone prison. The water gleams and catches industrial reflections. 3 rivers. 21,000 lights. 5 tons of aluminum shreds. Today everything will become a shred, Father explains, this is the way it is. But I know this is the way he wants it to be. The train slows down as we pass another river, another tomb. I am learning to swim from the shadows in the river, long, tall, deceptive. IV I peak sideways glances through the wayward trees. With closed eyes, I beckon for him to let me know it is over. I’m waiting for a tug, a flag, whispered caution. The seat next to me once kept warm by my father has grown cold. I got three rivers following me, waiting on my grave.





Road Couch robert kaminski

The Mouse Kristina Popiel

We had a Christmas mouse. He ate Santa cookies and shit on the counter. My dad set the tiny spring guillotines out but they were too slow. He caught him with glue paper, and the mouse was a casualty of his profession – dragged his glue-covered coffin behind him through the cupboard minefield. My dad called me out to see it – the spectacle in the yard, a few feet from where he had left him, the delineation of mouse-sized tragedy in a trail in the snow behind him. I laughed because I was cold, and because my dad was eerily proud. And what had the mouse done to him besides trifle with his womenfolk and demand a holiday execution?



Dear Mother* jisoo kim

*check out for the rest of the comic.





Remaking Hazelwood Lauren Connell & andrew werner

Raise High robert kaminski



Voyeur’s Dream lizzee solomon


A Commentary* “We’ve confirmed that all

six of the dead were indeed members of the faith,” Peter says to me.

gabriel ROUTH

III “In all likelihood they were killed in the early hours of yesterday morning – their rigor mortis has just barely begun to wear off. They were attacked and had their necks snapped from behind, giving them no chance to put up any resistance. Then they were taken to that church and hung from the crucifix.” I nod and lean back in my chair, thinking. The police station is bustling about Peter and myself, with suspects being brought in for unrelated crimes and people lodging grievances. My muse sits in a chair behind me, almost my shadow. “All at once?” Peter gives a snort. “Anything large enough to carry six bodies at once would not have been able to so easily sneak in and out of a church.” “But they were all killed at the same time, more or less. That suggests that they were all brought to the church in one go.” “Not necessarily. They could have been killed on the same night, yes, but brought there over the course of a good while.” “That presents a difficult scenario,” I remind Peter. “Either he killed all of them at once, or very close together, and

then took them one or two at a time to the church while leaving the other bodies wherever they happened to fall, which is an enormous risk, or…” I trail off, an idea striking me. Peter recognizes the look on my face and glances at my muse. She wears a broad smile and I cluck at her. “I would have arrived at that eventually. Save your inspiration for my more important work.” “I think solving a multiple homicide is more important work than writing!” Peter protests. “It all depends upon your priorities,” I tell him. “But let’s not get into a debate about that. Rather, what if these people were not killed over the course of the evening or very close together or anything like that? What if they –” and at this my eyes glitter and I smile triumphantly – “all entered that church of their own accord?” Peter hisses and mutters a satyr curse. “That makes a frightening amount of sense. But under what circumstances…?” “They were summoned there, or called there, these six people. Probably by somebody they all knew, or were at least acquaintances with. That person would be our culprit.”



“You don’t think it could just be an unlucky coincidence for that they were in the church when the murderer happened by?” “No, I think not,” I tell him. “They were called there, to be sacrificed.” “But to what god?” “The god of the original faith. Not this new, Doubting Thomas variety of the faith, but the first one.” Peter frowns. “As you said, though, that god will no longer have any interest in the material plane, what with his purpose and grand design having been carried out. If I recall correctly, too, he was not the sort of god to want human sacrifices. He preferred animals.” “His followers sacrificed plenty of humans in his name, even if they did it with a sword on a battlefield instead of a knife on an altar. Ancient history, but it left deep scars, or so I understand.”

Peter gives her another look as though seeing her for the first time. “What were you doing in a bar with the God of Thunder?” “Trying to get invited into his bed,” I reply for her. “Seems he just wanted company for a drink, though.” “And you say the idea of the murderer finding six people in a church is too coincidental? To find Thor with someone you know in a bar you frequent, when he could be anywhere that he has followers…” “Astronomical,” I say, “yes. It’s what we writers like to call ‘plot device.’ It keeps the story moving.” “This isn’t a story,” Peter says to me. “Six very real people are dead, killed by a zealot of a religion that’s long gone if your theory is accurate. You shouldn’t treat it as trivial.” “It’s only trivial if the writer is a fool and doesn’t know how to weave all the events of his story together into one

“If life did work like a story,” Peter says, “we wouldn’t need writers. It’s because we want something from you that you exist.” a commentary

Thinking for a moment longer, Peter nods and says, “I’ll report this to the chief and recommend we follow this sacrifices angle up. Good work.” I nod modestly, then motion at my muse and say, “I found her in a bar last night with a very old god whose faith has seen a bit of resurgence after the Second Coming. Talk about sacrifices.” “Which god?” Peter asks my muse. “Thor,” she says, her voice very small. She is normally an expansive and almost boorish personality, but only when not around others with me.


cohesive pattern. Everything is important for some reason or another. Every little scene has its purpose within the greater context of the story. It’s just sad that life doesn’t operate that way.” “If life did work like a story,” Peter says, “we wouldn’t need writers. It’s because we want something from you that you exist.” My muse starts at this, and I know it hits especially close to home for her. I shrug at Peter. “This is how things work, not just for writers. If nobody ever got murdered or robbed we wouldn’t need police. If people got murdered and robbed but it was all open and not hard to figure out


we wouldn’t need detectives. If all the cases that need solving were ones that detectives can easily handle, writers would have one less function and a lot more of us would be unemployed. The down-to-earth, materialistic nature of the detective doesn’t mix well with the whimsical, variegated nature of the writer.” The satyr taps a hoof against the floor. “I wonder if, against that logic, there was ever a writer-detective.” “There was, once,” I say, rising to leave and motioning for my muse to do so as well. “Who was he?” I smile, briefly. “An English gentleman named Sherlock Holmes. He was a fictional character.” My muse and I see ourselves out of the police station, the clip-clop of Peter’s hooves as he goes to report to the chief fading away behind us. IV The sun is starting to sink towards the curve of the horizon. I can see it through the window of my sitting-room, which has had the floor cleared for the activity within. My house is large enough, not exactly spacious, but I live well.

on her left arm to complement the smallsword she wields. We met in a fencing club. Both of us had, by coincidence, decided to take a tour of the place, and both of us had come to the same conclusion: namely, that it was a playground for the idiots in the aristocracy who think being able to twirl a rapier makes them an expert duelist. I have been in many swordfights in my life, and none of them ever obeyed an arbitrary set of rules. Ever since we met, we have tested one another – at bladepoint, at dinner, at shows, in bed. It has not been an easy match. We are both good with a sword, and we both make excellent dinner, and we both enjoy a good show, and I don’t blush to say that we are both good in bed, but there are basic differences there that make things difficult. She finds me hard to understand, never sure what my motive for a particular action could be, while I find her too simplistic, only looking to derive whatever pleasure she can from life. The dryads have no written alphabet, so writing is uninteresting to her, and I have little standing with trees, for obvious reasons. So far it has worked because of our mutual interests, but even our interests are for different reasons...

Oak tells me that she can’t do this any longer.

•a commentary•

I gaze at her in confusion, my sword leveled in case this is some kind of ploy, hoping that it is but knowing that it isn’t. The smallsword is heavy in my hand – this is a real weapon, not some fencing toy that they give children who are learning to duel. The pen may be mightier than the sword, but I can kill you much more effectively with the latter than the former, and so I make a point of being in top form with the smallsword. Oak is the dryad with whom I have been having a rather interesting relationship for the past few months. Her name, for the oak tree, is the only unattractive thing about her. She has lovely green eyes set in a regal face. An extremely fine layer of fur covers her skin, which is the color of earth and soil, and her skin covers muscles that are as hard as granite. She is physically in the peak of fitness, and is not as slender or frail as most of her dryad kin; she is powerful but lean, strong but not bulky. As with all dryads, she does not wear clothing, and is naked except for the buckler she wears

*check out for the full text of this piece.




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josé aurelio baez Quotable Bombshell Beauty A senior BFA student at CMU, Jose is moving back to New York next year to pursue his career as an artist and the fashion industry. Jose has an upcoming April show at the Art Loft in Mt. Lebanon, PA. julia brown The Queen of Holes Tunneling North! Among other things, Julia likes blues dancing, vegetables, poetry, and theatre. She graduates in May and will be working as an Information Developer for IBM in Littleton, MA. michael chen Early morning biking Michael is an ECE graduate student. He likes biking and taking pictures of biking. robin chen Bridge of Birds Robin is a second year HSS student from New Jersey. She likes birds.

featured in an upcoming book highlighting the work of the entire 2007 Urban Lab studio. mark elliot cullen Silent— Be Good Mark is currently pursuing a BA in Creative Writing. He is the Cofounder and Editor of The Velvet Howler, and is working on a project called, where he is writing and recording an original song each day of the year 2008. abiola fasehun Vinh-Phu, 1965 Water Grave Native of New Jersey, Abiola is pursuing a double major in Ethics, History, and Public Policy & Professional Writing. robert kaminski Road Couches Raise High Robert Kaminski is a film purist. He finds writing two-sentence biographies to be rather difficult.

rachael clemmons We, Sixteen Rachael Clemmons’ biological clock is ticking. She acts accordingly.

ari z. klein Green Cliché in D Minor Ari Klein is a senior and will be graduating in May 2008. He majors in creative writing and philosophy.

lauren connell & andrew werner Remaking Hazelwood Lauren Connell and Andrew Werner are both 4th year Architecture majors. Their project will also be

jared luxenberg Intensity Jared Luxenberg is a student, photographer, lindy-hopper, and programmer. He’s enjoyed his stay



at CMU but is happy to be moving to Seattle this fall. sarah mogin Indulgence Sarah Mogin is an only child and an only grandchild, which means she gets a lot of Christmas presents. tracy o’connor Mother and Baby Tracy is a sophmore MCS student from Bakersfield, California. mairu orbay It’s Been Long Algun dia seré pirata; es mi destino. Bite the bullet- Au revoir. allison piper Bhangra in the Burgh Allison is a sophomore psychology major with a minor in photography. She is also the assistant photo editor of The Tartan and she does occasionally have a life outside of her camera.

weather. Gabriel has been writing fiction all his life and recently found that he also has a liking for poetry. alif sajan Sleeping is Just Closed Eyes Alif Sajan is a senior. He is a trapeze artist with Bob Dylan. lizzee solomon Virgin Voyeur’s Dream Lizzee Solomon is a first-year Art major at CMU, and was born in New York City. She secretly loves gypsy music. casey taylor Mike Tyson is Dead Casey Taylor is a junior from the white suburbs outside of Philadelphia. If you see him on the street, please, leave him be

kristina popiel The Mouse Kristina is working on her MA in Literary and Cultural Studies here at CMU. Next year she will pursue an MFA in Creative Writing. gabriel routh A Commentary Gabriel grew up in California and decided to attend CMU in order to live somewhere that actually has discernable changes in


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Dossier Spring 2008 is a publication and creation of The Tartan, Carnegie Mellon’s student newspaper since 1906.


Dossier Spring 2008  
Dossier Spring 2008  

Carnegie Mellon University's Undergraduate Art and Literary Magazine