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A Journal of the Arts

Produced by the Humanities Division of Columbia State Community College

Columbia State Community College, a Tennessee Board of Regents institution, is an equal opportunity and affirmative action employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, gender, sexual orientation/gender identity, religion, ethnic or national origin, sex, age, disability status, or status as a covered veteran in educational and employment opportunities, and is committed to the education of a non-racially identifiable student body. Individuals needing this material in an alternative format, e.g., hearing or visually impaired formats, should contact the office of disability services. Columbia State Community College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award Associate of Arts, Associate of Science, Associate of Science in Teaching, Associate of Fine Arts in Music, and Associate of Applied Science degrees, and technical certificates. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Columbia State Community College. CoSCC PERC-01-04-18, Parris Printing, Nashville, Tennessee - 1,000 copies


This year’s Perceptions is dedicated to

Beverly Mitchell, teacher, writer, editor, champion of the arts, mentor, and friend. In the simplest of conversations, those who know her recognize her commitment to honesty even as she offers us hope. Ten years ago, as a hopeful writer, I stood with her and discussed young writers. She looked me in the eye and told me, “Sometimes, there’s just too much hate.” From that moment, I have kept her words as a promise and focused on the beauty of art in a search for its kindness. As such, I represent one of the many voices of students and colleagues who offer our respect and admiration for her dedication to her work as the editor of Perceptions and for her passion for the art that moves us.


STAFF 2017-2018

EDITOR

Shane A. Hall

CONTRIBUTING EDITORS

Shelly Ganter Emily Gaskill Beverly Mitchell Judith Westley

STUDENT EDITORS Wyatt Day

CREATIVE COORDINATOR Susan Pobst

COVER

Bat Sarah Corcoran


CONTENTS Poetry Taylor McCullen

Chasing the Tattooed Rabbit

7

Michael Corn

Vision

13

Robert Way

As a Poet

18

Tabitha Gidcomb

A Macabre Dance of Love and Hate

19

X 10,000 26 Lacy Staggs

ARK

30

Matthew Voliva

The Forsaken Gods

39

Sarah Grimm

I Let Him Annoy Me

46

Tabitha Gidcomb

Stillhouse Hollow Falls

49

Rebecca George

Portrait of Melvin Harris

9

Susan Pobst

Run for Life

14

Tabitha Gidcomb

The Water Faery

35

Michael B. Sztapka

A Desirable Conflict

52

The Adventurer

22

Prose

Non-Fiction Judith Parrish Broadbent


Images Sarah Corcoran

Fox Head Lady

6

Hope Perry

Foggy Morning at the Barn

8

David Tally

Shelter, Leipers Fork

11

Emily Siciensky

Totality

12

Rachel Frazier

West 7th

20

Carl Jones

Circa 2017

21

Carl Jones

In a Cloud of Pretty Dust

24

Stuart Lenig

Violinist

25

Owen May

Cable Towers

27

Tierney Pine

Reflection

28

Paul Crombie

Blue Door

29

David Smith

Clouds over Atlantic

31

Lacey Benns-Owens

The Lion Sleeps Tonight

32

Deborah J. Miller

cow & pup

33

Scott Troope

2017 Eclipse Diamond Ring

34

Jennifer Marie Geib

Le Coucher du Soleil

36

Paul Crombie

Now Showing

37

Stuart Lenig

Violin

38

Deborah J. Miller

Kata Tjuta

40

Jacque Steubbel

Guatemala Field of Martyrs

41

Harley Chambers

Shadows

42

Christa Martin

Geese and Graves

43

Tabitha Gidcomb

Dichotomy of Spike

44

David Smith

Three Buildings

45

Harley Chambers

Hanging onto Life by a Limb

47

Tabitha Gidcomb

Stillhouse Hollow Falls – In the Cubby

48

Jacque Steubbel

Good Friday Wind Turbine, Amarillo, TX

50

Hope Perry

Farmland

51

Owen May

Path Less Traveled

56 5


Fox Head Lady Sarah Corcoran

6


Chasing the Tattooed Rabbit Taylor McCullen the demarcating clouds vanished, revealing your urn of molten ashes and my tinted bank of mercury. I laughed as we watched the smoke leave our lips, causing my hair to reek of ineptitude and my breath to stink of that ever-sinking ship. the needles pricked our skin, and those wondrous, winding rivers swam across the white flesh of our forearms, marking what we’ve become and you listen to the screams, wobbling slightly as you stand across the court, alone, for I’m all bare walls and clean floors. say hello to dear, old friends for even in years, you still feel like you, and even with the years, across the valleys and the white-hot sun, time stood still. So I reach for the rabbit’s tail as he leaps just out of grasp, lost somewhere in a gruesome haze as you leave behind some forsaken sin of days soon, for you say it’s nothing more than lust. how can you laugh in the crisp leaves, and keep your patience on me, when you want to chase your tattoos away with your wooden spoons just as I want to soak my scars in bleach? Why don’t you just Divulge into just anyone with those layers of foam between your teeth, for it’s all too cryptic to swallow and too unexplained to let go. After all, we’re all too quick to follow because we were all too quick to swallow every piece of destruction set in our path. 7


Foggy Morning at the Barn Hope Perry

8


Portrait of Melvin Harris Rebecca George Melvin Harris, age seventy-eight, sat on the end of his bed, struggling to tie his worn, but newly polished brown dress shoes. His back was out again – an old basketball injury from a lifetime ago that flared up more and more recently, as he spent too many hours on his feet at his new job. He sold neckties at the local department store – no place you’ve ever heard of because he lived in a small town no one’s ever heard of either. The store provided him with a stool to sit on, but he never wanted to appear lazy to his customers, so he often refused to sit, opting instead to spend many long hours a day standing to greet them, bending over the display case, and trying to make a sale. He worked for an hourly wage, not commission, but that made no difference to him. A sale was a sale and he figured he owed it not only to the store and to his boss, but also to himself to do everything he could to make the customers happy and to sell a lot of ties. You might be feeling sorry for Melvin at this point, having been given the knowledge of his age and condition, but I’d strongly advise you not to. He’s a proud man and likely has the strongest work ethic of anyone you’ll ever come across. He began working on his grandfather’s farm at the ripe old age of eight and has rarely taken a day off in the seventy years since, without complaint, I might add. In other words, don’t feel sorry for a man who has never felt sorry for himself. I have a feeling that, even though his personality is one you’d classify as extremely mild-mannered, if you did decide to ignore my advice and took to pitying him, it might just be the one thing that would truly upset him. As he finished tying his shoes, he straightened his collar, then slapped both knees with both of his hands, a gesture he would often perform when getting off the bench and joining his fellow teammates in a game. This was one of his many lasting habits from his days as an athlete, now serving as some sort of motivational gesture to get himself going and face the day. Though age had taken a natural toll on his lanky frame throughout the years, as it does with everyone, Melvin still stood well over six feet tall, his thick silver hair highlighting the face of a markedly handsome man. If you saw his eyes, especially the sharp green color they were in this moment, you’d probably agree that they are welcoming today in a whole different way than they were fifty or even twenty years ago. He probably attracted quite a few women back in the day, though he himself only had eyes for one. Melvin married his high school sweetheart, June, a year after they graduated. Theirs was a love story that words cannot do justice, but I’ll go ahead and try. June was in the drama club and had no interest in sports other than the fact that she had heard about a cute boy who made a lot of baskets. Her friends all had a crush on him and he could have easily dated anyone he wanted to, but the second he saw June sitting in the bleachers one November day, he never saw another girl for the rest of his life. She was petite, more than a foot shorter then Melvin was, a fact that she loved because she felt safe and protected when she was with him. They dated for a little over a year, spending every waking second with one another whenever possible. He attended her plays, something he never thought he’d want to do, but never thought twice about when it came to her, and she cheered him on at his games. 9


On the night they got engaged, he picked her up for dinner, opened the door for her and blurted out his proposal the second they got in the car. He had a whole plan – music, dancing, dinner – but he loved her so much he couldn’t wait another minute to spend the rest of his life with her. June found this charming and felt the same about him. She never cared about a big, fancy proposal anyway. Even at the young age of nineteen, they both knew that the only thing important about the proposal was the fact that there was one. June cried tears of joy that night and they never made it to their fancy dinner. Instead they stayed in the car and talked for hours on end, never once worrying about a thing. Melvin and June lived a modest life in a two-bedroom home in the same small town where he still lived. They had children soon after they were married – two girls, three years apart. They never had money, but they had a lot of love between them and made the most of their fifty some odd years together. They were even blessed with two grandchildren, the grandfather role being one Melvin still takes great pride in to this day. A couple years ago, when June became ill with a rare form of cancer, Melvin, true to his character, took care of her day in and day out. He fixed her homemade soup when she had enough of an appetite to eat and he fixed her hair for her when enough of it had grown back for him to brush. He painted her nails and sang to her, his voice being the one thing that never failed to make her smile, even on the days she felt the weakest. When she was tired, as she often was, he would lie down next to her and recite her favorite poems, which he had memorized as a gift to her. On one particular day, June knew her time was fast approaching and though she didn’t tell this to Melvin, he knew her so well, he could see it in her eyes and in her body. He got underneath the covers with her and whispered in her ear that he loved her, as he began to sing her a song. She looked over at him and smiled, then passed away. Melvin didn’t cry immediately because despite the fact that June was gone, his heart was still so full of love for her, even in that moment, especially in that moment, that he couldn’t help but smile back at her. He took a deep breath and relished in the thought that they would someday be reunited. He closed his eyes for a minute or so while everything sank in, then opened them again to let the tears escape. A part of him wished that God would take him then too, but he knew that wasn’t right. He still had time left with his daughters and grandchildren and he intended on making the most of it, which he did by continuing the tradition of their family dinners every Sunday evening and by spoiling the grandchildren rotten every chance he got. He took a lot of pleasure in doing so and he knew it’s what June would have wanted. So as Melvin stood there, ready for another day of work, he was tired and his back ached, but he knew better than to complain. He had a blessed life, one that never knew financial riches or perhaps even financial comfort, but one that was full of love. He knew that some people never found their June and though he missed her, he had indeed found her and he kept her in his heart, always and forever. A smile washed over his face in that moment, a smile not unlike the one June had on her face when she took her last breath, and he walked out the door. It was time to sell ties and he wouldn’t allow himself to be late. 10


Shelter, Leipers Fork David Tally

11


Totality Emily Siciensky

12


Vision Michael Corn

Clarity within Focused magnification, A broad field of view

13


Run for Life Susan Pobst Time was a stream and I controlled it. I put my hand in the cool water; watching it swirl around my palm and then, time began to shift. The green world, where I had been cruelly trapped, rushed past me in a blur as time went backwards. I was glad when I returned to the familiar surroundings of my room. I opened my eyes and sighed. I had not escaped. Still in the woods; still in the present and still trapped. This camping idea was a bad idea. I had known it from the beginning. I had tried to convince my mom of the foolishness of this trip. Of course, she didn’t even attempt to listen. Something about sharing a childhood memory with her children. “Sara,” my mom had said, “you’re going camping with us and your cell phone is staying here.” I had glared at her, arms crossed. At 14, I still secretly dreamed of having superpowers, especially mind control. Unfortunately, my mother was oblivious to my skills. She had walked away from me with my cell phone in her hands. “Better get packing,” had been her parting words. Now, I sat next to some weird-named tree, like hawthorn or hemlock or juniper. My mom had pointed out every green-leafed thing as we drove to this isolated spot. My younger sister had taken it all in with wide-eyed wonder. I was disappointed with her. At 11, Ginny was turning into a dweeb. “Sara,” my mom interrupted. “Help Ginny unload the car.” I bit back my cutting remark. My mother still had the power to make my life miserable. Ginny smiled at me as I grabbed a sleeping bag from the old car. “Guess what we’re having for breakfast? Bacon! Want to see my impression of bacon frying?’ “No,” I said, disgusted. Ginny ignored me, dropped to the ground and began sizzling and shaking. She even flipped herself. I squeezed my eyes shut and willed the scene to disappear. It didn’t. I could still hear my sister’s sound effects. 14


I stepped over her. “Here,” I said to my mom, holding out the sleeping bag. She just looked up from the campfire she was building. Reading her mind, I tossed the sleeping bag into the tent and headed back to the car where my sister was brushing leaves and dirt off her jeans. Her smile froze when she looked past me. Turning, I saw a tall scruffy-looking man at the very edge of our camp. His overalls hung off his gaunt frame and his cap shadowed his face. I pulled Ginny behind me when I saw the rifle that hung by his side. “What you doing here?” He spoke gruffly. My mother stood calmly, but her hand clenched a fist-sized rock. “Hello,” she said. “The Campbells will be joining us soon. They invited us here to camp with them this weekend. We’re old family friends.” “No! My land! My land! My land! You gonna burn everything.” He shook and gestured his rifle towards the campfire. “I’m sorry. We didn’t mean to trespass,” my mom said, reassuringly. “I’ve been a Girl Scout leader for years. We know what we’re doing.” She glanced at me and smiled. In that brief moment, everything changed. There was a soft crack and then an echoing boom when the man fired his rifle. My mother jerked, then crumpled to the ground. The denim-clad shooter silently disappeared into the woods. I stared at my mom’s fallen form. My brain refused to believe what I was seeing. A red stain spread across her blue shirt. Her groaning broke my spell and I moved to her side, Ginny clinging to me. Mom was curled into a ball with her arms crossed over abdomen. But that didn’t stop the free flow of blood. I carefully placed one hand over the blood, still warm from her body. I tried to use my other hand, but couldn’t. I panicked until I realized that Ginny still had a death grip on my arm. “Ginny,” I said, trying to shake her off. “Ginny! Open your eyes.” She peeked at me but didn’t let go. Her body was rigid. “Ginny, help me.” I didn’t like the shake in my voice. Ginny glanced around the woods, then at me, and finally at our mom. She reluctantly let me go and began to search the camp. She found a clean shirt which she used to help apply pressure to the wound. She was a dweeb, but she was a smart dweeb. 15


I wondered how long it would take to stop the bleeding. Should I stay here or go for help? Where were the Campbells? And whose bright idea was it to leave all cell phones behind? After a dozen more questions with no answers, I decided to take the risk and go get help. But I didn’t dare leave my mom or sister here. What if he came back? With Ginny’s help, we got our mom to her feet. She leaned heavily on us, but we finally settled her in the back seat of the car with Ginny still pressing the wound. I sat in the driver’s seat and scooted it up until the steering wheel hit my stomach. After a couple of nervous trial and errors, I got the car started and in gear. I had always wanted to drive a car, just not this one. “Sara-bee.” My mother’s quiet voice was the best thing I had heard all day. “About a quarter of a mile down the road, there’s a hair pin turn. Watch for it,” she whispered. “And the car pulls to the right when you brake.” She fell silent. “Momma? Momma?” Ginny said, gently shaking her. But Momma didn’t respond. “She’s got to rest, Ginny,” I said. “But she’s going to be OK. She’s still bossing me around.” Ginny gave me a crooked smile and shifted her position to make our mom more comfortable. I think the bleeding had slowed, but I hoped I wasn’t about to make things worse. I slowly pulled out onto the narrow road. It was an uneven strip of asphalt with ditches on both sides. I maneuvered safely through the hair pin curve and relief flooded through me. It was short-lived when the pothole around the corner took me by surprise. It was the size of a crater and I yanked the wheel hard to the left. Fortunately, I missed the hole. Unfortunately, I didn’t miss the ditch that I swerved into. I tried to reverse my way out. The engine whined but one tire spun in empty space. “Crap,” I said, staring at the brown undergrowth in front of the car. “Crap.” I loosened my death grip on the wheel. “I’m going to make a run for it,” I said after a moment. Looking at Ginny, I tried to encourage her. “The bleeding has slowed. There’s a country store only a couple of miles away. I’ve got to get help, but she’ll be 16


fine.” Ginny blinked away a tear. I didn’t know if she believed me. I didn’t know if I believed me. “Please don’t leave me,” she whispered. “I have to,” I whispered back. “We can’t wait for a car to come by.” Ginny closed her eyes but I saw the tears anyway. “Hey, Ginny,” I said with a forced smile. “Remember earlier when you gave me your imitation of bacon frying?” She nodded. “When we get home, I want you to teach me how to do that.” “Really?” “Yeah. Think about the performance we will give Momma. OK?” My sister gave a small sniffle, then said, “What about the one with the cockroach on its back?” I didn’t even cringe. “That one, too.” She nodded. “I’m a tough teacher.” “Of course you are.” I paused, then gave my best Terminator impression, “I’ll be back.” Ginny rolled her eyes. Who was the dweeb now? I am not sure how long it took me to get to the store. Since I didn’t have the ability to fly and my legs got heavier with every step, it seemed like forever. When I finally reached the store, I wanted to kiss the front porch. Avoiding any emotional scene, I yanked the screen door open and rushed to the first person I saw. Thankfully, the store owner believed my wild story. The dried blood on my hands may have helped convince him. He quickly punched a number into his land line phone (no cell service). I collapsed to the linoleum floor and wept. Within the hour, I was back with Ginny. The paramedics, who brought me with them, immediately set to work on Momma. Despite her blood loss, they reassured us that she would be OK. Ginny flung her arms around me in a fierce hug and said, “My hero.” I squeezed her back. She was a dweeb, but she was my dweeb. 17


As a Poet Robert Way

As a Poet I seek to strive Just like an addiction To steer my pen In the right direction

18


A Macabre Dance of Love and Hate Tabitha Gidcomb

This infernal piece of paper With its crispy edges of doom Its blankly staring, flattened face... I want to crumple it into a ball and Compress it down to its laughing core The way this page has haunted me No other bully could compare The smoothness of its surface Is like a toxic lover’s caress One who knows your heart’s desire Yet holds you in thrall with empty promises Devoid of honor as this page is blank with words This slate so clean, unmarred by rabid thought Until, with ink, my raven weapon I slice the paper with impunity This parchment taunts me, begs my wilted sword I curse the page as provocation lands its mark A twisted dance--we oblige one another The battle boils; the mind-dam bursts Beyond the ensuing flood I find I am the laughing one The scent of page and ink combine Aroma fit to seduce the mind Victory of battle--my war rages ever on And daily do I deal these wicked blows Une danse macabre de l’amour et de la haine 19


West 7th Rachel Frazier

20


Circa 2017 Carl Jones

21


The Adventurer Judith Parrish Broadbent Adventurer The mounds of stones looked small; They clung to the sides of the hills Close to the mountain’s edge so tall. They are remnants of life still, Reminding us of older times And people who lived there too. Now they remind us of eons past, Asking if the civilization will last. (Judith Parrish Broadbent) He looked down from the cockpit of the C-46, the large transport plane that he was flying over the foothills and edges of the Himalayas from India to China to take supplies to the troops on the other side. He looked at the colors on the mountains change to pink and purple as the sun slid slowly behind the rim of the tallest mountains in the world. On the foothills he saw the remnants of small stone dwellings left by inhabitants in ages past. They were a testament to the enduring life of the area. He was interested in the history of this area and had done a lot of reading about it when he had a little time. This was hard to find as the mission was in constant movement and the pilots were on shifts so that the flow of supplies was not interrupted. The world was in turmoil. The conflict had exploded from the encroachment of Germany into the rest of Europe and Hitler’s drive to control the civilized world. Alongside this, the Japanese were expanding their empire into Asia and taking over great swaths of China. In 1942, the United States Air Forces’ new Air Transport Command began the most difficult airlift in World War II: flying supplies over the “Hump” in the foothills of the Himalayas. Massive numbers of young men and women signed up to do their part in World War II, and some of these who had training in the civilian area in flying had become pilots in the “Army Air Corps” and were chosen to fly this dangerous mission. The C-46’s were large, cumbersome planes that carried fuel, ammunition, parts and other supplies and the terrain they flew was uncharted and hazardous in itself. Among the young pilots was a young man who had wanted very much to fly and to be a part of the war effort. He had gotten his private pilot’s license when he was a student at Vanderbilt University and nineteen. His friends were eagerly volunteering to make their contributions to the service. Bobby Reich did not meet the age requirement to fly, so he took an alias, changed his birth information slightly and volunteered to fly. He had no idea that he would be sent to the exotic area of the war to fly a dangerous mission. He was young and a very imaginative man. Tall and slender, he cut a charming and handsome figure in his army officer’s uniform. Bobby was the youngest child of Robert William Reich whose family were German immigrants who had settled in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Robert had come 22


south as a supervisor for the Pitney Bowers Company and had been a passenger on the first commercial flight from Nashville. No doubt, this love of flying ran in the blood. Robert Reich had died earlier in Memphis and his family had moved to Nashville. Bobby had attended the Baylor School in Chattanooga and then returned to Nashville where he learned to fly private planes with friends at a small airfield while he started college at Vanderbilt. Bobby’s older sister was well educated and worked for the State Education Department. His mother, Miriam Eason Reich and his grandmother, Zora Eason, had a home on the outskirts of Nashville where they all lived and did their activities at work and university. Bobby could not tell his mother and grandmother of his falsehood and kept the mission that he flew secret for quite some time. He brought them presents from India when he returned, little ivory carvings of elephants and a Buddha. There were other souvenirs and stories about the awesome mountains and adventures. He told them stories of the mountains with their rocky crags and deep snows where only a handful of birds dared challenge the winds and cold to soar above the heights to the other side. He described the brilliant light from sunrises and sunsets that set the mountaintops to flame. A wonderful picture of him in the cockpit of the airplane in his bomber jacket, pilot’s cap at an angle, aviator’s glasses and crooked smile revealed his happiness and satisfaction with his assignment. His twinkling blue eyes spoke of mischief. He loved telling stories to his niece with laughter in his voice. He always said they shared a crooked smile with straight teeth as he laughed his warm and including laugh. He loved a challenge and the adventure that it gave to his life. Bobby had a special attachment to his sister’s oldest child. Had she not been so young, he would have written wonderful descriptions of the country and people he had seen. When he returned after the war, he used his skills to become a commercial airline pilot. After moving to Texas, he flew with Pioneer and Continental Airlines. Years later, when his niece was 19, he wrote to her describing the mountains in New Mexico over which he flew on trips. He told of the mountains’ colors turning to pink and purple as the sun touched them in its descent behind their snow covered crags. Looking down on these from the cockpit of a 737, he saw the remnants of another ancient civilization preserved in the stone habitations carved into the edge of the mountain’s face. The rare and stark beauty of these mountains must have reminded him of the Himalayans over which he had flown as a young man on an adventure to help save the world.

23


In a Cloud of Pretty Dust Carl Jones

24


Violinist Stuart Lenig

25


10,000 X

These skeleton lungs that I don’t breathe through, This black heart that doesn’t beat, I’m making up body parts so I’m not missing them, but what do I do about missing you? My memory is sand that never made it to shore, crushed by the entire ocean but unable To drown, dying but never lucky enough to die. I’m filling myself with your poisons until you say ‘when’ but you won’t. When you find me I’ll be a pile of things replacing what you destroyed, And even if you’ll want me, you won’t. I’m empty, I’m sick, and I’m dying. I can’t help but blame you when your way of finding out if something was flammable was by setting it on fire.

26


Cable Towers Owen May

27


Reflection Tierney Pine

28


Blue Door Paul Crombie

29


ARK Lacy Staggs

Child that is not ours. Love that exists beyond blood, Always in our hearts.

30


Clouds over Atlantic David Smith

31


The Lion Sleeps Tonight Lacey Benns-Owens

32


cow & pup Deborah J. Miller

33


2017 Eclipse Diamond Ring Scott Troope

34


The Water Faery Tabitha Gidcomb

Water splashed onto the counter as out popped a tiny winged creature from out of the bubbles in the sink. “What?!” the girl at the sink exclaimed. “What is this?!” “Hee, hee,” the creature giggled. “I am a water faery, silly!” The girl, of bare woman’s age, reckoned with her own mind the only inquiry she could muster. “But,” she began, her brow furling in uncertain disbelief. “But...what are you doing in my dishwater?” “I shall answer your question, and then I shall fly,” the faery tinkled, twirling atop a particularly large, soapy bubble, her essence dusting the dishes that poked above the water. “I were but a passerby, and inkled I might have a look see, hee hee.” The faery flitted to the faucet and performed a perfect swan dive into the water, with but a tiny plop to follow. “No, wait!” cried she as the sink began to drain. The girl searched about amidst the remaining bubbles, in vain. When the water was gone, there was no trace of the faery save for a few shining flecks of blue-green glitter.

35


Le Coucher du Soleil Jennifer Marie Geib

36


Now Showing Paul Crombie

37


Violin Stuart Lenig

38


The Forsaken Gods Matthew Voliva

Making profits off the living You give credit to the products but not the producers Believing your race is superior than the ones who made an impact to the world Subjugate any alien as you hurl them from country to country Sugarcane is not sweet when they are infected and withering as they plant it in the fire 95% of them have become prisoners in their own home The innocence is prone to diseases Yellow fever, tears them inside as they scream for Jesus Evil eyes, linger as they burn and sweat till they end up dead Watching the mothers enslave their own children Sugarcane is not sweet when they are infected and withering as they plant it in the fire 95% of them have become prisoners in their own home Color and used, Feeling abused like a pig in a slaughterhouse Sending them off like gods forsaking their children so they can die Living as supplies so they can be demanded 4 million people buy goods from the undead Their labor shouldn’t be perceived as another shade of red Forced to sell their souls so the privileged can live Always sailing towards the hottest places so they can suffer Sugarcane is not sweet when they are infected and withering as they plant it in the fire 95% of them have become prisoners in their own home Color and used, Feeling abused like a pig in a slaughterhouse Sending them off like gods forsaking their children so they can die Living as supplies so they can be demanded

39


Kata Tjuta Deborah J. Miller

40


Guatemala Field of Martyrs Jacque Steubbel

41


Shadows Harley Chambers

42


Geese and Graves Christa Martin

43


Dichotomy of Spike Tabitha Gidcomb

44


Three Buildings David Smith

45


I Let Him Annoy Me Sarah Grimm

I let him annoy me By the way he asks me questions he knows the answers to just to get on my nerves By the way he talks about school and terrible teachers because it’s all her fault like he had forgot By the way he makes fun of the serious nature of the world’s current state as if it were a joke I let him annoy me Because the boy he once was is gone All for the chance to hear the sibling he once was in his laugh I’ll always let him annoy me So I can get a glimpse of my brother who died a while back Because I don’t recognize the young man in front of me as I’m sure he doesn’t recognize the young woman in front of him Maybe he annoys me to see his sister again Because the girl I once was is gone too By the way he is able to make me laugh when I’m crying By the way he wakes up at three a.m. to make sure I’m okay By the way he lets me complain when he’s fighting something I don’t understand Just so he can see me Just so we can get a glimpse of the children we once were

46


Hanging onto Life by a Limb Harley Chambers

47


Stillhouse Hollow Falls In the Cubby Tabitha Gidcomb

48


Stillhouse Hollow Falls Tabitha Gidcomb

This amphitheater au naturale Hides echoes of the fae from long ago Abiding in the rocks and waterfall And tinkling through the pools that ripple slow Great canopy begins its Autumn turn Bold Harvest season setting up display That firebrand-painted world will swiftly burn Yet, there is still some time for summer play Cascading down the face of mossy stone The soothing waters speak of peaceful glades Where nature has been left to thrive, alone And time itself is all that ever fades I know this land can hear my aching heart I cherish it with this, my bleeding art

49


Good Friday Wind Turbine, Amarillo Texas Jacque Steubbel

50


Farmland Hope Perry

51


A Desirable Conflict Michael B. Sztapka Outside it was cold; bitter cold. Night was falling fast, as were aimless flakes of snow, swirling at random through the icy air, making an already cloudy, dreary day even darker still. What good could come from an evening like this? A mother’s lament pierced the warm stillness of the kitchen, as she pleaded with her husband who had just returned home from a long day at the factory. She vehemently disagreed with his plans for the evening, as he intended to take her only son out into the freezing night for a tribal rite of passage that would subject them both to unforeseen perils in the most sinister part of the dangerous metropolis in which they lived. “That neighborhood is no place for a child, especially at night!” shrieked the anguished mother to the father. And she was right. The riots and bloodshed that ignited just a few short years ago in that part of town were still fresh in her mind. The boy was not in the kitchen, but from his bedroom, he could hear every word of his parents’ discourse, his fate for the evening hanging in the balance, awaiting the outcome from his father. “Let him go. He’s old enough and he’ll be okay with me,” said his father with a steadfast face. “Besides, he wants to go.” And he was right. Trying in vain to deny the inevitable, the boy’s mother reminded the boy’s father that it was a school night, yet another reason her son should not risk going out this ominous evening. To this, the father sternly asked his son: “You got your homework done?” “Yes, sir,” replied the boy, who would have replied in the affirmative anyway, even if the true answer were to the contrary. So bad did he wish to accompany his father this particular evening, regardless of any potential hazards he may encounter on such an intrepid trek. The boy’s father told him to get ready and after that, there was no more discussion. A surge of adrenalin raced through the boy as he smiled and came to the sudden realization that he was finally going to get to do something that he previously only and often dreamed of, plus he was going to be able to spend time with his father, which was typically a rare occurrence, since his father was always working. After tonight’s journey, there would be no turning back for the boy, and his future would be forever impacted by the outcome of their evening expedition. As their nighttime journey began, the car’s heater gradually provided modest relief to the swirling chills outside. As he drove, the boy’s father was seemingly disengaged as he navigated both the inclement traffic and 52


weather. He was his usual quiet, distant, and contemplative self, with the silence inside the vehicle broken only by the local news radio broadcast. Soon there was mention of an inescapable battle to take place that very evening between a local militia and rival opposition forces that descended upon the area. The site of the conflict was the precise location to where the father and son were headed. It was no coincidence. Both father and son were unarmed as they entered the proximity of the reported combat zone, although the father was equipped with a lifetime of steely street-smarts and survival skills that helped him at a tender young age overcome the horrors of global warfare at its worst, and immigrate under much duress to a distant foreign republic on the other side of the world. Once in his adopted homeland, he would escape countless ethnic turf battles intact and remain unscathed. He would eventually learn a new language, marry a local lady, and through sheer hard work and determination, scrimp, save, and somehow successfully support a family in this brave new land. Under his protection that evening, or any evening, no harm would ever come to his son. As the evening’s chilly temperatures continued to drop, they joined growing numbers of other local partisans who steadily drew closer to the eventual encounter. Some were also in assorted transport vehicles, while others were soldiering through the slushy footpaths. Still, the boy possessed no sense of apprehension whatsoever, only anticipation and wonder. He pressed his nose to the cold car window and peered out at the snow-swept city landscapes at night, trying to catch that first glimpse of that imposing yet majestic fortress that would soon provide a curious combination of shelter and severity, history and histrionics - the first of many magical and emotional memories. But fear was completely absent, despite the potential danger all around from the brutal elements and residents, alike. On their approach, the massive structure finally became fully visible and the boy saw it for the first time. Billows of steam emanated from its rooftop chimney, making it appear as an enormous, urban dragon at rest, made of steel, bricks, and mortar, with a bounty of black rail fire escapes on its outside walls appearing like jagged, patterned scales on the body of a sleeping beast. Across the street from the big, burly, building, the boy’s father followed a procession of other cars pulling into a fenced-in lot surrounded by rolls of menacing barbed-wire. As he came upon a makeshift checkpoint upon entering the lot, the father rolled down the window and handed a fistful of dollars to the bundled (though shivering) sentry who was standing guard at his busy post, wearing a red jacket over multiple layers of assorted insulation. As a piercing blast of frigid air and exhaust fumes invaded the warm comfort of the car with the window down for the exchange, the boy took heed and began zipping up his winter coat and putting on his hat and gloves, preparing to face the elements outside. “Make sure the doors are locked and stay close to me,” was the martial order of 53


the father to his son, as they both left the car and trudged along with growing hordes of others, all going across the street and onto the long sidewalk leading up towards the illuminated entrance of the brawny and beckoning behemoth of a building beside them. While walking past, the boy felt a sense of connection and pride as he gazed at the huge and colorful emblem of the distinguished and noble symbol emblazoned on the side of the mighty building they were about to enter. The stoic, native profile was timeless and represented their side, which the countless committed attendees tonight were here to encourage and rally around. The boy would be entering this very special place for the first time, while his father was adding to a lifetime of past visits into this same tumultuous temple, retracing the lost footsteps of his own, distant youth. Entering the heavy doors with purposeful strides, the masses upon entering stopped seeing their cloudy breath as the temperature immediately became bearable again, almost comfortable, while select others chose instead to linger outside under the lighted entrance despite the wickedness of the weather. Following close on the heels of his father, they went with the human herd through the barricade of turn-styles, across the black and white checkerboard pattern of the tiled concourse floor. The boy’s father gave two tickets of entry to a tall man with a look of authority. The man wore a blue and gold uniform and was guarding the end of their turn-style. The tickets were then hastily looked at and torn by the man and returned to his father, all in one sweeping motion. The father handed the boy the stub of the ticket that was for him with a brusque, imperative order: “Don’t lose this!” At once, all the boy’s senses came under assault: the overwhelming and pungent odor of heavy cigar smoke was omnipresent and would relentlessly burn a toxic tickling of the boy’s nostrils the entire evening. Equally everywhere was the sharp smell of draft beer, measured by the gritty fragrance of fresh-popped popcorn and grilled hot dogs. Above the din of the concourse crowd, one could hear the distinct, melodic sounds of an immense pipe organ being played by an individual with skillful fingers and feet, that somehow seemed apropos to the carnival atmosphere all around. The incessant, boisterous banter of the adult male majority present rang rampant on the boy’s ears, as he heard harsh new vocabulary words for the first time, words his father never used. He also astutely noted no other children in attendance and also extremely few women were to be seen there that evening. This was indeed a man’s world, sacred and profane, all at the same time. Both father and son climbed a tight, dimly-lit staircase leading up to the mezzanine, climbing up to enter the inner-sanctum of the imperious confines. The growing clamor of the gathering crowd, mixed with the mesmerizing notes of the tremendous pipe organ grew noticeably louder. Before they entered a small corridor to their restricted section, a robust man wearing the costume of some distinguished admiral, epaulettes and all, verified the information on 54


the remnants of their entrance tickets before allowing them passage inside. As they found their way across the row to their fold-down, red, wooden seats, the intoxicating panoramic view, all new before his virgin eyes, took the boy’s breath away. What he saw that night was the fantastic fiber of his frequent dreams, but the reality he witnessed that evening was even better. His initial gaze fell upon a colorful litany of oversized, satin banners that draped from the rafters and commemorated past conquests from years gone by. He noticed two individual ensigns that honored the most remarkable pair of warriors to the cause, whose names he knew well from occasional recollections of their heroic exploits sometimes shared by his father during prized moments of rare communication. From the center of the black, cavernous ceiling above, anchored by sinews of huge cables and invisible wires lost in the darkness and misty haze of captured cigar smoke, a marvelous machine seemed to magically hover in the air unaided. This immense instrument that loomed from on high was the colossal, four-sided, scoreboard that documented each battle it witnessed by keeping the time, tracking the infractions of both camps, and informing all those present of the successful strikes from either side. The overbearing timepiece was countered by rows of gigantic lamps that provided illumination throughout the arena and gave a brilliant sheen on the indoor ice surface below. From that frozen surface, hemmed in by an oval of interlocked dasher-boards and planes of Plexiglas, arose a subtle chill that reminded those inside of the more blatant and severe cold outside. Inside, it was cold steel on ice. The boy eagerly absorbed each glimpse of his heroes circling through the preliminary stages of preparation before the ensuing battle, bedecked in their home white sweaters with red and black trim, brandishing long, slender clubs of oak and ash. Just inches across the red line dividing the rink in half, the evil enemy in their visiting green, white, and yellow garb were also preparing for combat with their own cycles of circular motion. Suddenly, the boy was jarred from his senses by a sonic blast from an enigmatic foghorn, which signaled the end of the pre-game skate and the much anticipated start of the night’s contest. But before the contest began, the goaltenders went to guard their cages and the starting skaters for each squad lined up on their respective blue lines as the distinct, monotone voice of the public address announcer politely asked everyone to please stand, remove their hats, and join in the singing of our national anthem. And before the booming baritone sang the first note from the organ loft, the traditional roar began. The boy stood still alongside his father, with hand over his heart, and goosebumps breaking out across his body, enraptured at the ethereal atmosphere around him. He would remember this moment for eternity.

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Path Less Traveled Owen May

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2018 Perceptions  

A Journal of the Arts produced by the Humanities Division of Columbia State Community College

2018 Perceptions  

A Journal of the Arts produced by the Humanities Division of Columbia State Community College

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