Conceptions Southwest, 2012

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2012 Volume XXXV

Conceptions Southwest The Fine Arts and Literature Magazine of the University of New Mexico

Copyright © 2012 Conceptions Southwest Published by the Student Publications Board University of New Mexico All rights revert to authors upon publication ISSN 1048-8790 Conceptions Southwest is the prime literature and arts publication created for and by the University of New Mexico community. Its staff is made up entirely of student volunteers, directed by an editor in chief who is selected by UNM’s Student Publications Board. Submissions are accepted from UNM undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, staff, alumni, and participants of Continuing Education. This issue is brought to you by the Associated Students of the University of New Mexico (ASUNM) and the Graduate Professional Student Association (GPSA). Copies and back issues are available in the Daily Lobo Classified Advertising Office, Marron Hall Room 107. Conceptions Southwest’s office is located in Marron Hall Room 225. Cover Art: Carissa Simmons 505.277.5656 c/o Student Publications MSC03-2230 University of New Mexico Albuquerque, NM 87131-0001 Printed by Starline Printing 7111 Pan American West Freeway NE Albuquerque, NM 87109 505.345.8900



The Student Publications Board for all of the advice, ideas, and support The Daily Lobo Advertisement Office & Newsroom for marketing

Daven Quell for providing a professional opinion and for her speedy response to all of those last-minute ads ASUNM and GPSA for funding the artistic endeavors of Conceptions Southwest Jim Fisher and Dr. Leslie Donovan for all of the advice and personal support Pam Herrington for a treasure trove of understanding based on the best knowledge of all: experience Becky Maher and Starline Printing for their dedicated assistance with the publication process Valerie Thomas for help us find a designer Junfu Han for his work on the website Chris Quintana for making himself available to help out whenever possible

Every member of the staff and every one of our contributors. Without you, Conceptions Southwest simply would not exist.

Conceptions Southwest 2012 is Editor in Chief

Shari Taylor

Selection Committee

Gabriela Baltazar Rachel Lamb Gianna May Andrew Quick Ramon Vargas Molly Tarr Tamara Taylor

Copy Editors

Gabriela Baltazar Rachel Lamb Gianna May Andrew Quick Julia Skillin Molly Tarr

Production Committee

Design Director Event Coordinators

Susie Davenport Rachel Lamb Julia Skillin Molly Tarr Ramon Vargas Jordan Unverzagt Ramon Vargas Rachel Lamb

Conceptions Southwest is a magazine that, since 1978, has stood as the exclusive venue for young artists, writers, poets, musicians, architects, and playwrights of the University of New Mexico. With weeks, months, and sometimes years of hard work and thoughtful creativity, these artists and writers have made out of a wisp of thought what you see touching the pages of this magazine. They have created something where nothing existed before, a feat that anyone will tell you is possibly the most difficult for a human, and yet perhaps the most characteristic of mankind, to accomplish. It is in our blood, in our ancestry to create, and yet so few of us venture to do so—even less manage to work up the courage to put their work out there in the way that the following fine artists and writers have, braving everything from criticism to plain old ridicule. Still, there is something for the producers of this magazine to be proud of in simply enabling Conceptions Southwest’s contributors the chance to showcase their best creative work. In today’s world of ever-increasing time in front of a computer screen, doing work that we will never hold in our hand and feel proud of in the way that our ancestors could, I consider art in its many forms to be one of the only weapons that society has in a battle against disconnection, apathy, and alienation. I have always felt like any work I have done on magazines has been some of the most laudable work that I may ever accomplish, and I certainly hope that those involved in producing this magazine feel similarly. Not only does Conceptions Southwest provide one of the only platforms for artists and writers to proclaim for the world to hear, “I have created something great!” but it enables people like myself and my absolutely fantastic staff to hold this thing in our hands and say, “Yes, we did this. We made this happen.” -Shari Taylor


A Note From the

Art and Photography 9

Highway 86 Beth Ann López


After the Accident


Blue Sandia Emily van Dyck


Rocky Joshua John Garcia


Portrait of Mom in Mexico Magali Rutschman


A Viajante Elisabeth Perkal


Self Portrait Robert Alanís


Summer Bliss Magali Rutschman


End Chloë Winegar-Garrett


Bad News Chloë Winegar-Garrett


Harbours of Ruin Kristie Hollon

Kelly Kathleen McCarthy

Music 20

Dreamscape in F Minor Chloë Winegar-Garrett


(D)o(min)ique Andre Ovalle

Conten Table of

Poetry 1

Perfect Temptation Frank Sedillo


Masquerade Ball Priya Shah


Friendship in Winter Marisa Silva-Dunbar


Already my Friends Don’t Like You Marisa Silva-Dunbar


The Legend of One-Eyed Charlie Loretta Lawson


Regrets Marisa Silva-Dunbar


Nukie New Mexico Arun Ahuja


The End of the World Scarlett Owen

Fiction 4


Dinner with Leftovers Zach Hively


Little Sarah Gustafson Regina Eckert


Train Rachel Overmier




Ghost of Beautiful Rachel Overmier

Non-Fiction 10

Piano in the Basement Ashley Jordan


Spencer Alan Jefferson Dahl


Dorkus Largus: Confessions of a SpiderMan Addict Travis Hanson

P erfect

Temptation Frank Sedillo

How do you control the aspects of body and soul When faced with The perfect temptation A vision beyond sight A flesh above delight A kiss undone before A touch wanting for more Why would you bind the trembling of heart and mind While reflecting upon The perfect temptation A lip smacking savory pleasure A dried mouth anticipated treasure A yearning deeper than lust A lure more appealing than trust When is the intrusion of reality an illusion Whilst contemplating The perfect temptation A tension between gratification and satisfaction An anxiety of infamy and attraction An agonizing obsession for love and passion A dilemma brilliant and without compassion And where shall we reflect and decide Such beguile In our faultless conscience and hypocritical persuasion For who can resist The perfect temptation


Masquerade Ball Priya Shah

The hoofs of the horses beat on the cobblestone path, I step out and I head for the mansion’s door, I lift my hand to my face and put on my mask. Each smile is worn unwavering and happy, Each hand is held out in a warm welcome, I look at the faces adorned in gems. Each with their own stories hidden beneath the mask. The dresses swiftly swipe the ground and the heels drum on the floor, The men stand erect and poised as the women show their elegance. Laughter and smiles come from each face, Yet the true feeling is kept as a lie under the masks. The gossip and drama are muted by the music, The heartbreaks and cheating go unnoticed in the darkness, The dreams and wishes are held in the hearts of many, Yet, they are locked away as a disgrace, Guarded by the eerie masks. Tonight I wander in the masquerade ball, I see nothing but the eyes of many. The eyes of my betrayers and heart breakers. Those eyes scream of the pity, sorrow, and anger That know no boundaries of the masks.

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Each person is hurt, and each person has lied, Yet the music drowns on, commanding the feet of all. They all wear their smiles, Hiding their intentions under their masks. Each dancer holds a dagger behind their back, Protecting the secrets that don’t want to be held back, The anger and sorrow flow through the eyes, But no one notices through the masquerade masks. The intentions are clear and so are the actions, The dagger comes down quick and easy onto my back, They have no fear of being caught tonight For true identities are covered. I turn to see who my culprit is, But he has already turned his face to the ear of a girl, I watch as my secrets flow out and my trust fades away. I watch as my heart bleeds out and my smile vanishes, I watch as his eyes reveal his truth, I watch as he smiles again and adjusts his mask.


Dinner With Le ftovers Zach Hively

The drive to Mr. Mauer’s house from the record store lasted just a few minutes, even when Kyle Mauer held his truck three miles an hour under the speed limit. The northern New Mexican shadows, fed on sunlight and mystique until they were purple and crisp, hardly had a chance to sprout into greater maturity before Kyle reached the right street and pulled the Datsun pickup into the driveway. His truck blocked the main escape route of Mr. Mauer’s 1968 Beetle, parked under the carport on the left side of the house, but the product of thirty-some years of fine German development (or, perhaps, thirty-some years of practically unchanged German engineering) had worn a comfortable patch of oil into the ground. The Volkswagen, like an old man in his favorite armchair, didn’t look to be going anywhere of its own volition. He looked up at the sky, the color of Georgia O’Keefe’s drain water, in which the cottonwood trees washed their leaves. “Just imagine what you and your camera could do right now, Mom,” Kyle sighed. “Does anywhere else in the world get sunsets like this?” To the trees, this talk of geography was irrelevant; the Volkswagen and the Datsun had learned to put up with Mauer-chatter if they wanted to be fed gasoline once a week (usually on Saturday, they had deduced). Receiving no answer, Kyle walked into the house and closed the carved wooden door behind him. It clicked shut with a

deep resonance that betrayed the quality of the wood hiding under the faded and worn blue paint. Perhaps only in the Southwest would someone be proud of a door that was intentionally so weathered, and Kyle’s father was indeed proud of his front door. He’d crafted it himself, to replace the manufactured door that had filled the gap in the adobe wall when he, Kyle and Kyle’s mother had moved in. He knew every creak the door made, and claimed he could identify the next day’s weather based on the door’s report. Mr. Mauer could also, as Kyle had discovered in high school, determine which of his family members was crossing the threshold based solely on the reaction of the wood. Such skills were of dubious value in the Mauer household by 1985, but at the sound of his handiwork groaning on its wrought-iron hinges, Mr. Mauer hollered a tired greeting from the living room to his son, almost ritualistically. Kyle answered only by dropping his ratty Nike tennis shoes on the tiled entryway. The floor remained cool to the touch, even on a Wednesday in July, and the earthy air within the old adobe house complimented the open, dusty atmosphere outside. Kyle slid on socked feet to the kitchen. There, he took the loose change out of his pocket and dropped the coins in a mason jar labeled “Retirement Fund” with masking tape and a Sharpie. He opened the fridge to grab a can of Budweiser. He leaned against the counter and cracked open the beer. From the

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his beer halfway to them before halting. He didn’t answer. Mr. Mauer shrugged. “Thought you might be able to get some use out of that philosophy degree, anyway.” Kyle sat his Bud on the counter. “Are you going to tell me how I should have become a nuclear engineer, or at least a mechanic?” “I made dinner.” Mr. Mauer tilted his head and pointed to the large brown glass bowl covered with aluminum foil on the stovetop. “Thought we could eat together, so I waited for you. We haven’t eaten dinner together for a while now.” “No,” said Kyle, who picked up his beer can again and inspected its top for dirt, or perhaps defects. “No, I guess we haven’t.” Mr. Mauer stepped over to the stove, closed the oven door which he’d left cracked open to release the heat, and with finger and thumb peeled the tin foil from the top of the bowl of macaroni. Kyle watched him. Melted cheese stuck to the underside of the crinkly foil, and some strands stretched from the lip of the bowl to the countertop, where Mr. Mauer set the metal sheet. He pulled open one drawer, shut it, and opened the drawer next to it, from which he pulled a large serving spoon. The kitchen had eleven drawers, had had eleven drawers ever since Kyle first lived in that house as a teenager, but as if to be sure he counted them again, starting with the first drawer his father had opened. His lips soundlessly murmured “seven” just as Mr. Mauer interrupted the count. “Would you grab a couple

television set in the living room, high-pitched whistles and the grunts of manly cowboys rode into the kitchen on horseback and galloped about before being chased away by the next wave of cavalry. Kyle tipped back the Budweiser can and drained one long draught before pushing himself away from his counter-top perch. He had taken a single step in the direction of the spare bedroom, his old bedroom, when Mr. Mauer came through the other doorway, the one that linked the living room to the kitchen. He wore his once-fluffy house shoes, once-black sweatpants, and a baggy sweater from his alma mater. Above all those articles of clothing, he had jowls that had begun to sag, fewer hairs than he used to (and those thinner and wispier and whiter where they had been respectably tame and gray), and eyes with all the disinterest of a middle-aged basset hound. His movements were slower than they had once been, which made Kyle fidget uncomfortably, unable to look at his father directly. Mr. Mauer shuffled to the Frigidaire and squinted into the refrigerated recesses. “How’s the record store business?” “Same as always.” Kyle looked at the can in his hand as he answered. His father straightened stiffly, once he claimed a Miller for himself. “So still philosophizing to the musical masses, eh?” Kyle scrunched his lips to one side of his face and raised


of what it perceived as a senseless world, called it quits plates?” he said. Kyle turned around to the cabinet and made a silent suicidal leap to the tile floor, where it behind him, lips repeating seven, seven, seven until landed flat as a pancake. The purple light outside perhe could face forward again, and took out two ceramic formed its sacred daily coming-of-age ritual, signing up dishes, which he sat next to the stove. Mr. Mauer opened for brief service in navy blue before putting on its finest the utensil drawer again and pulled out two mismatched forks. Kyle resumed counting drawers, but before he even black duds for a nice, quiet night out. And other than the reached ten Mr. Mauer handed one of the utensils to Kyle. motions required for ingestion of macaroni and cheese, neither man shifted. Mr. Mauer sat at the thick kitchen table with his Perhaps Mr. Mauer sensed that the world was movmacaroni and cheese, and Kyle had no real choice but to ing on without him while he sat there, still. He started to serve himself from the big glass bowl and join his father. say something, to participate in the evening’s activities, He sat at the opposite end of the broad dining surface but stopped himself after the first hint of a sound. Kyle and said nothing. set down his Budweiser and looked expectantly at his faMr. Mauer gingerly stuck his fork through the noodles and hesitated before biting, as if he had reason to ther. He made eye contact with the elder man, who then fear that renegade pasta might bail between the plate and breathed in, pointed at his own plate, and lamely said, his mouth. And then, once he could be assured his maca- “This is good.” Kyle nodded. His father breathlessly coughed, clearroni wasn’t mutinous, he said, “I hope it’s warm enough.” He looked at Kyle across the expansive wood-grained gulf. ing his throat of cheese and awkwardness. “I… I didn’t do half bad.” He looked down at his almost-empty plate and “I tried to time it for when you got home.” continued, “It’s not as good as your mom made it, but Kyle took a bite from the middle of the pile of macait’s—it’s not bad.” roni and cheese before him. He chewed it slowly and, adThe air hung like cobwebs in the kitchen. No sounds of dressing the dish, perhaps answering some vain inquiry mastication, of silverware on ceramic, of aluminum can on from the cheddar and Velveeta rather than his father, quality wooden surface could sway it, and yet the delinquent remarked, “Seems fine to me.” condensation stopped and looked warily around with his “Well, good.” The two men sat and listened to noodles being chewed and cheesy bits being washed down a gullet friends, the spirit of the napkin halted its ascension to the

“Perhaps Mr. Mauer sensed that the world was moving on without him...” by sips from a can of beer, the only sounds in the room since the cowboys and their steeds had been temporarily banished by a pause button. Everything else was silent. A drop of condensation sliding down Kyle’s beer can, wordless and shy, managed to make friends one at a time, and finally they bolted as a group for the bottom lip of the can with enough speed to make curious bystanders suspicious of their juvenile activity. Mr. Mauer’s napkin, tired

heavens to see what was happening, the night sat down its brandy sniffer and leaned forward for a better look. Kyle’s eyes were fixated on the center of the table. The refrigerator motor chose to shut off at that moment, its contents sufficiently chilled, and the silent expectation of son, night, napkin-ghost, and young condensation peaked. A sudden, short, squeaky intake of air from Mr. Mauer’s side of the table should have broken the spell

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“On the bottom of the drawer frame, Kyle could read three initials carved deeply into the oak: TRM.”

and restored the natural movement and sound to it once again. But the only sign of progression came from Mr. Mauer’s hand, which reached for another napkin and pretended to dab it at his mouth. Considering that he was in actuality wiping the moisture from the crinkled corners of his eyes, the effect was less than plausible. Kyle sat down his fork and pushed back the chair. He stood by the table, looked down and across at his father, and said nothing. Mr. Mauer would not look up, whether out of embarrassment for his emotional display or for fear of breaking down fully was less than certain. Maybe he just had nothing worth saying. After rising so suddenly, Kyle froze where he stood, again no more lively than the paused frontiersman and their native foes on the television screen. Then he turned and left the room, as wordlessly as a drop of condensation, as if something on the table were an affront to his decency. All that sat there, though, were two plates of macaroni and cheese, partially eaten to different degrees, two unfinished cans of beer, one Budweiser, one Miller; and Mr. Mauer’s two quivering elbows. The spare bedroom, Kyle’s bedroom once again, retained the same furniture Kyle had used in his teenage years. The dresser, the nightstand, and the bed frame were all made of sturdy oak in complementary fashions, though there was nothing inherently childlike in their appearance. He gripped the edge of the thick door as if to slam it, but as he entered the room and saw once again the redecoration his mother had undertaken, including her self-proclaimed best pieces of scenic photography in dark frames, the door transferred hands and he gently clicked the big door shut. “A spare room for a spare guest,” Kyle had said the day he moved back in, and on this Wednesday in the following July, the statement still fit. Kyle sat on the edge of the bed, his old bed, in the permanent indentation where he always sat. He nestled his forehead into the base of his palms and scrunched his eyes shut. For no fewer than five minutes (three hundred ticks and zero tocks from the small alarm clock on the nightstand until Kyle stopped counting aloud) he sat in

this position. When he shifted, he took his hands away from his face and gently dropped one lightly-balled fist on the nightstand. The little table responded with a quiet, solid sound, and the alarm clock jittered nervously. The eyebrows on his face came together in the middle, but more inquisitively than stressed, as they had been a moment before. Kyle slid off the mattress onto the floor. He contorted himself until he could peer under the nightstand, which fortunately for Kyle consisted of one drawer and a small tabletop all elevated on high legs. On the bottom of the drawer frame, Kyle could read three initials carved deeply into the oak: TRM. He lay there on his back for some time. He traced the deep scores of his father’s initials with his index finger, as a child might draw images on the ceiling in the early morning light or try to make sense of the constellations among the stars. The pad of Kyle’s fingertip filled the letters when he pressed harder against the rich wood. The lines left temporary impressions on his finger each time he pulled it away, yet the skin never caught on splinters or rough edges. Even the final mark of the craftsman on the underside of the nightstand was finished with tender attention. When Kyle stood he went directly from the spare room back to the kitchen. Mr. Mauer stood by the counter, a checkered towel across his shoulder, splashing the edges of the metal sink to rinse down the final soap suds.


“Sorry,” Kyle said. “I forgot to take care of my plate.” Mr. Mauer bent to hang the tired dish towel over the handle of the oven door. “Don’t worry. I cleaned up already. There’s not much to do, with just the two of us. Macaroni’s in the fridge, if you want to take some for lunch tomorrow.” “Thanks, Dad.” Kyle’s fingers slipped into the top of his jeans pockets and his shoulders reached for his ears. “Sorry I didn’t—that I left it there. I didn’t mean to make you do that.” Mr. Mauer gave a slight, dismissive grunt, and waved his calloused hand. “OK, if you’re sure. I’m just going to get to bed, then.” Kyle turned slowly to leave the kitchen. Behind him, his father said, “Goodnight.” Kyle turned his shoulders around and looked at his father, the little-seeming man straightening a checkered dish towel on the oven door handle. “G’night,” Kyle said, and he left the kitchen.

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Highway 86 Beth Ann LĂ“pez


Piano Ashley Jordan

Her piano has been sitting in my parents’ garage since fifth grade. It is covered in an old pink blanket to keep dust from getting on it, preventing me from seeing it unless I am looking for it. It was one of the only things my father refused to leave behind after the funeral. He threw his back out getting it up those stairs and out of my Omi’s basement and he gets stiff every winter from it, a reminder of what he went through for something that now clutters the garage. There has been talk lately of moving it to my apartment, since they saved it for me. “It’s yours,” my mother says as she puffs a cigarette and rolls it between two fingers. “She left it for you; that is why we brought it back.” “I don’t even play the piano,” I say. It’s not that I don’t want the piano; it’s that the logistics of getting it to my house are dissuading. “You used to, when you were little,” my mother says. I can understand why they think Omi would have wanted me to have it. There are many of her talents that I have never learned, and playing piano is one of them. But in her basement, on those annual two week summer visits, we played piano every night for hours. From the time I was old enough to sit upright in her lap until that summer just before she died, the routine was always the same. “Omi!” I called, after I had scarfed down my green beans. “I’m finished.” “Eating too fast, it is not good for you darling.” She took my plate away with a smile all the same, and I watched

her wash it in the sink by hand and then place it in the dishwasher. “What would you like to do now?” Without a word, I rushed for the basement, knowing she would follow. The stairs were steep, and the carpet was so old, some of the nails were pulling up and would prick my feet on the way down if I was not careful. Each summer trip, I would memorize a safe way down on the first night, sometimes hopping over whole steps to avoid the pricklies. I refused to wear house slippers, and so this was my precaution to avoid the “I told you so” Omi would sing-song if I got hurt. This last summer, there were no new nails upturned, and so my routine was a repetition of the summer before. Her basement was dim because there were no windows. The lamps were all old ones in which the light bulbs were filled with dust. I did not try to read the music, for I could not see it or understand what it meant. Omi could see, though, through her tiny reading glasses with the little beaded string that hung around her neck. She followed me down and together we pulled out the piano bench and sat down at the old oak piano. Her fingers were arthritic, but she never let it show. Her hands glided over the keys to form old folk songs she had learned in Germany as a little girl, and she taught them to me. Note by note, word by word, we practiced, but if you asked me now which songs we sang, I could not tell you. I do not remember a single one.

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in the


I only remember the way her voice surrounded me, the way she looked at me with love and admiration, and the way that for a few hours, my Omi was just mine. For a few hours each night I did not have to share her with the grownups or my brother or my funny smelling aunt. She would look at me and say, “Beautiful, meine liebechin,� which I knew meant something nice, but did not understand. She tried to teach me, explaining what the words meant and what a tempo was. I could not be bothered to listen. I mimicked her hands on the piano, and sometimes she would place her hands over mine to guide them, but I never truly learned the songs. When she died, I was ten years old. She lived in Denver, we in Albuquerque, and so we spent two weeks with her every summer. Give or take the few weeks of birthdays or Christmases when she came to see us, I only spent about 25 weeks of my entire life with my Omi. It makes sense that the clearest memory I have is of that piano and her, just the two of us, making music. Later, I began singing professionally, and learned that her Omi, my great, great Omi, was an opera singer in Germany. She, like me, was a Coloratura Soprano, linking me forever to my Omi in a way no one else in my family possesses. The piano itself is very beautiful, with carved roses and ivy on the sides. It is made the way you expect a

memory to be made, as though it will last forever. And it is mine, in a more profound way than I had thought before. Music was the gift my Omi gave me through my genetics and through those hours in the basement and through the love we both possessed for it. Even though I know I will never be as proficient as she was, being that she had learned from the time she was a little girl, I think now that I would like to learn to play her piano. Maybe one day, I will even remember those German songs we sang in her basement, those soft melodies that must be somewhere in the back of my mind, that perhaps I sometimes hear and never even know it. Maybe she will teach them to me again, and maybe this time I will pay attention.


After the Accident Kelly Kathleen McCarthy CSW 2012

Blue Sandia Emily Van Dyck


Friendship in Winter London just before Christmas wasn’t like Dickens or the rom-com where Hugh Grant and all his mates find love. It was lugging suitcases down stairs at Victoria station, navigating the tube before deciding on the overpriced black cab that zoomed past the ice rink at the Tower of London.

In north Camden I soaked ladyfingers in apricots and Drambuie, they fell apart in your hands as we lay them in the glass dish. Near midnight we wandered into coffee shops, gabbed about boys like sixteen-year-olds. We sipped hot chocolate to warm our throats. The next day we turned your home into a mid-morning disco, and bopped around to the radio, singing for the whole block to hear. We plastered your room with imitation Warhols, hoping they’d cover the cracks in the walls. You helped me pack, promised you’d miss me for the month I was gone, that things wouldn’t change like the weather in Winter. This was before the months had sunk into our bones, before the silence.

Marisa Silva-Dunbar

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Already my Friends

Don’t Like You Marisa Silva-Dunbar

At the dinner party, you drank too much tequila, let the hostess lean into your touch. Last week when we went out to the grimy clubs they said you danced too close to the other girls, wispy skirts getting tangled in your fingers. Over Sunday mimosas, they mapped out your flaws—you spent too much time lifting weights, but swallowed more alcohol than air, your kisses were too swift, your eyes always moving. They berated me for counting ways to keep you, for curling my hair, slipping into black dresses and heels, sitting through nights of soccer and tennis. Their words cloud the space when I’m with you.


Rocky Joshua John Garcia

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Sarah Gustafson Regina Eckert

Little Sarah Gustafson was quite an odd child in more ways than one. While normal little girls around the age of five loved to play with dolls and Easy Bake Ovens, Little Sarah Gustafson liked to steal knives from her parents’ kitchen and discipline her rowdy younger brothers with them. While normal little girls dreaded Time Out, Little Sarah Gustafson relished the sound of her bedroom door slamming shut behind her as her parents scolded her behavior. But, most importantly, while other little girls only dreamed of witches and their magic wands, Little Sarah Gustafson had the real thing. She had magic. It was therefore a normal day when Captain Sarah, Pirate Queen, tied her younger brothers to a tree in the backyard and made them walk the plank at knifepoint. This wasn’t a bad thing, in Captain Sarah’s mind. She wasn’t going to hurt her brothers; just make them a little easier to deal with at dinner. Otherwise they could be really loud and disgusting, or they could even tattle on her to Mommy and Daddy about the stain in the hallway! And her brothers only paid attention when she had a knife in her hand. Besides, they were scallywags, only fit for the plank! Shortly thereafter, Little Sarah Gustafson was, as normal, marched to her room by her mother and was told in no uncertain terms to think about the weighty What She Had Done. And, as normal, Little Sarah Gustafson immediately forgot her crime and its punishment as soon as her bedroom door slammed shut. It was simply not practical to focus on What She Had Done – she had learned her lesson (not to get caught), and now there were more adventures to find.

To the untrained eye, Little Sarah Gustafson’s bedroom looked like any of the small, plain child’s rooms scattered across the world: white walls, mostly unadorned, a small desk with a clutter of stuffed animals and clothes clashing haphazardly with a fanciful painting of a tropical island, a low bed with a purple quilt hanging down to the ground. But, as Little Sarah Gustafson knew, this was no plain room: this was a place of magic. That day she did as she had for years after the Slamming: she lay on her bed, arranged her features in a sufficiently pious manner, and then took a snapshot of herself in her mind. She could feel this snapshot, this slice of Technicolor film, drape her like a sheet, forming a solid shell that looked and breathed and sounded exactly like her real body. Carefully, oh so carefully, making sure not to tear the edges of this fragile image, she pulled herself away from the shape on the bed and turned to survey her handiwork. She had discovered this the first time the door had slammed on her, this magical gift. She could hardly explain it herself, the way she had to lay there, completely still, how she had to concentrate on the image of herself with her entire being, then give just that right twist of her mind to fix the image of herself there, on the bed, while she ran about the room to play. It was useful, this being in two places at once thing, Sarah thought as she turned away from her reflection on the bed. As she crouched down by the blank wall at the foot of her bed, however, Sarah forgot about her image on the bed, forgot about her mother and the slamming door, and forgot about her annoying little brothers playing the “not touching you” game in the car that day. She focused


wholly on the wall, tracing an invisible corner there with an affectionate hand, knowing what she was searching for was here, somewhere. It was hidden to everybody else, she knew; she had tried to show her brothers once but they couldn’t see— Ah! There! That little clasp, the brass hinges in the white wall! She had moved her eyes just right, had given that little twist of mind again, and there it was. The door to another world.

and swung it shut. There were many other places to go, many to choose from. Up there, in that ceiling tile, if she got on her bed and pressed the corners just right with a stick, a platform would drop down and carry her up to a world of towers and spaceships. If she held her hand on the white windowsill for five long seconds, she could lift away the doorway into Antarctica, where she could frolic with penguins and polar bears all day long. If she tapped on the wooden door, she gained passage to a river

“Yet she wavered: she did not feel like any of these adventures today! What was wrong with her? Was she losing the magic? She gasped. No! Surely not!” She had always known the doorways were there, ever since she was big enough to have her own room. The stairs were certainly too long to merely go up to her parents’ room, and the hallway longer than various cabinets could account for. The only logical explanation: There were other worlds in every side passage, wall, and floorboard in Little Sarah Gustafson’s house, and it was Sarah’s job to find them all. She flipped the clasp, and the door in the wall swung open, filling Sarah’s room with raucous cries of macaws, low growls of jaguars, the hum of gnats and flies. Emerald ferns blocked her view into the jungle as she crouched at the door, but the humid air pouring forth was enough to identify the South American wilds, its heavy, earthy scent reminding her of days spent trekking through the dirt and massive trees and clinging ivy on paths choked by the greedy plants around them. Green eyes stared up at her from the brush, inviting her to explore this verdant wonderland, to traipse along the rain forest’s treacherous paths, to see the piranhas and crocodiles yet again… Sarah realized, however, that she didn’t want to go to the Amazon today. She crawled from the doorway

tumbling through a peaceful mountain forest. The floor could take her into dark caverns, or to China, depending. Mount Everest was somewhere in the doorframe, and the lamp sometimes took her to the moon. All of these doors she could open, and her fingers itched at the possibilities before her. Yet she wavered: she did not feel like any of these adventures today! What was wrong with her? Was she losing the magic? She gasped. No! Surely not! And then the island painting on her cluttered desk caught her gaze. She drew it out carefully from between Mr. Bunny and Gonzo, the great white shark. Colors swirled together in the painting, with a dark shadow of a palm tree anchoring the white, sandy beach in the midst of a heavenly sea: teal fading down to sea green and, on the horizon, the tiniest hint of white sails. Sarah hesitated only for a second (would it work if it wasn’t actually a part of the room?), before carefully sketching a wave with her finger. By pure intuition, she tapped the white sails three times and waited before – there! A doorway! Small as her finger at first, then growing, growing, until it seemed larger than

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the painting had been to begin with. Uncaring, Sarah dived through the opening, landing with a splash in the salty ocean. The water was warm, like a bath – but there was no comfort of a bath here. No, here Sarah was the Pirate Queen, who had been left for dead on the nearby island by her ragtag crew, and who must now swim to her ship quickly or risk losing all – ship and booty alike! That was not the only danger, however. Sharks surrounded her in the water below, swirling around her, nipping at her toes, preparing to eat her. Captain Sarah began swimming toward her distant ship, paying the sharks no mind. She ruled the Seven Seas, not they! The sharks did not care for this, though: they leapt for her, teeth gnashing, grinding, tearing at her skin. But Sarah had not spent her other travels so unwisely. Chinese monks had taught her the delicate arts of the ninjas, and she used her skills now to dodge the whirlwind of white teeth that surrounded her. She drew her knife from her sash and slashed at the great beasts (scaring them away only – she wouldn’t actually hurt a shark), until only one remained: the largest of them all, the coldblooded killer called Gonzo. He darted for her, teeth bared, again and again, and she was dragged under the waves more than once, the salt-water burning her throat like hot soup. They fought and fought and fought, twirling through the water, stirring up the waves, turning the water murky. Finally Sarah saw an opening as Gonzo shot by her. She swung her arms around his great neck and held on tight as he careened forward. He didn’t notice her small weight on his back, nor did he seem to care that his opponent had suddenly vanished. Captain Sarah chuckled softly at his stupidity, then focused on holding onto his back as he took them to her ship. At last they reached the ship, and Captain Sarah slid from the shark’s neck to grab the rope that hung conveniently from the deck. She began climbing and cried out as the tough fibers dug splinters of pain into her hands, but gritted her teeth against the it. She was Captain Sarah, Pirate Queen, and she would not bow to pain!


She crested the railing of the ship and immediately cried, “All hands on deck, ye scurvy dogs!” as would any good pirate captain. An awed chorus of “Captain!” “The captain’s back!” “Welcome home, captain!” greeted her ears. She smiled happily, gazing fondly at her crew. “Yes, I am alive, you scallywags. Now –” But it was impossible to go on, because Captain Sarah had suddenly seen her two archenemies, the Pirate Princes, climb from the hold and onto her deck. “You!” She cried. “I took care of you already – you walked the plank!” The Pirate Princes were tiny boys compared to the rest of the crew, but the first’s patched eye and the second’s clawed hand showed they were experienced in villainy beyond their young years. “We are all of us hard to kill, Pirate Queen, as it seems you too have returned from almost certain death,” Peter the Bloody Pirate Prince said. “Yes, sister,” hissed Christopher the Most Clawsome Pirate Prince, to the amazement of the crew. She, sister to these rogues? “You may have tied us up, you may have turned your knife on us, but you did not get rid of us. You never will!” Captain Sarah felt her anger rising. “I will not take this from you scallywags –” Thunder sounded from the cloudless sky, and then, a distant, reedy cry sounded across the water: “Sarah! Time for dinner!” The Pirate Queen scowled midsentence and looked back out toward the sea. When Little Sarah Gustafson’s mother asked her later if she had learned her lesson, Sarah was able to answer honestly that she had. Next time she would chain her brothers together, walk them down the plank using a sword, and make sure that the cold-blooded killer Gonzo was waiting below.

Dreamscape in F Minor ChloĂŤ Winegar-Garrett

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Spenc Alan Jefferson Dahl

My friends and I laughed as the desperate screams danced in our ears. It was just what we wanted to hear coming from the little toy cabinet in my family room. Had my little brother kept quiet in that dark, claustrophobic cage it would have been no fun. But we knew when he tried to open the doors to get out he would panic. They were locked. We had grabbed a nearby hammer and stuck it through the handles. The kicks of his skinny legs and the screams of his little lungs would get him nowhere. Spencer is almost four years younger than me, and at least six years younger than those friends. Still, everywhere we went he followed. Everything I did, he wanted to do. And, if there was a chance that he could impress my friends and me he would embrace it wholeheartedly. Enter toy cabinet. Probably two feet deep and three feet wide, the wooden cabinet was the perfect size to use on Spencer. “Hey Spence,” I said. “What?” he responded with those innocent bright blue eyes full of a desire to please. “I bet you couldn’t fit your whole body in this cabinet.” I challenged him. “Yes, I can!” he retorted, screwing his face up in determination and bounding up to the cabinet. We were all more than happy to help him. He laid his frail torso down on the cabinet floor and then carefully pulled his bony knees up to his chest as he scooted himself as far back as he could. He was so happy to be able to show off to his older brother. He fit perfectly.

“Alright, but let’s see if you still fit when we close the doors,” I said as innocently as possible. Something in Spencer changed and you could see that he was nervous. I didn’t wait for his response. In one swift motion, the doors were shut and that old hammer with the splintery wooden handle shoved into place. So the entertainment began. It’s hardly uncommon for a sibling to delight in the cruel harassment of a little brother or sister. I vividly recall my oldest sister and I playing hide and seek. I hid under a pile of dirty clothing and watched through what I thought was a small break in the heap to see if she was coming. My heart skipped a beat when I spotted her entering the room. Slowly crossing the distance between the door and my hiding place, she said aloud, “I wonder where Alan is?” Trying desperately to keep my fidgety body still, I gritted my teeth and held my breath as she inched closer and closer to the pile of dirty garments. She stepped so close I could see the stitching on her bleached white jeans, but then, to my relief, she turned around. Surely I had fooled her, and she would now make her way out of the room to fruitlessly search elsewhere. No sooner had I begun to celebrate my victory than my sister stopped. Like Spencer just before the cabinet doors closed, even in my naïve innocence I knew that something bad was about to happen.

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er From my secure spot in the clothing I could see the back of my sister’s knees begin to bend. As if in slow motion her entire body began to fall backward toward my clothing mound. First the light disappeared, and then I felt an overwhelming weight close in around me. My nose was shoved into old T-shirts, my mouth into dirty socks, and I felt as though my head would be crushed by the body on top of the pile. Fear set in. I screamed and kicked with all the fury a four-yearold could muster. In answer to my crazed cries came the jovial laugh of the older sister sitting triumphantly atop a throne of talking clothes. I am sure the entire ordeal lasted a matter of seconds, but the horror of that moment is singed into my mind forever: the sense of hopelessness, and anger of betrayal, the fear of consuming darkness, the knee jerk need for air. I hated every moment of that experience except for the few seconds when I thought my older sister actually wanted to play with me. The difference between Spencer and me is that I spent a few seconds under that pile of clothing; Spencer spent a few years. Whether I was born a sadist or learned it from experience I can’t say. But I took torturing my brother to a degree that my sister would never have done to me. Spencer followed my friends and me like a shadow. This tender child with the big droopy eyes, the milky white skin and the shock of blonde hair was too young


to hang out with his own friends so he looked to us for companionship. The nice thing would have been to send him away. To tell him to go play with Mom or to watch TV, but we were never that kind. The truth is that we did want Spencer around. He was our fail-safe in case no one wanted to play Mortal Combat, or go dig holes, or throw the football. Spencer was always there, waiting in the background like a little ghost wishing someone could see him. It was in these times of indecision and boredom that Spencer got all the attention he never once deserved. It was in these times that we tried to get him to eat dog crap off a stick. It was in these times that we locked him in the pitch black bathroom so he would overcome his fear of the dark. It was in these times that we would make him red with anger by accusing him of being in love with his best friend, the neighbor girl. I don’t think it ever occurred to me to tell Spencer sorry. And when Spencer began school it certainly never occurred to me that his being bullied was my fault. But of course I had taught him how to be a victim. With every joke I made of him, with every prank I pulled on him, with every blow I made against him, I taught him that he was worthless. When other big brothers were teaching their siblings how to play ball I was teaching Spencer how to get played. Spencer eventually got pulled out of school and started seeing a psychiatrist about anxiety issues. Rather than move Spencer to a new school or private institution, Mom decided it best to join a group of local homeschoolers.

Homeschooling turned out to be a good experience for Spencer. He got to spend time with kids from other families in the neighborhood. These were kids who didn’t think he was weird or somehow unworthy of them. So, after years of being made to feel inadequate, he finally found himself an equal. I, on the other hand, found myself in the midst of that veritable hell called middle school. The popularity I had experienced in elementary school was gone. The

she gently told us goodnight before hitting the lights and closing the door all but a crack. As I lay there in the darkness, listening to Spencer breathe beneath me, I was overcome by a growing sense that I had something I needed to say. Something Spencer needed to know. The more I thought about it the more my heart pounded, as though I were about to step out in front of a crowd, naked.

“For perhaps the first time in my life, I was consciously aware of what my little brother meant to me. It was a realization born out of the empathy following suffering.” clear skin I had enjoyed in my youth was replaced by a visage of pimples which, according to my mother, looked “like hamburger meat.” I was no longer one of the fastest kids in school. I was no longer the smartest kid in school. And none of the eighth graders gave a damn who I was before—all they saw was a kid with a rolly backpack waiting to get cut down to size. What it meant to be picked on, or viewed as entertainment became more real to me in those three years than at any other point in my life. Perhaps that is why things changed between Spencer and me. It started late one weekday night. I had followed my usual evening ritual of stealing my sister’s Proactiv and scrubbing away at the volcanoes erupting all over my forehead; brushing my teeth, and then stripping down to naught but my boxers before hopping into bed. I curled up silently in the top bunk of our bed and secretly listened as Mom read Harry Potter to Spencer in the animated way she always did. When she finished,

“Hey Spence,” I said, having mustered up my courage. “What?” he whispered back. “I love you,” I replied with no hint of irony or deception. “I love you too,” came the answer without hesitation. For perhaps the first time in my life, I was consciously aware of what my little brother meant to me. It was a realization born out of the empathy following suffering. That sweet moment which took place in a dark room with no fanfare, no long embrace, no tears, was nevertheless the rising of the sun on a new chapter of my relationship with Spencer. The relationship between Spencer and I did not change in a moment. In some ways the fact that we were growing closer sometimes made the hurt even more personal when we fought. Too often I would feel my heart drop into my stomach as I watched Spencer break down into tears at something inconsiderate and hateful I had said. Those moments shattered me in a way his

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screaming and kicking had never done when we were little children. But such moments of intense anger and sadness became the exception. Many summer days were spent dripping with sweat as we chased each other in our back yard with airsoft pistols. Occasionally we would play a pickup game of football. The bruises, bumps and blood accompanying each of these excursions were physical manifestations of a growing bond of friendship. As the years passed, I finally clawed my way out of my awkward stage: the pimples became less prevalent, my face almost seemed to grow to fit my nose, and my voice stopped cracking every time I opened my mouth. I started working through high school and into a world of greater confidence and acceptance. And, despite losing some of that humility that had brought us together, the inertia of my bond with Spencer kept us moving forward. I was actually very much in need of the confidence with which high school imbued me, because I was not anticipating what would happen next. Just as I graduated high school, Spencer entered, already having nearly caught up to me in height. Like me, he joined the cross country team (though I had been running years prior to high school and he had never been a distance runner). Unlike me, however, he proved to be quite a talented runner. Standing under the shade of a large gnarly cottonwood tree in the middle of a golf course, I watched in awe as he came screaming to the finish line of his first major race. His bright white legs shone from under his fluttering skimpy yellow shorts as he furiously made the final sprint. He finished strong and did well; maybe too well. He had run it in as good a time as I ever ran, better even. He had been running for two months; I had been running for eight years. Sitting despondently on the lush grass around the race course, I began to recognize that I was not going to be the brother who was better at everything. As the cool summer breeze played on my skin, I felt fragile. I had never in my life liked being second best at something, but it seemed

that this was not a matter of like or want. I had poured my soul into running. I had sweat and bled for years trying to get to where Spencer was in that one day. He had talent and no amount of willpower could give me that. Soon after that experience, I left home to serve as a missionary for my church. My new endeavor took me across the globe to Italy, a nation full of people who didn’t speak my language and weren’t interested in anything resembling religion. To them I was a callow American kid blabbering about how Jesus’ church had been restored to the earth. The real difficulty, however, didn’t come from being chased out of palazzi by old men, or harassed by punk kids, or working weeks with nothing to show for it. The hardest part was something I had never expected and it nearly destroyed me. In the first months of my service I began to feel what Spencer had dealt with as a little child: anxiety. My mind became a torture chamber—a dark claustrophobic place from which no amount of kicking or screaming could free me. I awoke every morning and the intense fear surged

“...I became fixated on every disturbing image or thought conceivable.” over me like a wave of acid eating away at my sanity. Some days it felt as though anxiety was a constant whispering in my ears telling me I would do terrible things if I had the chance. Other days it manifested as intense guilt for small mistakes made long before. Mostly, I became fixated on every disturbing image or thought conceivable. Like a scratch in a record, these thoughts would play over and over, torturing me until I was certain I was losing my mind.


There were times it was so bad I would look over the railing of my third floor balcony and wonder if it wouldn’t be better to end all the fear in one instant. While I struggled with my new found psychosis, I still led the daily life of a missionary. Once a week I found myself sitting in a dingy, dimly lit internet café in the backcountry of Italy where I would devour news from home as I read my email. One of the constant sentiments conveyed to me was that I would not recognize Spencer when I got home. He was now on the football team, had grown about a foot, and had packed on twenty pounds of muscle to boot. I was proud of my little brother. His occasional letters were so full of hope and vivacity. Still, I found it a little ironic even then that while I fought the darkness

Two years of little more exercise than walking and ravenously devouring bowls of pasta hadn’t done my masculinity any particular favors. Nowhere was this more obvious than when I stood within a football field of Spencer’s burgeoning biceps and chiseled chest. With all his newfound power, Spencer was in a position to make me pay. Physically he could have pounded me until I was nothing more than an oil smear on the pavement. Emotionally, he had the chance to shove his superiority in my face: make me feel like a pansy who could barely handle a mission and definitely couldn’t handle him. Spencer had different plans for me. The agony he put me through in the next few months was at times nearly unbearable.

“Emotionally, he had the chance to shove his superiority in my face...Spencer had different plans for me.” within me, he seemed to shine like a supernova after years in the inky blackness of space. With time, some counseling, and a little medication, the anxiety subsided, and for the last year in Italy I actually felt like myself again. My personal fears diminished and I was truly able to enjoy the beauties of the dolce vita. When my two years of service were over, I took a series of flights from Milan to Frankfurt to LA and then finally home to Albuquerque, New Mexico. As I made my way down the nearly vacant walkways of the airport, I saw a crowd of loving faces staring at me behind a wall of Plexiglas and rotating doors. No sooner had I made my way through those doors than a tall, slim, but extremely muscular young man ran across the lobby and grabbed me tightly in his arms lifting me slightly into the air. My family had been wrong—I did recognize Spencer (but just barely).

“Come on,” he would chant, “a few more seconds!” “I don’t know man,” I would heave before collapsing after one pushup too many. Drenched in sweat, lying in a heap on my parents’ living room floor, I stared at Spencer’s surprisingly slender ankles. “All right buddy,” he said cheerily to the corpse at his feet, “Let’s work your legs now.” Maybe the circumference of my chest made him sad, or maybe he knew how badly I wanted to be like him. I don’t know why Spencer wanted me to work out with him—why he still urges me to work out. All I know is that every few weeks I found myself watching Spencer in awe as he lifted. The veins in his neck and his forehead would bulge out as each sinew of muscle bunched up and hardened beneath a thin veneer of that still milky white skin. The giant plates of iron I couldn’t even imagine lifting

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seemingly floated off the ground under his touch. Respect collided with envy only to be replaced by embarrassment as my turn came to try a set. Physically the progress I made by occasionally working out with Spencer was minimal. My biceps are still slender and the pigeon chest remains. But with each trip to the gym, each set of curls, each drop of sweat, and each word of encouragement we were building something stronger than muscle. Spencer spoke to me about the girl he was falling in love with, seeking advice. I told him about what it would mean to leave on a mission for two years. We talked movies and music. He broadened my horizons and I finally gave him my undivided attention. We shared our regrets; we planned bright futures. This was the subtle way in which we navigated a new reality. A reality in which people would ask me, “Hey, aren’t you Spencer’s little brother?” and I would smile and reply, “Only in size.” A reality in which I found myself looking to Spencer for tips on how to be cool. A reality in which Spencer could approach me with the most personal of questions without the fear of mockery. A reality in which older brother and younger brother found themselves equals. Thinking back on it now, it’s clear that Spencer was always ready to be my best friend. From the little waif that followed me wherever I went, to the UNM rugby player I admire today, he has always been anxious to bond with his older brother. That bond, however, could only be forged in the fires of affliction. Whether it was the painful awkward stage of middle school or that terrifying period of my mission, I needed experiences that would humble me—force me to recognize that I was not the best; to recognize that, in many ways, my little brother is my superior. Only when I had been brought low could I appreciate how incredible my little brother truly is. And once I had done that—once I found myself looking at my brother the way he had looked at me—that’s when the bond was fixed between us: a bond of love and mutual admiration that has been twenty years in the making.



The Legend of There once was a pirate, an unusual guy. He was missing one tooth and he was missing an eye. But how did his tooth and his eye become one less? Well let me tell you, it was a horrendous mess! It was back in the day when pirates were mean and would not let just anyone join on their team. You had to have powers and parrots galore. You had to have treasure and finish your chores. You had to be strong and had to be brave and in place of a leg, you needed a peg! There he was, the sweetest of guys, currently missing no teeth and no eyes. Recently fishing and holding ten trout, he looked up to see pirate tryouts! Hopping in line, today was his day, Charles Theodore Hammer’s imagination running astray! His head in the clouds, this sweetest of guys, thought to himself the sweetest of lies, “Pirate life is the life for me. Just imagine all the gold I will see!” His dreams revealed, his ambitions said, the greatest of ideas had popped in his head! For pirates need magical powers, so what if he got one from the town’s magical flower! He wished to the flower, on his knees he did beg, for a wonderful, magical wooden peg-leg! A magical peg to his nub it would fasten, giving him powers of a wondrous assassin!

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eyed Charlie Loretta Lawson

So Charles Theodore Hammer, missing no teeth and having an eye, screwed in his peg-leg and was able to fly! And with the peg-leg, you would never of guessed, he could shoot lasers straight from his chest! His muscles grew large, his muscles grew stout. He would win this pirate competition without the slightest of doubt. It was finally his turn, he threw down the ten trout and took his place at the pirate tryouts. But when his task was revealed, he thought “Oh no, I’m a goner!” For he had to face the Side-Hill Jygonder. The Side-Hill Jygonder had the greatest of skills, running all day around the greatest of hills. One of his legs stayed on the flat ground while the other was propped up on the mountainy mound. The leg on the hill, you wouldn’t believe it, was as short as a leg of a wee little midget. And the leg on the ground, bless its poor soul, was as tall as the leg of a hideous troll! So Charles Theodore Hammer, as quick as he could, screwed in his peg-leg made of magical wood! His task wouldn’t be easy, it wouldn’t be tranquil, he had to get the Jygonder off of its hill! With his peg-leg, he flew in the air. He pounced at the Jygonder as fierce as a bear! But the Jygonder stared death in the eye and knocked Charles T. Hammer back in the sky. The force of the knock, I’ll tell you the truth, had knocked out a large, pearly white tooth.


Using his chest he shot out a laser, as swift and as fast and as sharp as a razor! But the Side-Hill Jygonder who ate spinach for lunch, deflected the laser with only a punch. Realizing that his shoe was untied, Charles Theodore Hammer didn’t notice the laser deflecting straight toward his eye! Eyeless and toothless he needed to hustle so he used his magical peg-leg to build up his muscle. As strong as an ox and as swift as a tick, he used all of his muscle for an ultimate kick! But the kick he had kicked, I am afraid was in vain, for the Jygonder was a Matador of Spain. He whipped out his cape, yelled “Toro! Olé!” and he averted the kick out of his way! Charles Theodore Hammer was at such a loss. It was obvious that Jygonders were not ones to cross. He thought and he thought, his face had turned red, and then a small lightbulb went off in his head! He thought of the Jygonder and his different sized legs, and then thought of a task for his magical peg. He flew down from the sky as fast as he could and unscrewed from his leg the magical wood. The peg-leg unscrewed, now being detached, the Jygonder had no time to react. Charles T. Hammer, holding the peg, attached it to the midget sized leg! With the same size of legs, the Jygonder of skill, could no longer run around the greatest of hills.

His balance uneven, his balance askew, the Side-Hill Jygonder knew not what to do! So he jumped off his hill, and with desperate need, ran far, far away at the greatest of speeds! All the pirate judges and all of the crowd, hip-hip hoorayed, their voices were proud! Winning the tryouts, earning first place, Charles T. Hammer became a pirate at a feverish pace. He was awarded a ship, rum in a crate, and a pirate named Salty Dog who was his first mate! He was awarded a patch for his empty eye socket, he was awarded some treasure to hold in his pocket. But the greatest award, the one that’s most gnarley, was his new pirate name—One-Eyed Charlie! So this is the story of our sweetest of friends and how his tooth and his eye had met their ends. One-Eyed Charlie became the most famous of guys, bringing the Side-Hill Jygonder to his ultimate demise. But the one thing he learned, at a tremendous speed, you don’t need magical powers to accomplish your deeds! You have what it takes, just look in your soul! You have what it takes to accomplish your goals! You have what it takes, you have the great skill. Now, go knock your own Jygonder off of his hill!

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Portrait of Mom in Mexico Magali Rutschman


A Viajante Elisabeth Perkal

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Train Rachel Overmier

On a beautiful New Mexico spring day, I realized my wife was going to die. I like to sit and remember it, play it out in my head. Relive it best I can. Memories of pain are still, after all, memories. I’ll take what I can get, no complaints from this old man. Albuquerque was thawing from a longer, colder winter than usual, and this day was perfect. The students were walking across campus in shorts and tank tops,cuddling on the grass by the pond, or cutting class to drink beer on O’Niell’s patio. Class attendance was low. Time spent inside dragged and stalled, until finally sweet release from the last class, last paper graded, last email responded to. I had almost walked out of my office for the day, escaped to the freedom that the spring air promised, when the phone rang. When I picture the moment in my mind, almost three years later, it plays out like an old film noir--black and white, deep shadows. Cut to a phone sitting on a cluttered desk. The phone rings. Cut to fifty nine year-old professor who pauses on the threshold of his office door. Looks over his shoulder. Cut to the phone. It rings again. He answers. Doctor Sanchez is on the line. There is something about a doctor’s voice that makes the blood run thick and cold. I didn’t, and still don’t, blame Doctor Sanchez, even though he looked like a fresh-faced kid right out of med school. He was always respectful to me, and Mabel loved him. He had been so supportive during all the tests and blood work. I didn’t resent him for his youth; he just didn’t understand. How could he? “George Pendleton here,” I barked into the phone, irked at the arrest of my escape. “Mr. Pendleton, it’s Doctor Sanchez. How are you doing?” I set my briefcase on the desk and closed my office door. Mabel had had another appointment that day, one of the few I had to miss.


“Doctor, I’m assuming this is about Mabel’s test results, so you’ll forgive me if I skip the niceties.” I didn’t mean to sound abrupt, but I had found my hand sweating against the phone, and my heart was beating out a tattoo against my rib cage. “Yes. Of course. I understand. I’m sorry.” He faltered. Get on with it son, I thought. He spoke slowly, with perfect enunciation. Professionally, always professional. Cold hard facts. Cold hard business, cancer is. Thinking back on it, I know some details in that moment are blurred, that they come and go like ghosts, and I just can’t seem to grasp them. Boxcars of my train of thought are zooming by so fast that the colors merge together. Can’t slow the train down, can’t hold the vapors of memory in my mind. But other details are as vivid as that movie in my head, cinemascope and all. Each individual splinter in my desk are as distinct as the fingers on my hand. I remember hearing two students exchanging soft dove coos in the hall outside the office. I remember the smell of the stale cup of coffee I had sitting on my desk: sharp, acidic and cold. I remember thinking about me, me, thinking how was I going to get through this? I don’t remember if Doctor Sanchez consoled me, though he must have tried. I don’t remember hanging up, or packing up my briefcase. I don’t remember walking to my car. I do remember the words. Terminal. Refuses treatment. I was scared. My wife was dying, and I was scared. I drove through the canyon with my window down. Although the sun was on my face, I felt cold. Mabel had been worrying me of late, forgetting simple things like adding sugar to a cake recipe she knew by heart. I ate that cake and just smiled around the bland mouthfuls. I didn’t want to say anything that might upset her. My wife was

“One more breath, one more look around, and then I eased my heavy body out of the car and up the steps to the house that had been our home for three decades.” the one who had it all together, who held me together, it seemed. And now she couldn’t remember my office number, or our daughter Karen’s middle name. I was usually the forgetful one, leaving my keys in the freezer or running out to class without my briefcase. Mabel took care of me, not the other way around. I pulled into the driveway parking beneath the shady pine trees that towered over our snug little grey cabin in the woods. I sat in the car, my hands resting at ten and two on the worn steering wheel. With the sun setting, the faint greens in the pine needles and the almost white-purple in the lilac bushes were lit up better than in a Monet. It was too far from campus for my taste, but I loved the quiet. And Mabel loved the New Mexican pines, the stars you couldn’t see in Albuquerque. I took several deep breaths to steady my nerves, my heart. One more breath, one more look around, and then I eased my heavy body out of the car and up the steps to the house that had been our home for three decades. Mabel was in the living room watching TV, stretched out looking tired, but her cheeks pink and her eyes alight. She had news to tell me, but I knew my wife; she would tell me in her own good time. I leaned down to give her a kiss hello. We had been married for just about thirty six years and I still couldn’t get over how good my wife smelled. Like nutmeg and roses and Jergens. Mabel put supper together while I sat on the edge of our bed and put on my slippers. I slipped one on, and then the other. What now? What happened next? After my slippers were on, then what? My eyes stared at my big toe, threatening to poke through my slipper, seeing but not seeing.

“George, dinner’s ready,” Mabel called. Habits. Familiar habits. “Do what you know how to do, George old boy,” I mumbled. I creaked to my feet and made my way to the kitchen. We sat down to dinner at the kitchen table--a small, rickety set-up, but homier than the large table in the dining room. It was silly to sit in there when the kitchen was still warm from the baking Mabel had done earlier. We talked, chit-chatted about our days. Mabel told me about her newest knitting project, a little blue sweater with a hood and a string with mittens attached for our grandson. I told Mabel the latest gossip and news at the University. We worried over budget cuts, but only in the way those truly secure in their jobs can worry about them. I would be able to retire soon, but would continue teaching part time because I loved it. Mabel was supportive. I found myself getting lost in the routine that was our lives. My mind unfurled itself and stretched out like a cat basking in a sunbeam. After dinner Mabel surprised me with a banana cream pie, my favorite. Which I knew to mean the news wasn’t going to be good. Mabel knew I handled bad news better on a full stomach. I ate two slices, this time not having to pretend she remembered to add the sugar. I did not have to fake my growls of approval. “You ol’ Bear,” Mabel said, teasing me with my old nickname. She was the best cook I had ever had the pleasure of knowing, and that’s not empty praise. I’d eaten at some fancy places back when I lived in New York, but no one could ever beat my Mabel’s banana cream pies.

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“George Dear, I’ve come to a decision,” Mabel said as she cleared the dishes off the table. I stood to help her, piling together plates and silverware. “What’s that?” I asked. Here it was at last. Confront it head on. Can’t hide it any longer. My mind coiled back, tight as a spring. Would she explain why? Tell me why this was happening to us? “I’ve decided to go to Paris.” Mabel gathered the last of the glasses and placed them in the sink. I sat down heavier than I’d intended. This wasn’t the news I had expected. Or prepared myself for. Foul play, my Dear, I wanted to cry. Mabel continued doing the dishes and cleaning up dinner. I could only sit there and shake my head. I stared at the Formica table in front of me. Damn ugly table it was too, that nasty turquoise blue that was so popular in the sixties, it even had gold trim around the edges. One hell of an ugly table, but Mabel loved it. While my head was full of useless art terms, color schemes and poetic descriptions, Mabel knew how to unclog a sink drain or tell when our daughter’s upset stomach was from the flu or from too much cake. I couldn’t begin to fathom my life without her. I watched her scrubbing at the dishes, her small curved back, her slippered feet. She placed a glass in the dishwasher and reached for the next one, pausing for a moment to gaze out the window like she always did. It’s why I’d had that giant thing installed in the first place. “Better than TV,” she would say. The need to cry formed in my throat. Choke it back, Old Boy. Crying won’t solve anything. I cleared my throat and pounded my chest a bit to clear up the tightness. Mabel glanced over, a bit startled. “Yes, George?” She held a dishtowel in her hand. “Mabel, are those the same dishtowels my mother gave us for our wedding?” “No dear, those were red checkers with little hens on them, remember? My goodness, what made you think of those?” “I’m not sure…just remembering things, that’s all. Funny how certain things you think you’ve long forgotten surface at any moment. Must be my old age…” I was

just rambling, I knew it, and so did she. Mabel came over and sat next to me, putting her hand over my own. Her beautiful hands. I pulled her hand to my mouth and kissed it. She giggled, “George, you can be such a cad. I swear, what’s gotten into you?” She pushed my shoulder. At that moment she looked like the girl I’d fallen in love with forty-four years before. It may be a cliché but, goddamit, it was true. Mabel had been such a knockout. Mabel’s face grew serious and she studied mine. “George, I’m worried about you. What are you thinking in that big brain of yours?” She smoothed what strands of hair remained on my head. Such soft hands. “Mabel, this whole Paris thing…well, what did the doctor say? Do you need radiation or chemo?” Mabel stared at me, but I couldn’t read her expression. Her blue eyes—exactly the same color as the bluebells my mother

“‘George, I’m worried about you. What are you thinking in that big brain of yours?’”


used to plant when I was a boy. Bluebells. Mabel had some of those in her wedding bouquet. Mabel, My Bell. Mabel stood, breaking my thoughts. They were so easily broken back then. They are becoming more breakable as time goes on. The thoughts are what I remember most about those last few days with Mabel: my thoughts like trains chugging through my head, and I could only stare as they went past, trying desperately to read the lettering painted on the boxcar sides. She went back to the sink and continued drying the dishes. “We never did go on a honeymoon, George. Remember? We used to talk about Paris in the summer, the wine and the cafes and the Eifel Tower. You had wanted to go

to the Louvre, and I wanted the fashion. It would be nice to finally take our honeymoon.” My head swayed back and forth, like a metronome. How could I have forgotten about that? Mabel and I used to stay up until the wee hours of the morning wrapped in each other’s arms, talking about Paris. But then, Mabel became pregnant, and I was working on my PhD. Then there was the assistant professorship and the move to New Mexico. And then kindergarten, ballet practice, prom. And here we were, sixty-, wrinkling, graying and growing old. We’d never gotten around to Paris; life had gotten in the way. The phone rang and I swear I jumped up like the devil himself was after me, sending the chair screeching across the floor. “Dear god, George. It’s just the phone. You scared me half out of my mind,” Mabel said, her hand over her heart. The phone rang again. I stood and walked over to it, every step a mile’s journey. “George Pendleton here,” I almost whispered. Mabel dried her hands and gave me a soft kiss on the cheek. She stood back looking at me quizzically, wondering who was calling. It was our daughter, Karen. “Dad, have you heard about Mom’s condition?” Her voice snapped and crackled. Karen, always straight to the point, no time for hellos. She was a full-time lawyer, seeking to make partner, and a mother of two. “Hello, Karen,” I said loudly, for Mabel’s sake. Mabel gave me a smile and nod of approval and walked into the living room. A sigh came from the phone. “Hello, Dad. Now, please, tell me what is going on with Mom. I tried calling today, but you know her, she won’t talk to me. No, never lets herself be vulnerable to her only daughter. She just skipped over my questions,

“My head swayed back and forth, like a metronome.”

didn’t answer a single one. Just kept talking about a trip to Paris. Paris, really, Dad? At your age, do you really think that’s wise? Especially with Mom, and the condition she’s in. Oh yes, I called Doctor Sanchez, but I really wanted her to tell me herself. She’s always been so damn stubborn and closed off. I honestly wonder how you put up with it all these years.” I sighed deeply. Karen and Mabel had always had trouble getting along, even when Karen was little. One moment they would be laughing and baking cookies in the kitchen, the next Karen would be running to me crying because of something Mabel said. They were just too much alike. I tried to explain to Karen what her mother was going through, what she was thinking. But how could I, when I had no idea myself? Karen had to rush off the phone, someone important on the line, but she wouldn’t hang up until I promised to have Mabel call her and talk to her. I promised to try. I sighed again and followed Mabel into the living room. “That Karen, always in a rush. I thought having some children of her own would slow her down, but women these days have to have it all. Husband, kids and a full time job. Lord knows, I had my hands plenty full with the two of you. I can’t even imagine,” Mabel chuckled as she sat down and took up her knitting, the conversation an old one, and comfortable. Mabel, the mother. Another boxcar flies by in my mind, too fast to make out much more than its outline. Mabel swollen fit to burst with Karen. We had just moved to New Mexico, to our little grey house, and Mabel waddled around, telling the movers where to place things. That box there, that one there. Her coffee cup rested on her belly, held snugly with one hand. Mabel had never looked more beautiful. She would have said otherwise, of course. She used to sit on the front porch, browning in the desert sun and rubbing her belly. Over and over her hand would move in circles. Her soft voice speaking to our daughter in sing-song. Telling her all about the sky, so like a blanket stretched over our heads, the vanilla smell of the pines, the little family of yipping coyotes that lived nearby. Trying to convince Karen to come out, come out

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and join the beauty. But that baby just wouldn’t budge. I always got to thinking about Mabel pregnant whenever Karen would call. “What is it George? You’re awfully quiet over there.” Mabel was looking at me, one of her eyebrows arched. “I was just thinking about when you were pregnant. Karen seemed content to stay in your belly until she just couldn’t fit anymore.” Mabel smiled and went back to her knitting. “Or until she split me wide open! Almost four weeks late, and as big as a brick. But she was so beautiful, those green eyes, and those cute little curls.” As I watched my wife, I tried to memorize her. Her greying hair, her ankles crossed lady-like. Looking at what I stood to lose. Terminal. Such a cold, horrid word. No more warmth. No more soft hand on my arm, no more delicious smells. I always thought I’d be first. I shifted in my favorite chair. Normally so comfortable, at that moment, it seemed to be nothing but a bag of springs jabbing into my back. “Damn,” I said. “Damn what George?” Mabel asked softly, not looking up from her knitting. “Damn this damn chair. It’s too old. I told you I wanted a new chair, but we never have time to go get one. No, we always have to go to Karen’s, or go see your sister, or go to this play, or that damn art show. There’s just no goddamn time.” I crossed my arms over my chest and huffed in my uncomfortable chair. My anger kept me from the edge. If I could hold that hard little center, keep that red haze around me, I could be strong. I had to be strong. Mabel finally looked over at me, never pausing the click-clack of her needles. “George, you are acting like a child. If it is really all that important to you, we can go into town tomorrow and get you a new chair. But you’ve always loved that chair. I wanted to get rid of it years ago and you wouldn’t let me, you sentimental old fool. And now out of nowhere it’s too uncomfortable?” “That was before, this is now. And right now, this chair is just too damn old. It’s unsuitable. It pokes my

“As I watched my wife, I tried to memorize her.” back and it pokes my rump.” I stood to my feet, glaring at the chair. Ugly thing, too big and bulky for the damn house. My back was to Mabel but I could feel her eyes. I could feel the weight of them pressing on my spine. Her chair was a petite little flowered thing, sitting calmly there. The cushions not sinking to the floor, the pattern matching the wall color. Light blue, like Mabel’s eyes. “You have a nice chair. I don’t even need this damn chair. It just takes up room. It looks stupid next to your chair. And it’s uglier than sin, just like that damn kitchen table. They are both old, out-dated and ugly.” I was embarrassed. Hell, I should have been. I am embarrassed now just thinking back on it. I was acting like a child. I was conscious of the silence from the knitting needles behind me, but I couldn’t turn and face her. I just couldn’t face her. I stormed out of the house as fast as my fifty-six year-old body would let me. The screen door slammed behind me, setting my teeth on edge. I went straight to my shed in the back. The large New Mexican night was stretched out across the sky. The stars blinked and flickered, watching a sentimental old fool stormed his way through the yard. I needed a ceiling; I needed the security of my shed. My work place, my hobby place. My man cave, according to Karen. I paced around my tiny art studio. Six steps to the back wall hung my rendition of the sun setting on the Sandias, painted a bright watermelon pink. Five steps to that wall, where the eastern morning sun comes through the window when it greets the day, a window streaked with evaporated raindrops and dirt. Turn and walk back. Routine. Habit. A path worn into the wood floor boards. Notice the details, life is found in the details. There, a paint brush, its bristles dried and caked with watermelon pink. There, a stool, its sturdy legs still strong enough to hold her, even if she couldn’t climb its steps anymore. There, an old box, full of baby clothes and albums of memories best avoided


at the moment. Don’t think about what you just said. Don’t think about all the things you didn’t say. Don’t think about what it all means. Just place one foot in front of the other. Until your feet become too heavy to lift, like your shoes have been filled with cement. I sank down onto my art stool. A spike had been driven through my gut, and it was twisting. Details. Find the details. I told myself no, but my hand just ignored me and grabbed the worn photo album anyway. There, Mabel and I at Karen’s graduation from Harvard Law, me already looking pudgy around the middle, Mabel already grey-haired. There, Mabel on our wedding day straightening the flower girl’s veil, slightly out of focus, softly smiling. There, Mabel and I holding Karen for the first time, Mabel washed out from the pale green hospital walls, and Karen crying, fit to burst a lung. The train kept on rolling past me, memories hidden in every car. Did I dare look? Could one man stop an oncoming train? A soft knock on the door. Mabel entered in her striped seersucker pajamas and pink robe. Her makeup already removed for the day. It was late, I assumed. “George? Are you coming to bed? It’s almost midnight.” She padded over to where I sat, her slippers making hushed swooshes against the dusty floor. There, a swirl of dust dancing around a frayed pink hem. “Mabel. My Belle.” My throat betrayed me, leaving me for greener pastures. “George, dear ol’ Papa Bear.” She smiled at me and sat on one of my knees. She grazed my forehead with a kiss. There, softer than a cotton ball, warmer than a sunsoaked desert rock. I sighed; clear those lungs, Old Man. Straighten your shoulders. “Well, Mabel, I suppose the first thing to do would be to talk to our travel agent. Then maybe we could swing by that French bakery you’ve been jabbering on about. I’ll have to get time off from work. They won’t like it, I warn you,” I said. Mabel just nodded, teasing me with her seriousness. There, the vein that beat blue under her left earlobe. “We should pick up some books, brush up on our French. It’s been years. I don’t know if I remember how to conjugate verbs, much less ask for a decaf coffee. Mabel, are you listening to me?”

“Am I supposed to be taking notes, Professor?” She pulled an invisible pencil from behind her ear and mimed frantic scribbling. There, the curved bud of a smile about to break into full bloom. “Very funny. You will also need a new luggage set. We can ask Karen what airline she advises, she is good with those kinds of things.” I rolled on, plans forming in my mind, and I spit them out of my mouth before I could trip on them. “Question.” Mabel raised her arm up in the air, her pajama sleeve falling down around her elbow. There, delicately-veined map lines underneath creamy skin. I rolled my eyes at her and nodded. “Will this be on the test?” Her bluebell eyes were round with mock horror. I finally laughed. I felt a kernel deep inside me give way. A track shift, a railroad spike tugged out. “Come on, Papa Bear, let’s get these old bodies to bed.” Mabel stood and pulled at my hand. I groaned and hoisted myself to my feet. We ambled back towards our home, Mabel’s soft hand tucked in its familiar place on the crook of my arm. I gave a spontaneous little faltering soft shoe tap on the gravel, just to hear her laugh. Mabel threw back her wrinkles to Vincent’s stars and sent a rippling laugh offering their way. We readied ourselves for bed. I brushed my teeth, now ignoring the train running through my mind. Mabel spread cold cream on her face. I lay down beside her and flipped off the light. Picasso’s guitarist strummed a song about age and the color blue above our bed. “George, you know what I’m excited about the most?” Her voice drifted out from the dark. “Hmm?” As I listened to her voice, I imagined my wife’s body firm and smooth under my arms. My own body slimmed and hardened. It was the very beginning of our life together, and I was taking my new wife to Paris for our honeymoon. “Le fromage. When I get to Paris, I’m going to eat a whole plate full of cheese.” I laughed and pulled her close, ignoring the man standing helpless and lonely besides the tracks, just waiting for the last car.

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Dorkus Largus: Confessions of a Spiderman Addict Travis Hanson She’s scared, but she’s not running. Not yet. Tendrils of steam crawl from beneath the manhole cover, reaching through the darkness. They grasp at the woman’s crimson hair and then fade away as her heels click sharply against the pavement. The echoing of her shoes ripples out behind her and the soft taps of pursuing sneakers mix with the sound. Two men are following her. New York City skyscrapers rise up like jagged teeth around her, and stare down at her from their heights. As an aspiring actress who works nights as a waitress, she can’t afford the cab fare to get home. Instead, she walks the ten blocks to her cramped studio apartment each night after her shift ends. She looks over her shoulder and sees the men as they push their way through veils of steam. The men’s hulking bodies are hidden in the deep folds of heavy jackets, and their faces disappear into the shadows of their hats, the brims pulled low. As she quickens her pace, so do they. In a moment of panic, the woman turns into the narrow mouth of an alley and begins to run. Veins of stagnant water pool in the center of the alley, and murky light from fluorescent bulbs oozes over building exteriors. The woman’s terror is mirrored in the water’s reflection before it’s shattered by her heels. She runs through the deepening black of the alley, unable to see what she’s running towards. A wall erupts from the night ahead of her; dead end.


She swivels around, placing her back to the wall, the pale skin of her palms flat against the cold brick. At the alley’s entrance the silhouettes of the two men are carved grotesquely from the background of the street lights. As their shadows bear down upon her, a copy of the Daily Bugle flutters to the ground in front of her. Mary Jane Watson looks at the thick, black print emblazoned on the front page: “Where is Spiderman?” Where is Spiderman? It wasn’t until I was older, trading in my He-Man Underoos and Star Wars bedspread for work slacks and a contemporary chic comforter set, that the aforementioned question became relevant. When I was young, Spiderman was everywhere: TV, comics, video games, and sometimes, when his schedule was clear of super villain shenanigans and redheaded damsels-indistress, he even made Santa-esque mall appearances. But it wasn’t through these venues that I was introduced to the Amazing Spiderman; it was due to Tom Larson, my grandfather. My grandfather was a scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. He specialized in nuclear research. More specifically, he patented innovations in the technology of atomic bombs. He had a passion for science, which he sought to impart to my brother and me, and when I was growing up, he would often take us to Los Alamos’ Bradbury Science Museum. There, a

humming projector displayed a black and white, frizzyhaired Albert Einstein who taught kids that E=mc2, what the Manhattan Project was, and the infamous names of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Though these concepts were fascinating, luckily, my grandfather wasn’t content to romance only the hard sciences. He was also an avid fan of rock polishing. After we visited the museum, he would often take us hiking in the mountains to look for snowflake obsidian. Once, driving the snaking, zig-zagging road that climbed higher and higher, I looked out my window at the mountain, then at my grandfather beside me. Slender and straight, my grandfather was well over six feet tall. Snowy wisps of hair capped his balding peak, and his large nose angled like a slope. I studied him for a moment and cobbled together what may have been my first metaphor. He is a mountain, I thought. I pondered this before asking, “Do you ever feel bad

intimidating, basically refers to 3D imaging. Tom loved stereoscopy. I don’t remember how old I was, maybe seven or eight, when my grandfather attended one of his first stereoscopic conventions. I do remember the edges of my vision were beginning to blur (a few years later I would don my first pair of glasses), and that my cherubic face was expanding beyond the boundaries of cute, childhood baby fat into a different, and far more lipid heavy realm. The stark whiteness of my blonde hair at the time, however, made me cute and made the fact I was putting on weight a forgivable offense. Upon returning from the stereoscopic convention, my grandfather, with my grandmother, Erla Mae, in tow, visited my family’s house in the alien capitol of the world, Roswell, New Mexico. And he came bearing gifts. The gifts weren’t wrapped, but simply hidden behind my grandfather’s back, awarded to my brother and me once

“Too afraid to remove the comic from its hallowed resting place, I would stare at the cover through the sheen of its plastic container.” for what you do?” His icy blue eyes considered me. “At the labs?” I continued. An avalanche of chuckles, warm and booming rolled through the car. He turned down Chopin’s “Fantasie in F Minor” long enough to flash me his face-engulfing smile and said, “The atomic bomb saved my life.” I confusedly smiled back at him before turning back to the window to brood upon this new mystery. Enlightenment, along with body hair in strange places, wouldn’t come until years later. When not exploring the mysteries of the atom or wiling away his hours with a rock tumbler, Tom tinkered with antique cameras and indulged in the optical illusions of stereoscopy. Stereoscopy, although it may sound

we proved we could be gracious, nonviolent siblings; a task akin to ending hostilities between Israel and Palestine. (My brother was two and a half years older than me and stronger, as well as several inches taller, but I had a better sense for strategic verbal abuse.) After a temporary peace treaty was struck, my brother and I received our rewards. From behind the impenetrable safe that constituted the space behind by grandfather’s back emerged my gift: the 30th anniversary edition of The Spectacular Spiderman, issue #189 with a gold hologram of Spiderman swinging boldly through the air on its cover. Too afraid to remove the comic from its hallowed resting place, I would stare at the cover through the sheen of its plastic container. I knew very little about

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Spiderman or his alter ego, Peter Parker, but I was instantly mesmerized by the red and blue costumed crusader. On the cover, webs shot from his wrists as he flew over New York City streets and bold, capitalized writing exclaimed, ‘THE FINAL BATTLE WITH GREEN GOBLIN!’ and ‘THE ORIGIN OF SPIDERMAN!’ I couldn’t begin to fathom what a ‘Green Goblin’ was, but by reading the back of the comic I learned of Peter Parker, a nerdy, high school teen, destined to become the super powered and sarcastically witty, Spiderman. I was hooked. Hello, my name is Travis Hanson, and I have a problem. . . I’m addicted to Spiderman. Or at least I was in my preadolescent years. Following my initial brush with the Wall-Crawler, I began watching his animated exploits on a weekly cartoon show. After my day at school, where I would sit at the front of the classroom, my hand eagerly raised to answer whatever question the teacher happened to ask, and where, at lunch, I would sit alone at a table avoiding and being avoided by my classmates--eating my lunch slowly to escape recess--I would come home and tune my thirteeninch tube television to Fox Kids Spiderman. New York City, as the cartoon showed it, was an alien landscape to me. The brilliant upward strokes of its buildings, gleaming as they grazed the belly of a soft blue sky, were the antithesis of my Roswell cityscape, where oppressive heat seemed to crush buildings into squat architecture that barely rose from the desert floor. Here, blue horizons were enveloped by gritty brown sands that permeated the air when it was windy. It was always windy. Watching Spiderman experience the freedom of the city as he catapulted himself from building to building on elastic strands of his homemade webbing was alien to me too. In Roswell escape seemed impossible. It was encapsulated by a small town mentality, whose dogma sought to eliminate the imagination with a dreadful drug: contentment. People were ‘content’ in Roswell. My parents were ‘content’ in Roswell. But in a town where the two favored past times were watching the grass grow and

“With Peter Parker, I discovered an extreme kinship.”


teen pregnancy, I felt like a foreigner. Peter Parker, before becoming everyone’s friendly neighborhood Spiderman, was an outcast. Gifted with a keen intellect, but an abysmal lack of social skills, he was a constant target for bullies, something I readily identified with. His somewhat skeletal body and penchant for clumsiness all but precluded him from the world of athletics. The ginger haired love-of-his-life, Mary Jane Watson, was beyond his reach as well. With Peter Parker, I discovered an extreme kinship. When, via a genetically modified arachnid, Peter was transformed into a superhuman -- given tremendous speed, strength, and agility, along with the ability to walk on walls and divine when danger was afoot (the SpideySense of course)-- I was amazed to watch as he defied the social hierarchy of high school and the criminal underbelly of New York City. I wasn’t sure which of these was the greater feat. Watching this wasn’t just a form of a catharsis to me, but it also seemed to represent a prophesied future (minus the mutated spider and amazing abilities) where I could transcend the boundaries of alienation and loneliness. I didn’t see Spiderman, but myself, and the best version of myself. Eventually, my love for the show translated into a minor obsession with collecting Spiderman memorabilia. The major catalyst for this was an ill-fated Nickelodeon short. The short video depicted a seemingly normal eight year old child (my age), in a seemingly normal house, with a seemingly normal room -- except for the fact that it was bursting at its stuccoed seams with every conceivable Spiderman toy and knick-knack known to man! While I could have admired the collection and acknowledged a kinship with this boy on the TV, I decided to go a different route. I would crush him beneath a pile of my own Spiderman collectibles!

“I scrutinized my reflection, noting...each attribute that characterized me as an outcast among my peers.” In retrospect, this was an admittedly overzealous reaction. But how else was I to prove that my love for Spiderman was unrivaled? With no other recourse, I started my noble quest. The first addition to my collection was an action figure of the famed Webhead. Heart overflowing with ambition and shoot-for-the-stars dreams, I raced my bike over to the nearest, and only, Target store Roswell had to offer. Giant emblazoned target symbol above my head, and automatic sliding doors ahead of me, their “shhhh” sounds of opening and closing the whisper of fate, I forged ahead to my destiny. Within those hallowed halls of convenience and capitalism, I found him. He wasn’t just in classic costuming though, the Spiderman action figure sported an alternate suit of Spider Armor from the Web of Spiderman #100. Giddy with excitement, I took my fistful of dollar bills, quarters, dimes, and pennies to the register and purchased what would be the first soldier in the arsenal of my own personal crusade. Thereafter, a slew of action figures entered my amassing army: one with the alternate Insulated Spidey costume from Amazing Spiderman #425, another wearing the Unlimited suit direct from the pages of Webspinners numbers 13 and 14, and of course a few staunchly dressed in the classic blue and red uniform for nostalgia’s sake. Some shot plastic, web-shaped missiles from their hands, others were a foot tall, and one even came with an inflatable wind surfing craft (no doubt equipped for the villainy afoot on the high seas of my bathtub). My collection wasn’t only limited to imitation statuettes though.

I gathered straight-to-video cassette cartoon movies with video games and trading cards in tow as well. Mini posters proudly declared the prepubescent feng shui of my room. As the years passed, anything and everything made it into my growing pile of acquisitions as long as they were vaguely related to Spiderman. The crown jewel of my hoard was given to me by, none other than, the runner-up for my gleeful childhood affection, the mythical Santa Claus. When I was twelve, during an especially lucrative Christmas at Tom’s and Erla Mae’s house in Los Alamos, I was confronted with an odd shaped box, whose strange dimensions set it apart from the rest of my gifts. Try as I might, I couldn’t guess what lay in wait under the crinkling, Yuletide wrapping. Finally, my parents doled this present out to me and with trembling hands I peeled back the layers to reveal the mystery beneath: a miniature pewter statue of Spidey mid-leap, with the cover from the first comic book he ever appeared in, Amazing Fantasies #15, encased in plastic on the pedestal, and a signed certificate on the back authenticating it as an undeniable piece of art! I could have died a happy preteen. Statue wrapped tightly in my arms, I scooted myself in front of the old, twist-knobbed television my grandparents kept in their den (they had a big screen TV with surround sound in the living room, but my form of entertainment wasn’t quite worthy of this venue in their eyes) and tuned it to my other obsession, the Fox Kids Spiderman cartoon show. That day was an infamous day on the show; the episode in which Peter Parker would propose to his long time love, Mary Jane Watson. Suit and tie clad Peter Parker would dive through the air, rocketing past New York City architecture swathed in darkness, in pursuit of a swiftly falling Mary Jane and, after catching her in the nick of time within an impromptu bed of webs, would pull out a ring and ask her to marry him. She would say yes. As the episode faded to black, I could see the adulation in my eyes reflected back at me in the glass screen of the television. I could also see how my thick rimmed glasses hung lopsidedly on my face. They provided an

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awkward counterweight to my limp blonde hair, which, being parted in a precise line down the middle of my head, was out of step with the current fashion of my generation that required heaps of gel and spiked locks. My cheeks puffed out in exuberance, but also because the fat content of my body made this their natural and constant state, a state that made me look a caricature of a foraging squirrel. Despite what my mother said, my rotund exterior was not the result of ‘big bones’ or a natural inclination of my frame towards ‘husky’ clothing. Considering my diet subsisted of Twinkies, potato chips, and every other iteration of grossly sugary snacks, it was no wonder I was fat. Acne was also beginning to blossom on the surface of my face, which was coated with so much oil it would make Saudi Arabia blush. I scrutinized my reflection, noting each blemish, each defect in my appearance, and each attribute that characterized me as an outcast among my peers. During his high school career, Peter Parker was the undisputed king of the nerds, but due to a freak twist of fate (or the plot driven writing of Stan Lee) he was granted super powers. These super powers meant he could transcend the boundaries of his social status, elevating himself above his position of outcast and pariah, and eventually marry the (fictional) girl of his dreams. But would I ever stand a chance with my own Mary Jane? If the girl of my dreams was out amidst the broad world,

Parker, I didn’t have Spiderman as my confidence boosting, woo-inducing, alter ego. I was stuck with myself. It was then that I made the decision to end my yearslong endeavor of Spiderman collecting and turn my pursuits toward more socially acceptable avenues. I placed my newly gained statue on the wooden top of the TV in a symbolic gesture and walked away. In my hormonally tinged brain, this betrayal of my childhood, my personal Judas moment, would catapult me into adulthood and toward a Mary Jane of my own. The withdrawal didn’t occur at once, but was a gradual process wherein my limited-edition Spiderman collectors’ knife, with gold embossed seal of the Marvel hero on its handle, for instance, would move by degrees away from the center stage of my room towards a dusty cardboard box in the back of my closet. Years before the death of Spiderman would occur in the comic book realm, his metaphoric death would occur in the confines of my bedroom. (The final nail in the coffin hit with a resounding thud when Toby McGuire, who has all the personality of a soggy piece of cardboard, was cast to play Spiderman on the big screen.) As the years passed, with Spiderman collecting dust and ironically enough, webs, in the dark recesses of my closet, I shed clothes, hairstyles, friends, and eventually weight. Aspects of my personality changed. No longer shy and happier with a perpetual state of monologue in my

“In my hormonally tinged brain, this betrayal of my childhood...would catapult me into adulthood and toward a Mary Jane of my own.” head, rather than actual conversation with a human being, I began to open up. I could even maintain a dialogue with limited numbers of awkward comments and obscure references. My love of Spiderman, which had reached idyllic proportions during my younger years, hadn’t dissipated,

mixed in with a vast sea of people, would she recognize potential in me? Would she think that this introverted, pimple faced and overweight, ugly duckling was worth her time? In the descriptive elegance of Latin I was Dorkus Largus, or in plain English, a Grade A specimen of dork. Unlike Peter


but was in a proverbial state of lockdown. If anything, it was Spiderman who had inspired me to grow. By the time I reached college, I had shed the most extreme parts of my geekdom, but in this attempt I overcorrected. The front of the classroom was no longer my haunting ground, replaced by the dark recesses of the farthest, most shadowed seat available. I was convinced intellect was to ‘nerd’ as indifference was to ‘cool.’ So, my passion for school was converted into an outward disdain

“I flicked through the pages and remembered my grandfather.” which I would express any time I was given the chance. This disdain began to reflect in the scholastic litmus test of my GPA. Spiderman and the irreverent spirit of Peter Parker were nowhere to be found. In the Fall semester of my Sophomore year, my grandfather, Tom, died. It was a sudden death, which I learned of through an extremely brief voicemail from my mother. “Call me, your grandfather’s dead.” My grandparents owned a cabin in the Rocky Mountains, an hour drive from a remote village named Pitkin, and three hours away from the city of Gunnison, CO. The cabin, fueled by propane and with no electricity to speak of, had no telephone or any other source of communication that could be used in an emergency. Cell phone reception was a useless concept as well. At the age of 76, my grandfather contracted the flu while at this cabin. Within two days he died and was airlifted to a hospital more than two hundred miles away. The last time I saw my grandfather was in October of that year, a few months prior to his death. My grandparents, staying overnight in Albuquerque, took the chance to wine and dine me at Yanni’s, a Greek restaurant close to the University of New Mexico, where I was studying. The

waiters wore white button up shirts and ties, matched with black slacks, and they stood at attention before the tables, towels draped over their stiffly bent arms. There was nothing symbolic in the experience. My grandfather uttered no poignant last words, didn’t turn to me over lamb kebabs and gravely tell me that, “With great power comes great responsibility.” In fact, I can’t recall anything he said to me that night. What I do remember, is that the dinner was meant to congratulate me for doing well in school. It was long after my last visit with him that I dropped out of college. His death weighed heavily on me, leaving me feeling like I was breathing in water, seeing the world through a distorted mass of water and waves. Each night it was harder to sleep, and the red LED numerals of my alarm counted down to later and later times. Bags under my eyes became as much a part of my wardrobe as my Tarheels baseball cap, which I wore perpetually to disguise my disheveled hair. My apathy for school overwhelmed me, bleeding into other areas of my life and drowning me in its numbing tide. Any time the voicemail icon displayed on my phone I was filled with anxiety. Eventually I stopped going to classes completely; they didn’t even constitute an afterthought for me. Needless to say, this did not make for a stellar GPA, and soon I was headed back home. Goodbye dorms, hello Roswell. The forlorn box draped in dust bunnies and cobwebs, filled with Spiderman and my childhood, awaited my return. A few months after coming home, while besought by insomnia, I foraged into the closeted graveyard of my past. Much like King Tut’s tomb, a wall of putrid dust and stagnant air greeted me as I slid aside the thinly veneered doors. Wobbling on the tips of my toes, I slid the box off the shelf and set the relic on my bed. I rummaged through Spiderman paraphernalia: action figures, an article discussing the ‘Death of Spiderman’, a MAD magazine issue (the cover a parody of Toby McGuire’s Spiderman), various comic books, and the 30th anniversary edition of The Spectacular Spiderman #189. I twisted the cover in the dim glow of my overhead lights and watched the hologram Spidey sail back and

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forth in a faux third dimensional arc. The plastic cover still secured the gift from my grandfather. I ran my fingers across the smooth surface before pulling out the unmolested comic. I expected the grainy feel of paper, but like the plastic, the texture was smooth. The colors on the cover sang, no longer muddied by scratched and scarred, protective plastic. Flipping through the pages, I saw images of Spiderman locked in magnificent battle with the Green Goblin, the orangey-red explosions of pumpkin bombs intermingling with strands of snowy, white webbing. I flicked through the pages and remembered my grandfather. He had been one of the infantry soldiers in WWII chosen to attack the entrenched forces of the Japanese. The expected rate of casualty for the attacking infantry soldiers was 50%. After the bombs were dropped, Japanese soldiers emerged from their tunnels and bunkers, first hand inductees into the atomic age, and surrendered. Tom Larson of Los Alamos, New Mexico, my mother’s father, was literally saved by an atomic explosion, which meant I also owed my life to the effects of nuclear fission. He made sure to point that out. My grandfather had a straightforward logic that then, and even now, I can’t argue with. I set down the comic, noticing a University of New Mexico course catalog in the box as I did so. Three years after his death I found myself standing on top of a mountain in Colorado, wind and cold biting my ears as I stared out into the sprawling green valleys below. Silvery strips of water carved their way through the criss-crossing valleys, catching the grayed light of the day and casting it back towards the heavens. I breathed in pine and sighed. My mother and brother stood next to me, admiring the view too. My brother shuffled his feet and eyed me without turning his head. I looked at him and then we both looked dubiously at the bag of ashes my mother was holding. She had already spread some of my grandfather’s ashes into the ocean while she was in Hawaii with her two sisters and my grandmother (my grandmother and grandfather took trips there to watch the lava that bubbled up from the hundreds of active volcanoes), but she wanted to spread his ashes near the


cabin too. I think she also believed it would provide my brother and me a measure of closure. The ashes were the color of the clouds that hung solemnly above our heads. The three of us were silent as my mother grabbed a handful of ashes, said “I love you dad,” and tossed the ashes into the air. She offered the bag to me. I hesitated, but scooped some into my fist before handing the bag to my brother. After a moment he collected the rest of the ashes into the palm of his hand. We both said something about our grandfather before scattering the ashes into the fluttering currents of the wind. It was quiet again, and the ash passed away from us and down toward the shadowing valleys below us. I turned to my mother, and, not wanting to break the stillness of the moment, whispered, “Can I have a wetnap? Grandpa is sticking to my hand.” Luckily she laughed, and so did my grandmother when she found out about it later. A few days later I drove from Colorado back to my home in Albuquerque. When I moved away from Roswell again, my box of Spiderman collectibles didn’t make the journey, but in their place a painting of the masked Wall Crawler now hangs in my living room, eyeing me dubiously when my textbooks have stayed closed for too long. Back home I gazed at the portrait of Spiderman and nearly laughed aloud as it dawned on me for the first time: it was a radioactive spider that gave Peter Parker his superpowers. An atomically-radiated spider. As jagged shadows of men saunter towards Mary Jane, a parody of smiles on their faces, she tries to suppress the fear from her own face, balling her fists instead. A blade shines gleefully in one of the men’s hands. He takes a step towards Mary Jane. . . Thwip! The knife clatters harmlessly to the ground as a cord of webbing slices through the air.

SAW LOVE Sarah Parro


Daniel looked down at her, only visible from her neck up, and for a moment he hesitated, relishing in the feel of the saw in his hand—the smooth wooden handle, perfectly weighted, heavy enough to feel powerful, but light enough so that Daniel felt in control. Yes, he was in control, for the first time in years. This place was his, these tools were his, and she had to submit to his authority. Slowly, and, he had to admit to himself, a little theatrically, Daniel lifted the saw high, and the bright light glinted off of the blade and into her eyes, making her squint. His eyes met hers; he lowered the saw, and with one steady movement, made contact. Someone gasped. The music, a drawn-out piece involving tense strings and dramatic drums, hovered in the vacuous air of the theater. Background music made a big difference, this much Daniel knew; but he hadn’t realized that it not only affected the audience, but his own mood, as well. He realized that he had been holding his breath, and his hand was shaking. He stopped sawing, and looked up, out into the blackness. “It’s alright,” he said. He looked back down at Linda, and smiled at her. “I’m not hurting you, am I?” She shook her head, and her dirty blonde hair shone in the stage lights. Daniel realized that he had never been fond of her hair; not quite blonde, not quite brown, and always getting stuck in clumps around the bathtub drain or in his hairbrush, when she borrowed it without asking.

“Nope.” She said. Daniel started sawing again, the physical effort of it exhilarating, freeing. Tiny bits of wood frayed around the saw’s path, and a small amount of sawdust was floating in the air. “There you have it, folks,” he said. “It’s all part of the illusion.” This had been one of the best nights of his life. For the past three years, Daniel had submitted to a slow living death, that he often felt would eventually result in complete liquefying of the brain. As the blade hummed roughly against the wood, he thought about his job. He had taken the accounting position after a year of unemployment, because after being laid off from the IRS he hadn’t been able to find anything else. His days now consisted of sitting in a gray cubicle, staring at a gray computer screen, and filling out gray expense report after gray expense report. When Daniel had first become interested in magic, he had started with a book of card tricks, something that still held a place of reverence among his props now. He would practice for himself at his desk during lulls, or whenever he could get away with it. When he had gotten better, he had tried showing some of his coworkers in the break room, but none of them seemed too impressed. There was Jeffrey from sales, who thought sleight of hand was a stale form of entertainment; there was Cheryl, the stuffy receptionist, who only suffered

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practicing for it for weeks, and besides, I already subthrough his performance because he refused to give her mitted my deposit, so if I back out now I’ll just lose fifty the completed expense reports if she didn’t; and then dollars.” Linda sighed heavily into the phone. there was Pete, his boss, who had a mole-like face and a “I just don’t understand why all of a sudden this small, pointed nose, hated all things fun and beautiful as particular show is so important. Didn’t you tell me you a rule. Perhaps, then, he couldn’t be blamed for telling might be up for a promotion at work? Don’t you think Daniel that his “little tricks” were banned from the office you should be focusing on that?” because they were obviously such a distraction to him. No, Daniel did not think he should be focusing on Daniel looked back into Linda’s face, into the gray that. He stared blankly at the spreadsheet on his comeyes that he once thought so beautiful, so full of confiputer screen. He had abandoned it when Linda had dence and daring. The first time he had shown her his called to ask about dinner, and whether he’d be able to tricks, which was after he had mastered the cards and visit with her sister when she was in town this weekend. moved on to escaping from handcuffs, her best compliHe had said that yes, rotisserie chicken was fine, and yes, ment had been, “That was cute, honey. Real fun.” Fun. he could pick up some bread on the way home, but no, But to Daniel, this was so much more than fun, so much more than a little hobby. He felt beads of sweat gathering he could not visit with Leslie this Friday because he had the magic competition this Friday. It was just like her to along his hairline from the heat of the stage lights, and forget about something that actually meant something his heart had been pounding ever since the first moment to him; she could harass him all day about working he walked on stage. The audience had loved him so far; harder in his dead-end job, or thinking more seriously they laughed at his jokes, they applauded when he had about their relationship—a topic that she was bringing escaped from the straight jacket in under twenty secup, much to Daniel’s chagrin, at least twice a week now onds, and now the suspense was tangible – he was the first performer in the show to be sawing someone in half. – but his magic wasn’t important to her. And if it wasn’t important to her, it wasn’t worth thinking about. Daniel felt a slight surge of pride as he considered this. “Hello? Are you still there?” Linda’s voice sounded as It was hardly his first performance for an audience. He had done as many small gigs as he could manage: parties, annoyed as the one in Daniel’s head. “Yeah, sorry. My boss walked by and said something.” bars, arbitrary talent shows at coffee shops or black box “I said, did you ever find an assistant? Don’t you theaters. But this was the first exclusive magic show he need one for this thing?” Daniel tried to ignore the hot had ever been in, and there was even a $200 top prize. iron that jabbed in his gut when she called it “this thing.” And although it was just an amateur magic competition, Linda wasn’t finished. “Well, don’t you think it will look Daniel had never felt more alive in his life. It was this a little strange if you’re the only one up there without an feeling, this strange empowerment and satisfaction at assistant? If you’re not even prepared, it just sounds like being able to be really good at something, and to use it to a way to make yourself look foolish.” You’re just saymake other people happy, that someone like Linda could ing that because you already think I’m foolish, Daniel never understand. thought. At least he could be sure that after the competi“Are you sure this is a good idea?” Linda’s voice had tion, her opinion of him would not change. carried that distinctive tone that it always did when she “I don’t need one, but it’s preferable. I don’t know, I was about to tell him that, well, she didn’t think it was a good idea. Daniel had gotten used to her scolding. Linda couldn’t think of anyone who’d want to do it, so I was just planning on not having one. At this point, I don’t care had called him in the middle of the workday to tell him anymore. I’ll do it alone if I have to.” There was a short what he needed to pick up for dinner. silence, and then Linda sighed again into his ear. She “Well,” Daniel struggled with his words, “I’ve been


was probably going to launch into another sermon about why this was not worth his—rather, their—time. Why, he didn’t even have an assistant! If his performance was going to be incomplete, he might as well not go through with it. Had he ever considered the possibility that this setback could be a sign that he should drop out? Of course, she hadn’t said any of that; Daniel was only anticipating it, and he was already getting worked up. This is what she’s doing to me, he thought. She’s getting inside my head and making me crazy. I can’t take it anymore, I just can’t. If she doesn’t care about

would be tricky if they didn’t already know how it worked. And, if he was being perfectly honest, the idea of cutting Linda in half was highly tempting. “Okay. Sure. The show’s in four days, so I’ll run you through my repertoire tonight, and we should be able to practice enough before Friday.” Daniel hung up his desk phone with a plastic click-clunk. Would it be cruel of him to break up with her after she helped him like this? No, this was not a loving gesture, he decided. She was humoring him, and he could already predict the argument that would ensue after the show

“This is what she’s doing to me, he thought. She’s getting inside my head and making me crazy.” something I love, she obviously doesn’t care that much about me. This was not the first time Daniel had entertained the notion of breaking up with Linda. Her constant attempts at sabotaging his magic was only a recent development; the headstrong bravado he had found appealing at first had, time and again, proved too much for his more reserved personality to handle. In the midst of his thoughts, he realized that Linda was still on the phone, and her boxed-in, far-off voice came rushing back to him. “Tell you what. Since I obviously can’t get through to you, I’ll help you out with this. Leslie can just come to the show, and we can go out to dinner afterwards. Would that make you feel better?” Daniel considered this for a moment. He was a little shocked at her offer; Linda had docked herself from the running for his assistant weeks ago, when she made him watch Titanic for the fourth time instead of watching the documentary about Harry Houdini on the Discovery Channel. Yet another bad omen. However, he would very much prefer having an assistant; then he could do the sawing-someone-in-half trick he had thus far been practicing only on pillows. He knew he could just ask for an audience participant, but it

was over. There, she would say. I helped you with your little hobby. Are you satisfied now? I did something for you that I didn’t want to do. Now it was his turn to do something for her—to think about his job, to think about their future. Lately, Linda had taken on a more domestic persona: baking in a red apron, donning a pink silk bathrobe after work, and casually leaving issues of “Better Homes and Gardens” lying around the apartment. All in all, it annoyed the hell out of Daniel. He would have quit his job long ago if it hadn’t been for Linda’s pressuring; she had mastered that tone of voice that said, “You’re going to do this, because I’m right, and you know I’m right, and you’re going to do this.” On the way to the theater Friday night, Linda had told him from that she hoped this would be the last time he did something like this. He pointed out that this was the first time he had ever done something like this, and wanted to say more, but he didn’t. He didn’t want to upset himself right before the show. Linda sighed the same way she had through the plastic phone on his desk at work, and they spent the rest of the drive in silence. Daniel could feel her disap-

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proval pulsating off of her like some kind of radiation. He felt like he had radiation poisoning. But he had made up his mind. With a satisfying, quivering thud, Daniel felt the saw hit the table on which Linda, and the box she was enclosed in, rested. He stood there for a few moments. Then he pulled the saw cleanly from between the newly hewn pieces of wood in a dramatic gesture. He slid the panel dividers into the crack, and pulled pieces apart. Even over the applause of the crowd, he could hear the tiny mechanical twitches of the robotic feet that were sticking out of the end of the box he stood over. Inside her end of the box, Daniel knew that Linda’s feet were safely curled under her. He looked across the way to Linda, who was smiling for the audience, waving her arms in an awkward, chicken-like manner. She looked so ridiculous and feeble. Daniel caught her eye, and she gave him a look that said, Okay. Get me out of here now, please. He smiled widely. “Now you see, folks,” he said, speaking loudly and clearly to the audience, “that these two pieces are completely separated.” He moved the box with the fake legs onto another wheeled table and slowly spun it around so the crowd could see all sides of it. Then he approached Linda. He spun her once, then twice, then a third time, a little faster with each spin, and he watched her hair flying around her face. After the third spin, she managed to catch his wrist, and he stopped the box abruptly. Daniel laughed. “Sorry about that, I got a little carried away.” He took her hand between both of his and said, cordially, “How are you feeling?” He could tell that Linda was furious; that was exactly the kind of joke she did not like. But she couldn’t do anything except plaster a smile on her face and say, “Just fine.” He pushed the pieces of the severed box back together, and helped Linda step out, unharmed but, Daniel could tell, thankful to be free. The audience burst into another round of cheering. After they had collected his props and equipment and had taken their bows—Daniel beaming with pride, Linda stiff and brisk—they retreated to the dark wings. Impulsively, Daniel pulled Linda to


himself and kissed her, the first real kiss he had given her in months. He was happier than he had ever been, and this kiss was pure, and frightening. She pulled away, and even in the half-light he could see the wide whites of her eyes. “Thank you,” Daniel said. “Goodbye.” And he gathered his things and walked out of the theater.

Self Portrait Robert Alanテ行

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Summer Bliss Magali Rutschman

Staff Choice Award


I get a rush looking for a ghost these days. I’ve dug through trunks, slept in subways, hoping to find one lost soul clinging to an old jersey, leaning on a pole. I’ve even wandered through stale bars, thinking the glow of the jukebox would be a siren’s call. I come home at night hoping to find my house haunted. I set the whisky on the table, light the cigarettes, let the smoke swirl through the room. My heart jumps to my throat with the thump of the bass on the radio, longs for a whining accordion. Even then, there’s no song to call you back to the warmth of this life.

Regrets Marisa Silva-Dunbar

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Everyone’s government promoting Anglo management bypassing Hispanic settlement ignoring Native sentiment opposing recruitment importing Asian talent enabling spy concealment assuring mutual destruction of everyone


New Mexico Arun Ahuja



ChloĂŤ Winegar-Garrett

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Bad News ChloĂŤ Winegar-Garrett


Beauti Ghost of

Clammy. A disgusting word to be sure, calling forth in Liam’s mind all sorts of nasty things. A cold shower curtain sticking to a bare leg, the waxy touch of a corpse, the slimy rawness of an oyster. The last one especially. There was something about raw oysters quivering in their shells that really put him off. Perhaps the way they seemed so naked, what was once soft innards incased in a hard protective shell now laid open to the world on a bed of ice with a lemon garnish. Liam had never seen a real vagina before, but he imagined it probably looked as gray and uncooked as an oyster. Clammy. Revolting. And yet, clammy was the word that came to mind as he pulled and stretched his pale freckled skin in the lukewarm bath water. Liam looked his body over with a critical eye; he looked everything over with a critical eye. The only son of a single mother and an Irish bum of a father, he had been raised on his mother’s resentment, something so powerful as to be palpable. “I’d blame the whiskey, but he couldn’t even get being a drunk right,” his mother would say when Liam had asked why his father left. “The only thing he managed to accomplish in his life was knock me up. That, and buying the next plane ticket back to the soggy shit hole he crawled from.” Liam didn’t ask about his father anymore. Palpable, that resentment was. He would sit there in the checkered kitchen in up-state New York, his mother’s rigid back to him. He felt he could stick his tongue out like a snake and taste his mother’s misery in the air. Just a flicker and the stale taste of cabbage that had sat too long in a soup until it was white and soggy would fill his senses. Liam had no real memories of his father, only vague shadows of images that were composed half of sensory perceptions and half of his mother’s grum-

bling. Over time, he supposed, the two had blended and were now inseparable from each other. Sitting like a great white raisin in his dirty bathwater Liam tried to separate the memory from the fiction, but found it impossible. He had, after all, only been two or so when his father tucked tail back to Ireland. Liam was mad at his father for leaving, mad that he’d left him there with his angry mother. His father was rid of her, the entire Atlantic Ocean kept Liam’s mother from his throat, but Liam had nowhere to run to. Liam couldn’t ever quite picture his mother as an attractive woman. The years of scraping by and fighting and bitterness hadn’t left her unscathed. But Liam knew that when she smiled there was a quality of something resembling loveliness about her. Something about the way her eyes would squint, and a left dimple would bloom in her cheek. There was a ghost of beautiful in his mother’s face, but Liam could never quite put his finger on where it haunted. He only knew that he wished it hung around a bit more. “Liam, get your ass out of that tub and come eat your dinner. I swear, that boy. Sitting in the bathtub all day long while I’m out feeding the animals and cooking his dinner.” His mother’s bitching faded down the hallway. Liam sighed and pulled the plug, watching the water swirl down the drain. He picked up the discarded crime novel he had been reading and shut it, carefully marking his place in its worn pages. He looked at the writer on the back of the cover, bearded and oozing with masculinity, and then looked again at his pale freckled skin and concave chest. Fourteen years old, Liam practiced contemplative looks in the mirror, stroking his hairless chin and furrowing his eyebrows until his mother shouted at him from the kitchen. “Liam! Now!”

CSW 2012


Rachel Overmier

He and his mother lived in a small house in the Catskill Mountains of New York State. His mother made a decent living as a caretaker of the rich city dwellers’ lush summer homes. When he wasn’t in school, Liam helped out, watering their house plants and feeding the farm animals the New Yorkers thought added a quaint touch to their sprawling acreage. Liam and his mother ate dinner in quiet, the hushed sounds of the house settling for the night filling the empty silence. Liam stared at his mother while chewing, trying to look at her as he imagined a stranger or a school friend’s mother might. Her hair was pulled back tightly in a pony-tail, graying by her ears just barely. Her forehead was lined with what she called “worry wrinkles,” her hands chapped from working outside in the cold. Her eyes were weak, tired and resentful. “Liam, you know I hate it when you stare at me. It’s creepy. And you’re chewing with your mouth open again,” his mother said, never looking up from the check book she was balancing between bites. “Sorry, Mom,” he mumbled. “I need you to do the last house check without me tonight. I promised Aunt Linda I would call her and, frankly, I’m simply too tired to go with you tonight.” His mother looked at him from over her cup of tea. Liam kept his face straight but inside he was elated. He had never gotten to do house runs without his mother behind him lecturing and watching him every step of the way. She always rushed through the houses, never stopping to admire the treasures they held. Liam hated it. “Liam, no snooping around. These rich bastards are very protective of their things, and I’m sure they have drugs or other illegal materials that a fourteenyear-old has no business seeing.” His mind raced with


possibilities. He had never thought of that. Maybe, just maybe, one of the houses had a dirty magazine he could sneak a peek at! “Oh my god, now I’ve given the boy ideas,” his mother muttered, more to herself than to Liam. She set down her cup on the table. “No snooping. I know the rules, Mom. I am a teenager now. I think I can handle it on my own.” His mother just looked at him. “You’re right, maybe I should come with you. It’s a big responsibility, and you’re still just a child,” she said. It was like she wasn’t even listening to him. She refused to acknowledge Liam’s steps towards adulthood; she wouldn’t even let him shave. “Mom, no. I can do this. I’m not like Dad.” His mother’s face froze and Liam immediately wished his words back into his mouth. Why couldn’t he ever learn to stop mentioning his father? “What does that mean exactly?” Liam could almost see his mother’s words hanging on the air in front of him. “I’m not going to fuck everything up. I don’t get it. If you hate him so much, then why do you still think about him? I can hear you crying sometimes in your room. Mom, he left you. He left me. And do you want to know why?” Liam’s voice reached a glass-breaking pitch. His hand clutched his fork tightly. He didn’t know where the words were coming from, and he didn’t know how to stop them. They marched out of his mouth one by one, across the table towards his mother who sat frozen. “Why?” she asked so softly that Liam almost wasn’t sure he heard her. His words marched forth anyway. “Because you’re miserable to be around. All you do is nag and nag all day. You never smile or laugh or do

anything fun like real moms. He left to get away from you, and when I’m eighteen I’m going to leave you too! It’s not Dad I hate, it’s you.” Liam’s last words bolted like a desperate cannon shot from his mouth. They hit their mark. Liam saw his mother’s face fall, her reserve crumbled and scattered. It was as if all the air had been sucked from the room. If the silence had been oppressive before, now it was unbearable. Liam and his mother alternately stilled, then quivered and shook like pillars of ash. Liam couldn’t look at her; he directed his rage at his half eaten chicken leg instead. He felt more than saw his mother’s hand clasp her tea cup, lift it to her lips, and set it down. She cleared her throat, and then sipped again. “Well, you certainly have every right to leave, when you’re eighteen. But I guess until then you’re just stuck with me. Finish your dinner and get going, before it gets too cold.” Her words seemed to be lacking the sharp metallic edge they usually held, but Liam was still too shaken at his audacity to pay much mind. She wasn’t going to ground him? Yell at him? Send him

“He always felt like a trespasser, as if he and his mother had stumbled upon a key to a life they didn’t belong to and had no business seeing.” to his room to rot forever? What had just happened? Liam felt something shift, but he didn’t know what. The universe, perhaps. Liam hurriedly chewed the last bite of chicken and took his plate to the sink. Heading out to the entryway,

Liam pulled on his heavy winter gear and prepared to head out in the falling twilight and snow. “Liam, here are the keys. Don’t forget to put a drip on the faucets so they don’t freeze. And don’t be out too late. You’ve got school tomorrow.” His mother followed him out to the stoop and handed him a large ring jingling with keys, each a gateway into another world. A better world. She looked at Liam strangely, but said nothing before handing him his gloves that he always seemed to leave behind. Liam could feel her eyes on his back down the driveway to the road. Liam enjoyed this time of day most, walking through snow drifts and into the houses of the rich and famous, listening to his mother’s keys tinkling on her belt loop and his watching his breath billow in the cold. He always felt like a trespasser, as if he and his mother had stumbled upon a key to a life they didn’t belong to and had no business seeing. The first house on his walk was owned by a Tony-winning composer who had been retired since Liam was just a baby. Liam had met the old man only once, for he rarely came out to the house anymore, the commute being too far for his on-call doctor. The house was the smallest, least modern of the ones he and his mother cared for, and all Liam did there was make sure the porch light was on, the heater running on low, and the kitchen faucet dripping with a steady plink plink into the sink basin so the pipes wouldn’t freeze overnight. The next house was a huge monstrosity owned by a famous actress whom Liam had never met. “Our job is to take care of the houses, the animals and the plants. Our job is not to get in the way of the owners. In fact, Liam, it would be better for everyone involved for us to be neither seen nor heard,” his mother would tell him while shoveling hay for the goats at the owner of the New Jersey Nets’ house or raking up the leaves at the big movie producer’s house. And so Liam only knew about the houses’ famous owners through what he read about them in tabloids or saw on the TV. Through their front doors, the houses lay bare before his roving eyes, the owners and their lives like secrets never revealed, but only hinted at by the belongings they left behind.

CSW 2012

Liam trudged through the wet snow, leaving a path of white destruction in his wake. His mind was calm and clear. He did all his best thinking on his late twilight walks from house to house, especially on those rare occasions when he could tune out his mother’s to-do lists and prying questions about school. With the music of his boots crunching below him and the symphony of the stars above, he liked to think about each house he and his mother cared for as having a personality, a humanlike quality. It made their darkened windows less empty, their echoing rooms less sad. The Nets’ owner’s house was a big man with a waxed handle-bar mustache and a satin vest stretched tight over his bulging middle. Large and intimidating, he could be fun if you caught him in a jovial mood. The actress’s house was a thin, pale blonde, everything about her cold and compressed into the barest of spaces. Liam felt if he blinked, he would miss her. The Tony-winner’s house was a grand diva opera singer, big boned and beautiful, all old-school glamour and class. Liam always saved his favorite house for last. A writer’s small cabin, set back from the main paved road on which the others sat. Liam walked up the creaking wooden porch and pulled the ring of keys from his pocket. He opened the door and the bitter smell of coffee greeted him. No matter how much the cleaning crew sprayed and scrubbed and vacuumed, the aroma of French roast haunted the cabin. The cabin was the second smallest of the houses, but held the most stuff. Bookshelves were crammed full of knick-knacks, and every surface of the walls held different pictures and posters. Liam had been there every winter since he was eight and still hadn’t seen all the pictures, still hadn’t read all the worn book spines. There was always something new to see in this house. If it were a person, it would be a magician, pulling rabbits from top hats and quarters from behind ears. Liam carefully removed his boots and left them by the door, padding through the house in his wool socks. A lean black cat named Raven weaved in and out between his feet, making Liam trot in a sort of silly dance over to the fridge. He scooped the tuna surprise out of the can and plopped it into the cat’s dish. The cat jumped on the

“I never cared much for cognac, too sweet,” came a gravelly voice from the dark doorway behind him.”


rough oak table and ate daintily, its tail twitching back and forth like a pendulum. Liam eyed the food suspiciously. “I think this is the same tuna surprise they give us at school,” he said, his voice sounding loud in the stillness. Liam dipped a finger into the can and then stuck it in his mouth. He swallowed and grimaced. “Yeah, it is.” The cat pointedly ignored him and ate. “Hey cat,” Liam said, “’Nevermore’” The cat’s yellow eyes seemed to roll at him over its food dish, and Liam immediately felt foolish. He was talking to a dumb cat that hadn’t read Poe and had no idea what he was talking about. Liam set the kitchen faucet to dripping, then went straight for the best room, the office. It was on the second story and overlooked the trees in the backyard. Liam knew many a great novel had been written in the very chair on which he sat, the very desk he was now leaning on. “The great writer sat at his desk, the pages flying off the typewriter, the words pouring like sweet honey from his fingertips. Women swooned for him, powerful men worshiped him.” Liam pretended to type as he spoke, his chewed fingertips tapping the desk rapidly. Raven jumped onto the desk and watched Liam’s fingers intently. Liam stopped and took a pretend sip of cognac, which sounded like something smart, sophisticated men drank. “Yes, the great writer surrounds himself with all the finer things in life. Only the best cognacs, clothes, and pussy would suffice for the great and wonderful…” “I never cared much for cognac, too sweet,” came a gravelly voice from the dark doorway behind him. Liam spun in the chair, pushing himself off the desk so hard the chair made a full circle before Liam slammed it to a stop

with his feet. The writer and owner of the house stood in the doorway, casually leaning against the jamb. Liam recognized him from the dust jackets of his crime novels, despite the missing tweed jacket and furrowed brow. “You must be Liam. Your mother has told me about you,” the writer said. Liam nodded. His mother knew the writer? “Guess she didn’t tell you I was here, judging by

a room looking like he had planned it all along like a cat can, I guess. Cats always look like their every move was cool and calculated,” the writer said. “No, I mean, I guess I don’t know what story you’re asking me about,” Liam said. The conversation was not going as he had imagined so often in the past. “Oh, I just meant for you to tell me about yourself.” The writer smiled. Liam stared.

“‘I don’t think my mom is sad...I think she’s just angry, at everything. At everybody. Even at the people who don’t deserve it.’” the look on your face.” Liam only stared. “Christ, kid. Breathe.” The writer chuckled a little. Liam let out a gasp he had been holding in and was immediately mortified. “You know my mom?” His voice came out squeakier than he’d hoped, breaking in the middle. Liam immediately said a prayer of thanks that he hadn’t been caught snooping through the desk drawers for dirty magazines. The writer came in the room a bit farther, striding over to an ugly green couch tucked in the corner. “Charlotte Clarke? Yeah, I met her once or twice. Beautiful woman. Sad woman.” The writer sat, crossing one long leg over the other. “So what’s your story, kid?” he said, crossing his arms casually behind his head and looking at Liam from underneath heavy eyelids. Raven leapt down from the desk and padded over to the writer. The cat jumped in his lap purring and switching its tail in the writer’s face. The man picked the cat up and tossed it from the couch. The cat made a swift exit from the room, but not without throwing a haughty look over its shoulder. “Hate that cat, but you got to admit, it knows how to make a damn good exit.” “What do you mean?” Liam said. The writer stared back at Liam as if he had forgotten he was even there. “No one can get tossed from a couch and walk out of

“I don’t think my mom is sad, or beautiful. I think she’s just angry, at everything. At everybody. Even at the people who don’t deserve it. Like my Dad, she says she won’t forgive him but I think it’s her fault he left in the first place.” Liam’s face flushed at his outburst. He felt his throat tighten. The memory of the horrible dinner just a few hours earlier rushed back to him. He blinked several times, his eyes focusing on the intricate rug at his feet. Silence stretched its cold hand into the room. “That’s a Persian rug, handmade. It has one flaw, you know why?” Liam shook his head, grateful for the change of subject. “Because the Muslims believe only Allah is perfect, and only Allah has the right to create perfection, so the rug makers incorporate one flaw in their rug so as not to piss off their god. Of course, this assumes some arrogance on the part of the rug makers…” The writer’s words trailed off. They both sat staring at the rug under their feet. “Have you ever found it? The flaw?” Liam asked. “Kid, sometimes all I see is the flaw. But that’s only when I’m looking for it. When I don’t look for the flaw it just looks like a rug to me. Do you know what I mean?” The writer looked at Liam intently. Liam felt it was a crucial moment and so he stared at the rug harder.

CSW 2012

Nothing. The silence grew awkward; Liam felt something blow by his ear like a soft breeze. “You know what you should do about your mother?” Liam shook his head no. “Just kill her, snuff her out in her sleep or something. Then go find your Dad and live with him. On second thought, maybe you should find your Dad first to make sure it’s okay. If you have fifty bucks on you I’ll track down your father for you. Hell, for fifty more I’ll kill your mom for you too,” the writer said. Liam was horrified. The writer looked at him and burst out laughing. “You should see your face, kid!” He bent over, slapping his knee in hysterics. Liam was offended. Here was yet another adult not taking him seriously. He stood furiously to his feet and stormed from the office, taking his cue from the cat and turning back for one haughty look. The writer was still chuckling to himself on the couch, wiping exaggerated tears of mirth from underneath his eyes. “Wait, wait. Come back, kid. I’m sorry. I couldn’t resist. I have a horrible sense of humor, I know. Probably why I’ve been divorced twice and am hiding up here from the third wife.” Liam paused on the staircase landing, torn between wanting to talk to the writer more and wanting to stick to his dramatic exit. He chose the latter and continued on down the stairs, wishing the writer hadn’t apologized like that. He reached the front door; still half-way hoping the writer would call him back one more time, or follow him down the stairs. He slipped out into the quiet night, forgetting his gloves in the process, but not wanting to go back for them. Liam was almost to the end of the driveway when he heard the sound of crunching behind him. The writer slipped and slid over to Liam, chest heaving and nose runny from the cold. “Look, kid,” he began. “It’s Liam,” Liam said, his sounding firm. “Right, Liam. Whew, am I out of shape. Hey, I just wanted to give you this. Your mom said you were a fan of my work. I always appreciate a fan, you know?” The writer thrust a hardbound book at Liam who grabbed it and tucked it in his coat, trying not to seem too eager. “Thank you,” he said.


“Yeah, it’s my newest one. Hope you like it. Christ, it’s colder than a witch’s tit out here. I’m going inside. Night, kid.” The writer half jogged, half stumbled back up the driveway. Liam walked home through the silent snow and beneath the still stars, his mind turning over and over again the events of the day. Liam wasn’t sure what to make of any of it. It had been an off day for sure. “A full moon crazy kind of day,” his mother would say. He stubbed his toe on a concrete step and looked up; his feet had carried him to his house. Inside his mother lay sleeping on the couch in front of the TV, a book across her chest. Liam stood looking at her for a moment, playing his old game of trying to see his mother as a stranger, but he could only see her as his mother. Walking past her on the way up the stairs Liam was surprised to notice that the white hot anger he had felt at her had dissipated sometime on the walk through the snow. Instead he was left with a soft feeling of regret, maybe, or sympathy. Either way, Liam threw a blanket over his mother and turned the lights off before heading up to his room. Safe in his room Liam unzipped his coat and pulled the book out. He took in the black cover with the silhouette of a woman in the background and a knife dripping bright cherry blood in the front. He flipped the book over and saw the writer on the back, looking younger than he had tonight, less tired. Liam carefully opened the book to the front page, and a smooth, glossy page of a magazine floated from between the leaves and onto the floor. Liam reached down with trembling fingertips and picked it up. He took one deep breath then turned it over, his heart beating, the sweat from his fingers blurring the edges of the paper. He gasped a little, first in shock, then in awe, then in reverence. “It doesn’t look anything like an oyster…” he whispered.


CSW 2012


Andre Ovalle


Harbours of Ruin Kristie Hollon

CSW 2012

The End Scarlett Owen

of the World

Editor’s Choice Award Seashells sunbathe on endless beaches Pearly glinting flecks dotting the end of the world, among glowing jellies: ancient souls Endless beaches wrap around the coast the way my mother wrapped me in a clean Warm towel after swimming in the sea until dusk Salty and sandy, reddened shoulders and August tan Whipping braids in the coastal breeze Bug bitten arms, bruised knees Sailing gulls overhead Lapping waters, rushing into the shoreline until the end of time Our moment ended but the beach carried on.


Contributors Arun Ahuja Arun is taking a string of mindful movement classes at UNM, starting with yoga and on through Feldenkrais to where he is currently a Senior student in Tai Chi under the renowned Charlie DeFillipo. Nukie New Mexico


Robert Alanテ行 Robert is a Senior at UNM majoring in political science and Spanish. He has been published in Best Student Essays and LIMON (Latin American and Iberian Multidisciplinary Opinion Newsletter) and is currently the editor in chief of Scribendi. Self Portrait


Alan Jefferson Dahl Alan is a history major in his Senior year at UNM. He was born, raised, married, and may very well die in Albuquerque, NM. He loves his family more than anything and considers them a great inspiration. Spencer 22

Regina Eckert Regina was born and raised in Albuquerque and is currently studying mathematics at UNM. Little Sarah Gustafson 17

Joshua John Garcia Joshua is an English major and computer-graphic artist from Santa Fe, New Mexico. He attends UNM, and has been working in the graphic arts, along with graphic design for ten years. Rocky


Travis Hanson Travis is a graduating Senior at UNM who plans to continue writing while serving in the Peace Corps. This piece is dedicated to his grandfather, Tom Larson. Dorkus Largus: Confessions of a Spiderman Addict


Zach Hively Zach graduated in December 2007 from UNM, where he participated actively in the University Honors Program and the Agora Crisis Center. He has since lived in Germany on a Fulbright grant and is currently studying for a Master’s degree at Trinity College, Dublin. His fiction will be featured in the upcoming anthology of new writing from the Oscar Wilde Centre. Dinner With Leftovers 4

Kristie Hollon A Senior studying archaeology, Japanese, and psychology, Kristie has dreams of traveling the world. Her photos are lasting memories of her journeys. Harbours of Ruin


Ashley Jordan Ashley is a Senior at UNM and will graduate in Spring 2012 with a BA in English. She intends to work to further humanism and feminism, and all things that have gotten her this far. Piano in the Basement 10

Loretta Lawson Loretta is a Junior at the University of New Mexico. She is currently studying elementary education with an endorsement in language arts and science. Loretta has been accepted into a Co-teaching program that will take place Spring of 2012 at Bandelier Elementary School. She currently works at CAPS as a receptionist. In her spare time she likes to play soccer, indoor soccer, tennis, and Frisbee. The Legend of One-Eyed Charlie


Beth Ann López Beth Ann is a Senior in biochemistry. She’s planning on doing the Peace Corps after she graduates, and would like to pursue a career in public health and journalism. Highway 86


Kelly Kathleen McCarthy Kelly is a graduate student in the sociology department at UNM. Her academic interests include visual sociology, media studies, and race/class/gender inequalities. Her hobbies include writing, photography, playing piano, and video games. Kelly has had three photographs published in art and literature magazines: Scribendi: “Dominatrix” in 2007, “Contemporary Chow Mein” in 2008, and “On Autumn’s Hill” in 2011. She hopes to bring a fresh, intriguing perspective to the realm of photography. After the Accident 12

Andre Ovalle Starting with piano lessons at age seven and then trombone lessons at age twelve, Andre’s musical education has been heavily influenced by his didactic instructors and supportive peers. Andre is enjoying his second year as a student at UNM enrolled in the Bachelor of Arts in Music. (D)o(min)ique


Rachel Overmier Rachel is Senior at UNM, where after graduation she plans on continuing to graduate school to receive her MFA in creative writing. Rachel loves to travel and is constantly being inspired by the landscape and people who surround her, whether stranger or friend, home or abroad. Rachel is the 2011 first place winner of the Lena Todd award in the fiction category. Ghost of Beautiful 56 Train 33

Scarlett Owen Scarlett’s studying philosophy and writing at UNM. She enjoys dancing, writing, random art projects, and going on adventures. The End of the World


Sarah Parro Sarah Parro is a senior at the University of New Mexico, studying English with a concentration in Professional Writing as well as pursuing a minor in theatre. She is currently the Editor-in-Chief of Best Student Essays, a student-produced nonfiction publication here at UNM. She hopes to continue working in editing and publishing after graduation. LOVE SAW MAGIC


Elisabeth Perkal Elisabeth is an Albuquerque native. She is a photographer, feminist, and activist. Her favorite kind of nut is pistachios nuts. A Viajante 32

Magali Rutschman Magali is a native New Mexican. She will graduate from UNM in Spring 2012 with a BFA in studio art and a second BA in French. Magali will be having her solo Honors Thesis exhibition in downtown Albuquerque throughout the month of May. Summer Bliss 51 Portrait of Mom in Mexico 31

Frank Sedillo Frank is a native New Mexican with roots dating back the sixteenth century. He is a local attorney, judge and coach. He is also a dedicated father. When not devoted to the care and well-being of his family, Mr. Sedillo volunteers much of his free time assisting many community and charitable organizations. Perfect Temptation 1

Priya Shah Priya is current a Junior at UNM, pursuing her dream of becoming a pediatrcian. Though she has been writing since she was young, this is the first time she has submitted her work for publication. Masquerade Ball 2

Marisa Silva-Dunbar Marisa graduated from the University of East Anglia with her MA in poetry. She is currently part of the Milagros at Los Luceros workshop. Her work has been featured on Whippersnapper Press, TRAVELHOST, and the UEA 2009 Anthology, Eight Poets. Already my Friends Don’t Like You 15 Friendship in Winter 14 Regrets 52

Emily van Dyck Emily is a Freshman at the UNM. She has lived in Albuquerque her whole life and enjoys the beautiful scenery, especially the mountains and the sunsets. Emily is majoring in elementary education but enjoys photography in her spare time. Blue Sandia 13

Chloë Winegar-Garrett Chloë is an art student pursuing a BAFA in art studio with a minor in music. Her interests include spending time with her family and cats, taking road trips, looking at the sky, and reading interesting books or articles. Bad News Dreamscape in F Minor End

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