LITERARY ARTS MAGAZINE
We don’t have time to take a walk, and the mud will probably ruin our shoes. I still think it’s a good idea. Maybe the thunder should hurry us, but you stop to stare at the horizon. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to be looking at something, so I keep my head still as my eyes scan the field. I stay there after you’ve turned back toward the house and count five wet footsteps before I follow. W H I T N E Y W I LLI A M S 2013
Capsize ● Zac Pankey 4 Judgment ● Ally Mynatt 10 Self-Portrait ● Kristen Witham 11 To the God of Light ● Megan Peden 15 Driven to Abstraction ● Betsy Marsch 19 São Paulo ● Ben Wright 24 Vessels ● Ellen Cline 28
Rubbish Burial ● Zena Chmielewski 3 Geography ● John Austin Gray 7 Remainders of May ● Rebecca Edgren 9 Curtain ● Jessica Ferrell 12 White-Throated Sparrow ● Chelsea Cothran 17 In Pursuit ● Megan Pinckard 25 The Winter Look ● Lindsay Olford 27
Death Angel ● Julia Appleton 13 Branches ● Whitney Williams 20 On to the Stars ● Joshua Bullis 26
Head Trauma ● Michael O’Malley 5
Z EN A C H M I ELEW S K I
The clementine crumbled under the black coercion of rot. I forgot to eat it. The squirrels watched as I stepped outside, pebbled concrete pressed against my blue socks, the dying fruit held by two fingers. It hit the closest tree with a wet smack, wooden tombstone. The birds leapt.
Driven to Abstraction BETSY MARSCH Oil on Canvas 24” x 36”
MICHAEL O’MALLEY My brother stumbles into the house. He’s not crying, but I am. When the door slams, I sit on the steps outside our back door and wait for Dad to come out like I know he will. Tears look like blood on the red steps, which is strange because the actual drops of blood look water-clear against the scarlet paint. Everything on this Air Force base is red: the steps, the terracotta that shingles the roofs, the bricks that checker the walls, the trodden mats that carpet every official building, even that baseball bat I left lying in the yard. Everything but the grass— that’s always brown. Texas doesn’t get a lot of rain, except in October; then we get brown flash floods.
I saw the grass turn red in splashes, but for a second it was all butterflies and elation. I, for once, had just gotten a hole-inone, won the game, beaten my brother—albeit in a game of golf improvised with tennis balls and a baseball bat, but I wasn’t splitting hairs. I saw him crouched as if in defeat on the ground, clutching his mouth with both hands. Then the horrible realization of what I had done burned in my chest like a shaken soda only just hissing open. Tennis ball golf wasn’t supposed to be bloody. I could have swung differently or waited a few more seconds. I could have said I was about to swing. I feel like a little kid for crying.
It’s not even me spilled on the lawn. Ten-year-olds aren’t supposed to cry unless wounded. That’s the rule, but somehow I think there’s an exception for when you’ve just smashed the face of your eightyear-old brother with a bat. Matthew swung golf-style at the tennis ball, and the bat made contact with a hollow smack. The ball bounced across the crab grass, a highlightergreen missile, stalling in a tuft of sod a foot from the overturned bucket that was the hole. Our course being a grand par 2, that gave him a solid chance of scoring the two-stroke even break. And winning, as always. “Ha! Did you see that?” he said, knowing I had. He handed me the bat. “Beat that.” Matthew will go to the doctor, where he will get three stitches, then to the dentist, where he will get caps for the four front incisors that the bat shattered. That way he won’t look like a hockey player. I teed up my own ball on the flat patch of lawn that marked the beginning of our course. Clumps of bris- tling grass and bare, droughtpocked depressions scarred the face of the fairway. I looked at the bucket across the yard, adjusted my stance, and swung. The bat connected with that satisfying, hollow thwack, and when I followed through, swinging the bat behind my left shoulder, it con- nected again. I watched the ball skip over the grass and into the bucket. The door opens and hits me in the back, and I leap to my feet, wiping my cheeks.
“Sorry about that,” my dad says. About hitting me with the door, I guess. Blood dribbled from between my brother’s fingers in stringy trickles. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry!” I screamed and dropped to my knees beside him. He uncov- ered his mouth for a moment but only to spit something hard into the grass. It looked like a fragment of half-dissolved peppermint. He stood up and staggered across the yard to the back door without making a sound, leaving a thin trail of blood splattered on the ground like footprints. I look at my dad standing over me in his battered Michigan State T-shirt. Wear had long ago thinned holes into the armpits and shoulders, giv- ing the impression of dry, molting skin just be- ginning to give way to softer flesh and hair underneath. His hair is wet and matted, so I know he just got back from running. He’s also wearing gym shorts—red ones. For a moment, his face is terrifyingly blank. I breathe in, and the air comes in hiccups. “Hey, buddy, just tell me what happened,” he says and hugs me. So I do. He has that musty sweat smell, and the dampness on his arms is cold. I start crying again. “It’s okay,” my dad says. He laughs. “He’ll be fine. It was just an accident.” I look out into the yard and see the bat. From this distance, it’s impossible to tell if the red on the barrel is notched from teeth or home runs.●
JOH N AU S T I N GRAY
“It’s hot,” she says and pulls off her sweatshirt. I have never seen her without sleeves. Then she sits down on the couch next to my right arm— my good arm. You never try putting your left arm around somebody. She has a mark on her left shoulder that reminds me of rivulets or the leaves of a fern. It could be a birthmark, I think, because I have never seen her without sleeves, but I touch it and she says that she scraped it earlier against a doorframe. We are watching The Frontiersmen because she likes movies from back then, when color was an innovation, before they could show you everything. Some woman in faded Technicolor says a line about men being men, and all I can think of is Clark’s house and the magazine he
kept in the blue bin on the left side of his closet, beneath the two hanging winter coats. Before then, even his sister’s anatomy textbook could be used as an atlas of unexplored territory. Now the movie is over, and she says, “What do you want to do?” We are alone. Nothing happens, not because I am a hero but because I am a coward, and on the drive home all I can think of is women on screens and then the men with cameras. I wonder what spirit of discovery is alive in them. And I don’t know what those girls are promised: money or drugs or getting their names on the map. Or maybe they need the same thing as men—something loud enough to drown out what their bodies are telling them: You’re alone. You’re alone and lost and alone.
GR ACIE WISE ● JOHN AUSTIN GR AY
M IC HA E L O’M A L L EY ● G R AC I E W I SE G R AC E P E P P E R ● Z AC K C L E M M O N S
C OURTNEY SEARCY
B OBBY RO GERS
When asked if a giant, man-eating crocodile lives in her hometown, senior English major JULIA APPLETON replied with no comment. All forms of life deserve study, but CHELSEA COTHRAN, junior zoology major, thinks birds and bow ties are particularly cool. MEGAN PINCKARD is a junior English major who happens to be literarily frolicsome. ZENA CHMIELEWSKI is a senior English major who can wear size four in children’s shoes. Sophomore ceramics major KRISTEN WITHAM is immune to brain freeze and poison ivy. Junior digital media studies major BEN WRIGHT has a terrible addiction to macaroni and cheese. Sophomore ceramics major MEGAN PEDEN is excited to be in the dirtiest major at Union. GRACE PEPPER, freshman English major, should have deleted the Lizzie Bennet diaries from the staff YouTube history. Blah blah, I’m senior English major MICHAEL O’MALLEY. Junior English and philosophy major JOHN AUSTIN GRAY occasionally writes poems that are not about sex. Junior English major REBECCA EDGREN wants to learn how to whistle. WHITNEY WILLIAMS, senior English and philosophy major, is becoming fourth-season Rory Gilmore. Senior English major JESSICA FERRELL enjoys standing on furniture. Senior English major LINDSAY OLFORD, being of petite body and absent mind, goes by the nickname Sparky. Junior aesthetics major JOSH BULLIS dances with wolves. ZACK CLEMMONS, freshman English minor, demands to be taken seriously. GRACIE WISE, junior English and history major, thinks the world would be better if marriage proposals included waffles. ZAC PANKEY, freshman graphic design major, is. LINDSEY HOWERTON, junior graphic design major, is the Cory Matthews to Celia Teel’s Shawn Hunter. Most of senior painting major ALLY MYNATT ’s materials come from the junkyard, not Hobby Lobby. Junior ceramics and sculpture major ELLEN CLINE is just a lil’ guy. Junior painting major BETSY MARSCH likes to ramble campus barefoot, sketchbook in hand.
UNION UNIVERSITY 2014