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March 2012 “Dreaming” Poetry by Sarah Leavesley “Wet Brain” Mixed Media by Trevor Day “She’s Got a Great View” Mixed Media by Ashley Jenkins “Hard Work or Hard Liquor” Poetry by Huy Pham “From Ruin” Sculpture by Dillon Olney “Speak to Another” Photography by Eleanor Bennett “The Roots that Give Way to the Soil in the Sun” Fiction by Bre Robinson “Flower Girl” and “Polka Dots” Mixed Media by Ashley Jenkins “Sprawl” Painting by Tom Colcord


“On the First Day, He Gave Them Bone, Shining and Beautiful” Mixed Media by Dillon Olney “Souls: Our System” Poetry by Huy Pham “Sticks and Stones, Flesh and Bones” Photography by Dillon Olney “On the Eighth Day” Mixed Media by Dillon Olney “Reflections” Needle Felting by Carly Yingst “Not a Poem About Asians or Being Asian” Poetry by Huy Pham “Starfish” Photography by Eleanor Bennett “White Elegy for Madge” Poetry by Avery Smith “Falling Down” Painting by Carly Yingst “The Prison at the End of the Hall” Creative Non-Fiction by Emily Alvey


“Walking Through Skeleton Trees” Photography by Eleanor Bennett Contributor’s Biographies



by Sarah Leavesley When I sleep, my heart heavy in my chest, I dream of a peace that is manifested in the way the current kisses the riverbank, the way bodies fit together like angelic tessellations, the warm curves of white flesh. All night, while the sea molds the shore like a baker kneads bread, while the clouds form patterns over the moon only children will see, I dream of sitting in the court of the Lord, I dream of faces white as lilies floating on a mirrored lake. In my dreams, the silver scales are not rigged, the mountains rise out of the sea and never crumble, the passion of two pairs of lips, one for the other, cannot be contained. The owls howl on fence-posts miles from my bed and the worms under the garden toil like blacksmiths without rest. All night, I revel in the company of seraphim, in glory at the throne of God. I could tell you of poems authored in heaven that I saw inscribed into rays of light and spelled out in the compassionate constellations.


Outside, the earthly world spins on, the silver morning fingers streak along the horizon, the trees shake out their hair, scattering birds over the fields. The yawning moon drops out of sight to bless the next day on his pilgrimage. Millions of chests rise and fall, like doves and wilted leaves.


Wet Brain by Trevor Day


She’s Got a Great View by Ashley Jenkins


Caption: “On the edge of a windowsill, Ponders h[er] maker, ponders h[er] will, To the street below, [s]he just ain’t nothin’, But [s]he’s got a great view!”


Hard Work or Hard Liquor by Huy Pham

People say I don’t enough risks So I give them this. While you are in basements Half way bumpin to broken basses And unspoken to faces Holding brown paper wrapped vases Pouring into white trimmed chalices The challenges is to find her while you are losing yourself Claiming that the elixir helps But I find my time in the laboratory, Cooking up recipes from burned books Shifting paradigms in the form of poetry That potent power that could get a man shot for what he said But it’s better to be dead in flesh to be forgotten in history. But you have already forgotten what you did last night You offer me a risk by offering me a drink? Might I offer you a sip of the spotlight? It is much more intoxicating than what you are taking In fact it could kill me, at least that’s how everyone else feels See, the populous would rather perish under pressure than to sacrifice their vulnerable When that’s all we have We are merely mortals,

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metaphorically naked, exposing our scars, Like – the girl who didn’t run fast enough to her car at night Or the man who was outnumbered in a bar fight, But right now, we know who we are, And as far as I can tell, you know us as well. But on this stage lit hell We are shot with flaming arrows of insecurities that you believe can only be stopped by Tequila Teflon, Kevlar made of broken kegs, chain mail made of metal cans Gauntlets of grey goose, boots of Budweiser, helmet out of Heineken draped over with capes of jose cuervo, And a shield made of shot glasses, And your only weapon is misplaced aggression. You are the knights drenched in wine and armor. The gladiator, flailing his arm or his arrogance But we will still step against you in this arena, Because it is better to be thrown in a den of lions then to be heckling with these hyenas Your defense will not deflect our intellect, Your long shots, will not hit our wit, Our amusement will confuse you. Our charm will not harm you but dis arm you,

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Our success will undress you Our confidence will best you. Your quest will expire, when you become sober, And we will hang over you, the chance to inspire. People say I don’t take enough risk, So I ask them this. Which of these has the greater risk to reward ratio? Picking up the mic or picking up the cup? Hard Work or Hard Liquor? We prepared hours for this, flicking wrists connected to pens coiled in fists, So what is our risk? compared to your 15 minutes of pre-game. It’s a shame that Fun is not trying to find the differences between romanticism and rage, Fun is debunking these chumps on stage.

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From Ruin by Dillon Olney

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Speak to Another by Eleanor Leonne Bennett

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The Roots that Give Way to the Soil in the Sun by Bre Robinson

The sun blazed down on the charcoal leather seats of the black on black ’98 Oldsmobile. Natasha slid her lean legs back and forth across the seat. The sweat that gathered behind her bony, deep, walnut-colored knees allowed her to do this effortlessly. Natasha kept her eyes fixed out of the passenger-seat window, and she watched the scenery outside change from a dingy tint that veiled the drooping, coffee-stained siding on the shacks, to a radiance so bright it illuminated the colossal houses. The windows were so large you could catch your reflection in them while the families sat on the other side and watched their plasma TVs. The Oldsmobile’s engine rattled against the silence inside of the car. Natasha waited until it came to a full stop at the last four-way intersection that preceded a series of roundabouts. “You can let me out here,” Natasha said to her mother. Her mother took her right hand off the steering wheel and rubbed the back of it against her forehead, swooping the sweat away before it settled into her eyes. “But doesn’t Vanessa live a couple of blocks away?” “Yeah, but this is fine. I’m hoping the breeze can cool me down a bit on a walk.” The sun sat, fixed in the center of the clear August sky. Natasha’s mother slowly nodded her head. The slight rolls in her

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neck divided, exposing the thin lines of a lighter complexion that hid underneath them. She looked over at Natasha. “I’m sorry the car doesn’t have air conditioning.” Her earthy brown eyes spoke with sincerity. Natasha slouched in her seat, the weight of guilt too heavy for her delicate frame. “It still probably beats riding the bus.” Natasha didn’t speak her thoughts. She didn’t say that the city-bus doesn’t even come this far out. That everyone this far east has cars, and the names of the streets, rather than the numbers, were there to prove it -- as the lawns lay, like mediums of art, or children who required a lot of attention. Natasha hadn’t seen that much grass since she took a camping trip to Hueston Woods last year with her 7th grade class. Natasha opened the door and stepped out, holding a solid pink gift bag in one hand and her cellphone in the other. Her lungs were expanding in the clean air. The pollution was replaced with pollination that suspended in the air like dandelion seeds. It smelled like the detergent her mom used to buy when they spent “Laundry Sundays” filling the air of the Laundromat with lavender. Was this what Mr. Jennings meant when he said that mountain climbers had to adjust to higher altitudes? Her mother called out across the car, “Call me on that phone of yours when you’re ready to be picked up. Hopefully you don’t make it too late. I have to be at work tomorrow morning at eight for another double.”

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Natasha waved the cellphone at her mom before realizing she didn’t have anywhere to store the clunky machine. When her older sister, Michelle, told her she could borrow the golden, floral patterned sun dress, she had warned her about the ways she shouldn’t sit, but didn’t mention the way she couldn’t store anything. Maybe it was her fault for not owning a purse. Maybe it was her fault for not ignoring her sister when she told her that jeans were unacceptable to any party in Henley Hills, as if she had invitations to cocktail parties exploding from her desk drawer or something. “Okay, thanks for the ride, Mom.” Natasha said. It took all of her strength to slam the heavy car door shut. The car seemed to hover behind her, Natasha’s mother unable to let her go as she wandered through the suburban neighborhood. Finally, the rattling engine carried past her and bellowed out a single honk. Be safe. Have fun. Neither one outweighed the other. She kept her eyes planted on the newly laid cement, hoping the gift clutched in her hand and the dainty, yellow dress would allow her to follow the path all of the way to Vanessa’s house without any intrusion. To walk without any police officer driving down the road, making his speed match her pace, rolling down his passenger-seat window and asking her if he could help her with something. As if she were lost and had stumbled upon this neighborhood by accident, or because of the threatening intent her sunflower stem shape yielded. Everyone had always compared her to a telephone pole, tattered and worn. When she thought about poles, she couldn’t help but be reminded of the cell her father sat

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behind. She couldn’t help but think about how the most aggressive thing she wished to do was shove the “Can I help you with something?” down each police officer’s throat before telling them that she can’t help where she’s come from, only where she’s going. There’s no better gift they could give than invisibility. The handles of the pink gift bag were soaked in sweat by the time she arrived at Vanessa’s house. The house reminded her of the pictures she’d seen of oceans. The deep blue color, in addition to its size, made it seem vast. Three rows of windows with white shutters lined up, and a small attic window rested three stories above the door. Natasha reached into the gift bag and pulled out the soft pink invitation. The paper was thick and remained in perfect condition. There wasn’t even a crinkled corner, since it had only rested on her nightstand like a trophy; an award for being the accepted “Scholarship Girl” at Charles H. Garrison Preparatory School. Natasha, you’re invited to Vanessa’s 14th Birthday Party! Where: 518 Pheasant Run. When: August 28th. It’s a pool party, bring your swimsuit! Parents are encouraged to come and discuss PTA and partake in other “adult” ;) activites. Please remember to R.S.V.P. Natasha and Vanessa had been friends since Natasha enrolled in Charles Prep School in sixth grade. When Natasha earned her acceptance, she was already tall and lanky. Vanessa, short and slim, was slated to become her best friend after they ended up in the same math group. Natasha didn’t know how to carry herself, but she knew all about algebra and long division. Vanessa didn’t know much about math,

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but she was the most popular girl in the school. They balanced each other out. When Vanessa came to school with a cell phone, Natasha went home with her straight-A report card and begged her mother to buy her a cell phone as a reward. The pink gift bag holding the cell phone rested on top of the dust that coated the surface of the ancient wooden end table in the living room. When Natasha came home from school, she opened the door and immediately saw the bag. Next to the bag, a note scribbled onto lined notebook paper read: Here ya go. I’d buy you a thousand cell phones better than this one if I could. Thanks for being a great daughter. Love ya, Mom. Natasha took out the cell phone and held it in her hands. It rested in her palm like a black brick. It could have easily been mistaken for a cordless house phone since there wasn’t really anything about it that was mobile. Natasha kept it in one hand, the note in the other, and wondered how she could be convincing enough to make her mom believe she appreciated it when she got home from her nine hour shift as a waitress at The Truck Stop. The next morning, Natasha and Vanessa met at Vanessa’s locker. “It’s not that bad,” Vanessa said, observing Natasha’s cell phone. “I mean, it works right?”

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Natasha nodded her head and threw the phone in her backpack. “Yeah, I guess so. My mom doesn’t really know much about technology, so I can’t blame her. I’m sure she would have bought me one more like yours if she’d known.” They both looked down at Vanessa’s slim silver phone that rested in her palm. If their phone models were actual representations of themselves, Vanessa would be young, cool, and beautiful, while Natasha would be old, bulky, and ugly. The phone was so shiny that Natasha caught her maple eyes in the reflection and looked away. Vanessa said, “Yeah Tosh, I totally understand. My mom doesn’t even know how to find her favorite talk shows on TV most days.” She reached up and placed her hand on Natasha’s shoulder. “If my dad weren’t, ya know, alive, I probably wouldn’t have a cool cell phone either.” Natasha felt her face burn, her cheeks turning red like coals on a flame. “Let’s just head to math. I want to talk to Mr. Flory about a problem I couldn’t figure out before class starts.” The previous semester she had written that her dad was dead in the Family section of her autobiography for English class. Most of her classmates had described their dads’ professions as CEOs and businessmen. Natasha thought about writing down that her dad was a businessman, which was not a total lie, but she didn’t want to answer all of the questions that would follow. She didn’t want to research area business companies and then have to pray that none of her classmates would say their dad worked at the same busi-

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ness where she said her dad worked, and that they would go home and ask their dads if they knew Natasha’s dad, Mr. Davis. Death was easier. After hearing someone’s dad is dead, no one feels comfortable asking how they died. It would probably be easier if her dad really were dead. It would justify the way Natasha’s mom came home from work on that January day, two years ago, crying, as Natasha sat at the coffee table, finding the area of a circle for homework. The cold wind gusted through the door as her mom came inside, tears running down her face. Her leather jacket covered her thick upper half, the white work shirt poked out of the top where it had not been zipped. Natasha felt bad for thinking she looked like a sad penguin. “What’s wrong, Mom?” Natasha asked as she stood up to hug her mom. When she wrapped her arms around her mom’s body, it was the first time she noticed her eyes looked over her mother’s head. “What’s wrong?” “I’m so sorry,” her mother choked out. The tears soaked into Natasha’s gray T-shirt. “Sorry for what, Mom? What happened?” “I’m so sorry I didn’t pick someone better to be your dad.” “What are you talking about, Mom? I wouldn’t be the same person if I had a different dad.” “I know, I know. And that’s why I don’t regret it. I just hate that he’s caused you and Michelle so much pain.”

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Natasha squeezed her Mom, drawing her in as tightly as she could. “It’s okay, Mom. Just tell me what happened. Why are you so upset?” Natasha’s mom unclasped her body and pulled a page of the newspaper out from underneath her armpit. She handed it to Natasha. Natasha read it before throwing it on to the couch and running up the stairs to her room. There were so many things she didn’t know about her dad -- his favorite food, or the toothpaste he used. It was the small details that make someone a real person, and not just a shadow, or a faint figure of a person you’re supposed to know. There were so many questions she had. Why did he leave so soon, making life so much harder on them all? Why were his phone calls and visits like lightning, striking whenever, vanishing in the blink of an eye? Would he have been proud to hear that she earned admission to Charles H. Garrison Prep School, and a full-ride scholarship because of the essay she wrote about perspective? So many questions unanswered. He was dead to her. His face printed on the page of the paper, underneath a headline about being arrested for dealing cocaine. Why did they have to look so much alike? Natasha pushed her warm mahogany hand against the white picket fence. The contrast reminded her of why her hands were soaked in sweat. With no swimsuit, or parents at her side, she wondered which would be more embarrassing: her inability to swim, or her mother’s lack of involvement with the school?

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She began walking around the side of the house toward the backyard. The smell of grilled hotdogs wafted in the air. It was like the time Vanessa invited her to a baseball game with her family. They ate grilled hot dogs bigger than their faces, and Vanessa’s dad, Mr. Watson, made a joke about how if they ate like that in front of boys, they would never get boyfriends. Mrs. Watson got upset with Mr. Watson and said that freedom is what makes people beautiful. She was one of the most beautiful women Natasha had ever seen. Her body was tight and firm, like the bodies of women who dedicated their mornings to a 5 AM yoga class, and her honey-glazed hair dropped down to her shoulders in flawless spirals. Natasha wondered what it would have been like to be Mrs. Watson’s daughter, and to have fallen sound asleep each night, exhausted, after tugging on her curls, only to watch them spring back, all day long. “There you are.” Vanessa reached out and gave Natasha a hug, her head pressing against the diminutive bumps that had begun forming underneath Natasha’s golden dress. “I can’t believe you’re wearing a dress. You totally didn’t have to do that, but it’s so awesome.” Natasha looked at Vanessa in her purple and white polka dotted two-piece swimsuit. Michelle was three years older, but had no idea what she was talking about most of the time. She pulled down the ends of the dress and said, “Yeah, I thought I would surprise you, ya know? You’ve been insisting that I’d like wearing a skirt to school more than khakis. So, this is my trial. Consider it part of your present” — she handed the pink gift bag to Vanessa — “and this is the other half.”

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Vanessa smiled and the August sun shined off of her bleached white teeth. She had just gotten her braces taken off two weeks ago, and now she seemed to have replaced words with smiles that had the ability to make Natasha feel both better and worse about herself at once. “Thank you, Tosh! I’m sure this will be the best gift ever.” The gift inside of the reused pink bag wasn’t much, but it meant a lot. Natasha had bought a black picture frame and spent several nights personalizing it. White colored pencil showed the algebraic equations they had spent so much of last year memorizing together. Positioned inside of the frame was a picture of the two of them standing in front of a waterfall on their 7th grade camping trip. Underneath the picture, the bottom of the frame said: An easy equation: Vanessa + Natasha = Best Friends Forever. Vanessa took the pink bag over to the table next to the grill and sat it down beside the rest of the gifts on the table. The gifts on the table looked like the city’s firework show, exploding with colors in different arrangements. It seemed as if Natasha’s gift was one of the small fireworks she and Michelle would light on their own – a bottle rocket, in a sky full of booming explosions. Natasha stood by the pool and watched her classmates play chicken. The water splashed around as they screamed and laughed. The chlorine began to burn Natasha’s eyes as she stood. Vanessa made her way back over to Natasha and asked, “Do you want anything to drink?”

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“Sure, what do you have?” “I don’t know, a bunch of stuff. Let’s check out the cooler.” They walked over to the cooler that was positioned next to the grill, Natasha, a few steps behind Vanessa, her shadow. Vanessa bent down and reached into the fire truck red cooler. “We have Sprite, Root Beer, Coke, Diet Coke…yuck, and also Fruit Punch Capri Suns.” She turned around to look at Natasha. “I’ll take a Sprite.” Vanessa pulled two cans of Sprite out of the cooler and handed one to Natasha. “Good choice.” She closed the lid and said, “So basically everyone is just swimming and the adults are inside doing God knows what.” She cracked open her can of Sprite and took a drink. “My dad has been grilling food for what seems like forever. I don’t know when he’s going to be finished, but we will probably eat and open presents soon.” Natasha nodded. Laughter erupted from the kitchen behind them. The adults were inside, clanking their glasses together, bonding over drinks and PTA discussions. Who would she be if her mom were in that kitchen right then, wearing a silky black dress and talking about her new idea for a fundraiser? Who would they be? She thought about how happy her mom would look – the gray hair that had begun growing out of her roots, like an exhibition of the dark thoughts that rested inside of her brain, would crawl back into her scalp and disappear, just like her dark thoughts.

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Vanessa asked, “What do you want to do?” Natasha shrugged her shoulders, “I don’t care. We could just sit down.” “Yeah, sure. Let’s do that.” They walked over to a pair of green lawn chairs that faced the pool and sat down. “So, who do you think the cutest boy here—” Vanessa started to ask, but was interrupted by one of their classmates, Luke, who insisted they get into the pool. Vanessa looked at Natasha. “I don’t really feel like swimming right now, but you obviously can if you want. It’s your birthday party.” “I want to hang out with you, Tosh. I’ve been swimming with them all day.” Vanessa called out to Luke, “Maybe in a little while.” Luke shook his head, “Come on, you have to. We need one more person on our team for water volleyball.” “Fine. Fine. Fine.” She sat her Sprite down next to her chair. “I’ll be back, Tosh.” “You better win,” Natasha said, waving Vanessa off, “I’ll be watching.”

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Vanessa jumped into the pool as if she had no care in the world. She was free, and growing to be as beautiful as her mother. Natasha sat in the chair, clutching her Sprite can like a prop. If only she were like everyone else and enjoyed sitting in the sun as a hobby, trying to get tan. Maybe someone would get bored with swimming and come talk to her. Or, maybe it would even be time to open presents soon. She just had to look like she was having fun and then maybe it would actually be fun. The Sprite she had been drinking mindlessly ran out. She continued to put the empty can up to her mouth at what felt like well-calculated intervals. The kitchen door opened and Natasha heard two women begin chatting behind her. “What do you think, Natasha? How much more time should we give them before we start opening presents?” The voice was familiar, comforting. If Natasha had actually consumed liquid each time she had put the empty Sprite can to her lips and pretended to take a drink, there would be four empty cans lined up in front of her. Natasha turned around. It was Mrs. Watson. Her silky red dress flowed seamlessly along her sculpted body. It was the opposite of her mother’s body that was loose in all of the wrong places, handles slouching out of the top of her jeans that didn’t have anything to do with love. Natasha sat the empty can down at her feet. “I’m not sure, Mrs. Watson, it looks like they’re still having fun.”

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Mrs. Watson touched Natasha’s shoulder and began speaking to the woman next to her. She looked a lot like Mrs. Watson but kindness didn’t rest behind her eyes. Instead, they looked like glass, as fake as the dolls she used to play with, the smile painted on their faces. “Kathy, this is Natasha. She’s Vanessa’s best friend, and actually earned her admission to Charles Prep through scholarship. She wrote a great essay and is extremely bright.” “That’s wonderful. I’m Mrs. Hyde. Nice to meet you, Natasha.” Mrs. Hyde was Jackson’s mom, the only boy in the school who stood taller and leaner than Natasha. She’d once found herself swooning over his sandy hair that always looked freshly cut like the grass that probably made up his front yard. When he had found out that Natasha had a crush on him, he pulled her aside during passing period and told her he was really sorry but his mom would never let him date a girl that was her color. Natasha looked down and noticed that she was sitting exactly how Michelle had told her not to sit. She brought her legs together, shrinking the surface area of her golden dress, while refusing to try and figure out how long her legs had been spread and how many boys in the pool had caught sight of her white cotton underwear. “So you think we should wait a bit longer before we pull them out of the pool, huh?” Mrs. Watson asked, and took a sip from her glass. “Well, why aren’t you swimming?” “I couldn’t find my swimsuit,” Natasha replied, without any

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hesitation, as if it were a line she had practiced over and over again in front of the mirror. “Well, I know for a fact that Vanessa has several swimsuits upstairs in a variety of colors and patterns. You might even find one in your favorite color, if you’d like to borrow one.” Natasha hadn’t practiced a line for any sort of response. She was backed into a corner, and the only way out was to admit that she could not swim. “Okay, that would be very nice of you, Mrs. Watson.” After a few minutes, Mrs. Watson came back outside with a yellow swimsuit in her hand. “Your dress looks so beautiful on you, Natasha. I think yellow is your color.” She handed the swimsuit over to Natasha. Natasha smiled, “Thank you again, Mrs. Watson.” “It’s no trouble at all, darling. You can go around to the door on the side of the house to get to a bathroom you can change in.” She walked around to the side of the house with the yellow suit clutched in her hands. What was she going to do when she put it on and came back? Maybe she could waste enough time for them to be opening presents when she came back. She thought about what it meant to swim with sharks. When she turned the corner, she was met with her reflec-

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tion, in the face of an older man. He was perched up on a ladder, painting the already white shutters. His jeans sat loosely on his hips, his lean figure not offering much to hold them up. Drops of white paint were splotched all over his body, from his brown work boots to his dry rough looking hands. They stood there, staring at one another. The charcoal on the grill continued to burn. The blender in the kitchen stirred up margaritas. The water in the pool moved as a reaction to the classmates who splashed around in it. Vanessa appeared from around the corner. “Hey, I was wondering where you went, and my mom said you were going to swim with us! Hopefully she at least gave you a cool swimsuit and not one of those dumb—” Vanessa watched the staring exchange between Natasha and the man. “— Do you know this guy?” she asked. Natasha couldn’t speak. She mouthed the word no but her voice had slipped into the hole inside of her where she tucked all of her pain. It had to be a dream. A nightmare. “Yes, we know each other,” the man spoke slowly, uncertain of the truth behind his answer. “I don’t know him,” Natasha said, grabbing Vanessa’s hand, pulling her in Natasha’s direction. “Let’s go. I think your mom gave me a great swim suit.” Vanessa lingered for a moment, staring at the man before turning her head to observe Natasha’s face. Natasha and Vanessa stood staring at one another as the man on the ladder looked over them. They were all trapped in one anoth-

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er’s stare, trying to discern who didn’t belong. “I’m her father,” the man said. “I’m her father. This is my daughter, Natasha. Natasha is my daughter.” Natasha stared at the ground as she felt Vanessa’s accusatory stare burn through the top of her head. “I thought your dad was dead, Natasha?” Natasha looked at her father, a reflection of her own face staring back at her. In this world called Henley Hills, so different from the number streets she came from, he was the only one who shared any resemblance to her. She couldn’t change where she came from, only where she was going. She looked down at the yellow bathing suit clutched in her hands and dropped it onto the finely manicured yard. Natasha just stood there, next to the oceanic house, on Pheasant Run, inside of Henley Hills. Her dress danced in the breeze. The sun was falling, slipping to the other side of the world. The kids were climbing out of the pool, drying themselves with towels as they waited for Vanessa to come and open her presents. Somewhere else, Natasha believed a girl woke up and rode in her mother’s car all of the way to the exact location of the address, her bulky cellphone tucked inside of the pocket of her jeans, and a bathing suit underneath her clothes. When her lanky body, the complexion of a deep walnut, stood next to the pool, arms spread, they all watched her as she jumped

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in, and asked themselves, Is there anything more beautiful than the scars she shows through her soul? Is there anything more graceful, or free, than her movements? No, they’d all realize, not even a sunflower.

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Flower Girl and Polka Dots by Ashley Jenkins

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by Thomas Colcord

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On the First Day, He Gave Them Bone, Shining and Beautiful by Dillon Olney

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Souls: Our System by Huy Pham

Her angel wings are bent with perfect angles and just the right amount of feathers and no matter how many times I count, I just can’t measure how much I love her within the fingers of my palms – so I read psalms trying to find the words to define the world of this unrefined love only to find out that our love is obtuse: you love others more than I love you. When I try to box you up, the locks began to strangle because I can’t simplify treasure chests into rectangles. Your life-lines that used to point to me are now made of wrecked angles. See – I shot the star in the sky, so she no longer shines for me even though in the suns of her eyes I can see my sons with her eyes without a trace of imperfection in sight, but I plainly see that those visions are old so I fold my life planes into paper airplanes and let them take flight. I must not confuse failing with falling. Every night I’m calling to the moon to engrave the shapes on my face so that Mother Earth sees me and is drawn into me by gravity or love, whichever gets me closer to the contours of her bodies – of water. When her tears come down to curve into waves,

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the wet sides of my island becomes the silhouettes of her hands and then if I drink from them, my blood becomes ink in this permanent pen so I can replace this temporary passion of a past pencil I do not erase the past, but rather trace from it. Between the man-made shapes, God created spaces from me to her, so with God as my ruler It becomes our point in life to draw our own conclusions. Like indefinitely fallen figure eights, if you love someone Figure out an infinite number of ways to not lose them.

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Sticks and Stones, Flesh and Bones by Dillon Olney

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On the Eigth Day by Dillon Olney

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Reflections by Carly Yingst

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Not a Poem About Asians or Being Asian by Huy Pham

Why must every Asian feel the need to speak on be whole of all other Asians? Why must every Asian poet have at least one poem about being Asian? I’m Asian too. Is there something I don’t know about? Is there something I’m missing here? Do we, Asians, need some sort of universal Asian speaker to save us all or embrace us all? I mean after all, it’s our race, right? But there are so many Asians, Yellow Asians, Brown Asians, Skinny Asians, Round Asians, Short Asians, Tall Asians, Some Asians, All Asians. Asians who own gas stations, Asians who own nail salons, Asians who own nuclear bombs, Asian dads and Asian moms, Asian sisters, Asian brothers, Asian haters, Asian lovers, Asians that don’t pay taxes, Asians that wield battle axes, Asians with guns, Asians allowed only one son, Asians at tournaments,

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Asians with rear-view mirror ornaments, Asian doctors, Asian lawyers, Asian farmers, Asian oilers, Rich Asians, Poor Asians, Bitch Asians, Whore Asians, Good Asians, Bad Asians, Mad Asians, Sad Asians, Glad Asians, Asians that are straight, Asians that are gay, Asians that you can support for just a dollar per day, Asian wars, Asian grocery stores, Asian poverty, Asians lottery, Lazy Asians, Crazy Asians, Asians that pose for pictures with peace signs, Asians that have walked over land mines, Asians that eat eggrolls, Asians that eat curry, Really slow Asians, Asians in a hurry, Asian chopsticks, Asian knives, Non-Asians with Asian Wives, Asians with small eyes, Asians with big eyes, Wait, there are no Asians with big eyes. Asian restaurants, Asian bars, Asian boy bands, Asians with small hands, Asians who are smart, Asians who do martial arts, Asians from the hood, The Asian half of Tiger Woods, Asian clothes, Asian food, Asian homies, Asian dudes, Asians that are whack, Asians that are tight, Asians that act Black, Asians that act White, Asians that think they’re always right, Asians that gets mad about Asian stereotypes,

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Asian Hypocrites, Asians that don’t give a shit But I’m not one of those Asians, Because there are Asians against other Asians, All sorts of Asians, From all nations, But no, it’s not an Asian sensation Or the Asian persuasion, Or a genetic invasion, Or yellow fever. So someone, someone Asian, please give me this Asian education, So I too, can write a poem about Asians, or being Asian.\\

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by Eleanor Leonne Bennett

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White Elegy for Madge by Avery Smith

I had a great grandmother she lived in a mobile home Serenity St watched TV all the time volume loud to abstraction til my grandparents took her in and her life narrowed its eyes lips without words and her son’s hand a vise and the little car shuttling and doors and plastic grocery bags and window blinds she escaped one day last winter and wandered the streets of Anderson awhile with sky above her always darkening the moon the streetlamps stars and when the flecks of snow came down did she out stretch her hand to touch her own body flooding the air frozen and glistening lining each Indiana branch marking each low-hunched house the town she’d never left left blinding by her plain pair of Keds on sidewalk with the night her with moon-wane and snow-melt forgotten

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she was a night white once with presence not bones not hair on the pillow the TV turned to loud to static

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no one listening

Falling Down by Carly Yingst

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The Prison at the End of the Hall by Emily Alvey

Last summer I worked with a nurse practitioner in a nursing home as part of my journey toward medical school. Every day I took a train to a bus to the third floor of the nursing home, where I ran up and down the stairs retrieving and returning charts, overstuffed binders in a different color for each floor, which held the important medical information for each patient. One morning, I took my list of patients whose charts I needed to find and collected the green binders from the nurse’s station on the third floor. The third floor held ventilator patients and the dialysis room. It was filled with beeps from various machines and the raspy sound of carefully measured breathing. From there, I ran up to the fourth floor to deliver paperwork to the physical and speech therapists. The fourth floor was home not only to the therapy department but also to Elmo, a parrot who lived in a cage outside one of the residents’ rooms. Whenever a nurse or resident passed by, he would call, “Prettybird!” or “Hi Elmo! Hi Elmo!” from his cage. That day, as I passed, he let out a surprisingly realistic imitation of the fire alarm. I descended from the fourth floor to the second, where I unlatched the gate to the nurse’s station and closed it quickly behind me. The second floor was by far my least favorite. The second floor smelled of urine and cleaning supplies. The second floor held the dining room, but the second floor also held the dementia patients. The second floor held Mary.

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I am not generally afraid of things. I can handle heights, spiders, snakes, strangers, interviews, blood. At the nursing home, I witnessed some pretty disgusting wounds, smelly bedsores that oozed red and yellow liquid, and I stoically watched the nurse practitioner dress them without any trouble. What did make me uncomfortable, however, was Mary’s dementia. Most of the Alzheimer’s and dementia patients did pretty well. Sometimes they could not remember much, but they were fairly passive and lived life from day to day, one meal, one dose of medication to the next. Not Mary. Mary was a little lady about my height with grey hair cut short in no particular style. Many of the patients were confused about their inability to remember, but Mary was outspoken, even aggressive about it. She had fallen recently, and a black-and-blue bruise surrounded her left eye. Although I understood that Mary’s Alzheimer’s made her confused and unable to comprehend things as she once had, a slight fear of the little old lady constantly nagged me during my visits to the second floor. As I pulled out charts, I watched Mary wander around the floor. The nurse practitioner came out of the stairwell, and Mary caught her arm. “What did I do wrong?” she demanded. “You didn’t do anything wrong, Mary,” the nurse practitioner told her calmly. “Then what do you have against me?” Mary glared at her. “I don’t have anything against you, Mary,” the nurse prac-

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titioner replied. The nurse went over to them from her medicine cart. “Mary,” she said in the same tone my mother used when I misbehaved as a child, “Go sit on the bench over there.” Mary ignored her and adjusted her grip on the nurse practitioner’s arm. “What did I do wrong?” The nurse practitioner led Mary to her room, while I punched in the code that allowed me into the stairwell but kept Mary and the other patients on the second floor. Relief swept over me as the door to the second floor closed behind me. The relief quickly melted into irritation with myself. There was no real reason for me to fear Mary. In spite of her glares and anger, Mary was relatively harmless. As far as I know, she never became violent, and the nurse could generally pry her from the arm of whomever she captured within a minute or two. I did not know why Mary bothered me more than any of the other patients, but the picture of the bruise around her grey-blue eyes, her silver hair, and her hand tightly gripped around the nurse practitioner’s arm replayed in my mind when I least expected it. Over the next couple of weeks, Mary’s questions came to haunt the moments in which quiet and loneliness crept up on me, as I ate breakfast or sat on the bus or washed dishes in my apartment. Mary and the other residents truly had done nothing wrong. Perhaps for several of the patients at the nursing home, smoking or drug abuse or unhealthy eating habits could be blamed for some of the problems the nurse practitioner and I encountered, but so far, science

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knows little about the causes of Alzheimer’s disease. Indeed, the only sin these residents seemed to have committed is that of growing old. And yet, they lived in a sort of prison. True, the nursing home provided comfortable enough rooms and adequate, nutritious meals, but if they left the floor, an alarm would sound until an army of nurses and CNAs ushered them back to their confinement. One day a few weeks later, the nurse practitioner and I spent several hours on the fourth floor, and as we worked, I watched Carol, the resident who lived in the room nearest Elmo’s cage, talking to the bird, repeating his “Hi Elmo!” back to him and sticking her finger through the bars of the cage. Elmo would occasionally nip at her fingers, and she would pull them back, only to reach them back in affectionately a few minutes later. At first I was confused and wondered why none of the nurses told Carol to stop putting her fingers near the cage. I realized, however, that the bird was not malicious. Perhaps Elmo simply did not know what to do when Carol’s wrinkled hands tried to pet him. Perhaps the harmless nips were his way of responding to the confusion of a new situation. As I continued to muse about Mary’s questions in the lonely moments that found me now and then throughout the week, I began to understand Mary’s anger and confusion. She did not understand why her brain no longer worked the way it once had. She did not understand why she could not remember things or why she was not allowed to go outside. The scariest part, I realized, was not the physical limitations of a world that consisted only of two hallways, a bedroom, a dining room, and a nurse’s station, but the imprisonment of

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the mind. A few weeks after I observed Mary’s conversation with the nurse practitioner, I again found myself on the second floor picking up some charts. Mary had recently changed rooms in order for the nursing home to accommodate new patients, and she was wandering down the hall asking everyone she met, “Where is my room? I can’t find my room.” When the nurse practitioner emerged from the stairwell, Mary told her, “My legs hurt.” After a few minutes of persuading, Mary allowed the nurse practitioner to lead her to the little bench outside the dining room. She sat passively as the nurse practitioner talked to her and looked at her legs. After she talked to Mary, the nurse practitioner spoke to the nurse, who told her that the reason that Mary’s legs hurt so much was that she walked around all day, constantly wandering up and down the halls. The nurses had shown her to her room, but she persisted in coming out, complaining that her legs hurt and wondering where her room was. As I watched and collected my charts, I considered what would happen to me in sixty years. Would I have a family to take care of me? Or would I find myself alone with no children, or, perhaps worse, children who lived far away and thought of me only when they had to write a check for my nursing home bill? Would I start to lose my mind? My ability to control bowel movements? My ability to move? Slowly, I came to a deeper understanding of Mary’s feelings. Mary needed people to love her. She needed a home, a place to feel comfortable and stable as her mind presented her

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with challenges she did not understand. Changing rooms removed what little stability she had previously enjoyed, and she was wearing out her legs desperately trying to find her way back home. While the nurse practitioner talked to the nurse and wrote a prescription for some medicine to make Mary relax and sleep, Mary found her way over to me and caught my arm. As her hand tightened around my arm like the blood pressure cuff on the nurse’s cart, she said, “My legs hurt.” I looked into her grey-blue eyes and tried to imagine being unable to think clearly, unable to remember where I was and why, unable to recognize my family and the people around me. My stomach tightened with apprehension, but I realized that although we all inhabit the same world, some of us have more control over the particular space we occupy in it, both mentally and physically. Recalling Carol and Elmo, I realized that Elmo’s nipping at Carol’s fingers was more affectionate than malicious. The elderly lady and her parrot made living in the nursing home more bearable because they each had someone to live for. I felt my fear slip away as I resolved to do my best to make Mary’s prison into a home. “I’m sorry, Mary. The nurse practitioner is going to get you some medicine to make them feel better.” In her eyes I saw confusion and sadness. She knew something was wrong, but she did not know what it was. I smiled gently and patted her arm, “Don’t worry. The nurse practitioner and I will take care of you.”

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Mary’s only response was “Where is my room? I can’t find my room.” She released me from the shackles of her iron grip and wandered up and down the hallway asking, “Where is my room?” When the nurse practitioner and I left at the end of the day, the second-floor nurse told us that Mary had taken her medicine and was finally sleeping quietly. “Sweet dreams, Mary,” I thought. Perhaps for a few hours, she could escape the prison of her mind, and hopefully, when she awoke, she would feel more at home in her new room. “See you tomorrow.”

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Walking Through Skeleton Trees by Eleanor Leonne Bennett

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Contributors Biographies Emily Alvey is originally from Evansville, Indiana. She is a senior at Loyola University Chicago and majors in English and Chemistry with a Biochemistry emphasis. She worked as an intern with a nurse practitioner at Elmwood Care, a nursing home in Elmwood Park, IL, last summer and currently works as an academic coach with Loyola’s Target New Transitions Program and Metro Achievement Center’s College Orientation Program, supplementary academic tutoring and mentoring programs for Chicago high school students. After graduating from Loyola, Emily plans to participate in the Alliance for Catholic Education Service through Teaching program as a middle school science teacher before attending medical school. Eleanor Leonne Bennett is a 16 year old internationally award winning photographer and artist who has won first places with National Geographic, The World Photography Organisation, Nature’s Best Photography, Papworth Trust, Mencap, The Woodland Trust, and Postal Heritage. Her photography has been published in the Telegraph , The Guardian, BBC News Website, and on the cover of books and magazines in the United states and Canada. Her art is globally exhibited, having been shown in London, Paris, Indonesia, Los Angeles,Florida, Washington, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Canada, Spain, Germany, Japan, Australia, and The Environmental Photographer of the year Exhibition (2011) amongst many other locations. She was also the only person from the UK to have her work displayed in the National Geographic and Airbus run See The Bigger Picture global

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exhibition tour with the United Nations International Year Of Biodiversity 2010. Trevor Day: “I, unfortunately, was born in South Bend, Indiana. Barely escaping with my life, I moved to Indianapolis to take classes at Ivy Tech and eventually transfer to Indiana University of Bloomington and join the Fine Arts program. I am now studying sculpture at IU, with a focus in ceramics. Wet Brain was inspired by horrific visions about Queen Elizabeth 1, addiction, eating disorders, big hair, and jewels.� Ashley Jenkins is a Fine Arts major at Indiana University, with a concentration in painting. She has been drawing and painting almost all her life, and is primarily self-taught. Studying art of others and making her own is her biggest passion. Sarah Leavesley is a junior majoring in Anthropology and Art History, who plans to go to graduate school for archaeology. While these are her academic interests, writing is what she lives for. In her spare time she is the ceramics program coordinator at Collins LLC, and slogs her way through her self-imposed challenge to read 100 classic works of literature before she graduates (currently at 96! And this having never taken a college English class!). Her influences include Pablo Neruda, Sylvia Plath and Arthur Rimbaud. Bre Robinson is an Indiana native, pursuing her undergrad degree at Indiana University in English with a concentration in creative writing. At a young age, Bre was certain of two things: she loved peanut butter and strawberry jelly sand-

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wiches, and she loved writing. At twenty-one, she continues to aspire for a future in writing. This makes her realize how fortunate it is that she still enjoys peanut butter and strawberry jelly sandwiches. Avery Smith Huy Pham: “I study Architecture at Ball State University, but my experience there is not limited to creating physical environments but also building with words. As the captain of Strategic Noise performance troupe, an executive board member Poetic Summit club, one-third of B.A.M. (Black, Asian, Mexican) poetry team, and a member of the BSU speech team, I take all opportunities to express poetry out loud. Andy Warhol said “Art is what you can get away with” and I haven’t been caught yet. Follow my snippets of poetry on Twitter @HaikuHuy.” Carly Yingst is a freshman at Indiana University studying English. In her free time, she enjoys working in the visual arts, mostly working in watercolor. Her most recent series of paintings focus on abandoned architecture, specifically from one of the country’s largest former Army ammunition plants, active in WW2. She also enjoys studying astronomy, hiking, and playing the piano.

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Staff Editor-in-Chief Michelle Sybert Assistant Editor Blakely Meyer Fiction Editor Emily Mulholland Poetry Editor Chelsea Freistoffer Managing Editor Nicole Silvernell Editors Aly O’Brien Jaclyn Kessler Kate Colvin Chief Designer Kristin Ousley Marketing Director Jaclyn Kessler

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Colophon Crimson Umbrella Review : March 2012 The Crimson Umbrella Review is a self-run and self-directed online literary journal that is published monthly during the academic school year. The Crimson Umbrella Review uses the collective knowledge of its members to teach and learn all of the necessary skills to create and maintain this online literary arts magazine. In addition to learning the basic skills necessary to publish a journal, the Review experiments with the potential of an online literary publication to find new ways to appeal to a college student market. Our goal is to provide every writer or artist with an umbrella to protect and shelter them as they develop their work and writings skills. The Crimson Umbrella Review believes that each writer or artist should have a safe-haven that allows him or her to publish his or her works freely, in a supportive, stress-free zone. All work is copyrighted by the author or artist. Archived on June 8, 2012 Available as online PDF, eBook, and Issuu Check out the latest issue at, or submit your work to

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Crimson Umbrella Review: March 2012  

The March 2012 issue of the Crimson Umbrella Review features fiction, poetry, and art from Emily Alvey, Eleanor Leonne Bennett, Trevor Day,...

Crimson Umbrella Review: March 2012  

The March 2012 issue of the Crimson Umbrella Review features fiction, poetry, and art from Emily Alvey, Eleanor Leonne Bennett, Trevor Day,...