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dark river review


dark river review PUBLISHED ANNUALLY AT ALABAMA STATE UNIVERSITY

Cover photograph, Life by John Duncan


DARK RIVER REVIEW FACULTY ADVISORY BOARD Dr. Jaqueline Trimble, Department Chair Dr. Jesseca Cornelson, Co-Chair Dr. John Craig, Co-Chair Dr. Marta Holliday Dr. Allison Pattison Dr. Lynne Schneider Dr. Rusty Spell

DARK RIVER REVIEW STAFF Sada Carroll Marcie Casey Audrey Cleveland Nastassia Grant Brittany Guillory Sylvia Masango Jazmyne Riggins Kapreece Smith Jarred Thompson Destiny Williams Sara Wimberly


dark river review

volume 1

Contents

SCOTT BROWN ................................................................................................................... 9 Arise .................................................................................................................................... 9 MARCIE CASEY ................................................................................................................. 10 Emancipation Proclamation.................................................................................... 10 Friday Night .................................................................................................................. 11 Love is Love .................................................................................................................. 12 JOYCE S. GAMBLE ........................................................................................................... 13 Clothes Cover the Body............................................................................................ 13 I Met Myself .................................................................................................................. 14 Mystery ........................................................................................................................... 15 Robbed ........................................................................................................................... 16 Silence ............................................................................................................................. 17 RUBEN GONZALEZ ......................................................................................................... 18 ¡Qué tonto era yo! ...................................................................................................... 18 ¡How naïve I used to be! .......................................................................................... 19 JANELLE GRAHAM ........................................................................................................ 205 Deeper than Deep ...................................................................................................... 25 Rise Above It................................................................................................................. 26 Trigga .............................................................................................................................. 27 JESSICA PLATT .................................................................................................................. 28 The Logic of Bones..................................................................................................... 28


GITA M. SMITH ................................................................................................................. 30 The Gospel According to Teeny ............................................................................ 30 Gossip ............................................................................................................................. 32 A Word a Day ............................................................................................................... 34 KAPREECE SMITH ............................................................................................................ 35 Cold Hot Fries .............................................................................................................. 35 I Want.............................................................................................................................. 36 Record Player ............................................................................................................... 37 Why Are You Afraid? ................................................................................................. 38 JARRED THOMPSON...................................................................................................... 39 A Marvelous Summer’s Day at the Park............................................................. 39 Buried Alive in the Subway Line ............................................................................ 43 I Sat Down to Write a Poem ................................................................................... 45 Peace from the Tunnel ............................................................................................. 47 Artwork

NATHANIAL ALLEN The Trouble With Mermaids ....................................................................................20 Plastic ................................................................................................................................21 SCOTT BROWN Untitled.............................................................................................................................22 JOHN DUNCAN Life......................................................................................................................................22 R. FOX Untitled.............................................................................................................................23 CONTRIBUTORS’ NOTES .............................................................................................. 49


The views expressed by the contributors in their writing and artwork are not necessarily those of the editors, the student body, or Alabama State University.


SCOTT BROWN

Arise I feel like it’s my time for me to make it and rise above the hatred and avoid all the fakeness I’m tired of being around people whose mindsets are basic I grow stronger through my roots like them days on plantations I never blow a gasket under pressure nor crumble nor fold to stagnation I’m never rushing through life because my humility brings patience I refuse to glorify segregation and vow loyalty to a corrupt nation Even through all the adversities I will make it to my final destination I am leaving from my past to my future so I guess I’m migrating

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MARCIE CASEY

Emancipation Proclamation I am the hate and love, the just and unjust desegregation of segregation. Through my veins flow equality. I am the medley of the ovum of a white woman and sperm of a black man. I am the Emancipation Proclamation. The dream of Martin Luther King.

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MARCIE CASEY

Friday Night Somewhere in this autumn darkness she gets ready for a midnight kiss. She brushes darkness on her lids and cherries on her lips. Star-fruit and white orchards fill the air as she wonders if she will be there. She stands a little taller and peers into the looking glass of the mirror. Downtown the music fills her ears as she speculates the upcoming years.

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MARCIE CASEY

Love is Love We are not some lipstick lesbian fetish on “America’s Filthy Porn Searches.” But If These Walls Could Talk, they would whisper of sacred same sex silhouettes, painted across barriers of Michelangelo glass ceilings that separate us from society. We are more like a made for Lifetime TV drama. We are united by the Law of Attraction in clasped hands with love-struck eyes of the kindred-spirits of soulmates. Someday we will be allowed to stand among a crowd dressed in love and be pronounced wife and wife, as we’re told that bride may kiss bride.

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JOYCE S. GAMBLE

Clothes Cover the Body Hills, valleys and bumps on the mounds, dents and scratches on the upper knobs. Discoloration smoothed over by oils and balms that make miraculous promises. Networks of lines, wrinkles disguised by optical technology. Snags, sags, slumps and more bumps. Ripples, waves and porous poxes laid on by age that cannot be toned up. The frame becomes brittle. The fluffy and firm become sloppy and sag, and we are blessed that— Clothes cover the body.

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JOYCE S. GAMBLE

I Met Myself I met me on the street today and I paused to look at a pensive face, someone worrying over many things—anything. My heart went out to this pitiful and perplexed creature who seemed by habit to have adopted worrying as her best friend. She seemed to already be aware of herself but wanted desperately to change. Knowing that in this mood I might be rejected— and she is perceptive to mood and feeling— I said nothing, for she had heard all the words before. I extended my hand, looked understandingly into her face, smiled and said nothing, for words to her have no meaning. She returned my look and responded as if to say, I needed that. No words necessary. No words exchanged—just a glance.

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JOYCE S. GAMBLE

Mystery In the darkness, in the dead of night, the moonless night, the air seems to stifle breathing. The trees loom ominously over the misty landscapes where I stand in wonder and awe of life, my purpose, my being. Not feeling anything in particular, just wondering mysteriously about what might or might not be. Among the gloomy, blue-lined clouds, peek a few timid stars wondering if they should appear without permission from the heavens. I beckon them to take a chance—we can all take a chance… come out. Brighten the darkness. Join me in fear of reprisal or in the surprise of reward—Heaven. A smirk on my face leaks an awareness of a truth that no one really acknowledges, but me. The mystery is solved. I know the answer. The only truth is now. The only feeling is now. The only want is now.

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JOYCE S. GAMBLE

Robbed Left the door open—by accident, maybe too trusting. Left my belongings, valuables—unsecured. Even had my windows up—foolish neglect. Forgot to set the alarm—unnecessary. Smart man entered the house—burglar. Took his time and stole my valuables—leisurely. Police came—blamed me for being careless. Robbed, left me with nothing—my fault.

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JOYCE S. GAMBLE

Silence Silence reaps the air of sound— with a lonely and suspicious coldness— ...engulfing Peace with a false sense of calm— ...sneaking ...whispering murmuring, and wondering who’s saying what about what. I wonder. I wish—why doesn’t silence keep Quiet?

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RUBEN GONZALEZ

¡Qué tonto era yo! De niño pensaba La vida de hoy Tanto imaginaba Y la repuesta te doy. Yo creía que la lluvia caía Porque Dios la cernía El radio hablaba porque Adentro, ahí la gente estaba. Yo no sabía como La vida se desenvolvía Yo algo buscaba, pero no lo encontraba Yo no sabía lo que en realidad quería, Los libros estudiaba Y el resto lo imaginaba. El más allá no lo veía, Porque vista no tenía. Ahora recuerdo la ingenuidad Luego la vida vi y no lo creí.

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RUBEN GONZALEZ

¡How naïve I used to be! As a child I used to think about how Life would be today— How I imagined things would be. And today I have some answers. I used to think that rain would fall Because God was up there with a sieve. The radio used to talk because Inside there were people. I did not know how Life would evolve. I was searching, but I could not find answers. I did not know what I really wanted. I studied books for answers And left the rest to my imagination. I could not see what was out in the distance— I did not have enough vision to see that far. Now I remember how naïve I was as Then I saw life evolving yet did not believe it.

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NATHANIAL ALLEN The Trouble With Mermaids 20

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NATHANIAL ALLEN Plastic

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SCOTT BROWN Untitled

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JOHN DUNCAN Life

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R. FOX Untitled

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JANELLE GRAHAM

Deeper than Deep Deeper than the ocean Deeper than the empty space That lies within my heart. Deeper than the poet’s words That hold a thousand meanings Deeper than the planted anchor That keeps you from moving. Deep is the cut That lays on her wrist Deeper is the pain She can’t seem to resist. Deep is the life That she’s forced to live. Deeper is the blood That continues to give.

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JANELLE GRAHAM

Rise Above It Stuck on the side of the road Watching everyone run by I suppose that’s why it’s called the human race People left and right Never going at a steady pace Walking around Existing Not living Negroes run up to niggas With their hand on their hip Askin’ “do you feel me?” Boys carrying around guns Losing the opportunity to grow into men Fighting and killing their own brothers Life begins to ask “and then?” And then what? What comes next? Parents feel their sons are too far gone That there’s no point in trying to fix Boys look up to Lil Wayne Thinking love is pussy, money and weed Not knowing that Strong positive black men Is what this world needs This quote unquote music And all this bullshit on T.V. Is rapidly stealing our minds and souls When will we wake up and see This media will never die The white people love it It’s killing off the blacks And we don’t even know it. Rise Above It. 26

dark river review


JANELLE GRAHAM

Trigga What is life But something that you live Breaths snatched from you Never to willingly give Time clicks The hours clock Seconds pass And minutes drop Questioning why For the thousandth time He was taken from me On that exact night Had I been with him It would’ve never happened Had I been with him Maybe I could’ve stopped it His death I’m to blame Forever I live in shame My brother taken from me His lungs no longer breathe Inhale And exhale They no longer exist ‘Cause a BOY used a gun Instead of fighting with his fist

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JESSICA PLATT

The Logic of Bones Conceived in a conjugal visit in the state penitentiary and born via cesarean section, Lucy tried to make sense of the world but failed. The words of wisdom her mother tried to bestow upon her left Lucy feeling more confused than before. Her uncle’s words reeked of whiskey and made no sense at all. It was all she could do to sit still through dinner before spilling out of her chair and running through the back door, past the cow pastures and out into the woods. Lucy had always had a feeling in the pit of her stomach that men were never meant to live in houses, but in the lush darkness of the woods. Cicadas sang to her in their unearthly voices, and leaves blanketed the carpet of pine needles on which she lay. Looking up between branches, she could see fragments of evening sky and stars that were so tiny they could have been dust. Sky dust. Isn’t that what stars are? Aren’t we all made of dust? She thought she’d heard that somewhere before. She thought about her day. The school bus was becoming intolerable. A whole hour to school each morning and then another hour to get home in the afternoon. And each time the bus stopped, another kid got on. Sometimes two or three or four. Then the inside of the bus would grow louder and hotter, and eventually fifty sweaty children would sing, kiss, fight, eat or puke until the bus parked outside the school, and then the swarm of kids would disperse until the afternoon’s bus route. It all felt so stupid to Lucy. It seemed like so much wasted time. And school was even worse. Lucy had sat in the same seat in the same classroom after getting off the same bus every day since last August, and she had gained nothing. When her teacher opened her mouth to speak, Lucy’s eyes unfocused and sound evaporated into nothingness. Girls and boys passed notes around her when the teacher’s back was turned. She used to feel left out of the note passing game, until the day she found a note on the classroom floor. Satisfied that no one else had noticed the note and excited to finally be a part of something, Lucy’s fingers shook as she unfolded the notebook paper. “Algebra sux.” Seriously? Eight months spent agonizing over every note passed out of her reach, and this is what

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she’d been missing? Algebra sux? She wanted to kick herself for wanting something so worthless. For dinner, her mother served hot dogs and Hawaiian Punch, a cigarette dangling from her lips and smoke unfurling in the dingy single wide’s kitchen. Lucy excused herself from the table while her mother and uncle stared like idiots. Outside, she walked down the hill behind the trailer and ventured to the left. She walked for what felt like miles until her head felt clear and clean. She found a creek, rolled her jeans up to her knees, waded across, and climbed the embankment. And that is when she found it. It was a pasture as large as any she’d ever seen and it was filled with bones. Cow skeletons covered the grass and fragile yellow flowers grew up between the bones. Lucy walked in silence, not daring to make a sound should the moment be interrupted. This made sense: Every bone in its place, bleached by the sun.

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GITA M. SMITH

The Gospel According to Teeny Teeny’s granny and mama ganged up on her and forced her to go to Vacation Bible School for two weeks. The fourteen days dragged on, and to amuse myself I read three Nancy Drew books and a whole chapter out of my parents’ Kinsey Report, which was something I was only supposed to do when Teeny was with me. We’d made a pact. It was the part about the Trobriand Islanders and men sneaking into women’s huts at night to have sex. *** I rode my bike around and spied on Mr. Jimmy Bigshot MacLean picking his nose in his Pontiac, but it wasn’t the same without Teeny. I asked my Mom if Teeny would come home a changed person, all sanctified and such. She just laughed. “From my experience, she’ll come home with a whole new vocabulary of swear words and information about body parts,” she said. *** I was waiting outside Teeny’s door with her favorite, an Almond Joy bar, when the yellow bus pulled up. I wanted to run and hug her, but Teeny was hinky about displays of affection. You had to punch her on the arm to show you liked her. Sure enough, when she rolled her suitcase up the sidewalk, she grabbed the chocolate bar out of my bicycle basket and plopped down on the stoop beside me without a word. “So how bad was it?” I finally asked. “I got saved,” she said, folding the candy wrapper neatly. She used to throw them on the grass. “Saved how?” I said. Her eyes got a far-away look and she lifted her head up, like she was checking for rain clouds. “Baby Jesus told me I’ve been living a life of sin,” she said, in a whispery voice. “I learned that God loves me, and I memorized the whole Book of Matthew.”

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I just sat there, afraid to move, almost not breathing. I would never memorize the whole book of anything. My best friend had undergone a brain transplant. My body hurt, like I was in the middle of a long race where you get a stitch in your side, and you’re not sure if you want to go on. Then I heard it—a sound like an oboe being strangled. Teeny was farting onto the cement stoop through her jeans, a triple flutter blast. “GOTCHA, GOTCHA GOOD!” she crowed. “Waaaaaaaaaaahahahahaha!” She jumped up and high-stepped like a chicken with her bent arms flapping. I jumped up, too. “Baa-kaawww! BA-KAWWW!” we squawked, punching each other and stomping on the lawn. “Hey,” I said, “I gotta tell you about the new stuff I found in the Kinsey Report. Wanna?” “You better,” she said, “or I’ll kick your dick in the dirt!” That was a new one to me. I guess she learned it at Vacation Bible School. I couldn’t wait to hear what else she’d learned.

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GITA M. SMITH

Gossip Crows spread their rumors overhead, some of them believed by jays who take up the cry. I wear a careless Saturday hairdo and a half-buttoned coat. I walk in step to a soundtrack of my own composing, in slow 4/4 time. This day is no more meaningful than the pillow I left behind on the bed with the imprint of my cheek or a candle on a birthday cake, which has a minute of usefulness and is discarded. Time runs together into more time, which is then forgotten. I’m neither old nor young on this ruddy day that smells like autumn and is wrapped in light and the gossiping calls of crows. I roll my grandfather to the park where the scents of wet leaves and wood smoke touch off olfactory synapses, our strongest links to childhood. He is now only the shell of my grandfather, his once-strong facial bones collapsed, his ropey eyebrows like circumflexes atop the confused Os of his eyes. His face spreads wide in a smile of pleasure at the sight of a black Lab leaping for a Frisbee. One withered arm rises slowly in the dog’s direction, and he calls, “Catch it, boy, good boy, good Sparky!” We sit together on a green park bench, dreamers both; grandfather chases a long-ago dog through the flaming autumn maples of Quebec, and I chase a not-yet-written short story to its conclusion. He tells me scandalous anecdotes about the neighbors, cheats and priests he knew 88 years before, while the sun races the clouds towards the horizon.

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We are delighted by his long-ago gossip, both the telling of it and the listening, and for this one golden afternoon, we are both children again.

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GITA M. SMITH

A Word a Day He learns one word for every word he is forgetting. Tremulous took the place of a brother’s name, and yesterday, when he blanked on the cities where he grew up, he learned the meanings of lambent and marcescent. He walks outside in a green summer wind and says, “I, with my tremulous legs and marcescent arms, still love the garden’s lambent light.” Words had begun slipping away from him years before when he’d thought nothing of it, as those were names of unimportant authors or cookie cutter actresses. But newer subtractions frightened him, and he self-medicated with Greek root-words with subtle meanings. When the subtracting cost him Janette — his daughter’s name—he substituted stygian, and when he could not locate Faulkner in his mental Rolodex, he wept and called out calumny. “Growing old,” he told his nameless family, “is like the Mariana Trench: The dark is bottomless.”

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KAPREECE SMITH

Cold Hot Fries Cold hot fries, it’s kind of a contradiction. Accidentally put them in the refrigerator, and now it’s the last thing to eat in the kitchen. I’m a college student, And groceries come second to paying the rent. You’ll learn life rarely grants wishes, And America dictates it’s no one’s fault but my own for this cupboardbare kitchen. The fault is mine that I’m down to my last pair of socks And that I was late to class ‘cause Sprint messed up, and the hours set back on my clock. As my fingers freeze and my mouth’s on fire, I wonder about the next contradiction life will conspire.

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KAPREECE SMITH

I Want I want a love story like the Moon and the Sun. For he loved the Sun so much that he died every night so she could shine. And she loved the Moon so much that she died every day so he could inspire. Forever chasing one another, never losing hope, patient until the end of time.

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KAPREECE SMITH

Record Player The needle drops and the sweet melody begins. Our eyes have never been introduced, But when they meet Time stops, and there’s only you and me. Our sentences intertwine as I breathe in your breath and you mine. Our laughter becomes one, our humor falling into line. I kiss the innermost thoughts of you, caressing your every fear. Delving into the depths of your mind, I push the warning signs deeper in mine. What’s hurt pride in the span of a lifetime of love? Indulging in sinful pleasures claiming it’s from above, Our record of love starts to skip. It’s too late for me because I’m addicted to the taste of your lips, The small of your back, The too tight grip on late nights when you’ve drank too much & I’ve talked too much. As my face meets the wall, the pain is almost orgasmic, The blood dripping from my lip reminiscent of your licks. Friends take notice, so I lose them rather than lose you. Bruises become akin to skin, and when they’re not there I miss them Almost as much as I miss you. You left when my bank accounts ran dry because I quit my job Rather than have them sue for the things I had to steal to upkeep you. With our song coming to an end, I pick up my broken record that’s just as scratched as my skin Piecing it back together and wrapping it shiny new. Waiting to be played by someone . . . but who? Maybe it’s you.

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KAPREECE SMITH

Why Are You Afraid? Colored girl staring in the mirror, Who are you, really? If you are more than the color of your skin, Why are you afraid? Who are you? Really, You could be the descendant of a queen; so Why are you afraid Of all the things you could become? Descendant of a queen, so Much history lies undiscovered. Imagine what you could become In embracing the unknown. History lied, you discovered. Hands devoid of color snatched your History. Few can embrace the unknown. Open your eyes and see Colored hands, devoid of History, snatch back your will to find the truth. Open your eyes and see The Colored Girl staring in the mirror. Find the will to see the truth Of who you really are. Colored Girl staring in the mirror, Never be afraid.

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JARRED THOMPSON

A Marvelous Summer’s Day at the Park He sat on the park bench, enjoying the Saturday morning heat. All around him were people moving to and fro. Some families laid down picnic blankets to spend a day in the park. Some kids playing games, trying to catch each other. Others were taking a leisurely stroll with their dogs through the luscious, green grass. He had taken off his sandals and placed his bare feet on the grass, allowing each blade to touch the underside of his foot. He enjoyed the bristling sensation it offered him. The trees in the park were quite tropical, offering their gifts of apples, oranges, lemons and many other fruits of different shapes and sizes. It was late summer. The bees and butterflies had been sprung loose upon the park, and the vegetation all around was heavy with ripeness— everything bursting with the glorious nectars of life. He had been sitting alone at this same spot for almost two hours now, waiting for a sizable crowd to gather around the fountain. The central fountain in the park usually attracted huge crowds of people in the summer, and this being one of those grand, bright and blue summer days, he knew this one would be no exception. The fountain was beautifully ornate, decorated with golden geese, ducks, angels and cute little devils too. The baby devils, so mischievous with their toy horns and pitchforks, greeted each passerby. The angels hovering above them appeared as serene ghosts looking down at the summer festivities. The morning had been heating up with more and more crowds of people pouring into the park, everyone taking their places around the massive fountain they adored so much. On such a hot day like this, when the breeze blew intermittently, the water would spray out and lightly touch the passersby, refreshing them with a hint of moisture to their sweating faces. But nothing could stop the sweat from flowing off his brow. His phone rang, jolting him out of his reverie. It was Steve. He grudgingly answered. “Hey, wassup man?”

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“Hey, listen. I wanted to make sure we still good for tomorrow night. I’m bringing Diane.” “Really, surely you learned from the last blind date that this kind of thing doesn’t work for me. I mean Christina wanted me to submit my fiveyear, ten-year and fifteen-year plans to her secretary! These ladies are crazy!” “Don’t worry! Diane is sweet, sexy and intelligent.” He could picture Steve’s smirk that he pulled whenever he gave a woman a backhanded compliment. He felt nauseous. “Listen, I gotta go. I’ll call you later.” “Alright, I’ll send you a photo to get you a little more enthusiastic.” He heard laughter from the other side of the phone and hung up. He began to feel an itch on the side of his neck. The itch started growing more and more intense. It soon occupied his entire conscious as his body writhed in discomfort. He needed to scratch this damn itch! He lifted up his clothing and scratched as furiously and as fast as he could, trying to be as inconspicuous as possible. Just then a ball hit his foot. Startled into panic, he quickly looked up. He looked around and saw a little girl run up to him. “Excuse me, could you pass the ball?” the little girl asked sweetly. She had long black hair that shone like crude oil, with piercing, dagger-like hazel eyes, which seemed to change depending on which angle the sun hit them from. He was taken aback by her youthful beauty. She reminded him of his daughter. He bent down very slowly, trying to balance his weight accordingly. Grabbing the ball, he lifted it up and held it out to the little girl, begging her to come and get it. She accepted his gesture and moved closer to him. When she got within an arm’s length of him she reached out her hand for the ball. “You should be more careful with your little game.” “I will, sir,” she said, giggling to herself. She took the ball, smiling, and turned around. He didn’t worry about her hearing his voice. She didn’t know the cultural implications of what he was wearing. As the girl ran off to join her friends he remembered his own daughter running off to join her friends on the school bus one morning.

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He remembered a flash. He was knocked back ten yards. Then, carnage, mayhem, disaster, death. He closed his eyes for a moment. A gust of wind swept through the park causing tiny droplets from the fountain to spray everywhere, wetting everyone around it, including him. It was part of the fun of sitting and playing around the majestic fountain. He laughed a little, remembering the time he fell into a fish pond while he was on a date. He was trying to fetch his date’s earring that had fallen off and into the pond. He lost his footing and went face first into a pool of algae and fish. Oh, the way that girl laughed at him, so boisterous, so full of life. *** He remembers putting a ring on that girl’s finger. He remembers putting that same ringed finger in the ground. His laugh dies down with this thought. It is noon now and the park is full. It is almost time. He looks up into the sky. A plane passes by. It reminds him of drones. He knows who is to blame for him being here in the park and not back in his home country. He wants to walk up to those people, shake them from head to toe and show them that he is real. But they exist in mysterious rooms behind buttons ru1d lights. playing their video games that tear worlds apart. This is as far as his hand can reach, unfortunately for the people and for the magnificent fountain even he has come to grow fond of. He gets up, barefoot, bulky, and begins to stride slowly toward the center of the park, where the illustrious fountain is located and where the majority of people are enjoying their summer day. The people he passes give him quizzical glances, but he doesn’t mind. He looks from side to side, people everywhere, so happy, smiles and laughs, hugs and kisses that perforate right through him. He must do it. He cannot turn back even if he wanted to. Someone holds his life in a van nearby. He is at the fountain looking up at the shining structure. The pretty little angels and devils are looking down at him. The angels smiling, the devils frowning. The water glistens as if it’s liquid crystal. He notices the engraved name on the side of the fountain for the first time. It is the name of the artist, “Aaeesha Ali.” A name that means life. This is more than just a coincidence. He doesn’t believe in coincidences. Is God trying to tell him something here? He feels a tugging on his clothing. He turns around. It’s the little girl from before. He kneels down to her level. dark river review

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“Mister, why are you wearing that funny outfit?” she asks. He smiles from behind the burqa. “My child, Soraya, daddy has to do this. They have to pay for their transgressions.” He straightens himself up to his full height, towering over the little girl. The little girl’s hazel eyes seem to shine all the brighter the higher he ascends from her face. God is saying he must do this. He shouts, “Allahu Akbar!” That’s the signal, and the people in the van waste no time in acting. He feels the singe of electricity against his hairy skin. Must be a short in the suit, he thinks. But then—he is nonexistent. *** The green grass is black. Blood is sprayed on the leaves and fruit of all the trees. A mother cries out looking for her little girl. Pieces of the fountain lie scattered everywhere. Faces of angels split into pieces embedded in tree trunks. The baby devils, with their pitch forks and horns, have melted into indistinguishable metal. The golden ducks and geese look like scorched, disfigured monsters. All that remains in its place are the pipes that supply water to the fountain. The ripped-up pipes gush liters and liters of pristine, clear water, and everyone runs towards them, towards the place where the man in the burqa once stood.

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JARRED THOMPSON

Buried Alive in the Subway Line He stands in front of me in the subway line Gold grill, tattoos, NFL cap, sweat pants, The symbols that cover him The symbols that I interpret. A squiggle on his neck Two lines that flow like a wave “What does it mean?” A symbol I cannot understand Like him: He wakes up in the morning Takes that first look at his modified body And sees himself recreated by him, Or an amalgamation of consumerism Perpetuated by electronic vibrations That stays glued into his ears. He is buried underneath Logos. (But aren’t we all?) Can he crawl through The strata of Hoesbitchesweedalcoholgoldrimstattoospiercingsjordansnikessnapbacks singiphonesclubbingsex And find that fossilized piece of him? Or will that piece be left to other people to find To imagine To ask the questions that will forever leave him Compressed Into Crude oil To fuel dark river review

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A machine Of hegemony. But how can you dig yourself out of a grave When that grave is all that you know? All that you are taught to love? All that you call your own? How do you know that you are buried alive When you can still breathe and aren’t claustrophobic? I backflip onto myself while waiting in line for my subway. Getting up off the floor, I am bare—butt naked— And everyone is laughing at me.

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JARRED THOMPSON

I Sat Down to Write a Poem I sat down to write a poem While my friends had gone to the club Dressed in their quirky 90’s gear. Oh, what fun! Here I was Writing a poem. I sat down to write a poem To bring a corpse to life Through electric shocks. But it just lay there and jolted Several times, eyes flickering, like burnt out candlewicks, Revealing nothing. This poem was going to be the one That cracked the kernel and spilled out The honey juice from Mount Olympus. This poem was going to be the nail That scratched the itch and left it Raw and red. But all I could do was sit and type. I sat down to write a poem To commune with the fossilized grey matter of Thousands of years, yet here I was typing away And still no poem came to me. So I bashed my brains into the wall And crawled slowly to a photo album To rest my head upon. Then all of a sudden

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Everything was a poem staring back at me. Then I got up And drowned myself in the bathtub To silence the voices shouting all around me.

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dark river review


JARRED THOMPSON

Peace from the Tunnel Staring at my love on the other side of the tracks, The trains scuttling past. Bullets piercing the reality of nothing, Making my love a watery mirage. The trains scuttling past, I close my eyes, needing to (at least) hear the other side. My love’s a watery mirage, a virus my brain contracted. The trains stop. The crowds depart. I close my ears, needing to (at least) smell my love through the crowd. The crowds shove me to one side. I am not moving in unison. The trains stop? The crowds never really depart. I clog my ears, eyes, nose, and skin, letting nothing in. The crowds shove me to one side. I am not moving in unison. But I am moving: tectonic plates are colliding. I clog my ears, eyes, nose and skin, letting nothing out. Mountains and valleys are forming, places where I can hide. I am moving towards the other side. The crowds are holding me back—suicide, they say. Mountains and valleys are places we can hide, my love and I. I cross the tracks but not without losing. “Suicide!” they say. The crowds still hold me back. I have lost the limbs they use to call me human. I have crossed the track, but not without losing. My love has no limbs either—limbless—we aren’t blue.

dark river review

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Losing our limbs we smother in “inhuman” things We go on to the valleys and hills of certain-lost wanderings. We aren’t blue—we’re turquoise. This is a viral infection of the mind—a cure for the hieroglyphic soul.

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dark river review


CONTRIBUTORS’ NOTES Nathaniel Allen teaches courses in drawing and visual thinking at Alabama State University. He regularly exhibits paintings and drawings and enjoys researching the convergence of traditional fine arts and digital illustration techniques. Scott Brown is a senior graphic design major from Cincinnati, Ohio. He is a member of Kappa Pi honorary art society and participates in the student art association. He has been writing poetry since he was twelve years old. This is his first publication. Marcie Casey is an enthusiastic junior English major at Alabama State University. She is vice president of the international English honor society Sigma Tau Delta’s Iota Rho chapter and co-chief copy editor here at Dark River Review. This is her debut publication, with many more to come. Janelle Graham, better known as “Poetic Puff,” is currently a sophomore and an English Education major who plans on receiving her Ed.D and opening up her own charter school back home in Overtown, Miami, Fl. She has been infatuated with the art of poetry since a young age, and the older she grew the more that infatuation began to birth into a profound love. On Thursday, January 9, 2014, she was signed to Authentic Rhythm by Pro Status. She fights every day to give a voice back to the voiceless. Jarred Thompson is a sophomore at Alabama State University. He is a major in English and native of South Africa, studying at ASU on an academic scholarship and playing for ASU’s tennis team. Jarred is involved in ASU’s Pulse Poetic Society and the Dark River Review and has been writing poetry since the age of fifteen. He has since expanded into writing short stories and is in the process of completing a novel which he will use as his Honors Capstone Project.

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