The Arts and Literature Magazine of Metropolitan State University
Volume 8 â€˘ Issue 1
What is Haute Dish? Published three times a year, Haute Dish is dedicated to showcasing the literary and artistic talent of the students of Metropolitan State University in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Currently, we are accepting electronic submissions from current Metropolitan State students, faculty, staff and alumni for the Summer 2012 issue. The deadline for submissions is April 27, 2012. To view detailed submission guidelines and more information about our selection process, visit us on the Web. www.hautedish.metrostate.edu
From the Editor Welcome to the Spring 2012 issue. We have a great group of editors who have diligently read, debated and voted on every submission. We hope you enjoy reading and viewing our editors’ picks and, keep in mind, picking is hard to do. The submissions by Metropolitan State students have consistently been getting better and better with every issue. Really...we were all impressed. We are already taking submissions for our next issue, Summer 2012. Annually, the summer issue is open to Metropolitan State’s entire community: students, faculty, staff and alumni. Don’t be bashful. You will see that our editors vote “blind” and more than one submission by the same author/artist often gets published. Submit a lot. We read and view everything and we love ( with kisses) doing it. As you know, we cannot print everything so don’t take it personally if your piece(s) does not get published. Submit more! There is no theme, suggestions or ideas being offered this issue. Sometimes that’s fun but sometimes...not so much. This issue we want the sky to be the limit. (That was NOT a suggestion.) Also, we would L VE to see you at Haute Dish’s literary reading, March 2, 7:30 p.m., at the Riverview Cafe and Wine Bar, 3745-3753 42nd Ave. S., Minneapolis. It will be a great time. We promise! As always, thank you for your support and the time you spend with us. We appreciate you.
Spring 2012 Haute Dish Staff Managing Editor Diane DeRosier Douglass
Editors (bios on page 30) Nick Hutchinson Chiara Marano Jamie McKelvey Sarai Meyer Cat Miller Amber Newman Trent Olson Marty Owings Sally Reynolds Matty Spillum
Faculty Advisor Suzanne Nielsen
Cover Photos and Magazine Design Diane DeRosier Douglass
Correction In the Summer/Fall 2011 issue, page 17, Shadow Riley and Buddha was incorrectly credited. The artist is Autumn Kisling. Our apologies.
Until next time, good luck and good bowling!
Diane DeRosier Douglass firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com 2
All copyrights are retained by individual artists and authors. Any unauthorized reprint or use of this material is strictly prohibited. Haute Dish is a production of Metropolitan State University and is made possible in part by student activity fees.
Inside This Issue The Birds Collette DeNet
Sister 17 Rebekah Pahr
Toasted 4 Diane DeRosier Douglass
Transience 18 Sarah Bailey
Chicken Nuggets: A Mystery Peter Laine
Hanging Out Kah Shepard
Standing Still Amber Anderson
Irvine Park Zach Murphy
How Did I Get Here? Sarai Meyer
The Sun is Peeking and the Puddle Sarai Meyer
Pink Fortress Heidi Fuhr
Easter House Serena Asta
Eggplants for Amy Rebekah Pahr
God’s Gift Kyle Stennes
Purity Is Sarai Meyer
Hermit Crab Nightmare Rebekah Pahr
Homage 10 Donna Ronning
The Curse Serena Asta
Boy of Steel Jerimy Grafenstein
A Solitary Dialogue Jeff Arcand
Delsera, Que Sera Sera Alexandra Jensrud
My Fantasia Rebekah Pahr
As Time Goes By Sarai Meyer
My Jeremy Heidi Fuhr
Bellissimo 14 Tawny Michels
Smoke Break Diane DeRosier Douglass
Whether in the Storm Kyle Stennes
Losing You Collette DeNet
Aviary Sequence #1 An Alphabetic Murder Trent Olson
Aviary Sequ #1
thoughout An Alphabetic M
Crow image adapted from a photograph by Neil Smith.
AviarySequence Sequence Aviary #1 #1
Ripples 16 Amber Anderson AnAlphabetic AlphabeticMurder Murder An
View Aviary Sequence #1: An Alphabetic Murder in it’s entirety at http://hautedish.metrostate.edu
The Birds Collette DeNet
I’m tired of being a stranger to the soil I tread upon. I see you grounded in the earth— a mere extension of itself. I ache to know it as you do— to feel the innermost pulse of the forest floor; to feel connected to what will never leave.
Instead, I am like the birds, always fleeing; distant, like my affections often are— swimming above the clouds. I wish you could make me believe the sky holds no escape, that my feet will be safe when firmly planted in the earth.
Toasted Diane DeRosier Douglass 4
Chicken Nuggets: A Mystery Peter Laine
It doesn’t matter that they were $2.99 or the ubiquity of the golden arches. What matters is that they are gone, taken from the refrigerator and eaten by some unknown assailant. Things like that are not OK. Things like that are diabolical. You do not eat another person’s food from a communal place of rest. Even if it is week old and growing mold, you do not take another persons food. It is unfathomable. You do not, under the guise of hunger or desperation, reach into the cold storage locker of which we call the refrigerator and wrap your greasy fingers around the box of deliciousness, sneak off to some godforsaken hiding place and munch away like some ravenous beast.
Sure, it really could be anyone. It could even be the nightly janitorial service. Apocryphal theories at best, because based off all of the crime thrillers or detective stories in movies, television and books, the culprit always remains close to the scene of the crime. This is common knowledge, people. Sue, I know you love Criminal Thoughts, the show about a team of FBI agents who specialize in profiling. Isn’t that what they say? The criminal always returns to the scene of the crime. Isn’t it true that crimes take place in familiar vicinities? Naturally, the predator would not travel to uncomfortable territory, correct? It seems illogical. Plausible? Yes. Unlikely? More so.
OK, now that you are all here in the conference room, nicely seated and attentive, today the department was made aware that someone’s leftover chicken nuggets are missing. As stated in the group email, nefarious underpinnings are possible, but the suspects all claimed innocence; the suspects being you and you and you and well, everyone that is here. The culprit offered not a single reply and refused to step forward. Evidence is thin. If one did take the little morsels of goodness out of evil or out of spite or because hunger had overwhelmed them to a point of theft, let them face the wrath of the office inquiry! Let them come forth and admit their illicit act! The chicken nuggets will not be lost in vain!
People – calm down, calm down. Please abide your finger pointing or ill informed bias to those that you deem perpetrators until the investigation is over. Lessen the murmuring and side discussions. Let’s continue with some of the facts.
The victim – heart-broken and famished and wishing to remain nameless – wants retribution for the theft, but did not have the courage to spur an individual investigation, which is why his or her voice was heard, which is why your commander-in-chief, head honcho, floor manager, yours truly, is up here conducting this meeting. You’re all staged here in the conference room and will be held until the rule-breaker is discovered. Get comfortable. Have some coffee, sample a fruit snack. Let us get down to the details. This group has access to the west-side break-room, where the object in question was removed. Logistics bundle all of you together, since it would not make sense for perhaps McGummery over on the east-side to walk all the way over to the west-side just to heat up a bagel, let alone steal another’s meal, now would it? Marge, you have a question?
It was buried behind Jell-O and a covered bowl of tuna and a bag of vegetables that frankly were beginning to turn. All said items were pushed aside, leaving a small path directly to the chicken nuggets, and were not moved back to their original location. This could be looked at as a calling card, or a way for the perpetrator to insult to victim. It could be a taunt, asking the victim to go ahead, try again, the path is mine and the prize at the end is mine alone. But digression has led you astray. The time the nuggets were placed in the refrigerator was somewhere between 12:00PM and 1:00PM, a period of high traffic in the break-room. Upwards of five to ten people could have witnessed the storage of the nuggets and knew where to look. The following day, when the victim decided to satisfy a mid-morning craving, the nuggets were gone. This puts the crime somewhere between 12:00 PM and 10:00AM, sixteen hours give or take, allowing the perpetrator plenty of time to ruminate on the question: To steal or not to steal? Yes, this was no extemporaneous decision. It was cold and calculated. Planned from the moment those savory nuggets were put in the break-room. Perhaps his or her cube is close enough that a surreptitious lean in their ergonomic chair could allow them full view to the comings and goings. Perhaps he or she took in the aroma and it planted itself like some infectious disease and over the course of time, hunger destroyed their moral compass and pushed out the devious task. It does limit the suspects, but jumping to conclusions, despite how obvious, hinders the judicious process. continued on next page... 5
The cardboard box that contained the nuggets was found in a trash bin near the door to the elevators. You are led to believe that perhaps the culprit did this as a means to mask their crime. To place the only physical evidence in a no-man’s land is cunning indeed, but not fool-proof. Would you attempt such subterfuge? Would you try to manipulate the truth by throwing away one of, if not the only, key item of the crime and have it sitting in full view? It does seem unlikely. Last but not least, no one saw or smelled, for that matter, the consumption of the nuggets themselves, which tells us that they were consumed cold and in a secret location. Perhaps the criminal had a large receptacle to store the item in question. Perhaps something like a purse or carry bag. Again, this limits the scope and range of culprits to the female persuasion, yet there is no undeniable proof. Each individual morsel could have been placed in a pocket or suitcase, factoring in the male persuasion, but again no undeniable proof. You could say there are many options and conclusions to be drawn, but for the most part there are two things known for sure: the box was tossed away near the elevators and therefore they must have been eaten in that vicinity. Thinking it over, they could have traveled per aforementioned possibilities and ended up in Powderhorn, the conference room out in the lobby, eaten in peace and quiet, free of guilt and paranoid eyes, finished and thought – although lacking in wisdom – to toss the box aside in the trash, then made a dash for the elevators where, once down in the food court, hunger adverted, waited out the discovery of the theft and came up hours later (not to mention stealing time from the company) to claim ignorance.
You have questioned the motivation for this fallacy and have a commonplace realization about the crime. As you have all said, it is only chicken nuggets, a mere $2.99 for a five piece meal. Yes, this is true, but it’s the importance of the crime itself. You cannot have people taking as they choose, regardless of the item being unmarked. It is a simple understanding: If it’s not yours, do not eat it. How can this be misunderstood? You all have followed this rule and stood or sat harmoniously, fulfilling proper etiquette and obligation to each others lunch or snack. The earnestness of this vile act is worth noting, and the culprit will be dealt per Human Resources codes of conduct. Now, you all claim innocence. Respectable and valiant you are not, because the culprit is here in this very room. You see, for one to enter Powderhorn, one must scan their way in. Only two entered that room between the predetermined times gathered by the analysis. Yes, you and Megan. Megan, who is in IT, needed to go in there to set up a projector, had a reason for entry. Yes you, sitting between Suzanne and Robert, on the other hand had no reason. You scanned and entered. Why? Is there a reason for your entry? No, there isn’t, is there? Do you still taste the breaded crust? Do you still smell the oily residue on your fingers? How does it feel to be a criminal? No, don’t run. The doors are locked from the outside. You didn’t do it? Lies. Evidence doesn’t lie, while you stand there and lie through your teeth. Ah, here they come to take you away. Don’t fight it. HR will be contacting you at home. Good day! Now, who’s up for a trip to the land of golden arches for some delicious chicken nuggets?
How Did I Get Here?
He sat there in the alleyway strumming three simple chords on his guitar.
In a windowless labyrinth of hallways whose door numbers read: 206, 242, 227 and so on in the same non-order.
His music made the birds cry and kept the children from their play.
My strappy heels are killing my back and my dress slouches off my shoulder. Who is this boy? His arm
Time kneeled down to the ground, closing its latent eyes to the beautiful sound.
around my waist and his breath invading my lungs. My throat contracts quickly and I wish I was
The man asked, “Can you tell a poor man’s candle lit room from rays of the sun in late June?” A woman looked up from her sink through her window to see the man with his guitar spill the last ounce of his drink.
in my car, turning the cold key in the ignition and feeling the generated heat dry my running makeup. I wish I was turning up the radio, hearing Regina Spektor reassure me “I am so drunk and there’s no one here to stop me from being so eccentric and being so lonely.”
The mellow tune carried on into a whisper and the man hunched over, fading under a yellow moon.
and I’m not the only one who has ever stood in a pool of glass slivers with grey goose vodka dripping down my new peach dress.
Aviary Sequence #1 An Alphabetic Murder
crow F 7
My crusty eyes blink open and my entire field of vision is filled with a fading blue swastika tattooed on a muscled bicep. I sit up, pulling my sticky face away from the stranger’s arm. My heart pumps fast and weak like the heart of a flailing, anemic lab rat. I need water. There is a forty-ounce bottle of Colt 45 next to me, half full of tepid malt liquor and cigarette butts. My mouth feels and tastes like a cat litter box. I reek of bottom-shelf vodka extruded through skin, a smell at once sweet and sour, antiseptic and rancid. I can’t even remember meeting the man next to me, much less his name. As I crawl out from under a scratchy blanket I can only assume belongs to him, more swastikas and other ugly tattoos are exposed on his neck and chest. All of them have the grainy, blue-black look of prison ink except for an inexplicably childish, full-color Roadrunner. I shudder, choking on waves of undefined shame and regret. I have to get out of this room. I am naked but for my boots. My filthy jeans and tank top are on the floor among a pile of broken drywall chunks—a hole I could climb through has been smashed into the wall. I can’t find my panties. At least I know where I am. I haven’t been in this room before, but something about the light coming through the broken-out window assures me I’m at the Pink Fortress, perhaps only steps from the room I share with my best friend, Dee. I locate my panties under the blanket, exposing more of the man’s naked body. His penis is monolithic. I silently dress and steal his cigarettes before climbing through the hole in the wall. The Pink Fortress is a city-block-sized abandoned apartment building painted bubblegum pink, rotting away in a squalid neighborhood. All the gutter punks sleep here when they come to town, but only on the third floor. The first and second floors have been claimed by crackheads. We don’t often see them; they’re evasive nocturnal animals, either darting around or hidden in dark crevices. They don’t come up here and we don’t go down there, unless we want to buy crack. I don’t like crack; it tends to heighten my shame rather than subdue it like alcohol does. The Pink Fortress surrounds a courtyard. Perhaps once it contained a picnic table and a grill, maybe a basketball hoop or a garden. Now it is a heap of the detritus of evicted tenants: rusted shopping carts; an assortment of old tires; drooping, feculent mattresses; the door to a 1985 Buick LeSabre; black and white garbage bags ripped and spilled and strewn over the armature of wreckage like spider webs. And glass. Broken pints, fifths, quarts, forties, liters, and jugs in green and brown and clear, shards clinging to the backs of yellowed labels both foreign and domestic but mostly cheap. We call it the pit. The boys go down there to fight. Sometimes they fight for fun and sometimes they fight because they want to kill each other, but they always hope the girls are watching. We are.
The glaring midday sun blinds me when I exit the ragged hole in the wall and step onto the third-floor walkway that surrounds the pit. A few people dangle their legs over the edge on the shady side, near my room. Dee is among them. She knows me so well she can read the ignominy on my face from five yards away and she gives me a piteous, yet loving look. “Who did you wake up with?” she says with neither judgment nor impunity. “I don’t know,” I say as I sit down next to her. She offers me a cold beer. I take it and gulp as though it was the water my body so badly needs. I know it will soon restore strength to my septic rodent heart and disperse the vague sense of dread. “He has a humongous dick, though,” I show her, estimating its length and girth with my hands. “Wow,” she says, “Are you gonna do it again?” “Probably not. I don’t remember anything.” Even as I say it, my mind flickers base, crepuscular flashes from the night before. Climbing a ladder with him to some dank place. Leaning against a giant pink teddy bear getting fucked. Shooting up something—maybe coke?—from a blackened spoon. “Oh, God,” I say, rubbing my eyeballs until the red turns black, pushing on them until I see flashes of light, trying not to think about the dubious origin of the coke needle or the likelihood that no condoms were used. After all, it’s too late to fix it now. “Shh,” says Dee, putting her arm around me and softly kissing my forehead. I don’t even have to tell her. She knows about the humiliating internal slide show that follows a blackout. “Well,” she offers, “I woke up covered with piss and I can’t figure out if it was mine or the guy’s I was sleeping with.” We laugh weakly. I loudly belch and jettison my empty beer bottle into the pit, listening until I hear the satisfying crunch of glass on more glass. Dee opens another beer as the man with the swastikas climbs out of the hole in the wall. My epileptic rabbit heart weakly pumps watery blood as he walks toward us. I stare at an avocado-colored refrigerator in the pit as he stops behind me. He grabs a fistful of my hair and yanks my head back. He brushes his lips on my neck and reaches between my thighs to grab his stolen pack of cigarettes. “I’m getting some beer,” he says. “Be right back.” We watch him saunter down the stairs and through the pit to the exit nearest the bodega where we get our beer and cigarettes and cheese fries. “He’s kinda sexy,” Dee says. “He’s covered with swastikas.” Dee pauses, thinking. “Maybe that was just for prison?” As she stares into the pit I know she’s thinking about checking out his anatomy for herself if I don’t want him, but as the beer settles into my bloodstream, I think I might.
Eggplants for Amy Rebekah Pahr 22 x 30", charcoal on Arches.
Purity Is Sarai Meyer
a boy in overalls and a girl in rainboots on the playground, holding hands. 9
Homage Donna Ronning
After I die, my life will rise up as a thousand birds to sparkle your eyes with the stars of my joy. But for now, Mother Earth embraces this trembling body in gentle remembrance of Sunâ€™s parting kisses. Will you raise your glasses high to toast my struggle and drink deeply all my love? For I want to be a whirlwind in your hearts! If you wander the halls of forgotten hopes and dreams, in my lightning strike you will be shocked by my fierce protest. At the moment of final release, all the colors of my spirit will dance across the boreal sky with fresh paint strokes dreaming auroral skyscapes. 10
There was a blur of color, and metal, and the icky smell of burning rubber. Then pain. My dad’s here! I can’t say how. He was at work, but now he’s at my side. My bully, the clunky blue pick-up truck, is bouncing past dad’s car, which is sitting in the middle of the road, the driver’s door open. It’s funny, but all I can think about is his car and how he needs to get it off the road, because he’s stopping other cars from going by. “I saw it all,” I hear dad tell someone, though I can’t say who. There’s blood, I think, and pain, and blackness.
I’m not really even hurt, but I’m in a hospital. Sparkly cards with stupid cartoon characters on them looking like they were made for six year-olds sit on a table by the bed. Some doctor comes in to holler at me about looking both ways before crossing the road. He talks to me like I’m five. He uses a lot of big words, but really he just says, “You’re lucky. You could have been killed. You beat the odds this time, but it won’t happen again. I blame the TV. Kids grow up watching their superheroes living through those kinds of accidents, not knowing how easy it is to die. I can’t believe you weren’t hurt, you’re really lucky.” The doctor snaps the chart shut and shakes his head, but all I’m thinking about is, maybe, just maybe I am a super hero! I don’t tell the doctor that it’s the second time I was hit by a moving vehicle and survived unharmed.
n the city of Delsera there is a circus. It has elephants and jugglers, tigers and clowns, lions and tight rope walkers. There is also a grand ringmaster with dark bushy hair and beady eyes. Circus Quesera is the best circus in all the lands, people come from lands unknown to see the ringmaster and his attractions. But Quesera’s biggest attraction of all is the lovely trapeze artist, the ringmaster’s young ward. Her name is Nailah. She has black skin that often shines with sweat, dark hair covering her head at barely half an inch’s length. She has black lips and eyes, a long neck and nose, and a pointed chin. She wears bangles of gold on her wrists and on her ankles. She wears sarongs and skirts made of light pink and green fabrics. They twirl around her when she walks, when she performs, and when her lover twists her in the air as he often likes to do. The circus has been the girl’s home since birth. Her mother and father had performed for Quesera as a breathtaking trapeze duo. She was twelve when they died, taken by a disease that swept through Delsera and her desert sisters, devastating the nation. The ringmaster took her in and taught her the art of trapeze, allowing her to continue her parent’s legacy. “No,” she screams. She’s sixteen and says the word to the ringmaster for the first time, struggling against arms that restrain her. The ringmaster’s man servant is on her left, one of his other ruffians on her right. The ringmaster stands in front of her, his sneer illuminated by the moonlight. “Are you trying to escape, Nailah?” He says. He steps closer, something golden in his hands. “Where will you go?” She spits on the ground, fighting to free herself. Her dark eyes glow with rebellion. “I will never perform for you again.” The ringmaster’s laugh is chilling and Nailah winces as he cups her chin in his hand. He forces her eyes to meet his, all rage and power. “You will perform every night until the day your limbs are too brittle to hold you.” He bares his yellow teeth in a snarl and clasps the golden torque around Nailah’s neck before she can resist any further. “If you try to leave this city, girl, or if you do anything else to flare my temper, that band will make you regret it. You’re mine. Never forget it.” That night, for the first time, she feels the biting lash of the whip against her back. The cloth from her shirt sticks in the wounds and her body burns in pain. Tears fall as she performs the next evening, cascading from bar to bar. But they look like gems falling in the circus light and the audience is in awe. 12
On her eighteenth birthday Nailah watches the circus from her seat far above. The audience watches the lion tamer, the clowns, and jugglers and they cheer appreciatively. But Nailah knows they are really waiting for her. The circus has come to depend on her. The nights she couldn’t perform were bad for business. They were worse for her when sickness or exhaustion earned her the ringmaster’s wrath. Tonight is her eighteenth birthday and the circus is celebrating by hosting an extravaganza. She tries to count the audience but loses her place. She prays there’s enough. The ringmaster has promised that if she brings in 500 guests for her birthday performance, he will allow her to have an apartment in the city. “I don’t see the harm,” he’d said when she asked, barely looking up from his ledgers. She had brought him a lot of business that season and his spirits were high. “But since your salary has always gone to your room and board here, I’m not sure how you’ll afford it.” She had been certain that was a no in disguise. She began to bow and leave when he spoke again. “If 500 people come to your birthday celebration next week, I will give you the money for the apartment.” It was too soon for relief to flood her. “If I do, then you will give me my salary every week? Like everyone else.” “Yes.” It looked as if he had a bad taste in his mouth, but he nodded grimly and waved her away. She stands as her act begins. She takes the bar in her hands and mutters a single word. “Please.”
For the first time she sits on her small terrace. The roof of her modest apartment shows a view of the lower city, the river, and the twinkling lights of the circus farther on. She is cradled in her lover’s arms. It is the first time she has left the circus in six years and the first time she has been with her lover without fear. “We can be together now,” he whispers in her ear. He feeds her a strawberry she bought at the market that day, glowing with pride as coins clinked in her purse. The next morning she is late to arrive at the circus. “It’s because of that boy, isn’t it?” The ringmaster asks her as the whip sounds across her back. Her body is shuddering against the ground, tears and mud streak her face. The torque restricts and she gasps for breath, clutching at the collar. “If you are late again, you will both regret it.” That night her lover rubs aloe into her back. She whimpers with every stroke and he cries with her. He holds her gently late into the night. “You will regret being with me,” she says, trying to push him away from her. He clutches her closer, holds her to him as hard as he dares. “Never.” “We should leave this place,” he says to her one night. The night is so hot they are forced outdoors. Over the years the view from the terrace has changed little. Some of the buildings are higher but the lights of the circus still shine brightest. “We could travel,” he continues, oblivious to the fall of her face, lost in his dream. “There are other cities we could go to, better places. We could go to Paris or New York.” She shakes her head sadly and slightly touches the golden collar at her neck. She swoons from the power it emits, surging into her body through her fingertips, reminding her why she can never leave. She grabs her lover’s hand and squeezes it as if for the last time. “You know there is no escape… for me.” He knows the tone in her voice, he has loved her for a very long time. He lays his fingers lightly on her cheeks and kisses her dark lips. His plan is forgotten in the night. Sleepwalking has plagued Nailah since she was very young. More than once the night has taken her too close to the city’s borders. Tonight is no exception. She wakes on the city wall, staring out over the deserts she can never cross. She tries to sneak home but it is too late. She was too close to the border. She hears sounds of pursuits behind her and begins to run.
She runs down the cobbled streets, her bare feet aching as they hit the stone. She slows as she comes to a fork in the road. She can hear the thundering footsteps behind her and hear the shouts. She doesn’t know whether to turn left or right. Before she knows it, they’re on her from all sides. A torch is held high, illuminating her face and that of her assailant. The ringmaster sneers at her like he always does. His beady eyes hold sadistic laughter and scorn. “I told you,” he snarls, shoving his gnarled face closer to hers. “I told you that you’d never be able to leave me.” The collar tightens and her hand flies to it. It constricts further and her face turns purple as she struggles to breath, and amid the laughter of the ring master and his ruffians she falls helplessly to the ground. Nailah wakes in a cold sweat, not knowing how she has returned home. The night has gone chilly and her windows are ajar. She stands to shut them but is trapped by the lights of the circus. She is still standing and staring when her lover wakes at dawn. He pulls her from the window. As she bathes and eats, his eyes never leave her. He walks her all the way to the circus though she insists he doesn’t. He risks painful punishment if he reaches the stables late. “I will come to your show tonight,” he says. It is unnecessary. He always goes to her shows; night after night she searches for him in the crowd before she takes her first leap. She nods and rests her head in the crook of his shoulder. He is warm and the most beautiful man she has ever met. She knows that she will miss him. She prays that he will miss her too. She sees the ring master coming near and pushes her lover away. “You must go,” she whispers. One last kiss and she runs from him. In a hidden corner she kneels, remembering his touch and his scent. She fingers the collar at her neck, remembers how many people over the years had told her it was beautiful. She is convinced these people’s eyes are never fully open. It is night when Nailah grasps the polished wood of her bar and gazes over the audience. They wait in hushed anticipation, breaths held, for her to perform. She wants to find her lover’s face but forces herself to look away. She knows the tears are falling freely now but she doesn’t care, it’s not the first time she’s cried up here. She looks down at the nets below her. Nets she knows haven’t been repaired or reinforced for years. Gracefully, she takes the first daring leap and, lifting her fingers one by one, she lets go and falls.
The last quilt Grandma made (before the arthritis got too bad) is spread perfectly flat
Sinatra’s clear voice filters through the peeling mesh wicker speaker separating the cherubim.
over the aquamarine carpet behind the velvet couch next to the record player—
Frank whispers, “Moonlight and love songs…never out of date” until the quilt is
the big record player that looks like a dresser of faded mahogany with two bronze cherubim frozen
a collage of an empty wine bottle, fortune cookie crumbs, China dishes, tea bags, my
reaching for each other. Meanwhile it crackles and sounds fuzzy until Frank
pearls, your tie.
Bellissimo Tawny Michels 14
Whether in the Storm Kyle Stennes
Alone I walk Down a gray city street The green sky above Feeling shadowed Longing for brighter days
I stop and listen A new chorus sings Joyfully refraining A voice From within
The air is warm Oppressively so A false promise Born by relief The rain will not bring
Now still in chaos Moved by A vision A smile, music Washed in the sun
Random, constant Water rushes Down my face as Thoughts flow Through my head
Rhythmic footfalls Steady the pace Quiet the doubt Focus the path That leads ever on
A flash of light A rolling echo A cacophony of voices A symphony of drowning Unanswered questions
Whether in the storm Or reign surrounding Home yet distant I rest in the quiet of Hope and love
Losing You Collette DeNet
I close my eyes so I won’t see that I’m losing you. Reality masked by darkness is my only comfort— my closest ally.
I hold back my lids that lust to open, instead, only a tear do I let escape. My body would melt into a river at your feet given the sight of your face— your pale exterior.
I feel you packing your memories away with labored breath; it’s the serpent in your veins that expedites your departure— your destined retreat.
My covered irises keep me from the truth, that I’m losing you. Your feeble hand touches mine and I wish I could go with you— to that place beyond the rain.
Raindrops strike the window with determined effort to get inside. Distant thunder bellows a hollow melody— a dim soundtrack. 15
I watch the darkness turn into a luminous morning glow, right before the birds begin their chorus and before frantic business professionals, sipping their favorite cup of Joe, set out on their early commute into the exhaust filled metropolis. Their radios dialed in to their favorite morning shows and cell phones plastered to their earlobes, I pass them one by one effortlessly. No glitches to burden me. No unforeseen road blocks. A smooth sail if you will. It’s similar to the magic of sailing on an uncharted sea. I long to stick my head out over and watch the bow cut through the glassy water, trailing with large ripples that split into opposite directions. I often envy those ripples sent off in either direction with no means to an end. They go for what seems like miles until they merge with other ripples to be carried off into another direction without a thought. So carefree a life these ripples have on their expressways, much opposite from the various interstate pile ups and numerous detours I have encountered. Oddly enough, I catch myself looking, or gawking as ‘they’ say, at any fender bender or wreckage that happens to be on the side of the road the same way I stare at those ripples. Difference is, the ripples give me peace, and more often than not, the road siders give me a laugh because it is not I who has driven off like a buffoon and crashed my brand new Mercedes Benz. Of course I am grateful to see no one is injured, but for some reason, I chuckle at seeing a 50,000 dollar car wrinkled like my collared shirt just took out of the dryer. I mostly giggle because that Mercedes will be back on the road cruising by next Tuesday, all ironed out by a professional plastic surgeon, I mean, auto body technician. The insurance companies just eat it up the same way my shiatsu hoovers her dry, bacon flavored pebbles each day. A good old girl she is too! A lot of spunk left in that Sally. I swear that dog walks me more than I walk her. We walk by the train yard when we go on our adventures and Sally always spazzes when the conductor toots his horn. “Cool your britches. He’ll never hear ya over that steel beast,” I say. Talking to a dog, what good that’ll do me! That’s me; I do a lot that that’s no good. So what if I hide my candy bars deep in the armrest of my recliner so my wife, Darla, can’t find them. It doesn’t help my blood pressure, but neither does all my yelling I do at the tube when the Yankees are playing us at home. Those son of a bitch yanks. Give our guys 250 million and they’ll give birth to a decade of pennant races and maybe they’ll win it every other year just the same. Darla stays in the kitchen when the game is on. She can’t stand to watch me get so blue in the face. She calls me a puffer fish and says I should leave my nitpicking to the overgrown tree rats in our backyard. I never listen 16
though. I shake my head and grumble, grabbing the flipper to find something else to submerge my mind with. If that doesn’t work, I get my ass out of the grungy chair and head down to the river. I used to fish this river until they struck oil a town over, before it became a sewage dump. It was bustling and booming with hearty fish. Now, it’s just ridden with stank. I still enjoy walking along the shoreline. The river is still a beauty of her own, her womanly curves shaping the land with each bend. I heard once that early natives habited this area for quite some time before that angry governor enslaved their children, raped their women, and slaughtered every last painted face in sight. I shiver and cringe at times when the wind is just right; knowing that every footstep I take may be on someone’s grave. Sometimes, I feel there are eyes upon me in every direction and hear faint whispers until I realize it’s just brush rustling around near the sandy shore. I have to give my cheeks a pat or two and calm myself back to reality. Ah yes, that’s when the blood returns to my face and becomes a rosy furnace. Although, why do I feel the warmth? I was only thinking and yet, I feel it happening even in my toes. I’m not at the riverbanks blocks away from my house. That’s right, I’m coming home from work, driving the same monotonous route I’ve used the last fifteen years. I could do it blindfolded, which I must be. I have to be because everything is dark. I feel panic and my heart beating fast like it’s going to tear itself out of my chest cavity. My saliva tastes of iron and I hear faint commotion around me. I try to wiggle my pinky finger and nothing. Open your damn eyes, I scream to myself. My eyelids find enough strength to make halfmoons, just enough to get a glimpse. There are lights and people all around me as if I’m the main attraction at the town carnival. There are strong hands holding my limp head up preventing me from getting cut on the already bloody glass. I’m starting to finally feel, but it’s nothing but my stiff, half ton body under what looks to be remnants of my dashboard. I half smirk because now I have my very own wrinkled and ravaged junker that needs a miracle iron. There’s blood splattered all around me, and all of it came out of my old and decrepit ass. How am I not dead yet, I wonder? An EMT placed an oxygen mask over my cut up face, and I took the most satisfying breath, as if it were an addictive drug. I started to feel lighter and relaxed as a slight breeze wisped across my face briskly. I closed my eyes with a smile as it reminded me of basking on the deck of the catamaran in the midst of summer. My mainsail always facing due south, it parts those magnificent careless ripples as it glides through the sea, giving them a new course for their journey.
Sister Rebekah Pahr
Half, but only half. If we shared full blood, too close to stand or understand each other. Made of muppet madness, lilac riot and piano pain. Violet flower fairy chains, bound forever to a promised land of juniper shade and iridescent shadow, shimmering far away river fog. Never steady, wild and windy, brown sugar and goldenrod, thistle and milkweed pod. Puppy dog and perfectionist, host a caterpillar funeral. Sewing machine screams accusations clearing electric air, a spring thunderstorm. Afterwards, skipping through the pools of tears, stitches and stars splattered by muddy mascara. Butterfly catch and release, dipping down to earth, soaring to cloud castles, or blackout oblivion. Mirror and missing piece, peace, other hand, hidden half of brain, home.
Distorted doppelgangers, I would cut off my arm to save you or throttle you with it. Crystallized covert signals across the table on Sunday afternoons. Best friends fade, heightening our addiction. Crushing maple tree dreams, between a tire-swing pendulum, prodigal son and golden one. Brands burned, into your back, my brain. Blackmailed forever by our trespasses. So we seal this family secret confidential, and bury it at the bottom of the mound of moldy laundry in the basement. Happy when strangers stumble out our similarities, instead of our differences. Accidents, made of blunders and best intentions, an ancient recipe, peel, chop and blend a better family â€“ myth as tired as the American Dream. Out of this folly, they gave us the gift of each other, no mistake to know that we exist to prop each other up through this pogo-stick life.
Transience Sarah Bailey
Dense air hangs, waits to unleash a torrent, winter clings to the heart of those dark clouds, chilling all that passes through falling. Deep rumbles shake loose the waiting winds while a grey sky flickers with flashes of color and scent dissolving. A dim purple smell, billowed pastel blooms, wither and fall lightly make way for the crisp and bursting. Lush grasses, interrupted by bashful violets and waves of proud swaying goldenrod until they reach their fullness, now fading. Glowing dusk slips behind the hills, caressing each blade and limb as it goes, foretelling another, more beautiful flourish approaching. One still and solemn breath before the winding exhale, now the time is long past for change steps softly, transforming.
Hanging Out Kah Shepard
Irvine Park Zach Murphy
It was almost a year since that horrendous day—an ever-present memory will haunt my life forever. I needed to find a place of refuge, a place to clear my thoughts of any possibilities of somber reflection. I took an aimless drive through the city, pondering where I could find peace of mind. It probably wasn’t the best idea, but what is? Anyway, as I was approaching the main street, feelings of despair came over me as I began to fight back flashbacks of traumatizing images. I got an intense inkling that I couldn’t continue on the road I was taking. So, I glanced to my left, and there it was—that awkward looking, diagonal street that I’ve never in my life thought about going down. It was a modest road and it was easy to ignore. The way the street angled off made it impossible to see where it led to, but I always assumed there wasn’t anything worthwhile back there. It was almost as if the street was inviting me, so I took that turn for the first time. The road led to a small backstreet that eventually turned into cobblestone. As I continued on, my eyes were overwhelmed by astonishment. A beautiful park resided in the mysteriously secluded space. The area was filled with old oaks, gigantic crab apple trees, and winding walkways that were bordered by delicately cut grass and black iron benches that were completely unoccupied. I smiled, and a wonderful feeling took over my body as I gazed at the magnificent site. I parked the car immediately and got out to explore. I walked across the street and journeyed onto a rust-colored brick sidewalk. A sign read, “Irvine Park.” The name was brand new to me, and the park was like nothing I had ever seen before. Up ahead, there was a spectacular water fountain in the middle of a circular courtyard. There were blood-red chrysanthemums that perfectly surrounded the base, and the water from the fountain spouted out gloriously and proud. I took a seat on the edge of the fountain pool and I felt the refreshing mist of the water grace the back of my neck. As I looked up to the sky, all I could see were the exquisite colors of autumn leaves. It was a mixture of reds that glowed like rubies, oranges with a fiery flame, and yellows as bright as lemons. The leaves shimmered like a humble celebration of life and transformation. The treetops surrounded the whole entire park, like an umbrella protecting a sacred area from the outside troubles of the rest of the world. I stood up and decided to take a walk across another piece of the park. It was a small field of bright, green grass. In the distance, there was a delightful gazebo resting in the shade. I trotted up into the gazebo and sat down under the canopy. I laid my head back to relax as I admired the splendor of the park. To me, it was the
epitome of peace and tranquility. I sat there, wondering why it had taken me so long to discover this place, and why I had never heard of it. It was right under my nose all along, like a charming hidden gem tucked deep into the center of the city. I closed my eyes for a few moments and listened to the sounds of the birds singing, the fountain water flowing, and the light wind blowing through the leaves of the trees. I opened my eyes back up and there was a girl standing by the steps staring at me. Startled, I quickly sat up. “Whoa. I didn’t even hear you,” I said. “Oh, sorry about that. I just came here to pass some time,” she answered. She walked up into the gazebo and sat down across from me. Her eyes had a touch of grey and mystery. A ray of sun shined on her face, and a gentle breeze blew a few strands of her dark brown hair across her cheek. “Don’t you just love this place?” she asked. “Yeah, I do. Actually, this is the first time I’ve ever been here,” I answered. “I come here every so often,” she said. We began talking, and minutes turned into hours. We shared our thoughts on the simple things like our hobbies, favorite foods, and music. And we discussed complex issues, like the evolution of technology and whether it brings people closer together or distances them. We talked about fate and religion, curious as to why bad things happen to good people, and if Hell and Heaven can exist on Earth. We speculated about abstract thoughts, like whether the world was coming to an end soon or not, and if all of our memories will be diminished along with it. When she smiled, my heart began to race, my face began to blush, and I got a tingling feeling in my stomach. “What’s the worst thing that has ever happened to you?” she asked. I hesitated and thought deeply for a while. I knew what the worst thing that has happened to me was, but I wasn’t quite sure I wanted to uncover it, let alone talk about it. But I felt comfort around her, and I figured it would be the right moment to say it. So I began. continued on next page... 19
“It happened less than a year ago. I was on my way home after an icy snowstorm, and I was anxious to make it home safely. There was a girl crossing the street, and I didn’t see her until she came into view of my lights. I swerved out of the way, but I couldn’t gain control as my car spun out and ran right into her. My eyes filled with fear, and I could hardly process what had happened. I jumped out of my car and a harrowing feeling took over my body as I stared at the horrifying sight. I walked across the icy street and I saw her body lying there as blood leaked out from underneath her. I dropped to the ground and broke down. Tears trickled down my face and sweat ran down the back of my neck. I looked up into the sky, and all I could see was black—nothing but darkness.” My eyes began to water and I told her I didn’t want to talk about it anymore. She leaned over and kissed me on the cheek and then told me that she had to leave. I was confused as to why she had to go all of a sudden, but I didn’t want to stop her. We shared a warm embrace and then she said farewell and began to walk away back through the park. I wondered if I would ever see her again. I hardly had the strength to turn around because the sight of her walking away would destroy me, but I did anyway. I slowly turned my head, and she was completely gone—nowhere to be seen. At that moment, it all became clear to me, and I left my heart in Irvine Park.
The sun is peeking and the puddle Sarai Meyer
reflects, distorted, like a wavy window. The eager rays lick it up, drop by drop, the master unable to quench his thirst. When exactly should he relent, relieved from removing it? And the other puddles on this street? The sun won’t stop soaking, ever
thirsty. He steals the clouds’ tears like a tissue. The smell of rubber
boots, rushing. The gutters, always collecting and discarding. Everything is temporary
and reliable just the same, a cathedral of consistency. Now the plants bring their empty cups, drinking.
crow Q 20
But here: rays of golden hair, puddle jumping, barefoot.
Easter House handmade paper, beeswax, ashes, palm branches, linen string, and India ink Serena Asta 21
God’s Gift Kyle Stennes
Her breath is measured and steady though her
stomach twists in knots and her mind races in anxious anticipation of the ceremony that will soon begin. She stands tall and straight as the young maidens weave the pale pink and blue flowers into the raven silk of her waist-length hair. Crowned with a light golden circlet, she wears an ornate bejeweled dress sown with the same flowers that ornament her midnight tresses and her fair bronze skin radiates with a brilliance that is only outshone by her fierce blue eyes. No bride in her tiny village has ever been so adorned, and she can’t stop the swell of emotion when she catches her reflection in the tiny mirror at the far end of the room. She orders the attendants to leave her and sits alone in the large preparation room, pondering the events of the coming night. As she allows her thoughts to wander, she fingers he small pendant suspended from the thin golden chain that wreathes her slender neck. Hued in the shape of a tiny drop of water, it was crafted from a deep blue sapphire to match her stormy eyes. Presented to her at birth, the pendant has marked her for this day her entire life. It is called Ra’intzel in the old tongue, though most people refer to it as a Rain for short. It means God’s gift, and it is how she got her name, just like the pendant because her parents saw her as exactly that. She was pledged long before she was ever conceived, the price for her family’s survival, and there is no escaping that arrangement now. Forcing herself back to the present, Rain wonders about the man who will join her at the altar. Perhaps he is as nervous as she is at this moment, sitting somewhere in a room by himself wondering about her. Or maybe, to him, this is just another duty to perform, another task to be done that he thinks no more of than his morning ablutions. Does he give any thought to her as a person, or is she just another young virgin, promised by her parents in exchange for food and goods? Rain is old as far as these things go; the deal was made to wait until her sixteenth year. And he can’t be that much older, perhaps twenty-five, so maybe he’ll treat her with compassion. But none of this matters. She will do what has been asked of her for love of her parents; she will not dishonor them. She will be brave and beautiful, an example for all the other young women who share her fate. A side door opens slowly, interrupting her reverie and her mother walks steadily to her side with a mixture of pride and passion, joy and sadness painting her aging 22
features. Rain’s mind flashes back to the advice and comfort of their last conversation, when mother spoke about the ceremony to come. “It’s a lot to ask, we know,” came her mother’s halting words, “but this arrangement has ensured the survival of your entire family.” “Mother, I’m scared.” “As I’m sure all young women are when their day comes, but you should take comfort in knowing you are much older than many who are chosen. We made certain of that.” “It’s not the cleansing and binding ceremony that worries me… It’s what comes after.” The concern poured from Rain’s lips as the heavy tears that rolled down her glistening cheeks. “Will it hurt?” she had asked, thinking of the post-ceremony ritual that seemed at once both magical and cruel. Her mother smiled in that far-off way of hers and sat by her side. “He is not a vicious man. I am sure he will be as gentle as he is able. What most young people do not realize is that he will be nervous and anxious too. After all, he has an obligation to fulfill to the community as well as to you. It is his duty and rite just as it is yours. It is part of God’s gift, just as you are, child.” Her words were spoken softly, kindly, and Rain had been calmed by their sincerity, at least for a while. Now she sits in the grandly furnished preparation room, leaning against her mother, too nervous even to cry. As the moments stretch into what feels like an eternity, at last her mother speaks, “You look beautiful, child. You will make us very proud tonight.” Rain is pleased despite herself at her mother’s admiration. “Mother, I…” “Don’t worry, dear one, it will be over before you know it. And then there will be a feast. After tonight, we will not see one another again for some time, but just remember that we love you.” “I love you too, Mother.” It is all Rain can manage as the flood of emotion returns, threatening to overwhelm her. “It is time.” Her mother’s voice brings the reality of the moment fully to bear on Rain’s young shoulders as she is led to the reception hall and escorted by her family up the steps to the temple garden. After brief tears and well-wishes, Rain leaves her family and enters the temple on her own, where they are not allowed during the ceremony. She walks the long hallway in something like a dream, barely registering the rich tapestries or the ornate sconces that bathe the chamber in light. Her steps
are purposeful and before she is aware of the time having passed, she is standing at the altar and the ceremony has begun. Her nervousness has fled to be replaced by a quiet resolve in dutifully pledging herself to the task she has been appointed. Rain examines her partner intently. He is sleek and tall, looking regal and magnificent in the flowing robe and tabard that mark his exalted position. He is adorned with the same pale flowers that hug her slender, feminine form, but the clear, lean muscles of his arms give him a fierce and powerful masculinity. As Rain studies him, again wondering what kind of a man he is, she notices he looks younger than she remembers and this thought gives her comfort. His eyes are kind as he looks back at her and his voice is gentle as he speaks soothing words to her between the prayers and incantations of the cleansing and binding. She is calmed by his manner and her heart quickens only slightly as she rests her hand in has while the priest wraps the cord around her wrist as he completes the binding ceremony. It is over in what seems an instant, with only the ritual to perform before the feast can begin. Rain waits with breathless anticipation, lying naked now upon the cold stone slab that is the only furniture in
the ritual room. He circles her slowly, admiring the blossoming curves of her flowery form. She can sense his nervousness. She smiles plaintively, reassuring him that this is what is necessary for her family to survive and she is glad to offer herself for them. He is emboldened by her words and kisses her lightly on the forehead as he shifts the fabric of the robe around his waist. His thrusts are quick and methodical, simultaneously drawing blood and a cry from her parted lips. As her blood pools in the ritual channels of the ancient sacrificial table, Rain’s dying thought is not of fear or resentment. She does not experience the pain as real and intense, but is removed to a place in her mind where she knows only amusement at the true meaning of her name, Ra’intzel, God’s gift. Her whole life she had known that she was a gift to her family, granting them a chance at food and survival, but she was never truly theirs. The teardrop hung around her neck has marked the inevitable certainty of this day like the ones that flow down her cheeks as the priest finishes his work, carving out her still-beating heart and replacing the blade to the sheath at his waist. God had given Rain for her family’s survival, but she was not meant for them; she was a gift for him.
Hermit Crab Nightmare Rebekah Pahr
One night, into Wonderland, wishing for Never-never Land, consuming fungi, instead of inhaling fairy dust. Peter Pan called me Alice, my name was Wendy. Outside, black pinwheels spun in the wind, branches twisted, contortions revealing druids. Wood nymphs reaching, leaves nailed to their hands. House, that Hansel and Gretel ate, frosting and gingerbread, crumbling to crystallized, stale sugar cubes, gnawed by mice in the night. Drunken Witch shrieked inside, burning little dreams. Sky glowered, Turner-esque vision of disaster, doom painted to life, slave ship in thunderstorm, burning on sea, air so heavy it arrested breath, like eating mosquitoes. Then, I discovered I had become – a hermit crab. Metamorphosis set me free, sins wrapped around me, hardening to cage against ribcage, like a panic attack.
Shell, a gift of wide berth, protecting from brush, of unwelcomed fingers in public places. Prickly, hermit crab, despised, blissfully ignored. Locked in looping shell of routine, work, eat, sleep, and be merry for that – you will die. Skin screaming, unclean, leper-hermit crab, teenage feeling, no matter how many times you shower, that fishy reminder won’t fall off. Decay, inside shell of hermit crab, smells like salty vomit of river bottom, tomatoes with blossom rot in the sun, sweat under old hoodies, make-up masks, curdling. Burden, big mistake – on my back, wondering how to shed, crawl out of this, hollow dank place where I once died.
“These are Kotex sanitary belts.” My younger sister, Margie, and I peered at the profile of a peaceful looking young woman on the box, next to a cellophane window that showed white elastic straps. Mom ripped open the box and motioned me closer. “You put it on like this.” She positioned an elastic belt around my hips that, to my horror, dangled two straps and clips – one in front and one in back. On the outside of my underwear, thank God. “Then you take a Kotex pad,” she pulled one from the box, “and pull this part through the front clip, here, like this…” Margie was embarrassed, too. I was twelve, she was eleven, both in our underwear. In the living room. Our eyes met and made a silent promise never to speak of this again. “Margaret, can you see this? Come over here so you can see. Becky, stop rolling your eyes. Watch me, or you’re going to be very confused when the time comes.” My face felt hot. A trickle of sweat slid out from under my training bra and dribbled down my side. Dear God, I prayed silently. If you could please arrange to have the earth open up and swallow me right now I would really appreciate it. “Next, slide the pad between your legs like…” She repositioned herself behind me while I continued to pray for death. “…This. Then connect it to the clip back here. Can you see Margaret? Come over here, take a look. You’re going to need to do this in a moment.” Mom had tricked us, told us to meet her in the living room so she could show us a couple of things. We thought it meant new clothes or school supplies or some other fun gift. But no. It was just Mom, the obstetrical nurse, stripping us down to t-shirts and undies, providing
a clinical demonstration on this technical aspect of womanhood. At least she had Dad take our brother and younger sisters out to the library. To be fair, Mom had done a good job of preparing us, telling us from a young age that at any moment, our Menstrual Period could descend on us. She left her nursing textbooks out so all her kids could peruse them without shame. Not that seeing black and white x-rays of fallopian tubes, ovaries, and other blurry body parts helped much. But she did her best to make what happened with our bodies seem normal and not scary. She’d told us all – including my little brother – how our Aunt Linnea, raised on her family farm in Hector, Minnesota, had never been told about her period. When it started, she thought she was dying. Aunt Linnea never told her family so as not to burden them with her impending death. It was a horrible, terrible story. We always felt very sad for Aunt Linnea, the youngest of twelve children, born at a time when mothers and daughters were too embarrassed to discuss such things. In 1969, my mother was way ahead of her time. By the time I was in fourth grade, I was excited about it. I started to check my undies for signs every time I went to the bathroom. One day, the girls and boys were mysteriously separated. The boys went outside to play kickball. The girls were seated silently on the floor of the gymnasium, where nervous teachers whispered and handed out little blue booklets. The title, “Growing Up And Liking It,” was wrapped around a photo of three smug-looking girls. The label on the back said the booklet had been provided by Young Miss Magazine and the Modess company. There were lots of pictures of girls hiking, playing tennis, even a guide to stretching and keeping in
shape. Bor-r-ring. In the back was a mail order form for an “Introductory Hygiene Kit,” which confused me. What did I need hygiene for? What did hygiene mean? Our physical education teacher introduced a film, about “... what happens when you girls become young women…” There was a lot of adult throat clearing and finally, someone shut off the lights and turned on the projector. It was a black and white film that reminded me of ancient TV shows with a girl, a mom, a house…. after that my mind wandered. I may have fallen asleep. I believe those in charge managed to get through the controversial sex education portion of our schooling without actually mentioning the word “menstruation,” or even “period.” They didn’t even use euphemisms, like my cousin Anne’s favorite, “My Little Friend.” The first time I heard Anne say she had to go to the bathroom because, “My Little Friend is visiting,” I really thought she had someone she knew hidden in the bathtub. Though my girlfriends and I didn’t understand the official attempts at educating us about our bodies, we knew something “special” was about to happen to us. We gazed at the Kotex machines in the girl’s school lavatory with awe and wonder, and hoped we would soon know what happened when you put a dime in the slot and turned the silver knob. Kathy Berghart actually did just that near the beginning of fifth grade. Someone snitched and our teacher, Miss Knollwood, took the little blue box from her without saying a word. Kathy didn’t even have time to see what was in there. By sixth grade, Lori Lindstrom and at least one other girl had their periods, which made the rest of us jealous. And not just because they got extra bathroom breaks continued on next page...
and days off from school. Any girl that got their period was seen as automatically more cool, older, mature. I was desperate to make that step toward becoming a grown-up, to being a better and cooler person. I prayed nightly that the miracle would occur soon, that I would undergo the magical transformation from bucktoothed misfit to beautiful cool girl who looked like she’d stepped right out of Young Miss Magazine. No one would dream of making fun of that girl. I couldn’t wait. It was the summer before seventh grade when Mom gave us the sanitary belt and pad demonstration. After that, Mom started talking more openly, even conversationally, about her “time of the month,” though she never shared details and we never asked. “Well, I got The Curse last night,” Mom would sigh as she poured herself a cup of coffee. We’d all just keep reading the comics and chewing our Wheaties. But Mom and I exchanged knowing looks.
In spite of all I knew, all I’d hoped for and that helpful demonstration, I was completely shocked when it finally hit. It was the start of seventh grade. I was in science class. I started to feel nauseous. Soon my stomach ached, low in my belly. It got worse. And worse. I started to feel like I’d been punched. Eventually, I felt like a slow lightning strike zeroed in just under my belly button. It doubled me over and brought tears to my eyes. Julie Flammang thought it was appendicitis. Mary Schnitzler said it was probably food poisoning. Everyone agreed I better get to the nurse’s office. My teacher took one look at me and handed me a hall pass without comment. Our clever school nurse figured it out immediately. She also happened to have a stack of “Introductory Kotex Kits” for the newly menstruating—very handy. “You know how to use this, honey?” Behind huge glasses and a very tight perm, Nurse Nelson pressed her lips together and looked at me kindly.
“Yes, Nurse Nelson.” I took the “Introductory Kotex Kit” and shuffled into her sparkling bathroom. It was equipped with what were clearly barf bags. The tangy smell of bleach made my nausea worse. And in spite of the lesson from Mom, it was hard to untangle the straps and clips. I got out of there as fast as I could, and managed to avoid needing a bag. Nurse Nelson ushered me into a darkened, temperature-controlled room with three small cots. “I’ll just give your mother a call. Is she home right now?” I nodded, barely registering her comments. The paper sheet covering the cot crinkled as I laid down. The plastic under the pillowcase crunched. I curled up into a ball, grateful we lived nearby. Mom should be here any minute. But ten minutes stretched into twenty stretched into an hour. I shifted positions, holding my belly, which tightened with what I now knew were the “cramps” I’d heard about. What a terrible word! Cramps were what happened to a leg muscle if you ran too hard. This was more like being hit with a baseball bat. The nurse brought me a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel and showed me how to lay it across my belly. I remembered the black and white pictures of blurry fallopian tubes and ovaries. But I couldn’t imagine how God could create such an awful design, one where I actually felt the blood leaking. And I couldn’t understand how this slow leaking could cause such unbelievable pain. Later, I would find out that a small percentage of girls have extreme pain when their period first starts. I didn’t feel special, or pretty, or grown-up. Just pissed. And terrified. What else had no one warned me about? What other awful shocks did God have in store?
A Solitary Dialogue Jeff Arcand
“Where does the time go?” asked Frank, as he stared out the window of his kitchen, which sometimes doubled as a bedroom. “I don’t know, but if it keeps going at this rate, I’ll be an old man in no time at all,” retorted Frank, who apparently talks to himself. “No, I mean where does it go? Really. Seems to me that it goes in a circle,” said Frank, gesturing toward the clock, with its second hand smoothly gliding around the edge. “See?” Frank was surprised at Frank’s ability to be so… frank. After some thought Frank said, “Obviously, people fear what they don’t understand,” looking to himself for confirmation. “…Yes, I suppose. Mathematics is a perfect example of that.” Frank said, wondering where he was leading himself this time, then adding, “What does that have to do with anything?” “Well,” Frank continued, “Humans cannot fathom the mere presence of the idea of an infinite continuum,” Frank paused, seemingly for effect, but really just to gesture to make sure it was alright to grab a glass from his own cabinet, and pour himself some Black Velvet whiskey. Frank agreed and poured three fingers worth as he continued his explanation. “Thinking about circles is a hell of a lot easier than thinking about lines,” he said, as he set down his now empty glass back on the table and poured another, this time with three ice cubes, leaving Frank to stand there and wonder where he puts it all. “You never know where a line is going to end, circles are more final. Lines scare the shit out of me.” “So, you mean it’s just easier to put time into a circle?” “It’s easier, yea. It’s easy to keep track of things when you know what’s coming. Every week has the same days in it. It’s comfortable.” Frank thought he was agreeing with him now, “It’s only logical to make it easier for everyone to keep track of time,” he said. Frank thought for a moment, staring down into his drink. He watched the ice cubes spinning counter clockwise in the glass. He knew they were melting, but at such a slow pace, it was impossible to tell for sure. Finally, he nodded, “Of course. People have always made things easier for themselves by coming up with ways to avoid what’s true in reality,” he seemed somewhat annoyed at this point. Then, Frank watched him polish of that glass with two swigs, two squints, and one heavy exhale. Frank looked at him in wonder, “I guess people just made time up?” he wondered aloud. “I guess the
way that we keep track of it is a man-made concept, but surely time itself is a natural occurrence.” “In what respect?” “Well, in respect to yesterday having happened, today happening now, and tomorrow on the verge of beginning.” Frank said, pointing to the clock showing 11:53 p.m. “You can’t deny that.” “I don’t know what you mean when you say yesterday has happened,” said Frank, reaching again for the whiskey. “Just because of where the hands on the clock lay something has changed? I don’t see the two as being connected. We agree that the clock will say 12 soon enough, we disagree that that means something.” Frank took a swig reducing the newly replenished three fingers down to two. “So, yesterday hasn’t ended even though it’s about to be tomorrow?” Frank was trying to regain his bearings, “Is that what you’re saying?” “I’m saying it doesn’t exist.” “What doesn’t exist? Yesterday, or tomorrow?” “Both. Neither. It’s all in your head.” Frank said setting his suddenly dry glass on the table. Frank was sure he knew what he was saying now, “I see, you’re saying that this very moment that we live in is the only one that exists, right?” He was trying not to lose his train of thought as he was speaking, “Yesterday is over and tomorrow hasn’t begun. We’re living in the present.” “Ehh…” Frank was staring into his empty glass. “I’m not preaching some ‘carpe diem’ stuff, though it’s not a bad thought. You see, today doesn’t exist either,” he said reaching for the bottle. “Today, tomorrow, yesterday, next week, they’re all just names given to specific parts of the same perpetually evolving moment.” Frank was having a hard time following, and was skeptical whether or not Frank was just toying with him. “Surely, this moment now exists as we live in it, just as the last and the immediate future. How do you deny the present?” Frank poured himself another, “What constitutes as a day?”
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A Solitary Dialogue
Frank thought for a moment, kind of wanting a drink for himself now, “I suppose midnight to midnight begins and ends a new day.” Frank set his glass on the table, “Isn’t that a bit arbitrary? Couldn’t you just as easily have said from noon to noon, or 7:43 p.m. to 7:43 p.m.? As you would have it, this cyclical idea of time demands that each moment is equal to every other.” “I suppose so…” Frank kind of twitched at this realization, “But, we count to 12 hours, why not start an end there?” he said trying to grasp at some reasoning for the point he was arguing. “But, there are 24 hours in the kind of day you’re talking about. Why have two of each hour? And beside that, why start a day at the highest number and not, as logic would demand, at 1 o’clock?” At that, Frank sipped his drink and waited for a reply. Starting at one did seem to make more sense in this light, but Frank was still trying to get a hold on what the point of all this discussion was. “So, days don’t exist,” said Frank, breaking the silence, “And hours are man made devices to arbitrarily assign numbers to where the sun or moon is, right?” “Yes,” said Frank, “I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, I’m simply saying it puts this strange idea in peoples heads that ‘tomorrow’ is a ‘new beginning’ when in reality there are no beginnings or endings.” Frank looked down into his drink once again. The ice cubes were no longer spinning and had gotten significantly smaller and completely translucent. “You see, Frank,” he began once again, “Time is intangible, no matter how many rules we make for it, it will keep going as it always has with no beginning or end. This glass of whiskey is distinct from the others I’ve poured tonight. It started when I poured it, and will end when I finish it. If that’s how you chose to see each day, as its own separate entity, then that’s how you’ll live your life.” Frank paused for a moment to check the time, it was 11:58 p.m., “To new beginnings,” he toasted raising his glass toward the clock. He finished his last drink as the second hand passed from 33 seconds to 41 seconds into the fifty-eighth minute of the eleventh or twenty-third hour of the day. Frank didn’t know what to think anymore. He had gone through his whole life day by day, hour by hour, year by year. He was constantly counting. The people he knew were dreading their constantly approaching birthdays. Now he knew that those numbers assigned to their age didn’t really mean anything. They were just there. “Shit.”
My Fantasia Rebekah Pahr
In the beginning, there is always darkness – deep and purple like an eggplant, and blue bruises on knees and bananas. Give life a name, still and trembling – watercolor songs, the sound of Genesis. Imagination floats like thistledown through Scotland. Sea foam churned to root-beer, around ankles, trees like bloodlines – fencing in freedom. Fairy dust is clutched, in a sweaty little fist – last grain of time. Dandelion blown into sunshine, clover-bud cluster, soft baby-bunny fingers – pack all this into a thimble. Growing, old skin and soul, rejects the air – Why do allergies exist? Remember playing little house on the prairie. Lastly, clamor for new cars, blenders and master bedrooms. Instead of hay lofts, tiger lilies and Peter Pan, mud coating soles, while catching tadpoles.
My Jeremy Heidi Fuhr
Louise, I knew from the first time I met that little hussy that she was all wrong for my Jeremy. What kind of girl gets pregnant that fast? I’ll tell you what kind: the kind that wants to trap a man. And think about this, Louise: my grandson was born exactly eight months and sixteen days after Jeremy called from school and told me. Imagine that, a girl who knows she’s pregnant, and this was supposedly an unplanned pregnancy, Louise, after two weeks. I don’t believe it. I’ll tell you what really happened, Louise. What really happened was that my Jeremy was going to leave that girl. He’s always had a good head on his shoulders, Louise, you know that about my Jeremy. He was going to leave that hussy because he knew she was a sneaky little liar. That girl intended to get pregnant. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that she stopped taking her birth control pills the very day she met my Jeremy. Once she was pregnant he had to marry her, because my son is a decent boy. Oh Louise. I was so embarrassed at the wedding. I had to send out announcements that Jeremy was getting married, then I had to send out announcements about the baby five months later. I know what the bridge club girls were saying behind my back, Louise, you don’t have to pretend you don’t know. That Doris was the worst of them. I could tell when she gave me her phony congratulations. Doris, whose grandson was arrested at age sixteen. For shame. Oh, Louise, you never found out what he was arrested for, did you? Well. You’re going to love this: I ran into Janine at the post office and she said that her nephew—you know, Harold’s son, the handsome one with the mousy girlfriend—well Harold told Janine that his son Don, or Dave, I think, is a police officer, and one of the other officers in his precinct was the one who brought Doris’s grandson in. Janine says he was charged with possession of a controlled substance. Well. Doris has no right to judge me, I’ll tell you that, Louise. And shame on her for talking about people behind their backs. I’ll tell you what I think about Doris, Louise. I think Doris is a shameless gossip, that’s what she is. Where was I? Oh yes. My Jeremy. I can’t believe that girl, Louise. Do you know what that girl did when my grandson was born? I’ll tell you what she did, and you are not going to believe it. She wouldn’t let me into the delivery room. She let her own mother in. My Jeremy is lucky he got to be there. I have rights, Louise; I am the paternal grandmother. Anyway, her mother lives in Michigan. I’m the one who was here for them for the whole pregnancy. I’m the one who was gracious enough to accept that girl into my family when she got herself pregnant out of wedlock, for goodness sake. I’m the one
who will be one phone call away any time that girl and my Jeremy need a break from the baby. Oh, I tried to get into that delivery room, Louise. I told that nurse that she had to let me in, that my Jeremy needed me, but she wouldn’t budge. I was so angry, Louise, I can’t even tell you. Now that little hussy is keeping my grandson from me, Louise, she really is. Ever since Christmas, every time I call I get the answering machine. Christmas was an absolute nightmare, Louise. I don’t know where that girl got her manners. Do you know that I got her a beautiful mauve velour turtleneck from J.C. Penny, and she had the gall to return it? She behaves like she was raised by a pack of wolves. Oh, Louise. Every time I tried to hold my grandson, she decided it was time for a feeding or a nap. Speaking of feedings, Louise, you’re not going to believe this. I was mortified. Well. I made reservations for Christmas eve at the Macaroni Grill; I wanted to take them out for a nice dinner. You’ve never been there? It’s a fine dining establishment, Louise, a really top-notch restaurant. My Jeremy was a perfect gentleman: opening doors, pulling out chairs, you know what kind of boy my Jeremy is. Well. First of all, that girl ordered lobster. I kid you not, Louise. Her meal cost almost as much as mine and Jeremy’s did combined. The nerve. I live on a fixed income. That isn’t the worst part, Louise. Get ready for this. Do you know what that girl did, Louise? I will tell you what she did: after dinner, we ordered coffee and tiramisu. It’s a fancy dessert, Louise, I think it’s Japanese. Why they served it at an Italian restaurant, I don’t know. We were waiting for our coffee and dessert, and that girl—oh, Louise, I am still mortified—that girl pulled up her shirt and took her breast out of her bra, Louise. I am not exaggerating. She took her very breast out, in front of God and everyone at the Macaroni Grill, Louise, which is a fine dining establishment, and she breastfed my grandson. In front of everyone. I saw her nipple, Louise. For goodness sake. Don’t you dare tell Doris, Louise. I would never hear the end of it.
Editor Bios Nick Hutchinson is a creative writing major who is feverishly working to complete a novel during his final year at Metropolitan State. He thinks in compound sentences riddled with five-dollar words and esoteric punctuation marks, and is utterly convinced that language will save us.
Diane DeRosier Douglass
Another diabolical plan lost to the ringing phone, “I need a walk.” I head to her cube. Tromping down the industrial stairs to drown our whispers we evaluate our favorite narcissist’s dye job.
Chiara Marano is a student of professional writing. She is often found in the library with Mr. Green and a candlestick.
One block of fresh air has us saying “hi” to local gangstas with babies in arms and all-the-way losers in front of the halfway house on the corner, or is it a wet house?
Jamie McKelvey is a prose editor for Haute Dish and a senior at Metropolitan State. Sarai Meyer is a poetry editor for Haute Dish and is pursuing her B.A. in creative writing. She enjoys writing poetry on the roof, walking across the Stone Arch Bridge in the evening and collecting antique birdcages.
Aviary Sequence #1
Ignoring “NO TRESPASSING” signs we peer through a window, an empty room hazy and distorted. We’re kids sneaking a peek into a circus tent An Alphabetic Murder Cat Miller is a student of creative writing and is watching for an exotic animal, a midget, maybe a fat lady. crow A crow B Imprinting my forehead in the window’s grime hypnotized yet frantically praying, “Hail Mary full of Grace, don’t let a rabid raccoon rip off my face,” she is windows ahead, lighting another cigarette.
crow C crow “Don’t step there” she says, pointing at a puddled black tarp with the smoldering end of her Marlboro Light. “Yeah. I fell through there…just last week.”
Vapors cloud its vision from the sweltering western sun as it’s forced to watch Spaghetti simmer, crowJunction G crow H retired and ashamed of its dilapidated condition back turned on the East Side, honor reduced to wreck. Numbness and empathy breeds thoughts of grandeur, a metaphor of our own godforsaken lives, but someone bought it, we weren’t quick enough, crow K crow L smoke break’s over.
currently a senior at Metropolitan State. She is often lost in thought and hopes to be found soon.
Amber Newman is studying creative writing at Metropolitan State with the hope of being a contributor to a magazine in the somewhat near future. She currently lives in Minneapolis, works a crow E of interesting crow jobs, F and spends her free collection time planning and working towards her fantastic dream life as a successful creative enthusiast. Trent Olson is completing a B.S. in computer science at Metropolitan State. Originally from British Columbia, Canada, he has lived in Vancouver, Toronto and Winnipeg before coming to Minnesota.
Marty Owings is a recent Metropolitan State graduate. His a reporter for KFAI Radio News and mncapitolnews.com, covering politcs at the Capitol. If he gets a spare moment, he likes to draw, pain and collect old things. Sally is a very N recent Metropolitan State crow MReynoldscrow graduate. She has been a poetry editor for Haute Dish through good times and bad. We thank her.
Matty Spillum was born and raised in the Twin Cities, and received his B.A. from Metropolitan State University in 2006. He is currently a M.S. candidate in the technical communications program at Metro, as a graduate crow Q as well crow R tutor in the Writing Center. In addition, he is a frequent correspondent for USA Ultimate, the membership magazine for Ultimate Frisbee’s governing body in the U.S. This is his second tour of duty as an associate editor with Haute Dish, and he will probably make frequent and annoying references to the good old days at staff meetings.
BIOS Amber Anderson is a writer from Newport, Minnesota. She is a senior at Metropolitan State studying for her B.A. in creative writing. Her hobbies include bowling, zumba, music, traveling, reading and most of all, writing. Free Arcand is a student at Metropolitian State. It’s a school. He enjoys sleeping in chairs or on carpet and is currently writing sad jokes on cigarettes. Serena Mira Asta had her first poem published on Miss Gunderson’s fourth grade bulletin board about one hundred years ago. The author has been striving to match that initial level of acclaim and excellence ever since. Serena is also a visual artist and is working toward a major in creative writing with a minor in studio art. She lives for the day when she can once again have a house bunny as a pet.
Tawny Michels is currently a senior going into her final year at Metropolitan State majoring in creative writing with a minor in advertising. She currently holds an A.A. degree from Inver Hills Community College, and is also a Nationally Certified EMT-Basic. After graduating in 2012 she plans to attend Hamline University to obtain her master’s degree in creative writing. Her love of writing and photography has always been very prominent in her life, even working as an EMT, which is why she chose to pursue further education in the form of a writing degree. Zach Murphy is a screenwriting major in his third year. He loves watching foreign films, daydreaming and eating bacon, sometimes all at once.
Aviary Sequence Trent Olson likes to call his work poetry, though most of #1 his work pushes the formal bounds of poetry to extremes, Sarah Bailey is a senior at Metropolitan State and will
Alphabeticchallenging Murder and playing with traditional meanings of “the be graduating in the spring of 2012 with a B.S.An in English crow ACanadiancrow B poetic.” He is influenced by fellow experimental teaching and a minor in creative writing. Her most recent writers such as bpNichol, Darren Wershler and Christian Bök. literary inspirations include Pablo Neruda, Mary Oliver and Neil Gaiman. After graduation, Sarah plans to pursue an Rebekah Pahr is pursuing a degree in technical M.F.A. in creative writing with the hopes of teaching communications with a minor in studio arts from Metropolitan writing and literature courses in both academic and nonState University. While she is not busy with homework and traditional settings. overcoming her fear of technology, she enjoys writing, drawing and painting and is inspired by childhood memories. Collette DeNet is a senior at Metropolitan State. She is Rebekah in the pursue a F crow C crowwill Dbe grad,uating crow E spring tocrow in the process of discovering how words can heal the head position in tech writing; Plan B is to live in Key West and and heart. paint on the beach for a year, Plan C is to become her childhood idol Peter Pan. Diane DeRosier Douglass is a Haute Dish editor repeat offender. Currently the managing editor, she was the visual Donna Ronning is a senior in the social work program at art editor back when the magazine was taken off life support. Metropolitan State University. She sees life as a continual She has a B.A. and M.S. from Metropolitan State but just can’t unfoldment of new possibilities. stop from returning for “just one more.” crow G crow H is a recent crow I graduate crow J Kah Shepard First College at Heidi Fuhr received her bachelor’s degree from Metropolitan Metropolitan State who created her own degree entitled State University December 13, 2011, and has started her M.L.S. “Psychology and Secuality: Current Trends and Perspectives.” degree at Metropolitan State January. She majored in creative She sings with the local funk band, Plasmatic Brain Spasm, writing and minored in studio arts. creates psychedelic art and travels. Jerimy Grafenstein is entering his final year at Kyle Stennes is working to finish a teaching degree he Metropolitan State where he studies creative writing. He is started about a decade ago. A full-time student and current the 2011 Carothers award winner for outstanding College stay-at-home games, being outdoors, crow K crow L dad, he enjoys crow M puzzles,crow N of Arts and Sciences undergraduate writing at Metropolitan putzing on the computer, tutoring, drawing, and of course, State. Grafenstein works as a freelance writer from his home just spending time with friends, his wonderful wife and two in Saint Paul. precocious children. An avid reader from early childhood, Alex Jensrud is a hard-working, creative soul currently attending Metropolitan State University to get her degree in creative writing with a minor in gender studies. She enjoys cat, spaghetti and thrift stores. She has been writing since the first grade when she wrote a controversial little tale about crow O the janitor stealing student’s desks. She is best known for her cynicism and a sullen, sleepy expression most often worn in class rooms.
this self-proclaimed Renaissance man developed a passion for writing and theater, which he will one day bring to bear on the impressionable minds of tomorrow. But for now, dear reader, you are subject to either relish or resent the wayward children of his fevered brain… or something ironic and witty crow P crow Q crow R to that effect.
Peter Laine is currently a student at Metropolitan State in the creative writing program. Sarai Meyer was born in Saint Paul, Minnesota and spent four years of her childhood living in Arizona crow and IllinoisS before coming back to her snowy home in Minnesota. She took a year off after high school to live in a castle in England at Capernwray Bible School. Sarai attended Normandale Community College for two years before graduating with her A.A. in spring 2011. She has had three poems published in Normandale Community College’s bi-annual literary journal, The Paper Lantern. Now she is a full time student at Metropolitan State University, where she is pursuing B.A. in crowa W creative writing.
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