Haute Dish The Arts and Literature Magazine of Metropolitan State University
SPRING / SUMMER 2013
Volume 9 â€˘ Issue 2
Inside This Issue The day the tides changed
SPRING / SUMMER 2013 5
Trees 6 Mackenzie Murphy
Diaspora 8 Mackenzie Murphy
A Footpath in Fall
Oak Tree at Wild River
The Unwritten Rule
The Sun’s Reflection
I come from…
Peaches 16 Whittier Strong
Partly Cloudy Over the Gulf of Maine
On a Clearing Sky
Above the St. Croix River
Jeff Arcand Laura Brodie Diane DeRosier Douglass (outgoing)
Associate Managing Editor Chiara Marano (outgoing)
Web Editor Matthew “Matty” Spillum (outgoing)
It’s Up to Us
Editors James Beadle Peter Gawtry Makenzie Murphy Whittier Strong Patricia Sullivan Elizabeth Todd Nicholas Vittum Vientsavang Vue
Faculty Advisor Suzanne Nielsen
Submissions: Visit www.hautedish.metrostate.edu The Fall 2013 issue is open to all Metropolitan State University students. Deadline is Sunday, July 7, 2013.
How Babies Are Made
Doodlesmith 21 Michael Butz
My Cyborg Ate My Homework
Front Cover Art Strawberry Fields Forever Peter Gawtry photography
Minneapolis 24 Sarai Meyer
The Warmth of You Remains
Confluence 25 Mackenzie Murphy
Monsters 26 Whittier Strong
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.
From the Editors
It is with the usual mixed emotions that I say “hello” again to Haute Dish. Some of you may already know that I have been an editor and contributor to Haute Dish for some time now. Over the past few months I have been transitioning, along with my co-managing editor, Laura Brodie, into the all too uncomfortable leadership role of this distinguished literary arts magazine. I look forward to nonsensical email exchanges with my fellow editors and completely overlooking deadlines that I, myself, set up for issues to come. Sure, there’s weird paper work that I’m sincerely fearful of, but I can take one for the team sometimes. And, of course, I feel unqualified to run anything, let alone being in charge of countless student’s creative endeavors. I mean, I can barely take care of myself. I woke up this morning to a clogged sink! How does that just happen overnight? It’ll be fine, I’m sure. Haute Dish, that is. I don’t know what’s going on with the sink. Anyways, hello, Haute Dish. We meet again. I know that the rest of the staff is just as committed as Laura and I are to providing an outlet for the best work Metropolitan State students have to offer. Jeff Arcand
It is with the usual mixed emotions that I say “farewell” again to Haute Dish. You may or may not know, my current role as managing editor makes this my second helping of Haute Dish and it has been as filling as the first! I am leaving this wonderful arts and literature magazine in the hands of two very capable editors, Jeff Arcand and Laura Brodie. Their care, knowledge and leadership will shine bright in future issues and Hatue Dish will remain solid and strong in their hands. Thank you all for your support and loyalty through the months and years and iterations of the magazine. As I have said many times before, Haute Dish wouldn’t be here without you. And, thank you to the university that supports this student organization. Like it, we are transforming into something better all the time. I’m sure we haven’t seen the best yet! Thank you to the outgoing and current editors who work and have worked hard, consistently, and with much consideration to the submitters and readers. Welcome to the new editors who are willing to be part of the extraordinary Haute Dish community. Here’s wishing Haute Dish the very best by saying one last time, Good luck and good bowling!
Welcome to Haute Dish! As a previous contributor to this quality publication, I was honored to be asked on board as a poetry editor. This being my very first semester on the team, and having not had too much experience in this field, it made perfect sense to jump right in and volunteer to be co-editor with Jeff Arcand! Now, I’m up to my neck in it, but feel honored and committed to being a part of this positive experience. So, sit back, relax, and enjoy this wonderful publication! Laura Brodie
Diane DeRosier Douglass email@example.com
Bios James Beadle graduated from Metropolitan State University with a bachelor’s degree in English in May. James enjoys obscure 18th century vampire-inspired love poetry and pretending to be Darth Vader at parties. He is father to two demanding, ever-hungry cats and a wonderfully dopey black lab named for his favorite Percy Shelley poem, Ozymandias. James lives with his beautiful, talented, art teacher wife in St. Paul, but wishes they lived somewhere warmer with a view of the ocean and where fruity alcoholic beverages and authentic stone-fired Neapolitan pizza were free. In his free time, James writes short fiction set in a futuristic postapocalyptic, or university bathroom settings where there are few characters and even less plot details to worry about, making it easy to come across as a good writer without having to write anything of substance. Michael Butz began attending Metropolitan State University in the summer of 2012, and is currently working towards a bachelor’s degree in history. In the 2012 fall semester he took a drawing class where this piece was drawn as a self-portrait. For as long as he can remember, Michael has had a great love of drawing. Every page of his class notes have margins filled with random doodles and cartoons. These drawings are what gave Michael the inspiration for his piece. His work shows Michael sitting at a table and drawing, surrounded by the characters that fill his head. It is a portrait of both Michael’s physical and mental self. This will be Gail Gates’ last semester in the MLS program unless she implodes with self-doubt. She has enjoyed every aspect of her time at Metropolitan State with the possible exception of the “compact car” spaces at the Saint Paul campus. You know, the ones with SUV’s parked in them? Peter Gawtry is an amateur photographer who graduated from Metro State in May 2013 with a Liberal Arts degree in Environmental Studies. During the week, he works as a writing tutor at Metropolitan State’s Center for Academic Excellence. In his spare time, he enjoys both online and face to face gaming, Star Trek, and time with friends. On occasion, he has been spotted wearing James Beadle’s Darth Vader helmet. Sarai Meyer was entirely ready to graduate with her Creative Writing degree this spring. She lives in Minneapolis and adores the city. She feels most alive when writing poetry, drinking chai tea, and traveling.
Mackenzie Murphy is a senior English and creative writing student at Metropolitan State. He lives in St. Paul. He is getting married in August, shortly after he graduates. Patricia L. Olson is a senior at Metropolitan State, having attended classes on a part time basis for the past 30 years, while practicing as a Physician Assistant. She is 71 years old, retired and really wants to finish her degree, which started in Woman’s Studies, (no longer available; switched to Creative Writing as she loves reading, writing and poetry and simply wants to enjoy the opportunity to be engaged in this major). Graduation is planned for next year. Her poem was written following the death (brain cancer) of a loved one of many years. Providing hospice care at home; death enters all our lives, is a loss of a presence whose spirit continues to give nourishment to the soul. David Platt is a senior and an English major. He spends most of his time either doing homework or being a dad to his two wonderful children. When he has time outside of his responsibilities, he enjoys reading and writing short stories. Whittier Strong is a Metropolitan State junior, majoring in Creative Writing with a double minor in studio art and English. In his free time, he sings with Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus and plays too many computer games. His poetry has appeared in Among the Leaves: Queer Male Poets on the Midwestern Experience, as well as in Haute Dish, Fall 2012. He lives in Minneapolis. You may find more of his work at whittierstrong.wordpress.com. Vientsavang Vue enjoys watching movies, drawing, painting, and writing when she has free time available. She is a first year at Metropolitan State University and plans on a creative career in the future. She is an individual that believes in spirituality and enlightenment. Her hopes are to gain more knowledge of life and travel the world. Joe Watson graduated from Metropolitan State University in December 2012. As a writing major, he had the honor of working with some of the most talented people he has met in his life and is truly grateful for his experiences at Metropolitan State.
The day the tides changed Sarai Meyer The kitchen always smelled of cardamom from the Norwegian toast always on the green counter. Grandpa always wore olive colored corduroy pants and smelled of cedar chest sweaters and stale cigars.
One day Gramma started putting cinnamon in the Norwegian toast. I ate it stillâ€Śuntil she no longer remembered the recipe and the kitchen stopped smelling like cardamom.
The Chinese checkers board had a snowy layer of dust over the glass eye marbles. There were always binoculars by the rocking chair, facing Lake Superior and Fred Astaire always sang from the CD player on top of the oak piano with the fraying velvet seat.
Trees Mackenzie Murphy Why do trees grow—dense together in the forest, holding on, up and over the bluff? Do trees grow to keep each other warm? The red Massey coughed—cracked, tugging its way through the pasture. A boy sat on the back fender, watching his grandfather palm the wheel, forcing the gears in place—the tire treads cut in the hard earth. An old green trailer—oak sized wheels—rooted to tractor’s hitch. The trailer banged on the rocky soil—raising, falling—shaking with the terrain. The boy’s family rode in the trailer bed. Jim, the boy’s father watched his son’s precarious perch fearful and nonchalant. The boy’s older brother swung his legs off the back, swaying to avoid cow pies. Jim sat next to his mother, who spoke to her other son Tom about his camping trips up into the bluff caves. Chill wrapped around breath—suspended, then gone. The morning sun set fire to the far riverbank: red, orange, yellow. Two eagles swam in the placid sky over the bluff’s edge. They reached the fallen tree. Grandpa killed the engine. The boys jumped from their places. Tom and Jim helped their mother out. “Oh, thank you Jimmy.” she said, taking the hands, hopping down. She took six pairs of yellow gloves from her leaf green coveralls. “Here Ryan—Sammy, you don’t wanna get slivers.” The boys pulled the gloves over their purple hands. The giant gloves were clumsy like the worn flannels hanging to their knees. “Alright boys,” their father’s said, “start with these ones here.” He pointed to the pile of old branches Grandpa cut in two-foot sections earlier. Grandpa poured the gas can into the chainsaw, ripped the cord and vanished into its violent hum. Ryan and Sam threw the kindling in the trailer bed. They competed to see who could throw further and hit the target. Ryan— bigger—could throw behind the pile, over Sam and in. Sam struggled to throw them. He often missed. The pile thinned. The trunk was all cut and split—the sun rose high in the cloudless sky. “Well, it’s ’leven!” 6
Grandma yelled over the cry of saw teeth devouring dead wood. “Are we done? I’m tired!” Sam cried. His father and uncle looked at him stiff. He cut the complaint. Grandma took four beers and two A & W’s from the yellow cooler under the tractor seat. They sat and drank, looking out on all they had done and what was left. “Looks like that one could come down too, eh?” Grandpa’s gruff voice snapped the silence. The boys’ shoulders sank. “What’s this wood for anyway?” Ryan asked, expecting the stern look from his father, “There’s so much back at the shed—“ Grandpa finished his beer and returned to the work he left moments ago. “Bud—“ Jim reasoned, “Grandpa’s trying to keep Grandma warm through the winter. He needs a lot in case anything happens.” A second tree crashed on the low pasture slope. They returned to work filling the trailer with logs to feed a wood-burning stove. * * * To keep themselves up? He didn’t lose his hair. He didn’t have much to lose anyway. Grandpa did, however, lose his barrel chest, his farm arms. He rode in the trailer next to his wife. Sam stuck his legs off the back—straining to keep Grandpa’s boots that he was borrowing off the earth. Tom rode a green four-wheeler ahead and reached the fallen tree first. Jim drove the old red tractor through the rocky pasture. Ryan was not with them. “Sammy, don’t you want a sweatshirt? I can go back and get you one,” Grandma tried. Sam, who kept a thin beard, barely reaching up his purple cheeks—lied, said he would be fine in the River City Dragon Boat t-shirt his dad had given him. The gloves were passed around. They went to work. Grandpa, Grandma and Sam loaded the wood in the trailer. Jim and Tom sawed—mauled the trunk. When they spoke, they talked about how dry this tree was, how to
handle a knotted log. They talked about Tom’s boys, too young to “cut wood.” Grandma took pictures of the boys and her husband. By two, they took a break for beer. Sam still drank root beer. Jim and Tom surveyed the tree line and the trunk on the ground. Grandpa sat close to Sam, whacked Sam’s leg with his rough hand and teased, “Havin’ fun yet Verne?!” Sam smiled and leaned into his grandfather’s one-armed hug. * * * To make new trees? Sam roamed through the pasture with a branch to ward off the bull. He found Tom and his boys in the woodpiles. “Hey Tom, Grandma sent me out to see if you guys needed some help,” Sam yelled over the chainsaw’s snarl. “Hey Sammy!” Tom killed the engine and shook his nephew’s hand. They went to work. Sam watched Dylan throw his logs from behind the pile, over Jack and in. The logs crashed on the edge of the worn trailer. Tom looked from behind the trunk and scolded the boys with a look. Sam collected larger logs—the ones the boys couldn’t lift. “I’m tired!” Jack sobbed, kicking at the brush pile. Sam searched for an answer the boys could understand, watching to see if Tom had noticed that they stopped working. “Guys, you gotta finish this one pile.” Jack cranked his neck back into his shoulders. The boys’ grandmother crossed the field, arm-in-arm with her sister-in-law, laughing deep down. Behind them followed the sister-in-law’s husband, a white-haired tree of a man holding a crooked smile. The two women patted each other’s hands tenderly and watched the ground between fits of laughter. Grandma flailed her arm wildly in the air, greeting her boys. Sam smiled, looked to his cousins admiring a wasp on a stump. “We need to get this wood stored up for winter. Make sure Grandma has enough for the stove,” he remembered. Dylan returned to work harder. Jack ran to meet his grandma with a hug, suggesting he be done for the day.
* * * To be tall and strong? The old Massey gurgled. It drew the new trailer to the spot where the dead tree lay. Sam slammed a gear, picked at his grey beard, pulled at the curls on the back of his grandson’s head. His wife watched him from the trailer. Her boys watched the shed disappear in the distance. Glass bottles and aluminum cans clanked together in the shaking cooler. She looked down at her granddaughter sitting on her lap. She closed her eyes—smiled. Sam killed the engine. His sons hopped out—pulled their gloves on. Sam looked up to the eagles turning the sky—looked up in the trees—down at his family. He smiled, started the saw and went to work. I know now why trees grow. We grow to be great—to make new trees so they can be great. We grow to keep each other warm. Like so many that have fallen before me, I know now what happens when we go. We feed the fire that keeps another tree warm. A beautiful death— sacrifice made in ash.
Diaspora Mackenzie Murphy Being Irish means nothing. Potato white bread in an all white store. Rural Wisconsin— Boston, Roscommon—Michigan
But we peel potatoes, pretend to like stout— March single file on St. Patrick’s day like green is everyone’s favorite color.
Famine is enslaved, a leprechaun—trapped in stone. Transatlantic dragging nets—collecting kelp, enough to traverse the Appalachians and settle up in the middle— forget
Blue-eyed, black Irish boys came to America to fall in love with Scandinavian girls twirling flowers through their hair to look— just like everyone else.
the bondage of sweatshop railway synaptic cleft, bare knuckle brawl over wages or whiskey.
Green beer on the 17th Murphy in the middle single file—sea of green the clandestine clan—refugee of war forgot by everyone.
A Footpath in Fall Peter Gawtry photography
Oak Tree at Wild River Gail Gates photography
It’s Up to Us Whittier Strong We will live on the moon. From the comfort of our homes in the Sea of Tranquility, we will watch the Earth rise. We will send our children off to school at Little Dipper Elementary. We will zoom to work in monorails and drink Tang on our breaks. When we come home, we will unwind watching the Videoscope as our robots cook and clean for us. We will sleep easy, knowing that every tomorrow will be as perfect as every today. …or… We will live on Earth. At precisely 7 a.m., we will put on our uniforms and recite our pledge to the Emperor. We will exit our dormitories and march single-file to the thought purification center. Our nutrient paste, consumed at precisely 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., will sustain us. We will return to our dormitories at 9 p.m. and dream of the Emperor’s greatness. …or… We will live on Mars. We will awake to the bombardment of our solar collectors and hydrocyclers. We will hope that the strafing doesn’t knock out the power supply to the nanofabricators so that we can at least eat something. Peeking through the skylights in our bunkers, we will look up at that little blue pinpoint of light and think not that it was the home of our ancestors, but that it is the home of our enemy. …or… We will habiter on Earth. Every Morgen, we will promener down the avenidas to go to the Sharing Celebrazione. We will sprechen about what unites all amour, joy, We will el song internazionale in Harmonie, and revel in the grande Traum of unueco made realidad. We will all mangia together and no one will go hungrig. Then we will retourner to our Häuser and sleep muy bien, resting in the satisfacción that paco will reign toujours. …or…
We will live inside the sun. Upon that glorious morning, at the Fourth Rising of the Harmonic Conjunction of Venus and Jupiter, we will shed our fleshly bodies, and along with them our appetites, the primal drives to eat and to sleep. We will transmute into filaments of pure energy. These filaments, our true selves, will intertwine as a single ray of light and shoot through space into the heart of that which gave us light and life for aeons. We will finally give back to the sun all it gave us, and balance will be restored to the universe. …or… We will live under the Earth. Day will be whenever we wake. We will have lost our eyesight and our ability to metabolize vitamin D. We will roam the tunnels the Elders provided for us centuries before to protect us from the Aboveground. We will thank the Elders for genetic engineering before consuming our protein packets. We will sleep when we are tired. …or… We will live aboard the lifeship New Genesis. We, numbering ten thousand—the last ten thousand—will wake according to our crew shift. We will gather in the arboretum to eat the fruits descended from the last plants to grow on Earth. Thoughts of our destination, Alpha Centauri, will fill our reverie. We will go there, not in search of a home, but because we will not yet have lost the capacity to dream. …or… We will live on Earth. We will wake with the sun and the morning star. We will send our children to school so that they will learn to dream. We will drive our cars to our jobs and eat lunch and come home and argue and make love and sleep fitfully beneath the full moon, dreaming of all that might have been.
The Unwritten Rule James Beadle The stall in the bathroom used to be a sacred place; a place where one could go and release the torrent without the fear of one’s relative privacy or personal space being compromised. You may have noticed, at least if you’re social gender is male, that there are never even numbers of urinals in a men’s bathroom. This is because it is a social etiquette that if at all possible one should never micturate directly next to someone else; it’s just polite not to be that close to someone else when they are in such a vulnerable state. The rule is: if someone is at one end of a bank of three urinals then you use the far end so as not to interfere with your fellow human in any way shape or form. Usually, this is a rule that is never broken. However, once the rule is broken, one never feels quite the same again. Unfortunately this has happened. And it has happened to me. This is that tale. On a dreary night in November, the brilliant light of the full moon reflected in the blue smoke of my camel as I exhaled the last nicotine-laden breath. The short break from my Lit Theory class was almost over, and it was almost time to present my defense on the subject of the little convent girl being pushed into the Mississippi, so I made sure to release the pressure in my bladder by stopping at the men’s lavvy on the way back to class. Mercifully, the bathroom was empty as I entered, and I rushed to the urinal, unzipping my pants to ready for the sea monster’s release as I closed the short distance to the porcelain receptacle that lay patiently in wait for my golden nectar. The first waves of relief washed through my relaxing muscles as the yellow stream played its way over the imperfections in the white glossy surface; but, soon I heard a sound that pulled me from my private revelry: the door had opened. Instantly I straightened up and stiffened
my posture, I couldn’t look around at this intruder into my private bliss; that much was dictated by the laws of gentlemanly etiquette. So, head down, I attempted to will the fluid out of me at light speed; anything to get it over with so that I could return to class and resume my pretentious pontificating about some piece of literature nobody cares about. But it was then that the unthinkable happened: even though the two stalls to my right were unoccupied, the intruder shuffled his way to the stall next to mine, breaking the rules and putting me into a heightened state of awareness of my own vulnerability. To compound this grave error of judgment, the intruder then broke the golden rule: he spoke. “Hey…how’s it going?” the intruder grunted over the top of the cheap melamine partition that was all that separated my naked groin from his prying eyes. I hazarded a quick glance to my right, and lo and behold, it was a guy from my class. To make matters worse it was the class buffoon. The guy that thought Mangan’s sister was black in Joyce’s Araby, and that sometimes a story is just a story. I didn’t know what to do, I was flustered both by my holding of my manhood in my hand and the knowledge of the intruder’s blatant disregard of the laws governing civil conversation in a bathroom. This is probably what led me to break the rules myself. “Uh…good,” I said, not looking up. “Cool…Hey, what do you think about that story were doing in class? You know the one about that little religious chick?” he said, too cheerfully. Does this guy know nothing of how things should be? Am I wrong to be upset by this? I resolved to finish as soon as possible and retreat to the safety of the row of sinks. As I hurriedly zipped up and spun on my heel, I happened to notice in my peripheral vision that the intruder had witnessed my flight, and in mid-stream had swung around to face me. He realized
too late that he was still in the act of relieving himself, and sprayed his dirty black shoes with a fine mist of steamy urine. He stood there as the flow from his flaccid appendage slowed. For a glacial moment nothing else happened, I stared into his doe-like eyes for what seemed like an eternity, and then with a look of disgust, hurried to the sink. I washed my hands as quickly as I could and then fled from the bathroom with nothing more than a cursory drying of my hands and a quick glance toward the buffoon who beamed a gap-toothed grin at me over his shoulder as he still clung to the minnow at his groin. The rules should never be broken. Vengeance shall be taken on such unlawful persons such as the buffoon.
The Sunâ€™s Reflection Vientsavang Vue photography
I come from… Joe Watson I come from a world where the oceans and glaciers are rapidly depleting and the crushing mountains of garbage are growing. I come from a world where the fall of the Berlin Wall gave birth to the videogame generation and millions of unused cell phone minutes. I come from a universe, one of many, that is filled with gaseous mysteries and all-powerful black holes. A universe where the moon controls the tides of discontent in an ocean of people below. Salty water fills in the cracks in humanity. I came from the womb already apologizing for my flaws. Because of this, I was placed in a dress and almost drown by an over-sexed member of the flock. Auto-Erotic Asphyxiation. I still don’t care for the flavor of blood and bread. I came from the idea of things. Laughing and singing and playing aren’t always a good thing. The moon might be made of cheese and shit might taste like candy, but I’ll never know. Jumping and crashing the board’s works on both offense and defense.
I come from a world dictated by science. Where men can denounce the work of God and make Pluto simply Mickey’s dog. Where our robotic Cyclops stares blankly into space in search of our next rival. I come from a world that created a brave new world out of nothing. Wires and signals and binary code mix together to make a utopian landscape. The Matrix. The rivers of mass media feed the ocean of the internet. Tweet. Tweet. I came from a childhood of broken promises and dreams. Sports heroes cheated and rock legends were tragically formed. A shotgun blast killed grunge and baseball lost the race. I come from a world where none of this matters and names like the Atlantic and the Pacific are ignored like crying babies in a neighbor’s home.
Peaches Whittier Strong You would have told me. You would have picked up the milk and bread and peaches from Rainbow Foods and driven home. I would have got home just after you, and as I walked through the door, you would have told me. You wouldn’t have left me hollow and desiccated as I am now, if you had just told me right then. Sure, I would have collapsed in tears. I would have smashed the vase we got on vacation in Winnipeg, the one you always looked at and said, “Winnipeg was nice. I just wish we could have afforded Puerto Rico.” You would have tried to console me, grabbing me by the shoulders, pleading with your soft hazel eyes. You would have told me that yes, you made a horrible, awful mistake, that there was nothing you could do to ameliorate the situation and that you wouldn’t blame me if I left you for good. I would have stormed out the door, saying I needed time to think, forgetting my windbreaker. I would have hopped in the car and meandered the drizzly streets of Minneapolis. I would pass Kramarczuk’s—remember our first meal there?—and on down Hennepin, through the Theatre District, on to Loring Park. My dear, beloved Minneapolis. Remember the strings I had to pull to get Habitat for Humanity to transfer me up here? But you said you had to move to where the teaching jobs were, so I relocated. For you. I would continue on, hydroplaning along I-94, out of the city and away from you. Driving on into the vanilla suburbs filled with vanilla people living vanilla lives, I would have recalled the day we met. Do you remember? Our churches had never done a joint outing before. We picked peaches. I bit into one, so lush and juicy, and you snatched it from me and bit into it too. What an odd mating ritual that was. And after the bowling dates and dorm-room snuggling and our mutual deflowering, you changed your plans. You weren’t going to transfer to Florida State, you would stay right in Atlanta so we could marry. What sacrifice, I thought, and for me. 16
From the suburbs to the exurbs—Big Lake, Elk River, Monticello—those indecisive pockets of the metropolitan hinterland. Wrung with grief and drained of adrenaline, I would have pulled into a little diner that had not yet succumbed to the McDonaldization of rural America. A motherly sextagenarian named Joanne would have approached my table, called me “Sugar,” handed me a menu and told me to just go ahead and holler when I was ready to order. I would have gravitated to the section labeled “Desserts”, glumly adorned with a faded photograph of a hot-fudge parfait. “Slice of peach pie,” I would call out to Joanne. The cracked Formica tabletop, just like our kitchen counter at home. Do you remember when we signed the mortgage? We were going to have it all: the house, the 2.3 kids, the American Dream. We never had our chance at the 2.3 kids. I had no idea how hard we would have to work just to keep up on the house payments. And then I got hit with the fundraising campaign at Habitat. I hardly saw you those six months. We needed the extra money, but the price was too high, wasn’t it? Joanne would have come to me with the syrupy slab and asked (noticing I was soaked from my forgotten windbreaker,) “Is everything okay, Sugar?” I would have lied and said, “Yeah, everything’s okay.” One bite into that peach pie would have brought everything back to me, our entire relationship encapsulated in a single saccharine moment. And it would taste bitter to me. You never had the chance to tell me. If I could go back in time, you wouldn’t have taken the car at all. I would have driven, you would have bussed. I would have said, “Skip the groceries, take the #6 to Uptown. Let’s enjoy a night out together.” You wouldn’t have taken the overpass to the supermarket, skidded on that oil slick, and flipped the car. That phone call, the news—my life stopped that day. If it hadn’t been for Bryan, making sure I was eating,
making sure I didn’t consider flying off an overpass myself, how would I have made it through? Had you made it to Rainbow, I wouldn’t have found out through random murmurings in the weeks and months following your funeral that you had been seeing Bryan behind my back for the past year, despite the fact that, in your core, you still loved me.
In Uptown, after forgoing the supermarket, after a dish of peach ice cream from Sebastian Joe’s, you still would have told me. I know you would have. And I would have forgiven you. Partly Cloudy Over the Gulf of Maine Peter Gawtry photography
On a Clearing Sky Mackenzie Murphy Deluge that poured all day, the clear twilight West—hangs blue through the violent spectrum of water passing through lungs, sinking deep down. On a clearing night silhouetted branches stand stark against the breathless air. A mob of stag step quiet into the night sky. Waiting to be born again, and the storm will pour tomorrow while we sag back to the city street enveloped in neon hum and the grey— safe and mundane. The clearing sky cuts away at life and the billowed grey morning.
The shards cannot reflect on the the clearing— light passing through glass, unfeeling—sharp on the eye and deep on the tongue—swallow the violent aperture for a moment while the blue steps quietly out of reach. Desolate night to be born again—
Above the St. Croix River Vientsavang Vue photography
How Babies Are Made Whittier Strong By the age of seven, I already possessed a sophisticated understanding of human reproduction. For example, I comprehended, just from the snippets I picked up from adult conversation, that a one-month interval was somehow involved. I also knew that kissing was involved, and that the fetus obtained nourishment from what the mother ate. The most important piece of the puzzle, though, came via a series of books featuring none other than Charlie Brown himself. Funk & Wagnall’s had released a series of science books starring the Peanuts crew, entitled Charlie Brown’s ‘Cyclopedia. I determined that this apostrophed truncation rendered the series even more informative than a fully-spelt encyclopedia. The volumes were sold in supermarkets, released one per week in limited runs. The good folks at Funk & Wagnall’s banked on the idea that parents (who am I kidding, this was 1980, mothers) would gladly add an inexpensive book to their weekly grocery shopping to facilitate their children’s education. The publishers had not taken into account the fact that my family could not afford groceries every week, that my ‘cyclopedia would sometimes go as hungry as I did, and thus I would never get Volume 5 Featuring Boats and Other Things that Float, nor anything after Volume 7 Featuring Space Travel, at which point my father’s drug habit had taken a more serious turn and there was no longer money for books. None of that mattered as long as I possessed Volume 1 Featuring Your Body, for this tome held the key to the great enigma of how babies are made. Charlie Brown and his pal Snoopy explained that a mother has an egg cell, a father has a sperm cell, and that the two cells join to form a zygote that in a mere nine months becomes a newborn baby. At last! I had all the pieces to the jigsaw. Now it was time to assemble: Once a month, a woman produces an egg cell and a man produces a sperm cell. When the man and woman kiss 20
on that one special day of the month, the sperm cell travels via the man’s saliva from his mouth to the woman’s mouth, where the sperm meets the egg cell. Then the woman swallows the now-joined sperm and egg cells, which travel to the woman’s stomach. The baby grows right inside the digestive tract for nine months, taking some of the food the woman eats. After nine months, the woman vomits up the baby, and thus the newborn enters the world. All things considered, my conclusions were reasonable. And they would be all I had to go on for a long time. My school system’s sex education program began towards the end of fifth grade. Now divorced with my father fading from the picture, my mother gladly signed me up for sex ed, for she reasoned that, as a woman, she could not teach her boys about sex, and with no men in our lives, the school would fulfill this responsibility. The neighbor boys had started some disgusting rumors about where babies came from, gross contortions of penises and what they called “pussies” but which I only knew as “vulva,” from reading my mother’s collegiate dictionary. I anticipated the utter glee that would overtake me as my fifth-grade teachers proved me right and the neighbor boys hopelessly wrong. Every weekday afternoon for three weeks, we sat in the school auditorium. We saw corny films like Am I Normal?, which regaled us with promises of lowered voices (a promise only half-fulfilled), abundant body hair (a promise never fulfilled), and large genitalia (no comment.) Towards the end of the three weeks came The Film. The Film was mostly live-action, but The Most Important Scene was animated. Using artwork reminiscent of CPR manuals, The Most Important Scene depicted a man and woman in bed, nude but covered with sheets from the waist down. They rolled around in the bed as a female voiceover stated, “Your father and I made a special kind of love.” Even with those scant, bowdlerized details, I shrank, realizing that everything the neighbor boys had been joking about was true, and I was hopelessly wrong.
If I wanted to be a daddy, I was going to have to put my penis in there. I hid my horror, not knowing why I did so. All I knew then was that I really, really wanted my version of how babies were made to be the way it worked. Doodlesmith Michael Butz drawing
My Cyborg Ate My Homework David Platt It is not that I am ungrateful for the added benefits and surplus of time that robots and cyborgs have provided humanity, but for a teenage boy with a busy social life, academic pressure and nagging parents (when they’re around), cyborgs can really fucking suck. I sat in my unkempt bedroom which was a departure from the overly sterilized hospital like nature that oozed over every square nanometer of my parents’ home. What could be seen of the emotionless grey painted walls of my room, peeked out from the many digital poster frames haphazardly strewn about. The main piece of hardware in my room other than the computer on my desk and the “smart frames” on my wall was my Cyborg. This was not a newer popular Turing model with advanced language and reasoning capabilities but rather an older Metropolis model. I’m sure it would be rusted by now if it could rust. The roll stamped motto on its chest plate that reads “For Every Modern Home” is nearly weathered away. The cyborg’s joints creak when it tries to move quickly and it only has a lousy 5 terabyte hard drive. I have repeatedly asked my folks for a better cyborg but they always respond with condescension and hostility. My Father would usually say “All you need is a bot to watch the house, you, and to assist you with school matters. I had to make do with 8 core notebooks, Ephone 7s, and tablets that would break if you dropped them once. ONCE! I made do without a cyborg as a personal assistant. You should be grateful.” Click. The video conference would end and that would be the extent of my parental contact for the week. I sat on the edge of my bed glaring at the Metropolis bot standing in the corner of the room, the “smart panel” above was displaying an image of the art classic “Piss Christ”. Somehow it seemed appropriate. Sweat began to drip down my forehead.
“How hot is it in here?” I demanded. “The temperature is 78.3 degrees Fahrenheit” The bot responded. “Turn it the hell down. Damn it. Are you trying to melt me?” “You cannot melt” “Really? What do you call this?” I shouted pointing to the abundance of perspiration dripping down my now frustration wrinkled forehead. “Sweat. Do you need a definition, or perhaps an explanation?” Its monotone response was common for a bot of its age, but I somehow sensed a hint of sarcasm. “Why don’t you just turn it down before I escort you down to the family wine cellar and wall you up, brick by brick. Is that ok with you Fortunato?” I hoped my verbal lashing would have some effect on it. “What temperature would you like?” The bot stated so inhumanely you’d forget that inside that stainless steel shell a ghost resided. “70 will be fine, you bronze brained bag of bargain bin bolts” I remarked. I moved from my bed to my desk. My homework was due and I needed to put my files onto a jump drive; I have no idea why schools still demand files be turned in on archaic pieces of technology such as jump drives .In fact, school requirements have got to be the only reason that any modern computer or bot even has a USB 7.0 port. I continued to fumble through my desk drawers until I found the tiny little historical artifact that is the jump drive. A quick download and it was ready. Some students at my high school still hand in their jump drives to their respective teachers, which I find puzzling, because if there was ever a group of people that could not grasp technology, even an archaic form like a jump drive its teachers; they may as well be Morlochs.
I plucked the drive from my computer and walked over to the cyborg. “Say Ahhh” I told it. These early Metropolis models have the jump port in their mouth so that there is little chance of something like water or snow getting into the sensitive electronics. As soon as I felt the wonderful click of positive engagement of the drive into the port, its metal jaw swung mechanically toward its metal upper lip, crushing my last jump drive into a million tiny pieces. A second later and I was on a vid-call with my ever unsympathetic father to discuss how my outdated bot just devoured my jump drive in the same fashion a Rancor chomps up a Jawa. “It fucking ate my homework. Why can’t you just buy me a decent bot? How about one of the newer Voight-Kampff Cyborgs? I read they can blush and have a heartbeat.” “No” My father said coolly. “Come on, How about one of those S.Connor models with the living tissue over the titanium frame?” “No, you cannot even manage the bot you have and you expect me to believe you’re going to be responsible enough for living tissue.” My father retorted.
“Fine, fine. How about a D. Haraway model?” “Not a chance, Son. I just read a news report about a D. Haraway bot who tried to neutralize the gender of its owner. I’m sure it was tampered with though.” “Come on Dad. What about one of the old A.S. Imov bots? They’re supposed to be quite helpful and they are cheaper than the others. They even have all seven volumes of that Foundation learning software” I was now on the last bot I was willing to beg for. “Nope. You’re going to have to go down to the cellar and find some paper. I’m sure there is an old ream of it I got from an antique sale last year. Just write out your assignment. It will be retro.” After my father’s suggestion there screen blanked. He had hung up. I headed to the basement in dismay. It did not take long to find the ream, which had a stack of plastic Bic pens on top. Wonderful, I thought, ink encased in plastic, so it’s twice the carcinogenic fun. I sat down on an old duster bot, ripped open the paper, which was surprisingly rough and wrote “My cyborg ate my homework”. It would not be retro. I would be the laughing stock of the school.
Minneapolis Sarai Meyer vanilla ice cream teeth and chocolate chip eyes.
rusty up spiral stair cases beside brick
cobblestones and shoelaces in alleys and
buildings. The hot fudge sunshine melts down
dusk-colored sidewalks. A flickering neon sign
the buildings and trickles down gutters
reads, “Sebastian Joes”— an ice cream parlor
into steamy grates. Deep shadows rest where
tucked under Hennepin Avenue and peeking
streetlights and spotlights can’t reach their flashlight
through skyscrapers and cathedrals and
fingers. Coats find backs. Hands find hands.
art galleries. Rainbow flags hang still in
Daytime finds its way home.
wavy windows and rod iron railings turn
The Warmth of You Remains Patricia Olson Familiar tread her footsteps recessed in my mind dulcify to silent peace questions muted plea. Eyes behold paphian vision embroiders gentle smile rest peaceful understanding this cross within my heart. Time recalls embodied warmth wrapped in cloaked seclusion escape her naked demise last days yet to claim. Death walks silent winds spreading touch of coldness delay grave’s decay agony’s stench grieved. Her spirit plays each smile laughter’s joy softens firm lips heart’s warming song dances inscripted memory of you.
Prescott is built on a hill— it pulls you down, like the St. Croix washes silt south. My parents found jobs across the state line, moved the family to flat earth—a basin of unflowing water—holding a memory on its tongue. On drives back across the bridge—we pass Prescott, skirt the edge, avoiding things forgotten and rarely missed. When I was young, I waded slow into the St. Croix until its cold spit consumed me— And I kept walking.
Death vainly arrived yet could not claim love’s cloak wrap warmly this spirit in my love.
Monsters Whittier Strong Each day of Drug Awareness Week had been devoted to a different substance: marijuana on Monday, cocaine on Tuesday, like the school-cafeteria calendar in a more twisted universe. Thursday was hallucinogens. Mr. Gromer explained that this particular drug could distort your visual perception. Everyone’s hand shot up. “Mr. Gromer, what would I look like if someone was hallucinating?” “Well, Kristen, you’re wearing a red sweatshirt, so they might think you were a ladybug.” “And what about me?” asked one of the six Matts. “Your hair is really spiky; someone might think you were a porcupine.” I put up my shaky hand. “And what about me, Mr. Gromer?” “Since you’re wearing brown, they might think you were a tree.” That I was wearing brown was an understatement. I was bedecked from head to toe in sad hues. First off, there was the small paper bag on top of my head. The exact reason why I wore this is lost to me, but I do remember that my school constantly held “costume days,” and I had probably fashioned the bag into a crown. I had learnt to craft many projects from paper bags, an art supply my mom could afford since they came free with the groceries. As to my more mundane apparel, I wore unbreakable (and unavoidably unfashionable) brown vinyl eyeglass frames with inverted-trapezoid lenses à la the 1950’s, which Kristen regularly mocked as “Leave It to Beaver glasses.” I also wore a chocolate-brown polo shirt (during the neon 1980’s) that bore neither polo player nor alligator embroidered over the left breast. Rather, it was some forgotten animal that the good folks at K-mart deemed “close enough.” This tiny deviation from the norm meant everything. My hometown has always been sharply divided by class; the first question children ask upon first meeting is, “What 26
does your dad do?” And in my day, “K-mart” was a byword for poverty and, by extension, inferiority; a common insult was “Your mom shops at K-Mart!” The embroidered animal on my shirt (a tiger, maybe?) announced to the world that this was indeed where my mom shopped, and all six Matts made sure I never forgot it. I finished off the ensemble with beige corduroys (which were either much too early or much too late to be fashionable) and dull penny loafers. These I wore because all the other boys wore blue jeans and sneakers. If I wasn’t able to fit in, then, by God, I would move as far away from fitting in as possible. And so I sat in brown upon brown. Mr. Gromer’s explanation of the power of hallucinogens did not work quite as he had planned. This drug could change things. My brown world could glow in the same fluorescence as the six Matts’ more fashionable polos. I could be a tree— tall, solid, strong—all I was not. So I raised my hand again and told Mr. Gromer, “You know, hallucinogens sound really cool, kind of fun.” Mr. Gromer replied, “But the trouble with hallucinogens is that you have no control over what you see. You could just as easily see some terrifying monster.” I didn’t tell Mr. Gromer that I had already seen the monsters that drugs can create. I don’t know how I intuited from such an early age, even before I knew what drugs were, that my father was an addict. He was a truck driver. Truck drivers are forced to work punishing hours, and, in order to maintain stamina, sometimes resort to drugs. My mom was too naïve to come to the conclusion I had. It was easy enough for her to find other reasons for the evaporating family income (she only ever saw a dwindling grocery allowance), for the bizarre late-night phone calls, for the beatings. After my mom fled with us kids when I was nine, my father kept his modest income to himself. Back then, the courts did not strictly enforce child-support payments; my
father paid maybe four times. He had also left my mom permanently disabled—internal organ damage from the beatings, nerve damage from forced starvation, crippling depression—and she was thus unable to work. No longer interested in us children, the monster of my drug-addled father faded away, and the monster of poverty took his place. For a ten-year-old, this meant suffering the indignity of wearing an improperly adorned polo shirt. For my mom, the monster of poverty was the heartache of watching her children go hungry. It was sending her eldest to school in his brown polo and beige corduroys, and scrubbing his white polo and blue corduroys on a washboard, because the washer had broken and there was no money to repair it, and even though she could only afford one change of clothing for her son, she would never send him to school in dirty clothes. It was discovering how the schoolkids mocked her precious son for his clothing, and teaching him to say, whenever the other children acted monstrously, “If you want to see me wear better, you’re welcome to buy it for me,” a mind-your-ownbusiness retort that an adult might have understood but flew over the heads of fifth-graders. Different generations, different monsters.
Haute Dish is published three times a year and 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 enrolled Metropolitan State students for the Fall 2013 issue. The deadline for submissions is Sunday, July 7, 2013. To view detailed submission guidelines and for more information about our selection process, visit us on the Web at www.hautedish.metrostate.edu