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Richard Magner Bryan Haddad Caitlin Breen

EASTERN EXPOSURE

This edition features the works of:

Tomas Colon

Eastern Exposure

Eric Cerino Angela DiLella Joshua Shedd Eliza Kirchoff Stephanie Trapani Zachary Marotte Matthew Longmire Rachel Scrivano Marcia Lee

Student Literary Journal 2014

Sam Lisi

Sabrina Scott Stephen Lukaszewski Bryan Mitchell Amber Murphy Lauren Teta Alexis Ballirano Sean Richmond Jakub Eiden Illena Anger Sam Figueroa Bryon Hardt Emily Shields Seth McCullock Jennifer Mouland

EASTERN CONNECTICUT STATE UNIVERSITY

Shawnese Turner

Student Literary Journal 2014


Eastern Exposure 2014


Eastern Exposure Eastern Exposure, Eastern Connecticut State University’s student literary magazine, is published annually by the Eastern Writers Guild of Eastern Connecticut State University, English Department, 225 Webb Hall, 83 Windham Street, Willimantic, CT 06226. Email: easternwriters@my.easternct.edu Phone: 860-456-4570 Fax: 860-456-4580 Faculty Advisor Dr. Daniel Donaghy, Associate Professor of English English Club Executive Board President: Angela DiLella Vice President: Jennifer Mouland Secretary: Bryan Mitchell Treasurer: Nicholas Cecere 2014 Editorial Board Fiction Editor: Cody Dolan Poetry Editor: Maddy Kobar Assistant Editors: Amy Alasso, Caitlin Breen, Tashanna Edwards, Jakub Eiden, Kelsey Guggenheim, Kelsey Haddad, Kyle Hottin, Christopher Marcinkewicz, Seth McCullock, Kiara Paez, Noah Richard, Sean Richmond, Jordan Sakal, Sabrina Scott, Joshua Shedd, Mikayla Zagata Cover Photographer Meagan Albin Eastern Exposure showcases the literary work of Eastern Connecticut State University’s student writers. In doing so, it promotes the university’s mission to be “the state’s public liberal arts university” and “to be a model community of learners of different ages from diverse cultural, racial and social backgrounds.” SUBMISSIONS: Eastern Exposure accepts submissions of student poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction from the beginning of the fall term until 4 p.m. on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. All Eastern students are invited to submit their work (up to five pieces, under ten pages per single piece) as a single Word attachment to easternwriters@my.easternct.edu. Each student should also include a brief (15-word) biographical note with his/her submission. Eastern Exposure is distributed free to members of the Eastern Connecticut State University community. Current issues are available in the campus bookstore, the Student Center, Smith Library, and the English Department Office. Back issues may be available through the English Club Faculty Advisor and the English Department. All print rights for individual works revert to contributors upon publication. However, the editors of Eastern Exposure reserve the right to feature work printed in journal on its website. Special thanks to Miranda Lau (English Department), Kevin Paquin (University Relations) John Bazin and Chris Ambrosio (Student Affairs), Karyl Bulmer (Fiscal Affairs) and everyone associated with BAM for their guidance and support. © 2014 Eastern Connecticut State University. All rights reserved.


“The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.” –Kurt Vonnegut


CONTENTS Richard Magner

A Poem without A Home

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Bryan Haddad Little Clover 8 Stephanie Trapani Grand Central 9 Caitlin Breen The Drag Up 10 Tomas Colon Legacy 11 Eric Cerino

Your Life to Lead

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Angela DiLella Sir Tulip Bunbury 14 Caitlin Breen Never Could Hold 15 Sam Lisi Dad’s Workshop 16 Joshua Shedd Spike Spiegal Wakes 17 Eliza Kirchoff

‘Til Death Do Us Part

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Sam Lisi Mr. Daniels 22 Stephanie Trapani A Turning Point 24 Zachary Marotte

Fenian Sunset (A Chronicle of the Fenian Uprising, June 1866)

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Matthew Longmire

GAS, GAS, GAS!

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Rachel Scrivano The Marine’s Wife 31 Marcia Lee

I Race For My Race

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Sabrina Scott Tangled 34 Marcia Lee

I Am My Hair

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Angela DiLella Feast 36 Sam Lisi 4

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Make-A-Wish, For Fast Food

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CONTENTS Stephen Lukaszewski We Were Young 43 Bryan Haddad Dad’s Hands 44 Sabrina Scott Ayelen 45 Amber Murphy

The Guardians of Life

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Bryan Mitchell

Bear Bear

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Shawnese Turner Coffee Cup 50 Richard Magner Waking Up Alone 51 Lauren Teta Engrave 52 Alexis Ballirano Sean Richmond

Musings of A Lonely Girl

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Breaking Form, or, Choose Your Own Adventure

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Jakub Eiden The Cherry Grove 56 Illena Anger A Lonely Man’s Memories 59 Amber Murphy Living in Purpose 60 Stephanie Trapani

When Life Gives You Lemons

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Sabrina Scott Untangled 62 Sam Figueroa China Doll 63 Sabrina Scott Arcade 66 Bryon Hardt Irene 68 Emily Shields Sailor’s Moon 69 Illena Anger Nightcrawlers 70 Shawnese Turner Mildew 71 Eastern Exposure

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CONTENTS

Lauren Teta Shields 73 Tomas Colon

Through the Chains

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Illena Anger

The Words He Spoke That Night

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Shawnese Turner The Night Sky 77 Bryan Mitchell Flawless Fantasy Made Reality 78 Angela DiLella Daphne 81 Seth McCullock The Ferryman 83 Jennifer Mouland The Maze 84 Amber Murphy

Everlasting Minds

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Contributors’ Notes 87

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Richard Magner

A Poem without A Home All she wanted was to be famous, to be so important that everyone wrote poetry of her, could not resist her, could not stop thinking of her, could not be inspired without her; and so she started writing poetry herself of herself, of her love, of her world. She left school in October when it started getting cold, and moved out to join a band that practiced every night, that lived every night, breathed every night, could not sleep at night; and so she started playing at bars, songs of herself, of her love, of her world. They broke up by December when it started to snow, and her money dried up fast. Without a place to go she wandered, collecting cans for money and newspapers for news until she found a scrap breezing by, a poem draft discarded about the homeless she put in her pocket, she thought of it every night, read it every night; and so she smiled to herself between tears, now she was famous in herself, in her love, in her world.

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Bryan Haddad

Little Clover Tiny clover at the base of a tall cedar Struggling to live in the shadows Perfect petals grasping for sunlight Waiting, Growing, Ready to sprout. I call you Lizzy Littlest of my girls.

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Stephanie Trapani

Grand Central The hours between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m.: Serenity Where the pots and pans can regain their shine The dish drain can release its angst And the mugs can rest from the caffeine Scuffed wooded floors, embracing traffic Of the growing tots, dragging backpacks into the mud room. Withered granite from coffee mug power stances, Leaving a ring of stress. Plump yellow lemons, decorating the center of the cherry wood island, Absorbing late-night hidden fights, Masking reality. Stainless steel sink, echoing financial issues, And overdue credit card bills. One-year anniversary champagne flutes collecting dust in the back of the china cabinet, mocking the 4 year marriage of wedded bliss and loyalty. The light brown farm table, given as a gift, with six chairs surrounding, representing the promise of four children to fill them; where four were conceived, yet only two made it to those thrones. The double door refrigerator, holding onto straight-A report cards, and Little League sign up sheets, to remind the overworked queen of her duties, and grocery lists. 3 p.m. hits: The terminal is back up and running

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Caitlin Breen

The Drag Up 1. No one dreams in black and white: when your sleeping brain pulls faces and shapes and warped stories from its restless corners, it doesn’t use your eyes at all. If you don’t remember color, it means the drag up left them behind in favor of stronger details: the impossible staircases, the mouthful of broken teeth, the distorted hands attached to your own wrists. 2. Somewhere in the restless corners, there’s an image without context: you, standing in a doorway, leaning to one side. I know it must have been at Whispering Pines, twenty years ago. I know your hair was dark blonde, my mother tells me you wore awful, mustard-yellow shorts, but the image is drained of color in favor of the stronger details: a four year-old girl looking up and up and up at who she thinks must be the tallest man in the world, who slouches, who leans against the railing, who has a ring through one eyebrow and a dark baseball cap on backwards. 3. The last time: you came to our house almost unannounced with your father and watched Stand By Me on TV. Your father thought the blueberry pie scene was the greatest in modern cinema. I don’t remember what you thought. 4. A month later my brother answered the phone and choked on something wordless. I turned around and saw him twist around what the world had given him to say before he handed the phone off to our mother and told me: Danny died. There is no color in this.

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Tomas Colon

Legacy Overcome by focus Unobstructed direction Used for greater good Compensated with contempt Never just a number Awake Never again will I slumber Leaping over obstacles Sifting through the lies Honest to a fault Gates to the soul are the eyes Complaining is quite useless Struggle falls upon deaf ears Moist cheeks are for the weak Never bothered with the tears Eyes on the prize Stereotypes like iron chains Knock me down and I still rise You will not forget my name Forever seeking knowledge As you tried to hide the books Intelligence gets you further Some get by on just their looks Narrow path the one I chose Fighting to find my way No one ever truly knows Quiet men have much to say I am only one of many Seeking progress for his kin Opportunities have not been plenty You refuse to let me in

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Tomas Colon Never just a number Finally wide awake Never again will I slumber From me you shall no longer take Today I look you in the face After enduring so much pain I will have earned my rightful place You will not forget my name You will not forget my name

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Eric Cerino

Your Life to Lead If one were to dream, say nothing at all, it is he who plays at sea. For you can so dream, every night in bed, and drown in the nothingness. If one were to love, permit such action, it is he who flies with doves. For you can so love, in your mind of filth, and attain your sick pleasure. If one were to sing, fix your broken ears, it is he who knows his glee. For you can so sing, on the top of lungs, for your selfish reasoning. If one were to laugh, take note of his joy, it is he who grasps this life. For you can so laugh, for days upon days, but never laugh with meaning. If one were to die, comfort him in need, for that one changed many lives. For you can so die, a wretched, dark death, with no one in your garden.

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Angela DiLella

Sir Tulip Bunbury Come one, come all, visitors to these slimy London docks lit by the rose-red underground of this world; you told your wives and fathers and families that you were here on business— or you didn’t bother telling them a damn thing. But you and I both know that you’re here to Bunbury, bury the bun, whichever you prefer, for a small fee either way, no-one would ever notice it. Gentle will, rough will— Doesn’t matter any way. And after enough of a drag on the pipe, you won’t notice what’s greeting you either. A pinch or sip of opium is all it takes, casual connoisseur, then a flip and a trick by yours truly, a flick of the gas lights’ dial, and— —Don’t bother with the shillings now, I’ve built up a tolerance and I’ll be getting my pay.

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Caitlin Breen

Never Could Hold There’s something like bile that lurches up your throat when your parents insist that there must be something under all that ache that they can name and take away, like the storms that slam the coastline in the fall. Don’t they know that naming hurricanes never made them hit any softer? Don’t they know that the weight of all your rust goes deeper than the bone, down past where your marrow builds your blood, back and back before the day you bunny-eared your shoes, started school, spoke your first word, that long before the day one caught the other’s eye, a line of code caught and snagged and tore on a ragged edge so small it took eighteen years for the tear to make itself known to your body, to scratch its name up your skinny back to carry as if it were yours—it is not yours. It is not yours: your name is bigger than the storm, spinning wild over the gray sea, the force some poor soul thought they could contain in a trochee, an iamb, the rise-and-fall or fall-and-rise that never could hold you, no, not you.

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Sam Lisi

Dad’s Workshop The sound of a saw reminds me of the days I was forbidden, The place that hung with the scent of cedar, and sweat Never had a welcome mat outside of the door. From inside the sounds of a man Unhappy with the way it turned out, Unhappy with the way he turned out, Echoed into the back yard to where I sat Waiting for his face to peek around the doorframe. I never saw finished projects leave That asylum that provided safety To the man, that provided safety. In a sense, the continuous pounding of the hammer Symbolized the predictability of his life. The predictability that he assumed my life would hold. Now, fifteen years later, I have come to the conclusion That he wasn’t building anything in that garage Other than a plan That would allow the life that was supposed to be for one To be lived through another. Now fifteen years later, I understand That the scream of the saw and the cloud of sawdust Served no other purpose than to block out The sounds and the sights That chose to remind him constantly Of the potential he chose to waste.

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Joshua Shedd

Spike Spiegal Wakes A new stereoscopy as the sad man rises, two brown orbs in his face and a false life in his head. The sheets are soft and white, starlight on a red hull in a dull-colored universe only minutes away from this quiet morning, a new day, an old blond head lying close––not dead but breathing softly–– And in the blur of morning vision there is a blue chuckle, heavy with self-affirmation and encompassing a “bang” from his only-a-dream life of echoing steps on metal floors and automatic doors straight from a film. No more cowboys on Mars for the smoking man in bed, the once-dead king of the solar system.

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Eliza Kirchoff

‘Til Death Do Us Part The wind from the open window ripped through her hair, whipping in it kinks around her face. She smiled as she propped her aged Frye boots on the dashboard of his beloved ‘69 Camaro. With any luck, the caked on dirt would embed itself in the vinyl dash. Music blasted through the speakers, her mind filling with the passing lyrics. How ironic, she thought, as Maroon 5’s “She Will Be Loved” began. She listened for a bit until the chorus came, and she happily began to sing along: “I don’t mind spending every day Out on your corner in the pouring rain Look for the girl with the broken smile Ask her if she wants to stay awhile And she will be loved; She will be loved.” She quietly hummed along to the rest of the song as she pushed the clip in and out of the grip of her father’s old 9mm pistol. He had given it to her once he deemed her old enough to handle it. She recalled the Sunday mornings that her father would take her to the shooting range when she was younger. She would sit and watch as a child, but after a few years he began to teach her. After each session her father would take her out to breakfast at the diner. They would always sit in the same booth and order the same things every time. A glass of milk and buttermilk pancakes for herself, and her dad always had a full plate of sunny-side up eggs, sausage, whole wheat toast and home fries, which he washed down with black coffee. She missed those days; her life was so simple then. She looked over at Adam; his eyes locked forward as he drove, acting as though the clicking didn’t bother him. She peered out at the vast desert; they had veered off the empty road a while back and now they were in the middle of nowhere. As the song faded out she pressed the tip of the pistol to the power button. Her voice was now the only thing that would be heard. “Pull over,” she ordered him. Obliging, he came to a quick stop, skidding along the sandy dirt. She was jolted in her seat but quickly composed herself. “Get out.” The dust was still rising in swirls around them as she opened the door. She walked to the trunk; her boots kicking up dust around her feet with every step she took. She placed the gun in the back waistband of her cut-off Levi jean shorts and watched him open it.

Inside, the girl looked as though she could be sleeping. She lay on 18

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Eliza Kirchoff her side; her brunette hair framed her face in long waves. The only thing out of place was the large red stain smeared across the front of her shirt. Combing out her windblown hair with her fingers, she watched Adam lift the girl out of the trunk, carrying her gently in his strong arms. It had been days since she had slept and his actions continued to anger her with each passing moment. Fed up with his bullshit, she grabbed the shovel from the trunk, dragging it behind her. When she was just a few steps behind him she called out for him. “Hey Adam,” and he turned to face her. She gave the shovel a light swing that crashed into his jaw. Not enough power to cause real damage, but enough to get the desired effect. He dropped the girl on the hard desert floor, hand placed hard against his face, bending over in pain. “What the fuck, Emma!” he cried out. He removed his hand from his face, revealing a crescent-shaped gash across his jaw line. “The bitch is dead,” she snapped venomously. “You don’t have to be so sweet to her.” Looking at Emma’s face, Adam cautiously took hold of the girl under her arms and began to drag her through the sandy dirt, deeper into the empty desert. Walking past small shrubs that looked as though they had been petrified by the heat, Emma led the way closer to the sandstone cliffs that acted as a barrier from the rest of the world. Once they reached a spot that she deemed good enough, she threw the shovel down for him to begin digging. She sat on a nearby rock, watching as he dug. Soon sweat began to stain his white T-shirt, along with the red-orange soil that he disturbed as he dug. After a while of watching, Emma became bored and found entertainment in playing with the frayed hem of her shorts. Pulling on loose strings until they were freed from the denim lasted only so long, and once again boredom loomed over her. Grabbing the gun, she started clicking the clip in and out, in and out, like a nervous twitch. Again, playing with the gun brought up memories of her father. She missed him now that he had died. She wished she had forgiven him before he passed, but she was crushed when she found out about his infidelity. Her family had been perfect as she was growing up. They were the typical family: her loving mother and father and her older brother, Hunter. Her parents seemed happy together and never seemed to fight. She didn’t even see it all coming. She had been so close with her dad and when he left them, she had felt personally victimized. Her attention quickly transferred back to Adam and the dead body that lay beside him. She wondered for a moment who this girl was. She was young and pretty in the way you would notice in passing, but she didn’t seem like anything special. Emma mulled over whether the girl had a family, and then decided that it didn’t matter. She didn’t care who that woman was. All she knew was that she got in the way of her family and Emma wouldn’t have Eastern Exposure

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Eliza Kirchoff that happen again. No one would get in the middle of her family like they did before. “Are you done yet?” she sighed, looking over. “Yeah, I think so,” Adam huffed out with one last shovelful of earth. Emma got up from her perch and walked over to survey his work. He stepped out of the shallow hole he had created as he ran his arm against his face, wiping the sweat from his forehead. “Good enough.” she said, as if this whole ordeal was a pain. She nudged the girl with the toe of her boot. “You know what to do now.” She walked away, kicking dirt and watching it cloud as Adam pushed the girl into the hole and started to cover her. “So what now?” he asked once he finished his latest assigned task. “Now…” Emma trailed off, pointing the gun at Adam. “Emma, please. Please don’t do this. I’m sorry. So sorry.” “Sorry doesn’t really mean much coming from you, Adam,” she snorted. “But she didn’t mean anything to me. Really…” “Well, she meant something to me. Because you couldn’t fucking keep it in your pants, now she’s dead. And you’re next.” “Please, you don’t have to do this. We can move on and forget this ever happened.” “No we can’t, Adam. You knew what this would do to me and you did it anyways.” Her mind raced. She didn’t even know the girl’s name, but it didn’t seem to matter. She only felt anger and hatred towards her. “Em,” he said hesitantly as he slowly walked towards her, hands raised in surrender. “If I could take it back, I would. I never wanted this to happen.” “No, you never thought I would catch you,” she corrected. “How could you do that, Adam? You know how I felt about my father. You were there for me through all of that. I trusted him and he betrayed my family. I thought I could trust you too.” “Emma, please,” he said calmly as he inched closer and closer to her until he was right in front of her. He reached out and took her hand. “Please, I love you. I’m sorry for this. I wasn’t thinking, but I understand why you are so upset. Please, let’s just go and forget about this. I’ve always loved you and this will never happen again. You can trust me.” He looked down at her, grasping her limp hand in his own. He placed his other hand on the belly of her shirt. Over the last few weeks he had noticed her toned stomach had become softer. “I love you and I want to keep our family together.” She could feel her eyes well up with tears as she looked up at him. She loved him, and she had thought he truly loved her. But he couldn’t if he had done this. She scanned his face, his strong jaw ruined by the dried blood 20

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Eliza Kirchoff from the fresh cut the shovel had made. There were dark circles under his eyes from the lack of sleep and scruff had grown in from not shaving the last few days. She searched his eyes for the truth. Did he still love her, or was this another of his many lies? Adam leaned in closer to kiss her. His calloused hands held her face as his lips pressed softly to hers. At first she stood there, unpersuaded by his efforts, but soon softened to him. Kissing him back, she felt the love and passion that they’d had for one another from the start. His kisses trailed across her cheek and slowly down her neck. “Give me the keys,” she ordered bluntly, cutting off his attempt at fixing his wrongdoings. Reaching into the pocket of his dirty jeans he grabbed the keys and gently placed them in her open hand. Turning on the heel of her boot, and with a flip of her windblown hair, she turned her back on him and headed for the car. “Emma, what does this mean? Can you forgive me?” he questioned cautiously. She stopped for a moment, her back still to Adam as she thought. Slowly, a smile pulled across her face and she turned to look at him. “Yes, Adam. I forgive you,” she said. She could see his shoulders drop in relief as he sighed. “But I can’t forget what you did. And I no longer trust you.” She raised the gun towards him. She gripped the trigger and then gently squeezed it. She saw him fall to the ground, and for a moment sadness consumed her. She looked at her left hand. This was not how she had pictured her life turning out. There was nothing she could do about it now. Just this once, she would allow herself to feel the pain. She bent down and slowly scraped the earth away with her hands until a small hole had been made. With one last look at the gleaming ring on her hand, she loosened it from her finger. With a sigh, Emma dropped her wedding ring into the small crater in the terrain and covered it, as if erasing what had happened today and the mistakes they had each made. Without looking back, she walked to his Camaro and put the keys in the ignition. Emma looked down for a moment seeing a dirty handprint left from Adam on her white tank top, right where you could start to see her fleshy baby bump. She looked at herself in the rearview mirror before adjusting it. She gazed deeply into her own eyes and watched as a single tear fell. Taking a deep breath, she furiously swiped the tear away. She hit the power on the radio and once again the sound filled the car. Singing along, free of emotion, she drove off, leaving her old life behind her.

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Sam Lisi

Mr. Daniels

Sinatra refused to sing unless I was there to ease his nerves. I had that influence on a lot of performers that you might know. Having someone so familiar on the road always helped the artists forget that they missed their families. I guess you could say my persuasion served as a distraction for those who needed to focus on more important things. It was my relationship with Sinatra that caused him to lash out at his children and his wife. At the end of the day, They just couldn’t understand him like I did. I wasn’t always backstage. I wasn’t always on a bus headed to the next show, the next city. I was there when JFK was assassinated. After all was done and done, I sat with Jackie smoking cigarettes, the same way I once sat with Marilyn. Underneath the blond hair and dimples lived someone different. This girl knew abandonment all too well. And After popular culture removed its silver tongue from her mouth, I made sure that Marilyn could count on me To make her feel good again. It was my idea for Gotti to take Castellano out of the picture. I’ve always been an expert at instilling this type of inspiration. Gotti enjoyed having me in his corner of the ring. I loosened him up, making sure that he felt confident. I wonder if he ever realized, while sitting in that jail cell, that I was there with the FBI agents that day in December. After they put him behind bars, Those agents made sure I got the first invite to their party. Through the clouds of smoke, our glasses could be seen clinking together, celebrating his fall from power. I try to keep a low profile nowadays. Hanging around bachelor parties and birthday celebrations. I encourage those who would not otherwise do, to do: This song is great, you should dance on that table. 22

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Sam Lisi That guy just checked out your girl, you should handle it. Indulge in your urges, is what I always say. You should tell your friends to look me up some time I’m not that hard to find, really. I guess you can say that my reputation precedes me. Just step up to the bartender and ask for me by name. I’m not one for formal introductions. Just ask for Jack.

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Stephanie Trapani

A Turning Point I remember when I remember when I called my father out It was at the town diner down the road I remember exactly what I ordered that night Crispy chicken tenders and a side of flaky onion rings I remember it started off normal, with a hint of awkward He ordered meatloaf and mashed potatoes That was his staple I don’t remember how it started But I do remember him being speechless He was never speechless I remember I had power Carrying the interaction Wanting answers, explanations, honesty I remember the foggy vision, which came about From invading tears among my pupils I don’t remember feeling bad, just feeling momentum I remember asking why he would do something like that And he tried to explain Even though I didn’t buy it, it was Breakthrough, Satisfaction, Continue I remember the awkward presence of the waitress Placing down our plates, sneaking in, sneaking out I didn’t care, I was on a roll I remember taking a bite and tasting nothing I had no time to taste; I had questions that needed answers He held my hand, Wiped my tears with the grainy cheap napkin, 24

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Stephanie Trapani And gave me what I wanted I remember relief I remember swollen eyes And hugs in the parking lot I remember peace that night I got a full night sleep I remember a turning point And never looking back.

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Zachary Marotte

Fenian Sunset (A Chronicle of the Fenian Uprising, June 1866) With flags unfurled and pacts made, Our nation’s pride carries us on To that foreign shore, Where bloody backs pollute the hillsides And lay waste the fertile lands to the north With their thieving, parasitic ways. The spirit of ‘48 drives us on, Memories of famine and fleas; Death brought us to our knees As the countryside of Ireland Was littered with the faces of loved ones. Cries of children without bread for days And the groans of British ships laden with wheat in the bays. Youth and innocence died that year And cramped ships teeming with lice, Maggot-ridden bread, and stale water Greeted the survivors who chose to emigrate To a land where inequality was a way of life, And where our kind were spit upon and cursed By the violent majority in power. So we suffered through the derisions, and became one with this new society. For thirteen years, we struggled and toiled To make a living in this new land of opportunity and prejudice, But in the spring of ‘61, the idea of unity eroded entirely. Some wore the blue, and others the gray, as our brothers Fought and died beneath the cannon’s mouth, And whole valleys, once lush and green and whispering Tales of sweet harvests and golden summers, Now wailed as death and carnage plagued The fertile soil, ravaging the once pure countryside. Tales of war, narratives of pain, letters from home: These are what motivated us, What kept us warm at night when flames Did nothing to soothe the icy tendrils of loss. Beset by tragedy, wishing for an end to the struggle, We trudged on, hoping that a musket ball would not Find its home in our being. As the spring of ‘65 approached, our sunken faces and bloodied Hands gripped our muskets, anxious for the next battle,

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Zachary Marotte Hoping it would be the last. In trenches, we fought with the rats and tried To make sense of what the past four years Had been, of what we had lost, and what we had gained. As the blood of so many young men became the penance For a few men’s sins, the storm of war soon abated. Peace tables were established, and slips of paper were Signed, seemingly abolishing The horrors of four-and-a-half years in a few seconds. We were not convinced, but we kept our silence And disarmed or stood at attention as a nation pretended to heal itself. Still, we were without a home. To the north there lay a land That had been subjugated for many a year By the House of Hanover, Those scions of imperialist fervor. It is there that the Rising would strike And hold at last the keys to Ireland’s manumission. Thus, just as we had fought to serve a cause greater Than ourselves in the service of a nation that despised us, So would we now contend with forces beyond our grasp To rid our homeland of tyranny. I stood, pistol held aloft, Awaiting the command to push the boats Into the Great Lake So that the great invasion of Canada Could begin and Ireland would be free. As commands were shouted down the line, I raced to gather my company beneath our banner, Ere we start for that enemy coast, Where no man but he who is free in spirit and mind may boast Of the cunning and guile of fifteen hundred brave Irishmen Who dared the Empire of crimson and white To have a share of the Irish plight. One possession held at bargain for another’s independence, And Great Britain would become the land of but two kingdoms, While the Irish Republican Brotherhood laid claim to the third. Together, we prayed, As the waves beat and pushed the sands, Impatient in their resolve. The holy words recited, We made for our rafts; Eastern Exposure

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Zachary Marotte Their constitution strong. Our hearts merry despite The cold, we rowed against the current, Our oars straining in the ancient waters, Where dreams dwelt and fortunes died. At last upon the quiet sands, We formed our column and Proceeded into the hills, Where our progress was blocked By a host of gray-clad militia, Their muskets at the ready. For close to an hour, The lines surged back and forth, The balls tearing into the flesh, But never once were our flags dropped. Threatening the right of the enemy’s line, The Canadians’ will to fight began to drain, Lessened still by the appearance Of our mounted scouts. Like a great gray wolf that had been cornered, The mass of men formed into a giant square, Their bayonets shining in the sunlight. We discharged our muskets into this densely packed Formation, and the killing ground filled with bodies. As the last remnants of the enemy fled, We took count of our losses, And withdrew, our destination Fort Erie. The afternoon sun now setting, We began to hurry toward our salvation, But such safety was for naught, As the crimson tide soon appeared to wash away our hard-fought victory. Sallying forth, the red-coated Regulars assaulted us on the march, Shattering our lines. The screams, the smoke, the flames overpowered us, and discipline quickly broke down. Running pell-mell for our boats, we burned whatever we could Not salvage, lest it fall into the hands of the British. It is a pity we could not do the same for our pride. Those who could made way for the waters Where once we were citizens. Greeted by several American ships, We were taken into custody.

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Zachary Marotte Better to surrender to those who had Defeated our enemies twice yet hated us Than to be the lackeys of an Empire that Starved and subjugated our kin. Alas, there was no victory, Nor glory. Only pain and woe. Yea, the blood of our Republican brothers Stained the hallowed flags That just hours before had crowned The hillsides of Canada. In the fading rays of the sun, I looked to the north, The last flags being burned, The harp of Ireland laid to waste, And the tea-leaved laughter of So many imperialists, their repulse Of rebellious servants a fitting joke. A blood-red end to the day, A Fenian sunset: that is what has been paid.

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Matthew Longmire

GAS, GAS, GAS! The whole platoon was in formation in front of an ominous building. We’d heard stories of this place. We entered one at a time to find two drill instructors In their full chemical suits donning gas masks. When we were all inside, we were instructed to don our gas masks We instantly felt the burn They told us to remove our masks, for a brief moment. I then donned and cleared my mask to find malfunctions. I had a slow leak and the mask filled with gas, I had no choice but to breathe it in so I could clear the mask a second time. I was successful, but the pain was immense. It was almost over. We were ordered to remove our masks again and give information–– Name, rank, and social––then re-don and clear again. At the point of exiting, they told us not to run out the door. Those that didn’t listen ran right into the massive tree outside. As we left we ripped our masks off, some coughing, Some vomiting, all of us crying, mucus pouring out from our noses and mouths, Drool stretching from our mouths to the dirt, They told us to run in circles and flap our arms to ease the pain–– Clearly a prank, that just made the burn worse. Without protective suits, we were covered in CS gas. It was in our hair, and mouths, and eyes, and our uniforms. Imagine being soaked from head to toe in pepper spray. We couldn’t change until after a 5-mile march back to the barracks. The cool breeze ripping through us a constant reminder, We all fought for showers. Some of us didn’t wait and used the sinks. One of us used toilet water and his wash cloth. From that moment on, whenever a drill sergeant yelled GAS GAS GAS We didn’t hesitate to don and clear. Some even slept in their gas masks. In those 9 weeks of training, nothing was worse than that chamber And that three-letter word repeated: GAS GAS GAS

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Rachel Scrivano

The Marine’s Wife The rocking of the boat over the waves, Zigzags stopped on the monitor for days, Unplugged tuned-out teen in the corner by the screen. Hazy skies and minds paralyzed her heart, And I knew those salted tears tasted tart. Finally her hand smeared her pain That has started that night in the pouring rain. He waved to her from the bow, The sunset echoing their timeless time and, From time to time, he looked back to smile, And it stayed for a while, but soon she’d forget. She forgot. She forgot how he had that one dimple, Those crooked teeth or that charming simple Raspy laugh any chain smoker’s wife knew. But she remembers each night to watch the sun Drop below the ocean’s giant tear And she kisses the crescent moon when all is done.

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Marcia Lee

I Race For My Race I hurry into class. The bell rings. I just made it. My damp hair saturates the collar of my shirt. “What is that smell?” chirps a fellow black student. Wrinkling her delicately powdered nose. “It’s chlorine,” I reply. Why don’t you wear your hair straight? “I’m on the swim team,” I reply. “Girl, don’t you know black people don’t swim?” My response? So I’ve heard. “They don’t have the buoyancy.” FACT: The stereotype derived from blacks’ once-limited access to water. Beaches would border million dollar homes, a diabolical tactic of segregating racial communities into economic divisions, thus isolating them. Monetary Genocide. I race for my Rights. I race for my Race. “That’s some white people shit.” “What Black person you know swims?” Asks another uninformed pupil. I’m so glad you asked. FACT: Cullen Jones has recently been declared the fastest swimmer in the world. FAST FORWARD. Breaking news: Two Negro sisters have tried out And been accepted to the United States Swimming Team. PAUSE. Swimming while black? I don’t think so. Swim Parents unite. It’s time to purify the sport we dominate. Starting with? The Lee sisters. STEP ONE: Break their confidence Beat them. Strip their souls. Sound familiar? FACT: Black people were beaten into submissiveness and to prevent rebellion. I race for my Rights. I race for my Race. They couldn’t bear it. Black faces tarnishing a white team. 32

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Marcia Lee Contamination. Tainting a purity. And we were labeled as such. Not teammates, but rivals. Not an asset, but a threat. No, a double threat. “No honey, you can’t invite her to your party,” “She’s too,” and I quote, “ghetto.” “But her sister is invited.” Which brings me to STEP TWO: Their strategy? DIVIDE and CONQUER. NOT. This right here is a packaged deal. What we do, we do together. I race for my Rights. I race for my Race. STEP THREE: Alienation. Alienate the minority race. Alienate the minorities. Alienate them. Alienate us. “We don’t think you fit in with this team.” STEP FOUR: Destroy them. Targets? The Lee sisters placing in the top ten. In the region, In the state, In the country. Per order of all those threatened by their success, TAKE...THEM...OUT! And so they did.

END NOTE: Al Campanis was the general manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers from 1968 to 1987 and was fired on April 6, 1987, as a result of controversial remarks regarding blacks in baseball during an interview on Nightline. Campanis, who had played alongside Robinson and was known for being very close to him, was being interviewed about the subject. Nightline anchor Ted Koppel asked him why, at the time, there had been few black managers and no black general managers in Major League Baseball. Campanis’s reply was that blacks “may not have some of the necessities to be, let’s say, a field manager, or, perhaps, a general manager” for these positions. He also went on to say that blacks are poor swimmers “because they don’t have the buoyancy,” as quoted in my poem.

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Sabrina Scott

Tangled Poems are balls of yarn. Some like to let their string of thoughts lie limp on a table in a careless pile. Others take their string and twist and twirl it. They pull and knot, weave and wind the soft string until it sits a complicated ball: messy, maybe, but distinct in texture and fuzzy against one’s fingers.

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Marcia Lee

I Am My Hair. Look at me. You are staring at the face of liberation. Flashback: Strands of limp, chemically straightened hair fall to my feet, Surrendering to the vengeance of sharpened shears, Breaking through the shackles of a tortured scalp, annihilating the tools Made by white hands, To mold black hair to fit Eurocentric standards I made the decision To battle these canons with the only weapons I need. Confidence. Courage. Charisma. Through my thick coils, I am reincarnated. Revived through my thick curls. My hair is me and I am undoubtedly my hair: Resilient like my hair, For despite my frequent attempts to recreate its texture, To relax the ethnicity behind my kinks, My hair has the last laugh, rising up Beyond the chemical straighteners, Strong, tightly coiled ringlets of strength. Versatile like my hair, For it can be locked, braided, and twisted with ease And still bounce back into its natural state, undeterred With a quick shampoo or a touch of humidity. Confident like my hair, Which battles the unheeding teeth of rat tail combs, Which shrinks with moisture and elongates with the rough bristles of a wooden brush, Who gives a damn how I or anyone else wishes it would look? Invisible like my hair, Whose elasticity and strong definition of curl, Stem from a raped ancestor or a furtive love affair. My hair continues to hold those dominant genes Dominating the gene pool, diluting the mixture. I am my hair: Unbreakable, unyielding, undoubtedly me.

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Angela DiLella

Feast Great-grandmother always said that it was a great white blinding flash of light that covered the whole valley so fast that it seemed impossible that she had gotten her head down into the cellar in time, before it burned the hair and skin off her head like it burned up everything on the ranch. Animals died with their fur pulling off their flesh like they had been neatly skinned. Grandmother’s young fiancé had gotten shelter, but his ears and nose bled profusely until he died, writhing in agony, a few short hours later. Some men had gone deaf and some died slowly over years and years, suffering much, much later, as Great-grandmother had. Sometimes it still even happened, and it could not be resisted, eventually it would claim you. Joanne liked the story—or at least, it captured her attention. She always sat and listened when Grandmother told it. It wasn’t a good story, a story a child should like, but there weren’t really any other stories left. They had been burned away like the once-fertile crops and land all around her, and just like the dead land, no stories could be grown and cultivated in the world around her. It was the closest Joanne had to a history, and as a child in her position, she did like that kind of story. It offered a non-explanation explanation to why the land was dead, why the plants were dead, why men were becoming more and more like animals and animals more and more like men. And Joanne took comfort in that. Joanne lifted her candle; the soft light bobbed around the room. The room was modest. It was as dry as the land outside. Ancient, plain nightstand, with one drawer, empty but for matches and yellowed, smudged papers that were too brittle to be touched. Bed: plain, single, dented, server to countless generations. Coarse blanket. Coarse rug. And… Joanne moved her arm so that the light fell over the cradle at the end of the bed. It was at the foot, as a trunk might be, and one end tipped up and shaded the head of the cradle. Joanne stared at the cradle, biting her lip idly. Her candle light mostly illuminated the protective hood of the cradle, but not its contents. She was wondering if he would maybe like that story one day, if it would be the only thing he could truly look forward to ever, some day. She had trouble thinking of him as his name. The name she had been thinking of disappeared as soon as she had delivered and cut the umbilical cord herself and had gotten a good look at him. Even “the baby” seemed like a stretch. “It” seemed cruel. But what else, truly, could it be? She had been in almost complete seclusion for many months; she had only been barely showing the last time she had meaningful human contact. The baby—the child—her son—no, that was too much, Joanne involuntarily shuddered—but it could be an it, if she so chose, Joanne supposed. Who 36

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Angela DiLella would know? Who would have noticed? Certainly rumors had existed. But really only Jonathan would have truly known. Lovely Jonathan, dead now. Mother would not have approved. But mother had died first. And Jonathan had been so lovely, so comforting... Life on the ranch was hard, it had been hard even before great-grandmother’s flash of light, or so many liked to say. Joanne wouldn’t know. Jonathan. He was funny. He laughed. The deep lines in Joanne’s face—even though she was so young they were etched there—disappeared like the cracks in the pond the few times during the year it actually lived up to its name. Jonathan’s jokes did not impress mother when she had still been alive and he had come to deliver supplies and take away their goods for shipment: she looked at him coldly, frown etched on her face, left corner of her mouth twitching. She believed she knew something about Jonathan. “I know about men like that,” she’d say, but she never continued. Still, Jonathan had cared for her after mother had died and left her all alone, and it was only inevitable that what had happened had happened, that nature should have taken its course. And Joanne was too secluded from the village in the mountains to even bother worrying about the things that mother was obsessed with, their customs and decorum and whatnot. Joanne still felt guilty for it. And Jonathan was gone. He had been killed riding down from the mountains; he had misjudged an obstacle, and always something of a showman (even with no-one around) urged his horse to jump over the large, flat rock— but there was a hole in the ground where the horse meant to touch down on the other side. The horse’s hooves slipped and it stumbled sideways, not only throwing Jonathan to the ground but following him seconds afterwards, crushing half his body. He had apparently slipped into a coma and died (same for his horse, Nelly) and by the time anybody found him on the treacherous stretch of slope there was no hope for him, and... Joanne had asked Matthew, Jonathan’s best friend, to stop at that point. She didn’t want to hear it. She had cried and covered her ears and fell on her knees. It couldn’t be real. Matthew had kneeled and comforted her. He had had an inkling that perhaps they were courting, that perhaps Jonathan’s friendly support had become something more following Joanne’s mother’s death—but he had no idea, nobody had any idea, why it was so much more worse than just a broken heart. There was a movement at the foot of the cradle, a little slither through the bars, and Joanne started. Lost in thought. Lost in agony, for many reasons, many secret reasons. The slither had scared her, she realized what it was and breathed a sigh of relief, and then she was horrified again— that already she would have accepted it as normal and that her knowledge of it could relieve her. Relieve her. She shook her head. The tail could never relieve her, she must Eastern Exposure

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Angela DiLella never think of it as a reassurance. Never. Jonathan could relieve her. Even great-grandmother’s story could relieve her. She mouthed the words as she considered the contents of the cradle. This could not. This could never be allowed to be a source of relief. What could Jonathan have done? What would he have done to fix this? He would have known something. Joanne sat on her bed and set the candle on its base on the nightstand. She wanted to cry, but there was simply nothing left. She was dry, she was just so dry. I can make it without Jonathan. Sure. Joanne’s father had died when she was very young, and mother did all right. Sure. It was tough, it had always been tough. The work was hard. The ground was dry, true animals were unstable—food was scarce, that was always the worst trouble. It was still trouble, but especially in the three months following Jonathan’s death, carrying the thing—it—the baby boy, her baby boy, whatever—inside of her. The work had been nothing short of hellish. She was surprised that she hadn’t delivered early. Joanne’s mother claimed that had happened in every pregnancy after Joanne—but then she’d add that it had saved on the mouths to feed, thank God. “Do you miss daddy ever?” Joanne had asked at age eleven, working with her mother in the field. “One less person to take care of. Your grandmother lasting so long was bad enough.”

It may have been a little easier for mother, though. Joanne had been kept somewhat secluded—her mother kept her on the farm, pushed her out the few times they had company that wasn’t a clerk or, like Jonathan, a shipment collector. Men, father’s friends presumably, stopped by often to make sure “dear Samantha” was doing all right. They often brought gifts, yarn, fruits, and other things with them, and although Joanne would be sent to muck the ever-empty stalls whenever father’s old friends came, she had caught the exchange of gold and even things like eggs happening across the kitchen table a few times. They were very good friends, they visited well into Joanne’s teens. It seemed rather sudden that they stopped visiting, actually. Had both parties suddenly stopped caring at almost fifteen years after her father’s death? Or had her mother just chased them away? Joanne wondered if it would be possible to call in favors, if they’d be willing to come back and visit her, too. She could use the help; certainly, now more than ever before. The baby gurgled and Joanne sighed. Her skin crawled when it made noises. When it moved. When it looked at her with its little black eyes. She was normal and was prized because of that, even if she was a poor, isolated rancher. Her family never really had any troubles, the way others did, becoming 38

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Angela DiLella different and different, generation by generation––Matthew’s father had had strange, curved, clawed hands. The Cannis, a family that had once been normal—human—until one went wild to live with the coyotes, and then began to prey on lone women in the night. Soon enough, there was a whole pack of half-‘yotes wandering and prowling about. That was the worst case Joanne knew. Jonathan’s father had short, bristly black hair all over his body, maybe that was it. Maybe… And her own father… Maybe there was something with him too…? Mother wouldn’t talk about him. Wouldn’t have talked about him. No more mother now. Jonathan had had an ugly scar at the base of his spine, but Joanne chose not to think of that now. No more Jonathan now either. The baby began to hiccup and squeak. Joanne looked up, horrified. Dreaming, she had been dreaming again, mother didn’t approve of that. “Dreaming won’t keep us alive,” mother repeated for the thousandth time, hitting Joanne across the shoulders to get her attention. “Go pick.” The baby began to wail, or the closest noise it could make to a wail. Sighing, Joanne retrieved the candle and got up to lean over the cradle. Her baby. Far worse than Matthew’s father, with his strange mole hands. Far worse than Jonathan’s father, with his strange, coarse, fur-like body hair. Closer to the Cannis, the man-‘yotes. Her baby. Her and Jonathan’s. Jonathan, who seemed perfectly normal, a perfect human, rare nowadays. Her baby was covered in a soft gray fur. It hadn’t coarsened up yet like the bristly hair that crawled up the back of Jonathan’s father’s hands and neck. But. It could be the same kind of thing, easily. Joanne wondered if Jonathan’s father had to shave it off his face every morning. His entire face, to leave small lines of humanoid eyebrows. The fur on it was especially heavy on its face; on its stomach and its extremities it thinned out, and one could see human-coloured, healthy tan and pink skin underneath, the same skin tone Joanne had had before she was expected to help out outside. There was no fur on its hands or its toes or the bottoms of its feet. Those were different, though. Like Matthew’s father’s, almost. His large hands reminded her more of the sickly, disfigured moles Joanne caught or found dead around the ranch. These were little. No thumbs like Joanne, but very dexterous for a couple of months old just the same. They were tiny and horribly bright, candy-pink, not a healthy child’s pink flush, but a painted pink like the gemstones that were sometimes found in the mountains. Each finger had thin webbing around it, with little elongated, pointed nails that hurt terribly if they caught on the skin. Eastern Exposure 39


Angela DiLella The feet had the same nails, but the ankle was too far up the leg. When the baby kicked, that strange ankle just pulled up roughly like it was a second, backwards knee. She wondered how it would walk; she wondered if he would even be able to. She found herself wishing that he would not be able to. Of course the tail was bare too. It wriggled through the bars of the cradle and scared her many times as it had earlier tonight. Sometimes, on the worst nights, it went through the bars on the other side and brushed her feet in the night. She had started to sleep in a small, fetal ball to avoid this. The baby reached up, insistent, squeaking pitifully. Not crying. Whimpering. A trapped rat. He was terribly hungry; she could see it in his eyes. His black, beady little eyes. Sometimes she thought she could see intelligence in them, and that scared her. Joanne shuddered, took a deep breath, and then mechanically scooped her kin up in one arm and went back to the night stand to replace the still-lit candle. She undid her blouse with one hand, choking back gags when its soft pink ears, gigantic and misplaced, brushed her breasts as it wriggled excitedly. The baby’s face pooched forward into a snout with a tiny flat pink nose that never stopped moving when it was awake, and it inspected her nipple briefly before latching on and beginning to suckle. Joanne sat like stone, her mind not wandering this time. She could not dream in the field, or in the pastures, or in the barn. She could not dream when she was forced to feed this thing, forced to be…its… mother. Caretaker. She could only make herself nonexistent mentally. Mother didn’t approve of dreams because they served no function in their everyday lives, but if mother could see this now, perhaps she’d understand and make an exception, understand that dreams were all Joanne had left. They were truly her only sustenance now. This horrid creature at her breast sucked everything she had in her dry; she could imagine the pasty gruel and water and cooked mole she had today being mixed together in her chest to form her milk, going directly to her breasts, not even bothering with the stomach. All for baby, all for baby. She hated it at this moment, now more than ever. It was healthy, happy, its tail wagged and whipped back and forth energetically. It was plump as a human baby should be plump, the few babies she had seen didn’t look like hers—hers—but they had the same kind of proportions. Not only was it drinking all her milk, it was bleeding her dry—it had been born with a few sharp teeth and it bit relentlessly every night, opening old scar tissue and making things worse. The blood never bothered it or stopped it, either. It just bit down harder if she tried to pull away. The feeding just went on and on. Till it was satisfied. 40

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Angela DiLella

Joanne wondered what she could do at this point. She was growing weaker and weaker every day. Jonathan was gone. Mother was gone. Her baby…it was draining her. She accidentally nudged the baby with her wrist and it yelped. When he continued to feed, she inspected the offending wrist: the bone stood out like a set of spurs. How many days could she have left like this? To say she was just skin and bones would have been kind. And suddenly, looking at her pale, stretched skin over her sharp bones and shrunken muscles, it came together, that it doesn’t have to be like this. After nights and nights of wondering, worrying, crying, the pieces clicked together and she understood, finally, what she could do to survive and continue to do her duty as… as a caretaker. Like a divine revelation, she could only sit and be awed for a couple of minutes; she almost burst out laughing at the obviousness of it and how foolish she was for not realizing it earlier, despite the incredible pain at her breast. Let her baby eat. He was hungry. It was her job to care for him. He deserved to eat too, just as she did. Just as she did. He could take whatever she had, sure. But you could not take out loans and loans and never expect to pay them back, no sir. Mother had said they’d get you if you did that, you couldn’t fool them. And she wanted to be a good mother, even in this tough time. She wanted to pass her mother’s important knowledge onto this baby. He could eat and eat and eat and eat. And she would do her best to find and eat meat for him, coaxing the last scraggly cow to give, for him. For him to grow. He needed the nutrition. He needed to grow big and strong. Because he’d have to give it back to her for lending him so much, she had grown him and fed him for many long months. It was only fair. He was only a few months old now, but another two months and he’d certainly be bigger, plumper. And as this came together in Joanne’s mind, Joanne pet her child’s furry head affectionately for the very first time, suddenly filled with an emotion nearly indistinguishable from love. In two months, her hunger would be a facet of the past. In two months, there would be a feast.

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Sam Lisi

Make-A-Wish, For Fast Food You stare at me through confident blues, Icy, and absent of promising news. If only, for a moment, you had control, Then you wouldn’t have to set yourself up to lose. For some reason, they result from hunger. For some They come with the meal. They come Along with me as I sit by your bed. For me, they come and go, leaving grease on my thumb. I should have known when I walked in the door: These were what you had been longing for. Your hand lifted from the sheet when they lifted from the bag, The sweet scent of the days you had once lived before. There were no words. There was no fight. There was nothing I could have done for you that night. The cancer had done its damage. You were unable to chew; it wouldn’t have been right. I lowered them down to the floor, underneath the box spring. I lost my appetite, but the situation was interesting. You were the one who’d die later that month, And all you wanted from me was one last onion ring.

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Stephen Lukaszewski

We Were Young Sit still by flickering night We wade through smoke and mirror To forget what we cannot And to fill the space between With vodka tears that burn cold Then ignite and fill our cups Say drink to your health and folly Straining to lift them, our lips Caught in the dark ash of summer Choking down the memories Of friends who cannot speak -----------------------------------------------Of friends who cannot speak Choking down the memories Caught in the dark ash of summer Straining to lift them, our lips Say drink to your health and folly Then ignite and fill our cups With vodka tears that burn cold And to fill the space between To forget what we cannot We wade through smoke and mirror Sit still, by flickering night.

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Bryan Haddad

Dad’s Hands My Dad had Big ex-cop hands. Long and lean and strong. Hands that always knew work; guns and shovels and busted knuckles and blood blisters. Always in pain; shingles made moving his arms hurt. Cancer made strong hands weak and skinny and pale. He couldn’t hold the little clippers to cut his nails, He would ask me to. I used little school hands to squeeze the clippers closed, On thick, tough Dad nails. I used the shovel, and later, the gun. I busted my knuckles and blistered my palms. His hands became weak, mine became strong and lean and long. I have the hands My Dad had.

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Sabrina Scott

Ayelen “Take Mommy’s hand. We have to cross the street.” The woman grabbed her five-year-old daughter’s left hand and pulled her toward the steps of the courthouse. She fought the nervous impulse to skip every other step in her ankle-length floral dress and heels, so that her daughter could keep up. With her hand still firmly around the girl’s, the woman walked through the entrance and down the left corridor. She found the door in which her daughter’s custody case would be decided. “Karen,” the mother dropped to her daughter’s level and smoothed down the bird’s nest mess of hair that had rubbed against the back of her car seat. “They are going to decide if you should live with me or live with Dad. I want you to sit quietly until the end, okay?” Karen nodded. “Alright.” The woman finally stopped fidgeting with her daughter’s hair. With a deep breath, she pushed herself upright and led her child through the door. Her heels clicked and her dress rustled with her brisk walk to the table, on the right side of the room, in front of the witness stand. She avoided eye contact with her separated spouse and motioned for Karen–neatly dressed in new overalls and a white undershirt–to sit on her right. The judge came through a door across the room and took her place. The mother then remembered the notepad and gel pen she’d brought for her daughter, and placed them in front of Karen with a brief smile. “Would Mrs. Reed like to say anything before I make my decision.” The judge spoke as if she were making a statement rather than asking a question. The woman nodded but did not move. “Ellen,” whispered her public defender. The woman pulled her dark hair over her right shoulder as she stood. She took a deep breath and focused on the judge’s wire-framed glasses as she spoke: “Judge Carignan,” she began, but did not know what to say. She glanced down at her little Karen who was fervently doodling with her green pen. “My daughter is not property. I do not wish to fight for the right to keep her. But I do want to raise her. I realize that separation becomes more difficult because I am returning to the reservation. My family, my extended family, will all be in her life and they will care for her as much as I do.” She fought the urge to look back down at Karen with her tiny, tan fingers and curly brown hair. “Ellen,” her defender tugged on her dress in a childish manner. “That was good. You can sit.” Eastern Exposure

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Sabrina Scott

“Judge?” One more thing she wanted to say as the judge looked down at a spread of documents that did not mean much to Ellen. She hesitated once more before: “My name is not just Ellen. My given name is Ayelen. It means ‘happiness’ and ‘joy’. It is to smile.” She tried to keep her voice level, knowing that getting emotional would only belittle her speech. “My Karen is my happiness. She is my smile. I could not be without her, and she could not be without me. Daniel is a good man, but there are so many things she needs to learn about life that he cannot teach her. Please consider this. Thank you.” She finally sat down and rubbed her daughter’s back, though Karen was not phased, was not listening. She was only drawing on the paper with her green gel pen. The judge looked to the other table to ask Daniel Reed for any final comment. He remained in his chair. __ In the echoing corridor of the courthouse, Ellen said her goodbye to her daughter for the time being. She dropped to Karen’s level once again and took one of her hands in her own. “I will see you two weekends every month, Baby Bear,” she called her by her nickname. “And maybe in the future, if things change, I can see you even more often.” Ellen felt a lump in her throat at the reality of the court’s decision to have Karen live with her father. “Give mommy a hug,” she tried to say without her voice breaking. She tried. Karen hugged her, smiled, and said something like, “Key-tat-uhmay-snow.” It made Ellen burst out laughing with tears running down her cheeks. She nodded excitedly. “Yes! Kitatama’sino! We will see each other later!” Ellen stood up and noticed the notepad in her daughter’s hand. She took it and looked at the green doodles of flowers and smiley faces. “Karen, can I have this beautiful picture?” Karen nodded. Ellen intended to look at it every day, whenever she started to miss her daughter, her happiness. Daniel was waiting for Karen at the bottom step while Ellen said goodbye. Before she walked her little girl down the steps, she had another thought. “Karen, where’s the pen?” “Here,” she handed her mother the gel pen. Ellen drew on her own hand, on the palm, a heart. Then she took Karen’s tiny hand and pressed the palms together for a moment. Karen giggled and looked up at her mother expectantly. “These hearts are for each other. I’ll trace mine every day, and 46

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Sabrina Scott you’ll trace yours every day until the next time we see each other, okay?” “Okay,” said Karen as she looked down at her hand. “And you can trace it with this,” Ellen said, handing the green gel pen back to Karen. When Ellen started her car, preparing to drive to her new-but-oldhome back on the Blackfoot Indian reservation, she caught Karen’s eye before she had been strapped inside her father’s car. Ellen fought back tears and waved with her marked hand. Karen smiled and waved with her marked hand in return.

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Amber Murphy

The Guardians of Life Why must the most difficult be so simple to end? We are balanced with moon and sun If you had no choice, which one would you aim at? How about aiming at the moon? The mother of sleeping souls, The one we dance to on a clear crisp night, Who we jump to but never seem to reach that extra height, The goddess of all that’s quietly lurking in the shadows–– Animals howling to replenish their souls, Floating on your roof, waiting for you to sleep so she can move to another child’s dream, White like the soft homogenous mixture of baby powder, Like a zero stuck in the elements of the dark sky, A nightlight for our minds to dream of happy endings and ever afters. Do we give all of this up to the king of day? The creator of all headlines to a glorious day, Starting our yawning surrender to start another living, His rays slither like a snake to capture the un-woken, Bearing his shine because he’s the guardian to heaven. Moon and sun both bait to my aiming arrow. Whose final hour has come? I cannot survive with both to control how I live. They split the task up being the guardians of life. They blind you but guaranteed me to see. Together they bind us to days, hours, seconds, minutes, and even years with their amazing powers They can bind my life, but cannot have the soul inside me. Shooting down one of them guarantees the other can perish all alone. But the question is who to shoot down? So I leave the decision up to you: If you were forced to do something so terrible as to kill the balance of the living, Who would you aim at, the sun or the moon?

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Bryan Mitchell

Bear Bear Vast acres filled with trees, Small dirt pathways, And signposts. A semblance of community Through the woodland birds, And the microcosm That gave the modern-day Roger Williams A run for his money. Trudging forward, There’s something in the distance. Dark fur, A ferocious growl, Small saw-blades for fingers. There’s that inclination to run, But then there would be Other people to deal with. Yet other animals have mouths to feed, And there’s no heaven In the game of survival. The something becomes a behemoth. Arms extended and claws sharpened, They swiftly encircle An excessive, Trembling, Rush of adrenalin. The blades never sink in, Nor did the growling hunger Consume the feeble demeanor. Beyond the black olive marbles, There was a warmth Running through the fingers. The fur, A silk coat. The sun seeps through the leaves, Bathing the fierce façade. The prey looks at the predator And smiles. Eastern Exposure

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Shawnese Turner

Coffee Cup Middle and ring finger through the handle, he hugs the curvature of the blue mug as he gently tightens his grasp and brings it slowly to his lips, leaving me wishing, just for a moment, the mug and I could switch places.

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Richard Magner

Waking up Alone Stay with me a little longer, I promise it will be worth your time; I can take you wherever you like, whenever you’d like. I can be whomever you’d like, do whatever you’d like, as long as you please, stay with me! Let’s go back to the city and fly down the skyscrapers, past the river that flows upstream, or through the purple trees filled with sprites guarding an ancient treasure. Do you want to know what’s in the chest? Let’s find out! If you leave now, we’ll never know, we’ll never know what we could become. Hey, stay long enough and we could find love out there, in here, together, we could explore every crevice of your desires, Let’s be friends forever! Hey! It’s your choice, do what you want, I can’t stop you, but I will warn you, if you do wake up now, you’ll be waking up alone.

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Lauren Teta

Engrave There’s something about the way his hands could carve into my spine and embellish into my mind. They would touch me in places that I didn’t even know existed, from the spaces in between my toes to the bone that juts out on the back of my neck. His curiosity tickled my sides and his lust for wonder picked at my heart.

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Alexis Ballirano

Musings of a Lonely Girl They say loneliness is like death: A numbing nothingness. An empty feeling of sorrow, A bottomless pit of a black hole, Forever encircling, consuming, no end in sight. But, honestly, loneliness is a feeling, One worse than feeling nothing, For nothing is exactly that: nothing. Nothing seems like a privilege Compared to this heightened slur of emotions: The desperate lust for love... The undeniable twinge of hatred... The greenest monster of all those happily carrying on While the rest of us sit withering away, Drowned in our own sense of despair; Our own sense of nothing. It’s a burning feeling, really, That starts in the head and ends in the heart. It begins with a thought: Is this it? Will I be alone...forever? All your hopes, dreams, goals, gone. Doubt sets in, denial, then what? Once acceptance takes hold, there’s no turning back. The feeling intensifies and the burning grows stronger, A stake forcefully inserted, twisted deeper Where nothing resides. The emptiness provides the space The blankness of the blackness often receives Anything fighting for residence, painting red on its Hardened canvas, enough to feel something, anything. I’m perishing from the inside out. The need to be wanted is too strong, too lacking, Making it impossible to face tomorrow. I get up every day to fall again each night, Eastern Exposure

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Alexis Ballirano Sleeping alone, the loneliest of all feelings, crashing down. Forever hating the world for my loveless exclusion, Always secretly hoping, believing, waiting For that one person, the one who’s been waiting, Just around the corner all this time, To finally make his renowned appearance. Still, waiting‌ Knowing he will never come.

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Sean Richmond

Breaking Form, or, Choose Your Own Adventure Rising from the grave. A dollop of sour cream.

Heartwarming orphans. A thermonuclear detonation.

Spectacular abs. The Land of Chocolate

Switching to GEICO™.

Pretending to have hiccups.

The way white people is.

Make a Haiku

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Jakub Eiden

The Cherry Grove There was once a little girl who lived with her parents in the forest. Every day they would leave her home alone, the father to hunt, the mother to forage, while she herself would wander the forest and play, the three of them returning first at noon and then again at dusk. So this continued, the parents of later age providing while their child of barely ten years played. On one of these days the girl followed the brook from which her family drew water. Many a time her father had told her not to wander this way, but finally her childish curiosity and defiance overwhelmed her, and she followed its gentle flow deep into the wood. Within the space of an hour she came upon a grove of trees with brilliant purplish-pink leaves. She broke from the brook and wandered in, her eyes wide with awe and fascination. A sudden breeze shook her from her dream world, making her turn her head from the vibrant canopy above. As her eyes turned down she caught the sight of a figure in the nearby brush. Curious, she walked over and parted the plants, revealing a girl in a bright white dress. “Hello,” she said, stepping through and nearing the stranger. The girl froze a moment, then slowly turned her head until she faced the other. Both drew back at the sight of each other, startled. They looked like twins, the only differences being that the daughter of barely ten had hair of gold and eyes the shade of robin’s eggs, while the other had hair of silver and eyes of sage. The grove girl smiled after a moment and hugged the intruder; the daughter returned the embrace with delight as she asked the girl’s name and what she was doing here, explaining the same of herself. The grove girl said nothing in response; she merely continued to smile and pointed to where she had before rested. Strewn there upon the ground were lilies and poppies of red and white. The girl guided the daughter over and sat her down, demonstrating with the practiced skill of one far older the act of forming a lei. Time passed and soon the daughter had to return home. As she stood to leave, though, the grove girl clasped her wrist, her face contorted to one of fear. “What’s wrong?” asked the daughter. “Are you afraid of something?” Timidly the grove girl nodded. “Of what?” The girl stood up and wrapped her arms around the daughter, burying her face in her shoulder. The daughter understood. “You’re afraid that I won’t come back?” 56

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Jakub Eiden She smiled as the girl nodded. “Don’t worry, I’ll come visit again. You’re nice.” And so the daughter left, following the brook back home as the grove girl watched on in silence. The rest of the night passed by uneventfully, neither of her parents suspecting her disobedience. So it was that she once again journeyed to the grove of pink-leaved trees, where she once again played with the girl. Days passed, the daughter becoming more and more attached to this hidden place and its silent girl, the daily trek becoming a sort of secret pleasure for her as she continued without her parents’ notice. The pleasure gradually grew to a pain, however, the betrayal of her parents’ trust weighing down her heart and cloaking her conscience with guilt. So it was that when the grove girl bestowed upon her a poppy-and-lily lei, she decided the time had come for her to divulge her disobedience. She arrived just before her father and mother, taking her usual seat at the dining room table with the lei hanging upon her neck. Her mother arrived shortly after, working so busily in preparation of the day’s final meal before bed that she did not seem to notice her daughter’s newest article. Her father was not so blind, however, inquiring as to where she’d had come upon such an unusual piece as he sat to eat. “My friend at the cherry grove m-made it for me,” she stammered, her father’s stare unnerving her as she recalled the name of the grove’s trees. She hung her head. “I-I’m sorry for disobeying you, father,” she said. He said nothing, instead choosing to glance at her mother, who now stood with her back to them with her body rigidly still, as though frozen. Slowly the father turned back to the daughter, inquiring about her friend. “I don’t know her name. She doesn’t speak at all. She’s really nice, though!” she said quickly. “She looks a lot like me too! Her hair’s this beautiful, shining silver and her eyes are as deep and dark as the leaves of sage.” The father stopped eating, putting his fork down as his brow furrowed with thought. Then came the dreaded proclamation, forbidding her from the grove. “But father!” she begged with tears in her eyes, “Mother!” Her father silenced her with a smack of the table and a thunderous repeat of his decision, her mother nodding in silent, solemn agreement. Defeated, she ran to her room, her tears staining her face. She turned into her bedroom and collapsed to her knees at the side of her bed, smothering her face with its cover as she sobbed. Suddenly, she felt her tears stop, and a tingle ran across her back and chest. She turned to the sole small window of her bare room. There, in the distance, was the grove girl. They stared at each other for a moment, the tingle on her back turning to a frigid chill that crawled down her neck. The girl turned away suddenly, seeming almost to float out of view. Eastern Exposure

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Jakub Eiden She heard the front door open, and with the sound she felt fear grip her. She crawled into bed, facing away from the doorway. An unbearable silence swept through the house, broken twice and twice only by the sudden blowing of the wind outside. The seconds passed like hours, the air growing colder with every moment. Within a minute, she could see her breath before her, her breathing becoming slow and forced as she felt a pair of eyes rest upon her frame. She blinked, and then there in front of her stood the grove girl. She screamed and threw herself in the opposite direction of the girl, landing on her back in front of the archway. She scrambled away, the girl hovering over her bed and nearing her, stretching out a skeletal arm. Water dripped from her silver hair and blue-tinted face, pooling on the floor beneath her soaked dress. Decay danced upon her face, revealing holes and bones in places and maggots and greened flesh in others. Still the specter neared with its outstretched arm, palm open as if waiting for the daughter’s hand. She did not give it, instead rolling onto her hands and knees and dashing out of the house. Through the forest she ran, with no stars or moon to light her path as the specter chased after her in silence, leaving only her footsteps and quickening heartbeat to echo in her ears. Her vision became that of static, additional monsters forming in the void around her. Her foot caught her dress and she fell, sliding across the ground and hitting her head on the base of a tree. She pushed herself up, dizzy, her worry gone for a second as the full moon finally revealed itself and basked her in its radiance. The relief turned to horror, however, as she turned her head: To her left lay her father, his skin bleached of color and his mouth and eyes wide with terror, while to her left lay her mother, her state much the same. The daughter flipped over and prepared to run, instead scrambling back into the tree as she saw the specter hover above her. Slowly it knelt, placing its bony hand on her cheek, the touch bringing a fresh wave of tears from the overwhelmed child. The specter dissipated in an ethereal mist, giving her a momentary glimpse of hope. Then two skeletal arms reached up from the ground beneath her and pulled her down in a loving embrace, gentle but unbreakable as it held her at bay. Her body grew colder than ice, her heart stopping mid-beat. Then, at the last, as the final curtain of darkness fell over her eyes, she heard a whisper in her ear, the voice almost like that of an angel’s: “Now we’ll never be apart again.”

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Illena Anger

A Lonely Man’s Memories Outside, the air is bitter and the landscape still, The desolate whiteness overlaying the yard, And I stand at the edge of the whitewashed window. Looking at the blank scenery, my mind recalls The faces of my wife and our little boy, How she used to swing him on the play set and he Would race her to the sandbox. They created snow Angels in December and I helped with the snowMan. As the last rays of sunlight retreated I Would spark the fireplace and we would all sit on The couch, sipping cocoa and watching Toy Story. Now, as the sun sets, I pull the old curtains shut. The floorboards creak as my cane clacks down the empty Hall with me to the bedroom. I lift up the blackAnd-white photograph of my wife from the nightstand, Kiss her goodnight and set it down. It’s time to rest.

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Amber Murphy

Living in Purpose Midday I traveled outside as I sit upon a bare rock. What does a person need to do to be seen and heard as important? The world stops as the sun glistens on crystals, as ice captures breathing portraits and the snow falls from the obscure light.

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Stephanie Trapani

When Life Gives You Lemons Someone told me this week That lemon water speeds up your metabolism When she said this, I imagined The acid dribbling down my Esophagus into my stomach Disintegrating fat cells I touched my stomach Sucking in Envisioning change Was I this hard on myself while squeezing lemons into a pitcher? Popping off the marker cap, making a 10-cent sign? Was I overthinking the curve of the S in the word “Stand” like I’m critiquing the curves of my stomach? Were the people driving by judging my overalls with pink flower decals? Or were they slowing down to fish around their cup holder for a stray dime, to support a little girl’s business venture? Fresh air hitting my bangs I proudly poured into the clear Dixie For some reason I think my self-image was the last thing on my mind Oh, the simpler times

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Sabrina Scott

Untangled If poems are balls of yarn, then my teacher hands me the yarn and says, “Untangle this. Cut it if you must” until it’s nothing but a length of flaxen thread: back to its simple beginnings and barely remarkable.

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Sam Figueroa

China Doll Once upon a time there was an ogre and a china doll. The Ogre lived in a great castle filled with lavish furniture and many grand and mysterious treasures. There was a golden gryphon encrusted with gems including glowing ruby eyes, a great oyster shell lined with the most magnificent mother of pearl was the home of a little marble mermaid and on an ornate stand of polished black stone sat a dragon’s egg the color of ash with a shell as hard as stone, just to name a few. But perhaps the Ogre’s most prized possession was the beautiful Chinadoll. Chinadoll was made of the finest china and was as beautiful and colorful as a warm autumn day. She wore a fine satin dress covered in colorful diamond patches with a lace collar fastened with a golden pin. Her maker had given Chinadoll a sweet and understanding expression which made all who looked upon her feel as though they had a true friend. The Ogre, too, succumbed to Chinadoll’s magical charm and often confided in the quiet Chinadoll, his thoughts and concerns, worries and fears, and Chinadoll listened intently. Although he was neither attractive nor agreeable, this Ogre did have a few friends and a taste for fine clothes. He often held grand parties in his castle that were attended by many ogres, goblins, witches, and creatures of that sort. “Look at this china doll!” the Ogre would yell proudly so that the whole party could hear. “Innocent as a rosebud, she is the least rubbishy person I know!” The almost imperceptible blush on Chinadoll’s cheeks appeared to deepen at the Ogre’s praise since he rarely spoke well of anyone. “Pretty bud,” he would say as he patted Chinadoll’s silk black hair affectionately with his hooked claws. One night the Ogre was carousing with his friends to celebrate his latest acquisition, which stood on a pedestal covered by a red cloth. Chinadoll was curious to see the treasure that the Ogre had spoken of, since he hadn’t told her much. When the Ogre pulled the cloth away he revealed a bronze statue of a woman with piercing eyes, clad in a tiger skin with a necklace of skulls. She had four arms and a crown covered her hair, which hung down wild and free. “Observe this fiery minx!” the Ogre said grandly, admiring the statue. Chinadoll observed the statue from her perch on the shelf. She is fierce and beautiful, Chinadoll thought. But I see no love or understanding there. Still the Ogre was very pleased with his new statue. Shortly after this the Ogre stopped having grand parties and instead went out with his witch and goblin friends. He talked less and less to Chinadoll, until the time came that he didn’t seem to remember that she was there at all. One night the Ogre came back from carousing in an Eastern Exposure

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Sam Figueroa exceptionally foul mood and he began to insult his collection of wonders, pointing out every flaw and imperfection he saw. “Stupid stone,” the Ogre spat at the dragon egg. “No dragon in there!” He turned to the little marble mermaid, her long hair barely covering her ample marble bosom. “Trollop!” the Ogre cackled as he brought his fist down on the mermaid, shattering her mother of pearl world. After that the Ogre staggered off to bed leaving the shattered mermaid on the ground. Chinadoll was stunned. Will he tear me apart too? she wondered. But then Chinadoll remembered how he patted her hair and called her “Pretty bud.” “No,” she said to herself. “He wouldn’t harm me.” But the next night the Ogre came back in a foul mood again. This time he claimed that two of his loveliest paintings were rubbish and unimaginative. He glared at the golden gryphon. “Gold plated piece of tin!” the Ogre threw the gryphon on the floor with the broken pieces of the marble mermaid. Chinadoll began to be filled with dread. Chinadoll unfastened the golden pin, causing her lace collar fall open, and hid it in the folds of her skirt. The third night, the Ogre came home and approached Chinadoll. “Pretty innocent bud,” he mumbled and Chinadoll could smell the mead on his breath. When the Ogre saw that her lace collar had fallen down around her shoulders, he laughed. “Look at those flashy clothes!” the Ogre cackled. “Lace and diamonds!” he cackled. “What a fancy trollop!” The ogre reached out his hand toward Chinadoll and she stuck the pin into his open palm. The Ogre roared in surprise and then again in anger. He reached again for Chinadoll, but she leapt up off the shelf and landed on the pedestal with the bronze statue. The Ogre stumbled toward her. Chinadoll took the sword from one of the woman’s hands. Chinadoll brandished the blade as the Ogre lunged at her. She pierced him in the heart. The Ogre fell backwards, breaking the shelves. Books and bottles tumbled to the floor and the dragon egg was knocked off its polished stand. “‘Twas only a jest,” the Ogre gasped. “Didn’t you hear me laugh?” The dragon egg rolled along the broken shelf and fell heavily onto the Ogre’s head. Grief and regret swept over Chinadoll for she had been very fond of the Ogre. “Forgive me,” she said, But the Ogre wouldn’t ever hear her. A tear rolled down her porcelain cheek. She heard a loud cracking and looked down at the floor. Chinadoll saw the there was a long split in the stone shell. The shell continued to break as the little dragon hatched out. Chinadoll carefully lowered herself off the pedestal and down to the floor. The little dragon’s scales shimmered red and orange as it spread its new wings. The dragon considered Chinadoll with sapphire colored eyes and coughed a small puff of smoke. 64

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Sam Figueroa Chinadoll reached out and scratched the little dragon’s head and it nuzzled her in return. “Well, we’re free,” Chinadoll said to the little dragon. “What shall we do now?” The dragon flapped its wings as if to say Let us fly! The dragon and Chinadoll found that the door to the Ogre’s castle had been left ajar. Dawn peeked over the horizon as Chinadoll climbed onto the dragon’s back and together they flew off into the sunrise and on to further adventures.

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Sabrina Scott

Arcade I thought I wanted to talk about it, but now it doesn’t seem so special. I was in the basement at a house party. And the basement was full of old-school arcade games, so it was all dark except the lights from the pinball machines and other quarter-to-play types of games. All the yellow and orange glowing boxes had those unexplainably rewarding sound-effects like dinosaurs roaring and the ping and cling of metal balls. A guy named Chris took me down there. I watched him play this game where you have to jump on every square of a pyramid without getting killed by the animals that kept falling and attacking the player. He was kinda good at it. I stood a step behind and beside him, mostly teasing him to do better. Then he said, “Now you play.” I really didn’t want to. I just knew I would suck. “Nahh, I like watching!” I tried, but I knew he wouldn’t take no for an answer. His warm, surprisingly soft hands took me by the lower waist and pushed me to the spot in which he had been standing. He released me, and I looked up at him, genuinely nervous. “I don’t know how to play! I’ll be awful at it!” I said as I grabbed the joystick. “No, you’ll be fine,” he said in his low, friendly voice. “Uh-huh,” I said just as a warning; because there was no way I could be good at a game I just started playing. I didn’t make it to the next level, but I wasn’t horrible like I thought I would be. When my turn was over, I looked over at him expectantly once again, as if to say, Your turn? “Keep going,” he said in that gentle voice again. I was having fun, so I pressed the red start button a thousand times so I could get on with it. When I started moving the joystick around, intent on the little bug-looking man jumping around on the glowing screen, I felt heavy hands firmly grip me around the lower waist again. This time, I felt his warmth against my back, too. I let out a little exhale of surprise, and I hoped Chris didn’t hear, or had assumed I was laughing. As soon as his hands were on me, I could only half pay attention to the screen. I never thought a guy wrapping his arms around me would get to me the way it did. But I felt tingles so strong along my hip bones, they were almost like mini-vibrations. It tickled a little, too, and I laughed every once in a while. I was thankful for the darkness because my face was unquestionably heating up. 66

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Sabrina Scott

I tried concentrating on the little man in the game, but I lost focus whenever Chris’s fingers shifted along my middle. When his fingers dug in just slightly, my hand on the joystick loosened and twitched. I loved the sensation that was making its way from my hips inwards to my stomach; I liked the attention, and I liked Chris. The way his hands hesitated before sliding lightly up and down my torso made me shiver. I hoped he didn’t notice. When I had lost the arcade game a few times, I reluctantly shifted away from him and told him, “You play.” “We’ll play against each other,” he said, taking his place and setting it to 2-player. At this point, I was almost dizzy. Something about his touch made me feel like I was spinning in place, and yet I wanted more. When it was his turn, he took his new position behind me, with his mouth at my ear. “Is this okay?” I could have laughed if I weren’t so embarrassingly flustered. “Yeah,” I said faintly. I had no clue what to say or do to get him to hold me tighter. So we played the game. When it was Chris’s turn, I felt chilly and bare. I slid closer to him so our arms bumped while his player expertly jumped around the pyramids. When it was my turn, I didn’t even care that I once again failed to make it to the 2nd level. I only wanted to stay in front of the boxy machine, with my little frame enveloped in his bigger one. When I leaned back against his chest, I welcomed the clean laundry scent and the slight catch of scruff against my hair. “Your hair smells good,” he murmured. I turned around and his arms were still draped over me. I felt the pull of a smile at my lips. “Really?” “Yeah.” Chris had a round, pale face, dark eyes, and dark hair. My eyes traced the rough facial hair along his jaw and around his mouth. His rectangular glasses reflected some of the light from the video game. “Thanks,” I said, and we finished playing the game. That experience was a lot like Chris: sweet, unassuming, and more than a little distracting. Maybe it was special.

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Bryon Hardt

Irene Winds of early morning came from the south. We sat listening, Drinking to the moment, half-opened garage–– A portal view partial of darkly moving trees in the night. The wind in gusts, separate gusts becoming one. Her storm-formed white noise, white noise wind almost constant, The sound of ocean tips rolling over sand. Sitting against the sounds, finishing the beer, as her wind began to whistle, each beer remained cold in our hands. Old architecture creaking. Time unfolding. Louder she screamed through the trees. Sudden rain broke through the opening, her words that spoke, a spray of screams. We all geared up. Outside, ocean noise now engulfed–– Trees bending over the road Powerlines danced, ocean waves of rain came in gusts. I awoke the next day, after sleeping for hours, Stepping over storm drains clogged by leaves, houses under trees, fragments of powerlines; the whole world smelled of wood and pine.

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Emily Shields

Sailor’s Moon Someone once described to me the beauty of a sailor’s moon when I was young, I waited patiently for years to see it, Longing to catch a glimpse of a moon on fire. Last summer, the air was heavy with mist and the sand was cold on my bare feet, Made gray by the stars. I was listening to the crashing waves, Letting them consume the sand beneath my toes. I saw a sliver of orange light touch me, I looked up to the face of the moon, Redder than blood, Surrounded by an aura of crimson mist–– It was the most amazing thing I had ever seen. It lit the water. Speckles of red and orange danced off the reflection of the waves Like a thousand autumn leaves. I stood there for the longest time, This kind of beauty is a rarity, It must be seen to be fully appreciated, Nothing is more breathtaking than a sailor’s moon.

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Illena Anger

Nightcrawlers Summer rain splatters against the kitchen windows, Mom washes the dinner dishes. Dad and I grab our raincoats, a plastic bowl and a flashlight. Toes immersed in mud and wet grass, little green strands sticking to my feet. Descending raindrops distract me from our mission, and I begin to twirl, prance around. Dad laughs and I smile. He shines the light on the ground and calls me to the treasure. Slimy crawlers slither in the earth, dashing from capture. They are big against my little fingers, but I am too quick for them. Their bodies squirm in my hands and I giggle at the way they move back and forth, trying to escape. One by one, my dad and I pluck them from the ground and place them in the bowl. Fifteen minutes pass, our mission is done. Dad seals the lid. Tomorrow, he is taking me fishing.

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Shawnese Turner

Mildew I was heading to the mall, a good 45-minute ride on the city bus, lots of stops, one after the other. At this one particular stop I caught a whiff. That... mildewy smell. It made me weak, tremble in my seat. It wafted over, covering me in a smothering haze. I was no longer on the bus, sitting in this seat, I was that little girl, walking to school in my little jean skirt, those burgundy shoes, my favorite sweater. All ready for picture day Until I caught the smell and knew he was behind me. I glanced back and sure enough, there was his crooked smile, eyes staring at me hungrily. My heart pounded as I started to walk quicker, just two more blocks to school. I couldn’t seem to lose him, I never do. My little legs could never outrun a grown man’s. One more block, I could see the building kids getting off their school buses. I walked a little quicker. At the door, I was safe. Another glance back and there he was, leaning against the same tree, in the same pose, with the same smile. I slam back to my senses, back on the bus, hoping he doesn’t spot me, that he’ll get off soon. But from the corner of my eye I see his head turn and stop, on me. My heart raced as I whispered to myself, “Please don’t recognize me.” I saw that same crooked smile, those same hungry eyes. I wanted to disappear, to become a part of the seat, evaporate into the air. Anything to get his gaze off of me. Eastern Exposure

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Shawnese Turner I felt marked, possessed, like I was his toy again. Even after he got off. He had control of my thoughts, my body, my self-confidence. He had control of that little twelve-year-old girl.

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Lauren Teta

Shields You’re always smiling, they say to me. We can’t understand how this happened. How could such an ugly thing happen to such a beautiful girl? I looked back at my principal and the police officer with my head crooked and eyes skeptical. Did they just say that to me? Did two adults who overlook an entire school system just assume that nothing could be wrong if a girl was wearing a smile and a cheap coat of lipstick? Is this what everyone thought? I sat with my sweaty hands gripped around the inexpensive pleather chair. My stomach was churning. I wanted to vomit. Vomit my thoughts and disgust all over these adults and their lack of observation and reality. I took a deep breath and began to tell them of the first incident of being verbally harassed in high school. Five boys make eye contact with me from across the hallway. They get closer and closer until, soon enough, I’m cornered by screaming barbaric animals who insist on pounding their dirty immoral fingers into my chest. I listen to what they say as eyes pass by, staring, watching, waiting. No one speaks up. No one pulls them away. My pulse quickens, quickens, quickens. And then they’re gone. Just like that, the dismissal bell rings in sync with the drop of a burning tear that rolls down my right cheek as I apply another coat of lipstick. Eastern Exposure

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Lauren Teta But you’re so beautiful, they repeat. We don’t understand. I sit upright in my chair and look straight into my principal’s glazed-over eyes. Squinting, I try to decipher what she’s truly looking at and why there is a gold-embellished plaque propped up in front of her. Then the crevasse of my mouth slightly opens as a rush of words spill out to form a sentence…I yell: “Appearance should not suggest or subject you to or from being bullied and verbally harassed.” There is no get-out-of-jail-free card from being a victim, and pretty faces are not shields. Everyone is beautiful, I say, and I understand.

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Tomas Colon

Through the Chains

Struggle binds the soul Changing lanes swapping roles Truth is I always find myself in a hole

I am just a man Not a man with a plan From one dream to the next Hanging off this cliff with one hand Unremarkable past How long will this nightmare last? My American dream Once a soldier, still an outcast Never owned a white picket fence Others lose homes and live tense 160 hours only covers my rent There’s something about Peter and Paul that makes sense Just need a little room to breathe My queen and my kids I’ll never leave Lace up my boots and I keep walking It costs nothing to believe Just another face Navigating a merciless place Tell me again I won’t make it For you in my world there’s no space Hope is waking up every morning Under the radar this nobody is soaring Stereotypes I decimate Your chains are not strong enough Just a warning

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Illena Anger

The Words He Spoke That Night Tore through my heart like a fatal parasite, The poison paralyzed me. My body went numb, The only way I could conceal my emotions From him as he stood there in front of me. The tears built up against my eyes, Like a dam ready to collapse. And when he shut the door, it did. I collapsed, crying on the cold floor of Our bedroom, unable to silence my sobs As I replayed the words he spoke to me. He thought trust might be an issue with us, And I might not be ready for this relationship. I knew I shouldn’t have lied about my past, Should have given him the truth when he Asked for it. I knew a half-truth was a lie, but I Didn’t want him to think less of me. Five minutes that felt like a decade, Then the door opened. He stood in the entrance for a moment, Looking into my wet eyes, then sighed. Walking over to me, he extended his hand. Just like a boxer that helps his defeated opponent. From the ground, he lifted me up. He wrapped His arms around me and I knew the fight was over.

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Shawnese Turner

The Night Sky Looking up in the sky, I feel so small. The black abyss scattered with shining diamonds, winking at the endless dreamers, the hopeless romantics. Glistening like polished stones at the bottom of a calm river, Blooming like silver roses in Heaven’s garden. I envy those vibrant stars, that glorious canvas. Undisturbed by the thought of imperfection. Why must the sun rise and shield these precious gems? Independent beings, Guardians of space. I shut my eyes, the image remains on the inside of my lids. And dream of becoming one with the stars.

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Bryan Mitchell

Flawless Fantasy Made Reality Sophomore English When the drama really begins to gnaw. Barriers broken down by the mundane, the unnecessary tedium we called the social gulag. He ran into the darkness when jubilant celebration struck, only because his supposed lover danced elsewhere. “Why cry over that fleeting love,” I asked him. “We’re here to dance, party like you’d never believe!” Days after, he tried dragging me down, justifying his passions. That’s when I played pass notes with Kassi as the go-between. Improper grammar, incorrect spelling, yet the promise was there. We were definitely going to be friends. Junior Chemistry The first time I heard those words. “My best friend,” you said. Gina stood there smiling, whisked from forensics just for an introduction. Our other friends sat around desks, exchanging chips and gossip. While they hooped and hollered, You gave me an earbud 78

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Bryan Mitchell Ready to blast Lil Wayne. Instead, Anne and Nancy Wilson took to the streets, and kept asking about love. Unrequited messages On a one-way superhighway. Regardless of unanswered e-mails or the lack of phone calls, you spoke in genuine honesty. You defied the exchange value low grades usually provide. Senior Prom One year since we last saw each other. I messed up a potential date, courtesy of a digital watch and an inability to relax. I told you all this, And you stood there smiling, telling me, “Well, I love you for who you are!” The camera flashed, A digital image of us, Arm in arm, light blue silk and an olive green tie. Somewhere in Time Everyone’s on Facebook And so were we. We kept in touch, but only briefly after graduation. We worked, We studied.

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Bryan Mitchell Dogs barked and non-Bolsheviks moaned. The medievalist envisioned A revolution against Wall Street. Brio Expose You carry lipstick and hair curlers, and I keep Samuel Johnson stuffed in my satchel. The keyboard clicks while you touch-up another theatrical masterpiece. Powder, papers, and lip-gloss smeared all across the carpet. Final paragraph. Time for the photo-shoot. Brackets removed, I conclude another narrative While you lash out your phone. I publish, you upload, A portfolio that goes from Flawless to Fantasy.

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Angela DiLella

Daphne For nearly three millenia I’ve been stuck here, safe from mortal whims. The ability to be admired, but unnoticed, and mortal eyes slide over me on my bank so they can never hurt me, while death slides over me at the bid of one long-gone. Teaching me love through longing, hate through longing, despondence through longing, For my dear Apollo. The first thing I realized, even through my panic, were my toes, sinking in the sand, writhing, reaching, burrowing like worms or asps, tapering eventually to nothing, grabbing and sticking me down tightly— I guess that’s why they call them roots. I cried at the sudden halt, my tears growing sticky, congealing, ruining my eyes, thickening my blood. —And my arms flew out above me, twisting, bone infilitrating every soft inch of flesh; hardening and caking into an ugly mess, veins blowing up through the skin and cracking apart like the ravaged earth herself: My legs itched and caked and cracked as my dress crawled up me like ivy, Plastering itself like some deplorable moss until it and me were indistinguishable. A stiffness, horrifying, creeped up inside of me— But no, it was merely my own body which was betraying me As dear Apollo looked on. The golden hair on my arms curled up and out, browning and hardening, my fingers turned brown and stony— The hair on my head twirled and flattened into leaves, my ears reached up like Pan’s and did the same, and juicy fruits swelled and popped upon my formerly sweet flesh. My dear beautiful face, the cause of my troubles, hardened and disappeared under the shell, Eastern Exposure

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Angela DiLella and I suffocated until I realized that I no longer needed breath. Apollo blessed me sadly and made me his crown because I foolishly would not take his, and here I sit on my dead father’s bank. For nearly three thousand years I’ve waited here, seeing all, yet not seeing anything. Blessed by the gods, saved by my father. If this is what salvation truly is, I’d rather have been hanged on one such as Myself, than be forced to dream eternally of my dear, my beloved, my Apollo.

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Seth McCullock

The Ferryman Knock, knock, knock, the ferryman comes and knocks. Be sure to pay your due, lest you be left behind to wander, to roam among the bones and the dirt, scattered over the rocky beach and dark river. You’ve escaped the labyrinth of this mortal folly, but you enter the eternal fields to journey on forevermore. He comes now, grinning beneath his hood, the face white, eyes black. Fight as you might, you’ll have to meet him, even Heracles’ strength could not save him. Please give my regards to the ferryman when he comes, drink of the nectar of the gods as you wait, watch me stay here and grow old as I wait, for the ferryman to come for me and knock.

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Jenn Mouland

The Maze You can spend your whole life stuck in the maze of your own thoughts, but one day you’ll escape that maze. And finally learn to live without your thoughts restricting you.

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Amber Murphy

Everlasting Minds The moon breaks over the tides To see if all is ready to reincarnate towards morning Darkness settles over like a twilight mobile Returning all to rest against the walls of tomorrow’s promises The tide falls into brown sea-sand footprints Wishing to one day follow them and walk beside humans The tide rises to call on the next traveler Hoping to grasp him into its clear soft waves Settling around him to dominate his mind and existence To find out what goes beyond the shores of the sea A white glow of happy little spirits swimming on the surface The tide raises its hands to try and reach more rooves Looking for more stars to stamp and decorate its body To shimmer along the ends of its water Because nothing is greater than reaching where the tide really subsides All you have to do is follow where it all began

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“Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.” –Oscar Wilde

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Contributors’ notes Richard Magner is rumored to be one of the many masterminds in “residence” at Arkham Asylum for “Interesting Personalities.” When asked about Magner’s condition Dr. Hugo states that he is often seen with the Penguin, who he claims cheats at chess. Bryan Haddad is a twenty-one year member of the United States Navy and now dedicates his life to ending all instances of Basic in the United States. He actively works on spreading his word to the nation and hopes his legacy will be carried on by his three children, Kyle, Kelsey, and Lizzy. Caitlin Breen is a senior at Eastern majoring at English and Elementary education. Cailtin might actually graduate in 2014. Tomas Colon is “blessed enough to be a Father, a Husband, a Son, a Brother, a Friend, a humble Poet, and a Student of Life.” Eric Cerino is a senior studying Psychology and English. His free time is spent with friends, listening to music, reading, and writing. Angela DiLella is a senior English major Writing minor at Eastern. She served as the president of the Eastern Writers Guild this year. Along with writing and reading, she enjoys drawing on every piece of paper that crosses her field of vision. Sam Lisi graduated from Eastern Connecticut State University in 2013, and now attends UConn School of Law. Joshua Shedd is unknown to us, as he has no entry in Labrazio’s Book. Further research was hampered by Slackjaws. Eliza Kirchoff is a senior English/Education major. Stephanie Trapani may have grown up on Paradise Island and became champion of Amazons. When she came to the world of Man her only outlet from the stress of crime fighting with the JLA was writing for this Guild... probably. Zachary Marotte is a senior majoring in History and minoring in Writing. Matthew Longmire is an native of Virginia. He served eight years in the Army and currently is a senior studying Industrial/Organizational Psychology. Rachel Scrivano is a freshman majoring in Psychology at Eastern Connecticut State University. Marcia Lee graduated from Eastern in 2013. Sabrina Scott of Windsor Locks, Connecticut, is a junior English major, with minors in Spanish and Theatre. Stephen Lukaszewski is “just passing through. BSB/Noonz.” Bryan Mitchell is a graduating senior at Eastern Connecticut State University majoring in English. He served as the secretary and web developer for the Eastern Writers Guild. He hails from Groton, CT. Eastern Exposure

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Contributors’ notes Amber Murphy is 21 years old, and she lives in Vernon, CT. Her passion is writing. Shawnese Turner is a junior English major at Eastern. Lauren Teta is a freshman who wonders “how can I write a bio for myself in only fifteen words?” Alexis Ballirano is a mystery to us, though agents in Fabletown and “the farm” have determined that she is most likely a Mundy rather than a legendary (and mostly immortal) Fable. Sean Richmond, Guild Anung Un Rama, lesser priest leader of the East Hartford Cthulhu cult, writes in his den in R’lyeh, waiting, dreaming. Jakub Eiden is a freshman split between the Psychology and Communication majors and the Criminology and Writing minors. He’s a hobbyist writer and runner who has plans to publish on Amazon within the year. Illena Anger is an Eastern senior majoring in Business Administration and minoring in English. Sam Figueroa is a senior English major and Theatre minor. She’s fascinated by folklore, aspiring to write her own fairy tales. Bryon Hardt graduated from Eastern with a Major in English and a minor in Sociology. He moved to Cambridge, MA and is currently working full time while searching for better jobs part time. Emily Shields writes for the Campus Lantern and enjoys writing short stories and poems. She is a Psychology major with a writing minor. Seth McCullock is a sophomore English and Communications major at Eastern. He is also a dragon-type gym leader at PAX East. Jennifer Mouland is currently a junior majoring in both math and elementary education with a minor in Spanish. Along with writing, she also enjoys running and dancing.

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Dear Readers, Thank you for taking the time to read the 2014 Eastern Exposure. We hope that you have enjoyed its contents. The literary journal is not just the product of the blood, sweat, and tears of the members of the Eastern Writers Guild, but of every writer who submits poems, short stories, creative nonfiction, and plays every year. If you would like to submit to the magazine for the 2015 issue, we will be accepting submissions at the beginning of the Fall 2014 semester. With each new year more and more submissions come in and we hope to see even more submissions than we did this year. Guidelines for submissions are as follows: •

All pieces must be ten pages or fewer.

Students can submit up to five pieces of any combination of genres, such as poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, or drama.

Submissions should arrive with a brief bio.

Besides publishing the Eastern Exposure every year, the Eastern Writers Guild holds in-meeting creative writing workshops, welcomes visiting authors to campus, and hosts open-mic coffeehouse events. We are who we are because of our members. If you have the love of reading and writing that we share, please feel free to join us! Meetings this semester take place in Student Center room 221 on Wednesday nights at 7. At the beginning of the Fall 2014 semester meeting times and locations may be updated. If you have any questions about club membership, our magazine, or our activities and club events, or if would like to be added to our email list, feel free to contact the Eastern Writers Guild at easternwriters@ my.easternct.edu. Thank you once again for reading the 2014 Eastern Exposure! –The Eastern Writers’ Guild

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