Élan Spring 2020 Edition

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Faculty Advisor Tiffany Melanson

Élan International Student Literary Magazine Produced by the Creative Writing department of Douglas Anderson School of the Arts and funded through the Writers’ Guild Boosters Association 2445 San Diego Rd., Jacksonville FL, 32207 (904) 346-5620


Volume 34 | Issue 2 Editors-in-Chief Olivia Meiller Zoe Lathey Layout & Design Luz Mañunga Shelby Woods Jasper Darnell Art Reece Braswell Blake Molenaar Poetry Conor Naccarato Alexa Naparstek Fiction/CNF Anna Howse Sheldon White Managing Editors Noland Blain La’Mirakle Price Digital Media Catriona Keel Evette Davis Marketing Ashley Chatmon Grace Brodeen Douglas Anderson Art Liaisons An Tran Sadie Ponicall


Voice is never confined to the mouth. Voice can be realized, and developed, through reflection--through dedication to an art. Every artist featured in this book has given a facet of their voice to share with you. We are immensely grateful for their ability to bring life, and purpose, to our publication. Whether you consider yourself an artist or not, their voices undoubtedly create conversation. There are pieces in this book that speak to us weeks after a first read. The power of art and writing is the ability to linger and hopefully stir something inside of you. Do you see your own voice in this art? What will you do with this inspiration? Sometimes it can be hard to discern what makes an issue different from the rest. Elan has always prioritized having a diverse and unique array of art and writing, so characterizing our books can be difficult. But the pieces of this issue showcase experimentation and genre variety unlike any other. Take the time to appreciate the leaps and risks these artists took, and have fun immersing yourself in this beautiful Spring Edition. -Editors-in-Chief Olivia Meiller and Zoe Lathey


Contents Morning Chat Keila Smith


Wonder Kaitlyn Griffin


Primal Instinct Sofia Miller


Post Humous Alli Russell


The Kentucky Translucent Frost-Crested Moth Hannah Wehrung


80% Chance of Rain Breanna Adams


Oranges Breana Kinchen


Mediterranean Mary Mary Hamilton


Faults in a Guitar Strum Mia Parola


I’m Too Young to be a Movie Star Cassidy Palmer


ghost song for art Sofia Miller


Faces of Happiness Sena Suganuma


By the Cornfields Reece Braswell




Cowhand Gabriel Drabek


The Challenger Shuttle Disaster, 1986 Sara Carmichael


Earth’s Sensation Maverick Johnson


His Love Lily Stanton


Holy Grail Cassidy Jaillette


Becoming a Wishbone Riley Bridenback


Still Life Party Shu Chen


How You Learned to Sleepwalk Jasper Darnell


Sleep! No Never Heard of Her 2 Samuel Pabon


tiger, what it means to leave behind Jaden Crowder


Decouverte Kai Schindler


Omitted Kat Sherman


Transportation through Missouri Mackenzie Wondell


Minor Grievances Kat Sherman


Oppidum Younggil Jo


When My Mother Calls Me to Say She Quits Being My Mother Noland Blain


Eldest Child Erin Murphy


Senior Center Raleigh Walter


Mixed-Emotion Elegy for Closeted Me Barker Thompson


Pressure Cooker Samuel Pabon


The Barbie Myka Davis-Westbrook


Fed Up Isabel Bachmann


Yet Another One Arryon Pender


Composition 9721 Tamia Brinkley


Ghetto Fabulous Miracle Singleton


Beady Beads Vaylen Pabon-Morales


Fire of Motion Michael Lindros


Flamenco Shoe Raleigh Walters


Five, Six, Seven, Eight Ava Burr

70 7

Kaitlyn Griffin Wonder Painting


Primal I n s t i n c t BY SOFIA MILLER

We knead ourselves into clay. Vases which are wobbly and lopsided. We are splattered with color. Blueberry paste and pomegranate stains. We are malleable. the way a marshmallow becomes gooey, softens at the flame. We fold ourselves into smiles like origami. Pass them out like mints to each passerby. We are so easily scarred. Nicked, charred into smoke, but we smooth wrinkled stories and hand them down like wedding dresses. Shake the dust off. Give ourselves to our daughters.


Alli Russell Post Humous Drawing


The Kentucky Translucent Frost-Crested Moth BY H A N N A H W E H R U N G

The pines, the eagles, the robins and jays, the opossums, the ticks, the rats and the boars, the bats, the bees, the butterflies, the long-legged grasshoppers, corn-colored spiders and even the wrung-tattered and sticky pink flowers did not congregate on that Kentucky mountaintop, on that April 8 PM, around that delicious and clean-looking sinuous blue river to give Ms. Amanda’s American Heritage Girls troop a warm welcome. Nonetheless, these things—I’ll spare you the list a second round—are the very same which brought Ms. Amanda and Ms. Amanda’s troop to Kentucky’s West Ridge National Park for an overnight spring break excursion. Though Ms. Amanda would “Quietly, the stillness have preferred to abide in tents for broke: rustled covers, weak the added adventure of the thing, tugs on zippers, the silent, the girls insisted on renting out and feather touch of one girl on sharing a cabin, paid for through another.” their parents’ generous and tolerant complaint-inspired advocacy (though Ms. Amanda believed this to be an example of out-of-touch adults ruining potential fun), and here is where Ms. Amanda sat on the small porch-slashbalcony--the structure was perched on a slope--and drew up her plans for the next day. Botany skills meant foraging, with appropriate caution, of course, for berries, which were a short 45-minute hike north, and this lead nicely into cooking skills as they could prepare little pies over the fire, with holding pastries stashed away for the event in Ms. Amanda’s bag. They could swim in the calmest part of the river around 2 PM, when the heat was appropriate for this, and see the sunrise and go birdwatching very early in the morning. While Ms. Amanda planned, the American Heritage Girls were in lesser spirits inside the cabin, where Lindsay Tucker sat with shaky legs to her chest on a cot, face red and lower lip large and trembling, tear-striped and shiny as one of the berries in Ms. Amanda’s imagination under the harsh and gnat-specked overhead light. Lindsay, who feared even the least of bugs and insects, was still recovering from the 11

fright of finding a tick behind her ear (yet to attach itself, the tick was competently removed and set on the ground outside by Ms. Amanda, but Lindsay was yet to be soothed by her friends’ assurances). Around Lindsay, four of the five other girls sat in a circle of comfort and solidarity. The fifth, Saige, lay sulking in her own cot, bothered by the numerous ant bites clothing her unlucky shins and the similar mosquitoconquered situation of her arms, then doubly bothered by the lack of attention on her. “I don’t have any spray with DEET, and I don’t like wearing socks! All they do is make my feet feel icky and sweaty!” said Lindsay. “Oh, come here,” said Bailey beside her. Lindsay rested her head on Bailey’s shoulder. “I’ll share mine with you. And it’s only one more day, anyways. Then we’ll all go home and watch Netflix at your mom’s house, and you can shower real good with hot water, and your bed will be super comfy, too.” At this Lindsay started openly weeping once again (this had been on and off since the tick incident). “I want to go ho-o-ome!” As Bailey stroked Lindsay’s hair, Bailey’s twin, Addie, laid her own head in Bailey’s lap, and becoming bored with the scene, the other two girls—Claire and Gabriela—started playing sticks at the foot of the cot. “Four,” whispered Gabriella. “Six,” whispered Claire. Then a few silent rounds, until Claire spoke again, pointed chin and voice further lowered. “Can I tell you something I’m not supposed to tell anybody?” She said. Gabriella leaned in. “What is it?” “My mom is letting me quit the troop right after the trip. I’m going to do Girls on the Run, instead.” “For real?” “Yeah.” “You’re gonna leave me all alone?” “It’s not my fault you’re not quitting!” said Claire. Ms. Amanda had a tendency to confuse Gabriella with Claire. This was usually inconsequential, as one girl followed the other, but this was a widely known exception. Gabriella was not athletic or adventurous the way Claire could be. She had an unreliable heart, which made a trip like


this one, and certainly any sports participation, an elusive oddity in her life. Gabriella slumped against her friend. “I want to quit....” At last, with all the troopers thoroughly sour with their own and their collective misery, Ms. Amanda importantly stormed indoors from the balcony-slash-porch, head high and step weightless, beaming with a wonderful discovery. “All of you, all of you, hurry out here! Hurry!” Here was a tentative moment of perfect tableau, which Ms. Amanda was resilient against or seemingly so through sheer force of will. Her shoulders stiffly held behind her, and her face expectant and clear, Ms. Amanda was holding open the porch-slash-balcony door with one tense and wide-spread hand and one heel against its corner. Quietly, the stillness broke: rustled covers, weak tugs on zippers, the silent, feather touch of one girl on another. Bailey removed Lindsay’s head from her shoulder, and Addie’s from her lap, and made a small tug to each girls’ hand to draw them forward beside her. Addie followed as Claire and Gabriella also stepped out, while Lindsay and Saige remained obstinate in their beds. “I’m not going outside again. Are we going outside again?” Lindsay whined from inside her sleeping bag. Ms. Amanda noticed the cot’s covers: yellow butterflies, She did not know that these covers belonged to Addie, not Lindsay. “Just stepping out to see an animal, one I know you’d really like,” said Ms. Amanda, “but we need to go now!” With a dramatic, performed reluctance, Lindsay thumped cautiously to the door behind the group with Ms. Amanda at her side. “Everyone outside, look at the top-right corner of the door frame and you’ll see it, everyone spread out so we can all see...” It was Bailey’s quiet distaste that she noticed first, then all of the other girls, holding their breath with trained, unimpressed expressions on a white glob-smeared, dusty looking plank of wood. “Oh, it’s gone—but that’s all right, all right, this is still very exciting,” said Ms. Amanda. “Does anyone recognize this?” She noticed Claire and Gabriella playing a hand game behind the others.


“Gabriella. Gabriella, you’re probably the most outdoorsy out of all of us, isn’t that right?” She caroled. “What does this look like to you?” Caught off guard, Gabriella stiffened away from Claire and stared at the putty-like mass for a handful of uncomfortable moments, the small crowd in waiting for a thing ill-defined and unexpected. The girls took one another’s hands. With full offense and without ceremony, she answered, “I dunno.” With the girls beginning to shyly trickle back inside the cabin around her, Ms. Amanda rushed, “It’s a very famous moth that only lives around here. It’s beautiful, it looks like glass, glass-like wings, and it’s very white and very soft-looking, the body is very soft-looking….”


80% Chance of Rain Breanna Adams Painting



Another frigid Friday in gloomy Cincinnati: dreary, as usual, the backdrop of gray sky peppered with thin wisps of cloud. In my second-grade classroom, a delivery of oranges arrives in a tight wicker basket. Our mouths water at the sight, their loud color filling the room as each of our tiny hands reaches for a sphere of light. The orange is smaller than my open palm and pale under the classroom’s dim lights. In Florida, my best friend and I climbed my neighbor’s orange tree, dangling from its broad limbs like moss. Before we left, he gifted us with handfuls of ripe oranges, each one bigger than our fists. We filled our arms with as many as we could carry, the tangy, citrus scent lingering on our skin. In my backyard, we splayed out our prizes— beautifully round and neon against the grass— and carefully peeled an orange to share, plucking its segments one by one. My classmates dig into their treats like animals, tearing the skin with their fingernails, orange juice squirting onto white polos and navy blue slacks. The kids around me sink their complacent teeth into the little slices of heaven and shove wedges into their mouths to form smiles. I run my finger over the sticker that reads grown in Florida.


Mary Hamilton Mediterranean Mary Mixed Media


Faults in a Guitar Strum B Y M I A PA R O L A

In my mind, I’ve created an image from my father’s childhood that’s so vivid I could mistake it for a memory. In it, he’s ten years old and poking his head out of an orange pop up tent that my grandfather probably didn’t put up correctly, because all of its poles stick out of the insulating fabric. My father is too young to point this out to him, and instead looks wide-eyed at his mother, who adds more heat to the South Florida summer as she flips sausages on an old camping grille, charring the edges with a thick, black crust that resembles the ones on my own burnt marshmallows. It’s peaceful in that one frame, like a snapshot with each position set up by professionals to be used in a camping magazine, except not quite. That serenity is really what tips me off that this could never be real. This false image stems from a story my father likes to tell about “That serenity is really when he was younger and his parents what tips me off that this used to take their family to Disney could never be real.” World in Orlando during summers. They were too cheap to stay at a hotel and buy food, so instead, they camped in a tent and ate heavy, meaty Italian dishes that my grandmother packed along in plastic containers. I’ve heard him laugh his way through these memories to each person in his life who’ve yet to hear it. I wish I could put each their reactions into a scene—the way their mouths morphed open uncontrollably into something of a grin as they wheeze out monstrous, choppy laughter. However, I’m afraid lacing these moments into words, too, would be disingenuous. I don’t recall one time when my own laughter didn’t drown out that of everyone but my father himself, or a time my eyes weren’t forced to a near shut squint as my bending cheeks were pressed up against them. What I do remember, though, is each time sitting at the dinner table while my parents talk about work, while I’m busy thinking of a way to bring up the story in a natural, charismatic way so that he’ll tell it again. It never is. I’m sure it’s evident to him that that I just want to hear it again, but he never calls me out on this, because he


always wants to tell it again. For him, I imagine it’s one of those experiences that you swear was miserable and that you wish didn’t happen, but in the back of your conscious, you’ll cherish it and the moments it brought--even if you won’t admit that to yourself, like the time I bust my head open after scooting across tile with coasters on my feet. I was four when that happened. That memory doesn’t seem to be part of my life but exists on its own, outside of any timeline or bigger picture. When I looked back through the old Shutterfly photo books my mother has been compiling over the years, I made the connection that it was only three years later when my father lost his job with the city. Nowadays, he admits to his own lack of patience being his downfall, but he didn’t relay this to me to me until time disconnected him from the memory. Nevertheless, the time he was without a job was something my six-year-old mind couldn’t grasp the gravity of. The once-a-month treat of him picking me up from school became weekly. My father was home more, cooking more. Those were the nights we’d make homemade soft pretzels that I’d twist into hearts and beg to drop them in cinnamon while he focused on mastering his technique of folding them to look just like the ones from Auntie Anne’s sold at the mall. It was my own young innocence that led me to live in blissful ignorance during the in-between moments, when he helped demolish houses and sold pork sandwiches at theaters airing football games. It’s likely he saw someone he knew at least once. To this day, I don’t think he ever cared. All I ever heard back from him was raving about how he loved watching the games for free. My father has no shame in that matter, which is an attitude he carried with him when he was forced to move two hours away into a small apartment for a job. He slept on a futon and always complained about his neck hurting, which I imagined was due to his head tilting down at his TV placed on the floor. At first, I wanted to visit the apartment. But after going once and noticing how the corner of his halfkitchen was brown and blotched like a mixture of urine and coffee stains on paper--the persistence with which I pleaded my mother to take me faded. But I know how much it hurt him because there was not one Friday he failed to make it home for the weekend. It made Sunday nights bittersweet. Before I learned to be distant, I snuggled close to him in his


and my mother’s room. I stayed up later than watching the show Cake Boss with him than I do now, as a high schooler with hours of homework nearly every night. I pulled myself close to him as if that would stop his departure at 4 A.M. the next day were when I finally started to grasp things. Even though I was just around seven, I’ve never missed someone like I missed him then. I don’t remember how long this was our reality, but by the time I graduated elementary school, he had accepted a job back home, and I had long moved on to other things to worry about. Years passed. I worked and grew and changed, and closed myself off like I think most people do with age. It’s funny how time keeps moving on like that. It shows us how ridiculous and unobtainable our idea of “stopping” is. For the past few years, my memory has flowed more like a full series than individual Polaroids plucked from the masses—except for one. I know it took place only months ago, yet it feels wrong to place it within the constraints of my life. I’m in our car that still has a fresh, new smell with my father. The memory of where we were going or coming from has escaped me completely, and all I have left to make assumptions about what happened around this moment. My strained eyes squinted at his in the dark, while he faced the road. Again, my own recollection plays tricks on me, and I somewhat recall him driving slowly because no lights flashed by in my peripheral vision, but that doesn’t fit with my father’s road rage and impatience, and so I doubt it to be authentic. I think it was real to the tone of the moment, though— the way it seems encapsulated like a snow-globe of New York that stays the same, even though in reality, people are buzzing and honking through the day. Nevertheless, the song Box of Rain by The Grateful Dead was playing. If my father and I have one thing in common, it’s our love and want for others to connect to the music we find comfort in. For him, it’s this album titled American Beauty. We sat in silence. I watched the night road until he said, “You know, I love this album. I love the title.” My response to him is blurred, but I likely did little more than nod. His next words have always stuck with me. “An American Beauty is supposed to be this ideal woman and


flawlessness. But if you listen closely, none of these songs are edited, and you can hear each tiny imperfection in the guitar, and that’s what makes the statement of this album so incredible.�


Cassidy Palmer I’m Too Young to be a Movie Star Drawing


ghost s o n g f o r a r t BY SOFIA MILLER

i was born

in ink.

negatives staining the fingertips, my great-grandfather’s trade.

grandma never forgets a photograph,

dad has always had a compulsion to document the seconds

like mother like son

too: to saturate the candid and stuff it into the remaining shelf space.

each time my grandmother crawls toward her childhood en méxico

all the painstaking etchings of the nights she floated to the kitchen table,

i fill in the unoccupied head space—

the one scene i’ve never seen documented—

try to imagine her first brushstrokes:

an amber glow settled over the hunched shoulders

short, bobbed hair

(the only style i’ve seen on her in my lifetime)

skin too tan among lighter sisters i’ve never met.


in america, the second room upstairs is a mausoleum for all the brushes,

dust coated between bristles.

as a child i would brush them across my cheek lovingly,

would float between the easels,


muffled my steps

the portraits, the landscapes

in a place so quiet,

i practiced becoming a ghost,

hoping my transparency would ease the process of absorbing the art,

would stretch my time alone on such sacred ground

would submerge me into the inkwell i entered this world in,

take me to that kitchen table,

sit me down under the yellow light

and trace the fading lines my grandmother


laid out.

Sena Suganuma Faces of Happiness Painting


By the Cornfields BY REECE BRASWELL

The moon leaned on the house, casting a shadow. It engulfed my figure like an ugly mouth, my liver spots translucent on my scalp. A dry wind swept the desert. A coyote yelped; I imagined his hunched body lurking in the chicken coup. My wife said over dinner she was concerned about me. I told her, “What’dya mean?” stabbing my steak with a fork and ripping the other half with my teeth. I grinned at her. She laughed, but I knew she didn’t get the joke. “Nothing, nothing,” she said, butter knife tight in her grip. She was too old to be worrying over me. I was too old; men my age wake and can’t find comfort in their beds again. And that’s that. The crops began to die early that spring. Rodents – they killed the “I howled to the moon corn before I could lay bullets in when I shot the last one.” their bellies. The farm would be gone soon. We had no money. I howled to the moon when I shot the last one. I grabbed its worm-tail and stared into its black eyes, the life leaking out of them like gasoline. I wanted to throw him into a fire. I came inside to find a wet spot on my pillow. My wife didn’t know I knew she was still awake. She strangled her sobs with snores. I killed the dog last month – by accident. I was looking for that coyote. There was a bang of the backdoor, then a yowl, then a shadow scurried by the cornfields. It was one shot, no suffering. Except for my wife, of course. She laid herself over Rufus’ body, a praying statue, her stone knees digging tunnels into the earth. She begged me, “Why, why, why?” I told her I thought he was a coyote. She said, “When will you understand there is nothing out here?”


Gabriel Drabek Cowhand Drawing


The Ch a l l e n g e r S h u t t l e Disaste r, 1 9 8 6 BY SARA CARMICHAEL

1. Allan McDonald, from the control room in Cape Canaveral, Florida This morning, my wife decided that it was time for us to buy an answering machine. I chuckled into my oatmeal until I discovered that phones still ring in the mountains. Our daughter leaned into my shoulder and asked why we went on vacation in January. I didn’t know how to tell her that it wasn’t a vacation. She can read the newspapers to find out. She told me that she wants to be just like Christa McAuliffe. She reminds me over and over I touch lives. I teach. Just as long as she doesn’t become an astronaut. Christa proved that I can’t stop her from dying even if I design the shuttle myself. 2. Alison Cohen, watched from her home in Lanham, Maryland The day that I almost rear ended Christa was a Monday. “Leaving on a Jet Plane” trickled from the car speakers and the kids sang all the wrong words in the back. Christa was outside my window before the brake lights had even calmed. She told me that she was late. She told me that she was


never late. She told me that she was sorry. The kids whined and I invited her over for a glass of wine. She laughed and I could see the lines around the corners of her lips. I didn’t notice as the kids said goodbye and joined other families. I knew they would make it to school. Christa rested her chin on the frame of the window and said that she’d better go. As I watched her pantsuit walk away, I wished that she was my mom too. 3. Barbara Morgan, watched from the stands in Cape Canaveral, Florida I was supposed to be Christa McAuliffe. As I watched her in the parade, I hated myself for being the one standing on the sidewalk, but then she winked and I felt myself smile. She was the same person that I’d known minutes ago before the parade started while we were just people. Now she’s Christa McAuliffe and I’m the person standing behind her in all the pictures. Her husband told me that he can’t tell us apart anymore. I wonder if anyone would notice if I lived her life on earth while she was out there mothering the stars. 4. Grace Corrigan, watched from the stands in Cape Canaveral, Florida My husband kept reading the newspaper. The headline read “We’ve lost ‘em, God bless ‘em”


and he gripped the pages so hard they ripped. When Christa was little she would always take the crossword from him and fill the boxes with random letters. But the day that MEN WALK ON MOON adorned the front page she wouldn’t pick up any other section. She told me it should be women. I didn’t expect her to die for it. At teaching school, the twenty year olds kept asking me why I went back at sixty-five. This afternoon, my granddaughter called to tell me that she started Girl Scouts. She can find Christa’s pin at the bottom of the Atlantic ocean. After I hung up I turned to my husband and said I think one day I’m going to explode. 5. Holly Merrow, watched from the Concord High School gym As I sat in “The American Women” class I did not recognize her as one of them. She passed out our tests just like any other teacher. Once Mrs. McAuliffe turned to the blackboard I creased my test into a paper airplane, only for it to crumple in midair. I filled the test with pencil lead and let it sink onto her desk. I folded every exam into a different shape until I noticed


that for once I knew the answers. The day after my father told me that she herself sank, the letter of recommendation that she had written for me came in the mail.


Maverick Johnson Earth’s Sensation Painting


His Love B Y L I LY S TA N TO N

It’s two in the morning. The sky outside is pitch black; the stars are unseeable. I’m on my couch watching a playlist of random cooking videos on YouTube that has been running since four p.m.—the only thing that has kept calm the energy in the room. In front of the TV, she sits: grey hands folded over her lap, tucked neatly underneath her pink fluffy blanket, white hair flowing down the back of her wheelchair. Of course, she must be uncomfortable, but she won’t remember to ask to move. And I won’t move her. Where would I move her anyways? She’d only confuse herself. With her, a chair becomes a jail cell—a wheelchair, a straitjacket. Sometimes, she mumbles things thinking I can hear her, and “She doesn’t remember she can’t walk...” gets upset when I don’t respond. Sometimes, she sits silent for hours and forgets to let me know she needed to use the restroom ten minutes ago. Hopefully, I will leave within the next few hours, after the third sleepless night I’ve had here. There will be a knock on the old white front door, and my sister will replace me in this sunken seat. I glance down at the dirty couch I’ve sat on for hours. It’s old and brown--ripping up at the edges from dog bites, and cat claws, and wheelchair scrapes. I look back up to the wheelchair that blocks my view of the TV. If I were to find out I had Alzheimer’s or some other mind-deteriorating ailment, I would register for legal euthanization in whatever country I could get it. “Now where did I put my coffee?” Her crackling voice grumbles through the sound of dishes clanking on the screen. I watch as she shuffles her blankets off and know I


should be getting up to stop her. She doesn’t remember she can’t walk... but for a moment I feel cemented to the sofa. She won’t figure out how to undo the belt anyways… I sigh and stand. I walk over and hand her her “coffee”. It’s just water, but if I tell her that it is not her coffee, and that she finished drinking her real coffee over twelve hours ago, and that it’s too late for coffee, I fear she may fall into a fit of depression that will make me have to sleep on the floor next to her bed again. “Such a sweet boy.” She mumbles and looks up at me, resting the cup in her lap patiently. “And a handsome boy. I was with my daughter… before. She said she’d be right back. And you are?” I smile and get close to her ear. “James.” My voice is nearly a shout, but she doesn’t flinch. “Oh! James, James. I’ve always wanted to have a little boy and name him James.” I nod and turn to leave. “Oh, stay with me will you! I am always alone, and no one will wait with me.” She begs frantically, her seethrough hand grabbing hold of mine. I can almost hear her bones rattling as she gets ready to cry. “I am, I’m right behind you. We are watching a show, see?” I point to the screen at the woman chopping chives and there’s a small flash of recognition in her eyes. She releases her boney grip on my wrist and nods. “Oh alright,” she whispers and looks distant once more, her brain probably refilling with the same fog that lingers just outside the window. I turn back towards my seat and gaze at the couch— my bed for the past week—longingly. I can feel its warmth holding me and I haven’t even sat. “Can you please help me out of this seat mister? I’ve been stuck for ages!” she gasps from beside me and shakily lifts her frail arms in exclamation. She reaches out, once again grabbing onto me intently. Her hands are freezing cold against my forearm. Her body is curling in the chair, hands outstretched as she begs. Her eyes are empty of understanding— graying


as she forgets how to perceive the world around her. I feel the fuzzy hope of warmth dripping out through my toes as I turn to look down into her bloodshot eyes. I reach and pull her hand from my wrist and walk towards the hallway without responding. She loses her breath momentarily and stutters for words, but I only walk faster. I don’t know where I’m heading, but I can’t sit in there any longer. “Mister! Oh, mister please! Please!” she begins screaming horridly. The hallway seems to lengthen, the rooms further and further away. Each wall only echoes the sounds of her cries, her pleads for company. I reach the closet and shiver. The house is growing increasingly colder. I could stop here and get her a blanket. I could take it back to her, lay it over her legs and sit by her wheelchair until Sydney comes home tonight. Watch her smile to see I’ve done it. I’ve taken care of her successfully.


Cassidy Jaillette Holy Grail Drawing


Becom i n g a Wi s h b o n e BY RILEY BRIDENBACK

I. I look around my room and see the school newspaper I forgot to give him, the thick aroma of green curry seeps into my walls, and steaming chunks of butternut squash burn my mouth with flavors he’ll never know. The bean soup he raved of rests in the back of my throat. I can never taste it, but the poems I’ve written for him coat my tongue in the sticky residue of longing. II. Tears fall when my mom tells me my father died, when people ask if I’m okay. When was the last time I hugged him? When will the sound of his voice leave my head? There are days when I forget he is gone, tears fall when I remember. III. I am waiting to forgive my father. Even after his death, my skin is tight with abandonment, soft with grief. Like a wish bone being pulled by the greasy hands of children, I am waiting for the bigger side to win. My meat will be devoured, until my bones lay resting on a decorative plate. My clavicle, forked and fused, cracking.


Shu Chen Still Life Party Mixed Media


How You Learned to Sleepwalk BY JASPER DARNELL

You’ll wake to the clang of pans and noxious steps. The others will stay asleep in their rooms, but you’ll get up. Tired, you’ll drag your heels on the tile, starting your search for the missing man. Your clock will have the wrong time, but you’ll know it’s late enough. You’ll start in the kitchen, praying the knock of your heels won’t scare him, then move through the rest of the comatose home. You’ll search for solace. You’ll rustle through drawers and pick at anything that brings him to you: his hat, buried beneath boxes, a faded vinyl he wore to bones, a picture of his, thrown behind better ones. Eventually, something will click, and the clock will slow and step in beats of two – you’ll see him outside, dangling his legs off the backyard porch, practically waiting “In that shiver of twilight, for you. You’ll slide the screen door you’ll spot his humanity.” open and gawk at his being. He’ll be sitting, mouthing mute words to the dark, and bullets of light that fill it. You’ll mumble that it’s ‘late out,’ that he ‘doesn’t have enough clothes on,’ but he won’t budge. His name will melt from recognition. His hair, brown or blonde, will blow methodically, despite the lack of wind. He’ll stay silent, lean further into the night, and let light hang to his sharp edges, a translucent remnant, an opus of origami. You’ll keep your hands in pockets, and inch closer. You’ll notice his eyes fight for space in his sockets. You’ll notice the flex of his fingers, the flush of red. You’ll feel the bounce of his knees, the lazy jolt of his spine – and in those single moments, in that shiver of twilight, you’ll spot his humanity. But you’ll know you’re wrong. You’ll tip-toe inside the house because you’ve always known the science, the reasons. You’ll tell yourself that he’s an imaginative vestige, a fake. But, still, you’ll turn and look at his blurry image: in miraculous night, he’s heedless to physics, ghostly and holy,


full of nothing more than the sky. And you’ll realize: if you squint just right, and follow some breadcrumbs, you’ll remember him, too. You’ll remember his long, earthy dialect. You’ll remember that he spoke in pages, sometimes chapters (once, a whole book). You’ll remember the silky brag of his chest as he sunk into sleep. You’ll remember how he dragged his feet; how he mumbled to the sink when he sleepwalked; how he carried you by your armpits when you were a child, full of honey and milk. You’ll remember that he’s made of nothing but picture frame and past tense. Before you go, you’ll remember the medium and the clockwork: his fatherhood. As with all things, in what you’ll remember, you’ll also forget. You’ll forget to write about him. You’ll forget that he lives in memory and has-been. You’ll forget about the car crash, the funeral. You’ll forget his name, the color of his hair, the sound of his voice. You’ll forget the day he went, and the day he’ll come back. You’ll forget how he loved you. You’ll forget that you’re sleepwalking, and even though you won’t ‘have enough clothes on’ and it’ll be ‘late out,’ you won’t budge. You’ll stand there, gazing half-eyed out the window at the porch. You’ll dream of Dad, the invisible man.


Samuel Pabon Sleep! No Never Heard of Her 2 Print


tiger, w h a t i t m e a n s t o l e a v e behind BY JADEN CROWDER

it is the peak of july. we are tigers of the dawning heat, basking in summer rains; we are sworn-in-sworn-out of little tiger’s gamesstripes of orange against the sky; we play fair and then we don’t. we roll in grasses and kiss dirt goodbye– you on the tip of the sea i, in the depths of sand, toes sticking out. we are salt stained skin, washing away on burning pavement on where we don’t walk anymore, where paths don’t cross and we aren’t cubs anymore. we cut off pinkies because we never learned how to end things the right way; i burn the soles of my feet because i’ve grown so dependent on the things we provided, on the promises we made and i don’t know what to dohow promises end “right”? we are summer. it is lazy afternoons and we are miles apart i am moments of regret and “what if” biting nostalgia and tear slathered cheeks. you are unanswered messages and rays of sun rose blooming out of concrete– i am the thunder storming every day we are not kings but empty crowns– diamonds locked in chests,


empty skins hanging on each other’s walls we are piers not walked, footprints washed away by ocean waves, slowly, slowly, taking us away. tiger, this is what it means to leave behind.


Kai Schindler Decouverte Drawing


Omitted B Y K AT S H E R M A N

Though he couldn’t remember the time, the faces of the men or the names on their uniforms, he still feels their hands gripping his skin through his clothing, pushing his face deep into the dirty concrete. The way the parking lot bit against his skin with sharp, gritty teeth; how hot it was from roasting under the sun all morning. His knees, bruised and bleeding, were pressed firmly into the asphalt, gaining stains from damp soil and oil residue, combining with the blood and loose threads pooled into the dark denim. His favorite blue button-up, bought three years ago for his aunt’s funeral, tore easily against the weight of their knees, their weight scraping the fabric against his ribcage. Their radios screeched with muffled voices and buzzing beeps, throats scratching like graveled roads with a sore power. “Their radios screeched They were waiting for him with muffled voices and near the front of the parking lot of the buzzing beeps, throats Denver Public Library in Woodbury, scratching like graveled where Ian fixed computers, organized roads with a sore power.” books and papers, or doing anything around the building that needed to be done. He was good at his job and enjoyed working with his hands, passing time with a purpose. Even after only working there for a little over a year, he was close to a promotion as Floor Manager. Though the title didn’t come with many more responsibilities besides making sure everyone else is doing their jobs, it meant more pay. More pay meant his own home, a new life, and seeing his daughter. He couldn’t do that now, rationing every paycheck and living in his uncle’s guest room while he saved money for his own place. So, when he found himself being cornered by two police officers in front of his car at eleven in the morning on Wednesday after he clocked out for lunch, all he could think about was his job, and his daughter. People who were entering and coming out of the library watched him from the front steps and by their cars, the opened doors hiding their faces but not their eyes. Ian could only think about the future as they cuffed his hands harshly behind his back,


digging their knees into the sides of his ribs and spine as he huffed against the ground, trying to hold back panicked tears. What if his boss came outside and saw him like this? What if he couldn’t get bail and couldn’t come into work for days, or even weeks? He was afraid what to do, why this was happening, and how he would get himself out of it. “I want to speak with a lawyer.” He demanded through gritted teeth, moving his jaw to ease the pain as they grabbed his shoulders to hoist him up from the ground, turning his body and leaning his front against the Toyota’s window. They mocked him under their breath, perfunctorily reading him his Miranda rights as one of them dug around to make room in the back seat of the cop car, shoving old paperwork and wrappers into a larger bag. The other officer made sure to keep his thick, callused hand balled into a fist against Ian’s spine, pushing his sternum into the glass with an unnecessary force. The car ride to the station was relatively silent. The officers talked amongst themselves, glaring at him in the rear-view and writing on forms, spitting black tar from chewing tobacco into a cup in the holder. They didn’t turn on the sirens or the lights, cruising at a slow speed through the neighborhoods as they scoured, their balding heads turning like eagles to watch the sidewalks. He wanted to plead, to beg on his knees with his hands clasped to the sky, tell them he had done nothing wrong and just wanted to go back to his life that was just getting started, but they had cuffed his hands to the wires of the barred barrier; ignoring his presence in the backseat.


Mackenzie Wondell Transportation through Missouri Photograph


Minor G r i e v a n c e s BY KAT SHERMAN

“You look good.” My father tests, leaning nervously into the phone against his ear, forest green jumpsuit blurring out-of-place amongst the gray, concrete bitterness of the visitation room. There isn’t much between us but a dirty, thick glass pane and rusted steel frame welded to keep one of us at bay— I am thankful for any excuse to be distant from this man I barely want to recognize. Words and symbols are scratched into the aged rust around the window; ‘Happy Birthday,’ and ‘I love you,’ stand out among the rest. I pick at the chipping eggshell paint dangling from the steel, wanting to recall how I looked the last time I saw him. My hair has grown past his beard, shoulders square with pseudo-confidence and jaw set with his familiar scowl. My teeth are straighter, whiter than his own, skin clear in places his is scarred; hands smooth where his are broken. “I know.” My voice is fragile, like the shell disintegrating between my fingers, turning into another pile of dust on the floor. There is a dried wad of gum under the lip of the seat that I prod with my finger— it feels cleaner than the air; sterile compared to the grime. “You’ve got my good looks, but your mama’s better ones.” Mama squeezes my knee from our side of the glass, and I stare him deeper in the eye, daring him to step over the boundary molded before us. He looks so much like myself I am cemented with my seat. Everything in this room is made of rock and hard places, greasy phone cords and solid metal furniture; my racing heart feels like the softest thing here.


I look away from the mirror, feeling almost two decades worth of grief build into everything I cannot say in this room. “Please don’t cry,” he whispers from his side of the wall, placing his fingertips on the edge of the steel. “You’ll make me cry too.”


Younggil Jo Oppidum Drawing


When M y M o t h e r Ca l l s M e t o Say Sh e Q u i t s B e i n g M y Mothe r BY NOLAND BLAIN

It is early, and everything is a metaphor. My mother’s hair has changed so much since I was young, when she thrust into the elementary school campus with platinum-blond extensions braided in, blitzkriegs in the red night of her locks. I hardly recognized her. My mother says I should be more appreciative. My mother says I am driving her away, and this, too, is a metaphor; in my dreams my mother drove her black SUV into a lake, the grime and murk washing over the nice leather interior. I was in that car, too. I watched it happen again, in another dream, when we both dead-dropped into the St. Johns; the brackish water filled us with salt. And again, when she says she does not understand what else she could do, all I want is to ask why she changed her phone number and if I am supposed to memorize it again. She says I am killing her literally. This is a metaphor; she means when I left her body


there was nothing else she could fill it with. My mother will pull the water out of her own skin tomorrow, saying this call never happened, as if it will make me less alone on this morning, less thankful. Yes, I am thankful. I am happy. It is no longer a secret, how natural it feels for both of us to erase motherhood from this photograph.


Erin Murphy Eldest Child Painting


Senior Center B Y R A L E I G H WA LT E R

By the time Jacob comes back to the room, Mrs. Graham is asleep in her chair. He slowly wheels her back towards the window, bringing her blanket up closer to her. “She knocked out right as we got the fountains, I swear she can sleep anywhere,” he says, rolling up the sleeves of his shirt. “Yeah, I wish I could do the same sometimes,” I say. The two of us stand there for a moment, simply watching as her chest moves up and down. “Hey,” Jacob says, moving to the bookshelf and picking up the tissue box. He rolls his fingers over the bumpy texture of the jewels. “I made this.” He shows off the box to me. “Fifth grade, my teacher told us to decorate a box for someone special. My plan was to give it to Karen “The bobbleheads slightly Newport, this girl in my class. I bob as the sun from the remember how much I liked her, I window dances on Jacob’s tissue box.” couldn’t even think in class. I spent all day working on it, in class, during recess, during lunch.” He shoves his hands in his pockets and pushes his hands out, causing his pockets to stick out. He smiles at the memory. “I even hid the gems in my pockets so I could work on it more. I remember finally getting the courage to give to her. I made my way across the sandpit, to be cut off by a boy with a half-painted tissue box with the word ‘heart’ on the side, though it was spelled wrong.” He looks at me and we both chuckle. “I remember coming home that day, I was so mad. I wanted to chuck it in the trash and forget about it.” I watch as he fiddles with the box more, looking up at Mrs. Graham and suddenly smiling. “Then Gammie came over and saw the box. She immediately took the box from my hands and said ‘Why Jacob, this is beautiful! You made this yourself?’ And me being the strong and silent type I was back then, I just nodded and said she could have it.” He finishes his story by placing


the box back on the shelf, then pulling his hands out from his pockets. “Yeah, I knew it was yours,” I say. He turns to me and scoffs. “Oh yeah? You a psychic or something?” “Mrs. Graham actually told me about it when she first moved in, although I think she forgot the part about Karen.” Jacob’s face slowly starts to become a light peach color, making his patchy beard stand out even more. “Jacob?” I hear a small voice call. We both turn to see Mrs. Graham rustling under the blanket, still somewhat asleep. Jacob walks over to her softly, pulling her blanket around before picking her up in his arms. Her head falls lightly onto his shoulders. His body sways slightly from the new weight but he adjusts quickly. He walks over to her bed in the corner. I quickly move in front of him to pull the covers back. “Here, let me,” I say. I watch as he slowly lowers her down into the bed, placing her head even lighter on her pillow. Her curly bob flattens as it is rested against the softness of the pillow. She adjusts to the bed and rolls over on her side, snoring gently. Jacob smiles and pulls the blankets up over her, a down comforter with small roses and verbenas sewn into it. He stands there for a moment before bending down and giving Mrs. Graham a small kiss on the forehead. “See you tomorrow, Gammie,” he whispers. He stands back up and looks at me. “Thanks for taking care of her, means a lot.” He holds out his hand which I shake, although the action feels forced, as if practiced. “No problem, I mean it’s my job right?” I say, hinting a smile. We smile, he shows off his pearly whites again. The bobbleheads slightly bob as the sun from the window dances on Jacob’s tissue box. It gives the room a soft and colorful rainbow light that moves from one side of the room to the other. I turn to look back at Mrs. Graham, who is sleeping softly. I grab a chair from the small side table, carefully dragging it across the room to the side of her bed. I take my seat next to her, placing my hand almost tentatively on the side of her bed. Jacob stands next to me. “Yeah, But I’m sure it’s more than a job right?” he


says, coughing into his fist. I look down and move my hand away from Mrs. Graham’s. Suddenly, the room has become all too familiar. The smell, the sickly yellow walls, and my mother lying in bed. The way stared into my eyes, as she tried to speak but her tongue simply rolled around her mouth. She had started to grip my hand tighter and tighter, becoming more and more frustrated with her lack of speech. I let her hold my limp hand. “It should have been, but I’m not sure now.” I say. A hand grabs me, grips my wrist. Mrs. Graham is now awake. Her eyes are wide open and her mouth is as well. Her body begins to shake as she clutches my hand tighter. “Gammie? What’s happening?” Jacob says, ripping her hand off of me and pushing past me. She shutters and her mouth fills with a thick bile, vomit. Jacob’s shirt catches it slightly but he’s more focused on Mrs. Graham, tilting her head up as not to swallow. “Gammie!” Jacob screams. “Katie, what happened?” I stare. I hold my arms and watch as my eyes blur the image completely from my view. “Katie, go get help!” he shouts, watch as Mrs. Graham sputters under him, her body melting together with the vomit. It’s a moment of deja vu, all I can do is push myself against the wall and watch.


Mixed - E m o t i o n E l e g y f o r Closet e d M e BY BARKER THOMPSON

Yesterday I carried my body limp through the halls of the Middle School, thought of its supposed architectural intent with all its breezes (wind, corridor, kid-scream). 20th century innovation was a classroom with whitewashed doors that opened up into breeze (wind) to cool down teenage discussions about Lord of the Flies & Star-Crossed Lovers & I write about the cement squares & the folds in the ceiling & the breezes because for some reason at some point in time, we began to associate it all with the character of the school itself. Open as physical meant open as interpersonal meant open as social meant open as institutional, meant I should feel like I could still call my friends my friends after whispering a single secret. I just wanted to still be able to be the King of the Court, the Foursquare Rulemaker, like no hands / only hands / just elbows, but the Rulemakers I worry about now get some rest as the world bursts into Yesterday was the First Annual Boston Straight Pride Parade, they did not officially call it First Annual, I added that prefix preemptively with the weight of 364 days to change Nothing changes sixteen transgender people were murdered this year, in an article I read online the words “at least� haunted me magnetized my identity, like at least there could be respect at least there could be action at least I could love someone without it being a spectacle or a sin at least I could walk the halls of my Middle School without feeling a fourth breeze that I have not yet accounted for in this poem: myself. Or at least the ghost I used to be.


Samuel Pabon Pressure Cooker Drawing



My very first Barbie had skin like a Peach and long blonde hair ponytailed so tightly the doll’s head was in danger of splitting. The blush was like two cherries smeared upon the apples of her cheekbones. This one had a skirt that tread to below her knees, a cap, and a plastic tennis racket in the grip of her tiny silicone hand. The second, a brunette. Another peach skinned pretty lady with glasses and white coat. A stethoscope draped around her neck. And the last one was brown like dirt. She was a darker brunette but the hair was sticking every which way. She was ragamuffin who survived a hurricane. My miniature hand thumbed a dent into the plastic toy’s face until it looked less human dunking it head first in my sandbox. I play house with the other two.


Isabel Bachmann Fed Up Drawing


Yet Another One B Y A R RY O N P E N D E R

I thought of the weather first. The cool air pinching my skin, making my brown nose and cheeks blush. In discomfort, I hugged my arms close to my body reminding myself: change, let alone growth, doesn’t happen when you’re comfortable. I know I have to be outside of what I’m used to, to see any change in myself or my environment. Not that I could control Florida’s weather, but living on the Westside is as uncomfortable as it gets. Unsurprisingly, the constant blaring of police sirens and fire trucks don’t scare me anymore. Like getting a notification on my front door, warning my family and I of a resident who was arrested for rape entering the neighborhood; the children missing less than ten minutes from my street; a shooting no one—even the officer at fault—will be arrested for. “Before falling to the Then I thought of my mother. ground, I became aware How she must feel so unloved for of the sudden agonizing her children to feel the need to steal pain hitting my body and from her. I’ve always wanted her piercing my skin.” to feel appreciated because being invisible, especially to your own family, can make you feel like you’re alone in the world. To watch my family go out to dinner, leaving me behind. I thought about how misunderstood, yet loved, I felt by her. Our relationship, ever so complicated that we can fight and get along without saying a word to each other or knowing why the other is upset. Nevertheless, I love her too and hope that eventually, the scars we both maintain can heal. And we can start to stop taking the pain out on one another, like I know my parents do, which is why my siblings and I do. But the house I live in is a quiet one. No one dares to say the things they think or feel out loud. Everyone has gotten used to being scared of allowing themselves to feel. Or at least tell someone else about it. Which inevitably makes relationships outside of my house complicated too. Already working twice as hard as everyone else because of my skin, I have to work twice as hard to even begin communicating my emotions. When it


comes to friends, I can express them well enough but recently I got a boyfriend, who never lets me forget that he is always there to listen to how I feel, whenever I am ready. And I’m never really ready. Nor was I ready for the three shots fired at me from a random car by random people who probably care nothing about me and were told to shoot me for some gang initiation or some shit. I couldn’t analyze the situation fast enough to really recognize what was happening but for only a split second I heard my father’s assertive voice. Be aware of my surroundings at all times, don’t be in my head so much that I can’t focus on what’s happening around me. I hated when he said that. I always ensured my own safety. Making sure I wasn’t being followed or watched. Before falling to the ground, I became aware of the sudden agonizing pain hitting my body and piercing my skin. I saw spits of blood hit the ground and felt it slowly oozing down the left side of my body. For some reason, I didn’t scream. But, I felt tears flow down my cheeks. And the only thing I could think about was whether or not I’d be found or if anyone saw. Maybe my dad will drive by.


Tamia Brinkley Composition 9721 Print


Ghetto F a b u l o u s BY MIRACLE SINGLETON

they call me ghetto fabulous with my golden hoops dangling from my chocolate ears that hear “she ghetto” as that statement exits their sore lips saying my voice too loud and fire red lipstick too bold. I flash my copy paper white teeth and take it as a compliment, sounds like trap melodies in my ears because my long yellow nails grab their attention. Ghetto Fabulous is always accented with the color of the sun at its prime comes with a sway in your hips only the ghetto can gift you with. Only she can teach you how to sleek up your high puffs like me. I think of the trees where I reside, memorized the curve and bounce of palm trees on my streets the swirl of dog chains I name accessories for my streets remind me to continue to be free admire the smile of a black man’s gold teeth connected to the ghetto side of me.


Vaylen Pabon-Morales Beady Beads Mixed Media


Michael Lindros Fire of Motion Painting


Flamen c o S h o e BY RALEIGH WALTERS

I knew him,

this man in bleached white tube socks that rose far above his shins. my gramps with those morning newspapers that stained his fingertips blotchy

with blue dye. when I was the size of a baby flamenco shoe, he and my mother used to call me

lima-bean head. my tiny hands grasping at his patchy beard. his hearty laugh interrupted me, this

laugh that my mother has too, it comes out

when she remembers

that my dad used to say call me demon. she says, not like the devil, demon. he meant it like I was his spitfire child. my mom,

the girl with fire laced around her fingers. she loves the way cinnamon whiskey warms her.

I was an angry kid, a scrap. like the chicken bones he used to suck the marrow dry from.

surrounded by

1, 2, 3—his fourth grandchild, the one he will never meet.

no, no horseback rides for this little girl.


would he have called her an animal?

my tiny hand with his worn palm and playing doctor with my Barbies he the nurse, me the patient. Mama said he was a patient

man, only raised his voice


for people to hear him more clearly.


Ava Burr Five, Six, Seven, Eight Painting



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