Élan Spring 2012

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Élan

Spring 2012


A special thank you to

Mr. Dwaine Stevens &Publix Supermarkets for their continued support


Élan Staff Editor-in-Chief: Jenn Carter Assitant to Editor: Drake Stevens Poetry Editor: Sarah Bisplinghoff Lea Eaves Ellen Verney Fiction Editor: Ashley Zapot Louise Burton Stephen Fleming NonFiction Katie Finn Brittany Soder Julia Fluker Plays Editor: Hannah Bowlus Brandon Spiritas Visual Art Editor: Maddie Muller Hannah Bowlus


Table of Contents Finalists

Growth Pains Janaya Bradley..................................................................................................................................... 1 . Life as Children or (Everything Falls) Emily Cramer.......................................................................................................................................2 Commentary Brandon King.......................................................................................................................................4 Zombie Kelly Milliron.......................................................................................................................................5 Lourdes Contest Winner RenĂŠe Reneau........................................................................................................................................6 Fanfare Arielle Stroman....................................................................................................................................9

Poetry Drunken Trivial Pursuit Abby Bartholomew............................................................................................................................10 Descendants of the Ten Green Geraniums Hannah Bowlus..................................................................................................................................12 The Creeks that Lost the Mississippi Hannah Bowlus..................................................................................................................................13 Porcelain Akexia Bruton.....................................................................................................................................14 Sky Child Alexia Bruton......................................................................................................................................15 Knud Enmark Jensen Stephen Fleming...............................................................................................................................16


Table of Contents Peacock’s Dispostion Julia Fluker........................................................................................................................................17 Dear Mr. Einstein Julia Fluker........................................................................................................................................18 Martyr; My Friend Rory Harper.......................................................................................................................................19 Grounded Christina Louiné...............................................................................................................................20 Winter Sorrow Marina Marks....................................................................................................................................21 Personal Ailments Margaret Maudlin.............................................................................................................................22 The Robot and Us Meagan Reeves.................................................................................................................................23 Living Coffin Kat Roland........................................................................................................................................24 Don’t Panic Drake Stevens..................................................................................................................................25 Lighthouse of Hezekiah Pity Drake Stevens...................................................................................................................................26 Blank Eyes Savannah Storie................................................................................................................................28 This Poem Does Not Have a Title Alexander Ticomb............................................................................................................................30 Burying the Glasses Ellen Verney.......................................................................................................................................31


Table of Contents Visual Art

Untitled Jasmine Dukes.....................................................................................................................................32 Mannequin Art Contest Winner Amalia Galdona.................................................................................................................................33 Pool Guy Amalia Galdona.................................................................................................................................34 Untitled Clint Phillips.......................................................................................................................................35 Untitled Delaney Sandlin.................................................................................................................................36 Mrs. Teacher Cindy KC Fernandez.....................................................................................................................................37 Untitled Jasmine Dukes....................................................................................................................................38 Untitled Jasmine Dukes...................................................................................................................................39 Dillion and Dallas Dillon Arthur......................................................................................................................................40 Portrait from an Unusual Angle Jules Vignutti......................................................................................................................................41

Fiction

To Reveal a Child Jenn Carter.......................................................................................................................................42 Drought Lea Eaves..........................................................................................................................................44


Table of Contents Hopkinsville Stephen Fleming..............................................................................................................................49 Following the Current Brittany Soder...................................................................................................................................51 Hearing Brandon King...................................................................................................................................53 Bits of Dust Kiera Nelson......................................................................................................................................55 The Cast of Central Park Emma Symmonds............................................................................................................................58

Nonfiction Happy Birthday, Sorry for Your Loss Margaret Middlebrooks..................................................................................................................60 Wisdom Teeth RenĂŠe Reneau...................................................................................................................................61 Harold Terell Robinson.................................................................................................................................64 Untitled Mckayla Rosser.................................................................................................................................65 JC+PR Mikalea Stanfeild-Kaplan..............................................................................................................66

Plays

War at Home Danae Macleod................................................................................................................................68 Jizo’s Garden Meagan Reeves.................................................................................................................................71



Finalists


Growth Pains Janaya Bradley

My baby won’t grow anymore. I could tell when it stopped working and stopped fighting when it gave its last kick. The kick was strong, and it hurt and made me nauseous and brought tears to my eyes. I had to grab onto something because that kick was seismic and it shook my world. After that kick, so angry and hateful and sad, my body became a casket. I could feel the absence afterwards, still and empty, and when I breathed I knew I wasn’t breathing for two anymore, I was just breathing for me. And any-­ thing extra made my lungs too full and when I exhaled it was hard to get a breath again. It was so sad. Devastating. When I first noticed I hadn’t told anymone because I thought my silence could revive it, and that the thing in my body was going through a momentary hiccup in development and that it was experiencing its first taste of death. It would be back soon with more life than ever and it would start kicking things off my belly again and telling my taste buds what it wanted to eat. But it wasn’t so, because when I ate I knew I was only eating for one person.

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Life as Children, Or (Everything Falls) Emily Cramer

Before night fell, I walked from the gardener’s hut to the river. It was right before the sun submerged into the horizon line of forest, when light speckled across the foliage. My feet overtook the piles of twigs as though I was some king of apes, snapping the backbones of skyscrapers beneath soles. I paused, bending down to run my fingers across the surface of one of the twigs. A ruby length of ribbon dangled from the bow around the wood. Words were stitched in black onto the fabric: “Everything falls.” My sister had escaped again. I remembered the last time, when Isolde jumped across the threshold of the front door. I skidded across the front hall, catching myself on the coat stand. I found her frozen just beyond the barrier, her hands upturned as if capturing the afternoon sun. With her eyes closed, she looked like the makings of Michelangelo, all porcelain and perfected proportions. The wind from off the river pulled at the broken ends of her blonde hair. The usually matted mass unraveled itself and became almost beautiful, spun gold from the hands of Rumplestilskin. Mother called from the stairs, her feet harsh against the wood. She would be by my side in a matter of seconds, pausing and then pushing past me to reach for Isolde. Mother’s hands would shake with the fear of neigh-­ bors seeing. She was afraid of what they would say, how they would whis-­ per in hush tones as she walked past. Her daughter’s statuesque state would crack, the fissures filling with her shrieks. And then she would run. For a sliver of a moment, I imagined pushing my sister farther outdoors, into the surrounding forest. I envisioned her sprinting through the dense repetition of trees, the ribbons of her white dress reaching out for the world she was leaving. I didn’t though. I let her stand there. Mother came and dragged her back inside, away from the eyes of the gardener and the maids. She pulled her up the stairs. Isolde raked her fingernails against Mother’s already-­scarred skin as she was carried back up to the attic, where she wouldn’t be seen. In the attic, no one knew how decomposed her mind had become. No one but us. That was a month ago. Since then, Mother called the repairman to put three more locks on 2


Isolde’s door. At night, I could hear her through the thin ceiling that sepa-­ rated her from me. She spoke to herself, recalling memories that never hap-­ pened, people she never met. A crack pulled me back to the path. I turned, expecting the maid, her face set in stone. The lane was empty. I faced the river again. The sun hov-­ ered just over the lip of Earth. It was in instants like this that I wished I were part of the illumination. I wanted to be pulled into the light, my skin caking with the elixir of chemistry and the warmth of hydrogen burning across my skin. I knew my wish was vain, but I still longed. Soon, Mother would call. I would have to find Isolde. I wondered where she would be this time. Maybe the grotto beneath the waterfall we found before she changed that summer, when she fell from the balcony onto rough earth. Or maybe the glade in the center of the woods, where we made crowns from twigs. We used to steal mother’s hat ribbons and tie the crowns together and then pretend we never were of foreign lands. That was before we became fugitives on our own ground.

Emily Cramer 3


Commentary The sun recedes our river. Like cutting nails too close to the skin. And as it rises we see moccasins have made our water, home. You spent last night with me. This morning, our feet sink into the river banks, and We watch the cotton mouths slither to our shins, Feel them coiled around our calves, Feed our femurs with their venom, We relish the numbness that follows. A self proclaimed artist, I sing sad daytime lullabies Your smile, a beckon for lost men Quietly in silences. Our water dissipates, Crawls into air, Crashes against clouds, then falls. To our tongues. -足 Brandon King

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Zombie Swiftly limping through the blue yard, The little girl trips Over rusted toys, and half-­beaten jump ropes, but determined as her raw feet, slip on the slick grass wet with darkness. An open window calls out, white curtains shake in the brittle breath of wind, The girl scurries through Shapes of a home, once known, Now stacked with walls of flowers, The maze of a permanent funeral Ferrying her through rooms. She picks up a dead photograph, Holding a man and wife and girl, All blue-­eyed, and smiling Like a swollen bruise. Stumbling into the bedroom, Two people, without faces, lay in the bed, backs to each other, The single syllable of silence Heavy and inflated as their souls, above them. The girl reaches for the mother’s hand, Covering her face, she stops As the moonlight leaks through her skin Showing the holes in her hand, The scabbed tendons, brown and raw Like uncooked meat, turning on her heel, she runs away, Falling into the arms Of shadows, back under the soil Shoveling a new night on top of her. Under the earth, she carries the photo into her dreams, as a torch of illuminated faces as she steps, one tiny foot first, into the next heaven. -­Kelly Milliron

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Writing Contest Winner

Lourdes

(an Excerpt) Renée Reneau

My breaths grew deeper as I pedaled further, and the closer I got to Lourdes, the more the tourist shops began popping up. Mary figurines and containers of holy water along with rosary beads and flower petals decorated window displays. I followed the river to la Basilique, the tallest building of the Domain’s skyline. In its shadows I knew lay the Grotto, the alcove in which St. Bernadette had her visions of the Virgin. By the time I reached the alcove, six hours had passed since my departure, and my stomach was empty except for the water from my canteen. I pulled out the plum and took a bite. The skin was bitter, beneath it soft and sweet. I locked the bike next to the river bank on a small rack. My shirt was still damp from where I had wiped my tears. I could just make out the words at the foot of the statue, and I remembered what Mme. Carteau told me, “Your mother always said that the saying at the foot of Our Lady was written in another language.” At Mary’s feet I read, “Que soy era Immaculada Councepciou.” My mother was right. Que soi era was a lost language. There were six official languages of les Sanctuaries, and St. Bernadette’s native language was not one of them. The Grotto was beautiful in its humility. Only a grey rock stood where St. Berna-­ dette had prayed. Green ivy grew around the folds of the cave walls, and pilgrims prayed on their knees all around. If I was an artist, I would have painted the scene just as it was, with the afternoon light gently falling upon the statue, and the groups of pilgrims keel-­ ing in silence. The scene didn’t need embellishment; the honesty on people’s faces was enough. The pilgrims praying could no longer sense if someone was looking at them, or if the strap of their bag had fallen from one of their shoulders. They were somewhere else. I looked around the peaceful scene. A young Asian woman stood out. She was sit-­ ting on the backs of her heels, restlessly rearranging her skirts. As she prayed her eyes opened and closed constantly, and she pulled at her fingers until they each turned white. I understood what it was like for the words not to come. It was easy to become self-­con-­ scious of your thoughts. The closer I walked to the statue though, the less conscious of my thought I became. Soon all I could hear was silence as I knelt down beside the glass panel covering the spring. I pressed my palms against the glass, feeling the fluid vibrate beneath me. I closed my eyes, and after what felt like only seconds, I felt a hand resting on my shoulder. It was a stout French woman dressed in a navy pant suit, and a name-­tag signify-­ ing her position of authority at the Grotto. “Mademoiselle, if you could please step back. We discourage people from walking on the glass.” My body had been inching forward onto the panel that covered the origin of the spring water. I apologized and stood up quickly. A few other visitors sent sympathetic looks in my direction. “Are you alright?” the woman asked. “Can I help you with anything Mademoi-­ selle?”

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“No. Je suis bien. I don’t need any help.” I grabbed my knapsack and walked quickly to the stone circle at the base of a smaller tower. A series of taps brought the water from the spring to the people up above. A line of sick had formed in front of a particular tap, and a woman in a wheelchair stood to the side, speaking with tears in her eyes of the pain that had gone from her wrists. The line was getting longer. I pulled the canteen from my bag and began to fill it with water from the tap next to the long line of visitors. Behind me, two boys came running from the Grotto. They were racing to see who could reach the water taps first. The boy with lon-­ ger legs easily surpassed the shorter boy with brown hair. The boys jumped in line next to their mother, a frail-­looking woman who had to be in her late thirties, but illness had increased the age of her appearance. She was able to stand with the assistance of a cane, but her body looked as though it would collapse if the wind blew too hard. I felt a small tap on my back. “Bonjour. Don’t you want the special healing water?” The boy with brown hair had gotten out of line. His voice surprised me and my hand jerked the canteen, spilling the water from the tap on the ground. I knelt down and placed my fingertips in the puddle. “It’s all the same water, isn’t it?” I asked as I stood. “The water from that tap healed a lady’s wrists.” “I don’t really need healing, so it’s ok.” “Since all the water’s the same,” he said as he began walking away, “I’ll go tell ma-­ man she doesn’t have to wait.” “Wait,” I called. His mother was almost to the tap. “Is she sick?” “Yes,” he answered shyly. “She can’t go in the water because it’s too cold. The priest told her to drink some. What’s your name? Maman says I can’t talk to strangers.” “Bernadette” “Like the saint! Cool. Mine’s Gregory, same as my dad’s. Was your mom’s name Bernadette?” “No. She wasn’t, but she loved St. Bernadette a lot.” “You could be a saint too,” he said. “No more than you.” “We’ll both be saints. I can tell maman I met St. Bernadette.” “Gregory, I’m not a saint.” “How do you know?” “Saints give everything they have to other people.” Gregory’s mother had reached the front of the line. He ran to ask her something as she filled her container. She nodded her head. He took the container from her hands and brought it back to me. “Boire de l’eau. Drink some.” He said, “I don’t care if all the water is the same. This is special. This is maman’s water.” As he said this, I slowly lifted the container to my lips, feeling the freezing liquid

Renée Renau 7


burn down my throat as it joined the plum in my stomach. “Merci,” I said. “Do you feel healed?” “No,” I said. “Just full.” Gregory placed the canteen around his neck as his mother came and took his hand, using it to steady herself as she walked. “Bonjour, maman,” said Gregory. “Bernadette says thank you for the water.” From his pant pocket, Gregory pulled out a piece of paper. “This is for you. It’s a map of les Sanctuaries,” said Gregory. “And the rest of France is on the back. So you don’t get lost. It’s your first time here, right?” “Oui. I’ve never been here before.” “You looked confused. And that doesn’t make me a saint either, you know, just because I gave you something.” “I know.” I similed, and Gregory waved good-­bye as he, his mother, and his older brother walked back to la Basilique. I tucked the map he gave me into the side pocket of my knapsack. Near the taps was a bruliere filled with the traditional white candles with light blue bases. I pulled out the candle I had packed in the morning that seemed so long ago, and the lighter I found in Saint Elix. The wind almost extinguished the small tongue of fire when it first appeared, but I turned quickly to shelter it. I placed the candle between two others that were melted down almost to their cores, and said a prayer for my mother. I heard the words of Je vous salue, Marie in her voice as I kneeled in front of the candles. When I turned around, I realized that I didn’t know where I was going after Lourdes. I didn’t know what my mother had planned after she reached les Sanctuaires. Then I un-­ derstood that God had already given me the answer to the question, as I pulled Gregory’s map from the side of my bag, and ran back to my mother’s bicycle.

Renée Reneau 8


Fanfare My sister allowed the folds of her skin to be caressed by the musty breath of the leaves As we did our stretches. Had the barre not been as close to the window, or if the curtains stayed taut, parallel with where the brackets pulled themselves from the wall, mother may have realized it earlier; the passerbyer’s reoccurring more often than not, and father sitting poolside, peering in, but not just at the spackle beginning to peel back on itself. We’d don our translucent dresses as the Wall flaked, the light Straining through the glass illuminating Our pearlescent thighs, the carnations of the kneecaps: The delights of men who tampered freely Across the yard as soon as our legs went into the air. What they called a young lady’s fanfare. We were sure father kept the curtains drawn Back, just for such occasions. -­Arielle Stroman

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Poetry


Drunken Trivial Pursuit Midnight or morning, We were sitting at polar ends, Alice and I, Upon rolling thrones, Plump with trivia. Her beady Scotch eyes Excavate my consciousness And hand of cards. Circular lenses perch High on her arched bridge. She slurs a language I do not know, Mushed and clustered, Alice holds her cup, Two hands scope the belly. Liquid sloshes. She gulps. She sits with anticipation. It is my turn to read the card, But instead of answering She goes on how Goldfmingur, From Prussia with Love, And Dr. Nose are The best John Bond films, Sean Chonnery the master. What about the Untouchables? She fiercely snaps back at me, revealing Hidden jaws. She claims That’s a touchy subject. 10


She sips another chug. It’s 12am, A new year, I’m being drunkenly lectured on Connery. My card is about Nixon. -­Abby Bartholomew

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Descendants of ten green geraniums I have one grand-­daughter, two feet. There is more to be done when the day is bloody and prime but she won’t dig in, she’s walking towards home. Give me your hand, child. See how cool the dirt is. It’s nice, she says, and pats it onto her skin. She sifts it through her teeth. She’ll pass through me, I will die, and the eventual separation of spirit and bone will have no physical grace, no flocks of doves or bouquets of the flowers my father told me are his memory of death: ten green geraniums. She ate them for another man. How can you labor all your life and know anything but humanity in its rarity, in its gargantuan mess. I was buried too, and she isn’t yet the shadow she abandons on the sidewalk. I tell her nothing happens or ever has. It touches her lightly like a ghost. I don’t know if she’s felt yet. The days are neither short nor long now, they are paint strokes on a clay gourd a man put his lips to some time ago and found that it had dried out. But the day is bright, it has no end, and these fresh hooves are if nothing else, pillars, And these fresh hooves are all that’s left. -­Hannah Bowlus

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The creeks that lost the Mississippi

And if there’s no heaven there can still be a frontier. Follow the old highway down with a jacket, a canteen, a pen for letters to the folks. I’m doing fine. I’m drinking enough water and doing some time on the big river, dividing river, where our cousins once lived. Now you can’t drink the water. There’s a well for the rich people, and boiling for the poor. There are some places in this country where only a dog can afford to feed itself. And the dog gets used to the water so it isn’t sick anymore. I miss you and I miss tap water. Those dogs look through the yellow window of the restaurant. You can either never see them or see them too much, seeing how, though left on their own, they’re better off. Wild dogs can sprout from anything-­ blood in the ground, even, fog in a breath, and they will cross your path in indifference. I took pictures, but none of them developed. When I wanted to remember, I was knowing of too much memory and nothing of touch or look, or the sound of moving water, a hymn. -­Hannah Bowlus

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Porcelain Feet wrapped in silk ribbons, the only clothed part of her. A thought etched in her brows; like hunger. Hair like the strings of a marionette, meant to perch on shelves. Away from fingers coated in peanut butter and crayola pastels. She has been bitten into twice, three times, her face is missing. -足Alexia Bruton

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Sky Child A time when trees were wild and children ran free. Along the ground honey bees would fan themselves with the youth of blackberries, and you would spin out of control. Now they have fallen, buried beneath blackberry husks and broken limbs of forgotten sky children. There was a time when water lilies were a child’s hair bow. Now they have wilted beneath the surface and even color has left them. You laughed as dragonflies lifted you on to their wings and carried you off into the sun. There were men, wild with hunger of flesh against flesh, they have destroyed us. They have destroyed us and you have changed with the price of credit, your age has started to show in your skin -­Alexia Bruton

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Knud Enemark Jensen He crashed into concrete mid-­ race in central Italy. Ball of fire on fried brain, laced in what doctors, as of yesterday, are still identifying. It was fatigue, too hot that day to ride bicycles for gold medals. He could have placed first if it weren’t for solar rays and amphetamines we know, riding past other men whose names are not as interesting as the rest of ours. We laid edelweiss flowers and flat tires near the crash site, as close as we could get to Danish mothers and fathers that watched bicycle races on television. She was baking dinner when he fell over the handlebars, his father was using the restroom. We picked the thorns from the top of his head, took our jackets off and placed them over his face. We cheered him on through foggy television screens. We stopped pedaling on stationary bicycles, took one long moment of silence, and kept pedaling. -­Stephen Fleming

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Peacock’s Disposition Mornings begin with high spirits twirling their devotion in and around his flamboyant feathers. He never looks others in the eye, preferring the scenery of the spring-­time grasses. He walks home at night a black train of iron feathers trailing behind him. He curses the burden of color, greens, lavish themselves, against halos of iridescent blue, healing hues that cleanse the red, scathed ground. Each night, slipping from his pedestal he remembers his burden, lifts his wings and cannot fly: grounded as a living god. -­Julia Fluker

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Dear Mr. Einstein I can tell you the morning tide is balanced by the evening’s rolling current, the sun sets the same time each day, letting the moon rise as every dusk before. I can remind you when a ball is thrown inevitably it hits the ground and when a poet puts pen to paper she is writing a songbird perched on her finger or rabid dogs nipping her in nightmares. I can tell you reading leads to thinking, and so does hearing. Maybe it’s knowing people grow old and fold into the ground keeping us going, expecting worms to feed, evolving to fill emptied space. Maybe it’s hope the ball will perpetually spin in the air instead. I want to know if songbirds teach the ball to break its trajectory, if the sun’s acidity tames raised hackles on hounds. I want to know finger joints: why their movement causes seismic shifts of tendons along the arm, and if such a relationship is true, why it isn’t reflected in our daily perceptions. -­Julia Fluker

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Martyr; My Friend Before the launch my father brought home the stray we called Laika to the fenced yard where she would never die. My brother and I laughed at the way she rolled over and let us scratch her belly until she kicked her legs. My father watched hand in lab coat pockets the Moscow street dweller turned Cosmonaut by bearings of hammer and sickle Smile and laugh in the language. Welded with the bubble of a structured bathysphere, she left us. Kissing the crystal on Saturn’s rings, she surrounds us, a sainting. Upon re-­entry, she became the Flayed Angel. A thousand paper ashes christened places never known. Offering my sweltering sympathies, cinders of her belong Home.

-­Rory Harper

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Grounded They lock talons, wind Ciphering through each feather, There’s the bitter taste of free fall In their beaks as he fits himself to her, Crushing everything softly between them. He whips his head toward the Weak place in her neck, and She blinks at the flavor of the sky as They streamline closer, tiny hearts Flinging themselves to the rhythm of This. Twenty thousand feet below a Hiker pauses, eyes lifted Her breath skitters, moss crushes softly Under her boot. And she’s apart from him, Hand pressed, steadying her breast as She watches them still falling. She reaches A palm out, catching the emptiness beside her. He’s shuffled on, encircled in a patch of Trees beyond her. The path to him is weary. She sighs into sky, sliding herself forward and Spitting an odd sense of loss behind her as she Goes. -­Christina Louiné

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Winter Sorrow

The snow falls Ever so gently Upon my cheeks. They melt into the creases Of my ever present False smile, Masking the pain In my soul. -足Marina Marks

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Personal Ailments Maybe it’s only me who admires destruction above warm ocean waves and spirals of wind. This office is an ocean. A coral reef bookshelf holds the fish of knowledge and in my wheeled chair spinning wildly in place, yellow lined paper flying off my lap I call the creation of a cyclone. A cold, corrosive sweat slides down my temple as I look at myself, a cuffed hostage to heal sick people already mentally untreatable. My fingers curl and bend crookedly like bones ninety years old over a piano. Yes, you make me nervous. -­Margaret Maudlin

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The Robot and Us

Each morning we whisper to our robot to kill Because we have forgotten how to pronounce love. The still late night mornings get heavy and damp With those lies about how we are going to take on tomorrow. When ice nips at our bare feet The many sparks in its mechanical shell keep us warm While we wait out this overflowing world Gnawing on those vintage leather boots The boy’s father once bought for the rainy day He never knew would one day exist. Sometimes when I’m in the middle of telling him stories About all my time spent in the ancient sun Our robot returns with the medieval stories’ forest friends The boy tells me with that wild look in his dusty eyes “Tonight we are going to feast like the old kings” But I will always find myself looking at our tattered sweaters While he goes to prepare the meal. When we eat, our robot buries the animal’s bones Sometimes the rain hits its face and I tell the boy it’s crying But he just tells me I’m being silly. Those rare moments when he falls asleep before me I tell our robot everything I can’t tell him About how I hate how quiet it is And instead of meat sometimes I just want flowers. It doesn’t answer me, Just sits there mimicking the beat of rain Its dull lights flickering occasionally Looking at me finally it nodding As if it understands some feeling I have forgotten. -­Meagan Reeves

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Living Coffin It’s like I am In my mother’s stomach Again Surrounded in curl position Reflexing into knees unbent Am I in a dim coffin? Or do the lightbulbs In the living Room Need to be screwed in? -­Kat Roland

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Don’t Panic it was our feet that caught fire under teeth of burning sea. we were blind to waves, to ways sand stayed white even in this foreign darkness. december forgot our names, our faces bruised by injured wind, and we too caught fire. we listened to the only voice we knew to listen for: silver foam folding off of ocean, onto sand, into wind, it told us that we were dying—that this was not our sadness: our feet disappearing into sea’s jaw, our ankles, our knees, our shivering thighs. i had never known anything apart from your eyes fading in night. december, december, the night will always lie. ghosts lingered in fog: it was not winter that made your body shake. you feared their howling. water grew, screaming wind grew, our shaking skeletons were afraid of the comfort we found in the ocean. the evening sun found god, turning white the way we once knew it. i will never forget why water hungers for our bodies, that this shaking will only stop if we too become comfortable in this blanket of freezing water. december has never been a season for drowning alone. -­Drake Stevens

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Lighthouse of Hezekiah Pity We’ve never walked in languages of rock, of bending hills and injured trees. We are anointed killers smoothing paths of horse hooves near white water. Our daughters are laughing in the light-­ house telling us that we should not fear the day that we, become the sea. I have heard stories of horses whose hooves do not remember wars they’ve run, and their burning knees do not bend to drink, to sleep. We are lovers without legs guiding us to northern cliffs. She stands in the beacon with my dress wrapped in sea water, hair braided naturally like wind does a horse’s mane. Her face is filled with water, where her eyes once were, her skin is aging green like grasses resting on sea floors, rough like barnacles forming on eroded rock. I have not seen her face for years now. You tell me that all horses leave the same hooves in sand, in mud near waves. That they 26


all will eat this world away. You do not tell me you love our daughters anymore. Their laughing is a forgotten breeze that causes the sea to turn white before a storm. I have not heard of the horse’s heavy eye, or its legs staying strong as it dies, standing up. You fell away with dunes when you discovered the language of hoofs on rock, tongues of all winds speaking at once, and you cast our daughters from the light-­ house. Somewhere past horses shaking earth, past that screaming sea, I can still hear our girls laughing. -­Drake Stevens

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Blank Eyes Her wheezes stick themselves To the back of her throat, As the taste of hairspray won’t Diminish, the girl with sad eyes Nods in compliance. Her mother molds the straw-­colored clumps, Vigorously applies blush, until Her cheeks turned so red, the girl wasn’t sure Whether it was the powder, or her Raw skin. The mirror became A familiar foe, a luring idol Rebounding the image of imperfection Never letting the women forget In what areas of their bodies, They fall short, as her mother Stands behind, to the left, Sizes up How the young girl’s hips are Off center, one breast’s bigger, Her daughter nods again, She never knew any different, Never knew acceptance— She is left on the bed, told to hold Just like that, so as Not to mess up Her mother’s masterpiece on her head, She could not touch her face, so as Not to mess up Her mother’s fine handiwork. As she sits, rigid, she finds herself Empty, her palms make contact With the mirror’s cool smooth surface She did not see What her mother saw After hours, years, lifetimes, Of trying to create a pristine image

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Her eyes falter As the feeble flits of sun digress Dusk casts a shadow onto the glass She is no longer seeing through a bias Release— Bleed out Onto satin sheets, with unmet expectations overwhelmed, The girl wept to hear herself make a sound Through a bleary line of sight, She perceives a blossom, dead On the edge Of her Victorian night-­stand, Wonders whether she could be Ignorant again, content, not swayed By bloody toes and the gut sensation To drop out of the window into traffic To see if her mother would disown her In a death not centered around vanity, As her life always was and would be Even when her door grew quiet, Hung on its hinges, beat in, but hanging still, As the house settled, Her mother’s BMW left, She still sat, unmoving Turned over her amber wrists— Kissed her self-­made imperfection. It was beautiful. She smiled In her reflection.

-­Savannah Storie

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This poem does not have a title

This poem does not have a title. It really doesn’t. Don’t you trust me? Just look. See? I was right. Anyway, I suppose this merits a bit of reservation. “What,” you gasp. “A Poem Without a title?” Unthinkable to some, I know. But this poem has no title; It flies free! It may stab you With the dagger of a broken heart, Or soothe you With the blanket of a summer’s flowery field. It might ponder the meaning of life, Or explore the implications of a cat’s waltz. It might anger you, make you splutter into an explosion, Or make you chuckle in the dead of the night. But one thing is for certain: This poem does not have a title. For neither does life. -­Alexander Titcomb

30


Burying the Glasses He deserved a funeral. So we walked out into coldness of the dawn air, our faces red and blotchy, carrying wire rimmed frames with us, bent on the sides where he used to rest his head on the pillow, reading late into the night. We had met him on the plane, heading out to training camp on a rainy morning, the four of us speeding toward strangeness. He was young then, and his eagerness made us forget the danger we knew would greet us in the tall grasses when we landed. We dug a hole, shovels breaking packed earth with metallic thuds, and dropped the frail, silver things down into the black dirt. We wanted to bury a memory in the soil, wanted to forget the crooked nose those frames had rested on, sliding down his face when he smiled widely, warm confidence in his eyes. The thin, molded metal of the glasses were all we had left of him, all that remained after he ran into the hailstorm of bullets and gun smoke.

-足Ellen Verney 31



Art


Untitled Jasmine Dukes 32


Mannequin Amalia Galdona 33


Pool Guy Amalia Galdona 34


Untitled Clint Phillips 35


Untitled Delaney Sandlin 36


Mrs. Teacher Cindy KC Fernandez 37


Untitled Jasmine Dukes 38


Untitled Jasmine Dukes 39


Dillion and Dallas Dillon Arthur 40


Portrait From Unusal Angle Jules Vignutti 41



Fiction


To Reveal a Child Jenn Carter

Izzah was prepared to bury her treasure. Her son, the fossil of her husband, was dead and they wanted her to verify that he was gone. The mo-­ ment that the news had reached her home, that there had been a riot, during one of her son’s protests; she knew he had left this world. There was the same kind of hollowness in the air that existed when her husband passed. Izzah let her mind drift through her tangled thoughts, as she waited for the doctor to call her name. “Go get the groceries,” Izzah said. Her daughter, Abra had been smiling as she hung the clothes to dry. She began taking down her brother’s soaking shirts, and threw them in the trash. She looked at her mother and although her face was hidden in her hi-­ jab, her eyes showed her betrayal. Then she left her mother, and went to the market. This had been a week ago. Now Izzah stood in the crowded waiting room. The hospital was new; it was referred to as a gift. The doctor came, his pale face pouring with sweat, his gold cross stuck to his chest. He found her among the wounded, and directed her to a nurse. He turned away from her, and motioned to a woman with a wailing baby. Izzah’s child was gone, and she no longer a priority. She walked with the Syrian nurse, who asked her which child she would like to see first. “My son is dead,” she said. The nurse widened her eyes, and asked when was the last time that Izzah had seen her daughter. Izzah recalled the arid July afternoon, the soak-­ ing clothes in the waste basket. She remembered the dirty coins she gave Abra, the grocery list she recited to her. “It’s been a week,” Izzah said. The nurse folded her hands in front of her. She bowed her head, and took Izzah’s hands. Izzah drew them back, this nurse had been around Amer-­ icans too much. The nurse looked away as she straightened, then read from her clip board. “We have a dismembered body, that has the name Abra Fakhir at-­ tached to it,” The body had been recovered from a terrorist group. They did this before they heard of Abdul-­Aziz’s death. They wanted information about his 42


whereabouts, and when Abra told them her brother was dead, their use of her was finished. They burned her body, and sliced though her charred bone. They dumped it in a desert, where the sun could not diminish the body’s shadow. Now her children were next to each other. Izzah did not look away. “This is my son,” The nurse pulled the linen over his face. She waited patiently by the girl. Izzah touched a strand of the hair, the brittle texture sent her chills. “This is her,” Izzah said. There were cameras outside. They heard of the violent protests, and the deaths of one of the leaders, Abdul-­ Aziz. They chanted his name. Abdul-­Aziz. Frustrated, the doctor brought a portion of them in the room, along with a reporter, before Izzah could give them permission. The flashing of cameras engulfed her. Izzah removed the linen over her son and cried.

Jenn Carter 43


Drought Lea Eaves

The old woman was sitting on the side of the fountain, letting her back hang over the edge. Her body folded over itself with the weight of gravity pushing her further into the ground. Her hat was wider than her shoulders and casted a shadow over her nose and lips. The bones in her face sunk in as the fat kept her skin from collapsing around it. She tucked her dress under her as she shifted her weight from side to side, the sweat of her thighs clinging to the floral material. The owner of the building -­a non operating hotel-­ was sitting in the small office listening to the faint horn and accordion mixture coming from the static. He was overweight and dark-­skinned with his sweat drenched shirt stuck under his arms and around his ribs. At noon he got up and walked over to the elderly woman still sitting there with her back to him. He began to part his lips to say good afternoon but the dryness of the skins kept them stuck together. When he got them apart and licked the torn spots he nodded and greeted her. Her body just sat there, immobile and unwilling to pull her head up from the downward gaze her eyes had caught. She fo-­ cused on a rough, parched piece of paper stretched around a wooden frame. She had not started painting on it; she just held it in her hands running them across the front of it. When she heard the sound of his voice her shoulders tightened closely. Her own hands were as rough as the paper, if not more. She enjoyed the richness of the paper, its own moisture. Then she took out her wooden case, in it sticks of oil pastels torn and broken into chunks. She took a red piece in between her thumb and middle finger and crushed it. The red went under her finger nails and in between the small crevices of her finger prints. Then she took what red was on her fingers and pushed it up against the pa-­ per in two spots, one near the bottom and the other at the top. The wind picked up and littered the canvas with small trails of dust and grain. Inside of her case, she had two thin cigars packed closely in be-­ tween a knife and a grey rag. She stopped drawing to put one of them in her mouth. She let it sit on the middle of her lips and when she lit it, it rolled to the side. The smoke came out of her mouth on the other side and wrapped around her long hair. Gray as it was, it had not thinned much and lay tangled against her back, nearly touching her seat. 44


The owner came back to where she was sitting. He approached her slowly so as to not frighten her. He kicked a rock from where he stood, hoping that she would be aware of his presence. The rock bounced against the ground near her. The sound of his approach made her stop moving. She held her arms in her lap and stopped smoking, the end of the cigar burning into ash. The man went forward. “There’s a storm coming. Should be here within the hour.” She pulled the cigar out of her mouth and said something in Spanish, a broken language as it protruded from her tongue. Her bottom lip came out of her mouth as it rested on her toothless gums. The owner did not reply. She began to cough so he walked away with a nod. The oil in the pastels stained her fingers. The brown of her skin disappeared under the thickness of the caked on substance. Drawing the sweat out of her body, the sun reddened her nose even though it was covered. It burned down into the center of her hat at the top of her head. Her eyes were drawn to a child that ran by with a bucket over to the water pump. His socks were drawn up to his knees while his shorts touched right above them. He was the youngest person in town. The age gap between him and the next person was over thirty years. He was referred to as “boy”. “Hey boy, when you’re done come fill my bucket,” the owner called, “hurry now we don’t have all day to be playing around.” He did not object to the man’s request instead hustled past the old woman to the doorway and got the man’s bucket. The old woman watched as he ran by, barely moving her neck fast enough to track him. She smirked and coughed. From the pit of her chest she tried to hum. A mix of what her ears had heard and how it sounded now from her memory came out of her throat and broke the silence. The boy looked up from the water pump. He let the water run as he went over to her. “Vieja, what are you drawing?” She replied in the same voice, the same language. He did not under-­ stand but felt that it would be impolite to ask her to repeat herself. She held up her canvas for him to see and showed him the two red smudges, one at the top, the other at the bottom. Taking the yellow one, she did the same and pressed it on top of the red. She searched her wooden case for any blue but Lea Eaves 45


only found a small piece stuck to the bottom, with it she put as much as she could onto the canvas and smeared it from side to side in small circular mo-­ tions. She stuck her thumb inside her mouth and rubbed it against the side of her moist cheek, then wiped it on the paper. Her thumb moved back and forth repeatedly until the whole thing shined momentarily and then some-­ what dried. The blue sat poorly on the canvas, nevertheless it sat in patterns and circles. The moisture coated the oil and did not blend, but it picked up the blue tint and carried it across the paper where she directed it. From what the boy could tell she had painted blue with red and yellow, but nothing more than those simple colors. He stood next to her quietly breathing. She sensed his presence, her audience, his blinking eyes as he looked at the man, then back to her, then back at the water pump and at the water inside the bucket, then back to her. She began to cough so he looked back at her hands. She had taken out the grey rag from the case and rubbed the tips of her fingers gently. The boy could smell her, the mix of spices in her diet and the tobacco. He felt the heat of her burning cigar in his eyes and on his cheeks. The smoke alone gave him a warm feeling even under the sun. He ran his sleeve across his forehead, the sweat dampening the shirt. Then he watched how her eyes moved when his did and noticed the squeeze her abdomen made when she inhaled. He wanted to sit by her, to touch shoulders with her. He wanted her to let him try painting the way she did. The oil pastels looked cold. They could hold their own weight against gravity when she pressed it into the canvas. There it stood, as if it would never move at all for as long they lived. The man looked up from his newspaper and grinned. He walked over to them and took the boy’s shoulders in between his hands. “She’s painted a sky here, you see, and the ocean here.” His finger moved across the paper from side to side and then moved down and ran across the bottom. The woman wiped her hand on the cloth inside of her wooden case and pulled out the knife. She ran her finger across the blade and showed it to the boy. She said something again and the man translated. “Dull, see?” She outstretched the blade to the boy. He searched for the man’s ap-­ Lea Eaves 46


proval and then ran his small finger across the blade. “What’s she going to cut?” “Just watch.” She took the edge of the blade, turned it sideways and used it to scrape at the clumped paint on the paper. She sketched the outline of a boat in the water and birds in the sky, an impasto technique that caused the pic-­ ture to be three dimensional. With one hand behind the frame, the other crawled across the surface with quick slices and jerks. The current sky above her was darker now. The clouds lacked any shape but formed together a mas-­ sive sky. “Run home boy it’s going to rain soon,” the man said. She looked up at the sky and then at her work. She dropped the ci-­ gar from her mouth to the ground and kicked dirt on it; the boy stood and watched her bury it. He picked up his bucket of water and walked away past the gas station. The man followed his actions and went back inside the hotel. Dust fell off of the woman’s dress as she stood up to stretch the rigid mus-­ cles in her legs. The weight of her dress fell to the ground. The picture sat on the fountain’s edge as she looked down at it. The ocean scene was much like she had seen it from her memory. From where she was standing she could see the boy’s back nearing the corner of the street. She took the painting in her hands and walked to him. Had she been years younger she would have yelled to him, called him a pet name so that he would notice her but the contracting muscles in her throat did not make a sound when she wanted them to. She watched him balance the bucket of water with care, he tried keeping his legs straight without bending his knees, and then he tried holding it to his chest. The old woman walked along the side of the buildings with one hand against the walls for balance and stopped when the boy turned around and saw her. He wondered if she had been following him the whole time or if she was following him at all instead just going the same way. She stuck her hand out in front of her and motioned him over. He walked over with the bucket at his side. “Do you need some of my water Vieja?” She held out the painting, letting him see the whole scene. He reached out to take the painting when she pushed it forward. The boy Lea Eaves 47


smiled up at her after looking down at the piece, when he did she had turned around and was making her way back to the fountain. He looked at the dark-足 ness settling in the clouds and chose to continue walking home. When the woman reached the fountain she set her oil pastels back in the small compartments of the wooden case. She folded the rag into a square and then wrapped it around the knife, which she put on top of the two ci-足 gars left. The man had shut the doors and windows of what had been the front office. When she looked around she saw the remnants of a boom town. The town center across the street where her father would go to sell woven frocks and dyed bandanas on Fridays was now but a concrete foundation and tumbled bricks piled against a wheel barrel. It all looked the same under the thick clouds. The rain started in small patches as it crawled across the town. The yellow dust turned a deep red and then began to run down the road. The woman sat alongside the fountain, raised her legs up, and stepped over the edge. The inside of the fountain was tiled and had been covered in a soap scum chalk that coated the bottom of her feet. The woman stood there and undressed. She took the brown leather boots from her feet, the cotton dress, and threaded shall from across her chest and laid them down. She sat down where her body could collapse into the small corner and let her head droop sideways to rest on her shoulder. She looked up to see the desert sun setting behind the mountains and the rain retreat before it could pass the length of the hotel.

Lea Eaves 48


Hopkinsville Stephen Fleming

At seven o’clock a shooting star becomes a flying saucer to Billy Ray Tay-­ lor. The man runs inside to two families, one of them his, the other family friends, owners of the house he’s visiting, and tells them he’s seen lights to the west. For the next hour the Suttons and the Taylors eat watermelon and tell the man he’s insane. The dog outside barks at noises later nobody will be able to describe. Odd and unexpected. Unworldly and unexplained. The families hear the dog run under the house. Listen, and you can hear her breathing when it’s quiet enough. Watch, and she’ll emerge in twenty four hours. The two oldest men, the heads of their respective families, grab rifle and shotgun and walk outside. One of the extraterrestrials comes out from behind the trees. They will later say that it was three and a half feet tall with a head too large for its body. They’ll say it had pointed ears, glowing eyes, and hands with talons, raised above its head. Its outfit would be made of metal and it would run towards the house, they’ll say. They’ll stop and correct each other. It most definitely floated towards us. The men shoot at the alien, hear the sound of bullets hitting a metal drum as the creature flips over and returns to the darker part of the woods. They are positive it has been wounded. They are positive they need to go get it. One steps from the porch and the other follows. A taloned hand reaches down for human hair. Guns shoot at second creature, perched on the roof, and hear the same sound, the same drums. See nothing is happening. The men return to the home, their families laugh at them and another alien appears at the window. One of the men shoots, breaks the window and the creature mimics the others. It flips, and leaves the building. Until eleven o’clock, when the Suttons and the Taylors leave the house, the extraterrestrial scratch at the roof and shove their faces at the windows and doorways. Eleven humans versus one to fifteen aliens. Out of the eleven, though, only seven will claim to have actually seen the aliens. The other four will admit, embarrassed, that they learned from the dog and hid. The mother of the Sutton family claims that the aliens aren’t trying to hurt anyone. They’re only exploring, like children, and that we, the humans, are the ones overreacting. The police follow them back to the home to see these “extraterrestri-­ 49


als” and the damage done by both human and alien. They see nothing, ex-­ cept for maybe a glowing patch on a fence that maybe disappears the next day, and a green light in the woods everyone is too afraid to follow. The police leave at two fifteen and the extraterrestrials return im-­ mediately. One comes to the last unbroken window and flips and flees one more time as the window is ruined. This is four forty-­five and we haven’t slept and haven’t stopped crying since eight hours earlier. Billy Ray Taylor decides how will tell this story to his children and grandchildren and the mother of the Sutton family decides how hers will be different from the rest. The owls disappear with the dawn.

Stephen Fleming 50


Following the Current (An Excerpt) Brittany Soder

The wind smelled of salt air and spicy fish as Nicole drove the boat away from the shore. With the Mexican beach shrinking into the back-­ ground Lindsey couldn’t help but fall in love with the feeling of leaving civilization; similar to the feeling in her stomach as the plane lifted off the ground of Miami earlier that week. The plane that took her far away from everything she had known and learned prior to her high school graduation and propelled her into the beginning of that search, through exotic flea-­ markets, and emails of turtle location coordinates, for herself. Lindsey didn’t know why she was chasing this turtle through the Caribbean, just that she needed to. “So are we looking for sea turtle?” Nicole asked, slowing down the boat. Her English wasn’t perfect, but it put Lindsey at ease in this unfamiliar country. The ocean was silent except for the sound of the waves lapping up on the side of the boat and for a second Lindsey wasn’t paying attention to anything except nature itself, lost in the quietness never found on land. “What?” “Are we looking for sea turtle?” Nicole asked again. “I guess so,” Lindsey said. She leaned over the boat railing a little, looking into the dark water that reflected her face back at her. “I can’t get his tracking signal out here. I just know his general location,” and she lost her train of thought again, getting caught up in the intricate design of the clouds floating overhead, the whole sky seemed magnified out here on the open water. “So we’re not looking for sea turtle?” Nicole asked, her tan forehead cringed a little above the eyes. “I’ve lived by the ocean my whole life and never have I felt this far away from society, so secluded,” Lindsey said. “We could be on the edge of the world and not even know it.” She stood up on the boat bench stretching her arms towards the water. “We’re completely free,” she said. Lindsey reached her hands up, like she was about to attempt yoga and dove into the water, her feet making a small splash. Nicole ran to the side of the boat, looking through the bubbles waiting to see Lindsey’s face come up through the water. After five long seconds Lindsey surfaced, treading water with a huge smile on her face. “What you doing?” Nicole asked, offering Lindsey a hand up into the 51


boat, but she ignored it. “Are you secret mermaid?” “I’m swimming,” Lindsey said, diving down into the open water before coming back up for air. “Like a sea turtle.” Lindsey went back under the water, and swam a few yards away before swim-­ ming back to the side of the boat, she put her head in and out of the water, laughing and splashing. “Come on Nicole, just jump in.” Nicole backed away from the edge of the boat a little, shaking her head. “No, I don’t do open water. What if shark? I need to be able to help you.” She said staying out of Lindsey’s reach. Lindsey swam away from the boat again, sticking her tongue out at Nicole. This continued for thirty minutes before she got tired and jumped back onto the boat with great effort. “Feel better?” asked Nicole. Lindsey nodded her head while she laid out on the bench. “Did you find sea turtle?” Lindsey turned on her side to look at Nicole sitting behind the steering wheel. She looked back over the endless water for a second before shrugging. “I don’t think I’m trying to find him,” Lindsey said, thinking back to all the maps she had with the sea turtle’s path traced. There were stars all along the coast line of Cen-­ tral America, marking villages, towns, and cities close to his location. They covered the inside of her mind like wrapping paper. “I’m not actually looking for him physically,” Lindsey said again, this time sitting up and rocking back and forth with excitement. “It’s not about the sea turtle, it’s about me. I’m tired of my life, of my routine. This is about the turtle’s routine and I’m going to follow it one shoreline at a time.” Lindsey looked back up at the sky, the clouds mak-­ ing day-­time constellations. “It’s about more than just me. My life has been about me for as long as I can remember. But this is about nature; this is about noticing the universe in little ways.” Nicole nodded her head “Sound exciting,” she said in her broken English and Lindsey wondered if she had understood what she had just said. Nicole leaned over and started up the boat. She steered it towards the setting sun and the faint shadow of the coast.

Brittany Soder 52


Hearing Brandon King

Overpowered, olfactics Fresh air is now one of the rarest elements I know. I’d sell it if I could, not for money, but control. To eat. To sleep. To dream when I want to. The com-­ bination of cleaners, human sweat, and something I’ve yet to identify, sod-­ omize my nostrils from nose bleed to nose bleed. The voices warned that I wouldn’t like it here, but after a string of mandated court dates packed with the pulse pausing judgment of my peers, I started to question the whispers.

Normal I don’t remember the gavel falling like a guillotine, but once my mind caught up with my body’s new home, I tried to make the best of it. You’ll die here To enjoy things. Miserable To Feel. Nothings is nothing To force smiles onto these lips of stone. Last week this guy, Larry, real nut job of a character, decided he no longer needed toilets. I hardly eat the slop of our overseers call nutrition, but judging by the amount of bile that shot out of Larry I was sure he hadn’t skipped many meals. The orderlies morph into sloths when things like that happen. I guess they decided that most of us stay in a state of euphoria from practically molest-­ ing ourselves in our straightjackets. Why should they rush to scrub a grown man’s shit off the walls?

Don’t belong here Most of my time is spent painting. Blank is restless. Color is calm. The other day I probed my memory and a naked woman poured from my paint brush. Her pale body got all the boys in an uproar. I put an elephant 53


trunk right in the middle of her face and told Ol Round Man that she looked like his mother. Round Man is about three hundred pounds of out of shape and ugly, but he gets linebacker fury when someone mentions his mother. Word around the institute is that incest infected Jonny. “Yea they caught Round Man strangling his father for feeling up his woman.” Afternoon comes and I’m sitting behind an empty canvas. Joseph, the young guy who passes out our pills, enters the room, and my mind awakens. The sounds echo like the splashing of an infant’s first tears. “Mr. Thompson, how are you today?” he asks. Silence “Mr. Thompson,” he says again, gripping my shoulder. “I have something for you, now be a good boy and open your mouth.” Smug “No, not today,” I say, barely recognizing my own voice. He laughs then grabs my legs, and turns me toward him. “Listen, I’ve had a long day and a date in less than an hour. I’m tired. Tired of be-­ ing in this building. Tired of seeing people like you. Now, open your mouth or I’ll do it myself.” He reached for his pills with one hand, and grabs a handful of my shirt with the other, yanking me forward. Our faces bang against the sliver of distance between us. Jo-­ seph’s eyes vibrate as he plans to shove the medication inside of me. He’s forgotten why most of us are in here. Unafraid to stab my buttons. “I like you,” I say. “I’d like to bite into your wrist. Watch as beads of blood stain your palms then fall from your finger tips. I’d like making you tremble, feeling your body break and leave splitters in my skin.” His grip loosens around my collar, face growing pale. He’s too young for death to sit this close, still wanting to feel invisible. With a grin I turn back to my canvas. My heart tap dances in my chest. I feel invigo-­ rated? Energized? Inspired? Happy

Brandon King 54


Bits of Dust Kiera Nelson

I last saw him on the seventh day of August. Seven is the number of completion, according to God, according to the archangels Michael and Ga-­ briel, according to me. On the fourth night of our seven together, we sat on the balcony, over-­ looking Perugia, Italy. “Sonny.” I waited for him to look at me. “Do you like me?” He shrugs. “…Yeah.” “Good. I like me too.” He turns to look at me, then glances over my shoulder and smiles. Through the living room and down the hallway I could see Evangeline lying down on her bed. Her hair is piled high on her head, a strap slipping from her shoulder, legs crossed, with her book over them. She’s charming, even from a distance, and then I think I smile too because she is a reflection of me. I taught her well, but maybe the art of seduction is becoming more than a game to her. Just before I turn away from her, she looks up and smirks. I wave, and look to see Santino’s eyes still focused on her. “You know Evangeline…” “Evangeline, what?” “She told me something.” “…What did she tell you?” “Nothing really. She just – She said she doesn’t really approve of you. 55


But you can’t go back and tell her that of course. Then both of you will be hurt.” He didn’t believe me, almost. But when I offered to ask her again, he was too embarrassed. “Well, if it makes a difference, I-­“ I was interrupted as a bright collision of light exploded red hot across the cloak covering us. For the span of a heartbeat, he was silent, looking up at the sky. His hair dark and curly, compared to his eyes light and intense, almost reminded me of Michael. Momentarily, I thought Michael had taken human form to warn me. Warn me of the oncoming drums. “Make a wish, Santino.” I whispered. He refused to look at me tonight. “Say a prayer. Mine will come true soon.” Finally, he speaks. “They aren’t really shooting stars you know.” And his voice is breaking in places that should always stay intact. I could care less about what he has to say. His words are just jumbled letters, and clipped phrases. “They’re bits of dust falling into the Earth’s atmosphere and burning up.” Bits of dust. It’s funny how small pieces of the universe, so small, so infinite, com-­ bine to make something so explosive, working toward something more exclusive. Not even the greatest of humans have completed that feat yet. “How do you know that?” “I just do.” Kiera Nelson 56


“Have you ever been in love, Santino?” He wraps an arm around me, and glances over my shoulder again. “Once before, but after awhile,I guess I wanted too much, and then she just…didn’t want anything.” I look away from him, and pray. A wish, a prayer, light a candle, blow it out and either one will come true.

Kiera Nelson 57


The Cast of Central Park Emma Symmonds

She closed the book, placed it on the table, and finally, decided to walk through the door. It was drizzling when she stepped onto the street, and the clack of her Mary-­Janes warred feebly with the roar of the rain. The city sounds engulfed her soon after; taxis slicing through would-­be flood water, horns resounding like a god’s summoning. Flickering traffic lights bounced off her skin, and her heavy dress. Her shoes led her to Central Park, where trees were bent into weeping willows, and sweet water reluctantly slid down the leaves to land on her face. There was no sign of Him yet. She kept faith; He never arrived on time, but He always compensated for the wait. She unbuckled her shoes, hung them on a sturdy branch, and rolled her socks into little balls she kept clenched in her palm. It was a sign of devotion. To rid oneself of one’s restraints, to feel wet earth-­concrete-­sully one’s feet, was, to Him, paramount to walking up and down the Himalayas. Bleeding soles were as good as human sacrifices. Although she was the teacher, He remained the superior. It was a bit like teaching a Vietnam veteran how to dance; step on his toe, and he’ll slam his steel-­toed boots into yours. “You kept your hose.” No wind announced Him. She did not startle. She ran her thumb over the cotton in her hands. “They’re socks,” she corrected gently. She turned to face Him, but He fled into the trees; the branches swayed, and there were thick plops as her shoes fell to the sidewalk. “You told me they were hose,” He insisted. “Hose end at the thigh, and aren’t made of cotton.” “What’s cotton?” “A plant humans manufacture into soft fabric.” She placed the sock in her right hand on the ground and turned the other way. She could feel His presence at her back. “Can’t humans just stick to hose?” “Not all humans like hose. Some prefer to wear socks.” He snorted. The sock was pressed back into her hand-­ice cold-­and He returned to His perch. “Foolhardy. Hose are much bendier. And they’re fancy. You told me they were fancy, so they must be better than socks. Socks can’t be fancy.” 58


“Some socks can be fancy.” A crash of thunder rollicked through the trees; He jumped in surprise. She chuckled. “Which ones?” He shrieked. “Usually the black ones. Sometimes the navy ones.” “You told me the Navy were soldiers on sailboats!” He protested. “Navy is also a color. It’s a deep blue,” she said matter-­of-­factly. “Like what? Give me a reference.” “Outer space is perceived as navy.” “…I don’t understand humans.” She smiled and began to stroll through the depths of the park, arms outstretched, hands brushing leaves and bushes. A manipulated rosebud caught her by the finger; she pulled it loose and carried on. She knew He wouldn’t bury her in foliage. He was too curious. “Why manufacture socks when you can buy perfectly good hose? There’s no logic to that.” She shrugged and lead Him farther down the sidewalk. “Sometimes, hose are too fancy. Humans prefer to wear socks at home, or to bed. Then, they feel they can relax.” “What’s home?” She swiftly turned to stare at him-­a futile, kneejerk reaction. He cam-­ ouflaged Himself well. “Gods don’t have homes?” “Gods have planets and palaces. No homes.” She bit the inside of her cheek. “Home is… where you feel safe. Un-­ burdened.” “So, home is Earth?” “If you want it to be.” “It’s settled,” he declared. “Home is Earth.”

Emma Symmonds 59


Nonfiction


Happy Birthday, I’m sorry for Your Loss Margaret Middlebrooks It was December 30th, 2009. The familiar, always out-­of-­tune chimes of Happy Birthday filled the room. The notes, if you could call them notes, bounced off the walls. I was fifteen, and fairly happy because all I could think about was “I’m going to be done with middle school!” I was surrounded by my friends and family. Each and every one of them wishing me happiness. At the same time, practically in the other side of the world, Rowland S. Howard died. “So what?” you may ask. I would have asked myself that, too, if I knew who he was back then. Two weeks, ago Monday February 27th, 2012. The day had gone more or less like it was supposed to. I kept my head high as any head could go with that little sleep. I did what I had to do, and went home. I was laying on the cool gray sheets of my bed star-­ ing out the window. I had the radio on. The song played one after another. I watched the clock tick in time with some punk song I really liked at the time, bored of it all. Bored with the dreariness of repetition my life had taken on. Then another song came on. “I’ve been contemplating suicide, Though it doesn’t really suit my style So I think I’ll just act bored instead, And contain the blood I would have shed.” In that moment my head popped up like a hungry meerkat from the hole that was my mundane life. That voice was singing out to me, telling me to come closer, telling me to find it. So naturally, I did what I always do during a time of exploration and discovery. I read. I read how he wrote the song I had just heard, “Shivers”, when he was only seven-­ teen. And how he toured with Nick Cave and The Birthday Party all over the world but above all, I read that he died on December 30th, 2009. My entire fifteenth birthday flashed before my eyes again. Everyone was there, everything was normal except for the fact, I saw Rowland Howard standing outside the window looking in. He seemed so far away and yet , so close. He smiled that silly, smokers teeth crooked half smile and waved. I guess that’s how the dead say Happy Birthday. After learning when he died, I realized that every moment that we have means something. Everything that we do, in joy and in sorrow, is important because most of us aren’t sure when its out time. Howard made me realize that better than anyone could. So thank you Rowland. Thank you for the music and the sudden realizations.

60


Wisdom Teeth RenĂŠe Reneau

I waited patiently in the chair, my ponytail digging into the back of my head. Trying not to think about the small doses of radiation now present in my body. I thought about how ridiculous I must have looked with the small X-­ray tiles in my mouth. Nothing like the dentist to make things seem less attractive. I mean, the inside of people’s mouths? I have to quote the clichĂŠ statistics, but dentistry is not for the faint of heart. The dental assistant came back in. It seemed like they always forgot to give their names. She set the X-­rays on the light box. 6RPHWKLQJ ZDV ZURQJ ,W¡V QHYHU JRRG ZKHQ WKH\ VWDUW SRLQWLQJ Ă€QJHUV DW SLF-­ tures of your teeth. Seventeen years and I haven’t had one cavity. Not one, but I did eat an awful lot of ice cream over the summer. Sugary ice cream. The dental assistant sat in silence for a moment. “Let me get Dr. Joiner,â€? she said. The doctor? This really isn’t good. Why could she possibly need a second opinion? “Have we ever talked to you about your wisdom teeth?â€? She brushed the hair away from her face while interrupting my thoughts. I tensed. What wisdom teeth? I don’t have any. Weren’t those supposed to be for cave-­ men? “Never.â€? I looked at the X-­rays again. They seemed normal teeth in alignment except for those few small imperfections that only I notice. I was laying flat on my back against the dentist chair. Dr. Joiner came into view above me. “It looks like they could come out any time now,â€? he said. “You can see all four of them in the X-­rays,â€? he continued. “Have you had any symptoms like extreme pressure in the back of your mouth?â€? I would probably notice extreme pressure. “No.â€? I shook my head. “You’re seventeen? Yes, that’s the normal age, a very normal age.â€? Why does everything normal have to cause pain? I was fourteen when I had my Ă€UVW SHULRG D YHU\ QRUPDO DJH 7KLUWHHQ WKH Ă€UVW WLPH , VWD\HG DZD\ IURP P\ SDUHQWV DQ extended period of time, a very normal age. 61


At that moment, I felt normal, but I thought it would never happen to me. I’m not sure if the assistant didn’t notice or if she politely ignored, but small tears had formed at the corners of my eyes. It wasn’t the thought of having four calcium deposits removed from my mouth, but rather the fact that this was completely normal and I had convinced myself that I was different. “We’ll refer you to an oral surgeon, Dr. Cherry. He’s who we refer all our patients to,â€? Dr. Joiner said, with a nod to his assistant. “Maybe over winter break,â€? he suggested. “A lot of people do that.â€? Winter break, spring break, two summers from now. This is what it came down WR , GLGQ¡W KDYH WLPH WR EH QRUPDO :KHQ ZDV , VXSSRVHG WR Ă€QG WKH WLPH WR KDYH IRXU teeth pulled? Dr. Joiner went to see another patient. Now in the cramped room was only “Unnamed dental assistantâ€? and myself. “Have you ever been sedated before?â€? she asked. I was suddenly light-­headed, remembering my tonsillectomy of ’02. I quickly brought my imagination and my ego back down to earth. “I’ve had my tonsils taken out. A long time ago though.â€? Even in second grade I had known what anesthesia was, but in my intense re-­ search I had neglected to discover the common name for nitrous oxide was “laughing gas,â€? and I immediately started leaving the reality my second-­grade mind perceived. 1RUPDOO\ DW WKH Ă€UVW V\PSWRP RI DQ\WKLQJ , ZDV RQ :HE0' UHVHDUFKLQJ SRV-­ sible answers, but that was when I had convinced myself I was suffering from some rare disease or disorder that could be untreatable. That happens a lot (Doctors call it Hypo-­ chondria, so I probably have that too). I could easily convince myself I had Dengue Fever or Marfan Syndrome, but needing to have my wisdom teeth removed never seemed a real possibility. The dental assistant placed the reference card with the oral surgeon’s phone number in my hands and began explaining the process of the surgery. Mostly things I already knew: that my mouth would be sore for a week-­ soft or liquid foods would become a staple in my diet, and that I wouldn’t feel the anesthesia take ef-­ fect-­ this time I hoped the doctor would give me a warning before I passed out. One thing she said surprised me. “Impacted?â€? I asked. “Yes. It means they will probably have to cut through the side of your mouth. Right through the bone.â€? RenĂŠe Reneau 62


“Great.” *** With the taste of fluoride still in my mouth, I set the dentist gift-­bag on the bathroom counter, and stood in front of the mirror. Everyday people told me I needed to stand out. Find something really unique to put on the college application. But being normal didn’t mean I wasn’t unique;; it just meant that I wasn’t immune to everything life handed me. I looked at the card for the oral surgeon and dialed the number. After four rings a woman answered the phone, and I scheduled a consultation for late November. Normal people get bad news every day. Learning that I needed to have my wis-­ GRP WHHWK SXOOHG ZDV QRWKLQJ FRPSDUHG WR OHDUQLQJ \RXU GDXJKWHU KDV FDQFHU RU ÀQGLQJ out that your father took a bad fall in the hospital. I smiled crookedly at the mirror, star-­ ing at the teeth my gramps spent thousands on at the orthodontist. This is life, I thought. You just have to roll with the punches, and try to keep the swelling down in the back of your mouth.

Renée Reneau 63


Harold Terell Robinson

Every morning at 6:12 A.M. I like my coffee to be ready. If not, I know it will be done by 6:13 or 6:14, but never after 6:15. This is how I know if I’m running late. I like my coffee with two creams and one sugar, please. And when I’m done drinking, I know my wife will have my socks laid out for me. Every morning, she asks, “Harold, will your suit be navy or black today?” Any other colored suit would be dangerous, so I alternate the two. Today’s suit is navy. When I’m dressed, my wife will kiss me on the left cheek twice and once on the right cheek for good measure. I’m not sure what she does when I leave, and I know if we had children she would be different. I never wanted children and she can’t have them. It works, and every morn-­ ing I think she’s beautiful for it. Maybe she would smile less or more if we had them. Maybe both at the same time. Who could say? When I leave for work, I have to turn my keys twice for the car to start. Every morning. To go to a job where I will probably never get a promotion, working in the same cubicle, looking at the same pens. Every morning.

64


Untitled McKayla Rosser

I remember when I was little like Eliot, I was always told to be good if I wanted to go to Heaven. I didn’t know what Heaven was, so I always pictured that Heaven meant we would die and then wake up and restart our same life all over again, except everything bad was taken out and we lived a perfect life with only the things we wanted it to have, like having control over everything. I went through a stage where I would pray every single night. In those prayers, I would pray that I woke up in the morning, and then I would name every individual family member and friend of mine, and ask that they too would wake up in the morning. I would stay up until my eyes were fluttering and my intertwined fingers loosened and would lay limp on my stomach, and I would continue muttering every person’s name, just so I could be sure they would wake in the morning. I felt like it was up to me for God to know who to keep on this Earth. And now that I think about it, I haven’t said one of those prayers since I was ten.

65


JP+CR MiKaela Stanfield-Kaplan

There are days where I feel the need to let my words out somewhere. I pop off sharpie caps on bus benches, pull pens from my pockets behind old buildings. I want a person out there, somebody anywhere, to read my mind and relate to me. Confessions on bus seats, statements on brick walls, stories on the back of salad receipts. Dancing on park benches draped with honest lies. Each of us is guilty for some form or another of graffiti and vandalism. Even those who just scribble out crude doodles or violent language, it’s a reflection of their persona and the world in which they live. Each swirl creating the next letter to the next word is all appreciated by some pair of eyes eventually. The mystery and the honesty in raw writing is the most wonderful kind. Has anyone ever truly taken the time to read the scribbling on the walls of bathroom stalls, the notes under bleach-­ ers, the secrets on flagpoles? There are stories behind each marker, a tale of each kid who left them there. You are faced with the opportunity to really know the people around you, based on what they write when they think no-­ body will read them. Sometimes I let out bits of my soul on old napkins or table corners, and I wonder if anybody will ever see them, ever read it and care enough to think of whom I might be and what I might dream of at night. I hope that maybe anybody in the world will relate to it, if someone will write a story for me, better than I could, because nobody really knows me, as no one in the world really knows anyone else at all. “JP+CR” on curbs. Nobody thinks of who JP may be. Maybe it’s Jake Paul, a lonely janitor who found a short spring love with Casey Robinson, an executive chef at a small café downtown. Perhaps it’s Junie Peterson who loved Candy Ruth Munderchrison in the 7th grade. Maybe it’s Janice Parker, a lonely cat lady whose favored pet was the old Cuddles Rose. There are lives and stories behind every last shade of ink, each layer of handwriting. So much of this writing leaves me inspired. Some of my best writing has come from public graffiti. All I really want from life is to be remembered, to have some effect on someone other than my mother and father. I want more than anything to change somebody for the better, like some of these doodles have changed me and set my mind in motion towards another direc-­ 66


tion. I wish to be thought provoking, as the messages I see lost in urban terrain incite my thoughts. I want to be inspirational and never to be forgot-­ ten, even if my name is lost beneath rust and scrapes. The notes on the sides of buildings or the backs of stools leave me with something new. As I’d love to leave something new for a fresh set of curious, wandering eyes.

0LNDHOD 6WDQÀHOG .DSODQ 67


Plays


War At Home (An Excerpt) Danae Macleod

It is 10:00 AM on a Monday morning in Lincoln, Nebraska, 1945. CARL is alone in his bedroom. There is one window in the room, but it is haphazardly covered with a tablecloth. Though the room is dimly lit, CARL can be seen lying on his bed flicking a lighter on and off. He is wearing pajamas and tennis shoes. A green military duffel bag is on the ground at the foot of his bed. Marine Corps dress blues hang on the closet door. FRANK enters without knocking, and crosses the stage to the window. He yanks down the makeshift curtains and light streams in, brilliantly at first, but subsides to a normal glow. FRANK You don’t know yourself, Carl. You’re just a boy. CARL I know what I can do. I feel one hundred years old. FRANK Get some air. You’ll feel lighter. Putting yourself to work will set your mind at ease. Johnny’s boys just started working on a farm up in Fullerton. Already say that the freshness in their lungs is stirring up their old selves again. Ken’s already got his eyes on a girl there. CARL moves so that he is sitting on the edge of the bed, feet on the ground. FRANK You’ll never get anywhere by sleeping. The world always gets a head start on running before all the boys come home. You’ve just got to suck it up and catch up with ’em. CARL I don’t feel like chasing those things, Pa. I’m better at nothing. FRANK grabs the duffel bag by CARL’s bed and throws it into his lap.

68


FRANK I’ve given you too many chances, boy. You should learn that a real man always takes them when he gets them. You can sit in your bed and whine all you want, but you’ll never get anything -­ ever -­ unless you block out everything. Joe’s going to get this room to himself. I’ll bet your sorry self that Joe’s already got something lined up for him when he gets back. CARL stands up and shoves the bag back into FRANK with a force that almost knocks FRANK off of his feet. FRANK looks stunned, in fear, almost. CARL When are you going to realize that he’s not coming back? It only took a week, Pa, a week from the moment he stepped on that island to the moment some scientists turned two cities to dust. A week and he would be safe, somewhere without all of the smoke, without the crap and the shells. CARL grabs the tablecloth from the dresser top. CARL I did feel lighter, Pa, when they came and said it was all over. I thought of the eggs, the chickens, Joe would smell mom in the kitchen by Saturday... I heard how it happened. I heard, walking back to my tent, they were sitting around, eating their dinners as free men. They said he didn’t see it coming. Nobody saw the man crawl into the hole with him until they heard my name, loud and clear, louder than any shell that’d ever been dropped on that island. That’s what they didn’t write in your letter. I’ll bet you got a nice line about heroics, serving the country, but nothing about how he cried my name, watching the earth swallow him whole. I keep my shoes on, and I don’t sleep, because I can’t miss it. I have to see it coming. Be ready to run for Danae Macleod 69


him. When I close my eyes or go out... I know he’s gone. But if I stay awake, the world goes backwards, and he’s there again, seventeen and praying for some girl down the road to notice him. Do you understand me, Pa? CARL moves back to the window. He puts the tablecloth back over it, the lights dim again. FRANK is silent. There is a pause. CARL You should have gotten another letter from them, you know. I can feel my heart beating, but I’ve got that sickness, that ghost in me. I didn’t come back either, Pa. I know I’m right there in the ground with him, and I’m dying with my eyes open. CARL and FRANK are facing each other from across the room. The lights go out completely.

Danae Macleod 70


Jizo’s Garden Meagan Reeves

ACT I Scene 1 It’s a garden full of exotic and colorful flowers and it’s a bit out of control. There isthe back of a house with assorted items on it. Such as the stray pot and gardening supplies, many of them never opened. There is also a tray with a tea kettle, tea cup and bowl on it. There are s tray items that don’t seem to belong around the set some of which include: cups, books, porcelain dolls, shiny things. All in all it should resemble a magpie’s nest. A young man, PERRY, walks into the garden looking ar ound. He is carrying a black suitcase. He puts the case down and sits in one of the garden chairs. A girl, LETTY, peeks her head out from some of the items then disappears again. . . LETTY I’m not leaving! What will happen to the garden? Letty rushes to “mother’s favorite plant” she has her arm out as if she is not only guarding it but herself PERRY It will survive. It has this long. LETTY It doesn’t matter. I’m not leaving it. PERRY Violetta, sometimes I can’t believe you. You are so childish. Are you scared of what’s out there? No. That’s it! I finally understand. You are scared of leaving. Well, I have something to tell you: everyone has to. I have met chil-­ dren who didn’t even get a chance to live! They stayed in their gardens be-­ 71


cause they had to. Letty. I am giving you the choice. LETTY No! This is my home! I see no reason as to why I must leave. PERRY This might come as a shock to you but today millions of people didn’t wake up or lost consciousness and some were even murdered. They left behind not only gardens but pets and other people. But their gardens will continue to grow without them. It will be okay. Think about you. Do you really want to stay in this garden forever? LETTY I’ve stayed in it all of my forever so far. It’s not that bad. PERRY What are you even afraid of ? LETTY I’m not afraid of anything. PERRY Don’t deny it! I smell the fear on you! LETTY People can’t smell fear. PERRY I was raised by dogs (pause) and how do you know I’m human? LETTY I assumed. PERRY Assume nothing! And if you truly must assume I will give you some handy guidelines to follow: assume a person is having a bad day, that they were raised by dogs till properly introduced to human parents, dead until they blink, and most importantly of all: not human until confirmed otherwise.

Meagan Reeves 72


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