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ơ Editor-in-Chief Drake Stevens
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Ellen Verney Kaitlyn Finn Sarah Bisblinghoff Lea Eaves
Stephen Fleming Louise Burton Ashley Zapot
Non-Fiction Brittany Soder Julia Fluker
Visual Art Hannah Bowlus Maddie Muller
Table Of Contents Visual Art and Writing Winners Kelly Milliron (Writing) Drowning in a Hospital.....................................................................5 Cyrus Blaze Hodge (Visual Art) Canned....................................................................................................69
Finalists Abbey Bartholomew Ingrid Goes to Hel..............................................................................1 Rory Harper Aborigine.................................................................................................3 Kelly Milliron Night Patrol in Vietnam...................................................................7 Sarah Smith Writing on the Wall...........................................................................9 Morgan Walker The Will................................................................................................10
Fiction Dakota Boyer Apartment 266...................................................................................12 Louise Burton Hiawatha’s Reprise...........................................................................13
Lea Eaves Penetrance........................................................................................... 21 Darcy Graham Behind Thin Walls............................................................................24 Miranda Murphy Puppet....................................................................................................25 Noah Oughton A Million Sunsets..............................................................................26 Drake Stevens The Buddhist.......................................................................................28 Stephanie Thompson A Night..................................................................................................32 Kristina Wells Momentum..........................................................................................34
Poetry Jasmine Anthony About the Monsters........................................................................38 Hannah Bowlus The Golden Jackal............................................................................39 Christina Canuto Rhino.......................................................................................................40 Cierra Cope The Fall of (wo)man...................................................................... 41 Morgan Danford Remembering......................................................................................42 Stephen Fleming Mid-足glow..............................................................................................43 Hiking-足mid July.................................................................................44
Julia Fluker Cameila..................................................................................................45 Maddie Muller Putting on Winter Coats...............................................................46 Nicole Padgett Carry in My Mouth.........................................................................47 Jordan Pagan Silhouette.............................................................................................48 Meagan Reeves Maybe, It’s Another Home...........................................................49 L’espirit de l’escalier..........................................................................50 Terell Robinsion When We Were Children.............................................................51 Kara Singletary Prescriptions.........................................................................................53 Drake Stevens Equine Colic........................................................................................55 Savannah Storie Versus.....................................................................................................56 Ellen Verney Anatomy of Thought.......................................................................57
Non-Fiction Raegan Carpenter Mountains.............................................................................................59 Emily Jackson Finding the Silence...........................................................................61
Visual Art Cyrus Blaze Hodge Prescriptions.........................................................................................65 Ella Montoya Untitled.................................................................................................66 Arielle Stroman Untitled..................................................................................................67 Cyrus Blaze Hodge V...............................................................................................................68
Ingrid Goes to Hel Finalist Grandmother Ingrid wears a valknut Around her pale mountainous neck. The silver chain slithers Like Nidhogg, the serpent Gnawing away at the roots Of Yggdrasil, tree of life. She sits scrunched in her tiny bed, Beads of humidity condense A coat on her walls. Her head Barely rests against blue bedrail. Skeptical white hair Disperses in every direction, Cerulean eyes Melted into puddles of Gray mush. Grandmother Ingrid used to be Proud of me, but now Dull eyes neither glisten Nor speak. Clans of junk Cram her room, Boxes pile to the side Mountains of memories Taking up land.
Pushing aside torn photos, The langelike echoing melodic Hymns I was never taught, The runic alphabet book I hardly understand, Grandmother looks shipwrecked On the hospital bedâ€™s island. I sit in the chair before the Foot of her bed, I watch her neck, ever so mechanically Sink to her left shoulder. It oscillates from side To side, left and right, Like planks of her serpent Gokstad Washing without survivors Onto the shores of her shoulders. I touch her crimson pendant, It is warm, 6FRUFKLQJP\SDOHĂ€QJHUWLSV She has abandoned ship.
Aborigine Finalist When I carrried you, there were two healthy feet. Malignant mountaning spread through lower steeples of your leg bone. When doctors prepared for your amputation, you told me how red-legged Pademelons move their limbs across landscapes of Australia, red tinted fur with bent backs. Resting on barren country in the hospital bed, you said our legs are not so different from the Pademelons, or say, the Agile Wallaby. Geography all the same. How quickly you learned to wear cloth around your head, Girl without a pearl earring pierced by oscillating saw. Days later, Your eyes welled with recognition, asking “Where have I gone?” I told you
to the tender grasses of Australia where graves of Tasmanian Tigers build mountains RIVWULSHGĂ RZHUVZLWK Slender tails.
Drowning Â In Â a Â Hospital Contest Winner Drowning in a Hospital Someone is raising the dead down the hall. 6KULHNVVODSWKHFHLOLQJOLJKWVĂ LFNHU As a whimper crawls from the door jam, calling for her mother. Nurses sit, Wiping the night shift from purpled eyes, Blank faced as the resurrection occurs, As we listen to the guttural cries Of the clawing in the rooms For a way out, From the quiet assassins Roaming through their bodies, their brains Stealing cells and sight and voices away. Too afraid to listen, I Run into the gauzy room Where wounded shouts Remain bounded in sheets. Mother! A dark face peers above the covers, anthill mounds freckling the hair line, Two teeth sputter out,
to ghosts hanging in the room. I cradle her hands, And look past the ceiling, Past the stars, to EODFNĂ RRURIWKHRFHDQ Feeling the wet underbelly of the unknown, 'URZQRXUOLSVĂ€OOXVXSZLWKGDUNZDWHU We speak a weightless language all at once. Mother. She whimpers Into the darkness. Come save me.
Night Â Patrol Â in Â Vietnam Finalist On her cheeks, soldier boots create watery tracks marching down her neck. She inhales, her soft belly going inward, still stretched from childbirth, now, a long-Âhaired warrior, poised against the darkness. %\JODQFHVKHLVDQRWKHUPDQWKHĂ DVKHV Of browned feet rushing through underbrush, -DZVWLJKWĂ€VWVVWXFNWRDVSHDU Which has become another limb, Even through the wall of rain, Her eyes, the shapes of spearhead, grey and barren, size up her prey. A necklace of tongues licks The tops of her breasts as she arches Her back, the muscles tense with bitterness. For a breath she looks familiar, A memory invading reality, The soft cheeks, the delicate frame, The love left back home carried onto the frontline. You hold your hand out, for her to sniff, For her to lick, begging her forth, Fixed, her haunches remain stuck. Behind her the sky implodes in silent waves, Ghosts of the bombs against blackness, She is a small animal in the foreground Baring her teeth at the soldier she once loved. First itâ€™s her heel that falls back behind the trees,
Then her legs, now deep tanned and naked, Turning black, Then the whole animal, a disappearing shadow 5XQQLQJWRZDUGVĂ€UH
Writing Â on Â the Â Wall Finalist I stepped from His house barefoot, gathering in the streets to dance naked on the Ă€UVW hot concrete among all the others. We looked up with sweaty faces, praying to something-Â we didnâ€™t know but we hoped there was an ear bending down to witness our pleas. Our screams rose until nightfall, voices hoarse and bodies reddened, we looked down. limping inside to lick wounds I pulled on shoes that didnâ€™t Ă€W and straightened my back to cover the truth of it all.
The Â Will Finalist If we could go to Canada And in the stark Mountains &RYHURXUĂ€OWK\KDQGV With a pale wish Snagged by blinded sirens We could, from an old world, Leave ourselves. Expressionless among trees 2IĂ€OWHUHGVKDGRZVDQGVLOHQFH Their astounded looks will escape us, Light stars that began in black, lifted %\VXFKVSLULWVIURPZDWHUĂ RZHUDQG Cold dust Now fade back to a barren earth, From where God shook them. They are where advice carries Not an oar for a boat nor a sun For a sky. You and I are far from them, The hurrying people cut by Their round black eyes Now blind. So far that all there is Is this, a group of hearts with the Valedictory of saints drinking From a deep lake, the same lake That does what bears do: Dream for a hereditary hibernation That will wash what is gone.
Apartment 266 All was still and grey in the staircase between levels thirteen and twelve. A spider spun her web on the ceiling and a couple of ants travelled cautiously along a stair. The stair- ZHOOGRRUYLROHQWO\ÁXQJRSHQDVDVKRUWEORQGKDLUHGJLUOUDQ through. A blast of sound erupted from the open door. Apartment 266 was having a party again. The girl closed the door and pressed on the center, a pathetic hope to block out the thoughts rushing around in her KHDG6KHWKHQVOLGWRWKHÁRRUIDFLQJWKHFROGPHWDOGRRU+HU knees were brought up to her chest. The spider, which had froze when the level thirteen’s door opened, began to spin her web again. A gloom crept into the air and it got cold like death had invited himself into the lonely stairwell. The ghostly presence was taking over the at- mosphere making it hard to breathe. The girl turned around to face the empty space. She broke down. A banshee shriek broke from her lips. A wail that told the spider to give her some privacy, understanding this she crawled back into a crack in the concrete wall. Dust began to fall from the ceiling as the music from the party grew. The girl’s tears grew with the volume. She stood straight up being her descent as a spirit calling out to anyone who could hear. As she turned the corner she missed a step. The girl fell without a sound and the silence continued. All was still and gray once again.
Hiawatha’s Reprise In February, there is nothing to look at, nothing to smell, there is no sound- it’s just about feeling. Eva is walk- ing in a familiar place, and there is a stiffness to the way her heartbeats, a hard pulsing of blood through the veins. The lake is quiet, but for the soft crunch her feet make in the ice. She is a mile deep, a mile out past the shore, she is moving slowly, robotically. She is alone but for the quiet sound of a humming engine, a snowmobile somewhere far off. The skel- etons of abandoned ice houses are hunched along the horizon. 6KHWKLQNVRIWKHZD\WKHÀVKXQGHUWKHVXUIDFHDUHFKXUQ- ing. She thinks about the boy’s body, all the other bodies they never recovered, people who broke through, and were trapped underneath. Eva has reached the middle of the lake;; it is less quiet here, for now there is the sound of water, she has come to the place where the water is not cold enough to freeze, where I remains alive, and furious, free from the scab of ice. She ap- proaches it slowly;; it is a dark, unforgiving hole, ten feet in circumference. The water is black;; there is no sun to reveal its whim. I suppose there is no whim in the water in winter, the water eats people alive. Eva is familiar with this place, and all of its cold, quietness. The sound of the snowmobile is like breathing, like the deep exhaling of a man sleeping. She is familiar with this as well. It is not so different below the water than above, there is still nothing to see, touch, or hear, there is only feeling. Her blood is having more trouble moving now;; it’s a slow, freezing
SXOVHWKDWVFUHDPV:KLWHKDLULVĂ RDWLQJDERYHWKHERG\Ă \-Â ing. The manâ€™s breath is moving closer. And to the dying mind, that mechanical breathing is the sound of reccesitation. ***** Minnesota was not made for humans. The mile high spruce, the shores of birch, the rough hide of the moose, these are WKHQDWLYHVWKHUHVWDUHFDELQGZHOOHUVĂ€QGLQJOLIHLQWKHLU HOHFWULFLW\DQGĂ€UH7KLVSODFHZDVQRWGHVLJQHGE\JRGWREH inhabited by man;Íž it was made for the animals. 7KHIURQWRIWKHKRXVHLVPDGH RIJODVV WKH ZDOO LV D UHĂ HF-Â tion of the cold water, and the sharp cliffs along the shoreline. The home is perched on the shore, a window to that northern world. There is no grass in the yard, only the face of tired rock, and the harsh, tall cliffs above the water. A young boy is sit-Â ting before the glass. His face vanishes as his breath fogs the LPDJHRIWKHODNHUHĂ HFWHGWKHUHRQWKHZLQGRZDPRPHQWDU\ disappearance, then the face returns, staring out at the wa-Â ter. This was childhood;Íž this is what Jack knew as a boy, this constant searching. It was easy to die on Superior in the coldest months. It hap-Â pened all the time: Harvey Gramm, Alexis Bid-ÂGraff, Justin Markus, Reed Elmore;Íž it was a simple falling through, the me-Â lodic collapse. Bodies were never recovered. Jack would some-Â times sit and watch the water, thinking he would see one of them coming back. He thought it was impossible for the lake to take lives away. He thought his mother would never have let them live right up next to a killer. He watched the water. He was never afraid, only waiting. ****** It is high school, senior year. Jack Shepherdâ€™s father is a doc-Â tor, his mother is a mother, his home rests on the edge of the lake, and it has been a long time since Jack sat at that win-Â dow, waiting on dead strangers. Jack had a bright white sail-Â boat he would steer on the surface of superior. It was a vast
lake, enclosed by the tall rocky cliffs of shoreline on all sides. By October, sailing had ended, and ice had settled in. It was DFROGZHHNHQGIDOOKDGĂ RDWHGLWVZD\RYHUVXPPHUFRYHU-Â ing the streets, and the cliffs, and the ice on the lake with leaves. the cliff in the front of Jacks home was easily walk-Â able, and jack set out in the afternoon, taking slow and care-Â ful steps along the rocks. The shoreline was owned by private residents, there were four houses on Jacks street, and the rest of the lakeshore for miles, was uninhabited. The Lane family had lived beside Jackâ€™s for thirteen years. The house was large and white, with a big porch built on the rocks. It was a southern style home, strange against the cabins beside it. It was a menacing kind of sweetness. The same high, sheer ledge continued on in front of the Lane home, that Jack was walking, and he stood looking up at the place, Eva Lane is standing on the porch, her white hair in a bright red bow, wearing just a dress, and a coat. She was naked to this nature. Eva and Jack had played together on the very same cliffs upon which they were standing. She would light little Ă€UHV DQG EXUQ PRVV -DFN ZRXOG ZDWFK KHU +H VSHQW PXFK of his time watching. There was weightlessness to her body, an ease in the way she would leap across the rocks, and Jack ZDWFKHG%XWWKLVZDVĂ HHWLQJ'XULQJKLJKVFKRRO(YDZDV sent away. Jack moves up the shoreline, closer to where she is standing, there is a smile, she looked to him like a child, a little girl who was about to misbehave â€œItâ€™s been a long, long timeâ€? she says to him. This was true. Eva had been gone a long time, she had been sent away for high school. Jack looks at her closely, and then he pulls the girl towards him, there is a bright hot feeling about her, foreign in the hard frozen air.
â€œTell me where youâ€™ve beenâ€? he says to her. They sit down, on two dark blue rocking chairs. Eva looks at him, â€œIâ€™ve been so far away. Too far to count itâ€? Jack isnâ€™t sure what she means. He doesnâ€™t speak. â€œYou know thereâ€™s a different language in Montreal Jackâ€? The way she uses his name makes him uncomfortable. â€œIâ€™ve seen lots of things;Íž Iâ€™ve done lots of thingsâ€? she tells him. She puts her hand on his. â€œAre you cold? Letâ€™s go in-Â sideâ€? ***** -DFNLVVLWWLQJRQWKHĂ RRULWLVWZHQW\GHJUHHVEHORZ zero today, and he is watching the lake from that same spot in the window. Superior is greater than us, Jack thinks, because a person can never see its entirety. And Jack is right, from his window there is only the idea of the opposite shore, no such tangibility. It seems to him that if a person cannot get their eyes on the whole of a thing, they have lost all of their power to its disguise. Jack stares out at the foggy place where the water and the sky come together, too far away to truly look at. He can see here there sometimes, the little outline of her body moving on the water, like a dance. The lake is not frozen over all year long, in the summer months, when they were in college;Íž Eva would throw her little white body off the cliffs and become submerged in Superior. She would climb her way back up the shore, her hair shining blindingly in the sun, her skin thrown in the gravely paint of goose-Âbumps. He would put his arms around her and take her inside, bring out the red blanket and watch for a while;Íž he didnâ€™t move his eyes from her until it was time for her to return home. Jack only knew about the hole because he had lived
LQWZRKDUERUVVRORQJ,WZDVZKHQ-DFNZDVĂ€IWHHQWKDWKLV father explained it to him. A place where the lake is so deep, that the water does not freeze all the way, but merely makes a large, open space where there is open water even in the mid-Â dle of the winter. It is a place where the black water churns, but all around it is the calm, grey static of the ice. As an adult, Jack walked the route along the hole many times;Íž it was a sailing route he was familiar with. And on this day he would walk it again. Jack begun walking at three in the afternoon, he in-Â tended to be home by six to have dinner with Eva. He walked an hour, so that the shore, and his house perched there were blurry. Jack knew he was almost two miles out. He walked longer, now he was close enough to hear the movement of the open water. It was not a loud sound, but in this quiet, unmov-Â ing world, it could be discerned;Íž the rapid, rough breathing of Superior. There was other breathing mixing in with the waterâ€™s, DVPDOOKRRGHGĂ€JXUH,WWRRNKLPDPRPHQWWRUHFRJQL]HKHU %XWZKHQWKHĂ€JXUHVWDQGLQJEHIRUHWKHRSHQZDWHUUHPRYHG her hat, he knew it to be Eva. Her hair was a part of the sky, WKDWVLOYHUZKLWHWKHĂ DWVPRRWKQHVV The deaths that happened on Lake Superior were all the same, cases of caving ice, a body falling through the fro-Â zen ground, and becoming trapped under the covering. Jack always imagined what the victims would have seen last, that muted grey glow of the sun, covered by the lens of ice. It was suffocation;Íž it was not drowning. Eva did not see Jack;Íž there was a moment in which he could have called out: were both going to be late for our din-Â ner. But Jack did not say these things, because there was no time. She was under the water now, spinning in the hole, this was a different kind of dying. A person standing above the scene could have watched
KHUZKLWHKDLUĂ RDWDERYHKHUDQGWKHEULJKWUHGRIKHUPLWWHQV churning around in the black water like red lingerie acciden-Â tally mixed in a washing machine full of business suits. Jack saw this for a moment, and he saw her bright lips open, the water coming in, taking the place of the air. When he reached the edge of the break in the ice he threw himself in the wa-Â ter. It was everything he had imagined. While he was putting his arms under hers, and pushing her up into the shore, he NQHZLWWREHRYHU7KHUHZDVQRPRWLRQ$IWHUĂ€YHPLQXWHVD Ă RFNRIJHHVHĂ HZRYHUKHDGFU\LQJRXWLQWKHLUKDUGHFKRLQJ sound. He did could not carry her back, it would have killed him. F or it was dark now, and he would die too, if he waited. Jack walks the three miles back, the sound of the water mov-Â ing still breathing in his ears. He was late to their dinner. -DFNVLWVXSIURPKLVSODFHRQWKHĂ RRULQIURQWRIWKHZLQGRZV He can see the sun beginning to die slowly behind the grey dust of the clouds, and the slow falling of snow. He thinks he will walk tonight, an old sailing route he is familiar with. He takes the edge of the cliff down to the rocky lakeshore. He can see his sailboat running this path in the spring, its white sails thrown sharp against the blue sky, the haunting sound of the moving water hitting the sides of the boat. He remembers that sound well, thought it was two long years ago. Jack is startled to hear the sound sharp and real, just in front of him. He sees the place, the deep, black water. And the large cut in the ice, though it seems to be getting gradually smaller, as the win-Â ters get colder. He looks into the water. And he sees her there, all very familiar, the clear grey eyes, bright wild smile that WDXQWHGKLPWKDWEHJJHGKLPWRĂ \ZLWKKHUWRUDFHRIIWKH edge of the cliffs, to throw their bodies around, throw them to-Â gether, but only for a little while. She was the closest thing to being loose, and free he had ever understood. He had seen all of her, he had danced with her on the border of wilderness, he had done everything she had dared him to do, because thatâ€™s
what she stayed alive for, the fullness of living. When he looked up from the water, it was snowing harder, and he was beginning to grow snow blind. He could make out the border of the dark trees surrounding the shore, the black interior of the north woods. The trees were begin-Â ning to move in the wind, making a loud sound as their limbs moved against one another, the itching noise of sharp needles moving together. It was drowning out the sound of the wa-Â ter behind him;Íž he was completely focused on the tree line. +HVWDUHGIRUĂ€YHPLQXWHVZDWFKLQJWKHZLQGPRYHWKHSLQHV like puppets. For a moment, it was all in his snow blindness, LWZDVDQDOOXVLRQPDGHE\KLVHPRWLRQVLWZDVWKHUDPLĂ€FD-Â tions of his fears, his wants. But then she was saying. â€œJackâ€? and she were touching him, with a hot, tired touch that he ZDVQRWIDPLOLDUZLWK+HUFKHHNVZHUHĂ XVKHGZLWKEORRGD warm red glow. He does not speak, but just watches her. She leads him into the shelter of the trees;Íž it is quieter once they DUHZLWKLQWKHP7KHJURXQGLVGXVWHGZLWKWKHĂ€UVWIDOOLQJV of snow. She does not seem cold, though he cannot see her skin through the thick, black coat. â€œJackâ€? she says again, as though it is the only thing she knows how to say. Her eyes no longer contain that glow of rebellion, and there is no sign of the smile he was once so familiar with. â€œYouâ€™re dead Evaâ€? he says, â€œNot dead, just goneâ€? she is looking at the ground. When he asks where she had gone, she just looks at him, an empty gaze, and a cold one. He carries her back three miles;Íž her skin is warm against his face, the little red cheek on his shoulder. Inside the house, he sets her down in front of the window, and he they look out at the lake, they wait while, and Jack begins to take off her clothes. It is like removing stranger of their garments. He stopped when they were all off, and looked at her. He looked
IRUDORQJWLPHVLWWLQJRQWKHĂ RRUEHIRUHKHUERG\ZKLFKZDV before the window. He tells her to dress herself. He says, â€œWhy did you leave me Eva?â€? it is an accusation, she tells him she wasnâ€™t trying to kill herself, she says â€œI slippedâ€? and he pulls her little body, close to him, and he holds it there. She does not speak. There is no sound, but breathing. And ZKHQWKHVXQJRHVGRZQDQG-DFNSXWVDĂ€UHLQWKHĂ€UHSODFH they watch it burn until it dies, and then she begins to cry, as the black ashes fall from the logs, and the orange lights all along them go out. And the hole in the wall turns black again, just as it was before the burning.
Penetrance The black Civic was parked next to the only light pole in the lot. Old women would park next to it after seven thirty at night ZKHQWKH\QHHGHGWRUXQLQWRJHWĂ RXUIRUWKHQH[WGD\ÂˇVEDNLQJ EXWDWWZRWZHQW\IRXULQWKHDIWHUQRRQSHRSOHGLGQÂˇWKDYHDVSHFLĂ€F reason to park under the safety of the light. The Kentucky sun burned everything beneath it, every-Â thing that sat still for too long. Generally people stopped trying and sat in their air conditioned homes with their ten foot blow-Âup pools simmering in the backyard. Greg Willard bought his four kids the most expensive pool he could afford from that store, the one where the black Civic was parked. He and his two older sons brought it home to the youngest boy (Fins) and his sister. They made Fins wear a hat and clothes when he got in so that the Kentucky sun wouldnâ€™t burn his bald head or skin, but Fins enjoyed the water nonetheless, how it held him above the ground but he could put his legs down and still touch the ground when he wanted to. He never learned how to swim. Heâ€™d push the water away from his face as his head bobbed at the surface. â€œNo, Fins. Thatâ€™s the doggy paddle. Move your legs more.â€? Fins stopped eating two weeks after. His appetite â€œup and walked away with his hairâ€? Grandma would say. Fins never wanted to stay home. Heâ€˜d rather go to school, to church, to the grocery store. He stole away from home whenever he could. His mother would spend whole hours looking at him. When heâ€™d smile sheâ€™d ponder what made him happy, when heâ€™d frown VKHÂˇG IURZQ ZLWK KLP DQG ZKHQ KH VZDP VKH WULHG WR Ă€JXUH RXW what kept his head above the water. Sometimes sheâ€™d have looked at him so long that sheâ€™d become disgusted even though she had all the love in the world for Fins. What went on inside of him never managed to keep him from being a seven year old. He walked on the railroad tracks even though his mother had told him not to (she
told him not to do a lot of things) heâ€™d lie across them and say cuss words aloud. Fins wore a blue cap that had a picture of a monster truck embroidered on the front that said â€œdig em.â€? 7KHVWRUHZDVĂ€IWHHQPLQXWHVIURPKLVKRXVHLIKHWRRNWLPHWRWKURZ rocks at the bullfrogs in Critter Lake. From the edge of the woods he could hear the dog barking. $WĂ€UVWLWZDVDSOHDGLQJKRZOEXWRYHUWLPHLWWXUQHGLQWRDZKLPSHU of pain. Its lungs produced a hollow breeze, which burnt as it passed through its nose, as they contracted beneath the rib cage. He ran up to the car. Outside, the temperature had to have been ninety-Âsix, so LQVLGHWKHGRJZDVSUDFWLFDOO\HQJXOIHGLQĂ DPHV)LQVORRNHGLQDW GRJĂ€UVWWKURXJKWKHZLQGVKLHOGRIWKHFDUDQGWKHQZHQWDURXQG to the side. It was one of those lion killers theyâ€™d talked about on Animal Planet, a Rhodesian Ridgeback. Its facial features and body structure were that of a Dalmatian but a strip of hair from the bot-Â tom of its neck to its own bottom grew in the opposite direction. It didnâ€™t have spots like a Dalmatian but when bred correct-Â ly theyâ€™d usually have brown noses. This one, Fins thought, was a proper dog. He could only imagine sliding his hand down the length of the dogâ€™s back and feeling the hair fold back. The dog stood up on the paneling of the car door looking out at Fins. It scratched at the glass with barely enough force to for Fins to see. â€œYou alright buddy,â€? Fins asked him. The dog lay down in the back seat with its long body stretching from door to door. When it breathed its torso barely contracted beneath the weight of the air. +HDWDGGVEXON,WPDNHVLWKDUGHUWRĂ€OO\RXUOXQJVFRPSOHWHO\LQ one breath. Fins touched the side of the car by accident. The surface of the car set a red sear mark on his forearms where heâ€™d leaned on them. His parents had always told him to stay away from the Â´Ă€QHÂľPRWRUYHKLFOHVWKHNLQGWKDWZHUHRQO\SDVVLQJWKURXJKWRZQ and had a single neutral-Âtoned coat of paint. Theyâ€™d have said â€œdonâ€™t touch that car, itâ€™s got an alarmâ€?. When the alarm didnâ€™t go off Fins watched the dog in agony and decided to let him out.-Â He tried the back doors and then the front, all of them were locked. The poor dog, he thought, must have been hot, must have needed water. Part of the back window on the passengerâ€™s side was JDSSHGDWWKHWRSVR)LQVZHQWORRNLQJIRUZDWHUEXWFRXOGQÂˇWĂ€QG
DQ\QHDUE\7KHGRJPRYHGGRZQWRWKHÁRRUERDUGFXUOHGXSLQWRD ball and began to shake its front paws waved as if it was doing the doggy- paddle. When Fins came back up to the window the dog turned its head up toward him. Its eyes were yellow around the edges and the pupils rocked back and forth in its head. Around the mouth white foam collected on its whiskers. It wasn’t wet frothing foam but a caked substance. The Ridgeback stuck out its tongue and in opening its mouth let out a foul smell of digested food and rotting plaque. Fins went into Leonard’s to see if he could tell someone about the dog trapped in the car but Mary Helen had assured him that the dog’s owner would take care of him when he was done shopping. Unconvinced, Fins went back out the black Civic and noticed from a distance that a light steam was seeping through its roof. The dog’s ERG\UHPDLQHGRQWKHÁRRUEXWLWVZKROHVWUXFWXUHOD\VWLOO
Behind Â Thin Â Walls The faded blue and white striped wallpaper had always com-Â forted Theodore Wells. It was the same in every hallway, in every room. The apartment complex Theodore lived in was called Charles River Apartments, and located on one of the busiest, dingiest streets in Boston. The walls were paper thin. Every footstep, every brief outburst of laughter, every tear was heard in the next room over. Privacy was unheard of. But the conversations of the neighbors kept Theodore com-Â SDQ\GXULQJWKHDIWHUQRRQVDIWHUKHÂˇGĂ€QLVKHGKLVHDUO\PRUQLQJSD-Â per route and daily scouring of his miniscule two-Âroom apartment. Heâ€™d plug into daily drama of the young couple across the hall, or OLVWHQWRWKHROGODG\ÂˇVRIWKHĂ RRUJRVVLS+LVIDYRULWHWKLQJWROLV-Â ten to, though, was the Stevenson family. Mr. and Mrs. Stevenson had a daughter named Emma, just about Theodoreâ€™s age. They lived two rooms over, and he could still hear every word if he tried hard enough. He listened to them only when the silence became too much to bear and waiting for mother seemed impossible. Heâ€™s close his eyes, and for just a moment, heâ€™d imagine his mother and father, pretending as though theyâ€™d all switched places. Mother would be smiling, just as he imagined Mrs. Stevenson was. Father would be there, standing tall and proud and happy. And Theodore, heâ€™d be smiling. 7KH IDQWDV\ Ă€OOHG KLP JXLGHG KLP WKURXJK XQWLO PRWK-Â er came home. Most nights she came in stumbling, smelling of a strange, putrid scent. Something Theodore later learned to call te-Â quila. Sometimes he had to scrub her dressed twice as hard just to get the smell out. He never said a thing, never asked her where she was be-Â cause he didnâ€™t want an answer and her slurring words wouldnâ€™t do much explaining. But on nights when the alcohol had put her in a
fog so dense that she didn’t realize what she was saying, he under- stood. She’d spit out words like, “You look like him, you know. Same big brown eyes. Go lay down, I can’t look at you anymore.” Theodore had learned to stop crying when she said things like this. He would just sink into his corner. It was a small corner in the main room. Two blankets cushioned him, but his favorite cov- ered him. It was a powder blue knitted thing, now tattered and torn, his father had given it to him just before he went marching off in his uniform with promises of a happy family when he returned, if he returned. She never came through the door. He would have even been happy if she had been stumbling through, like she did on the bad nights. Just as long as she came home, that’s all that mattered. Clos- ing his eyes, waiting, that was all he could do. The tortured longing drifted Theodore into a restless sleep. The morning came with a violent light. He could see a lu- minous yellow through his eyelids. It wasn’t the normal radiance he had come to expect with each new day. It was a deathly kind of light-one that bore truth. 7KH EX]] RI QRVH\ QHLJKERUV ÀOWHUHG WKURXJK WKH VNHOHWDO wall. They gathered outside Theodore’s door, gossiping. He knew they were talking about mother, wondering about Theodore. The Stevenson family’s voices were the loudest, at least to Theodore. “Daddy,” said the Stevenson girl. “Can we go get Theodore?” Theodore closed his eyes, pushing away Mr. Stevenson’s answer. With sunken knees and heart in his stomach, Theodore slumped to his consistent corner, waiting again for the knob to turn.
Puppet I watched the bottom leak out, something like when I see a lost person cry. I wonder why itâ€™s raining in September. It made the lights in the hospital seem darker than before. Itâ€™s about 12 a.m. now, they told him he needed to rest. He wouldnâ€™t. I turned from the window to glance at him;Íž I would do this again in a few minutes and he would look the same. His nose wrinkled up toward his heavy brows that lined up with gauze around his head. A skim milk color licked his raw skin, tubes breaking through his wrist like puppet strings. I walked over to the end of his bed. I stood there, just staring with a cryptic face. Â´,WÂˇVGHĂ€QLWHO\VRPHWKLQJWRJHWXVHGWRÂľKHPXPEOHG I didnâ€™t have anything to say. â€œI still feel them there, I go to wiggle my toes and I forget I canâ€™t,â€? he spoke louder this time. â€œI donâ€™t want to talk about it,â€? I said. â€œI canâ€™t believe you are being like this.â€? â€œWhat else do you want me to say?â€? â€œNothing, I donâ€™t want you to say anything,â€? he said. ,VDWWKHUHDZKLOH+HĂ€QDOO\IHOODVOHHS,WLVDP now. I walk over and nudge him. â€œIâ€™m going for a walk.â€? â€œWell, I guess this is goodnight,â€? he says. â€œNo, this is nothing,â€? I replied. Then, I walked out the door, into the rain.
A Â Million Â Sunsets Maw-Âmaw, the name that I had decidedly given to my grandmother, always told me the same phrase over and again Â´, JLYH \RX WKH VXQVHWÂľ , ZDV Ă€YH ZKHQ , UHPHPEHU PRVW prominently hearing this phrase, though I doubt it was the Ă€UVWWLPH:HZHUHVLWWLQJXQGHUQHDWKWKHVKDGHGJD]HERHDW-Â ing my favorite dessert of hers, applesauce. We sipped from WKH ERZO FRQWDLQLQJ WKH DSSOH Ă HVK DV LI LW ZDV D VPRRWKLH she would pound the apples so hard that it could be labeled as such. I recall the sun drifting towards the horizon line that I looked upon every day as the end of the Earth, in those days ,VDZLWDVĂ DWEXWWKHVXQPDGHWKHSLFWXUHLQP\KHDGWKDW there was no end. Maw-Âmaw took my hand, her veins bulging out of the wrinkled skin on her hand that possessed too many rings and she whispered like a secret â€œI give you the sunset.â€? The statement stuck me due to the fact that I was ill equipped to respond with words. I didnâ€™t know how to respond to â€œI give you the sunsetâ€? other than to remain silent. That was enough for Maw-Âmaw;Íž she found silence to be the most profound statement there was. She nodded and looked off into the scarlet boiling sun, understanding by my silence that the message had been received. We sat there, watching as the sun crawled to the edge of the Earth like the hour hand on a clock, slow and barely noticeable. The saying jumped around in my body, sketching ideas to its meaning, whatever that was. I would later discover that the thing that Maw-Âmaw was trying to get across was â€œI love youâ€? and I thought it was
appropriate, the way she said it, forgetting proper English and taking on her Georgia accent. I remember that as well, the way she would ignore the “r” in a world like mirror, which she would say “mirra”. It was those little things that made up the character I’ve come to know today. “I give you the sunset” was the statement that meant “I love you” in the language we spoke together, a language of metaphors and sun – drenched evenings.
The Buddhist The more James tried to remember, the more he began to forget, but somehow it was always morning when he looked out DJDLQVW$SSDODFKLDDQGUHDOL]HGPD\EH*RGKDGÀQDOO\JRQH7KHUH is always this fear he found looking out against the trees, like may- be there are wandering Eyes prowling behind them—keeping watch so that he doesn’t die an unnatural death, but the way nature had already planned. James does not like to talk about the death of his sister be- cause James believes that when people die they wake up as someone else. He says his sister may have become a man stealing jewelry in a Saudi Arabian market in order to sell for foreign perfumes;; she may have become a Nambian nurse who owns an apothecary in South Africa;; or maybe she has become an orca surfacing the Bering Sea ZLWKWKHWDLORID3DFLÀF6OHHSHU6KDUNLQKHUPRXWKQHDUDQ$ODV- kan bay. James says that not everyone is as lucky as his sister. He says that others are tormented and starved somewhere unseen, but James does not like to talk about unseen things. It was morning when he looked out over the ledge of Tennes- see, where he was lost somewhere in the hills. He saw his sister in the yard beneath his balcony. She was a wandering doe that heard nearby feet press into the earth from which she fed, she raised her strong neck and turned James watching her from the window. She turned to the forest where she heard something hunting her and stared into the Eyes of God watching from the trees. Was she sup- posed to die now? Would she have raised her head to hear if she were not meant be killed? Nature told her to run away, so she did. James does not understand why his sister runs from him watching in the window, but James knows that she has heard God and God has taken care of her. For the past thirteen years James has lived alone with his sister’s dog in a cabin ledged on the shoulder of Appalachia (Chat-
tanooga, Tennessee). James has never questioned who prowls in the trees beyond his cabin but knew if he were to be killed in the heart of this mountain that God would nurse him the way He had done for his sister. He remembered it being that same morning that he found himself awake to the birds falling from their nests, and bears catching salmon in the river somewhere he could not see. He walked out onto the back balcony, and he felt the body of a great huntingcat hidden in the trees, becoming The Eyes. He felt the shadow of it lay sleeping in the grass, hungrily watching his sister’s old German Sheppard, Lila, who was chasing foxes into their burrow. Curiously, like most dogs do, Lila turned herself to see James standing high above her on the back balcony showing him her black coat, turning silver in the sun, and her Native face looking as a wolf walking wild among trees. At this moment James thought of Lila’s beauty and knew had she have been a woman, she would have been the one he would marry. James stared at her as if maybe he would kiss her someday, maybe because Lila is one of the fading memories of his dead sister or maybe because this is what being alone did to a man. The hunting cat crept, and then James realized that he had never connected to God without prayer before, but Lila stared at him and barked happily as if to say Come! See what I have seen! James saw the hunter’s shoulders shift and its body fall, becoming the ground. Lila had known the voice of God far longer than James had, but she refused to respond to it. She stood, looking at him, and her mouth opened and she screamed in silence. Lila, lay down;; lay down said his eyes but Lila was a stupid dog. Surely she had heard God’s warning. Surely He had told her to abandon James—to run far away, to keep running, until she became tired and starved but even then she would keep running, but Lila was a stupid dog. The ground beneath her moved with the paw of the hunter. Maybe she did hear God, maybe she had heard nature, and it had told her to make herself known. It had happened so beautifully how the puma fed on Lila—so skillfully cradled Lila in her jaw. Shook her as a dog does a sleeping pillow. James heard Lila screaming under the weight of the hunter’s smile but James was as helpless as Lila.
Leaving Lilaâ€™s corpse beneath his porch, James watched the mountain cat disappear in the trees and lose itself somewhere in The Eyes. James wondered why the hunter had been as merciful as to leave his last memory of his sister. Why had it abandoned Lila? Why had the hunter not dragged along Lilaâ€™s limp body into the forest, into the Eyes? James realized then that the hunter had met God once, if not in this life, somewhere in a past life it struggled to remember or somewhere farther than where we stood now. James climbed down the stairs so he could bury Lila prop-Â erly. The way he would his wife. Even in death, James loved Lila, but her corpse was no proof that he had ever loved her at all. Something felt strange to James. The wind had forgotten to howl, the trees refused to sway with the woods, and between breaths he could hear the silence of being hunted. -DPHV IRXQG KLPVHOI Ă€VKLQJ IURP /DNH .DZDJXFKL LQ WKH springtime of Japan. He looked up at the mountain beside him and thought of how similar its structure seemed. James had never seen something as beautiful as a mountain and when he pulled his net RIRUDQJHĂ€VKIURPWKHZDWHUKHORRNHGDWWKHHPSW\VN\DQGVDLG something that he would have never understood before. He raised his arm to call over a woman who was picking cherry blossoms in low hanging limbs. James kissed her and she knew that he loved her, and had loved her for a long time. â€œYour hair is different than I remember.â€? She had her hands tangled in it and he smiled. James left her to pick a cherry blossom from the tree behind him. She looked up as if she had smelled it leave the branch. â€œHow long have you loved me?â€? he put the cherry blossom to his own nose. The woman looked around at the mountain and knew that VRPHZKHUHLQWKHURFNVVRPHWKLQJZDQWHGWRĂ€QGWKHP-DPHVRI-Â fered the blossom to her own nose and she turned away from the mountain. â€œI donâ€™t remember.â€? She said. â€œNeither do I.â€? She took her long hair and put it in his hands and it turned silver in the sun.
“I feel like eyes are hunting us.” James said, and he felt her becoming angry. She looked back towards the hills and tried to re- member something that she had forgotten long ago, but her face fell empty, forgetting the blossom in his hands, and she stared at the world as if it were the transitioning of seasons. “Your eyes,” she said “They seem more evil than I remem- ber.” The more James tried to remember, the more he began to forget, but somehow it was always morning when he looked out DJDLQVWWKH-DSDQHVHPRXQWDLQDQGUHDOL]HGPD\EH*RGKDGÀQDOO\ gone. “Do you think He is still here?” Lila asked. “I don’t know who you mean.” James said.
A Night $ VZLIW ÀJXUH VLOHQWO\ VWROH WKURXJKRXW WKH VOHHSLQJ town, her bare frail feet inaudible against the pavement. The rain beat against her face, driven by the shrieking wind that rubbed it raw, leaving angry patches on her pale skin. Cring- ing away from the storm she pushed against the howling ban- shee wind. Her clothes clung to her body and her stained eyes were squinted shut. The young girl was aware of the warmth of the small bundle that was clutched against her chest. The wind thrust against her and she hunched over the child using her own body as a shield. The darkened houses that lined the streets were shut tight no one daring to try the storm’s bluff. No one was there to see the hooded silhouette that slipped silently past. Once she has reached her destinations she hesitated momentarily on the entryway. She gazed at the wrinkly ten VDXVDJH WRHV DQG ÀQJHUV RQH RI ZKLFK ZDV KHOG LQ WKH SDOH pink rosebud of a mouth. The weight felt strangely comfort- ing, a whisper of movement, a light sigh as the face nestled against her chest. Her breath lodged in her throat. With the cramped movements of one twice her age, she bent don and gently placed the sleeping baby on the door- step. The boy stirred not lost in the world between sleep and dreams. A small sound escaped her mouth and she tightened KHUOLSVLQWRDÀUPOLQHDVLIWRKROGDQRWKHUEDFN7KHZRPDQ knelt down and gently pressed her lips against those of the infant and pulled away in reluctance in her back. The storm had ceased. She rose and pressed the doorbell the sound reverber-
DWHG WKURXJKRXW WKH KRXVH JURZLQJ PRUH GLVWDQW 6KH Ă HG KHUĂ€HU\UHGKDLUELOORZHGRXWEHKLQGKHU6KHGRHVQRWVHHWKH DFKLQJO\UHFRJQL]DEOHĂ€JXUHLQWKHRSHQHGGRRU And elderly lady with traces of her once prominent beauty stood in the doorway clutching a violet robe around her body, her auburn hair in a state of disarray. Her eyes dropped GRZQXSRQWKHEDE\DQGKHUJD]HĂ LFNHUHGWRWKHVXUURXQG-Â ings. Her eyes watched the red-Âheaded young woman and she nodded barely perceptively. She tenderly collected the baby into her arms and backed into the house gazing down fondly at her grandson. 2QO\ODWHUGLGWKHZRPDQĂ€QGWKHQRWHZUDSSHGLQWKH folds of the blue blanket.
Momentum She climbed into the passenger side, her suitcase in WKHEDFNDEDJĂ€OOHGZLWKKHUIDYRULWHERRNVQHVWOHGEHWZHHQ her feet. The driver smiled at her, a familiar twitch of the lips that made her stomach churn. â€œWhere to now, sweetie?â€? he asked, putting the beat up Prius in drive as he pulled from the curb. Her eyes shied to the window, preferring the passing airport and pedestrians to the man beside her. The loom-Â ing buildings gave way to sprawling mountains that lit her eyes and tugged at her ample curiosity. They piled on top of each other in purple mounds that seemed to extend forever. Mountains didnâ€™t exist where she came from, though she liked to think they used to, back when times were cooler. Itâ€™s just theyâ€™re all melted down to size, replaced instead with sky-Â scrapers and condominiums. The south is no place for such wonders. â€œElizabeth?â€? The manâ€™s voice sliced through her thoughts like lead, abruptly bringing her back to reality, to the black car going 73 down the highway. She glanced at him from the corner of her eye. His fa-Â cial hair was thicker, and tufts of gray sprung up in places her memory told her used to be black, but overall he seemed just as she had left him. A handful of years older, and a few pounds heavier perhaps, but still the same man. She cringed. â€œTo the house,â€? she said, her voice spilling out for the Ă€UVWWLPHLQGD\V His black eyes slipped from the road to glance at her.
She could feel the chill of it against her skin;Íž the side of her face, her shoulder, her arm. He passed her that smile again, smoke-Âstained teeth peeking between chapped lips. She WXUQHGIURPKLPVWLIĂ \EDFNWRZDUGVWKHZLQGRZ+HVLJKHG and faced the windshield. â€œHome it is.â€? +RPH7KHVLQJOHZRUGOLWKHUDEGRPHQRQĂ€UH+RPH ZDV D Ă€JXUH RI VSHHFK $ FRYHU D OLH +RPH OHIW KHU Ă€VWV clenched and her chest empty. Home made her want to scream out and demand he stop the car, made her want to punch him. But she refrained. She would not allow the events of the past to drag her down any longer. She was older, wiser, stronger than she was when she was nine;Íž twice as cold and half as gullible. She had made her own private peace with God and the Universe, and that would have to sustain her. The car came to an abrupt stop in front of a house she had a vague remembrance of, her body lurching forward with the momentum. She glared at the man from the corner of her eye, possibly the most daring thing sheâ€™d done in ages, but vacated the car without any audible complaint. Her backpack pressed heavy on her shoulder and her suitcase wheels jammed with the small, broken rocks of the driveway. They crunched underneath her weight as she walked across them, the small pieces pressing sharply into the soles of her shoes. The house loomed before her. The eerie screech of the screen door brought to her memories of long summers and cold winters, of the old porch swing that never quite sat right and the burn of her fatherâ€™s cigarette. They came to her in Polaroid fashion;Íž clear as the wind that dragged past her stout form, that blew so hard she had to correct her footing to keep from falling over, only to disappear a moment later, and then return. The inside of the house was worse. She stood in the family room, looking around at the pictures lining the walls;Íž
her father on his third wedding day, her step mother cook-Â LQJLQWKHNLWFKHQWKHWZRZLWKDĂ XVKHGEDE\VDQGZLFKHGLQ EHWZHHQWKHPDQGKHUVWHSVLVWHURQKHUĂ€UVWGD\RINLQGHU-Â garten. She stood in the middle of the family room, and it all made perfect sense. This house that she was forced back into was nothing more than drywall and nails. It had long since lost its meaning to her. It was a house that she had never quite thought of as home.
About Â the Â Monsters Â The monsters crept close to our bed at nightâ€” leaned over to watch us breathe for I knew that they were watching us, quietly ,FRXOGFRXQWWKHWLPHVZLWKHYHU\QRWFKRQWKHZRRGHQĂ RRU boards. But you were blinded from the eyes that could sense motion, ever through the darkest of nights. We dreamt, for we were children of night, where dreams awoke from thun-Â derous claps RIULFNHW\EULGJHVGUDZEULGJHVDERYHPXFN\ZDWHUĂ€OOHGZLWK crocodiles and the sea was opened to spine tingling pirates, anatagonists of sultry breezes we dreamt of stomping through bamboo trees, DOOHOVHHQĂ DPHGZLWKQHRQĂ€UH We caught the light, protecting it with our hands. Burning Ă€QJHUVXQPHQWLRQHGXQQDPHG About the monsters. They are in me, in you, in us.
The Golden Jackal First, there was howling then were church bells in harmony both sounding to the day’s events: a man fell to the crowd, somewhere his brother was hunting, missionaries cowered until beasts couldn’t tell them from grass and the sun passed indiscriminately beyond. They were choruses of jackals they were dancing through jaws warning rodents in the undergrowth, singing our stomachs are full but soon, but soon. They ran as amber on a string pulled tight on the wrist of fate or the nothingness that follows life only, that can look so ugly in the desert wind. But without the hyena’s cruelty or the hunter’s watchfulness they go unrecognized, sprinting off LQWRWKHÁDPH where they do not drag invented myth and they have no need to feign vulgarity to save themselves.
Rhino Ripe in thirteen years of age, My skin wasn’t as soft As you’d hoped. In fact, I was frail as fall leaves And you craved the sound I made when you crushed. Thirteen, still a baby, I rested my head on your chest, But the only beating I felt Was from my own mind. You lie: “don’t worry, Time heals all wounds.” The same age as me, And how would you know? Then I see your rhino-skin hands, Weathered with cracks And I say sorry. I trace the path That your life has taken :LWKDVKDNLQJLQGH[ÀQJHU I stop where the skin is smooth, A couple inches past the wrist And your veins are a deep blue I can’t see past. You Push me off because you Can’t stand the thought of my virgin skin. You scream so the walls Shake my world to a halt, scream Until I believe time might heal wounds. I wish you’d have left a mark With all this damage you’ve caused. Three years later And I still feel the cracks
At the drop of your name.
The Â Fall Â of Â (wo)man it starts with a thought. one prick of small desire conceived in the shallow cavern. the taste is fresh. a sweet satisfying ruby crispness. it grows into action of wanting, needing to digest the natural inclination. itâ€™s a stabbing now, continuous desire breeding, emerging from the womb growing hands and feet, eyes and ears. it consumes with a habit. ULSSLQJDSDUWWKHLQQHUĂ HVK the bile once tasteful enslaves the mind, working from the inside out, until it spews from â€˜the mouth drags the eyes, chains the feet, binds the hands into its black intention born from just a simple, harmless thought.
Remembering Â That night, the moon drifted over the pond and Turned the water to milk. We laid out in the evening, I could feel the blood in your veins. You whispered, Always hushed, never rushing. 2XUĂ€QJHUVWDQJOHGWRJHWKHU Frogs gulped the air around us, Bees swooned at our laughter. The grass hummed against my skin $QGWKHĂ RZHUVJLJJOHGZKHQ,EOXVKHG The moon seemed frozen, Watching us While the crickets Taunted us. You were gentle, /LNHWKHZDWHUDQGWKHĂ€VKLQWKHSRQG Never making noises. :HZHUHOLNHEXWWHUĂ LHV Kissing crescents into the night air, &UHDWLQJWRPRUURZLQRXUĂ€QJHUWLSV You held the smell of forgiving. The sky broke open When you left. It poured down and The grass turned to mud. And out pitter patter toe prints Stayed on the ground.
Mid-Ââ€?glow We were stopped by glowing Ă€HOGVZKHQWUDYHOLQJQRUWK7KH pull of things not native to the south, the pull of glowing insects. We caught EXJVZLWKFDOORZĂ€QJHUV used to crush them mid-Â glow. Those ghosts still spoke to us, gave light to us-Â haunted houses on our way up the coast, candles when the hurricanes would give light to a thundercloud, take it back to humidity, back to where we went RXWVLGHIRUĂ€UHĂ LHVDQG came back with mosquitoes.
Hiking-‐mid July Mother had already lied about the rain. No sign of black bears as of Friday, but there were still four miles tomorrow and seven the day after that. His feet are wet, stomach growling, black bear mimicking. Calling after him, crawling after him. He hates the feeling of wet feet. Makes you feel like an animal, he’d say, makes you think you’re less than you are. Deer like him weren’t uncommon, drinking from spring, stepping lightly, toe to toe on every wet leaf. Black bears don’t mind the rain and don’t mind chasing into a shallow river.
Cameilla Â Camellia Drive, your sunset at the end of my street halos the remnants of your teachings. I brought you incessant childhood queries which you whispered between the low-Âlimbed trees I loved to climb. I took your over-Âgrown grass because you asked me to, and returned to splatter a pop-Âsicle on your sidewalk. I cried, remember, because I made the hungry ants sick and the earthworm confused as it inched into the puddle. But you showed me KRZ,Ă€OOWKHEHOO\RIDELUG and how the rain rewinds accidents. I wanted to stay here, Camellia Drive, lie on the asphalt and understand the cosmos, but the stars outshine the faded stop sign on the corner.
Putting on Winter Coats The royal court of summer died, changing with seasons, we ensure our thrown remains. Yellow leaves dance around kings and queens of this town. Our brotherhood ignited rebellious hearts. Alexander the Great couldn’t compare. One crown for all to wear- My companions, with resonant gazes, sing merry tunes whilst there is still time. Stay and be free;; we can love one another, reign until skies plump with cold. December forces this frozen castle, and I believe this is the end.
Carry in My Mouth Yours is a tangible language— one that places incoherent syllables next to miscellaneous meter and engrains itself in the walls of my mouth. I get the feeling of dice Thrown against my cheek, Ricocheting over my tongue, Orbiting, never really landing, but always pushing to escape from behind pursed lips. Yours is a language you carry in your limbs. I’ve tried to mimic it, but you still know more than I do. False ideas rather than moral messages make their way to the surface. Your words mean too much in the soft morning light. I’ll carry them in my mouth.
Silhouette A spool of frozen moonlight unravels , casting thin, silky tendrils between nests of shivering leaves, past rims of evergreen to pool and drip below. Beneath spines spilling white gold are fading speckles of copper orbs aglow with the twilight of its cover, it hangs suspended, great wings unfurled, talons poised and gleaming Dirty-足blooded feathers glide soundlessly along every ark and turn of cold September wind, the predator of grace and stone-足faced power aims only to deliver its prey to the claws of death dealt swift;余 talons clamp about the shivering bundle hidden in the leaves The owl slips back into darkness leaving behind the empty, untouched spot where light remains
Maybe, Â Itâ€™s Â Another Â Home I think the others here canâ€™t hear them sound asleep in their black beds, but I know of the whole new world under us where blue crashes into maidens of grey, ZKHUHWKH\VSHDNRQO\ZLWKWKHWLSVRIWKHLUĂ€QJHUV and touch each other with harsh sound. ,SUHVVP\HDUDJDLQVWWKHĂ RRUERDUGV and listen to them. I hear the low red voices, the shrill hum of pigmented cries. 7KRVHĂ RDWLQJFRQYHUVDWLRQVRIWKHEDNHU\ÂˇVVDGVPHOO If I could hold my breath long enough I could try to be a part of them: nuns walking in their crooked paths, men falling back into buildings, young children leaving never to come home, watching women weave gossip into their long hair. Sometimes I forget to notice that other girl, face pink like mine, VWDQGLQJRQKHUPRWKHUÂˇVĂ€QHVWFKLQD ear against the ceiling, she can see me too, EXWZHSUHWHQGZHDUHMXVWUHĂ HFWLRQV listening to the sounds between here, there and nowhere.
Lâ€™espirit Â de Â lâ€™escalier He wanted to give her an Arbutus, because he had failed all his college literature classes, DOVRKDYLQJUHDGKHU9LFWRULDQQRYHOVKHNQHZĂ RZHUV held a language leading straight into a beloved heart. He bought the birdsfoot trefoil DQGWULHGWRĂ€QGDÂ´ORYHOLHVEOHHGLQJÂľ but expected such things were only an Irish myth. He would write her a message in a language they both have never learned. He should have known that when she decorated those striped carnations that what he thought was theirs just simply wasnâ€™t there for her. +HZLVKHGZDONLQJGRZQWKHĂ LJKWVRIKHUDSDUWPHQW that he never offered her peach blossoms when she decided to live alone. Felt stupid for reading Victorian novels that only made half sense, he only ever read them for the end. He thought of his favorite adventurers. If he was Jason heâ€™d stay with the lotus eaters, and at the bottom step he sighed and wished he would have just gotten roses.
When Â We Â Were Â Children Â :KHQZHSOD\HGLQWKHĂ€HOG grazing hands, scabbing knees, a game of hide-Âand-Âseek through daffodils and chrysanthemums, hiding behind willow trees and calling out, â€œYou will die before I do.â€? And we were coagulating towards the center of gratitude and a game of keep away, calling out â€œI donâ€™t care about my future.â€? We started rushing like silver ions, crushing daffodil petals into a yellow paste: cohesive and resplendent, eye twitching humor . weâ€™re dancing like weâ€™re ten again, hands grazing, tongues, slithering,
DQGZHÂˇUHXQLĂ€HGOLNHDGXOWV rolling in the daffodils, crushing chrysanthemums, inhale of scent and a game of house, calling out, â€œlove.â€?
Prescriptions We put on our shoes and went out searching for God. “Any kind would do,” she told me. “I’m not trying to be a good Christian, I’m trying to save your life.” I looked up at her, pulled another loose thread from her blankets, while she ordered holy books from Amazon. We looked in churches and backs of cars, but everywhere I found myself, something drew my focus down, distracting me from her miracles, blades of grass, carpet fuzz and K\SRWKHWLFDOÀQJHUSDLQWLQJV The solidity of the ground held me while she tugged my hand like a balloon. No longer could I ask her just to help me up, because she’d given me both her hands. Still, I remained seated, thinking through her prayers and waiting for the solution that kept what I thought I was.
0\Ă€QJHUVZRUPHGLQWRWKHGLUW and I wondered if one day ,FRXOGĂ€QDOO\ORRNXSWRLW if I would wait there for the cure she couldnâ€™t give me while she still looked to the vastness for a cloud solid enough for the both of us.
Equine Â Colic Asleep, a lost girl strains in the same dark she found herself in infancy, towards pale forests fading beyond the outside fence, and the window being beaten by straying trees. She turns, giving her body to the passing storm and the beaten woods. Flexing her bones, they carve her skin, and when she turns in the earth of her bed, she wallows like a dying horse in grass. She forms sleep in her pasture, the coma of her opened eyes, watching the day fall away from the curtains. He studies her on her back, resting as a colt that has not yet learned to walk, shows him her hooves, how they are injured with sleep and the pride of her mangled mane resting around her mouth, speaking lies, even in death.
Versus Â He lost her letters in a knapsack That fell of the back off the army green truck. She felt the etching of his face Slip away, in her memories She could not distract herself He couldnâ€™t quite dedicate himself To the barked commands, the sour breath Of waking up at the crack of dawn In the barracks, he saw her In a white dress on the day they met. Could you cradle me in the mesh Of star-Âspotted water, as she took off That dress, just to taunt him. He was mesmerized by her Satin skin, only for a minute Could he touch. He snuck up on her, Crisscrossed his arms across her waist Kissed her gingerly on the collar bone, Swooped in aerially, His interest, had to be alert As faces become bullets +HKHOGKLVULĂ HH\HVEXJJHG She felt him rush by, as she Stood in the bank He exploded. Went out on the fourth of July, In a storm of gun smoke. Trailing night-Âlights Amber-Âred as his blood, That speckled the waterâ€™s surface. As she thought she saw
Anatomy of Thought It begins in the frontal lobe, Somewhere in the mass of arteries and blood vessels, it sparks blue electricity, propelled through the brain from neuron to neuron, an article seen on the yellowing edges of a newspaper pictures processed like photographs in the occipital lobe. Another spark in the endless wiring quick, electric, a small, familiar epiphany, met with brisk breath, widening of the eyes, LPSDWLHQWÀQJHUV hurrying across the keyboard, needing to hold on to the conception before it slips away, back into the teeming circuitry.
Mountains My dreams in the car were always intertwined with the mountains. Each time my eyes slipped shut, I saw my-Â self becoming engulfed by the ridges and gaps of the towering masses. However, I also felt them blocking me from something that I couldnâ€™t seem to push past. Each time I dreamt of the mountains, their shapes would be replaced with the faces of my mother and brotherâ€”people I was leaving behind for the Ă€UVWWLPH,DZRNHIURPWKRVHGUHDPVZLWKDVWDUWTXHVWLRQ-Â ing what they meant as the car ride continued. When we reached Iowa, Emily and I stepped from the van, faces still swollen with sleep and images of mountains fading behind our heavy eyelids. The anticipation of arrival jolted us with excitement. We didnâ€™t care about tossing our bags onto our bumpy, broken beds, or slipping into the calm waters of Lake Okobojiâ€”we were solely concentrated on one aspect of the trip: heading to the amusement park. Emily was obstinate in her plan of getting me on a Ferris wheelâ€”she WROGPHWKDWWKHĂ€UVWWLPH\RXJRRQRQHWKH\DUHPDJLFDO Once we reached the park and made it to the top of the Ferris wheel, all conversation between us stopped. We just watched. The sun sat, a half orange, on top of the lake as diamonds of tangerine danced across the water, jumping and shooting into the air. The wind wrestled and made ripples in the lake as the sun edged down farther. Emily and I remained silent, quiet awe settling between us. In the distance, I could see the outline of mountains plastered against the perfect sky. Even in the moment where I felt freer than ever, they were still there, drawing an indelible boundary.
The quick rustling of the Fourth of July awaited us when we arrived back to the cabin. We sat in the dewy grass, counting minutes until the show and the loud shock of explo-Â VLRQVLQWKHVN\7KHĂ€UHZRUNVEHJDQZLWKDERRPDVSODVWLF FXSVZHUHJULSSHGWLJKWHUZLWKHYHU\HFKRLQJFUDFN)LUHĂ LHV mimicked their images closer to the ground. I looked around while everyone elseâ€™s faces were pointed upward. Color from the sky mirrored in their eyes, like the subtle grey tips of mountaintops. Okoboji had taken them aback. I pressed in the sides of my cup and thought about how I was the only one not immersed in the whimsical wonders of the night. Realizing WKLV,ORRNHGEDFNXSDWWKHVWDUVDQGĂ€QDOO\DOORZHGP\H\HV to illuminate like the othersâ€™. Driving home later that that summer, I met the moun-Â tains again, except this time I saw them as gates rather than barriers, hanging open on rusted hinges, letting everything slip away, disappearing along the long, tangled highways. I didnâ€™t worry about what my family was doing or the things I had left behind;Íž I let the soaring mountains before me con-Â VXPHP\UHVWOHVVWKRXJKWV7KHUHĂ HFWLRQRIĂ€UHZRUNVLQXS-Â turned eyes and the feeling of slippery red cups resting on P\Ă€QJHUWLSVDUHHQJUDYHGLQWRP\PHPRU\,KDYHQÂˇWHQFRXQ-Â tered a moment like that since my trip to Okobojiâ€”a second where the world seemed to collapse against the subtle push of my palmâ€”but this one is enough to nestle my sleepless body into at night. As I tangle my feet around the corners of my cov-Â ers, I think: I was there, I was happy.
Finding Â the Â Silence Â We used to listen to music in the backyard;Íž our feet propped up on trash can lids under an umbrella fort. Deep beats and delicate keys unfolded to the rhythm of our giggles, and wind chimes colliding on the porch sent gentle notes fall-Â LQJWRWKHĂ RRU7KRVHVRXQGVDUHZKDWVDYHGXVIURPHYHU\-Â thing that happened outside of our narrow imaginations. To us, all that mattered were the smiles on our faces, and the hair that fell in our eyes as we did cartwheels across the lawn. The music surrounds us all as children. It tangles in our hair, and gets lost in our minds. We have not yet come face to face with silence. It is just an image in our heads, only as real as the monsters in our closets. We bask in the warm glow of LQQRFHQFHVXUURXQGHGE\FRQVWDQWFKDWWHUDQGĂ RZLQJPHOR-Â dies, but the quiet still looms in the back of our minds, just waiting for the chance to come forward and show itself. When I was six, I got a Barbie CD player for my birthday. It SOD\HGWKHVDPHĂ€YHVRQJVRYHUDQGRYHUDJDLQDQGVRPHKRZ I never got tired of them. I would dance around my bedroom in a pink leotard as I listened to the notes stretch across the room as if they were elastic. I took that CD player every-Â where, despite my motherâ€™s growing annoyance with the up-Â beat tunes. I t was as if it had become a part of me, the cord PHOWLQJ LQWR P\ Ă€QJHUV WKH KHDGSKRQHV WUDQVIRUPLQJ LQWR tiny earlobes. I hung onto the sounds as if they were keeping my head above water in a storm. At that time I had not yet realized that the absence of sound was just as important as the presence of it. When school started just over a month after I had re-Â
ceived the regretted CD player, I was already attached. My QDwYHH\HVFRXOGQÂˇWĂ€QGDSUREOHPLQWKHVKLQ\SLQNGHSWKVRI the toyâ€™s surface. Thatâ€™s why I was struck with surprise when P\PRWKHUVKRRNDVOLPĂ€QJHULQP\IDFHGHQ\LQJP\UHTXHVW to bring it to school. â€œBig girls donâ€™t bring toys to school,â€? she told me, her YRLFHOLNHVWDWLFLQWHUUXSWLQJWKHĂ RZRIP\SUHYLRXVPXVLF I frowned at her trying to force tears from my eyes. Â´%XW ZK\"Âľ , VQLIĂ HG PDQDJLQJ WR JHW D VLQJOH VDOW\ streak to slide down my face. She leaned down ad stroked my hair. I only had to glance into her eyes to know that she was not going to let me bring the player to school. They were tired, with traces of wrinkles around the corners, even though she was still young then. Although I accepted her orders, I still didnâ€™t understand why the music could not be my companion in the scary world that was school. It was not until several years later when I discovered WKHDQVZHUWRWKDWTXHVWLRQÂ˛ZKHQWKHPXVLFĂ€QDOO\PRUSKHG into silence. It was one of those days in the backyard, my sister and I tucked inside a homemade fort. Music danced through the blades of grass, working their way through a maze of bugs before reaching our ears. We smiled as the sounds soothed us. We were lying under the shade of several umbrellas, all piled RQWRSRIHDFKRWKHU7KHWRZHULQJĂ€JXUHVVKHOWHUHGXV7KH\ kept out the things that we were afraid to confront. While un-Â der them, it was as if the rest of the world did not exist;Íž only my sister and me, and the gentle melodies dancing through the empty air around us. I was nearly asleep, when the strong gust of wind came along, sending all of the umbrellas spiraling into the air. They tumbled back into the woods, doing endless somersaults until they became stuck in the bushes and tree branches. I stood
up, suddenly basking in a warm glow. For a moment I was confused, the music was still stuck in my ears, but the um-Â brellas had departed without me. They had soared away on a journey of their own, leaving me alone in the middle of the bleak backyard. But then I spotted their vivid colors some-Â where amongst the greenery of the woods, and I began to walk towards them, The grass was crunchy, and it seemed to grow louder in my ears the farther away from the music I walked. %\WKHWLPH,UHDFKHGWKHĂ€UVWRIWKHXPEUHOODVWKHPX-Â sic was a distant echo, a ghost. It had faded from my ears, and in its place was the rustling of animals and birds in to woods. I had not realized before how much the music was hiding from me. It had kept me from noticing the beauty of nature, but it had also hidden away the scary and forbidding things of the ZRUOG ,W KDG WUDSSHG PH LQ D WUDQFH WKDW , FRXOGQÂˇW Ă€QG D way to escape from until then. At that moment I realized that silence held so many more words than music ever could. That is why my mother would not let me bring my SUL]HG&'SOD\HUWRVFKRRORQWKDWĂ€UVWGD\,Ă€QDOO\UHDOL]HG that she wanted me to face my fears on my own. I could not have a companion to guide me. Silence opened my eyes, so in return I open my arms and welcome it in. Leaving behind the comfort of sounds was a hard thing that my mind had trouble grasping at the time, but as I grew older, I understood that the absence of constant noise has made me a stronger person. I realize now that I have to face the things that lay ahead of me completely, silently, and solely on my own.
Visual Â Art
Babe, Cyrus Blaze Hodge
Untitled, Ella Montoya
Visual Art Finalist
Untitled, Arielle Stroman
V, Cyrus Blaze Hodge
Visual Art Winner
Canned, Cyrus Blaze Hodge