ETCHINGS Volume Volume
Etchings 32.2 Literary and Fine Arts Magazine of the University of Indianapolis Spring 2020
1400 E. Hanna Ave. Indianapolis, IN 46227 Copyright © 2020 By the University of Indianapolis and Individual Contributors Cover Design by Hope Coleman Cover Art by Patrick Handlon Printed by IngramSpark ingramspark.com
Etchings Editorial Staff Editor-in-Chief Riley Childers Managing Editor MacKenzie Estrada Design Editor Hope Coleman Social Media Managers Naomi Coleman Maiya Johnson Interview Editors Grant Boyer Charles Jones Staff Maxine Miles Jeffrie Myers Faculty Advisor Kevin McKelvey
Table of Contents Letter From the Editor Dorlis Gott Armentrout Award Floodgate Poetry Series Floodgate Interviews
CMarie Fuhrman Nicole R. Cooley Dexter Booth Peter Cooley Andrew McFadyen-Ketchum
Journeying For Divine Intervention Spirits
ix x xiii xiv xvii xix xxi xxii 1 11
Tylyn K. Johnson
At This Hour
This Will Hold You Over Dallas Havens
All the Married Men I Loved Before Part 1 Maiya Johnson
15 16 17 26 27
Longing for You from Halfway Across the Globe Mackenzie Hyatt
If I Wrote Him A Letter Sydney Webb
Yondu and the Rose
Tylyn K. Johnson
Our Tulips Should Kiss
29 30 32 33 34 35 36
Chained to My Cathedral Joe Raymond Bike Blur Patrick Handlon
Late Night Drives
39 40 41 42 43 44
The First Time We Cried Together Mackenzie Hyatt
Through Another Lens
She Was the Sweetest Poison I Ever Drank Spencer Douglas
Girl With Raven Hair
Horn of Plenty
Colors of America
45 46 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 62
Eye to Eye Unity
Artist Statements Contributor Biographies
70 73 81
Letter From the Editor Welcome to Volume 32.2 of Etchings Literary and Fine Arts Magazine! This semester has been a wild ride for our staff. With the recent outbreak of COVID-19 and the move to online schooling, we came to a standstill. COVID-19 pushed us out of our office and into an online space where we screenshared and created this particular issue. Even in self-quarantine, the magazine had to be created. This issue also gave us the opportunity, as a staff, to publish creative pieces that cover topics of race, gender, mental health, and identity as a whole. We felt that this would be beneficial for the public to bring together our community and to educate others. Special thanks to MacKenzie Estrada, our Managing Editor, whose organization, drive, and creativity helped push our publication to the finish line. Thank you to Hope Coleman, our Design Editor, who spent many hours with MacKenzie and me on video chat overlooking and ensuring that our magazine looked good, and to our faculty advisor, Kevin McKelvey, who helped us transition to an online workspace this semester while ensuring our magazine was clean and well designed. To our awesome Dorlis Gott Armentrout Award Judge, Paige Lewis, who graciously selected a winner and a runner-up, thank you. It was such a joy to work with you, and you are so inspiring. As always, thank you to our publisher, IngramSpark, for magically bringing our magazine to a physical form. You have helped make this issue possible and the process easy. This volume, as well as the other Etchings Literary and Fine Arts Magazines, can be found for free through Issuu.com. Due to our social distancing, the distribution for this issue was moved onto an online platform. As a staff we came to the decision to put this Volume 32.2 on Amazon.com instead of having an in-person launch party. Thank you to Professor Liz Whiteacre for building such a powerful online presence that allowed this issue to thrive just as the rest. For my last term on Etchings Press and at the University of Indianapolis, I wanted to take this moment to thank the English Department and Shaheen College of Arts and Sciences for allowing me to be in a position such as this one. I also wanted to thank this semester’s Etchings Literary and Fine Arts Magazine’s amazing staff. We were a small group, but we were mighty. Thank all of you for your dedication to our contributors, readers, and for coming along on this crazy ride. Signing off from a socially acceptable distance, Riley Childers Editor-in-Chief
Dorlis Gott Armentrout Award The Dorlis Gott Arementrout Award honors two written undergraduate submissions each publication. Our guest judge reads these submissions blindly and selects a winner and a runner up.
Volume 32.2 Judge
Paige Lewis is the author of Space Struck (Sarabande Books, 2019). Their poems have appeared in Poetry, American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, Best New Poets 2017, Gulf Coast, The Massachusetts Review, The Georgia Review, The Iowa Review, Poetry Northwest, Ninth Letter, and elsewhere. Paige currently lives and teaches in Indiana and curates the Ours Poetica YouTube Series with the Poetry Foundation.
First Place “Tea Bowl” by Joe Raymond: The “Tea Ceremony” is a highly spiritual and ritualized event. Some potters are considered national treasures for their Chawan, or tea bowl, drawing thousands of dollars for an individual Chawan that must be used to give it value. I find it remarkable that Granite decays to make clay that is elevated to such a high artform.
Runner Up “This Will Hold You Over” by Dallas Havens: This essay was not easy for me to write, as I had no fixed feeling or emotion to express my struggles with mental illness. Although originally written to submit in a class, what ensued was a self-discovery piece. This was also written to submit to friends and family that I so desperately avoided in sharing my struggle with. My hope is that those with similar experiences will read this and recognize they are not alone, and that others may hear the pleas for compassion that are often silent.
Floodgate Poetry Series In the tradition of 18th and 19th century British and American literary annuals and gift books as well as series like the Penguin Modern Poets Series of the late 20th century, the Floodgate Poetry Series: Three Chapbooks by Three Poets in a Single Volume uniquely showcases the work of various poets via the chapbook, an often-overlooked form that captures the essence of a poet’s vision and voice. Each volume publishes an original chapbook by a poet who has yet to publish a full-length collection, a poet who has published three or fewer full-length collections, and a poet who has published four or more fulllength collections. In bringing together collections by three poets in various stages of their careers and work, the Floodgate Poetry Series celebrates the broad range of poetry being written today. The Floodgate Poetry Series was founded and is edited by poet Andrew McFadyen-Ketchum. Floodgate’s first five volumes were published by Upper Rubber Boot Books. The series is now published by Etchings Press of the University of Indianapolis. The chapbook, as a form, is laser focused. It is brief but provides the poet just enough space to meditate on a particular subject or way of versifying experience. The chapbook is small yet powerful, and while the chapbook is as unique and diverse as the poets who make it, the chapbook reflects a vision of the world as it is right now—no matter how the poet is writing or what they are writing about, in the case of Volume 6: the “sudden loss of the wife/mother” (Peter and Nicole Cooley’s Vanishing Point), “the black people that in recent and preceding years have been doused and dismembered” (Dexter Booth’s Rhapsody), and the “fusion of earth, animal, human—a oneness, beautiful, and also damned” (CMarie Fuhrman’s Camped Beneath the Dam). These chapbooks (and any of the chapbooks published over the last five years in the Floodgate Poetry Series) could easily be published on their own, and they would do so powerfully, but in the bringing together of three chapbooks by three poets (sometimes more if the chapbooks are co-written) in various stages of their careers, lives, and work, we create a unified work that celebrates the broad range of poetry being written today while offering a collective vision of our time.
Q: When you decided to become a writer, was there simply an epiphany or was it the result of a longer period of deliberation? CF: I don’t know that one decides to become a writer. I believe that one is or is not a writer. I think that writers cannot not write. And at some point, you just give in to that desire and write. Maybe it starts with a journal or diary. Maybe you start a school newspaper, or maybe, like me at six years old, you start putting together a series of books that describe the nightly adventures of your toothbrush that you have named Tommy. From the beginning, words meant everything to me. I would look for excuses to write. I was and am still a consummate letter writer. I long for and crave written communication. Anytime one writes, for themselves or to/for others, they are a writer. Deciding to make writing a career, well, that was a longer process. I grew from a family who thought that the only way to survive was a degree in the sciences. So, for twenty years, I was an exercise physiologist. During my seven years of schooling in the early 90s to pursue this goal, I snuck in all the writing classes I could while still taking my required classes. I read voraciously and wrote some elaborate answers on test papers that were to be anything but creative. Throughout my career, I still exercised that muscle, but finally, when I was in my early forties, I decided that writing was how I wanted to spend the second half of life. I went back to school for my MFA and was the oldest in my cohort by nearly a decade. So there was deliberation, but the first half of life certainly gave me more to write about than my toothbrush! Q. As the editor of a literary and fine arts magazine, is there any advice you could offer to other publications and/or people looking to submit works to them? CF: I have edited several anthologies and am an editor for two journals. The one mistake I see most often is that writers submit work that they just dashed off. I have read thousands of poems and essays, both by well-known writers and beginning writers and the difference is in the time and attention given them. I recognize it because I am guilty of the same thing! I write a piece and think that it is smart, eloquent, thoughtful, and thought-provoking–then I read it two weeks or two months later, when I have fallen out of love with it, and realize how much work it still needs. Some of my essays and poems have taken weeks, but the best take years. Getting published may seem like what you need to be recognized as a writer, but it isn’t a race. Take your time. Write deep. Show your work to a mentor or writing group. You have to trust me when I tell you that you will know when your essay or poem is singing. Then send it in. You will get rejections. You will get invixvi
tations to send other work in the future. You will get crickets. But if you have used the craft, believe in your work and (this is important) are sending it to a journal or publication that speaks to and about whatever you are writing, you will eventually get that publication. Q. Who has given you the most support in your writing career? CF: I love this question because the minute I thought about the answer, I was in a state of gratitude. To say one person has given me more support than another would be lying because support comes in so many different forms. Some, like my partner Caleb, give support by allowing me to be gone for weeks at a time first to school, now to residencies and teaching. Nights spent watching movies or going for a walk together sometimes turn to nights where I am alone in my writing space and he is left to his own company. My mother supports me in ways that only a mother can. That kind of love is the kind that helps you move mountains, or at least write about them. My sister goes into a bookstore to find my books and yells for everyone to hear, “My sister wrote this!” I have a writing group of five or so friends that read almost everything I write and give me amazing feedback. Luis Urrea sent me a message early in my career that said, “The world needs your words.” I keep that taped to my laptop and his heart close to mine. My mentor, Kim Barnes, has taught me more about the heart of writing and the writer’s heart than I could’ve ever found in any book or class. Her voice is forever in my voice and guiding me in decisions made from format to publishing to how to maneuver through some of the stickier writing situations. Linda Hogan’s books are my compasses for writing true. All my teachers still support and champion my work. As do all my editors. My community inspires me. The land sustains me. And my dogs provide constant company. But most of all, and I hope you will forgive me for sounding too self-indulgent, but it is my belief in my work and the power of words that get me up every morning and puts my butt in the chair and starts tapping the keys. You can have the greatest support system in the world, but if you do not believe in and support yourself in the work you are doing, no matter what that work is, you will not find success or happiness. Q. What advice would you give to an aspiring, possibly struggling writer? CF: In the classrooms where I teach it seems the most powerful thing I can tell students is this: you have a right to your story. You have permission to write. The world, especially now, needs stories and poems and essays to help us understand, to grow empathy, to make us angry, to move us to tears or to action. xvii
You have those stories in you and if you are called to write, you have the duty to do so. You are honor-bound. If you are writing for money, stop. If you are writing for love, stop (though my Match.com profile did land me a wonderful relationship!). If you are writing with love, with honesty, and with a deep fire, keep writing. Trust the craft. Trust your own unique voice. Seek out amazing mentors and books and places that inspire you. Read Stephen Pressfield and Anne Lamott and Stephen King and Annie Dillard and reach for their books on writing when you think you cannot write on. Reach out to friends when you are in the ditch. Be vulnerable and not competitive. Writing life is like life life. Some days are amazing, some days are hard as hell. But the days keep on coming and you were given a gift to fill them with words. Overflow them.
CMarie Fuhrman is co-editor of Native Voices (Tupelo 2019) and has published poetry and nonfiction in multiple journals including High Desert Journal, Yellow Medicine Review, Cutthroat: a Journal of the Arts, Whitefish Review, Broadsided Press, Taos International Journal of Poetry and Art, as well as several anthologies. CMarie is the 2019 recipient of the Grace Paley Fellowship, a 2019 graduate of the University of Idaho’s MFA program, a regular columnist for the Inlander, an editorial team member for Broadsided Press, and Nonfiction editor for High Desert Journal. CMarie resides in the mountains of west-central Idaho. xviii
Nicole R. Cooley
Q:When you decided to become a writer, was there simply an epiphany or was it the result of a longer period of deliberation? NRC: I always deeply loved reading, and my love of books made me want to be a writer when I was a child. My mother read aloud to me and always “did the voices” in the books she read to my sister and me. As a teenager, I was lucky to attend The New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts and study creative writing intensely for three years. By the time I went to college, I knew I wanted to be a writer. And having my father be a poet was a huge help! In our family we also joke that the only possible career for any of us was getting and MFA and working in the arts. Q: What in your life has inspired your writing most? NRC: I am inspired by the world around me and strange, small things. All my life, I have never been able to sit down and write a poem with a capital “P” but if I had a bus ticket, a photograph of my grandmother, and a miniature typewriter from my childhood dollhouse, I would be ready to write. I find inspiration–and the way back to myself–through objects and images around me. And I am always trying to refresh my language. For about ten years, I have been been visiting strange museums–not art museums but museums of odd objects. The Cocktail Museum. The Georgia Rural Telephone Museum. The Carousel Museum. The Clock Museum. These are small and typically empty places run by people who love to talk and show me around. And they are just wonderful ways to change up my vocabulary and my lexicon. I take pages of notes on the histories of wooden horses in carousels for instance, then go home and see if this language can be spun into a poem. And if not at the very least I have learned a bunch of new facts and words! Q: What is your favorite thing/piece from amongst your works? NRC: I think my book BREACH from 2010 (Louisiana State University Press) may be the book I think about the most. It focuses on Hurricane Katrina and its devastation of my native city and my parents’ experience during the storm and the aftermath in New Orleans and on the Gulf Coast. Q: What advice would you give to an aspiring, possibly struggling writer? NRC: Read as much as you can!! I am a voracious and not very discriminating reader. I will read on a kindle app and I will read the back of a cereal box. xix
I love public libraries–they are truly my happy places–and if I ever feel stuck in my writing I turn to books. Also I don’t believe in writer’s block. I had a professor in my MFA program who said, “If you have writer’s block, then lower your standards,” and this has stuck with me for years. I have it written on an index card beside my desk. Because honestly I can always write a bad poem, and if I write a bad poem nothing terrible will happen in the world! Maybe too it will be the poem that leads me to the next poem which won’t be bad.
Nicole Cooley grew up in New Orleans and is the author of six books of poems, most recently Girl after Girl after Girl (Louisiana State University Press 2017) and Of Marriage (Alice James Books 2018). She is the director of the MFA Program in Creative Writing and Literary Translation at Queens College-City University of New York and lives outside of New York City with her family. xx
Q:When you decided to become a writer, was there simply an epiphany or was it the result of a longer period of deliberation? DB: I don’t think I ever decided to become a writer. It was just something I did instinctively as a child, probably as an escape, but definitely as a way of attempting to understand the world. I drew pictures and wrote stories and poems. I was a late reader and very insecure, but once I learned, all I wanted to do was tell stories. I don’t ever remember even considering doing anything else with my life. When I decided to write professionally (whatever that means) it just seemed like the next step after years of workshopping with peers and sharing and exchanging poems with friends. It’s different for everyone, but this just feels like a path that was already laid for me, and I followed it without question. Always trust your body, I guess. Q: Where do you want your talent and hard work to lead you? DB: This year I’ll be graduating from a PhD program in Creative Writing. I’ll be the first person in my family to get a masters’ degree. I’ve published a few books and given many readings and traveled to places I thought I would never see. I teach, which is a great responsibility, but also a joy. I’m very fortunate to be where I am, doing what I’m doing right now, in this moment. I’m not sure how to answer this question because I’m content with where my life has led me so far. I’m open to the journey and wherever it takes me, I just hope I can continue to inspire other people along the way. I guess that’s my answer: I want my talent and hard work to lead to continued inspiration for others. Q: What in your life has inspired your writing most? DB: My family. Both the family (of close friends) I have chosen and the ones I am tied to by blood. Everything I write is for them. But really there’s no single thing. Everything about my life has and continues to inspire me—every hardship, every person that I interact with, every walk, every rainfall. I am most inspired by the very gift of being alive. Q: What advice would you give to an aspiring, possibly struggling writer? DB: I would start with two go-to suggestions: read as much as you can. Write as often as you can. I think these answers are given a lot, but worth repeating. Find the books and writers who inspire you and see who inspires them. Look up interviews and read them. Look at the acknowledgments and notes pages at the end of your favorite books and see what writers mentioned in them xxi
stand out to you. Then I would say take some time to figure out why you write. What are you trying to communicate? How do you want your words to impact people? Why are you using this form to do it, as opposed to, say, sculpting, painting, or singing? Ask yourself what stories you want to read but can’t find? If they don’t exist, write towards them. Make them yourself. There is a story or poem that only you can write. Trust yourself. Your body knows what you need to say. Next, find a community. Go to open mics. Share your work with your friends. There’s this myth that writing is just a person in a room by themselves, but that’s only a fraction of what we do. This doesn’t happen entirely alone. Follow your favorite writers on Twitter and IG. Listen to podcasts— there are the big names like The New Yorker: Poetry but there are many others such as Rachel Zucker’s Commonplace: Conversations with Poets (and Other People) or Tracy K. Smith’s The Slowdown. Don’t forget to go for a walk, when you can. Call a friend. Take a shower. Call your grandmother. Ask them questions about their day, their life. Listen to their stories. Walk a dog. Pet a cat. Most writing doesn’t happen on the page, so you have to remember to live, otherwise what are you writing about anyway?
Dexter L. Booth is the author of Scratching the Ghost (Graywolf Press, 2013), which won the 2012 Cave Canem Poetry Prize. Booth’s poems have been included in the anthologies The Best American Poetry 2015, The Burden of Light: Poems on Illness and Loss, and The Golden Shovel Anthology honoring Gwendolyn Brooks. Booth was a finalist for 2016-2017 COG Poetry Award. He was awarded an artist residency at Yaddo in 2017 and another at The MacDowell Colony in 2018. Booth is currently a Contributing Editor for Waxwing Journal, a Ph.D. candidate and Provost Fellow at the University of Southern California, and a professor in the Ashland University MFA program. xxii
Q; What in your life has inspired your writing most? PC: Reading has inspired my writing most, poetry primarily but also fiction, drama, non- fiction. Q: What does your writing process look like? Do you have a writing routine? PC: I write every morning, as soon as I wake up. One cup of coffee, then I’m writing. Q: What is your favorite thing/piece from amongst your works? PC: My favorite piece of writing is the poem I haven’t written yet. Possibility’s possibilities. Q: Who has given you the most support in your writing career? PC: I have received the most support for my writing from my wife, to whom I as married for fifty-two years. Two years ago she died, but her spirit is still here with me, critic( yes!) and supporter.
Peter Cooley was born and educated in the Midwest and has lived over half of his life in New Orleans, where he was Professor of English and Director of Creative Writing at Tulane University and is now Professor Emeritus. The former Poet Laureate of Louisiana, he received the Marble Faun Award in Poetry and an Atlas Grant from the state of Louisiana. The father of three grown children, he published his tenth book, World Without Finishing, in 2018. xxiii
Floodgate Interview Andrew McFadyen-Ketchum Q: When you decided to become a writer, was there simply an epiphany or was it the result of a longer period of deliberation? AMK: I’ve always been a writer, at least to some degree. I wrote a lot of short stories as a kid and often said that I wanted to write books, but I didn’t really think a lot about how to actually do that or what that life would look like until, at the age of fourteen, I wrote my first poem. I was working as the clean-up boy at a small grocery store called the Produce Place in my neighborhood. One afternoon, while sweeping under the corn bins, a rotted ear wobbled out, coughing up a cloud of fruit flies. Out of nowhere, a line of what seemed to be poetry popped into my head: “What if I were this piece of corn?” It was an absurd moment I’m almost embarrassed to recount but, for whatever reason, I had a flash of inspiration and immediately sat down to write what turned out to be my first poem. It wasn’t much. Just ten lines or so of questions. What if I were this piece of corn? What if I were this pyramid of oranges? What if…? You get the idea. I don’t know if I thought it was very good or not, but writing it felt… GREAT. The fact that I could express myself so concisely…the fact that I could get an idea on the page and share it with someone without a larger narrative (like the fiction I adored)…the POWER I discovered in that first poem was intoxicating. I never looked back. From that day forward, I called myself a poet and wrote poems like a madman. Becoming a writer was a combination of epiphany and lifelong interest in the craft. Q: What is your favorite thing/piece from amongst your works? AMK: Now THAT is a hard question to answer…or to even think about really. I certainly love “Ghost Gear” and “The Word Damn and The Word God” from my first book, Ghost Gear, but I also really like “Visiting Hours” and “Marysarias” from my second book, Visiting Hours (which came out on March 12), and I really enjoyed writing about my experience posing as Trump supporter at a Trump rally in Illinois a year or so ago, and my essay on discovering God through the death of a dear friend is, well, one of the most meaningful pieces of writing I have ever written…so it’s impossible to say, but those are some of the highlights. Here’s what I’ll say: I haven’t published anything I didn’t think was good. Of course, not all of it actually IS good, but I am very selective about what I put out in the world. I feel a great responsibility to my subjects and to my potential readers and to myself. I don’t want to look back and feel that I was fast and loose with my work. xxiv
Q: Is there any unique wisdom or insight into writing that you learned from the variety of your work? AMK: None of your experiences are wasted. I mean, the first poem I wrote was the result of sweeping under a corn bin. Who knew? Inspiration and subject can come from anywhere. To be a writer, you need to be living, not spending all your time writing. Sure, when it’s time to write, WRITE, but you have to live an authentic life to write anything of value. Yes, of course, READ READ READ WRITE WRITE WRITE REVISE REVISE REVISE STUDY STUDY STUDY but don’t forget to go rock climbing, to have children, to stare for hours on end at the stars, to waste your money on lottery tickets, to follow your curiosity take risks, to fall in love, to make mistakes…. That’s where the writing comes from. Q: What advice would you give to an aspiring, possibly struggling writer? AMK:Being a writer sucks. You can’t depend on external validation to keep it up, but you also have to ask for feedback on your writing, thus you have to live in the world of “I’m great no matter what anyone says” and the world of “Help me, I’m a terrible writer” at the same time. Which sucks. This is also freeing once you get used to it. Just keep your head down and write. If you’re super compelled to write a ton right now, create a routine for yourself and stick to it no matter what. When I was in grad school, I wrote every single day from 6 a.m. until I HAD to stop. Some days that meant I wrote all day. Some days that meant I wrote until my 10 a.m. composition course. It added up to a LOT of writing. These days, I write very little because I’m not terribly compelled to write right now. I’m a new father to a 9‑year‑old, a nearly 3‑year‑old, and a 16-month‑old (long story as to how that happened, but I LOVE it!) who just put out a second book of poetry and has a rough draft of a third. I’m busy making a living and raising kids and, well, NOT writing. I do write here and there. Having kids will do that to just about anyone. And I am slowly revising my third book, but I’m just not worried about it right now. I’m following my heart. I’m LIVING. Perhaps that’s the advice I have for you: Live. Follow your heart. That you will never regret. Andrew McFadyen-Ketchum is an author, freelance editor, and ghostwriter. He is author of two poetry collections, Visiting Hours and Ghost Gear, Acquisitions Editor for Upper Rubber Boot Books, Founder and Editor of PoemoftheWeek.com and The Floodgate Poetry Series, and editor of Apocalypse Now: Poems & Prose from the End of Days. Learn more at AndrewMK.com. xxv
Star Wars no doubt started it, with those stormtroopers in their pristine white suits. Since before I could ever remember reading or writing, I have had a fixation with science fiction armor. I would watch the original trilogy and stare in wonder at these soldiers with porcelain torso guards and snow white shoulder plates, their white helmets accented with black marks making a permanent impression that they were looking at something with a face of piercing disappointment. It wasn’t the heroic Luke, or the charming Han Solo, nor the wise Obi-Wan Kenobi that made me think, “Wow. I want to be like them.” No, I wanted to be one of the expendable grunts of Vader’s army, never able to land a shot, and uttering roughly three lines of dialogue in each movie. When a stormtrooper was in a scene, I was glued to the TV, trying desperately to draw them on paper, capture their beauty as they moved, like a photographer shooting pictures of majestic stallions roaming free over rolling hills. My seven-year-old drawing skills were almost certainly nonexistent, so I would ask those I knew to draw them for me. My dad, my aunt, my sister, my babysitter. Whoever was with me at the time, I asked to sketch me a soldier. I wanted to hold a physical manifestation of these figures, no matter if it was two dimensional. Like touching the bones of a saint in one of the European monasteries, I felt something divine. When the prequel trilogy came out, I was hyperactively asking my siblings and father in the car on the way to the theater if they thought we would see the troopers in the movie, ignoring their I-don’t-knows and I’mnot-so-sures. My father was the one who had first shown me Star Wars, the original trilogy being something he loved in his childhood. Although he was happy to see my passion for the movie, I always wondered if he cared about the armor like I did. Much to my disappointment, Episode I: The Phantom Menace contained no stormtroopers. Since it was a prequel movie, I should have seen that coming, but I was too young to have a concept of chronological timelines in cinema. To this day, The Phantom Menace remains my least favourite Star Wars movie. The battle droids just weren’t enough for me and couldn’t get my eyes wide like the troopers could. My mother, a devout Christian (as many mothers tend to be when spoken about in the third person), tried to turn my peculiar infatuation with helmets, breastplates, and armor in general to a more spiritual direction. She bought me a set of the “Armor of God” when we were at a bookstore, the boy in the stock image of the packaging looking just as excited as she hoped I would be. On the nights I stayed with her, and I was feeling particularly frisky about the “outfit” of the week, (the Scout Trooper from Episode VI: Return of the Jedi at the time) mother would divert my fixation to the armor she bought me. Attaching each segment to me, she would re1
cite the corresponding verses from Ephesians regarding the Helmet of Salvation, the Breastplate of Righteousness, the Belt of Truth, and the Shoes of Peace. Then she would take a picture of me, telling me to smile and look proud to be wearing the Armor of God, given a physical form with plastic, touting a cross that almost resembled the one the Templars had emblazoned on their outfits. Although dressing up as a holy knight did excite me to some degree, I felt that it wasn’t enough. I felt a hunger that this religious foreplay did not satiate. My psuedo-fetish, at age six, was furthered when I saw Episode II: Attack of the Clones with my cousin and his parents in theaters. There, I was rewarded with the introduction of the clone troopers in my life. The movie featured backstory development for the origin of the clones and an entire side plot showing how they were humans who experienced advanced aging in order to become soldiers, but I couldn’t care less. If there was a fully clad trooper on screen, I was near rabid with excitement, committing their image to my memory. Episode III: Revenge of the Sith had clones who were different from the ones in Episode II, but I welcomed it. Each planet visited in the movie seemed to have a different trooper design, a different color scheme, and an ever-increasing level of joy in my heart as I watched the center of my childhood life become even more complex and diverse. Once I had Revenge of the Sith on DVD, it was goodbye to my free time. I would watch every scene with these armored angels and try my best, with a little more skill that comes with age, to draw them once more. Still, it was hard enough to complete one of my pinups, and I always ended up hitting play, impatient for another look at the troopers in action. Most children at age nine would consider Halloween to be one the high points in their lives. This was especially true for me, my father having purchased me my first Star Wars costume. I was going show of my outfit, a 501st Legion clone trooper, to all of my friends, family, and the population of the neighborhoods I visited. When I put on that onesie, its fabric covered in a print resembling the soldiers prominent in Revenge of the Sith, and slid on the helmet-shaped mask, I was no longer my former self. I became a soldier for the Galactic Republic. A warrior who would fight and die to support courageous Jedi on the field of battle. Having no friends in elementary school and living deep in the forest where I could never experience the joy of going to a park with the neighborhood kids meant nothing to me. I had assumed what felt like a more important role in life and had to leave my past behind. Grandma took pictures and we rode off into suburbia. My hunt for Reese’s, Kit Kats, and all manner of Wonka brand candy had begun, and I would not take, “And who are you dressed up as, young man?” or “Let me see your smiling face behind that mask and then you can have some candy” for an answer. When the holiday had passed, 2
and the nights resumed where I had to go to bed early for school, I would wait for my parents to go to sleep, and then like a young boy fishing his secret lingerie magazines out from under his pillow, I would quietly pull my costume from the closet and wear it, standing watch silently in my room waiting for any imaginary opposition to try and take my uniform from me, the thrill of being caught causing the hairs on the back of my fabric-covered neck to raise. Star Wars: Battlefront II was my Friday night barhop, at my cousin’s house, fueled by Mountain Dew and Totino’s pizza, eleven years old. In our cooperative offline sessions we went from planet to planet, decimating our computer-controlled enemies. Since the original trilogy maps in the game let you choose to be either stormtroopers or rebels, and the prequel trilogy maps let you be the clones or the droids, I knew that wherever we went I had good prospects. It was never in doubt whether we would win the match or not, so, much of my time was spent becoming immersed in the life of a trooper. I would sneak around in game, crouched, keeping my weapon on safety so as not to be detected (which was utterly useless because a computer AI can’t be hidden from). In my private, interactive camshow for an audience of two, I thought that staying alive was more of a priority than getting kills because I didn’t want to see one of these soldiers fall. In the current installment of Battlefront, which has now become primarily a multiplayer shooter, what team you are on in each match is predetermined before you load in, so I consider that I at least have the opportunity to see myself being defeated by the troopers if I find myself stuck on what my friends and I call the “wrong team,” which will forever be either the droids or the rebellion. Their agreeance with me on the fact that the troopers are always the superior faction, whether founded in humoring me or in their actual beliefs, still tickles my fancy. The options you have for how your clone trooper looks are fairly vast, taking in armor sets from all of what is known as the “Clone Wars” era. The color schemes and armor shape are predetermined, and you cannot change the look or shade of any of the pieces. For this reason, Battlefront feels like choosing a renta-car from a pool of Lamborghinis and Corvettes, lots of beautiful models that give a pleasurable ride, but with no way of adding a personal touch to their image. Characters in armor have always resonated with me on a level similar to how someone resonates with a protagonist who is the same race, religion, or gender as them. When there is a specific trait represented in a main character, a particular group of people tend to project themselves, see themselves as that character. For me, I tend to envision myself as those whose identities are hidden by these space-age apparatuses. Even in other movies and games that aren’t strictly science fiction, Sauron in Lord of the 3
Rings, the titular character of V for Vendetta, or Iron Man himself, I find that I am drawn to them and their appearance more than anyone with a face. I don’t pride myself on being anonymous and untraceable by the government, safe behind my anime avatar in online arguments and protected from being outed as “horny on main” on social media, nor do I aspire to be some dark and brooding iron-clad stranger with a mysteriously enticing backstory. What I do think I connect with isn’t on visuals alone, though. I like the idea that putting on a helmet can make you hard to read in situations. Not many people could tell if you were crying when your face was obscured by a cranium‑covering hunk of metal and darkened glass. I think the feeling of not letting on your emotions through your facial expressions is a safe one for me, since I don’t believe that my smiles or blank stares are very well timed for the most part. Another enticing aspect of characters in armor is that their body language is a primary tool for expressing themselves. If someone in their Sunday best says, “I believe in you,” and simply stares at you and smiles, you would probably feel supported and a little good about yourself. Now imagine, someone donned in enough armor to stop a grenade placing their hand on your shoulder, tilting their helmeted head ever so slightly forward, and saying, “I believe in you.” I know that would give me enough confidence to arm wrestle a bear. Characters in armor (and to a certain degree, bipedal robot characters) have an awe-inspiring presence, and they’re almost automatically stoic regardless of their personal traits. Anyone can be a badass in armor regardless of who you are. Your sexual orientation, your gender identity, your physical appearance, none of this prevents you from having a heroic effect on people. One that says, “Here is a Valkyrie, come to help you vanquish your foes and protect you from harm.” Halo was another window into the world of science fiction for me, and apart from the amazing story and compelling visuals, I was, yet again, enthralled deeper by the armor present in the franchise. Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2 had me laying eyes on Master Chief, the green, fully armored, genetically enhanced super soldier (called “Spartans” in Halo) protagonist. He was easy on the eyes, and his voice was the gravelly perfection of someone who has smoked the correct amount of cigarettes in their life. Chief was iconic, and certainly not boring when it came to checking him out in the cutscenes. He was a “BBW” to me: Bulky Breastplated Warrior. One character trait, running gag, mysterious element, what have you, of Halo was that Chief was never shown without his helmet. It was a popular joke for people to post videos online with “Master Chief NO HELMET” or something of that nature as the title, only for the user to be met with Rick Astly’s one hit wonder “Never Gonna Give You Up” upon clicking the video. Looking back, I feel that Master Chief is simply inalienable from his 4
armor and helmet, and it is what truly cements his character in my mind, heart, and soul. His metallic malachite appearance was merely a jumping off point for Halo 3 and the spinoff game Halo: Reach though. Both the latter games featured armor customization, a feature I personally believe any game with elements of character creation should have. There, I was given the building blocks to create a soldier that I could see myself as. I was in the suit of armor whose color scheme I chose and helmet I matched with shoulder pads and chest plates. Like a god imbued with the spark of creation, I crafted man in my image. Halo took me a step further than Star Wars, in that I was blessed with the technology to create, replacing my need to draw or to bother my more skilled relatives to draw for me. I wanted everything Halo could give me in my teenage years, and with primal lust, I thought about it all the time. In church, at school, at the dinner table. Getting back to the game and just scrolling through the newest helmets or forearm accesories I could preview since I last leveled up was all that was on my mind. From this game I began to find out what specific preferences I had when it came to armor. I was a big fan of large dome-like visors, similar to those of astronauts and deep sea divers helmets. I enjoyed armor that had one large shoulder pad, paired with a smaller one on the opposite arm. A chest plate had to have some attachment to it, whether it was an ammo case, or a patch of camouflage. It was like playing one of those online dress games, it just involved shooting and hand grenades. Armor gained another layer of meaning for me when I was playing Reach. For the first time in my life, I created an original character. I gave a story, a personality, and an appearance to someone I had designed within my own mind. My Spartan was a former pilot who had been shot down by the Covenant (the name of the enemy forces) in the middle of nowhere. He wore the Pilot helmet, which had a large visor, because he preferred being able to see more of his surroundings while wearing it. He had a chest plate equipped with straps, which he used to latch himself to vehicles– in case things got bumpy. He had a massive shoulder pad that he would ram into enemies, walls, doors, or anything that got in his way. None of these things were actually true from a technical standpoint, as the gameplay limitations did not allow a player to have a broader field of view based off of their visor surface area, to decrease the likelihood of being dismounted from a vehicle given their chest plate design, to have a more powerful melee that considered the size of their shoulder pad. No, these aspects of the armor were not actually implementable. There was no function to the form. For me, however, the armor was a fashion that had a function. This still nameless character looked how I would want to look if I were living in the world of Halo. Experiencing a dual identity as myself, the “player” and 5
as myself, the “character,” became the foundation for every roleplaying experience I’ve had since then. Halo taught me how to empathize and see the world, whether fictional or real, from a different perspective. Cars of all brands are constantly treated with almost more respect by people than they would give their own next of kin. Paint jobs, interior cleaning, waxing, modifications to hardware, all done in order for someone to make their vehicle stand out, and to make it louder and more obnoxious. People on their own, in pairs, or groups tend to have a certain subconscious need to compete with those around or one another when it comes to driving what is essentially a tool on wheels. They mock drag race, going from zero to sixty is as few seconds as possible when the red light turns green on a highway, trying to release as many greenhouse gases as possible on their way home from the store. Drivers get upset when their pretty little tin cans get scratches or bumps, and sometimes come to blows regardless of what a standard legal procedure would in the situation. I don’t need the highest damage resistance stat on my chestplate to be in love with it. My visors don’t need to be post-Lysol-cleaning toilet bowl shiny for me to want to show them off. Certainly my helmet doesn’t need to spew environment-poisoning fumes every step I take with it on. These characters are dirty, which makes them sexy, but just as well they are clean, which makes them even better. Showing off how my Spartan looks, appearance akin to a medieval motocross knight, cyan and purple color schemed, stanced like they could suplex a bus, via a screenshot on my phone isn’t going to do as much ozone layer as you do, blasting off after countdown to green light in your 2018 Ford Mustang, Chad. The fact that you played as your Spartan in the campaign for Halo: Reach, instead of the predesigned Master Chief, made me fall in love with the game even more. Watching as the character whose armor I had handpicked perform daring jumps and slit space alien throats made me feel like my interest were being tailored to, and my specific pleasures were being fulfilled. The first-person view gameplay brought me into the moment, brought me closer to each climax. Playing cooperative and competitive games with my friends, seeing how they crafted their Spartans, and being overcome with the feeling that these in-game models really did a good job of representing them, was one of the most wondrous experiences I’ve ever had. I can remember what helmets my friends and I used the most to this day, almost ten years later. One in EVA, the other wearing Gungnir, and me rocking Security. We were the holy trinity of Halo in Franklin, Indiana, and we were all dolled up. Halo: Reach is finally getting a PC release this year, and my money is on us shooting nostalgia straight into our veins as we relive one of the best times of our lives. The aforementioned clone trooper Halloween costume experienced 6
modifications not too long after I had first discovered Halo. 365 days after Trooper Larson roamed the streets, keeping the population safe from ghosts, ghouls, and the looming droid fleets, my father crafted a new set of armor for me. As All Hallow’s Eve closed in that year, he found that it was not an easy task to find a child’s costume for Master Chief in 2006. Not one to be outdone by the challenge of supply and demand, my sheetmetal-worker-turned-blacksmith father began building me the costume of the century. Phase one of the replication process started with printing pictures of the model in question. My father studied the helmet of Master Chief’s Mjolnir Mk V set worn by the Spartan in Halo: Combat Evolved. The first of physical construction yielded one of those near-spherical motorcycle helmets spray painted green. The results were underwhelming to my prepubescent preference, and some tears of frustration were shed as I looked at myself in the mirror, my head wearing an all‑to‑similar object to the green 6 ball. Father, undaunted, pressed on in his studies, mastering a craft he could have never foreseen learning in his life: making something perfect for a pre-teen boy. As he brought home more and more supplies from work and the store, I began to see just a fraction of the dedication he poured into the lives of my sisters and me. My father was like Haphaestus, the blacksmith of the gods. Except dad wasn’t lame, even though he wore sandals with socks sometimes. In a truly innovated use of upcycling, he modified and morphed my clone trooper mask into one that was almost identical to that of Master Chief’s helmet. Strutting into the Creekside Elementary Halloween event with a sleeveless green sweater, a black undershirt, and black sweatpants serving as the rest of my suit, I became the envy of all three nerds in my class. Each student I approached flattered me with “What’s that supposed to be,” and the few who recognized that the hero of Halo was in their presence were truly dwarfed by his magnificence. I wish I could find the pictures from that Halloween, before the time of smartphones or cloud storage. Browsing through the countless metal tackle boxes of developed photos at my father’s house in order to find the physical representation of the memory of that one night would be a pilgrimage through my history with this fascination in and of itself. The holy spirit to my holy trinity of science fiction armor franchises is Destiny. Destiny is a video game series also created by Bungie, responsible for the birth of Halo. In Destiny you can do more than just color your armor and choose you desired equipment. You have to manage the statistics and perks associated with each piece of armor in order to make sure your gameplay experience is tailored to your preference. My love of fashion, armor, and stat-based gameplay had an orgy and subsequently conceived the armor system that just recently released in the current title of the series, Destiny 2. I’m able to wear pieces of armor that appeal to me visually, 7
as well as have stats that resonate with my gameplay style. Choosing from the list of hundreds of shaders, I can change the color of each individual piece of armor from my helmet to my cloak. Each armor piece has slots where modifications can be added, boosting stats or introducing special perks. Here in Destiny, I have a bit more freedom than Halo: Reach. At least that’s what I tell myself most of the time. Destiny has some aspects to its new armor system that released with the Shadowkeep expansion that do not satisfy me like Reach did. Some of the armor sets that have been in Destiny 2 since its release did not get the treatment that the new sets have. I can’t modify my favourite chest plate in the game to have an increased mobility stat, or an ammo finder for revolvers, which leaves me wanting more from Destiny. Since I didn’t have to balance stats in Reach, I feel like it’s the easier relationship, all about looks and no high maintenance needs, but I get a sexy spectrum of color and a more intimate gameplay experience from Destiny. When asked about which game I prefer more, like a high school freshman’s Facebook relationship status, I answer, “It’s complicated.” The array of guns in these games can be just as diverse as the selection of armor, and they can be customized to some degree as well, with Reach being the exception. Destiny allows the color for the guns to be customized with the same palettes as the armor, but I find myself being less concerned with how my weapons look. Those who partake in gun culture, enthralling the United States one mass shooting at a time, might have a similar feeling about their weapons as I do my armor. There is a fundamental difference between my interests and theirs. My obsession, my pastime, my hobby, if perpetuated in this society, would not result in the death of tens of thousands of people each year. Mix and matching virtual armor couldn’t be used as a depressed teenager’s justification for a school shooting. Playing digital dress-up wouldn’t turn a “loving father of 2” into a mass murderer at a concert. My enthusiasm for science fiction armor is similar to many other object fetishizations, but this is an interest that has a hard time leading to violence, to questionable morals, to hate and prejudice. Acquiring a wardrobe in these games is free, and another element of what makes them so appealing to me as a financially unstable young adult. I don’t have to drop thousands of dollars on a new helmet, like so many people do on vehicles meant to get them from one point to another. My mobility upgrades don’t run me the cost of a doctor’s visit like the assault rifles and shotguns NRA members spend ungodly amounts of money on. The in‑game cost of these outfits and color palettes are a small price to pay for looking amazing, and are what keeps me coming back to any game that has the option to allow players like my friends and I to cyber-splurge a little while experimenting with what we consider our “style.” Amassing a large collection of armor is my equivalent to owning a twelve‑car garage 8
or a fully stocked gun cabinet, and why it is valuable is something that is complicated to translate to an audience that isn’t involved with these types of video games or movie franchises. The intrinsic value of my science fiction armor will forever be evolving, as I grow in age and wisdom, I will begin to see other reasons why I hold these digital garments so dear to me. It would be an amazing feat to either create a set of my own replica armor from scratch, or to save enough money to purchase a set for myself, and I would like to consider that engaging in this sort of hobby would be one that causes very little environmental or societal stress to the rest of the world. This fascination has been innate, present in my life since I was a child, since before I could even read or write, and it has followed me through life, dictating what fashion I find most interesting in media, guiding many character creation processes I go through, and frequently giving me a subject to direct any conversations I have with new people in a direction they wouldn’t typically expect with a lens that seems bizarrely obsessed at times. It’s one of those things where people would take note and notice how long I stared at the rigged-out sci‑fi soldiers. I have a feeling for this thing that isn’t what people consider “normal.” Fundamentally, my fixation with this genre’s specific apparel is like a potent fetish, and at the same time a pious veneration. A sanctified and sexual obsessive reverence. I wonder why others don’t seem to care like I do. Why other players make no effort to immerse themselves in a character they created, in a world that is, quite frankly, out of this one. My fashion sense offline may not be the greatest, but online my threads are Gucci. I’ll do a Vogue-like catwalk show at the Tower on The Last City on Earth, but I don’t always flaunt my pajama‑and‑zip-up‑hoodie look in Indianapolis, Indiana. I consider that now, in this day and age, I could dye my hair, get piercings, and use facial cleansers to be acne free, but instead I feel that I would much prefer my visage to be that of a tricked-out human sportscar. Creating, tailoring, and taking care of an in-game avatar with armor is my pedicure, my spa day, how I unwind after a rough shift at work. Don’t take this the wrong way, I still shower regularly. That’s something a video game character can’t do for me. And afterwords, I put on my armor: black jeans, Vaporwave pullover hoodie, Empire-themed flat-billed ball cap. I can’t survive an assault rifle magazine being unloaded into me, nor send a car scraping across the pavement with one kick. I can, however, call 911 when a classmate falls unconscious in the hall, pilot a cart full of fireplaces to their proper place in a warehouse and subsequently lift them into their proper storage spots. I can tell someone, “I believe in you” and only hope my everday armor is enough to inspire them. I would be lying if I said I never prayed to the Lord above to one 9
day have a set of armor as a young boy. Maybe I’ll pray again tonight for a financial windfall or a crafty flood of inspiration that could give me the means to, one day, suit up and become what has always caught my eye since as long as I can remember: to one day step into a convention hall touting a sleek and shiny new set of science fiction metallic regalia, to have an experience that is simultaneously out of body and not. One thing is certain: God, I love a man in uniform.
Journeying For Divine Intervention
Tylyn K. Johnson
Prayer, meditation, reflection, introspection, soul searching, reading, no matter what I take upon my spiritual being, if for no sake other than my own, I find myself singing to the stillness in search of a voice, not so much answers as much as the words of a God, an angel, a demon. The same ones that have been said to speak to those we have called prophets, messiahs, oracles, among other names for the messengers of the above. I seek not to join the annals of history listing such fortunate souls, merely to be able to converse with beings on a plane different from my own, or at least to glean snippets of their wisdom, their gossip, their speech, so that I may escape the listlessness of this echelon of existence, if only to temporarily stroll through the stratum of beings beyond human comprehension. Religion seems to have gone astray of the faith it asks of us in people of this plane, when I would much rather discuss things directly with those of the next plane, be it in the heavens, the netherworld, at the center of everything, or elsewhere, all to develop the character inhabiting this body that I call my own. Once the day comes where I may be granted access to the lives taking space in a world outside of my own, I will continue this illusion of spiritual progress, to keep on singing to the silence encompassing my spirit as this lonely road of sentience is traveled, seeking that which could not be obtained by the ways established by humanity, the species that has sought order from chaos since eternity began, to be relentlessly pursued until kingdom come, as shall the intonation of this melody calling upon the manifestation of holy or evil essence.
I am starved. The ghost of your touch haunts my palms. Your cracking knuckles have deafened me. I resent your sound. Your fingerprints, pressed upon my inkpad, have tattooed my bones in loops and whorls. Your taste lingers on my tongue, and I am left, emaciated, to hunger.
At This Hour
It’s 2:17 in the morning. The blackness of my bedroom, Interrupted only by the melodic blinking of a light, Is suddenly illuminated. Slats of jaundiced wavelengths travel over the walls, Fading out just as quickly as they faded in. Cars and their headlights are by no means an elusive pair, But at this hour? To be fair, Perhaps I shouldn’t be Awake to notice either. At this hour. Alone in the reimposed darkness, I can’t help but Ponder the state Of the vehicle’s driver. Are there dark rings under their eyes, A product of hours That do not allow them to Be with those they love? Have they come from the Sterile whiteness of a modern lazaretto? How many lives have they saved today? How many have they lost? Or are they returning from The house of a lover, a night of infidelity? Do they have an excuse ready? Is tonight the night where it all falls apart? I can no longer sleep. I need to, but I seem to be Racked with guilt By proxy.
This Will Hold You Over
A Small Snack I would come home from school completely famished, ravenously hungry. Did mom really expect my lunch to make it until lunch time? I had a horrible habit of consuming every lunch snack between morning classes or sometimes sneaking a bite or two in class. Hunger is a terrible feeling. I knew I could always count on food when I got home though. So, I just had to push through the last three hours of school on a sandwich or something. My brother and I would almost always end up in the kitchen right after getting home. Instead of raiding the pantry and fridge, our prepared mother always had a snack for us. It wasn’t always elaborate, some cheese, a spoonful of peanut butter, an occasional sandwich my brother and I would split. Upon giving us our snack, my mom’s words were almost always the same, “This will hold you over.” Slightly bitter that I wasn’t getting dinner just then, I would start on homework and be called down for a filling home‑cooked meal later. The snack would always hold me over proving my mother’s intuition never failed. It’s funny how the words of our parents can stick out to us years down the line. Words that are completely out of context but have such weight and meaning in our new adult world. This world presses in at times, holding us down. These are the odd times when we remember the words of our parents, when we need them most.
First Course I definitely have a complicated history with food, but it started in a special place, my Italian family gatherings during Christmas Eve in California. My paternal grandparents, along with my great aunt and uncle, would get their entire families into my auntie Sis’s house in Cottonwood, California. Some of them joked that if you blinked, you’d miss the exit. Arriving there as a kid was sometimes even better than Christmas morning. As the little ones of the family, my cousins, my brother, and I were tasked with what we considered the best task of the cooking: putting the sauce and toppings on the pizza. I now realize this was a ploy to keep us youngsters out from underfoot, all huddled about a yeasty uncooked canvas that some people call pizza crust. It was our art, and we put a lot of effort into it. The ironic thing is that I never remember eating pizza, instead the flavors that linger are my grandma’s clam linguine with homemade tomato sauce, my grandpa’s garlic salad, my auntie Sis’s anise pizzelles, or her biscottis. At an Italian family gathering around twenty of us, eventually thirty after new cousins were born, crammed into every nook and cranny near the kitchen. We were cooking, baking, or preparing food for the biggest feast we would share all year. Then, when I was eleven, my parents, brother, and I moved to Indiana. Oh, how I missed those long drives down the five to my grandparents’ house. There was no warmth in an Indiana December. There was snow, and only four to feed. Holidays lost their excitement, possibly because of my mom’s many “practice” turkeys we had to consume before Thanksgiving. By then, we were tired of this large bird and would settle for a ham she cooked on the special day instead. There were no crowds of family crammed into a small kitchen, there were no nooks and crannies. We were four. We had a spacious, newly built house, open concept with no doors to make things feel bigger. It felt empty, we had less variety since there were fewer to feed. It was traditional food, not the cultured Italian food we got excited about. It was no longer art or fun; it was a chore. And when food, cooking food, becomes a chore, you know you’re in trouble. And I certainly was.
Second Course During my first year out of high school, I escaped into the world of cheap eats, fast food, and free leftovers from church events, parties, or people who didn’t know how to finish their meals at restaurants. This was my attempt to avoid the chore of cooking food, but also served as an escape, an escape from facing myself. It’s a scary thing to confront who you really are, brutally honest knowing that you’ll find all the shit that no one else sees that only you know. This attempt to bypass facing myself was a tragedy that led me to experience discomfort deep in my gut. The empty calories go in, but nothing could satiate the appetite of my soul. I felt empty. I was not growing, I was dying inside, and things had to change. I didn’t know how to change things, but I had to change something. As a young adult, with this on the back burner of my mind, I was in a tough situation for exploring my mental limits, even something like creativity. I was twenty, living in Georgia at a camp and retreat center, with free housing and a monthly income of $400. Now I was not starving by any means. When I got lazy, I could utilize mac and cheese or pizza made in bulk, which we often made for retreats or summer campers. These, however, were just calories. I often got lazy due to a mix of exhaustion and mental fatigue. When I mustered up the energy from those long days, I found myself scrounging around my kitchen for pots and pans that weren’t mine, using simple ingredients that I found convenient. There was no need for knives or cutting boards as fresh fruits and vegetables were too expensive for my budget after my other bills such as online school, insurance, and my phone. I learned to rely on this square baking dish, the kind you would use to make a cake or brownies. It was heavily used, discolored with a sort of baked‑on brown and blackness all around as if it was chiseled out of burnt oil and high heat. It had dents and scrapes, the kind that looks like food was scraped up from the bottom from being charred too many times. I would fill the bottom with rice and water, followed by fish or sometimes chicken. I could not afford spices, but I learned to love dry soup mixes. Basically, I could put the entire flavor intended for four servings of soup into a single serve meal. Tossing it in the oven, I could then retire to the couch and be lazy, unwinding from my day, getting lost in my thoughts until the timer went off. Sometimes, the flavors were bad, and occasionally the rice wasn’t all the way cooked, but I learned to eat my mistakes and those mistakes eventually disappeared. This was a very humble start in cooking, much better, however, than when I tried to scramble eggs in a pan full of olive oil for my dad one morning. It was Father’s Day and as much as my parents cooked, they were always trying to 19
push my brother and me to cook as well. I set an alarm for about 7a.m., my dad would be out of bed by 8 o’clock, but I was going to give him breakfast in bed. My thirteen‑year‑old mind considered this more thoughtful than a gift, cheaper too, since no kid has to buy groceries from his parents. I knew he would want scrambled eggs with two slices of buttered toast. So, after scurrying downstairs I did exactly as my mom had done many times before. I needed olive oil, eggs, and a pan on medium high heat. It is true that my mom had used this method before, but I had not paid any attention to ingredient portions. This is why things turned out very wrong. I heard the bathroom upstairs, so I had to hurry. I threw the bread in the toaster before spreading butter to every edge of each piece. Then I poured olive oil in the pan to cover the bottom of the pan, turned the heat up on the eggs, put them on a plate with the toast, and scrambled upstairs. From cooking shows I knew that it was important to try your food before you serve it, but I did not think of this until I was right next to my parent’s bed and it would be rude to eat his food right in front of him. I thought things would be fine, but then my dad tasted the eggs and said, “What did you do to these? I don’t even know how you can make eggs this rubbery.” I came to find out using too much oil does that to eggs. I could feel like my chest was sinking into itself, as one does when they fail to make something special for someone they love. Failures like this would feed on me, ripping my heart and mind to shreds. I despised cooking as a kid, I just liked the eating and was frustrated by my lack of skill. Still, over time in my tiny two-bedroom apartment above a lodge style cabin, living with three other people, I began to grow an affinity for making something worth eating. After Georgia, I landed back in the suburbs of Indiana living in an apartment. I moved in abruptly, completely disheveled from six weeks on the road with everything I owned in my car. I still had no pots or pans, no knives or cutting boards, what 22-year-old does? Luckily my one roommate had enough of that for both of us. He had an eclectic mix of kitchen tools, many of which I never thought I would ever use: decorative vintage baking dishes, casserole pans with lids, a rice cooker, even a wok. One thing he didn’t have was a small square baking dish which I was used to. The cabinets were full of many tools; the shelves of the pantry and fridge lay bare with the exception of random condiments or canned goods. I still had little money, but I had more than before. I began accumulating some dry spices, odd but exciting ingredients like arborio rice for risotto, and good olive oil. I felt like a mad scientist in a cooking laboratory. I guess that’s a kitchen, but it’s more fun to think of cooking as experimentation. That’s exactly what I did.
Main Course Over the next few years I would frequent the grocery store quite a bit, knowing I might stumble on some new exciting ingredient. I was constantly running across things I wanted to try and, without a plan, would purchase them on the spot. One day in particular I spotted a discounted bag of dark aged miso paste. The package was beautiful with soft greys and a subtle but beautiful red koi fish to add a splash of color. I had not really used Asian ingredients up until that point, but the price seemed low enough and it intrigued me, so I threw it in my cart along with my other items, mainly Italian ingredients. Asian Italian fusion is not something that has been explored and probably for good reason. Needless to say, I had no idea what to do with this miso paste, but it eventually proved to be my gateway ingredient to the east. To this day, I prefer cooking Indian, Thai, Chinese, and Japanese cuisine with my own personal spin on each of them, which I will always credit to that first purchase of miso paste. Eventually, I wound up spending hours in grocery stores, walking the aisles like I was on some sort of scavenger hunt. I didn’t know what I was looking for, but I would know when I found it. The grocery became a sort of sanctuary where I could be around people in public while avoiding crowds. I have never really liked crowds, so I’ve always made attempts to avoid them as much as possible. Grocery stores are basically farmer’s markets without the farmers. You can even purchase your items at a self-checkout to completely avoid any human interaction at all during your entire grocery trip. I engaged in this practice with amazing consistency. I was about to turn 23 when I switched to a completely vegetarian diet which I did because meat frequently disagreed with my stomach. It was also significantly cheaper to shop this way, the ethics of avoiding factory farmed meat was an unintended positive consequence. Those first six months of no meat and no real protein replacement did not suit my active lifestyle very well. A plasma donation employee pointed out that I was losing quite a bit of weight, about twenty pounds over the course of two months. This meant that my already slender build dropped from 155 to 135 pounds, and it was continuing to drop. I justified this loss by stating I was eating a healthier diet consisting mostly of vegetables and some fruits, cooking most of my meals at home, and packing my lunch. My cardio routine was obsessive, running at least four days a week, yoga about five, and my “rest” days were spent doing stretches or going for long meditation walks. Most of this activity occurred in the morning, as I had a rigorous morning routine that began at 4 a.m. This left me with tea and contemplation for an hour, followed by cardio, to which I would return and make a smoothie and pack my lunch. My lunches were almost 21
always the same: some carrots, nuts, yogurt, a veggie burger, and maybe an apple for a mid-morning snack. Sometimes I thought that was even too much though and would cut out the yogurt or the nuts since they were the highest calorie side items. There was never any big tragedy in my life that made me think I had depression at that point. Ever since I was nineteen, I had intuitions about the matter but felt like I somehow had to have that in order for my depression to be justified. I had to have trauma. I had to hit rock bottom at some point. I had to have my life torn apart. But I never had that. I had a bunch of small things that were adding up overtime. I moved schools a lot. I could never really figure out why I seemed to have trouble finding people that understood me. I was pretty lonely, always stuck in my head, questioning all sorts of things. I never dared to verbalize those questions, I let them linger and sort of haunt me. My social skills were particularly underdeveloped. I wasn’t sure how to navigate the social environments I found myself in. Over time certain things became just too exhausting and I gave up hope on many of them. A little hope lost here and a little there eventually led to reckless behavior which continued to grow together with my blindness to it. I drifted further away from people. Friends, family, strangers, I didn’t really desire to communicate much all. I lost my appetite for life. I started to realize that when I hit really low spots, I had no desire to cook. I would binge on snacks for dinner, unfortunately I never kept any unhealthy snacks around at that time. That was probably for the best. In my free time after work or on my days off, I found myself lacking direction. I had no desire to do anything, even going home. So, I would just sit in my car for a while. I began creating excuses to go to the grocery store. I might only need one thing, but I needed to go right then, for fear if I stayed my mind would be overtaken by some sort of darkness of thought. Any grocery store would do, but I ended up at the local Kroger. I grabbed a cart instead of a basket, so as to not fall from the weight of how I felt. With my one item in mind I slowly dragged myself down the aisles with all my thoughts. I wanted something on the shelf to ease my mental discomfort, some flicker of hope or joy. Looking for this, I noticed a bag of Fritos, honey barbecue, the kind that are twisted. I only ever ate these on very rare occasions as a kid, usually traveling somewhere with my family. I remembered those fond memories and threw a bag into my cart. I scanned every aisle with the exception of the produce section. This part of grocery stores exposed me since there aren’t aisles to hide behind. People can simply stand thirty yards away and see the lost hope in my eyes. When there was nowhere else to search, 22
I went to the checkout. Somehow, I kept myself together. I owe that to the convenient self-checkout stands. For some unexplainable reason, I felt a little better after leaving and driving home. I first tried therapy when I was 23. I thought it might make me feel better, not fixing things but getting me through to the next session. Unfortunately, my initial therapy experience caused me to feel further misunderstood and even more of a lost cause. I remember pleading for a diagnosis, some new information that could reveal what was wrong with me. If there was a diagnosis, surely there is a prognosis that would fix things. Weekly, I would return to the grocery three sometimes four times. I stopped seeing that therapist, got a new job, and went back to school at 24. That newness and busyness was helpful for a little while. My mind was focused and occupied, it didn’t take two months and I felt exactly as I had before. I started with a new therapist, which at least appeared to be more helpful than my previous therapy. There was some objective progress, I could pinpoint unhealthy behavior and associate certain triggers. For this I am grateful for further clarity and awareness. I thought this could be the beginning of the end for me. It turns out that I overcommit myself, and as for practices that could help address my depression, I had no time or energy left over for those. Snacks for dinner started to become more regular again. I remember eating an entire bag of honey barbecue Fritos hoping I could use past fond memories for mental sustenance. I would try going to bed early and waking up late. Eight to ten hours was still not enough. I had heard depression was complicated and hard to manage, and I had list of all the things that hadn’t worked for me: time, sleep and fatigue, religion and abandoning religion, meditation and recklessness, relationships and solitude, exercise and sedentary living, travel and domestic life, CBD and marijuana, alcohol and sobriety. I looked in theology, poetry, mysticism, prayer, philosophy, therapy, psychology, pop culture, yoga; I looked anywhere I thought I might stumble upon some answers. There was no answer for me there. Disappointed I broke down to the last thing I was now desperate enough to try, although I avoided this for so long. I went to my doctor, I told him that I needed help. He read me this mental health questionnaire, which he objectively assessed and typed some notes on the screen. I was expecting him to scribble on a tiny piece of paper, but it was a few clicks of a mouse.
Dessert Lexapro. I was told the first few days this tiny pill might have some odd effects, but to continue with it and my body would acclimate. I was 25, and statistically a third of my life was already over according to national averages for white American males. Needless to say, I was hoping this medication was the answer. The very first day taking it I was coming out of my 9 a.m. class as if my day was being filmed from two feet up, and I was seeing everything. I watched myself decline down a flight of stairs, I navigated through the crowd of students, passed through the next door in my path, down more stairs, turn left, at the end of the hall entered my next class, and descended in my chair. I was back again, in my body I mean. I was no longer observing a lifeless mechanism travel somewhere else. I did not like this, but I knew it was only the first day. That experience never happened again, but it was always in the back of my mind. I started to question if my actions were more characteristic of a person or a machine. Periodically returning to the grocery, I started to find I at least felt more human there. Sometimes I would explore the produce section, watching other people gather varieties of fruits and vegetables. I was even capable to checkout at a normal line and spark a small conversation with the clerk. This started to make me feel like things were on the upswing. I’ve always craved intensity when it came to my experiences. When they were sad or unsettling, I wanted those experiences to be fully felt and accepted. Similarly, when they were joyful and exciting, I wanted the most intense experience of that. I feel like this has always helped me embrace my fullest humanity, and I’ve had my fair share of both extremes. The intense sadness that came from my depression had since faded after about a month of medication. So, when I thought things were on the upswing, I was expecting to have some very intense joy, at least sometime soon, even for just a moment. I waited, but the waiting never stopped. For some reason this anticipated joy was inaccessible to me. I eventually gave up. I was in a sort of mental and emotional fatigue, so I conceded, ready to return to my depression. This time something was different, there was no extreme at all. It felt like the absolute saddest mood a person can experience, without it actually being depression. This disturbing realization terrified me, I recognized what was happening, and started evaluating how I wanted to move forward. Do I continue on like this, knowing I will have the extremes of life amputated, a sort of muting and taming of life as I knew it? Or do I stop taking a pill every day and return to my depression with no way to manage it? Taking an inventory of the previous months on medication, I concluded my experiences 24
were inauthentic and I was being cheated out of life experiences I otherwise would have had. I had to stop, knowing that I would be haunted either way, by depression or an unlived life. Depression had become a burdensome demon, but it was familiar. I guess in a sort of way I have always returned to my demons like a lot of people do. I question if people truly change, if they are honestly content with their life, and if they really don’t feel cheated in some way. I think being disingenuous in living is worse than having depression. I could never trade the latter if it meant receiving the former. I’m about to turn 26 and I still struggle with depression. It’s a looming ghost, this mental predator seeking to consume my mind. Sometimes it’s hard to face the fact that, so far, nothing has worked long term. When it gets to be too much, I’ll frequently find myself walking the aisles of a grocery store. Even there, the ghost follows me like a child, hand in its mother’s pocket. It will not leave, on my heels at every turn. I want a solution so badly, although I’m not sure what that is. But I think I’ll know when I find it. Until that time comes, I hear the echo of my mother’s words, “this will hold you over,” at least for a little longer.
All the Married Men I Loved Before Part 1
My sophomore year of college I wasted my youth working for Bookmark Joes & Joe. It didn’t pay well in money and it wasted my time for years it felt like. But I just couldn’t leave. If it was just dead enough I’d sneak to the back and read or keep a book under the counter if I was closing that section alone that night. Holiday season led to less of that. He visited the shop to get his new book of the week and a cup of black coffee. He sat in the comfy sofa loungers sipping and reading for hours in his button‑up. I always hoped he came to see me. When I was working I always saw him. On evenings he wasn’t reading in the lounge, he was typing on his laptop. While stocking books in the new releases section, I always peered over his shoulder. Mostly he was just writing, sometimes online shopping, or just staring at the blank page. Sometimes he’d smell like cigarettes and other times he just smelled fresh. If I was lucky enough he’d come fresh from the shower, and his beautiful thick hair was still damp. “Merry Christmas!” An excited voice called over the intercom, “Come meet jolly Ol’ St. Nick in the children’s book section. Fun and pictures with Santa.” I rolled my eyes at the announcement. The customer and her daughter looked around as if they were looking for Santa himself to jump out from behind me. “I wish he’d just stop that, I’m going to be annoyed before the season is over,” I blurted out. “It’s just my coworker in a suit, I guess I shouldn’t be so annoyed.” He stood behind them in line, started laughing and covering his smile. The little girl in front of me started to tear up. “Wait. Santa isn’t real mommy?” The mother gave me the stink eye as she slammed her books on the counter to check out. I panicked, but just continued scanning her books and gave a forced smile. The man behind her looked at me in confirmation to say, “Oh no— uh, Santa just works here because he loves to read so much.” He saved my ass. I nodded quickly agreeing with the sexy man who was quick with words. When his turn came in line, he smiled and ran his fingers through his obviously dyed dark hair. His gray roots were just beginning to peek out once again. “You’re welcome,” he teased. “I like the new hair, black is you.” His eyes lit up looking at me, so much so I ignored the sterling wedding band. I can’t say I didn’t notice it. I have always been a sucker for what I can’t have. “Thanks, uh.” I stuttered at the sight of his gorgeous smile. “Samuel.” I ignored it when I brushed his hand to give him his receipt. Every week was a new book. Every week was trying to find a tactic to speak with him. 27
Nonchalantly running to the register to make sure I got to check him out and hopefully get to hear his voice. I ignored it when I saw the outline shape of it in his pocket when he asked me to dinner. I ignored it when he forgot to take it off when we were together. Sometimes his ring would get caught in my long hair when he was kissing my neck. He never even mentioned her. But I guess I never asked. Oblivious coworkers had recalled meeting Samuel’s ball and chain. One I’d hoped he was ready to chop off. My coworker Amy, who had more wrinkles than shar pei, confirmed they used to visit the store together. She’d worked there since I was probably ten years old. Amy said she wasn’t the nicest woman and that she had a short chocolate brown bob cut. When I was in his house I saw family photos on the wall, but I never stopped to study her. I honestly didn’t want to know what she looked like. I almost choked on my bread stick at Bennie’s when he said, “I am thinking of telling Diane about us.” When he saw the look on my face he never mentioned Diane again. When I stayed the night that night, I noticed 3‑in‑1 shampoo. I wished it was Diane’s so that for sure all her pretty brown hair would fall out. Then he’d choose me for sure, right? How is it when he scratches my back with those beautiful hands I couldn’t feel it anymore? His excuses and suggested solutions were not enough this time. “I only feel alive when there’s something worth dying for,” he said. I ignored the ring on Sam’s night stand for the last time. After that every cranky woman with a short brown bob became her. I see her everywhere. Sometimes she would be reading Stephen King. Sometimes I mistake her with the plump woman in the yellow shirt with a bob just because I want to feel better. Sometimes this manifestation of a human was reading religious texts and purchasing another Bible. Every woman with fifteen years on me was her and I was jealous of every woman with the short brown bob. He was gone but she was with me forever.
Longing for You from Halfway Mackenzie Hyatt Across the Globe Three-thirty here, eight-thirty there. I lie awake, unable to sleep. I am in my room. You stir into consciousness in an Edinburgh dorm. To be fair, I do not truly know if you are waking or are already awake, but if you are, I imagine that you hope that I am not. I wish I were asleep too, but instead, I lie naked, typing three a.m. thoughts into my cracked screen. I am alone. I miss you. I miss being able to sleep. I miss sneaking barely awake peeks at your face, so close to mine and unobstructed by your glasses. I miss your freckle galaxies, forming infinite constellations across your starry night face. Eat your heart out, Van Gogh. In a borrowed dorm room across the ocean, you relayed to me, via text, your nostalgia for the sound of my resting respiration. Noises, uncontrollable as they are, snores that I had once loathed to the point of Breathe-Rite strips, were now the subject of grief.
Four a.m. here, nine a.m. there. I lie awake, naked and typing, suddenly very aware of the emptiness of my bed. I count down another day to your return.
If I Wrote Him A Letter
It would start by asking how he’s doing, even though I don’t care. He told me he cared and I still don’t know if that was a lie. Maybe it was a magic trick, where things that seem real aren’t. Maybe it was a puddle on a sidewalk on a hot afternoon because it was there once, then where it was wasn’t good enough, so it evaporated, tiny droplets of rejection and personal hell beading on my forehead like barely noticeable sweat. I can feel it in the middle of the night when I start questioning if God is still awake.
Yondu and the Rose
Tylyn K. Johnson
Walking through her home one last time before it fell once and for all, the Queen listened to the echoes of her heels clicking on heavy greystone bricks of the castle so old. She glanced at paintings that stare right back at her, some hateful of her ineptitude that would see them ripped apart, and others pitiful of her, despite knowing that she brought about their fate. Quickly turning her gaze before her once more, the Queen noticed the heirloom blades of her family crossed over the arched entrance into the throne-room of her lifetime. As she walked under the archway, she glided her hands on the walls, remembering how smooth and cold they seemed so long ago, chilling her to the bone. Taking a seat on her throne, she scanned over the place where she had ordered her people to war, where she had witnessed her lover’s brutal slaying, where she had been coronated as a girl. The golden armrests of her seat of power burned to the touch under the eye of the sun. The scent of a rotting corpse wafted through the air, putrid and sickening, with the smell of flowers, driving her half-mad. And she tasted the salt of red on her tongue, and it hurt, but she endured it. She deserved it. After all, it was all her fault. The scene of the king who drew the sword from the stone threatening she who held the blade of the lake, the Queen, was beautifully etched into the mosaic glass of that window behind her throne. Can’t believe that I started there, she thought, suddenly feeling aged beyond all of her years. The water really did keep me young. If only I hadn’t... The Queen rose swiftly, and threw her arm out, as if all of her retainers were still there. No, she sent them all away, exile and death. But no traitors, only her. The Queen could feel a tear in her eye, and brushed it away. It was so quiet, as if the world stopped to mourn one last time, just for the castle, the people, she had failed. The Queen slowly stepped over to her bedroom, the sleeves of her silky sapphire gown dragging alongside the hem of it. As her dress flowed over the bumps of the stone floor, refusing to get caught on rugs of wool, her steps declarations of power within an empty castle, the stronghold that was supposed to keep her citadel safe had fallen. And what did the Queen do when her nation needed her most? The Queen looked on at her own remains that hung in her room, the rope a necklace that cheapened her from the status of royalty she had fought for to that of a mere rebel that had failed to do her duty… To give the damn sword to the man that was supposed to save his civilization.But even in death, she looked beautiful. Her eyes were closed in an eternal sleep, everything about her exuding a blue aura, one that should have been lost when she took the blade and cut him down before warring on her own kind. The Lady of the Lake could only pray that whoever succeeds her would not make the same mistake, even as she stared at her own dead body, waiting for her palace to come down, while she was still strung up. 35
Our Tulips Should Kiss
Putting on my coat, grabbing my keys and purse, rushing out the door. Once outside, stopped by…
no cars zooming no dogs barking no birds chirping
Only silence— like a sleeping babe under a blanket. The hesitant fog fades in and out, revealing glimpses as nature plays hide‑and‑seek...
my breathing slows my heart calms my head stops
Finding a moment of peace.
I am granite. Wind chisels, sun decays. Rain melts, I ascend; greater than indominable stone mountains to my puddles in the mist. I am mud. I commence my journey underground, lingering for eternities. My endless quilted slumber below the sunlight ends. My potter’s hands awaken me, form me, perfect me. My potter shepherds me on my journey to where I’ve forever meant to be. He speaks for me, through me, in that finger space where only he and I can hear. My potter desiccates me, in fire he vitrifies me. I dance under the lashings of two thousand fiery tongues and when I cool, I am dense, purposeful crystal. I am forged of minerals, and rain, and wind, and fire, released from slumber to live ceremoniously. I am Tea Bowl. 39
Chained to My Cathedral
To ride on the worst of days, dogma on the best of days, rapture. Two wheels turning abandoning thoughts. Muted voices canter cherub praise. Devotion to the liturgy penitent legs rise and fall winding cranks. Pursuing silence inside my cathedral walls. Humbled labored breathing devoted heart’s pumping meditation overflows. Turbulent air genuflecting, chanting note-less in the howling, expanding silence of suspended thought. Collapsed Cathedral turns inside to out. The emptiness resurrects. Thought ascends, benediction begins. Clarity, creativity, reasoning, patience risen from empty coffers. My ride restores communion for the soul, therapy for the body, penance for the mind. Until tomorrow’s sacred ride…
Late Night Drives
“Hands on the wheel, ma’am.” There’s a light in her face but, it’s focused on her skin. She doesn’t move, she can barely breathe. Her baby cries in the backseat — scared and probably hungry. She makes the mistake to move — to comfort her child, fire explodes through her chest — she is covered in blue blood. The baby wasn’t caught in the crossfire but now they’re without a mother.
Quiet as the spread of red calling the day awake Quiet as the flutter of a hummingbird’s wings Quiet as the hush from departing parents of their first‑born’s nursery Quiet as the summer breeze through the hanging wet sheets on the line
Quiet is peace
Peace is the morning dawn spreading across the oaken floor Peace is the first robin of spring, chirping in the morning breeze Peace is the reassurance of a parents’ love with the bedtime kiss Peace is the favorite chair with reading a good book
The First Time We Cried Together We sat in your bed and cried. I kicked off the sobbing festivities before you’d returned all because I thought you wouldn’t. I sunk into your frame, nine entire inches closer to the sky than mine, and left soggy, dark gray streaks in your shirt. And I felt your chest quiver where my head had perched, like an earthquake had begun in your ribcage, and I look up to see your telltale reddening nose. And seeing you cry broke me, though not exactly in a bad way, like a piñata or a piggy bank or a geode. Seeing the tears turn your eyelids to glitter and your lashes to spiders’ legs punches harder than you texting me, “I cried today.” And the punch hurts, but it’s a good hurt, like the kind of pain I coyly tell you I like. And I realize that this is a previously uncharted face of your infinite emotional prism that I finally witnessed while turning it in my hands.
Of course, it’s a bittersweet discovery, because I think that it confirms that you’re not a dream, because dreams don’t cry and the current hurt is much worse than a reassuring pinch. I wear your clothes without any underwear, at first because of laziness, but now I realize that I aspire to be only yours.
Forgive me if I sound like I’m whiny I’m not trying to have your first thought of me or your last one be “She’s just crying for attention.” I’m not crying for attention I’m crying because I feel like I have no one. Forgive me if I cling to you want to hear from you just more than once because I’m afraid of losing you anyone, really. Because the transition from high school to college left me friendless the happy double digits I had stopped talking and dropped off of me left me alone deadly alone. It made me wonder was I even worth friendship? No one came back for me so I must be alone. Forgive me if I say “I don’t have any friends.” It’s not because I don’t have any because I don’t notice someone as good as you who is always there loving the art I make as much as I love making it but I just want to hear you say it, look at me, hurt and say “Don’t lie. You do.” because I need a reminder that I’m doing things correctly in your eyes, that I’m not a garbage human being and that I still have you as a friend. Forgive me if I break down again.
Through Another Lens
She Was the Sweetest Poison I Ever Drank
She was the sweetest poison I ever drank, I do not regret her, Even though she killed my liver And made my stomach sink. Intoxicated, Inebriated, On the brink of hatred, I couldn’t stop my heart from beating in anticipation at her words, That flowed so smooth that you couldn’t call them lies. I just lied to myself and said it’s water and I’ll be fine. I tipped over the bottle vertical, Felt my heart go critical, And the poison went easy and warm Like the addiction I told myself I could ignore.
The stars did not collide in the emptiness of space So that you could define her beauty Who are you to question the universe’s creation Billions of years Millions of stars And two collided just to create her She is made of stardust Filled with hopes and dreams She will not be questioned or contained She will not fall victim to your ways She will love herself For she is the stars and the moons She is life– life and creation She is me I am her
Girl With Raven Hair
— My limbs will not carry me today My tousled, occluded heart affray Can’t find her nymphet spirit to dance in my head Crammed full of eulogies and coffins instead Tens upon thousands of blessings she’d pray The chance for one last will be lost one near day Toe top dances, singing face to face: my mother-friend True lighthouse of Grace, from beginning to end Like cobwebs in hail, soul strings will break Leaving only her shell, fist tightly clenched, severed threads she will take Interments
My heart skips and stops while life cleaves her away — My limbs will not carry me today
each has a meaning, is it just the imagination? perhaps the brain working through all one’s worries scientists say one cannot see color in their dreams black white
no gray in between
no color on the wheel
here is a list of dreams I’ve had:
I shot a man Jesus was a lobster A red apple fell from a tree in autumn
all were most definitely
Horn of Plenty
Colors of America Place your right hand over your heart
while your left hand is on your holster.
Should I feel safer knowing you’d protect them if it meant putting a hole in me?
I’ll admit it—I’m scared,
but that won’t stop the words of oppression I wear on my chest where you continue to empty a clip,
—I am already laying on the ground.
Who knew the colors of freedom looked so white? You’ve mentally put chains on my ankles so that I cannot run.
—You’d rather have me crawl.
You’ve verbally put a collar on my throat so that I cannot speak.
—You’d rather I didn’t breathe at all.
You’ve physically marked my body with bruises all over my skin.
—I don’t look good in purples and blues
but who am I to tell you what to do. How can I trust you to love
—when all you do it hurt me?
He is the crusty old customer everyone avoids and everyone has their own story about him. He is nearly eighty years old and walked about as fast as a slug leaving sludge behind him. The visits are regular. Every month he’d complain saying something like, “I only come to this Walmart because it has the lowest frequency of 5g,” after which he cussed out my coworker for having tattoos and piercings. His outfit is what makes him stand out. The cashiers giggle at the “crazy bastard” always visiting our store. Even though in middle school they all believed Marilyn Manson removed one of his ribs so he could suck his own dick. However I was convinced I’ve met the real life Rusty Shackleford. He wouldn’t tell me his name, so Rusty it is. He wore a giant homemade padded aluminum set of armor, including a head protector that made him look like an old mushroom. In the center of his chest he had a Russian flag sewn into the armor. Many of his stories included his home country: Russia. Speaking with him came naturally to me, despite his issues with other alternative‑looking women in the store who he usually spat “You’re going to hell!” He was always nice to me. Maybe I am the only cashier who didn’t snicker at him or make fun of his set of armor. I asked him kindly about it and he told me, “We need to protect ourselves from 5g waves. They’ll hurt us. It killed 300 birds in the Netherlands.” My old neighbor Earle talked to me about 5g. I looked up to the cool 38‑ year‑old hippie artist next door who smoked salvia and preached to me the Earth was flat. He had an enclosed porch for hip smoke sessions where he’d create intense art. Not once did I see him as crazy, in fact, I look up to him. He’s intelligent and seems to always have his facts straight. “It’s not just that the earth is a flat disk” he says, “It is so much more than that.” That’s the problem with these conspiracies: they rabbit hole into one another—it’s all one big scheme. “All the lies play hand in hand, they wouldn’t make sense without the other, that’s why everything seems so crazy to a sheep. They haven’t seen the evidence of lies we’ve been fed. In the beginning it all seems crazy.” Earle explained the sheep to me and how evidently I was one of them. “Like the blue pill in the Matrix?” I asked, and he responded with a nod. Before I knew it, I was watching conspiracy videos late at night, with Earle and my boyfriend sharing a cheap 24 pack of beer. The kind I’d usually have to be paid to drink. My life’s questions changed during this informational meeting. There is less of the “who am I” questions when you realize that there has been a lot of lies that society blindly believes. “Who am I?” became “Am I believing things because that’s what I’ve always been told?” When a corrupt government run by officials associated with Masonic organizations 59
is running a space program there are some flags I want to read in to. Until I was watching a video of our elites mocking a sacrifice of child at a secret ceremony was when I began to think well maybe everything isn’t how it seems. Seeing hidden camera footage of Alex Jones sneaking into Bohemian Grove helped my thought process for understanding the distrust of the elite controlling our government. Now Alex Jones is preaching that frogs are gay, and everyone thinks he is crazy. Hey it’s better than being apart of the Clinton body count for leaking this kind of information. Especially about an event they’re known to regularly go to. The video was long and painful. A hidden camera caught a ceremony of all the richest people in the world in cloaks chanting and watching people prepare for a “mock” sacrifice. As the eerie happenings began, my power grid blew. The whole apartment building became quiet and pitch black. Did our shitty landlord forget to pay the electric for our building again? Sirens started blaring and Earle swung open our front door and pulled us behind. At this moment I could’ve believed anything. Fear took over me, but I still grabbed my piss beer before he dragged us out down the wood steps and onto the gravel driveway. The scariest real thing happening right now was being shown to me and all the power in the area blew out. “It was just a coincidence,” we told ourselves, lighting the candles and sitting in a circle. A crazily running down the steps to see darkness surrounding the whole area not just our complex. The candle lights were all we had for what seemed like forever. Suddenly the power restored and we began to laugh about our minds wandering. Even though the video gave us the intense creeps we decided to make dinner and turn it back on. Again the tension was building and as the sacrifice began. BOOM! Again it was as dark as a dungeon only a few remaining candles were lit from earlier. “I guess we know too much,” I joked with still a weird anxiety inside me. We sat in the dark for a while and tried to relax. “Well, when the power comes on we can switch to a flat earth video,” Earle laughed “It’ll either trigger who ever shut us down or it’ll make them think we’re idiots.” “First off, moon landing is bullshit,” he says. “How many countries have set foot on the moon besides the USA?” None. Russia, Japan, China, the European Space Agency, and India have made visits to the moon but only with probes not humans. How many times has a country accomplished somethin’ so monumental and others not followed in its footsteps? NASA claims that the original footage of the moon landing was taped over or lost. So NASA is telling the public that the biggest milestone for mankind was taped over like an old episode of Friends? “The United Nations use the flat earth map as their logo,” I didn’t believe him at first. Sure enough he wasn’t lying. “And NASA says Photoshop is 60
necessary in photos of the Earth.” I don’t believe that the Earth is flat, but I sure as hell will watch a two hour documentary on why someone else thinks the Earth is flat. Is it kooky conspiracy theorists with a Coors Light and a cigarette believing in this theory exclusively? Or am I becoming one of them? The next time I saw Mr. Shackleford all suited up I was checking out his groceries in lane seven. I asked him about his non-gmo groceries and when he left he gave me a business card. It read: NASA— to be deceived. The stems on flat Earth always link back to NASA being a money laundering scheme. They’re continuing a lie to put money in secret masonic organizations that run the world. When I flipped it over it said, “Never stop asking questions.” “Why are you so nice to me?” I asked him as he was waddling away with his groceries. “Because you’re not brainwashed.”
Eye to Eye
Eye to Eye and toe to toe with my foe I was condemned at birth. Being black and Muslim and to top it off a woman in America making me enemy number ONE. Pushing and grinding to move away from these stereotypes set by propaganda even though you always have someone pushing you Back into a glass box that you have to move around like a mime trying to get out But You never can. Even when you have a big example of a black man who made it. But is still put down and seen as an outcast, even when he’s the face of America the example for all blacks in America The only time you see a black women with success is when she’s twerking and half‑dressed. 2 Not seeing her mind but the body that hold the mind. The holy temple, the holy mecca. But I still have to go eye to eye and toe to toe with this foe. But I’m sorry for being black but I can’t change it now so still accept it we’re accepting gay marriage that just came about but we can’t accept skin color which has been here for centuries. We say we’ve come along way but black people are still being slain in the streets and people just look and say so. Black lives matter vs all lives matter caring more about a monkey more than the poor six‑year‑old boy that fell in a pit. Not even asking is you good is you ok cause I wanted to know! Showing the mindset of people in America black child vs animal. News casters saying “ a year after the formation of the black lives matter movement they still don’t have a clear message.” But answer me this what is unclear about stop killing us? Injustice just because of skin color being killed in a country that we own and built. America would never be without the sacrifice,blood,and tears of black and native Americans. My people and my bloodline die day by day but people just look and say so. But I still have to go toe to toe with this foe. I will stop at nothing to get away from the stereotypes because I will no longer 63
be the victim. I will break free she will not be a statistic. just because she speaks English and Arabic doesn’t mean she should be categorized as a terrorist or a nigga. No! She is free and ready to shine and make a new America that is fine. So I leave you with the words of harmony Asa
Godiva— godiva dark lava cake truffles the basket crinkles as you pass it our hands touch god i wish i hadn’t known you say it’s full of love and all i can think is that you re-gift it out of fear this shit is killing you it clogged the heart you promised belonged to us and us alone and then they told you to cut it out i love your stubbornness but now they tell you they have to cut it out we wait and hope and i get sick because i pray someone with a heart as big as yours gets hit by a truck so sterile men can dissect you will they extract family secrets and that mac n’ cheese recipe you made me when i was sick? said you’d take it to the grave i couldn’t make it for you now even if i tried will the heart they give you sound the same with my ear pressed against it or will you change be young again
will you want to explore once more to find things to love you better? why did i gift you godiva year after year? enabling was so easy when it made you smile that toothy one you saved for us doubt is a terminal infection if you live you won’t need us and if you die i fear the selfishness of blaming myself
I am Q, or q, or que, but never cue, to you I am the fairest of all the fonts in Typeville I am never without a tale and a tail I am now two, but there were once three—grand, harmonious and gentle me I am so beloved; I am almost never alone, pursued by a and I and u especially I am truly unique, don’t you agree?
Artist Statements “This Will Hold You Over” - This essay was not easy for me to write, as I had no fixed feeling or emotion to express my struggles with mental illness. Although originally written to submit in a class, what ensued was a self-discovery piece. This was also written to submit to friends and family that I so desperately avoided in sharing my struggle with. My hope is that those with similar experiences will read this and recognize they are not alone, and that others may hear the pleas for compassion that are often silent. “Suit Up” - This essay was written while in Kip Robisch’s Creative Nonfiction class. It is my longest piece of creative writing, and one of the pieces I have worked on and edited the most. Since the class was so open, it allowed me to explore and explain my fascination with science fiction armor through a new set of writer’s eyes, and with an amazing and inspiring professor pushing me to write a more complex piece in a genre I have never considered liking before. “Blue Pill” - “Blue Pill” was written to inspire normies to do some wacky research into conspiracy theories. I wrote this essay about real people I know that have given me a new view on everything. Hearing what is inside people’s brains and letting them “air it all out” is something I always enjoyed doing. So far it has led me to accept these people and befriend them. I just love listening to something someone is passionate about even if they’re a kooky-conspiracy-nut. “The Married Men I Loved Before Part 1” - This story was a prompt for a last read for a final. I had to fit my reading within five minutes, and I always love a good story ending in heartbreak. “Torn Down” - This piece takes inspiration from the story of the Lady of the Lake in Arthurian mythology, and my idea was to flip it into “what if” she never gave King Arthur the proverbial sword of legend. Playing with mythology is something I enjoy in my prose storytelling, especially because of how malleable our cultural myths and stories have proven to be throughout history. “Eye to Eye” - Every poem I write comes from an event in my life that promoted a learning lesson in my life. I grew up on the south side of Chicago and was raised by a single mother who had to work three jobs to support her three children. I lived a struggled life but it came with privilege as well. I wrote “Eye to Eye” to fight and talk about the stereotypes that I face in American society day by day. 73
“Stardust” - I just want everyone to realize how amazing it is that they exist in the exact moment that they do and that their existence has meaning and purpose. “She Was the Sweetest Poison I Ever Drank” - I wrote “She Was the Sweetest Poison I Ever Drank” as an expression of feelings towards a love interest of mine, that in hindsight, was not the healthiest. “Godiva—” - I wrote this poem with inspiration from a Christmas gift my grandmother gave me, a large basket of chocolate, the day after I found out she was in heart failure. The pacing is intentionally slow to mirror the staggered breaths I took in the moments leading up to and following seeing her, smiling as always, and knowing things would be different. “At This Hour” - “At This Hour” began as a short note I wrote to myself when I woke up in the middle of the night: “2:17 am; cars & yellow headlights; what’re they up to?” “Longing for You from Halfway Across the Globe” - LFYFHATG was written while my then-new partner was on a school trip to Scotland. “Spirits” - Spirits was written while I was pining very hard after someone I’d barely interacted with but had become enamored by. It’s taken on a different meaning in the midst of my current long-distance relationship, going from unrequited love or pining into longing and being without someone. “Journeying for Divine Intervention” - This piece is largely meant to be kind of an internal dialogue about what led me to start away from the spiritual path that many around me are on. Where they find solace and faith and hope and beauty in sacred spaces and prayers, I want to touch divinity in a different way, in a way I’m still figuring out to this day. “The First Time We Cried Together” - TFTWCT was inspired by a very real point in my partner’s and my relationship when we had had the longest continual time together since the start of our long-distance relationship. As very emotional beings, it became very difficult to be apart after getting so used to each other’s company. “Forgive Me” - This poem talks about a character flaw that I have personally where I worry about my friends ignoring and possibly leaving me. This is a fear I’ve had ever since the end of high school, where everyone I was friends with stop talking to me directly after graduation. 74
“Hands on the Wheel” - “Hands on the Wheel” is a poem about a driver that moves, assumed to be reaching for a weapon, and is shot for it. “Colors of America” - “Colors Of America” is about being oppressed as a black person with a constant target on their back. I wrote this two years ago because it was a time in my life where I cared about my skin and the constant judging was a bit overwhelming. Everything scared me from the news to the policemen on campus. “Nature” - In my Poetry class (Eng 370), we were given weekly writing prompts from which this poem was derived. I strive to capture certain emotional moments. In this particular poem, I grasp a moment of peace after a chaotic start to the day. “Quiet/Peace” - In my Poetry class (Eng 370), I lingered on the idea of peace and quiet with different aspects that reminds me, and hopefully the reader, of those beautiful moments as seen in this poem. “Tea Bowl” - The tea ceremony is a highly spiritual and ritualized event. Some potters are considered national treasures for their Chawan, or tea bowl, drawing thousands of dollars for an individual Chawan that must be used to give it value. I find it remarkable that granite decays to make clay that is elevated to such a high artform. “Our Ischemia” - After planning for my Mother’s passing for fifteen months, the day came to order her casket. I needed a cathartic response to my physical symptoms. This is that. “Chained to my Cathedral” - I have bicycled the equivalent of twelve transcontinental trips. Riding is a healthful, meditative, spiritual experience for me. I wish you to share in my experience and understand why it is so much more than exercise to me. “Kju” - “Kju” is a frolic with my favorite letter form. Not only is it an aesthetic joy, but it takes me back to all night scrabble tournaments with my stepmother and siblings. We would rotate out for sleep and then back in again. “Dreams” - This poem was inspired by Robert Campbell’s poem “Jesus for Lobsters”. I wanted it to be a unique perception of dreaming and a different way of formatting for a poem. The formatting and layout gave me a way to express dreaming and creativity.
“Faith” - Faith is something that has always been involved in my life, this poem was a way for me to express and play with the view of religion and faith. I wanted to particularly focus on what religious faith is doing in the world today and how many people struggle with the idea of religion. “Vortex” - This drawing was created as a collage of images I was drawn to in my sophomore Drawing II class. I always want to incorporate bright color, as well as my interest in creatures. Teeth, claws, eyes, and the like are things I like to bring into my artwork. I also have a love for tentacles and swirling forms of mass. It’s mysterious and colorful, two characteristics that are still very present in my work today. “Yondu and the Rose” - This 8.5’’ by 11’’ illustration, created first with watercolor and then brought into Photoshop for color correction and other fixes, was created based on the 2018 Oscar Awards. I choose to depict a fight between two serious competitors: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and Beauty and the Beast. This was done before the awards were given out to show which movie I personally felt should win and being the Marvel fan that I am, chose, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Yondu is quite possibly my favorite character in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, so I chose to make him the conquering competitor, piercing the rose with his whistled arrow, surrounded by the bright colors associated with a scene about Yondu at the end of the movie. His character is a valiant competitor in all forms. “Butterfly Effect” - This print was inspired by Owl butterflies, the Butterfly effect, and the Head and the Heart album, Living Mirage. The butterfly was drawn in pencil and then digitally reimagined as an engraving. The print incorporates layers of imagery that invite the viewer to wonder about the symbolism. Layers of digital textures hopefully instill a sense of depth on the flat 2D surface. “Say Cheese!” - This photo is part of a continuing exercise on surrealism in photography. Inspired by surrealists such as Dora Maar, Phillipe Halsman, and Florence Henri, it also contains my somewhat warped perspective and humor about art. “Horn of Plenty” - Surrealism in photography, and in other art forms, has always interested me, and this piece is an attempt to put my own spin on the genre. The apples are a bit of an homage to my favorite surrealist, RenéMargritte. “Deep Arms” - There is a lot to unpack here. This is a surrealist collage made 76
for a ‘zine full of surreal collages. It is made of photos and art in Photoshop. It contains a background made of a photo I took of Esch Hall, the head of a sculpture by Chloe Raleigh, and a hand‑drawn “sun” while the foreground is a manipulated photo of the arms of Riley Childers and Gagandeep Kaur. My thanks go out to those involved. This is the type of artwork that I hope to pursue more of in the future. “Bike Blur” - This photo was taken in Dublin, Ireland, while I was there for the study abroad program. “Self Made Man” - This piece is part of a larger performance sculpture planned for the end of this semester. “If I wrote him a letter” - “If I wrote him a letter” deals with a past abusive friendship where I refused to acknowledge I was being hurt, even though I knew. I’ve had a few years at this point to reflect and understand that I don’t regret being friends with him. Ultimately, I learned to lean on God and my Christian faith, and I can look back on that time knowing I’m better for having grown and survived. “Yoohoo” - “Yoohoo” [Animation], this piece was one of my more recent loops made for my portfolio. You can actually see it move if you have the Artivive app. “Candy Space” - An initial test of my personal digital painting skill, this is an original character vivisected to show the inhuman nature of her being through the art subgenre known as Candy Gore. This piece was featured in a juried art exhibition and chosen as a judge’s choice price. “Asylum” - This piece was more so a test of my digital painting progress in a portrait for my Significant Other to use online. This was an effort to display my progress of skill as well as an homage to his love of the clown aesthetic, his favorite game, and the horror trope or the asylum. “Elk” - This photo was taken on a bison range in Montana. “The Girl with Raven Hair” - This piece was created using Procreate on the iPad, using a model found on Pinterest as a reference photo. “Unwinding DNA” - Purple Heart, Oak, and Ash Veneers laminated to produce the illusion of three‑dimensional boxes representing alleles attached by weak hydrogen joints along an unzipping double helix. This piece was in77
spired by the process of DNA duplication and Dr. Latham’s passion for the subject as discussed in Human Biological Variation at UIndy. “Tea Bowls” - The life cycle of a tea bowl starts as granite which decays over thousands of years and eventually becomes clay. The potter forms and vitrifies the bowl by fire for use in ceremonial rituals. My photograph is an attempt to capture the nearly infinite life cycle of the tea bowl and it’s relationship with the elements. “Gilded Ladies” - I was very interested in Photoshop collages after a class project, and began to make a lot of my own for fun. What I had done was written a collection of words, and picked one to make something of it. “Gilded Ladies” started as vampires, and then went to ghosts as soon as I found the two ladies in the image and became interested in them, then everything else helped build the scene. I like to leave the story to the viewer in my collage pieces, but if I had to decide one it would be along the lines of a suitor coming to woo a pair of sisters who have very different plans. “Reflective” - This photo was a result of experimentation when photographing portraits. I was interested in the way a traditional portrait could be manipulated through the use of light and water. “Our Tulips Should Kiss” - A photo from April of 2018. This is a portrait of UIndy student Katie Weaver, enjoying over half a million blooming flowers at Indianapolis Museum of Art’s “The Garden.” These two tulips were found on the ground, broken from their stems, allowing us to admire their beauty. “Well Plaid” - A photo from January of 2020. This is a portrait of UIndy student-athlete Nicholas Brady, posing in the middle of Edwards Avenue on a warm winter day. “Through Another Lens” - I enjoy taking photos of people being that every individual is different, experiencing their own story. Through the photos, one is able to see their past. The viewer can connect with my pictures on a personal level. This picture is meaningful to me because the model is my mom. She is my rock when things get rough and celebrates with me when I achieve something great. She let me create an image of her when she was in a vulnerable state. She stepped out of her own comfort zone to support me and my passion.
Contributor Biographies BreAnnah Nunn: is a senior at the University of Indianapolis majoring in English and Creative Writing. She plays video games like it is a sport, she reads like it is a competition, and she is a hopeless romantic. Add some chemical X to that equation and you might have an unstoppable force. Bronwyn Getts: is a sophomore Public Health major with an ethical concentration as well as a Communications minor and Professional Writing minor. Chuck Jones: is a senior at University of Indianapolis, majoring in theatre. He has been involved with every theatre production from University of Indianapolis since his enrollment in the fall of 2016. His goal is to become a director for both the theatre stage and film. He enjoys acting, problem solving, writing, and music. Dallas Havens: is a senior at University of Indianapolis, majoring in Philosophy. He has presented multiple philosophical writings at undergraduate conferences in the past and intends on pursuing an MA in philosophy this upcoming fall. He has an immense appreciation for the arts and enjoys expressing his creativity in writing, painting, ceramics, cooking, and occasional cartoon drawings. He also enjoys traveling and hiking, usually by way of cross-country road trips, stopping at national parks and secluded nature areas along the way. Desiree Raub: A junior at the University of Indianapolis majoring in Art Therapy. Her goal is to one day have her own private practice and maybe one day be able to teach. Grant Boyer: is a Creative Writing major at the University of Indianapolis in his Junior year. He enjoys writing poetry and stories, being in Nerf wars, playing Halo, teh int3rnetz, and using his imagination. He also plays the trombone and plans to write music. Hope Coleman: is a sophomore Creative Writing major with a minor in Studio Art. She hopes to continue growing her creative and technical skills during her time at the University of Indianapolis and pursue a career in editing and publishing after graduation. Jessica Marvel: is a Creative Writing major and Illustration minor at the University of Indianapolis. Her writing talks a lot about mental health and relationships to physical and imaginary beings. She is currently working on 81
a webcomic called “Our Monsters,” which combines her writing on mental health with her anthropomorphic animal art. Joe Raymond: is a self-professed Sophomoric Senior. Six years ago, he decided to return to school at retirement age. He is pursuing revivification (not the one in the Urban Dead dictionary, the other one). He came to UIndy with an eye on the Social Practice Art Master’s program when the Pastoral Music Ministry program at Marian University was dropped (oops). Straddling his Sophomore and Junior years as an Art Major with a concentration in Sculpture and Minor in Creative Writing and as a science transfer student, he is “all over the place”: using art for good, not evil. Kami Spear: is a Pre-Art Therapy/Studio Art major with a concentration in Photography. Kim Owen: is a non-traditional UIndy student, currently attending her third year. She has applied for the PTA program, waiting for the interviewing process in March. She is a Creative Writing major and Professional Writing minor as well as holding an undergraduate certificate in gerontology. She currently lives with her black and white schnauzer, Izzy, and her parents who are completely supportive of her endeavors. She enjoys writing fiction with the hopes of publication in her future. During her free time, she loves to listen to audiobooks while playing games and working on her different craft projects, such as crocheting, quilting, drawing, and diamond art. Larson Hicks: is a Professional Writing and Literary Studies double major. He loves studying language conventions, new and old, near and far. His hobbies are playing video games, board games, tabletop games, card games, and many games in between, as well as watching shows and movies with his UIndy alumni fiancée. Leah Diekhoff: is a junior at UIndy, studying Studio Art with a concentration in painting. Her medium choice in this field has changed from strictly painting to a mixed media style. She is very fond of creating characters out of polymer clay while also painting background scenes for them to live in front of. Materials she uses are: oil, acrylic, polymer clay, fabric, epoxy, wire, wood, and light (strip lights/ etc.). Themes in her art include bright colors contrasting with dark backgrounds. She often creates slightly weird/ creepy/otherworldly scenes lit by the vividness of the color that she uses.
MacKenzie Estrada: is a graduating senior studying Professional Writing. She spends most of her time teaching dance, which has been a part of her life since birth, reading books, and loving on as many animals as possible. While she loves Indiana, she hopes to one one day fulfill her dreams of living out the plot of The Devil Wears Prada and either edit books or work for a fashion magazine in New York City. Mackenzie Hyatt: is a sophomore at UIndy and is double majoring in Creative Writing and Anthropology. Her favorite book is A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini and she in the process of reading Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves. Everything she writes is, in one way or another, dedicated to her partner, Chiara. Maiya Johnson: is a senior at the University of Indianapolis majoring in Professional Writing. She is 21 years old and lives in a Walmart bakery constantly working while studying. She enjoys workshopping her peers’ writing, writing, mental breakdowns, conspiracy theories, and her morning coffee. Her biggest goal is to “just graduate already.” Maya Johnson: is from Indianapolis, Indiana and is a senior at the University of Indianapolis. She will be graduating in May with a BFA in Studio Art with a concentration in Sculpture. In her sculptures, she experiments with the relationships between abstract forms and space. When she graduates, she hopes to continue working as a studio artist in sculpture and also ceramics. Maxine Miles: is a mostly self-taught animator. She began drawing at an early age, learning to draw from the shows she watched and stuck with it for the rest of her life. In high school, she took her first formal art class and from there pursued a Bachelors at UIndy, majoring in Animation. Her goal is to either continue to freelance or to become an in‑house animator for Cartoon Network, Warner Bros., or Dreamworks. Naomi Coleman: is a senior English Professional Writing major at the University of Indianapolis. She is a 20‑year‑old iced coffee addict and she works at a Pet Store and Chipotle, enjoying the perks of free burritos. In her free time she enjoys reading, writing, and watching Tik Toks. After graduation in May, she plans to work in publishing and immerse herself in her love for writing and literature. Nasira Curry: is a sophomore at the University of Indianapolis studying Political Science and International Relations with a minor in Legal Studies. 83
What she wants everyone to get from her writings is understanding and connection to the human struggle and to know that everyone goes through things but as long as you push through and have some support then you can succeed in life. Olivia Williams: is a junior at the University of Indianapolis majoring in English Education with a Creative Writing minor. They are from Lebanon, Indiana, and love reading, writing, watching movies, and creating art. They also love being out in nature, this inspires many of their creations. Playing with format, techniques, and symbolism is what they enjoy most about writing. Pamela Smith: is an 18‑year‑old freshman student at Uindy. She is a Graphic Design major and an Illustration minor, with a concentration in Honors. She was drawn to the aspect of collage through a Photoshop project and soon began to experiment on her own with similar ideas. Though all the works that have been submitted are digital, her first love is pencil‑based illustration. Patrick Handlon: is an Art Education graduate student from Indianapolis. While his main focus is education his favorite classes have been photography and printmaking. He would like to thank professors Sarah Pfhol and Katherine Fries for their continued support of his endeavors. He would also like to thank Jim Vieweigh and Hazel Augustin for all of their help and support. Quinten Stanford: is a junior majoring in Biology and minoring in Photography. He enjoys capturing memories of his friends and family through photography. Randi Frye: is an illustrator, designer, and a 2D animator. She also professes about those practices as an Assistant Professor of Art and Design at the University of Indianapolis. Riley Childers: is a senior Professional Writing major with minors in Creative Writing and Digital Photography. She loves to explore Indiana for possible photo opportunities and hopes to expand her adventures outside of her home state. Savannah Harris: is a junior Creative Writing major at UIndy. She has always been interested in sharing stories with others, mainly focuses on flash and fiction, with poetry recently following. After graduating in 2021, Savan84
nah will pursue her MFA and move forward to write and teach at the college level. As a backup, she’ll float around Good Hall, offering conversation to any student or staff who comes her way. Spencer Douglas: is a junior Music major with a concentration in Technology and Recording, with interests in martial arts, fitness, and writing. Sydney Webb: is a senior at UIndy studying Professional Writing. She enjoys good puns, reading, and sleeping — and kids menus at restaurants if they happen to come with crayons. Tylyn K. Johnson: A community-minded writer from Indianapolis, Tylyn K. Johnson nurtures his passion for writing through the occasional spoken word. His work has appeared in the Parody Poetry Journal, Indiana Voice Journal, and Rigorous, among other spaces. Tylyn is also a social work student at the University of Indianapolis. When he is not writing or spending time with his little brother, he is finding ways to better his community and affect positive change through dialogue about intersectionality. His handle on Instagram, Twitter, and Medium is @TyKyWrites. Victoria Miller: is a junior Studio Art major with a concentration in Photography with a minor is Business Administration. She wants to share her passion with others and show the many ways to capture life though the lens. Victoria is constantly looking for new places and new people to document her growth. She focuses on telling a story with her work and tries to connect with any viewer.
Colophon The cover-page title is set in Teko. The cover-page subtitle, spine, and back page are set in Teko. The title and contributor names are set in Teko. The body text is set in Maiola.
Call for Submissions Etchings Volume 33 Issue 1, Fall 2020 Submissions due at midnight on September 21, 2020 Guidelines for Submission: • All UIndy students, faculty, staff, and alumni are invited to submit. • All accepted undergraduate prose and poetry submissions will be considered for the Dorlis Gott Armentrout Award. • Up to three short stories or creative nonfiction essays, five poems, five visual materials, and five audio files may be submitted. • Artwork must be in a CMYK profile and saved in a .tiff format.Please save at a high resolution (at least 300 ppi) and between 1 to 5 MB. • Poetry and prose should be in Microsoft Word format (.doc, .docx, or .rtf). • Poetry should be single spaced, and prose should be double spaced in a 12-point font. • Audio should be in .mp3 format and scores should be in .pdf, .jpeg, or .png format. • Etchings has a blind submission process. Please do not include any personal identifiers in your submission documents. (This information will be provided to us from Submittable.)
Submit work at etchings.submittable.com. We do not accept email submissions. Please create a free account at submittable.com or sign in using Facebook. For questions, email us at email@example.com. Follow us @uindyetchings on the platforms below:
CONTRIBUTORS BreAnnah Nunn Bronwyn Getts Chuck Jones Dallas Havens Desiree Raub Grant Boyer Hope Coleman Jeffrie Myers Jessica Marvel Joe Raymond Kami Spear Kim Owen Larson Hicks Leah Diekhoff MacKenzie Estrada Mackenzie Hyatt
Maiya Johnson Maya Johnson Maxine Miles Naomi Coleman Nasira Curry Olivia Williams Pamela Smith Patrick Handlon Quinten Stanford Randi Frye Riley Childers Savannah Harris Spencer Douglas Sydney Webb Tylyn K. Johnson Victoria Miller