Volume I, Issue I
The FSView & Florida Flambeauâ€™s literary magazine
Table of Contents 5 6 7 12 14 18 19 21 23 24 26 27 28 29 31 32
An Ode to my Ink | Victoria Drexel El Rio Almendares | Walter Aguilara Tarot Cards and a Twenty-Something | Francis Amiama Samsonite | Francis Amiama Food Map | Lindsay Miller The Hunt | Victoria Drexel On Outgrowing Pepper Trees | Francis Amiama Puppy Dog Tales | J.N. Bordonaba Deeper than Desire | Walter Aguilara On the Shirt Found at the 116th-Street Station | Francis Amiama Dream From the Heart | Alexander Anthony Crows and God | Jonathon Duckworth Tutu Pac | Jonathon Agnelli Flushed | Ryan Pfeffer There Are No Trees on the Tundra | Victoria Drexel Time Flows to the Source | Jonathon Duckworth
Letter From the Editors: Here at the FSView & Florida Flambeau, we seek to inform and provide agency to the students in our community. We pride ourselves on objective and informative coverage of issues and events that impact our readership. This year, we decided to encourage the literary voice of the student community in Tallahassee, which resulted in the FSreview, the FSView & Florida Flambeau’s first-ever literary magazine. Literary magazines have been a long-standing tradition in collegiate communities. They provide an opportunity to showcase a community’s talent and facilitate artistic appreciation. C.S. Lewis once said, “We read to know we are not alone.” Literature is the reflection of humanity, the means for processing our common experiences. Through it, we connect in our shared fears, dreams, and aspirations. As you read some of the talented voices of Tallahasse’s literary community within these pages, we hope you enjoy listening to the stories they tell. You may even find a bit of yourself in them.
Editors of the FSreview, Emily Ostermeyer Ondrej Pazdirek Eric Todoroff
An Ode to my Ink By Victoria Drexel Under the gun at seventeen I remembered my mother’s warning: “You’re too young to understand forever.” My Ink, there are days when we struggle to find symbiosis as the neckline of my favorite dress cuts your gypsy’s profile, or your Florida Orange Blossoms sneak out from under my collared shirt, that I think she may have been right. How can I know if these days will become our norm? If John Donne always speak to me like he did when I was eighteen if I have to stretch shriveled, age spotted skin to answer for whom does the bell toll? If a treble clef above weak ankles will only drive me mad when my ears can no longer hear? What I do know is that stabbed somewhere between the third and fourth layers of my skin you mark me with the most thoughtful of scars so that I can never forget the miles I walked with bruised and bloody feet on the Camino de Santiago, or the stick figure turtles my grandfather drew on his last prayer flag, or even just who I was, when.
El Rio Almendares By Walter Aguilara Conflated with your bare Hips Arbiter of whims: The scar in your thigh Supple Like mangoes in June Running womb-bound, as Crooked river Almendares: from Mountain to City to Ocean, broken and Buried Within matchstick fingers Teasing the thought of you, Into the root of my chest.
Tarot Cards and a TwentySomething By Frances Amiama A woman on the train told me a community college just outside of Boston offers a seminar on how not to be alone. It runs through the winter, when the cold creeps up on single people and convinces them they are missing half of their entire being. When the cold tells them they are not warm enough under the flowered comforter they have had since fourteen; why they are craving duplicate arms and legs to wrap around them. “Feeling this badly is natural,” the cold says. “You are missing so much.” The cold just outside of Boston is always trying to destroy you. The professors hang up posters and try to draw in prospective visitors with the promise of free snacks. Free snacks will always get you. You can shove them in your purse and take them back home with you or eat them while sitting on the roof of an airport parking garage even though you’ve never flown. My mother asked me once what I wanted to do when I got older; I told her I wanted to be a building. I wanted to get taller and tower over downtown and watch other people go on with their lives. Now I’m older and I still want to be the brick building that lies just outside of campus; the one with roof access for late night lovers pretending to care about stars. They do not care about stars. They care about the placement of each other’s hands. They care only about what is moving right then below those stars, like nervous palms and heavy limbs. They let the cold get to them. I have been through twenty-two winters. I remember maybe half of that amount. I hate winter, but I still believe what the cold tells me. So I peel myself away from my queen sized bed and decide to take the woman on the train’s advice. It costs seven dollars to take the express into Lowell. I have an hour to roam around the station until my train leaves. I bump into an old man wearing a rain coat and in between mumbled apologies remember I have forgotten to brush my teeth. I can see him taking note of how badly put together I seem. He smiles. “Don’t worry about it, sweetheart.” He is thanking God for his normal grandchildren.
I bury my train ticket in between the six layers of clothing I put on last night and wonder if the other people in this station can tell I never changed, if they can all sense how lazy I am. I am just trying to figure out how to be a person amongst other people. *** The classroom seemed disheveled, all the tables were pushed to the farthest wall and the chairs circled up. I found out the seminar was an exercise in Social Psychology, they posted three different ads for the same one: how not to be alone, how to stop smoking, and how to read Tarot cards. “Is this a joke? How can you possibly try to teach all of those things? They don’t even have anything to do with each other.” A fidgety tall boy locked his arms across his chest as he protested. We made eye contact on his second sigh and he gestured towards me. “This is just a waste of everyone’s time, right?” “Umm, yeah, I guess, I don’t know.” “What?” “Yeah, yeah this is weird.” I say, raising my voice slightly as the sentence progresses. I am actually concerned about whether or not I am melting into this plastic chair. The man leading the study reminds me of the old man I met in the train station, but not every man with grey hair and oxfords thinks poorly of me, I hope. He is matching people up, giving us groups, there are no free snacks as promised and I am panicking. My hands slide under the seat and grasp the bolts on the underside of each bar; I will unscrew them, distract everyone with the strange breaking chair, and run out of this room. I will take the train back to my one bedroom apartment and make red velvet cupcakes at two o’clock in the morning because I need for my oven to warm all of the places the heater is too nervous to reach. Like the crawl space where he left his father’s books before I donated them and the hard wood panels of the third step where I slept the night he left. I am okay being this way. “Oh wow I love your necklace, is that amber?” A small girl shrouded in intensely colored fabric has made her way over to me. When she motions to my chest, I hear her arm move before I see it, the sound of metal bangles falling over one another. I assume she is one of the tarot students. We’ll call her K. “Yeah, thank you. It most certainly is.” I turn up the corners of my mouth and nod my head a bit. People tend to respond to that. The older woman sitting beside me gets up and moves to the other side of the room to mingle with her group. K replaces her and turns her knees so that they face me. Now that she is beside me, I see the three other people closely surrounding us and realize this is my group. The tall lanky boy from earlier is there, along with a sweater wearing one, while the third is a red haired girl with light eyes. Her body is turned towards the tall one and she is laughing loudly about a story he hasn’t finished telling her. She pulls on her scarf as she laughs; the floral pattern tangling with her hair like overgrown weeds behind a Sunday school. She was the girl that went to church for the boys, who thanked God for the soft carpet in the choir room that saved her knees from the rug burn. 8
They introduce themselves, the tall one as M, the other as S, and the girl as L. We all have to fill out surveys, declaring which seminar we came for, our reactions to certain hypothetical situations, and share our responses with our group. Once we are finished, we will receive twenty dollars for our time and a lollipop. I think they are setting me up to hate psychology and those who study it for the rest of my life. As we go around, the other members of my group shrug off the questions and joke about the dramatic family members in the intervention question. I smile and wait for my turn. K is the only one that came for the tarot reading, while the rest are smokers trying to quit. Except for L. She explains how her mother talked her into coming and that she has no intention of quitting until she is at least twenty six. “That’s when I’ll get married. That’s when I’ll have to consult another person about what I breathe in, you know?” she tells us. When they get to me, I lie about my reason for being there and claim to be a social smoker. How am I supposed to openly admit I actually paid attention to a flyer asking for lonely people? They all believe me and we stack our surveys neatly on the table closest to us. I feel just as badly as before except now I am clutching a strawberry lollipop on the walk back to the train station. “Hey, wait up! Where are you going?” M and K are skip running towards me. I see the rest of the group lagging behind, the tobacco cloud they carry with them reaches me first and I breathe it in like I am used to it. In between panting, K manages to speak, “we’re all going to head over to a party on Third Street. You should come along!” She smiles at me breathlessly and I look down at my hands. “I don’t know. It’s getting late and I have to take the train back in to the city.” “No no no. You will come to the party with us and we’ll all get a cab. L and I live off Waverly.” M says. “I mean, I don’t know, I have a paper, and I have to feed my cat.” “Come on, it’ll be fun. If it’s not, we’ll call an asteroid to Earth via Twitter.” It is the first time S has spoken directly to me and his face stays stuck in a smirk. Boys that smirk are the most dangerous, but I am sold on both ideas. *** I am lying in a stranger’s driveway. I have lost my jacket somewhere inside of this house and I need something to fend off the cold. The wine obviously didn’t. Or the mixed drinks. Or the liquor I found under the kitchen sink. I haven’t seen the kids from the seminar in what feels like two hours. In actuality, it has been more like fifteen minutes but time is moving very strangely at this point. “Jesus turned water into wine, and I turned wine into more time to be lost in someone’s house. I am practically the less accomplished sister of Jesus.” I roll over onto my side and yell it at no one in particular. The neighbor’s dog looks at me from behind his picket fence and paces. At least someone is concerned. I apologize out loud to my very Catholic mother who is twelve hundred miles 9
away because what’s distance to a drunken person? Just time and that I have an abundance of. I stay there for a bit and scrape my palms with the twigs littering the driveway. I arrange them into patterns, then break them, then push them into straight lines. I just want to make something pretty and ruin it. I wait for the ground to stop moving so quickly and place my palms on the concrete while I straighten my bent knees. I have never been more aware of the Earth’s rotation than I am right now. I take big steps on the upwards slope of the driveway and stumble towards the front door. M and L are leaning against the side of the house, pushing their faces towards each other. Seeing them makes me wonder whether we’ve really discovered the correct type of gravity; the way L’s mouth is falling into M’s neck, it has to be planetary interference. Humans can’t fall into each other this way by themselves. I lower myself down to all fours and crawl up the three brick steps. When I get to the double doors, I revert back to sitting and lean my back up against the dimly lit wall of the front porch. “Hey, I’ve been looking for you everywhere. Is it time to call the aliens?” S makes his way towards me from the front yard. I can only see the outline of his body, but his voice crawls into the hollows of my ears. He drops his pack of Blacks by my leg and sits down next to me. I don’t want anything to do with this boy after tonight. He is just so warm. I shift my body to face him and put his cigarettes on the window ledge above me. They keep sliding off and falling back in between us. “The other type of gravity messes up everything.” I tell him, as I slide the pack away from us. He is staring at me intently, with bad intentions I know, but I am too. We are both equally invested in how attracted and unfamiliar we are to one another. He turns his body the same way, like we are children, playing cards on our front porch. Wrapping my legs around his, I try to coexist with both forms of gravity. He moves his hand slowly over the small of my back while I write words on his chest. I put my arms under his shoulders and grab the collar of his sweater and pull. Not hard enough to hurt him, just hard enough for him to remember that I am there. “You are so warm.” I keep telling him, over and over again while he laughs about the strange things I am saying. We are so close now, I can’t even distinguish our respective sides, halves, and I don’t think he can hear the cold like I can. If he could, he would know I only needed him for his warmth and not his conversation. He grabs my outer thighs with his hands and presses his palms into my skin, I will bruise there, I bruise much too easily. He picks at the rips in my tights and asks if they came that way. “No, boys like you break them” “Why don’t you get new ones?” “How else will I remember their names?” I guide his hands to each one and mouth the name of each boy as he feels them. He pushes my face into his and I laugh with how close I am to a stranger.
When we are done, I motion to his cigarettes, “we can share, I only have one.” he says. I watch him pull it from the pack and see all of the empty space that surrounds it. I cry at the sight of a lonely cigarette. When he realizes, he pulls me in closer and apologizes. “I’m sorry; I thought you were okay with this.” “Why carry an entire pack around for just one? Why not just slide it behind your ear? Let it mingle with your skin.” My face is streaked with wet eyeliner, like war paint. I am half crying half laughing at how weird this must be for him. So I smile and tell him “I am allergic to honest intentions. I am allergic to boys that stay.” We stay there on the porch; I stand in the winter of his cigarette smoke and thank God for the cold. I call for a cab and he offers to pay, I let him and shake his hand as I slide onto the nineties leather of the backseat. As he tries to calculate the fee with the driver, I glance over towards the house and see K twirling around the living room of the house, barely missing the Christmas tree and the beers of onlookers. S reaches into the car and hands me my phone. “Let me know that you got home okay, alright?” he says. I nod and nudge the seat of the driver with my knee. I have been wearing the same clothes for almost two days now. I still haven’t found my jacket and it is probably lost forever. We need to stop associating being alone with our proximity to others. I need to stop associating not being alone with my proximity to others.
Samsonite By Frances Amiama
My mother left full suitcases in the hallways of our home. The tallest, dark green, felt like a twenty something soldier waiting outside of my bedroom, for me to get older or for the war to be over. I left him blankets some nights, hand sewn and so worn, like the felt on the bottom of abandoned chess pieces. My mother would grab for that suitcase like a runaway swing. Leave the hangers she would tell me. Her Hispaniola hips swinging along with my bag, scraping the sides of that hallwayâ€” the walls so much warmer now, with the heat they dug out of their stomachs, pulled through their throats, and shaped into Spanish swearing and praying and left over Catholic school shaming. I still cry at the sight of rosaries. When we sold the house in old Harlem, the new owners ran their hands along the indents they found outside of every bedroom door. They tore up the floors while they still loved each other, put up wallpaper and had children, locked their luggage sets in closets to mingle with my parentsâ€™ dust.
Food Map By Lindsay Miller Mile 37: Hardee’s made from Scratch Biscuits Freshly baked daily. Made from ScratchTM buttermilk biscuit. “Welcome to Hardee’s. May I take your order?” Cold air blows in over Grandma’s cracked window. “Yes. I’ll have a coffee and what kinda biscuits d’ya’ll have?” I look through my own window, stifling a yawn from my 5:00 A.M. awakening. It is comforting to know that the sun also rises as I watch the golden pink streaks color the bottom rim of sky. They slowly simmer, traveling upward through the clouds like the brewing steam of a witch’s cauldron. “Sausage, egg, bacon…” The speaker box rattles on, naming the various delicacies of breakfast sandwich. “Just give me two plain biscuits. You want anything?” I shake my head from side to side, because I can still taste the gravelly cereal I ate earlier. “All right.” Grandma turns the steering wheel, pulling around to the pick-up window as she trades a few dollar bills for warm coffee and biscuits. “Hold on a minute. I’ve got some change.” Opening the console between our seats, Grandma retrieves her royal blue coin purse. After sifting through the silver and gold coins, she takes out just enough to pay the exact amount of the bill. “Have a nice day,” the drive-thru attendant smiles. Grandma rolls her window up, pulling into a parking spot. “That coffee sure is mighty hot.” Reaching into the back seat, she grabs one of the miniature Dasani bottles from the cooler. “Anytime your coffee’s too hot, just pour some water in it.” I nod as if I am heeding Grandma’s advice, even though I don’t drink coffee. Grandma follows her own advice, using an infinitesimally small red straw to stir the mild mixture of fire and ice into a room temperature liquid. “And that’ll fix it.” Grandma places the lid back on the coffee cup, as we finally pull onto the main road again. “Are you all right?” Grandma wonders, denoting my subtle silence. “Just get me to Waxhaw,” I exhale, already worrying that it will take longer than originally planned to reach my Aunt and Uncle’s North Carolina home. She chuckles; I am delighted to hear that even her laughter sounds Southern. Her giggling continues as she replies, “We’ll be there before you know it.” The funny thing is, we’re still in Florida. Mile 189: Monster Java Energy Drink WARNING Consume Responsibly: Limit 3 cans per day. Not recommended for children, 14
pregnant women or people sensitive to caffeine. “I need to get me one of them,” Grandma opens the door to the beverage cooler, reaching in to grab two Mean Bean Energy Drinks. I step off to the side, feeling a sudden chill creep up my spine once I pass by the last of the refrigerated beverages. I walk past an aisle of Chocolate Moon Pies and Snickers bars, feeling anything but hungry as I head for the door. The sun is reaching for the center of the sky now, which is light years ahead of the distant shadow cast over the “Welcome to Georgia” sign we saw a few hours ago. Climbing into the car, I begin to realize that our expected 2:30 P.M. arrival might take a little longer than that. Despite our 6 A.M. departure, Grandma has taken to driving 15 MPH below the speed limit. Now I’m a firm believer in arriving alive, but when the maximum speed limit is 70 MPH, I’m not driving 55 MPH. However, Grandma will travel no other way and the method is proving problematic! In fact, a platinum blonde nearly rammed us into next week with her red Corvette about fifty miles back. “I don’t know why they make these things with all the coffee at the bottom.” I turn to the side, watching Grandma shake one of the Java drinks in her right hand and steer with the left. “Grandma, I don’t think you’re supposed to –” “There we go!” She sets the can down on her knee, now that she has finished shaking it like a Polaroid picture. The light turns red as we roll to a stop. Before I can do anything to stop her, Grandma pops the top, pushing the aluminum tab downward. My mouth opens wide as the mocha-mixed concoction shoots to the ceiling like a geyser blew off. Grandma sits in pure shock, while I search for napkins to dry her off. The steering wheel is glazed over with coffee foam and the ceiling is damp with dark liquid. The remnants begin to settle down just as the light turns green. “Well, at least that went well,” I let out a crooked smile as our laughter carries us to the next intersection. Grandma turns right, taking us down a deserted two-lane road. “Well wait a minute now. This don’t look right.” I unfold the map in my lap, tracing an unpolished fingernail across the great state of Georgia. “I think you were supposed to go straight back there,” I chime in. “No, I was supposed to turn left.” Grandma pulls into a vacant lot, turning the car around as we head back the way we came. Before we can get lost any further, Grandma turns left, pulling into the gas station we passed at the last intersection. Inside, there are a plethora of maps to guide our way and I am thoroughly relieved. Grandma grabs one from the stand by the door and goes to the front counter to pay for it. Meanwhile, I head to the back in search of the ladies’ room. Grandma is waiting for me by the front door when I am done, so I pick up the pace, hurrying to the car in an attempt to make better timing. With a new map in my lap, I search for our current route of travel. “Charleston?” I sigh, puzzled. “What’s wrong?” Grandma cranks the car, looking over her shoulder as she backs out of the 15
parking spot. “This is a map of South Carolina,” I dully state. “Oh…” Back inside the store, I quickly rush to the maps, grabbing the first Georgia pamphlet I can find. Grandma walks to the front counter, where an overly unenthusiastic lady waits. “Excuse me. I was just in here and I grabbed the wrong map. You see, I need to get one for Georgia, but I accidentally grabbed the one for –” The cashier interrupts Grandma with the slight of her hand before she can continue. “Just switch ‘em.” “Oh, okay, so I can just –” “Yep!” Her bottom lip pops the final /p/ with an especially careless air. I shrug my shoulders, following Grandma as she puts the old map back. We get back in the car, as I focus to find our destination on the new map. “We’re supposed to go straight, not to the left,” I realize, relieved as we make it through another intersection. Grandma grabs another Monster energy drink – her last one to be exact – and thankfully refrains from shaking it up this time. When curiosity gets the better of me, I look at the empty can, reading the information on the back label. In big, bold letters I see the following: DO NOT SHAKE BEFORE OPENING. Mile 383: Zaxby’s Kickin’ Chicken Sandwich Meal Includes: Chicken Fingerz, Ranch and Tongue TORCH Sauce on Texas Toast, served with Crinkle Fries and a 22 oz. beverage “I’m dreamin’ of a White Christmas,” Grandma sings along with the Elvis Presley CD I brought with me. The case sits on the dashboard, allowing the street lights to illuminate the recently cracked exterior. It’s only October, but our day of accidents could use some holiday cheer. Grandma pulls into the Zaxby’s parking lot as I clap my hands together. We rush inside, avoiding the brisk chill of air. I tilt my head back and search the menu, ordering the first thing I see. “And for you ma’am?” The brown-eyed-boy asks. Grandma has a finger to her chin, tilting her glasses upward as her blue eyes search through all the options. “Now, your Kickin’ Chicken Sandwich. That comes with sauce?” “Yes’m.” “Yeah, I don’t want that.” Grandma presses a hand over her blond bangs. “I don’t want the sauce. I want the Kickin’ Chicken Sandwich without the sauce. I want no sauce. No sauce on the Kickin’ Chicken Sandwich.” What Grandma is trying to politely tell this young fellow is that if there is a button that says No Sauce for the Kickin’ Chicken Sandwich, he better hit it! “Yes ma’am. I got that. No sauce. Will that be for here or to go?” 16
I step up to the register, “It’s to go.” “Well wait a minute now,” Grandma pipes up. “Do you have onion rings?” “Yes ma’am.” “Okay.” Grandma has her hand to her neck, still deep in thought as she continues to study the menu above. “I want an order of onion rings. You know, they don’t give you as many onion rings as they do for an order of fries. You maybe only get about half, but it’s worth it!” “Yes ma’am,” the boy laughs, as we exchange an awkward glance. I search for a rock to crawl under, but since there isn’t one in sight, I settle for a chair instead. “And what is that?” Grandma’s face leans forward as she squints her eyes. “Fried mushrooms? Mmm… that sounds good. I’ll have an order of them and some fried pickles too. I didn’t know ya’ll had fried pickles now!” Grandma looks over her shoulder at me with a Southern smile, reminiscent of Paula Deen. Mile 475: Welch’s 100% Grape Juice Made with Welch’s Own North American Concord Grapes, No Sugar Added + 2 Servings of Fruit! The full moon shines through my window as I try to keep from yawning so much. We have been in the car for nearly thirteen hours and my patience is beginning to grow thin. The sudden thirst in my throat compels me to reach in the back for a bottle of anything from the cooler. I get a bottle of apple juice and rifle to the bottom to grab the grape juice Grandma is asking for. “Let me tell you what now. This stuff is good for you, honey. It’s got that resveratrol in it. It’ll stain your clothes, but it’s good for your heart.” I laugh, knowing that no one else in the family could have survived the trip but me. When we finally reach the town of Waxhaw, North Carolina, I am surprised by the quaint little village. Everything is quietly peaceful, and for the first time I understand why my aunt moved up here. Once we pull into the driveway and step into her house, I am overcome with a sense of calm, accomplishment even. The new little baby is kicking in her crib by the monstrous fireplace. I slowly walk over to her, realizing that my newest cousin is in the middle of an irregular sleeping pattern. Kneeling down beside her, I watch as Grandma enters the room, greeting the family as I just have. She sets the grape juice bottle on the table beside the crib, waking the baby up in the process. As soon as she sees her grandmother’s blue eyes, the newborn girl moves her hands to the ceiling. “I didn’t think ya’ll were ever gonna get here,” my aunt laughs, giving me a hug. “Do you want anything? Are you hungry?” “No,” I shake my head from side to side, turning my gaze back to her daughter. “She’s beautiful.” When the house is quiet, in the dead of night, I visit my little cousin, telling her about grape juice and chicken and biscuits. Her eyelids flutter back and forth while I whisper ever so quietly. Still, I am convinced that she will remember every word I say. 17
The Hunt By Victoria Drexel An Arctic wind swims through cotton grass like an umiak moving down river, stirring soggy tundra tea leaves below, leaving the lethargic smell of labrador in the air as we trudge through boggy paths not shown on maps. Falling paces behind, I know that here I am the protected, and that about me my teacher is wary, but the shots from his gun arenâ€™t as loud as I expected and fresh death isnâ€™t as scary as I imagined. The hook of his sharpened uloo opens the lean bodies with the rip of a new zipper. Fingers folded at middle knuckles, I take my silent queue and plunge a paw shaped fist between skin and muscle. The midnight sun circles in the blue sky and here two dead caribou lie.
On Outgrowing Peppertrees By Frances Amiama I When you walk into the field just behind your house with the neighborâ€™s children, keep quiet. Walk slowly. Find the burnt out body of a car and mourn for its side view mirrors, found whole by the older boys and their wooden baseball bats. Avert your eyes, avoid staring at the plastic bag in the passenger seat, breaking down around the naked bodies of sad eyed women, a twelve month subscription to Playboy, this is where you will come to keep your ghosts. II They will implement new policies to try to teach you that distance traveled on school buses will build up your bones, like milk in plastic cartons. So when you walk up to the Puerto-Rican boy who backhanded a girl you sat behind every day for a year. You will hit him
his skin accept yours like it was waiting for this. You will hit him because he is your size and has restless hands like your father. III In your cluttered kitchen, you will wait for spices to settle into meat, you will hold knives between faintly nicotine stained fingers. You will take comfort in knowing that you rent a house smaller than its backyard. When you wander out the back door and stumble into the small cave of pines, you do not let these trees poke your sides like before, but watch as they entangle themselves on the dark inked patterns of your arms.
without hurting your small tendons. You will hit him and feel
Puppy Dog Tales By J.N. Bordonaba In Spain, there’s the story of the scorned woman. “The scorched wife,” my mother said as she casually spun the tale at the sewing machine. I listened to her around the tinny theme of the Mexican variety show she was watching and the grating of the machine. The scorned woman sought revenge from her cheating husband by hitting him where it would hurt the most. She’d find him at his mistress’ home, at his job on the docks, at the cafe where he ate lunch every day, and she’d call his name, confess her love, profess her anger- anything to bring his attention to her oil-soaked clothing before she set herself alight. “I think the idea was that she’d burn herself into his memory,” my mother chuckled. I was reminded of the tale as I watched a documentary on witches being burned at the stake, and how being burned alive is the one experience more painful to endure than childbirth. It’s incredible, the things they’ll show on TV at three in the morning. I was alone in the living room. Vita was asleep in her crib upstairs. The dog lay sprawled on the floor. Nels wasn’t home. At midnight, I’d declared that if he wasn’t home by three, I’d be angry. At one, I opened the liquor cabinet. At two, I fished out the pack of cigarettes I kept stashed in the basement. Now it was three, and Nels wasn’t home. Where he was, I couldn’t be sure. He could be with a girl in Jamaica. Getting drunk and into fights in Flushing. At a crackhouse in Bayside. If he’d gone to Brooklyn, as I suspected he had, he’d undoubtedly be doing it all. I remember the last time we went to Brooklyn. I was pregnant, and the smell of the ocean and hotdogs and the swarms of people on the boardwalk at Coney Island made me sick and vomit on the beach. I was feeling sick now; could feel the anger bubbling in my stomach. The burn of the smoke in my throat as I dragged on the cigarette met up with the burn rising up my ribs. It was a shame to let the smoke seep out of my nostrils every few seconds. This needed to be bottled. But since it couldn’t, I’d have to make do. I walked over to the parlor. I remember my delight when I discovered I’d be living in a house big enough to have a “parlor”. Nels’ parents had gladly given us the deed when they discovered that he had finally found a woman crazy enough to marry him. On our honeymoon, I moved from a
compact apartment in the projects to a sprawling house, with a parlor and a backyard and a treehouse, and the only price I’d have to pay was a lifetime with Nels. At the time, it seemed like a fair trade. The parlor was in Nels’ room. Inside it were all of his knick knacks and unfinished projects. His drum set sat in the corner, his guitars next to that, his incredible and dated vinyl collection, his record player. His sports memorabilia sat in another corner, and my eyes skimmed over the box of trophies and the assortment of medals before I found the framed team portraits. There was Nels, front and center in all of them, an Adonis of hopes and dreams. In the center of the room lay Nels’ latest project- a crib for Vita. She already had a crib, an expensive crib, yet Nels was adamant on building one of his own. He came home one day with planks of rotting wood and started hammering away. “What, you’re a carpenter now, Nelson?” I asked, yelling over Vita’s cries in my arms. “Do you have any idea what you’re doing?” He avoided looking at me, instead keeping on with the aimless hammering and sawing before he finally answered, “I’m making a crib. I’m making a new crib for my Vita.” The smoke finally sifted through my nostrils as I walked through the parlor. Each drag was longer than the last, and I let the smoke billow from my lips and onto Nels’ belongings. A huff on the record player. A puff on the trophies. It was nearly four in the morning and Nels wasn’t home. Ashes littered the carpet. My anger was visceral now. I wanted Nels to smell it. In the basement lay all of the memorabilia of Nels’ childhood. In the bowels of the basement lay old toys belonging to Nels and his brothers, boxes of moldy clothes. The Christmas decorations were in there somewhere, as well as a canister of gasoline. Little green army men littered the floor of the parlor. I’d brought up a box and began going through it, keeping the toys I thought Vita would like and flinging the others on the floor. Action figures and boxing gloves would be alright for my Vita, but I’d buy her new ones. Most of the toys in the box were worn and battered. Boys could be so aggressive and uncaring. Some of the gas splashed onto my robe. I splashed a bit on everything, but poured most of it onto the crib. I imagined it would burn the easiest. I flung the empty canister at the knight in another neglected corner. It was a suit of armor that Nels had gotten God knows where. He’d come home one day not long after the wedding with a beautiful smile on his face and eyes unnaturally at ease. “Come help me bring this in, baby,” he told me. His hands were bloody from the rust and sharp edges. I closed my eyes to the smell of gasoline burning. There wasn’t a crackling of woods burning as much as there was an explosion, a loud whoosh as the parlor became a fancy furnace. It was five in the morning. I was alone in the living room. Vita was asleep in her crib upstairs. The dog lay sprawled on the floor. Nels wasn’t home.
Deeper than Desire By Walter Aguilera Your lips were meant to be red.
dusk dripping onto bare stone
eyes cold with combustion of want - of need
breathing your flesh through teeth of nostrils
addicted? addicted. Wholly Holy Hypothalamus
Your lips were meant to be red.
the scent of red permeates and inundates drunk-with melted-you
- like when I joyfully painted (with the phlegm smeared napkin) my face, desiring affection, welcoming illness to receive motherâ€™s touch; fuzzy like ember to frostbite but not you brighter than The Luminary Clock and even further away
were meant to be red. 23
On the Shirt Found at the 116th Street Station By Frances Amiama A man threw himself to the ankles of a downtown A-train today, with his wife three blocks away in their rent-controlled apartment. They have lived there for twelve years. That trainâ€” its walls another woman, a second skin to hold him while he drank his coffee the entire forty blocks to the office. Somewhere there is a train touching rails and black tie fibers over and over again.
Dream from the Heart By Alexander Anthony Earth, and water, and falling leaves, surround the well-kept wooden eaves, of a cabin hidden in wooded vale, where Summer dawns cool and snow falls pale. River runs shallow, with waters fast, over rock, through fields, past sunlight cast, by setting sun, which daily dips, beyond distant, shadowed, mountain tips. The star-filled sky, at night, does shine, above the branches of towering pine, which sway, and dance, and nightly bend, in the chilly breeze of the Northern wind. Within the cabin, a hearth of stone, who riverâ€™s touch once had known, now gathered high, about a small pyre, of moss and sticks, the eveningâ€™s fire. Before the flames, a couch there stands, on it, a couple, holding hands. Outside the valley, the world still turns, but within these walls, the fire burns. The flames envelope, the flames define, both falling leaf and creeping vine. The flowing river and stoic earth, all summed up in that chimneyed hearth. The wooded vale, a private retreat, wrapped up so snugly, all nice and neat, not yet a place, but a state of mind, a dream from my heart, one day to find.
Crows and God By Jonathan Duckworth A crow lands on my porch, looks at me, and tilts its head. I could feed it orange slices or corn, but it will be lucky if I throw coffee grounds. I lean on the porch railing and stare up at patches of gray sky poking through gaps in black magnolia leaves, and ask whoeverâ€™s listening: are you getting older too?
Tutu Pac By Victoria Drexel The shots don’t pop, One. Two. They’re more like a thud, like a fist hitting a punching bag. I quickly stand but wet bogs of melting permafrost cling to my already soaked sneakers as I struggle to keep up with Levi, bouncing from tussock to tussock. Instead of gracefully gliding across the tundra as my native friend does, I take one step forward and fall face first into the cold black water. Spitting out bits of lichen, I pick myself back up and take the useless sneakers off. The cold water numbs my feet red but at least I can find some traction. I carry the shoes in either hand and begin a slow, careful march. By the time I catch up both caribou are dead and Levi’s cutting the bull open. “Cut from ass to neck.” He tells my grimaced face. The ripping skin sounds like a new zipper. He moves to the female, unzips her and then silently motions to me with his oversized knife. “What?” I ask a little afraid that I may become more than a spectator. “You know how to skin it?” In my whole middleclass, suburban life I’ve passed all the markers I was expected to pass to become what other middleclass suburbanites call a “normal young adult.” I played little league soccer, I was in the Christmas pageant, I broke an arm, I learned to ride a bike, learned to drive a car, kissed a boy, crashed a car, missed a plane, been heartbroken, been drunk, moved away from home, but I’ve never been asked “know how to skin it?” “No.” I finally answer, still stupidly holding the wet sneakers. Levi holds up his free hand and folds his thumb and fingers in at the middle knuckles. “Like a bear paw.” He says, typically native in his sparing use of words. He reaches into the flank of the bull, separating skin from muscle with his paw shaped hand and pulling it free with the other, knife dramatically held between his teeth. “Got it?” He asks, taking the knife from his mouth. He asks like it’s so simple, like my entire life experience hasn’t taught me to be revolted by the idea of ripping an animal apart. I can feel him watching me. “Gotta get it back to the truck before it gets stink.” He warns. I realize that my moral dilemma is Levi’s family’s quickly rotting dinner and I force myself to set aside my cul-de-sac fears. Dropping the sneakers, I take a step closer, feeling the spongy ground with my bare feet through the stinging cold. I grab a chunk of furry skin from the stomach and make a bear paw with my hand. Plunging my paw shaped hand under the skin of the caribou I feel its warmth crawl up my arm to my elbow. Fur flies in the air, dancing in the wind around me as I flip the body over and begin to skin the other side. 28
Flushed By Ryan Pfeffer
It’s sometime in the morning when I hear a key go in a lock. I haven’t seen anyone for a long time. A week ago some older ladies came in the room to clean, but they didn’t stay long. I hear the door open, and I can make out three voices. “Alright, this isn’t so bad,” a woman says. “I think we will have enough room for all your clothes.” A couple minutes later a boy pops his head in my door and looks around. He’s young, with long dark hair that falls down his forehead and stops just above his eyes. I think his name is Brian. That’s the name I keep hearing the woman say. There’s an older man in the room too, but he doesn’t say much. Only, “Yup,” every few minutes. The woman asks Brian how it looks in there, and he says, “It’s good.” That makes me happy. After a while Brian says goodbye to the man and woman. The woman is crying a lot, and I can’t understand her. The man still doesn’t say much. That day three more came. All boys. A tall skinny one named Matt; he lives with Brian. A short quiet one who wears glasses and never said his name. And a very fat one named David. David was sweating a lot when I saw him. I’m not looking forward to David. They weren’t as happy with me as Brian was. David said I sucked. That night Brian came in and laid down a mat in front of me. It looked like a big blue rectangle and had two white stripes that cut through the center. I like it. Nothing really happened for a while. Matt gets up very early and is always saying he hates his “eighty yams.” I don’t know what those are, or why he has so many, but Matt really doesn’t like them. I still don’t know the name of glasses, and David is with me a lot. David is really dirty. I wish I saw less of David. Brian comes in every day at the same time. He brushes his teeth while he’s in the shower. I think that’s really smart. More people should do that. I wish David would shower more. One night I hear a lot of people in Brian’s room. I think there are four guys, and I can’t tell how many girls. Their voices all sound the same. David comes in to my room four times and presses his ear against the door. He finally goes in Brian’s room, and everyone gets quiet. Five minutes later he leaves. They get louder and louder until there is a knock on the door. Then everyone whispers. “Hide it under the bed. Get in there,” I hear Brian say. 29
The door opens and a girl hurries in. She kneels down next to me. Her skirt is very short. I hear Brian open the door and he talks with someone about noise, and too many people for five minutes, then the door closes. Brian comes into my room and takes the girl’s hand as he leads her out. I can see her underwear. Later that night they come back, Brian and purple underwear. Not long after they come in, purple underwear swings my door open and hugs me. Brian is right behind her. He holds her hair and rubs her back. I don’t know how I feel about this girl, but she’s better than David. I hope she takes David’s place. I see a lot of her over the next few months. Her and Brian talk and she comes into my room sometimes. She hasn’t hugged me since though, which is good, because I think Brian likes her, and I don’t want to make Brian mad. Glasses hugged me, but it wasn’t late at night like purple underwear, it was early in the morning. I think he had something called the flu. I still don’t know his name. Matt and Brian have become friends. They laugh a lot, and talk about David. They don’t like David. They say he steals their Easy Mac, and uses all the toilet paper. He does. Soon everyone starts throwing all their stuff into big bags, and I know what comes next. I’ve seen it happen over and over again. Matt takes his shampoo and toothbrush, and David forgets to takes his lotion. He has a big bottle, bigger than I’ve ever seen. Glasses leaves first. Then Matt says goodbye to Brian. No one says goodbye to David. The woman and the man who were with Brian the first day are back. I recognize their voices. The woman sounds really happy; the man still doesn’t say much. “Go check one last time to make sure you didn’t forget anything,” the woman says. My door opens and Brian comes in. I see the man and the woman for the first time. Purple underwear is standing next to them; she looks sad. Brian looks around my room, checking behind the shower curtain and in the cabinet. As he leaves he turns around and looks down at me. Purple underwear walks up to him. “Ready?” She says. “Remember the first night we met?” Brian says as he points to me. “Shut up.” Purple underwear hits him and walks away. Brian smiles as he looks at me, and then closes the door. I’ll miss Brian. I liked Brian.
There Are No Trees on the Tundra By Victoria Drexel
The kids are bear-protection enough. Their squeals would scare away a kaaktuq mother. I’m more scared of the bear spray bouncing against my hip, like loaded napalm, on this windy day. At least the stinging wind is keeping the hungry mosquitoes away, though it blows the rotting smell of dead ugrik from the beach, like a cloud of wet, oily leather. The kids don’t even notice. The girls wade through boggy permafrost in battered hand-me-down rubber boots, grabbing blueberries with each reach of their delicate brown hands. The unripe cranberries, too red to resist but still to bitter to eat, tempt them, hidden under soggy lichen. They hoard the last warty, golden ukpiks of the summer in the pockets of their dirty pink sweaters. The boys hop from tussock to tussock as gracefully as migrating tutupac, on stepping stones as reliable as a field of marshmallows. I watch as they play cops and robbers with pieces of driftwood they’ve hauled up from the shore, because they know there’s no trees on the tundra. 31
Time Flows to the Source By Jonathan Duckworth Once upon a time, you will have dreamed of losing your left shoe to a riverâ€™s hunger; watching it plunge into that torrent deeper than the stagnant pond in which you will on day drown. The shoe returns if you wait for the moon faces to inhale their glow, and one after another quench their fires in the silver runoff of all mornings that were, and all the dawns that will ever be.
J.N. Bordonaba is a senior at FSU focusing on communications as well as editing, writing, and media. She spends much of her time at FSU's radio station V89 where she DJs as well as acts as assignments editor. When sheâ€™s not studying or at the radio station, sheâ€™s normally chasing her dog, writing short stories or watching as many films as she can to beef up her movie buff brain.
Walter Aguilera Valdes is a rapidly deteriorating bag of meat and bones with somewhat of an expertise on bodily functions like breathing, blinking and sneezing. Quite the standard according to his frankly biased opinion, but in reality he is an orthodox paradox, stuck between worlds of identities, cultures and ideals. Unfortunately, he still thinks about consciousness and what it means to be the human animal.
Frances Amiama is a sophomore creative writing major at Florida State University. She is originally from Tampa, Fla., but enjoys the trees in Tallahassee far more. Her work has also appeared in The Kudzu Review.
Ryan Pfeffer is a 22-year-old senior attending Florida State University, and majoring in editing, writing, and media. As an artist, Ryan struggles daily with eternal questions like love, death, existence and what to have for lunch. If you make eye contact with Ryan Pfeffer, he is 90 percent sure that you are internally mocking his haircut.
Jonathan Louis Duckworth is a 21-year-old creative writing student who lives in Northwest Florida. He enjoys wandering the remnant wildernesses of his home state in search of the next great image, drawing maps of fictional places, and listening to international folk music. He has been writing fiction since early elementary, but only began writing poetry in the summer of 2012. His short story Writ in Sand won the 2012 Fall Kudzu Review fiction contest, and is due to be published in the Review's spring print issue. He is working on a magical realist novel formed from linked stories bridged by poems, and is also currently applying for graduate school to further his studies of narrative craft. His greatest influences are Gabriel Garcia-Marquez, James A. Wright and Jean Toomer. 33
Victoria M. Drexel is a creative writing senior at FSU who aspires to be a travel writer. She has explored Europe, the Continental U.S., and northwest Alaska and is constantly looking for new adventures.
Alexander Z. Anthony is a sophomore at the Florida State University double majoring in creative writing and media /communication studies. He is a fan of Victorian and pastoral poetry and enjoys historical fiction. And boneless buffalo wings
Lindsay Miller was born and raised in Tallahassee, Fla. and graduated valedictorian at North Florida Christian High School in 2010. She is currently a junior, creative writing major at FSU. She aspires to become a published novelist and singer-songwriter upon graduation in the Spring of 2014.
MANDEM is the art-name for Maize Arendsee. Maize is a multifocal scholar and artist; she graduated with a masterâ€™s degree from the FSU Program in Interdisciplnary Humanities (with a focus on critical theory and gender studies) before transitioning to the MFA studio art program. Fittingly, much of her work deals with transmutation and evolution, with a special interest in the metamorphic moments of life where everything changes, and the stories of multivalent, multi-textured, variegated things. As a self-taught artist, MANDEM achieved an extensive art publication and exhibit list; she now looks forward to expanding her artistic repertoire and exploring new media and methods available in the highly multimedia environment of FSU's art department. Visit MANDEM online at MythpunkArt.com.