Volume 26, Number 1 Fall 2011
Table of Contents Poetry
Editors-in-Chief Carrie Crow Katie Demeria
Poetry Editors Sarah Schall Connor Smith
Associate Editor Arielle Kahn
Webmaster Brian Croarkin
Layout Editor Arielle Kahn
Editor of Non-Sequitur Marisa Sprowls
Prose Editor Brian Croarkin James Beardsley
Manager of Silly Voices Connor Smith
Art Editors Ashley Brykman Christina Paladeau
Staff Libby Addison Katherine Arcement Maddy Benjamin Samantha Farkas Madeline Grimm Jenny Lee
Ghost Editor Ricky Lu
Boysenberry Ink Dear Dr. Gardner We Sleep in the Back of Vans The Dance In Leo’s Luncheonette Hollow In Defense Silly Band Significance The Tempest Poetry.com 34th Street The Gull Red & Green: A Therapy Session
Samantha Roth Danielle Weber Jake Jose Michelle Repper Robin Crigler Connor Smith Kyla Ainsworth Abby Gomulkiewicz Danielle Weber Shelly Holder Coleen Herbert Jill McLaughlin Neil Kennovin
5 10 11 13 14 30 31 35 36 37 40 47 50
30 Hours in Taipei Ballerina, 1956 Hereditary Your Favorite Things Before Flight The Princess and the Seven Suitors The Tail of Herschel Van Ratt
Connor Smith Elizabeth Wallace Shelly Holder Samantha Roth Elizabeth Perry Andrew McCartney Carrie Crow
4 6 12 17 32 38 42
The Morning Boutique Building in Barcelona Collapse Úlfhéðinn Evolution of Existence Paradise Found Abandoned POP Sky Fields Dis-be-leaf Origins Light Diorama Disambiguation Infusion Bridesmaid After the Wedding Eixample District, Barcelona The Layers of Perfection
Erin Spencer Jenny Lee Marika Reed Anikó Tóth Anikó Tóth Anikó Tóth Erin Spencer Mallory Bell Katie Ikeler Marika Reed Anikó Tóth Marika Reed Katie Ikeler Marika Reed Connor Smith Jenny Lee Anikó Tóth
4 11 12 16 21 22 23 24 26 27 28 29 31 34 38 41 46
Art Jill McLaughlin Scott O’Neil Elizabeth Perry Vanessa Remmers Henry Ware Dana Wood
Hours in Taipei
By Connor Smith
In the night, the lights bore fluorescent shadows into the barrels of fish-for-sale. They swim. They swim like me, fighting the human current in the veins of this boisterous market. The airport and plane ride have all been domesticated, standardized, and expunged of meaning. But, exhaled into the night, among the loud purposeful crowds, the knockoffs, the vendors’ beckoning calls, and the child peddlers, the world reasserts its singularity. Soon, I’ll be inhaled again.
My mother took her nightcap with boysenberry liqueur. (It all started when her lover had her heart attack.) I stand in the doorway. I wait to hear the click and whir of needles punching through skin Black thoughts drift out on the painful tide like so much rotting wood. My father used to tell me there is beauty in dying things. My other mother used to say that was bullshit. It’s hot in my memories but cold in this parlor where I shiver like butterflies caught in winter frost. I wear my body armor with my mother’s chink Gonna get my tattoo done in boysenberry ink.
The Morning Erin Spencer 4
Henri Guiscard clicked shut the balcony door, interrupting a breeze that tasted of autumn and baked bread. The murmuring of Rue des Boulangers, just enough to be noticeable, disappeared behind the glass. Henri pulled on his overcoat, squinting at the sky. It was bright out, despite the thick clouds and Paris’s thin, cobblestoned streets. Perhaps he should bring an umbrella. “Are you coming, Historien?” Louis, who lived beneath him, asked from the hall. Louis always referred to him by his old nickname, though Henri had retired from La Sorbonne over ten years ago. “If we don’t hurry, all the best fruit will be sold.” “Yes, yes, coming.” Henri’s shaky fingers fumbled over the coat’s buttons. They’d given him such trouble lately. Probably because of the weather—his joints always hurt a little on cloudy days. He moved to the hall, half-buttoned. Not cold enough to continue struggling, he locked the door to join Louis. “Élise is roasting chicken. Red apples and white onions, three each, she said. You better remember, because I
By Elizabeth Wallace
never do.” Louis adjusted his collar before opening the door to the street. “To the Jardin du Luxembourg? It may rain, though.” “No, today let’s go to the Jardin des Plantes. It’s closer and I didn’t bring an umbrella. Besides, I’d like to visit the bouquinistes afterward. Claude said he found a good selection of records not far from Pont de Sully yesterday.” They bought produce for Louis’s wife before their customary Sunday espresso. Few people were out at nine, when they sat under the red café awning. By ten, fashionably dressed mothers appeared along Rue Linné, migrating southeast— the direction of the garden—with their strollers. Henri and Louis ambled behind them, quietly discussing the weather and the old records Henri collected. They parted when they reached the Seine. Henri found the bouquiniste Claude had recommended closer to the Pont de la Tournelle than the Pont de Sully. He passed stall after stall of used books and old newspapers before coming across the overflowing stand. Art Nouveau prints hung from under the green wood, while
crates of postcards, records, and magazines littered the sidewalk. The statue of St. Genevieve towered over the mess from her perch on the bridge, mimicked oddly by the shop’s only worker, a hardfaced woman with short hair. “Can I help you?” she asked when he approached. “I’m just looking. A friend told me you have an impressive collection.” He hoped she was a fellow collector. Someone who understood the simple joy of placing a needle on vinyl and hearing the pop and crackle which had accompanied him since childhood. It was the sound of the sleepless night before he taught his first class in French history, when he was twenty-seven and terrified of talking before a hundred students roughly his age. It sat in the room during his first dance with Marie, two years before they were married, and it patiently waited for him to drive back from her funeral five years ago. He’d always come back to the masters—Chopin, Mozart, Debussy—whose sweetness and complexity never failed to sound fresh, springlike. “Yes, we just received a new shipment. We’ve set out classical, rock, and pop but haven’t sorted the jazz yet. If you’d like to see it, I could get it for you.” “No, this is fine. I prefer classical.” To his disappointment, her face remained the indifferent mask of professionalism. She went to help other customers. He rummaged through the boxed, hodgepodge collection. He found five copies of Gaston Litaize on the organ, the 1982 live recording of the Berlin Philharmonic playing Mahler’s Symphony No. 9, and—he could hardly believe his luck—Jean Micault, the famous pianist, playing Chopin. He pulled the Mi-
cault record from its sleeve, inspecting it for scratches. “Excuse me, could I just—” interrupted Henri’s thoughts. A young man, clean cut, gestured to Henri’s side, at a box stuffed with faded postcards. Henri shuffled to make room. The man shifted his messenger bag to his other shoulder. He nimbly flipped through the postcards, as if searching for something, while Henri resumed his methodical examination of the record selection. Henri pulled an unfamiliar Beethoven sonata, performed by someone he didn’t recognize. Out of curiosity, he tucked it under his arm. He’d buy it and the Micault, for sure. As long as the Beethoven was reasonably priced. “How much are these?” asked the man next to Henri. He held out two postcards to the worker, who peered closely at the written side. Henri glimpsed the pictures—a village, probably somewhere along the Mediterranean. Behind it, a black-and-white photo: a thin, bare arm, curved such that he couldn’t see the hand. It peeked from under the village scene just enough to remind Henri of something he couldn’t place. “Oh, Marc, I didn’t see you. Afraid my eyesight’s getting worse everyday. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? How are you getting used to Paris?” asked the worker. “I’m doing well. I finished moving in, and my internship began last week.” “Good. These are three each. Would you like a bag?” Marc paid and walked away, but Henri couldn’t shake the feeling of having missed something important. Was it a postcard he’d bought before? Or merely déjà-vu? He had barely seen the picture at all; there was no way he could recognize a photo from only its corner. He was
being superstitious, silly. A function of card tightly and adjusted his glasses. A old age. Or was it? If only the worker had woman in her early twenties stared out at held the postcards differently. him, tying up her dark hair. The shadow He turned in the direction that Marc had of her collarbone emphasized her fair skin walked, thoughts edging toward the cliff against the empty, black background. A of a memory. He was going toward the white sash cut across her dark tutu. bridge. Henri untucked the record from “Gabrielle,” Henri whispered. The under his arm. He left the Beethoven on flood of images accompanied the name. top of the box, rushing to catch up. Gabrielle and him walking along the beach Henri hadn’t walked with such haste in in Quiberon, seagulls drifting like corks on years. He pushed forward at a lope, weav- the waves. Her small hands, engulfed by ing through the mass of black-coated foot his. Their picnic on the cliffs, when they traffic that populated the bridge. Camou- drank wine and made animals out of the flaged by his grayscale clouds. Waking up he wind gusted. wardrobe, the young on her shoulder in Henri grasped the man stood out only by the cinema. And her card tightly and his height and brown smile, always smiling. adjusted his glassleather messenger Even that windy day, es. A woman in her early bag. His crop of when he kissed her twenties started out at him, blonde hair bobbed goodbye, she smiled tying up her dark hair. The over the crowd at a through her tears. casual stroll, letting “You know her?” shadow of her collarbone Henri’s pursuit finally Henri flipped over emphasized her fair skin overtake him at the the card, not answeragainst the empty, black bridge’s opposite end. ing. The caption background. A white sash Huffing, Henri solely listed the title, cut across her dark tutu. reached for the man’s “Ballerina,” and the elbow. “Marc, excuse me—wait a mo- photo credits. It was taken in 1956, three ment.” He turned. Henri hadn’t planned years since they had parted. The letter was out what to say, and suddenly regretted short, describing a performance of Paquita having followed him at all. “Sorry—I saw to someone named Margot. you at the bouquiniste—if I may ask—it’s “I knew her, long ago. Before this phojust that the postcard you bought reminded to was taken.” Henri said. His throat was me of something, but I’m not sure what. thick. “Amazing. I never thought I would If you have a moment, if I could just see see her again.” He smiled at the ground it, it would…I would very much appreci- and coughed. “Please, pardon me. I don’t ate it.” want to impose on your time.” “The postcard?” Marc reached into his “No, please. I’m Marc Boudinot.” He bag, pulling out the paper sleeve. “Which held out a hand, which Henri shook. They one?” moved toward the bridge railing to avoid “Not the village.” blocking the sidewalk. “She’s beautiful. “The ballerina, then.” He held it out for How did you know her?” Henri. “I loved her. She was the first girl I ever The wind gusted. Henri grasped the really loved. It’s just amazing.”
“It’s strange.” Marc leaned against the railing. “She reminds me of someone I met recently. A ballerina. I was thinking of giving the card to her, but I’m not sure. I was also thinking of keeping it. Either way, if you have the time, I’d like to hear about her.” Henri laughed. “All I have nowadays is time. Here,” he held out the card. “It’s better if we move inside. It’s raining.” Marc and Henri installed themselves at a window seat in the nearest café. The rain intensified as their waiter brought them their drinks. Marc blew on his coffee, looking at Henri expectantly. “Where to start? We met the summer before my service started. My family vacationed to Quiberon for the season— the doctors said the warmth would help my father’s illness. We were staying in a guesthouse run by her aunt. I forget the name—it had something to do with seashells, I think. La Conque? No, that’s not it. Well, anyway, we met in the lobby. She was working at the desk, and I had locked myself out. She smiled at me. I instantly fell for her. I bought her flowers the next morning, marched in, and asked her if she’d come dancing with me. Gabrielle was quiet, easy to be around. For me, she was magnetic. I couldn’t stay away from her. “I stayed for the rest of the summer. I spent all the time I could with her, even when she was working. I’d read her the newspapers or we’d listen to the radio together. As long as I could be with her.” He fell silent, savoring the memory. Rain slid down the window, distorting the city outside so that it felt like his hazy memories. He nearly forgot Marc was there. “But it ended?” Marc prodded. “Yes, at the end of the summer. My military service began. I was sent to join
the Indochina War. We wrote letters for a while, but the distance made them stale. One day they stopped. I missed her terribly in the beginning, but time changes things. I came back to Paris, and she lived hours away.” “You didn’t seek her out?” “I thought about it, but I never did. I was busy with my studies, and eventually I met other girls.” They sat in silence. Marc slid the card across the table. “Would you like to keep it?” Henri reread the note to Margot, then looked back to the picture. Gabrielle, frozen. Henri wondered if she was taking her hair down, or tying it up. He’d never know. The memory wasn’t his; it belonged to another history, a subtle, impenetrable one. “No, please, it’s yours. Gabrielle isn’t mine anymore. If she ever was. Plus, aren’t you giving it to your friend?” Marc faltered. “Well, I’d thought about it. I’m not sure. It’s just that—” “What, you don’t think it’s a happy ending?” Henri said over his cup. “Then I haven’t told the whole story. Gabrielle was my first love, yes. But I met my wife, Marie, afterward. She is my best possible ending. Tell your ballerina that, and she’ll think it’s happy enough.” It continued raining for the rest of the day. When Marc left the café, Henri stayed, sitting with his empty espresso. He thought about records, and umbrellas, and chance meetings. Each instant formed another postcard, unique and unmoving, which stacked in his memory. The pictures, though often washed out, grew united with the quick motion of a flipbook. Only then could he understand the fullness of their movement, and the beauty in their transience. G
Dear Doctor Gardner, You said writing down my thoughts would help? Well, here it goes.
I love you, you abusive asshole, and I want you to stay despite it all.
Sometimes I write on my skin and wonder how deep the etching will remain. I press my hand, arm, whatever to a piece of paper to see if the ink might leak onto the page as a copy of my sentiments.
I know you will for the time being— my sentimentality sickens you, but even you have to acknowledge no one else will fuck you.
I feel the compulsion to draw hearts, and so I drag the fine tip of that black gel pen across my skin so he might look at it as he grabs my hand. I draw one too on my thigh, so he might think there’s a reason other than carnal desire for his obsessions. Yet if he notices the inked heart on my leg as my skirt falls to the floor, his mind is otherwise occupied. I wish I had thought to draw one on my face to disguise the bruises. I notice them, but can’t deny the compulsion to draw more, as if that could set things right. It’s a beacon:
My hearts brought reactions once or twice—a chuckle and a “what the fuck is that?” oh nothing, it’s just a shame you have no clue. I fill in the heart with our names— he noticed that one too. That heart got filled then, a nice purplish shade.
sleep in the
We sleep in the backs of vans, We sleep With unshaven chins below fake ray bans, A mad time-lapse wreck, Head lulling at the neck, Dulling the pain, A softness in the brain, Madrid, Zaragoza, Barcelona, Alicante, Madrid... Sleeping with broken, blistered, and burned feet, Hunched against the seat, Sun bleeding through the window Bathing the face, Huddled alone in the back in the only comfortable place, Polos ruffled, Thoughts truffled but clear, When sleep is near.
They’re just so beautiful these little ink hearts, reminding me of my greatest virtue: the love I freely offer; and my greatest regret: love never offered to me. And I can’t stop drawing them, because no matter what I do, with time, they always fade away. Your always obliging patient,
Boutique Building in Barcelona Jenny Lee
e c n a D The
by Shelly Holder My mom had journals and journals filled with messy black scribbles. Her “idea books.” They filled the house, tumbled out of purses and jammed the drawers through over-crowding. She always carried a notebook with her, or at least tried to, but somewhere along the way, from her study to the kitchen or bathroom or front door or wherever she inevitably misplaced it. The next time you saw her she was frantically searching through notebook after notebook, looking for that one line, that paragraph, that story idea, and had you seen it, darling? I’d just shake my head and continue past to my room or to the kitchen for orange juice. It didn’t matter. She never looked up from the notebooks before her, flashing page after page of harsh spiky black ink.G
I want you to lose yourself. I want you to push down and move the earth. I want the earth to bend around your will. I want you to feel—and be consumed by it. I want you to connect and disconnect. I want the movement to control you. I want your body to forget itself. I want your soul to ignite—s.p.o.n.t.a.n.e.o.u.s. combustion. I want you to fold and glide and stomp and curve. I want you to be us for a moment. I want us to make our own rules. I want the rules to make us. I want there to be no rules. I want to lose you, and me. I want us to embrace around this concept we can’t quite grasp. I want to make complete and utter sense of the world. I want the world to sense me. I want to be too conscious to feel it.
I want it to consciously feel me.
Collapse Marika Reed
In Leo’s Luncheonette There is a can of Mountain Dew Lying on a dishevelled table Next to a dispenser of cream Two opened bottles of syrup And a range Open as all sky my river leans Like eternal Susquehanna Or the grey Housatonic Or the Hoosac, full of bicycles There is a howling fan And the decelerating hum Of the bubbles in a hotcake Of blueberries and batter And the sales tax, and the wars There are armies of beflannelled men In this benighted country full of woe Sighing and humming as if In sullen cloaks they walked the land In the costume of ghosts
Open as all sky my river leans Leaning nowhere but forever downward Over rocks and branches, banks of leaves Through the silent houses of the poor With their porches full of meaning The three displaced shingles, The unmown lawn and the basketball hoop Under a falling sky And wet and soaked My river leans Forever towards eternal Susquehanna She lives in the back of the luncheonette Putting out lawn chairs while it shines Handing me coffee in a plastic mug Hardbitten in a Massachusetts rain In this benighted country full of woe Handing me coffee in a plastic mug Frying me some eggs, vastly On her range —Robin Crigler
Favorite Things by Samantha Roth
Úlfhéðinn Anikó Tóth
After all, Tony makes it easy.
He doesn’t babble or scream or cry, not when he’s hungry, or tired, or wants attention. He merely stares up at you with enormous blue eyes, a soundless bundle nestled in your arms. With only those eyes, he makes you understand what he wants with not a whisper of sound coming from that tiny mouth.
You remember the months after he was born. Ben is around for some of them, his delight at being a father so overwhelming that he is the one who gets up first at night to check on Tony. He changes most of the dirty diapers. He falls asleep at night with Tony cradled in his arms, singing lullabies from The Sound of Music. His attention is on Tony and yours is on both your boys, and neither you nor Ben seem to notice that when Ben wakes up in the morning, it isn’t from a noise from the baby monitor, just a new dad’s desire to make sure everything is okay. When a diaper needs to be changed, you only know because of the smell, not because Tony lets you. When he is tired, Tony doesn’t cry to express it; he just lays back and closes his eyes. Tony is a silent baby. And before either of you realize this might be a problem, Ben is gone. After winning a Pulitzer for his photograph of the Matsés-Mayoruna Indian tribe from Brazil and Peru in April, a month after
Tony was born, he is asked to go on twomonth long expedition to photograph the cliff-dwelling Dogon people in Mali, Africa. He resists at first, but you encourage him. This is his dream. You can handle Tony alone for two months. After all, Tony makes it easy. He doesn’t babble or scream or cry, not when he’s hungry, or tired, or wants attention. He merely stares up at you with enormous blue eyes, a soundless bundle nestled in your arms. With only those eyes, he makes you understand what he wants with not a whisper of sound coming from that tiny mouth. Your connection to your son grows stronger every day and is like none you’ve ever heard of. You rely solely on mother’s intuition to make things work between the two of you, and with Ben gone, it is just you and Tony, a pairing you soon fall in love with: you and your little man, a silent team, which, although different, is wonderful in its own way. When Ben comes home that first time, he hangs the walls of Tony’s nursery with
photographs of giraffes and bush babies, alternating frames of little spotted fawns huddled under their mother’s backs and tiny balls of fluff clutching tree branches, along with other exotic animals. Then, almost overnight it seems, he is gone again, this time to Australia to bring his camera to bear on the Aborigines and their plight. You try to convince yourself that it’s because you’re letting him follow his dream. You try to tell yourself you don’t miss him, that you don’t need him. As Ben’s arms come down around your waist, you tuck yourself into him and start to cry. You have held it together ever since it happened; you were able to get Tony into the car and drive home, you put in a movie for him to watch while you made dinner, you crafted conversation to fill otherwise empty air during dinner, and you began washing dishes like everything was fine. Until Ben asked what happened, you could pretend everything was fine. “You weren’t there, Ben,” you sob, “You didn’t see how they looked at me. How they looked at Tony!” “I know, love,” he says. “I know.” “No!” you cry, pulling yourself away, “you don’t! You weren’t there!” “Rita, Rita, calm down,” Ben soothes, reaching for you again. “Just, take a deep breath, and I’ll just listen, okay? I’ll just listen, and then we can figure it out. Together.” You swallow, and nod. It’s nice that Ben is here for a change, helping you wash the dishes as Tony plays in the living room. Tony is three now, and Ben has only seen bits and pieces of those years, off and on, home and not. Tony’s room, no longer the nursery but his bedroom,
has more photographs to attest to Ben’s absences, as does the rest of the house. You used to proudly hang them and point them out to guests, telling them all about what your husband is doing now, what country he’s visiting, what people he’s introducing to the rest of the world. Your husband’s life used to be your son’s bedtime story. But you don’t have guests very often anymore, and Tony doesn’t seem to hear what you say to him. “I took Tony to the park today,” you tell him. “It was so nice out, and you were sleeping, so I thought it would be good to get Tony out of the house and let you have some quiet time.” Neither of you mention that quiet isn’t exactly what’s needed. “So?” Ben encourages. He takes one hand from your waist and brushes his dark hair out of his eyes. It’s shaggy now and long, longer than it’s been since you met him. When you asked if it gets in his way, he said he ties it up when he’s traveling. You think it makes him look silly, especially since he’s beginning to gray. “At first, everything was fine,” you say. “I put Tony in the sandbox with a shovel and some buckets, and was just letting him play. He likes the different textures. Some of the Park Mothers were there, and I decided to go say hello. I was only twenty feet away!” Your breathing starts to quicken, and Ben runs a hand up and down your back. “You didn’t do anything wrong,” he assures you. “I know I didn’t!” you bite out, and take a deep breath. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I’m just still so upset. So we were talking and then Andrew, you know, Mallory
Pearson’s son? He saw that Tony was using his shovel, instead of the one I brought for him, so Andrew started asking for it back. But Ben, it was like Tony didn’t even hear him. Andrew started saying it louder and louder, and then he tried to take it away from Tony, and Tony just…looked at him, moved further away, and went back to playing.” Ben looks down at you, concern in his eyes. You exhale heavily. “So I walked over, thinking that I should get involved before anything got out of hand. I knelt in front of Tony, and asked him to give the shovel back to Andrew. He didn’t even look at me, Ben! It’s like I wasn’t even there! So I ask again, louder. Tony doesn’t look up. Finally, I just reach out and take it away from him, and then Tony starts screaming.” “Screaming?” “Screaming. Like really, truly screaming, and nothing I do can make him stop. Mallory runs over and asks what’s wrong, and I don’t even know. I don’t know what I did, I don’t know what to say and Tony is still screaming. So she just looks at me and picks up Andrew and backs away. Then Lisa and that Russian nanny come over and take their kids away too, like they don’t want them to be even near Tony and me!” “Oh, Rita, honey, I’m so sorry—” You continue, “So I give Tony back the shovel. And he stops screaming.” You look up at him helplessly. “All he wanted was the shovel. But how could I know that? He didn’t say anything, and that damn shovel wasn’t his in the first place! So I pick him up and put him in the car and come home. I don’t know how I’m going to go back there.” “There are other parks, Rita,” Ben be-
gins, but you interrupt. “But that’s my park! I’ve been taking Tony there since right after he was born! I don’t want to leave it!” “Maybe only for a little while,” Ben suggests, and you step back, out of his arms. “What’s your idea of a little while, Ben?” you ask. “Two months? Three? Four? You see, I’m just not sure anymore.” You bite your lip. You didn’t mean to say that out loud, and Ben is staring at you, more than concerned now. You don’t look at him. Instead, you go to the cabinet and take out a wineglass. You need something to steady yourself before you say anything else you’re going to regret. “Rita,” Ben says gently, “Why don’t you let me look after Tony tonight? Maybe you can go take a bath or watch a movie. Do something relaxing. Today has obviously been difficult for you.” You nod, but honestly, you’re thinking that this isn’t the first difficult day. It isn’t the second, or the third, or the fourth. It’s just another day with Tony. Your silent baby, usually, but then, when he isn’t…he really isn’t. You’ve been worried for months now, but the doctors you’ve brought him to say that he’s just shy, maybe a little spoiled, that he’ll grow out of it. They haven’t given you any answers. It’s not the first difficult day. It won’t be the last. You jerk awake when you hear your baby’s voice, rising up and up into the ceiling. You must have fallen asleep in the bathtub; the water is cooler now and there is wax around the candle bases. You panic as you hear Ben’s voice,
trying to be calm, trying to be quiet, but Tony isn’t listening because he never listens. You climb clumsily out of the tub, and grab the first towel you can, fluffy and yellow. Ben brought it home for you from Morocco last year. You wrap it around your wet body as you race downstairs, desperately hoping nothing terrible has happened. You were lucky today at the park, you know. It could have been so much worse. You burst into the living room wildly, searching for Tony. His little face is red and covered with tears as he cries, leaning away from the trap Ben’s hands have enclosed around him. Ben looks up at you frantically. “What do I do?” he begs. “Help me!” “Put him down!” you bark, coming into the room. You hesitate. “He doesn’t…he doesn’t like to be touched.” Ben almost drops Tony, like something has burned his hands, as though his son has turned into a devil child, skin too hot to touch. “I don’t know what happened!” Ben cries. “I was just trying to play with him, and I moved the blocks around and he—he just snapped!” “Just…go into the kitchen, Ben,” you say tiredly. “I’ll try and calm him down.” It takes a little bit, but you manage. You start by pushing the blocks back into the order Tony has put them in, all the colors arranged in groups. You hum “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music, just like Ben had so many times when Tony was younger. You’ve discovered that it calms him down. Any of the songs from that movie calm him down. Slowly but surely, Tony stops screaming. His hands, still baby-soft, begin to help you move the blocks together, patting your much larger ones into place.
Once you’re sure he’s calm, you hand him another block and stand up, tugging the towel to make sure it’s secure. You walk into the kitchen. Your hair leaves watermarks across your back and you shiver. Ben is facing away from you, his hands palm-down on the counter. You place a hand on his back. “It’s okay now,” you tell him. “Everything’s fine.” “No, Rita, everything isn’t fine,” he answers, shaking his head, still not looking at you. “That, what just happened, how can you say that’s fine? Normal threeyear-olds don’t behave like that! They don’t freak out just because you tried to hug them or play with their toys! They don’t!” “I know,” you answer. He whirls to face you. “Then our child isn’t normal!” Ben exclaims. “You think I don’t know that?” you say, very quietly. “I’ve taken him to three doctors over the past year. None of them can figure out what’s wrong. They can’t tell me why he isn’t talking. They can’t tell me why he gets so upset sometimes, or why it seems like he’s deaf so often. But I’m trying, Ben, I really am.” You hesitate. “Maybe…maybe if you were here for longer? Maybe you could help. We could figure it out together.” He doesn’t say anything, and a dark stone drops down from your throat into your stomach. He doesn’t say anything for a long time, and neither do you. Then, “you’re leaving again?” He shifts. “I got the call early this afternoon, while you were gone. I wasn’t sure if I was going to go, I’ve really enjoyed spending time with you and Tony but—” You can’t believe he’s saying this. How
can he just leave again after seeing what Tony is like on a bad day? His visits home over the last year have been growing longer and longer, and every time he comes home, Tony brightens like he’s swallowed sunshine. Those times were good times, with Tony so thrilled to see his father and to have his whole family around him. You had been careful to keep things calm and under control, so they passed with only minor occurrences, little outbreaks, nothing unlike a normal, as Ben puts it, three-year-old would do. But Ben’s visit home this time had been the longest yet, four months, and the novelty of having his father around has worn off for Tony. Things are becoming…normal. Which means things are going back to what you have always considered normal and what Ben has never quite understood. Maybe you were wrong to get your hopes up, to think he’d stay even longer, yet, how can he say this to you? “My plane leaves in two days, Rita,” he tells you now, either not seeing the stricken look on your face, or not wanting to. “They need me.” I need you, you think, we need you.G
The Evolution of Existence Anikó Tóth
Paradise Found Anik贸 T贸th
Abandoned Erin Spencer
POP Mallory Bell
Sky Fields Katie Ikeler
Dis-be-leaf Marika Reed
Origins Anik贸 T贸th
Light Diorama Marika Reed 28
she was nothing but dust on his surface clinging to him by his skin and eyelashes with the choice to suffocate him or be blown away and forgotten like a passing dream —Kyla Ainsworth
The women come and go guzzling pinot grigio I’m more of a noir man myself in my films pinots eyes. You are not like any housewife I know with a bourgeoning vanity career So I will fall asleep alone, my whiskey glass will fall to the carpet the TV will blare and the women will come and go guzzling pinot grigio. —Connor Smith
Disambiguation Katie Ikeler
e r o f e B
t h ig
by Elizabeth Perry
She got to class early for the first time in weeks. The reason being that the garbage left for her this time in her locker had now included sour milk. The custodian had caught a whiff from the other side of the building and had come charging her down like the rhino he most definitely was. It had taken him only five minutes to bellow about her supposed idiocy, and push her out of the way to get the stench out of the hall, as opposed to the usual thirteen minutes it took to clean her locker out enough to fit her books in properly. Kay guessed that this hadn’t been Ryan Anders’ intention when he dumped that milk all over, but she didn’t mind feeling just a little bit grateful. Later, much later she would question the place the last real coincidence would play in her life. She walked in with her practiced slouch, hearing the buzzing but ignoring the clean cut mass of hostiles around her. Miss Prince usually raised her eyebrow
because Kay made no attempt to disguise how out of place she was, and because she was usually late. Today she raised her eyebrow because Kay made no attempt to disguise how out place she was and she was actually a few minutes early. “Miss Tammany, how nice to see you’ve remembered when class starts.” Kay nodded curtly without looking up. It was far too easy to imagine that flabby milk colored face smashed in by flying projectiles of numerous descriptions. Too easy to watch it dissolve into a steaming cup of coffee or stretched out over the road like a passing lane: it wobbled gushy the way tapioca out of a can goes so that all the zits below her chin bulged and quivered. It was easy to see why Kay would prefer the garbage artfully arranged in her locker to greet her each morning. She slid quietly into her seat at the back of the class, interested in what the beginning of the class looked like. Miss Prince began to write on the blackboard in big,
thick, smudging letters Great Expectations ‘aw ape shit’ thought Kay desperately. It was perspective day. Her copy of Dickens’ supposed masterpiece happened to be sitting in a pool of sour milk, and she was too embarrassed to confront the rhinoceros for a second time in one day. As Miss Prince wrote out—now in a terrible loopy cursive that scratched the board with each stroke—the two columns: perspective and evidence, Kay offered up a silent prayer begging some reward for getting in on time. “Now, you’ve all read to page 200 for the day. I would like somebody to come up and offer their opinion on the material, paying attention to the categories of theme, characterization and historical background.” In other words some poor jackass get on up here to either A: show the entire class how far behind in the reading you really are or B: blindly offer up a perspective on this text that you hope sounds right so that you can get thoroughly shot down by this month’s expert of all things Dickens. To do either you needed the text and Kay… “Since Miss Tammany was so kind to join our class today perhaps she’d be willing to go first.” Kay swallowed her vomit hard and began to rustle in her desk, pretending to be looking for her book. Just when this was getting obvious, the door banged open and Mrs. Stroat, the secretary, ambled in followed by a lanky kid with hair that came to below his ears. The buzz in the room became frantic. New kid obviously new, look at that jacket—the greaser—what’s he trying to prove? He can’t be from around here. Miss Prince tried to call for order but it wasn’t until Mrs. Stroat shot her death glare that everybody finally calmed down.
Kay liked Mrs. Stroat. She had spent a considerable amount of time in her presence waiting on the vice principal,. Enough time to know that she definitely wasn’t with “them.” Mrs. Stroat might have lived on the right side of the tracks, but only barely. She painted on her bright orange nail lacquer out of a bottle labeled Pharaoh’s Paradise and she smoked constantly, even indoors. Kay had seen her doing it in an empty classroom once; flicking ashes into the chalk tray her feet propped up in the teacher’s desk. Mrs. Stroat never messed around with the whole Miss Tammany nonsense. No, to Mrs. Stroat she was either Kay, or Hon’, Sweet pea or Sugar. Mrs. Stroat liked her sugar and hated her no good ex-husband with verbose passion any time Kay would listen. Her husband had taught her that it wasn’t any good to put up with any ring around so she never did. One time when Kay had sat getting redder and redder as the vice principal and the director could be heard referring to her as “common ungrateful trailer trash” and that “she’ll be out of here any day anyhow,” Mrs. Stroat had rolled her eyes dramatically and slammed the office door hard without comment. The administration despised her, but was afraid to lose anyone tough enough to perform all odd jobs at a place like Barrington High. She stood now smacking her gum staring down the tenth grade until even Miss Prince looked unnerved. “This is Jimmie Lee Patterson. Where’re you from Jimmie?” The question caught the boy off guard. His wide grey eyes were so light they faded into his irises. None too bright Kay would wager or maybe he’s one of those lonely dreamer types like they had in New York. Freak. “Oh, uh… I’m from Dillinger; it’s
a suburb of Atlanta.” “Jimmie here’s from Atlanta he’s gonna be in the tenth grade so I’m dropping him off here. You are tenth grade right Jimmie?” “Um…” Jimmie was obviously taken aback to have so many eyes on him. Even from the back of the class Kay knew the poor kid was getting a good old fashioned Barrington welcome. “Yeah, Yes I’m sixteen and I transferred from Central High tenth grade.” Another sixteen year old. Kay was sixteen not from being held back or anything, she was just older like this kid. A thought began to grow in her mind “New kid…new kid…” she regretted her earlier assessment. Here stood a legit city boy. There’s no telling
what a city boy with long hair could have access to. That leather jacket for one, Kay had never seen anything of its kind on any old Joe walking down the street. And then there was his status. “New kid…he doesn’t know anything yet. He doesn’t know anything at all.” This was a new line of thinking for Kay, but she decided, against all her better sense to see where it would run. It would be a long time before she could evaluate why it was so important that when Jimmie Lee Patterson strode down the aisle and shot her a raw little James Dean smolder, Kay-lynne Tammany chose to meet his gaze with the best Rita Hayworth that she could have ever mustered.
Significance Today, the little purple rabbit broke. The one I have worn around my wrist – For so long— To remind me of you. And, I’m trying not to overthink it. I’m hoping the elasticity just gave out— From the stress of life And too many showers. —Abby Gomulkiewicz
Infusion Marika Reed 34
Tempest The tension builds; the seas crash in turbulent waves of frenzied energy, aching towards catharsis. Building, reaching— fleeting sensations, how my mind enjoys to defy a boundary so simple as living and imagining. My undecided emotions streak across the vast space— once uttered, unrepeated. My thoughts scream in wanting to be understood, for hearing’s not enough. These blazes of fire charge across the sky, a cataclysm in my imagined festival of lights. What an epic landscape serving as the home of my escape act. The dissociation from myself leaves my emotions scattered
poetry.com variously across these skies I’ve created, leaving nothing for the me of the living. The imagined world keeps building, the climax holding my eyes above it all, filled to bursting. I’ve forgotten how to catch my breath—it drifts away and I’m falling with it so slowly, as if I’m floating, and though I am light I hardly leave a depression as I collapse onto a thundercloud. I am empty in my living world, yet here amidst my imaginings I am consumed—yet I also do the consuming, drinking in my passions like aged wine.
I would (if I could) oooh, YES!!!!! I would- submit, lie down, die (yet on the other hand) I can’t – damn. Damn, damn, damn. n.m. = nevermind because you really wouldn’t understand (tear, cry, sigh, RAGE!!!) once again my dreams-those shady, shady things fall to pieces like snow WHITE WHITE WHITE WHITE WHITE or gasp! Like ash from the fire, Mt. Vesuvius fire, of my burning desire for everything… and yet nothing at all WHOOOOOSH! Goes the siren of life, that one remaining sign the indicator, the world’s heartless placater If your life goes to hell in a handbasket -Sing a tisket, a tasket! Green and yellow basketsSuperman will be there to save you after all. After all, this is Hollywood babe…… (wink) And “Poof!” The magician disappears in the end. —Shelly Holder
Everything with you is subtext. Strictly a whiskey girl, you pour only that which is opaque. You drop seven ice cubes and I put my head in the freezer, but can’t manage to sever my neck and become the eighth.
princess and the
seven suitors by Andrew McCartney
If I had my way, I would give you seven mint leaves for juleps and a pestle so that you could grind them to release the oils and throw them out the window. They would sprinkle to the ground with the seeds and the beanstalks would grow up outside your dormitory where I would fight off these skeletons with a sword made from a severed unicorn’s horn, only to fall pierced by a glance from your inverse eyelid’s flutter. Then laugh. If you had your way, perhaps, you would transmogrify me into a kitten so I could slip in and sleep in your mitten and you would stroke under my chin before you grabbed your keys at the door. If you had your way, perhaps, you would pour us both a generous measure of whine and when it’s all done we’d wake up refreshed with the world embossed into starker relief. If you had your way, perhaps, you would run through the forest and giggle out a stream like blodeuwedd and everywhere you stepped would grow dandelions ready for tea and we would chase after you like deer maybe only to be gored by one another’s antlers. If you had your way, perhaps, you would correct my french grammar and kissing and roast of coffee and we would drink it down to say, “Prenez bien vos aises, vos peines sur mon coeur, et vos pieds sur une chaise…” A shadow of the street. If you had your way, perhaps, you would build music with me, a mirror fugue of your perfect symmetrical figure, melodies of your curves, and you would disappear into thin air so only I could hear you in my infected, deafening ears. If you had your way, perhaps, you would set fire to the ground so everything dead burns away and what remains is fresh, vital, and without cynicism. We don’t need pessimism, pessimism, pessimism.
Bridesmaid After the Wedding Connor Smith
If you had your way, perhaps, you would travel deep into the darkest north with us as your honor guard. There you would find the ambiguously moraled witch of the north. For five to seven years, you’ll study her magic, all the while my hair is growing. And what is that itching at my back? Are those feathers? What is that balance behind me? is that a tail? And with a flick of your nose, I fly far, far away to do your bidding, express my lust, forever. G
34 Street th
At the end of the first trimester Of this love, We packed a car and emigrated from The land of precise lawncare and mass-produced mailboxes To one of the many jaws of the Atlantic Ocean. (We only named it a day trip) We sprawled our blankets over sand; its Virginity had already been blemished by cigarette butts and pennies. I rubbed your back and when I saw your burns, each creek of white skin, I kissed its spine. I kept the taste I spoke your healing all day I spoke you Why was that not enough?
This love, I buried you here. I spoke you as an elegy. Alone, I trespass a separate publicâ€™s tunnels and bridges for an hour, Only to return to an even wider Emptiness. July called for at least one trip To one of the many jaws of the Atlantic Ocean And I chose ours. (Because the parking is free) Two sisters searched the sand for a girl in a black bikini, finding her at last, they established a summer tableaux. All day, that is what happiness feels like. Happiness ten years abroad, fleeing the shadowed lands of what-might-have-been in one, swift voyage. â€”Coleen Herbert
As the sunlight is just beginning to shiver and leave, I drove until I met one of the many jaws of the Atlantic Ocean, And I floated there over a puddle of asphalt. I did nothing but think about how painfully May had become the epitaph for the past decade of my life, Engraved by the spasticity that is my meager comprehension of everything. O! Of course you would not choose me, I would not choose myself! I would have told you that then and you might have held me with feigned security. When I had finished tuning my radio to silence, the funeral hymn of
Eixample District, Barcelona Jenny Lee
Herschel Van Ratt by Carrie Crow
“Hiya Hershey! Whatcha got there?” Smitty the squirrel poked his head through the bottom of the mailbox. Herschel Van Ratt jumped, knocking a used tissue from his foot. The stench of garbage clung to his fur. Carefully, he set down the newspaper page he had clutched in his mouth, smoothing it on the asphalt. Stained, ripped, but intact. A newspaper. In the trash. People. They didn’t even finish the crossword. “Why are you encroaching on my haven?” Herschel asked. Smitty’s ignored the remark because the words were too big. Instead, he said, “Is that another one of them book pages?” Herschel shook his head. Smitty wasn’t bad, for a squirrel. He had some rat-like ways of thinking, though he maintained some squirrely sensibilities. “It’s a newspaper page. Quite a find, though not so rare as a book.” Smitty’s eyes gleamed. Whenever Herschel said anything Smitty didn’t under-
stand, though, that happened. Herschel never knew what went on in a squirrel’s head. “Well, when ya get a minute, it’s pretty nice outside! Maybe you can play with that newspaper thing outside of the mailbox!” Herschel habitually pored over whatever new trinket he could find. Struggle to understand it, make meaning of it, and find out what it meant to the humans. Today, the sunlight was particularly tempting. Today, however, a garbage truck nearly crushed him. Smitty had already disappeared, off to frolic among his brethren. Squeezing through the mailbox bottom, Herschel caught whiff of the wind. Taunting smells floated from the park. People tossed bread to socially acceptable scavengers. Pigeons pecked at it, unaware whether they tasted white, wheat, focaccia, or pumpernickel. And the squirrels. Rats in cognito. The moment his bald tail hit the sun, a cacophony of screams,
stomping feet, and “Rat! Kill it!” erupted. Meanwhile, squirrely rodents and disease ridden pigeons wandered freely. He smelled it before he saw it. Orville Redenbacher popcorn. The buttery scent slid under the mailbox. He never tasted it before. Every day, he passed by the stand as he walked to his mailbox. In an instant his nose located the source. A couple sat on the bench, bright red bag rustling. Then they tossed popcorn on the ground. Pigeons and squirrels hurried to it like they would any other treat. Any other treat indeed. Any creature worth its weight in olfaction knew better. Don’t take risks. He nudged his nose out to drink the aroma. Risks never paid off. He crept, belly low. The sun warmed his bare tail. Alert to every foot nearby, he crept further. Popcorn glowed orange from the butter. Several kernels bounced away from the flurry of feathers and fur. Dashing forward, he snagged one. He clutched it to his chest, squeezing his eyes shut. Nothing. No screams. No stomping. The couple laughed and tossed another handful to the birds and squirrels below. Tentatively, Herschel nibbled the edge. Flavor flooded his mouth, igniting his taste buds until the warmth of the sun and the sounds of laughter melted away. The texture was soft yet resilient. The crisp core crunched beneath his incisors. This was bliss. “Rat!” the woman screamed. Herschel froze, clutching the kernel. The pigeons took flight. The squirrels leapt into the air before taking to the trees. The enormity of the park surrounded him. A heavy leather shoe approached. Herschel dodged the foot. A tube of lip-
stick flew and missed. The screams continued, the man leaping from the bench in pursuit. Throwing himself into a holly bush, Herschel found asylum among its leaves. The wind rustled the leaves, but nothing else disturbed it. Herschel released his breath. He squirmed. A leaf nicked his tail. Climbing onto a branch, he pressed his belly flat to keep far from the holly barbs. “Heya, Hershey.” Smitty popped his head through the net of nettles. Squeezing through, he dumped several kernels of popcorn on the ground. “You looked kinda hungry.” Hopping from the branch, Hershel nibbled on a kernel. The magic had dissipated. Still, Smitty was here. And he came bearing Orville Redenbacher. With a sigh, Herschel said, “I’m thirsty, Smitty.” “There’s a pretty good bird bath, if you balance good.” “No no no, Smitty, I thirst for the sun, the world. I’m tired of shadows and garbage, I need explore new frontiers.” Herschel couldn’t tell how much broke through. Smitty twitched his nose as he normally did when confused. “You’re kidding,” Smitty said. “Garbage is delicious. New every time.” “It was cruel to give a rat such a mind.” Herschel continued nibbling. Smitty squeezed his face. Presumably, he was thinking very hard of something to say. Herschel appreciated the effort. But he continued on the kernel, trying to recreate his moment of bliss. “You shoulda been a squirrel,” Smitty said. “Smitty.” “Seriously, it’s just a tail anyway.” Smitty paced the small area of nettle-
free ground, switching his tail. “I can go anywhere! I just hop on around out there and it’s finer than sunshine!” “Thank you.” Herschel snorted, chewing on the popcorn. “If only it were that easy, but I can’t simply… Hmm.” “Hmm? Hmm what?” Smitty asked. “You’ve got thoughts all over your face, spit ‘em out.” “Smitty, do you know how to sew?”
asked, trying to look over his shoulder. Smitty hopped to look at it from the side. “Whip your tail like this,” he said, waving his tail upright. “A rat’s tail doesn’t whip, Smitty, it’s made for balance. It oscillates back and forth to retain my center of gravity.” Herschel rolled his shoulders to take a few careful steps. The tail, however, dragged behind him. Smitty humphed. “So do squirrel tails. Herschel caressed the silver polymer No one will think you’re a squirrel if you blend, fabric rippling don’t raise your tail.” over his claws. InHerschel had not erschel caressed side, silk smoothed considered that. Did the silver polymer the rough underblend, fabric rippling his tail go that far? Foside of the faux fur. cusing, he raised his over his claws. Inside, silk Weeks of thieving tail “Higher,” Smitty smoothed the rough underpoured into this encoached. Herschel deavor. Herschel side of the faux fur. ... Her- strained. “Higher.” had to gnaw his way schel held in his paws a fine Surely, he must be through more plastic fake squirrel tail. close now. His tail bent than he ever cared practically backwards. to digest. Several threads snagged, one “Higher.” wrinkle bumped up three quarters of the “This is as far as it will go,” Herschel way down, but as a whole, Herschel held snapped. in his paws a fine fake squirrel tail. Smitty furrowed his brow. “I guess a Smitty bounced from one end of the squirrel might do that with its tail.” Nomailbox to the other. “Y’sure that’s not ticing Herschel’s expression, however, he Jerry’s tail?” he asked with confused hor- added, “That’s okay, humans aren’t too ror. “They squashed ‘em last week, but smart, they’ll think you’re a squirrel for the tail looked okay.” sure.” “Absolutely certain. That’s disgusting.” Though not the awe of his brilliance Herschel laid the tail flat on the concrete, Herschel expected, it sufficed. This was, stretched to its full glory. “No, this tail after all, unprecedented. Herschel drew won’t rot, or smell like,” Herschel consid- in a breath. A few yards from the mail ered politically correct words. “Or smell box, a man sat on a bench, tossing bits of like a different sort of rodent.” sourdough to the park creatures. Carefully, Herschel backed his own na“Y’ready Hershey?” Smitty clapped a ked tail into the squirrel tail sleeve. Smitty paw on Herschel’s back. fumbled with the satin bow to pull it tight Herschel’s nose broke the shadow as he could. After a few mistrials, Smitty first. Sun warmed his whiskers. Following stood back, and gaped. the scent of sour dough, Herschel fought “Well? How does it look?” Herschel to relax. Amble like the other squirrels.
The weight of his tail fought to fall flat. Smitty bounced beside him. “You’re supposed to jump,” he whispered “Rats are magnificent jumpers.” Herschel leapt a gentle arc to prove it. “Great! That’s perfect. Just keep doing that.” Herschel prepared his muscles. He jumped. Again, jump. His backside burned with the effort. “I can’t,” Herschel exclaimed. “But you said rats are ‘magnificent’ jumpers.” “Yes.” Just not all the time. The ache worsened with each successive jump, Herschel’s heart raced. His tail grew heavier and heavier. What felt like forever, however, ended within inches of the bread. “Why hello there,” the man said goodnaturedly. Herschel allowed his tail to drop, and approached the bread. The man tossed another bit. Herschel devoured one, while Smitty politely grabbed the other to store. Another squirrel habit Herschel never understood. The bitter and soft taste was balm to his pain. He dug into the next piece too. Then, a passing child said, “Mommy mommy look, that squirrel is shedding its tail!” “What?” the mother replied. What? Herschel glanced over his shoulder. The tail slipped halfway down after he dragged it those last few inches. He tried to back into it, but the tie was too loose, and it slipped further. “It’s just like a snake! Look, there’s the tail right there, and now it’s got a naked tail for the summer.” The mother screamed. The man stood up quickly, clutching his sandwich. Herschel whipped around to grab the polymer tail in his mouth. “Look, look, he’s eating his tail!” the
little boy shouted gleefully. The adults cried with disgust. Herschel gripped his tail and ran, forgetting to hop. He ducked into the nearest bush. Fortunately, this one grew honeysuckle, smelled infinitely more pleasant, and was barb-free. Throwing the tail into the dirt, Herschel huddled in the shade. He shook, staring at his fake ticket to freedom. “Hershey?” Smitty popped in the top. The leaves quivered as he dropped down the branches. “I’m not made to be a squirrel.” Herschel held his dignity by clenching his teeth. “Duh. You’re a rat.” “The tail was a mistake. A hideous aberration of nature that will undo me.” The tail sprawled harmlessly on the ground. “It’s not gonna kill ya.” Herschel released a long breath. Reasoning with a squirrel remained top of the list for “Herschel’s Pointless Ventures,” though making a squirrel tail had been a close second. He failed the mechanics. He didn’t foresee obvious physiological problems. Worst of all, every human in the park witnessed the failure. “What d’ya wanna do?” Smitty crawled over, settling. “You can hide in the bush and be a rat. You’re a… how would yas say… magnificent rat.” The slight nasal quality Smitty added was pitiful. “Now you’re mocking me.” “I’m not.” Smitty scratched his neck thoroughly with his back claw. “Maybe a little, but you’re the smartest garbage picker I ever did meet. You do a great job at being a rat, and you’d be a great squirrel with a little practice. You got a perfect tail, and it’s not gonna rot around ya, like ya said. I could keep it in my nest, and you could try being a squirrel whenever you feel like it.”
The tail sat in the dirt. White frosted the end of each hair, fading into black and then brown. It ruffled with startling contrast, each portion catching light differently. The silk slid smooth against his skin that first moment he put it on. “Smitty, it’s preposterous for a rat to parade around in a fake tail.” “It’s kinda silly for rats to say preposterous, never stopped ya.” Hershel climbed up the fencepost. His limbs burned from jumping. They fought him as he dragged himself to the uppermost rung. Hauling himself onto the highest board, his aching tail gripped the post until he managed to balance. Though sharp, breathing came
easier now. He dragged his tail up, and stretched onto his back. Warmth baked his belly. The fence radiated heat. The wandering breeze brushed past, ruffling through the polymer-blend tail. Later, he could curl up in a shadow. He would relax, let his muscles melt to butter, and observe how the world worked from a quiet corner. There would be no risk of sunburn, certainly no reason to hop and swoop. But now, it was him, and the warm sun incubating his belly full of delicious treats. “That is one happy rodent,” someone commented to their friend as they passed him by. Yes, Herschel thought. One happy rodent indeed.G
The river had finally broken, shattered hundreds of lonely white islands drifting terrified as they pushed slowly out to unknown changes and away from the familiar locked months before. One forgotten seagull calmly rode a floating racer as it swept serenely under the bridge. He often glanced back, or up, as if trying to remember an uncertain history and you, you mentioned that he was “taking the easy way out,” but his eyes were black and protesting, he flowed as an exhausted gypsy and I silently begged, waited for the lift of wings and the panicked flight upriver back, even beyond the snow. —Jill McLaughlin
Layers of Perfection Anikó Tóth
Kyla Ainsworth is a sophomore studying English and sociology. Consequently, she enjoys writing poetry about people and the way they interact. She is very grateful to be included in this issue of The Gallery.
Neil Kennovin is a member of the class of 2012 and is majoring in Government and English. His dreams are what inspire his poetry, for through dreams, we are able to see our most secret desires and fears. His favorite poet is Charles Baudelaire.
Mallory Bell is a freshman from Alexandria, Virginia. She has been painting and drawing throughout middle school and high school and hopes to minor in art at William and Mary. She enjoys Nutella, the Kennedys, and Real Housewives.
Jenny Lee likes to take commemorative photos as she travels. Of all the places she’s been so far, Barcelona is her absolute favorite city because of its artistic history and stylish culture.
Robin Crigler is a sophomore beginning his time at William and Mary this year, having spent the previous year amid the snows of western Massachusetts. He is a history and religious studies major, and he lives off campus.
Marika Reed is a junior transfer student from California and Switzerland. She is majoring in Linguistics and Art.
Carrie Crow graduates at the end of the semester, ending four and a half years at William and Mary. She plans to take her BA in English and Psychology to the streets to beg for quarters with a mason jar. Ultimately, she intends to run away to California, and eventually publish her Great American Novel (GAN) and some Not-so-great American Novels. Abigail Gomulkiewicz is a freshman prospective History major hoping to specialize in Russian or Colonial American history. She is also a member of the William and Mary and the University of St. Andrews Joint-Degree Program. Abby believes that poetry helps us to embrace our shared humanity and hopes that people can find relevance for their own life in her poem. Abby would like to especially thank her grandma and mom for helping her to improve her writing and for inspiring her. Coleen Herbert loves antiquing. Shelly Holder grew up in the desert of Southern California but quickly moved to the east coast for culture, vibrancy, and four distinct weather patterns. Kate Ikeler studied English and Art at William and Mary. She enjoys using light and patches of color to depict form and structure in her art. She plans to move to DC to pursue a career in publishing or art. She loves dogs, peanut butter, and funny people. Jake Jose is from Denver, Colorado and his favorite authors are George Orwell, Jack Kerouac, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. He is also an avid mountain climber and musiclistener.
Michelle Repper is a junior majoring in Art History and English at William and Mary. Her primary interests lie in the Modern art movement, with a focus in Indian modern art. She believes in interdisciplinary discourse and understanding, which has led her to write poems like the one featured here. Sam Roth is a junior at William and Mary, doubling in English and Psychology. She’s so happy to be having her first prose piece published! Woo! Connor Smith is a sophomore who likes caprese, the Crime Channel, having meaningful conversations with pets, arguing, emerging victorious from Swem at 1:57 AM, travel, making grandiose life plans, red curry, and that moment when you first see Lower Manhattan from the Jersey Turnpike. He is often mistaken for a Weasley. Erin Spencer is a sophomore from Baltimore, Maryland and has been studying photography for over five years. On campus, she is on the sailing team, a photographer for the DoG Street Journal, and a member of a social sorority. You can see her other work by visiting www.etspencerphotography.webs.com. Elizabeth Wallace studies English and philosophy at William and Mary and is currently working on her honors thesis in creative writing. Set to graduate in May 2012, Elizabeth hopes to travel extensively, acquire an MFA in Creative Writing, and change the world. Danielle Weber is a Psychology and English double major and a member of the class of 2014. After graduation she hopes to go on to grad school and become a psychologist, but she knows that along the way, she will continue writing poetry to keep herself (in)sane. Insanity is far more interesting anyway.
Red & Green: A Therapy Session Hole-riddled brain matter clings to the ceiling I meet the man who will fix my way of thinking Black tar sofa pulls at my skin to unearth my secrets “We have a lot in common, you and I.” Formulaic stranger who has found his place, I can’t describe who I am without invoking imagery Two bitter halves to my soul: Red and Green Doctor, they said they’d like to meet you Death-tinged crimson with a golden wit, I loathe the naivety of my emerald partner Smokescreen whispers traverse your nebulas, You could never understand me.
I consider myself the more logical in this partnership, Although I’ve been chastised for my linear thought process Benevolent in all ways, I hide no secrets or play no tricks I harbor no ill intentions, but Red needs to be fluoresced.
Saint Monica exchanged for Saint Colette Stricken with a faulty false patriarch Enigmatic writing breeds relatability You are a reader, not my therapist.
Honesty is required for a healthy relationship, dear reader My mother died from drug abuse, while I was a new adult The man who raised me is not my blood, a lover not a breeder Such a beautifully violent world, and I am the result
Clearly, doctor ….Are you a doctor? These two halves constantly feud within In the river Styx, life is a constant struggle But who can blame me? Red and Green? These colors don’t mix. —Neil Kennovin
Editor’s Note Dear Reader, I could write about art. Quote a famous, preferably dead writer. Not so dead that their opinions sound old fashioned, but dead enough that only one in four readers would recognize it. Unfortunately, the only quote that springs to mind is Oscar Wilde’s: “All art is quite useless.” A little awkward for ending a Literary Arts magazine. I could write about Hope, Peace, Hoping for Peace, or Peacing together bits of Hope for a positive outlook diorama. Love, Honor, Truth; anything that could be capitalized and make sense. Unfortunately, I can’t think of anything new to say about any of that, and there are better poets to deal with that (See exhibit A, the entire magazine). My taste in poetry went out of date more than fifty years ago. I occasionally crawl out from the rock I live under to shake my fist at children and scream “It’s not poetry without a rhyme scheme!” No one would believe me if I claimed that was unintentional. Anyway, there are plently of people with much better taste in poetry than me (Exhibit B, see Staff, page 2). If our magazine had a theme, I could write about that. Perhaps the theme of themelessness. It’s just metathematic enough to not work. And since irony is in, not working is the new working. As the great man Tim Gunn said: “Make it work.” Wait, I can’t quote him, he’s not dead. I could be sentimental. Talk about how proud I am. What it’s like to see something spring out of nothing. Be part of reshaping a 45 year tradition, while distinctly marking it. Or what it feels like to know I’m leaving it behind in two months. Nah. I’m not dead... yet. And even then, I’ll still be reading “The Gallery” long after they’ve told me to stop leaving messages in their inbox. And voice mail. And Facebook. I could be literary... Nah. I think I’ll keep to my stories about squirrels. (See exhibit B, “The Tail of Herschel Van Ratt”). As Oscar Wilde also said, “Life is too important to be taken seriously.” And the Literary Arts are no exception. If we can turn a mirror to William and Mary and say, honestly, “this is what makes up our campus,” than our magazine deserves to be published.
Carrie “Bring out your Dead” Crow Editor-In-Chief