cel f noit .55
A journal of letters, arts, and sciences published by the students and faculty of Gonzaga University. â€“ reflection. SPRING 1959
Copyright ÂŠ2014 Reflection, Gonzaga University All rights reserved. No portion of this magazine may be copied or in any ways reproduced without written consent of the editor and Gonzaga University. Views and opinions in Reflection are those of the individuals and do not necessarily represent the views of Gonzaga University. Reflection staff would like to thank everyone who participated in the literary and visual arts community on campus by submitting to the journal. Joanne Shiosaki and Jeffrey Dodd deserve our praise for facilitating an instructive and positive experience.
reflection. VOLUME 55. ISSUE 1.
EDITOR ASSOCIATE EDITOR CORRESPONDENT EDITOR
Haley Swanson Erin Dempsey Katherine Charters
Luca Bacci, Devin Devine
Editorial Assistants FICTION ART GRAPHIC DESIGN
Natalie Ochoa Rachel Clark Annie Worman
table of contents. features Editorial Statement
Flash Fiction Contest
Kenneth Goldsmith Interview
A Reflection With Mike Herzog
poetry and prose Antidote
Dream In a Winter Barn
Florence oct. 8
Two Weeks Before Europe
You Would Be 87 Years
Opus 1 / Untitled
Summer of ‘97
I gave a pound of my flesh to make you proud
The Sins We Have Committed
COGITO ERGO SUM
Vocation / The Word I Spoke
Day of Bread
artwork Figure Studies
Spontaneous Hiking Up Makapu’u
What Goes Up, Must Come Down
A Lunar Orbit
DICK LBACH, S.J.
Joseph-One of My Friends
gurian writing awards List of Winners
The Sky Like A Bruise
Response to Atta Kim’s “Long Exposure”
AMY KRYSTON reflection. 4
reflection statement. “Creativity is not defined as that which is original” – Kenneth Goldsmith The Oxford English Dictionary disagrees: Creative, adj. b. Inventive, imaginative; of, relating to, displaying, using, or involving imagination or original ideas as well as routine skill or intellect, esp. in literature or art. This is the 55th edition of Reflection. Conceptions of originality changed in those 55 years; Reflection changed in those 55 years. I’ve spent much of this last year reading and living with the musty stacks of Reflection archives. What I’ve noticed is not originality, but commonality. Every editor before me, every writer and artist before you, wanted to engage the Gonzaga community in their passion for the arts. Spread throughout the journal are poems from past editions, as well as a collage of editorial statements from over the years. Some are poignant, others are humorous, a couple are a bit esoteric, but all reflect the desire for creativity and originality common among those editors before me, those writers and artists before you. Years pass, definitions change, and the passion remains. -H.S
Reflection Staﬀ reflection. 1969-1970
55th Anniversary Flash Fiction Contest Reflection is celebrating fifty-five years of literary and artistic creativity this spring. To honor this anniversary, Reflection decided to hold its first Flash Fiction Contest. The submissions were to be fifty-five words or less and set in Crosby Student Center. Out of numerous submissions, the following two were selected. Enjoy this brief glimpse of student life in Crosby, from abandoned electronics to anxious reunions between lovers.
EMILY SULLIVAN & KELLY STRADER
First Place: There I was—lost, abandoned, and confused. I’d slipped out of his pocket after a long day of getting breathed and spit on. He had been pushing my buttons all day and this was the last straw. Crosby’s Lost and Found was a paradise compared to this last gig. Too bad I’m about to die. JACKIE DILLON
Runner Up: Dressed in the flowing purple dress she had borrowed from her sister last year, she wove between the round tables and spotted him by the window. Pushing past the others with whispered excuses, she slipped her hand into his as she sat down. “So sorry I’m late.” She kissed his cheek. He could breathe again.
Antidote Bird by bird, each word, a soul-smattering sucker punch. A pencil or a raindrop pierce the glass ceiling, that icy cloud parked in the mind. Fly away free O paper swan Grace the world with your eggshell story.
He knows He knows the pants by the shine of their button not the touch of their pockets. He knows the hammer by the heft of its weight not the balance of its swing. He knows the engine by the smell of its burn not the grease under nails. He knows the whistle by the shrill of its song not the moist air of its tin. He knows the field by the waves of its cycles not the smudge of its dirt. He knows the bottle by the burn of its vapors not the soothe of its rivers. He knows the cigarette by the stench of his fingers not the clouds in his lungs. He knows her by the cracks in her lips not the press of their kiss.
Dream In a Winter Barn Gurian Honorable Mention Two deer hang beneath the ruddy glow of the barn lamp. He told me that he took them that evening, had hidden in the hush of heather and the solitude of silent hills until sunset. After I hang up the phone – after the comforting crackle of the land-line ceases – he will return to the does. Their hooves no longer tread the ground, but air. Their hearts have fallen in the bucket along with their other dark organs and their numinous, sable eyes wistfully watch, drowsily see, unseeing, where I cannot. As I close my eyes a hundred miles away, I dream melancholy dreams, and in their rumble and turn I imagine one had been a buck. Those smooth ochre antlers tell a tale of comfort to my heart – reassure me of springs spent rambling in the hills. All peace and death, I dream from behind a dark fringe of wet lashes, for it snows now in the winter night outside the barn. Something tells me that I should be the one to do it: to take off my wool jacket and hang it up, reflection. 10
to tie back my pretty hair, to trim away their lovely sorrel hides with precision and to hold their spirits, like a Priestess, in my small, soft hands. Would I then be a good woman? Would I still love well with a west-willed heart? I want to become a boulder in the vale and to be delivered to the hapless wilderness and to bring spirits back into their bodies all at the same time.
Figure Studies. Jim Leonetti reflection. SPRING 1966
Florence oct. 8 This is the day of sad letters from home art in the Uffizi and “quanto?” from a sad man who didn’t know and if i were brought up to be a prostitute quanto? “how much” different would i be would i smile as much or dream or fall in love as often would i be sitting in a window in Amsterdam or strolling down the Fillmore would i be ugly/old before my time would i be here and be answering “quanto?” reflection. 1970-71
Two Weeks Before Europe I was the blouse ironed by lips until wrinkles of uncertainty drowned in the tepid steam and melted under lithe fingertips. But you were the pencil with the weak lead that wobbled and broke under the pressure of a last-minute love note. I was the spatula scraping the last lines of honeyed nights from the bowl before Timeâ€™s fingers invaded. Now, I am the sponge squeezed dry between strong, smooth hands, and no more tears will drip to this kitchen floor.
You Would Be 87 Years Gurian Honorable Mention Popcorn knees crack like jazz on sidewalks Your step slips like discs broken in spines that lay, nervous and fragile, on operating tables age is not an insult, not to you just a shift in the rhythm that once shook your boots. I stare at my own unresolved sounds of clips on concrete, leaving traces like rain (the bottoms of bare feet in dew) and I wonder if theyâ€™ll stomp in puddles, then dry in the sun tomorrow, maybe tomorrow.
Opus 1 (Danish) Foraaret er her Man ser allerede kaerlighed ppaa plaenerne --uboenhoerlig kaerlighed --kraevendende kaerlighed en kaerlighed der draeber alt undtagen frugtbarhed. “Bitter? – Har vorse aeber af levende mennesker nogensinde vaeret saadan?”
Untitled (Japanese) Yuki asobi hitori katawano urameshisa. reflection. SPRING 1965
Opus 1 (English) Spring is here You see love on the fields already --inexorable love --demanding love a love which kills anything but fruitlessness. “Bitter? – Have our living men’s lips ever been like this?”
Untitled (English) See, the crippled man watching children play in snow he looks down—he cries. reflection. SPRING 1965
Summer of ‘97 “Tell me that story again.” “I tell you lots of different stories.” “Addie! You know which one! The one about your neighbor, the old lady.” Eamon asked for the blue grass story every day. I picked a wedgie caused by my pinstriped swimsuit. I soon settled my scabbed chin into my two hands, an injury that occurred at my ninth birthday party just last week. A piñata can sometimes be a girl’s worst nightmare. “Well, her lawn during the summer always turned brown and she hated that color. She wanted green grass year round and figured she could dye it herself.” “She decided to do it herself? Wasn’t she like a hundred?” “Something like that. Anyway, she dyed her lawn blue! But she was so old she couldn’t tell the difference. She thought it was green. She was so proud of her bright blue grass that she sunbathed in a pineapple patterned two piece for weeks!” “That’s so embarrassing!” Eamon threw his head back and cackled. I counted the four silver molars already invading his smile. Although I would never admit it, Eamon was my favorite. He was always my favorite. Most of the Shepard cousins were older and preoccupied. Jimmy wore glasses and read Keats on the beach. Greg preferred strong drinks, sailing, and taking girls to the stables. Pete and Liam were too young to cause anything but mischief and destruction. Eamon and I soaked in the silence after his laughter and watched the waves lick the shore. “When are you going to learn to swim, big guy?” I asked. “My dad’s been teaching me, but I don’t think I can float.” “Sure you can, you just got to relax.” “Funny. When I relax, I sink.”
Our summerhouse in Rhode Island was a wedding cake of a house. Sat atop emerald grass with frosted gates and powdered sugar gables. It was built on bonds, empty promises, and a fortunate boom in the twenties. The waves always dared to kiss the structure, puckering brine lips enviously onto the rocky cliff. At the white house, no one watched us. Nobody had time. There was a rhythmic pulse of leisure to the adults’ days. Wake, swim, eat, gossip, tan, tennis, football, dress, and dinner. Labor Day weekend was a nineties J. Crew ad set in clockwork motion. The center of the preppy cosmos was my parents who liked the five hour-long dinners at the club. The couple on top of the wedding cake house was Rory and Mary. Rory and Mary met in May and married in June. After seven years of matrimony they had three sons: Eamon, Pete, and Liam. If my parents were the sun of our familial orbit, Rory and Mary were stardust. Combustible stardust. “The dynamic duo! Back in action,” screamed Rory as we entered the sunroom, tossing Eamon on his shoulder while he spun. “Hello, beautiful girl,” Mary said while kissing me on the head. Her air was heavy with Chanel and a bitter sweetness I couldn’t quit place. “You haven’t been swimming in the ocean without me, big guy? I don’t want you swimming without me,” Rory said as he nuzzled Eamon’s damp locks. “Just wading and throwing rocks into the ocean with Ads.” “Wonderful! Nothing better than throwing rocks! Now, what are you doing right at this very moment? Because I, good sir, challenge you to a tennis match.”
Rory got angry if Eamon became distracted during important things like tennis. At first, Eamon was focused and alert with a smooth backswing. Soon, he became hungry and intrigued by a ladybug lounging on the net. Pete and Liam soon joined the game and began hitting the balls as hard as they possibly could out of the court. Soon they started throwing rackets at one another as hard as they possibly could. “Hey! Hey! We do not throw tennis rackets at one another!” reflection. 18
Rory yelled sloshing his Old Fashioned on his tennis whites and throwing his tennis racket against the wall. His eyes were like blue fish wrangled in red lines. Eamon laughed at his father and caught my eyes to see if I found him funny too.
It was the time of day when everything became beautiful. We sat on the back porch eating post-dinner Cheetos. Eamon’s hair grew auburn in this light and his sunspots seemed darker. He was a speckled strawberry with lilac eyes. I licked orange dust off my pointer finger. “Your dad gets angry a lot.” “Nah, he’s just excited that’s all.” Eamon said while blowing on blades of grass to provoke a whistle, “Hey! Let’s play hide-and-go-seek! I have a really good spot that my dad showed me the other day while we were playing war.” I agreed because I knew I could find him easily. He always hid in bathtubs and he could never stay still. “Ok. I’ll count.” “Count to a thousand.” “I’ll count to a hundred, how bout that?” “Fine, but count really slow. Pinky swear?” We entangled our pinkies and I swore. “Here we go,” I sighed squeezing my freckled eyelids shut, “One, two, three…”
Six o’clock I figured he couldn’t have gone far, that I would be able to hear his chuckles from a mile away. I checked the tubs first, the attic that we still thought was haunted, and then the cave we claimed as our own. The adults had begun to file into the dining room. Their laughter rang clear against the fading rays of sun.
Seven o’clock Eight o’clock I searched the greenhouse where Eamon and I would make perfume together from lilacs and salt water. I searched the top cupboard in the kitchen where Eamon sometimes hid in because there was always a supply of Nilla wafers. I looked up in trees—the hiding spot where I used to secretly cry after I had lost a game of tag. I searched the top of the garage, where Pete cut himself scrabbling down the trellis. The scar resembled the Mississippi River, spelled M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-I.
Nine o’clock Ten o’clock The prayers to St. Anthony began when goose bumps clustered on my forearms. Uttering under my breath the prayer my mother forced me to recite whenever I couldn’t find my shoes. “St. Anthony, St. Anthony, please come around, something is lost and can’t be found.” My teeth clenched against the sand caught in my molars, I remember thinking that if I squeezed hard enough my teeth would break. “St. Anthony, St. Anthony, please come around, something is lost and can’t be found.” If I interrupted the party and told them what I had lost, it would no longer be a prayer in my head. It would become real.
Eleven o’clock There was a humming buzz to the dinning room. Everyone was flushed from rosé and country club gossip. Rory was dancing and swaying with my dad. Mary was giggling with stained teeth. Mary was the one who noticed me first. “What is it, love?” I paused and drew in a sharp inhale. “I can’t…I can’t find him. I can’t find Eamon. I’ve been looking for hours.” My throat throbbed and my mouth tasted of copper. My eyes stung painfully. reflection. 20
Mary said nothing when I wished she would say something. Rory heard my response and ran immediately towards the beach. “Rory, don’t you dare go into that ocean. Don’t you dare look for him over there,” Mary shrieked. Her reaction was chemical and instant. Spit bubbles formed and burst in time with her sobs. Her small petite face cracked and Mary’s primrose mouth turned into a warped parabola. Some ran to the beach, others to the garage, and the rest sprinted to the main road a quarter of a mile away from the estate. Rory thrashed in the salty waves and howled. Seeing Rory in the water reminded me of one room in the house I had forgotten to check.
I was told to never enter Mary and Rory’s room. It was unkempt and Rory usually took violent naps in the late afternoon. Their bedroom was decorated with pearls dripping off lamps and bottles lined up like bowling pins in the corner. In the middle of the visual chaos was Eamon. Fast asleep underneath their bed. Encircled by his toy soldiers, always kept in his chest pocket. He was using one of his dad’s button-downs as a pillow. I kissed his head fervently and inhaled his boyish scent. He smelled like grass. I remember the shouts of Eamon’s name, the crash of waves, and the sound of his deep snores culminating into one sound. It was like music. Lowering the bed duster, I sat crisscrossed while watching the door, letting him sleep for a few more breaths.
I gave my pound of flesh to make you proud I took down and folded away sheets of dreams a bittersweet notion out of loyalty painstakingly taken is a bond of love but a medicine I swallowed willingly as it formed a lump hot in my throat knives hidden inside each graceful step stomach wrenchingly this whirling dance continues even with this regret there is a fire in my veins to have those eyes shine with pride to lose such would surely stop the pulse but stay weary of strong willed daughters staying silent is no easy task my lungs hold back shattering symphonies of all the folded and now tattered dreams
The Sins We Have Committed Forgive me Father for I have sinned or so they keep telling me. A diatribe of lies that rests upon my shoulders. Burdens for rough hands that wrung wrists; bare legs that bruised thighs; cries that masked a child’s lullaby: hush, hush now little baby don’t say a word, don’t say a word. Silence. His smell wants to crush my throat. His name an ugly scent I won’t remember in the winterless morning. I can’t outrun her rosary. She prays for my salvation offering warnings: lead her not into temptation; she strays from you. Forgive me Father for your kin have sinned. Deliver me from them. Amen.
Idealizations Backslash, and command which are zebra stripes, or not. We can still skydive on stilts till we puke out the dead bodies of strippers and saints giving more than they got. Refills on orange soda, green dock lights, and red Christmas door bows will patronize the few empathetic. Those words, written to rid any suspicion there are problems, dire stuff in our system. There are no sufferers here, is what you will read. And the rhythm of the trampoline and bounce won’t soothe martyrs’ migraines, but they still try and feed ‘em blood and beer bread through a plastic, loopy straw and hope they don’t notice your drug withdrawal.
DoubleVodkaRedBull He says it fast like one word. The sigh of a can being opened, syrupy bubbles spilled out over three clear cubes. Two point five ounces measured by the flourish of practiced hands. He bounces on his toes. The practiced hands stop, look up. Last one, kid they frown at him. He nods along with the beat of his bouncing. The night wraps a blanket around his indiscretions. Cold air battles alcohol for control over fingers and toes. Burnettâ€™s becomes the victor with a buzzer beating basket. Itâ€™s a sticky kind of vomit when sun comes crashing across the curtains. Empty wallet still in the pocket of his jeans dropped by the door.
snapshots We all decided it was a good idea to smash the light fixture against his back. He’ll only bleed a little. And no one will ask questions when you punch your fist through the wall; he was our friend too. Sometimes your heart just stops when you’re fifteen. No reason. It wasn’t the alcohol; never the alcohol. Hold your breath as long as you can, it’s fun to be held under. Once you put the vodka in the water bottle you lose the taste for lemonade. Cheers to senior year and breaking through the windshield. We were all upset about the seatbelt. I’m quitting football you tell me, hanging up the phone. So different from the boy who broke his neck you’ve always reminded me of.
Kenneth Goldsmith On Modern Creativity Kenneth Goldsmith is a pioneer in contemporary literature and the leading figure in the movement known as conceptual poetics. Through the use of “uncreative writing,” Goldsmith challenges the traditional definitions of art and defies accepted notions of copyright. He has received numerous honors and is the first Port Laureate of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Goldsmith teaches Poetics and Poetics Practice at the University of Pennsylvania, where he encourages his students to challenge conventional styles of writing to create art. His trilogy, The Weather (2005), Traffic (2007), and Sports (2008) demonstrate such “challenges” to conventional poetics: the first chronicles each day’s weather forecast for one year; the next is a 24-hour transcript of traffic reports broken into ten-minute intervals; the last is a Yankees/Red Sox baseball game commentary. Each of these works includes every cough, sneeze, “um” and “uh” usually edited out before publication. Goldsmith refuses to edit these human utterances, claiming that they too are a representation of art. He also maintains Ubuweb, a website housing thousands of avant-garde artworks, provides hundreds of author readings on the site Pennsound, and runs his own radio station—WFMU—which offers listeners a new way to look at poetry and writing.
Reflection Staff: What is your definition of plagiarism, or do you think it exists at all? Why do you decide to push the conventional boundaries of plagiarism in your work? What benefit do you think this has? Kenneth Goldsmith: I think our notions about plagiarism are changing. When everything is copy and pastable on the Internet, who’s not going to copy and paste? Everybody does. So I think the idea is to decriminalize plagiarism and reframe it as being the way that we write today. That said, we have to be smart about it; we have to be open about it; we can’t try to sneak things by. I think we are learning to write differently. If the Internet
wasn’t copy and pastable it would be a whole different thing, but it is and we have to admit that. This idea that people are copying and pasting things from the Internet and claiming it as their own is not going to go away. So how can we be smarter and frame it legitimately instead of criminally? RS: Some authors or writers focus on content innovation, like narrative structure and characters, while you seem to focus on structural innovation. Since you argue your work is “unreadable,” do you think the structural or visual aspect of writing is more important than the content? Or just as important? KG: I think there is narrative content and emotion and expression in all language. So I don’t think that’s the problem. No matter what we do, we are going to be expressive. If all language is full of meaning and full of emotion then you have to find a way to construct that in a way that becomes your own. Structure becomes the name of the game. RS: You call these transcripts poems. How do you decide where to cut things? Because there’s a lot of creativity that comes into how you arrange material. Even though it’s not new material you are creating, you’re arranging it in a new way. How do you make those judgment calls on where to cut a transcript? KG: It depends on each project. For example, I wrote a book that had to be 600 pages, so I knew it would end when it was 600 pages long. That was the size of a reference book and I didn’t want the book to be mistaken for poems or a novel; it had to be a reference book, so it had to be 600 pages. When it hit 600 pages it was done. The project for The New York Times made itself clear— when I finished retyping the paper, it was over. With Soliloquy it started when I woke up and it ended. So a lot of these are preset. For the ones that I read from last night [7 American Deaths and Disasters] there is usually an end to the recording. I’m transcribing something and it doesn’t go on forever; it has an end. I try not to make decisions in my work. I try to let the work make decisions for me. I don’t want to have to make those decisions. I think it’s difficult to make those decisions; that brings in too much subjectivity, too much control, too much creativity, too much reflection. 28
taste. I’m working on a book now that is based on another book so it’s got to be the identical length of the other book— 500,000 words. When I’m at 500,000 words I know it’s done. RS: How do you think the Internet has influenced creativity? KG: Years ago it was so hard to remix anything. If you wanted to remix music, you’d have to make a cassette tape somehow, and then you’d have dual cassette decks— I don’t even know! You really didn’t do these things. Now, everybody remixes everything. The whole notion of supercuts on the web; we have these wonderful, wonderful things people are doing. They’re wonderful; they’re strange. And so when you get to something like Christian Marclay’s, The Clock— are you familiar with that work? RS: We’re not. KG: It’s a proper artwork on the level of a mega-remix. It’s a 24-hour video that he made. You’ll see at some point and it’ll change your life. But, on the other hand, you’ll recognize it as being familiar to the way that you look at material on the web. All we do is take this image and plunk it into that and put this text on it and send it back out. We do all these things that we never did before. We sort of did them with scissors and glue a little bit. When everything can be downloaded, everybody is just scrambling everything. I mean, it’s really an amazing time, don’t you think? RS: Yeah, definitely. We agree. KG: Creativity is not defined as that which is original. Creativity is now defined as who is the best remixer, the best DJ; the best person that has the best samples on their laptop and puts them together in the best way. And that’s kind of the way art is going. It’s been going that way a long time but the Internet explodes it. RS: What was your goal and process for UbuWeb? KG: I wasn’t sure that I had a goal. There was going to be this giant
warehouse for the avant-garde. I didn’t know that when I started; I just put up a few things on the web and people kind of responded well. And you put up a few more and it grows into something else. And I think that’s the way contemporary culture is going today. We don’t really have any big ideas, but those small ideas and passions snowball into major things. RS: Did you ever expect it to expand this wide? This big? KG: I think culture grows from the grassroots now and it becomes somehow authoritative if it gets big enough or is taken seriously. That’s what every small genre on the web starts out— just a weird fan thing and becomes the biggest site of its kind. Whether it’s collecting Star Wars memorabilia or beauty sites. When they [people] set out to do it they need millions of dollars. Like The Huffington Post sets out to be the biggest news site on the web so they need ten million dollars and it’s kind of a failure, where something weird like Wikipedia starts small and gets interesting. RS: Where do you think writing is going then? What direction would you tell aspiring writers to go in? What boundaries to push? KG: I would say try not to be too connected to the past and older ways of writing. They were good for their time but that’s not our time. We have to give up those ideas— the ‘Great American Novel’; I think it’s really time to give that one up. Admit the time that you’re living in and don’t get romantic about earlier times. We’re living in a radical and revolutionary moment. So radical and so revolutionary that not to celebrate this would be really missing out on the most important thing in my lifetime that has ever happened. Live in, be in, articulate the moment you’re living in. Stay contemporary, stay present. You’ll be okay.
Exploring Goldsmith’s Uncreative Writing Below is a short exchange between Reflection Editor, Haley Swanson, and Kenneth Goldsmith. Not only would this side conversation usually be edited out of the printed interview, but all verbal stumbles and speech disfluencies of both speakers were also left intact. Speaker designations were removed. This is an example of Kenneth Goldsmith’s “uncreative writing”: the unvarnished poetry of natural human speech— unedited, unfiltered, unchanged.
Yeah, um, so, yeah, we’ve been discussing David Shields, and your work, of course, and the directing of Postmodern literature. So, I guess my question is where do you think Postmodern literature is going? Where do you think people who are aspiring to be you one day, or writers one day, should go? Uh, wait. Let me just, you can ask me that question again but you can’t use the word Postmodern literature because it doesn’t exist. It doesn’t exist? Ok, why would you say it does not exist for you? Well, Postmodernism was the kind of end of Modernism. What was called Postmodernism now we look back and we see that idea was really just the kind of, the petering out of a Modernist project. Then what happens is Modernism ends and you have this a giant thing that comes in called the Digital. And once the Digital comes in we are no longer in Modernism. So, uh, you know, you know, Postmodernism is a complicated and flawed term and I don’t…Perhaps they are teaching you that term, but I think you need to question that term. I think it’s a really problematic, uh, term that doesn’t really have any relevance because you have this giant wash, tidal wave, called the Digital and that changes the way, you know, as we have been talking here that every one works. Ok, so, reframe that question without using the word “Postmodernism.”
Ok. So heading into the age of Digital literature then, or the Digital expression— Doesn’t that sound better? More contemporary? It does sound better. It makes a lot of sense too. You don’t know what Postmodernism is, I don’t think you really do. You know, doesn’t that sound more contemporary, like now, like this.
Untitled. Jim Buckham reflection. SPRING 1976
PsychadEllie. Gouache and Felt-tip Pen. MARIA MONDLOCH
Umbrella. Pen and India Ink. HANNAH SOUERS
Spontaneous Hiking Up Makapuâ€™u. Photograph. KIMBERLY AU
China. Rubbing Alcohol, Tempura, and Bleach. ANDREW FIORETTO
Roses. Watercolor and Micron Pen. EMILY CRONIN
What Goes Up, Must Come Down. Photograph, Canon T3i, 18mm f/8. CAMERON STAHL
Why? Photograph. Canon Rebel XTi. ELI FRANCOVICH
A Lunar Orbit. Computer Code. SARAH PRATA
COGITO ERGO SUM perhaps, yet when I think it is of you; therefore, You are (somewhere) and I am lost and alone and possibly NOT except in an absent thought, maybe in You; but then again, possibly not. reflection. 1975
Passing A lottery ticket A mail box A bathroom scale
I spend my life waiting for things that will never happen.
Unsolved Mysteries Even though Everett vehemently disagreed, there would be no need to perform an autopsy on Mrs. Langdon. The seventy-four-year-old smoker with stage IV lung cancer had been dwindling down in size for months. Her relatives had begun making regularly paced goodbye visits and according to her niece, Claudia, who had come to stay with her at the beginning of the summer, the old woman had refused to go outside the house for the past few days. Mrs. Langdon had seemed to surrender days in advance, limiting herself to her bedroom, lying with arms wrapped across her chest in the position of perpetual rest. This was why it was not particularly surprising to any of the neighbors when the ambulance slowly rolled up her driveway one July afternoon. The old woman had died, they assumed, just as old women tend to. Unfortunately this explanation was unsatisfactory for Everett. He watched the scene unfold with a sense of profound disappointment. It had nothing to do with the old woman herself, for Everett had never been close to Mrs. Langdon. He had rightfully intuited her dislike for children, and had wisely kept his distance. The problem was this: the ambulance had driven past the house three times before Claudia had come outside to flag it down. The siren was switched off, and only when the truck parked in Mrs. Langdon’s front yard did the lights finally begin flashing. When the paramedics emerged from the truck, it took minutes before they entered the house because they were unsure of how to unfold the gurney. Even though he was only nine, Everett had seen his fair share of TV and movies to subsequently know that this was not how death was supposed to work. Death involved tears, cries of anguish and people who couldn’t let go. It involved an ambulance that drove fast and actually turned its sirens on. It involved yellow police tape, and a crowd of curious bystanders gathered outside. “Mrs. Langdon is dead,” he said upon seeing his mother. She was
vacuuming in the nearby hallway. “What?” She was distracted. “Mrs. Langdon is dead!” This time he flung his arms outward for dramatic emphasis. “Oh?” she murmured, turning the vacuum off to finally give him her full attention. “How’d you hear?” “The paramedics came. They rolled her out on one of those wheeley tables,” he said. “I saw everything.” She sighed and nodded before picking the cleaner back up again. “I wish that man would learn how to wipe his feet by the door,” she grimaced. “How long does it take to do that? Or how long does it take to take off your goddamn shoes?” Everett looked down at his own shoes. This was something both he and his father were guilty of. But still, Everett hated it when his mother got like this. He thought his father looked good with the shoes on. Everett’s picked them out for his father as a birthday present, and since then, his father had rarely taken them off. They were brown oxfords with deep red laces that Everett had picked out because they looked distinguished but not boring. He liked to think his dad never took them off because the gift was so perfect. His mother, on the other, hand rarely wore any of the gifts Everett picked out for her. There had been the earrings made of peacock feathers and silverware, and the fuzzy socks with cheetah patterns on them. He had not seen her wear either of them once. His mother flashed a brittle smile upon receiving these gifts. “I let Everett pick them out for you,” his father said proudly. “Thanks guys,” she said. “The earrings are very original.”
“That’s it?” he yelled over the cleaner trying to get back to Mrs. Langdon’s death. “You don’t wanna know what happened? You don’t wanna know how she died?” She turned it off once more before looking at him intently. “Mrs. Langdon was old. Very old,” she said much more gently. “It was her time, and she lived a good life.” “What if she was murdered?” he called. “She wasn’t murdered. They don’t even do autopsies on old people reflection. 44
like her. Don’t think about it too much. Ok? Want another popsicle?” He nodded. Despite his mother’s best efforts to soothe him, this was the worst thing Everett thought she could have said.
Everett would open the investigation only an hour and a half after he watched the body of Mrs. Langdon wheeled away. He suspected foul play and he knew that something was wrong. Detectives called them hunches, and for the first time in his life he was absolutely sure he had one. He had been waiting for such a hunch for months now, ever since his father had purchased him the Sherlock Holmes’s Detective Kit complete with a detective guide, fake pipe and magnifying glass. “Rule Number One: A good detective cannot hesitate,” said the guide. “In order to solve the crime as quickly as possible, the detective must dive in. With every passing hour the stakes rise. The killer could kill again, the thief could escape the country, and the truth can slip between the cracks completely out of reach.” Everett set to work. Examining the crime scene would not be entirely difficult considering the fact that it was just across the street from his house. He sat down on his front lawn and observed. Everett had always thought the Langdon residence was one of the more interesting looking houses on the block. It was a tall, austere building, in varying shades of green with dark oak accents. His father had once told him that he had considered buying the house when they first moved into the neighborhood, but had decided against it after Everett’s mother had made it clear she disliked the layout. Everett always thought of this when he saw the house. He wondered what his life would be like if his family had purchased the house and he had grown up there. For Mrs. Langdon and her niece, it seemed as if living in the house had facilitated a lonely existence. Mrs. Langdon was not a social woman, misanthropic in a lot of ways. She rarely answered the door or left the house, whereas Claudia seemed like she craved social interaction. At the beginning of the summer, back when Claudia had first moved in, she had seemed eager to engage with the community. She went around to every house with a freshly baked tray of cookies, cookies that his
mother had thrown away. “We don’t know anything about her Everett,” she replied to his many lamentations. “She could have put anything in those cookies.” Everett had thought his mother was crazy at the time, but recently he had begun to see her point. Claudia had begun to seem like a suspicious character. She had stopped waving to Everett, she had stopped sunbathing outside, and she had stopped delivering cookies. She had become less visible all together, and even in the rare moments when she was outside, she no longer made eye contact with others. She hastily pulled out the trash bins to the street late at night. Everett worked himself closer to the edge of his lawn, working up the courage to do what he knew he eventually must. “Step one of every investigation,” read the manual. “Is to thoroughly examine the crime scene.” Here it was. The moment was perfect. Between the Langdon’s front door and the frame there was a tiny crack of light. In her hastiness to not be seen Claudia had carelessly left the front door open. Everett glanced back towards the kitchen window, to see if his mother was watching. She wasn’t. He had two options. He could make a run for the Langdon’s front door or he could stay here on the front lawn and observe. “A good detective needs to be brave. There will be times when others will want to prevent him from knowing the truth, and sometimes this process will be dangerous, but it is the job of the detective to push onward.” He made a run for it, hesitating to enter the house as he made his way onto the front porch. He had never done such a thing before. He had never been in the Langdon house, nor had he ever considered entering anywhere uninvited, but thirty seconds prior he had made the decision and now he had to follow through. This was not a game, he thought, clutching his detective guide and his magnifying glass. This was a hunt for the truth. Mrs. Langdon’s house had the sad musty smell that Everett had always associated with old people. The front door opened up into the living room that was dominated by a patched up purple La-Z-Boy that squeaked as Everett made his way across the floor. “At every crime scene, there should be something that does not belong. Do not immediately assume that things simply are, for in truth, things are rarely what they seem.” reflection. 46
Everett scanned the living room for clues but came up with nothing. This was not the scene of the crime, for the room looked as if it had not been used for years. His heart raced he crept down the first hallway in search of the crime scene. He entered a musty smelling room with violet wallpaper. The drawn blue curtains cast a cold sterile glow about the room that made him proceed with caution. In the middle was a large empty hospital bed with strange contraptions to the side of it that Everett did not understand. A plethora of pill bottles rested on the bed stand along with other peculiar trinkets that intrigued him. He absentmindedly made his way about the room examining things with his magnifying glass, only pocketing clues that were interesting: a bottle of pills, a string of pearls, a handkerchief. Next, he entered a much smaller and neater bedroom. There was a precisely made twin-sized bed with a pastel pink bed sheet. A pretty white sundress hung neatly in the opened closet. On top of the handsome oak dresser was note written in large bubbly script. He pulled out the magnifying glass to read. Things aren’t looking good for Aunt Carol. I think we’re getting closer to the end. I think that means that it’s soon going to be time for me to head out… unless you can think any reasons for me to stay. This paragraph was crossed out and beneath was written: I’m sorry, but I don’t think I can do this anymore. He stashed the note in his pocket, feeling very pleased with himself. Claudia was planning on leaving, and she somehow knew that her aunt was about to die. How could a person possibly know that death was looming, unless they were about to impose it? Suddenly he heard the screech of hinges. Someone had returned home. He ran to the back sliding glass door and slid behind the nearest clump of bushes. As soon as Claudia entered the phone rang. “Hello?” Her voice was wispy and inviting. “Thank God it’s you… I thought it would be the family checking in. God, I really don’t want to have to tell the family.” Everett peered up between the bushes to see feathery strands of Claudia’s golden hair fall over her bare shoulders. “So I guess this means I’m probably leaving.” She coiled the phone
cord around her fingers. “Yeah, I can talk, but not long. I’ve got another hour before I need to go back… Right… Ok… See you in five.” As Everett lay shaking in the grass, he contemplated going back home. “A good detective persists even when the trail of clues seems to disappear. Do not make assumptions. The case breaking clue could be staring you straight in the face.” Instead, he waited and preoccupied himself by examining the nearby bugs with the magnifying glass. After finding nothing of significance, he took out his book once more to review the facts. Mrs. Langdon had been taken to the hospital at 1:15 p.m. and was now likely dead. The ambulance drivers had displayed inadequate skill. His mother was somewhat apathetic to the news. He also knew that Claudia had motive and maybe an accomplice. Everett imagined what it would be like to share all of this information later on that night at dinner. He would lay it out in dramatic fashion, clasping his hands with the mature restraint he had seen in T.V. lawyers. “Turning now to exhibit A,” he would say coolly, “we can see that Mrs. Claudia Langdon had the motive to kill her aunt. Claudia wanted freedom. She just couldn’t do it anymore.” He imagined his father’s awestruck wonder upon hearing this. “Look at him Lucy,” he would say proudly. “The kids got the skills of some of the best detectives in the precinct.” His mother would show concern. “Jeez, what should we do Frank? Do you think we should call someone? The cops should know.” “BOY GENIUS SOLVES LOCAL MURDER,” the headline would read suspended above a picture of Everett looking very determined and intimidating. His arms would be folded. In one hand, he would hold his magnifying glass, and in another, he would hold his Sherlock Holmes detective guide. The caption would include additional facts about him for those who wanted to know more. “Even though Everett is only nine years old he is already 4’2”, which makes him the fourth tallest person in his class of over twenty-four people.” He waited until he heard footsteps coming around the back door. reflection. 48
He swept his red Chuck Taylors back into the bushes once more. From the way the footfalls crunched up the gravel pathway, Everett knew that this person was likely in a hurry, and was also likely a man. He wrote this down. The man did not knock before he went inside. He simply entered. “Hi.” she said. It was clear Claudia was happy to see this strange figure. Everett recalculated. Claudia seemed like a nice girl. He thought back to the pretty white sundress that hung so neatly in the closet. Perhaps the real killer was this mystery man. He crept up slowly from the bushes, not entirely sure of how to proceed. He needed to catch an image of the man’s face. He waited by the sliding glass door. The man was clearly sitting in the purple La-Z-Boy, his entire body hidden from sight. Claudia sat on his lap. She seemed distraught but calmed down after the man pulled her forward and out of view from Everett. He scribbled this down, certain that there was something important going on. It was the click of a door closing that made him look back up. The two were out of sight and Claudia’s bedroom door was closed. This was his cue to re-enter the house. He got up off his knees, making his way over the welcome mat. He was going to peak under the door and listen to their voices, write down anything he could hear. A voice could tell you a lot about a person, and Everett always thought himself very good at perceiving these types of things. He could tell if the man was a good listener. He could tell if he was angry with Claudia, or smug at having gotten away with the murder. He could tell if he was old, or young, or from a different country. Despite all of Everett’s skill in this area, he was not able to use any of it because he was not able to make his way past the welcome mat. Something caught his eye. “Look around and find the thing that does not belong.” Everett had found it. The thing that didn’t belong here. There, sitting on the welcome mat was a pair of brown oxfords with red laces. “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.” Everett thought he knew what was impossible and possible, but he could not fabricate a logical explanation for why these shoes where here.
He absentmindedly dropped the guidebook and the magnifying glass in Mrs. Langdon’s dying flowers by the doorway and picked up the shoes. He was no longer conscious of what he was doing, no longer preoccupied with being quiet. He carried the shoes through the house and out through the Langdon’s front door with the direct, careful urgency of a solider carrying a grenade that was about to blow. He walked straight through the street directly into his own yard. When he reached the door his mother emerged and began scolding him. “Where did you go?” She shouted. “Where were you? I told you to stay within my sight!” She was furious, but he could not respond. When he opened his mouth, he felt bile rise up in his throat. He breathed deep through his nose in an attempt to slow down his pulse. “Everett? Why aren’t you answering me? Everett?” Her voice began to soften as he began to breath louder and harder. His mother ceased speaking after her brushed past her clutching father’s enormous shoes. It was with great precision and care that he set them gently on the welcome mat where he could only now suspect they belonged.
Untitled. G. Orr reflection. WINTER 1964-65
Vocation / The Word I Spoke Loqui, loqui, loqui— Like caustic rooster and deep-chested magpie and peacock: We like the speaking best. What if, by humble, morning loon and sister chickadee— I serve a silence inwardly? Oboedire.
Shrine The John Deere sputtered to life today at the turn of a rusted key attached to a plastic yellow flag which hangs on the second nail by the shed door, the rudimentary awakening like the compulsion of a mystic imparting final counsels in the lengthening of his days to a teeming world that outgrows him, And it grows and grows and yellows and is never green but always stands radiant and poised to be evenly cut, leveled, made all the better for it. Grass from the mower flies up in wisps on the wind like incense and rises and settles roundabout the tire swing, an artifact and a remembrancer, a sacramental, part and parcel of the eschatology ensconced in cedar rounds and sunsets and running children and tires that yet have some roll left in them, And they roll and they swing and they sing the scene pristine, calling forth what grace was already there as they circumnavigate the tree clement, celadon. And the tracks lead into a place of repose, a clearing gifted of God and reached by bushwhacking, where tread marks cohere to the prayers of men who have passed under that tire themselves, time and again, who have grown and risen de profundis in the grass, who have caught the leaf on the first branch, who have been given to fly. reflection. 52
Thomas Aquinas Slow as slush in spring-tide And trampled things, Calm in the pupilsâ€™ ring-chide For the ox had wings. reflection. SPRING 1964
Day of Bread In the morning, make me stollenâ€” with raisins and cherries and apricots, dim amber gems hidden beneath crust, beneath snow, whispers of cinnamon wishing good things. In the midmorning, biscotti, like your mother made in summer days when great floury plumes of dirt stirred beneath our naked heels in the hot, high seaside headland, which was full of good things. In the afternoon, thick slices of sourdough and sweet, salty slabs of ham, wrapped in old towels and thrown in a bag, thrown on the beach, while you tossed me into the sea and sang of good things. In the evening, focaccia, bubbling dough and hot oil. No knife, no butter, no other but the bread that you made because I asked for itâ€” because It is good.
A Reflection With Dr. Mike Herzog Dr. Mike Herzog (’70) maintains a longstanding dedication and connection to Gonzaga University. As an undergraduate, Dr. Herzog explored the medium of poetry and was published in the Spring 1965 edition of Reflection. He returned to Gonzaga as an English professor after earning his Ph.D., and now serves as the Chief of Staff to the President for Thayne McCulloch. Dr. Herzog continues to hone his creative talents, most recently working on dramatizations of classic Middle English tales, as well as a manuscript for a novel on the Medieval writer Geoffrey Chaucer.
I began writing poetry in college. I was fascinated with language, awed by the power of great poetry and experimenting with forms, and, of course, enjoying a therapeutic experience from the creative act. My poems, such as the one reprinted here, were acceptable, but I knew that I was not driven to write poetry, and that is why I would never be more than an adept poetizer. Graduate school, paradoxically, bled out of me the main reason I had chosen to go there: my love of literature. My interest in writing poetry withered accordingly. It took a few years of teaching literature, primarily to Gonzaga undergraduates, to rediscover my emotional connection to verbal art and to fall in love with it again. Energized by the opportunity to act in plays, I developed an interest in writing drama. I had been given the gift of regularly teaching the poetry of Geoffrey Chaucer, and then to act in a dramatized version of The Canterbury Tales, created by Ken Pickering, whose model gave me permission to try my hand at dramatizing a wonderful Middle English poem, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, as well as Chaucer’s powerful poem of great love and greater loss, Troilus and Criseyde. Out of those experiences and the realization that no one had written a novel about one of the most intriguing, accessible and mysterious public figures of medieval literature—Geoffrey Chaucer—came the idea to write such a novel.
This is a narrative meant to be the unlikely yet true story of a complex human being; an introduction to the emotional, psychological, literary, historical, and spiritual world that constitutes the European Middle Ages; a whodunit; the uncovering of a fearless artist who was compelled to write poetry into the wee hours of the night, following each day’s work as an underpaid clerk in the courts of Edward III, Richard II and Henry IV. What I have discovered over some years of writing this novel, off and on, is that writing fiction is punishingly demanding, frustrating, exhilarating, despair-inducing and wonderful. The excerpt below from Pilgrimage occurs early in the novel and depicts a dream Chaucer has had following a day on which he discovered that he has no choice but to involve himself in what will be a totally unexpected, life-changing and terrifying assignment. The frame for the novel is that 21st century archeologists, digging near Westminster Abbey, have discovered a secret written record Chaucer kept during the final two years of his life— and this is part of his entry for May 4, 1398 (supposedly translated from the Middle English of the original journal).
Excerpt From the Manuscript of Herzog’s Pilgrimage What a night! I have spent other sleepless nights, but none like this. After last night I now have a new understanding of eternity. Did I sleep? Hardly at all, I think, except that I know I dreamed, and I remember clearly what I saw in what must have been the last of many dreams, leaving me as befuddled as my dreamer in the poem of the Duchess Blanche. Though I have never believed in dragons, I saw not one, but many, too many to count, flying from east to west in a swarm so thick the day was turned to dusk and, as they flew over Westminster, they shot their sharp flames from their maws, one after the other, into the Great Hall, and burned it down to nothing— literally nothing. All that was left was grass and sand, stretching to the shore of the river. And there were Bagot, Green and Bushey, standing on the shore, leering at me, wildly waving bloody knives in the air and shouting: “Do your duty! reflection. 56
Do your duty!” I hid behind the walls of the Abbey, cowering, whimpering, covering my head with the cowl of my robe— yes, I was dressed as a monk; I knew my head was tonsured without having to feel for it; I could see the monk’s sandals on my bare feet and the rope, reaching to the ground from where it cinched up the cloth around my waist. And I was praying— I, who never pray, even at coronations, when we need it most— I was praying for King John, for approaching in procession out of the Abbey was John of Gaunt, arrayed in royal robes, an enormous crown on his head, in one hand the head of King Richard, an uncrowned baby’s head but unmistakably Richard, and in the other the entrails of a man, dangling like an upside-down scepter. Gaunt and the baby each smiled their toothless smiles at me, but from Gaunt’s mouth emerged yet another dragon, tiny at first, but rapidly swelling as it flew straight at me before it swooped up and over my head. But even before it reached me, it had turned into Henry Bolingbroke, covered with blood and wearing a brass crown that split in half just as he passed over me, half of the circlet staying on his head and half falling into the gigantic casket that now sat where the Great Hall had once stood— as big as that hall. There was an entry at each end, and hundreds of foot-soldiers, dripping blood, missing limbs and even heads, were silently crowding through the passageways into the coffin. Then Gower was dragging me toward this mausoleum, and I was resisting with all my might, shouting lines of poetry at him— from poems written long ago— but I was helpless against his unexpected strength and even more helpless against the dribble from his own work that he shouted in return, louder than mine. We passed through the sidewall of the great casket— no entrance there— we just slithered through it, and I saw the circles of hell, just as the Italian Dante described them in his awful vision, and Gower flung me headfirst into that pit of fire. And then I was awake, and the sunlight was streaming into the one small window in my bedroom, and I knew that I had been dreaming, drugged with a torpor no doubt engendered by my prior insomnia, that had kept me unaware past my usual hour of rising.
DR. MIKE HERZOG
#7, page 305 At 3:07 p.m. a girl Walks hipswinging Down the mainstreet Of Paris, Arkansas. At 3:15 p.m. a man Wearing a white hat Jumps off the Eiffel Tower In Paris, France. If both travel at a Sustained velocity of seventy-three Heartbeats a minuteâ€” At what time of night Will they Miss each other? reflection. SPRING 1965
Portraits. Kathy Ketler. reflection. 1972
Marilyn Your nose is too big, and it is ugly. But if you rubber band up bushels of my voluptuous locks, cut, copy, and paste, paint it gold, you think you might look decent enough to sip a can of Campbellâ€™s chicken noodle soup while you savor my bottle of Perignon on the sofa. Pockets on your face, from where it erupted, still seep butterfly larvae that look like those antidepressants I stirred into my vanilla ice cream, while you painted pictures of boys kissing boys. Blankets of bloody deer skins, and banana peels dish out my fame, gurgled in your ugly, white wig, and the only thing theyâ€™ll remember is that I was naked.
Fishing License I had a difficulty waiting on the bankside of rivers, watching fish pass me by. Disappearing around corners, under rocks, each with patience to hide. God knows momma tried. The one and only day her hopes dragged me out into the lake, I watched with desire for the shore in my gut. Momma says I nagged the entire two hours, claiming I could see men in the lily pads, and rocking the boat to only see sand. But in a manmade pond under a bridge to a door, twenty bodies swam, pressed together. Already packed tightly for consumption, and yet I had never seen so many fish dance before. I fish like a man just like momma taught me. I fish for men just like momma taught me. If you hit a fish hard enough, it will die. Death in my hand, and with intention We broke off a table leg, and I was plainly instructed, smash once right by the eye. Momma didnâ€™t warn me of a belly that pushes back delicately, with a gentle bulge, and succulent center, but my hand was raised high already. reflection. 60
Her swollen body catered to my swing as eggs swam onto to the concrete, a washing wave of lives left gone. She was empty, without a chance for maternal driven suicide upstream, come spring. I fish like momma taught me. Scraping at scales that shine, I wish I could throw her body back. We problem children always fix the problematic potentials by tossing them aside. But this dead fish is now mine. I fish just like momma taught me. Keep what you catch. As the silver lined bodies became just one, and I couldnâ€™t scrub the pink from my hands, I set down my table leg club and counted the crackled bones and cupped the bubbles full of babies in my palms. Holding life, taking life, momma taught me real early that no matter how hard I bang the head; my brains, my guts, my insides, my unsaved springs, my shaved scales, my dead belly, will all stay the same.
What mommaâ€™s lessons forgot to mention, was that men fish too. And that I, as woman, must pull hooks from my eyes, ribs, and tender cheeks, hold my caverns close, dance in the many, disappear around corners, fight upstream, bite the hands that feed, and hope that I wonâ€™t be tossed back.
Crucified. Dick Lbach, S.J. reflection. SPRING 1969
Michael and Gail Gurian Writing Award Winners Fiction First Place Winner
“The Sky Like a Bruise”
“Friday Night Double Feature”
“Blow Out the Candles”
Tyler Wroblewski Haley Swanson Ceilan Hunter-Green
Poetry “Response to Atta Kim’s ‘Long Exposure’”
Second Place Winner
“Dream In a Winter Barn”
“You Would Be 87 Years”
First Place Winner
Non-Fiction Haley Swanson
First Place Co-Winner
“I Am Addicted to Men”
First Place Co-Winner
“Chasing After Nature”
The Sky Like a Bruise Anna was curled up in the front seat, staring blankly out the window as they headed for home. She hadn’t said anything since he’d picked her up, just set her jaw and looked away from him like this wasn’t the millionth time she’d fucked up. He didn’t know why it surprised him. His baby sister hadn’t owned up to anything in years. “I swear to god, Anna, I’ll just leave you next time. See if I don’t.” She didn’t respond. The engine rattled, coughing anemically. It would hold until they got back home. It would have to. Anna never had any money to begin with, and John had blown all his getting her out of lockup. The four hundred dollars their mama had scraped together to pay the fines was money the family didn’t have. Four hundred dollars meant they couldn’t get the carburetor fixed, so the truck would just have to last. Of course, the money meant a lot of other things too. Dropping one of his night classes so he could pick up another shift at the hospital. Choosing between the mortgage on their shitty little rambler and keeping the water and electricity on. Things Anna didn’t seem to care about anymore. Three years ago, maybe even three months ago, he would have asked her why. He remembered asking. It always felt like he was prying the words from his chest with a crowbar, wrenching them out and forcing them into the open. His voice always sounded raw, but he always asked. “Why are you doing this? Come on, Anna Banana, tell me why. Let me help you.” Back then, she’d screamed at him, or cried, or just told him she was sorry, over and over again. But she never told him the truth, and as he stopped asking, she stopped saying anything at all. Now here they were with four hundred miles of silence between them and home. The air in the cab was quiet and suffocating. Anna kept staring out the window and John stopped glancing over at her, keeping his eyes on the road, watching the dirty beam of the headlights slice through the darkness as the mile markers ticked by.
Dawn finally broke, turning the sky a sickly gray. It was a six-hour haul from Abilene back to Tulsa, not a drive anyone wanted to make twice in the space of a day, burning through almost eight hundred miles with no coffee and no sleep. More than once, when his eyes had been gritty and his fingers were clenched too tight on the wheel, he’d thought about stopping. It would have been easy enough to pull off the highway at the next exit, find a cheap motel, and sleep off the headache that had been pounding away at him since he’d found out Anna was cooling her heels in a holding cell in Texas. He hadn’t done it, though. He knew from experience that as soon as he was asleep, Anna would be gone. He’d wake up to an empty motel room and an emptier wallet. He might have done it anyway: just let her go, except for the way his mama had looked when she handed him the money, like one more piece of bad news would shatter her. So he didn’t stop. He kept driving; the two hundred miles still ahead stretched out like his own personal slice of hell. Eventually, she’d fallen asleep, still curled up as far away from him as she could get. She looked more like the Anna he remembered now, all the hardness she carried with her when she was awake leaching out of her, leaving a teenage girl behind. Asleep, she looked like she could still be his sister, wild hair and freckles spattered across her nose, a gap-toothed grin waiting for him when he got home from football practice, excited to tell him about her day. Lookit John, look! We made Valentines in class today! I made a purple one for you, just like your jersey. Anna Banana, the baby sister he’d given up on. The thought made his breath hitch in his chest, made him cough like the truck’s engine. It was true, though. He had given up on Anna. Three years of lying and stealing and slowly destroying their family to feed her habit. Three years of not knowing why the fuck she was doing this, why she couldn’t stay clean, why she wouldn’t even try. She wasn’t someone he recognized anymore. She stretched a little in her sleep, turning to wedge herself closer to the door, and Christ, it hurt to look at her. He turned the radio on, flicking through stations until he found something that wasn’t mostly static, just so he didn’t have to be alone with his thoughts.
They were still two hours out from Tulsa, just past some no name blip on the map, more truck stop than actual town, when he heard it. Every Midwest town had a tornado warning siren, and most of them were tested at a certain time every week. Wednesday at noon, or Friday at five o’clock. Some innocuous hour, a set time that let people glance at their watches and breathe through the panic, knowing it was just a test. Because that’s what happened when you heard that eerie, two-tone wail begin to rise – you panicked. John had heard the siren before, listened to the three o’clock warning during Saturday practice, felt his heart accelerate like he was running suicides. It always passed, though. Eventually, the whine died down, and you knew you were safe. Just a test. The scream blaring from the town behind them didn’t stop, just kept on wailing and wailing, and then the radio wasn’t playing old rock anymore, but crackling with the volume of an emergency broadcast, “— tornado warning has been issued for Hughes County and the surrounding areas, drivers be advised—” The warning echoed in his head, mixing with memories of middle school safety drills and a preacher’s old sermon on the almighty wrath of God. Twister’s comin’. Better find shelter, and pray it don’t take something you can’t replace. It all mixed together in his head, too much noise to think through. He slapped at the dash until the radio finally turned off, and the wail of the truck stop town’s siren faded as they finally outran the sound. Anna was awake now, her eyes wild, her fingers in a white-knuckled grip on the door handle. The silence left by the absence of the siren was heavy and ominous. Her eyes were fixed on the horizon, searching. There was no funnel cloud, not yet, but the smell was already filtering into the cab, harsh and metallic. Ozone, the charged, voltaic scent of the air just before a storm. John wrenched the wheel, pulling the truck off the road. The sound of the door slamming shut in the still air made him flinch. Anna sat frozen in the passenger seat, her eyes still focused on the line of the sky, gone dark now, clouds low and green. “Anna, Anna, come on, we have to go!” He yanked the door open and caught her as she tumbled out, pulling her into a run. They needed shelter, an overpass, a ditch, anything. “The truck,” she blurted out. It was the first thing he’d heard her reflection. 66
say since he’d picked her up. “Forget it. Can’t outrun a tornado.” Even as he said it, he felt the still air begin to move, wind picking up, a sound like a scream rising in the distance. “Faster, Anna,” he yelled above the wind, “faster!” They ran, feet pounding, kicking up dirt in the scrub alongside the highway. The scream kept rising behind them, turning into a roar, wind snatching at their clothes and whipping dust into their eyes. He risked a glance behind him, and there it was, a twisting, writhing column of darkness, cutting through the earth like a saw blade. It raged through the fields on the other side of the road, heading straight for them, chasing them down, hungry and alive and unstoppable. “Faster,” he screamed again, and the wind tore the word away from him like a kite. Anna found the ditch by tripping into it, a figure running beside him one moment and then a huddled shape in the grass the next. He doubled back and skidded into the shallow depression next to her, trying to remember information from those long ago middle school tornado safety drills. Find shelter. Make yourself as small as possible. Cover your neck and face with your hands to protect yourself from flying debris. Wait until the storm has passed and the sirens have stopped. Inadequate beyond belief, with the wind roaring and the sky like a bruise, the fury of a storm bearing down on them. Covering his neck wouldn’t do a damn thing. Anna shivered next to him, her whole body rocked with tremors, hands lifting to mimic his. Her eyes were blank with terror. Jesus Christ, he had time to think, Christ don’t let it take Anna, before the twister was on them. It was a freight train barreling down on them, a deafening sound he’d never be able to find words for. Eyes shut against the wind and stinging dust, small rocks hurtling into him like bullets, he pulled Anna against his side and tried to stay small. The roar kept building, loud and impossibly louder, a demon made of wind and debris howling in his ears until it seemed like the only sound he’d ever heard. The pressure in his ears became unbearable until there was a pop, and then a sticky warmth trickling down his cheek. Anna was still shaking, fingers wound in the cheap fabric of his shirt like he was a lifeline, an
anchor. Someone who could keep her safe. He held on to that thought, and waited.
Finally, it ended. The roar faded, and then stopped entirely, leaving his ears ringing. They stayed in the ditch, stunned and clinging to each other, for a long time. Eventually, his heart stopped thudding in his chest, and Anna stopped shaking. It’s gone, he told himself. It’s gone. You have to get up. He touched the blood on his cheek and sat up with a wince. Anna sat up as well, still clutching his shirt. Together, they staggered to their feet and looked out at the path of destruction the tornado had left in its wake. Fields torn up, a heap of wood that might have been a house, a twisted mass of rebar. “Come on,” he said, voice sounding strange and far away. Anna nodded mutely, and they stumbled back onto the highway. They found the smashed remains of the truck a few minutes later, picked up and hurled across the road. The glass was all shattered, the solid steel of the cab crumpled like a tin can. The absurdity of the situation forced a laugh out of him. “Don’t need to worry about the carburetor anymore, I guess.” That drew a laugh from Anna too, or at least he thought it had, until the sound shook and wavered and turned into a sob. “Anna, we’re fine, we’re fine, the truck doesn’t matter—” She just kept crying, tears leaving tracks in the dirt that covered her cheeks. He could see her freckles. John didn’t think about the three years that lay like a minefield between them, about the drugs or the lying or the anger that had simmered in his gut all the way to Abilene. He just reached out and pulled her into a hug. “It’s okay, Anna Banana, we’re fine.” “It’s not okay, you would never have been here if you hadn’t had to come get me, I could have gotten you killed—” She kept babbling, my fault, my fault, Jesus, John I’m so sorry, over and over until she ran out of words, and went back to crying, her arms tight around him. Maybe it was the storm talking, adrenaline and guilt and the awful relief of survival. Maybe she’d be gone in a few weeks, looking for reflection. 68
another score. It didnâ€™t matter. With the sky clearing above them, he hugged his little sister and promised her theyâ€™d be okay. Maybe this time, it was the truth.
Joseph-One Of My Friends. Erik Erson reflection. WINTER 1967
Response to Atta Kim’s “Long Exposure” they all look like places we have once been, spaces we carry on the inside of our wrists. buses, mist, and street streaks of buses missed. doorways and alleys and crosswalks pulled thin. eons of existence rush by like train track ghosts amidst the dawns of peppered dots and life bouncing off the fading pallid sunlight, this, a rare and familiar day. but it is postapocalypse in another world’s flesh. are the city’s inhabitants just kicked up dust? are they free falling atoms ready to be crushed? do they plunge into crowded emptiness? perhaps in the thoroughfares, the dissipation of human clouds, will be amassed into one. figures fighting a glass separation wherein everything, all of it comes undone. yet it ends in exposition, seeking closure, longing exposed. in a long exposure.
Creatures I have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. I do not walk through doors in a particular manner. I wash my hands no more often than any other hygienic individual. I am not afraid of germs. With the media and common misconceptions of psychological disorders circulating through society, most people have a very incorrect understanding of disorders affecting oneâ€™s mental health, and thus the majority of the population is ignorant to the reality of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and other mental afflictions. This unfortunately results in insensitive remarks and hugely inaccurate perceptions regarding OCD, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other illnesses. People fear what they do not understand, and people will punish those who they fear. There are the normal days, when my OCD is a personal struggle, but for the most part, it does not interfere with the rest of my life, and it does not demand attention throughout the day. There are the normal days, when someone will make a comment about the spot on the whiteboard, complain about how this annoys them, and mention casually to their neighbor how they are â€œso OCD.â€? There are the rare days when the disorder, the irrational thoughts, and compulsions bear down on my head, filling me with the pain that only those who have felt their own mind turn against them could hope to understand. But the worst days occur when the misconceptions of this culture are illuminated in grotesque brilliance. I volunteered at a hospital in San Jose, California. Every Wednesday for three hours, I would visit patients on the six floors of Good Samaritan and bring them refreshments and magazines and ask them about their days, their families. Despite the stained linoleum flooring and the smell of industrial-strength disinfectants, piss, and anxiety, the hospital was a beautiful place. The laughter of new parents overpowered the cries echoing through the intensive care unit. The colors of the blossoming and drooping flowers held in glass vases betrayed the happiness and the hope that remains mostly hidden under the burden of illness and disease. But one of the best aspects of Good Samaritan were the friends I grew to know
and love in the volunteer office. It was sometime in February, nearly a year ago. Outside, the early sunset begot painted flurries of bloodied oranges and yellows, and the season gave rise to frigid wind. The evening Wednesday shift communed in an undersized room, sitting on worn table ledges or resting against the chipped walls, waiting for demands from various nursing stations to be conveyed through the ancient telephone on the counter. Daniel was filing papers in the emergency room. Vi was discharging a patient from the third floor cardiovascular unit. The remaining seven high school students stood or sat, discussing television shows and arbitrary matters and completing various homework assignments in a lackadaisical manner. A conversation regarding NCIS or Bones or something of the sort quickly devolved into a monologue of serial killers and psychological flaws, with every supposedly informative point based entirely on media ploys and false facts. “It’s proven that people with OCD are way more likely to become serial killers,” Melissa said, brushing her thin, dishwater blonde hair out of her face. Her fingers with the chipped electric blue nail polish gripped at a Seventeen magazine. “And how creepy, like I bet there are some people who have weird rituals when they kill people or something.” I objected, of course. I told her that any statistics concerning a correlation between Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and murder was fabricated. But she did not relent, and instead insisted that a decent percentage of serial killers had OCD. I tried not to feel offended. She did not know I had OCD. I was her friend, and she, mine. But would she fear me if she knew of my own bouts of compulsions and the nagging, persistent thoughts that appeared as if conjured by the devil himself? Very few centuries ago, people afflicted with OCD were locked away and said to be possessed by a demon. In that moment, I felt the years melt away. Perhaps being locked up would be best. The outside world was no place for someone like me— someone who, at the time, could not control many of my actions, let alone my thoughts. I was an aberration. I was a heinous and twisted collection of bones and tissue and skin and a deceptive and disloyal brain. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is a widely misunderstood psychological disorder. It is typically given little social attention, although it can ruin the lives of those afflicted with it. The science behind it is reflection. 72
complicated, as are the symptoms. Obsessions are defined as disconcerting thoughts that can, at any time, plague the affected individual and cause feelings of anxiety and extreme discomfort. Compulsions are actions or rituals that irrationally seem to alleviate some of the stress caused by the obsessions, and are often uncontrollable; they are so strongly tied to the obsessions that one can be reduced to severe anxiety or even mental breakdowns if the compulsions are not fulfilled. They could be anything: from blinking a certain number of times, to avoiding the number six on radio stations, to turning off the lights in a particular manner. One year ago, I had over thirty-six compulsions that I would need to complete at least once a day. After months of behavioral therapy, I now have fewer than seven compulsions, and while the obsessions will never go away, it is impossible to articulate how freeing this newfound control is. But I still recall the nights where I stayed awake needlessly, just to temporarily avoid the multitude of compulsions I had to perform before sleeping. I will never forget how humiliating admitting my disorder was in the beginning. I will always remember gripping at my head and begging for the thoughts to go away. I leaned heavily against the rusting tan lockers on the back wall. The room was lit harshly with fluorescent bulbs and stark walls, but I tried desperately to make everything fade into oblivion. Maybe I would disappear or sink into the metal if I stood there long enough, no longer speaking and attempting to stop breathing. I became preternaturally aware of my self-hatred and fierce psychological insecurity. Every iota of humanity and dignity ripped itself from me. I was left a shell of a person, more animal than human, more loathed than loved. At least, that is what it felt like. Taking into consideration nothing but the pure reality of the situation, it can be truthfully proclaimed that the world did not stop spinning, my heart did not stop beating, and that nothing immensely terrible was stated. But in the instant, I perceived myself as much less than a human being, and that is one of the worst sensations I believe an individual can experience. I do not remember leaving the hospital that night. In terms of metaphorical resonances and the implications of that occurrence, I never quite did leave that moment. The awareness of my disorder and the fact of these compulsive, animalistic tendencies lie dormant under my exterior.
Hephaestus will control the chilling fire, but not indefinitely. In his essay, Nature, Ralph Waldo Emerson urges all men and women to find understanding and emblematic values within every situation and environment. Many lessons are forged through extraordinary experiences and often suffering; toil and oddity are prerequisites of growth. Maybe there was a lack of any explicit purpose behind that one evening at Good Samaritan. However, recalling this event leaves me with not even a semblance of pain, but rather feeling only disgusted and mildly amused. More significantly, it causes me to wonder how many people go through their lives or survive frequent days when they feel subhuman. Men live in rotting cardboard boxes, women sleep in dirt and become victims to sexual assault, and children sift through mounds of garbage in order to find a meal. There is no dignity in that. Every single thing that happens in one’s life is left up to interpretation based on one’s own perception. I know I am very much a human being, and I believe that nearly every person in the world perceives himself or herself as a human. However, the unfortunate truth remains that not everyone will view every other person as an individual worthy of the same respect and dignity. Awareness precedes action. I am thankful for my disorder and I am grateful for every day where I have felt less than human, for it has given me perspective into the constant reality of billions of people on this planet. Society needs not only to become more accepting, but also more knowledgeable of the issues and hardships affecting people from all walks of life. No one deserves to feel like a subhuman creature, for no one is. The telephone, with its high-pitched, alarming ring, sounded through the office, drawing me back from the almost gravitational pull of the lockers. Phil quickly took down the errand request on a pad of yellowed paper and I heard the click of the phone. “Discharge for 517,” he shouted from the counter. “I got it,” I said. My feet flattened themselves out on the floor and my back straightened. I ineptly maneuvered a wheelchair out through the door and into the hallway, which was growing dark with the onset of dusk. I stole quick glances at some of the many signs that littered the upper walls as I walked towards the lobby. Neonatal ICU. Radiology. Urgent Care. This reflection. 74
place was one of diseaseâ€” I felt perfectly at home. The elevator doors opened. I walked in quickly and as the contraption began to rise, I looked up at the ceiling and blinked eighteen times, hating myself and society more and more with each close of an eyelid.
Epilogue. reflection. WINTER 1967
reflection. VOLUME 55. ISSUE 1.
Journal of experiences and reflections at Gonzaga University