'()("*+,"'$I am bound to give of myself because I have received.
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-./00 Faculty Moderators: Dennis Millan Elizabeth Moore Co-Editors in Chief: Sara Watkins Tyler Mulholland-Gain Editors: Courtney Andrews Patrick Murray Tamira Thomas Graphic Designers: Alexis Bizupic Matthew Chlebda Sarah Montgomery Layout Consultant: Chris Pahnlick Publicists: Dayna Howitz Meghan Rakus
The Forbidden Lotus by Jassim Abmani Connectivity by Taurai Augustin Something Else by Greeta Babu Tether by Daniel Bramer The Man Who Talked to Me Out of Thin Air One Night by Daniel Bramer Levade by Rebekah Bramer Cell Biology Exam by David Butkiewicz Darkness by David Butkiewicz The Unnecessary Death by Matthew Chlebda God’s Work of Art by Sister Doloretta Dawid In Adoration by Sister Doloretta Dawid Summer Showers by Sister Doloretta Dawid The Four Seasons by Angela di Gualco The Dawning by Anita Flynn The Unexpected by Connie Flynn Shadow by Rosa Gonzalez The Anatomy of A Cup of Coffee by Rosa Gonzalez Answer Me, Uncle Sam by Carolyn Gulliver The Downfalls of Being A Garden in a World of Flowers by Carolyn Gulliver 1855 Clementine by Fred Hansberry A Picture of Jerome by Warren Hope Two Souls Afoot by James R. Huber Great Blue Heron James R. Huber For Duty’s Sake by Chris Mallard A Parody of “The Raven”: Procrastination by Sarah Maloy Dear Matthew by Molly McAtee Teddy Bear by Molly McAtee A Reach by Kathryn McCarty The Tree by Meghan Moyer Along the Silent Path We Walk by Saba Mufti The Glimmer by Caitlyn Olszewski Pile of Hopeful Dreams by Caitlyn Olszewski Two Tries by Christine M. Estel Life’s Travels by Nicole Ridgeway The Real World by Nicole Ridgeway
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'/123+40+546.36.7 Dessert by Edwin Romond Bells and Words by Edwin Romond Life by Mary Sarpong The Liquid Orb by Kezia Singh Rag Man, 1955 by Joseph Stoutzenberger A Soldier’s Prayer by Sherry Teti Sir Thomas More, Great Saint of England by Sherry Teti Sunflowers by Claude Monet by Sherry Teti In My Mind by Tamira Thomas Snow Is What Brings Me Back by Leslie Torres Tails From Ghosts of Fast Whispers by Leslie Torres Screaming With Silence by Leslie Torres When the Lord Came Into My Life by Jack Watkins Forgiveness by Sara Watkins My Life in 20 Lines by Alyssa Zintner
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!%"'# Now My Angel by Taylor Adair Full Disclosure by Anita Flynn Sunrise and the Sand by Emily Griffis Dreaming in War by Amanda Gurecki 1001 Cups of Coffee by Mickey J. Heide Finding Grace in Vietnam by Mickey J. Heide Gang of Eight by Mickey J. Heide A New Motivation by Dayna Howitz A Mother’s Love and Lesson by Molly McAtee The Little Fat Girl by Megan McDermott The Last Man on Earth by Kyle Moyer The Once and Future Pilot by Patrick Murray Dear Future Self by Gabrielle Simon Television: Savior of the Sixties by Sherry Teti The Top Five Things to Go Wrong at an MRI by Sherry Teti Georgia and Her Dream by John Wildonger Fifth Floor in the Children’s Hospital by Ken Sperling
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Accidental San Fransisco by Lawrence Goldberg Bears Country (Philadelphia Zoo) B&W by Lawrence Goldberg Candid Wedding #3 B&W by Lawrence Goldberg Chik-Fil-A Squirrel by Lawrence Goldberg Valley Forge Cabin (sepia) by Lawrence Goldberg Away We Go by Carolyn Gulliver Cuba by Carolyn Gulliver Points of Interest by Carolyn Gulliver Fireplace in the Woods by Amanda Gurecki My Drawing of Jesus by Alisitie Holman A Day on Campus by Ryan Keller Blue Jay by Sarah Maloy Whale Breaching by Sarah Maloy Moon on the Beach by Rowena Millan The Pier by Rowena Millan The Shores by Rowena Millan Under the Pier by Rowena Millan Red Robin for a Real Good Friend by Sarah Montgomery Natureâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Path of Serenity by Saba Mufti Penn Landed Here, Ya Know? by Tyler Mulholland-Gain City Hall by Meghan Rakus Christmas at Glencairn by Meghan Rakus Fountain of Youth by Meghan Rakus The Governess by Joseph Sear Caged by Tamira Thomas Disconnect by Tamira Thomas lights. camera. philly. by Tamira Thomas Urban Rhythms by Shana Treon County Fair by Janice Xu
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Mysterious way about The Man Who Did The Clock. Said how He said something Grand to all that charmed And glowing company, Rich as a picture. Joked about That hour Sure went fast! Told it like The standard, how he perceived, How he perceived! Could Have told me anything, Picked it out like the one He wanted to show someone Before he died, the grand Summation of what it all was for And we were sharing old times Unneeded to speak of much, The solemn understanding.
This was the huddled Fortune of his life, saved In trust with me.
We stand aface, World abuzz As flashing past And around it goes. And We, Straining Ineluctable wire; Taut cable and Beaten manacles Lend a freedom Quite beyond The fearful Unfettered Who agape Press back And are Crushed In the centrifuge Of the world And on We go.
Believe me, believe that believe this Routed by her power at the wall Connection over 6ft tall Hey eyes signaling through my soul Her range spreading even past the cold Rejoice Make noise Let’s cheer For when she connects It’s more than clear Everything is faster and at ease It’s like her heart was locked away but you have the key Do your best Remember try to impress For at the end be thankful that this love is wireless.
She ponders alone in the twilight light Lavender skies framing the night Where to go next and why and when Remembering now and regretting then A mind that is clear and fast and bright Waivers a bit with fight or flight Seeing it through or ignoring it all Marching ahead or taking the fall Sure footed and strong she yearns to be Not careless or reckless or wildly free Follow the rules but reach for a star Taking some risks, but not going far Playing it safe and thinking it through This is what she has been taught to do But now things have changed and so has she No longer sure who she wants to be Shrugging her shoulders and shaking her head Deciding to lead and not to be led Her pondering stops; it’s time to let go To make it worthwhile, to put on a show No more in the shadows, it’s time for the light Hello to a new day, good-bye to the night.
5322+F?424AD+(G/9+)&*+,8.9*04$:.#;.<= Today is day where I sign my death I might as well enjoy every last breathe. I am trying to read the book and I say, “What the hell is this?” It turns out I am reading about glycolysis. Everyone around is full of fear I have a feeling there will be a trail of tears. I hear the door open and it makes a big creak The reaper is looking how many souls he will seek. He gives out the paper and tells, “Good luck!” I laughed at him thinking, “I’d rather get hit by a truck.” I was looking at the paper and I gave a big smile I was thinking I will be here for a while. The questions I saw weren’t as bad as I thought Maybe I can look at my phone, but then I would get caught. It’s the last page and I am feeling good Until I saw a question that misunderstood. I couldn’t take it so I went with my gut I went up and gave him the paper with my eyes shut. The reaper said, “Thank you and have a nice day.” Hopefully I got the question right with DNA.
->6@?73+/6=+.;3+-/6= E\ (PLO\ *ULIÀV “Come on, Em!” My mom said in a whispered kind of shout. “Wake up, wake up!” The crisp morning air rushed into the room as she opened the old creaky windows. Suddenly, the feeling of rising goosebumps travels throughout my body. “Mhm,” I uttered in a refusal to fully wake up. The muscles in my eyes were so weak it felt like they were permanently stuck together, as if someone glued them shut with super glue. The obnoxious pounding of her footsteps sounded like a full-on parade running through the house. “Let’s go Emily! We gotta go!” she exclaimed a little louder this time. Prying my eyes almost half open, I gave up my long-fought battle. When I did so, what I saw was not what I expected. “Why is it still dark out?” I questioned in a sleepy voice. “What’s going on?” Except, when I looked around the room she was nowhere to be found. As I slowly sat my body up right, she swiftly walked back in. The overwhelming aroma of fresh pancakes and salt air filled the room as she opened the door. “Get dressed or we’re gonna miss it,” she demanded. “Miss what?” I asked wearily. “What are you talking about? What’s going on?” she tossed some clothes at me and darted back out of the room. The blankets on the bed seemed to be wrapped around me so tight as if they were going to hold onto me for forever. Their soft comfort made standing up seem utterly impossible. As I did, against my will, my legs felt like noodles that were going to give any second. “Ugh!” I yelled as I glanced at the clock in confusion. It read 4:30 AM. I started to put my clothes on but it seemed like everything was going in slow motion. I slouched into the chair by the bright yellow kitchen table. I waited for breakfast and as I did so my heavy head found its way to the table. “Nope! No breakfast until we get back!” she smiled as she dropped my shoes next to my chair. “Put them on and meet me in the car.” As I walked out of the little beach house and down the long wooden steps, I could feel the dampness covering just about everything. In an attempt to not fall, I slid my hand down the smooth wooden rail. As I slouched into the cool seat of the car I asked again, “So what’s going on? Where are we going?” My mom looked at me and smiled and said softly, “You’ll see.” I didn’t know where we were going because I nearly fell back asleep in the car. The lull of the engine was soothing and the calm darkness of the early sky was perfect for falling back to deep sleep. My nap quickly ended when the car stopped not long after it started. “Alright, we’re here! Let’s go!” my mother squealed, already out of the car. It was still pretty dark out. Before I knew it, I felt the gritty sand between my toes as with every step I took each foot sunk in slowly. The waves were rolling gently like they knew it was early in the morning. I was still confused as to why we were there. “Why are we on the beach, it’s not even light out yet?” I asked calmly as I glanced at her. “Look,” and as she demanded, it hit me. I was stunned with amazement. All of the different colors of blue and red and orange worked together to paint a beautiful picture. I looked at her and smiled.
Summers by the Sea
The Falling of Autumn
Summer saps your strength Hot, humid, lazy, longer Are the days of summer
Every time the leaves change Fall back to school again
Crowds flock to the beach Loud, littering, lunatics Adults never have fun Get up before dawn Long lines of stopped traffic No place to park anywhere Parents bickering Why can’t we just stay home I’d rather be with my friends Seagulls survey sand Looking for their next meal There’s always lots to eat Hot prickles tickle toes Silky warm water soothes No one can stay mad for long
Leaves turn brilliant colors Descend from lofty limbs Rain and wind refreshes Naked trees shed their skin Piles of crunchy leaves Perfect to dive into Long warm days, cooler nights Slow slide into winter Anticipation of snow Cold, clean, white, spring again
Life Springs Eternal
Cold winds blow Barely stirring Naked tree limbs
Burning yellow orb Brightens up the sky
Dank dreary days Trudge thoughtfully past Dreaming sunny dreams Soft wet snowflakes fall On upturned faces Melt on tiny tongues Holidays breeze by Leaving us longing For more school vacations Dark extends its grasp Activities decrease Sleepy snow blankets all
Buds clothe naked limbs Blending bright colors Birds chitter chatter Bending green branches Beautiful flowers Burst out like popcorn Breezy sunny days Bluster brilliantly by Boundless energy Breathes life into all
Weary white winter Sits sadly silent Waiting for spring
The young surgeon stood in the corner, head bowed, undisturbed by the hustle of the orderlies carrying in yet another patient. He couldn’t remember how long it had been since he had slept. He tried to think, but there were so many numbers. Eight hours of being officially on duty. Three medical emergencies during that shift. Six patients who needed reassuring that they would finally get to return home. Twenty seven hours of fast paced “meatball” surgery following. Thirty one patients, in total, who visited his table. A wise old man once told him that life was numbers. Eight. Three. Six. Twenty seven. Thirty one. He didn’t understand, how could life be numbers? Eight, three, six, twenty-seven, thirty-one. There were other aspects to life, not just numbers. Eight-three-six-twentyseven-thirtyone. Life was full of numbers, yes, but there was also color, texture, scent, taste, sound, emotion. Eightthreesixtwentyseventhirtyone. The old man must not have been as wise as the young surgeon had been told, to have said something so foolish. So many boys were being brought in on stretchers now, the casualties being laid out in triage rows like birds on a powerline. They were all so young. He felt as though he was working on mere babies, hardly out of diapers. Most were just eighteen or nineteen, some even younger. He couldn’t understand it. Why so young? What did they see, or thought they saw? Why was war so attractive to these boys? Didn’t they understand? War wasn’t a game anymore. War wasn’t something that could be won anymore. Everyone suffered when the world played at war. No one else could see it though. Just the young surgeon. He was the only one who could see the war for what it was. They all said that war was hell. War wasn’t hell. War was worse than hell. Hell had no innocents caught up in its fire. The young surgeon was exhausted. He couldn’t sleep though, not yet. Not while there were still soldiers being carried off the front lines. He could hear the helicopters, tirelessly traveling to and fro, bringing their boys to safety. There were so many of them. He had been told when he was drafted that there would be days like this. What day was it now? It was Monday when the young surgeon reported for post-op duty, but that seemed like it had to have been eons ago. An eon. That was how long the war was lasting. It seemed like it would never end. He heard rumors though. Rumors that there were peace talks. Rumors that the war would be over before Christmas. Christmas. It would be nice to be home for Christmas. It was only five months away. Five months wasn’t a very long time to wait. It would be nice if he could write home, tell his wife that he’d be
home in just five months. He knew he couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t though. He couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t promise something that was based on a rumor. How many times had he heard a rumor about the war ending? At least a hundred times. One hundred. The are was yet another number. It seemed to the young surgeon that war was all about numbers. The number of enemies. The number of allies. The number of men on the front lines. The number of wounded. The number of casualties. Numbers, numbers, numbers. Why did it all have to be numbers? Eightthreesixtwentyseventhirtyoneeighteenfiveonehundred. Why couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t wars be settled by a civilized game of chess, or checkers, or poker? Eight-three-six-twentyseven-thirtyone-eighteen-five-onehundred. Why did so many have to die for a cause that they barely understood? Eight, three, six, twenty seven, thirty one, eighteen, five, one hundred. A wise old man once told the young surgeon that life was numbers. Eight. Three. Six. Twenty seven. Thirty one. Eighteen. Five. One hundred. He understood now. Yes, life was full of color, texture, scent, taste, sound, emotion. But above all, life was numbers. The young surgeon sat slumped on the floor in the corner, snoring softly, undisturbed by the hustle of the orderlies carrying in yet another patient.
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You were a daisy. I was a garden. Though you seemed to be simple, you had roots. You found comfort in my soil and planted yourself there, But I didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t mind. I was honored a beautiful daisy like yourself wanted to stay with me. You grew with me and became rooted in me, you multiplied until My brain had your roots intertwined in every thought I produced. I loved my garden because it had you in it. Before it was living but now it felt alive. Time went on and so did we, and you decided I just wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t for you. My soil may not have been supportive enough. My flowers may not have been pretty enough. My gardening skills may not have been attentive enough. So, you left me. I looked around and no longer recognized my garden, For it was lost behind a wall of daisies. I allowed you to overtake my thoughts, my views, my being until I no longer knew who I was without you. An inexperienced gardener who never had to deal with daisies like myself would obviously not know that daisies are a weed. Daisies are persistent and durable and no matter how hard you try to get rid of them, it is nearly impossible. I cut your extensive roots, I ripped you out of every crevice, but you continued to emerged from the depths of my thoughts. Your roots created a cage around my brain and when you left, you took the key to unlock it. Every day I rip another piece of you out of me. Though you are gone you remain here to destroy me. That is the problem with being a garden in a world of flowers. People will plant themselves in you. Some will be the perfect additions, growing with you, not over you. But, some will be beautifully disguised silent killers that can destroy you. Nobody told me that something so beautiful could ruin me so deeply as a daisy could ruin a garden. But even if they did, I would not have believed them.
Duty On the roads of cobblestone they marched In disciplined rows of three As children, women, brothers watched The soldiers take their leave Towards gates of iron, gates of rust A tightness deep inside their guts The crowds were beaming the crowds were cheering For in excitement they could not see Those men marched dead inside their boots Upon a future with no spring Honor Upon the field of no spring The corporal surveyed the scene The dead on the left, the dead on the right They had all taken their leave And to the east, a setting sun The murderers of sons and brothers sharpening their blades He held his breath, and spurred his horse And charged toward destiny Regret A house sat vacant A mill stood quiet A forge lay dormant A world in silence In eyes of copper, in eyes of blue Mothers, daughters, saw it true Those men who marched the cobblestone knew That war is just a game to lose
)&*>"',*B"-=,/#= Suspended in time It feels right to say That thunder does not break A deaf manâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s streak To gamble with him He sees the lies Freight train accident We breathe in ice We breathe fire The sky is grey Paralyzed by unfortunate events Seeping through pores of existence Seeming far away From a kind hand Numb from the face down Caught between sleep and awake Humble structures that tumble The maze of broken walls The second me on the wall Disappears as the sun goes down A lingering person that doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know the way Yet every place is home, once in a crack, another in a crevice.
This cup before my eyes My head is on my folded arms, contemplating life But here is this cup, paper and not styrofoam Better for the planet that way As breath seeps in, the aroma invades my nostrils Not sweet, forgot the sugar and creamer So, up from my chair and over to the other table Straws are strewn in different places The plastic container is cracked and almost empty They’re all out of Splenda, only Equal and Sweet N’ Low Oh good, a choice between crap and crappier Six packets of Equal should give some sweetness at least Now time for creamer Coffee Mate, Half & Half, discount French Vanilla I think I saw some pumpkin spice in the fridge That must taste sour because it’s from four months ago So Coffee Mate is the way to go Now for a plastic spoon, darn, just the knives are left It’ll serve the same function in this case All of my supplies, time to make a good brew Returning to my seat, it feels warm still I pull my cup close and pop the top, a dark soul Is staring at me, opening the Equal, it snows into my coffee Next, time for creamer, changing from black to beige, definitely more inviting to drink now Stir with the knife, perfect now Secure the top and sip, not too bad for a Monday
My Lite Bright And Lisa’s Care Bears Jimmy “Super Fly” Snuka Me and Jason wrestling Dad In our colored underwear Before we had a dog And after Mark came along Before Mom’s beautiful face Showed the wear Of worry and age A picture perfect childhood Could never replace That time At 1855 Clementine Before Mumsy’s bypass surgery Before Pop-Pop had his gall removed Before the alcoholism Before the drug abuse Before every other late night hospital scare Before When we all cared Years pass Innocence and youth Went by so fast I had He-Men, Transformers and GI Joes Eating French toast Watching Saturday morning cartoons With dad With love Where’d those days go T-Ball, soccer and midget basketball Dance recitals and school plays Smiles on everyone’s face Tomorrow Shit, even today Has me longing for those yesterdays
Hopes, goals, dreams were thrown away, Alone, without you, everyday. Where was I to go from here? The only thing to feel was fear. Constant tears filled up my eyes, Feelings could not be disguised. A smile was forced upon my face, As I imagined this, a bad dream, taking place. Was this true, was it “for real”? Would my heart be able to heal? A world without my first love and best friend? Did our relationship really have to end? We’ll never understand why it had to be this way, But perhaps we’ll find out that reason some day. No matter the distance, I want you to know, I’ll hold on to our memories and never let them go. -I will never love anyone, the way I loved you!
Once upon a stormy winter, there was no paper in my printer I searched the house to look for more While I searched, my temper snapping, suddenly I heard a rapping As of someone loudly tapping, tapping on my new keyboard “Tis my sister,” I muttered “tapping on my new keyboard” “Get off my computer!” I roared Ah distinctly I recall, it was towards the end of fall And each minute I could stall, putting off my tedious chore Desperately I searched Google, but my attempts were merely futile For the work was harsh and brutal, “Brutal tis this work!” I swore “I will finish this assignment today!” I loudly swore However, of this, I wasn’t sure How I’d finish I was not certain. How to relieve myself of this burden? This willed me- instilled me to finish on time or before So that now, to ensure completing, I grabbed a snack for eating “What for myself shall I be treating? Perhaps a cupcake or something more?” For myself shall I be treating? Perhaps a cupcake or something more… “Not too much or my stomach will be sore” Through the kitchen I would wander, “What to eat?” I stood and pondered “Chips!” I said “or pretzels, or maybe some pie we bought at the store,” But in the midst of my snacking, I heard someone’s footsteps come tapping And so quickly I got caught in my slacking, slacking from my tedious chore “From upstairs I heard you, but what is all that food for?” “Procrastination,” I sighed “Procrastination and nothing more”
)&*+,8.9*04$:.#;.<= Why canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t I be as smart as my friends? This is the question I wish to be pretend. I work as hard as a horse and I am still not the best, I should just drop out and just lay at rest. I look around and I see my friends have good grades I just want to turn around and stab myself with blades. There is so much anger and hatred all around me But there is a light that I always see. The light is dim, but it shows me the way That light turns my darkness into a sunny day. I do not know why I am writing this, it just came to my mind I just hope that faith is not hard to find. I understand that you need to believe in yourself and always be confident However, my confidence is absent and silent. Why is this happening? I do not know. I just wish my life was great and escape my shadow. My shadow is dark and full of misery I need to loosen my chains and set myself free. Although most of my life is darkness, there is light in the end. The only thing that makes me happy are my family and friends. They are the only people that make me feel alive Even though I am here just to survive. I know this poem is sad, but this is how I feel I just hope that my heart will soon heal.
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Watch me as I make a name for myself Straining against the reins that hold my head in check A vice of my own design Pawing, grimacing Popping veins and crackling joints Moving not a mite Watch me
M246A+.;3+-?236.+K/.;+I3+I/2<+ )&*M,),*G4Q$.* There are moments in time where we feel as though our lives are falling apart. The confusion that has stricken us, drowned us, left something unforgettable in our hearts. It left us a feeling of emptiness and no sense of reasoning. But if you open your eyes and look beyond, you will see something is glistening. The essence of life was once lost, but is now restored. Its presence so warm and nostalgic, as the memories flow back inside us once more. As we drift away from this desolate space, clinging to the hope that was once forgotten. The wise follows the wisdom, as it carefully reconstructs what once was thought rotten. Along the silent path we walk, I can feel the power of nature flowing inside me. I hear the voices call out, please just release me from this so-called memory. It took time, but finally the memories of our failures become distant and crumble before us. As we take another step closer to the light, negativity turns into dust.
)&*P.<"/#*>.95#;,& As she drove she felt the void. One she had ignored, making the morning dark. Every mile brought her closer, bridging the sky to the ocean. The thoughts of tomorrow bringing her down today. She didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want to leave. The world felt large, until the sun was in her eyes, reminding her of the light.
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In the quiet corner Where the rocks meet the water Is a pile of hopeful dreams Scattered between the leaves The dirt The crevices of the rock Brought there by the ones With broken dreams With broken promises With broken hearts In the hope of being mended Consoled By the ones who know their pain Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s something about the quiet corner Where the rocks meet the water Something about the way the sun shines down On the sturdy rock That holds the ones with Broken dreams Broken promises Broken hearts One by one they come And sit down on that sturdy rock In the quiet corner Where the rocks meet the water None of them knowing Who was there before them But knowing they share the same pain So they scatter their hopeful dreams In one pile In the hope that together they will win.
Was it a fall, a heart attack, or something else all together? I guess I will never know. I will never know what took my grandfather from me. I remember feeling numb when we got the call. I remember not wanting the end of the week to come. Not wanting the funeral to be here, the final goodbye. I remember the day of the funeral. I was amazed by all the people that showed up in respect for him. He had touched so many people, and made an impact on their lives. I remember tracing a cross on his forehead before saying goodbye one last time. I remember hugging my mom as they closed the coffin. I remember my dad making everyone cry with his eulogy. I knew my grandfather was not really gone. He would always be with me, and after his death I made a vow to myself that whatever I did from there on out I would do for both of us. I had a new set of motives, because it was not just me reaching for my goals anymore. He always told me how proud he was of me, so I will continue to make him proud. I know he is here watching over me, because even though I lost him that day I gained a new guardian angel. I remember feeling grief like I never had before, but I will not give up. I love you Grandpa, and thank you for a new motivation.
It was the last Thursday in March as the music therapist was exuberantly explaining her work. Her goal was to heal and aid something you can’t see or treat with a pill or chemotherapy. She took several questions about her job and the way she treats patients, but at the time I couldn’t think of one. As a family walked through the glass door to the outside, our tour guide mentioned that through the windows behind us was a rooftop garden. When I looked through the glass I saw a single violet flower, for what I think was the first time in my life. When we started to move on, a familiar looking invalid child not older than five or six was allowed to water the flowers. I watched him water the violet flower. When he did, the pain left his eyes and a large smile grew on his face, I couldn’t help but let out a small grin myself. At the same time our tour guide boisterously announced, “We had such a rough winter, thank God it’s spring!” It was at that moment that I finally thought of my question: Why do we only start to care about these kids when their bodies start to die?
How blissful this night is? With a dark blue starry sky. And here she is, in vanity emerges, Just like this night’s full moon presence. A white lotus is resting graciously in serenity, On the water surface but not disturbing it. In magnificent charming scene, & a magical moment, appears the lotus state. I’m envious for those who can, Be so close to her friendly sphere. Since its aura is humble to all, But the sinner is deprived from its gifts. Each time It brightly emerges, this humble admirer feels blessed. Although Her gifts are out for all but him, Not a glance nor a smile would calm his pulse, Nor gives him the peace of heart, that he seeks. Does she even notice his faint or invisible existence? Or he’s cursed, so she stays away from him? Not every man’s dream will be fulfilled, For some dreams are just dreams. Just like his poor affection to her, Left him lonely suffers the consequences. For how long should his soul suffers? And for how long his mind will be busy? For he seeks the only answer, Holding the white lotus in his arms.
Death, rearing its ugly head First you’re alive, now you’re dead What you probably didn’t know is that there are two kinds. The first is natural, happens when people get old. The second is far more severe, you’re told! You see it in playgrounds, you see it in schools. It’s caused by people who are fools. You see its victims, helpless and forlorn That can’t seem to get around the ruthless scorn. You want to help the victim as he crosses the street, But you see the monster, you’re afraid you’ll get beat. The victim tries so hard to erase the pain. He feels he can’t ever go back to school again. He wonders if his life’s worth living And you know he’s considerate and giving. “The bullies are too tough,” his quiet, sad, whispering words say, But you are too ashamed to comfort him today. But what happens the next day when you can’t find your best friend? He killed himself; he declared his life to end. This painful, second version of death, bullying Is not only painful for the victim, but also for the ones he loved Imagine how hard it is for a mother to lose her only son To a bunch of bullies who beat him almost like a million to one? Just think about the kid’s future one day. Was it really worth it to do the crime? He could have been President, but no You wasted his time. It’s also painful for you. Don’t you feel any remorse for the things you do? My point is to tell you to stop bullying, Or if you see a kid being bullied, HELP! If he’s your best friend, you owe it to yourself. If you think your wicked ways are correct and true, Good luck with your future is what I have to tell you Because when you hurt someone, Someday, someone might hurt you.
Oh Great Blue Heron With your serpentine neck and ancient pose Standing on stilts in the stream Near the old steel bridge Silent Still Staring at the smooth wet surface Ready to snare the next brook trout. And me The teacher poet With my advanced degree and opposable thumbs Standing on the ridge above you Silent Still Searching in vain for the words To describe your timeless beauty.
I wish I were the sun, Bringing smiles to faces as I rise; Providing life to the earth for the long run I wish I were a cloud, Drifting freely in the chariot of wind; Drenching the earth with rain, as I thunder loud I wish I were the moon, Lovely and romantic in the company of stars; Still lonely till the day of doom. I wish I was the sea, Rolling down the shores as waves; Providing man with treasures for free. I wish I was a river; Flowing down a stream, Creating bliss around me forever. But itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s much better than anything; To be a human being, Who is more unique in the world than anything
Two souls afoot On a mountain trail Hiking together and free We walk and talk in the morning mist Near a white blaze on the tree. Like Lewis and Clark On a rocky ridge Climbing to worlds unseen We crest and rest where eagles soar Above the forest green. Now father and son Are one with the stream Winding a way towards home We laugh and path the next great trip Our compass set to roam. If my last breath should come tonight And end this earthly stay I will depart with grateful heart And memories of this day.
Your presence dissolves hours into minutes, While your absence stretches a second to a year. Each waking moment is spent with you in mind, And each dream leaves me wanting you near. I absorb written words that I wish could be spoken, Yet when I am with you, I am left speechless. You are my strength, my courage, and my stability, But you are also my heartâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s greatest weakness. You offer me sweet simplicity, When my anxieties begin to grow complex. You can be nowhere in my sight, Nevertheless, in my mirror your image reflects. Your warmth and comfort embrace me, And remind me to fight through the cold. Your sadness easily spreads to me, But it is a responsibility I am happy to hold. Color sings when you are around. As you disappear, my vision fades to gray. Pain bursts through me as I watch you leave, Because every inch of my being wants you to stay. Every morning begins with a hopeful hello, And each night ends in a heartbreaking goodbye. I know the truth is that I will see you again, But time makes it feel like a lie. So, if distance burns you with the frost of fear too, Or you cannot recall the closeness of my touch, I want you to be able to read this, So that you can hear me say that I love you very, very much.
)&*?,$K%&-*G<J,%$& We are balanced so carefully Like branches among the trees You say we are still going the right way We are still standing tall Sunday comes only once a week You told me Time and time again Holding your breath does not make it come quicker I suffocated trying anyway With every breath, we are killing time You told me not to cry That I matter more than a minute wasted I wear my teeth like gravestones We visited the cemetery together, But you wouldn’t stay for long I’m still there checking for a pulse I am looking at you through the wrong end of a telescope And you know I am a one-way window You don’t understand things you can’t touch I woke up with my heart in my hands, And I am filled to the brim with things I can’t kiss goodbye
)&*G#5K,-*G"&#% Minutes turn into hours, hours to days But the tree stays settled there, stretching its long arms out. Sometimes it is filled with a million leaves, catching the sun’s rays. Other times it is bare because of a drought. The crisp, colorful leaves that crunch on the ground in the fall Disappear in a flash as winter rolls around. In the spring, bees whiz by, giving the tree a call. In the summer, tiny insects surround it, crawling like infants on the ground. Rain leaves the sound “drip drip” to echo off of the leaves. Snow, like a dump truck, weighs down branches and breaks them off. Years go by and the tree gets more worn out, as one perceives. But even after it disappears, the earth will still be left with a trough.
Answer me, Uncle Sam, I have some questions that make me question if America even gives a damn. First of all, why are women’s nipples censored? And why did everyone get uncomfortable when I said nipple, But if I say mass shooting our bodies no longer cripple? Because we are so used to hearing about guns killing people vs. people killing people That we forget that we as people are not even comfortable with being people. Why do I have to hope for my fetus to be a boy? Because if not, my daughter will have her mind, body and spirit destroyed. Why do we say, “Don’t hurt her, that’s someone’s daughter, that’s someone’s mother, that’s someone’s friend,” but not, “Don’t hurt her, that’s someone”? Because acknowledging women as someone is harder to do than buy a gun Why do Americans say, “We love our freedom and must protect it.” But when it comes to people being free to marry someone they love, they protest it. Why are we in a time where poor people receive no grief And African Americans are still stereotyped as thieves And they are being shot down by Police Chiefs Where there is progressive technology but repressive moral beliefs Where the economy is a fail Half an ounce of marijuana puts you in jail And every leader has been male.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12. Every 12 seconds there is a death in the United States But this does not take into account the death of our dreams And the death of our soul Or the heartbreak that forms streams Clouding our eyes from our goal. Did you know, Uncle Sam, that women stare death in the eye Every time We walk alone, or speak our mind? We shatter glass ceiling after glass ceiling, our shards stab men’s egos But we don’t get the recognition of the shattering, but the mess we left behind. *Insert sexist joke about women cleaning here* So, answer these questions for me, Uncle Sam, because truly I cannot stand The way the US of A has gotten so out of hand. So, I will wait, Uncle Sam, for you to get back to me Because I think we will have to agree to disagree That America has gotten so lost in its insanity That we have forgotten about our own humanity.
I started collecting secrets when I was just six years old. I was born with an empathetic sensibility and a keen eye for the drama bubbling and brewing just under the surface of what seemed to be normal conversation. I could sense that humdrum was just an illusion and that there was more than meets the eye to most situations. I would hear my brothers whispering about their stupid boyhood shenanigans and would file the information away to be used at a later date, such as when I held them hostage to take me sledding; when hanging with their baby sister was neither their Plan A or B or Z. Then there were the times my mother would make a snarky comment about a neighbor and I would just look at her and not say a word. She in turn felt the need to explain herself to me, although I am not sure why. Again, I would add this not-so-tender tidbit to my mental Rolodex to be used to my advantage at an opportune time, like when my mother had her “coffee klatch” lady friends over for their monthly gossip fest. During my teen years I had more secrets than the CIA. Friends and friends of friends would divulge their innermost longings to me. Of course, being teenagers, sex and jealousy were the two main ingredients of the volcano they were holding inside, and then suddenly it would erupt and the emotional lava would spew from their tongues and roll down the hill into my psyche. I crossed my heart and hoped to die before I would spill any of this precious drivel to an unworthy listener. My respect for their treasured, though inconsequential thoughts, increased my cachet as a trusted gatekeeper. Once I entered the workforce my particular skill was honed to perfection. While the secrets I acquired in my youth were somewhat scintillating, I quickly learned that those on the professional level were downright sumptuous. Office politics involving promotions and demotions were just appetizers in my daily buffet of confidences shared. Proprietary customer information was my main course, but the sweetest was the dessert. All those years of absorbing others’ lifetime trivia finally was paying off - literally. Insider trading was the cherries jubilee of undisclosed disclosure. I gathered business intelligence like a migrant worker picking berries. It was hard, dirty work but when payday came around it was all worth it. Until the day it wasn’t. And now I sit on the witness stand telling the judge and jury how I started collecting secrets when I was just six years old.
N4=O7+I4@<+40+M@. )&*M.'$#%*+"/"%#$$,*+,;.9 God created the world and all that inhabits it. He saw that it was good and he loved it. God is the perfect artist. He created you my dear godchild and I am most blessed to have been chosen as your godmother. I remember your day of Baptism as I sat cradling you in my arms waiting for the moment when you would become a child of God. I remember the days of your childhood when the room was filled with your laugher. Your giggles were so contagious that I just had to laugh with you. I remember many birthday celebrations when you and I would shop for outfits. You always had your own style even as a little girl. Oh, and yes, I remember on one special shopping adventure, as we walked into the store we were greeted with rows and rows of white dresses. First Communion Day was coming. You tried on dress after dress until you found the one you liked and then you turned to me and asked: “Do you like it?” I remember one unique occasion when I was celebrating an anniversary and you stood before the whole congregation and signed the Our Father as we sang. Year after year, I watch you grow as the Artist continues to use brushstrokes to enhance your portrait. Do you remember our trip to Phoenix together? We visited many places, but my best recollection was of you returning from your first horseback ride. You were so excited you related to me: “it wasn’t just a pony ride, but we followed a real trail into the desert!” I often look at the pictures from your ride on that very big horse. I remember the many times we went to lunch together. We enjoyed each other’s company and shared some interesting conversations. I remember your grade school days and the activities to which I was invited: sports, especially soccer, dance recitals, theater, including playing the role of the youngest daughter of the Von Trapp Family in the Sound of Music. And what about high school days? It was a challenge, and you worked diligently and succeeded. I remember your proms and how beautiful you looked. No matter what gown you chose, it was always the right one for you. Your days at the university are passing swiftly, and soon you will be graduating. You have done your best - I am sure of it. I remember when you began as a freshman and one particular conversation we shared. You began to realize that at this point in your education, the responsibility became all yours. These remembrances we shared moment by moment are only a tiny part of the whole picture. It would take pages and pages to relate all the numerous events we shared. The Artist slowly resumes His work to touch up your portrait. He knows that you are growing into a young adult and so He makes subtle changes. Now you are celebrating your twenty-first birthday, and I would like to think that I have been a part of your life, giving and sharing whatever I could, knowing that the Artist will always be ready to perfect His portrait of you, for truly you, dear Emily, are God’s Work of Art!
The sun begins to set, yet burns brightly In the quiet of the evening the sky darkens The leaves and branches of the trees begin to sway In the distance a soft roll of thunder is heard without warning The thunder booms and gives way to lightning First the gentle splatter of raindrops Then the heavens open and like a huge watering can The earth drinks greedily of the rains that fall Suddenly, all is hushed The darkness of the night blanketed the earth Yet in the distance a refrain The summer showers begin anew
)&*M.'$#%*+"/"%#$$,*+,;.9 Azalea, dogwood. spring green beauties of Godâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s creation these can all be seen Singing bird, blue sky, white cloud wonders for celebration speaking praises aloud Gentle breeze, sunrise, sunset call to adoration God and man have met.
When you first make your grudge-when someone first makes you make you make your grudge, form it passionately; with the hands of an artist, set to work in a studio made of glass, hands trembling with possibility, with carefulness, inspired by injustice, indignity, and self-righteousness. Form it in a moment, an instant: a creation sprung into being through only your willpower and your determination. Let it exist solely because it needs to be there. And then, hide it from the world, a project for only you to work on, a piece defying explanation. Spend long nights refining it, perfecting it, empowered by the knowledge that Time, that longevity, makes things great.
Become a maker with a plan, A creator with a purpose. Carry it with you every time you speak anywhere, not in your hands, but in your chest, in your brain. Cry loudly about it like it’s worth it, like it means something to you, like you shaped it from yourself, from necessity, because you did, like your couldn’t bear to let it go, because you can’t. When alone, cradle it carefully and close, use both hands each time you draw it out to inspect it, examine it for flaws. Then, when it is perfect, when it is good and done and finished, let it tumble from your palms and shatter against glass floors.
This painting from the fourteenth century, Made by an unknown hand, yet personal— Images from a dream perhaps, at least The work of someone who convinced himself A lack of realism was the way to truth, Someone given to paradoxes, I guess, Who sought out life abundant as a hermit. I think he must have been a Roman, an Aristocrat who saw the Manger once In Santa Maria Maggiore Bathed in sunlight and somehow felt compelled To follow Saint Jerome to Bethlehem, Thinking in exile he would find a home. A natural gift combined with training gained Among Venetian masters meant that he Could execute the vision when it came. The furniture of the scriptorium— The wooden bench, the stand holding a book— Have been placed here, outdoors and in a desert, A desert not of sand but made of rock; Sheer cliffs of granite forming seven peaks, A tribute to the Seven Hills of Rome, Ring both the furniture and the Saint himself. Jerome sits in a scarlet hat and cloak Holding a pen in his left hand to write On what appears to be a parchment scroll.
A single building sits beyond the mountains, The place where the scriptorium belongs, The monastery where our Roman lives Devoted to the memory of Jerome. Beside the seated Saint, just to his right, A lion, tame, and with a crooked smile, Lifts his front paws in homage to the Saint, Suggesting that he translates words by Mark. And yet the oddest image of them all Is a small scrawny tree that springs from rock, A curved stick with a covering of leaves, Placed as the high point of the picture, up Above the Saint’s head in a golden sky. Although unjustified, I have to think This little tree points to eternal life, The paradox and wisdom of the whole: Whoever made this picture seems to mean Jerome says far more now than when he lived.
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Her name was Mary Anne Alcott, and she left me at the altar. Her blue eyes had been so full of trust and love. I’d came back with the single hope of seeing the joviality within those sparkling blues of hers, but it was as if the war had destroyed the life in them like it had destroyed everything else. She told me that she still loved me, but after ‘Nam I wasn’t sure I knew what love was anymore. ‘Nam took away everything... I had left for war in great ecstasy and pride for my country. I came back on October 1st, 1968, with less limbs than I had had before, scars in my heart that would never heal, and harrowing memories that would never cease to torment my mind. I can still remember the looks on their faces as they gaped at my mangled body, and tried to find the man they once knew. Mother stared at the stump that had once been my left leg, as if staring at it long enough and hard enough would somehow make it reappear. Father stood over my hospital bed, looking not really into my swollen, bruised eyes, but everywhere and anywhere else. He talked incessantly about who-knows-what, as if a gear had gotten loose in his head, and it was just enough of a distraction to prevent him from having to face the grave calamity that was before him. Mary Anne sat in the corner wearing a flowered headband tied around her forehead, a Che Guevara T-shirt, and a vacant expression, as she combed her long, blonde hair with her fingers. She didn’t look at me, not even once, but just continued stroking her hair through and through. But somehow we agreed to get married in the hospital chapel, and on October 5, 1968, I sat in my wheelchair waiting for the girl who would never come. I sat there all day, staring at the doors, just waiting for her walk down the aisle in her white dress. I knew she wouldn’t come, but somehow I still clung to the hope that despite the hell I had endured, there was perhaps a small slice of heaven left for me. I was wrong. All that was waiting for me was Death, and like the three rioters in “The Pardoner’s Tale,” I was determined to seek him out. My plan was simple: every day when the nurse came to deliver my pain killers, I’d pretend to take them. But when she left, I’d spit them back out and hide them under my pillow. Then little by little, I’d stashed away enough pills to stop a man’s heart. And on October 15, 1968, I committed suicide. I wheeled myself into the bathroom, and standing up on the one leg I had left, staggered to the sink. I looked into the mirror. My brown eyes stared straight ahead, but they were as death and lifeless as a corpse. My lips had forgotten what it was to smile, and my jaw, with its ugly shrapnel scar, was as rigid as iron. I was no longer a man but a monster, and my beating heart was the only thing that told me I was alive and even that had grown cold and callous.
I looked down at the pills in my hand and lifted them to my mouth, prepared to meet Death face to face. The pills fell on my tongue and slid down my throat. It was all over now. I laid down on the floor, and as my eyes closed for the last time, I heard something sweet and beautiful like an angel singing. Sing to me, sweet angel! Sing! But then everything went black. “Hit him again.” I felt as though I’d been struck by lighting, and in a moment I was jolted forward and gasping for breathe. “He’s back!” someone cried. There were faces above me and a bright light shined so powerfully into my eyes that I saw purple and red stars. “Am I dead?” I asked. “No,” a deep voice responded. “Although, it was a close call.” “Where’s the angel?” I asked. “Angel? There is no angel.” “But I heard her! I heard her!” “Hush. Hush. It’s alright.” “I want the angel, bring her back!” “You rest now.” When I woke up the next morning, I asked for the angel again but no one seemed to know what I was talking about. Again and again I asked, and they said it was just a dream, but it wasn’t a dream, was it? Then a week later, I began to think that perhaps it was all a dream. There was no angel and I was a suicide survivor. I lay in my bed, staring up at the cracked ceiling, wondering why God had given me life. I had nothing to live for, and yet, it was like I wasn’t worthy of death either. I just wanted all the pain to stop. I wanted to escape. I wanted peace. I wanted hope. I wanted love. My sorrow felt like a dam that was about to burst open, and a river of tears would rage forth. But I’d been holding back for so long that I was afraid to let go, and so I just screamed as loud as I could: “Is there anybody, anybody at all, that cares for Scott Barrons?” And that’s when I heard my angel. It came to me—in the middle of the night on October 25th—and it’s gentle voice swept into my soul: Amazing grace how sweet the sound. Yes! How sweet that sound, keep singing bright angel! That saved a wretch like me. What a miserable wretch I am! Save me, save me! I once was lost but now I’m found, was blind, but now I see. I am so lost, so lost, come find me! Help me see! ‘twas Grace that taught, my heart to fear. And grace, my fears relieved. Take away my fears! My nightmares! My pain! How precious did that grace appear, the hour I first believed. I believe. I believe. I believe. Every night afterward, my angel would sing, and I would listen with a newfound hope. It wasn’t until the fourth night that I dared to climb out of my bed and seek out the voice that had grabbed hold of my soul. I lifted myself into my wheelchair and allowed its
mellifluous sound to guide me like a star to Bethlehem. Louder and louder it became until it led me to the last hospital room at the end of the hall. I wheeled in and there, standing by the window with her back facing me, was a girl. I tried to move closer, but my wheel squeaked and her beautiful singing stopped. “Who’s there?” she cried out. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to bother you. It’s just—well, your singing has meant a lot to me.” The girl didn’t say anything, but just stood there with her back facing me. “I’m sorry, I’ll just go.” I fumbled out, turning my wheelchair around. “No, wait.” She called out. “Don’t leave.” I stopped and turned toward her. “What is your name?” she asked, still staring at the window with her back to me. “Scott.” “And why are you here, Scott?” “Look at me and you’ll see.” The girl slowly turned around, and with a heavy heart, I waited for her face to be stricken with horror as she beheld my scarred face and stump of a leg. Her chin-length chestnut hair made two perfect curls on either side of her sweet face, and her cheeks were rosy as the blush of a red rose. I looked into her beautiful icy blue eyes, but they just stared ahead like a china doll. She was blind. She reached her hand out, and wiggling her fingers, searched for me. I grabbed hold of her hand and allowed her to touch my face. Her delicate fingers traced over my eyes, nose, lips, and scarred chin. Then slowly she brought her hands together, and pressing them against her heart, she smiled with such radiance that her whole face lit up. “There. Now I know what you look like.” she said. “And what do you see?” I asked. “I see a beautiful soul that’s just longing to be free.” The dam I’d been holding back for so long burst open, and tears started to flow down my cheeks. “What’s your name?” I asked. “Grace,” was her answer. I smiled. It was October 30, 1968 and I had fallen in love.
As long as I can remember, reading has been a huge and captivating part of my life. It is what encourages my dreams, what inspires me to write, and what has shaped me into the person I am today. It is through all the stories and poems that I have read, that I have learned many valuable morals and found my passion. However, the miraculous ability to read was not simply bestowed upon me at birth. I have my mother to thank for working hard and blessing me with such a powerful and exhilarating gift. As a child, I remember sharing a room with my older sister. In this room were our beds, toys, drawers, and most memorably, a nightstand filled with books. This nightstand was hidden between the two beds, yet stood out the most to me out of everything in that room. The books inside the cream-colored case contained some of the most popular titles of my childhood, including If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and many works by the legendary Dr. Seuss. This nightstand was not just filled with books, though. It was filled with adventure, opportunities, and the beginning of my fervor for reading. Every day, my mother would come into my room and we would sit on the comfortable, warm sheets resting on my bed. We would then choose a book to read and work through it together. There was something safe and cozy about this part of the day. It was as if nothing could touch me as her words drifted through the air and wrapped themselves around me. They provided a blanket between my body and the dangers of the real world, while carrying me to somewhere magical and new. Her finger would lightly trace its way across the large, welcoming words on the pages. My eyes would follow the simple trail, while my ears absorbed every syllable and sound. After being swept away in the breeze of the story, I tried my hardest to memorize the different words and pronunciations that my mother was showing me. She would have me repeat after her or try a sentence on my own. I tried to sound out the words with care and eventually I could put everything together in my head and aloud. Soon, around the time I was four years old, I was able to read on my own. Then, instead of my mother reading to me every day, I would read to her. She would listen carefully as I struggled or tangled myself into a web of words and would offer me gentle advice and corrections. I remember how she would lay on the bed with her legs curled under each other in a crisscross style. She would then close her eyes and listen closely to what I was saying until a peaceful look spread across her entire face. I am not sure if she was getting lost in the story, like I was, or if she was just enjoying listening to me and having some time to rest, but I always loved spending this time with her and seeing her look so content. Every time a small smile would settle on her face, it made me feel heard and like she was proud of all the progress I was making. I know raising three children practically alone was very difficult, so knowing that she would take this time to help me grow and make me feel so important in such an individual way means the world to me. Overall, learning to read was one of the most impactful and important lessons I was ever taught. It may have been a process that took time and effort, but I am glad that my mother stood by me and made sure I learned everything properly. Without her overwhelming amount of love and support, I may have never gained my adoration of literature, which has lead me to the path I am currently on. Due to this, her nurturing and patient way of teaching has and will forever have a lasting impression on my life that I am eternally grateful for.
Tormented. Terrified. Trapped. Here I am, being forced to look through the metal bars of my confinement. I press my forehead against such bars of torture, and my eyes look out at the world that I have been oppressed from entering. Out there, iridescent clouds sparkle in a blue sky, and the sun bathes the earth in a radiant gold. The wind caresses long blades of emerald-colored grass, and loquacious birds, perched on tree branches, are singing mellifluously. Out there, is life, beauty, and freedom. But in here, is confinement, torture, and a suffocating melancholia. I want to break out, to chase after that brilliant blue sky, to feel the warm rays of the golden sun upon my back and the wind rush at my face. To run, to jump, to feel, to breatheâ&#x20AC;Ś. To. Be. Free. We are a gang of eight, and all beating our bodies against our oppressive prison cells, begging to be free. We all have numbers, and mine is 4. Number 3 is beside me, pounding his head against the sides of his cage; his muscles twitching violently and his wild, chestnut eyes are full of fear. He looks at me, and my face is reflected in his petrified pupils. My auburn eyes are as frantic as his and beads of sweat are streaming down my face. Must it end like this? Must we go on, suffering in our prison cells, and waiting for death? Is all lost? And so we wait. Wait for a small glimmer of hope to shine upon our imprisoned faces. Wait for a day when we might find tranquility instead of panic, jubilation instead of bitter sorrow, harmony instead of savagery, and life instead of death. A bell, that causes my nerves to vibrate like a plucked violin string, sounds off. The gate bursts open, and I charge forward recklessly and with tremendous speed. My hooves hit the ground, leaving swirls of brown dust and dirt in my wake. The golden sun peers down at me with a smile, the sparkling sky stretches its blue canopy over me, and I feel as though I could brush its puffy white clouds with my flowing mane. The wait is over. I am free and nothing can hold me back now. I am a racehorse no longer held back by the metal bars of the starting gate. And so I runâ&#x20AC;Ś
After totaling the dinner bill we had just enough left for bus fare back to high school seminary after our annual day in Philadelphia. We had to say, “No, thank you,” when the waitress asked about dessert but she smiled at us in our black suits, white shirts, and black ties then said,
I’d hold on tight as I could when Mr. Furman let me pull the rope that rang the bells of St. James Church and it took all the strength my 12 year old arms could muster to keep it steady as the carillons sent out their song all over Woodbridge, NJ.
at boarding school could be canned fruit or institutional cookies they probably served to men on death row so
I loved giving a message of music to people across our entire town, guys I played ball with, neighbors on Albert St., and all the strangers I would never meet but I knew for sure they heard the bells
when she placed in front of us thick slices of ice cream cake we looked like Columbus seeing the shoreline. I don’t know
I rang as I pulled the rope high up in the steeple. I can hear those bells this morning as I read the column by one whose writing dwarfs the impact of chimes
her name but I still thank her in my heart for that French vanilla ice cream swirled like Christmas ribbon throughout frosted chocolate cake sweet as a stranger’s kindness
from a church tower. I marvel how potent opinions can be when powered by the fuel of eloquence
“Boys, it’s on the house.” The next day and all the remaining days dessert
one night long ago in the City of Brotherly Love.
and I picture dozens of thousands throughout the vast Lehigh Valley sipping their breakfast coffee, reading his words and agreeing or disagreeing but thinking all the same about what this man has written, his words ringing out over Allentown and Easton,
and all towns in between.
Trickles down my cheek For far too long Has the weight of its force Been held back By sheer will power. The comfort it brings Will few souls Who shed its power know.
Today, its broken loose And runs down freely But as quickly as it comes It must make a decisionShould it run down the curve And splash into pieces Or dare it cling on For just A bit Longer.
)&*N"'#SK*M$"4$=#-)#%5#%* “Rags, paper, bones” The ancient rag man chanted Weaving his way through the narrow streets of town, His rickety two-wheeled push-cart just large enough To contain stacks of paper, a clump of rags, Or even a small boy.
Why bones, the six-year-old boy wondered, Imagining himself being whisked away in the cart, Stashed beneath a mound of rags and paper, To be deposited later on a trash heap on the outskirts of town. The rag man seemed friendly enough, Always with a bright, big-toothed smile And twinkling eyes lighting up his round, dark face. The small white boy found the old black man and his cart Alluring but terrifying—like life itself. He longed to peer into the cart to examine its contents But feared becoming the bones the old man cried out for.
In time, the rag man no longer appeared seemingly out of nowhere, His cart a shadowy memory, his haunting cry for rags and bones silenced, No longer igniting the boy’s imagination. The boy discovered that the mysterious old man was merely Mr. Stewart, Who dwelled alone in a shack by the train tracks. What a relief. But, oh, what a loss!
';3+*3/2+I4@2= )&*P.<"/#*>.95#;,& They tell me it’s coming Debt They say I won’t like it Working They tell me it’s a big responsibility Rent They say I can’t imagine it Moving They tell me it’s stressful Independence They say I won’t have any help Finances They tell me it’s going to be difficult Marriage They say I’m in “the real world”
)&*G,%&*M,%S"-5 Life can be hard to grasp at times It can give you all kinds of obstacles Some things in life are good While others are bad
Sometimes you feel like there is no light at the end of the tunnel But do not give up yet You can overcome it
These obstacles are not meant to weaken you But to strengthen you
Everything in life has a purpose You may not understand it at first But over time, it will all unravel
Shiny gold petals: Hope and Joy bathe in sunlight. Jade leaves incubate.
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Steady Sir Thomas, do not surrender to the lust-ridden frenzied cries of King Henry and Woman Boleyn. Silence-laced conviction defies the power of the written word and illuminates the Black Death of corruption. “Does a man need a Pope to tell him that he has sinned?” the tall wispy reeds of Merry Old England echo King Henry laughingly as they dance near moat’s edge. As a person should go where one is not tempted, the Devil must be granted freedom in order for the souls of humanity to be tested at the ledge. Nearby lush rosebushes larkingly sing, “I’m going a’courting M-o-t-h-e-r…………..for I’ve long finished my book defending the sacraments seven.” How has a scampered gait to a mistress’ bed replaced Lord Henry’s jewel-aimed noble life’s pilgrimage to Heaven? A false oath to God would never be taken, as you offered in locked hands your true beliefs fixed by the conscience of the heart. Facing ruthless humiliations, the suffering of a perplexed family, and the loss of position and power, sincerity of manhood was not relinquished and with loyalty to self thou didst not part. Amidst the distant harp-like lullabies of harpsichords about grand tables decorated with sweet meat, Starved and degraded, yet shrouded in devoted innocence, to your lord with purest embrace thou didst meet.
It is the Summer of 1861 -- I feel the anguish of Bull Run crumble under my feet as I stumble over the dead bodies of my brethren. The smell of heavy smoke and the sharp sounds of guns firing buzz in my head, as I force myself to walk onward in fear and trembling. Oh, Dearest Mother, I must take a wife -- her name is Margaret Ann. Oh, Dearest Mother, I shall hold my little-girl babe in my arms -- I will call her Emily Rose. The hot, thick bullet lances my shirt; gray flannel fills up and floods cardinal red. The color of my blood will boldly attest to my honor, courage, and faithfulness. For let it be known to all, from North to South, that I was not a coward! Glory be to God... Amen.
';3+'4H+!?C3+';?6A7+.4+N4+ I@46A+/.+/6+J*$+ )&*MK#%%&*3#$. As you nervously undress, you wish that the scheduler had kindly suggested a sweatsuit. When an earplug falls out, you eagerly request headphones -- your favorite radio station is playing but it’s only the commercial time block. Over the edges of a body harness that fits improperly, your arms dangle in a penguin-likestance. While the technician repeatedly complains that a smaller cage is unavailable and adds that it is only for an hour or so, you frustratingly wonder about those few pounds that just didn’t shake off. You request a panic button device but are refused. Becoming overly philosophical, the technician expresses concern that you’ll become preoccupied with the Button and will not listen to test directions. Under the clashing of the machine, you quietly speculate that the technician studied to be a psychologist and consequently flunked out miserably. After test results are in, your doctor requests an addendum and asks you to drop off a CDof an MRI taken a few months ago. Commuting to the medical office by bus on a sun-sweltered day, you humbly return home with a case of sun poisoning.
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E3/@+!>.>@3+-320 )&*B,)%.#//#*M.1"Dear Future Self, At the time you are writing this letter, you are 18 years old (turning 19 in 10 days) and stressing about the finals of your first semester in college. You attend Holy Family University and live in Philadelphia. The most you worry about is test grades and how you are going to get someone to cover for you at work. At this time, your major is nursing. Did you ever become a nurse? This year there has been drastic changes in your home life; how did everything work out? It is kind of strange to think that one day things will not be the same. One day you will be reading this and will realize how many things have changed in your life. I do not know exactly where you are in life, but I hope you became everything that you wanted to be. I hope that your career is stable and that you enjoy going to work every day. If you love what you do, it will never be a challenge to go to work. I hope that you are truly happy and never forget to smile; a smile can change someoneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s day completely. Please remember life is too short to worry over small issues. I know you will still worry, since you have been worrying about everything since you were five, but everything will work out in the end. It always does. Do not forget to tell those you love how much they mean to you; you never know when the last time you will speak to them will be. Hold on to those you love and everything will be okay. Remember to put yourself first occasionally, you deserve it. Take a deep and breathe, realize how far your life has come since December 12, 2016. Love, Your 18-year-old self Xoxo
';3+#?..23+!/.+N?@2 )&*G#5,-*G<+#%1"$$ There once lived a little fat girl, invisible to the world. Her days were filled with carefree playtimes and princess dresses, fairy tales and happy endings. Her whole world was her backyard; her books, her dog, and her coloring things, but fairytale days came crashing to an end when she turned ten and saw, for the first time, what she was: a little fat girl. Standing before a tall mirror in a rose-colored Sunday dress, she gazed at her reflection, mystified at the sight. Was this how she really looked? She never felt more exposed than she did at that moment. Unlike dreams that can vanish in the blink of an eye, there was no escaping this nightmare. It was a nightmare that was made more real each time the little fat girl glimpsed in the mirror or found herself captured in a photograph. Her reflection showed her horrid, oversized figure and it often made her weep for days. She was imprisoned by a dreadful blubbery cage secured with a keyless lock. The little fat girl loved dresses and pretty things. But what once brought hours of happy play now brought pain and sorrow. She was not pretty and those beautiful princess dresses would never fit. Each day she forced a faĂ§ade, a smile to show nothing was wrong; that smile became her mask. No one would know she was crumbling inside, trying to push past the stifling humiliation of what she looked like. The little fat girl tried her best to hold on to a wistful hope that time would change things. But seasons came and went and ignored her, and the passing years only brought more emptiness. Other girls grew pretty while she remained ugly. Other girls could go through life without being embarrassed by their ghastly appearance. The little fat girl envied that kind of freedom. She hated herself; she hated her ugliness and her round figure. She hated not being able to escape. The little fat girl was told time and again that growing up is a struggle for everyone. But no one really understood; the people who offered this wisdom were not fat nor were they ugly. No one could ever know how damaging self-consciousness was to a shy girl. No one would ever know how much a being a little fat girl tormented her. No one would know the piercing grief of looking into the mirror every day and being repulsed at the reflection. No one would know how hard it was for the little fat girl to keep herself together day in and day out. No one would know how many times she cried at night wishing she wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t fat.
The only relief from her perpetual agony was through books and movies. For a few hours the little fat girl could be free of the chains of her unsightly appearance and breathe easy in the enticing fantasy worlds. Characters in these fantasies became her friends, friends sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d never have in reality. From these make believe worlds the little fat girl found a morsel of joy, like seeing the silver light of tiniest star piercing through a cloudy night sky. But this artificial happiness would vanish at the start of each droll day. No one would ever truly know the little fat girl because she never let anyone in. She could barely stand the sight of herself, how could anyone else see past her horrid features? The little fat girl endured her fair share of bullies and had no desire to risk further abuse from others who called themselves her friends. She would continue play the part of a cheerful person, a disguise no one could see through; thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s how she would protect herself. This daily performance took its toll, draining her spirit like light fading from a dying flashlight. All she was left with was an overwhelming sense of depression and loneliness. No matter how many birthdays passed, she still saw herself as that ten-year-old little fat girl. She would never be free. The little fat girl lay awake one night, sullenly mulling over her life as she had done countless times before. But a curious idea struck her: maybe paper would prove to be a better place to hold everything she had bottled up inside her since she was a child. It was time to write her story down. With each word, each sentence, the years of pain gradually bled onto the white parchment pages. Although transferring memory to paper did not magically transform the grown up little fat girl, it did help to ease the burden of the last decade. Pages filled and pencil worn, she folded her story and sealed it in the confines of an envelope; it would never be opened nor would it be burned. Everything she had buried within her was now prisoner to that envelope. Maybe now the little fat girl could find something close to peace.
There was a disaster that occurred about three weeks ago, and I am the last surviving person; at least I think I am. I can only hope to run into someone that is alive, and I hope this doesn’t turn into one of those movies I used to watch where mutants start running rampant, and then I must run for my life. I just wanted to have another normal day at school but the supervolcano had to erupt. The last thing I remember was hearing a loud bang and then everything went dark. When I woke, I was just lying in my bed. I thought everything was normal but I was completely wrong. I woke up looking for my mom, and when I couldn’t find her I assumed she went shopping. I realized that the lights inside the house didn’t work so I thought that the power had went out. The moment I started to realize something was wrong was when I went to my neighbors to see if I could find anything out about what happened. No one was home. There was this weird residue all over the ground. It was sort of dark and ash like. I didn’t think much of it, although I should have. I went to bed that night scared, not knowing what had happened or where everyone went. I was thinking about the possibility that there would be no one else on the planet but me. It was scary to think about. I was thinking about what I would do for fun, but more importantly how I would survive on my own. My mind was racing but I soon figured out that in case something seriously did happen, I should start working to make things better for me to survive.The moment I realized something was seriously wrong was when I realized that there were no birds chirping and no animals running around. Usually there were animals all over the place. A few days later weird stuff started to happen. One example was when I went outside; everything looked like it was being forced around, like by wind, but I didn’t feel anything. The ash all over the ground blew away and what was underneath left me shocked. There were animals all over the ground, and when I saw that I knew something out the ordinary happened to everyone. The next day I decided to go out and explore. I started to go around the city and try to find clues about what had happened to everyone and what the ash all over the ground was. I didn’t find out what had happened, but I did find out that my worst fear was coming true. People that were left behind were being mutated by the ash. I had said it before that I hoped something like the movies I used to watch wouldn’t happen… well, it was all happening. The creatures, as I would call them, have green glowing skin and crawled around on all fours. The most surprising thing about them is that they have no eyes; they only use their sense of smell to move around. They are also able to climb up the sides of buildings and other surfaces with their hands. It is the scariest thing I
have seen in my life. A few days passed and I started to run out of supplies necessary for living. I knew that I would have to scavenge for stuff to keep living. I knew that I would have to go outside with those things, and try not to get caught. Unfortunately, I could not get stuff without having to run through a bunch of them. I studied them to see how good they were at finding where things were. They were extremely good at it, and I knew that if I wanted to survive I would have to be extremely careful. I made a move towards one of the local shopping stores near my house, and one of the things heard me. It stood up tall on its back legs and searched around for me. I could see it smelling around, and I am sure it caught my scent. I got in the store, took what I could, and got out of there and back to my house, surprisingly safe. When I got home I started to put defenses up on my house in case they found out where I was living. Over the next few days, things were quiet. I made plans of survival and weapons with stuff I found around the house. I heard an alarm going off a few miles away. Could that be another person, or am I just starting to hear things? Why have I not seen anyone that I know yet? These are questions that constantly race through my mind but I try to ignore them. If anyone else was alive I would have seen them by now. I must accept the fact that this is my new life and I need to make the best out of it and try to keep civilization going. I need to try to find a cure for whatever had happened to these people, and I need to find it quick. The creatures look to be getting increasingly advanced as the days go on. I do not know why, but they seem to be getting stronger each day they remain outside. The key might be right in front of me and I have no idea.
“Mommy, when I grow up I want be a professional soccer player like Mia Hamm,” said a sweet little redhead with dreams as vast as the starry night sky. Her mother was preparing dinner in the kitchen as the little redhead sat at the kitchen table, drawing pictures of herself playing soccer. The little girl’s mother walked from the sink to the table and leaned down, kissing the head of the girl. “Jenna, you can be anything you want,” her mother said as she squatted down, becoming eye level with her daughter. Then she continued, “You are amazing, my angel, and if you set your heart to something you can achieve it.” Just at that moment Jenna’s father came in through the front door. “Daddy!” yelled Jenna with the pure joy that only children seem to possess. Jenna’s parents raised her and her siblings through the years with love and faith. As Jenna grew from a child into a teen, her teachers told her that she was special. Her talents from the classroom translated onto the field with her ability to play the sport she loved, soccer. Not only was she brilliant, but she was also growing up into the soccer player she had always dreamed of being. Her heart was large, consuming every person she encountered with nothing but love and happiness. Her smile infected everyone, causing them to feel her joy. Jenna never lost that joy only a child has. “My angel, I am so proud of you!” Jenna’s mom exclaimed. “I’m going to play soccer in college. Mom, Dad, my dream is finally coming true. This doesn’t feel real. I have to be dreaming,” smiled Jenna. In that moment Jenna felt the warm embrace of her parents and the love she would always feel when she thought of them. Jenna thought she couldn’t get any happier, but the start of college was just the beginning of her never-ending smile. Many things were yet to happen to Jenna that would change her life forever. The nerves on the first day of college soccer preseason were taking over Jenna’s entire body. She didn’t know anyone else on the team and couldn’t wait to see what this new chapter had to offer her. One thing she knew for sure was that the number she wanted to wear for the entirety of her college career was eighteen. She was at school early in the morning for her first work out and she had the jitters. All the girls were standing and waiting to receive instruction on what they were going to do. As Jenna stood there among a sea of strange faces, she saw one warm smile. Another freshman was standing across the way and noticed Jenna standing alone so she walked over to join her. “Hey, my name is Jenna,” said the other freshman. “No way! That’s my name too!” laughed Jenna. Little did Jenna and Jenna know that simple encounter would spark a friendship that would become strong enough to last a lifetime. They were two peas in a pod, basically
twins. People swore they were separated at birth. If someone saw one Jenna, then they could bet money the other wouldn’t be far behind. Pretty soon, as the years passed, they became known as “the Jennas.” These girls were the definition of a true friendship. Some people wait their whole lives to find a friendship like that. They were lucky enough to find each other while they were young. Not only did Jenna find a friend for life during her college career, but she also found true love. He was everything Jenna had dreamed of in a guy. He was completely captivated by Jenna’s never fading smile and her vibrant red hair. She stood out to him right away. “Hey, my name is Brandon,” said Brandon shyly. “Hi, I’m Jenna,” responded Jenna. “Bud light lime, that’s a good choice,” said Brandon with a smile. “It’s my absolute favorite,” Jenna laughed back. The two looked into each other’s eyes and they knew that their search for love was over. They wouldn’t admit it right away, but love at first sight was truly evident. Sometimes it sits dormant inside of our hearts until we realize what was there all along. Jenna not only excelled on the field, but also in the classroom, showing how truly special she was. Her academic drive was stronger than most people. Just as her teachers told her as she grew, she was special. College had brought Jenna so far: soccer, friendship, true love and now lifting. She was a natural athlete and lifting and working out came easily to her. Her physical strength matched that of her mental strength. She lifted the heaviest of weights with ease, at one point in her life deadlifting two hundred and seventy-five pounds. She was on a roll in life, starting as number eighteen on the soccer team, shining in the classroom, putting the guys to shame in the weight room, finding a friend for life, and lastly finding true love that would last a lifetime. Life was flying by and Jenna enjoyed every second of it and she laughed, loved, and smiled the whole ride. The time came when Jenna graduated college and the next step in life was to get a job. She already had one lined up. She was the kind of person who knew exactly what she wanted and she went out and got it. Even after college she never stopped playing soccer and lifting. She would get up before work and go to the gym and after work she would lift again. But one night was different from every other night. That night she left her house, yelling, “I’m going to the gym, love you, Mom!” Her mom yelled back, “I love you, my angel.” She hopped in her old beat up car and turned off her street. She turned on the radio and began listening to one of her favorite songs. She was singing and smiling. But quicker then that song was over, Jenna sang her last line. An SUV with a driver fighting his own battles that many wouldn’t understand was speeding. He drove right into Jenna, ending her life immediately. She was only twenty-two. Jenna opened her eyes and she was staring up at the night sky that was once as vast as her dreams, but now it seemed cold and different. She placed her hand to her head and stood up and saw people huddled around a car yelling at someone inside. As she got closer to the people she noticed that the person in the car was her. In a panic she looked down at
her hands with pure confusion. Then, pulling her attention from herself was a hand on her shoulder. She turned to see a man standing behind her. “What happened to me? Who are you?” Jenna questioned. “You have passed from that life to the next. And I am your grandfather. I am here to help you make your transition to the next life,” said the man. “I’m dead. I can’t be dead,” she said frantically. “I know it is a shock, but I am here for you,” the man said calmly. “My grandfather? Why don’t I recognize you?” she inquired. “This is my heavenly body. It is different from that of our earthly form,” he answered. “I don’t feel so scared anymore. I feel calm and at peace now,” she said slowly. “That is good. That is how you should feel once the shock wears off. There are things we don’t understand in life and this is one of those things. As happy as I am to see you, I wish it wasn’t so soon,” the man paused then continued, “Come with me, Jenna.” She didn’t know why, but she knew she should trust him. So, she touched his hand and then they appeared inside a church. It was her viewing. “What is this?” questioned Jenna. “This is your viewing. Friends and family are paying their respects and celebrating your life,” responded her grandfather. They stood by her casket and watched her mother, father, brother, sister, grandmother, and boyfriend receive hug after hug, consoling their heavy hearts. Then Jenna’s eyes fell upon herself and she didn’t recognize her body lying there. Standing at her casket was Jenna and she began crying because her best friend was gone. Her friend that she was supposed to have for life was taken too soon. Jenna watched her best friend cry for her and so she walked over and stood with her friend as she wept. Jenna saw an endless number of people come and go, mourning her death, and then she saw her college soccer team. That brought a smile to her face because she loved those girls and never stopped supporting them even after she graduated. Playing a college sport is like joining a sisterhood because you keep those friends forever. She felt truly blessed to have been a part of that. “Jenna, it is time to go,” her grandfather said. “Go where,” inquired Jenna. Her grandfather didn’t say. He only reached out his hand for her. She just had this gut feeling she should trust him, so she touched his hand. Then the scene changed they were now at her funeral mass. The church was packed with weeping occupants. She looked around and saw her casket, closed this time. She stood on the altar and spotted her parents in the front. Then her eyes looked to her grandfather and she asked, “Can I stand by them?” Her grandfather nodded his head. She slowly approached her family. She wasn’t there, but she could still feel that love from her parents just like that hug from the day she found out she would play college soccer. As she stood by them, her best friend from her youth walked up to the podium to make a speech about Jenna. As Jenna stood there she listened to the words of love her friend spoke about her. It brought a smile to Jenna’s face knowing she had impacted her friend’s life with such immensity.
As the mass proceeded, Jenna never moved from her family’s side. Finally it was time to process out and Jenna let her family walk first. She waited for Brandon, her one true love. He was crying endlessly for Jenna because he was going to marry her one-day. As he walked out of the church she stood right by his side being the rock he needed at that moment. Then she whispered to him, “I love you.” Finally the funeral procession reached the cemetery. “I finally understand,” Jenna said to her grandfather. “What’s that?” he asked. “I am at peace and I forgive everyone for everything. I forgive the man who hit me and I forgive all those petty fights I had. They are so small compared to everything else. Life is short and I truly understand its value now,” Jenna said as she stared at the priest talking next to her coffin. Then she continued, “I have to go do something.” She found herself standing next to Brandon. There were so many things she wanted to say to him so she began, “Brandon, we were supposed to grow old together. Sometimes life alters the plans we have. I can honestly say I feel truly blessed to have had you in my life even if it was only for a short time. Just know I was truly happy up until the end and you were a big part of that. The smile on my face most of the time was due to you. I met my soulmate and he was you. People go their whole lives never finding that person they are meant to be with. I believe you were my soul mate and I am truly thankful having known you, Brandon. Never stop bringing joy to people the way you touched my life. I know you are sad and it will take time to heal, but I want you to be happy again. Don’t be sad for me, but when you think of me, smile and rejoice in the time we had together. I love you.” Then Jenna proceeded to her parents and spoke to them: “I know you can’t hear me, but I love you guys. I wouldn’t ask for any other parents to raise me than you both. I want you to know I was just as happy as a child as I was an adult. My dreams came true and I want you to know that. Even if I only got to live a short life I wouldn’t change a thing about it. I was blessed in every way with the life you gave me. I’m not there with you in person, but just know I will always be in your heart,” she turned and looked at Brandon, “I will always be in your heart too and I am going to watch over all of you as you grow.” She turned back to her parents and continued, “I love you guys endlessly and just know it will get better I promise. I will always be here and I will be with you on the good days and the bad. You lost a daughter, but you gained a guardian angel. Like you always said mom, I am now your angel.” Her mom was crying endlessly and muttered between sobs, “Jenna, you are now my angel. I love you my baby girl. God, take my daughter’s hand and keep her company until I can hold her again in my arms. I love you Jenna.” “Jenna, it is time to go once more,” said her grandfather. “I don’t want to go, but I know I have to,” Jenna said sadly. Once again she took her grandfather’s hand and they were standing watching Jenna’s friends outside raising a Bud Light Lime to her. She walked over and joined them, raising her Bud Light Lime with them. Then they all exclaimed in unison, “Eighteen forever.” In that moment Jenna realized how truly lucky she was to have had friends like these. She finally understood what it was to feel loved by so many.
Her grandfather called for her once again and she came to him. “Jenna, it is time to go now,” he said. “Where this time?” she questioned. “Heaven. It is time,” he answered. She looked at her friends and smiled because she knew it was time to be where she belonged. She impacted many lives and her happiness had affected so many. Her life was short, but so meaningful. Her heart was so big that everyone felt the warmth of her love. Like many told her, she was indeed special. “There is just one thing,” she said. “What is that?” inquired her grandfather. “I’m not going if there isn’t any soccer,” she laughed.
Papa was a pilot; nothing less and nothing more, really. He fought the Japs in the Big War, came home, and won a medal. He even showed it to me once, but then put it away in his dusty old cupboard and never looked at it again. Not after Mama died. He told me he just didn’t feel like a hero no more after he saw her body layin’ all peaceful like in the wheat field a couple hundred yards from our house. I asked Papa sometimes what happened to her, but he would always shrug and say, “Boy, if I knew, she’d still be here.” That there didn’t make no sense to me. How would she still be alive if he knew how it happened? The more I thought about it the less sense it made in my tiny brain. Papa wasn’t known too good by people to be a thinker either. He was a pilot. Sometimes, on fair-weather days, me and my sister Jenna would watch Papa from our kitchen window while he walked all slow and somber to the old shack across the yard. That’s where he kept his little plane that he would fly until it got dark. Papa used to tell us he did it to clear his head. I never really knew why; he was never a thinker. He was a pilot. Papa had his sadness problems, but he took good care of me and Jenna, and he wasn’t mean too much. He drove us into town to get food and stuff, and walked us to school and back every day while he went to help Mr. Daniels at his farm. The only time he ever beat me was when I got lost wandering near the house. Damn near got myself killed by a car on the road, and when Papa found me he hit me real hard with his belt and made Jenna cry ‘cause she was scared he was gonna hurt me more, but he didn’t. When we got home he told us both to go to our room; he said he was gonna go to his, and we were all gonna think about what happened. He said some stuff ‘bout consequences to actions and how we need to learn to be strong by ourselves and this and that. I never really understood why Papa made us sit in bed and think that night, ‘cause he sure wasn’t no thinker. He was a pilot. The summer after Jenna turned six she got real sick. Real sick. At first, Papa wouldn’t let her leave her bed, but when July came around she couldn’t leave even if she wanted to. She just got too sick to move. Doctors came and went, and told Papa the same thing over and over in different words that all meant the same thing: “I don’t know what’s goin on with this here girl, sir, but it ain’t pretty. She ain’t makin’ it to autumn.” Jenna slept a lot. All night and all morning. Papa stopped walking me to school. He stayed by Jenna every second that she was awake and told her stories. If you asked me what kind of stories, I wouldn’t be able to tell ya. Probably stuff about the war or somethin’. Papa’s plane broke down in the middle of August; he tried to fly it while Jenna was asleep and I was doing my chores, and I heard a terrible sound comin’ from the fields and black smoke risin’ into the pretty blue sky. Since he couldn’t pay to get it fixed up, Papa was even sadder than ever. He told me one night at the foot of Jenna’s bed that he was losing his mind.
You don’t have a mind to lose, I wanted to tell my poor Papa. You’re not a thinker, dammit, you’re a pilot. But he couldn’t be a pilot no more. He lost the last thing that made him so. On a beautiful and breezy morning in September, I saw Jenna wake up real quiet in her bed across the room from mine. I was amazed; it was the first time in a few months she woke up before at least three in the afternoon. “Papa,” I barely heard her whisper. So I got my behind outta bed and I woke Papa up. They were the first words I heard Jenna say in a long, long time, so I needed him to hear them himself. Maybe that would make him a little happy again. He tiptoed into our room with tears in those big blue eyes of his. He knelt down beside Jenna’s bed and asked her what she wanted. “Anything in the world for my baby girl,” he said to her while he faked a smile. She leaned in and whispered into his ear for at least five minutes. I don’t know what she said, but I ain’t ever seen my Papa stand up and run down our tiny hallway so fast. When he came back into the room, he was holdin’ his old war medal. Ever so gently, he put it around Jenna’s neck and picked her up of bed wrapping her arms around his neck so that she hung from his back. I started to cry as I watched her feet barely touch Papa’s lower back. “What are you doin’ Papa?” I said through tears. “We’ll be back in a bit,” he told me. He ran out with her through the kitchen door, and I followed them, watchin’ through the window like me and Jenna did when Papa had his plane. When they got to the wheat field, Papa did something I’ll never forget - He put Jenna on his shoulders and started running full speed around and around for at least an hour. She was laughin’ weakly the whole time, holdin’ on as tightly as she could. When she was close to falling off, Papa would stop real quick and make sure she was safe and secure and all that. It even made Papa laugh, somethin’ me and Jenna ain’t seen since Mama died. Jenna died a week later. She never took the medal off, and Papa buried it with her, even though army guys usually get buried with it themselves. He cried at her funeral a lot, but he smiled when we sat at the dinner table that night. “We gotta be strong for the ladies now, boy. We need each other more than ever. Hey, maybe I’ll teach you how to fly when we get back on our feet. I think you’d like it, I seen you two watchin’ me from the kitchen every morning.” He was still smiling when he was done with all that talkin’. I still don’t know what he was thinking when he smiled at me that night, but Papa was never really a thinker. He was a pilot.
I am a teddy bear stuffed with hardened fluff and innocence. The precious gift bestowed upon you at the very start of your life. Towards the beginning, we were inseparable and I kept you the same as you changed. I was the soft shield that kept you from the harmful world. As we grew, I was slowly tarnished by nature, actions, and words. My fur became stained with the cruelty of the truth. You washed me endlessly, trying to scrub out our reality, but the washing just smeared and rubbed in the filth. When we went through severe heartbreak or ours eyes were shown the facts of existence, my fragile fabric would become torn. Your mother would attempt to console you and stitch me back together, but the scars kept their presence. Over the years, you have moved me around your room. First, I was safe and snuggled in your bed. Then, I was placed on a cold, lonely shelf. Now, I have been thrown into the dark abyss of your closet. Memories are the only things connecting us, through their sweet scent of security. You refuse to admit that you secretly miss my companionship. Miss my comfort, protection, and ignorant bliss. I will always be somewhere in your room, though. A constant reminder of the life you once knew. I will always be waiting in your closet, for the times that you need to run from the world and hug your teddy bear.
Think about this offer There is no money involved There is no guarantee at all But your heart for sure will throb You can surmount the worst disaster, Have the strength just to get through a day But it doesn’t have to be out of want, it could be in a giving way. JESUS CHRIST would like to know exactly who you are So you can share your life with him and light up your brightest star. It doesn’t take much just an open heart, a sincere, and honest mind And you will know the true joys in life, You’ll be so glad you gave him some time.
It falls softly as the land grows dark. The tree’s branches let down as if there is pain in the heart. It becomes deadly quietly as the warmth inside turns cold. I know this feeling, for it has been here before. It swirls in a silent dance, Making no noise as it lands. In my darkest hours, there are soft white lights Where all my sadness and despair is turned into happiness and delight.
Commander McHale of McHale’s Navy tolerated Captain Binghamton’s persecutions with exceptional grace, conviction, and prudence. He consistently met insults and slurs with manners and good will; in the face of both well-wishes such as being sent out to polish mines and remarks that Lieutenant Carpenter was in a class far above professionally and personally, McHale held on to faith and hope. As an impressionable young girl, I remember sitting there watching and really being touched by the way McHale kept believing in himself. He consistently treated his men with respect; putting their interests before his own, he even sacrificed his ambitions countless times for the sake of what was best for them. As Ensign Parker reinforced criticism of McHale’s work and danced the standard “behind the back get in better with the military superiors” steps, Quinton offered friendship with wholesome boyish charm. Gazing at the neatly organized desk of Captain Binghamton and at the impressively attired postures of the immaculate military personnel, I remember also learning that it is very important to have a sense of prideful dedication to one’s profession. What about that hip progressive alternative to the Brady Bunch? The Partridge Family touched upon contemporary issues such as Women’s Lib, the struggles of a single mother, the differences between love and infatuation, bullying at school, and the Hawthorne Effect when dealing with teachers. The protagonist Keith Partridge conquered the challenges of not having a father at home, and rose to become a figure of strength and guidance for the family. In true manhood, he stood up to the bully called Goose with the resolve of the free independent thinker. Keith modeled being a genuinely dedicated artist when he spent rainy Saturdays in solitude, creating his musical pieces at the piano. His love songs praised the pure beauty of “woman,” and pledged devoted flower child-like love in their simple, gentle, soft musicality. Hey, by the way, wasn’t it a beautiful thing to watch Manager Reuben with a lit cigarette dangling from his mouth, as he offered Shirley a surrogate father role, in contrast to the standard patriarchal stereotype? Even so, in honor of America’s Father Robert Reed, let our hats remain off to Mike Brady whose advice to always tell the truth has stayed with me to this day!
Leaving the Mainland behind and back now to the South Pacific, what’s happening over at Gilligan’s Island? In awe, I remember watching the Professor, a true scientist who stood steadfastly alone amidst fear, despair, and a lack of understanding -- he still maintained faith in his own mind and pushed forward in his creative thinking projects. He held it together in spite of water level flooding of the island, infectious mosquito bites requiring antidotes, food supply problems, HeadHunters, and volcanic threats; Professor Hinkley relentlessly led escape plan designs and never gave up. As a tenth grader doing my Algebra II homework, I remember sitting there and really appreciating the value of being studious and totally dedicated to one’s own craft. In the Professor’s calm blue eyes, I saw my first glimpses of the aspirations of Einstein, Lobachevsky, and Newton. Wow, Russell Johnson showed me the way! Remember that sizzling redhead Ginger Grant? What can be said about someone who loses all of their dreams in a split second? Once a successful movie star, she was now marooned on a desolate island with no connection to her beloved Hollywood. Forced to become like a sister to a somewhat farmer-like character Mary Ann, she had to come to terms with the value of simply being alive and being herself. What a life lesson to be learned by a girl only in high school! The Howells exemplified the ideal marriage. Confronting crises like identity theft and bankruptcy in the States, as well as the trials of being stranded in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, their marriage vows were put to the test; time and time again they came through with flying colors. On a par with any Sunday school sermon, I came to my first realization of the sacred value of the sacrament of marriage through the modeling of Thurston and Lovey. Love your enemies and always turn the other cheek. The bright spinning pastel flowers spell out the message “love will find a way.” Despite life’s obstacles, persevere and keep on going holding tight to your dreams -- find strength in the quality of the person that you are. Listen to your heart. The Golden Age of TV: what a treasure chest of wisdom to discover!
Go home and write a page tonight. And let that page come out of you— Then, it will be true. I am not a poet, and this is how you’ll know it. I go to Holy Family University, And I will be a nurse, you’ll see. My vocabulary is miniscule, but I am trying my best in school. My skill in gymnastics is great, but this poem you may hate. Denis is my boyfriend’s name, He spells it with one N, how lame. I love to eat dry Ramen, I know, this is not very common. I had a hedgehog for a day, but sadly had to give her away. All I ever do is watch Grey’s Anatomy, it helps me from reaching insanity. I am sorry this is not very good, But I was told to submit to Folio, as you should. I just told you my life in 20 lines, I might not be a poet, but I can bust a rhyme.
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In my mind, there are words I can not describe, People I do not know. Worlds, I want to go. Yet I am here Inside myself Thoughts are trapped, Buried and alone. And as the void deepens, So does my hope For all the things I dream of That may be right in front of me: Opportunity! Opportunity! Knocking on my door Knocking on my mind And as time flies by, So does my life. Clinging on to what is left Left behind Missing it all, But do not give in To thinking this is the end.
The tortures, the pain, the things I see, Cannot be unseen and makes me scream. I scream and scream but no one can hear My screams of pain and it brings me fear.
The more breaths I take, the more I realize, Screaming for everything to stop is not going to help. Because when I scream, not a single sound comes out. And when silence welcomes you, you dare not to make a sound.
We were laying in each other’s arms staring at the sky. I can feel the grass growing as the sirens slowly die. We were perfect from night to day in my glossy eyes. Now if only we could wake up from all these stupid lies. Lies about everything that I’ve ever felt. I’m crying lies, lies, lies, that is all I’ve ever dealt with. Do you really want to leave? The door is right here. Complaining about the things that were never meant to be. Run away! Get away from me. You’re haunting my dreams, Making them bleed, or that’s what it seems! Run away! Get away from me! You’re killing me oh so slowly. Why can’t you leave my dreams? Just a little bit ago, you were telling me How we could live that perfect life if it wasn’t for me. All I heard was you dropping to the ground. Now I point it up as I go and take a bow. Run away! Get away from me! You’re haunting my dreams, Making them bleed or that’s what it seems! Run away! Get away from me! You’re killing me apparently. Why can’t you leave my dreams? Run away. Get away from me. You’re haunting my dreams, Making them bleed or that’s what it seems. Run away. Get away from me, You’ve killed me metaphorically. Why did I kill my dreams?
There he was, the man I had been waiting my whole life to meet. My dream man. My Prince Charming. I have never been a particular believer in love at first sight; in fact I have always chalked it up to raging hormones. But on that day, all former psychological arguments I had concocted against supposed “love at first sight” were obliterated. He was tall and lean with an olive complexion, beguiling blue eyes, and short dark hair. Dressed in Army camouflage, he walked with an erect posture and a slight limp, which was probably the mark of an irrevocable injury he had earned by saving his entire platoon from being massacred. A true soldier, I felt sure he was, whose indomitability and integrity was like Washington, Grant, and Patton all rolled into one. He leaned in and, as my heart palpitated vehemently, stared into my eyes. This was the moment he was going to sweep me off my feet, place me on a white horse, and ride me into happily-ever-after by way of a fading sunset. His lips curved into a smile as he said in a refined, baritone voice, “I’ll take a venti Americano.” Reality came crashing down on me like one of those sudden thunderstorms in summer when the blue, cloudless sky suddenly becomes gray and ominous; before you even had time to duck for cover, the clouds were firing bullets of raindrops on you. The sun had been vanquished. The thunderstorm had triumphed, and with it, my fantasy had been washed away. I am just a barista standing behind the counter at Starbucks. There is no Prince Charming who has come to save me from my monotonous job of satisfying the agglomeration of coffee cravers that come here to pacify their addictions. Americano. Espresso. Cappuccino. Latte. Frappuccino. Having staged an entire fantasy in my head only to find that it all was a delusion, I devoted my attention back to work. With the dexterity of one who could make Americanos blindfolded, I placed the drink in front of my former Prince Charming in record time. “Anything else?” I asked. “Uh, yeah, what do you want?” The question was directed to a woman standing next to him, whom I inconspicuously tried to scrutinize: perfectly straightened bleached blonde hair, flawless bronzed complexion, and the physique of a model. My former ride-me-off-into-the-sunset Prince Charming has a gorgeous, model, perfect, blonde girlfriend? Of course he does. “Tall nonfat café mocha, hold the whip,” Blondie responded in a high-pitched voice that sounded like one of those mice in Cinderella. I nodded and made the drink with the same flawless proficiency as the Americano, and in those few minutes both Blondie and crush-my-soul Prince Charming paid for their drinks and left. I watched them go and thought about what a nice Prince Charming he would have made
had it not been for the Americano intrusion and the blonde goddess. But alas! I am not blonde and I am not a model. I am just a barista with unruly auburn tresses desperately in need of a Prince Charming….or a vacation….or maybe both. To my greatest happiness, as well as to my greatest woe, that would not be the last time I would see Prince Charming. He came quite frequently, not to sweep me away on a white horse as I might have hoped, but for a venti Americano and the occasional side order of coffee cake. He always arrived at the same time every Saturday morning, and it became so routine that I no longer asked what he wanted, but would simply say, “The usual?” to which he’d respond with a smile. After paying for his drink, Prince Charming would sit down at a window table and stare outside, as if waiting for someone. At first I thought he was waiting for the tall-nonfat-café-mocha-hold-the-whip Blondie, but I soon discovered that this was not so, as I never saw her again after that first day. But that is not to say he was rid of female company. Every Saturday he would sit at his window seat, and every Saturday a woman would come over to him. When this happened, Prince Charming would stand up, shake her hand, and invite her to join him. Conversation would be slow at first, but after awhile Prince Charming would begin asking a series of questions and ultimately probe into her life story, which provoked the woman to go on chattering and squawking for hours like a rooster on early dawn patrol. During these spouts of loquaciousness, Prince Charming would nod and occasionally scribble down a few things in one of his books, as though he was a business executive interviewing her to see if she would be suitable for the position of girlfriend or wife, whichever the case might be. I shall not go through the laborious task of describing the cornucopia of women that he met with, but it would be unfair not to at least write down a few highlights. My top five shining women? Miss Like I Was Like, Miss Hashtag, Miss You’re A Rich Girl, Miss Blood and Guts, and Miss Woebegone. Everyone possesses certain peccadillos that have the potential to either make or break a relationship with the opposite sex. For instance, you might detest the way he bites his nails during the most silent parts of the movie, how she smacks her lips midst bites of salad, how he talks with his mouth full, how she makes you give her a manicure, how he refuses to watch The Notebook with you, how she texts you 24/7 and then freaks out because you were in the shower and haven’t answered in the last two minutes, or in the case of Miss Like I Was Like, how she was completely incapable of finishing a sentence without the word, “like.” Like, she can’t even answer the question of like, what she wants to like, drink without like, throwing in a handful of her like, crutch word. After a while, you can’t even like, focus on what she is like, trying to say because you start unconsciously counting like, how many times she is going to say it and like, when you don’t hear it, you begin to like, wonder why she hasn’t like, said it yet. Thus in order to keep your sanity from being completely obliterated, you have to like, break up with her. And so it went with Prince Charming and Miss Like I Was Like. Yet as irksome as Miss Like I Was Like’s crutch word might have been, Miss Hashtag
proved even more deleterious to man’s intellect because, to her, all of life was bound up in her 6-inch hand-held device. No matter whom she was speaking to, Miss Hashtag would keep her eyes firmly fixated on her phone. If she was the one doing the talking, she would put down the phone for a period of time so she could regale her listener with the juicy nuances of her favorite topic: herself (She does have 1,000 followers on Twitter, after all.) But as soon as the other party began speaking, she would automatically return to her phone and begin to humor him with a series of, “Uh huhs.” Followers on Twitter: 1,010. If he spoke too long, however, she would surely interrupt him to show him her latest Tweet or some “hysterical” YouTube video. Followers on Twitter: 1,025. Yet, you can be sure that after your little rendezvous, she would add you on Facebook, include you in her next hashtag, and photobomb your Snapchat. Followers on Twitter: 1,034. And so it went, or perhaps didn’t go, with Miss Hashtag. Followers on Twitter: 1,050. Miss You’re A Rich Girl had the potential to run up a tab at Starbucks that would send most millionaires into debt, let alone how much she spent on her wardrobe. In six-inch electric pink high heels, Miss You’re A Rich Girl pit-patted up to the counter, and whipping her Coach wallet out of her Coach bag, slid her Chanel sunglasses over her hair-sprayed tresses to reveal two eyes done up with such a heap of makeup she looked like a life-size anime character, and ordered a double chocolate chip Frappuccino saying something about how, “Chocolate and diamonds are a girl’s best friend.” Go on one date with her and you will find that you don’t even have so much as a penny left in your wallet by the end of it. Date her for a couple of weeks, and you’ll have to make frequent stops at the bank to replenish your funds. Date her for a month or two, and you’ll have to pick up a few extra hours at work or take on a second job. Date her for a year, and you’ll find that you’ve been wearing the same clothes for a week and can’t even afford a pint, let alone a gallon, of milk. Thus, in order to spare himself from the inevitable complete and utter financial collapse, Prince Charming and Miss You’re A Rich Girl went their separate ways. And I could never be sure, but I thought that I heard the sound of “Rich Girl” being played mellifluously from the radio as she climbed into her Porsche and drove away. She was tough. She was insouciant to life. She could break every bone in Attila the Hun’s hand just by shaking it. She was an Army recruiting officer. She was Miss Blood and Guts. A man could not even entertain a romance with her unless he was willing to be labeled as a casualty for having wandering into No Man’s Land. For the man that sought to pursue a relationship with her would surely be wandering into a minefield, and the man that broke her heart would be stepping on an actual land mine. So, regardless of which battle strategy the man chose, the outcome was always the same. Prince Charming? Well, Prince Charming chose the route of AWOL, thus bypassing the whole battle altogether. We all experience a surges of emotion at times that simply are to be, regardless of whether we desire them or not. We get so angry it is as though our insides are burning with Hades’ fire. We become so doleful that our eyes release enough salty tears to make oceans begin to rise. We grow so elated that all we can do is laugh, smile, and toss our worries away as if we never had any
in the first place. But of these multifaceted emotions, Miss Woebegone knew none, for all she felt was melancholy. Ask her, “How are you?” and she would just let out a long, exasperated sigh as if she were Atlas, completely fatigued over having to hold up the world all the time. But regardless of how different each woman was, the end result was always the same: she never returned. Time and time again, Prince Charming would conduct his interviews with his potential girlfriends, and time and time again they would cease to be seen again. It wasn’t until a few months later, that this all stopped. I was just closing up the coffee house after my shift Saturday evening when I realized that Prince Charming was still sitting at his window seat. He had never stayed so late before, nor had I ever seen him so downcast. There was an unmistakable solemnity that seemed to be hanging over his brow, as if his mind were burdened with the deepest and most profound of thoughts. And for the first time, I began to feel rather sorry for the guy in army camouflage. “Excuse me, sir,” I directed at him. He didn’t so much as blink. “Sir. Hey, sir!” No blink. No flinch. Nothing. I’ve heard it said that once a soldier, always a soldier, and so I decided to try another tactical maneuver. In a loud, commanding voice I said, “Ten hut!” He jumped out of his seat like he had been sitting on a spring, and standing in complete, erect position saluted me like I was his sergeant in command, and he, my disciplined private. Upon realizing that I was not such a sergeant, nor he my private, he stared at me in what was a mixture of confusion and embarrassment. For a moment or two we just stood there, staring at each other until finally I broke the silence with what could only be described as inane babble: “Um, sorry. I was trying to get your attention, and since I knew you were in the Army...I uh....uh. Never mind. We are closing now.” He didn’t say anything but merely nodded, picked up his empty coffee cup and limped over to the trashcan. I had noticed his limp before, when I had fantasized that he was my Prince Charming who had saved his entire platoon from massacre, and yet as I looked upon him now I realized that he was not a mere concoction of my quixotic, romantic mind, but that he was real. “I suppose you want to know what’s wrong with me?” He asked abruptly. I felt my cheeks grow warm with chagrin, then quickly bounced my eyes away from his injury and stared at the floor and said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to...” “It’s alright, it comes with being a solider.” I nodded and just continued to awkwardly stare at the floor. “It was in Afghanistan. I was the sergeant of my squadron and we had been fighting for a straight twenty-four hours. We fired at the enemy with unbridled fortitude; shooting bullets into the bodies of men that had been sewn together by the same thread of God as us, and yet we looked upon them as though they were from Satan’s tapestry. Men just like us, and yet so different too. I remember seeing the eyes of an enemy soldier--red with hatred and hell fire--as he
threw a grenade in our direction. I watched as it swirled right towards one of my men. “His name was Dan O’Neil. He was twenty-five years old with a wife at home and a little boy named Billy that he had yet to meet. I couldn’t let him go like that. But me? I had no one waiting for me when I got home. No fiancé. No wife. No children. I darted in front of that grenade and knocked Dan out of the way just in time...and this was the outcome.” He bent over, and rolling up both pant legs, revealed two prosthetics. My eyes swelled with tears. All this time I had looked upon this man as some prince or savior come to liberate me from my single, mochaccino misery, and here he was bearing a suffering far greater than anything I had ever known. For what kind of world is it, when those that suffer much are overshadowed by the gray cloud of “woe is me” that those who suffer little parade around with? What is the condition of a man’s soul who caterwauls about the traffic while brave men pour out their blood on the battlefield? What sort of woman am I to be dissatisfied with my own life when men such as this have laid down their lives, so I might thrive in the land of the free and the home of the brave? I wanted to speak words of comfort to this young, brave man, but what can you say to one that has seen and endured so much? What comfort can you offer one who has felt the wrath of hell on earth and has risen from the ashes only to find that he no longer recognizes the man reflected in the mirror? And so it was not I that spoke, but him: “You know, I have come to this coffee shop day after day and have probably drunk about 1000 cups of coffee, and spoken to a dozen or so different girls, but I am just a former soldier with not even so much as a “Dear John” letter to remind me of the love I once knew. For tell me: what woman would want to spend her life with such a broken man like me?” I swallowed the tears that were surging within, and in a choked voice, responded with: “The woman who does not honor you for the sacrifice that you have made does not deserve you. That is what America is all about; a place where civilians can live in peace and freedom and the pursuit happiness because of the soldiers who have given all.” He looked at me with those beguiling blue eyes and that hypnotic smile of his slowly swept across his face as he said, “Where have you been all my life?” I smile, as I realize that my former fantasy has been transformed into reality, and offer to buy him a cup of coffee. I don’t know where or how love is born; if it takes 1001 Arabian nights or 1001 cups of coffee; but I can tell you that when you find that person that makes your heart soar, it is a feeling like no other. Some people will say that love is just hormones and that love at first sight is merely a delusion, but I have come to know that nothing is impossible when God is the one writing your love story. Faith, hope, love: and the greatest of these is love. For the sun was just beginning to set and its orange, yellow, and red colors were streaked across the sky as my Prince Charming and I walked off into our happily ever after.
Here’s the Truth I know. Long time spent in the cell. Cannot remember well how long. I was young then and was told nothing. They always had a hardon for secrecy. I like to call it lying. He didn’t lie to me. Instead, he chose honesty. He went against the grain, against what they wanted and decided to tell me of his hellish journey alone. He felt pain. I felt pain. My eyes were opened. Things that I didn’t know, my opinion changed from that moment forward. He told the story— The bitter distaste of a scorned father. So disgusted, such waste. For different views? Is that acceptance? Never good enough. Shadow-lived only. Attempt #1: Failed. For what came next, I don’t blame.
Exploitation became his middle name. “Using is fine but you can’t get caught. I got caught. No-it caught me,” was his admission of submission. Locked up; abandoned. A life lived in two years. Men, men, men, different crimes, different times. Cold Bitter Nothingness.
Pangs of malnutrition. Cries of inferior men who bled in the corner. They bled more than red. They bled more than blood. They bled their dignity. And pride. Finally escaped the physical cage. The mind remained imprisoned. Continued using, continued consuming. One day: black. Black. I never got the answer. But I am okay with assuming. Attempt #2: Successful. Open honest Uninhibited. Peace.
Once upon a time in a town called Ledger Line Valley, there lived a girl named Georgia Clef. She had many dreams. She wanted to be a professional singer and one day perform in Time Signature Stadium. She knew this would be a huge commitment but she continued to work at it, so that one day she could fulfill her dream. It all started out on a regular Tuesday morning. She began her day by going to school. She went to a performing arts academy called Musical Staff Mania. The school was filled from hallway to hallway with students of all different talents. Some students were talented singers, like Georgia. Others could dance and perform in the theatre. Georgia always envied the dancers because they at least performed for an audience. The biggest audience Georgia ever had was her shampoo bottle when she sang in the shower. Musical Staff Mania was always beaming with life in the morning. Whenever Georgia walked to locker she heard a symphony of tap dancers, hip hop dancers, a cappella groups, band members, and students just talking. This was her favorite part of the day. Although everyone had different talents, they all combined into beautiful sounds. “Georgia, wait up!” Hailey half-note belted down the hall. Hailey was Georgia’s best friend since the first grade. The two girls had met when Hailey had trouble in pitch class and Georgia helped her out. Hailey was the only other person who knew how well Georgia could sing. “Georgia! Seriously, wait-- I have to tell you something!” She nearly fell over as she sprinted to Georgia. “I am going to be late to Rhythm if I have to take you to the nurse, Hailey” Georgia told her. Of course she ignored Georgia and began speaking. “Georgia, there is an agent in the dynamics room today. This could be your shot. You have to try out!” Of course Georgia wanted to, but not in front of the class. Georgia knew she would have to do this if she wanted to live her dream. The bell rang before Georgia could even talk to Hailey, and they went their separate ways. The day sped by while Georgia dreaded Dynamics class, her last period. It was also the only class Georgia had with Hailey. When the bell rung at the end of seventh period Georgia panicked. Before she knew it, she was hiding in the girl’s bathroom. Georgia sat there shaking, deciding whether or not to ditch the class. Just as Georgia was about to leave, the door knob turned. She didn’t even have time to react. “Oh I’m sorry I thought this was a public bathroom” said the stranger in the doorway. “It is. I was just leaving.” Georgia nervously answered. She tried to leave but her bag snagged on the sink and spilled all over. Her books, pencils, and music flew all over the floor. The stranger bent down picked up Georgia’s music. “Wow, this is handwritten; impressive. Do you play an instrument?” Georgia looked up at the questioning stranger and answered.
“Oh no, I actually only sing, sorry.” Georgia answered. When Georgia collected all her things she stood up to walk out and she felt a hand on her wrist. The stranger pulled herself up and began to speak. “Hi, I am Ms. Violet Sharp of Ritardando Records.” Georgia’s jaw drooped. This was the agent she was supposed to meet. Georgia tried to escape but the agent spoke. “I don’t remember hearing you sing, can you?” “People say I have talent I guess, but I don’t sing in front of people much,” Georgia responded reluctantly. “Will you sing for me?” Violet asked. “Well I mean I guess. What do you want me to sing?” “Please sing any one of your personal works.” Georgia began to sing the song and Violet smiled. “My oh my! Georgia you have more than talent. You have star talent! Please visit me at my studio on 24th and Quarter Rest Ave.” The next day Georgia and her family drove to the studio. It was a huge building with glass walls and red sofas placed around inside. The family walked up to the assistant and she told them to take a seat. After 20 minutes of waiting Violet came out and introduced herself to Georgia’s parents. “Hello I am Ms. Violet, I am interested in making Georgia one of my stars,” she said. Georgia could not help but smile. The thought of her being famous drifted into her thoughts, the money, the fame, and the paparazzi. As Georgia relished in her dreams another vision flashed in her mind. What if she could never see her friends again; of course traveling around the world would be nice, but how could she see all her friends once she became a professional singer? “Honey are you ok?” Georgia’s mom asked. Georgia hadn’t realized it but she was shaking. Violet showed the family into her office and sat them at a table. On the table lay three papers and upon closer examination, Georgia realized they were contracts. “Okay,” Violet began. “I have a deal for you, Georgia. If you agree to fly with me to L.A. and meet with my producers, you can make the other half of the contract.” Georgia was in awe. “Perfect because I have some conditions.” Georgia stated. “First, I want two lives. We can make this work if you hear me out. In the summer I can perform, but during the school year, I keep to my studies, write, and record. We will have to give me a fake name for the stage, and keep my identity a secret.” Violet seemed to be considering all the options when she answered. “You drive a hard bargain, but I’ll take it.” Fast forward two years of writing and recording and Georgia is performing under the name of Fiona Clef. Fiona is still living two lives. It is safe to say Georgia is living out her dream.
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0&*J,.$/&-*R/'=#;':. A girl stands Broken and bruised She wears a scar for every agonizing encounter She is clothed in all black that effuses a dark omen A forbidding mist surrounds her and all her shattered aspirations Pieces of her calamitous past fly past her very eyes Her hopes shine gloriously before her Only to shine so bright that they burn And crumble to ashes A single tear descends from the corner of her eye And splashes into an ocean of sadness That has been slowly filled over the years The light drop can be heard for miles Across the deserted place named despair Despair is a lonely place Where one goes to bury their yearnings The girl stands Broken and bruised Shovel in hand She holds the power to let despair overpower her Life is dark Lonely Hopeless
A single glimmer appears before her eyes A glimmer the size of the tip of a pin A glimmer that doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t appear to be burning Or crumbling to ashes As she waits patiently for it to die out A glimmer that appears to be persistent The glimmer lands upon her shoulder The girlâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s black and lonesome shoulder The glimmer begins to grow Spread Until it encompasses her body from head to toe The shovel drops The ocean drains The mist fades away And all her burnt hopes come together To form something beautiful A girl stands Mended and whole She wears a scar for every agonizing encounter She is clothed in experience and wisdom It seems a glimmer she had left behind Found its way back to her A glimmer of hope.
F$"Adair, Taylor Taylor Adair is a junior at Holy Family University currently majoring in Digital Forensics with a minor in Criminal Justice. She plays soccer for the University’s women’s soccer team. In her free time she loves to write stories both long and short. Ambani, Jassim Jassim Ambani is an international student who applied to HFU in 2014. He has a big goal to achieve through his writings: he believes he can make change. People get ready to answer back in conversations, but they tend to think when they read. Therefore, he wants his writings to contribute to bettering their minds and lives. Augustin, Taurai Taurai Augustin is a junior at Holy Family University from the Caribbean island of Saint Lucia. He is an active member of this community and enjoys expressing his work. He is thankful for being able to continually display his art in the Folio. Babu, Greeta Greeta Babu graduated from George Washington High School in 2016. At Washington, she was an active member of the Math club and the National Honor Society. Currently, she is a Freshman at Holy Family University. At Holy Family. Greeta plans to achieve a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing. She is a member of Student Nurse Association at Holy Family. She enjoys volunteering, tutoring young children, and reading. Bramer, Daniel Daniel Bramer is an assistant professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Holy Family University. He did not invent the tea cozy, but has a good idea who did. He and his wife Rebekah enjoy literature and poetry, and are raising their daughter with a love of letters. Bramer, Rebekah Rebekah Bramer was born at an early age. She and her husband have a daughter, also born at an early age. Coincidence? We think not. She enjoys literature, poetry, history, and art, and has worked in the museum field. She has also been credited with the invention of the tea cozy, though she vehemently denies this. She also disavows any association with Daniel Bramer, who teaches at Holy Family University, despite his claims to the contrary. Butkiewicz, David David Butkiewicz is a sophomore at Holy Family University. His major is Biology / Pre-Med. David is a very nice and intelligent person who is willing to help his friends. He likes to write poems because it gets rid of the negativity that he feels whenever he does something wrong. Chlebda, Matthew Matthew Chlebda is a junior at Holy Family University Psychology program. He works in Admissions, is member of Buddies, SBS and Folio. He also enjoy creative writing, swimming, karate and yoga. Dawid, Sister Doloretta Sister Doloretta Dawid, CSFN professor emerita of Holy Family University where she taught French and Italian for many years. Her poetry speaks of the spiritual, the family and nature.
Di Gualco, Angela Angela di Gualco teaches writing and literature, trains people to personalize their blogs and websites, and coaches clients to complete writing projects. She earned a Master’s in English at Arcadia University. Her hobbies include hiking, biking, community theatre, and traveling. Angela lives in Suburban Philadelphia with her spouse and their two dogs. Estel, Christine Christine M. Estel is a high school English teacher, as well as a freelance writer and poet. Her work has appeared in Tribe Magazine. Additionally, her Creative Nonfiction “Tiny Truths” were the 12/2/16, 1/21/17, and 2/10/17 daily winners. Flynn, Anita Anita Flynn is a Holy Family alumna having earned an M.S. in Information Systems Management here in 2010. She has written for Demand Media and was published in the 2014 and 2015 issues of the Folio literary magazine. While writing is a hobby, she recently retired from a 40-year career at the Rohm and Haas Company in Philadelphia. Flynn, Connie Connie Flynn is a graduate of Holy Family and is currently enrolled in one of the University’s Master’s programs. She is currently a 7th grade ELA & religion teacher in a local Catholic School. Connie has always had a passion for teaching and is extremely grateful for the opportunity she has been blessed with. She would like to thank her family and friends for always believing in her as well as her father for continuously watching over her. Goldberg, Lawrence Lawrence Goldberg is a graduate of Holy Family with a masters in Criminal Justice. In the past, Lawrence has worked on the Folio staff and has submitted poetry. He is now trying his hand at photography by making it his avocation, and maybe someday making it his vocation. Griffis, Emily Emily Griffis is a freshman at Holy Family University. She is majoring in Nursing and is in the honors program at Holy Family University. Emily is originally from Horsham, Pa and went to Hatboro Horsham High School. She discovered her love for writing during her senior year of high school. Gonzalez, Rosa Rosa Gonzalez, like Wordsworth, believes that even the mundane deserves recognition. Her poem Shadow is more of a take on modern poetry; how the grim is sublime, how all can hang on a single moment. Gulliver, Carolyn Carolyn is a nursing student who has been interested in writing and photography from a young age. She loves writing for fun and traveling to take pictures. Gurecki, Amanda Double majoring in Criminal Justice and Psychology, Mandi is a member of the class of 2019. She has always enjoyed writing for her own entertainment and has recently begun branching into photography. When she’s not studying for her classes or spending time writing, Mandi enjoys listening to music, reading, and spending time with friends.
Hansberry, Fred Frederick Hansberry is a 39 year old sophomore. He has experienced a lot of life, done a lot of things, been a lot of things. Now he is focused on a attaining a career as a drug and alcohol counselor. Heide, Mickey Writing to Mickey; it’s something she just has to do. Every notebook she’s used in middle school, high school, and college is filled with scribblings and story ideas. Everywhere she looks, she sees a new doorway to imagination, and everyone is a storybook just waiting for her to read. So she writes. Holman, Alisitie Alisitie just recently finished all of her courses needed to graduate and now has a lot of time on her hands. Enough time to dedicate herself to drawing, writing, learning music, and taking care of her furry little friend, Sebastian. Or sleeping, because sleep is good. Hope, Warren Warren Hope teaches English as an adjunct instructor at Holy Family and tutors in the CAE. He is the biographer of Norman Cameron, a British poet, and the author of First Light & Other Poems (2013). Howitz, Dayna Dayna Howitz was born and raised in Collingswood, New Jersey and attended Paul VI High School. She is currently a sophomore here at Holy Family University, and is a nursing major. She lives at home, so if she is not at school she is at Krispy Kreme where she work. Huber, James R. James R. Huber, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Counseling Psychology at Holy Family University. A Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with a private practice for over 25 years, Dr. Huber loves to hike in nature and explore new cities with his wife and camera. Keller, Ryan Ryan Keller is an iced tea enthusiast who loves to travel, discover new opportunities and laugh at the failed policies of today’s political leaders. Mallard, Chris Chris Mallard is a 2012 graduate of Holy Family University. He is an avid runner, basketball fan and ice cream lover. Maloy, Sarah Sarah is currently a psychology major and freshman at Holy Family. She has always had an interest in art, music, and literature and often writes as a hobby. She has been keeping up with this hobby for a few years and plans to continue with it in her spare time. McAtee, Molly Molly McAtee is an English major at Holy Family University and a graduate from Harry S. Truman High School. She is also an aspiring author and editor. She has been writing since as long as she can remember and hopes to continue doing so for the rest of her life. McCarty, Kathryn Kathryn McCarty is a Junior Communications major with a minor in Management-Marketing. She is heavily involved on campus, and is passionate about student leadership. She is Vice President of the Student Government Association as well as VP of PRSSA. Kathryn enjoys exploring her creative side through writing,
cosmetology and video editing in her spare time. McDermott, Megan McDermott is a senior at Holy Family majoring in English. She completed Bucks County Community College’s culinary program before deciding to pursue a degree in English. She is working towards securing a career as a writer for stage, screen, and literature. Megan is also eager to work as a stage manager for theater and script supervisor for film. Millan, Rowena Rowena S. Millan is a Benefits Review Nurse for the TRICARE Overseas Program at International SOS. She loves to travel around the world on her free time and enjoys photography, reading books, writing blogs, drawing and singing. Montgomery, Sarah Sarah is currently a freshman at Holy Family University with a major in Biology Pre-Medicine and a minor in Writing. She enjoys exploring nature, creating art, eating sushi, and she’s also the art/layout director of Folio! Moyer, Kyle Kyle Moyer is an 18-year-old student at Holy Family University. He is currently a freshman going into his second half of the freshmen term. He grew up in Northeast Philadelphia,Torresdale area to be more exact. He lives with his parents and his one brother. He went to Saint Katherine of Siena grade school and Archbishop Ryan High School. Moyer, Megan Meghan Moyer is a freshman at Holy Family University. She is a nursing major with hopes of eventually earning her Master’s Degree in Nursing and going on to work in a hospital. Although she does not have much experience in the world of writing, her favorite pieces to write are poems. She likes to use her imagination and allow people to look more creatively at simple objects and ideas through her works. Mufti, Saba Saba Mufti is a sophomore and Pre-Med student at Holy Family University. She grew up and lived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania all her life with her family. She has a passion for writing creative short stories as well as poems when given the chance because it allows her to draw out her imagination. She especially loves anything to do with nature. Mulholland-Gain, Tyler As hopelessly trapped in the 1980s as he is in student debt; he say things like ‘groovy’ and ‘rad’ and has spent more money on cassette tapes than he is ready to admit. He is also the Co-Editor-in-Chief of Folio. Check him out at: https://nobodyreadsanymoreblog.wordpress.com/ Murray, Patrick Patrick Murray is a sophomore English major here at Holy Family. He has always loved, appreciated, and been fascinated by the art of words on a page. He has read extensively all his life, and enjoys talking about it to people. I hope to eventually earn a career in journalism or editing, as well as creative writing. Olszewski, Caitlyn Caitlyn Olszewski is a junior at Holy Family University. She studies biology with a minor in chemistry and is very passionate about her choice in studies. However, she has always had an enthusiasm for the art of writing poetry as well and hopes to someday have her work published.
Rakus, Meghan Meghan Rakus is currently a sophomore at Holy Family University as an Early Childhood Education/ Special Education Major. She is currently working part-time as a Librarian Assistant at Huntingdon Valley Library. She runs programs like fundraisers and Saturday Storytime for all ages. In her free time, Meg will read, go on hikes, take trips to museums, and spend time with her dog, Comet. Ridgeway, Nicole Nicole is a recent psychology graduate from Holy Family University. She is unsure of what future career is in store for her; however, she is sure that she wants to make a positive impact on people’s lives through fundraising, volunteering, and her writing. Romond, Edwin Edwin Romond is has been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and from both the New Jersey and Pennsylvania State Councils on the Arts. His work has twice been featured by Garrison Keillor on NPR and he is the recipient of the 2013 New Jersey Poetry Prize. Sarpong, Mary Mary Sarpong is a sophomore nursing major at Holy Family University. She hopes you enjoy the poem she has written. Sears, Joseph Joseph Sears is an art contributor for the 2017 issue of Folio. His piece, the Governess, plays with both elements of abstraction and realism. Simon, Gabrielle Gabrielle Simon is an 18 years old freshman at Holy Family University and a nursing major. She hopes to one day go into psychiatric nursing since it has always been an interest of hers. Singh, Kezia Kezia Singh is currently a junior at Holy Family University who will obtain a dual BA in PreK-4/Special Education PreK-8 by next spring. Her goal is to utilize the teaching skills she obtains here to teach Kindergarten and special needs students in foreign countries. Sperling, Ken Ken Sperling is a first year student at Holy Family University. He is majoring in Biology/Secondary Education, and he has a newfound love for chemistry. He enjoys spending as much time as possible with family and friends. He draws as inspiration the writing from authors such as Amy Hempel, Aryn Kyle, Shel Silverstein, and a variety of classic novelists, as well as real world experiences and introspective thoughts. Stoutzenberger, Joseph Joseph Stoutzenberger is Professor of Religious Studies at Holy Family. He has written numerous books and articles on spirituality and religion, recently contributing to the “Journal of Ecumenical Studies.” This is his third submission of poetry to Folio. Teti, Sherry Sherry Teti earned her Ph. D. in Mathematics at Bryn Mawr. She teaches at various colleges in Philadelphia. With an M.S. from Drexel and an M.A. from Villanova, undergraduate work was at Holy Family. Her M. Ed. was recently completed at Holy Family. She writes about Art, History, and Sociology.
Thomas, Tamira Tamira Thomas is a Holy Family freshman and an editorial assistant of Folio. She enjoys creative writing and photography. She may be a nursing student, but she also has a passion for writing fiction and poetry, as well as making music. Some of her artwork can be found on her SoundCloud page; her username is “dilettante.” Torres, Leslie Leslie Torres just started attending Holy Family University this year. She started to write poetry at a very young age and continues her work to this day. Most of the time, she writes songs and poems that include tragedy or sadness simply because her main inspiration is Edgar Allen Poe. Treon, Shana Fueled by her love for the city, its rhythms, grit, and sounds, Shana Treon’s most recent work is a direct reflection of her personality. Her work exudes an appreciation for urban elements, objects and landscapes – anything that grabs her attention or catches her eye. Her creative process stems from a desire to capture the rawness of urban decay (pipes, wires, graffiti, crumbling walls, rust, silhouettes, industrial pieces) while simultaneously twisting, zooming, sketching and manipulating each item, bringing them to life. Her paintings capture different elements of a raw urban landscape with emphasis placed on paint colors, lines, and brushstrokes combined with layering and overlapping of images creating dimension and realism. Watkins, Jack Jack Watkins is an executive with over 30 years’ experience in teaching professional development. As a Jewish man, he was blessed to receive the Holy Spirit many, many years ago. Watkins, Sara Sara Watkins is a graduating senior from Holy Family University. She likes English, Communications, and long, romantic walks to the fridge. She is also the Co-Editor-in-Chief of Folio and a real swell dude. Wildonger, John John Wildonger is a 19 year old born and raised in the Northeast section of Philadelphia, PA. John is currently a freshman student at Holy Family University where he studies nursing. Johns hobbies include playing sports, hanging with friends, and spending time with his family. After college, John is looking to continue on to graduate school and eventually become a nurse anesthetist like his mother, Maria. Xu, Janice Janice Xu is associate professor of Communication at Holy Family University. Zinter, Alyssa Alyssa is a freshman student at Holy Family University. She is currently a nursing major and is a member of the Honors Program. She dedicates time to work and school but still leaves room for enjoying herself amongst family and friends.
Liz Moore is the author of the novels The Words of Every Song, Heft, and The Unseen World. Her short fiction and creative nonfiction have appeared in such venues as The New York Times and Tin House. A winner of the 2014 Rome Prize in Literature, Moore is an Associate Professor of Writing at Holy Family University and the Director of the Honors Program.
Although Dennis Millan has been teaching writing classes for the past 25 years, he remains a student of the craft. Of particular interest to him is the personal-cultural context revealed by a writerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s rhetorical choices. Dennis is also the Director of the Center for Academic Enhancement in Holy Family University.