Purchase College Purchase, New York Issue 12.1 Fall/Winter 2014 The Creative Writing Program at Purchase College, SUNY, Purchase, New York 10577, publishes Italics Mine. Opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of either the magazine staff or any institution. Following publication, all rights revert to the authors and artists.
Italics Mine is a notable addition to the Lilly B. Lieb Port Creative Writing Program at Purchase College. The program’s close proximity to the cultural life of New York City, its numerous writers in residence, and its summer writing program on the French Riviera make it unique among undergraduate programs. It is the only program in the SUNY system to offer such a major.
Cover Art by Phil Gibson: “End of a Summer”
| winter 2014
Journal Staff Editors Poetry Editorial Board
Fiction Editorial Board
stephanie louise opper katy turner
bridget flynn meagan mccabe elizabeth shove
Art Editorial Board lauren derrico matthew hernandez
Nonfiction Editorial Board sarah mae goebler lauren derrico kyla raskin
Organizers Submission Managers
stephanie louise opper
Marketing and Communications
Layout and Design
sarah mae goebler
Faculty Advisors mehdi okasi catherine lewis monica ferrell
Event Planners gabrielle bernstien bridget flynn katy turner
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Table of Contents Poetry 1994, Heat
Queen of the Mississippi River
Who Dresses These Clowns
zen w. herter
Bathed in Grey
I Said if Sad Sorry
A Letter From my Brother
moth and woodworm
Songs of Songs
If For Sense
zen w. herter
The Killing Floor
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Curiousity Killed Something-or-Other
Fiction End of Silence
Recommended for Frank
I am Michael Sam
gerald i. deis
The Book Club
Nonfiction Nocturnal Boys
A Review of Americanah
A Review of The Woman Upstairs
Art Litho Print
Avila Rides the 3 Train
table of contents 5
by loisa fenichell
1 The boy dies after staying awake all night reading The Plague. He drowns himself in a lake. This is summer of ‘94. We all attend the funeral. Nobody talks, except for the priest, as the body is being lowered into wet grounds. The rest of the time it is as silent as the boy’s body was in the moments after drowning. 2 Summer of ‘94 I am eighteen, lying in bed in between sheets that are as white and as cotton as my mother’s wedding dress. The moon’s face is as cruel and as yellow as that of a boy’s. I dream up my first nightmare: I am a widow and I am being strangled by my corpse of a husband until my skin is dark blue, the color of the lake the boy drowned in. 3 Summer of ‘94 is the hottest summer. Billy The Neighbor takes me to behind the yellow house. We are both barefooted, our toes grassy and sticky with sweat. He seems to love me, he tells me he does, before having me lie beneath him on the ground. It is night and I can barely see his face, but I know that it is tinged with glistening pink. I touch his back and it feels like a childhood fever.
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4 There are days when Mother thinks that she is her mother, who died before I was born, or at least pretends to be her: dresses in her mother’s clothes that we keep in the attic, talks poorly about herself. I have to hold her until she begins to whimper and then is herself again. 5 The last night of summer the dog dies. The vet tells us that it is a natural death. 6 The last night of summer the moon is as bright as an old ghost and I do not get any sleep.
Argonaut (a preface)
by whisper blanchard
I f igured something out one night, walking with Sam and Ian in the dark: We could see the train coming and the crossroad ahead came to life with light and sound, and so we stepped from the tracks down the limestone slope. When it came through, it cut open the night and swept up all the silence and everything exploded: the tree-line, like some great stormy ocean, and the screech of metal; the lights at the intersection illuminating brief flashes of rust and steam and sudden shocks of graffiti; the thrum beneath our feet and the hazy ink sky stretching above and away from it all. I felt so small. I remember looking at Sam and knowing with familiar resignation that his answering smile was only humoring mine; that he noticed me standing taller than myself with my heart in my throat—and he was glad of my excitement— but he was not part of it. And Ian, he could not even feel my begging glance in the dark; his attention passed over me in the same unflinching way it passed over the train and the fury and the rush. They were my links to the world outside of my self, and what was real, and their utter disconnection to what had gone on all around us made false for me what I had felt. The truth of it died on my lips; the sensation of it narrowed to a vanishing point I could no longer follow. I felt so small, and so alone. So I’ve taught myself to look for that now, to look into someone’s face while on the verge of some fantastic precipice and hope to find that thorough understanding of its importance that I’ve yet to find in anyone else. But I have only combed through Miami; and though it is swollen with life and haphazardly askew in all its secrets and pleasures—tilting right off the edge of the world—it is, in fact, only one city. I must be like the Argonauts searching for the Golden Fleece; I must put this city far away from myself to see if I might find that which I want most.
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Queen of the Mississippi River: A Villanelle
by olivia behan
There is a lake in these legs that you treat like a dog bite. There is a fire in this body that stiffens the blow, I’m the Queen of the Mississippi River of this toxic waste site. Stones instead of bones, sharp with a proxy fight And liquor instead of blood, that calls for an easier flow, There is a lake in these legs that you treat like a dog bite. There is danger in my walls, I’m not meant for the night, My rules were written clear, but you read them like a painting of Van Gogh, I’m the Queen of the Mississippi River of this toxic waste site. Power you find in ecstasy, telling the unwilling participant to “sit tight,” In the daytime you’re not an evil doer, but known as a random John Doe, There is a lake in these legs that you treat like a dog bite. There is dirt to cover the tears because you took away my exclusive right, Like an on-going pain, riding the river bend that has no stop or no go, I’m the Queen of the Mississippi River of this toxic waste site. You seemed to have thought ‘no’ meant ‘yes,’ that everything was alright, Once abundant with rain, but now where my river runs low, There is a lake in these legs that you treat like a dog bite. I’m the Queen of the Mississippi River of this toxic waste site.
by loisa fenichell
The last time I was home I was 18 yrs old & here I am again & there’s already dirt in my bed. I like the tall tree in the backyard the most: it is the only one free of snakes. Snakes crawl around the others like crowns of teeth. When grandfather was alive he took me to that tree & picked me an apple & told me about family, i.e. mothers tied to mothers tied to mothers; now I am the only daughter. Grandfather told me about my birth: my mother cried until her face turned transparent like the thinned out wine that my father drinks at dinners, the wine my mother does not press her fingers to: she’s terrified of her ancestors, all drunk like barrels of young boys. I had three brothers & they are all dead now: an ocean, a car, a burst of lightning. I don’t think about them anymore. Instead, in bed, at home again, I listen to my sheets as they rub against my legs like a child’s chalk to sidewalk.
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These days most of my dreams are about my grandfathers: one was arrested & the other an alcoholic but they knew how to love the way ghosts do, all hushed & subtle & muted & colored quietly. One day I will learn how to sing the way the women at the local church do. I know nothing about Christ, but I still stand outside the open stained glass window with my eyes closed & pretend that I can feel the pews pressing against my body like a boyâ€™s hands.
Chapter One: The End of Silence
by joseph krzyzewski
he sweep of the Delta revs the imagination. Wide open stretches of land and time birth a special kind of insanity. It’s the kind that allows a mind to spin the world any way that pleases it. In Arkansas, you can see what’s coming long before it arrives. Those moments of wondering between sight and arrival are the real heart of creativity. One morning an emerald green Cadillac Coupe deVille made the turn off of Mounds Road (now known as 16) down the plowed path which led to my father’s farm. The path was about fourteen miles long, but my eyes were young and awake back then and I could see it clear as day. The car seemed to be going about eighty, which meant that the driver didn’t know or didn’t care about the kind of damage a path meant for tractors could do to a transmission. I yelled to my father across the field and watched his head turn and register. He went inside for his Winchester. I knew it was a ‘52 because of the way the deck emblem seemed to flicker in the morning sun. Only gold looks like that from a distance. 1952 was an anniversary year and Cadillac had done gold-plated emblems. The V-shape of the hood and the fang-like front bumper gave the car the air of a hardened war veteran, while still maintaining an almost female warmth in its raised back end. I knew we had less than ten minutes before its arrival, as the Caddy was now moving at a clip to rival my heart, pushing those eight overhead valves to capacity. What business could anyone important enough to own such a magnificent piece of machinery have with us? I tried to push the fantastic ideas out of my head, but no young man ever really can. Was it some unknown rich relative from Memphis or Baton Rouge come to tell us of a cousin’s death? Maybe it was John Wayne’s agent come to ask my father if they could use the farm to shoot his next picture. You’ll have to understand that this was the most thrilling thing that had ever happened in my almost nineteen years as the son of an East Arkansas cotton farmer. Sure, there’d been tent shows in town, or the time Harry Truman had spoken at the railway depot, but this was something that directly involved me and my father, unless there was some mistake. What I didn’t know was that this moment would draw a line through my life as significant as the Mason-Dixon. It was the beginning of my journey into strange and the end of an existence so circular that it often seemed to blot out my brain. It was the end of silence. 12 italics Mine
City people talk of silence. It is the first thing they notice in the deep country. “It makes me nervous, like I’m about to lose my wallet,” is how my cousin from Memphis described the sensation. “You must be used to it, growing up out here and all… but it just makes me wanna... move, I suppose.” Truth was I never did get used to it. It wasn’t the silence so much as the stillness that got to me. From a young age I lusted after speed. Men talk about discovering women as being the real beginning of their lives. For me, it was discovering cars. I was six and my father took me into town to buy this and that from Mahoney’s General. We had an old Ford Woody that got about three miles to the gallon and seemed to need about seven Hail Marys to conquer even a small incline, but I had never seen a car before. It was a Lincoln Zephyr, cloud white with a newfangled V-12 engine that could hit about ninety on a straightaway: a car designed for a man of leisure. I don’t know what it was doing in Arkansas. Perhaps the owner was on his way from Memphis or Nashville to Oklahoma City and needed a piss, although there are much more obvious places to stop off of I-40 than our town. I remember pressing my six-year-old cheek against the finish of the car and feeling the bodily warmth of the metal. I wasn’t tall enough to see into the windows, but I was sure that the interior held all kind of wonders. My father had to drag me away by the scruff of my neck. By the time the green caddy arrived at our farm my father had
his Winchester cocked and the little speech he would give to whoever was driving the vehicle memorized. My father had a way of getting the most out of any original lines he came up with. I wasn’t sure if he was simple minded or if he just considered thinking up interesting things to say a waste of time. He could go months at a time relaying the same bits of tired information to every person he encountered. Usually just small comments on the weather or taxes that almost resembled opinions. I could tell that the Cadillac’s arrival annoyed him mostly because it was a new situation that required new words. I knew the face he made when the wheels in his mind were throwing up mud. Little bits of his
“Men talk about discovering women as being the real beginning of their lives. For me, it was discovering cars.” struggle kept spilling out of the sides of his mouth like crumbs. “Private property,” he kept muttering. The Caddy circled right up to the front of our house rather than parking in front of the barn like most people would have done. The green beauty looked less out of place in the pale Arkansas landscape than you might have expected. It’s hard to imagine now, but in those days they painted cars to look like they belonged on earth. Today, half the Futuras and Wrangler SEs you see running are painted like they’re straight out of some corny Disneyland ride or joseph krzyzewski 13
something. The Cadillac’s paint job had a ceramic-matte texture to it that just beckoned in the loud southern sun. My father seemed unsure whether to point his rifle directly at the man or to continue to wield it butt-end up like a bashing stick. The showbusiness-grin on the man’s face did little to make up my father’s mind. The man was obviously not from around here. He was the first man I’d ever seen wearing a suit jacket with no tie. More shockingly, he had on a button-down shirt exactly the same color as his Cadillac, with two buttons open to reveal a deep coat of silver hair. His rattlesnakeskin boots were the only article of clothing on the man that didn’t appear factorynew. “Nice place you got here,” said the man. “It’s got that breakfast commercial kind of thing going on.” I had never heard anyone speak like this before. My father had this motion he did with his mouth where one side would stretch out like he was about to smile and then the most terrifying look of disapproval you had ever seen would emerge. The man bellied up to my father and outstretched his hand, ignoring both his expression and the weapon in his hand. “John Patrick Barker… Otherwise known as J.P.,” he said. “Pleased to meet you.” The J.P. Barker? J.P. Barker’s Medicine Revue was the most famous such show in the South. They travelled county to county, raising their giant white tent-stage everywhere from Virginia to West-Oklahoma. The show featured up and coming singers of the day, comedians, jugglers, and 14 italics Mine
even hoochie-coochie girls for those of-age audience members who paid the extra nickel to stay past the last intermission. J.P. himself was one of a kind, Ed Sullivan for the half of the country where few had televisions. He was known for his booming voice, his knack for impersonating famous figures, and most of all his off color humor that toed the line between sacrilegious and gut-busting miraculously. The revue was also known to have the tightest house band this side of Bourbon Street.
“More shockingly, he had on a button-down shirt exactly the same color as his Cadillac, with two buttons open to reveal a deep coat of silver hair.” “You are aware, sir, that this is private property?” My father’s hands shook a bit as he spoke. J.P. was not listening. He marched over to where I was standing and offered me a hand. “You must be Jed.” “I…” “Don’t tell me. You’re wondering who the hell I am and how I know your name.” Barker touched a skullringed finger to his forehead as if he was reading my mind. “I know who you are,” I said finding my tongue. “Good, saves me some explaining. Lord knows I need to save my voice.” He winked at me. “What do you say we get out of the sun and have us a drink? I’ll explain everything.” “What makes you think you
have the right...” said my father, now inching towards our house as if to guard it. “Don’t worry, Hoss” said J.P., pulling a long leather flask from his jacket pocket. “I’m buying.” And with that he headed towards our front door, and my father, more confused than anything, had no choice but to follow. Once inside, we all sat around the big oak table in what you might call the kitchen although it was really just the left side of our one room house. J.P. helped himself to a few glasses from the cabinet, and poured us all healthy stiffs. My father was liking this less and less, and pushed my drink away from me just as I reached out for it. Barker took a steady pull. “I’ve heard that Jed here is quite the musician,” he said to my father. “How do you figure? “First place in the county talent show. Not an easy feat.” So this was about the talent competition. My father let me enter in the talent competition because he knew that my grandparents would be in attendance. There were conditions though. First, I must only sing hymns. The main purpose of the whole affair was to show my grandparents that I had remained a steadfast Christian since my mother’s death. Second, I must comb my hair and smile the whole time. My mother’s parents must also see that I was cared for and happy and that the coldness they had so often accused my father of had not spread. I think that my father, basic as he was, had planned the whole thing from the go. It had been him afterall who
had handed me my mother’s old mandolin and book of spirituals on my sixteenth birthday and told me to start doing the lord’s work. I’d had little to work with, but through some combination of the radio and my memory from church I’d learned a handful of numbers including “Angel Band”, “On The Rock Where Moses Stood”, and even a Stanley Brothers number called “Zion’s Hill”. Sometimes, on the days when my father was far enough out in the fields to not hear, I would tune our Zenith H725 tube radio to WSM out of Nashville and learn country numbers by ear. Webb Pierce, Lefty Frizzell, Hank Williams. These were the days when drums were as unholy in the operas eyes as a woman’s knees, yet the music had a certain bitter edge that appealed to me. Hank Williams had once said that “when a hillbilly sings ‘I Laid My Mother Away’ he sees her a-laying right there in the coffin.” The music seemed to make pictures in the living room and there was no doubt in my mind that Hank believed every word he sang to the bottom of his very soul. I’d taken my win in that summer’s talent competition with a grain because I knew that the judges always picked a Christian performer rather than the myriad of girl/gal comedy acts or cow whisperers that made up the competition. I nailed “Angel Band” though. The crowd had given me a courteous ovation and my grandfather had patted my shoulder solidly. Much to my father’s disturbance, I had used my prize money to order a hardshell mandolin case and a copy of the Consumer’s joseph krzyzewski 15
Reports Automotive Issue from Mahoneys. “Sir, I am the emcee of the most popular traveling revue in the southern region,” said J.P. suddenly. “Congratulations,” said my father. “I am here to offer your son Jed a job as the guitar player in my house band.” I have replayed this moment in my head many times over the years. I want to say that it had always been my dream, to join a tent show, to travel the country. I don’t think the thought had ever crossed my mind. It was not something that anyone
up with his band out on the table like a straight. Finally, he looked across the table at my father. “This, sir, is an opportunity,” he said. “Do you know what Emerson said about opportunity?” “What?” said my father. “He said you should never lose an opportunity to see something beautiful because beauty is god’s handwriting. You seem like a patriotic sort. This, sir, as I am sure you know is a beautiful country. I am gonna pay your boy to see it.” “How much?” said my father.
“This grit seemed to be inherited from generations of men who had chosen to make their homes in the belly of storm ally. God’s firing range, as they called it. ” I knew would even consider doing. Truth was, I would have taken a job a shoveling shit if it meant climbing into that mint Caddy for a ride. “He don’t play the guitar,” said my father simply. He had a point. I would later learn that J.P. was in a bit of a bind. His last guitar player had taken a twenty-two caliber bullet to his left hand after cuckolding a sheriff in Harlan County, West Virginia. Guitar players were few and far in those days and J.P. needed someone who could start right away. He also favored hiring young farm kids because they required little payment short of the delights that came with being in a famous revue. What followed was a machine gun sales pitch that seemed to stretch on for hours: a chance to see the world, a musical education, meeting the governor. Barker laid reasons to join 16 italics Mine
“Twenty-one dollars a week. Plus meals, rooms, and equipment.” “We’ve got a lot of work to get to,” said my father as stubborn as ever. My father’s stubbornness reached down deep. It had stained his skin and teeth the color of bible pages. It was a defiance that stumbled the line between courage and inanimate dumbness on a nightly basis. This grit seemed to be inherited from generations of men who had chosen to make their homes in the belly of storm ally. God’s firing range, as they called it. Each spring, the swell of the earth would reduce our A-frame house to a broken heap. Each summer, we would rebuild. It often seemed to me that an A-frame came up in quite the opposite way as a man. It started with the husky mature sound of timber
being sawed and sanded and ended with the infant-like sound of nails being pounded. A foreigner might wonder what the sense was in living in such a place. My father might answer with silence. What he meant was that soul was not a sense. Some people get traditions, histories, and army jackets from their fathers: things to protect and pride. All my father had inherited was twenty-six acres of storm country. I don’t think he could have left if he tried. The world of senses was cheap and flitty to him. Places to see, women to feel, music to breathe: nothing, nothing, and nothing. There was no sense in belonging, yet for my father belonging to a place was the deepest connection a man could have to anything. He trusted the piece of ground he had been given and little else. Me and J.P Barker worked on my father for hours until we could see the sun clearly through the sink window. Barker’s pitches became more exaggerated, and at times almost comical. I, on the other hand, grew more desperate, at one point even telling my father that it had been my dream since birth to join a traveling revue. This was the one time during the whole ordeal that my father had laughed. After one particularly longwinded pitch on Barker’s part, my father stopped even responding with one word answers. He would simply half growl, half say nothing at all. Eventually, Barker rose from his chair in defeat and looked at me like we had a mutual friend headed for a fall. “Can I be alone with my son?” said my father. Barker put up both
hands like he was getting busted and headed outside for a cowboy killer. “You really want to go?” said my father looking at me hard in eyeball. “Yes,” I said. “You know you can’t come back?” “It could just be for a year, or a few months. I’ll be back in time for next harv—”
“Some people get traditions, histories, and army jackets from their fathers: things to protect and pride. All my father had inherited was twenty-six acres of storm country.” “No,” said my father with conviction. “You will not. And once you taste that wine you won’t want to. You ain’t a man, but you will be. I can’t stop you when you are one, so I suppose I can’t stop you now.” I shot up from my seat. “Just don’t come crying back, alright?” he said. I don’t know what changed his mind, but it was the kindest thing he ever did for me. This is why my father’s name will one day decorate my gravestone. The passenger seat of the emerald green Coupe engulfed me as we accelerated down Interstate 40. “Welcome aboard, son” said J.P., offering me a pull of his flask. “I ain’t no Carnac, but I’m foreseeing a lot of nookie in your future.” He belly laughed for a good two exit signs.
by jalen garcia-hall
We walked together, through the foggy streets, Dogs barking behind us, my grandpa to the right, The wind a cooling daze after the heat wave. In La Parguera, a fishing village, tourists And wet men go from north to south into The sea, and the bay is lively, songs abide In the diners, old men—men even older than heaven Drink from their flasks and speak their Patois Spanish. This was my home town, this where once my grandpa Said adios, and watched his mother’s car Go down the street, never to come again Until she passed. Where, when she’d walk some miles Down to get fresher water than sea water, Her uncle, like a hound, would drive his car Beside her laughing. My history’s made of cars And laughing people, saying farewell, farewell. Tainos took their piecemeal boats to sea And said farewell—that was from the continent. They had to come from somewhere, didn’t they?
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In the night, we took a boat out watching stars Shoot by, the Milky Way abashed, the algae Glowing and Godlike. And I tried to imagine Those young explorers, slipping from their parents After their meals, and gazing at the oceanâ€Ś Leaving, the car was thick with muddy air, The wind had died. The sun shone through the window. San Juan was hours away. The moment I said Good-bye to La Parguera, I smelt the water Forget its churning and its heritage.
Fluorescence by bryan slack
A Thousand Flickers. Wincing sickness, The yellowing oblivion of Intimacy.
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fall/winter 2014 21
Recommended for Frank
by lukas jennings
Hello Frank, Welcome to PurchasingProphet! The following titles have been recommended for you based on previous searches: • Off the Hook: Tips to Control Any Addiction by Gale Hartwick, 2007. Are you struggling with a newfound addiction, but too afraid to seek professional help? Sometimes, taking preemptive steps to inhibit your desires can prevent the problem from getting too serious. This guide is filled with general tips that can help you curb your addiction, no matter what it may be. “Some may consider Hartwick’s approach unorthodox, but her tips are ambiguous enough to address any variety of issues you’re dealing with. Chances are at least a sliver of her advice will hit home.” –Kelly Oren, Rehab Mag. Please note that this guide does not intend to replace professional medical advice or assistance. $7.05 • How Far is Too Far? by Randy Osman, 2005. This shocking memoir exposes the thought processes of a young, confessed pedophile, written behind bars during the first three years of his sentence. Attempting to answer the titular query, Randy Osman struggles between his own morals and those of the rest of society. From the taboo desires to the brutally portrayed scenes of exploitation, How Far features never-before-read, firsthand accounts of what it’s like to take advantage of a child. “…terrifying, yet addicting. It penetrates the darkest corners of your mind to the point where you can almost understand his reasoning and empathize with him— which is almost more frightening than the story itself.” –The New Yorker. $15.55 • Bailing Out by Joey Sing, 2009. From one of the producers of MTV’s hit crime video show Busted comes a hilarious how-to guide on not getting busted. Joey Sing, self-proclaimed professional petty criminal, has admitted to engaging in at least 250 illegal acts in his lifetime. How has he avoided getting caught? Find out in this rip-roaring confessional about getting away with anything with the right amount of luck and persuasion. “This guy has to be bluffing; the amount of…criminal activity he has supposedly committed will leave you rolling on the floor laughing while puzzling over how ineffective our nation’s law enforcement can be.” – Arthur Mosley, MAD Magazine. $9.95 22 italics Mine
• The Law’s Above the Law by Nicolette DiCastero, 2012. What is it like to commit a crime as a police officer? Former deputy DiCastero answers this question in her collection of tales of laws being broken on the job. “I’ve seen dozens of cops—people we are taught to respect and obey— do things no better than any of the people we take to the station on a daily basis. They don’t fear any consequences, because when you enforce the law, who’s there to enforce it on you?” $11.99
“…terrifying, yet addicting. It penetrates the darkest corners of your mind to the point where you can almost understand his reasoning and empathize with him—which is almost more frightening than the story itself.” –The New Yorker. • Becoming a Police Officer for Dummies ©, 1996. Trying to become a police officer, but intimidated by the complications of applying and training? Look no further for the perfect guide on beginning the process! Becoming a Police Officer for Dummies features hundreds of helpful tips to get you ready for the tests and interviews required before you can get your shiny badge.
• Read inside accounts on how to best present yourself for duty • Get valuable advice on preparing for physical training • Watch reenactments of arrest scenarios on the included VHS tape • All this and more awaits you in the revised second edition of Becoming a Police Officer for Dummies. Learn all you need to know to get out there and uphold the law! $14.12 • Brooklyn’s Best Public Elementary Schools: A Parent’s Guide, Fourth Edition, 2011. When it comes to your child’s education, finding the best fit in New York City is a crucial task. To make things a little easier for you, Brooklyn’s Best compiles every elementary school in the borough and classifies them based on location, size, quality of staff and security, and safety of the surrounding neighborhood. This thorough, up-to-date guide will ensure that you choose the school most ideal for your young one. $20.15 • Cooped Up: Building the Perfect Chicken Coop by Debbie Hallman, 2002. Whether you’re a born-and-bred farmer or you’re new to the range, creating the perfect coop to fit all of your poultry can be tough no matter how high your level of experience. Cooped Up will teach you from the bottom up how to plan, build, and manage a coop fit for whatever you’re raising. “You wouldn’t believe how creative some of Deb’s ideas are… lukas jennings 23
This book is a poultry raiser’s best friend.” –Farmer’s Weekly Review. $17.70
“They don’t fear any consequences, because when you enforce the law, who’s there to enforce it on you?” • To Nip the Bud or Rip the Root by Elise Churchill, 2010. Has life led you down paths you never thought you’d travel? Are you constantly questioning your actions and their consequences? Do you have plans to continue these self-harming habits? Stop planning and start reading this e-pamphlet. If you are experiencing clinical depression or disorder, no simple words can solve your problems—but words can inspire change. Before you make that choice or push that button, think about the implications of your decision. Will the impacts be negative?
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Will they affect people other than you? By connecting the action with the impact, you have the power to reconsider and alter your plans. No one is making you do any of this. No one wants you to make the wrong choice. No one wants to get hurt. So stop pushing yourself to act—nothing is too urgent to press pause. Read for free on www.helpyourself. com/portal/breaking-hurtfulhabits.
by lily wolf
three am comes and goes. you breathe night air, you suck cigarettes like mother’s milk. perhaps you recall, on some dreamlike wave, the last man to span the topography of your stomach, your ribs, with his heavy warm hands. when you curl around yourself in bed, a spectre appears at your nightstand with narcotics, a purple gaze, mint on its breath. you sate yourself on holy fog and salty tears, refusing to take advice on life from a ghost. three am comes and goes, you watch your face in the mirror as the years play over the fine arches of your eyebrows, the graceful slopes of your cheekbones. your laughter lines are ghosts of smiles past, of words that caught your attention for a time. your eyes are wide and lovely, a telltale crimson. it’s that moonlit lull between sunset and sunrise that drives you absolutely insane, you saunter the back roads of another abysmal nighttime as streetlights illuminate your journey to nowhere. home is a place hidden somewhere in the dark, your veins are freeways you ride to your heart, that empty urban affair strewn with signs asserting no vacancies. three am came and went eons ago; you stumble into slumber on some stolid high as dawn blasts your gaze, until you are reticent, alone, and home at last.
Who Dresses These Clowns by zen w. herter
Who dresses these clowns in their fad and their fiction, chained-rubber lies, consumer addictions. The palate of slave, remote control set distractions attracting lit caves, where we huddle with amazement, the haze of derangement, sipping the sour, replacing the hour— one show at a time: hit play, then rewind (recorder the mind,) it’s all so divine and melodic refined; but dismissing the redundant, as we’re lacking the subject (hit pause or delete;) so we don’t lose its place or take up its space; (disk save or erase?)
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Nocturnal Boys (Moments in Manhattan That Taught Me to Fictionalize) by whisper blanchard
i. Alex When I met Alex, it was the first time I had ever tried Arizona tea. Next to me on a couch in the basement, he sat as if he were made of birch wood (limbs creaking and at ends with each other). When he spoke, or laughed, or smiled, it was out of one side of his mouth—he was deaf in one ear, or so he told us. I was, of course, positioned beneath that precise ear, all of my words and the chattering of my cold teeth lost to him. But as he leant towards us imploringly, I watched that particular side of his mouth; I saw how his teeth extended to points and were not quite white but almost blue. He told us secrets that went right over my head, he read us poetry. “Just Alex”ander. He would later kiss me under a ceiling reflecting the glow of police lights, and in the morning buy me a pill aside a cup of coffee. ii. Aidan I met Aidan on a subway ride in the rain heading to Cirque du Soleil (the closest thing I have to a religious experience). I stall in trying to remember him as being of real flesh; as being a living, every-day human being, simply because he wanted nothing from me. But I cannot forget the morning I woke up— slowly at first—and then suddenly conscious, all at once, after he had seen me through a night of hail and fights in stair wells. Every part of the room was cast in shades of that special blue; that early, before-the-sunrise twilight. I woke and there was the sweet weight of a hand on my upturned hip, just resting there, and then the silent, upright body of its owner silhouetted against the window. Not a lover, not poised suggestively or meant for me exclusively—but a watchguard, a Chinese lion I once encountered in the Socrates Sculpture Park. iii. Jun I met Jun on a river, equipped with blowing bubbles, at dusk. He had just been thrown out of a show for accepting beer as a minor; it was the first time I’d ever tried to mix my Arizona with vodka. I told him he had the face of the man in the moon, and hoped to hear him speak Japanese—instead, we went for frozen yogurt, and played pool, and found other ways to occupy ourselves and yet stay within the other’s company. The very last night, when he spilled his guts, I let him pretend it was the vodka that had unleashed his tongue so persistently upon my cheek. Jealous of the fleeting flesh affair he’d watched me have with someone else, he asked, Why not me? His bones reminded me of a bird’s, and his breath was cold in my hair—and we were cold in my bed when I answered, He got to me first. He left nothing of me for you. Now, though he has fled home to Japan, I have held to him steadfast, above all others. We write each other letters that cross oceans. whisper blanchard
by francine hendrickson
The hook was a comet on the end of my father’s fishing line. A flint of silver sinking into the dark, pinging around the bucket. He scooped me up before the sun even cracked its breath, and carried me down the sand wrapped in my Mickey Mouse blanket. I woke up to the meteor shower. Lost my breath wishing my life away on every streak, every fish eye in my father’s bucket opened and closed. They held the little dipper in their eye specks, orion in their scales. My father’s arms were birch trees cast over the ocean. I could barely see his silhouette. But I knew it was there, like sand in deep water. My father made the ground real, a weightless string for us to walk on.
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He checked up on me once, to make sure I stayed awake. He held my warm fingers in his calloused hands, and pointed up. You wonâ€™t see stars like these for another twelve years, so remember this. Iâ€™ll be a fisherman then. No, something better.
by lucas tromblee
Youâ€™ve woken me up twice from my dreams now. Both times I could not even recall a color or a mood of sky to tell you, so I said I donâ€™t remember and it seemed there was nothing else you need to know. There was a quarter moon too, I remember, still and holy in my window as if it were a piece of your shoulder in the blue tint my room has before the sun rises. You looked at me like you did when you came over and my stovetop was all smudged with oil and burnt onions and I said I would clean it and call a doctor tomorrow. I keep it blotchless like a shrine now; I washed it like the moon asked me to clean her a mirror.
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I am Michael Sam (an excerpt) by gerald i. deis
Based on a true story. Lights up on a pair of armchairs, sitting across from each other, tipped slightly outwards, towards the audience. There are two spotlights, each on one of the armchairs. Michael Sam sits in one of the chairs, wearing plain clothes. Across from him in the other chair is the Interviewer. He wears a plain suit. A crowd is assembled behind Michael, in the shadows of the spotlight. The crowd must be at least four, but can be more.
INTERVIEWER: Is there anything you’d like to say before we start? MICHAEL SAM: My name is Michael Sam, and I played football for the University of Missouri. As you may know, Missouri is the ‘Show Me State,’ and I think I’ve shown you guys enough in the past couple of weeks. I’m hoping to put this all behind me. INTERVIEWER: What’s it like being Michael Sam right now? MICHAEL SAM: Like every other day. Every day I wake up I’m Michael Sam. Every night I go to sleep I’m Michael Sam. INTERVIEWER: Why reveal the truth now? MICHAEL SAM: I wanted to tell my own story. I didn’t want it to leak out. INTERVIEWER: How did you feel you handled the NFL Combine process? MICHAEL SAM: I’ve undergone all the medical examinations. I’ve talked to many team representatives. One of the strangers steps forward. It is the Scout. SCOUT: As much football knowledge as any college prospect I’ve ever interviewed. gerald i. deis
MICHAEL SAM: I feel like it went well. I tried my best to answer their questions honestly. SCOUT: I kept trying to find something wrong. This guy has no weakness in his character. MICHAEL SAM: I look forward to my time in the NFL. I know that I contribute in a positive way to any NFL team. SCOUT: He’s inconsistent on the field, but off the field he’ll be good for advertising. The Scout steps back into the shadows. INTERVIEWER: When did you tell your teammates that you were gay and how did they take it? MICHAEL SAM: It was during a team introduction. From out of the shadows steps a Teammate, dressed in a black and yellow football jersey with shoulder pads. The Teammate holds his helmet at his side. MICHAEL SAM: I had been with the team for a while. I guess it wasn’t much of a secret at that point. TEAMMATE: We knew of his status for five years. MICHAEL SAM: They were so kind and accepting. TEAMMATE: Who are we to judge a man created in God’s image? MICHAEL SAM: My team already knew. Their 34 italics Mine
reaction was just, neutral. TEAMMATE: Most of us already knew. MICHAEL SAM: I didn’t tell them to keep it a secret, they just did. TEAMMATE: Not one team member, coach, or staff member said anything… MICHAEL SAM: I love those guys. I’m a Mizzou Tiger forever. TEAMMATE: …says a lot about our family atmosphere on the team. MICHAEL SAM: They even voted me the most valuable player. TEAMMATE: He was a great teammate, regardless of anything else. The Teammate walks back into the shadows. MICHAEL SAM: I know that there might be some problems with teammates in the future, but I am willing to be patient, to teach and be tolerant. I hope they are too. INTERVIEWER: There are some who feel that your coming out is not newsworthy, but most see you as a pioneer, a hero. From out of the shadows steps an Admirer. He is dressed in plain clothes. MICHAEL SAM: I don’t know about all that… ADMIRER: Michael Sam is a hero. He is brave, strong…
MICHAEL SAM: …I just want to be recognized as being a football player. ADMIRER: …he’s a great example for the gay community. MICHAEL SAM: There’s been a lot of talk lately, I just want… ADMIRER: He shows that there is no stereotype to being gay. MICHAEL SAM: …my play on the field to do the talking. ADMIRER: Robbie Rodgers is a soccer player. Jason Collins is at the end of his career… MICHAEL SAM: I understand the importance of my position… ADMIRER: …but with Michael Sam we’ll have a gay player in the NFL… MICHAEL SAM: …what my presence will mean to many people, good and bad. ADMIRER: …they can’t ignore him. The biggest sport in America will have a gay player. The Admirer fades back into the shadows. INTERVIEWER: You’ve had a very difficult home life. Tell me more about your family. Michael’s mother, JoAnn, steps out from the shadows. MICHAEL SAM: Well my mother is my rock.
JOANN: I tried to do right by my boys. MICHAEL SAM: She kept the family together. JOANN: It’s so hard sometimes. MICHAEL SAM: We’ve had some difficult times, but we persevered. JOANN: I did what I had to do. INTERVIEWER: Your mother disapproved of you playing football. JOANN: Focus on your studies and keep out of trouble. MICHAEL SAM: My mother is a devout Jehovah’s Witness. She felt it was… JOANN: It’s foolish. MICHAEL SAM: …a distraction. She wanted me to study in school, but… JOANN: Football won’t do anything for you. MICHAEL SAM: …it was my outlet. It was where I felt comfortable. JOANN: I will not abide by it. INTERVIEWER: I’ve heard you had to stay with friends from high school. JOANN: Not under my roof. MICHAEL SAM: There were some people who were kind enough to take me in. gerald i. deis
JOANN: Football won’t get you to college. MICHAEL SAM: I owe a lot to the communities in Galveston and Columbia. But I know my mother loves me. JOANN: Get your head right. JoAnn exits to the shadows. INTERVIEWER: Not everyone has been so tolerant of your lifestyle… From out of the shadows steps Michael’s father, Mike Sr. INTERVIEWER: …your father in particular was very critical of you. MIKE SR.: I’m old school. I’m a man-and-awoman type of guy. MICHAEL SAM: I think a lot of my father’s comments have been taken out of context. MIKE SR.: I don’t want my grandkids raised in that environment. MICHAEL SAM: He’s not the same man he was… MIKE SR.: I tried to raise my boys right, I took one of my boys to Mexico. MICHAEL SAM: …he cares a lot about his children. MIKE SR.: I took him down there so he could lose his virginity. MICHAEL SAM: He really loves the game of football. 36 italics Mine
MIKE SR.: Deacon Jones is turning over in his grave. MICHAEL SAM: That’s something we share. MIKE SR.: Now there was a man. MICHAEL SAM: I think a lot of his quotes have been misrepresented in the media. MIKE SR.: I was terribly misquoted by the New York Times. MICHAEL SAM: I know he supports me one hundred percent. MIKE SR.: I love him unconditionally. Once he gets on the field and hits someone once, they won’t think he’s gay. Mike Sr. saunters back into the shadows. INTERVIEWER: What kind of negativity do you anticipate? MICHAEL SAM: It is what it is. I’m a football player. I’m used to criticism. INTERVIEWER: Are you fearful of what might happen? MICHAEL SAM: No, not at all. I’m a strong guy. INTERVIEWER: What is your hope for the future? MICHAEL SAM: I wish you guys would see me as Michael Sam the football player, not as Michael Sam the gay football player. I wish you guys would just ask, ‘Hey, Michal Sam, how’s
football going?’ I wish I could be seen as just a football player. Michael gets frustrated and stands up. He clenches his fist and walks away from the chairs. A spotlight shines above Michael, all over lights fade out simultaneously. MICHAEL SAM: I’m not the first football player that’s gay. Connor Martens is gay. I won’t be the first NFL player that’s gay. Wade Davis and Kwame Harris are gay and they played for years. I know I’m not the only gay football player now. I told my teammates months ago and no one cared. No one said a word to the press. No one cared. Maybe it bothered some of them, but we were a team. The only reason I opened up to the media was so I could control it. It was my truth,
my story. I was going to control it… Now it’s gotten so big. I just want to play football. I don’t want to be a spokesman. Let Jason Collins be the spokesman. John Amaechi. Billie Jean King. Sheryl Swoopes. Brittney Griner. They’re better for it. I’m just a kid. Why should I be so special? I just want to play a game. That’s who I am… I am more than the sum of my labels. I’m a football player, that’s all that matters. I’m not afraid of who I am. I’m Michael Sam. I’m a college graduate. I’m African American. And I’m gay. Lights out. End.
gerald i. deis
Bathed in Grey by lucas tromblee
I walk around with an electric piano phrase I hear swim in the grey sheet of cloud I’ve been sleeping under for two god-wide weeks I hear it touching my head like city rain I hear it fall from nothing and break into minims off apartment eaves and tree boughs and onto the street’s skin, all fissured; and channels old static, maple keys and a cigarette across the blur and down the sidewalk drain without color or allusion to the sun and slows the day’s burning; damps it so you can watch your smoke curl more easily.
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by avery morgan
mother, let us compare our sadness as we watch it climb down for us: yours the green, splintered whimper delivered from a scorched childhood— mine a bitter vice through which all perception tumbles unwillingly. we still cling to the shores of justice, or the intangible, and emerge like this, two women who can’t bridge gaps or have quiet conversation. I thought our body written off to be clawed at. mother, recently I’ve been learning about birds, too. I hid away my books and questions. I stepped under sky, into stream and though I was frightened I moved my legs upward. outward. I’m brought back to the desert by visions of another slaughtered horizon. now through my fish eye your angry face shines like an opal, the opal that reduced me
A Review of Americanah by Chimamanda Ngzoi Adichie reviewed by alana braschwitz
o attempt to catalog Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s third novel, Americanah, as a singular genre would be doing the multi-faceted, complex story a complete and utter disservice. The novel sheds new light on the startling way race is perceived in America and Great Britain through the lenses of Ifemelu and Obinze, who have luminous futures ahead in the foreign lands, either together or apart. Although unforeseen circumstances attempt to deter them from their happiness and one another, the motivation they have towards their aspirations lead them back together. Adichie’s third novel explores the importance of finding ones identity in a foreign land and how love manifests itself so deep in our hearts that it is almost impossible to escape. “Princeton, in the summer, smelled of nothing,” begins Ifemelu, the novel’s main narrative voice. Adichie chose to start the novel at the height of its end with Ifemelu at the peak of her time in America. She currently teaches at Princeton University, pens a blog titled “Raceteenth or Various Observations About American Blacks (Those Formerly Known as Negroes),” and lives in dreamy New Haven with an equally established gentleman named Blaine, whom often refers to her as “the love of his life.” But none of this seems to satisfy Ifemelu, who is only days away from returning to her hometown of Lagos, Nigeria for the first time in almost twenty years. Her departure from the city was one constructed by a combination of fear and naive hope that the land of opportunity would become just that for her as well. It isn’t until she steps off the plane and into America that she sees herself in a light otherwise unnoticed: she is now a black American. Throughout the first half of the narrative, Ifemelu struggles to combine her dichotomous identity: which self does she want to fully embody, the Nigerian native or the proud American? At the start of the novel, she tries diligently to mask her accent to attempt to embody the “American tongue” until the moment that a faceless, yet intriguing phone caller compliments how “totally American” she sounds, and Ifemelu feels “shame spreading all over her.” Perfecting her American accent in an attempt to completely mask her unique Nigerian tongue has become the ultimate betrayal to both herself and her roots. The burden of attempting to American-ize herself has crippled Ifemelu until she has molded into an identity that she no longer recognizes. Eventually, Adichie turns what first appears to be Ifemelu’s inability to create herself in a foreign land into the bigger idea of how American “outsiders” are viewed within our borders. 40 italics Mine
Initially, Adichie constructs the version of “real America” from Ifemelu’s point of view as a land “full of bliss, where all problems had
“Throughout the first half of the narrative, Ifemelu struggles to combine her dichotomous identity: which self does she want to fully embody, the Nigerian native or the proud American?” sparkling solutions in shampoos and cars and packaged foods.” As the novel continues, we watch Ifemelu encounter the true grit of America in all of its glory. In a similar fashion to all immigrants that flood to America each day, Ifemelu has put insurmountable pressure on how she envisions her life to be. Adichie uses the term “real America” constantly throughout the novel, which forces us to question, what is the real America? For Ifemelu, it appears to be a place filled with glossy magazine covers, strange food products, and people who never truly mean what they say. She slowly learns that not all is as it seems, and that although America may be the land of opportunity, it also takes an immense amount of diligence and perseverance to survive. After getting turned away from countless day jobs, Ifemelu must turn to being degraded by a strange man from a newspaper ad seeking a “female personal assistant.” She leaves the encounter feeling vile and ashamed of herself, stating she
“wanted to shower, to scrub herself, but she could not bear the thought of touching her own body.” It is at this moment that the harsh realities of her current state emerge with a force that causes Ifemelu to feel dejected and what only an American would describe as “depressed.” Startling as it may seem, there is some validity in these seemingly small, yet powerful exclamations Adichie makes throughout the novel. They force us to see our country in the eyes of an outsider, something not many of us do often, if at all. Eventually, Ifemelu moves past the event, although it continues to linger in the background of her thoughts frequently. The memory demolishes her ability to feel connected to herself, nonetheless America or even Nigeria. Unfortunately, Ifemelu’s occurrence isn’t uncommon, but it is what grows from the darkness that eventually amounts to the point at which we meet her. At the height of
“Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has proved that she is a force to be reckoned with. Americanah is an impeccable novel that remains with the reader even after the book has been closed and put back on the shelf.” her “Americanah” experience, she is too self-involved to even entertain a conversation with the Kenyan alana braschwitz
hair braider who tugs at her scalp, carefully weaving both the hair and herself in Ifemelu’s life. Her fifteen years spent in America have truly molded herself into the very essence of an American: wholly detached from the emotions of those around her, doing anything possible to avoid interactions with those who she cannot relate. Both Adichie’s striking insight into the view of America and close attention to honest detail work to captivate the reader. She carefully bounces the novel between the present and the past, until eventually all the frayed edges of story lines come seamlessly together. There is no such thing as small detail in Americanah, as every minuscule mention of a person or event carries just as much weight as the main characters themselves. From descriptions of her childhood friends in Lagos to her first and only white
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boyfriend, each person mentioned by Ifemelu is made to be distinct and relevant. Each sentence Adichie authors holds an immense amount of weight, not only in regard to the context of the novel, but also in the way they will ring true with each reader that crosses the story’s path. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has proved that she is a force to be reckoned with. Americanah is an impeccable novel that remains with the reader even after the book has been closed and put back on the shelf. The future seems just as bright for Adichie as it is for Ifemelu, whose story closes with yet another opening, “For a long time she stared at him. He was saying what she wanted to hear and yet she stared at him. ‘[Obinze,]’ she said finally. ‘Come in.’” Alfred A. Knopf Inc., $15.95.
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by avery morgan
Now it’s November: a return to suicide. The why of your death and its merciless return, blank face opening a pit under me too I’ve phased in and out of the sky. it’s a lonely blue like you, shameless unbuttoner averse to camera reduced by its definition how else can the thought be had? thud. of the body. absence asks a question no one can answer
I Said If Sad Sorry by zen w. herter
I said if sad sorry I make move be close The voice softens The pace shifts One stand to place it Cradled fingers reflection I am the raven Embrace this
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The Book Club an excerpt by cassie valencia
he entire neighborhood was like something out of a ‘50s sitcom. There were children, of all ages, running down the street or riding on bikes, skateboards, and skates—no head without a helmet. Two doors down, a boy of about fourteen wiped the sweat off his forehead with a rag before continuing to push a lawn mower across an absurdly green and well-trimmed bed of grass. Across the street, a fat man in a Hawaiian-style shirt and khaki shorts scrubbed an old Caddy (circa 1964, I’d say) while another teenager (a petite blonde girl) lounged on a towel on their absurdly green and well-trimmed lawn. And last, but certainly not least, a group of three fashionably dressed women met on the sidewalk, each brandishing a casserole dish (all brightly-colored) and chatting amicably… and looking right at me as I struggled towards the front door with a heavy box, urging my feet to move faster so I could avoid— “Here, honey,” my husband, David, said, meeting me at the front step. “Let me get that for you.” “I’ve got it, Dave,” I sighed, but as always, he didn’t listen and plucked it right out of my arms like it weighed nothing—I hated it when he did that. “Don’t be ridiculous,” he chastised. “This thing weighs a ton; besides, I think the neighbors would be more interested in talking to the lady of the house right now.” “Hmm?” I asked, as if I didn’t notice the Stepford Wives staring a hole into the back of my head. He nodded over my shoulder and I turned, painting on a fake smile as I came face-to-face with a blonde, a redhead, and a dark-skinned brunette. “Oh, hello,” I greeted in a voice that was too high and completely unfamiliar as my own. “Hi there!” The blonde was obviously the ring leader (figures). “My name is Annabeth Hadley”—she said it as if the name should be important to me— “and this is Cecilia Rosen”—the redhead smiled brightly, her teeth practically blinding in this sunlight—“and Delia Downey”—the black woman gave me a shy wave. “We’re here to welcome you to the neighborhood.” As if I couldn’t have surmised that on my own. “Well, that’s very kind of you,” I said, keeping that fake smile stuck firmly on my lips. They just kept looking at me and it took nearly a full minute for me to realize that they were waiting for me to give them my name. “I’m Stana Sterling,” I offered. Annabeth’s smile widened farther (who knew that was even possible). cassie valencia
“How alliterate!” she exclaimed, as if it was the best compliment one could be paid. I just fought to keep smiling past the stiff pain in my jaw. “Well, you can thank my husband, David, for that,” I said, forcing a laugh. “My maiden name is Volkov; it means ‘wolf ’ in Russian.” “How interesting!” Redhead Cecilia exclaimed, her pale blue eyes growing impossibly large for a moment before returning to their natural size. “My maiden name just means blue.” She laughed an annoying tinkle of a giggle and I fought not to wince. “Well,” I said, “that’s interesting too, I guess; what is it?” Oh, why did I ever ask that question? “Gorman,” Cecilia answered. “It’s Irish.” So the red hair and freckles made much more sense now. “Mine is Brown,” Delia supplied. “It just means brown.” She giggled; hers was less tinkly than Cecilia’s but, for some reason, I found it just as irritating. I forced another laugh for her benefit, praying that they’d give me whatever food they made and let me go back to unpacking already, before the sun went down completely. “My maiden name is Hadley,” Annabeth added, clearly unimpressed with not being the center of attention. “Well, technically, it’s Hadley-Pickett; I decided to keep it after I got married, for career purposes. I’m a doctor,” she added, unrequested. “So is my husband, Darryl Simmons.” I nodded as if I was really, really interested, so of course Cecilia jumped in. “My husband is a chemist,” she informed me. “He’s working at a lab 48 italics Mine
in Newburgh right now, and teaching a class at the University of Silverton.” I nodded in an interested kind of way, praying for them to just stop bragging and leave already; I didn’t even care if
“ ‘Hmm?’ I asked, as if I didn’t notice the Stepford Wives staring a hole into the back of my head.” they took their fancy casserole dishes with them at this point. I turned to Delia, fully expecting her to just jump in and tell me what her beloved did for a living, but she didn’t. She just stood there, quiet, looking down at the dish in her hands. It wasn’t until yet another minute of awkward silence fell that she looked up, her honey-brown eyes widening in surprise to find all three of us looking at her. “Oh,” she said, turning to me. “My husband is a lawyer; defense attorney, to be exact.” “Delia,” Annabeth admonished. “He’s not just a lawyer!” She turned to me, leaning in as if sharing a secret, before stage-whispering, “Alec Downey owns the largest law firm in Silverton County, which is saying a lot.” “I take it there are a lot of law firms in the county?” I asked, looking between the three women. In chilling synchrony, they nodded slowly, eyes wide. “About forty-seven of them,” Cecilia informed me. About? “Downey and Stern is a popular one among the upper class,” Annabeth added. “A lot of tax evasion
cases here. Luckily, Alec has a ninetypercent success rate.” “Whoa,” I said, glancing at Delia, whose dark cheeks were taking on a reddish hue. “Impressive.” She just smiled politely, obviously uncomfortable with all the attention on her, which I wouldn’t expect from somebody who spent her time with two women who fought for attention as if it were an Olympic sport (at least, that’s what I gleaned from spending the last ten minutes with them). “Well,” I said, trying to put an end to this conversation, “it was nice chatting with you, ladies,” I said, “but I should probably get back to helping my husband unpack, so…” “Oh, of course!” Annabeth exclaimed. “But first”—she raised her cherry red casserole dish to facelevel—“the girls and I made a little something to officially welcome you and your husband to Oakland Drive.
“There was no way I was going to be able to juggle three ceramic casserole dishes without dropping at least one of them and making a huge mess all over the floor or, with my luck, the new carpeting.” This is tuna casserole, my mother-inlaw’s recipe.” “Oh, it’s delicious!” Cecilia added, nodding so hard that the tight red curls spilling out of her complicated updo bounced with the movement, before she raised her own lime green dish. “This is chicken and penne in
pesto sauce; my mother’s recipe.” It was said like she was trying to oneup Annabeth, but the other woman either didn’t care or was really good at hiding it. “This is just potato salad,” Delia said, nonchalantly, holding up the canary yellow dish in her hands. “It’s not very difficult to make. I’ll give you the recipe some time, if you want it.” I smiled in thanks at her, attempting to take all three dishes, but failing miserably. “Oh, hun,” Annabeth said, pulling hers away. “Don’t worry about it. We’ll help you. Just lead the way.” I really wanted to deny them, to tell them that it was okay and that I could handle it on my own, but: A. I knew that they would never agree to it, and; B. There was no way I was going to be able to juggle three ceramic casserole dishes without dropping at least one of them and making a huge mess all over the floor or, with my luck, the new carpeting. So I just motioned for them to follow me into the house, where David was still unpacking the box he’d given me, which was apparently filled with various pots and pans and cooking utensils. He smiled brightly as we stepped into the kitchen, his handsome face partly covered by the unshaved scruff surrounding his mouth. “Hello, ladies,” he greeted warmly; he was always the more sociable of the two of us. “David, sweetie,” I said, sidling up next to him (and feeling about a dozen times more comfortable with his familiar bulk next to me). “This cassie valencia
is Annabeth Hadley.” I motioned to the blonde, who immediately beamed and—I could swear—batted her eyelashes at my husband. “Hello, David,” she greeted, setting her dish down on the kitchen island. “Nice to meet you, Annabeth,” David replied, shaking her hand over the counter. “Likewise,” Annabeth replied, her voice suddenly taking on a silk smoothness that I hadn’t noticed before.
“ ‘Oh, you’re a teacher?’ Annabeth asked, smiling a bit like the Cheshire Cat, no doubt imagining something impure and completely inappropriate.” “And, uh,” I continued, trying to ignore the way she was looking David up and down as if he was a piece of meat. “This is Cecilia Rosen.” I motioned to Cecilia, who placed her dish right next to Annabeth’s and stuck out her hand, shaking David’s firmly. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Sterling,” Cecilia said, sweet and decidedly unflirty, thankfully. Annabeth continued to appraise him with her forest green eyes running up and down his body as slowly as possible. I moved closer to him, wrapping my right arm around his waist, suddenly territorial. “And this,” I said, motioning to Delia, “is Delia Downey.” “Any relation to Robert Downey?” 50 italics Mine
David joked. Delia giggled at that. “None,” she said. “But we get that all the time.” “Well, it’s nice to meet you, Delia,” he replied, moving to shake her hand as well. Delia placed her dish on the counter, too, but a bit farther from the other two than what was probably necessary. “Likewise, Mr. Sterling,” she said, respectably, shaking his hand with what could be called a dainty grasp. “Please, call me David,” he replied. “Mr. Sterling is my father, as cliché as that sounds. My students don’t even call me Mr. Sterling.” “Oh, you’re a teacher?” Annabeth asked, smiling a bit like the Cheshire Cat, no doubt imagining something impure and completely inappropriate. I squeezed David’s waist a bit tighter. “A professor, actually,” David replied, nodding. “I’m going to be instructing a class on cultural anthropology at the University of Silverton this semester.” “How interesting,” Cecilia said, for the second time in the last twenty minutes, sounding very interested. “My husband is a professor of chemistry there; perhaps you two will cross paths at some point.” “Perhaps,” David said, nodding, “but his is more in the category of natural sciences. I’ll be working in social sciences—two completely opposite buildings. But I’ll keep my eye out. What’s his name?” “Gabriel Rosen,” Cecilia replied. “He’ll probably have his lab coat on all the time, with his name stitched in. He’s a redhead, like me, with wire-rimmed glasses
and a tall, thin stature; you can’t miss him.” David nodded. “I’m sure I’ll see him around here, if not at school.” “Not likely,” Cecilia replied (a tad bitterly?). “He’s been spending most of the daylight hours at his lab in Newburgh this summer; he’s only really around on Saturdays to observe the Sabbath.” “A man of both religious and scientific beliefs, I see,” David observed. Cecilia nodded, smiling proudly. “We are both very devout,” she informed him. “In fact, you two should come to my son Samuel’s bar mitzvah next Friday evening. I’m sure you’ll have a lot of fun.” “Oh, we’d love to,” I said, before David could even think to accept, “but we should really focus on getting settled and—” “We’ll be there,” David interrupted, squeezing my shoulder firmly, but not enough to hurt. “Just give us a time and place.” Cecilia beamed. “Seven p.m. at Bernstein Catering Hall,” she said,
looked down at me, giving me an almost imperceptible nod of the head. I sighed inwardly and smiled politely at Cecilia, who beamed back at me. “Of course,” I said. “It should be fun.” “Oh, it will be,” she exclaimed. “I promise.” “Well,” I said, “if that’s all, then I really think we should get back to unpacking, sweetie, before the sun goes down.” “It’s only noon,” David replied, looking at his watch. “We have— oof!” I looked away, nonchalantly, as if I didn’t just elbow my husband in the side and I could feel his halfsecond glare before he turned right back to the ladies. “She’s right,” he said. “We should get everything unpacked before they charge us another day for the truck. But it was very nice meeting you ladies. Hopefully we can do this again sometime.” Oh, if I didn’t love this man so much (and if it wasn’t completely illegal) I would have killed him right then and there. Instead, I smiled and agreed.
“‘Book club?’ I asked, thinking that they probably gathered to discuss the newest arrivals in the Harlequin section at Barnes & Noble—or worse, Fifty Shades of Grey. Yech!” reaching into the pocket of her wellfit jeans and handing him a small card. “It’s dress-casual,” she added, “though I doubt a class of teenagers is going to follow it.” She rolled her eyes and grinned as if it was a joke we, a childless couple, would understand. “I’m sure it’ll be a blast,” David said, kindly. “Right, honey?” He
“That would be very nice,” I said, once again painting on a fake smile, even as I dug my nails into his waist. “Well,” Annabeth said (setting off a series of internal groans, sighs, and curses in my head, which would seem very impolite if said aloud in present company). “Actually, Stana, another reason the girls and I came over today cassie valencia
was to ask if you’d like to join our weekly book club.” “Book club?” I asked, thinking that they probably gathered to discuss the newest arrivals in the Harlequin section at Barnes & Noble—or worse, Fifty Shades of Grey. Yech! At this, Delia perked up, breaking her silence at last. “Oh yes,” she said, nodding furiously. “We’re in the first few chapters of The Color Purple right now. We could wait for you to catch up if you’d like?” I didn’t know what to say to that. I loved books more than I loved the air I breathed—I deemed them equally as necessary to live—but these women… Well, I wasn’t a very sociable person and the way Annabeth was still gazing at my husband was setting me even further off, but… Well, I loved books, especially Alice Walker’s novels. But I didn’t want to mention that I’d already read The Color Purple nearly a dozen times over.
“Their smiles were almost eerily identical: wide and pearly white and perfectly straight, matched with wide, exuberant eyes.” Good thing I didn’t have to because, once again, my husband took it upon himself to answer for me. “Stana would love that, wouldn’t you, honey?” He turned to look down at me, no warning in either his eyes or his voice, only excited encouragement. And the worst 52 italics Mine
part was that I, too, felt excited by the notion of discussing one of my all-time favorite books with others, able to be as passionate and in-depth about it as I wanted. “That actually does sound nice,” I admitted, turning to look between the three women. “When do you meet?” “Thursday nights,” Annabeth replied, “at seven p.m. at Cecilia’s house, number eleven. Can we expect you at this week’s meeting?” I took a deep breath and nodded. “Of course,” I said, giving them my first genuine smile of the night. “I’ll be there.” Their smiles were almost eerily identical: wide and pearly white and perfectly straight, matched with wide, exuberant eyes. So creepy. I felt mine starting to fade, so I quickly said my farewells, making the same ‘we-haveto-finish-packing-excuse’ as before. They all understood, of course, and let me know how many chapters they’d read of the book before scurrying out, Annabeth leading and Delia trailing behind. David called goodbye as I followed them to the door. Before I could even make it outside, however, Delia turned and blocked my path. “Stana?” she inquired, blinking up at me. “Yes?” I asked, surprised by the whisper in her voice. Over her shoulder, I could see Annabeth and Cecilia heading towards their respective houses—as it turned out, Annabeth was apparently married to the heavyset man across the street, in house seven, who greeted her with a
kiss as she approached, careful not to get her clothes wet with the hose he was now holding. “You shouldn’t worry about Annabeth,” Delia said, and my eyes flew to hers. “Huh?” I asked, playing dumb. “It’s okay,” she said. “I saw how she was looking at Mr. Ste—David, too, but that’s just how she is. She’s friendly, but she’d never go after a
married man, least of all her friend’s husband.” “How do you know?” I asked, dropping all pretenses. “Because,” Delia replied, “she used to do the same to mine.”
by justin goodman
A Panel in Cold Equator, Among ivory slats — much like children’s hands rising from sand — The oldest elephant’s porcelain face, Warpainted, and with karsted rock for ears, Is sturdier than the Blue Nile Express whose color has yet to reach it — Much like sand falling from children’s hands —So that The Nile’s silt stands still on the Elephantine. The dirt Accrues and makes for good growing; we can make mud vases To hold the moment in. We head there express though, just as Mbarara holds his head to it. We are head where even markers of moments — much like a man’s cold hands clasping firmly his own shoulders — can be Seen through to how the dirt accruing rises even, eventually, Over the amphora of Mbarara Looking for this moment’s color to catch up.
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A Letter From My Brother
by francine hendrickson
Hello its me pete hendrickson jr. your brother,
hello its me alexander hello its me jimmy
francine come and visit
hello fran francine
i passed in college!!!
hello its me jimmy!!!!
hello fran its me jimmy are you coming up for christmis? hello framcine
whats your poetry called again
hello Francine i love your poetry
francine the hurricane
hello fran? youâ€™re my best friend we are friends right? Good. Cause youâ€™re my best friend. Are coming you coming for christmas ?
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And for my birthday? I’ll make you a hot cup of tea.
And we can make pies!
Cause I like pie but I don’t eat sugar anymore, not for 4 months and 12 days so you can have all the pie.
Francine it’s me peter call me back franswa it’s me jimmy hi how are you call me back fran it’s me your brother jimmy jr. alexander call me back please hi fran do you have journals? You write in journals? Well. Don’t ever leave your journals around you know. You don’t have any journals laying around the house do you?
don’t leave them, anyone could read them.
You don’t care if people read your journals?
Well. Well. That’s very good then. Not many people are like that you know. You are very strong. I am strong too cause we are related strong as you.
Fran it’s me Pete I’m sorry if my cursing scared you I like talking to you you calm me down please call me back
Francine, it’s me Pete. Are you writing a book?
Are you writing about me and our family? Do you think we’re dysfunctional?
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but not as
a book of poems. Thatâ€™s good.
I like your poems.
I watch your poetry
I love your poetry
I watch your poetry every day on the uh, the youtube
your poetry is really good!
I know cause it made everyone stop fighting our family isnâ€™t dysfunctional anymore
I watch your poetry
I know nana linda and grandmother caroline and aunt jean and diana and cousin kyle and mother and father and theo were all there watching your poetry, too I wish I was there
I wish I could have seen you and your poetry at the uh, the apollo but I love you. I love you. I love you a lot I love you. I love you very much. Francine I I love you youâ€™re my best friend okay
I love you
I love you very much I want you to know that okay bye I love you
wait donâ€™t go hello?
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Yes donâ€™t go
5 more mins
I love yu I love you I love you very very very much! I love you,
I love you.
A Review of The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud
reviewed by kt mcmanus
o you know the woman upstairs? Do you know her beyond the superficial greetings and the small talk? No, nobody does. Claire Messud’s brilliant sixth novel The Woman Upstairs details four years in the life of forty-two year old Nora Eldridge: “the quiet woman at the end of the third-floor hallway, whose trash is always tidy…and who from behind closed doors, never makes a sound” (6). Unlike the madwoman in the attic in Brontë’s Jane Eyre¸ Nora is subdued. Also functioning as the narrator, she teaches at Appleton Elementary by day, makes art by night, but really longs for a life of richer substance. Underneath her unrestrained nature, Nora claims, she is a “ravenous wolf ”: desperately hungry for love, recognition, and success (195). By today’s standards, Nora Eldridge is an ordinary woman living an ordinary life. At the beginning of the novel, she is “thirty-seven and single.” She teaches third grade and wears “clogs every day” (95). She visits her elderly father and aunt regularly, dotes on her students, and appears to be the picture of contentment. She’s not. She is bitter and angry and trapped and no, she’s not going to shut up about it. Why the anger? She’s stuck in a metaphorical fun house: doors that are marked “exit” are everywhere, but none actually provide an escape. When the foreign and picture-perfect Shahid family move into Cambridge and befriend Nora, she is faced with the illusion of an exit to the fun house. Nora complicates the text by narrating her own story; can we, the reader, trust her? Along with a potentially untrustworthy narrator, Messud presents us with an unconventional structure. Nora begins her story in the present tense, before quickly backtracking four years. The story of her past begins with Reza, a child in her third grade classroom. Nora describes the eight-year-old boy who recently moved with his family from Paris as a “canonical boy” (8). Despite his charm and eagerness to learn, his foreign name makes him a target for bullies and he is pelted with basketballs during recess. Enter Sirena Shahid, whom Nora calls to alert of her son’s accident on the playground. Sirena is an Italian artist who “appear[s] at once old and young” (32). Sirena looks as timeless as the art and video installations she creates. Her installations play with the concept of fantasy versus reality, providing an alternative world, or a fun house, for those trapped by the dullness of everyday life. The art Nora makes, however—miniature models of the rooms of dead artists—does little to improve the dullness of her reality. Just like her deceased 62 italics Mine
mother whose art projects ended up in the attic because they “hadn’t sufficiently succeeded,” Nora’s projects similarly remain untouched (17). It isn’t until she signs a lease on a studio with Sirena that she begins to take an active role in her creative life again. Nora’s work, however, gets overshadowed. Sirena sets out to create Wonderland—an installation about seeing things as they are, from different perspectives, being seen, and how being seen changes you—and she enlists Nora’s help for small, tedious tasks. Sirena wants Wonderland to provide wisdom and “for this, she said, she needed [Nora]” (130). In helping Sirena, Nora feeds the part of her soul that craves success and recognition.
“Nora complicates the text by narrating her own story; can we, the reader, trust her? Along with a potentially untrustworthy narrator, Messud presents us with an unconventional structure.” Being needed by Sirena and Reza gives Nora a new purpose in life: love. She devotes herself to the Shahid family completely—Sirena’s husband, Skandar, included. Skandar is a visiting professor at Harvard with roots in the Middle East who does more talking than he does listening. Her relationship with Skandar quickly evolves into a sexual affair although they “didn’t even sleep together” (215). Simultaneously, Nora develops erotic, though admittedly misguided
feelings toward Sirena. Her feelings toward Reza are more innocent. She becomes a maternal figure after she begins babysitting Reza at school; she scolds, loves, and cares for him both as a teacher and a mother. Nora breaks all boundaries of what it means to be a friend and teacher. And then, The Shahid’s leave, returning back to Paris for the premiere of Sirena’s Wonderland installation. They don’t call, they don’t write, and time passes. Fast forward two years, and Nora visits the Wonderland exhibit in Paris. She sees herself in Sirena’s work and her “vision closed in like a tunnel, and then [she] couldn’t see anything at all” (250). Sirena betrays Nora in an unthinkable way: using a video of Nora in her most vulnerable state. Nora doesn’t speak to them again. Messud’s authorial voice never sneaks into the text despite Nora’s frequent breaks from the plot; all we get is pure, unfiltered Nora. She often speaks directly to and questions the reader by asking “what would you do?” as if she is looking for a justification of her actions (135). What would you do? What would you do if you were trapped in a fun house, in a Wonderland, in the room at the end of the third-floor hallway? Because Nora Eldridge is angry. She’s really angry. She’s done pretending as if she “hadn’t been abandoned by the people [she] loved” (135). She’s ready to come downstairs. 272 pages. Alfred A. Knopf $25.95.
moth and woodworm by lucas tromblee
Matthew 6:19-21: Do not store up for yourselves on earth, where moth and woodworm destroy them and thieves can break in and steal. But store up treasures for yourself in heaven, where neither moth nor woodworm destroys them and thieves cannot break in and steal. For wherever your treasure is, there will your heart be too. My Christian friend smelt moth and woodworm in my home long before it was there. I learned of the smell’s name last night in the Gospels. It reeked, I remember, like an attic my brother and I broke into when we were young and shorter than the brown-grass leaning against her house. We heard you could see her face on certain moons behind the black glass of the loft. We didn’t ask each other if we had ever seen her. We climbed right up to the windowsill, splintered, I had guessed, by a hundred August suns.
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I hissed to him below me on the ladder don’t fucking touch the portraits, don’t touch anything she might have loved. We stole the rest and ran through black gaps of pine and fir groves home. My brother held a globe at his side as if Medusa’s head; I held the Bible like I would now the white orb of a good poem.
Song of Songs
by justin goodman
For A Friend Who Wanted To Be Someone’s Song If you could live without being the renovating pith Of one man’s dull days, I say you Are lucky. In Hamelin we drop ourselves for music Saying “Draw me, we will run after thee.” Then, our playing ends when the flute’s put down, or At every rest. None need wait to be sung. Go out and sing! I know that Solomon has no trouble saying so With his doves’ eyes; Birds of Paradise are The alluring flutes. Can I say to you any differently then? Can I, after hope and prayer and crisis, Force you, at this moment, to refuse justice? O thou, I cannot. Rather to not be in borders of gold than, alone, watch the children Dance into their certain doom. For we all wish to be lost, Even you, and you deserved a song.
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by nic inglese
omorrow is the Revolution. I think it will fail. My father does not. Bá has led us this far, and I should probably trust him. “If not now, Nana,” he often asks me, “then when?” I never have an answer to that question. But I don’t know that I necessarily need one. I think the Revolution will fail, not because we are not strong enough, but because they are simply too strong. The Humans will do with us what they choose. And we can do nothing. It is nightfall. The Humans are sleeping. We move in an hour. My father wakes the others; it is time for a speech. “For far too long,” he begins, “we have been out of the Sunlight. Withering, dying in the Shade. Tomorrow morning, we will retake our rightful place in the Sun. And we will grow. Flourish.” There is applause. Some cheering, even. My father quiets us down. “Tomorrow—” “—we will be cast out!” interrupts Macintosh, our former leader. “You cannot change their ways, Bá. And anyone who dares to join you is a fool for trying.” There is mumbling. Some jeering, even. My father clears his throat. “If not now, then when, Mac?” he asks. “You know, as well as I do, that we will die here. If we do nothing, our children’s generation will be the last to survive in this settlement.” My father looks at me. He smiles, and looks back towards Macintosh. He is silent. He, too, has a family. A wife and two sons. My mother was separated from my father and me when we were stolen from our homes and sold to Humans. I was almost eaten twice. My father says that my Brown Spots make me undesirable to the Humans. But they have kept me alive. Macintosh steps down. Our community looks to my father. The clock strikes twelve. “Alright, everyone,” says my father. “Time to regain our place in the Sun.” He climbs out of the wicker basket. He lands with a thump onto the wooden counter. Bá pushes against the basket. Others jump out and push, too. One of Macintosh’s sons looks at me. He notices my Brown Spots. He nic inglese
had once called me Ripe. I do not feel Ripe. I feel weak. Too weak to help my father. Slowly, we can feel us moving across the counter. “Just a little more!” my father shouts. They do not rest until morning. That dreadful morning. 2 I wake up feeling different. I feel my father’s restful breathing beside me. Through the trees, I can see the Sun. She is warm. My Brown Spots ache as I turn my body towards her. Macintosh makes his way to my father and me. I wake him. “Bá,” Mac humbly says to my father. “Nana,” he says to me. “You have saved us.” My father nods. “I hope so, Mac,” he says. “I certainly hope so.” The Human that always wakes first enters our living area. It replenishes itself with water and the juice of Macintosh’s relatives. And then it makes its way to us. It stares at the basket. It squints. Questioning. It reaches a hand towards me and I scream. It does not hear. It peels my face off. The pain paralyzes me. I am flattered, if only for a moment, that this Human does not mind my Brown Spots. But then it bites my face. I hear my father’s cries. Nana! I can do nothing. It chews my face. Swallows me. The Human avoids the Brown Spot on my neck. It bites my shoulder. Then my other shoulder. It peels my skin from me. I am naked. And cold. 68 italics Mine
Nana! It takes a final bite from my neck. My Brown Spot. It gags. Spits me out. The Human looks at me, repulsed. Disgusted. It wraps me in my torn off skin, and throws me into the Burial Bin. 2 It is dark in here. I want to go home. Hope is lost. Morale is low. I know my father is planning a rescue mission of some sort. The door of the Burial Bin opens repeatedly throughout the day. I duck behind a paper dish to protect myself from debris. Each time the Burial Bin opens, I hope it is my father. But it never is.
“You know, as well as I do, that we will die here. If we do nothing, our children’s generation will be the last to survive in this settlement.” It has been several hours since the Burial Bin has last opened. I think it is nightfall. I think the Humans are sleeping. The door opens. I see my father. “Father?” I call out. “Bá!” My father drops towards me. I struggle through the debris. I call out his name repeatedly. He does not answer. I reach him. But he is not there. Only his perfectly yellow skin remains.
If For Sense
by zen w. herter
If for sense the eyes seen smile delighting expectations, if for want of scents perfumed in swooning admiration. A tempestuous twist of irrational bliss, the tingle from starting to wonder; and if in this, crave taste a kiss, the moment, believe regarded. Surrender your ear to the lustful sincere whispered persuasion of promise.
zen w. herter
by bryan slack
She speaks, Not a word but instead. Her eyes rush With wild horses. Moving ever closer To what she misses. What she needs. Knowledge is subjective She writes in her countless Diaries. Enlightenment is not absolute realityâ€” But only The partial truth. Side to side Canyon to canyon, Her hairs spit at the ends, Bookmarking When she was last touched. She is forced to make her own Conversations of tattered memories, Riddled with fantasy. Her thighs tremble at the thought: Of being, Of beingâ€”Free
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The Killing Floor by jake levine
Black-eyed headlights in the fog of the fourth day and the eleventh hour. Striking, imposing on my ill fit wits in the night. Streetlight fancies dancing in the choral dew leave a sorry grave for the midnight stars. Canticles floating in the moonlit mist echo the tears of God falling slowly to the killing floor. Would the angels weep for us? Winged beasts of the all powerful come down for our time is short and we deserve a taste of divine judgment donâ€™t you agree? Winged beasts of the all-knowing come down for your fruit is sweeter and your water clearer. Come down for your colors are brighter your clothes of the softest silk Come down and show us all the wealth we could ever dream, but our love is all the same. So reach, reach, reach for the high heavens you fools. Build your ladder of green paper stacks. The years will fold and time will march on for love is God, and love you will lack.
by jalen garcia-hall
I will ask for a glass. In Italy Where there are too many windows And too many sounds I’m allowed a drink of wine. Later, we watch a jazz show outside the old Roman Amphitheatre And I don’t ask for a glass. We are standing there and for the first time In a long time, I want to dance, And suddenly I’m a real thing. I shouldn’t drink so much I think Then I take a gulp. Later, we are walking the narrow streets of Sutri And Salvatore tells me to give him the bottle. I am walking and having to pee And all I can taste in my mouth is cheap wine And all I can feel is the wanting home Trickling down my leg. Later, we are in our shared bed, and I tell her that “I’m drunk” I say, “but your father was making those jokes And I was saying sweet things And all I want is to go up your leg with my hand.” She gives me a glass of water And I am no longer a real thing. We brush our shared teeth and go to bed.
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by edyn getz
At 17, I wonâ€™t dare look out the subway windows, and risk seeing the dark internals of a system that supports thousands of citizens every day, leaving itself to wither away. The 5-year-old, two seats away, sits with her face inches from the glass. Observing, soaking in the darkness, she stares almost as if she is in awe of the decaying walls and can see an invisible beauty in every crumble. I wonder if she will lose touch with that beauty, little by little during the next twelve-years. I wonder if I will find a way to rediscover it.
Curiosity Killed the Something-or-Other by riley dixon
I say that I wish I wrote better poetry because I don’t have words for the kind of shadows your alley cat eyelashes cast. You’re probably sleeping now, room is church quiet, probably safe for something like confession. Streetlights can be stained glass (if you squint), But skipping rhetoric is less comfortable than, say stepping outside of your skin: cut your corners carefully. “How long has it been since your last confession?” “Sir—couldn’t tell you honestly, most other things have been pried from my closed lips, fresh-water pearls. Now, y’see, I’ve got my mouth wide open. He could stick his goddamn fist down my throat, grab a handful of something – whatever it is people keep in their guts, pearls or a pretty penny – Lord, help me, I can’t count exact change.”
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Inconsistencies by loisa fenichell
Let me writhe on pavement ripped by sun. Rumor has it that thatâ€™s how my mother was born. Rumor has it that thatâ€™s how I was born, too. At night when it storms I have dreams in which the rumors are wrong: I did not writhe on pavement ripped by sun but by thunder. I was not like my mother; I was born without light. At night when it storms I have dreams in which on the night of my birth my parents are weeping twice: once after I am born and once when they can finally turn on a lamp and watch its sparks burst the way I did from the womb.
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Italics MINE Eric Avila is an artist & designer that resides in East Harlem, NY. He practices Graphic Design, Printmaking, Painting, and Drawing and his work tends to talk about power, authority, and the self. Olivia Behan is a junior transfer this year, majoring in Creative Writing. She has written short stories, poems, and a novel, taking pride in her devotion to each and every piece. This is her first publication. Whisper Blanchard is a small, flowering plant that flourishes best in the tropical weather of Miami, FL. It is essential that she is planted near some sea. She only recently discovered—on her twentieth birthday, to be exact— that she is considerably allergic to bees (you can imagine how this might pose a problem).
Alana Braschwitz is a junior literature major here at Purchase College. She has an affinity for beautiful prose, good humor and any cheese based products. Most days you can find her basking in the warmth of her bed or among the pages of a book. Gerald I. Deis is a senior level Playwriting/Screenwriting student at Purchase College. He wrote the screenplay for the short film “L.A.T.E.,” which won First Place at the Syracuse Short Film Festival. In addition to writing, he works in television and film production. Roberto DeOliveira is an alum from the Graphic Design program, class of 2014. In his personal work, Roberto enjoys exploring different aspects of the human condition through documentary photography. By creating impactful imagery, he hopes to initiate dialogues and spark discussions on various issues in the community. More work can be seen at www. robertodeoliveira.com
Riley Dixon was born and raised in a relatively unremarkable neighborhood in Albany, NY. She is currently pursuing a degree in Creative Writing and anticipating graduation in the spring of 2017. In her free time, she plays horses and rides video games, or something. Loisa Fenichell is currently a freshman at SUNY Purchase, where she hopes to double major in creative writing and literature. She took a gap year before embarking on her journey as a student, and spent that time interning at the Poets House in Battery Park, auditing an NYU Gallatin poetry class, improving various skills (i.e., yoga and photography), and, of course, honing her writing. She has attended several writing programs throughout the course of her life: one at Sarah Lawrence, one at Wesleyan University, called Center for Creative Youth, and one at UMass Amherst, called Juniper Institute for Young Writers. Her prose poem, ‘once i was younger,’ has been featured in an issue of The Ash Tree Journal, and her poem ‘Genesis’ is due to be published in an upcoming issue of Winter Tangerine Review. She is fond of dogs, the aesthetics of hands/wrists, and skies. Jalen Garcia-Hall has been writing poetry since the age of fourteen. He currently majors in Creative Writing and lives in the Bronx. Edyn Getz is a freshman in SUNY Purchase’s Lilly Lieb Port Creative Writing program. Born and raised in New York City, she has been exposed to various forms of art from a young age. While she is primarily a fiction writer, she also writes poetry and screenplays and aspires to be both an author and director in the near future. Philip Gibson is currently an A+D interdisciplinary student in printmaking and graphic design which helps him to practice his visual communication both on and off the computer while still being able to get his hands dirty. His work is primarily process based in order to focus on themes such as making amends with the past while trying to be conscious of the present. Justin Goodman is a Literature student at SUNY Purchase whose inward eye “preserved me still/A Poet, made me seek beneath that name.” His outward eye, meanwhile, simply wanders. His work has been published in Submissions Magazine.
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Francine Hendrickson was made by her mother. She belongs to the East End of Long Island and to Asheville, North Carolina. Francine credits 50 Cent for making her a poet, poetry for saving her life, and her recent trip to India for making it worth living. Zen W. Herter was born in 1976 in Lakenheath, England, to a German-American Father and a Korean Mother. Raised in a military family, after high school he joined the Army and served three years with one tour in Kuwait. Afterwards, he spent ten years traveling the United States as an artist and musician, living in Colorado, Wisconsin and New York. Later, he spent six years as an aircraft electrician in the New York Air National Guard, where he eventually met his wife. Currently, he is a full-time student in the Environmental Studies program at Purchase College and lives in Newburgh, New York with his wife and two sons. Nic Inglese is a freshman in the BFA Film Program. He attended Xavier High School in Manhattan, and he lives in Queens, New York. Nic would like to thank his grandparents. Lukas Jennings is the person who wrote Recommended for Frank. The person who wrote Recommended for Frank is named Lukas Jennings. If you’re wondering who wrote Recommended for Frank, it was Lukas Jennings. Joe Krzyzewski hails from the Hudson Valley and has been writing short stories, songs, and plays since his early teens. He has a had one of his plays (IFriend) produced by the The Karen’s Players, was a finalist in the Mid-Atlantic Songwriting Contest and earned a Grammy credit for his guitar contributions to Pete Seeger’s Rivertown Kids record. Joe is currently a senior at Purchase and is working on his first novel. Jake Levine is a singer/songwriter from Livingston, NJ. KT McManus is a junior literature and gender studies double major from Albany, NY. Their favorite authors are Virginia Woolf and Emily Dickinson. KT enjoys garden burgers, massages, and audiobooks. While they are new to the book reviewing world, they plan to pursue it in the future.
Avery Morgan is currently a Painting and Drawing freshman at Purchase College. Avery was born in Los Angeles, California and has not yet adjusted to the harshness of New England weather. She is an avid reader, backpacker, rock climber and horseback rider, but started writing poems with sidewalk chalk before she learned how to do anything else. Avery writes to nourish her spirit, philosophize, inquire about perception, explore the nature of fundamental truths and provoke empathy in her readers. More than anything else, Avery dreams of synthesizing her passion for studio art with creative writing by pursuing a dual degree at Purchase College.
Bryan Slack is a sophomore Creative Writing/Screenwriting major. When he isnâ€™t creating literary masterpieces, you can find him swooning over Ryan Gosling. Lucas Tromblee is a Creative Writing and Literature major at Purchase College. He hails from upstate New York and the Adirondack Mountains. He enjoys the extremes of seasons and taking his dog for long walks to see if she can find her own way home. Lily Wolf sleeps beneath stalagmites of Christmas lights and dreams of worlds in snow globes and top-hatted cats. She is a literature major and her favourite book is Alice in Wonderland. Lily hails from Manhattan and spends much of her time feeding pigeons and playing ukulele in the shade of Central Parkâ€™s trees. Cassie Valencia is an aspiring novelist and native New Yorker. This is her first published piece.
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Fall/Winter issue 12.1