The Tower 2020

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Copyright Š 2020 The Tower University of Minnesota Department of English 207 Lind Hall 207 Church Street SE Minneapolis, MN 55455 Printed by Versa Press, Inc., East Peoria, IL Cover Art: Aberration, Christian Hastad, Inkjet Printing and Acrylic on Paper, 2019


The Tower is the student-run undergraduate art and literary magazine of the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities campus. We are inspired by a belief in the necessity of artistic expression and its power to enlighten, challenge, and captivate.

Thank you!

We thank the following organizations for their generosity, which makes it possible to publish the 2020 edition of The Tower. For a full list of donors, please see the Acknowledgments pages at the end of this issue.

LETTER FROM THE EDITORS Despite the unpredictability of modern life, the power of art and literature as a vehicle for change remains constant. The Tower recognizes the value of these media and provides a platform for artists and writers to explore their essential truths while giving student editors a chance to learn and grow. When choosing this year’s theme, “Asterisk,” we were searching for something that would welcome a wide range of stories while simultaneously challenging us to step out of our comfort zones and reconsider the ways we express ourselves. As a theme, Asterisk strives to spotlight the unnoticed, undervalued, or ambiguous. It explores the margins as well as the multiplicity in all of us. The symbol serves different functions across disciplines, allowing us to consider all of its uses and manifestations. A marker of footnotes, an indicator of omission, and a breaker of sections, the asterisk is versatile. These three functions form the backbone of our narrative this year. From our submissions, we discovered recurring themes that echo throughout each section. The magazine follows the path of a traditional story arc. The first section, Append, contains pieces that prompt questions and challenge conceptions, and it opens as an inciting incident. In the second section, Ascend, the pieces continue to diversify our understanding of ourselves, each other, and the world around us. It is the section of rising action. The final section, Upend, mirrors the first in theme and tone, serving simultaneously as an end and a beginning. In this way, the magazine functions as a palindrome, opening and closing with pieces that explore the self, community, and home. Asterisks can be used in many ways, and this fluidity is at the heart of this year’s edition. Our theme underscores that there is always more to uncover. We believe that the adaptability of Asterisk creates an inclusive space to support the exploration of new approaches to living and to storytelling. With appreciation,

Lauren Swee Editor in Chief

Cate Tynjala Editor in Chief

The Tower 2020 Staff

Online Editors Maddy Folstein Shae Kizima

Editors in Chief Lauren Swee Cate Tynjala

Chief Art Editor Rylee Gag

Managing Editors Bailey Arman Afton Kelly Ann Petersen

Art Editors Ann Petersen Miki Schumacher Cate Tynjala

Marketing Directors Miki Schumacher Annie Zheng

Chief Fiction Editor Annie Zheng

Publicists Rylee Gag Jessica Herbst Maggie Nesbit Kimberly Xayaroun Development Directors Swetha Saravanan Hailey Stein Design Managers Sara Funk Rylee Gag Chaundra Rich Designers Jacob Aranyos Claire Breitenbach Copy Chief Maggie Nesbit Copyeditors Bailey Arman Claire Breitenbach Jessica Herbst Swetha Saravanan Hailey Stein

Fiction Editors Jacob Aranyos Claire Breitenbach Shae Kizima Kimberly Xayaroun Chief Nonfiction Editor Jessica Herbst Nonfiction Editors Bailey Arman Maddy Folstein Swetha Saravanan Lauren Swee Chief Poetry Editor Afton Kelly Poetry Editors Sara Funk Maggie Nesbit Chaundra Rich Hailey Stein ArtWords Judges Claire Breitenbach Afton Kelly Miki Schumacher Kimberly Xayaroun

CONTENTS Append 11

Kitchen, Scene I, Lauren Foley


Psychosis, Hilson Dang


Navy hued nether planet, Ciara Cagemoe


From Foam, Jasmine Syed


Clouds, Gabriela Sierra Bedon

18 21

Picking Thistles, Paxton Schmitz

22 27

A Boat Against the Shoreline (Oil on Canvas), J.T. Cunningham


Asking for a Friend, Abby Person


4pm, Zoe Rogers


Our Body in Segments, Lauren Foley


Lavender Babes 2, Beth Thelke


Hanging, Caitlin McBride


lost in the duty-free shop at terminal 5, Alexis Ma


Untitled (Reclining Man), Robert McGrady


Vandals, Emily Heilman


Refrigerator Door, Stephanie Eberhard

46 47

Speck on The Moon, Emily Harvey

Forget Me Not, Corra Thompson Nessie!, Jane Borstad

A Ghost Story, Lauren Foley

Ascend 53

Floundering About, Maia Carter


sciamachy, Alexis Ma


The Trial, Cate Miller


A Long Day at the Theater, Megan Lange


Where She Goes, Genevieve Desotelle


The Part in the Movie when the Volume gets very Loud, Megan Lange


Or Was It the Other Way Around?, Julia Reising

70 71

Lo-Fi/Hip-Hop Office, Geoffrey Ayers


The Spurs on the Legs of Pheasants, Lark Lasky


Reach, Julian McClellan


Crying in public, Ciara Cagemoe


junior year prom, mom had to unzip my dress because i was having a panic

Static, Jacob Van Blarcom

attack and couldn’t breathe, Evelyn Staats


Turn on the Light, Taylor Robers


A Prayer, Evan Tungate


Two Men on Cedar Hill, Robert McGrady

82 84

Inhabit, Callianne Jones We were walking the dog, Demitria Sabanty

Upend 89 90

Aberration, Christian Hastad Return to Form, Abe Diaz

99 100 102

How to Pray at Dusk, Emma Heckel


Urns, Beth Thelke


The Day, Emily Rascher

106 107

Untitled, Zoe Rogers


Joan’s Mind, Isabella DiCicco


Michigan, Callianne Jones


Curse Word, Lark Lasky


Born, Christian Hastad


exhale in contrast, invert my hurt in sunbeams, with the grime of loss, Evelyn Staats


A Portrait of Shinjuku, Keng Xiong


The Letter, Karla Gabriela Abreu


Wishful Thinking, Sarah Mai


5:30, Zoe Rogers


Rites of Passage, Emma Heckel

Bliss, Callianne Jones These days, Ciara Cagemoe

The Left Breast, Demitria Sabanty

ArtWords 140

Situated Between a Hamlet and a Village, Macie Rasmussen


How My Husband Makes a Jackson Pollock, Catherine Retica


Around Here, Joey Gotchnik


Real Colorful Creatures, Samantha Sanvik









in kitchens, everything echoes—stove the ticking pulse point of the room’s thumb, disposal the stuttering of the sink’s cleared throat, blinds the split eyelids transferring parceled wind and darkness onto marbled tile. the kitchen echoes here, speaks first to itself, then nods to its occupants. see: voice one (n.): a rough-smooth thing, like the ridges a butter knife leaves down a serrated yellow lip; the intake of air just before a punchline, helium-swoop, balloon-pop; an omniscient smirk, or the exact face a cat makes before touching one padded paw to a full glass of water. in English, the words kitchen and home are synonymous. think the shoes tip-toed on the mat by the door. think the oven light that winks before blinking out for the fifth time that summer. think the swollen fruit gathered at the edge of the countertop, not quite dangerous, inch from edge. voice two (v.): to gather the collar of a black jacket, waterproof-slick and smooth fabric crumpling, folds overlapping like skin wrinkling between thumb and forefinger; to thunder, but only in the context of a hurricane trapped between vertebrae and sternum; to try to deceive and fail. in dreams, the kitchen clock runs backward, hours stacking like loose change on the tabletops seamed by split-thread initials of people who never lived there. hands strain city-wide power failure through inherited cheesecloth, draining the home into a glass. one paw. flatline.

Psychosis, Hilson Dang Ink and Charcoal




Ciara Cagemoe

I like to go walking at the creeping firefly edge of night my eyes soak up the heavy overhead paint-swatch ocean at dusk’s shore until blue irises rehydrate and the sky’s new lack of sea is the lonely color of coal-smeared longing, sparkling messenger airplanes shooting between distant star lovers they’ll never reach. Sometimes in the dark I forget that I exist not the solid 3D fuzzed and freckled “me,” but the fragile, precarious, air-conditioner-in-the-third-story-window scaffolding of “I” “I” becomes a letter now tendril, unfurled, reaching toward haloed orange bear-hug belonging, solid-squishy wavy-circular oozing-slimy belonging, belonging to the twin melodies of glowing neon cat gaze headlights and humming, nocturnally purple wind. As the last exhale of sleepy sunshine rolls over put-to-bed concrete the secret other world of night blooms dinner-plate-sized hibiscus open under the nonjudgmental care of the ever coy and smirking, caffeine-addicted moon crickets play the accordion in grassland alleyways for passing possum peddlers in dirty gloves and cars wander around this navy hued nether planet looking for connection, people too and some people are at home, alone and together and together alone, and some don’t even close the curtains. I walk through it all, still walk, walking into I wade I wade into the dark waters, shiver as the cold reaches my thighs deeper I splash, marvel, twirl in the pool of mystery possibilities breathing inside each shadow and dance to that strange written-with-the-left-hand song

14 it’s the overture of pinch-me waking dreams but also the rich, slippery flan of unconscious ones and falling deeply into words, spirals, pajamas, love, sleep and me walking, wading, dancing in love myself, throw on a jacket love, in love with the night

From Foam, Jasmine Syed Photography


Gabriela Sierra Bedon Oil on Canvas



Paxton Schmitz

I smell a garden, A carefully cultivated Collection of blossoms, In the tiny purple petals of A thistle’s flower. I feel the prickle of sharp stings On small bare feet As I run, So young, I have a hard time remembering my own age. I say “young.” Do I mean seven or fifteen? Through the fenced-in backyard. The sky’s backdrop a dark wood. I hear the wind whispering Through the branches of trees So much older than me. That breeze carries along its breath Floating seeds that Land and dig and root and grow. Disrupt the pristine lawn. My father sends me out With a bucket, some gloves.

POETRY I keep my feet bare, The thorns still sting. But that was my fault. I used to cut the grass barefoot. Afraid of my own shadow but not losing toes. I pluck the thistles And the tender yellow flowers Of the dandelions. But they are weeds. And they are ugly. The yellow stains my gloved palms. The thistles still stick through the fabric. The house I grow in Has a fence made of plastic; So we wouldn’t have to paint it We built it for the dog. But he could still slip underneath. He barked at walkers Through beige plastic slits. In the garden, The birds eat the strawberries, The rabbits eat the rest. That house ate me alive from the inside out. The thistles grow up alongside the trees. I pull up weeds even When the fence goes up. Even when no one could see them. We go to church, learn about A sinning man who pulled the weeds Flowers we gave ugly names.


20 Too early. Matthew 13:24-30. Am I just another Weedy thing, waiting for harvest to be burned? Is it possible to feel guilty for something You don’t believe is wrong? Whispered prayers are By howled wind drowned out. I sit on the front porch in summer heat, Unable to tell where the thick air stops And I begin. I wait for having a body, for being a person to make sense. It doesn’t. There’s thistle seeds between my teeth; There are thorns in my blood. I sit And wait Just a few more years, just months. I’ll tell them, I’ll tell them. There’s dandelions behind my ribs. And I put on shoes Before mowing the lawn. I uproot weeds Who were they hurting in the first place? Behind plastic fences.

Forget Me Not, Corra Thompson Ink, Watercolor, Colored Pencils, Gel Pen on Paper



“See what you’re doing here?” he pointed with a hairy finger at what was then my most recent painting. “Using too much purple,” I said. He glared at me behind his thick brown horn-rims; had this been even forty years earlier, he would’ve smacked me good across the back of the head. Van de Berg was a traditionalist, a puritan in all aspects of life, save for the three marriages that cost him a good deal of money on account of the divorce proceedings. He’d argue that this deviation from his typical misery expenditures was out of his control, but his ex-wives would probably say otherwise. “I understand what you’re going for in terms of scope,” he told me. “But a seascape is not composed of a seascape. There are beaches and bluffs and boats. What do you have here, then?” He enjoyed offering hypotheticals that weren’t truly hypothetical, but rather a poor man’s attempt at a parable. Often, I thought about asking him if he even knew what a rhetorical question was, but the singular instance where I corrected him on his definition of aphorism, he wouldn’t let me paint on canvas for a week to teach me something about my “intellectual snobbery” and how far removed real art was from it. “Yeah,” I said. “‘Yeah’ is not an answer to the question I posed.” “It’s an idea, not an execution,” I murmured. “Precisely,” he nodded. “Maybe our styles just emulate completely different moveme—” “No,” he snapped, those serpentine eyes telling me he was itching to whack my wrist with a switch. “No such thing. Art is art. Classifying oneself as belonging to one particular school only limits you.”

FICTION “But you have to admit,” I said, rubbing my wrist as if he actually hit it. “My stuff doesn’t fall into the baroque tradition.” “And?” He raised an eyebrow. “Impressionism isn’t about the fine details.” “And?” The eyebrow rose higher. “That’s the movement my stuff more closely resembles?” “Damn it, have I taught you nothing?” Van de Berg spat, hands now resting on his girthy hips. “No classification! No categorization!” “We have those for a reason,” I pointed out. “To avoid situations like this entirely.” “Nonsense,” he muttered, hands now folding into each other via his arms. I knew to convince him of seeing things my way bordered on impossible; he railed against the art history program every year, sending in petition after petition to have it liquidated into the history department, right up until his retirement two years after I graduated. Art history, he told me, amounted to nothing more than an excuse for the bourgeoises to look down their noses at “low art.” When I asked him what that qualified as, he refused to answer. Which meant he knew the paradox in his argument, and he indeed classified art between high and low forms—which meant qualification and categorization—which meant he was definitely a hypocrite. In his mind, I’m sure, he had worked through the mental gymnastics enough times to render the nonsensical as nothing more than painfully obvious. When I stare at my canvas now, I think about him and his rigid regulations for “good” art. I think about his refusal to admit defeat or accept concession and my penchant to do the opposite. Perhaps because of this, we learned a great deal from each other, even if I was the only one to understand this. Primarily, we vehemently disagreed on the fundamental nature of art. See, to me, art is an expression—an expression of self—of one’s psychology and philosophy and structures of belief. Art is not only one thing, nor one medium, nor even necessarily visual. It expands upon all things, a spectator of the human consciousness on our external reality.


24 To Van de Berg, art was exercise. Mental and physical. Sketching and drawing, therefore, were vital steps to the act of creating. No spontaneity— none of that Caravaggio carving-right-on-the-canvas shit. It must be laborious just as it must be all-consuming. His marriages, as you can imagine, fell prey to an eternal war of the passion of art versus the love of people that, to a degree, all serious artists have. “You don’t need love to survive as a painter,” he once told me. “Just absinthe and yellow paint chips,” I said. “You think I’m joking.” “Even Van Gogh admitted love was a necessary component to living a full life,” I pointed out. “I imagine him alive, and all I feel is his loneliness.” “It made him a better painter. Imagine if he hadn’t felt all of that. Would he have produced the works that he did?” “Velázquez had a fairly stable personal life,” I said. “And what do people admire him for?” Van de Berg muttered. “Ridiculous portraiture.” Van de Berg, though gifted to the nth degree with plenty of acclaim for his works, got himself blacklisted from the artistic community en masse for such blasphemy. “A Philistine and a heretic,” one fellow art professor called him in a paper just for the sin of thinking that Las Meninas was nothing more than a vanity project with no real worth, artistic or otherwise. “It says nothing, as it always has, and will continue to do so until the end of time,” he was quoted as saying in a book on seventeenth-century Spanish art. “What about the dwarfs? What about them?” When the author pointed out that there was a dwarf in Las Meninas, Van de Berg responded, “In, yes, but not the focus. That arrogant son-of-a-bitch is. Him and that mustache.” Nevertheless, I never faulted him for it. I never much cared for baroque art in the first place and, so, had little to no opinion on the matter. Van de Berg, for all his flaws, was sincere. Though rigid, he was unpretentious. His love of art stemmed from a belief that art conveyed emotions and stories that were inert in other mediums, not because he wanted to impress anyone. If

FICTION anything, I like to think that he would’ve hung up the smock if he received any attention that wasn’t tinged with contempt. Meanwhile, I desperately craved it. Not from Van de Berg, since I knew I’d never get it, but from my fellow students. All of whom were fairly unimpressed. Nonplussed. “It’s all right, I guess.” “Yeah, it’s fine.” “Sure, I like it.” I never received a word of acclaim from them during my undergraduate years, nor did any of my paintings make it into the student magazine. Some of my fellow art undergrads got their works hung up in lobbies and the library. Eventually, some got into galleries; mine typically ended up at the bottom of trash cans. For a time, I tried following Van de Berg’s examples in their concrete rationality, their narrow concentration on the fine details. I even tried a version of the painting where I did exactly as he told me to do. But I couldn’t. It wasn’t me. And as much as we disagreed on the subject, I knew that betraying my own ideas for the sake of approval would be far worse a disappointment for him than my continued insolence. Needless to say, I’m not a professional. Almost none of my fellow undergrads are either, save for a few who wised up and started making weird installation art that still doesn’t make sense to me. In his last email to me, Van de Berg bemoaned the state-of-the-art world as a “barren wasteland disguised as intellectual curiosity.” I have to laugh because, to Van de Berg, every art movement, even the ones he subconsciously emulated, could be described as such. Weirdly enough, as I’ve been told by other people who knew him, I was one of his favorite students. Over his fifty-odd years as an art instructor, Van de Berg fell into a cycle about every five years or so; he’d sniff out talent and try his best to nurture it before said talent inevitably floundered because of excessively lofty ambition, or lack of dedication, or some other excuse he conjured up to avoid wasting any more emotional effort on them. Then they’d be cut loose, nothing more than ripped pages of a sketchbook in the wind, and he’d turn to what he hoped would be the genuine article. As you can imagine, he never found it.


26 But being one of his “favorites,” so to speak, meant he didn’t blame me for my lack of professional success. Sometimes he boiled it down to, as he put it, “plain bad luck,” and with those students, he kept in periodic contact—an email here and there about a new gallery showing or an exhibit at a museum. It was nothing personal, nothing warm or friendly, but just to be on his mailing list meant you managed not to disappoint him. With him, that had to be enough. Long after our correspondence faded into the impersonal and perfunctory, I decided to replicate the painting I did with him that one day—the one with too much purple. It’s not the original, because I ruined that one by fine-tuning the lines to emulate someone else’s style. Instead, this one is mine and mine alone, including all of the excess purple. It’s just a seascape, but with a beach and a bluff and a boat. I didn’t understand the point of the boat until, I think, halfway through painting it. It’s merely a component, one that isn’t even essential to the final piece. But it doesn’t have to be anything, essential or otherwise. It just has to be present. Present and full of a vigor that you wish everybody else had. And I think that’s why he put up with me. We both had it, even when everybody else told us we shouldn’t. In the end, it really is just a boat. But to us, that’s all it has to be.

Nessie!, Jane Borstad Collage



Perhaps one of the most overlooked and revealing of psychological questionnaires is the “Two-Component Models of Socially Desirable Responding.” Researchers use this measure when they want to identify participants who will say anything to be liked. The logic behind scales that measure socially desirable bias is that humans universally engage in behaviors that we all deny doing, like taking sick leave when we aren’t really sick, or voting for candidates we know little about, and that while the average participant will admit to these behaviors in the context of an anonymous questionnaire, socially desirable responders will be unable to admit to doing these things because they need to be liked and approved. In essence, this measure is trying to identify the people-pleasers. The thing is, in writing these questions researchers are admitting what they do, too. So, instead of having only a vague image of the creator of this measure as a gray-haired and glasses-wearing professor or an aloof researcher in a lab coat, I now know that they may lie about being sick and doubt their sexual adequacy. And I wonder, if I were to write my own measure of social desirability, what items would I include? It might look something like this. 1. Do you ever steal two slices of bread from your roommate when you discover that your own has turned frosty blue with mold and proceed to make yourself feel better about the theft by telling yourself that five months ago she ate your Trader Joe’s microwavable quiche thinking it was her own and never replaced it even though she said she would? 2. Do you ever find a way to work in a story about cleaning the sink the other day, including details of the brown sludge that had worked itself into drains and spigots, in the hope that your dirty roommate will get the hint and clean something already?

NONFICTION 3. Do you ever conspicuously place your book face-up while reading in public so that the people sitting beside you can see that you’re reading Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment (which you will later guiltily put aside, bored)? 4. Do you ever insist to your significant other that it’s only fair that you each pay for things equitably in the relationship even though he has more money, and then become secretly disappointed when he tells the waiter to split the check? 5. Do you ever watch consecutive hours of America’s Next Top Model, but when discussing the show with friends, speak as if you’re watching the show for some sort of sociological purpose—tossing out words like “consumerism” and “objectification”—instead of saying that you watch it because of the drama and destination photo shoots? 6. Do you ever abstain from recycling simply because the trash can is a little closer? 7. Do you subscribe to various news podcasts and email newsletters, knowing that you really should become more politically aware, but move those email newsletters to the trash, unread? And when, on a whim, you open your iPhone’s news app thinking you may as well use a spare minute to catch up, do you swiftly drag your finger past articles pertaining to impeachment processes and trade agreements and instead open an article about Drew Barrymore’s recent weight loss? 8. When sharing a one-room apartment that can only be described as acoustic with a roommate you’re not particularly close to, do you ever leave the apartment simply so that you can take a shit in a more discreet location? 9. Do you feel guilty in museums because while you and your friend are staring at the same artist description she seems to be reading it and you’re thinking about whether you’d rather wear your high-waisted green pants or your loose-legged yellow ones the next day? Asking for a friend.


4pm, Zoe Rogers Oil on Canvas



snake woman—spitting all her teeth out like diamonds, princess-cut and so venom-edged they could split a man open at the seams, stitch his skin back together with feathers. I beg her: tell me how you got to be this way. standing on the riverside, back to god, and herself, and straw shoved deep into mud, sucking the earth until it shudders and collapses, upheaval just the sand beneath her crescent moon nails. mama said: morals don’t make a man, but they practically raise a woman, and I can’t stop staring at her. at her countertops cluttered with orange pill bottles and molted owl wings, at the cross bisecting her bare throat urging me or someone else to slam back the rewards of (mis)behaving, at her melon-slick mouth murmuring all the promises she’s made to man and kept to Earth. maybe I’m just another one of her

POETRY promises, another bare-skinned apology to the world that made her but fumbled and made the rest of us too. we never learned to keep balance, never learned the feel of the root binding our ankles to Earth, never learned worship with kerosene and eggyolk sliding down the back of our throats. I beg her: tell me how you got to be this way; save me or teach me or feed me to the ground. the devil is in her eyes but god is in her hands, and when they lay me to rest, I’ll feel the shudder. her teeth, loose—the prick of them at my stomach, the jag from biting off a bottle cap. mama said: morals don’t make a man. if only she learned that they never even come near a woman.


Lavender Babes 2, Beth Thelke Earthenware and Glaze


HANGING Caitlin McBride

Remember that flower basket we put up each spring, hanging up delicately only by a thin hook and string off the corner of the front porch? You stood so tall above me, effortlessly reaching up and bringing down the little bird’s nest to my eye level. I saw that they couldn’t open their eyes those ugly, featherless babies, just hatched, their mouths shutting and un-shutting in rhythm, blindly begging for food. They were mistaking us for their own Mama So I probably got defensive, because you are my Mama and not theirs. You hung them back up and we went inside. Maybe you made me a ketchup sandwich and I un-shut and shut my mouth, devouring the preferred cuisine of my childhood. I haven’t had a ketchup sandwich in forever, because they are disgusting. And because only you know the recipe.


36 Still, you come to town to see me anyway. You drive me to that fancy grocery store, buy me pot stickers, tomatoes and arugula, frozen pizza, so much food that the cart overflows. The night before you leave, we sit quietly in your hotel room. You tell me to try yoga and volunteering and journaling, to sit tight until the weather gets right. I can see you back home on that first warm, sunny day, stepping through the yellow door onto the front porch, the new plant in your hands. You’ll hang the flowers up again so delicately, in the same spot I first saw the nest and the inevitably needy babies. You’ll go back inside, make coffee and toast, go to work, go to yoga, and soon enough, another round of baby birds will sit helplessly and mistake everyone for their Mama.



Your first kiss, a peck that made you scramble for scraps because, “baby, she’ll drop everything for you when she’s the right one.” But us girls, we carry so much weight on our shoulders. We shoulder the responsibility of loving hard even when it’s meant to be soft; so many times, we have caved, let go as the ocean waves the shore farewell. A painful burden: holding on; guaranteed goodbyes are looking pretty damn good right about now. Now, when you make love to my mouth with praise, knock-up my heart and wobble me wayward; I feel found because of you. Because, “baby, I’ve got nothing left to lose.” Because, “baby, you are all I will ever have.” All I could ever need: someone to carry the baggage I bear— it’s airport adieus except we’ve forgotten our passports, planes that wait for no-one.


Untitled (Reclining Man), Robert McGrady Woodcut


VANDALS Emily Heilman

Neither of them really cared about getting caught. At least, Nash didn’t. Or so it seemed. Daniel tried to ignore the heavy feeling of his hands, the blue can of spray paint feeling even heavier. He tried to ignore the shakiness in his legs, bouncing on the balls of his feet. He gave Nash a side glance. Nash was examining their canvas with a discriminating eye. They were down on Oak, at the bridge that crosses the shallow part of the river. It was summer; the crickets chirped loudly, but hidden in the reeds, the frogs were even louder. Everything was dark around them, except for the single streetlamp that stood at the corner of the road down the block, and the light of the waning moon that drifted in and out as the clouds moved east. Daniel watched Nash eye the abutment as if he were doing a maze with only his eyes, like he was constructing a tag before paint ever hit brick. Their canvas was certainly not blank—the chipping brick was covered in faded and overlapping words, some with sharp edges and multiple colors, some simple phrases done quickly and for political purpose, a few haphazard dicks here and there. It wasn’t much of a gallery; people weren’t likely to take notice or care about the things painted there. But it was tradition, Nash had said. At least, it had been Nash and Alex’s tradition, before Nash and his mom lost him to a locked bathroom door and a Smith & Wesson. Daniel shifted from foot to foot and shook the can a little. “Know what you want to paint?” Nash didn’t look at him but squinted at the canvas and stroked his short beard. “Not sure. Might just do my signature tag.” He shrugged and began doing just that. Nash got to work, and Daniel looked down at the can in his own hand. Never had he done something this blatantly illegal. This was the first time he

FICTION had seen someone do something like this without batting an eye. Nash was quite a bit shorter than Daniel, but he carried himself in a way that made him seem wizened with age unearned. He wasn’t that much older, maybe six or so years, but his small eyes, beard, and the permanent lines on his face gave Daniel the impression that he had seen some things, even if he wasn’t sure of what or how true that was. Daniel had gone off to college, sure, and had gotten out of this little town, but Green Bay wasn’t that far from here and it’s not even that big. Daniel said yes to this excursion after Nash had introduced himself at the arcade and they had played a few times on Daytona USA because he had the feeling that whatever it was Nash had seen in his life, he had to say it to someone. And somehow, Nash picked Daniel to say it to. Daniel wondered why, and figured it had something to do with Alex, but the older guy hadn’t mentioned him. Daniel only knew about Alex because he had been two years ahead of him in school. He’d been a real popular guy his junior year and was the talk of all the girls in Daniel’s freshman class. He certainly made waves before and after he was gone. Daniel popped off the lid to his can of spray paint. He wasn’t sure what was expected of him, but if he was going to vandalize public property, he was going to do it his way. In his drawing class, he had preferred drawing birds over anything else. The scarlet ibis was his current favorite; the long beak and existential eyes amused him. But, more than that, Daniel admired the way the sun shone through their wings in the sky, pink and translucent. He could never get the wings just right, but who would care about a shoddily painted bird under a bridge in the middle of nowhere? It’s just vandalism. Nash had done a base coat of an upside-down triangle in white and, glancing at the kid out of the corner of his eye, made the split-second decision to alter his tag and began doing details in red. He watched the kid next to him fumble with this new medium. Alex had never fumbled. In fact, the first time they went, it had been Alex’s idea. He must have been thirteen, fourteen? It had been just before he started high school and Nash was about to head off to college. Nash smiled. He hadn’t been so sure about all this at that time either, but Alex had been elated. This was the first spot they marked up,


42 but those unrefined works had been painted over and half-heartedly scrubbed away by the city parks department. Nash had sprayed a dick further underneath the bridge and was proud to see it still there. Sure, there was a gang tag over one of the testicles, but the rest had stood the test of time. They’d tagged a bunch of places that summer, and the tradition continued every summer when Nash came back from college. Always, they’d start here. Get the feel for doing something that could land them a night in the jail or at least a ride home in the back of a cop car. Although they were never caught, the thrill felt new that first night every summer. Through the years, they developed their own tags. Nash had pointed one out to Daniel when he picked him up earlier. The green and white tag was on the side of an abandoned elementary school building, next to his brother’s red and white tag, but Nash had avoided mentioning the other tag at all, though it was similar in coloring and style. It was in this moment of reverie that Daniel stepped on an empty Corona can and about scared himself shitless reaching for the black can of paint on the ground. Nash sprayed a line of red through his piece in surprise. He gave a half-hearted chuckle in Daniel’s direction and looked back at his tag disappointedly. Of course, he would mess up this time. Daniel cringed in embarrassment as Nash began altering his work slightly to accommodate for the accidental addition. He tightened his face uncomfortably and looked at his own tag. The lines were too thick; he should’ve known that this would be a lot different with spray paint. He looked at the black in his hand and put it back down in favor of the blue. He couldn’t salvage the bird, that was for sure, but it’d be simple enough to turn it into something less detailed. The cacophony of the frogs and crickets rang louder in Daniel’s ears now, having been reawakened to the voices of the night after breaking focus stepping on the can. Focus was something he had been having trouble finding lately. His last semester in his drawing class had ended with probably a dozen or so unfinished drawings. He hadn’t had the heart to finish any of the landscapes and had only done a couple portraits instead; after his teacher, Ms.

FICTION Galdonik, had introduced each week’s project, he would return to his seat, pull out his encyclopedia of birds, and begin drawing whichever one suited his mood. The first had been a full front view of a shoebill—a long-legged, bluish-gray creature with a tuft of feathers sticking up at the back of its head and its loafer-like bill pointing down as if it were, at some point along its length, attached to the bird’s neck. He had picked it for its stupidity, awestruck at the sheer audacity that the creature had to exist with such a form. Upon turning it in, Ms. Galdonik had frowned in deep thought, and eventually raised her eyebrows and shrugged. Then she asked him to clear it with her before he undertook any more alternative projects. Tagging a bird here on the bridge now out of the question, Daniel glanced over at Nash, who was going at it with the red can. Daniel took the blue can in his hand and made two thick lines over his scarlet ibis, one through the body and one through the wings, turning it into a squat x. For a while, he stared blankly at the thick lines. The two young men were quiet, only the sound of spraying paint proved they were there under the bridge. Not knowing what else to do, he picked up the black and sprayed another thick line vertically through the center. He made the letters D and N on either side. D*N. It was his gamer tag on the leaderboards at the arcade, whenever he would actually beat a record. Someone would always come along and shove him off, though, and he knew that would happen to this tag someday, too. But it was simple enough for his first tag and, like the arcade games, he could always come back to make his mark again. To make a better mark. Or try to, at least. He really could bullshit meaning into anything. “How’s this?” he said to the frogs, putting his hand analytically to his non-existent whiskers. Nash took a step back from his own work, putting his hand similarly on his beard. “Simple. Pretty nice. Needs a third color. There’s got to be some sort of artsy rule for that, you know? Like, good things come in threes.” “Oh, yeah.” He picked up the green can. He hoped that following Nash’s advice would bring him into whatever wisdom he had that Daniel was missing. Blue for the first try, black to fix mistakes, green for a new beginning. A pretty basic


44 meaning to write into cans of spray paint, to write into something that was just vandalism. They spent the rest of their time in silence, and when Daniel set down the white can, Nash looked over at his tag and gave an approving nod. The paint dripped in a number of places, but it wasn’t about how good your tag was, just that it was yours. Nash finished up in the next few minutes. Daniel looked over the work, far more polished than his. It was a pretty good replica of one of the tags Nash had shown him earlier, but Nash had only called one of those his when he had pointed them out. The two on the abandoned building were similar in style and shape, and both were black and white with different accent colors. The one Nash had put here under the bridge was red where Daniel had expected green. Nash closed his eyes as if honoring the ceremony of vandalism and let the kid squirm for just a few more seconds. Nope, certainly nothing like his brother. The moment felt unclean. When Nash deemed that they had stood there a sufficient time, which could only really have been a few minutes, he gathered up the spray cans. “Should really get you home, then. Good work.” He casually sprayed a line of paint into the reeds. “Yeah. It’s pretty late.” Daniel followed Nash up the embankment, and they made their way past the single streetlight and back into the neighborhood.


REFRIGERATOR DOOR Stephanie Eberhard

and I can’t stop thinking about how I’ve gotten so used to doing everything alone. so when I reached into the fridge for a dozen eggs for the week with my right leg out to catch a door that never hit, I was startled when I looked over my shoulder ​to see you holding it.


Speck on the Moon, Emily Harvey Digital Photography



Lauren Foley

I had this dream once that felt like it had been stripped from an indie Halloween movie: exposed brick walls, threadbare fear scattered across the floor like breadcrumbs, a ghostly presence unfolding in rattling noises and too-cold indoor breezes. I often vividly remember dreams, but most of this one fell away when I woke up. Most of the dream, that is, aside from my mother taking me by the upper arms, gazing lovingly but sternly into my eyes, and declaring, “They’ll be nice to you if you’re nice to them.” She was, naturally, talking about the ghosts. I am not afraid of ghosts. Or, more accurately, I don’t believe in them. This belief and I . . . we have a complicated relationship. I deliberately don’t answer its texts. It never returns my calls. Yet, all too often, we find ourselves lying side-by-side in my room at night, talking until our voices scratch into silence. My grandfather died in August during a two-year period of my life that swarms behind my vision now—a period filled with births and deaths and shuffled homes, but still out of sight, as they say. In hindsight, his passing was probably the beginning of that period: a reckoning spelled out in church bells ringing in the distance and yellow butterflies landing on the hood of my mother’s gold 4Runner and a swath of that famous big, blue sky. By the time my mother found out about his death, it was too late to try to peel back the years and amend the cracks we pretended weren’t in the woodwork. She told us instead to remember what we could of the good—the soft sweetness of the buttermints he always kept in a crystal dish by his chair, the smoked syrup warmth in his laugh, the wayward questions that only he knew how to piece together and offer the world.


48 August. Circle, Montana. Like most of the Midwest, Circle is not known for its humidity. Instead, as we stood in the middle of the small graveyard in town, the heat slid a calloused hand around the back of my neck and squeezed. With every step, dry grass crunched beneath cowboy boots and sneakers, and sweat slid like tears down the temples of a dozen strangers. A stiff breeze crawled close, paused, and edged around us, bowing its head toward the preacher before it streaked away through crabgrass and plastic flower arrangements. We stayed at my grandma’s house that night, after the funeral, like we do every time we visit. A correction should be made here: my grandma does not live in Circle, Montana. Rather, she lives northeast of it, some ten or fifteen minutes up Highway 13, depending on how well you follow the speed limit. (Montanans, historically, are not known for following the speed limit.) Her home—a long, rectangular trailer—is white, her detached garage square and blue, and, in August, the surrounding acres of fields the silken gold of wheat just reaching harvest season. The dirt and gravel that serve as her driveway bump over a creek that is cotton-dry more often than it is trickling. Aside from a small, old stable and a pine tree, which frankly has no business surviving in the middle of the eastern Montana plains like it is, the landscape is just wheat fields and a single ribbon of highway stretched into the dusty horizon. Unless you are facing a wall, voices do not echo here. I slept on the couch that night, blanket up to my collarbones despite the heat that had snuck in and sunk in during the day. Outside the window was just darkness, the fields sloping into oceans of ink and the sky glimmering its diamond-cheeked reflection. Inside the window was the off-tandem ticking of two of the seven clocks stretched between my grandma’s living room and kitchen, the stubbornly stable glow of the light above the stove, and the scent of home from my pale blue pillowcase. Between midnight and four the next morning, I kept waking to the stutter of my own heartbeat and scanning the space—first outside, then inside—and waiting for a sign. Anything. A crooked shadow falling from the multigrain Cheerios box or an invisible finger tapping the window through the old screen.

NONFICTION It didn’t come. The thing is, I was born into a family well-versed in ghosts. Any one of my immediate relatives has a story to share—knocks echoing on walls splitting empty rooms, TVs flickering on and off, or locked doors swinging slowly open. Even my grandmother, who is not prone to williness or nilliness, admits to some unexplained experiences. And, as I imagine most ghost-loving families do, they love to swap stories, rehashing the same experiences until their fingers bleed from peeling back the onion skin and digging their fingers into the heart of the story until the words fall with a dripping squelch to the dining table and we can resume carving the Thanksgiving turkey in appreciative silence. I am the phantom of my family—unexpected and unexplainable and far too ready with a reason every time an ornament falls off the tree by itself or the gate swings open and clips the side of the house on its own. I have no ghost stories, other than the ones I make up or the ones that aren’t real spirit stories but I constantly and ironically claim are. This is how it has always been, and for someone who preaches so often about the power of storytelling, no story has ever been able to sway me. The morning after the funeral, my mother and grandmother sat at the dining table in the red suede kitchen chairs my grandparents have always had and sipped my grandmother’s trademark watery coffee, and my mother, in the tone and volume of one talking about the price of tomatoes at a farmer’s market, told her mother about the flickering oven light in the middle of the night. My grandmother, quieter and more skeptical, admitted that she’d been smelling cigarette smoke in the corner where her husband always sat, fresh and acrid as though someone was standing beside her with a lit Marlboro Red in hand. When I sat up and asked when it happened, my mother’s eyebrows pinched in thought. She wasn’t sure, but she knew I’d been asleep. I’d even been snoring. Just a little. As with any family of ghost storytellers, we have one story that’s our calling card. For some people, it’s a woman in a white dress peering out the


50 window or footsteps earthquaking from the attic or a child’s voice filling an empty closet. For us, it’s a story about me. My sister had an organ transplant when she was two years old, and as the story goes, the donor refused to leave. It was a typical haunting—an unseen hand navigating staticky radio stations, turning the TV on to watch Jeopardy in the middle of the night, knocking on the plaster above my sister’s head while she lay in bed—and an atypical one. When they asked him by name to stop, he did. He could be felt in cars or at the feet of beds, a shake in the fabric or a heaviness in the air. And then, more or less four years later, it just . . . stopped. My mother found out she was pregnant that fall. I would be born on June 10 with dark, downy-soft hair and the biggest, bluest eyes. Five years earlier, a baby boy that had been born on June 10 with dark, downy-soft hair and the biggest, bluest eyes had died and donated the liver that saved my sister’s life. “Maybe it was just a coincidence. Weird timing and all that,” one of them will say, recounting the story as they scrape together the last bite of mashed potatoes with their fork. “Or maybe it . . . wasn’t. Maybe it was more.” The morning after the funeral, I slunk back into the couch and turned to prod my fingers through the slats of the yellowed blinds. Outside, it was nothing but wheat and fragmented gravel and the neighboring farm’s cattle cresting the hill, little more than toast crumbs on the kitchen table at a distance. The familial belief in ghosts was on the edge of my mind that day, splashing over into the space where that two-year period of my life would later come to join it. It was there then as it had been since I was born. Since before I was born. At my mother’s story of the night before, it lifted its eyes and frowned and bumped its head against mine. And after the dream that would follow my grandfather’s funeral, the belief would replace my mother’s hands with its own, and in the same gentle tone would implore me to look into its face and see it. Just once. I sighed and pulled my hand away from the blinds, mourning the loss of my mother’s experience. I must have just missed him.



Floundering About, Maia Carter Digital Drawing



Alexis Ma

—to fight a shadow i. to break me, disturb an acre of topsoil, the very ground that shivers under April showers. no need for plow; this plot of land has yet to settle. my body has moved— will move again— for nothing. ii. come spring cleaning, you feed the garden. you bathe the dishes, & you undress the coat rack in the mudroom. a home bundled, deep in hibernation, though ready to wake, is slow to rise, so avoid the attic—that can wait. forget restocking the fridge & most importantly, do not, & I repeat, do not traipse the hardwood floors. they groan louder than any thunder roll heard or fallen on deaf ears.


iii. when you exhaust all options: time to pop the clutch. it was a mistake, kick-starting this relic awake in the August heat— the old thing was 17 going on a hundred, a senile, cantankerous body that contested any road banked, unfinished, or winding. she used to be something, you know? going at the speed of light; any tickets written hit the windshield, fluttered away instantaneously; forgotten, those summer nights in which she flew. iv. picture this: an up-&-coming city dusted white, 14 inches short of the predicted snowmageddon & still, they tell us to empty supermarket shelves, to take stock in blankets & bonfires. they tell us to head south before a 19-car pileup jams the interstate. they tell me to run. before the snow sticks to the ground, they tell me to chase any train. as long as it takes me out.



yet, here I am, toeing the precipice where station platform surrenders to humming track. the last train leaving town blows past; slows. rests a while. long enough for snow to powder passenger window panes. only when the engine yawns awake, groggy but on the move, do I wave my arms & sprint after it headfirst. sluggish pace, though exhausted the train may be, I cannot bring myself to run faster.

The Trial, Cate Miller Linocut Relief Print



Megan Lange

Sometimes the days feel shorter than they are long, and I am in the unfortunate position of having to determine for myself and my family which it is. A short day or a long day. Calvin encourages me not to worry so much about this, but it’s difficult not to worry about something as important as the length of a day. When I was a girl, I liked to go to the theater. So, when I was a woman, I became an actress. I could play anything. The directors told me I had the perfect face, the perfect voice to be anyone. I could metamorphose; I could become whatever I wished to be. I met Calvin in the theater. I was eighteen and he was twenty-five, the director of a small play his friend wrote. I didn’t believe he was twenty-five when he told me he was, and he didn’t believe me when I told him I was eighteen. “It’s a short one,” I told him sadly, sitting in front of the bay window and watching the birds outside on the feeders. He hummed, setting down his newspaper. “Every day is long,” he said. He sounded grumpy like he was upset with me. I started to cry, and he didn’t like this. He stood up and began to shout at me, but I was already in the throes of it. Each tear made the day last a bit longer. My last day on stage was when I was twenty-three. I was pregnant and Calvin and I were soon to be married and I couldn’t very well be trouncing around on stage every day with a baby on my hip. Those last days in the theater were woefully short. Calvin and I were married, and he got a job at the cannery in town with other men. These men had rough hands when I shook them at company parties. These men had known nothing but work since they

FICTION could tie their shoes. Calvin hated real work. Every day dragged on for him, longer and longer than the one before. “Tomorrow is going to be—” “Enough,” Calvin said and pounded a fist on the table. His hands were rough now, not like they were when we were married. Years in the cannery made him strong, carved him into one of those hardworking men. “Enough about the days, Pamela! Enough. The next time you talk about the days—” I stopped paying attention to him right about then and started to focus on the tablecloth. Margaret Marie was the baby’s name, or it would have been, but she was stillborn. That day was the longest of them all. We painted her room that same shade of mint green as the tablecloth. I think she was stillborn, or maybe a woman I played in a play had a stillborn baby. Maybe she was alive and well with children of her own now. Maybe I’d wanted her to be stillborn. I sat in my nightdress all day that day because I knew it was supposed to be a short one. Calvin asked me to please get dressed, but I told him a mother in mourning needs to do what she needs to do. It takes time to collect herself after such a tragedy. Who knew a bike accident could be so tragic? Margie was only six when she crashed her bike off a rail bridge and into a pond. She hit her head on a stone and floated down the river, never to be seen again. My costume for that show was a nightdress made of crisp white fabric that smelled like it had been in some old lady’s closet for months or years before the costume designer left it hanging in my dressing room. I was working on a little painting of a green bicycle in the drawing room later that afternoon. I was a far better actress than I was a painter and my hands ached with the small strokes. My hands were strange these days. They looked stippled with makeup, dark spots and wrinkles lining them, bones shadowed to look gaunter and more apparent for the audience. The phone rang. “Calvin dear, can you answer that please? I’m not feeling well.” I called out to him as if he were in another room, but he was standing by the window, lost in thought. On the stage you call out to someone even if they are only


60 feet away to show the audience there is space between the two of you. Calvin sighed and took the phone off the hook. “Hello, Mags,” he said. He kept his voice low like he didn’t want me to hear him, but I heard him very well. “No, she isn’t. I don’t think you should bring the boys over today.” I couldn’t hear the woman on the other end, but that name was familiar. I wondered if she was from the acting guild. I didn’t like the idea of playing an old woman, but if I didn’t have to audition it might be fun. The theater was so distant. I missed it terribly. “Tell her I’ll do it,” I said, waving my paintbrush at Calvin. “But don’t make me sound desperate.” He sighed. “We’ll talk later, Mags. All right, we love you. Tell the boys we love them too. Say hi to Bill.” Calvin’s lips curled in distaste at that name, and I wondered who he was. A stubborn actor, no doubt—directors hate stubborn actors. Calvin never did get along well with his actors, except me, of course. I didn’t wear black to Maggie’s funeral because I knew she would have wanted everyone to be wearing happy colors. We held black umbrellas even though it wasn’t raining. We wanted everyone to look and think that it was raining because that made the whole affair so much sadder. The pastel green of my dress made my blue eyes bright, even from the back row. I tried not to look sad like a mother in mourning, but happy like a woman in love. People gave me looks, but they didn’t understand I was only doing what Margie would have wanted. They gave me nasty looks because I was a star and they weren’t. Eventually that long day came to an end. While we were lying in bed, I rolled over to watch Calvin. He was still awake, staring up at the ceiling. “Calvin?” “Yes, dear?” he said. He sounded tired. Why wasn’t he sleeping? “When I die,” I said, my voice so quiet I almost couldn’t hear it, “bury me next to Maggie, will you?” He opened his mouth like he had a lot of things he wanted to say to that, like he was just boiling over with words for me, but then he closed it

FICTION again. Resigned. Defeated. “Okay, dear.” He rolled over so I couldn’t see him anymore. I sniffled and whimpered all night wishing for my baby, wondering vaguely at the pretty woman in the picture on my nightstand. She looked a bit like me, but she wasn’t. She had two little boys at her side and a man that was not handsome enough for her. So unfortunate when a leading man cannot meet the quality of the leading lady. I stared at the photo for hours, even minutes, and hoped that lady never knew what it was like to lose a child.


Where She Goes Genevieve Desotelle Five Layer Screen Print


THE PART IN THE MOVIE WHEN THE VOLUME GETS VERY LOUD Megan Lange There came a family with a fat white dog, and we thought it might be a wolf at first, because none of us had ever seen a dog quite like that, but it wasn’t a wolf at all. Its eyes were rounder, gentler, and its paws much smaller. Husky, we heard the little girl tell a visiting friend. We kept an eye mostly on the little girl as she was home during the day. Sometimes she rode the husky around like a horse. None of us agreed on how we felt about this, whether it was charming or cruel. The family was small and quiet. A mother, a father, an older brother, and a little sister. They walked around in silence, read books and did work in silence. The mother drew pictures of buildings. The father would leave during the day and come back at night. When he came back, he spent long hours in front of a computer. Sometimes he would type, but mostly he would read or watch. Screens were difficult for us. There was a space between us and it that distorted the writing, though we speculated about it. Every member of the home had headphones. When they watched television, it was on a low volume. The dog only barked or whined in moments of extreme duress, like when he hadn’t been let outside in too long. He began to whine when he noticed us and once or twice, he growled or even barked. This was of primary concern for the quiet family. “Maybe it’s a ghost.” The older brother suggested. The little sister quickly fell into line with the assessment. The mother and father rolled their eyes and said nothing. We sat at the extra seats around the dining table left for guests and did not weigh in. No one asked for our opinion. That night we followed them to bed. The dog was confined downstairs and watched from the bottom of the stairs, whining helplessly. Each evening we observed a different room of the house. Sometimes,

FICTION we found the older child sitting intently before a computer screen. After our first encounter with this practice we moved on—there was not much to see beyond the brightness of the screen. The mother and father slept on far ends of their large bed and did nothing but sleep soundlessly, without even a whisper of a stir. The little girl slept fitfully under our watch, often tossing and turning and mumbling in her sleep. Sometimes she would wake up crying quietly, but we had no means to console her. Once she woke up and screamed, disrupting the quiet of the home so violently that her mother took her out of the house the next morning. When they returned that afternoon, the little girl was off kilter, and exhaustion lined her little face. We wondered collectively—as we did all things—if this could have something to do with us. Our observation of the little girl let up. Not so many days later, an old woman came by and took the little girl out. We feared she might not come back, but at the end of the day she was returned. The old woman had eyes the same shade of blue as the father and a nose that was shared by him and both children. She shared only terse words with the mother. The little girl left happily with her each day for a week. On the fourth day of that week, with nothing better to do, we watched the mother sketch her building pictures for hours. Our interest waned until at last something unexpected happened. A car pulled into the driveway. An unfamiliar man stepped out. He wore no uniform and his vehicle was nondescript. We waited anxiously by the door for him to come inside. From the sidewalk leading to the house he paused and looked at us, eyes widening for a moment before he blinked and looked away. The husky waited anxiously at the door. The mother let him inside and almost immediately, they were in the throes with one another. He wrapped his long arms around her small body, and they kissed. This was a development that shocked and titillated us, and we continued to watch excitedly as she led him up the stairs. We did not follow into the bedroom. We were not so voyeuristic. The mother of the quiet children and wife of the quiet father was not so quiet for some time after this. The man left as quickly as he arrived and well before the old woman and the


66 little girl returned from their outings, or the brother from school or the father from work. For the rest of the week the little girl and the old woman would leave in the morning and the mother and the new man would tussle around in the afternoon. It was in the midst of this one day that the phone rang. We waited anxiously beside it for the mother to come down and answer. She came in a bathrobe, her hair disturbed and cheeks flushed. “Suspended?” She hissed into the receiver. Suspended where? We wondered. Somewhere high up no doubt. No, the older child had done something bad at school. She needed to go get him immediately. The new man left in a hurry when given the news. So quickly, in fact, he forgot his jacket and left it crumpled unceremoniously by the door where the mother had pulled it off him. We stayed by the jacket, awaiting its discovery. The mother returned with her son and the two of them were, as usual, quiet. She told him calmly they would discuss things when his father came home from work, but he ought to go upstairs and wait for him. Around his eye was purplish, and he had a red stain beneath his nose. He shuffled toward the stairs but paused near the front door. We were all huddled around where the jacket lay, watching him with bated breath as he approached it. The mother kept the house quite immaculate. Who would leave a piece of clothing just laying around? He picked up the jacket. The only person in the house it might belong to was the father, but we processed both problems with this theory alongside him. Firstly, the father was a small man and this jacket was quite large. Secondly, the jacket was leather, worn, fashionable and much too cool to belong to his father, who was impartial to business attire and sweaters and didn’t own anything that might be described as cool. The boy slipped his bruise-knuckled hand into the jacket pocket and slid out a wallet. We encircled him, hovering so close it was a shock he did not notice us there. As he opened the wallet and examined the face on the identification card, we jittered with intrigue. At first he looked confused, but then his face turned pale and his brows furrowed. Recognition alighted on his young, marred face. Recognition and disgust.

FICTION Our excitement piqued as the mother came storming in, her stomps near silent despite her face painted red with anger. She hadn’t heard him climb the stairs as she’d commanded. When she rounded the corner into the foyer she stopped, staring at the jacket and wallet in his hands. The two of them, per the tradition of the house, were utterly silent. Anything said between them was said in the twisting of their faces and neither could, nor wanted to, wrap their mouths around words. After a few moments of this stand-off, the older child ran up the stairs, clutching the jacket and wallet in his hands. The sound of his bedroom door slamming and a lock clicking shut echoed through the house. The mother stood at the base of the stairs and stared after that sound for a long while. That night, the quiet house was not very quiet at all and we, the quietest of all, fed happily on the noise.

Following pages: Or Was It the Other Way Around?, Julia Reising Recycled Wooden Chairs




The lampshade is lit like two mixing bowls on the moon, spilling their light into space. So I hop on the photon trail, charcoal carbonated pilgrim fumbling and throttling— accelerating through the office on an electric yacht. Whizzing past the hubbub and bustle of the streets of Minneapolis, I swoop through the gritty grouts on the sidewalks and then veer upward to ear level and listen to the poetry of wizened steps on concrete and TMZ gossip. The saddling of the seats on the cars that zip past is the worst of Tuesdays tiptoe from Mondays start. But even the white squirrels on twin oaks hide their precious goods. So on the sun-scattered sidewalk of Dinkytown I’ll whoop and yell, chest floating and eyes strobing.


Static, Jacob Van Blarcom Photography


THE SPURS ON THE LEGS OF PHEASANTS Lark Lasky You and your California viciousness I and my strict northern sternum Stir across from each other in the kitchen where all of the glass is breakable. We would shatter the china if not careful. It will feel like pulling teeth, you warn, and I say, Yes I know but wasn’t that the best feeling in the whole world? before pain was sharp and had real teeth to bare and cut being and had messages It was when there was a dull aching mess and it was before pain was really pain and it was just— Well, It was pure hurt. Purehurt that felt good. We were built this way, is what I am trying to say with my eyes across the table and the ashes on my plate Made defensively with these pieces sharp and jutting So that we could do these things to each other Only with each other Only when I feel you, a threat run down my spine When you feel me, an intruder in the bones of your home What I mean is that I hope you’re telling the truth, I say out loud this time,



I hope it feels exactly like pulling teeth. Do you remember hearing the rip of your roots, From the inside of your mouth? Here there are tendons and there are the fracture heals, and, we don’t need to talk about the bones, There I’ll slot my knee. In the morning I’ll catch that heavy blue gaze over the steam of your coffee Maybe we’ll confess ourselves in the smoke of cherry cigarettes We’ll forget each other separately together much later on Climb some trees like children Far away and at the very same time Perhaps when we’re older All of our teeth will fall out and again we’ll feel Clean as children do Pleasurepain in the ache of our soon to be rotten mouths I’ll live in your memory only as a sycophantic predator A passerby with all the hazards of invasion flashing in my supermodel white teeth You in mine as the iridescent victor A homebody with mechanics of preservation splayed on your marble smooth skin


In the other house: I will think of you in the creak of the hardwood floors Only when they become old enough to do such a thing For this home is new I have only just destroyed its inhabitants. Every time I pass a street window without seeing my own reflection I will remember The kitchen where we were gentle. I will have forgotten that it was not for each other It was for those frailties of our surroundings because If not for the fragile glass in that breakable house I would have torn at the bloody cavity that lives promising inside your fast beating heart And you might have ripped out both of my formerly broken ribs

Reach, Julian McClellan Digital Media



My waterlogged absurdly complicated thoughts are sea shanty knotted together and straddled with wet woolen clothes or maybe a whole unshorn sheep that weight a chorus of strong knuckled grips they drag down and anchor sink dip I can feel a kicking, fetus-like discomfort red-angry in my stomach now it tingles in wave pool increments through my arms too. Vivid purple blue and shiny african violet bruises on my eyelids tells of anxious brain meanderings through a sink-holed Florida subconscious I’m all oversaturated limestone and humid funk nose, ears, especially search-strained eyes, now leaky roof orifices that drip drip drum tear-shaped sorts of drops drops drops I should carry a bucket with me to collect the liquid too-much much much

junior year prom, mom had to unzip my dress because i was having a panic attack and couldn’t breathe, Evelyn Staats Photography

Turn on the Light, Taylor Robers Oil on Wood


A PRAYER Evan Tungate

Rip me from the grasping clay new-born and mewling. Set me on your wheel. Mold me shape me under your hands. Place me in your kiln to crack me or make me strong. Draw me slag-iron from the fire Melt and pour break me down and cast me. Love me like the hammer loves the anvil and make me something worth it.

Two Men on Cedar Hill, Robert McGrady Woodcut

Inhabit, Callianne Jones Photography


WE WERE WALKING THE DOG Demitria Sabanty the big Boerboel Mastiff with the baby eyes, his name is Sophocles, which suits him, he’s always been one for theatrics, and you and I were lathered in heat, the sidewalk was hot coal, and we were heading back, ’cause in the summer months the dog can only withstand ten minutes in the sun before his brawny bones begin to itch sweat, so we turned around, but Sophocles saw a tiny peanut of a critter, hobbling along the steaming pavement, and we were watching him, his chunky legs squatting down in anticipation, then bursting up, he thundered, barreled, right for the little, trembling creature, it was a bird, a sparrow, she was hurt and couldn’t move her soft, fragile wings, then Sophocles yelped, and

POETRY we were yanking on the leash, his bowling ball head dragging us along, until you let go, you hurried—sad eyes—toward the broken sparrow, before Sophocles could snatch her up, scooping her into your smooth hands, you are always smearing fruity lotion over them, you petted her precious body as it quivered, and we were talking it over, the sparrow staring up at us, she was our friend then, suddenly, and we laughed as the dog’s nose sniffed at her, cradled in your palm, his nose was wet, dripping curiously, he liked her too, it seemed, his barking melted into sweet quiet, which cheered us more, and we were driving home, in the car we named her Matilda, while you consoled her tenderly, we thought she looked happy, we were all happy, so you made a makeshift home out of a UPS box, she was our hospice care patient, then later you stepped out of the room for a fleeting moment, she safe


86 in her cocoon, and while you were gone, she died, and we were thinking it was sad, shocking, how she had slipped away, but we agreed she had gone peacefully, in her new home, surrounded by loved ones, which comforted us both, and she was our bird, Matilda was good like you, then your sadness settled, I looked at you, recognizing your compassion as I would my own reflection, the truth of you.


Aberration, Christian Hastad Inkjet Printing and Acrylic



Alas, tis shit! —Plank, 2006 The Ordinary World You press play and the disc whirrs. The player’s digital timecode displays a row of zeros accompanied by a brief but tense silence. Then, the first sound you hear is an arpeggio. Five cascading notes from the mellow hum of an electric piano followed by the pulse of a kick drum. Is it a real kit or a machine? You can’t quite tell. Meanwhile, the electric keys cycle through a short three-chord progression: C major, D flat minor, E flat minor, and back to C major. Phrygian—according to Western music theory—therefore enigmatic. Haunting, even, especially once the unintelligible vocals fade in, scrubbing forward and backward, chanting gibberish. The soundscape is unsettling. But groovy. And you notice your foot is quietly tapping along with the subtle metronomic drive of the bass drum. The garbled chants give way to an unmistakable voice. However, while you recognize the bright timbre of the singer, you cannot decipher the bizarre lyrics, the first “verse” a repetition of the same line: Yesterday, I woke up sucking on lemon. Yesterday, I woke up sucking on lemon. . . . You contemplate whether it has value as surrealist poetry, or if it is just trivial nonsense. It isn’t long before you ask Where are the guitars? I thought this was “alt-rock.” Give me a power chord forchristsake. You watch the timecode accumulate elapsed time, holding your breath as you anticipate a moment of relief at the sound of something more familiar. Your foot continues tapping while you wait. And wait. While the track’s eponymous refrain insists that Everything is in Its Right Place, nothing about this place seems right to you at all.

NONFICTION Departures Apoy is the only full-service restaurant in the Twin Cities—and, to the best of my knowledge, in all of Minnesota—that specializes exclusively in Filipino food. The one-year-old restaurant stands on the southeast corner (fittingly) of Nicollet Avenue and W. 43rd Street in the Kingfield neighborhood of Minneapolis southside. Its neighbor across the street is another small, region-specific eatery: the southern soul-inspired Revival. And on the other side of Nicollet is another commercial low-rise with storefronts: a bike shop, a record store, and what appears to be a small clinic. The three of us—my girlfriend Sigrid, my sister Lee, and myself—arrived just before 7:00 p.m. on a Saturday night. Outside, the late November air was brisk, and it had been dark for hours. As we hurried to cover the block between our car and the restaurant, I noticed myself feeling tense, jittery. I had been to Apoy once before, and it was . . . okay. To be fair, I had unnecessarily high expectations back then. On the one hand, I was still naively holding onto the hope that restaurants could provide a level of excitement worth seeking. And on the other, I was projecting a much greater significance onto the experience, regarding the act of eating at a Filipino restaurant as partaking in some sort of spiritual homecoming, an affirmation of identity. Instead, all that was affirmed was a feeling of incomplete-ness. I recognized the flavors brought to our table, but something was off—maybe it was the contrived restaurant “atmosphere,” or the deliberate presentation with the self-proclaimed foodie’s eye in mind. In the end, the dishes resembled the food that nourished my upbringing, but it seems that imitation was not enough. In spite of my disappointment, I found myself back at Apoy. Only this time, I was determined not to scrutinize this moment for something it was not, what it could never be. I had confidence in my ability to quell my expectations, but was nonetheless feeling anxious about something. Perhaps, deep down some part of me wanted so badly to be proven wrong. I tucked my


92 hands into my coat pockets and immediately dismissed the thought, blaming the jitters on the cold. [hyphenated]-Rock Three years after their breakthrough album OK Computer redefined alt-rock, Radiohead redefined themselves with the release of their highly anticipated fourth studio album Kid A. The band during this era is commonly portrayed as disillusioned by the oversaturation of prog-rock and Brit-pop, and discouraged by the attempts to imitate OK Computer’s success by which they, too, felt constrained. The arduous eighteen-month recording process was so fraught with conflicting ideas and unproductive sessions that the group nearly reached a breaking point, agreeing to disband should their efforts continue in vain. So, Radiohead sought to redefine themselves by undefining themselves. They set aside their guitars, dismantled the traditional band hierarchy, and strived to defamiliarize the listener by increasing the distance in the artist-consumer paradigm. Frontman Thom Yorke obscured his ballady tenor voice behind modulators and esoteric lyrics. Jonny Greenwood, guitarist-cum-keyboardist-cum-orchestral-arranger-cum-synth-programmer-etc, continued to tinker with the sounds and harmonies one wasn’t supposed to use. Filling the absence of snappy guitar riffs was the subdued warmth of synthesizers and ethereal effect layers. Convention was replaced by experimentation. The result: ten meticulously arranged compositions amounting to fifty minutes of genre-bending tracks. Through Kid A, the listener vicariously explores the realm beyond the tenuous borders that haphazardly define “alternative” music. The minimalist groove of Kid A’s opening track, “Everything in Its Right Place,” sounds more like experimental-jazz than electronic-rock. The mystifying soundscape sets the tone for the remaining tracks and establishes the uncanny reality of the album. The title track is a haunting lullaby with Yorke’s processed vocals conjuring the image of the Pied Piper: The rats and the children follow me out of town. Come on kids. “The National Anthem” is the

NONFICTION first track to feature a discernible traditional-rock sound: an overdriven bass strums a sinister riff that, with the energetic drums, indeed sounds anthemic. But once the harsh wails of the brass kicks in, the arrangement rapidly unfurls into cacophony too chaotic perhaps even for rock. The dust settles by the onset of “How to Disappear Completely,” which, aside from the lone dissonant pitch droning in the background, is reminiscent of the melancholic ballads from their 1995 release The Bends. However, any semblance of nostalgia or familiarity is undermined by Yorke’s dissociative refrain: That there, that’s not me . . . I’m not here. This isn’t happening. Concentrated in this mantra are Kid A’s deconstructive motives, and the track dissolves the music like the Road of Trials that breaks down Campbell’s archetypal hero. Structure is eaten away, the truths of the ordinary world are abandoned, and all that’s left behind is essence. Enter “Treefingers.” Arrhythmic. Atonal. This journey into experimentation has led us here. Far from the realm of four bars, rich harmonies, and exhilarating verses. To sonic limbo. The old world, the band of the past we once knew—or thought we once knew—is all behind us. Departures 2 When we walked into the restaurant, I was met with a familiar smell that brought me back to a typical moment in my childhood: My parents would often drag my sisters and me out to the suburbs to attend some family friends’ party. The smell of the restaurant took me to the unfamiliarity I felt the instant I stepped into the suburban foyer. It conjured the image of shoes piled onto a rug and shoved off to the side. There was often a large staircase that only the hosts’ children and their closest friends would utilize to retreat upstairs and away from the forced mingling. An untouched piano in an adjacent un-lived-in living room would prompt the host to ask if I play, and I anxiously anticipate what may or may not happen when I say “yes.” As I waited in front of the host stand, I considered whether or not this smell was a “good sign,” resisting the urge to mull over “authenticity.” Then


94 approached a cheery fellow who would be our server. He had long, moppy black hair which barely parted around his face, further obscured by bold, round black glasses with thick high-powered lenses. To Lee’s credit, he can be most accurately described as Ringo Starr from the Yellow Submarine cartoon. And what he lacked in facial visibility, he made up for in enthusiasm which, for the entirety of the evening, we would not be able to match. You’re living in a fantasy world . . . Come back (interlude) Mom left in 1985. She was as old as I am now. Dad left in ’92. Carlos Bulosan left on July 1, 1930. Even though I was born here I can’t count how many times people have asked if I’ve been back. Departures 2 cont’d Bright bulbs which would occasionally flicker throughout the night hung from the ceiling, many encased in lampshades that resembled wicker or woven bamboo-work. Leafy vines draped from floating shelves that were mounted along the walls, and a few ferns and trees in indoor planters added to the tropical greenery. Playing overhead above the steady buzz of the Saturday night dining crowd were energetic hits, from anthemic ’60s classics to synth New Wave. The evening started off with a round of drinks from Apoy’s signature cocktail menu. Each drink featured rum, some sort of citrus liqueur or tropical fruit juice, and was given an appropriately kitschy Philippines-related name like “Pacquiao Punch,” or “Manila Sunset.” I started with a Manilla Sunrise—essentially a gin and tonic, with an extra “L” and no discernable hint of calamansi, which was ostensibly a key ingredient. The menu seemed to offer the Philippines’ culinary “greatest hits” with no regional specificity explicitly stated. Unsurprisingly, there was lumpia,

NONFICTION pancit, and adobo. In addition to the classics, there were what Soleil Ho would call “assimilation foods”: whitefish dredged in San Miguel beer-batter before being fried and served with ube chips, adobo chicken wings with honey and a sesame seed garnish, and longanisa in burger form topped with annato aioli on brioche. There was even the (in)famous Pinoy Spaghetti with its hot dogs and shredded cheddar. As per the cuisine, most of the menu was meat-based, so Sigrid, Lee, and I would have to put our vegetarianism on hold. We began, naturally, with pulutan, selecting the lumpia and sisig. There was no shortage of pork that night. The lumpia were long and thin cigarillos, golden brown, and cut on a bias giving one end a distinct point. They had the delicate crunch and light savoriness of the lumpia I had grown so familiar with as a child, staples of every big gathering. Each serving came with six rolls lined up on a long rectangular plate lined with a strip of banana leaf. Forgoing the accompanying saucer of banana ketchup, we opted instead for the bottle of spiced vinegar which claimed its rightful place on each table as proudly as Heinz at an Applebee’s. The sharpness of the vinegar helped mellow the richness of the pork for us vegetarians, thus suiting the lumpia, although Lee lamented the absence of sweet chili sauce. In lieu of a sleek rectangular plate, the sisig instead came to the table in (what was supposed to be) a searing hot cast-iron skillet as in the Philippines. Nevertheless, the sisig was rich and succulent, the chopped-up bits of chicken liver adding “darker” savoriness to its meaty decadence. As we worked our way through the appetizers, Ringo occasionally graced us with his animated presence and refilled our drinks. For our ulam—main course, more or less—we settled on the bicol express, a medley of shrimp and mussels in a pale broth of coconut milk and chili; and their version of adobo which was comprised of chicken thigh, large cuts of potato and bay leaf. By 8:30, we had our entrees. It wasn’t until then that we were served our first insufficient portion of rice, the modest helping just barely filling the small soup bowl in which it was served. As we took turns dividing the rice into even smaller helpings among the three of us,


96 I imagined a world where “Asian” restaurants like Apoy would always have rice ready for each table as European bistros do with bread. A world where I could simply reach toward a giant heap of white jasmine at the center of the table and appropriately structure the rice-to-ulam ratio of my meal without amassing a surcharge. Where our server—who would otherwise have to take lap after tireless lap between our table and the rice cooker in the kitchen— could leave us alone and finally see to their other tables. I came back to reality when Sig handed me the bowl saying I could have the rest, so I tilted it and emptied what was left onto my plate. The bicol express, the smooth warmth of the coconut broth, was soothing. The broth had a similar flavor to other ginataan-based dishes: coconut with a subtle peppery zip of garlic and chili. The adobo was less impressive. The chicken was dry, and the broth leaned too far in the direction of soy sauce, indicated perhaps by the darkness of its color. I should have known better than to order something with chicken, an irresponsible refrain from vegetarianism for what is inarguably the worst meat. Finally, for dessert, in lieu of the turon which was 86’d early in the evening, we ordered the ube halaya and leche flan. The former was served again on a sleek rectangular plate in three delicate lavender dollops garnished with slivers of jackfruit and macapuno. The flan was an extra firm custardy triangle drizzled with a dark brown sauce that claimed to be caramel and tasted like the artificial smell of the air around the Starbucks in your local shopping mall. After a so-so dessert, we stirred the ice at the bottom of our glasses while waiting for the bill to be processed. I ended up paying something like $150. It was much more than the food was worth, but after witnessing the whole spectacle of the restaurant—the mid-century modern furnishings, the elegant plating, the trendy with-a-hint-of-exotic decor—I conceded that it wasn’t about the food, and it hasn’t been for a long time. Return to Form It was this phrase that sent me down the Kid A rabbit hole. I exhausted the album with back-to-back listens while I contemplated the unspoken

NONFICTION criticisms beneath “return to form,” commonly interpreted as praise. I hear it as dog-whistle for “finally!” A sigh of relief after a protracted, often tense period of expectation for . . . something else? What does that say about the artist, that “waiting” period? Are they and their artistic endeavors useless? What is “form,” and what gives one the authority to essentialize certain works over others? Questions of “return to form” lead to the same dilemma as “authenticity” in foodie-speak. It assumes that the subject in question has a fixed essence, an inherent and quantifiable purity. It narrowly evaluates and fails to contextualize. Its reliance on permanence pigeonholes, compartmentalizes creativity and punishes experimentation. Essence and authenticity are constructions that serve less to evaluate a subject, but to flaunt the ostensible expertise of the one doing the evaluating. Those who, following the release of Kid A, still await Radiohead’s “return to form,” don’t just pigeonhole the band; they seem to be misreading art altogether. The opposite of creativity is stasis. Champorado: A Recipe You wake up one morning and head straight from the bed to the kitchen. You are eager to make breakfast not because you’re hungry, but because you’re exhausted and you like to have something to complement your coffee. You prefer the taste of something sweet for breakfast, thinking it’s more palatable first thing in the morning and is a more suitable flavor to the black coffee that steams away in your mug as you look for something to eat. You’re out of your go-to cereal. There’s no fruit because the season is so short. Jam on toast won’t last you long enough and a bowl of oatmeal will last too long. You start from scratch and decide to make champorado. You have time and it’s easy. Just four ingredients: sugar (check), cacao (check), boiling water (easy enough), rice (check, duh). You dissolve the cacao in the boiling water as per the ratios your mother explained: one tablea for every twelve ounces of water. You pour the liquid over the rice that’s nearly finished cooking in the other pot, the melted chocolate seeping down through the grains. You spoon in


98 some brown sugar and stir until the rice is an even shade of deep brown. Is it too dark? You can’t quite remember what it should look like and use your best guess. After all, what matters most is how it tastes. As you scoop a portion into your bowl, you notice the rice clumping more than expected. You decide to add more liquid to your bowl, only remembering now the final key ingredient: evaporated milk, a splash to taste to sweeten to enrich. You go to the fridge knowing you only have almond milk. That will do. You pour the milk into the bowl and give it an impatient stir. It seems that it smells right, and you take that as a good sign. You take your first bite and hold the flavor in your mouth. It’s missing something, but you’re not sure what. You try it again, hoping that prolonged exposure will reveal the missing piece. You think it could be either chocolate or sugar and end up adding more of both. You try your champorado again. It still tastes slightly different than the version in your head. You’ve gotten used to this discrepancy—it has happened numerous times with adobo, pinakbet, sinigang, afritada, puto, bibingka— but A Thousand Plates later, it is nevertheless discouraging. You look down at your champorado sitting slightly too dark and clumpy in your bowl. It’s fine, you concede. After all, it’s rice, sugar, and chocolate, so how bad could it be? You are reminded of the refrain to Kid A’s “Optimistic” as you take a sip of your coffee, the bitterness balancing out the sweet: The best you can is good enough.



for you you who is the milkweed and the honeysuckle and the bullfrogs and the morning dew and the sunrise and the sunrise and the sunrise and you who is the rain and you who is the wren’s nest and you who is the dead mouse and the baby bird and you who is the porch cat and the wind and the rocking chair and the cherry tobacco smoke and the wasp and the sunrise and the sunrise and the sunrise and you who is the earthworm and you who is the mint leaves and the petunias and the wild roses and you you who breathes poetry into this still and tangled night


Bliss, Callianne Jones Photography


THESE DAYS Ciara Cagemoe

These days ignore my running and waving left-behind arms beside their leaving train these days wear rollerblades, push off the ground with the thick-thighed legs of speed skaters these days fly by on wheels of pink frosted sunsets and I’m left gawking and dizzy at the monday turned sunday turned tuesday turned none-day I can barely take a hyperventilated breath of technicolor cloud, somehow, my lungs inflating. Night car lights on the freeway blur of hours melancholic gray yesterday, pale blue-green today, bright orange tomorrow don’t exist but then they happen or don’t or do or don’t or happen or not or then or never or will or won’t and there I am again, at the now empty station of present, my luggage sandbags me to the ground otherwise, I’d float forever in the stratosphere where my body would be the only clock the freckles of my darkening skin tally-marking each second. These days are liquid and seep through the gap in my front teeth I’ve started to wear a watch but it has no numbers the speed of time moving has become hard to see I can’t read minutes through the geometric fear of aging though sometimes I feel the triangles and squares in my body during the middle of the night


Urns, Beth Thelke Earthenware and Glaze


THE DAY Emily Rascher

The rubber back of my rain boot rubbed a hole through my sock and then my skin as we walked Downtown is most beautiful in the rain The steady stream of runoff whispering to the gutter I can’t remember if my cheeks were more wet from rain or the pain in my heart I heard you say you didn’t want to be with me and Then an audible bone-like snap from my chest Or was it in the sunshine? While we drank in the coffee and the colorful leaves The hard back of my tennis shoe rubbing a hole through my sock and then my skin as we walked The river is most beautiful in the sunshine Your cold tone a mere breeze whispering through the bright leaves I heard you say you didn’t want to be with me and The sun suddenly could not warm my chattering bones I remember now—we were in a bookstore A local one with tall shelves and rolling ladders Bookshops are most beautiful when full of whispering customers The worn back of my converse rubbing a hole through my sock and then my skin as we walked Weaving our way from aisle to aisle Stopping at the poetry shelf— I remember this now Because after the crime, I remember thinking, “Seems right”—

POETRY You reached over my head to grab a book my fingers couldn’t quite reach I heard you say you didn’t want to be with me and The letters I was reading suddenly turned into shapes I couldn’t decipher No, it was at the beach at sunset It was in the checkout line of a grocery store It was at a basketball game as the clock ticked to zero It was in a theatre after the show And all I have left Is a single sock with a hole worn through And the whisper of a fractured truth


Untitled, Zoe Rogers Gouache on Paper



THE LEFT BREAST Demitria Sabanty

I paint a portrait of my naked body, catching the reds, yellows, the surprise of purples, the saturated blues—all the unforeseen hues of my skin. In my reference photo I’m standing in a shower looking regal. My body is turned about 30 degrees to my right, draping my left side in shadow, but my face is pointed straight toward the camera, chin up, loud—no smile, no frown. My knee is jutting out with nerve. My hands are delicately curled into fists. My right breast is obscured, but my left is arresting, bulging, a glowing lighthouse, the heart of the photo. I don’t look angry. I look undeniable. My brush is bathed in pigment, tacky acrylic calcifying in the brush hairs: stiff, stiff, stiff. I ponder, H ​ ow to capture the attitude of the neck? The grit of the lips? The density of the ass? The caress of the hair? The hate of the retina? I begin with the left breast, the apex of the photograph. The guts of me, the red core, found not in the stomach—the sad sack hanging out—but in my left breast. It holds, in its majesty, my very essence. This breast, imperfect, pointing out like a cone, has never drawn my attention before. It’s merely been a swelling, sore reminder that I’m about to bleed. I study the form of my breast, a fatty pomegranate with a bull’s-eye in its center. In the photo, the breast is ignited, divine. I stare at it for so long, with such reverence, that I almost forget it has ever been touched. But it has been touched. I fail to escape the hands, eyes, mouths, both wanted and unwanted, both foreign and beloved, which have reached for my breast. In a crowd pulsing toward the stage with the force of a great sweaty magnet. In a cold and sterile apartment, so undecorated and blank, like the man who occupies it. In a kitchen crowded like an ant farm. The intruders are endless, daring to linger everywhere, on my mighty left breast, a flag to which they pledge their

108 blind, hungry patriotism. My flesh neglected and consumed. Both bare and clothed, I’ve felt the map of my body searched and examined. I am nude to the world. My fingers grip my palette knife furiously, stirring the paints into the tints of my skin. My neck aches as it always does, the thudding pain of defeat: each brushstroke an unforgivable mistake. The rendition’s nothing like the real thing. I suppose it is a gift to be so dissatisfied with a rendition of my body. I’m not frustrated at the inaccuracy of the image; I’m angry that the photo is so much more striking, so elegant. I am unable to capture my body’s own beauty. I examine the photo, my form, its contours and edges, each inch demanding acknowledgment. I keep getting hung up on my chest, the damn left breast, so pointed and decided. It occurs to me that it looks brave. So proud to announce itself in that way, to demand the honor it has been denied. I lean back and sigh, almost satisfied. The painting is not as striking as the photograph, but the strokes of the chest are looking heroic. My left breast, still soft and dense, tethered to me, a rusted anchor.


JOAN’S MIND Isabella DiCicco

She fixes my hair. Looks at me starry-eyed, as if she had never left, She laughs and says, You’re so beautiful. I love you. These moments were few and far between so I look back into her eyes, I smile, hold back the tears, and take it all in. But in that moment’s time, the stars fade from her eyes, along with the memories of her past She is gone again.


Michigan Callianne Jones Photography



Once I said, at eight years old in a dress made starched for funeral and wedding “I swear to God I saw the ocean.” We raced, he and I, and the adults further down that stretch of sand likely thought we were siblings. Lucas dared me to do it, and when I stepped forward and felt where the ground was no longer burning at my skin, I didn’t feel like I was doing anything wrong at all. There was the lake. Which one, I don’t know. It was the lake, one of ten thousand, and it didn’t look like a lake at all. Maybe it was really that beautiful; maybe our childish imaginations made the pictures different in our heads. I could see the bottom, as far back as I could look, I could see the daring bottom through water that was turquoise, the way it looked on the pamphlets. The way it was supposed to look far away from here. We weren’t at the lake. We were at the ocean. The ocean, this striking new concept which only existed next to the word vacation or trip out east, never here. But Lucas said it, wading behind me, and then I said it too. Ocean, ocean, ocean! I did not know I was infected, then. I am much older now, and I know that was a lake, and I know what it really means to swear to God. I have picked dirty things and things that were too clean from under my nails, and both had me clawing for hours at soap and hot water so that I could make sure I knew it was gone. I never much learned how to appreciate continuity or moderation. I have seen things that magnetize like car crashes, I have touched scale and skin and slick. I grew taller and the things within me grew sharper, meaner, stronger to hold and easier to carry. I believe they are things from the dawn, that first dawn. Man saw the sunrise and man thought it was beautiful

POETRY because he knew something else had made it just for him. Today, we think it beautiful because we know how far away the sun is, and we know how long it took for that stretch of pale pink and gold to creep its way across our breakfast tables, our coffee mugs. I am much older now, and the things that are easier to carry have stirred with each stretching year. My horrors have turned red and vivid now, like some kind of bird of paradise stuck caught in my throat, clawing at the fleshy pulp to try and make me sing the only song it knows how. Some psalm, some hymn. I choke trying to keep it down. My horrors are real and human and strictly made for human grief. Human consumption. Man-made sounds that will never be shaken to nature-noise. We are created in His image and it is in His image that we may scream and thrash and howl like a new kind of beast, exiled from the garden. Beast in exile is constantly searching. It is why I, little girl with blonde curls and white frock, was beast. I with boy who looked like me, streaking toward hot sand and cold waters we thought would be warm and stinging. We got to the church and proudly pronounced, thinking the adults would be happy to hear us say “God,” “we swear to ___ we saw it!” There were murmurs and whispers and nobody was pleased. I looked at him and he nodded to me, and we sat in silence while someone much older and much meaner droned on about death, a metallic, loathsome insect overhead. On the way back from that drive, the ocean-spot was gone. We just saw lake. Steel-gray waves with choppy performances, cold dark sands that were splattered with too many rocks. God was gone. The garden was gone. We had again been shut away from it.


114 Lucas leaned in his seat next to mine. This doppelgänger with my same eyes, with my own hair. This fragmented mirror with the same restless fervor, his ceaseless smile. Uncle Jon always said that I was the lucky one. He was cousin that looked like me, cousin that acted like me, that felt and wanted and knew like me. He would die before the age of twenty, tucking away at pills that we both felt and wanted and knew. I was staring so long in that cursed reflective surface that I had ceased to see a face, and could imagine only disjointed features. Smudged up green and dirty darkened blonde. To remove your face from his face, and her from his rib. To obliterate. Long after the death, this side effect would not go away. I would continue to match my mirror. I would purge the infection that he could not shake. Back in the car. His suit still damp. Features still my own. Childish voice in a serious whisper that belonged to the dawn said, “i know we saw it. i know we felt it.” When I gave no response, he smiled my smile and he leaned closer still. Shoulder to shoulder. Brother to sister. Voice no longer childish. Two lifetimes in his confession. “I swear to God I saw the ocean.”

Born, Christian Hastad Inkjet Printing and Oil Paint



exhale in contrast, invert my hurt in sunbeams, with the grime of loss, Evelyn Staats Photography



rendezvous: entering a thundercloud —Miyako Yagi The distant typhoon just begins to hit Shinjuku, Japan, low winds raging songs through one half of the eastern island. The sky flashes green and purple as people scurry with umbrellas, rushing past the opening of an alleyway where a restaurant inhabits a slice of the corner. The space is small and compact, but the window is a spectacle. Its huge expanse fills the entire wall and creates the livelihood of space. The frame is intricately designed with golden flora and dark green curtains that drape over potted ferns. Inside this frame, the ceiling lights of this family-owned Japanese restaurant slowly wane as a young woman, Mari, grips a crooked broom and alcohol wipes. The white lights hug her small silhouette, dancing as it shines against the white backdrop. She is hunched over small tables smelling of lemon-scented wipes. Her eyes and nose water as strands of hair cover her face. Mari sits in this radiating silence as she takes out the airport ticket to America, her hands tightly pinching the piece of paper. She frowns and puts the ticket on the table. She looks out the window to where people are scurrying away under the glowing lanterns, their heads buried in raincoats flapping in the wind, and it is here that she hears the slap of shoes on cement. Mari tugs the ticket into her pockets and clutches the broom. She already knows who it is before the door opens. The glass chimes tinker as he bursts in laughing, the outside storm rattling the store for a moment before he’s on the ground on all fours, heaving


118 deep breaths. Asahi’s clothes are slack with rain, his entire body shivering. His dark hair presses against his head; his black suit, peppered with paint, slinks around his small frame. He clutches his left arm, which is in a cast, and grins like a dog. She grabs the dustpan and goes behind the counter. It’s almost ten, she says. I thought I told you, he says as he begins to unbutton the outer layer of his shirt. His undershirt is folded against his torso. He uses his right arm but struggles with unbuttoning. Mari goes over to help him. He smells of sweet candy. I just finished the last set designs for the children’s theater. Loosening the last of his buttons, she glances at Asahi; he flinches against her touch, his hands gripping the hem of his shirt. His hands are covered in specks of black paint, matched with a silver glitter that flits across his face. His backpack, which spills forth empty soda cans and paint bottles, rests with his large plastic portfolio. It reminds Mari of times running back from school under the quiet Tokyo showers, his laughter upholding a gray sky. Now, he was shivering—drenched—with laughter as he did in elementary school; it was hard to believe that he was older than her by two years. She hides her smile. Well, he says as his dance shoes clack on the tiles, Got anything left to eat? I thought you were finished with painting, she says as she folds his shirt. And why are you wearing your suit in this sort of weather? Well, I guess you could say I received a new job deal, but you know, the kids thought it was a good fit, he says, ignoring the first half of the question. He approaches the marble countertop, hanging his coat on the coat rack, as Mari rummages through the mini fridge. She takes out the untouched pound cake, mochi, slices of fruit, and carrot cake, all covered in plastic wrap. Well, it certainly doesn’t suit you, she says as she grabs the leftover bits and places them back inside the glass display case. Asahi crouches and peers through. His eyes are the same deep brown as their mother, almost black, but his smile is a bit wider. As he stands, she hands him a rag. Wipe yourself. You’re getting water all over the place.



Asahi chuckles to himself, his smile widening as he wipes his neck. He stares intently at the food as Mari notes his necklace, tangled and rusty, a gift from their father. It matched her own, but she never wore hers except during special occasions. What’s fresh, he says. Or edible. She simply shrugs and picks the thin slice of carrot cake. He reaches over and takes a piece of persimmon from the plastic cup. She places the rest of the food in the fridge and runs water into the teakettle. He is still standing there, waddling back and forth where a puddle has formed, his hand in his pocket. Take a seat, she says. He opens his mouth as if to speak, but he just nods and walks to the corner table, next to the picture of the springs of Mt. Fuji he had drawn in pre-school. The lights flicker as distant winds push against the silence of the restaurant, growing louder each second. Mari gathers the cake onto a large glass plate and walks over to Asahi who stares at the painting. She slides the plate to him and leans against the opposite table. Thanks, he says as he picks another slice of persimmon. After a slight pause, the persimmon dangling on his lips, he touches the frame of the landscape, his eyebrows furrowed. I thought you took down all the paintings…Of mine, at least. But Mari stands staring at the ceiling fan, counting the amount of times it spins. She doesn’t want to speak, so she doesn’t. But she can see that he wants to by the way he nibbles on his food, the way he eyes the scribbled splotches of paint on canvas. He picks at the cake, the clink of silverware on ceramic is the only sound other than the storm. What would you know? It’s pretty good, he says, overcompensating with a giant bite. Made it in the morning, she says. She goes over to turn off the ceiling fan and walks over to the window, curling her hands around the curtain. The view of the street corner darkens as the clouded skies rush in. The sound of the rain grows louder as large splotches pelt the window. She stares at the sky, a gloomy shade of purple and gray. Typhoons never reached the heart of Tokyo.

120 Raining pretty hard, he says. I thought I would catch the bus later. There doesn’t seem to be many people out, she says as she stares intently at the empty walkway. I wonder when the rain will stop. I kind of like it, Mari says as she places her hand onto the cold glass. She looks at his blurred reflection in the window. It reminds her of the days when they would sit in the restaurant after hours, counting money on the table, shouting over who was right. Except now the chords of high-pitched shouts were replaced with his chewing, and eventually the sound of silverware clinks its last note. Hey, I got something for you, Asahi says. She walks back curiously. Here, he says, grabbing her hand. It’d be great if you could come. He places a golden ticket into her palm. It’s just down the street, remember? At seven in the morning, like usual, he says. If you’re there early, they’re handing out free drinks. When they were young, they had always snuck out early for the free snacks, a morning ritual they had when their father once painted for the playbills. The first few people received them—original works—signed from the main cast. Asahi had kept them all. Mari looks at him. His hair is still damp and shaggy, his thin lips crusted with cake crumbles. She notices for the first time that his eyes are red and puffed, as if he hasn’t slept for a long time. You aren’t sick, are you? She asks as she clenches the ticket, her eyes on Asahi’s painting of Mt. Fuji their father had adored so much. Anyways, I’m not six anymore, she says as she hands him the ticket. She can see his smile slowly wane. Thanks, but I wouldn’t even be able to make it. The sound of the kettle screeches. She quickly moves over to the stove and pours the hot water into a brown mug, scooping matcha into the water. The sound of the storm becomes overbearing, like a bag of stones hitting cement. The winds shake the restaurant and bang a distant shutter. Mari looks out the window where water begins to flood the sewage. Asahi taps the bell on the table. Mari looks at him.



I—I made a portrait, he says. It’ll be on the cover of the playbill. She goes over with the cup of matcha and places it onto the table. So, you haven’t given up? she says as she slides the mug over to him. No. Well I . . . It’s all right, he says as he fakes a smile. They told me it was just as good as Dad’s. But . . . they probably did it out of . . . out of, you know? As she sits, the lights suddenly flicker off, leaving only the black outline of his body. Asahi, stop pitying yourself, Mari says as she gets up. You’re starting to sound a lot like Mom. She goes to flip the light switch, but it doesn’t turn on. She opens a drawer behind the counter and grabs a flashlight. It doesn’t work. She opens the backdoor that leads into a small room filled with a stubby little desk that occupies the corner, next to the single shoebox-sized window and her rolled up sleeping mattress. Ah, so this is where you’ve been, Asahi says from behind her. Comfortable. Hey, it’s only been five days, she says as she goes over to her backpack. You should have heard Aunt when I said I wanted to sleep in here. She unzips the front pocket and grabs the batteries and stuffs them inside the flashlight. He comes in and looks around. Her two suitcases are lined against the side. The room used to be full of boxes, stuffed and trashed away. Now only a couple remain in the corner of the room. It’s been a while, he says as he looks at the walls filled with various photos he had taken, but Mari just pretends to work on the batteries. See, he smiles, told you I can take good pictures. Then he glances at the door leading to the alleyway. Can we go back into the alley? Can it still open? It’s storming, she says. You know, typhoon? It’s barely sprinkling, he says. Have you even been outside today? Mari looks at him and unlatches the bolts of the door. She turns the rattling doorknob as a cool breeze floods the room. The wind whips her hair across her face, but then it softens. The alleyway is empty except for the riveting streams of water and the smells of heavily rotten fruit and butts of

122 cigarettes. On the wall, graffiti covers half of the opposing building. Asahi takes a folding chair and places it underneath the flapped roof. The sound of thunder rumbles and Mari goes back into the room to grab her umbrella. And before deciding not to, she goes back to the dining room where his portfolio is leaning against the door. When she returns, Asahi has a sketch pad on his lap, his right hand violently shaking as he scribbles onto the paper. Mari leans against the brick wall, his portfolio in her hands. He’s humming a slow melody. The rain begins to pick up again, but they stay like that. The world around them invites their senses: the distant whir of cars, the fragrant pile of garbage bags filled with cherry blossoms, and the empty street vendors wrapped with plastic. She looks at the spot where she had thrown the glowing lightbulb all those years ago after an argument with their father. Like scorched earth, it had blackened against the wall, the glass splintering onto the street, fracturing their trust. She still regretted it, never having said sorry. How did you like it? The paintings, she says as she stares at the ground. His gaze is on her. The ones you painted for the theater. A moment passes. They were fine, I guess, he says, but he doesn’t look up. Nothing big though. And the portrait? she says. Nothing like Dad’s original, you know. She frowns. Can I look? she says as she lifts the plastic. Asahi just shrugs and continues to scribble into his sketch pad. It is slight, but his left arm clenches into a fist. She unzips the folder and sees a large piece of work. She unearths a large acrylic portrait of a woman with her hair a fiery red, the tag on the painting reads: Frame in Wildfire. It is colored in a rich purple and red, and in the middle, neon colors meld the canvas. But she can see it, the large buildings, the trains, and the way he has drawn it on the face of a woman.



Hey, when did you draw this? she asks as she holds it up. He glances forward. Oh, I don’t know, a while ago, he says. Dad wanted me to finish it for him. Who is it? What do you mean? The woman—she looks familiar. I don’t know what you’re talking about. It reminds me of Dad’s portrait. A pause. Put it away, Asahi says as he stops drawing. Let’s not talk about it… please. Mari places the portrait into the plastic and heads back into the restaurant. She forages the fridge and returns with two heated meat buns—the plastic still hot—and hands him one. As he takes the bun, she glances at his sketch pad. So, tell me more about the show. You know, what’s it about, she says as she leans back. I thought you said you didn’t want to come. I said I couldn’t, not that I don’t, she says as she pinches the soft skin of the dough. Well, it’s my last show, so I’ll just be watching. I’m not sure about the specifics, but I was able to paint the set pieces and the playbill. Oh, by the way, do you still have Mom’s pictures I asked for? I mean, is it here? Mari looks at him, his eyes lingering on his sketchpad. Mom? she asks. Yeah, I just placed them into a few boxes. Mari stares at Asahi, where the red hue of the street outlines his head until a flash of lightning crackles through the air and a single drop of water from the roof makes him flinch. He shivers in his thin clothes. Mari tosses him her meat bun. I’m getting cold, she says and heads back into the room, grabbing the lantern on top of the desk. She lights a candle as he follows in behind her. She throws him a thin blanket and drops some cardboard boxes onto the ground.

124 Many of the them contain empty picture frames that were supposed to be hung on the bare walls of the restaurant. She kneels on the sleeping bag and sets the last box in front of her. Here’s everything from the restaurant that Aunt packed away, she says as she takes the things out. Asahi sits across from her and touches the frames. She hands them to him, and when she gets to the bottom, she sees it. Hey, I think I found something, she says as she rips open the film of plastic. He moves toward her as she lifts the canvas from the large cardboard box. It spans the length of the desk. It looks like it had been in there for a long time. Asahi wipes the surface layered with dust. She knows as soon as she opens the film. It is the painting they used to hang on the wall, directly across from the window. The frame is lit with neon lights. She plugs the cord into the wall and the painting lights up. Its purple neon cuts across the room. The dark shadows in the corners now emblazoned with pink. It is the very first sign that had accompanied the restaurant, the sign they had helped their father create. The painting was of the city, of the way in which it became brighter when one looked from further away—it was of their mother, a single figure amid Shinjuku. Alone with the world. Asahi is quiet as he stares at the painting. On the sign there is a yellow sticky note sprawled with handwriting—their father’s. Asahi puts his right hand into his pocket and leaves the room with his own portfolio. She hears him pacing before he throws it onto the floor. Mari snaps the post-it note from the paint, leaving a clean rectangle among the dust. She sits back down and stares at the piece of paper. Mari had thought their mother had thrown away all the paintings, but did she forget about this one? Asahi returns with his black suit jacket in his hand, the edges tearing at the seams. The residual paint smudged his hands. Asahi unplugs the cord and sits across from her, the light slowly fading. With a deep breath, he takes out his phone. She looks at the window above her and the wedge of musky light wandering through the opaque shades. It’s like she can almost see the familiar picture as the phone in his hand reflects across his face. After a minute, he shoves it back into his pocket and closes his eyes.



Asahi, Mari says as she crumples the piece of paper. She looks at him, her eyes fully adjusted to the dark. Why did you come back? His body tenses. I thought you said you were leaving. With Mom. What do you mean? he says. You’re leaving, so I thought you’d like company. A pause. You don’t have to stay, Asahi. He goes quiet as he kneads his left arm. I’ll be back, she says. But maybe not right away. She looks at his portfolio near the doorway and sighs deeply. I just need a break, you know. But you, why did you quit? Why did you leave? You know how much Dad loved it when you painted. He bites his lip. I’m sorry, he whispers. But I can’t do it, Mari. I’ve never been able to. Mari takes the portrait from the table. I remember, she starts, how Dad smiled when you said you wanted to be like him. When we woke up every morning, the first in line, and you came home stuffing playbills into your box. When you first signed up for art school, she said, her voice shaking. When you didn’t come back. Asahi closes his eyes. I-I’m not quitting, he says. I just, I can’t be the one who takes it. Aren’t you the one leaving now? Mari places the painting into his hand, gazing at his face, a dark blur. She lightly puts her hand onto his left arm. He stops shaking. She grips his hand, looking at the portrait of Shinjuku. I’ll always be with you, Asahi, she says, and though she is leaving, she really means it. Though maybe it is a bit selfish to say it only to him. With a deep breath, she smiles, unwavering this time. Just be yourself—that will always be enough. * Asahi leaves the room with the box and enters the dining area. The room is still dark, but light trails softly from the window. He grabs his things from the table and takes a cold sip from the mug. He stares at the ticket on the table—his only ticket. He reaches the door and puts the broken umbrella into

126 the box along with his backpack. He realizes that it has stopped raining, and the only sound is the heavy sigh of his breath. The sky has turned into a shade of brilliant purple as he listens to the quiet city murmur every so often, only faint traces of daily life seeping through—flickering lights and stagnant trains. He takes out the umbrella and feels his shoes squish wading through puddles. It’s sprinkling, and a few cars pass him. He walks across the intersection and wipes his face with his shirt as a gust of wind pushes against him. Before he is too far, he looks behind him— back through the restaurant window where Mari, his younger sister, exits the backroom. She goes to the table where Asahi had been. The lights are still off. As she picks up the plate and untouched mug from the counter, the single ticket is still there, golden and shining. She looks out the window, and it is at the corner where he waits, that Mari sees Asahi’s blurred figure in the droplets of rain. His face is lit by the pink light radiating from the side of the train station. It deepens the crimson outline that masks his face and cuts across his cheek. His umbrella trails on the wet ground, emblazoning neon pink colors onto his path. It is the only light in the world before the lights of the restaurant flicker back on, and the reflection is replaced with her own. A young woman framed in gold—her small mouth, her hair cutting beneath her shoulders, and the white backdrop of the bare wall. The rain speckles her cheeks like diamonds dotting her face. She clutches the ticket he left behind. “Thank you.” The sound of rain drowns out, fading into the familiar quiet of the Tokyo sector where Asahi, her older brother, walks away from Shinjuku.



THE LETTER Karla Gabriela Abreu

It sits there. On the coffee table, the paper a little yellowed, little warped from dried-up tear stains, a little frayed from shaking fingers tracing every word, every night. I stare at it from the couch. From the left corner of the couch, yours was always the right side. The blue, battered blanket wrapped tightly around my shoulders– the same one you would always steal during movie nights, curl up in, dive in and shut out the world in. I kept the blanket. It sits there. The edge of it trapped between the table and that hideous purple polka-dotted mug you loved, the one I could never put in the dishwasher so it wouldn’t break, the one I couldn’t touch, the one that had to be exhibited on the kitchen counter, a permanent reminder of you. I kept the mug.

128 It sits there. The paper glowing in the light of the fireplace as Bear lounges in front of the flames his face is a little droopier his tail a little heavier but he still carries the duck you gave him for Christmas. The one that doesn’t squeak so you could sleep at night, the one from when he was a puppy, the one that he still carries into the bedroom and lays on the right side of the bed. We kept the duck. We kept the mug and the blanket and the duck, and the hole-ridden robe and the cracked wooden paint brushes and the five-stringed guitar, and the never-ending collection of ear-dogged books and the nonpaired socks and the faded flannel and yet everything still feels so empty.

Wishful Thinking, Sarah Mai Digital Drawing

5:30, Zoe Rogers Screen Print and Digital Embroidery on Canvas



I. It is eight thirty in the morning and my father’s rough, calloused hands are learning the art of braiding. I stand obediently on a chair in front of a streak-stained mirror that is too tall for my five-year-old body to see into. My father’s clumsy hands repeat the same pattern with three uneven strands of hair. Left. Middle. Right. Middle. Left. Middle. Right. Two pink-and-yellow hair bows are tied in at the base of my neck. Two tiny sunrises wrapped like silk around thick braids. Here, I learn how gentleness can manifest itself in heavy ways. Under tough, stop-bathed skin. In two matching sets of grayblue eyes. In hair bows. I wobble on the chair and a hand steadies it. II. There is a tree in the backyard of the house I grew up in. It grows apricots from tangled limbs that reach out like arms. I watch the silhouette of the tree move back and forth at night from my bedroom window and I think that the tree is going to grab me when I fall asleep. My mother fastens a blanket across my window with clothespins. I watch the tree from between the blanket and the splintered window frame and wonder if it can see me too. In the summer my father pays me to pick the apricots up off the ground. A penny each. The rotting fruit gets stuck underneath my shoes and dribbles sticky orange honey onto my hands when I pick it off.



Sometimes I climb the tree and hide in the tallest branch so nobody can see me. I pull green apricots off their stems and watch them fall to the ground with a thud. That summer my knees turn a dull shade of green. III. The first time I learn how to balance is on a bicycle with one training wheel. My father doesn’t trail behind me with his hands on my hips like the others do. My father taught me to be self-sufficient. My body leans to the left, all my weight on one small white wheel. I ride in circles in my driveway because I’m not allowed to ride in the street and I leave a trail of black skid marks on the pavement. IV. I spend three weeks each summer running barefoot through the forest that envelopes the back of my grandparent’s farm. It is here that I learn to run without stopping even when it hurts and how to swallow honeysuckle stems. I talk to trees and pirouette around ant hills. I catch frogs in an old litter box container and forget to let them go. My grandfather builds me a circus in the middle of a clearing. I drag him out to watch me cartwheel in the meadow and he watches, grinning in the big, goofy, close-mouthed way I hope I do someday too. I am applauded by my grandfather and every tree in the forest. I bow and thank the flowers and get poison ivy walking home. My grandmother makes me wear her too-big galoshes when I go outside from now on. V. I turn eighteen and move to a big city because I only know how to fall asleep to the sound of cars passing by. I turn twenty-one and rent a studio apartment

134 and learn how to build a home with screws between my teeth. I cuddle with the radiator and cry on the carpet. Dishes pile in the sink. VI. I move into a house because it has a willow tree in front. We buy an expensive dining table but cannot afford to buy chairs. The table is mahogany and scratched from being thrown in the back of a pickup truck to travel 462 miles to our front door. Without chairs, the table becomes a couch. A mattress. The floor. A wrestling ring. A boat. Sometimes I say a prayer for the mahogany tree that was uprooted from its fancy Florida home just so people could eat off of it. I wonder if it misses the weather. VII. It is seven o’clock in the evening and three people I love have died this year. I learn that it is a shame not to dance when there is music and so I fall in love again with my feet on the windshield of a Subaru Outback while the canyon walls turn from pink to blue and the sun crawls away looking embarrassed. I learn that the sun, like everything else, disappears slowly and without a goodbye. I wonder how the sun chose what colors to paint, and if it had training wheels too. I wonder if I can ever learn how to burn without apologizing. I wonder if I can bury it, bury the sun with two hands, under wet dirt in the backyard crawling with worms and rotting fruit.


137 2020 ARTWORDS WINNERS FIRST PLACE “Situated Between a Hamlet and a Village” Macie Rasmussen Inspired by Untitled 13, Teo Nguyen, 2017 acrylic on vellum, 54 1/4 × 102 1/4 inches Weisman Art Museum, Intended gift of Mary and Bob Mersky SECOND PLACE “How My Husband Makes a Jackson Pollock” Catherine Retica Inspired by Marathon, Sam Gilliam, 2003 relief monoprint on paper, 29 5/8 × 39 5/8 inches Collection of the Weisman Art Museum, Gift of Steven M. Andersen THIRD PLACE (tie) “Around Here” Joey Gotchnik Inspired by Lift, Rhonda Willers, 2018 earthenware, terra sigillata, wire, nails, screw, OSB, acrylic, 37 1/8 × 24 × 4 5/8 inches Collection of the Weisman Art Museum, The Nancy and Warren MacKenzie Fund THIRD PLACE (tie) “Real Colorful Creatures” Samantha Sanvik Inspired by Green Woods, B.J.O. Nordfeldt, 1950 oil on canvas, 40 1/4 × 52 inches Collection of the Weisman Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. B. J. O. Nordfeldt




Untitled 13, Teo Nguyen, 2017, acrylic on vellum, 54 1/4 × 102 1/4 inches, Weisman Art Museum, Intended gift of Mary and Bob Mersky



Macie Rasmussen

Inspired by Untitled 13, Teo Nguyen If there was noise in the void, it would sound like the snow kicked up softly by the wind on the countryside. Empty. Cold. Colorless. Nauseating. There’s no separation between the ground and sky, expelling the urge to take one step further. A tree’s shadow is disgusting because it’s just a reflection of absence in this context. The sight of a silo in the distance only represents past exhaustion— labor that’s long gone. For a structure that has pulled many into null existence, it should have died long ago. Who would worship that which is desolate? Just as you only know you were once lonely when you experience genuine friendship for the first time, you don’t appreciate the void until a stranger coughs in your mouth. You don’t notice the overhead power lines until you’ve looked up from the base of a fifty-six floor consulting agency. Some flee the void when Aquarius season injects rebellion into their veins. Like the stars’ governance, not everyone understands it. That’s okay. That’s the void. It’s jarring for those who’ve left and returned. It may not be as they remember. After all, emptiness is open. Coldness incites impetus. A colorless space is a perfect canvas. Nausea is the ideal tool for purging the unwanted. In each snowflake, there’s its own void. When it eventually melts, it’s omniscient. Like astro-water signs, not everyone understands how this place floats between reality and the imaginary.




Catherine Retica

Inspired by Marathon, Sam Gilliam As for paint, any kind of object filled with non-solid matter will suffice. They need to fit comfortably in his hand, which means bigger than a gum ball but smaller than a cantaloupe. But also neither if it’s late enough or early enough or both. Perfume, hot sauce, candles (lit), beer can, shampoo bottle, cup of coffee. These are the guidelines that do neither guiding nor line setting, but they seem to be instinctively followed by him and implicitly by me. Once you have your paint, it’s time to choose a canvas. For him, a naked wall is usually best. Even a non-naked wall will work since decor can act as targets. Shower curtain, counter tops, television, fridge door, bathroom mirror. These work too. In an exceptional fit of his artistic inspiration, you yourself can also function as a canvas. Then comes motivation. An artist feels a driving force to create a piece—a great desire to express innate emotions. These will typically be sparked by menial things you do. Stopping somewhere on the way home from work without telling him, meeting a family member, being too late, being too early, eating meals without him, leaving the ice cream pint out for too long. These are a few, but you’ll always discover more ways only after they’ve started the creative process. That’s how my husband makes a Jackson Pollock. It’s quite easy. How to get rid of these masterpieces, on the other hand, is hard. You’ll need a pen, a new manila envelope (the other has nail polish remover on it). Somewhere else to stay—maybe a friend’s house. A new daycare. A gun for protection. But first, a notary. And a good art dealer.


Marathon, Sam Gilliam, 2003 relief monoprint on paper, 29 5/8 Ă— 39 5/8 inches Collection of the Weisman Art Museum Gift of Steven M. Andersen





Joey Gotchnik

Inspired by Lift, Rhonda Willers “Time? What is time? We don’t have that around here,” she says. But how then, I thought, can I compare yourself to me? No number to make us seem similar, no skin wrinkle, hair color, or light amid your eyes. The balance of unbalanced strings lapping against bright plywood, yellow coated and a screw too short. I’ve never felt this old before. I’ve never felt this young inside the box when I walk with an uneven bolo tie perfectly taut. “Nail me down, I bet you can’t,” she says. You’ll have to get to know me better than that.” At a meal of some sorts, the eggshells stack. Never in the same way, the same routine, impossible. Strike—like lightning— never twice in the same place. Hammer and nail if I must. I know, this time they’ll eventually turn to rust. Screw the other side, this time—the balance beautifully becomes what hangs on and what turns to dust, dirt. Then that girl. Fantastically swaying in the midnight sun, completely undone unattached from the time around here.

Lift, Rhonda Willers, 2018, earthenware, terra sigillata, wire, nails, screw, OSB, acrylic, 37 1/8 Ă— 24 Ă— 4 5/8 inches Collection of the Weisman Art Museum The Nancy and Warren MacKenzie Fund



Samantha Sanvik

Inspired by Green Woods, B.J.O. Nordfeldt

I’m reminded of the crisp new pages of my inexperienced youth, quickly turned into crumpled corners, faded lines, ripped edges. I’m reminded of the boundless possibilities that arise from a single plot. A plot that has a rise and a fall, with an ending that comes too soon. I’m reminded of Where the Wild Things Are and the creatures that lurk behind each tree. The sharp edges as teeth gleaming around each corner and the stones and waves from the midnight ocean glistening when I look back. I’m reminded that this night too has an ending. I’m constantly reminded of my past through your pictures, framed and hung where my eyes could not divert. A spinning circle of life that only ends where it begins. I’m reminded that these same trees, creatures, and the “komorebi” that surrounds me, directs me home again. I’m reminded of my drive to leave just as much as I’m reminded to be grounded, to remember where I came from. I’m reminded of the chaos of this so-called life and everyone it contains. The way it could all fit into simple geometric designs while bursting with irregularity. I’m reminded of the color purple or when I called it “blurple” and you said that wasn’t a real color. The games we played made it seem real. Real like those creatures are real. Real like the pictures engraved in my memory. Or my memory becoming a permanent picture. I am reminded of you, in the night.



Green Woods, 1950, B.J.O. Nordfeldt oil on canvas 40 1/4 × 52 inches. Collection of the Weisman Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. B. J. O. Nordfeldt

148 ABOUT ARTWORDS ArtWords is an annual writing competition for undergraduate and graduate students of the University of Minnesota, sponsored by the Weisman Art Museum. Students select a piece of art on display from the museum’s permanent collection and create an original piece of prose or poetry in response. Selected authors are awarded prizes, published online, and given the opportunity to present their work in galleries of the museum. ArtWords is held in collaboration with the Department of English’s Creative Writing program and The Tower art and literary magazine. A jury including faculty, Weisman Art Museum staff, professionals from the Twin Cities community, and staff members of The Tower select the winning entries. Launched in 1998, ArtWords encourages students to analyze, reflect, and respond to the diverse and stimulating collection at the Weisman Art Museum. This is The Tower’s seventh year as an ArtWords collaborator, and we are happy to present the 2020 undergraduate ArtWords winners in this year’s issue.

Judges Claire Breitenbach, Fiction Editor and Copyeditor, The Tower Michael Curran, Communications Associate, Weisman Art Museum Douglas Kearney, Assistant Professor of Creative Writing in the Department of English at the University of Minnesota Afton Kelly, Chief Poetry Editor and Managing Editor, The Tower Miki Schumacher, Art Editor and Marketing Director, The Tower Sam Van Cook, Founder and Publisher, Button Poetry Kimberly Xayaroun, Fiction Editor and Publicist, The Tower


CONTRIBUTORS Geoffrey Ayers is an English major currently set to graduate in spring 2020. After graduation, he hopes to do an MFA in poetry and publish a book. You can find his previous work featured in The Paper Lantern and The Tower.

to become a middle school math teacher.

Jane Borstad is a senior finishing her BFA in art with a minor in design. When she’s not drawing in her studio, she enjoys DJing for Radio K and shopping for funny T-shirts at local thrift stores.

Hilson Dang uses abstraction and surrealism to portray perspectives on mental illness, love, and pain. Diagnosed with Schizoaffective Disorder, he aims to bring love to the community in Minnesota through his sensitive character.

Ciara Cagemoe is an undergraduate student from Minneapolis, Minnesota. She is pursuing a BFA in ceramic sculpture. Her head is usually half in the clouds, chasing daydreams and inventing worlds. She likes to wander in a perpetual haze of wonder with a briefcase of questions at her side. Maia Carter is a senior from Stillwater, Minnesota, studying mathematics and philosophy. She works and creates her pieces at the eStudio in the Regis Center for the Arts. After graduation, she plans

J.T. Cunningham is an undergraduate student from Minneapolis who will be receiving his BA in English this May.

Genevieve Desotelle creates multimedia art, using mediums like printmaking, pen, watercolor, and digital. Right now her art focuses on women, religion, and feminism. She graduates in spring 2020. Abe Diaz is majoring in Asian and Middle Eastern studies. When he isn’t struggling to write, you may find him at his kitchen sink scrubbing dish after dirty dish, or petting his dog who really wants to go to the park but can’t because Abe is busy.

Isabella DiCicco is a junior in the Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication, majoring in strategic communications. In her free time, she enjoys embroidery, writing, and spending time with her kitten, Vincent. She hopes to one day work for the Minnesota Twins. Stephanie Eberhard is a senior from Roseville, Minnesota, studying business. When she’s not writing, she’s usually coaching softball at a local high school or playing the sport herself. She also loves experimenting in the kitchen and would like to open a bakery someday. Lauren Foley is a junior majoring in English and Spanish studies with a minor in creative writing. She’s been writing and reading since long before she knew how to do either, and her work has previously been published in The Tower and The Wake. Karla Gabriela Abreu is a senior studying Spanish, creative writing, and strategic communications. She loves stories, coffee, and all things sci-fi.

Joey Gotchnik is a senior from Cloquet, Minnesota, studying materials science and engineering. He enjoys songwriting, the outdoors, and the role that humor takes in everyday life. In the future, he hopes to find the proper balance between science and art—like the relative ratio of root beer to ice cream. Emily Harvey is a junior from Eden Prairie, Minnesota, studying supply chain with minors in French, business analytics, and architecture. She spends her time painting, caring for her plants, and learning new photography techniques. She hopes to combine business and design in her future career. Christian Hastad is an emerging artist in the Minneapolis area and a senior at the University of Minnesota pursuing his BFA. Christian’s artwork explores the relationship between digital processes and the human touch, and how this conjunction can lead to new forms of creating, thinking, and connecting.

Emma Heckel is a writer based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She is an advocate, educator, friend, and laugh-inducer. Her work is largely informed by an enthusiastic attentiveness to the natural world and inability to drive past wildflowers without stopping. Emily Heilman is a junior from Janesville, Wisconsin, majoring in global studies. Her top three bucket list items are learn to fly a plane, have a screenplay she wrote made into a movie, and become fluent in Arabic. Callianne Jones is a photographic artist originally from Michigan. Her practice is centered around creating work that goes beyond what the viewer sees and expands into self-exploration. She is motivated to document the natural world as well as human interactions in order to process external events and experiences. Megan Lange is a junior from Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, studying technical and creative writing. She writes every single day and plans to pursue an MFA in creative writing after graduation.

Lark Lasky is a junior from Duluth, Minnesota, studying literature and creative writing. Alexis Ma is a sophomore majoring in neuroscience with a psychology minor on the side. Her weekend plans consist of deep-diving into all things scientific and drinking her usual salted-cream cold brew, all from her favorite quiet corner in BioMed library. Sarah Mai is a senior from Milwaukee, an illustrator, and cartoonist. When not drawing, reading, or writing, she can be found watering houseplants and taking power naps. Caitlin McBride is a senior excited to graduate after studying communication, creative writing, and film. Although originally from Milwaukee, Caitlin is a big fan of the Twin Cities, where she enjoys biking, making videos and music, and connecting with loved ones. In the future, she plans to get a job and write more. Julian McClellan is a freshman at the University of Minnesota and is going to apply for a Bachelor of

Fine Arts program. He is a graphic designer in The Solar Vehicle Project, and he is a member of Catholic Students Union. He thanks his family and friends for their support. Robert McGrady is a multidisciplinary artist living in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is in his fourth year at the University of Minnesota, working toward a Bachelor of Arts in theatre and a Bachelor of Arts in visual art. He primarily works in comic illustration and printmaking. Cate Miller is a senior studying art and management from Delano, Minnesota. She is primarily a relief printmaker and fiber artist, addressing themes such as connections, healing, and moments of change in her interdisciplinary work. Abby Person is a psychology student who finished writing and revising her piece, “Asking for a Friend,” while on exchange in Amsterdam. For many Christmases and birthdays she’s been given notebooks and fancy pens from family members who know she’s always wanted to be a writer.

Emily Rascher is a current freshman studying English at the University of Minnesota. She lives in a small suburb of St. Paul, and she enjoys writing poetry and building things in her spare time. Someday, she hopes to open up her very own joint coffee-shop/bookstore. Macie Rasmussen is a senior studying strategic communication with minors in public health and cultural studies and comparative literature. She directs The Wake Magazine and DJs on Radio K. In her free time, she hunts for new bolo ties at thrift stores. Julia Reising is an artist from Wausau, Wisconsin, and a sophomore studying for a BFA. Recently, Julia assisted the artist collective Postcommodity with a commission from the MIA and exhibited her own work in the Quarter Gallery and Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum. She enjoys hiking with her dog and writing poetry. Catherine Retica is a senior from Minnetonka, Minnesota, studying journalism. She enjoys design,

photography, and waving to the light rail driver.

become a physician’s assistant one day and inspire others.

Taylor Robers is a senior BFA student from St. Michael, Minnesota. She is interested in our connection to the environment through color, light, and memory.

Paxton Schmitz is a junior studying English and creative writing. In his free time, he enjoys listening to podcasts and playing Dungeons & Dragons. He hopes to one day publish a collection of his poetry.

Zoe Rogers is an artist who works primarily in painting and printmaking. They are a junior majoring with a BFA in art and a BA in English. They are currently based in Minneapolis. Demitria Sabanty is a junior studying English and creative writing. When not habitually reading memoirs and poetry, she enjoys documenting her life through writing, painting, and tweeting. After graduating, she hopes to pursue an MFA in nonfiction in the hopes of one day publishing a memoir. Samantha Sanvik is a recent graduate from Minneapolis, Minnesota. She enjoys going hiking and camping in Northern Minnesota with her friends and family. She hopes to

Gabriela Sierra Bedon is a junior studying finance and art. She was born in Ecuador and has lived in Minneapolis for most of her life. Art has always been a part of her career in business. Her EcuadorianAmerican identity plays an important role in her everyday life and, most importantly, her artwork. Evelyn Staats is a senior pursuing a BFA with a focus in film photography and ceramics. They also enjoy riding their bike around town, swimming, and the company of good friends. Jasmine Syed is a senior from Round Lake, Illinois, studying statistics and sociology. She is a Development Intern at Northrop, where she gets to attend donor events

and mingle with ballerinas after watching their performances. In her free time, she enjoys thrifting, cooking, and expressing herself creatively. Beth Thelke is a senior in the BFA program focusing on ceramics. She likes roller blading, meeting friendly goats, and teaching. Corra Thompson is a junior from Esko, Minnesota, studying art and creative writing. In her free time she enjoys reading, doodling, and making up stories in her head (and sometimes on paper). Evan Tungate is a senior from Menasha, Wisconsin, studying aerospace engineering with a minor in creative writing. He enjoys tennis, board games, and arguing. Evan thinks that the best way to enjoy literature is to read it out loud. Jacob Van Blarcom is a senior at the Hubbard School of Journalism who works in advertising. He grew up in the hills of Viroqua, Wisconsin, and has since found home in the lights of Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Keng Xiong is an incoming freshman from Andover, Minnesota, looking to study English, film/theatre, and creative writing. He is particularly interested in the ways in which animation and cinema intersect and how they can be merged through the form of language. Besides writing, he also enjoys spending time with his family and cousins.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS This edition would not be possible without the support of the Department of English, Student Unions and Activities, and the Minnesota Student Association, nor without our continued collaborations with the Weisman Art Museum and Radio K. Our deepest thanks to all. We thank our friends, family, and community members for their support; because of their generosity, our work is possible. We would like to recognize the following individuals: Janos Aranyos, Joshua Aranyos, Michael and Michele Arman, Peggy Arman, Jody Arman-Jones and Evers Jones, Gretchen Beede, Eric Best, Monte and Angela Brumbaugh, David and Marilyn Buck, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Jim Cihlar and William Reichard, Thomas M. Clausen and Christina L. Ulrich, Robert and Joyce Folstein, Steve Folstein and Frank Olivo, Robert and Barbara Gaertner, Mary Rose and Michael Gag, Gag Sheet Metal, Inc., Ann Garvey, Lilly A. Geraghty, Chris and Michael Gruenhagen, Mary L. Halet, Susan Herbst, Arlie and Bill Herbst, Shelly Hilgers, Elizabeth F. Hogan, Tom and Kathy Holmes, Laura Huber, Garth M. Huettl, Corinne Idzorek and Austin Franklin, Gary and Kathryn Jones, Patrick Kelly, Margaret F. and Vincent J. Liesenfeld, Michael and Anne McNaughton, Professor Ellen MesserDavidow, Nancy Nesbit, Aaron D. Nesser, Cheryl Phillippi, Mary M. Rich, Larry and Karen M. Rich, Diane Schwister, Allen and Loretta Sigafus, Regents Professor Emerita Madelon Sprengnether, Gregg and Cathie Stein, Karl and Christine Swee, Blaze Pizza, Jim and Stephanie Volkmann, Denise Xayaroun, YourCause LLC, Ting Y. Zheng, Jack Zheng, Paul and Lucienne Taylor, Cheryl Robertson, and Tami and Kevin Bloomquist. We thank Jamee Yung, Director of Education for the Weisman Art Museum, for organizing the ArtWords competition. We gratefully acknowledge the following for serving as judges: Michael Curran, Communications Associate,

Weisman Art Museum; Douglas Kearney, Assistant Professor of Creative Writing in the Department of English at the University of Minnesota; and Sam Van Cook, Founder and President, Button Poetry. We thank English Department Chair Andrew Elfenbein, Director of Undergraduate Studies Dan Philippon, and Creative Writing Program Director Kim Todd for making this magazine possible. Thanks also to the following English Department staff members for helping with our endeavors: Rachel Drake, Coordinator of Advising and Undergraduate Studies; Karen Frederickson, Graduate Program Coordinator; Brent Latchaw, CLA Executive Accounts Specialist; Pamela Leszczynski, Department Administrator; Jess McKenna, Coordinator of Instructional Services; Terri Sutton, Communications Specialist; and Holly Vanderhaar, Creative Writing Program Coordinator. We thank the following Art Department faculty and staff members: Sara Garry, Communications Specialist; Howard Oransky, Gallery Director and Outreach Coordinator, Regis Center for Art Galleries; Tetsuya Yamada, Professor of Ceramics; Jenny Schmid, Professor of Printmaking; and Patricia Straub, Senior Academic Advisor. For their collaboration, our thanks go to The Great River Review, Peter Campion, Editor and Associate Professor in Creative Writing, and Melissa Cundieff-Pexa, Managing Editor. We thank the staff of the Office of Institutional Advancement for their support and collaboration, including John Meyers, Development Officer; Peter Rozga, Director of Annual Giving; and Elsa Wood, Stewardship Coordinator. Our thanks go to the staff of the University of Minnesota Foundation, including Brian Ahlm, Digital Marketing Manager; Brittany Beyer, Digital Marketing Coordinator; Mike McNaughton, IT Manager, Reporting and Data Analytics; Mounir Peterson-Darbaki, Digital

Marketing Specialist; and Colleen Ware, Communications Specialist for the College and Social Sciences. For their contributions to design and assistance with technology, we thank the office of Digital Arts, Sciences, and Humanities (DASH) and Benjamin Wiggins, DASH Program Director, University Libraries, with special thanks to Chae Hong and Alyssa Miller, Research Assistants, Graphic Design. For their advice and guidance, we thank the office of Liberal Arts Technologies and Innovation Services (LATIS), including Sean Burns, Departmental Consultant, and Cristina Lopez, Arts and Humanities Technologies and Projects Support. We would like to give a special thanks to the following individuals for speaking to our class: Erin George, Research Services Archivist, University of Minnesota Archives; Lewis Hyde, author and Ivory Tower alumnus; Ann Regan, Editor in Chief of the Minnesota Historical Society Press; Paul Taylor, member of the English Department Advisory Board; Sam Van Cook, Founder and President of Button Poetry; and Steve Woodward, Editor at Graywolf Press. Finally, our instructor Dr. James Cihlar, has earned not only our gratitude but also our utmost respect for his constant support and assistance; without him, this publication would truly not be possible. It is because of the combined efforts of everyone listed here that we are able to publish our edition of The Tower. The magazine belongs to you as much as it belongs to us, and for that we are both humbled and grateful.

The Tower 2019-2020 staff (left to right): first row: Kimberly Xayaroun, Hailey Stein, Swetha Saravanan, Jessica Herbst; second row: Miki Schumacher, Rylee Gag, Claire Breitenbach, Chaundra Rich, Bailey Arman; third row: Jacob Aranyos, Shae Kizima, Maggie Nesbit, Cate Tynjala, Ann Petersen; fourth row: Sara Funk, Maddy Folstein, Afton Kelly, Lauren Swee, Annie Zheng, Jim Cihlar.