ABOUT THE IVORY TOWER The Ivory Tower is inspired by a belief in the necessity of artistic expression and its power to enlighten, challenge, and captivate. We strive to expose and promote original work by undergraduate writers and artists at the University of Minnesota. The Ivory Tower is the result of a hands-on laboratory designed to provide students with real-world experience producing a literary publication, with facilities provided by the University of Minnesota’s English department. The class is composed of students in diverse fields of study who possess a variety of skills important to magazine publication. Submissions and inquiries welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org For submission guidelines IvoryTower.umn.edu
IVORY TOWER STAFF 09-10 EDITORS-IN-CHIEF
Rachelle Kuehne Melissa Wray
Anna Nething Courtney Reigh Rachelle Kuehne
MANAGING EDITORS Erin Flannery Amanda Gordon
Gena Cochrun Eric Murphy Becky Wagner
Stephanie Stoltz Anna Nething Jade Bové Becky Wagner Erin Flannery
PUBLICITY/OUTREACH Alexandra Weaver Courtney Reigh Eric Murphy Celeste Larson Becca Strauss Gena Cochrun
DEVELOPMENT Jessica Mattson Natalie Sosnay Agnes Rzepecki Eugene Lewis Robert Kipp Samantha Degen
On the cover
Becca Strauss Natalie Sosnay Amanda Gordon
POETRY EDITORS Samantha Degen Becca Strauss
POETRY READERS Jessica Mattson Alexandra Weaver Melissa Wray
SPECIAL CONTENT EDITORS Eugene Lewis Erin Flannery
Eric Murphy Agnes Rzepecki
Erinn | Rachel Mosey | Painting
Robert Kipp Jade Bové Celeste Larson
FACULTY ADVISOR Shantha Susman
NOTE EDITORS from
“One of the things I keep coming up against is that we don’t write our ideas, or our feelings, or even really our stories. . . . We write our language. In other words, [we’re] really hunting and gathering.” –Patricia Hampl, author of The Florist’s Daughter In this issue, we present you with language we’ve harvested throughout the year. It’s humorous (the lovable “Appledemic”). It owes a debt to spoken word (“Lake Monona”). It’s haunting (“Art of Madness”) and introspective (the reflective voice of our beloved Patricia Hampl, former Ivory Tower editor, author, and professor). We’ve compiled a literary dialogue, a conversation between poets and memoirists, visual artists and fiction writers. It’s a dialogue that mirrors today’s bustling conversation, and slows it down to give us a chance to listen, and, as Hampl suggests, to give ourselves over to that language. We’ve been doing a lot of behind-the-scenes gathering this year, too. Whether we were hunting down amazing creative writing professors to lead on-campus writing workshops, or gathering immigrant stories and experiences through our community outreach project at the Franklin Learning Center, we’ve been diligently searching for our community’s voice, and have endeavored to make the Ivory Tower a part of that shared language. Thanks for reading, folks. Enjoy your 2010 Ivory Tower. Best, Melissa Wray and Rachelle Kuehne Editors-in-Chief
CONTENTS [Fiction] [Poetry] [Non-Fiction] [Art]
7 Poetry and Rocks Dylan Skerbitz 8 Parking Lot Molly Looze 10 Man Creates His Own Agony Brittany Parshall 11 Hit It Cole Bauer 11 Toothburn and a Heart Trick Jessica Mayer 12 Suburban Christina Harrison 15 Escape from PARadISe Miranda Taylor 16 Agape Sarah M. Sosa 16 Mountainside Ignorance Victoria Helbling 17 Appledemic Chase Binnie 19 I’ve Sprung a Leak! Kate Johnson 21 Landing Base Sam Robertson 22 Baker’s Dozen of Brief Belletrisms Deniz Rudin 28 Le Thè Crystal Brutlag 28 Prayer for Dirt Jessica Eisenmann 29 Being Seth Kersten 30 Patricia Hampl Could Tell You Stories: An Interview Melissa Wray and Amanda Gordon 34 Trumpet Brittany Parshall 35 Crumbs or Mistaken Pebbles Jesse Bishop 36 The Art of Madness Victoria Helbling
37 The Pain of Being Javelin P. Elliott 40 The Other Mother Sarah Winkler 41 Beso Español Molly Looze 41 Facing It Rachelle Cordova 42 Paris, Fugaciously 89/71/09 Brittany Forster Bump 43 The Memories Amidst Molly Looze 45 Creepy Lenny Brittany Parshall 49 Free Market Blues Raghav Mehta 50 Mythical Creatures Jessie Ingvalson 52 Birds in the Air Katelyn Dokken 53 Fish Sam Robertson 54 Will There Be Blood? Marlene Moxness 57 Economics Macy Salzberger 58 Paper Jacquilyn Weaver 59 The Elusive Persea Americana Sophia Anastazievsky 62 Crypto Psycho Cosmo Freakshow Mark Brenden 65 Snatches Clare Gawronski 67 Reach Molly Shebeneck 69 Lake Monona Miles Walser 70 Untitled Joe Berlin
Poetry and ROCKS Dylan Skerbitz
IN COLLEGE I HAD A LITTLE MOTH THAT LIVED IN MY DORM ROOM THAT DIED ONE DAY, AND WE CALLED HIM JOHNNY. It’s not relevant to the story; I just wanted to put him in somewhere because if I didn’t he’d just be dead and forgotten, and that’s not something you let friends become. But anyway, the reason I came here today was to tell you all what I saw at the bus station. I’m not pointing fingers, but you can always tell which ones are gonna start the trouble. They walk around and fidget and check their phones and get so bored that they start watching you, standing and staring until you can’t help it and you look up and they ask you what you’re looking at and you try to say something clever or just ignore them or pretend you’re Polish but it’s too late and they’re on you like wild dogs. There were two of them, wearing clothes that were made expensively to look like they were made poorly, and we all pretended that they didn’t exist until someone slipped and looked over at them as they held up a lighter trying to set their sleeves on fire, and that someone was a ratty old man. He looked away immediately and you could see the worry he was trying not to show, and they turned, lightning-quick, and growled. He was already craning his neck, hoping the bus would come but it wouldn’t, not for fifteen more minutes, which is enough time for everything to slip out of control. They sauntered over to him and pushed him until his small tweedy shoulders shook like bookends in an earthquake. And he kept saying no, in all kinds of ways: no, no thank you, no not me, no no nothing at all, like a nursery rhyme that made his words poetry. This next part is why I’m so angry, why I’m always so angry, always angry at people. Because none of them
Parking Lot | Molly Looze | Photog raph
care about anything but their pets: cats, rats, dogs, kids, or moths— that’s all that matters to them. ‘Cause right then the bus station was like a little forest with all the animals looking the other way, each of us stupid and individual ‘cause we can’t even figure out simple truths that ants know. Eight people all whispering to themselves that they’re frail and it’s not their turn to be a hero and all the same old stuff that prevents people at bus stations from seeing that they can beat anyone if they just team up. So just like monkeys they looked the other way. At least it wasn’t them; not yet anyway. So there we were, seven and two and one and me which is eleven. I normally don’t count myself in such situations, but that day I had a reason to.
But I’m different because I read the classics and when old shoulders rattle like sheets of cardboard it makes me see in words I don’t have.
So I was standing there like everyone else, not even like sheep ‘cause sheep will band together against a wolf; more like trees, rigid and separate and scrupulously alone. But I’m different because I read the classics and when old shoulders rattle like sheets of cardboard it makes me see in words I don’t have. So I stood there, not really like everyone else because after about a minute of his prayers I began to hear the everyman speaking to me. He spoke to me in Johnny’s voice to tell me that now is the time when heroes arise, not mortal but immutable, scions of that eternal strand of courage that runs like wine through the blood of good and upright men. Now should you spring into action! Let the righteous fires of Triumph and Rage, those perfect twins of battle, guide your hand to the point where it is needed most desperately. Now, agape no more, let the noble savagery of honor be the shield of the innocent and the weak! I felt like I would explode and I knew I would get in trouble, but sometimes that’s all right. I reached down and grabbed the biggest rock I could see. It wasn’t very big ‘cause it’s a bus station and they usually clean them pretty well, but it was big enough to hurt people with, which was maybe my aim. I ran at them and mumbled poetry to myself until they saw me coming and got all shaky. I guess I was pretty scary ‘cause I’m big and I had a rock. They ran and I chased them and chased them until I caught up ‘cause my legs are longer, and I put the fear of God and people-withnotebooks-in-bus-stations into them. So I’ll say it again: you can always tell who the troublemakers are because they’re the ones who stand very still in the bus stations and say nothing and believe in poetry and rocks.
Man Creates His Own Agony | Brittany Parshall | Drawing
HIT IT Cole Bauer
Take stock of blue-tinted socks That burn and bleed with no bears to wear the dying breed Of worn-out lumber wasted to cock-eyed women shuffling with greed Ahoy, Mr. Ham, your day has arrived. So sit back, write smack, and enjoy a hell of a ride.
TOOTHBURN & A HEART TRICK Jessica Mayer
Rhetorically, our hearts can ache just like the head or the tooth. The same way that our teeth can burn, just like the eyes or the future. Names of body parts were carved in our bones. like the tooth tracks etched into a robotâ€™s sprocket. Our muscles were completely covered in mud, and our tendons warped from the weight. Cyanide was kindling for our red-hot bodies, but the fuel was not yet fully understood, and trace amounts of it ended up amongst our favorite flower beds. Somehow, we ended up with bad toothburn; a naproxen sodium heart trick. So sit here and weep; letâ€™s keep all the dams open while we burn our windmills for warmth.
Suburban Christina Harrison
My father used to drive an old Suburban from the 1980’s, and I hated it. I hated the way it made my family look poor, hated the way the rotted steel skin was peeling away to reveal the metal skeleton beneath. My father loved this car that guzzled He had stood in the aisle gas like water, this car that had withstood of the hardware store for numerous collisions and still had the rough over an hour: my six-foot, scars to prove it. My brothers and sisters balding, Jewish-American would ride their bikes too close to the doors father, agonizing over the of the car and leave long white scratches decision of which color best from their handlebars. I remember how hard matched the midnight blue my father had tried to conceal the marks. He had stood in the aisle of the hardware of his prized Suburban. store for over an hour: my six-foot, balding, Jewish-American father, agonizing over the decision of which color best matched the midnight blue of his prized Suburban. I was frustrated because he kept trying all the wrong colors: anything and everything that was radically different from the one we needed. “Is this good?” my father would ask me, brandishing a cobalt blue, or a midnight grey, the hope in his eyes making me want to turn away. “No Dad,” I would sigh with exasperation, “that one’s too blue. Just try this one.”
Years later, I wished I had been more patient with him. I couldn’t understand that he was color blind, that he saw the world differently than I did, that he came from a time and a place much different from my own. The front seat of the Suburban was as wide as the cockpit of an airplane, and I know that my father loved its powerful, masculine feel. He loved the height and the view of the open road. I liked to sit on his lap when my mother wasn’t around, and he would let me turn the steering wheel. The dials in front of me spun and quivered, the road was an open landscape, and the radio always played our favorite songs. I think the reason my father loved this car so much was that it could fit all of his eight children inside, plus himself. He loved his children more than anything else. He had this car for over fifteen years and 200,000 miles. He put more money into repairs than it would have cost to buy a new car. Finally, the engine began to die and the floor became so thin that part of it dropped out completely, and my little sisters would watch the road roll and turn over beneath them as my father sped down the highway towards their school. I once lost a scarf through that hole. I watched it float away from us in a huge gust of wind. Eventually, even my father couldn’t deny that the car was falling apart, and even he had to admit that it was time to buy a new one. We were all relieved to see it go, but he tried to hold on, his fingertips grazing the peeled paint, his hand clutched around the broken door handle. I remember he tried to trade it in at the used car dealership; they chuckled and offered him $300 just to be nice, I think. We got a purple minivan after that and it felt like we were shooting fifteen years into the future, when really we were just catching up to everybody else. I liked it because it was normal; my father hated it because we couldn’t all fit inside at the same time anymore. My father used to drive an old Today, when I find time to call my father Suburban from the 1980’s, and between school and work, he always sounds happy to hear me, and I always feel I hated it. I hated the way it guilty for letting so much time lapse in be- made my family look poor, tween calls home. I can just hear the trace hated the way the rotted steel of his New York City accent, still present skin was peeling away to reveal after over thirty years in the Midwest. the metal skeleton beneath. He wants to hear about school, and then my Jewish father asks me if I am still going to the Catholic church near my apartment every Sunday. I say yes, because we both know that it makes my mother happy when I go. When I go home to visit my parents, my father picks me up in his silver four-door sedan, and I get in with the sort of ease that was always absent during the days he would pick me up from junior high in his Suburban. Now it’s okay to offer my friends a ride home if my father is driving. And when I go out with my friends I borrow his car
and drive around comfortably in a vehicle with four working doors and windows, and a fully sheltered floor. My four sisters and three brothers and I can’t all travel together in the same car anymore; we are all hardly ever in the same state, let alone the same house. Sometimes I really miss the old days when eating out as a family was a huge deal, when grocery shopping was a mass exodus, and when the anticipation of a family road trip was enough to keep me sleepless for a week leading up to the event. Last night, the zipper on my jacket snapped off. I was leaning toward throwing it out. I thought I might as well buy a new jacket rather than have to deal with the hassle of repairing the zipper. But I am my father’s daughter, and I can’t throw away something that I know is still good. I called my father and told him about the jacket, and he happily agreed to find a tailor to fix it.
Escape from PARadISe | Miranda Taylor | Photograph
Mountainside Ignorance Victoria Helbling Agape | Sarah M. Sosa | Painting
Off in the distance, mountains, cavernous, needlelike, spray their apprehensions across landscapes. Histories, spoken by humans (liars) paint the visions. Focus back on a room, (experienced reality) as a premature courtesan (naïveté reigns) spreads her body and her soul to mountains, stalactites unresponsive to her. Tracks outside the shack carry cartloads of ideals to the masses rumbling the bed where the (baby) girl loses her dignity with every thrust, preying on her, taking away a doll, a moment, a frame of her being. Mr. Conductor, carrying on the transportations of his country’s supposed needs, notices the transaction, and pretends to be oblivious to the sensation of justice and the right. And the train rolls on, vibrating throughout the mountains, writing (repeating) history, just as the day before.
Appledemic Chase Binnie
In the wind, the leaves shook. The cool air reminded the apple tree of its seasonality. On its branches, a family of apples bobbed in harmony. Each had their own stem, but they all shared the same roots. One day, a ripe apple named Hank was penetrated by an insect. Some of the neighboring apples started to take notice, including Fortisimo, an outspoken teenage rebel. “Dude, Hank. What’s in your back?” he asked. Hank gave him a blank, elderly stare. “There a bug inside of you!” Hank made a lame attempt to look over his right shoulder. “Damn.” News of the infestation spread quickly. By the afternoon the whole branch was buzzing like a honeycomb in summertime. “Oh my!” McIntosh exclaimed. “It is contagious? Maybe we should call the doctor.” “Good luck,” replied Fortisimo with an ounce of sarcasm. “If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, he’s not comin’ near us!” Hank’s grandson, Pippin, was in shock and disbelief.
“Who the fuck would want to burrow in my grandpa?”
As days passed, Hank’s condition got worse. The color began to fade from his skin and as the hole in his back got deeper, the conversations got quieter. “Have you seen Hank?” McIntosh gossiped. “His back is yellow…and his skin is wilting.” Fortisimo slowly shook his head: “I knew it was a bad idea to go organic.” That night while the moonbeams sparkled on the oozing innards of sleeping Hank, Fortisimo was plotting. “Psst! Hey, Pippin!” he whispered. Pippin opened his eyes slightly. “Wake up!” he persisted. “We need to talk. Hank is becoming an issue. He’s dying, Pippin, and all he’s doing is sucking nutrients from our branch. This morning, he coughed, and some of his mushy, hypanthium insides landed on my face.” Hank snorted as if he overheard, then eased into his regular weak snore. “He may be sick, but he’s my grandfather,” Pippin sympathized.
“He’s a bad apple. And when he dies, you think that pest inside of him is going to fly away?” Fortisimo didn’t wait for a reply. “No! It’s going to infect us too, Pippin. Our lives might as well be in the picker’s hands.” Pippin felt like a bite had been taken out of his stomach. “Are you suggesting we shake him?” Fortisimo’s eyes locked with Pippin’s. “We have no other choice.” Pippin’s eyes said no, but Fortisimo’s head nodded yes, each nod at attempt to persuade. The branch was the first to be persuaded. It swung to the rhythm of deception. A snort! “What’s going on?!” Hank mumbled, his eyes slow and groggy. “Is this another orchard nightmare? Not the bucket! Please not the bucket!”
Pippin was caught in the violent thrashing, as if he were bobbing under the surface of the waves of a sea storm. Every crest shook one guilty tear from his red cheek.
Iâ€™ve Sprung a Leak! | Kate Johnson | Painting
“It’s necessary, Hank!” Fortisimo yelled. Other apples began to wake up amidst the turmoil. “Don’t shake him!” they shouted. “He’s a good apple. We can still cure him!” Others didn’t agree. “Kill Hank!” cried Granny Smith. “Muthafucka’s diseased! Toss him like fruit salad!” Arguments broke out on every branch, between brothers and sisters, mothers and sons, uncles and nephews. The insect had eaten away at more than just Hank’s back. No longer was the apple tree a family. Long forgotten was their unity and shared roots. Sometimes the smallest things can tear even the strongest apart. One by one the apples began to fall. First the old and the weak. Then the young buds. One apple awoke to find himself plummeting from the branch. “I’m just a heavy sleeper,” he shrugged as he cut through the autumn air. Then, almost simultaneously, the remaining apples broke from the tree and landed on the ground with a collective, stuttered thud. Hank landed on an exposed root, resulting in an applesauce explosion more impressive than magnesium sulfide on the Fourth of July. The last solid chunk of his body bounced to rest several inches from Pippin. Using the last calorie left in his body, Hank turned toward his grandson and forced two last words.
Landing Base | Sam Robertson | Painting
OF BRIEF BELLETRISMS Deniz Rudin
From Pornography There is a knock on her door. She turns from what she is doing and says, “Come in!” A skinny, pale man in a suit and fedora walks up to her carrying a man-high paper-mâché penis in front of him. She looks at it and says, “My, that’s way too big! Do you have anything smaller?” He looks at the camera and grins like, You know what’s coming. She reaches for his belt buckle.
Outside the Theater A dark-skinned and mustached man leans out of the entryway, taking little emptyeyed steps one foot at a time until the feet come together suddenly as he lights his cigarette, pausing for just a moment, turning back, walking where he came, the torn brown underside of the neon-strung whitewood letters hung with twisted strands of metal and clumps of hair and string, a general decrepit rustiness about it.
Thrones Two men sit on a stage side by side. One is caged in an architecture of keyboards, knobs, and pads of flashing buttons. He is connected to it by a length of floppy white intestine, which fills his mouth and runs from him to one of the keyboards. He is very small and completely hairless. The other sits caged in an architecture of drums. A drumstick grows from the center of each of his palms. He is freakishly tall and painfully thin. His arms are curled up into palsied claws close to his chest. His body lists severely to the left and his face cycles through a number of skewed expressions. His hair and beard are uncontrolled. They sit here like this for a long time, looking at each other.
The End of a Semester You step out of the basement into a temperate world colored a moderate shade of green, a cool breeze on your skin, the air filled with the smells of plants. Life is the best thing.
[RECTANGLE] Pete standing in this room in blue boxers spray-painted red in the crotch, paint still fresh and dripping, “kill” written on his bare chest with permanent marker, looking at my eyes, fiddling with his sticky paint-wet pubes, saying, “You’re gonna write about this. Don’t even try to say you won’t. You’re gonna. You’re gonna write about this.”
From the Ending of a 17th-Century Novel First they cut off the penis and the testicles and throw them into the fire, and though the red flows copiously from him, the only change in the hero’s face is the result not of any pain but of the forceful application of a saber blade to his nose. He requests a pipe, twin drizzles of blood wetly ejecting from the remnants of each nostril with every nasal sound in his speech, and the pipe is brought to him by eager servants with skin like burnt-up cocks. He smokes it calmly as his ears are cut from him. By now his skin is red from the neck down. As a considerate gesture they sever his left arm first, slicing through the ball-joint of the shoulder, so as to allow him to continue smoking the pipe with his right. He blows the most dazzling rings. Only when they remove his right arm does he seem a bit downcast, for he is no longer capable of holding his pipe to his
(briefly still-present) lips. Tobacco scatters from the bowl of the pipe as it hits the ground. Of the two whitest bits of him, his eyes and gleaming teeth, only the eyes still shine, the blood from his nose staining his teeth. His eyes stay open and bright, even when they are cleaved from each other to go with different quarters of his body to different plantations.
A Surreptitious Affair The four of them climb over the railing and slouch in the trees, three females, one male; nothing in the world but the ivied wall can see them as they take the bulbous rod to their mouths, touching their lips to the tip and feeling at the base of it while they suck down what it spews, each breathing in deeply and holding it as they pass the colored glass pipe to the next in line, who will hold a flame briefly to the leaved bowl as the leaved wall rustles with an unexpected wind spurt, scaring each of them more than it should.
From Pornography Jamie Hannah Lipton always confuses “exquisite” and “excruciating” because to her they are basically the same. Her knees are all twisted up with scars from when, as a little girl, she’d intentionally trip while running so that her little vagina would shudder with the feeling of skinned knees. Not the sort of person who was sexually abused as a child* and therefore irrevocably associates sex with abuse, no, just a serious pain freak, some wires crossed somewhere in her nervous system. How hard she comes when she slides the needle in through the labium, tunneling through flesh, sending out exquisite ripples through the walls of the vaginal tube and the wishbone clitoris** as it goes. The sort of person who doesn’t get off on the combination of pleasure and pain (though she doesn’t mind it), and not on some psychological aspect of being beaten, but on the beating itself. A sadist’s absolute wet dream, impossible fantasy sitting on the floor talking and laughing and bone-skinny and pale and blond, their wilted-flower cocks in a circle around her, dew-wet and gleaming with her saliva. * Beautiful and sexually-quite-normal parents so concerned about her tripping shipped her from doctor to doctor, eventually received the unanimous opinion that the girl was just clumsy as hell. ** How lucky it is to be a woman, to be given the privilege of possessing the only human organ whose sole purpose is to give you pleasure!
Thrones With no visible sign to each other, they burst into motion in unison. The tall one makes a frenetic drumbeat full of fills out of what appears to be epileptic flailing. His face continues to distort itself, constantly changing in shape and affect. The small one’s hands are spiders running up and down the keys with furious speed. He grins hugely around the tube in his mouth. They both flush red. There is no melody, only wild and huge sound and rhythm. They both bounce full out of their seats at unchoreographed intervals. Again, with no visible sign to each other, they let loose falsetto howls, pulling their heads slowly up and back until they’re screaming at the ceiling together, absolute ecstasy on their faces, hands moving seemingly on their own, conducting a riot of joy. The white line from the small man’s mouth to his keyboard is pulled taut. A crack appears down the center of each face, traveling down the bridge of the nose, connecting forehead to chin, and their faces split apart, each half sliding down to the cheekbone and from the skin-stripped fronts of their heads there comes a white light, bright and continuous, shooting into the rafters with a high whine.
“The snow of Christmas morn falls like angel shit.” From under an awning it seems so beautiful—this complex lattice moving slowly down, moving perfectly, vertically, and in sync with itself, an image of snow in the sky too long for your screen and you slowly scroll up through it, finger held steadily on the mouse, cursor on the up arrow. But under its ghastly, big, thick, wet pancake-flakes hitting your scalp like rain, with the force and splatter area of well-aimed bird shit.
Off-Broadway I was a sickly child: all skin conditions, my scalp suppurating and forming crusts, crusts on my face and nose and lips and crusty eyelashes, my whole epidermis participating in a cycle of ooze and harden, ooze and harden, and the most terrible influenzas and asthmas and attacks of all sorts of ill health. To this day, I regard my body not as a tool that I inhabit, but as a fearful, malicious thing, a hateful thing to be transcended if possible, an unfortunate circumstance of my life, even though in adolescence the whole machine sleekened and became smooth and rough and hard in all the correct places and has functioned nicely ever since. Maybe this is why I never played sports like my mother wanted, never pushing me but dropping those subtle hints that are perhaps worse, never played because my body’s cooperation seemed a temporary thing, not to be strained by overexertion, but to be quietly
thankful for and mistrustful of; to be deferent to my body instead of using it for my own aims. I ate right and exercised the minimum proper amount. I studied philosophy and literature as an act of subversion, escaping from my body into thought and fiction, and so here I am all theater, all writing, all Pulitzer, my body only a thing I must put up with, must work with, but my mind the source of all success. I remember when I had flus my mother would give me a bell and I would ring it when I needed her, ring it at night, at any time, and the house would fill with steam as if by magic and she would come floating in. She was just a force; when she died, I wept mostly from incomprehension because I never though of her as a real person like those I interact with on a day-to-day basis. She always floated in as if by magic when I rang the bell, my body this strange thing outside of me, my mind all darkness and panic and pain, little legs kicking, little mouth gasping, red nose wet, and she would come floating in and fold me into her body, surrounded by the soft flesh radiating warmth like light from a bulb, and that would take away everything I felt; my mind would become heavy and sink into my body, my body would become heavy and sink into hers, and I would sleep until my father’s cold hard hand woke me for the medicine.
From a Dream I made a huge baguette out of all the white I’d harvested from Oreos. It was so delicious that flowers sprouted from the taste of it in the back of my throat; the stems reached out of my mouth and the flowers were white. Ever since then I’ve immediately been choking and dying because I can neither breathe nor swallow through the tangle of plant matter in my throat. It’s okay, I don’t mind; the flowers are so beautiful. They’re Caucasian, like me. Or maybe only one flower grew, and it was quite unpleasant and I gagged all the time, but at least I’m alive. I won’t have it removed.
On the Sidewalk There is one square of concrete where a flock of small brown birds sits, and as your feet enter it they scatter into the air, one of them burrowing into the hubcap of a nearby SUV.
From an Open Mic Sitting onstage surrounded by microphones, one at his mouth, one at the mouth of his little brown guitar (its body shaped like a woman with excessive hips, clever little symmetrical tattoos, and without legs and head) and others around him amplifying the indistinct hum of electrons circling the nuclei of atoms, his skin thick, and dark for a white manâ€™s, lines worn deep into his face from age, his short hair gray with white highlights, denim suspenders over green tie-dye shirt, plucking those lazily frenetic blues with every finger of his right hand (plus the thumb!) and the pointer, middle, and ring of his left, the thumb bracing the hand against the back of the neck, the pinky held out awkwardly, made monstrous by the shining steel bottleneck, a small silver cylinder like those classy little vibrators, nodding to himself; just the sound check could go on forever and I wouldnâ€™t complain, just those notes over and over, just the tilt of his head down under his shoulder, bobbing with the rest of his body.
Or Less She lies drunk and asleep on the couch, all joints in her legs slightly bent, and on her hip she holds a brightly lit juggling ball, the light constantly fluctuating in color and intensity. Glowing between her four fingers, it makes a shape like an E fallen on its back. She wears a robinâ€™s-egg bathrobe and black tights. The sigil projected from this hill of black. The colors of the ball shine out into her fingers, rendering them dull and blurry, and you stare until your eyes lose focus and all you can see are these shifting colors in the shape of a crown, the intense red and dull blue and locnar green imprinted over and over into the space behind your eyes, the two of you the only people in the room for minutes, staring and sleeping in a void until other partygoers discover you and you get up out of the chair sheepishly.
Thrones Their veins become bluer and larger until they suddenly burst, and their skin becomes paler and paler until the machinery inside of them would be exposed if not for the light radiating from their centers, filling the room with itself, so that the only thing the spectators can see now is sheer whiteness and the only thing they can hear is the beautiful cacophony, and the whole thing feels so joyous and right and good that all anyone wants to do anymore is laugh, from the absolute pleasure of it all.
From Pornography The thick, dark lips on his face running perpendicular to the thick dark lips in her crotch. His rust-red cock making water noises inside her. Her desperate unconsent. Fiction
LE THĂˆ Crystal Brutlag
Dipped in water, parched, They emerge after cries die steeping Bloated like a full moon.
PRAYER FOR DIRT Jessica Eisenmann
These grounds that hold my body hold my soul, in every granule of sandstone and shale and shit. So I dropped to my knees and desperate attempts to find what had been lost I dug my hands into this soulî’ˆ fingers, knuckles, falling Self through finger spaces, cupped in my own palm.
Being | Seth Kersten | Drawing
Could Tell You Stories With Melissa Wray and Amanda Gordon
The Ivory Tower has a long history in the local literary community. One of its former staffers, Patricia Hampl, is the author of The Florist’s Daughter and several other books, and is a Regents Professor at the University. As an undergraduate student, she was an editor on The Ivory Tower. Ivory Tower: Can you talk about your role on the Ivory Tower as a student? Patricia Hampl: In those days, the [Minnesota] Daily published five days a week, but on the first Monday of every month, instead of the Daily, the Ivory Tower was published. So it wasn’t just a literary magazine, it was a little like the New Yorker. One day I wrote a piece for the Daily, and this tall, kind of silent guy came out of the Ivory Tower office with an envelope. It had my name on it so I went up and got it. “Dear Miss Hampl,”—he had cut out the piece I’d done that day—and he’d said, “Good piece in today’s Daily, especially the lead. Would you like to talk about a position on the Tower?” And it was Garrison [Keillor]. He was the editor, and he hired me to be his associate editor. [He was an] absolutely genius editor, just a marvelous editor in all the ways that an editor has to be marvelous. He had vision, and he also had meticulous detail, [and] sense of language. [He] edited right down to the syllable—really had an ear. And he had that quality, that personality that made you want to do your best for him. We got paid in those days, I don’t know if you do— IT: No [laughs]. PH: Well, we got paid—not a lot, but you could say you were a pro. So I’ve always thought of myself as a professional writer from the time I was 18. The publishing world is so different from what I was doing at your age, it’s just so different—not only the technology of it, even just culturally different. In those days, back in the 60’s, the Daily was the third-largest newspaper in Minnesota. And it was read seriously around the state. We were learning, but at the same time we were
having a really extraordinary experience; even though I was an English major, when I graduated, I had the chops to get a job in journalism.
IT: Do you have any thoughts as to why there is this resurgence in nonfiction and how it’s changed and grown into something that’s more than just journalism and biography?
IT: How do you think the University has changed?
PH: I think it has to do with the first person voice: our culture trusts the first person voice as being authentic. That may be ridiculous; our trust may be misplaced. And I think that there’s something about the American sensibility that wants to get its news from a personal voice rather than an omniscient narrator. If you think about some of our greatest novels—Moby Dick, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and, especially in this neighborhood, The Great Gatsby—they are all written in the first person voice as if they were memoirs, as if the narrator were a real person telling a story about something that happened to him. And I think that quality of voice is congenial with our culture…for good or for ill. We like individualism. So I think that makes the memoir a natural form. Why now? Why has it blossomed? Well, it’s really been there all along.
PH: The University was just the right place for me to be an undergraduate. The University was very inexpensive in those days. I mean, I worked in the summers, I worked in the holidays, and I worked at the Daily and the Tower, but as long as I lived at home, I didn’t have to take another job. My job was to be a student. And hardly any student gets to do that—now, everybody’s got jobs, the tuition is so high, and people go into debt. That breaks my heart because that’s not the same spirit the U had for me. But there were no creative writing classes. So the real place to be a writer was on the Daily or on the Tower. That was it. This was a provincial town, cultural backwater, not a lot going on. But in the years since then, all this has flowered; it’s really been pretty amazing. I always assumed that if I really wanted to be a writer, no way should I stay in Minnesota. You had to go to New York. That has really changed, it’s very possible to have a national career, and be anywhere.
We’re in a really rich period of opening all kinds of other cultural voices, all types of people with different backgrounds. Everything from ethnicity, to sexual identity, race, religion, you name it. There’s going to be a Somali memoir about what it was like to
We don’t write our ideas, or our feelings, or even really our stories and thoughts. We write our language.
grow up in Minneapolis—somebody’s going to write it. The thing that the memoir allows people to do is to tell a story the way a novel does, but it also allows people to pause in the middle of a story and to reflect, to think—in effect, to write an essay. IT: I found a quote from an interview where you said, “Memoir is not what happened; if we’re lucky, that’s the best journalism. It is what has happened over time, in the mind, in the life as it attends to these tantalizing, dismaying, broken bits of life history. Such personal writing is, as the essay is, an attempt. It is a try at the truth. The truth of a self in the world.” PH: Yes, I remember it. IT: How do you, in your own writing and thinking, seek that truth? What are your methods? PH: You know, in the end, one of the things I keep coming up against is that we don’t write our ideas, or our feelings, or even really our stories and thoughts. We write our language. In other words, really hunting and gathering…we’re talking, in a way, about voice I suppose. I get tired of hearing about that term, voice. It feels shop-worn at this point. And I have said this before,
but I wish that we almost had to go into a language supply store to get our materials the way that artists go into an art supply store…so we would understand that what we have to give over to is our language. Sitting down and writing the sentences and training your ear to hear what feels true: that’s what it’s about. IT: What do you feel the separation between the voice and the writer is? When can you separate from that voice and when can it almost become inhibiting? PH: Hmm…one of the reasons I don’t like the idea of the way we talk about voice is we treat it almost like a sock lost under your bed, there with the dust-bunnies. You don’t find a voice and stick with it. You are constantly constructing a narrative presence, self, and voice for a particular piece. So really, you have voices. One of the things I love in a writer is somebody who can create a moment that makes us see the absurdity of the circumstance, then turn on a dime and the voice can actually become lyrical or even tragic or elegiac. That quality of being able to switch appropriately is one of the signs of a really great writer. IT: Do you ever find yourself influenced by other voices when you read other people?
PH: I think so, yes. I think that’s a very good sign in a writer. If you aren’t influenced, you aren’t in the game. It’s that simple. If you haven’t fallen in love with a writer and absorbed that sensibility, you’re not probably really engaging with the language. It’s true that you have to find your own way, but the way that you find that way is by, as I say, this larcenist soul. You need to go and keep picking a flower here, there, and put your own bouquet together. You can only do that by reading and finding yourself writing similar[ly]. Eventually that similarity falls away like a husk and your own sensibility begins to have the confidence and authority to move around. Yes, influence is great. I think T.S. Eliot said something like “Good writers borrow; great writers steal.” [Editors’ Note: The original T.S. Eliot quote is “Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal,” although “Good writers borrow; great writers steal” has become a popular paraphrase.]
that surround us and the stories that come at us. The delivery systems may change but the human heart will still be filled with love and betrayal, fear and desire, longing and revenge; all of those things aren’t going to go away. We still have to tell them and write them. No, I don’t think you need to worry about it. If anything, there are going to be more ways, and you’ll figure them out. Wouldn’t it be a sad, sad thing if young people thought that they had to wait for the technology to tell them how they’ll fit in? The good thing is it’s all wet cement right now and you might as well mold it to what you want it to be. I have no question that the forms you love will be the forms that you will write and that people will want to read. The forms do change and people change. In some ways, we are so fortunate with so many new forms to write in, to move between and amongst. I still think being a writer is one of the great, great gifts, if you feel it’s your vocation.
IT: In this economic climate, what is your advice to writers? The whole future of the book is changing to things like the Kindle, so what do you think our role is going to be? PH: Our role is going to be what it always has been, which is to take seriously the details
Trumpet | Brittany Parshall | Drawing
Crumbs or Mistaken Pebbles Jesse Bishop
I got another letter from the community college down the street. It asks me to provide them with more information. I’ve given them everything they’ve asked for. I put the letter on the coffee table. It’s covered in stems and seeds. It’s my roommates’ mess. Kay’s one of them. She’s also my girlfriend. We share a bedroom. She smokes too. Her face hangs when she does. I hate hanging faces. I have to be to work in fifteen minutes. It usually takes twenty-five and I like to drive along the coast, so say thirty. I get up and walk into the kitchen to get a bottle of water. I look at myself in the mirror as I pass. Who gives a shit? It’s sunny outside. It’s sunny every day here. Sometimes I just want it to be cloudy. I want to wake up to rain dripping off the roof onto the cement patio. The seatbelt burns my hand when I reach for it. What the hell should I do about school? What a mess. The windows are down and my hair blows all over the place. Laborers are blowing leaves and dust in the boulevard. They’re out there every day. Things never stop growing or dying, I guess. At a stoplight, a man is looking at me through his sunglasses. I wish he were a woman. I wish he would stare somewhere else. The light flicks green. I don’t go right away. I drive through Solana Beach. The ocean looks silver today. Kay says I’m colorblind when I say things like that. I am colorblind, I tell her. She knows, she says. She works as
a nanny for some wealthy families in the area. A nanny is different from a babysitter. Babysitters are home alone with the kids. Nannies are in the other room while the mom gets a manicure. She likes the kids though. She says she never wants her own. Someone’s taken my favorite spot again. Under the eucalyptus tree. There’s a bag on my back with books in it. I probably won’t read today. There’s a notebook too. I know I won’t write. I walk behind the bar next door to avoid the drunks and their early eyes. People are eating with their dogs at the café. I unlock the door. The shop smells like polyester pants and Glade Plug Ins. My boss told me once that I should always look at the big picture when I walk in for the day. “You know what I mean?” she asked. I was nodding a lot. Looking at mannequins with shiny wigs. It sounded pretty vague. “Yeah,” I said. The store reminds me of my house. Red and lime boa feathers swirl in the corner. Someone should sweep those. There is a sales outlook sheet on my desk. It is much higher than yesterday’s. I should’ve opened the store already. I go get a coffee next door. The shoeless vet on the concrete bench is roaring with laughter again. Beside him, small birds are snatching crumbs or mistaken pebbles.
The Art of
MADNESS Victoria Helbling
I HAVE ALWAYS ENJOYED THE SOLITUDE OF MY OWN MIND. SOME CANNOT SIT IN A SILENT ROOM WITH NO OTHER SENSE OF LIFE EMANATING FROM ANOTHER BEING. I CAN.
The idea of being locked in a room with no one around, no one to interfere with my thoughts or disturb my natural rhythm, excites me like nothing else. A day, even a moment alone, would do me good, I believe. I crave an instant to merely look at a blank wall and wonder what it took to create it, and imagine those who did. An instant to do nothing but rest and simply be; that is all I wish. Sadly, I do not find such solace in my life. My parents have always been the social type; they wish to mingle among the high-class blue bloods whose main purpose is to be entertained. Day after day, the hollow shells of people sway in and out of our mansion, dressed in the finest of clothes. Their costumes express nothing but false identities—a façade of contentment ready to crumble at any moment. So on they dance through the halls of this house, guzzling down champagne and decadent treats, lavishly devouring every bit of attention in their path. This is what my parents have become. They were not always this way; through most of their privileged lives they maintained some sense of compassion, an acute sense of normalcy. But years of constant merriment and exposure to this diseased high class have erased the people I grew up with, the family I once loved. Imagine their disgust when they discovered who I really was. Envision the sheer revulsion they must have felt upon seeing that their darling little girl, outfitted in expensive dresses and paraded about like a prized hound, did not enjoy the life they had provided for her. Agoraphobia—that is what Dr. Unrecht, my physician, calls my condition. “An irrational and abnormal fear of crowds and public places,” he said austerely. Irrational? Abnormal? Who is he to label me with these words? Would he not feel trapped if he were to live my life? If this fear is abnormal, then that is what I am. I have not always felt this way. For a while I did enjoy the endless gaiety and discourse that comes along with my life. Now, every conversation grates on me. I cannot speak or breathe when these parties occur. It feels as if a great shadow comes over me, engulfing and strangling me until I can no longer bear it.
The Pain of Being | Javelin P. Elliott | Painting Art
I have decided to escape from this house. I yearn to break free from the parties, the endless frivolity, and the overbearing sense of revelry. I shall put on a false act of lunacy; God willing, they’ll send me to the asylum and away from this hideous place. Their intentions would be focused on their own concerns, no doubt. I suppose they’ll find it best to keep their beloved guests far from their socially inept abomination of a daughter. Perhaps among the mad I’ll find solace. Today I instituted my plan. My act will not seem sudden or out of place; rather, my hysterical tendencies will slowly increase as time goes on until my family has no choice but to send me away. I started by altering the routines and habits I normally follow. Usually, I rise at nine in the morning. Lately, however, I have taken to wandering around the mansion beginning at three, long before sunlight cracks the horizon. I meander through the embellished hallways, singing softly to myself while tugging my hair. I sleep only when exhaustion overtakes me. The idea is to give my face the pallor of death. Of course I must eat, but I consume little, hoping that a frail appearance seizes their attention.
I decided to let my frustrations gush out of me. Lacking the necessary materials, I took it upon myself to create my masterpiece, my arm as the canvas.
The way I perceive things has morphed through this false insanity. I now view mundane objects in an uncomely and scrutinizing light. When I look at a tree, no longer can I simply admire the beauty of its leaves or the oscillations of its branches; instead I see only the pronounced harshness and violent curvatures of its bark. I do not see the beautiful, but only the horrible details. This is the way I should have seen things long ago—seen them for what they really were, a falsified version of splendor. My plan appears to be working better than I hoped! I am nearing my sixth week of practice and have more than caught the glance of my parents’ glazed eyes. They actually believe me to be mad! Of course, they have not said so. Their feelings are obvious—every time they look at me, I see only fear and detestation. They creep around the house as I do, but their dance is one of disappearance, not attraction. They wish to hide from me and withdraw from my life. Nothing of substance is said to me, only the general niceties required to function. They are frightened of me, of my behavior, of the monster they think I have become. Can’t they see that they are the monsters? Strange things have been happening around the mansion lately. In my midnight escapades, I have heard faint voices calling my name. I attempt to follow them through the hallways, but as soon as I reach them, there is nothing there. Perhaps one of the servants is
playing a trick on me. Yes, that must be it. Also, small children appear to be running across the dining table as I toddle through the room. Of course I know these children are not real; who would let them behave in such a manner? Certainly not my parents. But I do not know what these apparitions are or where they come from. Tonight, as I walked through the moonlit halls, I went to tug my hair and noticed how frayed and damaged it has become. This is the saddest part of my escape—I have always admired my long, thick black hair. To see it so mangled breaks my heart. I could not leave it this way! I promptly traipsed down to the kitchen and grabbed a knife. The knife—I believe it was intended for slicing bone—was long and thick. The cold steel felt wonderful in my hands. It gave me a cooling, calming sensation like I have never experienced. I knew it would be perfect. Using only a metal pot for reflection, I hastily cut my hair. Every solitary damaged follicle fell in a perfect swirling waltz and landed on the cold tile. The image was lovely. I took another glance at myself and coolly walked away. However, the thought of that gelid blade sitting alone brought me back. I picked it up and gazed at it. Its metal was the color of the sky on a stormy day, a concrete segment of gray. I was mesmerized. I then looked down towards my arm, the skin porcelain and pale. Such a soft white, like a canvas. When one’s mind is so bewildered with the musings of madness, amazing images flow from their thoughts . . .how wonderful it would be to be a painter! To create artwork and display it to the world! Suddenly, I realized what I needed to complete the performance. I decided to let my frustrations gush out of me. Lacking the necessary materials, I took it upon myself to create my masterpiece, my arm as the canvas. I mention this only to display how devoted I am to my art. The skill of deception and madness has become my life. Thank goodness it is only an act; I should hate to actually go insane. But I shall do what it takes to free me from this suffocating household. Look! My parents have entered the room. Now they shall see the depth of my craft. Success. It is such a sweet, yet coarse word. Suc. Cess. It begins with a smooth, satisfying syllable then transforms into a hissing sound with a biting aftertaste. They found me in the kitchen. They were not fond of my art. The look of sheer terror that crossed my mother’s face was inexplicable. She screamed and fainted. That cry, that blood-curdling screech, will not leave my ears. It flutters there, a little bat reverberating throughout my memory. And now I am here. I am home. I spend my days confined to a small white room. Small. White. Room. White as the snow in winter. It has one bed and one window. White cement floors envelop my feet. The ground swallows them whole. It swallows me whole. Dr. Unrecht came to visit me today. I did not recognize him, though. Strangely enough, I thought him to be my father. Somehow, he metamorphosed into my dear father—the Devil himself. He says I am not doing well, that my anxiety has taken me captive. Ha! How callous
is he? He is unaware of just how great an actor I have become. The world is my stage and I shall embrace it! If he is so willing to disregard my abilities as an actor, perhaps he will be far more impressed by my painting. Pain. Ting. I am planning the sequel to my masterpiece and it shall be far more wondrous than the first! That is, if these visions leave me. I feigned madness to escape the confines of a party-filled lifestyle, but somehow my parents have brought the party here. Dancers and dĂŠbutantes saunter through my room, day and night without stop. They leave their half-filled champagne glasses strewn across my floor along with mounds of confetti; the disarray disturbs me. And the music, that god-awful music! It never ceases! Perhaps the unveiling of my newest painting will dissuade them from their sinful acts. Sinfulâ€Ś. Quick! I must begin before the music ends! From there I will dip my brush in the inkwell of my arm and create the greatest artwork known to man! No longer will my walls be white, but a comforting shade of crimson. Let us see how untalented Dr. Unrecht finds me now! I have achieved success, and even amid the endless noise, I find peace. But now, I must work.
The Other Mother | Sarah Winkler | Drawing 40 Fiction
Beso ~ Espanol Molly Looze
She kisses me in a Spanish tongue— tilde touches teeth, waves roll over the margins of my mouth. I devour her México: swallow her vowels, grip her diction— edge of desert on her lips. Her words form ropes like loping lassos— she is vaquero. I stand voiceless, tied up tight, lost in a language I barely know.
Facing It Rachelle Cordova
For so long I thought it impossible to tell you. It welled in the corners of my mouth as we huddled together under the curved spine of the streetlight, or as you burned your livid lips on hot chocolate in the warming house. For so long I kept a silent vigil over neutrality, and every day I watered my dense garden of friendship. Until once I picked a youdontmattermuch and left it by your doorstep. From the other side of the street I watched you stoop to gather it, watched how it wilted, pale as heaven under your soft stare, how you touched its little body, how it let go of its petals like a priest.
Paris, Fugaciously 89/71/09 | Brittany Forster Bump | Photograph
The Memories Amidst Molly Looze
My phone rang. I knew, even before answering it, that it was my mom calling to tell me the news. I’d been studying at a coffee shop, sitting at a table barely large enough for my homework. In one movement, as if I were an acrobat, I shoved my Morphological Structures of Linguistics material aside, pushed my chair out, and opened the door to a cool spring afternoon. I took a deep breath and answered with a nervous Hello? Honey. . . . I know. . . . Grandma said he died peacefully. I hope you’re doing okay. I—I. . .I’m fine. I stuttered, tears hovering at the edges of my eyes. It will be okay. He had a good life. We said our I love yous and hung up. With shaking white hands, I opened the door to the coffee shop and sat down at the table. My eyes became geysers. In near hysterics, I shoved everything off the table, rested my face in my hands, and bawled. I didn’t understand why I felt his death with such emotion. My grandpa and I, well, we had an amicable relationship, but we were never close.
I visited my grandma for a weekend during the summer. We mostly reminisced about my grandpa. Because he was no longer there, I wondered if I should refer to the house as just my grandma’s house. But how could I when Grandpa’s jacket still hung in the front closet, his sunglasses were still parked on the table by the front door, and his impeccably organized CD collection hadn’t moved? It was my grandparents’ house—their house—Martha and Harold’s— and always will be. We talked about Grandpa over black coffee (so strong a spoon would stick straight up in it, my grandma said) and paged through photo albums from more recent times. After looking through four albums of airplanes (Harold was an avid fan), I recalled having stumbled upon hundreds of old photographs in the guest bedroom four or five years before.
*** Thanksgiving brought with it too many hours in the car and too many hours with the family. It had been a long day, and I wanted to get away. Teenage angst and a generally sour attitude led me to the guest bedroom at my grandparent’s house where I could be alone. I shut the door and decided to snoop around. I began with the bottom drawer of an old bureau in the corner of the room. I grasped the antique handles with my fingertips, so I wouldn’t tarnish the bureau’s history. With a good tug, the drawer opened to reveal a trove of old photographs. Bulging envelopes and teetering stacks of photos in mountainous piles. I peered over my shoulder, making sure no one else was in the room. Did anyone else know about these? I spent the next few hours taking handfuls of photos out of the drawer, examining each one of them. The 1800s farms, the black suits, mustaches and stoic faces. Model A cars next to horses and hay. The back of each photo had names, years, and descriptions written in a looping cursive. I didn’t recognize many of the names, but their faces looked familiar. The morning after the discovery, I told my grandma about what I found. Those old things? I was going to throw them out. We don’t know anyone in the photos, anyway. My heart sank. I protested, pointing to the faces, describing the family resemblance. Look at those giant noses. Please keep these.
*** I set the albums of airplane photos down, and went to the guest room. I knelt down in front of the bureau, examined its worn handles, and pulled open the bottom drawer.
Creepy Lenny | Brittany Parshall | Drawing
I outlined the dead faces. I thought of my grandpa. He was dead. I could have outlined his face too.
Nothing had changed. The photos were still there, stacked in precarious piles. Grandma stood behind me. You told me not to throw them out. I was glad she had listened to me. We sat there for hours, sprawled on the bed, exchanging stacks of photographs and stories, pointing out the funny outfits, the long-gone family members, the stiff faces, and the faded smiles. I outlined the dead faces. I thought of my grandpa. He was dead. I could have outlined his face too. I came across a blue suede commencement booklet whose cover read: Beaver Dam High School, Martha Cecilia Young, Class of 1916. It was embossed in gold lettering. I opened it. My hands grazed over gold silk. It was my great-grandma’s high school diploma. The commencement envelope had the class motto “We Finish to Begin” printed above the class roll. I thought how happy I was to have kept my cheap Jostons commencement portfolio from my high school graduation. Grandma and I dug through a box we found in the closet, photograph after photograph. One of my mother back in 1956, another of all of my uncles, a sepia-toned lithograph of a horse and buggy, family photos from the 1920’s, to the 1970’s, to the 1990’s, even some of Harold. How could my grandma ever want to get rid of these? We padded down the hall to the kitchen for more coffee. I allowed the steam to rise over my face on our way back to the bedroom. We sat back down, amidst a pile of memories. Between teeth-staining sips, my grandma shared a few stories. She and Harold had only known each other for three months before getting married, and his mother absolutely hated my grandma. My great-grandmother actually lived with my grandparents for a few years and slept in the very guest room in which my grandma and I were talking. My great-grandma had brought all of her belongings with her, including the photographs. I wondered if my grandma’s desire to get rid of the photographs was a way to put the terrible memories of her mother-in-law behind her. Grandma noticed my voracious desire to keep the pictures. I can set these aside for you if you want them. There’s a huge pile of stuff in the basement that I want to throw out, in case you want any of it. It’s all junk, though. Nothing valuable. It came out of nowhere. Really? Okay. I’ll have to check it out. Grandma shooed me off to the basement. I could hear her protesting, that it was only junk, but I didn’t turn around. From what I had learned with the photographs, my grandma and I did not agree on the meaning of the word “value.” I pulled the chain attached to a naked light bulb at the bottom of the stairs. A blistering light erupted from above and radiated over a patch of basement. I went around the unfinished 46 Non-Fiction
room, pulling more chains to get rid of the shadows. It was like uncovering the history of my grandparents. Despite the dust and the pile of “junk” on the floor, the basement was tidy. My grandpa’s fastidiousness had outlived him; everything sat in orderly piles on the shelves or in boxes stacked with meticulous care. In the middle of the floor lay the pile of stuff, an amalgamation of my grandpa. From clothing, to old vinyl records, to model airplanes, to informational books of varying subject matter (titles ranging from Water to How To Organize Your Finances); it all belonged to Harold. The pile of stuff became something more akin to an adventure into my grandpa’s personality. I wanted to hug all of it, to bring him back in his entirety. Grandma told me I could take whatever I wanted, so I left a space next to me for the things I might want. I began with the vinyl and shellacs. One thing my grandpa and I had in common was a love for jazz, although by the time I was able to appreciate all of the whizzing melodies and swinging beats of Duke Ellington, Thelonius Monk, Benny Goodman, or Tommy Dorsey, Harold was so far gone with his Alzheimer’s that he didn’t recognize his favorite jazz artists. I like to think he inspired my interest. A box full of vinyl and fragile shellacs sat in front of me. I knew I didn’t have a 78 player for the shellacs, but just having the records seemed important to me—physical records, actual records of my grandpa. I moved the box to the space next to me. My pile. I stumbled across The Modern Handy Book for Boys, published in 1935. Harold was born in 1927. This must have been his. I imagined him tying knots and exploring the woods, whittling sticks down to sharpened weapons, staying up late at night under the covers of his warm bed, reading the chapter on how to woo girls. The book now sits on my shelf, next to other books I was able to snag from the basement. Next to a box of dishes from Sears (Harold liked to buy things on sale, especially when we didn’t need them, Grandma told me), I delved into the model airplanes—all of them in boxes, none of them made. Harold flew in World War II, and, after that, piloted planes for fun for as long as his poor vision would allow. He was neither a crafty person nor a do-it-yourselfer, but owned many books about how to do things. He had a desire to be informed. I wonder if he had any intention of putting these planes together, or if he found comfort in the prospect of them being built. I took the planes with every intention of putting some of them together, but they still sit at my parents’ house, untouched, just as Harold left them. Underneath a pile of bank statements and bills dating back to who knows when, was an unmarked metal suitcase. I set it on the ground and unlatched the top. A portable typewriter— all fifteen pounds of it—stared up at me with a metal-lettered grin. I slid a rogue piece of paper Non-Fiction
into its slot, unsure if the ribbon would work. I was suddenly transported back to my grandpa’s lap, taking turns with my sister at punching the keys and typing nonsense, just to hear the ding of the carriage return so I could scroll the mechanism back for another line. After typing “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” several times, I set it aside next to the books and music. I managed to salvage even more: a second typewriter (Grandpa liked to have backups, Grandma explained), a couple of miscellaneous airplane mechanic books, two Brownie cameras, and a box filled with National Geographic maps. A selfish voice in my head told me this was my treasure, all for me. It took me a few trips up the stairs and through the garage to pack all of the boxes into my car. By the third trip I had begun to question my motive in taking all of these things. Most of it was essentially junk, and I doubted that I would ever use the typewriters, read through the airplane manuals, or get a 78 player for the shellacs, but a visceral heaviness ate at my gut, telling me I had to keep these things, that they held meaning. I was making up for never really getting to know my grandfather, and thought that somehow these things would teach me something about him that I never knew. I had received his 1972 Minolta SRT-101 35 mm camera as a Christmas gift from my uncle the year before—35-year-old receipt included. Harold was never much of a photographer, but I like photography, and holding his camera made me feel closer to him. I had to take any piece of my grandpa that was left. My grandma had over fifty years of memories she could keep—she didn’t need the junk. Thinking of this, I returned to the guest room where my grandma was still elbow-deep in old photographs. She had set a pile of photos aside, all of them bearing my grandpa’s face from different decades. She stopped, holding one particular photo—a blonde, sun-soaked child. It had to be Harold. She tilted her chin upward to look at the photo through her bifocals. An ooohhh fell from her mouth. My little guy. She touched the grinning face staring back at her and stroked his hair with a thumb as if to push it out of his face. She didn’t cry. She didn’t reminisce. She simply smiled, matching the grin on Harold’s face.
FREE MARKET BLUES Raghav Mehta
The street, littered with shards of glass, sings a soft song of solitude. The neon sign beside the prostitute’s hotel hovers high above with a jeering smirk. ATTENTION SOULLESS PARASITES: NO VACANCY This city shrieks like some abandoned psychiatric patient. The dotted night sky passes by and shoots us that same tired look of indifference. “Nothing to see here, move along now, move along.” Lucy’s slipping condoms into her purse She’s counting each of her scars like they were playing cards. She steps out onto roadside. The ground is dry but it reeks of gasoline. All this place needs is a match. Howard’s nestled inside his one bedroom apartment guzzling strawberry wine while CNN tells him stories of ‘real global tragedy.’ He called up the Devil and all he got was a busy signal. March 4, 1986. Ronald Reagan speaks out about the Iran-Contra affair with a devilish smile. Accusations of treason are best handled with upper-class tax cuts. Stick to the script, Ronald. 20 billion dollars in funds are cut from federal welfare programs as disease and powder plague the streets. The repercussions are largely ignored. “You know why they call it the American Dream? Because you have to be asleep to believe it!” Sometimes I just sit timidly and glare at the buildings as if they were going to start collapsing at any moment. “Just say No [to drugs], children,” says Nancy Reagan. Thanks, Nance. Now go tell that to the boy with the crumbling school and the crack fiend mother. Outdated textbooks for outdated dreams. Bernard’s pacing in the alley way scratching brick His face sags and I read it like a window-shop sign “Needs Needles Now” Coke rails line up like white street lines. If there is a god… he must be in handcuffs.
Mythical Creatures | Jessie Ingvalson | Photograph
BIRDS AIR in the
To give so much, share blood of plucked chickens each feather ripped out absent in bursts slicks out easier when wet. Comes the rain and one more recipe in her overcrowded tin box, each card lemoned with ageâ€”the isolation better heard [felt] with the coming drop in temperature. Winter, derisive, you left and yet. 52 Poetry
Here is your bottle of cologne, green, shaped like a Ford Mustang. She will smell it eventually and dream [want] of certain closure that travels beyond generations. One loss breeds another of a different [shape] [note] song.
Itâ€™s all over, they said, eyes level with the horizon, blocked by rotten hay bales stacked so neatly above the black, black earth.
The humiliation of this or that great love sits in the nest of dried stalks, old ears of corn, dead sugar maple hunkered low into the down of cat tails up close with left feathers.
I stand on grass turning brown, the highest point in Harlow, North Dakota. West of the barn with white letters is the corner of highway that kills seven people a year.
Fish | Sam Robertson | Ink on Napkin
Before, I could almost see her. Walking along—you know: in the ass end of nowhere.
Mama combing his hair back home because they couldn’t get it right. Dead man didn’t look like him—
Having to get out of that warm house and into the [air] like a great number of breaths. Everybody lies—said he wouldn’t take.
Take the bad blood.
Walk home without and
Comes upon a nest brown and feathered in the old fields.
Having been born too late in the fall— No other grouse or animal in sight, I crush the three eggs beneath.
WILL BLOOD? There Be
Everyone gives back to their community in their own way. My particular calling turned out to be dressing up as a mascot. I got my start with story time at the Bookstore. These story times followed a pattern strikingly similar to that of actual author appearances. Excerpts from my oeuvre were presented to the gathered crowd, who often had to be placated with crayons and themed coloring sheets. After the stories were finished, I would appear from the back room for a meet-and-greet, mingling with the little people. One time, when I was dressed as Curious George, a kid gave me a banana, and another asked for my autograph. I moved up in the mascot world to be Smokey the Bear for the DNR. I thought my career had peaked until a picture of me reminding people that only they could prevent forest fires appeared in the local paper. Then one day, I got the call. The higher-ups had seen my good work on the parade route, both seated and ambulatory, and they wanted to extend an invitation to the upcoming St. Paul Saints game. This was my opportunity to be a part of Mascot Day, representing Memorial Blood Centers as ABO Joe, a giant drop of blood.Â This was my big break.
5:00 PM - Arrival Ticket vendors, as a rule, are surly. They have to sit in a hot little room all day and deal with assholes, not unlike bank tellers, except the vendors get robbed less. It they are reading a magazine and you interrupt them to ask where the mascots 54 Non-Fiction
are supposed to go, they will look skeptically from you to your giant grey costume box, and back to the magazine. If you ask again in the higher-pitched voice you sometimes get when frustrated with authority, they will sigh heavily and point limp-wristedly in a non-committal direction. I wound up lugging the box to a concession stand nearby to ask one of the guys (not the cute one, but not the weirdly old one either) to point me to the mascot lair. He was nice to me, and I to him, mostly because he smelled like sauerkraut.
5: 33 PM - Suit Up I found the mascot lair and staked out a corner for myself near a pigpen (literally: the Saints dress up an actual pig, and I was apparently encroaching on her turf) to change into my costume. Being a mascot is all about layers. You want to wear as few of your own as possible, but My shaved legs poking out of you also don’t know who sweated into the a hairy torso shocked several costume before you. I opt for shorts and children, and I overheard one a tank top. And socks—never forget your socks. gasp, “Mommy! Smokey’s a girl!” Every mascot costume is different. Most of them involve a furry onesie and a large cartoonish head. When I was Peter Rabbit for story time, that was the sort of costume I wore. ABO Joe is a whole different kind of animal. The under-costume is basically a black sweat suit with oversized hands and feet. Then there’s the body, a four-foot teardrop covered in blue and red carpet with too-far-apart eye holes covered in black mesh. With most costumes, you can put your suit on and then keep the head off until it’s show time. With ABO Joe, it’s all or nothing. A bossy chipmunk with her head under one arm walked over to make sure I was ready. She briefed me on the plan to cheer on the kids doing the ceremonial first pitch (I think they either had parents in the armed forces or lupus. It can be difficult to hear in-costume). Chipmunk hissed at everyone angrily to get their heads on as a penguin rounded the corner into the lair. Heads are to mascots what sunglasses are to celebrities; they are never to be seen without them on. I bent this cardinal rule one time with a pants-less Smokey on a 103-degree day. My shaved legs poking out of a hairy torso shocked several children, and I overheard one gasp, “Mommy! Smokey’s a girl!” If only she knew that girls can be anything when they grow up, even mascots, assuming they are at least fivefoot-four. The penguin was showing the kids around before they had to go throw out the pitch. From what I saw (admittedly, an obscured view, not unlike looking through a pair of cock-eyed nylons), they were not chosen for their baseballthrowing abilities.
7:05 PM - Crowd Engagement I may have spoken too soon when I made fun of the lupus kids for not being able to throw. Having played softball in high school, I was unfazed when Chipmunk barked at us to go throw baseballs into the stands (apparently lucky fans were clamoring to get a ball from Tony the Tiger or a generic looking horse). Chipmunk led us out to the baseline and handed us each a few balls. Unfortunately, I forgot to factor in the width of my costume. Sure, I could bend at the elbow, but I couldnâ€™t raise my shoulder. Every throw was like the kid from The Sandlot, if he had spontaneous palsy. At no point did it occur to me that I could throw under-hand, which, in retrospect would have been a highly successful solution. After whipping a dozen balls into the dugout, I slunk back to the lair to brood. It hurts to be outthrown by a grown man dressed as a turtle.
8:20 PM - Race Time During the seventh inning stretch, all the mascots were going to race from centerfield to home plate. Tucking my costume under one arm like a giant hairy basketball, I followed Chipmunk through a tunnel. The announcer said something, but he sounded like a grown-up from Peanuts to me. Luckily, Chipmunk had explained the complicated procedure to us on the way. We were to wait for the sound of a gun and then run as fast as we could. The first person to cross home plate would win. As soon as the gun went off, I grabbed the bottom of my body and hiked it up to my waist. I was going to need discernable knees if I wanted to win this one. Since lifting my body also meant lifting my eyeholes, I sprinted blindly, listening for the crowd. I felt a shove from my left, but flailed an elbow and kept running. As soon as my feet hit the infield dirt, I tilted my costume so I could glimpse the bases through the black mesh eyeholes. I stomped on home plate and let my body droop onto my shoulders so I could wheeze hands-free. The tiger had beaten me, along with the damn six-foot-five horse and some kind of energy drink lizard, but each of them had traditional body-suit-plus-head combinations. Despite my cumbersome costume, I had won fourth place! This more than made up for my incompetent ball throwing. Fourth place, and I couldnâ€™t even bend at the waist. I assume this is how really successful people feel all the time. Against insurmountable odds, I triumphed, albeit on a minor league baseball field. My mother was in the stands that night, and I doubt she has ever been so proud of me.
Economics | Macy Salzberger | Charcoal
Do you recall when I was young? All the school day long I would crumple you in my small Hand until you were soft As a tissue And my back pocket became Your abode, on the bus together we rode Until we got home And I asked you If you ever knew your father He was a tree, indeed, And he got a little wide Around the waist as he aged You wonâ€™t have that problem I said; instead, you would yellow Much like my motherâ€™s wedding Dress, once white.
A Good Recipe for Guacamole 3 large avocados 1 lime (lemon can be substituted) ¼ red or white onion
1 garlic clove A dash of oregano A hearty dollop of love
Cut onions into small pieces. Chop garlic finely and grind into a paste. Mash avocados using your hands generously (this is VERY important: it puts a little bit of you into the dish). Mix ingredients together. Grind in oregano. Squeeze as much juice as possible out of the citrus. Salt to taste.
I have been an avocado aficionado most of my life. There is something peculiar about a green berry (if you can believe it’s a berry) that has the consistency of pudding and the taste of butter. Those peculiarities make the avocado what it is—a unique and special foodstuff. It is a very striking specimen. I do not remember my first encounter with the avocado, but I imagine it went something like this: A two-year-old girl that has finally graduated from the high chair phase of her life is sitting at the grown-ups’ table. She is short, naturally, so the edge of the table is right at her eye level, making it somewhat difficult for her to see what is on the table and eat it. She is hungry but does not make a fuss—it is a privilege to sit at the big table, and she will not have it revoked. In front of her, she barely sees the plate that holds a green substance. From what she can see, it looks promising. Non-Fiction 59
She looks at the green goo. The green goo looks back. She regards the mixture, mentally ingesting the oral dilemma she is about to face, and screws up her face, squinting. To taste or not to taste? She peeks. The stuff is sitting there, high and mighty on her plate, mocking her. Pfft. Not one to be defeated by a vegetable, she eats it, relishing every bite. I am certain that my two-year-old self loved avocado. How could I not? No food presents any real challenge to a child who teethed on raw onion. Curry, too, was an early favorite of mine— the spicier the better. I was (and still am) a fan of the bizarre, the mushy, and the off-color. My parents were firm believers of feeding their child everything they ate. My first word: borscht.
However, this love story stems not from the fruit but from the pit. I was not even interested in the fruit of the alligator pear, initially. I thought that it tasted okay, but that was about it; I would not reach enlightenment until later. It is winter, harbinger of indoor play. Our protagonist is exploring her new house. She enters the kitchen, where her mother is peeling something over the sink. Rays of winter sun reach through the kitchen skylight, bathing the scene in white. This is a year of new things for the little girl—she has just moved all the way across town, started kindergarten, and is about to be introduced to something magical. “What’re you peeling?” she asks. “An avocado,” her mother replies. “Eat some. It’s good for you.” The girl looks at the avocado, remembers something about a salad she ate a few weeks ago, and looks unimpressed. “That’s okay, I’m not hungry.” She loafs around for a few more minutes, scoping out the kitchen for something more interesting than the avocado. Soon, she discovers a row of spherical objects next to the sink. Quickly, she grabs them and dashes out of the room to take a closer look in privacy. She picks up her first pit. She holds it in her hands. Texture: smooth and cool, but not cool like a rock; cool like a plant. Color: brownish. Size: about the size of a golf ball, not that she knows what that is. Weight: surprisingly light. She moves on to its brother, wondering what she could do with this small organic orb. She thinks. The image of a masseuse comes into her mind, massaging the back of a customer with an avocado pit. She calls her younger sister into the room and commands her to lie down. She then tries to massage her sister’s back with the pit. After some time, she tires of this game and dismisses her. 60 Non-Fiction
She picks up the final sphere. This one is smaller, sadder. She cups it in her hands and notices a tear in the brown skin of the pit. She picks at it like she would a scab and it peels up. Eventually, she has most of it off. Without skin, the avocado pit appears naked and vulnerable. It is tan and slightly rubbery, no longer hiding behind the hard façade of its membrane. In one swoop, she jabs her finger into its surface and drags her nail around, making a scratch. A few seconds later, the scratch turns red, as if it were bleeding. Jackpot! She spends the rest of the afternoon making bloody patterns in the flesh of her avocado pit.
Eventually, I grew out of morbid childhood; my interest shifted from flesh to flavor. Over time my fanaticism has exploded, from a passing appreciation for the taste of avocado to a fullblown mania (one that may qualify me for Avocados Anonymous). Eating an avocado, mozzarella, and tomato sandwich, I lose myself in the avocado’s arms—the berry carries me across a lake of green glass to creamy vegetable heaven. I doubt that Shakespeare could properly immortalize the perfect guacamole. I kvell. What does it mean to love an avocado? Speak to me, Persea americana. You don’t take yourself too seriously. You have phenomenal taste. You are adventurous, and you are not scared by gruff exteriors or squishy centers. You are not aloof; you are earthly and familiar. You are bold and whimsical. The alligator pear is native to Mexico, South America, and Central America, where it has a long history of cultivation. I imagine pre-Incan civilizations enjoyed their guacamole as much as I do. I find comfort in the notion that a fruit I eat was eaten by people thousands of years before I was born. It bonds me (an avocado fanatic) to the past. It roots me. Maybe the first avocadoeater had the same impressions that I have when eating avocado. Or maybe he just hoped he hadn’t ingested poison.
CRYPTO PSYCHO COSMO
FREAKSHOW Mark Brenden
“DON’T DROP ME OFF HERE!” I say to the lunatic trolley driver with the big-toothed smile and the mad eyes and the plum suit. But he had already stopped the trolley and opened the door. He says the stop is for me, and I don’t want to inconvenience the other passengers waiting for their own stops. So I can’t do anything but go, and I stand up like my name has just been called out in a waiting room. Their eyes stick to me like wet suckers, making me squirm and cower. I didn’t even ask to get on this trolley, and now they’re demanding me off? When I finally reach the door, the loony driver closes it in my face, turning to me and laughing with his gigantic hyena teeth. He cries, “You’re never going back home!” which is the first comforting thought I’ve had on this whole trip. I step like Dick Van Dyke one-foot62 Fiction
after-the-other onto the blue grass. Once the trolley hammers off like a wheeled beetle over my shoulder, I’m approached by a Mongolian with green eyes who tells me, “This is all planned for you.” “What can I do about it?” I ask, and he says, “Well, what can I?” and I say, “Are you really going to say that?” and he says, “Haven’t I?” and I say, “Are you done yet?” and he says, “Well, am I?” and I say, “Good God I hope so.” With that, he scatters into the wind and forms his face in the clouds and says, “And you asked what you could do about it.” I figure that’s enough of that, so I chim chiminey chim chim cher-oo my way farther up the dirt trail that cuts through the blue grass. Before I can ponder how the brown trail doesn’t complement the blue grass all that well, a frowning toad almost half my size comes hopping from across the field. “What then?” he croaks. “I thought you’d sound different, frankly,” I say. “Well, I won’t ribbit, but there is something I can do.” He hops ahead of me up the trail moving thrice my leisurely speed, turning the trail orange as he goes. With the toad gone, I look around and see something else: Huck Finn lying naked under a dripping willow tree with Aphrodite’s leg sprawled across him. I pick up a stick from the grass and chuck it at Huck and he springs up, straw in his mouth, and runs off towards the river. Aphrodite, not startled, gracefully stands up and approaches me, and says, “Child, I’m for you.” I tell her I don’t know what she means, but if it’s not too much to ask, I’d like for her to lay with me like she did with Huck.
She puts her finger over my lips, hushes me, and cradles me down like I’m the Son of God. Intoxicated by the poetry in her movement, I drift into a daze. When I snap out of it, I see Aphrodite walking off arm-in-arm with a Terry Malloy-era Marlon Brando. They skip down the trail where the toad and Huck Finn disappeared before them. This place is tickling the arm of absurdity, I think, before I’m interrupted by the sound of a squeaky bike coming up the trail towards me. “Who the hell are you?” I ask the man on the bike with thick glasses, moth-eaten clothes, and a Raskolnikov beard. “Old Chipper, they call him,” booms a voice above the Raskolnikov man’s unintelligible mumbling. Geraldo Rivera comes leaping down from atop the willow tree and pats my shoulder. “I’m sorry for the trouble he’s caused you,” he says with a concerned frown. He snatches a boomerang from thin air, and starts at Old Chipper with a rebel call, waving the boomerang in the air like a torch. Old Chipper tries to squeak away but Geraldo Rivera, adorned in camo and war paint, catches him and beats him till he groans his final groan. Then he wipes himself off, smiles at me, and pulls a bouquet of blooming but slightly rotted red geraniums from his pocket and turns to Old Chipper and sticks it in the fallen bum’s mouth. Enough of this, I think. I sprint past them up the trail while Geraldo Rivera kneels next to Old Chipper and starts carefully deadheading the geraniums. Ahead of me, Karl Marx is chasing Groucho Marx with his fist in the air. Joan Baez sits cross-legged, singing “It’s All Over Now Baby Blue” in a heaven high pitch. Salvador Dalí plays an endless game of patty cake with Don Quixote, neither showing any hint of boredom. “When is all this done?” I scream, looking like Dick Van Dyke, as I feel a magnetic rush flow through me. All the faces I’d seen—the trolley driver, the Mongolian, Huck Finn, Aphrodite, Marlon Brando, Old Chipper, Geraldo Rivera, Karl and Groucho Marx, Joan Baez, Salvador Dalí, Don Quixote—all come floating above my head in a halo, and their voices unite in a creepy mystical whoosh and say, “When are you?”
Snatches Clare Gawronski
“I NEED YOU TO PICK ME UP FROM THE STORE.”
DAVID’S CELL PHONE RECEPTION WAS POOR, AND BEHIND HIM A BARISTA HAD JUST BEGUN TO GRIND COFFEE, BUT THROUGH THE RACKET OF STATIC AND WHIRRING, SONIA’S VOICE RETAINED ITS MUSICAL QUALITY, A LIGHT AND TRILLING PIANO IMPROMPTU. “I’m trying to work,” he told her. “There won’t be an0ther bus for ages,” she explained, her voice scaling E-flat major. David sighed, a sound he knew she caught, as always, through the phone. “Can’t you come, David?” He acquiesced. “Yes, of course.” David began the delicate task of collecting the papers he had, over the course of the morning, spread across the scrubbed Formica tabletop before him, stacking them gently in a milk crate. There was a pile of moments he was trying to record, like old melodies only half-remembered (his own bare feet on the yellow linoleum of his mother’s kitchen, his father trying to smoke a cigarette in his hospital bed, the sharp tone in Sonia’s voice when she caught him staring at her in a college library and asked, “Can I help you?”). Next to these were the exquisite moments of the day (the slippery pool of drool on Sonia’s pillow, how the cold, clean quarters had felt between his fingers when he plugged the parking meter, the sweetness of the air, which the forecast said would be rinsed out by rain overnight), jotted down before they slipped away. Finally there were the few lonely sheets on which David had tried to start articles for the paper before quickly abandoning them. He could not make himself care about the paper. His book, his real work, consumed him. It was a beast with a beating heart, steadily growing into a perfect treatise on life. Life was a muddle, a terrible confusion of colors, motives, flesh, and raw emotions. When his book was complete, things would be simple. His life, tamed within its pages, would become clear. Sonia didn’t understand it. Sonia, who slept in a tangle of limbs and
blankets, arms twisting around her pillow, always rolling over, always unsatisfied, did not sympathize with his need to collect life, to commit it to paper. She had stopped bothering to tell him he could run the newspaper if he tried; he had written down her words but never listened to them. She even gave up her idea of turning the sunroom into a greenhouse because he liked to work there, but there was still a detachment, a breeziness to her attitude concerning that milk crate and its stacks of paper.
He knew that two minutes ago she had been kicking the pavement with her toe, cursing his slowness, hating to stay still for even a second, and briefly entertaining the idea of walking home to punish him.
The crate, brimming, sat quietly on the back seat of his car. David took a page from the top and found the February afternoon when Sonia’s fingertips had smelled like oranges—the day he, after being so often forced by her restless sleep to retreat with a pillow and an afghan to the floor, had suggested separate beds with a prudish nightstand in between, like in old movies when even married people weren’t supposed to sleep together. She had laughed at him. “That’s silly. We only just found this perfect mattress, and we can’t exactly saw it in half.” Other sentences, fragments, paragraphs caught his eye—the ice in his mother’s drink rattling against the glass; the thin, silvery cat-scratch scar on the back of Sonia’s hand and the moment he had first kissed it; a simple, lovely conversation between a woman and a produce vendor he had once witnessed. Different notes were being drawn together, scribbled into harmonies on sheets of loose-leaf, building up to one perfect symphony. By the time he felt his phone vibrating with irritation in his pocket, David had spread papers all across the back seat, rearranging, revisiting moments he had forgotten. He scrambled to answer the call. “David, aren’t you on your way yet?” Sonia asked. He could picture her standing outside the Walgreens, twisting her sandy hair around her nimble fingers impatiently. “I am—I was just distracted for a minute—” “Or twenty.” He glanced at his watch and found there was more truth in her remark than he cared to admit. “I can’t wait forever, David.” “I’m leaving right now,” he promised. He shut the car door, not bothering to collect the papers now strewn across the seat. Once behind the wheel, he dropped down the visor against the glare of the sun, turned the key in the ignition, and set off to rescue his stranded Sonia. The drive was short, and he soon caught sight of her standing on the corner in front of the drugstore. The wind fanned her hair around her long, oval face as she raised a daintily tapered arm to wave to him. The car rolled to a stop along the curb. She slid inside, beaming, instantly brightening the 66 Fiction
Reach | Molly Shebeneck | Photograph
grey interior with her loose curtain of blonde hair falling across straight shoulders and her neighbor’s-lawn-green dress. “Took you long enough,” she said, with no malice or resentment, not now that he was here. He knew that two minutes ago she had been kicking the pavement with her toe, cursing his slowness, hating to stay still for even a second, and briefly entertaining the idea of walking home to punish him. But he had arrived, and all was forgiven. The “Took you long enough” was not even a complaint, but a tease, gentle as a tug on the earlobe. It was what she had said when he had mustered enough courage to press his thin lips against that splinter of a scar, a nervous attempt at chivalry that played out more pleading than romantic. She had only said, “Took you long enough,” and taught him how to improve his aim. “How is life today?” she asked. It was her standard query. She treated it like a third person, a baby dozing in the back seat. “Beautiful,” he said. It was his standard response. He merged back into traffic. “Did you get much done?” “No,” David said slowly, stretching out the syllable to keep it from snapping. “Not exactly. But I have a direction now. It’s coming together.” He could almost hear it, like an orchestra Fiction
tuning its instruments. “That’s nice,” Sonia replied. She was watching a young woman walk a pair of grinning dachshunds down the street. “We ought to get a dog.” A dog, thought David, meant a leash, food and water bowls to trip over in the kitchen, the aggravation of housetraining it, the lurch in your arm socket when it lunged at a squirrel in the park, the begrudging attachment to it, the grief when it died. A dog was more than a dog. “What did you get at the store?” he asked. Sonia looked away from the dachshunds, her green eyes settling on his face as though they were sighing, but she only said, “Toothpaste, cold cream, Scotch tape, those pens you wanted, and lipstick.” David smiled a little close-lipped smile, repeating in his head, Toothpaste, cold cream, Scotch tape, those pens you wanted, lipstick, because Sonia hated it when he tried to write things down while driving. They crossed under an overpass. Exiting the bridge’s shadow, the early afternoon light hit their faces. Sonia drew in a deep breath quickly through her nose, exhaling with a soft hum. “It’s too nice outside to drive around with the windows closed,” she insisted, leaning across him to press the buttons that sent all four windowpanes sinking into hidden cavities in the car doors. Wind rushed into the car, singing through Sonia’s hair and stirring up David’s papers in the back seat. David heard the rustling, like the sizzling of cymbals, and only then did fear grip him, clutching at his lungs. Glancing in the mirror, he saw a flock of papers streaming out the window. “Sonia!” he cried, slamming on the brakes. Trembling, David lurched out of the car, landing in the median and grasping at papers, each one a precious and vivid moment, invaluable and irreplaceable. Still the wind scattered them, sending them skittering over the grass with a hiss like sour violins and plastering them to the walls of the overpass. Through the light hum of traffic, David could hear Sonia calling to him. “Don’t worry about it, David, get back in the car!” But her voice had to dart between passing cars and struggle through the wind to reach him, and by the time it did it was very faint, powerless to persuade him. David dove and snatched at every paper he could, but there were hundreds. Salt hit his tongue before he realized he was sobbing. He looked back at the car. Sonia twisted the mirror towards her face and applied her lipstick.
Lake Monona Miles Walser
YOUR NAME MEANS BEAUTIFUL, and standing on shore, I understood why. The first time I saw you, I thought the sky had fallen, crashed into the city and planted new roots in the sand. In you, I saw stars twinkling from underneath my feet. I stood on docks to extend my arm span, reaching out past the shallows into your depths because I wanted to know every drop of your being. You noticed me, picked me out of the university landscape and neighborhoods full of resilient hippies. You plucked me from the rushing cars and overbearing houses that surrounded us and drew me towards you. In you, my reflection looked taller than the Capitol. My heartbeats tried to match your whitecaps, and my veins too tried, pushed against your tributaries so our confluence could move with one pulse. When you finally let me sink in, you wrestled my limbs for control until I gave in to your pull. We moved together, thrashing into the ebb and flow of our bodies. We were so stunning we made the cityscape jealous. Darling, when the sun shines and tattoos buildings onto your back, you are lovely, but lately itâ€™s been storming. Rain pelting your armor, youâ€™re preparing for battle. Whitecaps whip my face and I fear you and the wreckage of us. (Continued) Poetry
Untitled | Joe Berlin | Photograph
I’m leaving, and under the cloudy skies of our future, you fog over and I know you’re scared, but understand that I could travel the globe, and nothing would compare to the geography of your body. On our last night together, I will grow gills so I can sleep inside of you, and while you stretch the moonlight above us like a blanket, I’ll whisper to the beat of your waves. Sweet Pea, don’t worry, I will always love you in a way that makes the mountains and the oceans suspicious. I will break my ribs to create more space for you in my chest. I will wear algae wrapped around my finger so the world knows I belong to you. And in the morning, Beautiful, splash against my face so my tears become a part of you. Know that as I put on my sneakers, the new barriers between my soles and your surface, you are printed on my pruned toes. Trust that you can let me float up, that I’ll carry you with me on land, that even though I’ll spend my life traveling across highways, in the end, Monona, I’ll always swim back to you.
[Fiction] [Poetry] [Non-Fiction] [Art]
AUTHOR AND ARTIST BIOS Anastazievsky, Sophia The Elusive Persea Americana Sophia Anastazievsky cannot sleep with a clock in the room; the ticking is a bit much. Besides this mild neurosis, she leads a relatively normal, happy life. Sophia enjoys reading, writing, dancing, foreign language-ing, good food-eating, and many other gerunds. Oh, and she’s also really into klezmer music, for obvious reasons.
Bauer, Cole Hit It Cole Bauer hails from Kenmare, North Dakota. He is double majoring in Studies in Cinema & Media Culture and German Studies. His favorite German words are Würfel, Ruhrgebiet, and Krankenwagen. He enjoys stock car racing, discussing teleportation, and coming up with band names. Currently, two of them—The Millard Fillmores and Creepy Cousins—actually exist. They’ve just never had any music. Ever.
Berlin, Joe Untitled Binnie, Chase Appledemic Chase Binnie is a writer, friend, brother, activist, artist, and many other labels. He spends his time trying to avoid time, thinking, and attachment to the ego. Don’t tell him you aren’t “creative enough” to make art or write, because
that’s just an excuse. Chase likes singing about the sun and looking at the world from a universal perspective. Someday, he hopes to inspire the world to embrace love, compassion, and creativity, then retire.
Bishop, Jesse Crumbs or Mistaken Pebbles Jesse completed his studies at the U last fall with an English degree and his first chapbook of poetry in tow. He now enjoys reading for leisure, and taking in the occasional matinée. Fortunately, Jesse continues to live the writing life by a strict personal code, one that only deadlines, Satie, and the whiskey moon seem able to crack.
Brenden, Mark Crypto Psycho Cosmo Freakshow Mark Brenden hails from South Dakota: the forgotten son of America. He is a humble amalgam of his father’s true grit and his mother’s big-as-the-prairie humanity.
Brutlag, Crystal Le Thè Crystal Brutlag is an English undergrad. She sees the world in pictures and tries to capture what she sees in images and in words.
Bump, Brittany Forster Paris, Fugnaciously 89/71/09 Brittany Bump is not good at writing witty or
Rachelle Cordova is from Fargo, North Dakota. Her three great loves are turtle lattes, Sylvia Plath, and her blue guitar.
of Minnesota. She is studying English and hopes to become an editor. She has been a compulsive scribbler since childhood and studied creative writing for four years at the Milwaukee High School of the Arts. Books, horses, old movies, and tea keep her functioning properly. She’s also a big fan of oranges and common courtesy.
Dokken, Katelyn Birds in the Air
Harrison, Christina Suburban
Katelyn Dokken is currently working in a Minneapolis high school as part of an AmeriCorps year of service. Her students would surely think that her poem is lame because of its lack of a rhyme scheme.
Christina Harrison is currently pursuing a degree in English and Anthropology.
impressive things about herself. She likes questions better.
Cordova, Rachelle Facing It
Eisenmann, Jessica Prayer for Dirt Jessica Eisenmann is always looking for poetry. Sometimes she’s looking for adventure, sometimes for some great unknown, and sometimes for her phone. But she’s always looking for poetry.
Elliott, Javelin P. The Pain of Being Javelin P. Elliott is easily distracted and inspired by life. She likes to experiment and strives to create artifacts of a personal nature. Her parents live overseas and she has a precious cat named Velvet.
Gawronski, Clare Snatches Clare Gawronski is a freshman at the University
Helbling, Victoria Art of Madness Mountainside Ignorance Victoria Helbling is a native of a small town you’ve never heard of. She remains the only English major equally obsessed with cemeteries and cupcakes. Her free time consists of staring at walls and publicly maligning Mark Twain.
Ingvalson, Jessie Mythical Creatures Jessie Ingvalson spends the majority of her time in the agriculture sector, but her first passion is photography. She grew up in her mother’s photograph studio and in 2005 attended the Perpich Center for Arts Education. Taking after her mother, Jessie began taking photographs professionally at the age of 17. Currently, she is interning on an organic farm near Quito, Ecuador. Next fall, Jessie will be back in the States finishing her degree in Pre-Veterinary Medicine.
Johnson, Kate I’ve Sprung a Leak! Kate Johnson is an artist located in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She will be graduating from the University of Minnesota with a BA in art and art history and a minor in design. She is familiar with book arts, printmaking, and collage but primarily works with acrylics and life drawings. She has exhibited work in Japan, around the States and locally in Minnesota.
Kersten, Seth Being
Weather. She is employed as a floral designer and enjoys photography. She lives in Hudson, WI with her family and several spoiled canines.
Mehta, Raghav Free Market Blues Raghav Mehta is a third-year student “studying” English and Journalism. He enjoys fried arugula, irreverent stand-up comedy, and can often be spotted accosting postal workers and nearby fire hydrants in the Dinkytown area. If seen, please approach with caution.
Seth Kersten is a traitor to his native land, the land of cheese. However, since it tends to be fairly boring there anyway, he doesn’t really mind anyone knowing. If you need him, he’ll be right over there, wasting time on something again. Unless, you know, he didn’t have any caffeine today. Then he’ll be asleep on his couch.
Mosey, Rachel Erinn (Cover)
Looze, Molly Parking Lot Beso Español The Memories Amidst
Moxness, Marlene Will There Be Blood?
Molly Looze, aficionado of all things campy, argyle, plaid, and paisley, has been made aware that a fashion design degree would not suit her. Despite this setback, she is an expert coffeedrinker and first-rate tennis racquet re-gripper. She remains confident that these skills paired with her constant state of disarray will lead to unexpected and fulfilling opportunities.
Mayer, Jessica Toothburn and a Heart Trick Jessica Rose Mayer is currently finishing her Bachelor’s degree in English with an emphasis in creative writing. In addition to the poem published in Ivory Tower, her poetry has been featured in Minnesota State University Moorhead’s creative writing journal, Red
Rachel is a sophomore art student at the University of Minnesota. She enjoys all aspects of the arts including photography, theater, and especially drawing/painting portraits. She loves a good walk in nature and looks forward to the spring thaw every year.
Marlene Moxness is a senior graduating this spring with a major in English and minors in French and Biology, while completing her fifth semester as a teaching assistant in the School of Public Health. Her work has appeared previously in Ivory Tower and is forthcoming in The Albion Review. She plans to continue surrounding herself with great stories, and if she has to move to Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon, then so be it.
Parshall, Brittany Man Creates His Own Agony Trumpet Creepy Lenny Brittany Parshall views creating art as her escape from reality and the only time when she is completely in control. Drawing is her passion and she hopes to work as a visual artist for Disney in the future. She considers herself to be a beach
bum, since she spends most of her days on Lake Michigan in the summer with friends. She also enjoys camping, boating, and participating in wild 12-hour scavenger hunts.
Robertson, Sam Landing Base Fish It’s not tomorrow until Sam wakes up.
Rudin, Deniz Baker’s Dozen of Brief Belletrisms Deniz is not comfortable writing about himself in third person; it makes him feel douchey. Deniz is a white male from the U.S. Midwest. He is very young, for now. Deniz thanks The Ivory Tower for publishing him. What a cool thing to do.
Shebeneck, Molly Economics Reach Molly Shebeneck, a freshman at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, hails from the impressive city of Racine, Wisconsin. In her spare time, Molly recycles, saves beached whales, and frequently contemplates ways to end the feud between Eminem and Mariah Carey. When Molly is not bettering the world, she enjoys listening to the musical stylings of Justin Bieber, the artist who she believes is “God’s gift to the world.”
Skerbitz, Dylan Poetry and Rocks Mr. Skerbitz is a student, writer, and poet who is interested in global politics and human rights. When he is not churning out words, he enjoys music and rousing games of ping pong.
Sosa, Sarah M. Agape Sarah M. Sosa makes small-scale, gestural
paintings that are built up through layers of acrylic paint on canvas and paper overlaid with mark-making using ink, paint and collage. Her use of robust strokes and color provides a visual interpretation of emotion as seen in the piece “Agape.” Used by a variety of contemporary and ancient sources, agape is described as an all encompassing love. Working with mixed media to represent theoretical constructs such as this is at the foreground of Sosa’s artistic endeavors.
Taylor, Miranda Escape from PARadISe Miranda’s inspiration for Escape from PARidiSe was a song she had heard at age five playing in Paris. When she returned to Paris last January, she heard it on the radio, and it made her realize that that stupid stuff like her being in France could happen again. Listen. Love. Sing. Cry. Aspire. Things will come your way.
Walser, Miles Lake Monona Miles Walser likes lakes.
Weaver, Jacquilyn Paper Jacquilyn Weaver completed a degree in Art and Spanish Studies in December ‘09. The power of language inspires her as she seeks to achieve a poetic quality in her visual art and a myriad of imagery in her poetry. Her works wear the lacy fringe of childhood and all its wonder.
Winkler, Sarah The Other Mother Sarah Winkler (SAIR-ruh WINK-ler) is a freshman from White Bear Lake, only twenty minutes from campus. Her major is currently “undecided,” but she hopes to venture soon into graphic design. When not loaded down with school work, Sarah enjoys attending concerts, meeting new people, doodling, and eating cookies.
Adam Lerner Alyssa Pintar Archie Givens Barbara Nieland Cari Hatcher Catherine Tate Dan Kunitz David Francis Emily Paulson Family and Friends Gail Johansen Garrison Keillor Hon. James M. Rosenbaum JD Hoytâ€™s Judith Koll Healey Julie Schumacher Michael Dennis Browne Michael Oâ€™Rourke Michele Vaillancourt Minnesota Orchestra Association MJ Fitzgerald Northrop Auditorium Patricia Hampl Patricia McDonald Paul Taylor Punch Pizza Radio K Relatives of Frank Robert Gaertner Rogue Citizen Sara R. Zuk Seabury Group Shannon Olson Steven McCarthy Student Unions & Activities Teddy Gesell Terri Sutton The Lagoon Cinema Thomas A. Keller, III University of Minnesota Department of English
NORTHROP Affordable entertainment on campus!
U of M student tickets are just $10 for all Dance and Music season events. Treat your date to a world-class ballet, grab your roommate for an edgy contemporary dance, or get a group together to see a jazz legend all for just $10! And, don’t forget that we’re always announcing another big-name concert or comedian so make sure to stay connected.
Celebrating 80 Years
Sophia Anastazievsky Cole Bauer Joe Berlin Chase Binnie Jesse Bishop Mark Brenden Crystal Brutlag Brittany Forster Bump Rachelle Cordova Katelyn Dokken Jessica Eisenmann Javelin P. Elliott Clare Gawronski Christina Harrison Victoria Helbling Jessie Ingvalson Kate Johnson
Seth Kersten Molly Looze Jessica Mayer Raghav Mehta Rachel Mosey Marlene Moxness Brittany Parshall Sam Robertson Deniz Rudin Macy Salzberger Molly Shebeneck Dylan Skerbitz Sarah M. Sosa Miranda Taylor Miles Walser Jacquilyn Weaver Sarah Winkler
The latest issue of the Ivory Tower, the University of Minnesota's undergraduate literary and arts magazine.