plainsong Volume 32
ÂŠ 2018, plainsong, Vol. 32 Department of English, University of Jamestown, Jamestown, North Dakota; copyright reverts to authors, artists, and photographers on publication, and any reprinting or reproduction may be exercised only with their permission.
Plainsong, a non-profit journal funded by the University of Jamestown, published by the University Department of English, includes the work of students, faculty, staff, and alumni of the University of Jamestown, besides occasional interviews from professional writers.
Editorial Board Department of English David Godfrey, Ph.D, Chair Mark Brown, Ph.D. Sean Flory, Ph.D. Barbara Petronelli Larry Woiwode, Writer in Residence, Editor
Student Editor Aurora Bear
Layout & Interior Design Donna Schmitz
Cover Photo Sunflowers at Sunset Jewel Williams Plainsong Prizewinning Photograph
Printing & Binding Two Rivers Press, Jamestown
Table of Contents (GLWRUÂ¶V,QWURGXFWLRQ & Dos Cantos por Tu, Jim Stone ..................................................... 6 Photograph, Light, Yawen Zhu ............................................................................................ 7 Funhouse Mirrors, and other poems, Jim Stone ............................................................... 8 Photograph, New, Yawen Zhu ........................................................................................... 10 Wonderland, Jim Stone; Photograph, Like Heaven, Makenzie Wertz ............................. 11 Guiding Light, Jim Stone .................................................................................................. 12 Photograph, Astroworld, Logan Newman ........................................................................ 13 Imagine Believing, Jim Stone ........................................................................................... 14 Photograph, Life, Yawen Zhu ............................................................................................ 15 7KH5XUDO:ULWHUÂ¶V,QQHU9RLFHEmma Preble, Louise Erdrich Nonfiction Prize ......... 16 Photograph, 3rd St. SW, Linda Hess .................................................................................. 18 My Opression, My Depression, Alex Huff......................................................................... 19 Too, Sarah Porter .............................................................................................................. 20 Like a Grasshopper, Makenzie Wertz ............................................................................... 21 Sincerity and Spirituality, Jewel Williams ...................................................................... 22 Autumn Fragment, Mark Brown...................................................................................... 24 Photograph, Darkening Day, Ashley Wolfe ......................................................................25 The Roof, Grant Fodness .................................................................................................. 26 A Series of Poems, Meaghan Cronin, Thomas McGrath Poetry Prize ........................... 28 Photograph, Bleeding Heart with Bee, Marlene Wiest .................................................... 30 Self-Editing, Meagan Cronin, & Bleeding Heart Minus Bee, Marlene Wiest ................... 31 The Power of Affection, Emma Preble ............................................................................. 32 7KH'DPVHOÂ¶V6RQJ, Addison Olson .................................................................................. 36 Photograph, Hands, Jessica Best ...................................................................................... 37 Justifications, Sarah Porter .............................................................................................. 38 Dynamic, Jewel Williams ................................................................................................. 39 The Places We Leave, Emma Preble, Larry Woiwode Fiction Prize ........................... 40 Fragmented Self, a three poems series, Jewel Williams .................................................. 44 Photograph, Sewing, Jessica Best .....................................................................................45 Dissociation, Emma Preble .............................................................................................. 46 Rob Lowe is Eternal, Aurora Bear.................................................................................... 48 7KH(VFDSLVWÂ¶V3HQ, Matthew Nies .................................................................................... 49 Your Brown Eyes, Makenzie Wertz.................................................................................. 50 On Dropping My Son Off at Daycare, Matthew Nies ....................................................... 51 Damnation Disguised as Salvation, and other poems, Emma Preble..............................52 Photograph, Shapes, Holly Vigesaa & Hindsight, Dark Eyes, Midnight at the Bar .........53 +LJKZD\Â¶V'HDGDW1LJKWAurora Bear ............................................................................54 Photograph, A Snowy Path, Jewel Williams .................................................................... 58 Road Trip #2, Jim Stone ...................................................................................................59 Photograph, Road, Grant Christiansen ............................................................................ 60
This is the sixth issue of Plainsong ,ÂśYHcoaxed ahead as editor and now stand at its start DV,ÂśYH never done because it seemed thoughtless to publish, without a word, the last poems that Dr. Jim Stone wrote before his death in March. Jim and I were dear friends. He was younger but in the same age range and we could talk straight across in ways I could not with anybody else, not merely because we came of age during the War in Vietnam, both loved rural living, and enjoyed similar skills, as in his remodeling an old hotel in Montana and my remodeling a hundred-year-old farmhouse, besides working on one in town, as he did, so we had plenty to talk about on those topics that interest men of our age. We talked about books, or a new book out, both of us grateful for all ZHÂśGOHDUQHGIURPERRNVDQGWRORRNXSDQGVHH-LPLQWKHPLGVWRIVLOHQWWKRXJKWZDV
to see a noble gentleman from an era that no longer existed. Both of us knew that. We were at near-opposite poles of the political spectrum but could talk openly about our concerns and hopes and desires. Of course we talked about poetry. He was one of the
TXLFNHVWOHDUQHUVDQGPRVWDFFRPSOLVKHGSRHWV,ÂśYHZRUNHGZLWKLQGHFDGHVDQGKLV presence in many late-KRXUZRUNVKRSVDIWHUDGD\RIFODVVHVKHÂśGWDXJKWZLWKa queue of students he was helping out, along with multiple poems in PlainsongÂ˛this Dr. Stone inspired young writers and criminal justice students to rise to new heights. His effect was indelible. He was one of the wisest men IÂśYH spent time with and, considering his traverse across life, AWOL Marine to Dean in dress-up-and-tie to grizzled professor in sandals working his way to faith after his wife Lonnie died, the most humble. A RockyMountain Hamlet, always with stories to tell: we shall not look upon his like again. DOS CANTOS POR TU Morning rejoices When the sun and horizon Reluctantly part. The darkness of dreams dissolves In the clarity of light. Evening rejoices When the sun and horizon Gently reunite. The clarity of daylight Fades to the darkness of dreams. 6
FUNHOUSE MIRRORS An orphan boy whose parents disappear, adopted by an agent of the state, thereafter to be neither seen nor heard to foster hate. A dilettante with easy verses meant to indicate a lonely noble heart, until pretension and the pomp begin to fall apart. A poetess imagines in her hand a dagger, her heart the willing clay, and thereupon to carve her truest work. Today! Today! A hermit too afraid to venture out beyond the self-made confines of a cave (an open grave apart from love and life)-too much to brave. An aging neophyte uncertain with the prospect of eternity at stake; half-dreading he is destined for a sleep too deep to wake. A would-be suicide confronts an odd coincidence of cowardice and care; despair and sentimental myths conspire to reach repair. A conscientious citizen objects: The price the unknown soldier died to pay! Generic inhumanity creates too dark a day. A neo-Luddite counting on his toes, without his retrofitted two-tone shoes, LVDEOHE\WKHIXQKRXVHPLUURUÂśVOLJKW
to cipher clues.
and other poems, Jim Stone
EPIGENESIS for Erik Erikson
Mistrusted child bereft of innocent purpose imagines fidelity alone in decent intimacy, as initiative and industry assume an identity careful to love the next generation, hoping to seem good. When he no longer covets praise disengaged in stagnant isolation the shameful integrity of genuine despair is prelude to the tragedy of wisdom.
CONFESSION Allow me to admit these memories of unrequited lust that is revealed as shallow--callow appetites to please-with lonely longing sadly unconcealed until a time that led to love to yield forgiveness for the loneliness of youth. Confession seems an unrequited truth. WATERCYCLE Falling water springs from winter mountains melting filling summer lakes. RIVER WIND the highway sounds like river wind from here a distant train provokes a persistent legacy of loss running roughshod over reminiscence.
WONDERLAND W ,ZRQGHUHGLI,ÂśGVHHKHUIDFH-to-face, if heaven if heaven were were a place a place thatthat I could I could find, find, if God if God might might grant grant thethe giftgift of holy of holy grace grace thethe dayday mymy fatefate is finally is finally sealed sealed andand signed. signed. I wondered I wondered if she if she misses misses meme as much as much as Ias miss I miss herher each each dayday from from daybreak daybreak on,on, herher smile, smile, herher faith, faith, herher reassuring reassuring touch; touch; if I ifcould I could know know which which starstar to wish to wish upon. upon. I wondered I wondered if the if the lovelove thatthat I had I had known known hadhad gone gone forever forever on the on the night night sheshe died, died, if I ifwould I would spend spend eternity eternity alone alone or we or we would would spend spend forever forever side-by-side. side-by-side. ,ZRQGHUHGLI,ÂśGVHHKHUIDFH-to-face, ZKHQVRPHRQHWROGPHÂł+HDYHQÂśVQRWDplaceÂ´
GUIDING LIGHT When angels come to comfort in the night-eternal constellations on display-the darkest time beholds a guiding light that those who grieve in solitude might imagine white wings wafting tears away. When angels come to comfort in the night redemptLRQRYHUFRPHVDSDXSHU¶VSOLJKt and redemption is an easy price to pay. The darkest time beholds a guiding light for falling angels fallen in full flight in search of that redemptive place to lay. When angels come to comfort in the night the faithful are enchanted with delight; in gratitude rejoice aloud to say, ³7KHGDUNHVWWLPHEHKROGVDJXLGLQJOLJKW´ Once unenlightened, chastened by the sight, a solitary seeker falls to pray. When angels come to comfort in the night the darkest time beholds a guiding light.
IMAGINE BELIEVING I can imagine believing that I Will see you again in all of your ways, Will know the grace of God in which you died, Will feel angelic arms in which you lie; But cannot believe it, as doubt betrays² So I imagine. Believing that, I Trace my disbelief to lack of proof and try To recollect, again recount the ways To know the grace of God. The night you died And saw to heaven right before my eyes² An invitation worth the end of days! I can imagine believing that I Have seen in your ascendance to the sky The consequence that only faithful praise Can know. The grace of God in which you died² A revelation in the face of pride. With no redeeming character to play, I can imagine believing that I Will know that grace of God the day I die.
7+(585$/:5,7(5Â¶6,11(592,&( ,Â¶YH spent much of my young adult life ashamed of my upbringing. In popular culture, it seems rural areas are synonymous with ignorance, stupidity, and a lack of diversity.
wanted a stereotypes. After all, the people around me seemed to fit the description. I wanted a big city, and most of the books I read talked about New York or Chicago or LA. High rises, lights that never go out, and what I wanted most of all, the beat. That beat that FLWLHVKDYHOLNHDKHDUWWKHIORZRIWUDIILFOLNHYHLQVSHRSOHÂ¶VIHHWZDONLQJGRZQ
sidewalks, sirens and screeching tires. Nonstop unavoidable life. The isolation of a rural area, if it even had a beat, was too muffled to hear. I wanted to capture the heart RIKXPDQLW\DQGSXWLWRQWKHSDJHDQG,GLGQÂ¶WWKLQNWKDWFRXOGEHDFFRPSOLVKHG
writing what I knew.
in states that people were familiar with. I forced them into urban situations like catching a bus instead of school busses being unable to pick up farm kids in the winter because the gravel roads were covered with snow drifts. It was fake, and I knew it was IDNH%XW,GLGQÂ¶WGDUHJREH\RQGWKHFRQILQHVRI$PHULFDQOLWHUature that seems to dictate that America is made up of two things: the cities, and the rural south. Willa Cather proves that there is something in the muted fields, something in the soil, something in the farmers in canvas and denim coats, that beats as much as city streets.
My Antonia and O Pioneers! to memory. I know that I read them in one night, and
KRZHDV\LWVHHPHGWRUHDGEHFDXVH,NQHZZKHUH,ZDV,WGLGQÂ¶WIHHOIDURII,ZDV young and familiarity stuck out. It sat under the surface simmering for ten years, before the significance of Cather came to a boil. Willa Cather became my conscience as I began writing this summer. That kind of conscience gnaws at you. I saw a copy of O Pioneers! VLWWLQJLQWKHÂ³PXVWUHDGVIRU
WKHVXPPHUÂ´LQD%DUQHVDQG1REOHDQGIHOWDQ[LRXVDQGJXLOW\,ZDQWHGWRZULWHP\ index finger tapping on the cover of the book in my hand, and I wondered if there was 16
a piece of paper anywhere nearby or if I should repeat the idea in my head over and over to perfect it until I had something to write with. The guilt lay underneath, an empty feeling of nausea in my stomach. Arrogance and a faith in Urban America was preventing me from writing, and I had no right to say no to the stories that needed to be told. For the first time, I started writing in length about where I grew up, and the people who surrounded me. As I wrote, I often found myself stopping in midSDUDJUDSKDQGWKLQNLQJZKRZRXOGUHDGWKLV"1RWKLQJKDSSHQV7KHUHÂ¶VQRMDUULQJ climax, no big city, no interesting characters with unbelievable but interesting lives. My conscience, Cather, and the golden, soft-covered O Pioneers! that stared at me in a bookstore became a point to fix my eyes on to keep me from becoming dizzy. :LOOD&DWKHUNQRZVKRZWRZULWHDERXWUHDOSHRSOHDQGUHDOOLIH,GRQÂ¶WNQRZD girl named Chastity Brilliance (or someone else so invented it hurts) who can change SHRSOHÂ¶VPLQGVDERXWOLIHEHFDXVHRIKHUWZLQNOLQJJUHHQH\HVDQGORYHRI,QGLHPXVLF %XW,NQRZWKHUHVROXWHKDUGZRUNLQJVLPSOHZRPHQOLNH$OH[DQGUD,NQRZ0UV/HHÂ¶V accent, I know the fear of being at the mercy of crops. More importantly, Cather captures the stillness. When I think of my home, I think of stillness. Even matters in motion are calm. There is a stillness in the rural northern life, and reading Cather is like looking out my window. I see what she seesDQGLWÂ¶VVWLOO+HUZULWLQJGRHVQÂ¶WKLWD snag. None of her characters seem false, none of her land feels invented, none of the emotions out of place. ,QDGLVFXVVLRQZLWKDIULHQGDERXWRXUZULWLQJVKHVDLGÂ³,WKLQN,Â¶PZULWLQJ VRPHWKLQJWKDWÂ¶VPDUNHWDEOHÂ´DQG,KDGQÂ¶WWKRXJKWDERXt writing in those terms before but, subconsciously, I was letting my preconceptions about how people would receive a book about rural North Dakota take the reins over my writing. I was afraid no one would want to read DQ\WKLQJWKDWZDVÂ³GXOOÂ´:LOOD&DWKHUÂ¶VZRUNSURYHVPH wrong. As a reader, the action is in the stillness. To see that authenticity reflected in a way that I can relate to has evolved from being a child, happy to see someone from a place familiar, to a writer trying to reconcile shame with the inability to write about anything but home. --Emma Preble
MY OPPRESSION, MY DEPRESSION Desolate, despairing, despising :RUGVFRPSULVLQJZKDWÂ¶V slowly rising, Burgeoning forth, And continues spilling over, No use in that clover, For luck has run out. Merely trying, Continually crying, Perpetually lying, Narcissistic toward dying. ,Â¶PÂ³YDLQÂ´IHHOLQJÂ³IDNHÂ´SDLQ 7KHUHÂ¶Vno way His reign is good. ,I*RGLVÂ³JUHDWÂ´ Why am I an inmate Trapped in my body? Consolation is no commodity, Not for me, And this ebb and flow, Will show, The truth behind my sick self. --Alex Huff
TOO 6KHZRQÂ¶WPDWFKKLVJD]H6KHNQRZVZKDWKHmeans when he looks at her this way, softly and with intention, filled with misplaced sentiment, caught up in a naive notion that thisÂ²the two of them in the here and now, experiencing the interconnection of their random lives--is of momentous quality. She knows too well
ZKDWLWPHDQVZKHQDPDQÂ¶VH\HVJOHDPLQWKLVZD\VRLWDOPRVWVHHPVWKH\FRXOG whisper the words his lips are about to. 3OHDVHSOHDVHGRQÂ¶WVD\LW, she almost utters aloud, and wonders if she should. Perhaps she could clear the haze of infatuation and save him from hurting
EHOLHYHLWDQ\ZD\'HVSLWHKHUODFNRIUHFLSURFDWLRQVLQFHVKHLVZHDNVKHÂ¶OOJLYHLQ to the mushy-gushy romance and doodle valentine hearts and cry for the entirety of two hours when he finally realizes what she already knows. He lifts her chin gently with a fingertip, and her heart races, her palms sweat, her throat tightens as it does in these moments she again and again has longed to avoid. These moments, painfully similar and equally painful, have not been scarce, have not been special, and have taught her how all endings begin. But VKHGRHVQÂ¶WZDQWWKLVWRHQG6KHZDQWVWKHPXVK\-gushy romance and wants to have a reason to doodle valentine hearts and she wants to be so tied to a man that she would cry for a month, a year, a lifetime if he left, and she wants that man to be KLPEXWKHLVQÂ¶W6KHZDQWVWREHLQORYHEXWVKHLVQÂ¶W 3OHDVHSOHDVHGRQÂ¶WVD\LWshe is about to plead. She wants to gesture, hands wide in the air, and groan. She wants to tell him
KHÂ¶VUXLQLQJLWUXLQLQJWKHPUXLQLQJKHUFKDQFHWRPHDQLWZKHQVKHVD\VZKDWKH ZDQWVWRKHDU6KHZDQWVWRFRQGHPQKLPIRUWKLVOLHKHÂ¶VDERXWWRWHOODQGZDQWV to SUHDFKWKDWKHZRQÂ¶WDOZD\VIHHOWKLVZD\DQGWKDWKHÂ¶VEHLQJWKRXJKWOHVVDQG
rash. She wants to accuse him of his impending lie, a lie he might not truly be telling at all, because maybe he does mean it and maybe they all meant it and PD\EHLWÂ¶VRQO\VKH who has lied.
0D\EHWKDWÂ¶VWKHUHDOWUXWKWKRXJKVKHZDQWVWROD\WKHEODPHHOVHZKHUHIRU being goaded into dishonesty. She wants to hold someone or something UHVSRQVLEOHIRUKHUURPDQWLFVKRUWFRPLQJVHYHQLILWÂ¶VPHUHO\DIHZZRUGVVKH GRHVQÂ¶WZDQWWR say. 3OHDVHSOHDVHGRQÂ¶WVD\LW, she tells herself, and allows her eyes to fix on his and swallows the lump in her throat. His expression is serious but incredibly serene, light bouncing off those deep, sure eyes as if to offer peacefulness to her. He takes her hand with assurance, and when he does say it, as she knew he would, she wants to look away, but feels defeated. Â³,ORYH\RXWRRÂ´VKHVD\V
LIKE A GRASSHOPPER I feel like a grasshopper In a field of butterflies, Ugly and pointless. :K\FDQÂ¶W,EHDEXWWHUIO\ Full of joy and beauty? Why did you make me a grasshopper? Was it because of the size of my waist? The color of my skin? No, no, it was much more than that; You see, I am the beautiful butterfly And you are the grasshopper, Except I could never bring you down like you did to me. We can both be butterflies if you will accept that and agree, But you will not, as in time all shall see: You are a butterfly on the outside %XWLQVLGH\RXÂ¶UHDVGHDGDVDEORZQ-down tree. --Makenzie Wertz
SINCERITY AND SPIRITUALITY
$OLIHEDVHGRQVXSHUILFLDOLW\LVQRWDUHDOOLIH,Q/HR7ROVWR\ÂśVThe Death of Ivan Ilyich, Ivan leads such a life, and he seems to pay for it when he becomes ill and lonely. Everything he does in his life he does to maintain a faĂ§ade. He never actually likes his job or his wife, and his so-called happiness is based on what others around him think happiness is. Once he is on his deathbed, he becomes miserable when he realizes his whole life has been false. Not only has he failed to find his own passions rather than pleasing others, but he has completely excluded spirituality from his life. He focuses so much of his time on keeping up appearances that he does not consider the meaning his life really has. He is miserable because his life lacks sincerity and spirituality, and I believe that both are essential to happiness.
From his relationships anGKLVZRUNWRKLVKDSSLQHVV,YDQÂśVOLIHLVVKDOORZ One of the first matters we learn about him is that no one seems to miss him after he is dead. This starts to make sense as we continue in the novella and discover that he never does anything to satisfy his passions, only what will make him look good to others. He likes the jobs he takes up only because of the money and power they give him, not because they are actually enjoyable. He marries Praskovya FĂŤdorovna only because it is the respectable thing to do, and not because he loves her. He has children with Praskovya for the same reason, respectability, and even though all of them are miserable, Ivan claims he is fine as long as the public perceives them as a happy family. The one matter he says he is passionate about, bridge, he pretends to like because everyone else does. Ivan does not realize until he is on his deathbed that he has virtually made himself miserable by leading a false life.
This falsity is simply the making of unhappiness; without sincerLW\LQRQHÂśV
KDGEHHQPRVWVLPSOHDQGPRVWRUGLQDU\DQGWKHUHIRUHPRVWWHUULEOHÂ´ +HLVVR focused on his image of who he is that he forgets to live, and this causes him to lose touch with himself. He says he is popular, but all those relationships are superficial.
becomes ill and needs companionshiS+HGRHVQÂ¶WKDYHDQ\WKLQJKHLV passionate DERXWVRRQFHKHFDQÂ¶WPDQDJHZRUNWRNHHSKLPEXV\KHIHHOVFRPSOHWHO\ORVW,WLV as if he discovers an entirely different person in himself that he kept hidden behind a faÃ§ade. This is an unnerving idea; I cannot imagine many situations more terrifying WKDQUHDOL]LQJRQHGRHVQRWNQRZZKRRQHLVHVSHFLDOO\DWWKHHQGRIRQHÂ¶VOLIHZKHQ there is not much time for redemption. For this reason, I strive to be genuine in my own life. If I am not true to myself, especially when it comes to PDWWHUV,YDOXHPRVW,IHHOWKDW,Â¶PQRWGRLQJ myself justice. We may have only one life, and our inner selves are our constant companions and representations of our place in the world. Without authenticity, one also loses out on the real feelings and experiences that can render life remarkable. ,YDQVWUXJJOHVWRFRPSUHKHQGWKLVFRQFHSWÂ³Âµ0D\EH,GLGQRWOLYHDV,RXJKWWRKDYH GRQHÂ«%XWKRZFRXOGWKDWEHZKHQ,GLGHYHU\WKLQJSURSHUO\"Â¶Â´ 'RLQJ everything properly does not lead to happiness; doing things one finds genuinely enjoyable is the route to true happiness. To waste life on superficiality is simply a great tragedy. 6LPLODUWR,YDQÂ¶VORVVRILGHQWLW\LQWKHPDNLQJLVKLVODFNRIVSLULWXDOLW\DQG both add to his unhappiness. A prime example is when he suddenly realizes he is JRLQJWRGLHDQGKDVQRLGHDZKDWÂ¶VJRLQJWRKDSSHQWRKLPÂ³,QWKHGHSWKRIKLV heart he knew he was dying, but not only was he not accustomed to the thought, he VLPSO\GLGQRWDQGFRXOGQRWJUDVSLWÂ´ 7KLVVXJJHsts that he has never thought about death, and likely has not thought about much other than matters in the physical world that gave him his so-called happiness. Some sort of spirituality, at least some appreciation for the mysteries of life, such as love and death, is necessary to live a full life. Focusing on physical pleasures and the trivialities of everyday life is superficial in and of itself. Those trivialities are not even close to being fulfilling enough to make one entirely happy. I enjoy debating existential matters, and I think that being able to do so allows me to feel a greater purpose in life. It also enables me to accept life and the answers that often escape entire definition. Ivan faces a crisis when he becomes ill, because KHKDVQÂ¶WFRQVLGered the essential questions about life and death, and as a result KDVQÂ¶WEHHQDEOHWRDFFHSWGHDWK+HFDQÂ¶WHYHQDFFHSWKLVOLIHEHFDXVHKHUHDOL]HVLWÂ¶V 23
been pointless and devoid of meaning. At the end of the novella, he struggles to let go of his physical life, and only when he accepts the superficiality of his life and the UHDOLW\RIGHDWKLVKHUHGHHPHGVRWKDWKHFDQILQDOO\VWDWHÂ³Âµ:KDWMR\Â¶Â´ :LWKRXWVLQFHULW\DQGVSLULWXDOLW\LQKLVOLIHWKHWLWOHFKDUDFWHURI7ROVWR\Â¶VThe
Death of Ivan Ilyich is left with the shell of a life that leaves him empty and lost. By
WU\LQJWRNHHSXSDIDoDGHRIVXFFHVVKHORVHVWRXFKZLWKKLPVHOIDQGGRHVQÂ¶WIRUP real relationships or realize passions he might have, which leaves him completely miserable once he becomes sick. When people base their lives on superficiality, as
allow any room for spirituality in his life, and this contributes to his sense of isolation. A considHUDWLRQRIWKHSRVVLELOLWLHVEH\RQGRQHÂ¶VSK\VLFDOOLIHRQHDUWKLV
essential to happiness, because it allows for fulfillment beyond the trivialities that one can get caught up in. To prevent ending up like Ivan, sincerity and spirituality are essential. Williams
--Jewel Williams Work Cited Tolstoy, Leo. The Death of Ivan Ilyich. The Norton Anthology of World Literature: Shorter Third Edition, Vol. 2. Ed. Martin Puchner, et al. Trans. Louise Maude and Aylmer Maude. Norton, New York: 2013. 812-850. Print.
AUTUMN: A FRAGMENT All else fallen now save willow only, hoar leaves streaming hard in darkening wind.
Ashley A Wolfe
His hair grayed more that month than it had KLVHQWLUHOLIH,WFRXOGÂ¶YHEHHQIURPWKH stress, or from the constant cycling of emotionsÂ²anger to despair to fear to sadness to anger again. He lost his son that month. After taking three weeks off work, and drinking almost a bottle a day, he
decided LWZDVWLPHWRKHDGEDFN7KHVFKRROZDVQÂ¶WJRLQJWRFOHDQLWVHOIDQG whatever guy they brought in to replace him VXUHO\ZDVQÂ¶WFOHDQLQJLWULJKW. Besides, it would be good to be busy again. ,WZDVDUHJXODU7XHVGD\+HGLGQÂ¶WZDQWWRVWDUWEack on a Monday, so he GLGQÂ¶WÂ²WKH\ZHUHQÂ¶WJoing to fire him for missing one extra day. The sun was melting a layer of slush that covered the ground, and it felt warm even though the
WHPSHUDWXUHZDVQÂ¶WPXFKDERYHIUHH]LQJ+H went WRWKHMDQLWRUÂ¶VRIILFHILOOHGZLWK
cleaning supplies and a small desk, and thought about his son. He thought about the car accident and started to feel angryÂ²his son was only nineteenÂ²but then the special education teacher walked in.
they had when you were gone never seemed to get my whiteboard as clean as you DOZD\VGLGÂ´ George smiled, partly because it felt good to be back and needed, and partly because she confirmed his belief that the jackass they had replacing him was indeed
DMDFNDVVDQGZDVQÂ¶WFOHDQLQJWKHVFKRROULJKW+HWKDQNHGKHUDQGVKHOHIWDQGWKHQ he decided to walk around the school DQGVHHZKDWHOVHKDGQÂ¶WEHHQFOHDQHGSURSHUO\ in his absence. 7KHKDOOZD\VZHUHQÂ¶WVZHSWFRPSOHWHO\DQGKHcould tell the electric floor VFUXEEHUKDGQÂ¶WEHHQXVHGRQWKHPLQDWOHDVWWZRZHHNVÂ²something he did every other day. He was sure the classrooms would be filthy, but he FRXOGQÂ¶WFKHFN while classes were going on, so he went to the gymÂ²the surprisingly well-kept gymÂ²and then stepped outside the back door for a smoke. He leaned against a wall outside the gym, shielded by brick on three sides, and thought about his sonÂ²he had always told his son he would quit smoking, and here
he was smoking. Then, there was a thump behind him. He turned around, took a few steps backward, and saw a student walking on the gym roof. George immediately recognized the student by his shirtÂ˛Michael, non-verbal, LQWKHVFKRROÂśVVSHFLDOHGXFDWLRQFODVV, who always wore a neon-greeQVKLUW,WÂśVDOO his parents could get him to wear, and now he was walking toward the edge of the gym roof. George threw his cigarette down and rushed inside. He ran through the gym and up the stairs outside the gym. A small room at the end of the hallway housed a few cleaning supplies and led to an entrance to the roof. The room was always locked, but the door was wide openÂ˛WKDWMDFNDVVWKH\EURXJKWLQPXVWÂśYHOHIWLW unlockedÂ˛and the trap door was flung to the side. George crawled up the ladder and stepped onto the roof. He turned and saw the back of MichaelÂśVQHRQVKLUWLQWKHGLVWDQFH+HSDXVHG for a moment, deciding how to approach the boyÂ˛Michael knew him and smiled when he saw him, but George was afraid he might scare him now. He walked slowlyÂ˛gray pea rock crunched under his feet and the wind blew. He got closer to Michael and grew more hesitant. Michael turned his head, smiled at George, then took a step closer to the edge. Âł0LFKDHO0LFKDHO/RRNZKDW,ÂśYHJRWÂ´ George pulled out his phone and showed Michael its colors and noises. Michael stepped back from the edge, and George slowly moved closer. Michael smiled again. Âł/RRN0LFKDHO<RXFDQSOD\ZLWKLWÂ´ Michael turned and walked toward George and George took a few steps and put his arm around Michael and handed him his phone. They walked back to the trap GRRUZKHUH0LFKDHOÂśVWHDFKHUDQG the principal, and a few other faculty members had gathered. George helped Michael down the ladder and followed closely behind. Âł1RZ,ÂśPreally JODG\RXÂśUHEDFNÂ´0LFKDHOÂśVWHDFKHUVDLG giving George a KXJÂł,GRQÂśWNQRZZKDW,ÂśGEHGRLQJLI\RXKDGQÂśWIRXQGKLPÂ´ George was truly glad to be back and needed, and he ran his fingers through his gray hairÂ˛thinking about his son DavidÂ˛and smiled. --Grant Fodness 27
A Series of Prizewinning Poems
ON MORNINGS I rarely have the perfect kind of morning² a slow ascent, an ease into the day. I tend to start by force, my body forming anew. I rise from the grave again and stray, I drag a slow and shapeless mind into a weighted body, shower, add the clothes and shoes and bag. I buy the sacred brew, I find routines, accessories of those who fit in this move-forward place, survive revival every day, come back from this strange in-between where I must be alive, where waking rest is but remembered bliss, in dream or song or thought, beneath the sway of the veil, the skin, the light of each new day.
RESCUE A stupid hero leaves the victim in WKHVWRUP¶VVWLOOH\H:KDWUHFNOHVVKRSHWRWKLQN that silence is a mark of safety, peace a permanent and lawful citizen in such a manic place. There are no laws, no sacred scripture, no detailed guides on how to speak the victim language, how to make a hero out of cape and tights, KRZWRSXVKDZD\WKHPDUW\U¶VPDVNLQDOO its flashy wisdom. Selfish heroes think that peace means permanence. They lead their charge WKURXJKWKHVWRUP¶VWUDSGRRUH\HDQGIO\DZD\
SANCTITY OF PLACE A dining room is a common sacred place, adorned with crosses, hanging lives in frames on holy walls. This household hearth is meant as offering. A bedroom is a private place, but sleep cannot keep secrets. The heart on every shelf left blank or strewn with filthy grace displays an altar to the self.
JUNCTION I cannot know what heartaches to prepare, decide which dreams make solid paperweights and what to give up to the open air as folded planes and lotuses, to fare with hope in the next life, if one awaits. I cannot know what heartaches to prepare, but I can list them all with ease, compare the likelihoods, discuss these padlocked gates and what to give up to the open air like their leaving paper wings ZRQ¶Wstrip me bare. This worry wrings its hands, it gnaws, it hates. I cannot know what heartaches to prepare so I send The God and all his faces a prayer to open up DGRRU+H¶OOVKRZKLVIDWHV, and what I should give up to the open air will fly away on strong, sure wings. But spare The God, I know only²the surest walk creates. But I cannot know what heartaches to prepare or what to give up to the open air. 29
SELF EDITING ,ÂśP always trying to be concise, but my words trip out the door an hour late to any party, make themselves scholars, give awful advice. They wear frilly clothes, ignore courtesy, embarrass the neighbors without apology; trying their best for the blue-ribbon-first prize: The Most Unique and Least Afraid to Die. I am always trying to live without this clumsy spirit; to burn frills, mute boasts, VD\P\TXLHWÂłSOHDVHÂ´DQGÂłWKDQN\RXÂ´QRWVKRXW but make the perfect guest, to bring the host a veggie tray, hell, bring a home-cooked roast, arrive with a half an hour to spare in a dress of blue ribbons, full as air.
THE POWER OF AFFECTION ,Q6KDNHVSHDUHÂ¶VThe Tempest, readers are given conflicting views of colonization and native people. While Caliban, an animal-like servant, is commonly seen as the
native who is enslaved and VKDSHGLQWRDÂ³VDYDJHÂ´WKHUHLVDQRWKHUFKDUDFWHUWR
consider in the concept RIÂ³WKHQREOHVDYDJHÂ´:KLOHLWÂ¶VQRWFOHDULI$ULHOLVDQ
original inhabitant of the islandÂ²perhaps arriving even before 6\FRUD[&DOLEDQÂ¶V motherÂ²WKHDVVXPSWLRQLVVKHÂ¶VEHHQan inhabitant at least as long as Caliban. Ariel, however, is quite different from Caliban. Ariel, an airy spirit, serves as a suggestive H[DPSOHRIZKDWFRXOGKDSSHQWRWKHÂ³QREOHVDYDJHÂ´XQGHUDFRORQLVW
To compare Ariel to Caliban is to see a characteULQVHUYLWXGHDÂ³VDYDJHÂ´ZKR
GRHVQÂ¶WUHDFWZLWKKRVWLOLW\DV&DOLEDQGRHV3URVSHURWUHDWV$ULHO LQDZD\WKDWÂ¶V FRPSDUDEOHWRWKHZD\KHWUHDWVKLVGDXJKWHU0LUDQGDDOWKRXJK$ULHOÂ¶VLQWHUDFWLRQV with Prospero have a deeper layer of affection. It is clear that Ariel, more than any other character, understands what it is that Prospero desires. Ariel takes that understanding as a means of escape and uses language to manipulate Prospero into giving her what she wants: her freedom.
%HIRUHLWÂ¶VSRVVLEOHWR analyze how Ariel XVHVODQJXDJHLQWKLVZD\LWÂ¶V necessary to understand exactly what it is that Prospero desires. Beneath passages of
3URVSHURÂ¶VGLDORJXHUHYHODWLRQVDUULYHDERXWWKHZD\KHZLVKHVRWKHUVWRVHHKLP The most notable example is the stor\RIKLVH[LOHKRZWKH\Â¶YHODQGHGRQWKLVLVODQG as he relates it to Miranda. In his telling, Prospero portrays himself as a noble and
ZURQJHG'XNH,QDGGLWLRQDVKHVSHDNVKHRYHUDQGRYHUDVNV0LUDQGDWRÂ³KHHG KLPÂ´DQGDVNVLIVKHÂ³KHDUVÂ´KLP$WWKe beginning of his story of exile he informs Miranda that Â³WK\IDWKHUZDVWKH'XNHRI0LODQDSULQFHRISRZHUÂ´-51). This LVWKHZD\3URVSHURVWLOOSUHIHUVWREHWUHDWHGDVDÂ³SULQFHRISRZHUÂ´-51). A prince of his standing requires willing affectionate servants, as we will see later; and 32
what we will see through the interactions of all the players mentioned above is that Ariel is the character ZKREHVWIXOILOOV3URVSHURÂ¶VGHVLUHV The way Prospero communicates with Ariel has similarities to the way he addresses Miranda, more so than Caliban, who resides in an underground cave of VHUYLWXGH7KHPDQQHURI3URVSHURÂ¶VFRPPXQLFDWLRQDOORZV$ULHOWRDOLJQKHUVHOILQD position of value to Prospero. In the exchanges between the two, more than in the PDQQHURI3URVSHURÂ¶VVSHHFKHVLWÂ¶VLPSRUWDQWWRQRWHKRZ$ULHOUHVSRQGVEHFDXVH LWÂ¶VLQKHUUHVSRQVHWKDW$ULHOGLIIHUVIURP0LUDQGD Miranda gives no indication of XQGHUVWDQGLQJKHUIDWKHUÂ¶VPRWLYDWLRQV The language that Ariel uses, however, shows that she clearly does. This is obvious from the first interaction between the two, when Ariel asks for her freedom. Prospero is rehearsing his past, comparable to repeatedly WHOOLQJ0LUDQGDWRÂ³KHHGKLPÂ´DQG says to Ariel, Â³'RVW thou forget/ From what torPHQW,GLGIUHHWKHH"Â´-252). He continues, as he does with Caliban and Miranda, to recite ways in which Ariel is indebted to him. Ariel responds by VD\LQJVKHKDVQÂ¶WIRUJRWWHQ+HU responses are unemotional and level, whereas Miranda becomes impaWLHQWZLWK3URVSHURILQDOO\UHVSRQGLQJWRKLVFRQVWDQWÂ³KHHG PHÂ´ZLWKÂ³<RXUWDOHVLUZRXOGFXUHGHDIQHVVÂ´ Continuing with this interaction, we see the beginnings of how differently $ULHOUHVSRQGVLQRUGHUWRPDQLSXODWH3URVSHURÂ¶VDIIHFWLRns. Her responses begin unemotionally, but a change in tone occurs when Ariel starts echoing Prospero. 3URVSHURFDOOV$ULHOÂ³P\Â´VHUYDQWDQG$ULHOFDOOV3URVSHURÂ³P\Â´PDVWHU$ULHOVHHPV WREHJUDWLI\LQJ3URVSHURÂ¶VKXQJHUIRUSRZHUPD\EHHYHQDIIHFWLRQ in a subtle way by echoing him. Because WKHHFKRGRHVQÂ¶WRFFXULPPHGLDWHO\ an indication is that Ariel is purposely controlling her language. During their interaction, and after HDFKTXHVWLRQ$ULHONHHSVKHUUHVSRQVHVXQHPRWLRQDOE\VD\LQJÂ³,GRQRWVLUÂ´Â³1R VLUÂ´Â³,WKDQNWKHHPDVWHUÂ´DQGÂ³3DUGRQPDVWHUÂ´-294). The echo begins after Prospero says, Â³'RVRDQGDIWHUWZRGD\V,ZLOO GLVFKDUJHWKHHÂ´- WRZKLFK$ULHOUHVSRQGVÂ³7KDWÂ¶VP\QREOHmaster!/ What shall I do? Say what? WKDWVKDOO,GR"Â´-300). Two parts of this response are important; first, that Ariel begins and for the rest of the play refers to 3URVSHURDOPRVWH[FOXVLYHO\DVÂ³P\PDVWHUÂ´ she also calls KLPÂ³QREOHPDVWHUÂ´ appealing to his desire to be the wronJHGÂ³SULQFHRISRZHUÂ´6HFRQGVKHUHVSRQGV 33
VHUYDQWÂ´ DQGIXUWKHURQZLOOVD\Â³P\FKDUPVFUDFNQRWP\VSLULWVREH\Â´ (5.1, 2). These admissions indicate Prospero wants willing servants--essential to his identity as a powerful Duke. 7KHHPRWLRQWKDWZDVODFNLQJEHIRUHLQ$ULHOÂ¶VUHVSRQVHV QRZULQJVFOHDUDQGEHFDXVHLWFRPHVDIWHU3URVSHURÂ¶Vpromise of freedom, it seems Ariel is responding in the manner Prospero desires after his underlying promise. But, first; WRUHWXUQWRWKHVLPLODULWLHVEHWZHHQ3URVSHURÂ¶VFRPPXQLFDWLRQV
with Miranda and Ariel is to note a significant difference in the way Prospero speaks to each. The difference is best illustrated in dialogue, when Prospero uses terms of affection to refer to Ariel, more so than to his daughter. Most notably in Act 4, scene 1, as Prospero is preparing to conjure a vision for shipwrecked FerdinandÂ²grounded by the tempest that opens the play--a small but important exchange occurs that calls into question the nature of the relationship between Ariel and Prospero. Prospero
WRZKLFK3URVSHURUHVSRQGVÂ³'HDUO\P\GHOLFDWH$ULHOÂ´ (4.1, 49). :KLOHLWLVWUXHWKHSRVVHVVLYHÂ³P\Â´KDVDSSHDUHGEHIRUHEHWZHHQ3URVSHUR
3URVSHURÂ¶VDQVZHURQWKHRWKHUKand, is different from his degree of affection for any other character he interacts with. A definite lack of affection is apparent in his language to Miranda but is not present, not to any extent, when he speaks to Ariel. 3URVSHURWHOOV$ULHOKHORYHVKHUÂ³GHDUO\Â´EXWWKHUHÂ¶VQHYHUDSRLQWLQWKHSOD\
when Prospero says anything of the sort to Miranda, even when Miranda seems to ask for that. Ariel might be posing WKHTXHVWLRQWRPDQLSXODWH3URVSHURÂ¶VDIIHFWLRQ
which suggests that his love for her, or his lack of love, is important to her, placing him in a patriarchal-like position of power, besides the master-slave position he already holds over Ariel. Even though the above exchange shows a difference in the way Prospero treats Miranda and Ariel, the difference appears in a manner less obvious almost every time Ariel enters, as in the following examples of the ways Prospero addresses KHULQVFHQHVLQZKLFKWKHWZRDSSHDUÂ³$SSURDFKP\$ULHOÂ´ Â³P\EUDYH
VSLULWÂ´ Â³0\GHOLFDWH$ULHOÂ´ Â³0\ELUGÂ´ Â³0\GDLQW\$ULHOÂ´ (5.1, 95), and Â³)LQHDSSDULWLRQP\TXDLQW$ULHOÂ´ 1RWHWKDWWKHVHDUHHLWKHU 34
possessive or pet names and note as well that only one example of Prospero using figuratively descriptive language of this kind toward Miranda exists--when he retells WKHVWRU\RIWKHLUH[LOHUHIHUULQJWR0LUDQGDDVDÂ³cherubimÂ´ 0RVWRIWKH affectionate, possessive language Prospero uses is reserved for Ariel. Not only is this language reserved for her, but Ariel is the only character who returns the language. It is UHIOHFWHGLQ$ULHOÂ¶VVSHHFKEXW DJDLQWKDWLVQÂ¶W always the case--to return to the idea that Ariel begins FDOOLQJ3URVSHUÂ³P\PDVWHUÂ´ echoing 3URVSHURÂ¶VVSHHFKDIWHU3URVSHURVD\VKHÂ¶OOVHWKHUIUHH$ULHOPDNHVDFRPPHQWWKDW suggests her linguistic shift to affection for Prospero LVQÂ¶WEDVHGRQHPRWLRQEXWis a conscious decision on her part. At one point in the play, Ariel suggests that she FDQÂ¶W H[SHULHQFHHPRWLRQVÂ³7KDWLI\RXQRZEHKHOGWKHP\RXUDIIHFWLRQV:RXOGEHFRPH WHQGHUÂ« 0LQHZRXOGVLUZHUH,KXPDQÂ´-20). Two possible interpretations rise. The first is that she is VXEWO\PRFNLQJ3URVSHURDQG3URVSHURÂ¶VYLHZRI$ULHODQG Caliban: seeing the two as servants less than human, and therefore incapable of feeling. Another possibility is that Ariel is being candid, DQGFDQÂ¶WH[SHULHQFH emoWLRQDV3URVSHURGRHV,ILWÂ¶VWKHVHFRQGRQHZRXOGWKHQKDYHWRDVVXPH$ULHOLV being purposeful about her use of language to manipulate Prospero. Prospero is reliant on Ariel; almost all the magic in the play is performed by RUXQGHUWKHLQIOXHQFHRI$ULHO:LWKRXW$ULHOLWÂ¶VXQFOHDUKRZPXFKSRZHU3URVSHUR actually has. Prospero can inflict pain, as evidenced by Ariel, who, by the way, appears to have more power, who speeds across time and space, all frontiers, yet is afraid of Prospero, as she admits in Act 4 when she says she withheld information from him becauseÂ³,IHDUHGOHVW,PLJKWDQJHUWKHHÂ´-169). Ariel, then, relies on Prospero to set her free. The affection that ProsSHURH[WHQGVWR$ULHOGRHVQÂ¶WVHHPWR stem purely from the power he receives from her, or he might be able to keep her in VHUYLWXGH,QVWHDGLWVWHPVIURP$ULHOÂ¶VUROHRIREHGLHQWVHUYDQWDQGORYLQJFKLOGWKH best version of Caliban and Ariel rolled up in one. Unlike Caliban or even Miranda, Ariel is capable of manipulating Prospero, and in the end she is the character who gains the most freedom in return. No indication is given that Caliban is freed from 3URVSHURÂ¶VVHUYLWXGHDQGWKHPDUULDJH3URVSHURDUranges for Miranda with Ferdinand--WKHQDLYHSHUVRQPDURRQHGRQWKHLVODQGRIDÂ³EUDYHQHZZRUOGÂ´--places Miranda in a situation where choice is not a likely maneuver. Ariel, on the other 35
hand, is completely freed. This is ultimately the conclusion to the case because, of
the three characters, Ariel is the one who best XQGHUVWDQGV3URVSHUR¶VGHVLUHIRUUXOH
and affection, and is able to use her language to fulfill 3URVSHUR¶VQHHGIRUSRZHU
With that, she gains entire freedom. --Emma Preble
Work Cited Shakespeare, William. The Tempest. The Complete Pelican Shakespeare. Ed. Stephen Orgal and A.R. Braunmuller. London: Penguin Books, 2002.730-761. Print.
7+('$06(/¶6621* My anxious heart is fluttering and picks the lock from the ribcage where I keep it contained. Emotions start sp-sputtering and losing control as the darkness finds a way to my brain; Slowly losing hope, my joyful thoughts run for cover as the monster rears its ugly head and takes its place in my chest where a heart of love should reside instead. ³:KHUHLVP\KHUR"´,FU\LQWKHQLJKW as I lie awake in wait of my knight who would break through my hardened black shell of a heart, but the moQVWHURQO\JURZVLQPHWKHORQJHUZH¶UHDSDUW
I shouldn't have come here. I shouldn't even have answered your text. But I did, and ,Â¶PKHUHDQGZH UHGUXQN:KHQ\RX UHGUXQN\RXJHWFRQIXVHGDQGGRQ W
XQGHUVWDQGÂ³QRÂ´DQGÂ³VWRSÂ´DQGÂ³GRQ WÂ´DQGZKHQ, PGUXQN,JHWFRQIXVHGDQG
don't understand whHQWRVD\Â³QRÂ´RUÂ³VWRSÂ´RUÂ³GRQ WÂ´6R,ZRQ WVD\DQ\WKLQJXQWLO
LW VSUDFWLFDOO\WRRODWHDQG\RXZRXOGQ WXQGHUVWDQGRQFH,GRDQG,Â¶OOHQGXSQDNHG
in your bed again. Because you're confused and I'm confused and we're drunk and lonely. In the morning, we'll say it won't happen again. We'll say it was a mistake and that it was only for the night because we were drunk and lonely, as we were a month ago and a year ago and most days when we first met. Five years ago, when we met through friends, I had recently been dumped,
alcohol to feel less alone. That was our bond, and we actually became friends over our shared suffering. We spent our nights together, drunk and miserable, but at least ZHZHUHQÂ¶WDORQH,QHYHUZDQWHGWRVOHHSZLWK\RXEXW,OHDUQHGWKDWZKHQ\RX UH
GUXQN\RXJHWFRQIXVHGDQGGRQ WXQGHUVWDQGÂ³QRÂ´DQGÂ³VWRSÂ´DQGÂ³GRQ WÂ´DQGZKHQ
, PGUXQN,JHWFRQIXVHGDQGGRQ WXQGHUVWDQGZKHQWRVD\Â³QRÂ´RUÂ³VWRSÂ´RUÂ³GRQ WÂ´
EXWQHYHUFDUHGWKDWPXFKZKHQ\RXGLGQÂ¶WOLVWHQ Every time, under the sobering light of morning, we said it wouldn't happen again, because we didn't want to hurt each other, and it was a mistake, but we didn't stop until I started dating Mark. We stopped because I wasn't lonely anymore. I GLGQ WQHHG\RX,GLGQÂ¶WVHH\RXWKH\HDUEHIRUH,PDUULHG0DUNRUWKH\HDUDIWHU
because our friendship was dependent on having no one else. Now he's often away at
work, and when he is home, he's not present, VR, PORQHO\DJDLQDQG\RXÂ¶UHVWLOO
FKURQLFDOO\VLQJOHVR\RXWH[WPHDQGVD\ZHVKRXOGJUDEDGULQN,VKRXOGQÂ¶WDQVZHU but Mark is gone again, and I don't want to be alone in that big, empty house. We told each other it wouldn't happen again, and I told myself that was true and it was okay to answer your text because I don't want to sleep with you. I just don't want to be alone.
I don't know why we always think it'll be different. I pull up the sheets of your bed to cover myself, and I'm ashamed. I'm not ashamed because I'm married, I'm not ashamed because it's wrong or that it's cheating. I'm ashamed that I lie to myself. I'm ashamed that I'll do anything to feel less alone for a moment. I'm ashamed that I don't care about you and you don't care about me and that our friendship is circumstantial and that I know it only happens because we're drunk and lonely. I'm ashamed because it's becoming more and more difficult to convince myself that I don't know what I'm getting myself into, that we're just confused. It's becoming more and more difficult to feel faultless because it's becoming difficult to convince myself that I mean it when I say I didn't want it to happen and when I say it won't happen again. I'm ashamed because, here and now, I can't convince myself that you didn't XQGHUVWDQGZKHQ,VDLGÂłQRÂ´EHFDXVH,GLGQ WVD\LW%XWWRPRUURZ, OOWHOOP\VHOI that I did. I'll reconstruct the whole night, claiming I have sober clarity over tonight's drunken confusion, and believe that I tried to stop it but you didn't listen, and I was too drunk to care, and I'll go home to an unsuspecting Mark and tell myself I love him and this won't happen again and that I never wanted it to. --Sarah Porter
2XWWKHUHLWÂśVFKDRVHYHU\ZKHUH with stifling tension in the air; The storm is pelting sheets of rain and thunder shakes the window pane. In here, the storm is muffled, though the silence only seems to grow. This focused calmness comforts me and constitutes tranquility. --Jewel Williams
THE PLACES WE LEAVE
<RXNQRZDWRZQLVGHDGZKHQWKHUHLVQÂ¶WDEDUDQ\PRUH7KDWÂ¶VZKDWP\PRPXVHG to tell me. I think all small towns that are scattered over the barren countryside
VKRXOGEHSXWRXWRIWKHLUPLVHU\SXWGRZQEHIRUHWKH\Â¶UHHPSW\DQGIRUJRWWHQ,OHIW St. Cloud at one this afternoon. At 2:30 the landscape changed from full trees dispersed in thick bunches along the green-hilled countryside to burnt yellow, a flat line of dead grass against the blue sky. July has been unforgiving to the fields. Last time I called my mother, she informed me of the status of the crops in North Dakota DQGIRUDIHZPRPHQWV,ZDVWURXEOHGEXWLWÂ¶VQRWP\FRQFHUn. ,Â¶PKHUHRQO\IRUWKHZHHNHQG I see the water tower first, as it tends to go in my home state. You can see
WKHVHIURPPLOHVRXW,Â¶YHDOZD\VWKRXJKWWKH\ZHUHOLNHOLJKWKRXVHVWKHZD\WKH\ promise shelter, but instead of stormy seas they deliver you from miles of emptiness.
here for a wedding. My youngest brother, at the age of thirty, iVJHWWLQJPDUULHG,Â¶P
not unhappy for him but bitter that he chose to have his wedding at home. Fargo is only an hour away and that would've been tolerable. A decent venue, plenty of buildings to shelter us from the seemingly endless, sickening lonely stretches of land. ,WÂ¶V the cemetery, a mile out of town, I reach first, a fitting welcome. My grandparents are buried there, and my great-grandparents, aunts and uncles, a
cousin, my father, an LQIDQWVLVWHU7KHUHÂ¶VDVORXJKHQFURDFKLQJRQWKHSORWVDQG,
ERGLHVPRYHGWRP\ZLIHÂ¶VIDPLO\SORWDQLFHZHOO-kept, sprawling green cemetery in
a suburb of the Twin Cities. 7KHQ,Â¶GQHYHUKDYHWRIHHO ,Â¶YHDEDQGRQHGWKHPDQG,Â¶G QHYHUKDYHWRIHHOWKLVWKLFNZDYHRIVDGQHVVWKDWVXIIRFDWHVPHZKHQHYHU,Â¶PKHUH
All the roads, aside from Main Street, are gravel. The outlying houses of town are run down, with leaning porches, sinking and buckling foundations, and chipped 40
paint. A few brand-new farms are sprinkled here and there, if you were to explore the surrounding land, built by farmers when the crops were doing better, with dark green or blue siding and triple garages. In town itself, after the chipped-up houses, two streets of nicer houses with well-kept yards exist. The only grocery store was closed, I think, last year. The cafÃ© was attached, so that closed, too. It was tough on the farmers, who now drive ten miles to the next town for a cup of burnt coffee to complain about the weather and how most of the businesses they grew up with are closing down. The house where I grew up is at the edge of town. I pause in the street and stare at the green siding, at the small cement deck with a black metal railing. I used to play on the deck in the summer when I was growing up. The cement sucked up all the sun and I'd sit, letting it warm my legs until my thighs were red, while I ran metal Matchbox cars on the bumpy surface. I pull my full-size car into the driveway and turn off the ignition. I pop the trunk and pull out a duffel, grab the suit hanging in the backseat passenger window, and walk into the garage. It smells the same. Gasoline and something damp. I go up the steps and open the door that leads to the living room. It smells like chicken. Â³<RXÂ¶UHKHUHÂ´0\PRPFRPHVRXWRIWKHNLWFKHQRIIWKHOLYLQJURRPÂ³, WKRXJKW\RXÂ¶GEHJHWWLQJDODWHUVWDUW6XSSHUZRQÂ¶WEHUHDG\XQWLOVHYHQ,FDQILQG VRPHWKLQJLI\RXÂ¶UHVWDUYLQJ+RZZDV\RXUGULYH"Â´ She hugs me and I inhale her lotion and soft, floral perfume. Â³/RQJÂ´,VD\Â³:KHUHVKRXOG,SXWWKHVH"Â´ Â³<RXUURRPÂ´ So off to the left, where my bedroom is, untouched by my decades of absence, the twin bed made up, smooth and welcoming. My heavy wooden dresser is next to it. I put my duffel on the bed, hang my suit in the closet, and see myself in the closet PLUURUDQGGRQÂ¶WNQRZZK\,H[SHFWHGWREHJDQJO\DQGDFQH-ridden. My reflection takes me aback. How can a man with fading brown hair and a soft paunch be the same person who used to go to sleep in that bed every night? ,QWKHNLWFKHQ,DVNÂ³+RZÂ¶V0DUNKROGLQJXS"*HWWLQJFROGIHHW"Â´ Â³2KQRÂ´P\PRWKHUUHSOLHVÂ³,WKLQNKHZDQWVLWRYHUZLWKEXWQRFROGIHHW $UH\RXKXQJU\"Â´ 41
Â³$ELWÂ´,VD\6KHÂ¶VSXWFRIfee on, and the smell causes my stomach to respond ZLWKDUXPEOH,KDYHQÂ¶WHDWHQVLQFHHDUO\PRUQLQJ 6KHSXOOVDSDQRXWRIDFXSERDUGDQGXQYHLOVLWÂ³,PDGH\RXUIDYRULWH
Â³:KHQZLOO-HQEHJHWWLQJKHUH"Â´ Â³$URXQGVXSSHU6KHGLGQÂ¶WOHDYHZRUNXQWLOWZRDQGLWÂ¶VDILYH-hour drive. I MXVWKRSHVKHGRHVQÂ¶WJRWRRIDVWVKHÂ¶VDOZD\VJRLQJWRRIDVWDQGWKHUHÂ¶Va lot of VHPLVRXWRQWKHURDGÂ´ Â³,Â¶PVXUHVKHÂ¶OOEHILQHÂ´ ,VLWDWWKHNLWFKHQWDEOHZLWKP\DUPVRQLWVFRROPHWDOWRS6RRQWKHUHÂ¶VD
bushel of wheat painted on the front. WHÂ¶YHKDGLWIRU\HDUVRQHRIWKHHOHYDWRUÂ¶V
the smallest bar she could find in the pan. All the food she makes and she barely eats
when nobody was mowinJRUWKURZLQJRXWWKHGHDGIORZHUV2IFRXUVH\RXUGDGÂ¶V
IHHO,KDYHWRILJKWLWHYHU\\HDU,WÂ¶VJHWWLQJWKHUHÂ´ I drink my coffee, washing down the guilt building in my chest, imagining my mother, thinner than I remember, on her hands and knees in the hot sun trying to
KHOS",KDYHWKHWLPHEXWWKHGULYHLVQÂ¶WFRQYHQLHQW0DUNFRXOG, he lives right here,
LWZRXOGQÂ¶WNLOOKLP0D\EHVKHGRHVQÂ¶WZDQWWKHKHOSVKHFDQEHVWXEERUQ,WNHHSV her busy and she likes being busy. If I exhale the guilt will go with that breath. I do.
I drink two cups of coffee and eat four bars, then tell her ,Â¶PJRLQJWRUHVW
before supper. I go to my bedroom, move my duffel, and lie down on top of the covers. My pillow smells of fresh air. I close my eyes and listen to her doing dishes, 42
the sound of clinking pots and plates, and an indiscernible radio voice keeping her company. The front door opening wakes me. The sun has lowered, shining through the trees into my window, draping a box of shining light over my legs, where dust sparkles in the light. When I first started to wake, I thought I heard heavy footsteps, EXW,ZDVPLVWDNHQEHFDXVHP\VLVWHULVDVVOLJKWDVP\PRWKHUDQGZRXOGQÂ¶WKDYH made such noise when she came in. For a moment I think if I open my door my father will be standing there, taking off his work boots. I leave my bed, and find my sister in the living room on the couch. She stands and hugs me briefly. We sit and talk about my family and her job and nod our heads to fill the silence. Our conversation is polluted with the unspoken knowledge that age has made us strangers. My mother comes in, smiling, and tells us supper is ready. I GRQÂ¶WNQRZKRZWRH[SODLQWRP\VHOIZK\P\WKURDWKDVWLJKWHQHG Â³7KHUHÂ¶VSOHQW\Â´VKHVD\VSDVVLQJPHDERZORIPDVKHGSRWDWRHVÂ³,PDNHWRR PXFK,MXVWFDQÂ¶WVHHPWRFRRNIRURQHÂ´ Jen and I look at each other across the table. I imagine I must look like she does, the thank-yous and I-love-yous caught in our throats. I picture my mother, alone at the table with a spread of food for company, and can think of nothing to say to comfort her, because I know that wKHQ,OHDYHRQ6XQGD\QLJKW,ZRQÂ¶WEHDQ\ more inclined to come back than I have in the last few years. ,GRQÂ¶WOLNHWKHZD\WKLQJVFKDQJHWKHZD\WKLQJVVWD\WKHVDPHWKHZD\ WKHUHÂ¶VRQO\DVOLYHURIWLPHZKHQHYHU\WKLQJLVSHUIHFWO\DOLJQHG:KHQ\RXÂ¶UH\RXQJ \RXKDYHDFXULRXVLGHDWKDWVRPHKRZ\RXÂ¶OOJHWWRGRLWDOODJDLQ:KHQ,Â¶PDWKRPH ZLWKP\ZLIHDQGRXUVRQV,GRQÂ¶WPLVVP\GDG+HUH,PLVVKLP+HUHLVZKHUHKH H[LVWHGDQGDVORQJDV,Â¶PQRWKHUHKHVWLOOGRHVH[LVW+HUH,PLVVP\VHlf. Here is ZKHUH,ODVWNQHZP\VHOIDQGDVORQJDV,Â¶PQRWKHUHWKHUHÂ¶VDFKDQFHWKDW,UHPDLQ --Emma Preble
a three-poem series, Jewel Williams
At midnight, when the darkness isolates-entangled, winding thinking does the same. The ruthless rumination only abates when I no longer recognize my name. My mind feels separate from the rest of me, ZKDWHYHUÂłPHÂ´LVOHIWDPRQJWKHPHVV of broken paths, to which an end is likely. 7KHMRXUQH\GRHVQÂśWPDNHone any less; To lose and doubt and question is to find the fragments meant to guide and then evolve. Life and the loss of self are intertwined, a maze or puzzle not for me to solve. Despite the dark and where my thoughts may roam, the mess of me is here. My breath is home.
LAST IMAGES Because my memories are a scattered few, the ones that stay with me are sacred now: her hands were knotted and her eyes were blue. Her voice and face partly obscured from view, I struggle to recall her cluttered house because my memories are a scattered few. When I was young, with her to look up to, ,NQRZVKHÂśGRIWHQNLVVPHRQWKHEURZ-her hands were knotted and her eyes were blue. I now rely on stories to construe WKLVSHUVRQWKDW,ÂśYHKDGWROLYHZLWKRXW because my memories are a scattered few. ,ÂśYHOHDUQHGDERXWWKHIORZHUVWKDWVKHJUHZ and how she worked all day until sundown, her hands knotted and her eyes blue. There are still too many things I never knew, and grasping these pieces has been my vow. Although my memories are a scattered few, I know her hands were knotted and her eyes were blue.
GHOST GHOST $OWKRXJK\RXÂ¶YHQRZEHHQJRQHWHQ\HDUVRUVR I thought I smelled your perfume yesterday. ,Â¶YHPLVVHG\RXPRUHWKDQHYHU--this I know. It must have been only my mind at play. But then I thought I heard your favorite song, some notes that seemed to float down through the air. Was I remembering? Or am I wrong? This doubtful hope is more than I can bear. No, wait, an object is lying on my bed. I GLGQÂ¶WSXWLWKHUHXQOHVVLWÂ¶VWUXH-this gift from you, re-given from the dead? Are these sensations me or are they you?
DISSOCIATION Superstores at midnight are like hospitals. My mother was a nurse, and I've found myself revisiting the waiting room that I sat in as a child, wearing overalls, sitting on my light-blue winter coat. Our county hospital was across the street from my elementary school, and when my mom was working I'd walk across the street at 3:00 p.m. until she was done with her shift or my dad could come pick me up. I'd sit and watch reruns of sitcoms and the people on the screen were more real to me than the lady behind the desk or the bodiless voices that would echo behind my head as they came in and out of the entrance. The canned laughter would be welcome, now. The similarity that the superstore holds isn't in the warmth of childhood moments in
IURQWRIDJUDLQ\SLFWXUHEXWLQWKHGLVFRPIRUWRIKRVSLWDOV,WÂśVLQWKHVWHULOHVPHOORI freshly mopped floors and the fluorescent lights that blur the shiny tiles and ceiling into one white box that enable these combined sensations to make everything around me feel intangible. The plastic basket is looped around and cutting into my forearm, weighed down by a circus of useless items I've picked up since I entered the store. A two pack of soap, on sale for five dollars. A pack of blue washcloths. A couple of off-brand vanilla scented candles. A bag of gummy bears. A quart of milk that I maybe need. A jar of peanut butter that I do need. But a person doesn't put on their ratty gray yoga pants with bleach stains on the hem and their ex-boyfriend's college sweatshirt, wearing their hair in a greasy, two-days-since-last-washed ponytail and puffy eyes adorned with nothing but remnants of mascara in the creases after 11:00 p.m. for washcloths, candles, gummy bears, soap, milk, and peanut butter. What I need is in aisle three. I know exactly where to go, I've passed it on the way to my shampoo every few months for nearly two years. The idea is that I've filled my basket so I can bury my shame in a pile of distractions. I walk down the aisle, stop short of my destination to look at body washes that I don't need while a woman with an eyepatch and employee-vest restocks the men's deodorant behind me. She finishes and I step a couple of inches to the left. The boxes at eye level are the most expensive, promising God-like accuracy. Digital, clear, easy to read, results in two minutes. The boxes at my feet are the cheapest, half of them 46
crushed. Right above my head are the middle-of-the-ground tests. I pick a pink three-pack. I shuffle the contents in my basket and place the box at the bottom, covering it with the pack of washcloths. I buy a pack of tampons on my way out of the aisle in an act of defiant optimism. The condoms are hanging neatly in an even row at the end corner, next to the tampons and pads. I know he used one. I didn't think about it until two weeks ago when I realized my monthly visitor had failed to stop by for almost two months. When panic brought on no cramps, I started replaying what I could from the night. My recollection is far from perfect. I was intoxicated by a combination of cheap vodka and the promise of feeling wanted. I know he used one. I remember feeling reassured at how steady his hands were when he tore open the square, no matter that he was on his knees and swaying like the bed was a boat. I'd like to think that was a sign that he would've been able to warn me, that he would've noticed, if the thin barrier had broken. I remember how his breath was heavy with the bread-like smell of beer and his tongue tasted sour enough to make me pull away from his sloppy attempts at foreplay. I know his face, we both frequent the same bar on Saturday nights with our usual group of friends. I don't remember his name. I don't want to have to remember his name. The self-checkout I was counting on is closed, so I wander to the other end of the store to one of three open checkouts. The eye-patch lady that was stocking shelves is working the register. She is not real, as the lady at the front desk of the county hospital where my mother worked was not real. She scans my items without prejudice, her hand doesn't hover or hesitate at the box. She doesn't look up to see my puffy eyes. If she was real, my puffy eyes and box of pregnancy tests would mean something to her and she would see me and recognize that I needed reassurance IURPDFRXQWHUYDLOLQJZDUPWKEXWZDUPWKLVQÂśWSUHVHQW in hospitals or in superstores at midnight. I can't wait to take the test at home, and maybe if I don't take it at home, whatever the test says won't affect reality, will dissolve into this white, freshly mopped limbo. I walk into the bathroom and hang my plastic bags on the metal peg on the inside of the stall and dig through both with numb hands until I find the box. I take off the plastic wrap, rip off the top, and take out one of the sticks, briefly reading 47
the instructions on the side of the box. Most effective in the morning, but I can always take another, and maybe I won't have to. Maybe I'll wake up tomorrow morning in a puddle of blood and wonder why, the night before, I was desperate for a hint of pain. I sit down and take a few deep breaths and do my best to steady my shaking hand long enough to do what I need to. I put the pink cap back onto the stick and set it upside down on the back of the toilet. The box says to wait ten minutes for best results. I laugh out loud and it echoes through the empty bathroom like the laughter on the static-riddled television set that plays on and on in the back of my head. It's funny, because ten minutes was all it took to get me into this. --Emma Preble
ROB LOWE IS ETERNAL The movie is old but not too old, and Rob Lowe, star of shower scene and of my heart, Is eternal. The years go by, his job The same, his face the same, a work of art. Like Reeves, no aging here, the years are kind. The world is wrong, the tech is all, but still This man is always young. He makes my mind Preoccupied and him over the hill. At least the film is always there, the eighties, 7KLVPDQÂśVWUXHSULPHZHOOLILWÂśVHQGHGEXW I guess he could still get some; the ladies, ,PHDQ%HFDXVHKHÂśVIRUHYHUDQGQRPXWW --Aurora Bear
THE ESCAPIST'S PEN I write for you and me to escape from what it is we see To where, at least for a moment, we wish to be. I write for thrillÂ² To envision nervous hands brushing away thick jungle vines From pitted, gray stone. A pyramid tomb with gold insideÂ² Enough to fill the coffers of a kingÂ² Rises from the trees, rain clouds only separating ,WIURPKHDYHQ%XWWKHUHÂ¶VDKLWFKLQWKHKHLVW :KHQDIULHQGVXFFXPEVWRJUHHGÂ¶VYLFH Betrayal leads to death-defying escape followed by a mad dash To the muddy river where a ready biplane is a last /LIHOLQHIRUHVFDSH$WXVVOHÂ¶VRXWFRPHGHVHUWVWKHXQWUXH Friend in the jungle, watching the biplane fade from view. I write for romanceÂ² To embrace passionate lovers locked in competing Allegiances to themVHOYHVRUWKHLUIDPLOLHVÂ¶ Crowns. With no option to marry, except if they flee, They prepare and set a date. But in his haste he leaves An open letter enumerating their secret rendezvous. Their instantly sweet meeting under cover of darkness is reproved B\KLVIDWKHUÂ¶VWKXJVVKHLVURXJKHGXSDQGMDLOHGIRUUDQVRP $QGKHLVWRUWXUHG<HWORYHÂ¶VYROFDQLFDQWKHP Bursts free from any cell and so too the lovers from their chainsÂ² Reunion, secured by a harrowing break, is sweeter for its pains. I write for intriguesÂ² To solve the mystery of a man murdered with a shoe. The body, one of many recently washed up at the docks, seems too Bludgeoned to be a random murder, but no one wants to hear The fresh-from-the-DFDGHP\GHWHFWLYHÂ¶VWKHRU\WKDWWKHHDU Marked by a VPDOOÂ³2Â´LVDFRYHU-XSÂ¶VFOXH:KDWÂ¶VWRFRYHUXS" The dead man, yes, had had run-ins with the law, but Only petty crimes. His widow, though, says he was into something %LJEHIRUHKHGLVDSSHDUHG$QLQIRUPHUVD\VWKHUHÂ¶VERRWOHJJLQJ That runs from dusk to dawn in aging warehouses near the docks. In a hail-of-EXOOHWVEXVWWKHGHWHFWLYHLVYLQGLFDWHGDQG%RVVÂ³2Â´LVFDXJKW
I write for action² To spin bronze wheels till they whistle² Chariots racing around the Circus circuit, spittle Flying from the mouths of mad men Whipping their frantic teams toward glorious victory. With a weapon Spoke, the Roman champion plows Through his foes, his machine cutting a straight trough. +LVH\HVEXUQIURPWKHGXVWRID\RXQJ,EHULDQ¶VWHDP Galloping at unrelenting speed. With an oath to Jove, he wilily Prods his steeds till, parallel, the charioteers meet eyes. He reins to ram but a charger slips, and the Iberian takes the prize. I write for laughter² To buffet the pirate ship Coup with clean Caribbean waves. The floating 40-gun won by the captain with a knave Strikes fear into the heart of her crew. Despite her leaks, holes, and rumored curse, the &RXS¶V Captain vainly sails in search of gold. She finds herself hard-matched against an old Sloop well-manned. First her mast, then her hull, The Coup is pummeled and shattered by forty iron balls. Her captain holds A white flag, pleading for his life. Terrified fishermen emerge from the sloop And begrudgingly ransack the sinking Coup. I write for you and me to escape from what it is we see To where, at least for a moment, we wish to be.
YOUR BROWN EYES You look at me with those brown eyes And suddenly the world is clear. You would think brown eyes would be dark And sad but, no, not yours, my dear. They shimmer like the moon hitting the water at night. They look at me and see a different person, They see the person I was meant to be. They are not too dark and not too light. 50
They are just right to me. I wish I could show the world what I see, But for now they are my own treasures Hidden in plain sight. If the eyes are really the gateway to the soul Then your eyes, dear, forever glow and glow. --Makenzie Wertz
ON DROPPING OFF MY SON AT DAYCARE I left my son at daycareÂ²had to catch A train to work. My parting words rang small: Â³*RRGE\HHQMR\\RXUGD\Â´+RZWRXQSDFN What I desired to sayÂ²Â³,Â¶OOQHYHUEH Too far away; I leave but will be here :LWK\RXLQWKRXJKW"Â´%XWZKDWRIWKRXJKW",Ws reach, So limited, seems anthem for a man Without a better song, a man whose words Are bought for 40k. The time we had Together, father and son, will always be A fond collection of memories he may not Remember; memories I will cherishÂ²walks Traversing our little town while fall $QGZLQWHUIHOO6LQFHELUWKZHÂ¶GURFNHGWRVOHHS ,Â¶GIHGKLPIURPWKHERWWOH1RZ,Â¶PSOHGJHG To give him up, it feelsÂ²entrust his care To others. No, but merely a wait for more $GYHQWXUHOLHVLQVWRUHÂ³0\VRQQRZRXU PremieUHWKRXJKJUDQGKDVSDVVHG\HWZKDWÂ¶VWRFRPH ,VVRPXFKPRUHWKDQWKDWZKLFKZHKDYHVHHQÂ´ --Matthew Nies
+,*+:$<Â¶6'($'$7(,*+7 He hated driving in the winter. It was stupid, and he still did itÂ²he still had to go to work and get groceries, and then drive fifteen miles to get back homeÂ²but he hated it. Once he got out of town it was usually all right. The highway was dead at eight. He could punch the cruise control and turn up a classic rock station and feel anxiousness coagulate in his chest until he turned onto gravel.
+HKDGKLVVXSHUVWLWLRQVKLVFDUZDVROGDQGGLGQÂ¶WDOZD\VVWDUWVRHYHU\WLPH he made it safely to his destination, he made sure to give her (he never called his car
ÂµLWÂ¶ DFRQJUDWXODWRU\SDWRQWKHKRRGRUWDLOOLJKWGHSHQGLQJRQKLVSDUNLQJMRE$QG when he drove home, passing mile markers and street signs, he shouted out how many miles were left. It made him feel better, to hear how close he was to being able WRVWRSDQGJRLQDQGHDWVXSSHUWRKHDUDÂ³IRXUÂ´RUÂ³VHYHQÂ´RUÂ³WZRÂ´RYHU2]]\
2VERXUQHÂ¶V\RZOLQJRU(GGLH9DQ+DOHQWHDULQJLWXSRQJXLWDU+HÂ¶GQHYHUEHHQLQD FDUDFFLGHQWDQGKHÂ¶GEHHQSXOOHGRYHURnly once, when he had a burnt-out taillight. +HKDGQÂ¶WHYHQHYHUbeen in a car that someone else had spun into the ditch or anything. He had no real reason to hate driving in the winter with this intensity. But he hated it.
Nobody was coming his way now VRKHIOLFNHGRQKLVEULJKWV,WGLGQÂ¶WGR
much for his visibility, but having something to do with his hands besides freeze them under so-bulky-they-make-it-hard-to-drive mittens helped his mental state. He SDVVHGDPLOHPDUNHUÂ³1LQHÂ´ +HGLGQÂ¶WUHFRJQLze the song that was playing on the radio, which was weird, because he listened to the station so much he could usually name at least the band. %XWKHGLGQÂ¶WNQRZWKHVRQJ6RPHWKLQJZLWKDORWRIJXLWDUZKLFKWREHKRQHVW
GLGQÂ¶WQDUURZLWGRZQPXFK7KH ground was flat so he could still see the taillights of someone who had passed him a mile and a half ago. The guy was at least three or four miles off. He checked the rearview mirror. No headlights behind him. He drove slow. Even in the summer he went the speed limit, but in the winter it made him nervous to edge over sixty. Also, better gas mileage at fifty-seven. 54
%XWSHRSOHSDVVHGKLPDOOWKHWLPHDQGKHGLGQÂ¶WPLQGÂ²except when he got close to his turn, then he started to get a little nervous. He put his blinker on early, PD\EHWRRHDUO\EXWKHDOZD\VIHOWDELWRIIHDUWKDWVRPHRQHZRXOGQÂ¶WJHWLWWKDWKH was slowing down to turn and smash straight into him. But nobody now. He hoped nobody appeared for the rest of the drive. The highway was dead at eight. Â³(LJKWÂ´ The thing with classic rock was there were always those weird background noises. Phones ringing, horns, stuff like that. It freaked him out sometimes, if there ZHUHVLUHQVRUWKHOLNHEHFDXVHKHÂ¶GMHUNWRDWWHQWLRQWRPRUHDWWHQWLRQthan he was already at, stare into his rearview mirror for a couple of moments to make DEVROXWHO\RQHKXQGUHGSHUFHQWVXUHWKHUHZDVQÂ¶WDFRSRQKLVWDLOWRJHWKLPIRU VRPHWKLQJKHZDVSUHWW\VXUHKHZDVQÂ¶WGRLQJWKRXJKDIWHUWKHWDLOOLJKWLQFLGHQWKH was a little paranoid about the same thing happening again, only this time it ZRXOGQÂ¶WEHWKUHHLQWKHPRUQLQJDQGWKHFRSZRXOGQÂ¶WOHWKLPRIIZLWKDZDUQLQJ For this song, it was a train horn, which was weird. He glanced into his rearview mirror to look for the train, though that was stupid. No tracks crossed the highway. It would be a stupid place to put a set of train tracks. Or a highway. He was pretty sure all the train tracks in North Dakota came before the highways. So there was no train behind himÂ²obviously there was no train behind him. But he did see a set of headlights, which made his heart stutter-stop in KLVFKHVW+HIOLFNHGRIIKLVEULJKWV+HKDGQÂ¶WVHHQDFDUEHKLQGKLPDPLOHDJR7ZR or three dips in the road existed between town and home, though, so it must have EHHQLQRQHRIWKRVH2UKHÂ¶GEHHQLQRQHRIWKRVH+HGLGQÂ¶WNQRZ He looked back to the road. Â³6HYHQÂ´ He glanced back into his rearview mirror. The car had its blinker on. It was going to pass. Unsurprising. He glanced back at the road in front of himÂ²not even WKHWDLOOLJKWVKHÂ¶GVHHQDFRXSOHRIPLQXWHVHDUOLHU7KHWUDLQKRUQZDVEDFNLQWKH song. The car started to pull out into the other lane, the north-lying lane, and was in front of him in an instant. He was an easy guy to pass. He stayed on cruise control at fifty-seven. The song was practically all heavy drums now. Almost a Disturbed Â³'RZQZLWKWKH6LFNQHVVÂ´NLQGRIYLEH([FHSWIRUWKHWUDLQKRUQ7KDWZDVVWLOO 55
present, mixing with the drums in a way that was kind of cool in an unsettling way. +HZRXOGÂ¶YHSUHIHUUHGLWWREHDVRQJKHNQHZVRKHFRXOG\HOODORQJDQGPD\EH
release some of the anxiety that still tightened up his ribcage. Then a train smashed into the car that had just passed and he punched on the brakes. His car was the worst at stopping, especially when it was icy, but the highway was pretty good, it was actually pretty good, especially for winter. The car stopped, he flew forward, the seatbelt caught him, and he was sent back into the seat with a fresh case of whiplash. The train kept going in front of him. The train kept going in IURQWRIKLPDQGLWGLGQÂ¶WPDNHDQ\VHQVH He glanced in his rearview mirror. Nothing behind him. He was seven miles from home on a deserted highway at eight, eight-fifteen by now, eight-fifteen at night, and a train was going on in front of him. The radio was out. Sometimes his station fuzzed out, though, so he tried for a different station. Nothing. Not even the static, nothing. He tried not to listen to his CDs or auxiliary cord when he was driving, especially at night, and especially in the winter in case of inclement weather incoming, like a tornado or a blizzard that was about to hit in thirty seconds that he, IRUVRPHUHDVRQFRXOGQÂ¶WVHH+HZLVKHGKHÂ¶GSLFNHGXSWKHQHZ%HFN album when
Beck instead of silence.
7KHWUDLQZDVVWLOOJRLQJ7KLVZDVQÂ¶WVXUSULVLQJJLYHQKLVNQRZOHGJHRIWUDLQV It was surprising given his usually pretty steady knowledge of the highway he took
every day. $QXQSOHDVDQWUHPHPEUDQFHVXUIDFHGLQKLVPLQGDFUHHS\SDVWDKHÂ¶G
read on his phone during break a couple of weeks back, about this road you turned off on and if you made it through, you were insanely successful the rest of your life. 0RVWO\\RXGLGQÂ¶WPDNHLWWKURXJK But that was stupid. First of all because it was a creepypasta, some stupid story meant to scare twelve-year-olds at sleepovers, the twenty-first-century version of an urban legend, and not an actual entity that existed, and because KHKDGQÂ¶W
turned off onto anything. He should have seven straight miles left, and then he should have a turn onto gravel, at the place where the mile marker and the street number matched up, and then two more miles, then the driveway, then chicken
KDGQÂ¶Wbecause he already had a big bag of generic brand chicken nuggets in his freezer and he was trying to save money so he could move into town and not have to deal with this stupid commute. He fooled with the radio again and looked in his rearview mirror. Nothing from either. When he looked back at the road, the train was gone. The remains of the car it had plowed into were smoldering in the ditch. Â³6KRXOGFDOOWKHFRSVRUVRPHWKLQJÂ´KHVDLGDVKHHDVHGKLVIRRWRIIRIWKH brake and back onto the gas. There was a certain amount of trepidation about going forward, a certain sort of certainty that he was also going to get plowed into by a UDQGRPFDQÂ¶W-be-real-train (and as he drove forward he noticed a notable lack of WUDLQWUDFNV EXWKHGLGQÂ¶W+LVFKHVW loosened a bit. It was still its normal amount of WLJKWQHVVEXWWKDWWKHWUDLQFRXOGSUREDEO\DSSHDUZKHUHYHULWZDQWHGGLGQÂ¶WVHHP real. It was a stupid kind of safety, but he latched onto it anyway. Â³6L[Â´ Â³)LYHÂ´ Now he was starting to feel comfortable again. Really comfortable. Less stress always occurred once he got within five miles of his turn. Â³)RXUÂ´ Â³7KUHHÂ´ 7KHUDGLREXUSHGRXWPXVLFDJDLQDQGKHUHFRJQL]HGWKHVRQJ,WZDVÂ³5HEHO <HOOÂ´E\%LOO\,GROÂ²not only a song he recognized, but one he could yell along to if he was starting to get too nervous. He shook off his mittens like a hockey player ready for a fight and turned up the radio. The car had been running long enough now DQ\ZD\VRKHGLGQÂ¶WUHDOO\QHHGWKHPDQ\PRUH Â³7ZRÂ´ Almost there. He had the rest of this song, maybe a little bit of another one or VRPHFRPPHUFLDOVDQGWKHQKHZDVKRPHIUHH+HGLGQÂ¶WORRNLQKLVUHDUYLHZPLUURU DQGKHGLGQÂ¶WSXQFKKLVFUXLVHFRQWUROEDFNRQ Â³2QHÂ´ Â³5HEHO<HOOÂ´HQGHG+HUHFRJQL]HG the next song, too. 'LVWXUEHGÂ¶VÂ³'RZQ:LWK WKH6LFNQHVVÂ´
As he turned onto gravel, the train blew past from behind. He drove alongside it for a couple of minutes before it disappeared into the field. He watched it go and, once it was gone, considered whether he would have ice cream with supper, too. --Aurora Bear
ROAD TRIP #2
Westa Barstow, easta Baker, DQXQGHUWDNHU¶VKHDUVHVORZVGRZQD red-headed clown dead ahead. Taxicab waiting. Trading in an empty casket for a Cadillac with a blown head gasket driven by a bitter-ender, with misdirection meant to send her into the way of Mr. Zippy (a flowered hippie microbus, In luv we trust stenciled RQWKHGULYHU¶VVLGH RIIHULQJDKLW-and-ride and I get busted clear to Reno near an LDS casino; when I won at bingo I lost it playing keno. Three days later close to Needles a roadside joint with jukebox Beatles just as a little help from my friends ends, some old bartender ILOOVDEOHQGHUZLWKFKLDVHHGDQGVRPHNLQGDZHHGWKDW¶VDOO I need. Just my luck, a long-haul trucker sidles up hip-to-KLS³7DNHDWLS,JRWIURPDFRS WKHVHULDONLOOHUVDOZD\VVWRS´