Endicott College beverly, massachusetts 01915
Q The Endicott Review volume 27, issue 1 spring 2010 editorial board Emily Braile Ian Chandler Melanie Duignan Lauren Fleck-Steff Kyle Giroux Adria Holmes Bailey Marquis Lauren Peterson Sara Peterson Courtney Roux Hadley St. Clair Ping Xu
faculty editor Ruth Henderson
faculty advisor Daniel Sklar
layout design Angela Gulino
Albert; Alexander; Atherton; Baun; Bell; Benjamin; Bernard; Bonacci; Borre; Bottome; Braile; Candeloro; Certo; Chandler; Children’s Lit Class December 2009; Clarke, J.; Clarke, K.; daSilva; DiBenedetto; Doten; Douglas; Driscoll; Duignan; Fleck-Steff; Florance; Giroux; Graves; Harding; Harney; Henderson; Hobson; Hodgdon; Holder; Holmes; Houston; Hunsberger; Jackson; Kane; Karwowski; Lanson; Le; Lifland; Macisso; Marquis; Mason; Mazzotta; Molay; Montgomery; Moyer; Mulholland; Neukirch; Parenteau; Peterson, L.; Peterson, S.; Pilarski; Richard; Richer; Roux; Sánchez; Santo; Schrayter; Scrimgeour; Serpa; Slone; Smith; Snelling; Snow; St. Clair; Stone; Theberge; Traber; Van Eman; Wardhany; Watson; Younis
Luisa Sánchez-Iriarte Mendoza
The Endicott Review
is produced by the School of Arts and Sciences at Endicott College and consists of creative work from the Endicott community and friends. All work remains under the ownership of the authors. Copyright: The Endicott Review 2010. All rights reserved. 2
Q INTRO “I’m not starting – I’m not participating in this.” COLLEGE “Weird doesn’t even begin to describe them.” FAMILY “Works for Al Gore.” NATURE “Help! We are drowning in a sea of emotions!” CHILDHOOD “I’ve hit Nirvana or something.” LOVE “One by one the penguins steal my sanity.” SELF “It’s the ghost of Hamlet Senior!” DEATH “It’s not a question of my integrity, but of my will.” DREAMS/FUTURE ~ The Editors
WHY WE WRITE: Why I Write Find love in everything you do; don’t limit yourself or rely only on what you know you already love. Be adventurous and try everything. That’s the goal I set for myself. Writing is a window through which I am able to examine this world and my experiences with it. ~ Emily Braile I WRITE because it’s a good distraction. If I didn’t write something on a regular basis I would most likely spend all my time: jumping off of things, trying to make the next big sandwich, and memorizing jingles for “made for T.V” movies. Writing serves as the coffee break I need to catch my breath between mending my broken legs, and experimenting with some prototype Porridge-Pita-Pocket. It’s a real nice coffee break too. The room is well lit, and there are those toaster pastries with the little individual packets of frosting. Your boss is there, but you’re his favorite, so you can eat all the frosting you want and he won’t even notice. Wow, that’s like the best day ever. Okay I’m changing my thing. I write because of frosting. ~ Ian Chandler
Why I Write
WHY I WRITE I write because I have something to say, But I can’t express it out loud. I write to unleash my inner emotions That beg me to tear down the walls. Nobody knows what I’m thinking; What triggers the moves I make. That’s why I write it all down, So people see reasons behind chaos. I’m so complicated, it’s simple, Or the other way around. Words I long to say are bottled up. I pour them out on paper. Come away with me today And understand my madness. Tear down the walls around me. Catch my emotions that fly free. I write because you don’t know me. With words, you can figure me out. I write so that you can listen As the voices press against my walls. ~ Adria Holmes
I write because I have something to say but I can’t say it out loud. I write because I’m thinking of something but I can’t organize it. I write because I’m in love but I can’t figure out with whom. I write because I hate something or enjoy something or am indifferent towards something but I can’t put my finger on what. I write because one day I will die But I don’t want to. ~ Kyle Giroux
Why I Write? I write because when my feet get tired I can sit down and let my hands take me somewhere. ~ Bailey Marquis
I love the way my handwriting looks on the page It’s sloppy and messy and fast Every letter dancing on top of the thin blue lines The rest of the page looks empty Without the individualized black characters Scratched onto white space Two lines divide my thoughts
I started writing because girls are suckers for poems but it turns out girls don’t like the poems I write so unfortunately I lose again ~ Johnny Clarke
I like how when I write my pen connects the letters within a word Even though I’m not writing in cursive Typeset separates each lonely letter But a pen has a wonderfully way of bridging Each letter, each word, each thought I WRITE Don’t divide me because I have spirit I don’t want to stand alone and hands. ~ Lauren Peterson ~ Hadley St. Clair
I WRITE to create characters, settings, and stories that carry a deeper meaning than a
simple grouping of words on a page. I write to immortalize moments, expressions, and laughter with a pen and a notebook. The written word is only as powerful as you are passionate for creating it. My passion for literature comes from constantly seeking the euphoria of constructing a story so precisely that every piece fits. Connecting the big or small events in a story allows for the truths and realities of life to be discovered. Truth holds no meaning until it is written by your pen. I write to uncover these truths and expose them so others may find the passion to do the same. ~ Sara Peterson
WRITING is wonderful because it’s writing, ya know? it’s like you can just scribble whatever you want whether it’s real or fake or fake or real and no one has to know the truth because they just don’t. it can be something that means something or mean nothing at all but will still actually mean something but not to anyone really.
~ Courtney Roux
Maxwell Snelling, Insomniacs in the Auditorium........................................... Marcia Molay, She Had Many Names................................................................. Paul Stone, We Are All One People...................................................................... Lauren Fleck-Steff, When we write of fathers.................................................. Johnny Clarke, Brother........................................................................................... Katie Florance, Verona........................................................................................... Johnny Clarke, Easter Sunday.............................................................................. Sara Peterson, My Son’s Life.................................................................................. Nico Lanson, Untitled............................................................................................. Ashley Serpa, Family Ties . ....................................................................................
22 24 25 26 26 26 26 27 28 29
Artwork by Ripley Doten, “Lips”.......................................................................... Artwork by Kirsten Smith..................................................................................... Artwork by Luisa Sanchez-Iriarte Mendoza, “In the Bee’s World”............ Artwork by Luisa Sanchez-Iriarte Mendoza, “Beverly’s Autumn”............. Artwork by Brandon Douglas, “Good Child” ................................................. Artwork Jim Mulholland, “Birdhouse Dominance” ......................................
34 35 36 36 37 37
Katharine Clarke, Sparrows Dance..................................................................... Alexandra Hobson, Contemplation of the Sea............................................... Ian Chandler, Full Moon......................................................................................... Hadley St. Clair, Crows............................................................................................ Andrea Le, Mud and Dust...................................................................................... Alex Kane, Nature is Us (my view on nature).................................................... Max Baun, Diving .................................................................................................... Jim Mulholland, Roaring Wind............................................................................ Ian Chandler, Here I am!......................................................................................... Kyle Giroux, Nothing Ever Happens . ................................................................. George Graves, Sounds Like................................................................................. George Graves, Recognition................................................................................. Jim Mulholland, Witnessing A Blue Morning Sky........................................... Joseph Albert, Beo Fights The Snake................................................................. Richard W. Moyer, Burst From a Blast Furnace................................................ Marcia Molay, Dragonflies..................................................................................... Janelle Pilarski, Weathered Leaf.......................................................................... Lauren Fleck-Steff, This is the World.................................................................. Doug Holder, Sardines........................................................................................... Kelly Atherton, Bringing Nature Home ............................................................
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Children’s Lit Class December 2009, Alison’s Hat.......................................... Jacques-Stephen Benjamin, The Little Boy Walks Down The Street......... Charles Van Eman, Baptized................................................................................. Courtney Roux, Candy Says.................................................................................. Emily daSilva, Create it........................................................................................... Janine L. Certo, The Hamster................................................................................ Kim Candeloro, Fonda............................................................................................ Lauren Peterson, Barbie’s Dark Side . ................................................................ Lauren Theberge, A Certain Smell ..................................................................... Maxwell Snelling, Little Girls Shouldn’t Have Birthdays .............................. Sara Peterson, The End of Youth.......................................................................... Andrew Harding, Unacceptable . ....................................................................... Richard W. Moyer, Movies, Youngstown, Ohio, 1940..................................... Bailey Marquis, Home is Where the Paint is......................................................
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Table of Contents LOVE
Erika Karwowski, Sleeping In................................................................................... 8 Jacques-Stephen Benjamin, I Hope I Don’t Go Out . ....................................... 8 Lauren Peterson, The Other Me.............................................................................. 9 Janine L. Certo, Poem for Those Who Don’t Teach . ......................................... 9 Katie Florance, Ghazal-My Thoughts are Scattered all over the Floor....... 10 Maryanne Montgomery, This is how I self-organize… ............................... 10 Marcia Molay, Poetry Class..................................................................................... 10 Nicola Houston, Elusive ......................................................................................... 11 Jessica Richard, Banana Event Poem.................................................................. 12 Abigail Bottome, Solitary evening before rain................................................. 13 Andrew Harding, I Remember These Things When I Listen to This Elizabeth Alexander, Poets in the “Why I Sing” Learning Communities Project for The Endicott Singers, Harmonelle, and guest artist/ composer Elizabeth Alexander performed March 6, 2010......................... 14 Adria Holmes, Unfinished Misery........................................................................ 15 Lauren Peterson, Clearance................................................................................... 16 Maxwell Snelling, How To Train A Rock.............................................................. 17 Dane Hodgdon, The Hot Dog with a Home..................................................... 18 Sara Peterson, Early.................................................................................................. 18 Mike Macisso, A Letter of Parting to the Deceased.......................................... 19 Ian Chandler, Daydreamers................................................................................... 19 G. Tod Slone, Statement of Teaching Philosophy* (Or Recipe for Failure in Today’s American Colleges and Universities).......................... 20
Gretchen Hunsberger, For Peter ........................................................................ Emily daSilva, He was something........................................................................ Lauren Fleck-Steff, I’m jaded................................................................................ Ripley Doten, A Subway Story.............................................................................. Lauren Fleck-Steff, I Am Here, Love..................................................................... Emily Braile, Golden Boy ....................................................................................... Jacques-Stephen Benjamin, Finally Over........................................................ Jonathan Snow, Transcending algorithmic blueprints of the soul............ Hadley St. Clair, Wednesday Night Window . .................................................. Lauren Fleck-Steff, I shall pray no more ........................................................... Kyle Giroux, If You Were Mine............................................................................... Marcia Molay, Forgive Me...................................................................................... Ruth Henderson, To Those Who Would Rather Be Feared Than Loved–For Grace Paley, a mother of love................................ Chad Parenteau, Christine ................................................................................... Jibrael Younis, Keep Me Away From Your Daughters . ..................................
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Artwork by Corrine Bell......................................................................................... Artwork by Joanna Jackson................................................................................. Artwork by Johnny Bonacci................................................................................. Artwork by Ripley Doten...................................................................................... Kristen Bernard, “Self Expression” ...................................................................... Kristen Bernard, “Face” . ........................................................................................ Lauren Fleck-Steff, “Buddy Guy” . .......................................................................
70 70 71 71 72 73 74
Olivia Driscoll, Skipping Dip . ............................................................................... Amalia Wardhany, Drama . .................................................................................. Johnny Bonacci, This I Believe.............................................................................. Alyssa DiBenedetto, It’s Complicated................................................................ Jessica Richard, Pas Moi......................................................................................... Kelly Atherton, The Motions . .............................................................................. Maggie Harney, Miercoles 14 oct. ‘09................................................................. Hadley St. Clair, Wild . ............................................................................................ Kyle Giroux, The Earth Keeps Turning ............................................................... Geeta Schrayter, The Flight of a Heart . ............................................................ Marina Santo, Untitled .......................................................................................... Jessica Richard, I’m O.K. ........................................................................................ Lauren Peterson, Bite My Tongue ...................................................................... Emily Braile, It Keeps Me From Going Soft . ...................................................... Ted Richer, At the Astapovo Station.................................................................... Mike Traber, January Birth ................................................................................... Jessica Richard, Out for a smoke ........................................................................ Chad Parenteau, Arguments ............................................................................... Amalia Wardhany, Journal October 1, 2009 . .................................................. Bailey Marquis, Why I Dance ............................................................................... Kim Candeloro, Why I am a nurse....................................................................... Katie Mason, Nurse.................................................................................................. Kim Candeloro, Bag ............................................................................................... Emily daSilva, Label Me . ....................................................................................... Courtney Roux, Why I Write ................................................................................
76 76 77 77 78 78 78 78 79 80 81 81 82 82 82 82 82 83 83 84 84 84 85 85 85
Amalia Wardhany, Journal September 13th 2009........................................... 87 Emily Braile, Fight..................................................................................................... 87 Chad Parenteau, Fear of Poets Realized............................................................ 87 Melanie Duignan, Subway Music......................................................................... 88 Gretchen Hunsberger, If There Were Dreams Such as These, I Never Knew Them.................................................................... 89 Doug Holder, Sorrows............................................................................................ 90 Lauren Fleck-Steff, These are the Faces............................................................. 90 Emily Braile, Of Silence............................................................................................ 90 Hadley St. Clair, A Poem for Red........................................................................... 91 Guthrie Scrimgeour, To Gettysburg.................................................................... 91 DREAMS/ FUTURE
Alexander Borre, The Life of a Shoe.................................................................... Sara Peterson, Kindness......................................................................................... Johnny Clarke, A happy man............................................................................... Charles Van Eman, Kerouac in the Corner........................................................ Rob Neukirch, Speeding Ticket............................................................................ Mike Traber, Hearing Foreigners.......................................................................... Lauren Peterson, Did Truman Capote Realize…............................................ D. Lifland, Presidents & Kings................................................................................ Dave Watson, Home Forever.................................................................................
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COLLEGE “We sold your fridge and toaster.” ~ Mike Macisso
Sleeping In You look up at the clock. Twenty Minutes. You have to get dressed and get to work. Clearly you slept in a bit too late this time. Now you have to work for twelve hours feeling gross because there’s no time to shower. Work takes ten minutes to drive to, eight if you speed. You just wasted a minute contemplating! You jump up and throw on your uniform. It’s still dirty from yesterday, but who cares. You spray somebody spray to feign cleanliness. Sixteen minutes. You run a comb through your hair and then messily tie it up. You look in the mirror and evaluate. Not bad, you say aloud as you spray it with some hairspray. You grab your tooth brush and squeeze on some Colgate. As you brush, you run downstairs and slide your shoes on. Thank god for multitasking. You run into the downstairs bathroom and spit. You wash your face and quickly put on some eyeliner. I mean, you are going to be there for twelve hours, might as well try to look semi-decent. Thirteen minutes. Today your timing is fantastic. You open the fridge; grab an apple, water, and some carrots. Obviously you’re going to have to buy something for lunch. You grab your phone, keys and toss them into your purse. Even though you’re ahead of schedule, you run to your car and quickly back out of the driveway. Eleven minutes. As you turn down your street, you hit nothing but green lights and empty streets. You speed and no one catches you. You approach your last intersection before getting there. Seven minutes. Murphy’s Law hits. A train comes through. Not just any train, but quite possibly the longest train in the country. You sit there and check your cell phone. The minutes seem to fly by, as if to make up for your timing earlier. The end of the train is near. You have two minutes for a five minute commute. Can you make it? Probably not. You take a left instead and head to grab some coffee. You’ll be late, but they can’t say you didn’t try. ~ Erika Karwowski
I Hope I Don’t Go Out I’ve got assignments to do, I can’t keep letting my boys suck me in all the time. But that banger at Eric’s is gonna be the shit, Just one little party, and you don’t have class until 1, just do it In the morning. I know I won’t have time to get that paper done though. Just skip then. I can’t skip again, I’ve probably skipped too many times already. Bullshit. I gotta call Tano, see what he’s up to right now, Even though I know I should be studying. Just do it later before you go out. I hope I don’t go out tonight ~ Jacques-Stephen Benjamin
Poem for Those Who Don’t Teach So much depends on the professor in winter. 8:30 am shoes clack in halls to class: podium, screen, desks, and tight- skinned youth. Somewhere, someone is wondering what the hell they’re doing with their life. Not us. We’re the lucky
The Other Me My friends and I Have fun Just like everybody else. We have a blast Dancing Laughing Talking Mingling Meeting people Making friends And yet, Every now and then My wildly impulsive Destructive Inner self Breaks out She wants To have fun too The morning after When I say ‘What was I Thinking?’ I know I wasn’t It was all her This other girl This other me Who only wants Blind connection And yet, The morning after, After she gets What she wants She leaves And He leaves And I am left More alone than ever
ones, making politics, poetry, music, social science complex, so sad and beautiful. Don’t tell me the university is a bubble. Don’t say those who can, do; those who can’t, teach. When the Israeli professor shielded students at Virginia Tech, that was love. Booker T. fought for books, study “of things themselves,” illumination of experience. Anne Sullivan marched Helen to the pump, pumped water to hand, spelled W-A-T-E-R over, over again, opened up a world for her in WATER. But when the Red Cedar melts and halls are dark to nowhere, somewhere a parent already dreads dropping off the child, making trip after trip from car to dorm, the sadness growing quiet as the blue heron rises. For today, though, it is spring on a bridge, and professor and student pause to watch the bird climb. So much depends. ~ Janine L. Certo
~ Lauren Peterson 9
Ghazal – My Thoughts are Scattered all over the Floor My muscles are tight and all scrunched up This feeling is digging a hole in my stomach and unleashing negativity Stop using me as your rock when it is undeserved I do not know what you want from me or what I should be thinking The clouds swirl freely and the traffic light flows continually Life goes on fluidly but my thoughts are scattered all over the floor Tell me what you want –what are you all about There is a word and that word is hypocrite and that word is you Thanks for making my world so dysfunctional and out of line I would give you anything and you will give me nothing. ~ Katie Florance
This is how I self-organize… I self organize by writing down my assignments in my “assignment planner” and returning to it later, realizing I have no clue what I’ve written meant. I put my shoes in my closet and spend 45 minutes searching my house for them because I’m not used to using the closet. I save papers on my computer in multiple documents because I’m afraid to lose my original draft. Then when I go to print it out I don’t know which the final copy was. I lay out my clothes at night and then in the morning I pick out an outfit because I forgot I did it the night before. This is how I self-organize.
POETRY CLASS Some topics suggest the life stories of all the students. Deep feelings are best expressed in a kind atmosphere, where most things are forgiven, good work encouraged. Poetry class is that. Writing in poetic forms helped immensely. The class spent time focused on form and most seemed easier. A sestina was always my nightmare but now that I have done it once, I might just try again. That sounds like a good definition of education.
~ Maryanne Montgomery
~ Marcia Molay
Elusive Matilda smoked for twenty years And no one knew. It began around age 11. She hid the cigarettes under the bed, Taped them to the hollow inside part of the sink in the bathroom, Also in that drawer with a lock and key. The lighters, she hid those In all the obvious places The drawer in the kitchen with all the knick-knacks Inside the coffee maker Because no one had ever used that (They all bought their coffee from that place across the road) And on the windowsill of the downstairs window, next to the front door, in the room that was never used and contained those porcelain figurines and other dolls that her mother loved but never really looked at. Matilda would spend hours in the bathroom, “Painting her nails” But no one noticed that her nails weren’t painted Or that her teeth were beginning to yellow. Her dark devious curly hair and big Elvis Costello glasses hid her secrets well. She pretty much lived in that bathroom from age 12 to 20, So much so that she even had a bookshelf built in there Lined with her favorite books on the bottom three shelves And on the top, it was lined with 12 different kinds of perfume and 15 different kinds of nail polish. Next to an old CD player with one CD, Set to play on repeat And a framed copy of Philip Larkin’s “This be Thy Verse” Which she would sometimes read aloud while in the bath Repeating the first lines over and over, “They fuck you up, your mum and dad They do not mean to, but they do.” Sometimes she would just spend hours Staring out the window and looking at the city Just dreaming. The only person who knew of this deplorable habit Was not a person at all, but the cat
(Elusive cont...) Who once had the mistake of clawing the door open And discovering her. The cat, named Walter, was never seen again. The family supposed that Walter had run away, (But Matilda had actually sold the cat to another family and used that money to buy cigarettes.) Even when she moved in with that boyfriend of hers She moved into that bathroom And he never noticed her nails weren’t painted either. The smoking began when she realized her parents weren’t perfect Their life’s inaccuracies were blatantly exposed And she realized she didn’t want to be just like them anymore. She didn’t even like smoking And she knew it would probably kill her But she enjoyed living in this surreptitious world more. One day she was out at the store on the corner of their street Buying her secret pack of cigarettes, And she was walking back across that busy intersection When a bicycle, running a red light Hit her. Her precious secrets flew everywhere, Knocked unconscious, she lay, covered in evidence Of the habit she had hid so long.
~ Nicola Houston
Banana Event Poem 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.
Hold the banana up to your ear to get out of unruly conversations. Peel the banana for an edible hat. Cut out the seeds to make stick-on freckles. Mush the fruit like human organs. Feel the skin – it is like the chin of a whale. See the yellow. You are holding the sun. ~ Jessica Richard
Solitary evening before rain Seated in my wing chair, wine glass in my hand I read in the New York Review of Books about Zhou EnLai: his subservience to Mao consigliore to the don? I always thought him handsome His figure trim, movie star cheekbones; then Emil Hacha: who met with Hitler in Prague just before the Nazis took all of Czechoslovakia, his daughter accompanied him. Peter Demetz, a boy then, watched as his mother in sturdy shoes was carted off to Terezin his memory: a mother who died, a father who emerged from behind trees and lived. I chop zucchini for my supper, in the silent kitchen sip my wine sweet aromas rise from a simmering pot poaching a breast of pale chicken My warm face stained pinkâ€”I ignored the shy promise of transparent spring forgot sunblock so sat covered in academic regalia, silly hat perched on my head, my face naked beneath the open sky. Youngsters trooped across the stage, speakers mouthed platitudes about beginnings and going forth Beside me an art professor read from a book she smuggled beneath her robe about the brain and computer games. Two hawks circled above the stadium. I drip olive oil into a pan, garlic, a little soy Prod the chicken with a fork Oil sizzles poaching liquid sends forth clouds of moist vapor. I sip wine from a glass embossed Gainey Vineyard. Santa Barbara: after a morning of haze clouds slipped toward the horizon the sun unwrapped a crystal sky above craggy woody vines bowing like beggars under grapes heavy with juice. Last week near that same vineyard smoke and ash as fires tumbled through the hills and valleys, stopped just before they spread to the center of town. I wash strawberries for later. ~ Abigail Bottome 13
Poets in the “Why I Sing” Learning Communities Project for The Endicott Singers, Harmonelle, and guest artist/composer Elizabeth Alexander performed March 6, 2010 Amanda Beveridge Emily Braile Enrique Carmona-Cortes Johnny Clarke Adria Holmes Gillian Kucharski Text of the Piece: I. I sing to express my feelings. I sing for there’s a song in my heart. I sing to describe love for the hundredth time. II. I sing to escape, I sing to be free, I sing to relax, I sing to be me. I sing when I’m angry, I sing when I’m sad, I sing when I’m frustrated, And I sing when I’m glad. I sing to remember, I sing to forget, I sing of happiness, I sing of regret. III. I sing because I have a voice that wants to be heard. Nobody listens when I speak, and so I sing to get the point across. IV. I started singing because girls are suckers for songs, But it turns out girls don’t like the songs that I sing, unfortunately. V. Canto para expressar lo que no puedo decir, (I sing to express what I cannot say,) Canto para dar voz al verdadero yo, (I sing to give voice to the true me,) Canto porque el ritmo no lo puedo contener. (I sing because the beat is too strong to hold in.) VI. Nothing in the world can make me feel so whole As music flowing freely from my soul. The rhythm and my heart keep beating perfect time -There’s joy in every breath I take: That’s why I sing. ~ Elizabeth Alexander 14
Unfinished Misery Sometimes I need to think and be miserable. I’m good at it. It hurts inside, but what’s worse; expressing emotions or bottling them up; swallowing tears or letting them come down like rain? I’m miserable, and sometimes I need to show it. Sometimes I need to think and be miserable. He only wants her. She only wants him. They are happy with each other and I am happy for them. They have each others’ love, and I have myself. I often feel like I don’t have anyone, but deep down, I know that isn’t true. The ones who love me most are so far away. I know this person. I think we’re together, but I don’t know for sure. I want to be together, but I don’t want anyone else to have to deal with my unspoken misery. Sometimes I need to think and be miserable. If they were here, maybe they would understand. I just want someone, anyone, to understand. It’s complicated. I’m complicated. But I guess that’s why I’m a writer. Sometimes I need to think and be miserable. Some days, I just need to sleep all day, paint my fingernails black, look in the mirror and try to figure out who the hell I am. I need a day with no distractions. I can’t be miserable when I am distracted. I like listening to sad music to match my emotions. It’s enjoyable. Sometimes I need to think and be miserable. I’ve had depression issues since junior high. I know what it’s like to be miserable. I go through phases; ups and downs. Some days, it’s like I’m on a high. Other days, I just want to be alone. I don’t need to talk about it. I know how I feel and I know what makes me feel that way. I want to feel free and loved and happy. I want to push every last rubber bracelet off of my arm with total confidence and expose my tattered skin with a willingness inside my heart to keep my past where it belongs. I want people to notice that I have dimples when I smile. I want to live, I want to smile, and I want to be the ‘me’ that people used to like; but not today. Today is a day that will consist of thinking and being miserable. I’ll be by myself. Don’t call me and ask what’s wrong; not that you would. I’ll get back to you when I’m done thinking and being miserable. You might not hear back from me anytime soon.
~ Adria Holmes
I REMEMBER THESE THINGS WHEN I LISTEN TO THIS Memory sounds like Motion City Soundtrack in the summer of 2005 when we had just graduated from high school and I was on my way to Endicott College, and the only thing I wanted to do was be in the woods by the lake without shoes and with weird clothes because I love bonfires and drinking drinks that I make myself by the pitcher on my porch with the moonlight shining off the glassy surface of the lake in the distance, and I’ve got the speakers facing outward through the open window and they’re right behind my head. Memory sounds like Death Cab and Daphne Loves Derby on Marco Island every time we were in the car on our way to dinner or to the beach because they were the only bands I liked that my father could also tolerate, and the air smelled like salt, and my skin always felt a little tight from all of the sun and salty wind, and we ate enough fish to fill a lake and drank enough wine to kill ya’, and that was probably the best part. Memory sounds like MGMT while I was living in Lake George in 2008 missing my girlfriend every day but not being able to tell anyone because the one person I had contact with, living up in the fucking woods, didn’t like her, and there were a lot of bad mornings, but there were plenty of great nights with all of the usual lake shit that we always did, and to be honest I did some things I shouldn’t and it made me feel anxious, but at the end of it I remembered the good stuff and I felt good about the summer that I spent at the camp.
~ Andrew Harding 15
Clearance I found them in Anthropologie Stacked by color On the discount table Cotton candy pink, Caribbean Sea blue, Dandelion stem green. I meandered The rest of the store Shopping more For ideas than items, All the while carefully Carrying the bowls, Only setting them down To admire the more expensive Breakable things. The cashier wrapped them In plain grey paper I held the large white bag By its cherry red handles The bagâ€™s size deceivingly large It could have easily held Half the bowls on the table Instead of just the two inside But this was the only size they had I unwrapped the bowls Carefully As if they were a fragile present from my Great Aunt I placed the two side by side On the window sill The dark aquamarine glass Catching the sunâ€™s brilliance Sparkling in a way that was Absolutely flawless I bought the bowls With the intention Of holding knickknacks To keep my desk tidy The thought of using These gems as a dropping point Seems almost shameful now And so the bowls rest Useless in their beauty While I plan to buy a vase ~ Lauren Peterson
How To Train A Rock The first thing one notices about rocks is they are essentially quiet creatures. Adverse to long discourses or extended bouts of conversation, they nevertheless are quite engaged in life. Constantly pondering the deepest and densest of life’s mysteries, thereby distracted to an apparent state of inertia, they are thought to be dull companions and highly unsuited to racquet sports or most other forms of physical activity. Here at the International Rock Training Institute we have discovered, and proven, I believe, that rocks are far more capable and sentient than we humans generally believe. In fact, it’s the rocks’ very ability to conceal their considerable capabilities from the general population that underscores the scope of their hidden powers. So, what to expect when you bring home one of these seemingly inanimate creatures as a pet? Expect love. Lots of love. Pound for pound, there isn’t a more loving, open-hearted creature than a rock, though they can be fickle at times. Until recently it was thought rocks heated up in the sun because of the sun’s rays. After much research, we now know their rising temperatures are psycho-romantic reactions. Rocks tenderly exhibiting warm feelings for their cousin, the Sun. Similar to the way their temperatures will flare-up when they’re with their masters. Unfortunately, such displays of affection often go unnoticed, leading to a deep-seated fear of rejection and humiliation in most mature rocks. As unfortunate as that may sound, this fear of rejection will prove an important tool in helping you train a rock of your own. A simple example will prove the point. Let us pretend we are training a rock to keep us company while watching TV in the evenings. Right off, most of us would make the mistake of placing the rock on a nearby chair or perhaps on the TV itself. Ask yourself, could you watch TV if you were sitting on top of the TV? Of course you couldn’t. And neither could a rock. As for the chair, it demoralizes the intimacy-starved rock to be placed so far away from you. It derails the very trust and intimacy you were seeking to instill. Far better to place your rock on a nearby coffee table at the beginning of the training cycle. The idea being, of course, to gradually inch the rock closer to you on successive evenings. By tantalizing the trainee rock with your increasing proximity, you enflame its desire for closeness, and will soon find not only a docile rock sitting on your lap, but a companionable one as well. The majority of rocks that visit the International Rock Training Institute come here for our “Good Companions” curriculum, which trains rocks for companionable relationships with all types of masters except toddlers, who need to be first trained not to eat rocks or stick them in their playmates’ eyes. We also offer a curriculum focused on “Security” for rocks being channeled into careers as Watchrocks or, possibly, projectiles. Training a rock requires, well, rocklike patience. Much like human beings, rocks form impressions and psychological patterns in their early years that help shape their entire lives going forward. These impressionable “teen” rocks should be treated with great care and with great tolerance for their periodic mood swings and narcissistic bingeing. Should you discover you’re in possession of a teen rock rather than a mature one, don’t expect to win its trust anytime soon. Unfortunately, we won’t have time this week to discuss “strays”, the wild, untamable rocks you find scattered most everywhere. Suffice it to say, many of the wild stories one hears about these highly independent rocks are true. They are unstable creatures to say the least. Unfriendly, sharply cunning and not very trustworthy. I would not want a stray rock living in my home, not even with my children fully grown and out of the house. More about strays later on. For now, I’ll close this week’s “A Rock’s Throw” by inviting you, as always, to send me your questions about rocks and their proper training. Again, I must sternly request you do NOT send me the rocks themselves. And whoever threw that rock through the Institute’s lab window yesterday, I should warn you your rock has already conveyed your vital information to the police who are now on their way. I forgot to mention, rocks are notoriously disloyal.
~ Maxwell Snelling
The Hot Dog with a Home There was this man eating a hot dog The man eating the hot dog had stuff all over his face The fat man was mowing down a foot long like it was his job The hot dog was terrified of his destiny at hand The hot dog was wearing his patriotic colors, red, green and yellow The fat man was almost as excited as a kid going to Disney Land ~ Dane Hodgdon
Early I think I love waking up early. I don’t know why But I feel like I have done more with my day When I wake up early. I hate missing The beginning of a day Because then I have missed it all. For instance, Right now, I stare out my dorm room window Into a backyard of trees. I saw a butterfly earlier Floating on the wind. I would have missed that if I was still in bed. A leaf just fell. That usually means fall is on its way Even though it’s the beginning of September. I’ve always wondered what happens inside The tree when leaves fall. Was that Their life, From one spring to the following fall? And what about the tree? It benefits because it survives Through winter but what of all its leaves? And then again I forget that the leaf is a part of the tree So it is or at least has The same purpose in life – to encourage The growth of the tree outside my window. Who or what encourages my growth? Or am I encouraging someone else’s growth? ~ Sara Peterson
A Letter of Parting to the Deceased Forgive me, my old roommate, We thought that you were dead. We ate most of your chips, And made a couch out of your bed. If it’s any consolation, The feng shui in here is great. We rearranged the room and found We like it in this state. The couch is always open If you need a place to stay. But Tyler… um… if guests come by, Please don’t get in the way. Oh, and I forgot to mention, We tossed your clothes – and that’s not all – We sold your fridge and toaster To the freshman down the hall.
Writing is a daydreamer’s craft. It puts the imagination in a rocket car, puts its foot on the gas, and every so often increases the pressure. Writing is able to give itself the foot needed to push said gas pedal, while remaining an idea so malleable it can be sculpted to fit any mold. Writing is hardly grounded, and there is not one particular way to go about doing it. If there were, there might exist an eternal stencil which every author would meticulously trace when trying to craft a novel or a short story. This rubric would exist to serve duplicity, and be the foundation of the masses. A platter of redundancy serving up more than your daily recommended serving of rotting ideas, and fomenting vocabulary. The flexibility of writing is what makes it so intriguing. It welcomes change, shuns clichés, and evokes thoughtfulness. Writing is truly a daydreamer’s craft. ~ Ian Chandler
~ Mike Macisso
Statement of Teaching Philosophy*
(Or Recipe for Failure in Today’s American Colleges and Universities) Go upright and vital, and speak the rude truth in all ways. —Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Self-Reliance” Speak truth, write truth, be aware of the blinders you adorn! Speak truth, write truth, dare remove them, here and there! Speak truth, write truth, be aware of the muzzle you have on! Speak truth, write truth, risk taking it off, now and then! Speak truth, write truth, toughen up —don’t be so easily offended— democracy depends on it! Speak truth, write truth, open your arms to criticism, learn from it, create from it, and grow! Speak truth, write truth, never quell the speech you hate, always welcome vigorous debate! Speak truth, write truth, thrive on logical argumentation and supporting illustration —tread always upon ad hominem! Know what you gain from not heeding these simple tenets—career, salary, friends, invitations, publications, and grants—, know also what you just might lose— integrity, veracity, dignity, and self! Speak truth, write truth, question and challenge all dictums, ideologies, and philosophies—and don’t ever forget to question and challenge me! ~ G. Tod Slone *This poem was inspired by an application requisite for a visiting assistant professor of American Literature position at Wilkes Honors College, Florida Atlantic University. It was sent to that college with the thought that if students at an honors college could not be taught thusly, then democracy was likely already a system of the past. Never would I hear from anyone with its regard. 20
FAMILY “Fun to be with, hard to live with.” ~ Marcia Molay
Insomniacs in the Auditorium “To me the perversion of sex is an unnatural state of affairs,” declared the slovenly man sitting beside me in those padded planetarium seats. The man was grotesquely fat, and balding, and his shirt was just small enough to display a sliver of the ivory fat rolls of his gut lurking bellow it. “How so Hank?” I questioned back. This was how all of our conversations started, with Hank speaking his mind, and me forcing him to form a theory behind it. I had been coming to the planetarium late at night for about 5 months and Hank claimed to have been coming there for years. There was something relaxing about its vast star covered dome, and the quiet of the automated voice as we passed through different regions of the known universe. We both came here to sleep, me to escape the chaos of a wife, her mother, and two kids, and Hank to escape the drunken ranting of his land lord. My wife had actually suspected me of an affair, till she secretly followed me once, and hid in the seats farther up, listening in on our conversation. It hadn’t taken long for her interest to get the better of her, and soon after that she was there beside me, adding her own voice to the conversations and discussions that arose. After that she would often times join me at the planetarium for a conversation with Hank, leaving her aging mother to watch over the kids, and for awhile it took the place of ‘mommy and daddy’s night out’ and even sex! But that had stopped when Felicity had taken ill with pneumonia. Then my wife had been forced to stay at home, watching over our darling angel. For a while we even tried alternating who would stay with Feli, and who would go, but Feli had gotten worse, and my wife had soon refused to leave her side. In the week before Felicity died, I don’t think my wife even slept, she just kept a constant vigil over Feli’s bed. She didn’t take the death very well. Hell, I didn’t take the death very well, but I kept going to the planetarium, my wife did not. She began to find solace in sleeping, she still does. She says that in her sleep our family is whole again and that Feli’s still here. I still can’t sleep though, and I find solace, in a strange way, by talking about these things with Hank. Hank has no inhibitions. He asks the hard questions, but not in an accusing way, he just asks as if the knowledge of it interests him. And I give him truthful answers. It feels good to talk about it, to get it out, even when it is very hard to say. He once, shortly after Feli died, asked if she was my favorite child. I had never physically thought of who my favorite child was, so the question threw me a little off guard, but as I talked I realized that Feli had been my wife’s kid. I had taken Mikey, the boy, and she had taken Feli, the girl. For a while this thought had horrified me, admitting that I had favored my living child to my dead one when they were both alive. But, as I talked about it with Hank (and I did talk about it) I came to terms with it, and I realized that this hadn’t affected my love for Feli, and hadn’t affected how I interacted with her. I still was a loving and caring father. In all honesty I think all parents have a secret favorite child. They may never admit it to even themselves, but it’s there, and it’s only human, and as long as they aren’t terrible to the other children, it should be fine for all. Hank chuckled at my question, as he burrowed himself deeper into the padded planetarium chairs, much like a cartoon hedgehog shakes water from its spines. “How so…?” He mused aloud, his voice slightly slurred by his immense weight. “Don’t you see where I am coming from? The only truly provable reason for living stems from our need to carry on our DNA. To reproduce!” Hank became more animated, here, his train of thought leading him down a path that excited his mind in ways exercise had never excited his body. “Sex is the only real point to life. It’s what we’re supposed to do, so we can reproduce, yet we’re ashamed of it. Isn’t that strange?” This question was aimed at me so I piped in, the topic already making my brain twirl in complicated philosophical loops. “But that’s assuming there is not a greater being, or a greater level of existence that we can reach. You are posing this thought without considering the billions of people that believe in a higher power or religion.” 22
Hank nodded his head, and throatily chuckled, clearly having fully expected my response. “But those can’t be physically proven to be true while we live our lives. For all we know death could be the end, and all those people could be wrong. And in no religion that I know of, save for the Shakers, and we’ll just ignore them, is procreation declared bad. The whole notion of celibate priests in Christianity is not called for in the Bible, it’s just an oxymoronic representation of giving up worldly pleasures for spiritual enlightenment. Even God wants humans to have sex.” Hank began to turn red, his breathing was growing steadily deeper. His thoughts were exciting him even more than normal, and his hands began to clutch onto his left side of his chest in excitement. “True,” I bantered back, my interest genuinely piqued at such a topic that could get Hank so worked up, “but surely being spiritually enlightened and happy with one’s state of existence is goal of intelligent life, even in the realm of science?” “Ohuhuh,” Hank chuckled at me, beads of sweat appearing on his immense brow. “That is a very good question… hmm… I believe that happiness is definitely important to living a good life…, and I suppose enlightenment could be nice too, since we are in a way searching for enlightenment of knowledge, but I would not say they are a meaning to live… Does that make sense to you?” “Yes and no,” I answered. “It could use some explanation.” Hank chuckled in a deep bumblebee growl. “I thought you might,” he drawled, “But it isn’t that easy to articulate… I guess a person’s own happiness and enlightenment don’t affect anything in the world.” Hank breathed in deeply, and exhaled out small spurts of air “When you reproduce though, you create more, and you affect the world in your own little way.” “I guess I can buy that.” I pondered back to Hank. “I guess in that way, I’ve done my part, even if one was not…” I trailed off, my thoughts broken as Feli came to the forefront of my mind, and tears cracked my dry eyelids. I usually try to not think of Feli for this reason. No man likes to cry, and no human likes to think of the child that they outlived. Hank turned towards me, a look of sincere sympathy on his face, even making it through the clear discomfort that the movement caused him. “I haven’t though, Marty. I’m almost fifty years old.” Hanks hands went again to his shirt, clutching just above his heart. His face displayed stark discomfort upon it, and turned even redder than I knew was possible. “I am a fat old fuck, hell I’m still a virgin, Marty. I gave my life away to food and thought, I didn’t pay attention to what was most important to life, even though I’ve had this same conversation with numerous people, I didn’t listen to my own words. Hell, I didn’t even become a professor like I wanted to. I’m a fat fuck of a college dropout,” Hank took in a deep breath, his face twisting in excruciating pain. “Damn it Marty! Don’t let me die like this!” Hank screamed this last bit, his booming voice enough to startle awake the poor planetarium attendant. Hank’s face began to slacken and spasm, his fist clutched closely upon his dying heart, but all I could do was stare in horror as spittle came from his mouth, my mind not ready to except what was happening before me. Fortunately, the planetarium attendant was fully aware of what was occurring, and raced to the phone on the wall near the main exit. He began to scream at me to do something, as he hectically dialed 911. I eventually came out of my shocked state, and attempted CPR with what I remembered from my 8th grade Boy Scout course, but I knew long before the EMT’s came that I had failed, and that there was nothing they or I could do. It took seven of them to carry him out, and that was after they defibrillated him, shoved tubes down his throat, and broke his ribs in an attempt to resurrect him. He was dead by then, I knew it. His face was blue, just like poor Feli’s was, and his limbs were already turning a corpselike white. He was dead. He who had been my outlet for the pain that I continued to feel for Feli, he died, there in front of me, and I was helpless. I feel terrible, I felt terrible, I am terrible. What is the meaning of life? I’m not really sure. Who is more happy, more content; Me, who knew the love of a child of your own flesh, only to see her die before my eyes, and to have to live with that sorrow? Or is it Hank, who lived a life of excessive pleasure and knowledge, but never knew what love was, who never cherished life’s sweetest gift? May they both rest in peace.
~ Maxwell Snelling
She Had Many Names My grandmother had many names. Blanche, Lena, Bleema, Mommie, anything but Grandma. Always, too young to be a grandmother. I was told to call her Mommie and did until the day she died. I had a mother and a mommie – no maternal grandmother. A beautiful woman who needed men. Not that she was dependent. A strong jaw, four husbands, and work at running dairy stores shaped her character. She and her young man fled Europe as teenagers, crossed the sea, lived the immigrant dream in the East side ghetto of New York. My grandfather died at 44. Afterward, Mommie moved to Far Rockaway, the only grandmother (forgive the phrase) who swam expertly in the ocean. I was proud of her. She went to Catskill resorts to meet men…and did. Husband #2, Sam Berman sang Russian songs, drank schnapps, owned a used furniture store on run-down 9th Avenue in New York. A boisterous ruddy Russian, children adored him. Berman was fun to be with; hard to live with, drank hard while he sang. After twenty years, schnapps and tough, heavy work in his store caught up to him. Widowed again. Husband #3 promised good times and dancing. After the wedding he would not eat out would not dance, so she divorced him or just left without legalities. We didn’t ask. There was another husband for a very short time between #1 and #2, so brief and quiet that none of us knew who or when. Mommie knew when to leave and when to stay. She knew how to stay cheerful – take a small square of chocolate, a medicinal shot of whiskey and excursions each day. Dressed up, busing to a shopping area, she tried on hats, felt the goods. My chin is weak, but my psyche is strong, a bit of Mommie reincarnate. I want to eat out, I want to dance, enjoy a small square of chocolate daily.
~ Marcia Molay
We Are All One People We are all one people. We are all members of the same tribe, connected to each other no less than tributaries that have branched off from the same river. We are all born to a single family but raised in a world that believes in false divisions and the primacy of material wealth. Through lies passed from one generation to the next we believe in our own superiority and deny the innate worth and kinship of anyone we see as different. We are all children of the same God. A God who, like any good parent, loves all Her children equally, denying none, blessing them all, embracing them equally as they return from their earthly battles to find eternal rest and solace. We are all war’s victims. Though we stand as soldiers, or mothers and fathers of soldiers, we are as much diminished by the death of an unknown enemy as we are by one of our own. Remove the uniform of a dead soldier and there is no more enemy to be seen. Only a son who will never return to his family, a father who will never see his own children grow up, a brother to all the others who have been slain in uniforms but buried in tears. We are all traveling together. We have come to this lifetime, to this planet, to our separate places in the world to discover our oneness—and our uniqueness. And to live out our lives as best we can in fullness and peace. War plays no favorites. It kills those we love and those we’ll never have a chance to love with equal ferocity. We are all casualties of war. There has never been a single bullet fired that hasn’t killed a part of ourselves as it takes a life. Or a death that hasn’t left a void in the spirit of humankind. We are all longing for peace. We may be called to war for many reasons, good or bad, right or wrong, but we can never escape the fact we are all members of the same family, and we are killing each other. We are all one people. And we are all victims of war. ~ Paul Stone
So its not how it could have been things always seemed so much easier when I could hear my brother breathing on the far end of a twin bed But now it’s Shell Station parking lots at 3am cigarettes and Jameson warm whiskey down his throat to flood the distance that we both share ~ Johnny Clarke
I’ve always wished that I had known you I bet we would have been very close I see myself as a reflection of you It was just recently I noticed we have the same nose I hope we meet in heaven someday But not for awhile – I have things to do down here I wonder what your voice was like I wonder if you watch over me Why did you have to go so soon – before my birth I miss what I never had. ~ Katie Florance
When we write of fathers I don’t write half of the ways he hurt me. She writes 200 percent. But I guess there are liberties you can take with the dead. ~ Lauren Fleck-Steff
Easter Sunday Easter Sunday watching my little cousins beat the ever-living piss out of each other while my grandfather’s cigar smoke uncurls in rain Kieran’s in trouble Aiden’s got blood on grandma’s carpet is there anything special about smoke in the rain? ~ Johnny Clarke
My Son’s Life I remember when he would take out his school notebook, He would brag when a paper held a golden star. Now he barely comes or stays at home. But independence is just as dependent as an artful dance. He’ll take my hand, yet reach for another’s as I tighten his tie. I’ve always wondered, as he grows, if he remembers our baseball field. Leaning her cheek against his checkered tie, Her body enveloped his as they lay in the baseball field. Forgotten at her feet lay his opened notebook. Fire surged. And as she quieted, her eyes found an early star. Flickering and alone, it hung above every home. Lust came and she was again entwined in dance. To her, every teenage singer is a star Singing alone, her lyrics inflate a colorless notebook. To him the baseball diamond lies on more than just a field And to win is envied more than the non-existing tie. Yet when together, culture is one in dance And the future is always a home. She had walked like a dream billowing in the wind across the field. Where his throat met his chest sat a constricting crimson tie. Ignoring ritual, he thought of music – how he was expected to dance. Had he lost the courage to carry her home? He wanted her after night ended with the last star. Stuck in his throat were the words of his notebook. Every step was the rhythm of a dance. Her last had been in the warmth called home. Passion was gone, but in her eyes he searched for a star. Secured between her body and arms was his notebook Filled with memories, ideas, opinions all from that field His gift was gone with her. He looked in the mirror at his black tie. At the end, each person has a separate home Where privacy allows for embarrassing dance. Yet we all have the same tie To a place much resembling his baseball field. It is our hobby, the one love written in a private notebook, Which never fails to appear, as the morning star. ~ Sara Peterson
Untitled Oh wise man within your eggshell of mortal despair, muse with a knee on the wheel & your head in thin air, I know sometime you forget you’re rooted to the ground Drift in and out of storm clouds I would write an epic about you it would start when you drove off with the gas pump and end with the ecstasy of god. (my maker got distracted & left the bath running) Oh performing hermit, silent philanthropist – you’ve got your smile on straight. you’ve got your ears on straight. you unruly-dog-self-love, you belly-up-technology romance flaming anger stoppered in your fingertips & toes …did I tell you you’re all right? You are/my American, My Driver, Intellectual, Husband, Brother, Father, Tortured Artist, Music Man, Darth Vader, Band Mate, Tolkien Reader, Movie Thinker, You my lion-pride & loyal You my caught-wonder, dreamer-idol, tight-rope walker, solid rock. You taught me the good word, hummingbird and when all else fails, take a nap. What can I say, Dad? because of you I’m brave enough to leave the shire. with you behind me I jump fearless off the cliff and fly a little higher. ~ Nico Lanson
FAMILY TIES When I was younger Natalie Ann Tadelli, my mother, would tell me a story about a mischievous boy who sailed to a distant island to spite his parents. There he met vicious monsters, which he ruled. He told them he was king, and with the authority of a king he commanded them, and they did as they were told. But one day the monsters turned on him tried to eat him, so the boy ran back to his family. With the blankets pulled up to my chin, I would always ask my mother, “why did the monsters try to eat him, if he was king?” and she would say, “Because monsters are terrible tricksters with only themselves in mind.” Satisfied with that answer, but still curious, I would ask, “then why did the boy leave?” and with the patience of an angel, she would reply, “Because the monsters were scary he wanted to be safe with his mommy and daddy.” Then my mother would kiss my forehead and turn out the light, but I never got the answer to my last question. You see, it wasn’t the monsters I was worried about. I wanted to know what was so awful that the boy had to flee his family in the first place. It’s 2:55am and it’s like a ghost passed through the room and woke me up. I stare at my ceiling, waiting, and I know I’m waiting. There’s no other way to describe it. Even Alli’s head rose, ears erect; I can see her, a dark blotch curled up on the floor, sensing my anticipation. Then at 3:00 my cell phone buzzes against the nightstand. The number is blocked. “Hello?” My throat feels thick from deep sleep mucus. I suck on the back of my tongue, trying to clear it as a voice I don’t want to hear creeps out from the receiver. “Meet me at the corner of West Fayette and St. Paul in ten minutes,” he says, and the line goes dead. Baltimore, Maryland has produced some of the most inconvenient, untimely weather since I moved here at nineteen. That was six years ago, and whether it’s a snowstorm after breaking my leg or a nor’easter after one of my basement-level windows was smashed, I try not to be surprised. I don’t curse as I stand with Alli under a shallow overhang of one of the city’s many apartment complexes. The rain is coming down in sheets and the water is creeping up my pant legs. Alli has this helpless look in her big eyes; water drips off the ends of her whiskers, the brown and black of her fur bleeds together. She’s a good sport. Doesn’t even need a leash anymore. But, God do I feel like I’m still sleeping, that the phone call and the downpour is really just some vivid dream. Maybe I’m standing in my shower… Alli makes a sound, like aired grunt, deep in her throat. I look at her, soot-shaded ears perked up like little pyramids. I expect her to open her jaws and start insisting she return to my apartment and curse me for dragging her along. Instead she shakes the rain from her fur, settled on her hinds, and stares up at me. “What?” She looks at the sidewalk and sneezes. “Gazoontite,” I say. It’s October and the air is just cold enough to make this rain ten times more unpleasant than it needs to be. My hands are pressed under my armpits and for the first time I wonder why in God’s name I’m standing outside at three in the morning anyway. I stopped taking orders from my family six years ago. Now I’m outside, drenched except for maybe one little inch of me, and my dog is catching a cold. Too little too late, I guess. Cars pass left and right along the four-lane road, their tires hissing on the wet pavement. None of them are the right one. They don’t even slow down, and it’s pretty amazing how many people go out driving this late. I wonder where they’re going. Maybe they’re all demanding people to meet them somewhere. A car cuts it too close to the curb and sends a wave of water crashing onto my sneakers. My socks are soggy and my toes are already numb, but I mutter a bitter “fuck” anyway. Alli tilts her head at me as if to ask, “are you okay?” I reach down to scratch behind her ear. 29
Suddenly her attention shifts and she jumps toward the road. “Alli!” I run for her, but she stops on the curb and guides my eye down the street. A long black limousine is crawling around the corner toward us. My stomach drops. Alli begins to growl. I let out a raspy “shhh” and she goes quiet so all I can hear is the crashing of rain and my heartbeat in my ears. The limo parks too close to the sidewalk and the last tinted window throws my waterlogged reflection back at me. Already I want to dive through the door and beat the person inside to unconsciousness. Instead I pull Alli back a few steps with me. The window rolls down with a whirr, disintegrating my image and leaving a man in my resemblance staring at me. He glows in the limousine light, fixing the collar of his Brioni suit before he addresses me. “Nice to see you’re getting a shower, Leah.” I want to rip out those million dollar eyes, but I beat over it. “Yeah. Great. I have work in three hours. What the fuck do you want?” He looks from Alli to me and smirks. “Still working that shit café job, huh?” I’d slap him if I could reach. “Fuck you, Brendan.” I can’t stand his laugh the way I can’t stand the deep olive skin he inherited, or the birthday we share. Or the hundred thousand memories that fit into the perfect stereotypical mold of an ideal American family and other flawless shit. “Are you going to let me in or what?” I ask. He looks disgusted. Without missing a beat he says, “And ruin the leather with your soggy ass? I don’t let animals in my car, you or the dog.” I feel my cheeks burning and beside me Alli makes a sound like a growl, or maybe I’m imagining her offense. The rain keeps falling, rolling down my neck, and the longer I look at Brendan the more pissed off I get. He sees it and I know he enjoys it. “You’re such a dick,” I say, and he chuckles. “So, what the fuck do you want?” He smoothes his greased up hair back against his head and tries to look serious as he degrades me. “Today has been an awful day and I decided that I had to find something to make me feel better about myself. Nothing works better than seeing my baby sister.” “You’re about eight minutes older than I am. Don’t get a boner about it.” “Spoken like a real hero.” Hero—that’s what dad’s lackeys used to call us when we were kids, ratting on them for smoking pot or having sex in the back rooms when they were on guard duty. Hearing my brother spew these words at me makes my stomach crawl and my face feel hot. Hero—I hated being called that, as if it were a bad thing, something I couldn’t escape. I decide to say nothing. This stupid game could carry on for hours; meanwhile I get pneumonia. Not that he’d particularly care, and neither would the rest of my family. But Brendan’s smile dissolves and he looks unsatisfied. All of a sudden he’s staring at me as though we don’t know one another and we’re meeting for the first time. He’s contemplative, and silent. Then, dragged out of him by some invisible force, he says, “Dad died two weeks ago. He was buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery in Frederick.” And just like that, it’s over. All the anticipation swept away into the storm drains with the road. Despite myself, I smile. “Is that all you came for?” I ask. Brendan, the ideal child and God’s gift to parents everywhere, is silent. His eyes flash as tension forms in his jaw and lines appear across his forehead. He looks older; twenty years older than me, twenty years older that he is, the way that a man in his forties looks as he stalks closer mid-life-crisis. 30
“Don’t you care?” he asks, wit deflating. “Why would I care?” “He was your father.” “My father?” “Are you fucking deaf?” “About as deaf as you are stupid, I guess. You come to me, two weeks later, to tell me dear ol’ dad is dead, and you expect me to give a shit?” There’s a vein in Brendan’s forehead that wasn’t there before and he twirls a thick-banded gold ring on his finger that I hadn’t noticed. There’s a square diamond at its center, familiar, and I realize it is, was, my fathers. He never took it off; I’d bug him to let me hold it, but he would never let me touch. It became a piece of him. Brendan’s voice brings me back. “After everything dad did, that’s all you have to say?” His voice shivers, barely. I lean into the window, but he doesn’t flinch. I can feel my pulse in my fingertips. “All he did? If he wanted to do something he could have sent me a few of his millions. No, just something to buy a better apartment. Instead he sends you with the good news. So yeah, that’s all I have to say.” And then he explodes, like Fourth of July fireworks, voice booming, the finale, screaming out of his limo at me. “You ungrateful bitch! You think I wanted to come out here to see you? You think you’re that important to me, or anyone? After all that shit you did to try and split up my family?” He jets a finger in my face. “You’re lucky I drove out here! You don’t deserve anything!” And as quickly as it started, it ends. There’s a pause where the rain seems to cease and the city is quiet. I say, “So there’s something,” because I know. The truth. I hold out my hand. “Give it to me.” For the first time his eyes leave me completely and he wipes the sweat that accumulated on his brow with the sleeve of his $6000 suit. I lean into car, getting closer than I’d like to. “Give it to me,” I say again. Brendan’s eyes flare and he looks as though he could punch me. His gaze wavers between the part of the car I lean on and my face with an expression so disgusted I may as well have smeared shit across the leather. But I’m grinning, anyway. Despite everything, the son-of-a-bitch left me something in his Will. Just as the storm picks up again Brendan slaps a small brown parcel into my hand and says, “get the fuck off my car.” Convinced, I back up, checking its weight in my hand. It feels like a stack of crisp hundreds, maybe several stacks. Alli reaches with her nose out to sniff it, but can’t get close enough. When I look up at Brendan, he’s watching me impassively. For a moment he glances at the package; something changes in his gaze, but it’s fleeting. “Don’t visit dad,” he spits, “You’ll make him writhe in his grave.” I don’t get a chance to say anything before the window rolls up and the limousine pulls its way into the four o’clock traffic. With it drifts my anger, and once the taillights blur into the distance with few others I look down at the package wrapped in brown paper. Leah Tadelli, my name, begins to bleed as the rain splats against it. I tuck it under the crook of my arm, hoping to keep it dry. I look down at Alli, so patiently watching me. “Come on,” I say. Alli shakes the water from her head, spraying it in every direction, and then we jog to beat the rain. The door’s jammed. This is typical. My shitty apartment has a shitty lock and the key won’t turn. It sticks. I tell the landlord this every week, but still I’m left fighting a doorknob to get inside my place. On more have one occasion I’ve stood here, wiggling the handle while spitting curses I didn’t even realize I knew, 31
all the while attracting the irritated gaze of my not-so-important neighbors and their kids. Mrs. Connolly once asked me why I didn’t tell the landlord to fix the problem and I decided, in that moment, to teach her seven-year-old son a new language. We haven’t spoken since. Now Alli stares at me while I wrestle the thing and sighs. I glare at her, ready to pull the door off the hinges. “Do you want to do it?” I ask. “Oh wait, you don’t have thumbs, so shut up.” Rejected, she looks to the floor. In my last ditch attempt before I kick the door down, I pull hard, twist the key and the handle at the same time, and shove my entire weight forward. With a heavy thunk the door flies open and I go stumbling through. Alli darts in after me. Before I can yell for her to come back, she’s disappeared to somewhere in my apartment. Wet. Soaking wet. I head into the laundry room, calling her name as I throw every wet thing on me into the dryer. My skin, damp and cold, feels rubbery, bumpy as the chill gets to me. Living in the basement level doesn’t help; the low temperatures seep through the floor and pushes up the heat. I grab a towel from the cabinets and go in search of my dog and a dry pair of PJ’s, leaving the package on the coffee table. Finding something to wear proved easier than finding the dog. It’s beyond me how, in an apartment as small as mine, Alli can hide from me. There are four rooms total stemming from the main living space: a bathroom parallel to the laundry room, a kitchen built off the living room, and my bedroom down a short hallway to the right of the entrance. Yet she’s able to do this every time I need her cooperation. “Okay Houdini,” I call, creeping from my bedroom with the towel. “The towel doesn’t like you and you don’t like the towel, but let’s be civil, okay?” Standing in the middle of the living room, I do a 360. No dog. Just soggy paw-spots in the carpet, from the doorway across the floor, and a waning sense of patience. “Alli, now.” When the stern voice comes out even I’m terrified, so as Alli comes crawling from behind the couch with her ears back and her belly dragging across the floor, I don’t blame her. At my feet she rolls on her back, tail wagging between her legs and her eyes squinty and apologetic. Then I attack her with the towel, rubbing her fur to a slick dampness. By the time I’m done she’s licking my chin as if begging me to stop. I laugh and kiss her snout. Torture, I know. The package still sits idle on the coffee table, my name smudged, the exterior marked up with splatter from the rain, and for some reason I can’t get Brendan’s face out of my head. The look he had, the brief flash of something…I can’t quite decide what it was. Knowing Brendan, it was probably the remorse from losing one bit of our father’s property to his estranged sister. Fuck him. I get up and pluck the thing from the coffee table, rubbing the object inside from outside the packaging. It feels more and less like money. In this moment it’s whatever I want it to be. Praying for a few hundred thousand dollars may seem selfish, but it isn’t. When you’ve lived in a basement apartment for six years, living on the wage of a coffee-grinder, and your father is the CEO of a multi-billion dollar company, you can’t help but imagine all of the things you could have with a few thousand bucks. As I flop onto the couch my finger slides across the dried adhesive and the package rips open easily from the dampness. Alli sits at my feet, tail wafting across the floor in a dust-broom manner and she watches expectantly. I imagine she believes a hundred tiny biscuits were packaged up for her consumption. Confirming this, her pink tongue smacks against her furry upper lip. When I reach in, the pads of my fingers rub against soft leather, and draw out something browning and worn. Then my heart sinks into my stomach, because whatever I was expecting, it isn’t this. The anger forms in my throat like a ball, threatening to rupture my esophagus. Then I take a breath, slow, long, feeling the air slip to my diaphragm and back up again. The book between my hands is practically decaying from age. The leather is worn, dry, but smooth. The spine is cracked and bent, peeling in the corners. As I thumb over the pages, I hear 32
them creak; the edges are bruised from decades of use. The aroma of aged literature is sweet and, like an expensive bottle of wine, grows better over time. I squint. The words caveat lector are embroidered—no, carved— into the cover. I trace over the letters with my finger. They feel jagged and the print is sloppy, imprinted by a careless, shaking hand. Caveat lector—I don’t understand. It sounds like Latin, which I never studied. Trying to remain calmer than I feel, I open the front cover and a piece of paper falls into my lap. It’s hard to unfold, delicate as though it could turn into dust with the slightest tug. Across the sheet in black ink, a neat hand printed directions. 120lbs dirt. 8gal water. 1tbsp salt. B And then it dawns on me. This is an elaborate joke. With his dying breaths, my father took it upon himself to put together a care-package of useless shit. Fury clawing it’s way up my spine, I throw the journal back to the coffee table with such force that it slides to the floor. Similarly, I ball the piece of paper in my hand and chuck it away from me. My hands are dirty from touching them, and all the Purell in the world won’t take the slimy feeling from my palms. Alli, curious from the ruckus, wanders toward the book and leans over to sniff it. Her nose twitches and she looks at me. “Get away from that!” I snap. She moves away, ears back, than forward again, nose against the leather. When she licks it, something snaps. The rage that had slithered up my back settles at the base of my skull and explodes. Flung forward, I snatch the journal from the floor, grasp the crumpled ball of paper, and shove them under the couch cushions. “Enough! We’re going to bed,” I demand. Alli stares at me, the crazy woman who is having a fit over a book and a scrap of paper that amounts to a grocery list. The little mounds of fur where her eyebrows are quirk and she looks away. She’s asking, what’s wrong with you, lady? and I’m glaring at her, ready to burn the book and everything else to ash just to get rid of the rotten feeling it brought into my home. It’s nearing 5am when I slip back into my room and pull the blankets over my head. Ten minutes later Alli wanders in and curls up on the floor. She lets out a long sigh. I notice my pillow is wet from crying.
~ Ashley Serpa
Artwork by Kirsten Smith
“In the Bee’s World” by Luisa Sanchez-Iriarte Mendoza
“Good Child” by Brandon Douglas
“Birdhouse Dominance” by Jim Mulholland 37
NATURE “Of smoke fire and ash.” ~ George Graves
Sparrows Dance The conversation in my head stopped as his began “Two worms lay south of mossy cliff shaped rock. Squirrel wants em’! Move out” I watched the soldiers take their positions in the dust Trying to imagine putting in so much effort for a wiggling pink creature The leader jumps up on a rock as his disciples make circular patterns Eventually forming a triangle with their commander at its point Too many times I have wondered where they go at night While I lay in my bed safe from squirrels And hawks But here is where I find my comfort in their stability And plant my roots and my ambitions In the search for my identity Through a sparrow’s worm appreciation dance Nature is rehearsing The Sparrow, the director Tells me “Move him down left” And as I follow direction The words I thought were so important seep out of my pockets They fall into the earth They get blown by my movements They fill the air with restrictions And stick to the bottom of my shoes When Nature leaves It will take the Sparrow’s words Leaving little to collect To tell our under-natured children about ~ Katharine Clarke
Contemplation of the Sea She sat, admiring the ocean’s beauty. She stared blankly at the vastness of the sea. Sitting, she contemplated everything in her life As she sat, she wondered how something so beautiful could be so cruel and violent. Sitting down, she was swallowed by the sound of the rising and crashing waves. She let the ocean wash away all of her fears. She found her ultimate peace, sitting there by the ocean. Her chest rising and falling in rhythm with the sea. She found the ultimate relaxation, sitting there by the ocean. She set her mind free as she watched the waves crash. ~ Alexandra Hobson
Full Moon It sure was a glorious moon, so big and illuminated, every crater exposed. It made me think how pristine it must be, untouched save a few footsteps, unscathed save a few thousand meteoric barrages, so devastated yet so tranquil. It seemed to be stretched across the sky as if it were attached to some sort of medieval torture device. It reminded me of an eastern proverb I read in a book about Zen. In it a Zen master returned to his house one night to find a thief robbing him of his material possessions. Upon catching the thief he is disheartened by the fact that he had nothing for the thief to steal so instead of leaving him empty handed the Zen master gives him the clothes off of his back. The master then grimaces at the fact that he couldn’t give the thief the moon. My girlfriend insists that the full moon has some sort of control over her, saying that the women in her family become agitated by it. Before I met my werewolf of a mate, however, I liked to think the moon had healing qualities. Whereas the sun causes heat stroke, is what kills you during long desert journeys, and is what is causing my skin to peel after a daylong canoe trip; the moon does not do any of that. Its light is humble, causes much squinting, and eliminates color but it has such pleasantness about it. It seems like the sun is always flexing its muscles and trying to prove itself to be this hard bodied rock star, where as the moon isn’t into all of that. It would rather write poetry, take in a movie, or read. Yes the moon is definitely the nerd of all the heavenly bodies, but that is what gives it its beauty. I mean you can’t even look directly into the sun- despite how much it wants you to- but you can gaze longingly at the moon all night. You can admire all of the moons recesses, craters, and imperfections, while only imagining if the sun has any under its blankets of hot gas and molten energy. It really is a thing to behold, the moon, and after musing over it so much I can see why the Zen master felt the way he did in the story. I now wish I could package the moon and send it to a loved one; it would truly be the perfect gift. ~ Ian Chandler
Crows You were telling us that crows recognize faces and that somebody had done a whole series of serious experiments to determine this. I’m sorry, but all I can picture is a bunch of idiots chasing crows around, screaming, “FOR SCIENCE!”
Mud and Dust Mud is alive. Teeming with smells and richness. Mud is the earth in its purest form. Unsettled and messy.
~ Hadley St. Clair
Dust. Dead and discarded. Left to settle. A blanket for the past. Old memories covered in a protective film. Memories from dusty corners of my brain. My grandfather, Sits and waits. ~ Andrea Le 39
Nature is Us my view on nature What is nature? Everyone perceives it differently. What do you first think of when the term “nature” is brought up? I’ve asked a few people what the first thing they think of is, and the majority of their responses have been “trees.” There are some days when that’s the first thing that comes to my mind as well, but since this topic has been brewing in my head for over a week now, I can’t help but think of the concept of human nature and human emotion. I’ve been observing all of my connections between the different people in my life so intently. We were all sitting in my living room talking as we always do. These two girls have become a big part of my life this semester. They’ve really helped me get through one of my toughest times, and it’s partly because they’ve been a great distraction and it’s kept me from being alone. Either way, it’s been great and they are fun to be around. They’re good people and I’ve been having trouble finding that kind lately. Anyway, we’ve gotten to know each other fairly well, and one of the girls was upset about her father. She was saying the most heart wrenching things about the relationship she has with him. “It took a car accident for me to realize my dad cared whether I lived or died” and “he looks me square in the face and says the most hurtful things-and I still love him.” This girl is one of the most intelligent students I know on Endicott Campus, she is president of every important club, and gets an A in every class she takes on and she always takes on too much. I was sitting there, listening to her and thinking how everyone has a story; everyone has a background and life history. It’s amazing to me, when you really get to know someone; you begin to see that whole person. My mind was set on observing the rest of the week. The next day I observe my connections with another dear friend of mine. We have a half hour lunch together that I appreciate to the fullest. I take in every moment as if it’s our last now; I’m grateful for every second that she gives me her attention. I feel pathetic, and I feel like I’m giving too much but I want her back. I want her to trust me again and tell me that she loves me. Life is so short, why do we do the things we do to each other? We seem to always hurt the ones we love and then hate ourselves because of it. So why do we do it? Why are we so obsessed with self-sabotage? Because that’s really what it comes down to in the end. Why is human nature so painful and twisted? Why is human emotion so confusing and obscure? Why did I do the things that I did? My whole life was set out in front of me; everything was planned and ready to go. I badgered every part of it until I couldn’t even tell whose life I was living anymore. Who am I? Where was I? That wasn’t me. And since that wasn’t me, then where the hell did I go? I went home and laid down with my dog. I was in the thinking mode still. So I started to reminisce on how the hell this dog came to me. He’s a ball of responsibility, stress, constant thought, and constant worry. He hinders my social life, going away for a weekend or just being out for too long at a time. Why did I choose to make my life more complicated and more stressful? Why did I put one more thing on my plate? I could barely handle what was on there before him. Why did I do this? And then I thought, of course I had a choice to take him or not, I never expected this situation to occur in my life. I had to work my life around the situation. I have to not only think about my health but his as well. Everything I do now has an effect on another living being. That terrifies me. But when an opportunity is given to you to save a life, what kind of person are you to turn your back? Human emotion; it’s the most powerful thing in our world, it’s the cause of everything that has ever happened if you trace it back far enough. Every war, every battle, every murder, every fight, every heartbreak, every child, every act, and every consequence. Human emotion is part of our human nature, and nature is us.
~ Alex Kane
Diving Diving Down to depths Air has never seen Breathing from a tank Strapped to my back Kicking like a dolphin Exhaling Seeing the bubbles Float up to the surface Fish! Things swim by me That think I’m a monster From above What am I? I’m a creature they think But I don’t mean To harm them At all I’m an outsider Invading on their property What am I doing there? Why am I there? Soon I go And 5 seconds later The fish forget ~ Max Baun
Roaring Wind I heard roaring wind by the pond today, Not above me or next to me, But in the distance, A mighty gust roared. It blew over the island across from me, I saw the tree boughs toss and churn, Their bright yellow, rusty red, and burnt orange leaves, Whipped back and forth, As if some beast had gripped their trunks, And tried to rip them from the ground. Suddenly the wind grew calm, As if pausing to take a gulp, Then bellowed out another fierce gale, That sent all the leaves and branches whipping, Like women tossing their long haired heads in distress. Then it grew dark. But I knew the beastly gales were still lurking, Because an infinity of leaves rustled, While the cracks of snapping branches filled the air, And as I laid down to sleep, Still its turbulence refused to abate, And as my weary mind slipped into dreams, I dreamt of wind, of rustling leaves, and heard it, Roaring. 41
~ Jim Mulholland
Here I am! I’m upside down, woohoo! Now my head’s in the sand.
It’s pretty warm today and I’m downtown-bound so things are looking swell. Smells like spring.
Aww a doggy, can I pet him? Why not? Oh...
Look at that Hess Station, whoa a homeless guy. He looks nice, wonder whats in his bag?
Aww a construction worker, can I pet him? Why not? Oh..
Walking fast is nice, slow too, but slowness kills my attention span. Skipping, hopping and jumping are even better. Was that homeless guy sleeping this whole time?
Pot holes Pot holes, they should fill in some of these. You could really hurt your car, or yourself, especially if you were attached to a car just being dragged. That’s how potholes could do the most damage: from a good ol’ fashioned dragging. I’m not going to fill these in, I don’t have the technology, but someone should.
Graveyards are fun! Lets see what names look interesting: Flint. Charles. Spike. I feel bad for Charles, he clearly got put in the cowboy section of the cemetery.
School yards are the best. Everyone remembers recess like it was the best thing in the world, and for the most part it was. I always was just kind of bored. The other kids would always push me in this hanging tire swing thing, it was probably the most sinister of all the playground equipment. One day I got so sick on it, I threw up Trix Yogurt everywhere. That was actually pretty cool in hindsight.
Traffic lights, look at the pretty colors. I don’t think I have to obey you. You and your little... light show. Not today. Hooray the beach! Sand isn’t as nice in the winter, neither is water. I should jump in though, let my arms carry me until I fall asleep. Maybe if I died, they’d make me a cowboy too.
Neptune Street, that’s a name. I wish I lived on Neptune Street. But where are the other planets I wonder? It gets lonely in space, you need other planets.
This jungle gym, looks, awesome! I can’t remember when the last time I was on one, but I feel like it’s been awhile. 42
(Here I am! cont...) Some chums, some buddies. Amigos. You need a buddy in space cause its probably boring. After the first light year I’m sure all “the majesty” is just a black hole somewhere. That’s why you need a friend or two. Someone to play checkers with, compare finger sandwich recipes with, count space rocks...with. Wow, that still sounds boring, maybe I won’t live on Neptune; or Neptune Street. This house is really old, wow, the guy even wrote his name on it. What a jerk, it’s like he wanted own it from the beyond. At least tell everyone “This place is mine!” Its not even that great looking. There are shingles coming off the roof, and the foundation, please, it looks shaky at best. Who’s going to buy some undead fisherman’s house with a shaky foundation? Not me! I don’t like zombies, or their real estate. How far till I get back anyway? I must have at least walked a couple miles. Wait a minute, I passed that button an hour ago! I know because I left it as a marker so I could find my way back, like the boy scouts! The boy scouts! Those trees, I remember those trees. And that dog, who could forget that dog? Oh my god. Am I going in circles? Am I a boy scout? Oh. Wait. Here I am.
~ Ian Chandler
Nothing Ever Happens Nothing ever happens In this microcosm we call home. The leaders stand while we sit Contradicting their fellow leaders Impressing themselves onto us In their suits, ties, and patterned skirts. The politicians carry flowers And make minutely promises To the drunken prostitutes Whose vomit runs yellow in the streets. The schemers and the losers Join together in the contest Believing they set the pace In the race under the sun. The loner in the alleyway Dreams of carrying chattering bones to The river and calms His shaking hands, they no longer tremble. The self-proclaimed lovers breed within the rows of corn And while he speaks of physics She thinks of love and money. The businessmen carry computers And shake the world by the tail But I keep treading on the loosened boards But that’s no tail, it’s a serpent To visit the girl who waits so patiently Biting the asses of the meek While others wring their hands in silence Who take comfort in such acts. And cast reddened, deep stares The long-haired, dark-eyed beauty Pity and kind words, I have none Standing in her drifting night gown For someone so willing to judge. Is one of a kind but she doesn’t know And as the people dwell on their issues It’s so easy to grasp a peach And wonder how That’s just rotting on the ground. They can make this day turn into the next The bridge goes on for miles Through gift-giving and sighing Or does it? I can’t tell anymore. We’ll wait under the moon It might end so suddenly And watch as it shines Like burning coal on the ground. We can call upon insanity To carry us away like a seraphim While the leapers and deceivers Make circles in the sand. They jumble the loner’s bones up And cast them on the ground And dance among each other. I could watch them for hours As long as you give me the right To look away when I want to And stand in awe and disgust. Nothing ever happens around here.
~ Kyle Giroux
Witnessing A Blue Morning Sky Alone I stand, In snow covered woods, And glance up, Witnessing a blue morning sky.
Sounds Like Why do we love to be so modern With the modern age come the sounds
My thoughts soar, To join a silver bodied hawk, gliding in circles, Its piercing screech confirming our bond.
Of grease And gas And smog
The hawk drifts, Over a solitary oak with bark peeling, Exposing naked wood, In stark contrast against the surreal blue.
Of smoke Fire And ash Modern sounds like progress Progress rhymes with loss If youâ€™ve got an accent.
Bare and lifeless, The up-reaching oak stirs a strange awareness, yearning to know, What I seem to sense yet still alludes me.
~ George Graves
What was accomplished, During the oakâ€™s long reign, What purpose served, What life secret fulfilled and passed. Just a tree? Simply growing by opportunity alone, Was that it? So bleak yet beautiful in its simplicity.
Recognition I have recognized this lack An emptiness Void of the spring mud And bear tracks in my life
But I wondered, Was there hope to answer such a question, Sought for centuries, Here in the woods of my backyard.
I have yearned for the crisp Winter air And snowflakes On my tongue
And I smiled, Relieved that the answer was not essential, Let it pass, And was satisfied with just yearning.
I now must act Take charge Appoint myself As the nature addict Of my life.
So...Alone I stand, In a snow covered woods, And glance up, Witnessing a blue morning sky, For now...
~ George Graves
~ Jim Mulholland 45
Beo Fights The Snake [Passed down by generations of prairie dogs until a human happened to witness the dramatic re-enactment of the epic and tailored the story as to fit the human race.] A king named Beo heaved a sigh, as up he gazed at the prairie sky, a tear ran down his prairie dog cheek, and then he spoke with a high pitched squeak. “Our homes have been ravaged it needs to stop, thus off I go to slice and, lop off the head of the snake offending, eleven others I bring for my defending.” Then off they went to fight the snake, who they would punish, whose life they’d take, they searched high and low for miles all around, until king Beo found a hole in the ground. Then they descended through tunnels of stone, and shuddered with fright at a serpentine groan. They came to a cavern that was dripping and cold, devoid of all life but the growing of mold, and then the snake came with a rattle and hiss, it’s jaw held agape to deliver its kiss. Then ten of his troop turned tail to hide, but a brave one named Wig stayed by his side, Beo struck out at the head of the snake, but the snake was too strong and his claws did break. Then king of which many song had been wrote, was grasped by the poisonous snake at the throat, and Wig raised his sword to honor his king, and stabbed in the throat the monstrous thing. The snake was slain, it’s body was stilled, but the great king Beo had also been killed, Wig who’d watched him painfully die, slowly spoke as he began to cry. “Our kingdom is done, we won’t last much longer, for where will we find a king who is stronger? We will be taken by force and by might, because of the sorrow I’ve witnessed tonight.” This tale has changed over the years, but that was the truth straight to your ears.
~ Joseph Albert
Dragonflies A dragonfly, suspended in air like a helicopter, hovered near me, looked me in the eye, flew off. Its strange name sounds dangerous, but it looks like a delicate crucifix with transparent wings toward the top of a long thin iridescent body, much like an old man wearing his trousers too high above his waist. My dragonfly was slow, thoughtful, convinced I was too big to eat like a mosquito or a gnat. I was not its responsibility. I would like to adopt the dragonfly as a pet not capture it to put in a jar like fireflies. Keep it free so it can take me along to explore its exotic neighborhood. ~ Marcia Molay
Burst From a Blast Furnace A stream of hot flame rises into the air; casts hot ashes. Some land on an old wooden crate; burn it up. Other hot ashes blow here, blow there, search, search for something to destroy.
You sit among others Time will not pass so quickly Through rain, rain, rain You will stay low to the very Ground you fell on. Why must you wait and shrivel? Time will not give you a chance. Slowly, death breathes on you with his cold breath. The touch chills your stem and engulfs your spirits of Red, yellow and orange. Then you are brown. A brown decay of no light. Saddened and left, no one cares when you are brown. I care that you lived. ~ Janelle Pilarski
~ Richard W. Moyer
Bringing Nature Home I foraged on the beach today for sea shells and drift wood. I was driving home and pulled over. Not knowing where I was going. I walked into the woods, collected some pinecones, got in the car, drove to Tupper Beach, and foraged some more. Felt the warm sand on a cool day An hour ago I was grocery shopping. Now I am feeling the world.
This is the World The sea and sky are gone, The fog has eaten the world. There is no distance, no life, only blurring isolation. Rocks like bodies line the coast. The black waves vibrate like Hellâ€™s waters filled with spirits. My world is this beach. There is only the sea and I. A fog horn bellows in the distance like an old man, crying. Here I stand, on the edge of edges. There is no horizon, only blindness. ~ Lauren Fleck-Steff
~ Kelly Atherton
Sardines In a tin the metallic flap peeled away like a skin what a predicament they are in. All eyes neat rows well-oiled packed in, like well, what they are. I wonder what school of thought they were in, before their terminal canning, before this twist of fateâ€” what were they planning? ~ Doug Holder
CHILDHOOD “Tarzan saved Jane from alligators.” ~ Richard W. Moyer
BAPTIZED Reaching up I pulled off the minister’s glasses. Even back then I wanted a closer look, I wanted to see.
Alison’s Hat Alison’s hat flew off today It went up, up, and away She didn’t know what to say She was warned of a windy day Alison likes fashion, hats, and wind But rain makes her sad Hilary’s heart raced fast As she saw her friend’s hat fly past They watched it tumble towards the water And at the edge the hat did totter Alison reached for Hilary’s hand And then she wondered what’s my plan? That hat had a mind of its own. ~ Children’s Lit Class December 2009
Who was submitting me to this? Didn’t they see the freshly glowing kiss of God upon my pink young flesh. No need to purify, sanctify or vivify. IT burned already within the elastic bones of my infant self, secretly whispering greetings and also condolences for the inconvenience of the flesh. Still they went on pouring water on my soft fragile head. Filling my eyes, blinding me to the sights within. Forcing me to cough and gasp for the purity which had once been mine.
The Little Boy Walks Down The Street
~ Charles Van Eman
He goes by the school. Now he takes a left. He passes the corner store. After a while down this street, he takes another left. Now he’s passing the house with that girl who has the really loud dog. On this street there’s also that little toy store he’s always wanted toys from. His worn out shoes are starting to hurt him again. Now he crosses the street and takes a right. Now he’s on a commercial street with corner stores, restaurants and little Shops and such. The clanging bag slung over his shoulder is starting to hurt him. But he keeps walking. He walks by one of the bars, and hears the laughter and the noise of the music and the drinkers. He wonders what it’s like inside. At last, he reaches the dumpster behind Kelligan’s. No one else is back yet. With a sigh of relief, he puts down the bag of bottles and cans. He thinks, “Ahhh, home”. ~ Jacques-Stephen Benjamin
Candy Says We were friends of a friend and knew of each other a long time before we became friends of our own. We would talk and smile and laugh with each other but only in the company of others. Then one summer everything changed. I noticed that her eyes were the most wonderful shade of green I ever did see and her smile was brighter than anything else. We would stay up and talk for hours comparing lives and telling stories of our past. We used to be really different but now we’re a lot alike. She was a punk who skipped school and broke into houses and was in a band and smoked dope sometimes. Her family has a lot of problems and so does mine. I have never met her parents but they should get divorced but they probably won’t. I told her that I will love her better than her dad loves her mom and her mom loves her dad and I think that’s true. Her house is old and beautiful. The stove inside is old and the wood floors are old and her dog Gracie is old and she has a clothes line out in the yard. The first time I went to her house we did laundry together. There was a huge stuffed black and white dog under the stairs by the laundry room and it scared me when I saw it. We both laughed and then put my clothes in the washing machine. No one else was home. Her room is up the stairs at the end of the hall next to the birdcage. Her sister Amanda has a white bird named Freckle that tries to escape but he isn’t any good at it. She said when she was younger it would fly around her room or she would walk around with it on her shoulder and sometimes it would go to the bathroom and so she would have to change her shirt, but she wouldn’t get mad at him. The light shined through the window behind the birdcage and let me see the dust in the air. It had an old comfortable feeling to it. Her favorite animal is a bunny but when she was little her favorite animal was a zebra so she has stuffed zebra animals that line the very top of her desk. I picked one up and underneath was shiny compared to the empty space around it. But that doesn’t bother her because she’s never home enough to care. She still has her guitar and it’s covered in stickers and propped against the wall next to her soccer cleats and there’s writing all over the walls and I don’t think she’s ever gotten rid of anything but I like that. I pushed play on her boom box and we laid in her old dusty bed that she never sleeps in anymore until my clothes finished. Velvet Underground shared space with the dust in the air and it was really wonderful. And no one listens to Lou Reed anymore but we did and it was perfect and we just talked some more and watched each other in her old bed. My favorite thing about her is probably those green eyes. They burn right into my skull even in the darkest corner of her room where the light is nothing brighter than dull. She spoke more of her imperfect family and I just listened. She is the youngest of six and doesn’t like to be home because staying at her best friend’s is more fun and no one there gets mad at her. That is her home and this is just her house that she visits to see her new puppy and to do laundry sometimes. Occasionally she goes to see her parents, but mostly it is just to see her puppy or her sister or to do laundry. The machine stopped spinning and so I went to the laundry room to take my clothes from the wash and when I looked under the stairs the stuffed dog was gone which caused my heart to skip a beat because how can a stuffed animal move? Then I saw it lying on the kitchen floor. She had moved it when I wasn’t paying attention. We laughed together at my stupidity. We hung my clothes outside because it was sunny out and the wild flowers and the sun smell nicer than the inside of a dryer. Her new puppy would jump on me and so I would tackle him and we would laugh hard together until we cried. Then we would use the backs of our hands to wipe the tears from our eyes and then wipe our hands with our shirts. We put old Gracie and the new puppy back inside because he was young and didn’t know any better than to annoy us when he wasn’t busy eating something from the ground. The clothes were dry and so I took them off the line and folded them over her forearms while she stood there in the sun. We made dumb jokes and laughed at them for no reason other than 51
just to laugh with one another. The breeze occasionally swept her brown hair in front of her face and sometimes she shook her head to get it out of the way but sometimes she would leave it. When all the laundry was folded we walked back into her old house to say goodbye to her puppy and her old dog Gracie and then we shut the door. Sometimes I feel these things that I cannot explain. Sometimes something within, and I’m not sure what but something will just click and make perfect sense. Or maybe it won’t make any sense at all. But it will click and it will be there and I will know it and I won’t question it I’ll just know it. This was one of those times. I shut her old garage door before we left her house. You know, the kind that’s so old you have to use muscles to pull it down because you just can’t push some stupid button to do it for you. And it was beautiful outside and we were surrounded by beautiful things like flowers and fields and mountains and barns so old they’ve become rooted into the ground and they will stay that way forever because they know of nothing else.
~ Courtney Roux
The Hamster Somewhere there is a parent telling a child about death for the first time, placing a stiff body in a Pop-Tart box, taking the burial walk to the woods. Somewhere a mistake: a pet lost, slipped out of hands, running in the crevices of the curb, like a convict or car on a racetrack. Somewhere the boy learns to love, the smell like clove and earth. Everything’s ready: pushed earth aside, carpet of wood chips, water bottle, bowl of food. He reaches in and places two cupped hands for it: curled fur and black pools of eyes. I remember my hamster, Oglethorpe, up on his back legs, trying to untwist the tie on the metal door with his teeth, front paws clasping the bars, shaking the whole cage. ~ Janine L. Certo
Create it Imagine what you want. Wherever you want to. Imagine wells running dry in the middle of fields of tall grass and lines of ladies in red dresses on a stage singing ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’. Imagine small frogs jumping onto lily pads and crocodiles peeking their eyes above murky murky waters. Create images where old men run fast and young boys and girls get their first kisses. Create a place where imagination is alive – a place where ice cream trucks sound their horns morning noon and night. ~ Emily daSilva
Barbie’s Dark Side What is the dark Side Of Barbie? She has the coolest clothes That no one in their right mind Would ever wear Purple overalls With a matching striped crop top. She loses all her shoes, That in itself should be a crime. She can’t stick to one career Teacher Olympic gymnast Flight attendant Doctor. She got pregnant That’s a big NO If you’re not ready. She divorced Ken That’s really the saddest part Turning 50 And leaving the man She’d been with all those years. Now what does she have? A world of young girls Who call her their best friend While she lies on a hard bed Beneath a thin cheap polyester sheet All alone In a plastic Dream House Full of Crazy clothes, Mismatched shoes, And no Direction
Fonda You took me to the shrine On top of the world Where Fonda felt like Everest Never felt so close to Him As I did there Into the Coliseum to pray You told me to be thankful I am and I believe it. Then we’d walk down to the ravine Bottom of the earth Bugs eating our skin Where the Mohawks beheaded The men, martyrs now The ultimate gift You told me to be thankful I am and I believe it. Onto to see Kateri Beautiful brown woman Spreading the good word To the people And died while doing so Because of blistered sickly skin You told me to be thankful I am and I believe it. Little man With vast insight You will ascend to great heights I will linger behind And I will be thankful for you But I won’t believe your passing Because that would mean Believing in your absence And that won’t be true.
~ Lauren Peterson
I know the places on this earth Top and bottom To find you. ~ Kim Candeloro
A Certain Smell A certain smell has a way of bringing you back to that day. Time. Place. It’s as though you never left and everything is crystal clear. You remember your thoughts, feelings, emotions and the people that surrounded you. Like the smell of barbeques has a way of taking you to that first warm, feels like summer, day where everyone is alive and happy, loving life. The sounds of birds chirping, bees buzzing, and people laughing is all you can hear. Your now in summer mode and this years spring is officially over.
But then all of a sudden that smell is overtaken by another. Flowers, lots of flowers and the sounds of sobbing. Sniffling. Endless tears. The memory you always want to remember but at the same time wish to forget. As you peer into that casket and say goodbye. Forever. When that smell wanders along and takes a step into your life all you can do is take it in and go back to the day. Time. Place.
Or the smell of gasoline when you finally turn 16 and get your first car. There’s the sound of constant rattling in the trunk and the windows refuse to go down but your not phased because you’re finally free driving down the road towards the bright, colorful, red and orange sunset. Or the smell of fresh baked chocolate chip cookies the ones that grandma always makes when she knows your coming for a visit. Her warm smile, gentle touch and the sound of grandpa snoring on the couch in the next room. Pictures of you and your cousins fill the walls and the refrigerator. She loves you with all her heart. You can feel it. Sense it.
-- Lauren Theberge
Little Girls Shouldn’t Have Birthdays Little girl, you’re always in such a hurry. You move through the world like a deer through the forest. Never stopping. Rarely slowing down. And never waiting for those who are trying to keep up with you. Little girl, there’s no need to run. There’s nothing ahead that won’t wait a little longer. Little girl, you’re always so impatient. You move through the world as if it were a funhouse, never staying long enough in one room to savor the laughter or the tears. Your eye is always on the open door ahead. Or the next turn in the road. As if you expect the world to grow shinier and prettier and sweeter, and can’t help but rush it along. Little girl, there’s no need to rush the world. There’s nothing it holds for you that won’t wait a little longer. Little girl, yesterday you had your tenth birthday. And though it felt like you had been working and struggling all your life to reach that milestone, for me it seemed like the latest in a succession of fleeting images which, like time lapse photography seemed to propel me through the years in minutes. Little girl, don’t rush to grow up so quickly. Yesterday you rode through your world on training wheels, today you ride a ten-speed bike. And though you still turn beet red when we talk about boys, somewhere there’s an awkward boy who also spends long senseless minutes in front of a mirror. And though he doesn’t know it, he’s rushing through his own life, as well. Rushing ahead to meet you. Little girl, there’s no need to rush into the future. There’s no one there who can’t wait a little longer. Little girl, you move through time like the wind through the trees. Never stopping. Rarely slowing down. And never looking back for those who are trying to keep up with you. Little girl. Stay a little longer. If you can.
~ Maxwell Snelling
The End of Youth Don’t walk off a short pier in the pitch of the moon, there is light to observe. Spying is a fading hobby. Dusty boards blacken feet of youth. She pictures or doesn’t see the clawing bottoms of the dilapidated wood buried and green beneath whitened waves. ~ Sara Peterson
Unacceptable I hate the word “unacceptable.” It’s a horridly ugly word, and my hatred for it stems back to the fourth grade in Mrs. Bundy’s class. Everything that I did or didn’t do in that class was “unacceptable.” I think it was Mrs. Bundy’s favorite word. Of course, she probably just wanted to yell at me and call me an idiot, or grab me and choke me. But, that would have been her ticket to unemployment. She had to use some distasteful, disgusting term instead to get back at me for being such a little shit. And, I will admit that I was an awful fourth grade little boy. I was never attune to what was going on in class or whatever we were supposed to be doing. I’d shift around in my chair and poke the person next to me, because that was so much better to me than listening to Mrs. Bundy read “Dick Hart Was Here.” She would pause at least once every page to tell me to stop doing whatever I was doing, drumming on the desk incessantly with my pencil, or trying to whisper to my neighbor. She’d put up with that a few times, and then she’d just kick me out of class and make me sit in the hallway. Some amount of eternity later I would still be sitting on the cold, waxy floor in the hallway. She would bust through the door and tell me, “Stand up please.” I would stand up with my head down, studying my shoelaces, and she would go on: “Your behavior is completely unacceptable. When I am talking, you are to be listening. Do you understand me?” I’d keep my head bowed and give a little nod. “Okay. Come back into the classroom, and keep your hands to yourself,” she would say. I would be able to keep my behavior “acceptable” for a while, fifteen minutes probably, and then I’d be back at it, making squeaky noises with my mouth, or tapping on the metal legs of my desk. One of the instances where I had to endure Mrs. Bundy using her loathsome phrase to great extent was the day that I forgot to wear a costume for my routine in gym class. We went through different units in gym. At one point we would play basketball for a week, and then we would switch to floor hockey or gymnastics. This unit involved two unconventional toys, the devil sticks, and I forget the name of the other one, but it’s the thing with the wooden stick, and you spin a plate-looking thing on top of it. The point is to master a set of tricks with these toys and perform them for your classmates. I chose the plate thing. But, when the day came where we all needed to perform, I had forgotten about it. So, I had to just get up there and wing it when it was my turn to go. I performed well despite making it all up on the fly. But, of course, Mrs. Bundy was not fooled. She knew that my lack of costume signified that I was not truly prepared to perform. After class she grabbed me by the arm and led me into to the corner. “Here it comes,” I thought. “Where is your costume, Andrew?” she asked. “I’m wearing it,” I said. “I’m on the U.S. Olympic team.” I pointed to the windbreaker I had put on that morning, which so conveniently looked like an American flag. “Don’t lie to me, Mr. Harding, this is not your costume,” she said, “Why don’t you have a costume? Do you think that rules don’t apply to you?” “No, I just didn’t know we had to wear a costume,” I pleaded. “The rest of your classmates knew, why didn’t you?” she said. “I don’t know.” “That is absolutely unacceptable, Andrew.” “I’m sorry, I didn’t know we had to wear to a costume,” I said. “That is just the problem, you don’t think you have to do anything. Your attitude is com56
pletely unacceptable. Everybody else in the class is paying attention. Everybody else knew that they needed to wear a costume, but you just think that you can do whatever you want, that you don’t have to follow any of the rules, that you don’t have to do anything. It’s utterly unacceptable,” she said. I thought her lecture would never end but she eventually ran out of things to say. She took hold of the back of my arm and led me back to her classroom with the rest of the class. When we got there she sat me in the corner. “You’re not to leave this spot until I say. Do you understand?” she said. I nodded and sat down. I kept my mouth shut until, after forever; she finally told me I could return to my seat. We were doing math. I listened for a few minutes, and managed to keep still for a few more. Then I leaned over to the girl who sat next to me and poked her in the side with the butt of my pencil: back to being “unacceptable.” ~ Andrew Harding
MOVIES, YOUNGSTOWN, OHIO, 1940 We took seats in the balcony, first row, talked about the Rayen Tigers, Slingin Sammy Baugh. Just the week before, his 50 yard touchdown strike beat Cleveland 21 to 20 in the last 30 seconds of play. Wasn’t he the best quarterback in the NFL?. Abbot and Costello on the screen, discussing baseball; “Who’s on first?” Abbott would ask Costello and fat Lou would answer, “Smith and Jones are on second and third.” “Yes, yes”, Abbott would reply, “But who’s on first?” Tarzan saved Jane from alligators. His “OOOOh” cry almost shattered our eardrums. After the movies we walked next door to Smith’s Ice Cream parlor; 30¢ for a chocolate sundae with whipped cream., nuts and cherry. Mrs. Smith served us, a round badge on her lapel read “Re-elect Roosevelt in 1940!” ~ Richard W. Moyer
Home is Where the Paint is Everett was the star pitcher of his high school baseball team, and most likely would’ve gotten a free ride to some colleges if he had chosen to go. Now, his grandchildren were telling him he couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn with a baseball. But he could paint it. Planks of oak siding stained white, chipping from heat and weather. Cracks sprouted from the exhausted wood, spiraling knots exposing themselves. Paned windows elegantly frosted with dust, reflecting moments of the past. A porch held within a white fence embraced the outer walls of the farmhouse from edge to edge. Two imaginary rocking chairs swayed and creaked on its landing, evoking smells of lemonade and sounds of ice dancing in a glass sweating in the summer heat. The porch led up to a red door, seeming out of place from the rest of its surroundings. You’d think it shouldn’t be there if you didn’t look carefully at it, painted new and glossy. But once you’d get to know it, you realized the house couldn’t have been without the red door. The door looked painted new and glossy and made the tired house stand up straight with a second wind of energy. Everett captured each crack of time and each hidden glimmer of pride in his oil paints, each brushstroke painting back a moment in time. Everett spent his post high school years playing baseball on adult recreational teams and painting houses to earn the enrollment money to join these teams. All he wanted to do was play baseball, or watch it, or speak it, or sleep it, or eat it. When his muscles began to give up on him at the young age of thirty, doctors told him he had to stop playing. “If you work that arm anymore,” the doctor said, “it’s gunna fly loose the next time you throw a ball.” He laughed at this feeble attempt to make a joke and lighten up the situation. Everett didn’t think this was funny. He cursed out his muscles every day after those words were spoken to him, but it didn’t help. Instead of growing stronger, his muscles progressively grew more stubborn, resisting even simple reaches for the peanut butter on the top shelf. Everett didn’t have anything after baseball. He began to spend all his time painting houses for his neighbors. At first, this was just a job to pass time and make money, but without him realizing it, it seeped into him. Everett found himself aching over missed spots and drips in paint creating naked imperfections. He lost sleep over shades of color. His favorite places to paint were old houses surrounded by fields. He found solace in the open lands. They brought back memories of him winding up on the pitcher’s mound, stinging the catcher’s glove with his fast ball, spitting sunflower seeds, and smelling of fresh, dried grass and sweat. A lingering of guilt came with painting over these old houses, though. Sanding down crackling paint, and sweeping it over with smooth moist color, Everett felt he was stripping the house of something besides its finish. It was the bittersweet of the field at the start of the season, fresh grass, newly tilled with crisp dirt, but stolen from it were the torn up fields of a hard battle to catch a pop fly, and the dug up diamond from slides where the umpire would shout “safe” and the runner would let out a sigh of satisfaction. Still, Everett liked to think he was restoring the house to bring its natural state, the way it looked at its birth, rather than recreating it into something better or more modern. As decades passed, he earned the title of the town painter. Everyone went to him when they wanted to give their house a “spruce.” The more popular Everett became, the more absurd requests he got. Pink houses with purple shutters, old farmhouses with extreme additions greedy for fresh paint. He could no longer submit to these outrageous fantasies of people who didn’t appreciate their homes. To them, it was just a place where they dropped their possessions and slept. They didn’t care who lived in the house before they did, or how old it was, or what it was used for, or how people felt when they were in it. They’d refinish their home, and then proceed to decorate it to make it look antique. He’d had enough, quit his painting business, began work in a rarely visited local hardware store, and pitched this experience in his increasingly growing up pile of disappointments. Everett couldn’t rinse away his urge to paint houses though. So, instead of painting on the house itself, he painted the house on canvas, as it should be, with each perfect crack, chip and withering foundation. By creating artworks out of these houses, he could make them exactly how he wanted, which was exactly what they were. 58
He found one old farmhouse in the middle of a great field with nothing else surrounding it but grass as tall as his waist, he felt connected to almost instantly. His first five paintings of it were glossed over with white paint when they were half completed because he felt the sudden urge to start fresh. He was unable to capture its character, the feeling that passed through him when he looked at it, feelings of sadness and truth. He didn’t know its exact history, but imagined it to be the house of a poet, some transcendentalist who’d look out his window and be inspired by the nothingness that surrounded him. After a few months of painting, Everett noticed contractors beginning to surround the house, measuring plots of land and clearing out families of trees. A few weeks after he noticed this construction he read in the newspaper that the town selectmen were trying to develop the area around the farmhouse to bring in more revenue for the state. Everett used the newspaper as his palette to mix colors to paint the old farmhouse, masking the shallow words with swirls of red and blue. He sat on a log across the street from the house as he painted, watching contractors and business men come in and out. He tried to ignore their distraction and focus on the purity of the house by itself. On a day where Everett was working on the image of the red door, a young girl with long hair in braids with a long skirt and billowy shirt and sandals approached Everett. “We’re trying to save this old area,” she said, “They’re clearing out trees and digging up land, and for what? A McDonald’s, a shopping mall?” Everett looked at her, beautiful in her naivety to change the world. “I noticed you sitting here for a while, so I figured you had some sort of attachment to this place. Do you want to help us?” Everett paused for a moment, staring at the farmhouse, the trees, and back at the girl’s unfailing stare. “Development has to happen I suppose.” He said, distrusting his own words as he spoke them. The girl walked away confused, but returned the next day with a hundred activists about her age. They stood on the perimeters of the field surrounding the house, protecting the trees and the soil. More and more people came during the day, standing shoulder to shoulder, creating a monument to their beliefs. Everett just sat and watched, tired. He was tired of the disappointment in his life and knew better than these kids that things don’t always turn out how you wanted them to. In fact, they rarely did. He learned to take what he did have and make it into what he wanted. He watched the contractors, workers and businessmen pointing, yelling at the kids, telling them they were going to call the police if they didn’t leave. Many of them left with this threat. Some stayed. Eventually, though, they grew tired too and abandoned their post, saying they’d come back the next day. But they didn’t and Everett wasn’t surprised. As buildings of new chain stores and restaurants began, Everett finished. He finished the farm the way it was started. Pure, alone, in solitude, capturing its sighs of the past and its lingering integrity. When Everett painted the last brush stroke, he did it reluctantly, not wanting to be done with this farmhouse he’d known so well it began to feel like he’d lived in it in his past. It was like the closing of the ninth inning. He looked at the rewarding scoreboard, and walked off the field not wanting the game to be over. He knew he captured the house as it should be, and even if no one remembers it that way, he would.
~ Bailey Marquis
LOVE “It sounds a lot like forever.” ~ Hadley St. Clair
He was something He was something plain to me. Notice I don’t say someone and instead refer to his pathetic existence as a thing, Notice that! Something plain that leapt into my life and ate it from the inside until most of it was gone. He was something odd though, odd like an object out of place or odd like wearing winter boots in the summertime. Odd like letting someone you love, hurt. Unstable too, he was unstable like a desk with only three legs or a clutz on a tight rope. Dangerous yet harmless too, like taking in everything around you or asking too many questions I think there is danger in those things. He first struck me as something calm and confident though, like a lion. But turned out to be something silly that you can’t take seriously no matter how hard you try, like a balloon animal made by a clown at a fair. ~ Emily daSilva
You came around the corner. It’s as simple as that.
There’s a gold ring around the moon. I’ve been told it forecasts love.
Had it been one block earlier, I’d have been looking at hats On the mannequins at Howe’s – Maybe quickly jumping over the leash of That schnauzer across the street – or More likely, fiddling with my collar, Adjusting my scarf, To keep the cold rain off my neck.
The moon has lied before. ~ Lauren Fleck-Steff
You came around the corner With a stride so noble, With your hat so nicely framing those Beagle brown eyes, That it wasn’t your worn out shoes, Slapping at the wet pavement That I noticed first. No. Those I simply heard. It was your heart. It was your bounding, leaping, joyful heart So neatly tucked inside the flapping wings of your olive green trench coat That it evanesced, And escaped, Turning the corner first. So how could I not walk right up And cup it in my holy hands? How could I not? ~ Gretchen Hunsberger 61
A Subway Story He sat quietly on the subway bench. The grimy metal was cold through his suit, his briefcase hung from his fingers as he leaned forward, his hair stood upright, positioned by his hand running through it almost a moment ago. The station was nearly empty; he had been working late on the fifteen floor so his maniacal boss wouldn’t fire him. His boss drank too much coffee and swallowed pills from an unlabeled orange container. He was tired. Life was picking at his loose threads, threatening to unravel him altogether. He would go home and fall asleep after a microwave dinner, to wake up tomorrow and do it all again. The man in the suit sighed, depression weighing on him like a backpack of encyclopedias. Next to him was a billboard of a man with a flower, nearly life size, advertising life insurance. He wondered what this smiling person had to do with life insurance. Pulling an expo marker from his briefcase, the man in the suit drew raindrops falling down on the life insurance advertiser. His train pulled up and he got in, wondering how much longer his mother was going to be alive. *** The next afternoon, while he sat at his desk on the fifteenth floor answering emails and nursing a headache, a woman stepped off of the subway to the platform, right in front of the insurance man being rained on. Her hair was pushed back with a headband and she lugged along her painting supplies. On her way to the art institute, she had struck up a conversation with an old woman headed into the theatre district to see a play. A small frown came across her face when she saw the raindrops, and marching over to the billboard, she opened her case and began to paint. Imagine the man in the suit’s surprise, coming home that night to find his raindrops blocked by a bright yellow umbrella, and even more exotic and beautiful flowers by the smiling man’s feet! A grin spread across his face, a true smile as he pulled out his expo marker and wrote in the top left hand corner, “You are an exceptional artist.” When he arrived the next day, under his words were written: “Thank you, I am learning. Why would you draw raindrops?” He hastily pulled out his expo and wrote, “I’m sad.” while the morning commuters bustled around him. The man in the suit hurried to work, eager to see what the artist would write. He left the office on time that evening and raced to the subway. “Smile.” said the billboard. “There is always something to smile about.” “I am smiling now,” he wrote. “What is your name?” “Mary.” It said in the morning. “What’s yours?” “Richard.” And so the billboard filled itself with their conversation, alternating between Richard’s black expo marker and the different colors of Mary’s paint case. Halfway through, Richard began to worry. What would happen when the billboard was full? He felt a different man now. Every day he woke up and rushed into the city, excited at the prospect of the billboard. Work still dragged by and his boss still swallowed the unmarked pills, but at the end of the day Mary’s words would be waiting for him. 62
Sometimes her train would come in after his and there would be no message. Those days were always the worst. Mary gave him something, a sense of connection he hadn’t had in a long time, something he had lost when reality had slowly stolen his happiness. He began to leave work at different times, to try and find Mary while she wrote to him. It didn’t matter how his boss threatened him. The billboard was nearly full. Mary had said many things to him, she had asked him to look at the birds flying, to describe his favorite childhood toy. Everything from jokes to proverbs, Mary’s paint made him smile. But no matter what time he came to the billboard, Richard couldn’t find Mary. Growing desperate, he left work every twenty minutes to run to the station. His boss was furious, but it didn’t matter. Mary remained invisible except for her colored paints. A Friday came. Richard had not slept. There was only a tiny corner of the billboard left. He looked around the busy station as he stood in front of it. Mary had not said anything about their shrinking time. Did she even care? Did she stand in this same place, clenching and unclenching her fists like he was now, her heart pounding in fear of losing this one ray of light in the clouds? He took out his marker and wrote in the smallest letters he could manage: “tomorrow is Saturday. I will wait here all day for you.” When he left that night, she had not written back. He went home and cooked some soup, standing over the pot on the stove and staring at its brown liquid contents. He wondered what Monday might be like without Mary. He wondered what her laugh was like, and her smile. He wondered if she had brown eyes or blue, and who her favorite artist was. He wondered what she was like as a child and what restaurants she ate at most. He lay in bed all night wondering these things, waiting for the morning light to creep through his shades and wishing the billboard in the subway was twice as big. The subway rocked back and forth as it traveled through its tunnels that morning. The city lay quiet, the sun was just illuminating the glass of the high rise buildings. Everyone slept. Richard was alone on the train car, but today he was not wearing a suit. He stood in front of the door, one hand on the polished metal bar. The light was a sickly yellow and his heart pounded against his ribs. The train came to a stop, and the doors slid open. There was the billboard with the rain and the umbrella and their long, wonderful conversation. And there was Mary. She sat on the bench with her case of paints on her lap, smiling. Written in the last tiny spot of the billboard behind her were the words, “I’ll be here.” *** No one really knows why the subway authorities didn’t tear down the billboard, or why some vandal didn’t come along and add their own scrawl to the blissful conversation. Maybe it’s because, for every Richard, there is a Mary. And for every frown life gives us, it gives us something to smile about too, if we choose to notice. This was their smile, and anyone who looked could see that. So the billboard remained untouched till Mary was sitting on the bench, and Richard found her there. ~ Ripley Doten
Finally Over This is not going to go well. I wish I wasn’t such a pussy about this type of thing. She’s gonna hate me. That’s the idea though, right? After that no more, right? Well it’s not like I don’t want to be friends with her after. But, I doubt she’s really wanna to be friends with me after. Well maybe that’s part of what the problem was, I could never read her. It was like I barely knew her. She could be a totally fun person one day, And then completely flip the next day. Golden Boy And this wasn’t just a “it’s my period” thing. She was almost bipolar. I watch your Golden Boy Well just like always I have no idea how from the Irish shores sing; This is gonna go with her. his voice reminds me I guess we’ll just have to see. of home, There she is. of childhood, and the future ~ Jacques-Stephen Benjamin I once envisioned. His newsboy hat and converse sneakers soften me into smiling. My heart sparks when met with the proof I Am Here, Love that people like him exist; people who sing of love I am here, Love, in times of war, In the place that is ours -people who surf Or the place that to feel connected to the sky, Should be. people who wear I stand where you stood converse and a newsboy hat And think of you. when others wear How your hand filtered the dawn Italian leather and wool. Like a dream, I begin to feel How your smile scarred the sky the low purr of hope; Like lightning. maybe there are others I am here, waiting. like him, I am here, alone. like me, Come to me, Love, just looking When you are ready. for some reminder Come to me tomorrow of home. Or in a thousand years. I will wait. ~ Emily Braile I will stand breathing Only lingerings of you. ~ Lauren Fleck-Steff
Transcending algorithmic blueprints of the soul I once thought of a difference and I thought I could make it change I once had this vision and I thought I could swallow it whole I once found serenity and I thought I could plant its seed I once found myself and thought of Green Mountain Minds In the seas of green Flying overhead to The garden of high color ribbons Following and flowing rolled mountains Clean Crystal lakes collide shadows across these dotted lines As calm as a mentor and looking me right in the eyes, she stated fact: I wouldn’t amount to anything without her. If I had the world to give, I would have given it all to Her now my world is as small as a classic Freudian manifestation Tired, angry, overweight, lazy, and bitter That kind of thing time and love can rearrange. Halibut State Park, in Rockport Massachusetts, USA, 10 years ago we both fell really in love. It was on a bench at the North-East overlook the state park close to the precipice watching the waves roll in. No need for a jetty with the massive amount of granite We could see the whole landscape, horizon, and we really kissed for the first time right there. A giving of boundless love and intimacy so profound, it affected me on a cosmic level. I won’t ever expect to feel that again the same way throughout the rest of my years. We people falling in love for the first time in our Adult lives, that day at Halibut State Park in Rockport, Massachusetts USA. It was a good New England day in mid December the year of 1998. I’d say the relationship lasted great for two years solid and then the next year was pretty neurotic... we both changed and forgot to tell each other in a loving way. Shadows across these dotted lines the gift of giving and understanding letting go my souls in love with a Green Mountain Mind I exist for you to find. ~ Jonathan Snow
I shall pray no more I’m tired. You’ve battered me with your perfection, beaten me over the head with your lack of flaws, I am a puddle of me-ness at your feet and I’m tired. For too long your opaline eyes have scorched teenie-bopper-paper-margin-doodled-hearts into my soul. I’m sick of you. I wish I could wretch up every thought of you into a giant stream of forgetting, blasting into the sky. All those years. All those years. And I still have no reason to love or to hate you. Just give me an ounce of anything and tip this balance of waiting. Get out of my head, boy-man-demon, before I meld with the ground like poor Clytie. I feel my feet springing roots as we speak. I know I could stand here forever. Waiting. I have breathed in so many yearnings for you. I feel your tendrils bored into every cell of my being. I have always proven to be less penetrating. If I could just SOS you out of my life I would. (Though I never did manage to burn your pictures.)
Wednesday Night Window John Coltrane’s good stuff, the soft jazz, sounds like people in love dancing slowly on their fortieth anniversary. This is the greatest music I can think of on a Wednesday night. It sounds a lot like forever. ~ Hadley St. Clair
You exhaust me with your omnipresence: A God in every way you are. And I hate-love you for it. Oh, I’m sick of this forever loving. Sick of forever idolizing. My knuckles are too stiff for a perpetual steeple position, my rosary beads are worn to glass. I’m tired. ~ Lauren Fleck-Steff
Forgive Me I didn’t know how to say, “I don’t want to see you again.” I didn’t want to hurt your feelings so I hurt mine, stretched them thin with trying, stretched to breaking – for one whole year. How could I say you were dull, uninteresting? I was modeling you on someone else and that was unfair. In my head, that other was exciting, eccentric, creative, exuberant. You were predictable, conventional, pedantic, conservative. You wanted a conventional woman to marry again, one who needed you, looked up to only you. Your throwaway line to me, “you are too independent” made me finally decide to end it – without mercy. ~ Marcia Molay
If You Were Mine I look at you from cross the room and I cry Because I know you’ll never be mine hard as I try In my dreams you’ll always stay Each and every day As I wonder, what would life be, if you were mine? We fell in love under the stars one summer night When you said you’d always love me my heart took flight But then he came just like a storm And left your loving torn And now I wonder, what would life be if you were mine? If you were mine we’d go out dancing by the shore And I would love you like I’ve never loved before We would live happily ever after Our hearts be filled with laughter And I’d forever be yours and you forever mine Above this sadness I wear a mask that always shines But when you ask me I’ll always say I’m fine Just know it’s you I’m thinking of We could’ve had so much love As I wonder, what would life be if you were mine? What will you do when all his loving disappears? And you’re left let down and washed up in your tears? If you ever need a friend I’ll be here till the end As I wonder, what would life be if you were mine? ~ Kyle Giroux
To Those Who Would Rather Be Feared Than Loved -For Grace Paley, a mother of love Please, you unhappy creatures, looking for safety in power I am here to tell you it’s not too late! You must believe me, you will not fall apart if you let yourself feel the softness of love. It’s true, this love will soften you I won’t say there isn’t risk in this. But look at the alternative your misery is clear to everyone as your life is slipping away. ~ Ruth Henderson
I seek purity like an anesthetic, wait for the middle of winter to cover me months on end, would resurface only if you asked. ~ Chad Parenteau
Keep Me Away From Your Daughters The way we move Like a ritual dance It puts me in a spiritual trance The smell of our sweet sin And the taste of her youth It isn’t chance that This is magic Disappearing act They attract like magnets Currently Energy flowing through us Responding to subtle signs Reacting to body language The universal Intrapersonal Me to her, her to me Fiery romance Beautiful circumstance Pacing myself She pants Hands course over curves Zoning in In on zones Where am I? What is “I”? For now it’s us “We” Until we reach the clouds Cry out to a higher being Then slowly fall to the ground Of which feels like down Down, down and up Travel digits tips and skin of lips Embracing, non-abrasive Trusting, not invasive Welcoming and warming Comforting and soft Gentle and natural Like breath ~ Jibrael Younis 68
Artwork by Corrine Bell
Artwork by Joanna Jackson
Artwork by Johnny Bonacci
Artwork by Ripley Doten
“Self Expression” by Kristen Bernard 71
“Face” by Kristen Bernard
“Buddy Guy” by Lauren Fleck-Steff 73
SELF “We should all run around naked.” ~ Marina Santo
Skipping Dip You sit in the cold damp sand looking out into the still ocean. You think about the water, is it cold or it is warm? Your face is glistening by the reflection of the moon on the water. You plant the empty vodka bottle down into the sand. Your body feels loose, boundless, and amazing. You move toward the ocean. You take off your shoes and your socks. You put your toes in the water. The water is warm, silent, and revitalizing. You hear the small waves, beat against the sand. It sounds like a sound machine you put in a baby’s bedroom. You take off your shirt. You take off your shorts. You feel the light wind and smell of the ocean around you. You strip off everything until you feel free. You let the ocean take over your desires. You lay your clothes on the sand so eloquently. You let your hair down and shake your head swiftly. You descend down the hill into the water. You walk in, right foot, left foot. You dip into the water just above your belly button. You feel shivers, goose bumps, and a rush of excitement. You move in deeper. You are up to the tip of your breast. You feel like nothing can stop you. You dunk under the water and stay under for a few moments, which feels like eternity. You rise slowly back up to the surface. No one is looking at you but you look at everyone from the ocean. You see houses lit up, televisions in the windows, and fireworks going off. You hear laughing and crying and silence. You are looking at everyone. You are alone in the ocean besides the creatures of the sea. You are getting cold. You decide it is time to get out. You walk slowly back toward the shore. You’re soaking wet, dripping from hair to toe. You don’t have a towel. You stand and hope that the light wind will dry you off. It doesn’t. You get your clothes and your empty vodka bottle and walk back toward your house, hoping no one sees you. You look around; no one is there so you begin to walk down the road wearing nothing but the ocean. ~ Olivia Driscoll
Drama We play drama in our lives We play to satisfy ourselves We play because we have to We are a small part of a big scandalous drama that happens in the world Where bad things and good things and in between things happen back to back When one cannot survive, it makes one a cameo But when one survives, one is the main character Drama is what this life means You are the director you are the player You are the protagonist and sometimes you are the antagonist You are the audience, too Our lives played like they are directed like they are scripted This life makes what a person a person When his drama Ends in his own fulfillment. ~ Amalia Wardhany
This I Believe
(w/ apologies to Edward R. Murrow & NPR) Believe you me, you don’t want to be in my shoes right now. Oh, my God, you can’t begin to imagine the pressure I’m under to get this right. And should even Heaven commend the day in my favor, and angels array in all the smallest places just waiting to dance my glory, I still believe there’ll be Hell to pay.
~ Johnny Bonacci
I am not morbid. My name means rational. I’ve seen more horrors than people see in their entire lifetime. They don’t ever end. Most people’s nightmares are Disney World-esque in comparison. Maybe I linger too long in bays or maybe sometimes I shouldn’t make eye contact. Maybe its my face or maybe my personality but I’ve become a human sponge. I know more about every patient than their doctors. Suicides. Rapists. Drunks. Homeless. Porn stars. I know them all by name. People tell me things and I listen; not to write down, just to listen. Take it in. make the best of a dismal situation. Crack a joke. Dont let it get to you. Nothing in here is cookie cutter. More like slightly burnt misshapen globs that still taste good with imagination. I am not morbid. I project my happiness onto others. When expressing myself a hybrid of emotions, and feelings, and stories escape. Like an abandoned boiling kettle with the lid on. Dont let it get to you. My mind is a mix of every person Ive ever met. Enough to drive someone insane. Its complicated. But I am not morbid. ~ Alyssa DiBenedetto
Sometimes I am numb to it all. I don’t feel my body. It is as if I am floating above myself. A lonely spectator, looking on, wondering. I don’t feel the pain or the joy. I live like clockwork, moving through the routine, not experiencing it at all.
Ce n’est pas moi, Je ne suis pas moi. Je me sens mal, Non, Je ne sens pas Pourquoi? Pourquoi est-ce que je ne sens pas? Ma vie, Ce n’est pas bien. Ce n’est pas moi, Je ne suis pas moi. Je ne sens pas.
~ Kelly Atherton
Translation: Not me
Miercoles 14 oct. ‘09
This is not me. I am not myself. I feel bad, No, I don’t feel.
Cat purring cozily on my chest heart to heart warmth helping a cold petting fur so comforting one reason to be happy is falling temps.
Why? Why do I not feel?
~ Maggie Harney
My life, It is not good.
This is not me. I am not myself. I do not feel. )
Some nights, it happens that all I want in the whole world is to sleep on the floor and feel the cold tile or carpet, or wood under my skin. To get dirt and dust in my hair or even to lie beneath a giant tree and forget for a night I am human. Then, I think, I can pretend to be wild.
~ Jessica Richard
~ Hadley St. Clair
The Earth Keeps Turning The stoned politician Speeds down the highway It was only a scandal It happened before and after But it so profoundly affected him So he arrives at his conference With his manila envelope And his suit and tie And sweaty brow He hands out tickets to the show Letters promising a better life Pictures of the happier times And lastly he reveals a gun And to the sounds of people screaming Pleading and shouting â€œBudd, Budd, Budd, put it down Buddâ€? He touches the cool metal to the back of his throat And pulls hard For all the world to see The next day arrives without hesitation And the next year And decade Fires, hurricanes Terrorism, oil spills Genocides and war Until twenty-two years later A young man with hopes And a good guitar Sits in a sweltering classroom People chattering idly all around him As they always do And a young lady with ribbons in her hair And soft brown eyes On his mind He is asked to write anything Something that he has been through And the young man So profoundly affected By a single drunken night, a dare, and a grainy video Puts his pencil to the paper The chatter and the girl escaping his mind And he thinks of the blood And the hole in the wall And the screams of the senators and family members And he closes his book While the earth keeps turning ~ Kyle Giroux
The Flight of a Heart The truth is, I think my heart has known ever since I was a little girl that it was going to abandon me. I had always tried to keep it guarded because I didn’t want it to be fickle, to be broken – so I locked it up like a bird in a cage. I thought it was for the best, but really, no one likes to be confined. And so, my heart harbored a grudge against me for keeping it contained. At the same time, my constant encounters with the culture of India were being fed to it like biscuit crumbs between the bars. So even before Lord Ganesha (remover of obstacles) cleared the path for me to study abroad this past December, my heart was becoming attached. My heart was secretly planning an escape. Now, my blonde hair and green eyes could easily fool you. I’m a true testament to the statement “never judge a book by its cover.” I look Ukrainian and English, and ethnicity wise that’s what I am. But in no other regard is this true. If you started conversing with me you’d learn my name, Geeta, is Indian and that I was raised Hindu. All my life I’ve soaked up the culture of India like Gulab Jaman, a popular sweet, soaks up warm syrup. It should have come as no surprise when the moment I stepped foot on Indian soil my heart began beating feverishly, like a frightened bird fluttering its wings, crying out to the country that had been feeding it from afar my entire life. It wasn’t long before India heard that cry, stole the key from me and unlocked the cage. And that was it. My heart burst free and began to soar, and from that point on, with each passing day – no - each passing moment, my heart fell more in love. My heart fell for the weather – peaceful sunrises accompanied by the voices of local women reciting prayer. Days guaranteed to warm to a temperature many would find unbearable, but my heart considered a symbol for the passion of the country. Nights filled with starry skies and a moon that somehow seemed closer. Surprise rain showers that would arrive with a blustery wind and cool the air with liquid kisses. My heart fell for the scenery – a land that boasts some of the oldest rock formations in the world. A land that’s pale from endless sand and a year where most of the rain falls in a single season. A land that’s accented with the brightest flora and majestic fauna – along with stray dogs as common as America squirrels and cows who roam the street and possess the right of way. My heart fell for the sounds – taxi horns and chatter, Muslim prayers broadcast over loud speakers, stereo systems blasting the latest hits, celebrations that flow onto the road and carry you with them. My heart fell for the tastes – flavorful chai, juicy watermelon from a street side vendor, coconut milk sipped right from the shell, delicious sweets from a neighborhood store, the simple yet mouthwatering dishes served by my host mother (dosa, palak dal, sabji) or an early morning meal at a four star hotel after a night out with friends. My heart fell for the experience of seeing some of my favorite festivals first hand – Pongal, the Hindu harvest, Maha Shivaratri for Lord Shiva & Holi, a day of play that left my blonde hair tinted red for months. My heart fell for the incredible extremes – wealth and poverty, history and advancement, village life and city views, tradition and modernity, joy and sadness, life and death – all existing side by side. And last, but certainly not least, my heart fell for the people. My heart fell for the children born into poverty who still manage to smile and dream. My heart fell for the friendly (sometimes overly) auto drivers and the people who stared at my unfamiliar appearance in awe. My heart fell for my host family and the way they were always pleasantly surprised to discover similarities between us. 79
My heart, free from my guard, fell for a man for the first time ever. Someone who treated me like a princess and cared for me like no other. My heart fell for his family. My heart fell for the friends I made, the teachers who taught me, the people I passed. My heart fell for over a billion people, both known and unknown, who make up all that is India. During my stay in this magnificent country my heart filled up and began to overflow with love. It was free - it was alive. It felt comfortable in India. It felt at home, a feeling that was at times strange but no less true. In view of all the above, I shouldn’t have been the slightest bit surprised that my heart refused to come with me when I left. I stood in the airport with tears streaming down my face and beckoned my heart back into its cage, but it didn’t come. Instead, it left with the same friends I had said goodbye to minutes earlier. It soared into the sky and sang with a happiness only love could have caused. It landed at each place I had been and made its home among the flora and the fauna, the sights and the sounds, the aromas and emotions and people I miss every single day. Studying abroad has made me realize that you can’t live without love, and a heart isn’t meant to be captive. Sometimes, when I feel a beat within my chest, I know it’s my heart beating from afar, letting me know that everything’s alright, and the day I return to India, it’ll be there waiting.
~ Geeta Schrayter The Flight of a Heart is the winner of the 2010 International Short Story Competition sponsored by the Endicott International Club.
Untitled I’m against the rules, structure, norms, notions, stereotypes. How on earth could you be yourself – with a world of such profound persuasion How could you truly express emotions without being judged or marked as different by all Break rules and boundaries and finally feel a sense of freedom Be someone who does not discriminate and project hatred I’m against it all. We should all run around naked. ~ Marina Santo
I’m O.K. No, I am not okay – you are always asking if I’m okay when I am clearly not okay because I am weird and not normal and my jokes aren’t funny. I write because I talk too much and I think writing will stop me from talking but I only write more and still talk just as much, as if my brain is filled to the top with secrets I can’t keep. I’m awkward this way, this way I keep talking – like people tune me out every time I say something. I have these visions – visions all the time that I don’t know how I came up with. I have dreams every night, nightmares of death and torture you could not imagine and I wake up shaking or crying, disoriented like I was just transported through time. And it feels like writing is the only thing to help, because when I talk I sound crazy. No one likes the crazy girl – only the girl who is okay. ~ Jessica Richard 80
Out for a smoke The sand Is still wet And stuck To my jeans, In the Velcro Of my jacket, In my fingernailsIt’s damp, Not dryingGlued to me Like some kind of bacteria. The coal plant lights are shifting Back and forth In a Christmassy motion, As I sit on this wet cold earth, To think, Shiver, And smoke.
It Keeps Me From Going Soft I like the bipolar showers, the water stained ceiling, the way the curtains move even when the windows are closed. I like the way it feels to lie on a creaky cot, I like the fact that our heat is still busted and the water smells like lead. I like the broken banister and the fact that I have to share one bathroom with twenty other girls. I like our meager provisions staked in random nooks. I like the fact that I have almost nothing to my name. It keeps me from going soft.
~ Jessica Richard
Bite My Tongue I bite my tongue too much, As if by biting my tongue I can cause enough distraction For a train wreck To happen in the back of my throat Instead of on the air Before my lips. I don’t say half of what I should, I keep the true thoughts In a lockbox in my heart To which my brain has lost the key.
~ Emily Braile
Iron ground, leaden, barren; ~ Lauren Peterson Gaunt trees, bald, wind shaved; Ice slicks the bridge, a grey sheet covers the pond below. Boys ringing opposite banks, rolling a basketball forth and back. A Birthday Present? My Birthday Present once, and rolling it over ice and seeing a cat pinned in solid water – eyes big as badges, moons of surprise. I walk gingerly now, planting a foot behind a foot, toes behind a heel, as if the broad bridge had shrunk to a narrow tightrope. My past reigns in my present, 9 lives are never enough. ~ Mike Traber 81
Arguments It’s your memory against a catalogue of your sins put in continuity while you were asleep and absorbing a downpour of information like a sponge to oil.
At the Astapovo Station No God. … No God sees. … No God sees the truth. … No God sees the truth, but waits. … So who? … So who sees? … So who sees the truth, but waits? … So who sees the truth, but waits? … No one. … No one sees. … No one sees the truth. … No one sees the truth, but waits. … No one, Tolstoy. … No one.
It’s never enough to concede unless you slit your throat to stop the words, and the victory of being right only comes like a pardon to the dead. As you listen on the phone, a battlefield runs across your back, rashed over by charging and the intent to split your atoms with swords. Emissaries only run to apologize over scorched and salted earth. ~ Chad Parenteau
Journal October 1, 2009
~ Ted Richer
There is a path that leads to a place A place where all human kind of every breed gather A place which is visible only to those who believe A path that these believers have to travel Anyone can get into the place as long as he follows the path A path of perseverance A path that is hard to find when they open their eyes too wide to material things A path that is easy to find when they close their eyes for a while in prayer A path to the final destination Where all the dwellers shall not be removed The only place of certainty with a single path. ~ Amalia Wardhany
Why I Dance I dance because I like being abstract for a moment Not linear. I’m a blur. I meld with music and my veins pulse to its beats. I float and I sink to amplitudes I feel. I am both the conductor and the orchestra. I raise my arms in liberty. I hit you hard and blow you away. I am the crescendo.
Why I am a nurse Because I don’t know What else I’d do It just feels right And I like that I Feel this way I’ll warn you This will sound cliché But I just want to help people As much as I can When you see Someone appreciate you You know you’ve done Your job
~ Bailey Marquis
I love opening myself up To new people It forces you to examine Yourself And your life It is humbling
I have witnessed a Full circle The beauty of birth To the sadness of death And not a lot of people Can say they’ve Been exposed to such human phenomenon.
Why I am a nurse I care for those who Are always in pain, The eyes that water when They hold their fears back Or the newborn Who has no direction And cries out in subtle shrieks As he is brought into this world The smile that comes shortly after
~ Kim Candeloro
The hands that hold Onto mine and look Up with millions of questions That have never been answered And I whisper It’s gonna’ be ok ~ Katie Mason
Bag You don’t have to do that. I can do it myself. I am totally capable of this task at my hands. Is it because I’m a girl and you’re doing what you think is right or that I look small. Well I’m stronger than I appear. I don’t know your intention. It’s hard to read people. I appreciate the gesture but it’s not that hard. I was raised not to depend. I’m not a little girl. I can carry my own bag.
Why I Write I write to feel connected Connected to the earth To him to her To life to death You don’t have to understand It just has to feel right It has to feel real It is real It is real and it’s right here I love I love to feel connected To the earth To him to her To all parts of life And to escape death You don’t have to understand It all just feels right It feels right even when it’s wrong It feels real And it is real It is real and it’s right here
~ Kim Candeloro
I sing to let go To let go of the earth To forget her To forget him To forget death And to remember life
Label me what you want Nice, dirty, rabid, or bright I wont take offense And everything is real To being looked at as dirt ~ Courtney Roux Dirt swept to the side of the room Waiting for the dustpan I’ll wait forever for perfection in this corner Slowly blowing away; pieces of myself blow away each afternoon when the windows bring in the cool, cool air I won’t be in this corner for long though Soon I’ll be outside of that bright but shaded window Soon I’ll escape And be among flowers and trees and grass and birds and bunnies So go ahead label me. ~ Emily daSilva 84
DEATH “Gentle hands become harsh.” ~ Emily Braile
Journal September 13th 2009 The lost kid is still the same sad face as his mother He wants cure for the unbeaten incompleteness He says he may not stop until they are compensated His face tells his searching journeys The lost kid probably knows no rest He climbs up and up and up He thinks of his mother who can lift up the world with her two own hands He knows he cannot stop yet The lost kid wanders lands and seas He sings the melody that he composes Of his passionate, burning, yet wishful search Of humanity, of virtue, of being what he is He would not stop yet.
Fight I hear the wind push his broad shoulder against the window. He’s looking to pick a fight, and I have half a mind to give him one. I’m in the mood to rumble, like the air over the ocean on a night like this. I’m in the mood to tear or be torn by an adversary proportionate to my hostility. I’m in the mood to fight, and so, it would seem, is the wind. Perfect.
~ Amalia Wardhany
Fear of Poets Realized Picture the last face on the local poetry scene: Man toppling microphone, podium aside to better show spreading stain on pants, screaming he is not here for us before mumbling words from crinkled page, eyes squinting over own scribbles, finally picking up open-mic list to mispronounce name of next person who left early. Picture same man closing reading off by sawing off leg to stamp on own face with hobbed boot, rejoicing that there are no slam poets around with their artless theatrics while someone in audience wonders: why didn’t he just untie the shoe?
~ Emily Braile
~ Chad Parenteau
SUBWAY MUSIC It was getting colder outside; the streets of New York City were not as friendly with the icy December gusts of wind blowing in every crevice of every building. The wind whistled through the doors and down the broken escalator stairs to the platform of the subway station. The air was so frigid, yet no one made an inclination or reaction to the cold. Everybody waiting for the subway stood so still, so stiff, with no smiles, no expressions whatsoever. There was a woman with a book, standing on the yellow line next to the edge of the platform. The yellow line that meant you were too close to the edge, the train tracks were only one wrong step away. The woman with the book was wearing a brown dress with stockings and old-fashioned shoes. Her long, dark brown pea coat was billowing slightly in the cold wind blowing from outside. She wasn’t paying attention to the wind, though, nor the other stiff faces around her. She was just reading her book; she was just reading; yet it was so hard not to look at her. The people standing, waiting for the subway were mannequins, posing as business associates and college students and tourists. They weren’t really humans it seemed, just statues, bodies completely void of emotion. The only break in the heavy silence was a ragged, old man playing the cello. He was leaning back in a dilapidated chair, which was missing one leg, and he was waiting for someone to put money into his instrument case. He was playing Bach. He was very good. The melody was sad and was the type of music you would hear while looking at a battlefield after the battle was fought and over. It would be a war that was taking place in the winter. You would see the corpses lying facedown in the snow, but there wouldn’t be blood. And you would see the cannons standing still and used. You would see the rifles that caused the bodies to fall. Some of the rifles were still in the hands of the corpses. Everything was so still, so quiet, the snow slowly covering up the mistake of the humans. Nature taking over, once again. That was what the cello melody sounded like. The icy breeze blew down the stairs again, but nobody moved. Everyone was still and the tattered man kept playing. The woman reading the book hadn’t moved from her spot on the yellow line. She was standing rigid, pursed, just reading and reading. The other men and women seemed not to notice the Bach and the wind kept blowing. It was so cold. The music was so cold. The people were so frigid. And then the train whistled and nobody moved and the cello still played. But the woman with the book on the yellow line made the slightest of flinches. It didn’t scare her, she had expected the train to come, but perhaps it came too soon? The notes of Bach dampened the air and the wind billowed the woman’s jacket and the silence of the people froze the moment. And then she did it so subtly, so no one would notice. It was swift and nonchalant. And the book dropped to the ground and the music kept playing and the people kept waiting. The bitter wind from outside blew the open pages of the book and lost the page the woman was reading if she was actually reading at all. And then the subway whistled again and barged into the station and nobody said anything. Nobody screamed or shouted or moved. The shabby man was playing Bach and the wintry breeze blew the pages of the dropped book on the yellow line.
~ Melanie Duignan
If There Were Dreams Such as These, I Never Knew Them Sitting here cancer-free It is not the five, reddened belly slits Where the oncologist snipped my uterus from its moorings Which come to mind when I close my eyes. It is crisp, white sheets flapping on the line of my youth, Almost hugging me with their simplicity and joy. I smell the fresh earth and wind between the woven threads. I feel the wounds upon my stomach, Now less flat than when I handed my mother clothespins Or when my children handed them to me, I remember stretching up, belly taut and strong, Clipping first one corner And then the next Until the length of queen size sheets was sutured to the standard rope That dried our familyâ€™s clothes, All jeans and t-shirts, panties and slips, Adorning the backyard like Tibetan prayer flags. It was a form of prayer to contemplate them dancing, Limbless, yet limitless, in their kicks and moves. I could stare and stare. My stomach muscles didnâ€™t hurt As Iâ€™d bend down to grab a fresh, wet garment From the creaky wicker basket that held pajamas with feet Or the receiving blankets that swaddled my children Who came from my now-missing womb. Where is it now? Where did the surgeons toss that part of me That once held life, Once incubated the miracles who now walk this earth As solid-footed young women? Did they bless it for its part in raising me up to motherhood and wisdom, Before they dissected and staged the tumor? Did they cup it in their holy hands Before tossing it out among the needles and toxic trash? Let it be a form of prayer to contemplate it dancing, Limbless, yet limitless, in its kicks and moves. I stare and stare, looking at the scars down there. ~ Gretchen Hunsberger
These are the Faces These are the faces which glared at the skeletons shivering in Auschwitz, At the women burned for knowing the name of fleabane, At the slaves beaten and sold on the block. These are the faces that read the headlines, “Death, death and more death” and shrugged. These are the eyes which will stare unmoved at the bawling infant laid bare at their feet. I have dreamed of them clutching my wrists and dragging me Binding my hands and slitting my throat As the silent eyes gaze on, unblinking, tearless, Sorrows forever. Sorrows come like the April rain, I have seen the silence brewing behind their eyes. falling on the green buds I have seen the quiet nod of approval, splattering them As if life were a film and death its star. with a drenching Wait for the credits. pain. Just wait. Then we’ll rise. They come in carnivorous clusters ~ Lauren Fleck-Steff hungry for yielding flesh they infiltrate the safety Of Silence of a sequestered nest. You knock me down and hold me there, gentle hands become harsh under the cover of silence. I want to say I love you, but the words pale in comparison to how I feel, I want to scream You’re hurting me, but even if I spoke the truth, a thousand times, I know you’d never hear it, over our silence.
They hit you when you are at your best. Oh, you strain for the metaphors and view it, well... as a test. You wake another day and wonder when will they let you rest. ~ Doug Holder
~ Emily Braile 89
To Gettysburg My hunger was great, my throat was parched, As we began the forward march. “To Gettysburg” the General cried, And we, at once, began to ride. I thought of friends of mine that died, While defending the Confederate pride, And the lives that those men were denied.
A Poem for Red Gabriele isn’t here anymore The shot was silent. Liam watched as Gabriele stumbled to the side. “You’re bleeding!” Liam rushed to him Gabriele smiled, “A bit...” and Liam caught him as dark pools spread across his pinstriped shirt
Soon we reached our destination, And we knew there’d be no alteration. We drew our weapons, guns and swords, And listened to the General’s words. “Be strong, be brave, and do not fear, Even if you sense that death is near.” Soon the first man was in view, In a uniform of gold and blue. Like many brave men would, he fell, While running through the bursting shells, And as he fought so gallantly, I realized he was the same as me, Fighting for a cause that he thought just, Doing what a good man must. When I saw the officer fall, I dropped my gun, and musket ball, And left the war for good, for all. ~ Guthrie Scrimgeour
“Mi dispiace,” Gabriele whispers But Liam can’t hear, because he is screaming at Gabriele, Stay awake. You have to--But blood is running down Liam’s arms as he clutches Gabriele’s life. I stand to the side I never liked Gabriele I wish I had. ~ Hadley St. Clair 90
DREAMS/FUTURE “I am painted into another world.” ~ Kara Mazzotta
The Life of a Shoe There was a man putting his son’s shoe on for the first time There was a man on a beach trying to put his shoe on There was a fat man stumbling to get his shoe on There was a tall man with an overcoat trying to get his shoe on in the rain There was short man in an overcoat that fell in the street trying to get his shoe on There was a little man with a top hat trying to find his shoe in the snow There was a little boy trying to put his shoe on repeating loop swoop and pull There was a little girl jumping to get her shoe out of the tree There was an angry man yelling at the monkey at the zoo for stealing his shoe There was an elderly man taking his shoe off for the last time
~ Alexander Borre
A happy man If I have nothing to write about I don’t I think someday I will run out of things to say and that will be relaxing and I could do more yard work and die a happy man
Kindness A train barreling down the tracks passes another. The passengers don’t wave, except for one young girl with dreams in her eyes and a warm book in her lap.
~ Johnny Clarke
~ Sara Peterson
KEROUAC IN THE CORNER Oh drunken, screaming, writing lonely, genius. road-rapping, soul-tapping lover of all existent life on earth and visions in the night. Dream reader, speed slamming poet of the highway, loving your soul and zest for life, it is in me, I am you, you are me, I know it, I have felt it, we are special. Shrouds of fog, mysteries of the world await me, as you, but now, different, but the same, years, but not so many. Jack! Why not live to help me in confusion, question, bop, beat, nodding head, drunk. Angry in your dismay, inclusive of the total existence of your soul being life to the millions left homeless in your demise. Oh Jack, I will continue the sound, the beat, IT will be again, yes, yes, as one we will be, as one IT will be, together in prose we will sing hallelujahs of the struggles in the world. ~ Charles Van Eman 92
SPEEDING TICKET So you see the cop on the side of the road and know that you’ve passed him at a speed above the limit and so you do what all drivers do…you slow down and get into the right lane so that he can zoom by and pull over, not you, but the really bad speeder who must be up ahead. In fact, he is just ahead because you were in a line of cars that were all…Shit, those blue, flashing lights and it looks like it’s your turn, looks like instant karma gonna get you, looks like the past is the present and the present got no future. Fuck it. And now all the other drivers, look at them, and especially the ones you passed just earlier, on the right because they apparently couldn’t get out of the passing lane, go by with smug smiles and clean consciences and you hate them all because, essentially, you’re taking a bullet for them. They can fly by you now, as they do, because this one cop who, moments before, was strategically placed just below the crest of the hill, this cop is momentarily decommissioned. “Fly my pretties! Fly!” When he leans into the open passenger window and greets you like a Jehovah’s Witness you fantasize that he will say, “Oh, Mr. N______, it’s you. I didn’t know. Hey, nice speeding! Enjoy your day!” You desperately want to avoid being that cliché, caught speeder but all the old stuff comes up, the big family, the alcoholic father, the mother that expected the best, always the best and certainly not a son who flies willy-nilly down the highway with little regard for Speed Limit signs. In fact, wouldn’t she have loved to have a State Trooper for a son, since way back when you happened to find the Viet Nam war so objectionable and even found a sympathetic doctor to trump up that strained knee you got skiing the winter of the induction notice and so she never did get to see you in uniform. Hadn’t her own mother’s brother, Uncle John, lost an arm in the Philippines and been a better man for it? Never let it stop him, did it? And since the priesthood had long been off the “option plate” so to speak and she’d missed out on that uniform, too, the lovely white, tab collar, basic black with a shot at the really gorgeous robes on special Sundays…though what were priests today, anyway, except chummy neighbors who dressed like everybody else, like slobs and got themselves invited for breakfast after Mass and proceeded to eat everything in sight, except for Father Brady who was second-generation Irish like every priest should be though old enough, too old, now that he kept slipping back into Latin and, often, didn’t seem to know where he was. And there were those other rumors… But Catholic? Hell, this guy, Officer S______, with the North Carolina State Police, is Southern Baptist for sure and he sees right through your godless ways. You’re driving a damn Import with a sticker on the back that proclaims for the candidate that good Officer S_____ sure as hell didn’t vote for. Hand over your license, hand over the registration and doesn’t he promise to have you right on your way? Hey, Mr. Neat and Pressed,want to have me right on my way then don’t pull me over in the first place! Sure, walk back to your car and run me through the computer, nothing will come up on me. That thing doesn’t go that far back, doesn’t go anywhere near Miss White’s kindergarten class and what I did there, on my blanket at nap time. If only you’d gotten off your lazy butt – okay, Mom, okay – and invented that revolving bumper-sticker-thingy; toggle switch under the dash and, bam, the political sticker disappears and a National State Police placard takes its place. Or, geez, you’d gone ahead to Seminary like Mom so subtly suggested year after year and Officer S_____ leans in the window, sees the collar and you’re down the road! Or what was so bad about Viet Nam that you couldn’t have come back, okay, like Uncle John, sleeve pinned up to your shoulder and then – you can see it – the salute from Officer S_____ followed by a sincere “Thanks for your service and have a nice day!” What’s he doing back there anyway? Maybe Miss White and that business from long ago has come up on the screen after all. Hah! Now you hate yourself for thinking that there’s still a chance, still a possibility that he’s going to come back up to the car and praise you for your clean driving record – “Never seen anything like it!” - and let you go with a warning. You’re a dreamer. You don’t know the first thing about people, you walk out in the morning like everyone is your friend, all the poor people, all the blacks and now, so many Mexicans or Spaniards or whatever they’re called – okay, Mom, okay – who are ruining the country and making everyone’s insurance premiums so high. Your friend Joey who everyone made fun of in high school and who you dropped so cruelly, in college, after he’d followed you there and then dropped out, 93
left you that sweet note. Now he owns half of Charlotte and it doesn’t matter to him if it’s Wachovia or Wells Fargo or anything else because he’s got real millions not stinky stock market investments or nouveau real estate that’s really “false” estate, no, he got in that same year he dropped out and you were on your way to, what, an English degree! Oh, look, Officer S_____, finally returning with his crisp and high-lighted computer printout explaining to you, as if you were a child, what your options are and, finally, asking if you have any questions? Yeah, I’ve got a question, what fantasy are you fulfilling riding up and down the highway in your shiny car that you don’t own with all your “gear” on and your cliché mustache and military haircut making other people feel small, scaring them and, ultimately, robbing them in the name of a State Government? What small animal are you abusing late at night and most weekends? But you don’t say that but at least you don’t say “Thank you, Officer,” like the last time, kicking yourself for a day and a half and taking it out on…Carla. Wonder what she’s doing now? Probably dating a State Trooper. Was Carla right for me? Of course she wasn’t but who is, Mom, who is? Did you know that Brad has stepped out twice on Sharon-In-A-Perfect-Marriage? Twice, Mom, but of course she made me swear not to tell you. And you practically fall over yourself because the guy comes over and hangs a shower curtain for you, one of the stupid expanding kind that any idiot could put up but I guess you couldn’t ask me, could you? Well, one thing for sure, I’m going to wait here now for a break in the traffic and pull out without putting my blinker one. All those drivers pulled over by Officer S_____ and his kind, kissing ass and putting their blinkers on. Folding the tickets and putting them, ceremoniously, in the glove box. The sheep! Putting their blinkers on! Well not me, Mom, goddammit, not me. ~ Rob Neukirch
Hearing Foreigners I Once a boy with wanting ears listened while his mother read from a Golden Book. Like a snake her pink tongue slithered, slid, surrounded and swallowed a word; she then pronounced it in English-German guttural. Soon he began reading as an American adult did, or as this Third Grader thought an American adult did. Spending long hours at the library, like a troll beneath a bridge, reading silently and alone. Reading to locate horse opera fantasies, reading for gold star grades. II. He sits, bachelor in a pepper and salt pool of bobbing heads facing the reader’s stage. Closing his eyes when the house lights dim. While the thorn voiced Israeli poet rasps, ram’s horn harsh and guttural, his three pieced mind drops. No longer listening like a stuff suited adult, I am a wanting boy again. ~ Mike Traber
Did Truman Capote Realize… I want to wear evening gowns And formal wear to breakfast And hide my shoes in the fridge I’ll keep my phone in a suitcase Because it won’t stop ringing I want a Cracker Jax ring engraved by Tiffany’s And a collar of pearls I’ll call everybody darling And visit people just to talk about the weather I want to change my identity And start all over Maybe in Brazil, if he doesn’t leave me But I don’t even like him anyway I want a cat I don’t like cats, but I want Cat Because he chooses to stay with me Even after I’ve thrown him out of a taxicab I want a classic Burberry trench coat And a black dress And sunglasses And rain Pouring rain And the one person who won’t put me in a cage I don’t want to be Martha May anymore I’m not sure if I even want to be Holly I think I’d rather just be Audrey ~ Lauren Peterson 95
Home Forever My name is Nathaniel Ward, Baker’s Island’s keeper. Sometimes I’ve felt just like the Grim Reaper. Let me explain myself and you might understand. Seven months isolated, surrounded by sea and sand. Winter is when the islanders have gone home. I’m the only one here, but not alone. The others are there, they can’t be seen. I’m pretty sure you know what I mean. I remember the year was eighteen fifty-two, I made my rounds as I’d normally do. Everyone had left the island two weeks before. The only sounds were waves from the shore. Something was happening at Burnham Hall one night. The oil lamps were burning with flickering light. I heard the sound of soft music playing, And saw some shadows of prancing and swaying.
Caged in No natural light Recordings Of waves & rivers & rain Freshly cut grass & incense Pouring through the vents Stadiums erupting into applause When we roll in gasoline Threatening the whole time To drop a match Standing at attention for hours To watch movies of stick figures Engaged in household chores Like raking leaves Cleaning windows Mopping floors Writing letters to Presidents & Kings Of imaginary countries Begging for books In braille because we’re kept In complete darkness Except for the early morning hours When they shine lights in our eyes To see if they’re still dilated
I wasn’t sure I was awake or sleeping. I started to walk there, quietly by creeping. Slowly opened the door, dark and empty there. Now I know, but recall that solemn scare. Three nights later, it was eleven I’d say. The moon lit the land a silvery gray. I walked Calamity Path to the three ponds, And stared into the water and blackness beyond. In the reflection was a woman standing there. Blacker than black was her coal black hair. Her skin was ivory, her lips were red. She turned to me and she lowly said; “I boarded a steamer that was heading west, Leaving the old country for what was best. We went through fog that was dangerously dense. You’d think the Captain would have more sense. The ship struck a ledge, then we listed. We left that day and all that existed. We went to a place of deep dimension, Our eternity now was found free of tension.” The voice and vision vanished from the reflection, And left me amazed by that vivid connection. These are two examples of what I’ve seen, Between then and now, and many in between.
~ D. Lifland
Islanders say that I departed in twenty-five. This is true, but I feel so alive. For forever Baker’s Island will always be mine, As life continues like grapes on a vine.
~ Dave Watson
PRESIDENTS & KINGS