A Book of Poems
Waiting for Forever by Audrey Boneck
Natural by Ebony Casperson
Green Balloon by Cory Collard
The Snowman by Tertsa Dyer
The Snow Man by Tertsa Dyer
City before Sunrise by Tristen Fagg
Car Show by Kayla Koistinen
(My) Wedding, Revisited by Shannon McLean
Camels by Brandi Nielsen
Canary in the Coal Mine by Raelyn Perezr
Spring Canyon by Raelyn Perezr
Home by Anna Preston
Your voice on a tape by Maariya Rhode
Chromatic Catastrophe by Alissa Spendlove
BorrowsDuck Co. by Audrey Faye Stephenson
Specters by Wes Van de Water
Playing Poker by Crystal Vernon
A Study in Contradictions by Violet Wager
The house, shut up like a pocket watch, those tight hearts breathing inside—Rita Dove, Thomas and Beulah 1 Bloody, but still beating, chained to his jeweled pocket watch, a slave to his time, pressed inside cold metal with only the soulless ticking for company. Minutes, hours, days? Old Father Time hisses in her ear with breath like rotting onions, mocks her with his hands while she stays, waiting for the moment that two different ticks align, and hand by hand together, stop time. 2 Trapped behind dusty doors or behind windows of rusting glass, where I am left putrid like a carcass where flies and worms gather inside of me. Father Time with obsidian eyes, cackles from an abyss But with my battered hands, I etch a hole, through iron through wood, through glass, through soul, and leave bloody fingerprints— rich grimy stains on memories— and through a small earthy hole crawl on bruised purple knees, leaving time rotting behind me, and I will crawl until I can fly.
2 // Audrey Boneck //
Waiting for Forever
3 // Ebony Casperson //
Why is it so natural to live the life Iâ€™ve been given with the milk chocolate skin that wraps around my tall and fragile body, and the kinked up curls that need constant burning, knowing and expecting without any sign of failure, to be judged in and out for the same out-of-control black hair that covers my head â€“ just like anyone walking down the barren street with hair follicles â€“ or that same brown skin that hides the same strong muscles, pink and red organs, and white and calcium filled bones just like everybody else living in the rest of the world?
Through the closed window I can hear their laughter, high-pitched and distorted by the distance. Looking down I can see them stumble by: The girl is taller, curls of young hair neglected in the wind. The boy might look up and see my shape at the window, but the sunâ€™s reflection would hurt his eyes, and he would look away. He has a green balloon tied to his left wrist. The balloon should be red, shouldnâ€™t it? As the boy and the girl pass out of sight I am struck not by the beauty of youth or the death of innocence, but by a green balloon, and how lonely we will all be.
4 // Cory Collard //
The Snowman ride joy until/it cracks like an egg,/make sorrow/seethe and whisper.—Rita Dove, Thomas and Beulah 1 The children are wading through toys in a room devoted to their existence when their father returns from work, furious. Neither knows what work is, though both know what it does to Dad. He dives in before they can prepare, starts kicking piles of their possessions and splashing dolls’ faces into the wall. They apologize, rush to gather favorites, float their necks toward the floor and cry. Mom hears from downstairs—can’t win, doesn’t try. She adds another fifty cents to the jar labeled “Vacation” in the closet. In her head the label reads “Escape.”
The Snow Man
5 // Tertsa Dyer //
2 Tremulous hands, benumbed inside thin gloves, jaded by the crescendo of creation. Their sculpture: a man, short in stature, and portly. Fashioned in the aftermath of a fifth of whiskey and disemboweled clouds. His carrot nose is crooked. Hairless, handicapped, this man is without equal, without friend. So thaw those frozen hands and pour him another shot. He is alone and dying at the whim of the weather.
Geriatrics and night owls work the levers of the slot machines. Cherries, coins, women, diamonds â€“ an endless stream of desires cycling and spiraling in their tired, glazed eyes. Stale smoke and endorphin-pumping music stroll with me through the barren halls of the casino. Released from the pleasure prison, I fill my lungs with handfuls of warm air. Summer breezes taunt and fail, disappointing my sweaty knees and sticky neck, in desperate need of the chills that should follow the night. The casino below my sandals, beneath layers of parking lot and fancy carpets is the only home for insomniacs and retirees for miles. Standing high above the skyline of trees and rooftops, my neighborhood, I see the other homes in the distance, the kind that houses the restless and inconsolable. Their bright, flashing lights, lined up in an orderly row, an approaching army, hungry for the money and attention of visitors and locals alike. I wish I could shiver, hold my elbows and feel the goosebumps under my skin. Sweat collecting on the back of my neck is much less romantic than a cold sunrise. I am waiting for the coward sun to show his yellow face. A city that never sleeps? No, just a big little town that dozes fitfully. I catch it snoozing, sporadic thoughts leaking through the cognition barrier seeping into the subconscious realm. Tiny cars, lazily putting along the tired streets, scary roads calmed by nightlights, their glow falling from tall poles every quarter mile.
6 // Tristen Fagg //
City before Sunrise
7 // Kayla Koistinen //
Car Show A family outing on a Saturday morning, piling into the leather seats, laughing while sliding across at the squeaks and groans. Turn on the stereo, listen to the special C.D.s with something for everyone— a little rock, some metal, even a country song or two. “Don’t twitch, Mom.” The car fishtails, leaving the empty parking lot. Drive through town, engine rumbling loudly— how the V8 sounds sweet to the ear. There are others with engines much louder— feel the vibrations in the air crush your chest. That’s a fast car. “Too fast,” Dad says. Park the car in the deserted corner. Keep it safe from clumsy hands with wide swinging doors. Feel the sun on your face—it heats up the skin. The warmest weather since last summer. Walk hand in hand and look at the fancy paint jobs. Some we scoff at while we approve of others. Cars from all years, all types. New or Classic. Restored or Rusted. Stock or after market. We glance at them all, but search for our favorite— The Mustang. Take special care in admiring these cars. It’s important to notice the interior or the exterior designs. “Not my taste, I say to some things And, “I want it!” to others. A day at the car show with lunch and a smooth drive home, laughing and talking about our favorite spectacles turning corner after corner.
Now he’s raised a mast/and tied himself to it/with rags… —Rita Dove, Thomas and Beulah The extended groan of the belching bagpipes lurches into a somber rendition of “Scotland the Brave.” I can’t breathe in this corset. Instead of one majestic tree growing up the side of the marzipan, there are caterpillar branches thrown by a baker’s breeze willy-nilly everywhere. I can’t breathe in this. Relegated to the back of the line, the evil glimmer of the chandelier is a tempting escape route— wild Jane swinging like Cheetah in a princess costume. I can’t breathe in. Slippery flip flops and I’m almost on my face, in his face, laughing at the bee bumbling in and out of the rhododendrons, blissfully unaware it was the daisies who started it all. I can’t breathe. Waterfall slashes the air, violent symbols heralding a disaster—“Would you like a piece of gum?” I can’t. Empty white wicker chairs absorb the words spoken. I.
8 // Shannon McLean //
(My) Wedding, Revisited
9 // Brandi Nielsen //
Camels I wonder aloud about Camels: What are they like? Do you have any? I am told a story about some twenty five camels that poked their heads through the window of their master’s car, not knowing their ownership had changed. I had only seen a camel once at a fair, trotting children around a corral on its back, an exotic, intimidating animal. I ask if they are dangerous. They are. He tells me that you must take precautions when you kill them. Kill them? What for? He tells me that they can be eaten; they taste like beef and mutton. He finds a video to show me what the process is like. A Camel moans, knees in sand, its legs roped together. A man pulls its bound head around to its flank, and after a moment, draws a short blade and plunges it into the animals neck. It screams. He withdraws and plunges it again and again. I have to try not to laugh and cry at once: The blood sprays out like a scene from Sweeny Todd. The Camel is dead, but the man thrashes the knife until the head comes off, leaving a crimson stump. I ask quietly why the man didn’t just shoot the camel. “It’s not our way.”
The gloved hand gently slides the skeleton key into the iron ribs, clicking the lock out of place. He peers inside the cage, shining his headlight on the small yellow feathers, and the silent, peach beak. Carbon Monoxide, whispers the headache, stomping on his eyes. The miner gently reaches in the skeletal cage, cupping his tiny friend in his overly large gloves, looking at the small, golden chest no longer vibrating songs of life through the dark corridors. He slumps down, thick sleep shutting his eyes. His mining helmet clunks against the wall. Soot settles over the resting bodies, covering his brown coat and pick with a fine layer. The black dust smothers the sunfloweryellow canary cradled against his chest.
Spring Canyon A canary dips and rises, through the green and brown canyon. Brown, shattered beer glass and burnt matches for joints litter the mouth of the Storrs Mine, hidden within Spring Canyon. The bird sings the freedom from the mines, her song filling the ghost town with splotches of yellow life, reaching the long forgotten myths that forever haunt the local teenagers, wandering on a dare through the broken buildings and abandoned corridors.
10 // Raelyn Perezr //
Canary in the Coal Mine
Home Since I was born, I have been scattered all across 3 countries, 5 states, 11 cities, and 25 houses— the places I’ve called home. It’s been twenty three years since it started and my heart can’t make sense of it. I don’t know how teach it to summon back the missing parts. Home is where the heart is, so somebody said. They must mean the beating heart, the muscle in my chest heart that pumps the blood and makes the oxygen carry me onward and upward into the starts of new days heart. They couldn’t mean, shouldn’t mean the other heart. The heart that burns and loves and breaks and breaks and bursts and beams. The heart with all the stiches and the patches and the bits all held together with the super-glue of new experiences. The warm and gooey center of all things pink and fluffy heart? Not that one.
11 // Anna Preston //
If they meant my heart, they must have meant the heart that’s split into 3x5x11x25 sized pieces that don’t fit back together quite like they are supposed to. The bits that have gone missing— the links to the past parts of who I am.
Your voice on a tape, tells me stories, poems, and rhymes. Me playing dress up and dolls, when I was little, then later, when I tried on your wedding dress and it fit— Grandpa, who showed little emotion and spoke fewer words, told me I was beautiful. I blushed. I thought you were old then— ancient and wise. But now, I see better. Cool hands like parchment, even cooler and faded and thinner. Gossamer hair— you still have the same complaints about it— but they sound like a record repeating, skipping. It’s not fair I found you again too late, something precious rediscovered just when I was leaving. And when I return, every time, a little more gone. Like a pebble on a beach.
12 // Maariya Rhodes //
Your voice on a tape
Chromatic Catastrophe His fingers were just as flashy as his black fedora. Every note jumped and sparked in perfect off-beat, like a sick heart. Nails cut short still made that clickity-clack against the keys. Precision of perfectly placed fingers couldn’t hide the click of adorned digits, though his music didn’t suffer for it. The sweat of a performance wasn’t too much to take. It was just too much to fake. One of those noisy nails fumbled across the notes. Silence of failure could only be drowned out by pounding as hard as possible on those keys that sounded so beautiful
13 // Alissa Spendlove //
And so frustrating.
Opens what is shut Secrets kept within Skeleton in locked closet Rusted skin Cold metal tomb Punished child’s axe Deadbolt, combination Iron that yields gold The inevitably lost keeper Click and clank Chains the man to his plow Eats the sinner’s days whole Death’s friend but the executioner’s enemy Worse than death, saves lives Justice and mercy in one Tightens the chains, loosens the noose Keeps the kept and starts the journey BarrowsDuck Co.
14 // Audrey Faye Stephenson //
Specters That is what I used to call the memories. They lived in the shelter of the shadows while I slept. Slithering tendrils that strangled me in the daytime. Even ravaging the realms of my daydreams. Your face begins to fade from my memory, The callous silhouette of you marching away lingers in the fringes of my mind, leaving it a place of ruin. Shattered fragments of my trust thrown to the winds. These echoes are what you left behind, All that remains of the man I once knew. Jagged shadows that lick at my heels. They, too, are falling into memory, transforming into legend and myth until the day comes that these Demons of the dawn fade into the silence.
15 // Wes Van de Water //
Now they follow in your footsteps.
I look up from my hand of cards. I’ve got a dang good run. (I say dang, because I don’t cuss around Grandma) She taught me this game when I was three, just old enough to hold my own cards. My hands are bigger now. I fan out my run on the table and grin then I reach for the dish of candy— an ever-present entity on Grandma’s kitchen counter. She smiles, proud of me, though it was all the luck of the dealer. Little skill to be had in rummy. She lays down her run, better than mine, she’s probably had for a few turns holding onto it so that I don’t lose. She still plays like I’m learning, though I’ve re-taught her the rules a few times when she forgot them in the mess of recipes and luncheon appointments. I try to live up to what she is: a beautiful woman who overcame every trial placed in her path and raised a beautiful family. The smile lines on her cheeks from a poker face, developed in the sixties while raising two boisterous boys. I stand up to refresh our drinks. “You’ve always been such a good helper” “Thank you, Grandma” “You’re going to make some man very happy one day.” I try to live up to what she sees: a beautiful woman capable of conquering the world. That’s not what I see but I smile anyway— lines deepening into my own poker face.
16 // Crystal Vernon //
A Study in Contradictions Close your eyes and hear the blue and violet tones, streaming pictures through your mind and bowing feeling after feeling across your heart— shifting with each note, a little more each variation. The sound runs away with you, free, loose, uncontrolled. Uncontrollable.
17 // Violet Wager //
Open your eyes and see perfect poise— the elegance of black and silver placed straight and firm against the varnished spruce and maple of the wooden instruments. Every foot placed perfectly, every motion of the hand precise. Every sway of the torso a tentative freedom, punctuated by refined bursts of energy. Every note wild and effortless, produced by painful study and painstaking care. A perfectly played rhapsody, shining more for all the times they got it wrong. A pursed brow and a shift in a seat— human nature weaving itself through an inhuman melody, the only variation in a perfect, precise, practiced, and re-practiced piece. Theme and variation. Sight and sound. Audience and performer: a study in contradictions. Six movements of a single song.
CO LO P H O N
This collection of poems written by students in Danielle Dubraskyâ€™s Advanced Poetry Writing course at Southern Utah University. Printing: Digital Typefaces: Gotham and Mercury Text Paper: Mohawk Superfine Ultrawhite Design: Jessica Gerlach March 2013 In an edition of three this is