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The Courant Fall 2012

The Courant ~

Fall 2012

The Courant 2012-2013 Board Veronica Harrington and Jing Qu Editors-in-Chief

Fiction Editors

Arts Editor

Poetry Editors

Julie Zhou Casey Durant Pearson Goodman

Stephen Moreland

Soha Sanchorawala Madeleine Lippey

Layout & Design Rani Iyer Gregory Cameron Marketing Mikaela Rabb Autumn Plumbo Katie Williams Brendan O’Connell

Faculty Advisor Paul Tortorella

Table of Contents Zoe Gallagher Sketch Cover Pester Longfrank Lakefire 8 Flies of Fire 11 Henry Kennelly Untitled 16 Soha Sanchorawala Blow 17 Theo Agbi Apple 22 Things I Would Tweet if I Had a Twitter 24 PuppleGum 29 Annika Necklason the weather girl says the cold is coming in


Anonymous Untitled 44 Madeleine Lippey Gypsy Powder 50 Alex Demuelenaere Picasso’s Guernica 53 VÊzalay 54 Millennium Man 58

Nate Smith Albatross 59 Baker Street Bluees 60 Youth ministry at the West campus, Wednesdays 6-8... 61 Brendan O’Connell The Vermillion Streetlight 64 Mary Catherine Nanda Untitled 68 David Belluche, Michael Lata, & Jason Nawrocki Auxiliary Introspection 71 Larry Flynn Some Things Never Change


Victoria Leap Conquistador of Mind 76 Isabel Cropsey The Window 78 Adrienne Pisch Post-Apocalyptic Narration 82 Jared Newman The Eight Stories of Water


Pester Longfrank Lakefire A starry bright night Deep in the north Maine woods A lake of glass Sleeps under The mountains, Crickets like Firecrackers And stars like The sun, Cool has overtaken Heat, and Light has faded into Darkness. I settled by the fire Birch-bark Smoke in the air, To watch flames dance And embrace the warmth. I know that Stars are flames. I know that Water is glass.


Water is glass. Glass that Melts in The bright of The day, forming A pure White ground fog Above it. My gaze stretches Skyward— Stars shoot, Like droplets of rain until— Time for a swim. I strike the lake And the cold strikes me, Cold in my bones, And the lake consumes me. The lake consumes me. But what of the fire? Gone to ground No flames Dance, I am Sorry, For a moment, To have let


The fire die, Until I see, Embers too dance. And the stars are flames. Embers do dance And the stars are flames. Flames like hands Spreading a red haze, Stars watch themselves, In the black-water glaze, Summer takes me By the hand– And I go ~


Pester Longfrank Flies of Fire Dance, fly. Dance in the cool night air, Still warm bodies, Heat from the day, Dance in the springtime. I walk through the throngs of people, They all tower over me, and the ever-bright Moon glows as if divine. As I walked between the men And through the smoke of the bonfire Everybody was laughing– I didn’t know why, But I laughed along. I was only 9 years old, When I left the inferno– The bonfire in the yard. I reached out, only to be burned By the top of a lamp resting on a Nearby stump. I guess Some lessons are never forgotten–


My hand was searing But I tried to show no pain And trotted off to the woods Moonlight illuminates the forest floor And I am alone. I search for water To cool my hand, But there is only Earth. Then I saw it: A fly. My pain dwindled as I followed it intently And then it happened: A burst of light A burst of flame. A small bug With such great power, and Before my eyes The whole forest is aglow– Like Christmas lights, Like embers floating, in The night sky I followed one To harness the light And caught him– I looked into the cup of my hands And luminous yellow-green Flowed from the cracks, but


I let the fly go. I left the woods, With the feeling of Having traveled a great deal And I looked down at my palm: Three concentric circlesThe pattern of the lantern top On my hand. ~



stephen moreland 15

Henry Kennelly Untitled The child draws his curious Hooked finger through the wet sand, Short-lived curls and vague figures Dissolving into the pillow of the sea. Disappointed in the ruin Of his every stroke, He drops his hand by his side, And stares at the flat, shiny surface, His work erased. He becomes aware Of the infinite space around him; He looks up, Observing potential canvas nearby From his low squat. He rests his chin on his knee, Only to find more sand, Scratchy on his soft face. A wipe from his hand Only brings more tiny grains of irritation. Sacrificing comfort for artistic potential, He marches up to higher ground, Where the sand is less shiny, And the water doesn’t come so close. He plops down into his deep squat, Blood rushing into his face, His mouth clicks as the saliva separates, Opening his mouth to breath Because it became too hard To just use his nose. He re-extends his curious hook, And draws himself a nice turtle. ~


Soha Sanchorawala Blow she tries to hold the mug of tea but it fevers against her finger’s grasp as warming moisture slides out holes of the bag into the empty water twisting itself round and she waits motionless for the silence to swallow itself and her eyes follow the trail of the stirrer twisting round like a drunk who drank not enough water with a spiced fish dish a glass deserted her eyes follow until even the bend of her trembling knees can’t quench the dizziness and she brings the burn to her shivering lips and blows into the blue cup before touching the ever-escaping tea to the insides of her mouth ~


emmie avvakumova 18

gina sawaya 19


alex westfall 21

Theo Agbi Apple Curious lips quiver at the sinful caress of plump taut flesh. The playful tongue rolls Over the bursting curves Painted spicy robust red and slithering green. Anxious waters trickle forward watching it Scream to dance and jump. Teeth pounce in tempting bite it opens itself to be taken, And suddenly it pops And bursts erupts Juices once forbidden in innocent bush. Ravishing flavors bloom in a moist raw Slathered across the face of a passionate predator. Pleasure shriveled, the diminished pieced prey, looks to be wrapped tight like little black seeds and sleep. ~


lane unsworth 23

Theo Agbi Things I Would Tweet if I Had a Twitter · Please dear lord Jesus send down a hat from above that we may cover this girls head and save us all from the embarrassment that is her hair. · Father, we come to you in troubling times, I know you are busy, but please bless us with the sanctity of shea butter lotion that we may drive out this plague of ash from her life. · Almighty father lord black Jesus, the bible say that you have turned water into wine, please lather onto us Vaseline that we may rid ourselves of chapped lips. · Father we gather here today to thank for your gift of shea butter, for without it, we would not be able to fight of the devil’s oppression… that is ash. · Father please deliver unto us a comb that we may rid this child of the naps which lay dormant on her head. · Jesus, please open her eyes, that she may spot the coconut oil on her next trip to CVS. Bless her hair lord. · Dear father, her weave has come undone, please help her. · Divine Jesus, please give me the strength to not slap this child for touching my hair. · My marvelous Jesus, help these poor children gain some culture that they may learn what it is to d some real work. · Dear father, You are our mailman and we are the townspeople, please deliver a case of Poland springs to quench the thirst. · Glorious God, sweatpants are not clothes, please deliver this knowledge. · I REBUKE Justin Bieber in the name of Jesus, Lord. · Father children have begun to act sideways, please lord deliver unto their bottoms a leather belt that they may come correct


· I asked him if he knew who Steve Urkle was and he asked me if Urkel goes to this school, father help us. · Father bless this dinner that it may taste like the person cooking had some sense and didn’t not serve us water down crap. · Father, why is my food not here yet? Guide my hand that I may give this 10 cent tip with pride. · My Jesus, why is her breast half out, Lord who is raising these children? · Lord Jesus, did I just see a duck taped shoe? Please bless my eyes. · Father, please deliver the knowledge that instagram does not make you beautiful, beauty makes you beautiful. · Please Jesus give me strength, he just interrupted my nap. · Father, she just came at me with attitude, please let her know that I don’t subscribe to that. · Jesus, I just tripped on this cobble stone, curse it, and the people that haven’t tripped yet. · But Jesus I just don’t understand why she is wearing leggings and rain boots when the sun is out. · Jesus, quiet down this girl in the stir fry line, she doesn’t know that she is talking to the unstable right now. · Lord, did she just skip? Please give me strength lord, STRENGTH. · This freshman girl just asked me to hold her bag for her… Lord? Lord. · Why is she assigning homework as if this is the last day of school, forever? Please Jesus, stop her. · Lord, its late… I know I wont have a lot of sleep tomorrow… please give me patience that I don’t discipline these children and put their parents to shame, lord. · Lord, Lydia just spilled orange on my laptop, please lord, PLEEAASSEE, bring down the fire and the wrath before I have to. ~



zoe gallagher


alex westfall


Theo Agbi PuppleGum 1,2,3,4… Mommy gave me a nickel today, Wait - 5 I always forget five. 3, 4, 5 That’s how many is inside this nickel I tell people that I have 6 many in me Mommy says that I’m priceless. Mommy took me to the store I had 5, And I can only get one. One stick, one swirl, one pop, Or cone, Or cane. (Maybe Even) Seven spicy reds or six sour yellows? Many minty greens or apple greens ? One or two Simple sweet blues? I found pubblegum pink! Mommy loves the smell of pubblegum pink! Plump and juicy pink Stretchy Strawberry steam Which lasts and lasts


(And) Smack and clap And squeeze and squish, and squash And pinch to pink pints And blow to balloons And chop and crunch and crush And Gulp! (Next Saturday Mommy and I will go the store again She will give me another nickel Then I will have 8,9,10 10 many, all inside of me.) ~


Annika Nekalson

the weather girl says the cold is coming in

there’s a hiccup in your heartbeat when summer ends. (it’s like a sunset). ~



hector cho 33

emmie avvakumova 33

lane unsworth 34

Growth and Rebirth jing qu Adolescence represents an inner emotional upheaval, a struggle between the eternal human wish to cling to the past and the equally powerful wish to get on with the future. - Louise J. Kaplan Adolescents find themselves at a crossroads between the innocence of being a child and the burden of becoming an adult. They live in a confusing phase, where naïveté and responsibility often clash and create tension. In this project, I hoped to capture the intense emotions of teenagers on the cusp of becoming adults: apprehension, bliss, uncertainty, and innocence. I wanted to explore the concept of rebirth—as a child grows into an adult. I aim to make an elastic and diverse, but thematically comprehensive body of work. The project incorporated portraiture as well as landscape and still-life photographs. I took a diaristic approach in documenting my subjects, who are often seemingly unaware of the camera’s presence. In each photograph, I captured a fleeting moment during a fast and furious phase of life to evoke in viewers the memories and emotions of their own youth.









Untitled anonymous Fat snowflakes cobweb the night, billowing up from the laundry vents in a white swarm. Forehead pressed against ice-webbed glass, I watch them careen in the warm updraft, tracing their dizzying dogfights and gut-wrenching nosedives with my finger. I hold my breath, not wanting to fog up the glass and scare away my little white acrobats. Scooting forward ever-so-slightly, I balance the chair on its rickety front legs and brace my knees against the wall, peering into the darkness, struggling to make out the teeming white dots… “Sable! What have I told you about leaning on that chair?” My mother’s voice startles me and I pitch forward, tumbling onto the floor. The chair clatters behind me. “How many times do I have to tell you not do something? Don’t you ever listen to me?” “Well?” She presses, her voice raising an octave, the wrinkles around her mouth furrowing into bloodless grooves. “I’m sorry,” I mumble. “Will you do it again?” “No,” I reply, angry tears stinging my eyes. I massage my aching knees. “Good. Now go clean yourself up and help me by peeling these carrots.” I gingerly pick myself up off the floor and follow her aproned form into the kitchen. She lurches towards the countertop, favoring her right side. Limp brown curls glued to the base of her neck quiver as she slumps over the cutting board. I watch her as I peel the carrots. She pounds her knife into a squash, jaw muscles snapping like mousetraps with each blow. She works with her good side toward me. Even though it has been several weeks, she still shields me from the yellowing bruise on her cheek.


She doesn’t talk, so I don’t either. To mitigate the monotony, we used to play music while we cooked, usually some sort of shimmying calypso. We haven’t played that for several weeks now. I try to string the thumps of the cutting board and the yammer of the heating pipes into some sort of jangling, ragtag tune, but I can’t. I scowl, shucking the carrots with renewed fervor. The peels slap against the sink. I sneak a glance at my mother. Eyes glazed and lips drawn, she saws the squash into squares. The door swings open and we both jump. I panic, my already simmering nerves contracting to white hot coils. Blood thunders in my ears, my arms quaking like tuning forks – I can feel him there, behind me, by the door. “Look what I found,” he booms, striding toward me, leaden footfalls pounding against the linoleum. I whip around. He looms over me, a monolith of sodden leather dripping meltwater, a red-faced blur. I can’t bring myself to look him in the eye. “I found this outside by the woodpile. I thought you might be interested.” He thrusts a limp bird at me, bared teeth leering fire-white from his frostbit lips. The small, brown bird is nearly swallowed in his leathery palms. “It’s a grouse. It’s nearly half-frozen.” I nod my head in reluctant assent. “Here, take it. You like animals, don’t you? Maybe you can take care of it.” Eyes still fixed to his hands, not daring to look, I nod my head. He dumps the cold bird into my outstretched palms. I shift nervously from one foot to the other, awaiting dismissal. “What are you waiting for? Go, take it!” Having received my cue, I bolt downstairs to my room, cradling the stiff bird against my chest. I heave myself onto my bed. My heartbeat begins to slow, but my nerves still hum with latent energy. I lay my precious cargo out on my quilt. The bird is round and mottled brown, with a tiny crest and an ornate, furled tail, and two bowed legs covered with downy scales. I can feel its shallow pulse against my thumb. Tenderly, I swaddle it in a small blanket and tuck it into a toy cradle with all my stuffed animals.


I press my ear to the door, trying to ascertain whether it is safe to leave or not. The sound of a hushed argument burbles through. I decide to risk it. I slip through the door and tiptoe to the pantry. Grabbing a box of Cheerios and a small dish, I make a hurried retreat. I fill the dish with Cheerios and some water and put in front of the bird and wait. Hours pass, but still the bird does not move. The argument has reached a fever pitch upstairs. I hear things shattering against the wall, flesh bludgeoning flesh, muffled yelps and screams of rage. My eyelids begin to droop; this is the chaotic lullaby that marks the beginning of every long night. I curl around the cradle and sink into a dreamless sleep. When I wake up, my mother is sitting by my bedside looking more wan than usual. She has her hands knitted in her lap like she always does when she has bad news. I bolt upright, looking for the bird. It is no longer in the cradle. “Where’s the bird?” I whine. “I’m sorry. It died last night. You did all you could for it.” “Where is it?” I press. “It died, honey. It was very sick and frail. It was tired. Trust me, there was no more you could do. You just have to accept that this is out of your control.” “But when will it come back?” “Sweetie, I’m sorry, but it’s not going to come back. When something dies, it dies for good. Something dies when it is very sick, or old, or tired. It dies when it loses hope and energy. It dies when it’s done all that it can, but still cannot overcome what’s hurting it. It dies when…” I want to clamp my hand over her mouth and say listen to me. I want to tell her I understand. That I have seen what she is talking about: that I have seen it creep into her movement, her stooped shoulders, her sagging neck, her graying hair, her voice. I want to tell her that I have seen it lurking in her eyes every day that I can remember. And I want to tell her that when I look in the mirror, I can see it beginning to creep into mine too. ~


emmie avvakumova 47


hector cho 49

Madeleine Lippey Gypsy Powder You’re an echo In a house In a bed With sheets shrunk cold And stained with coral cat-lady lipstick. You’re blood-red lips Dirty clean clothes And the slurp of cool October. You’re an addict Hooked On the acid of rust-colored ivy And silly little poisons like hope and hair dye. You’re a fallen piece of wind Slumped over a sloopity-coated sill. You’re the quaking fingernails that bleed and lie On hangnail edges of glass pain. You’re the tightened squatches of moaning, feverful land, The same land that bore you. You’re a bedside table And a midnight glass of frozen water. You’re a little white pill and a cross-eyed, cracked mirror And a sun-shrunk set of maroony, pinned-back curls That used to spring and sing songs of purple.


You’re a soot-footed chimneysweeper Roasting in the cold-blooded tears of the sky, Gulping the dead air of a shriveled up Camel Light. But on a broken Monday morning You filled up your ashtray Emptied your life And on Tuesday I buried you And your gypsy powder together. ~


virginia fu 52

Alex Demeulenaere Picasso’s Guernica Pitched around small fires run through with wind, soldiers snore. [1] Black and white screams Fill the canvas with Ghosts flitting in panic Unaware that their Weapons clang down Choked in paralyzed grips Fighting to die under A mechanical sun and Syrup candlelight While a horse and a bull Battle as naked bodies Tails burning in the butchery Above a love-demented Mother wailing to the ash-sky Clawing at her bare breasts Oblivious to the calloused limbs gasping and dark On the ground ~ ______________________________________

[1] Rush to the Lake, Forrest Gander


Alex Demeulenaere VÊzalay Crumbling stones line the clumsy walls of the abbey. Lacquered saints crown the façade, and the bones of Mary Magdalene lie within. I filled that hollow hall with silent laughter, waiting for an echo. I stood, a sharp shadow, in rivulets of watercolor. Priests like ghosts stand suppliant on the altar, their voices swelling into a guttural groan, like wounded wolves crying in the cold. My steps tap a syncopated rhythm on the knobby, grey stone. The voices are suddenly silent, only their silhouette remains, like the murmur after a lurid rain. I hear the syrupy summer wind, it tickles me and caresses the harsh columnades, carrying white poofs of pollen and stem-ends of flowers through the bucolic arches. A speaker begins, his words cutting above the golden moan of the choir. I listen to him standing there nine-hundred years before, goading men to kill.


His word escalated to a battle-hymn, stirring troops to the foyer. I’m out in the dirt, sweating under the sweltering sun. Ancient armor clacks around me the sheathing of swords and chinking of boots snakes through the air, slicing through the dissonant murmur of barbarians, the vibrant buzz of a thousand bees in the spring preparing their pilgrimage of the flowers. At a command, all the men stagger forward, dusting me with filth. The sun cools me, I’m alone. It is silent again as I look up at the sunken cathedral. ~



stephen moreland 57

Alex Demeulenaere Millenium Man His distorted figure drudges a brimming cart forward. The stainless steel of the bean sculpture reflects him in with the rest of us. He scours the crowd, iridescent-green eyes sharp. His hoary hair hangs down in thick cobwebs, dreadlocked by filth. I pass him and feel his knowing gaze. I hear his plastic cup rattle and want to run, but his glassed eyes hold me. Hollow, I walk away to the arabesqued walls within the coiled grid of the city. ~


Nate Smith Albatross Over fern and fowl she floats, evicted from the rolling verdure this graceful gob of gossamer casts shadowy pinks over all she sees between the endless expanse below and the ethereal abyss above. Tides shifting with the tilt of a wing and the flick of an eye, subject to the rosy whims and witticisms of the strawberry Moon she reflects on her insatiable infatuation with the status quo--who though is this beast of burden? ~


Nate Smith Baker Street Blues Autumn drifts into the Bay, unaware of its foggy breath tumbling and mumbling across the cross-eyed city, her people myopic as they fight the urge to fill their raspy lungs with the salty seabreeze. They shake the nightly inhibitions from their souls and warm their wiry lips with coffee and a communal cigarette. They reminisce about the future and make resolutions for last year. Leaves don’t fall -time trickles down, making homeless men rich and turning rich men to stone. Scholars and railroad men, paupers in their own right, came to gam saan[1] for some unknowable truth, only to learn on their deathbed that it’s a lie. This city is married to the ghosts of its past and the specters who breathe within her, without her; Jack London knew her streets like the feel of his pen and Otis Redding’s laments have long seeped through her docks. As sexual as the day she arrived, this city of melancholy shakes the Earth to its very foundations, turning midmorning to night as the Golden Gate blends seamlessly into the cardinal October sky. ~


__________________________________________________ [1] Cantonese for “Gold Mountain,” common name for America during 1800s

Nate Smith Youth ministry at the West campus, Wednesdays 6-8... Candlelight shines beneath a fluorescent strawberry moon, signalling the end of the praying and the start of the prayer--amen. Learning from her fathers and Mathers[1] and Keillors[2] she speaks the Word of the Lord, the Lord our God who art in Heaven hallowed be thy halls and blessed be thy children. From her pulpit on low she preaches the calm and unending Love of God: “He gave us Sin to sin, earth to earth, dust to dust, ashes to ashes.� Like bread He rose from the cross, the weekend a raging blur from Hell, a testament to tenacity. She speaks of Job, for he whom He tests is he whom He loves most [but do not test Him]--amen. She leads us in song, in hymn, oh heavenly hymn we sing thee, shake this chapel of modern technology juxtaposing the symbol of our religion. She closes the night, bids us adieu into a night ripe for the picking-amen. ~

__________________________________________ [1] A family of Puritan ministers in colonial Boston [2] Garrison Keillor, author and radio personality



camille price 63

Vermillion Streetlamp brendan o’connell The jet stream from a Newport exits my chapped lips. As I stand on the end of Washington Street, cars zip by sending gusts of wind up my old leopard-print overcoat. Each oncoming car gives me a breath of hope, but as they pass by, their breeze cruelly kisses my bare epidermis, and my hope is gone. I stand on 5-inch plateaus of shame, the very same heels graced by the deplorable few who also flocked to this street, looking for a chance to rise from the ashes. Hours of loitering beneath the vermillion streetlamp go by before I am overcome with a sudden surge of apprehension--headlights approach and screech to a halt. He is older than I imagined he would look; his eyes are a deep burnt sienna; his hair is smothered with pomade; his red tie is tightly fastened to his scrag. Leaning into the window, I receive the money and force myself to open the door to perdition. I sit down on his heated leather seat, embracing an unfamiliar sense of fright. We pull into the back parking lot of St. Nicholas’ Parish, a once familiar place to me, and engage in precopulatory banter regarding the logistics of our transaction. The vulgarity of his words overwhelm me with a fear that I am losing my sense of humanity altogether. Not three years ago, I dreamt of having a boyfriend whom I would marry, grow old with, and love. Now, the only thing I will be able to love is a good smelling cologne or a recently washed pair of hands. His hands slide up my thigh and instead of delivering the warm torrent of sorrow that I expected, they do something much more empowering; they suffocate me. They squeeze the last bit of free will from my lungs. I welcome the sensation and realize what I had known all along--that I want to live. I want to live because I want to, not because I have to. I relinquish his crushing clench and throw the money back on his lap. After storm-


ing away from the car, I pass the front of the church, an avenue no longer available to me. As I meander aimlessly down the city streets, I come across a park bench on the left side of Charles Street. I know two things about Charles Street: the rent is free and it is not Washington. ~


alex westfall 66

emmie avvakumova 67

Mary Catherine Nanda Untitled The way your hair Is pulled back Strand by strand On a Saturday night Throwing up things You thought would kill you Slipping hazy memories And those vibrating bathrooms Tiles shaking piece by piece Heaving ribs through A nauseating neon tank top Reminding you That the past is real Failing times Of monsters And redbull Shaking from How hard you Are trying to be Something Anything Forgive the places you hate I don’t care If they burned in despair Or slathered in death Facts that speak You were there once Footprints you wish you would forget They were the prelude to your infinity The epilogue to your crevasse They hurt and they burn


But feel the spectrum Visit the harsh waters That once rocked your small boat For big ships do come Go back To save the souls that still sink in those Waters that defined you Greet it like an old friend Because life is not about escaping once It’s about escaping again and again and again From the you You tried so hard to defend Lies have us tripping Some on acid, all on fear All on ransom I’ll pay the check Set aflame So who’s to blame Tried and tried and tried again To the things we’ve all been Jabbing fingers And hidden hands It’s the scent that lingers The taste that taints It’s the broken capes The masks that don’t come off It’s the silence that takes The things that shake We’re all to blame We all bear the shame You are white skin Stretched over hallow bone


Dying to be alone You are the echoes of my soul The gaps in my heart The weakest part You are broken and whole The whitest coal You are magnetic Enigmatic You are beautiful and cheap Beautifully weak Stunned in repose The open at the close Outstretched fingers Longing palms You are the hiding place I never found The echo That never made a sound ~


David Belluche, Michael Lata, & Jason Nawrocki Auxiliary Introspection Crystal Eyes Sunlit Skies Who knows what you mean to me Angel Cries Lows and Highs Who knows what you mean to be Devil’s Grins Full of Sins Who knows what you mean to see Hated Skins No one Wins Who knows what you mean to thee I have the key At long last Who knows what it means to me? I do. ~



elana king nakaoka 73

Some Things Never Change larry flynn I am convinced that God cried that day. Rain poured down from the heavens, a rain that tasted sweet on the pores of my bare skin. The cars to my left glossed over the slick road like waves of clear and crisp water. Their headlights reflected water off the polished vines that engulfed the mossy brick wall to my right. The rain stroked my exposed chest and back, comforting me like a blanket as I turned onto Angel Street and stepped up on the porch. I didn’t need anyone to talk to. I was a man, and men can deal with pain themselves. I just wanted to keep everything to myself, just wanted to wad together the strand of emotions into the depths of my heart’s chambers. I didn’t know why I was walking where I was walking; she had her own work, her own boyfriend, and her own struggles. She was probably watching an episode of Whose Line is it Anyway? on TV, knitting a scarf for the upcoming winter, or reading one of those sci-fi novels she loves. She might have made tomato soup for her boyfriend, like she made for me the first time I visited this house so many years ago. I didn’t even know why I was there. But then I remembered why I came when she answered the door. I had somehow forgotten real beauty, which I immediately recalled as she stood there in front of me. It wasn’t the gentle, flowing, blonde hair. It wasn’t the crystal white smile tucked between those soft, polished cheeks. It was that rare, empathetic wholesomeness that radiated from her presence. She took a slight step forward and embraced me, and we swayed back and forth. “I’ve missed you, Danny boy.” Her sweet voice bore right into my chest, digging into my heart so hard that I couldn’t help but shed a gentle tear. “What’s the matter?” When no words came from


my mouth she continued, “Did someone dump you? Why would anyone leave you? Girls don’t know a good man when they see one. Sorry, I’ll stop. Come on in.” She loosened her grip and looked up at me, smiling, and then took my hand and motioned me inside to her kitchen. “I would’ve guessed you were making tomato soup.” “Some things never change,” she said as she stirred the pot on the gas burner, “And I didn’t even expect you– how crazy is that! I’m so glad to see you.” “I should have kept in touch better. I just…” “Danny, come on. You just need some cheering up. I know how you feel after being dumped.” she reached for my forearm, rubbed it, and then sprang from her seat when the timer buzzed. The ensuing silence thickened the room. It was as if air was fighting gravity. “It’s not really that,” there was another pause as she turned around to look at me, eyebrows raised, hoping I’d say more. “My sister died.” The words suddenly flushed out of my system. Blood rushed out of my heart and my chest loosened. Relief spewed from my eyes, which uncontrollably pumped fresh, warm rain down my cheeks. My head dropped into my open hands. I gasped, I was just a man futily trying to stop an emotional rush. Sympathetic hands softly nudged my sodden palms away from my face, and held my hands lovingly. I looked up. I saw real beauty, and realized that some things never change. ~


Victoria Leap Conquistador of Mind 12 months taken and maimed me to unrecognizable glory of what there never was before. In the chants of new love half-cocked Discovered in secret corners cob-web dipped Til delicate hands crawled up into mine And untangled the mess of maze of mind. My Delirious half tango towards full striding fury The music of soft petals falling with rain and tears Of long-time desire finally exploding to reckless cellos of Sorrow by loss of reputation and name So then I was destroyed In long-lost long-old January air That winter of lonely wondering wandering thick booted To protect everything from the weathering of fights not Then yet come to pass But now those battles lost and won never Linger onward toward infinite December And this year brought the new times of petals with hoses and sprinkles Youth relived lived fully in adulthood And then you were still here to say hello And I found a new mouth to hold my tongue With and new trot and stride and rhythm but still This part was uncovered and rediscovered by you


Conquistador of my soul in living light you lived and breathed Till battles took you scarred to death And I left standing here in bombs long fallen with new girl on my arm To see that to fight for love and life are the same The eyes watch indifferent ~


Window isabel cropsey Inbox, Sent ItemsFriday, October 26, 2012 10:57 AM Slingshot from the west, the salt-tongued wind rushes at the shack, yammering and yowling like a blood-crazed hound. It laps at the shingles and pauses, snuffling at the door, as if deliberating how to suck marrow from a bone, then shrieks around the chimney and scythes through the open window, snarling. Delft figurines domino, shattering in a froth of dust, and candle flames pop, snuffed. The wind tears around the meager kitchen, toppling matchstick table and chairs and a makeshift shrine of candles under the window before plunging, braying into the night. A cavalcade of feet pounds down the staircase. “¿Alguien tiene una cerilla?” A fingernail of flame crackles to life. Three sets of eyes gleam out of the darkness like burnished buttons. A man and a woman huddle around the son’s lighter. Have either of you seen grandma asks the woman. I don’t think the storm woke her up the son volunteers. Well, go wake her up then sighs the woman, massaging her eyes. The son hesitates before melting into the darkness of the stairwell. His feet patter up the stairs. The man and the woman avoid meeting each other’s gaze, as if repulsed by the intimacy of sharing the tiny flame. Silence rises between them like bile. She smiles waxenly into the dark, hoping to annoy him by feigning enjoyment of some elfin ballet that he can’t see. Muscles leap in the man’s jaw. You didn’t have to wake her up he says. His voice is taught and trembling like skin pulled over a tambourine. Well it’s her fault we’re all awake. That old bird never closes that damn window. Something from Gaelic mythology about the souls of the dead returning in the form of geese. She still believes all that. Even leaves candles out, hoping


that they’ll guide her dead husband home. Her time would be much better spent building herself a coffin, sneers the woman. The old woman’s knuckles, galled with arthritis, blanched and python-tight around the railing of the staircase. Her arm quivers with effort. Under lids vined with wrinkles, her black eyes betray no emotion, patient as pebbles martyred by the sea. Even shackled in mohair rags she is regal, like a disfavored queen. How can you talk about your own grandmother like that? The man mock chides, snickering. He can’t help laughing at the woman’s anger. She’s senile, sure, but think how nice it’s been to escape the upheavals in Madrid for the summer he says, voice lowering to a whisper. Don’t preach at me hisses the woman. Is she your grandmother? No, you were never cast aside by her. After her husband was sent to the concentration camp by Franco, she abandoned my mother at an aunt’s house and took a “holiday” for two years. Two entire years. And when I came along, she was still so busy feeling sorry for herself that she missed my baptism, my confirmation, even my graduation from high school. I didn’t meet her until I was 18. She had the nerve to show up at my house with an apologetic bouquet and some squash from her garden and act like we were destined to be friends. ¡Ostras! The old woman shakes her head, slowly, ceremoniously, as if rocking herself into a trance. Her impeccably combed, silver hair ripples to her waist. Bemused, she smiles wearily, like a priest whose counsel is scorned by a dying man. Well, well, well. You never told me that. Not like you tell me anything. The man laughs bitterly. At least try to endure her. I, for one, like getting away from Madrid. Think of the money in the accounts, too, when she kicks off. She’s got one foot in the grave and the other in her fantasy world of shrines and souls housed in hocas. Leave her be. She’s a relic. There’s no sense in trying to reason with her now, especially when money is at stake. Dizzied by the swelling hum of the wind, like that of a fruit heaving with hornets, the old woman stands at the top of the stairs and clenches her eyes shut. ~



stephen moreland 81

Post-Apocalyptic Narration adrienne pisch “Mary…” the young voice whined behind me, “how much further is it?” I cringed, sick of the child. His high-pitched voice, nasal from the ash clouding his nostrils, grated in my ears. “We are almost there Luke,” I reassured him, waiting for the twelve-year-old to catch up to my brisk pace. We had been walking for days, and the wear of traveling was apparent on the boy’s face. He was tall for his age, though thin and skeletal. Volcanic ash covered his face like soot, making him seem a few shades darker than he really was. In the old days, he would have been considered a strapping young lad; if there was enough food, he would have qualified for football. Instead, his blue eyes reflected age beyond his years. The whites of his eyes were stained red, one of the few visible signs of his condition. The ash on his body hid the rash, and the coughing and vomiting wouldn’t begin for a few more days. When the youth caught up to me, I began to walk again, adjusting the pace so that he could walk alongside me. After a little bit, Luke pointed and excitedly called, “Look, look, there it is!” My eyes scanned the horizon, unable to see what the boy’s keen eyes could detect in the distance. Eventually, I could discern the gnarled shapes of the trees that had tried to survive as best they could in the harsh landscape; few grew more than a foot before giving up.. Even further away, blending in with the dark sky, sat a looming building: NewGen. Seeing it gave me new life; I rushed towards my salvation. After only a few steps, however, coughs wracked my body until I collapsed, unable to breathe. Spitting blood onto the dusty wasteland of a ground, I forced myself to stand. My disease, more advanced


than Luke’s, progressed rapidly. Soon I would be unable to move far, choking on blood and internal tissue; it was a slow and painful death, one that only NewGen could stop. “Come on,” I urged Luke, the fear of that death driving me onward with new vigor. NewGen, a massive company that came into the existence at the end of the twenty-first century, was the cockroach of humanity. It survived when even the US government hadn’t, literally rising from the ashes of the Yellowstone caldera like some sort of phoenix. A financially successful company with no previous nonprofit ventures, NewGen released a free shot after the rats began to contract the mysterious new disease. Its release shocked what was left of the nation, and became the only hope for the infected. As soon as the whites of my eyes turned red, I was cast out into the wasteland by my survival group. Luke’s parents were a little kinder; they gave him a can of food before they left him to die. With all the preservatives in them, even the archaic cans marked ‘2117’ were edible. We were close to the building now, in line outside with the rest of the infected. A few dead bodies lay here and there, torn and bloody messes that could hardly be called human. Even the halfstarved wolves, who would occasionally attack groups of grown men, stayed away from the diseased carcasses. “We made it.” I patted Luke on the back and smiled. If we had waited even a week longer to start our trek, we wouldn’t have made it. My husband passed this way, his screams of pain heard for miles as my survival group left him. Even worse than the excruciating pain was the time it took to die, long enough that the rats carrying the disease would come and feast on your body. Yes, it was lucky that Luke and I made it to NewGen in time. The shot would save us. As we got to the door, an agent wearing a white surgical mask handed me some paperwork. “Are you here to sign for the boy?” I nodded, quickly signing the forms with scratchy handwrit-


ing. I hadn’t needed to write since grade school in 2095. “Who’s first?” She asked upon completion of the forms, leading us inside the building. Occasional light bulbs flickered on and off, but still, electricity was luxury. NewGen certainly would be the one to rebuild America. “The boy, it’s only fair to end his suffering first,” I said, ruffling Luke’s hair fondly. “Are you going to take me home to Mom after I’m all better?” he asked, and I nodded. The woman put us in a room and instructed Luke to sit on the physician’s chair while she took a syringe out of its package and filled it with green liquid. “This will only sting a little,” she promised him, and Luke watched as the lady pushed the needle into the vein of his right wrist. After the needle was drained, she pulled it out and watched her patient for a few seconds; within a minute he was completely limp. “It’s a shame when they catch the disease so young,” she sympathized, “what with there being no cure and all.” The nurse prepared another needle while a new assistant came to remove Luke’s body. “Your company is doing a wonderful thing though,” I acknowledged, taking my seat on the chair where Luke’s body had lain a moment before. “Without it, he would have taken days to die.” “It’s nice to know that our work is appreciated,” the nurse said, crinkling her eyes into what I assumed was a smile under the surgical mask. I held out my arm willingly, ready for the freedom that the needle would bring. “It’s okay,” she warned, “this will only sting a little.” ~


alex westfall


Jared Newman The Eight Stories of Water One. The river flowed into moss pools, that over time became a lake. From this lake, the water pressured melting land and more rivers were formed. The rivers broke the entire plain into two pieces, which were the left bank and the right bank. The plain sunk into itself, two separate continents, the sparkling hair of grass breathing different ways. The left continent spread out, like a blanketed woman unveiling, and covered the oceans. The right continent tilted, tottering until it fell. The land and the water had a pact to heal the right continent, whom they needed. Reeds nick the earth. The sky unspools itself letting the right continent survive for the time being, off the charitable checks of the sky. The grass runs unchecked, and the one tree or two are jealous. Branches strewn across the plain while the right continent leaves further and thinner into the ocean. Two. The banks of the reedy seas oil themselves like Greeks and pillow sleepy heads of biblical stories. The sand falls into the river bank, causing disruption in the water where it’s supposed to be comforting. Stop that. This is the river for sleeping, and not for litter. Three. In Shirley Temple movies, the city is raining or it is snowing. I can hear a chorus coming in the back, can you? It means that this is all over. It’s a roadsign, and a bookmark, and a cliff hanger, and the stream trickles attracting the street stuff. The snows’ teeth pick at our backs and the water should be an ice river like glass in the shape of wind. The chorus is very soft and very quiet so the sparrows stop chirping, just for a second, you can hear them if you try and repeat the words after me, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry. Four. Wooden chairs that dock on wooden porches give a house a crooked smile. There are old people who sit on them and they live in towns that are small.


I keep wanting to like these towns. To like them and want to move here and watch mosquitoed lagoons fill the backyard with children and makeshift nets. My only regret is not frog catching as much. The town has neighbors who pass words between their own spouses about what I’ve been doing. One says that I didn’t build the house I own. I keep wanting that to be not true. My leaving would be lush for the neighbors from which to reap. Five. Once upon a time there was a bathtub. We didn’t bathe in a marble bowl. We didn’t bathe in a porcelain oval. We didn’t bathe in a sink, rubbed by oversized sea sponges. We didn’t bathe in lakes where leeches swim, or rivers where leeches eat, or swamps either. We didn’t wash when the sky bled itself into the trees which fell into logs the same size as the sky blood. The bath we had was public and in the town park, we brought our own towels which were never towels but quilts of twigs. Twigs our mother had pulled the thorns off of. Six. Where the soft pebbles form a place on which to walk, the fisherman have piled their boats in pyramids. The boats cut like cake. It is odd that the fisherman drinks from the ocean, which metastasizes in salt. Seven. I wonder how to articulate thirsty to Narcissus. Lapping at the fake pool in front of fake me diving into a pressure pushing orb of dismovement. I wonder if there are other words like this. Needy is easy to explain and point to the brush by the side. Nothing is nothing unless redemption seems like it’s needy and thirsty. Eight. The medieval portraits I don’t like and hence don’t understand never have water in them. They didn’t know how to paint the color of water which is the color blue except with horse hoof and child feet. Trial by water. The prosecutor steps up and sees whether she will be guilty. Sinks, innocent. Floats, not. Then the burn of skin and life on my mother’s neck turns her to the side, boiling pasta. Will it sink, I ask? The toss of the girl over the side, and the bridge stands firm like an arm. Her back dissolves before even getting wet. ~ 87


alex westfall 89

Courant: Fall 2012  

The fall edition of the Courant, Phillip Academy's literary magazine.

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