Page 1



Editorial Board Western Michigan University Editor-in-Chief: Hannah Ryder Assistant Editor: Megan Bossio Lee Honors College Faculty Editor: Becky Cooper Faculty Advisor: Jennifer Townsend Acting Dean: Dr. Staci Perryman-Clark Interim Assistant Dean: Anthony Helms The Design Center, Gwen Frostic School of Art Art Director: Nick Kuder Production Management: Paul Sizer Design: Megan Adams, Lynnae Strait, and Sarah Trumbull

Acknowledgments and Missions Statements The editors wish to thank Western Michigan University’s Carl and Winifred Lee Honors College. The mission of the Carl and Winifred Lee Honors College is to provide an exceptional undergraduate experience for high achieving students, to inspire in our graduates a thirst for the lifelong pursuit of creative inquiry and discovery, to provide our students with the skill and passion to address critical challenges, and to foster personal responsibility informed by a global perspective. The Laureate’s mission is to provide undergraduate students at Western Michigan University a medium in which to publish their works of fiction, poetry, non-fiction, and other creative works. The Laureate strives to be a professional and engaging journal that appeals to all.

Letter from the Editor This year’s edition of The Laureate features an incredible compilation of some of Western Michigan University’s most gifted and hardworking students. Submitting work can be challenging and nerve-wracking, but submissions came tumbling in as students proudly and bravely displayed their masterpieces. Inheriting such a publication can be daunting, but many people made the transition easy for me. First and foremost, thanks to Becky Cooper for your support, great conversations, and endless drive to make The Laureate and those involved with it the best they can possibly be. Thanks to my assistant editor, Megan Bossio, for taking this journey with me, and to Jennifer Townsend for your sharp eye and insight. Endless thanks to Jessie Fales for making The Laureate feel like home. Much gratitude to Nick Kuder, Paul Sizer, and their students for making this final product a cohesive and gorgeous book. I would also like to extend a huge thanks to Lee Honors College, The Design Center at the Gwen Frostic School of Art, and Western Michigan University for supporting student creations and seeing how much the authors and creators featured within impact our community both on and off campus. I dedicate the eighteenth edition of The Laureate to everyone who so bravely submitted, the staff who brought the idea into a physical manifestation of WMU’s brilliant minds, and those who teach and mentor at Western and the surrounding schools. Without further ado, I am elated to present to you the 2019 edition of The Laureate and I hope that you find a home in these pages as I have. L’chaim! Hannah M. Ryder Editor-in-Chief

Table of Contents 13 15 16 18 19 21 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 42 43 44 48 49 50 53 54 56 57 59 61 62 63 64

First Fall · Justin Lee place · Eliza Sandra Foli Women Mostly Made of Water · Jessie Fales The Kiss · Cheyenne Smigiel Lesson #1: Self Care · Aspen Jaxson Water Damage · Alexis Smith The Oz · Justin Lee The Major · Alexander Prange Call and Response (Between 2 Hearts) · Aspen Jaxson Moon Man · Stephanie Truitt Repatriation · Jessie Fales Pilgrimage to Atlanta, Georgia · Cheyenne Smigiel Out of the Garage · Alexis Smith Untitled · Justin Lee How Not to Make Lemon Rice Soup · Claire Quenneville Weight, Weight: Don’t Tell Me · Theodore Wampuszyc Eye of the Beholder · Stephanie Truitt Her Body, the Pharmacy · Jessie Fales Misunderstanding Chihuahua Cheese · Alex Wells An Electrifying Mouse Tale · Marissa Chupp Auriculares/Headphones · Nicholas Talamantez Polaroid · Hunter Williams an offering · Eliza Sandra Foli Maria · Alexis Smith Bolete Trio · Lauren Johnson To the Boy on the Bus Swatting Bees · Claire Quenneville What Will Not Stop · Nicholas Talamantez Untitled · Justin Lee

First Fall Justin Lee




Eliza Sandra Foli

i always wondered: how this place held so many memories with its open-windowed hands collected dust in the wrinkles of its brow how a room could capture a moment with silent words comfort with creaks and warm with the flicker of the overhead fluorescent how returning could feel like coming home even after years, i’d hear the sigh of relief when i opened the door; [and though the latch cut my wrist as i left— that was surely no one’s fault but my own].


Women Mostly Made of Water Jessie Fales

Leading up to her tenth birthday, Ana hinted heavily to her mother that every tomboy must have a pair of pink high-top sneakers and a pair of jean overalls. “And Mom, I’m a tomboy,” she said, “so I need them.” Ana’s grandmother scolded her, “You cannot let your daughter run around looking like a boy. Girls ought to be wearing dresses, or people will be getting the wrong idea.” Whatever idea people were supposed to get from looking at Ana, her grandmother never directly said. Years earlier, Ana’s friend locked her in his bedroom by placing a bookcase in front of his door so he could look at her naked body. Years later, the same friend was sent to prison for felony sexual misconduct—he raped his girlfriend in a college dorm room. On her tenth birthday, Ana opened her mother’s gift and found exactly what she’d asked for. That rarely ever happened. When Ana was sixteen, her cousin texted her his nudes. She told him to stop, and he called her a prude. Years later, the same cousin brought his fiancé to meet the family over Christmas. During a lively family dinner, he argued that racism and sexism didn’t exist because he was raped by a black woman. Ana’s grandmother was napping at the time. “Everything is perfect,” Ana told her mother on her tenth birthday. She tied the laces of her pink high top sneakers, and rolled up the bottoms of her jean overalls. “I feel like I can do anything.”


In middle school, a boy walked up to Ana’s locker and showed her a condom. He said things to her that she didn’t understand. After several days of it, she finally told a teacher. The teacher asked what he looked like: “Is he a big or little boy?” Ana said he was big. Later, when the teacher discovered the culprit, she told Ana, “But he’s shorter than you!” Ana had never felt so small. Ana’s mother hugged her and said, “You’re perfect.” And then she brought out Ana’s birthday cake with ten candles planted throughout the icing. In a high school art class, Ana drew a pair of shoes. She dug out her first pair of pink high top sneakers and brought them to class. The instructor complimented their character. “Happy birthday, dear Ana. Happy birthday to you,” her family and friends sang and clapped. Ana’s grandmother said, “Well at least she’s pretty. There’s hope for her, yet.” “Hey beautiful!” a man called as Ana walked down Fifth Avenue, on her way to work. Ana’s face turned red at her grandmother’s comment. The boys teased her. She blew out the candles.


The Kiss

Cheyenne Smigiel

The Kiss. Sorrow attacks you with a technique of which I have yet to see anywhere else. She forces herself on you with ferocity. This will she possesses is far greater than your own. She is your greatest enemy, this constantly melancholic state; and yet, she is your closest companion, your ironic lifeline. Your pain feeds you the easiest lies; obvious ones you’d disbelieve if you had the chance to actually think. But she pushes them down into your throat so far that you choke on their ugliness. She rests on top of you, heavy. The weight is unbearable; life, impossible. Yet you survive.


Lesson #1: Self Care

Aspen Jaxson

“If it doesn’t let you grow, let it go...” ~ Lesson #1: Self Care The mind is in need of Spring Cleaning Too many clusters of cobwebs along the attic Suppressing memories rusting up locks, I lost the keys, I was always clumsy a long time ago No longer sweet, sweet nostalgia wrapped up in the crooked smile of the moon but remnants of nuisances, I forgot to snuff out a long time ago History repeats itself; a parent’s advice I didn’t ask for I tell him, “Enough with the redundancies, I heard you the first time” The mind is in need of Spring Cleaning, a long time ago



Water Damage Alexis Smith

“Oh, this is pretty good. What’s this piece called again?” “Tea with Mermaids.” “Right. Well, it’s a fitting title, for sure.” “Mhmm.” The oil painting, (which she now thought should have been watercolor), was drying in the painter’s studio, almost ready to go on display at the local gallery. She finished it that morning, and despite all four windows being propped open, the acrid smell of the oil still saturated the stale air. Her mother went to the studio only to collect the painter for breakfast, but now she stood stagnant and stared into the painting rather than at it. Her mother had never inspected one of her pieces like this before. “Stop biting your fingernails.” “I wasn’t.” The mother only shook her head. “You didn’t get Quinn’s hair right.” “What? Who said that was Quinn?” “I mean, he wasn’t that blonde.” Well sure he was before the water spit him back onto the stone shore with hair like sallow straw and with his skin scraped by the sand but don’t worry anyway Mom this little boy in the painting is alive and it’s not Quinny it’s not Quinn it’s not— The painting displayed two children, a girl skinny with prepubescence and a boy who had not yet lost his baby fat. They were in a grotto drinking tea with three mermaids who had black hair long enough to tangle in their tails, which were swirled with odd grays and greens. One was whispering into the little boy’s ear, one was peering into the teapot with the opaque tip of her tail in front of the girl’s face and the third was holding a teacup at a distance so that the light from the pool would reflect off it at different angles. There were rippled trails in the water that showed the gentle movement of the mermaid’s fins and the water was lit from light beyond the O-shaped mouth of the cave. His fingers dipped in the water, reflecting the opalescent light onto the grotto walls. “It’s not working.” “Here, you have to swirl your fingers like this. That way they know we are calling them.” “It’s still not working.”


“Here, try offering them the tea set. I hear mermaids like human things.” Shaking her head out of the daze, the daughter replied, “It’s just a boy, Mother.” “That’s my tea set.” “What?” Her mother leaned in and, despite her daughter’s cringe, touched her finger to the painting itself. “You got it right down to the chipped handle. How did you remember it that well? I haven’t thought about that tea set in years.” Arms crossed and back hunched towards the painting, her eyes widened as she recognized that she had, as her mother said, replicated the white-blue tea set. She reached for her mother’s hand and pulled it away from the teacup’s handle and began to blend the mistake back to its original, delicate shape. “It’s the little things I guess.” Little like his hands reaching into the water, plunging his palms into the brown-red mud beneath the surface. “Do you see the mermaids, Quinny?” “—the mermaids?” “Sorry, what?” “I was asking what made you want to color the mermaids that way?” Oh the colors just reminded me of his gray swollen skin and how it was soft enough for the fish to pick off layers at a time and how his eyelids were so thin and bruise-blue but really it was just a painting of two kids and who said it was about Quinn anyway— “I don’t know, Mom. I just sat down and picked colors.” She started for the door. “It’s almost nine and I’m starving, let’s go.” “Is this the grotto that was near our first house?” “Mother, please.” Her mother stood on her toes and leaned close enough to the painting that the painter wondered if she was going to fall in. Did he fall in? Did he try to swim underneath and escape the grotto? Was he trying to find the mermaids?


“Maybe he was that blonde.” “Oh please, you’re making something out of nothing, like always.” She moved closer to her mother. “Let’s just go to breakfast, please.” She reached for her shoulder. Her mother rocked back to her heels, turned towards her daughter and smiled, “You guys must have had so much fun down there.” Her pupils were so large that for a moment the daughter forgot what color her eyes—“You were supposed to keep an eye on your brother”—were supposed to be. “Mom.” Her mother’s palm touched where the mermaid’s cupped hand met the little boy’s ear—“Quinny, wanna hear a secret?”— and she smiled larger. She hadn’t noticed that blue oil was starting to dye the skin on her fingers. “Ooh, a secret? What? What is it?” “There are mermaids in the grotto.” “You mean it? Can I see?” “You gotta lean in real close to see them.” “Mom, can we—” “—play with your old tea set?—” “—go now?” “Do you think the mermaids were real?” her mother asked, leaning her head against the painting. “Do you think he met mermaids while he was down there?” Where the mother’s tears fell, the oil began to soften and bleed in thin streaks that rose and bubbled like foam. Oh, something with scales came to see him Mother but it wasn’t the mermaids and you know that you’re just in denial yes you’re just going crazy I didn’t paint us in the grotto and it’s just some kids and some mermaids it’s just something I made up I’m an artist and artists make things up all the time and it isn’t Quinn I swear and I only left him alone for a second Mom only a second— “No, Mom, I don’t think mermaids are real.” “Then stop painting them.” Her mother’s smile flatlined as she pulled her green stained cheek from the painting.


She drew in a small breath as she watched her mother lift the canvas from its easel, her palms blurring the oil on the edges. “I’m sorry, Mom.” “No, I don’t think you are.” She caressed the painting. “When was this supposed to go on display again?” “Does it matter?” Her mother kept her wide eyes on Tea with Mermaids while she held it towards the ceiling, just for a few heartbeats, before throwing it down, and knocking over the easel and stool where her brushes and paint water were collected. The easel collapsed on the ground with a clap, the stool with a thump, and the scattering glass shards from the jar that held her brushes rang with an echo. Her shoulders fell with the plastic cups that toppled over and poured gray paint water all over the front of the canvas. She watched the children and the mermaids blend—bleed—together before shifting her shaking hands from her ears to her face. “But I am. I’m sorry.” “Good.” Her mother began to walk away. I’m sorry Mom I had to pee and when I came back he was gone I guess he was already sinking towards the bottom but how could I know that I didn’t know if he was kidding or not I saw the bubbles rising but they were slow Mom they weren’t frantic at all they were small like him and there were no waves no sign of struggle so I thought it was a joke yes just a joke that silly Quinny was playing on me so I just waited for him like he said he would wait for me like how he said he would wait till I came back to have tea with the mermaids so I just waited for him and the teacup that fell in with him to float back up and I even swirled my fingers in the water so he knew I was calling him but he didn’t come back and what was I supposed to do I screamed and screamed and I really did faint Mom I was so scared but you were so mad— “I’m not hungry anymore, let’s just go for coffee instead,” her mother said, paused at the door.


She removed her hands from her face and locked her gray eyes with her mother’s green ones. “I don’t want coffee.” The mother turned toward the sink basin and began to wash her face and hands and allowed a moment of silence to sink between her daughter and the soaked canvas. The painter counted all twelve of her sable brushes that littered the tiled floor, three of them splintered and one broken right in half. The stool had scraped most of the oil off of the lower right hand corner and the hip of one of the mermaids, but it managed to miss the children. However, the water spilled directly on their faces, and caused the oil to merge the children’s hands with the teapot. The dark shades of the grotto ceiling were all that remained undamaged. The painter knelt beside her creation and ran her fingers along the edges of the canvas. “Why did you do that?” “Leave it.” Her mother’s nails dug into her shoulders and she was lifted back to her feet. “Let me go.” The grip on her shoulders only tightened as her mother turned her away from the painting. “You’re going to walk out of here with me, we are going to enjoy some coffee, and you’re never going to paint him again.” She led her out of the front door of the gallery. “I don’t want coffee,” she repeated. The wind slammed the gallery door behind them and the mother released her grip. “We’ll have tea, then.”


The Oz

Justin Lee


The Major

Alexander Prange

I stare at the broche. It’s the color of his eyes. I am overwhelmed. I feel something inside me... I think this feeling is love.


Call and Response (Between 2 Hearts) Aspen Jaxson

Sing for me, to me Oh, naïve lover, My eyes are your Broadway lights Flickering, Flashing Your name ingrained on my retinas The tip of your tongue launches a standing ovation Washing over me, hypnotic Your sweet, sweet siren song, euphonic a melodic sensation, from ear to ear Sultry, My heart weeps from excitement Oh, Skin of lemon and cinnamon, Skin showered in 90s R&B An array of goosebumps left in the wake of your Voice— I hear you, I hear you my darling lover So again I say, Croon to me, for me And I promise to echo back


Moon Man

Stephanie Truitt 17  × 22 " oil


Repatriation Jessie Fales

They turned the house my grandfather built into a shrine to Beanie Babies. I know, because four of us drove back to the place—the ruins of a small Western Pennsylvanian coal mining town—and found the house where our parents had been children. We stood in what used to be my grandmother’s garden, near the side street where we had parked our car—we had only come to take some photographs and to imagine what it must have been like back in the day. The current resident stood in the basement doorway, watching us through the screen door, eyes narrowed, two fingers holding a cigarette. Our grandfather had died of lung cancer. She stepped out into the summer grass and waved to us across the yard, motioning for us to come closer, her stained tank top falling off her fat wrinkled shoulders, her breasts wilted, almost touching her cutoff jean shorts. She smelled strange to us, probably because we never knew the smell of our grandfather’s cigarettes. “This is the house our grandfather built,” the oldest one of us said. She invited us in, as if the house belonged to us and not to her, as if our family had never left—she apologized for the changes she had made to a house that our grandfather had built with his own two hands. She showed us how she had knocked down an upstairs interior wall, which had formed the room where two of our uncles had slept as children, and where they must have dreamt of childish things. She said she wanted to open the space up—to let some light in and brighten the walls. We nodded our heads, understanding—we had heard the stories of this place.


Pilgrimage to Atlanta, Georgia Cheyenne Smigiel

I don’t recall who picked up who, but I do remember driving through the Smoky Mountains Their long and winding roads unveiling sun and shining opal skies We were running from our tender misfortunes; past, a continuous seep into present Peace and sleep consumed you, as I pondered your artificial ease Dust sparkled the dashboard as though it were made of Madonna’s own dried up tears, and I saw a single wooden cross stabbing the gravel Vita Post Mortem A sigh left those velvet lips as your eyes found mine, brimming with reflections of shared losses We are here carved into our smiles, our bodies baptized in Georgia sweat


Out of the Garage Alexis Smith

Cast of Characters: J AC E: 17, one of LENA’s half-brothers, about to graduate with honors from his high school, voted class heartbreaker. L E N A:

10, the youngest of five, about to graduate elementary school with straight Bs.

Time and Place: A gray, two-car garage. The present. (At rise: a two-car garage lit by two large fluorescent lights. The Screamo song “Walk With me in Hell” by Lamb of God is playing from a large floor stereo next to the doorway stage left. There is a black Chevy Cavalier in the middle-right of the stage with all of its doors opened, J AC E is on the inside muttering the lyrics to himself while trying to push the driver’s seat forward. L E N A enters from doorway on left.) LENA

Hey, Jace, Dad wants me to turn the music down. J AC E

Your dad. He’s not my dad. But fine, whatever, go ahead. (L E N A turns down music until it is barely audible and approaches J AC E , who is still struggling with his seat.) Need any help? 34


Title Title Title


Name Nah,Last there’s not much you could help me with anyway.


(Sits down in a folding chair.) You have to push the lever forward, not lift it up. J AC E

(Does so and the seat begins to shift forward.) Well shit, Lean Bean, how did you know that? LENA

Dad’s car is the same way. J AC E

Huh. Good to know. Thanks. (The music stops playing.) Hey, did you shut the music off? LENA

Nah, the knob is broken and sometimes when the bass vibrates too much it makes it go all wonky. It’ll fix itself soon. I think. J AC E

Damn, what don’t you know? Aw, shut up.



Why are you still out here, anyway? LENA

No reason, really. I finished my homework and Dad fell asleep watching How it’s Made so I thought I’d come help you. J AC E

I mean, if you want to grab a rag and wipe off my tires that’d be nice.


J AC E (CO N T.)

(He turns the vacuum on and begins to vacuum the carpet underneath the driver’s side seat. L E N A covers her face and begins to cry. J AC E continues to vacuum for five seconds before turning it off and hearing her.) J AC E

Woah, what’s the matter with you? You don’t actually have to wipe my tires off, damn. (J AC E rolls the vacuum back to its spot in the garage. He goes to comfort L E N A , but she looks away.) LENA

I shouldn’t talk about it. J AC E

Did Robert ground you or something? No, but he will.




(L E N A is silent and the music turns up just slightly, and more inaudible lyrics of another Screamo song are heard. J AC E doesn’t give any sign of notice, but instead goes to his car and pulls out a half finished bottle of Tito’s Vodka. He brings the bottle over to her and unscrews the cap.) Try it.



Title Title (L E NTitle A is still

silent and only

Name Lastlooks back and forth from

the bottle to J AC E until he gestures once more.) LENA

My dad would murder you if he knew you were offering me that. J AC E

So don’t tell him. Gotta build a tolerance at some point. Go on, just take a swig. (L E N A takes the bottle and drinks from it. She lets out one hard cough and keeps her eyes on J AC E . The music goes silent again.) J AC E

Atta girl! That’s your Wilson side showing through. (J AC E returns to his car and begins cleaning the trash out, peeling browned banana peels out of the door pockets.) Now are you going to tell me why Robert is going to ground you? LENA

I kissed a girl today.


No shit? What the hell, why? LENA

(Her voice cracks.) I don’t know. Kira and them were making fun of me because I had never done it before, so Ally kissed me to make them stop. J AC E

Christ, Lena. Can’t say I’ve ever let a bully make me kiss a guy.



I know, I know. You’re not making me feel better. J AC E

What makes you think your dad’s going to find out? LENA

Because I kissed her again and Koby saw it and he told Ms. Johnson. J AC E

Oh. I see. Why did you kiss her a second time? LENA

I liked it the first time. I don’t know, it was my first kiss. J AC E

Y’know, my first kiss was in fifth grade too. I was eleven and I kissed Elizabeth Bradshaw, but all my friends had already kissed her. I was so fucking jealous of them. But I beat them all when I lost my virginity at 14, ha ha. LENA

14? That’s like, eighth grade! J AC E

Oh hell yeah it was. That was Vicky Smith, and it was short and sweaty and glorious. Just like the first time should be. J AC E

(He pulls out a used condom from cupholders in the back seats.) And this was Alaina Carlton. (He walks over and takes a swig of his Tito’s, offering it to L E N A once more. She shakes her head.) She said she liked girls, too. Ha.


Title Title (He Title dangles

the used condom in

Name Lasther face and she retracts.) LENA

Ew Jace, quit it. And I didn’t say I liked girls. (J AC E laughs and throws the condom in a garbage.) J AC E

(Holding the Tito’s.) How did you know what that was? LENA

Me and Emily found a bunch in her sister’s room one time. Emily Anderson?


(L E N A nods.) As in Janette Anderson’s little sister? As in the Janette Anderson I plowed on Robert’s couch? Plowed?



(Chuckles and shakes his head.) Never mind. Small world. (A pause as JACE sets the Tito’s next to LENA and goes back to his car. He begins to wash the outside of the windows. Bass from a new song begins to thump within the speakers, though the lyrics are inaudible.)



So, what? You’re a lesbian now? LENA

Oh my god, NO. Absolutely not. You ever kiss a boy? Well, no.




Ever think of kissing a boy? Um, ew.



I think you might be a carpet muncher, Lenny. LENA

Stop it, Jace! Wait, what’s that mean? J AC E

You’ll learn when you’re older, I suppose. LENA

But I’ll like them anyway when I’m older. Mom said my feelings will change when I hit puberty. It doesn’t matter, it was just a stupid kiss. I don’t like girls. I don’t even have any friends that are girls. J AC E

Ha! You’re not helping your case, Lena. LENA

In fact, I hate girls. They’re bitchy and most of them are stupid. J AC E

But apparently not this Ally girl.


Title Title (L E NTitle A sighs Name Lastagain.)

and begins to cry J AC E

Relax, Lean! I’m not going to tell anybody. Honestly, it doesn’t really surprise me at all. Come on, take one more sip. You’ll feel better. (A metal instrumental begins to play softly in the background, just loud enough to hear. L E N A sips at the Tito’s and coughs for three seconds. She is silent for a moment, then starts to cry harder.) J AC E

Okay, okay. I mean, you don’t have to come out yet. Look, just grab a rag and start cleaning my tires, alright? Please? I would just love the help. I won’t tell anyone. (L E N A sets the Tito’s down and begins to wipe off the front tires, sniffling occasionally. They both begin to nod their heads in beat with the metal instrumental in the background. JACE finishes drying his windows as L E N A finishes wiping down the tires. L E N A sits back down on the fold-out chair and JACE pulls up a stool next to her and hands her a Sprite.) J AC E

Cheers, to liking girls!

(J AC E clinks his Tito’s bottle with her Sprite.)







What do you mean I don’t have to come out yet? J AC E

You know. Come out of the closet. Come out as gay. LENA

Why would I be in a closet for liking girls? J AC E

Well, uh, hm. Actually I don’t really know. I think it’s just a metaphor. I think it just means the closet is a hiding space. Like gay people hide in closets. Which I’m not saying you do, but I mean, you are hiding out in the garage and, come on, what ten year old likes to clean her brother’s car? (A pause.) LENA

Do you think Ms. Johnson is really going to call my dad? J AC E

Yeah. Yeah I do. I can’t believe that old bitch still teaches there. Listen to me, Lena. Do not tell Robert. Okay? This conversation does not leave this garage. Okay. Why?




Your dad is set in his ways. Just don’t tell him. Tell him Koby was lying to Johnson, or make something else up. I just wouldn’t say anything to your dad for a while. Don’t tell him about the Tito’s either, he’ll beat my ass. LENA


(Suddenly, a phone begins to ring offstage. L E N A leaps from her chair and looks to J AC E ) Dad is — — a hard sleeper. ­



(J AC E turns the Screamo music all the way up and begins to run into the house.) LENA

(Covers her ears) What are you doing? Dad’s going to wake up! (J AC E runs inside the house. L E N A runs to the stereo. J AC E’s voice is heard offstage and begins to get louder as the music gets quieter.) J AC E

Ms. Johnson? Yes, this is Robert speaking. TH E E N D


Untitled Justin Lee


How Not to Make Lemon Rice Soup Claire Quenneville

Put the stock on to boil, add the rice. Walk into the other room to get a warmer pair of socks. Sit on the edge of the bed and stare at the floor for a while. Think about that one stupid thing you said ten years ago. Think about the woman you loved. Think about what your life would have been like if you had known how to be vulnerable. Look up and see how empty your apartment seems and realize that you haven’t had people over in months. Remember to rehang the Starry Night poster that fell off the wall last night. Get sad when you see your cat lying on the floor, like some sort of animal, instead of up on the bed with you. Think about how she won’t be here forever. Cry. Remember you are making soup as you hear it boil over. Reclaim a sense of urgency and attempt to save the soup. Step in cat puke. Realize you never put your socks on.


Weight, Weight: Don’t Tell Me Theodore Wampuszyc

After the cuff loosens on my arm and the thermometer slips out from under my tongue It’s out of the chair and onto my feet and onto a little gray platform that will spit out a three-digit number that will tell me what I’m worth. Or, maybe they’ll just ask me “What Do You Weigh?” Oh, Christ. Let slip the dogs of war. Despite the fact that no stethoscope presses its frigid thumbprint to my chest, I take a deep breath and try to remember What do I weigh? As much as five boxes of cat litter bought in bulk To bring to the shelter on Tuesdays and Saturdays Or a little less than three kids, because In between the microchipping, cat-smooching, And endless sweeping at the shelter I tutor on Mondays And that weighs something too. My weight in books would never be enough, Because more than the “too many breads” and the “too many sweets,” Yes, more than those, I swallow endless words And disgorge them by pen and by keyboard alike A thousand stories in my belly Either written or yet unborn And what must that weigh?


It’s all just one measurement on the costumer’s sheet of many When they fit me in armor, Or naval slacks, or spritely wings, Denim, flannel, leather, tulle, It’s cut-sewn-buttoned, made for me And in this heart are a dozen writers’ plays Pressing down on this scale Bouncing the needle higher, ever higher, it seems. As a child I loved dragons And in high school I played the xylophone So it’s not all scales that fill me with dread Maybe that’s why it’s high, I reason—the dread pulls me down. Or the phone in my pocket? The soles on my boots? I could cut my hair or trim my nails or strip off my clothes or tear off my skin to ease the number lower lower lower lower.... Numbers are the worst part Because this number will be in my head all day week month year Because even now after almost a decade of alleged recovery I still remember how many calories are in the bags of Doritos served in my middle school cafeteria: (160 in the Nacho Cheese, 10 fewer if you opt for the Cool Ranch


One of these and a glass of hot water was what I called breakfast There was no lunch.) Because I know it’s three teaspoons to a tablespoon for the same reason “It just means I’m fast with conversions, just means I can make cocoa on the fly” I would love if that were true. I wish I could de-weaponize knowledge Don’t you? All this passes through in a hurricane between “step on the scale” and “The doctor will be in soon” And I’m still not sure that, if quizzed, I’d pass. Question one: How much do you weigh? A) More than that B) Less than that C) It doesn’t matter D) I’ll never know



Eye of the Beholder Stephanie Truitt 12 × 18 " chalk pastel


Her Body, the Pharmacy Jessie Fales

She takes the pills by mouth. These are the pills she takes so she doesn’t die. This yellow one is an antibiotic. These small white ones are anti-inflammatories. This big pink one is an immunosuppressant. When taken together, the pills taste like bleach and cat piss. These two are for nausea, because she sometimes accidentally takes the others on an empty stomach. All the pills make her gag. She feels them in her throat, long after she’s swallowed. This pill gives her energy, because one of the other pills makes her tired. She can’t remember which one. The simple act of swallowing makes her tired. This pill is a vitamin, but it doesn’t have iron. This pill is iron. This pill is vitamin B12, because on top of everything, she’s a vegan. This is the pill she takes when she can’t shit, because that pill makes her constipated. This pill is calcium, because that pill causes brittle bones. This is the pill she takes when she feels anxious. This is the pill she takes when she’s depressed. She’s anxious and depressed because she takes so many pills. This is the pill she takes when her parents catch her not taking it, even after she hasn’t taken it for a month. Even though she is twenty-three, they scold her like a child. “You’re an impossible patient,” they say. “You’re disobedient. They’ll write it down in your chart!” This is the pill she takes every night so she doesn’t get pregnant, because one (or more) of the pills will mutate a fetus in the womb. It doesn’t matter that she hasn’t had sex since she was sixteen. “It isn’t worth the risk,” her mother says, “You don’t want a deformed baby. You’d have to abort it.” This is the pill she takes when she smokes too much marijuana. This is the pill she takes when she wants to sleep all day, and then she takes this one to sleep through the night. “I’m tired all of the time,” she says, “But I can never sleep.”


Misunderstanding Chihuahua Cheese Alex Wells

Congratulations! You are now the owner of the world’s premier milking system for miniature pets, the AltDairy Miniature Pet Milker™!

Getting Started With the AltDairy Miniature Pet Milker™ 1. Remove your AltDairy Miniature Pet Milker™ from its box (be sure to refrain from the use of sharp tools, at the risk of severing the AltDairy Dynamic Milking Arteries™) 2. Attach the state-of-the-art AltDairy Miniature Teat Suctions™ to the AltDairy Dynamic Milking Arteries™. Secure firmly with AltDairy TeatSecure Vise-Grips™ (sold separately). 3. Attach the AltDairy Dynamic Milking Arteries™ to the AltDairy Portable Milking Engine™. Secure firmly with AltDairy TeatSecure Vise-Grips™ (sold separately). 4. Insert fifteen (15) C batteries (not included) to battery compartment on bottom of your AltDairy Miniature Pet Milker™. Note: Prior to application of the device to your pet please follow these precautions: • Milking cats: Please apply the AltDairy Claw Concealers™ (sold separately) to the paws to ensure your feline friend doesn’t accidentally sever the AltDairy Dynamic Milking Arteries™. • Milking miniature dogs: AltDairy Enterprises© recommends the use of the AltDairy TeatSecure-Securing Vise-Grips™ (sold separately) to ensure the AltDairy TeatSecure ViseGrips™ remain fixed in the event of nervous shaking. • Milking hamsters, ferrets, other rodents: The AltDairy Miniature Pet Milker™ is unsuitable for rodents. Serious and sometimes fatal injuries may occur. AltDairy Enterprises© recommends the purchase of the AltDairy Micro Pet Milker™.


5. Apply the AltDairy Dynamic Milking Arteries™ to your pet’s teats. Place AltDairy MAXVolume Milk Receptacle™ (sold separately) beneath pour spout. Press red power button. Note: The AltDairy Miniature Pet Milker™ will yield a volume of one-fourth (1/4) cup per two hours. For users desiring larger volumes, we recommend waiting at least five (5) hours between milkings to ensure the pet’s wellbeing. Happy Milking! © 1991 ALTDAIRY ENTERPRISES



An Electrifying Mouse Tale Marissa Chupp Copper and Brass with Patina



Nicholas Talamantez

Auriculares Como me guardas a menudo del mundo feo, de un realidad de dolor Heridas que yo aviso en una isla sonida Como me mantienes mi cordura Las veces que mis maestros me atacaron por razones no entendería por muchos años Las veces que mis padres se gritaron, lucharon en nuestro casa, tuvé que encontrar un escape Cuando camino por la calle, por la acera, en cualquier parte Y encuentro los ojos de otros. Algunos de odio, asco, degradación me pone tranquilo. O me ayuda con las lágrimas. Me apoya a través corazónes rotos. Me di inspiración por arte, escritura, evolución En viajes largos, me pone en estado de pensamientos fondos Y en paseos de necesidad Ahora estoy más cómodo cuando estás en la oreja mío. Puedo caminar sin música, nadie necesita verte. Siempre y cuando tú estás conmigo y tú te instalas cómodamente Auriculares Como me guardas


Headphones How you protect me Often from the ugly world, from a reality of pain Wounds that I avoid on an island of sound How you maintain my sanity The times that my teachers attacked me For reasons that I would not understand for many years The times that my parents would scream, fight In our home, I had to find an escape When I walk down the street, the sidewalk, wherever And I encounter the eyes of others. Those of hate, disgust, degradation You made me calm. Or you helped me with the tears. You helped me through broken hearts. You gave me inspiration for art, writing, evolution On long trips, you put me in a state of deep thought And on necessary walks Now I am more comfortable when you are in my ear I can walk without music, nobody needs to see you. As long as you are with me and you are comfortably at home Headphones How you save me



Hunter Williams Sandy reaches to put her carry-on into the compartment above her head, half expecting the touch of her husband’s familiar hand to help. Then she remembers, bows her head and sighs as she sits down with her husband’s journal. “Excuse me,” Sandy says, signaling the flight attendant, “can I get a glass of Merlot please?” The slight turbulence of takeoff makes Sandy realize that she’s been staring at the seat in front of her for fifteen minutes. “Ma’am, your Merlot.” Sandy is startled by the flight attendant and she takes the glass with shaky hands. In an attempt to calm her nerves, Sandy takes a big sip of the wine. She stares at the journal on the seat beside her; it’s staring back at her, begging her to discover what’s inside. Her husband’s journal was the one thing that was off-limits. She opens the journal, feeling uncomfortable, like she is somehow infringing on her husband’s privacy. The pages smell like him—hard work and Ralph Lauren’s Polo Blue, the one thing he treated himself to. Sandy reaches for her glass of wine while flipping through the journal and a photograph falls to the ground. It’s a photograph of her and their first baby chick, both of them covered in pine shavings. Sandy looks at the Polaroid closely and she sees her husband in the reflection of her glasses, taking the picture with a smile as wide as hers. Sandy drinks the rest of her Merlot, then reclines her seat as she holds the Polaroid to her chest. She closes her eyes to go back to a simpler time. Their farm is gone, sold to developers. She is moving to North Carolina to live with her daughter. She closes her eyes again and she sees her husband feeding their hens at the coop. Her husband looks happy, at peace. He looks at her, his crow’s feet deep from years of late nights and early mornings. He smiles at her, the smile that has remained the same after forty years and will remain the same, and for the first time in a long time she feels at peace.


an offering

Eliza Sandra Foli

i peel them off gently one by one these orange rinds these insides long ago dried i flake with uncertainty and crumble at the air’s soft brush— i hand it over a word in my palm sits quietly, well-behaved it watches your eyes waiting for perception and my chest heals over with time; i don’t know why i always expect you to give a patch back to me and maybe i should thank you; with this practiced pruning i’ve become quite good at growing myself.




Alexis Smith

you were named after the painter, alphonse maria mucha the seasons, madonna of the lilies, the plural form of the latin word for craters in the moon mare tranquillitatis, mare serenitatis, johnny mathis singing west side story maria maria, say it loud the woman the nuns sing of in the sound of music how do you hold a moonbeam the hebrew word for wished-for the painter, your mother, who paints only in watercolor who paints only the sea.



Bolete Trio

Lauren Johnson


To the Boy on the Bus Swatting Bees Claire Quenneville

All happiness is coincidental Stumble upon it as bees do upon your frightened skin Be tender, boy, be a man and be tender Be merciful They mistake you for flowers Do not hurt them They lick the sweet pollen from your smiling cheeks Kiss you As bees do


What Will Not Stop Nicholas Talamantez

A kiss on lifeless lips does not breathe a soul into the vessel Saying “I love you” doesn’t make their heart start again Bringing them flowers won’t make them spring awake Turning away from a television doesn’t stop the bombs Increasing your security restrictions doesn’t protect those on the outside Waving your flag doesn’t make your country the greatest Building a wall doesn’t nullify a request for asylum Firing gas, grenades, & ammunition at us does not make you the worse reality Xenophobia will not excuse separating families Trapping us in a ghetto won’t make us weaker Police killings won’t silence our voices Systems will not prevent organization Tear Gas, Beatings, Mass Shootings, Sexual Abuse, Slurs, Social-Psycho Media, Redlining, Unjust Incarceration, Fake History, Disease, Whitewashing, Colonization

Will not stop Revolution


Untitled Justin Lee


Profile for LHCBooks

The Laureate (2019 Edition)  

The Laureate’s mission is to provide undergraduate students at Western Michigan University a place in which to publish their works of fictio...

The Laureate (2019 Edition)  

The Laureate’s mission is to provide undergraduate students at Western Michigan University a place in which to publish their works of fictio...

Profile for lhcbooks