M ain H E T
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The Main Street Journal Editor-in-Chief :: Dave Brown Managing Editor :: Jillian Kuzma Managing Editor :: Maddie Thomas Assistant Editor :: Casey Cohen Assistant Editor :: Zachary Liscio Assistant Editor :: Kate Rosenblum Public Relations :: Laura Blagys & Emily Arnold Treasurer :: Laura Szklarski Advisor :: Philip Flynn Selection Committee :: Emily Arnold, Stephanie Bitterman, Victoria Blackburn, Laura Blagys, Jonathan Gomez,Tushmit Hasan, Brittany Hayes, Mikala Jamison, Caitlin Maloney, Joe Marinelli, Molly Mooney, Collin Newman,Tim Petrie, Jasmin Szafranski Laura Szklarski, Sean Ulman Public Relations Staff:: Brad Davis, Joe Marinelli, Kylie Poirier Special Thanks :: Allocation Board, Frank & Cookie Billitz, Stuart & Lynne Brown, Andrew Tauro, Clothes in the Past Lane, Graphics Comminucation Center, Newark Natural Foods, Red Ribbon Project, Tâ€™Liscious, Philip Flynn, Mike Groh,
Cover: photo of Main Street in Newark, DE by Dave Brown
Editor’s Note The inspiration for this publication came to me while I was sitting at work one day, looking through different print magazines when I thought, “Wouldn’t it be great for UD to have a student-run literary magazine?” What started with six students last spring turned into The Main Street Journal, an expressive outlet for Newark, with more than thirty staff members. We searched every corner of the town for creativity, and in return received more than two-hundred submissions of fiction, art, humor and poetry. We invite you to relax, and enjoy this inaugural issue, whether on a park bench on a sunny day or inside your favorite coffee shop. And when you’re finished with it, pass it on to a friend or neighbor. Hopefully each piece will meet your expectations, as they were hand-selected by the MSJ staff. I thank all of those who helped with the production of this magazine, including the staff, contributors and donors. We hope you continue to support The Main Street Journal, and look forward to putting together our next issue in the fall. Sincerely, Dave Brown Editor-in-Chief
Contents SHORT STORIES Joe Bennett S. Gray. McKean Siobhan May Mark Manz Tony Muccio Mark Roche Maria Victoria Agra Andres Cerpa
LOVE IS NOT ALL YOU NEED JUST FOREST THE MAN WHO MADE CHAIRS BECAUSE YOU’RE A DREAM TO ME DUNCAN CASHEW SCHEHERAZADE HE IS
10 11 31 49 59 65 75 80
POETRY Rachel Pomeranz LE VENT NE DORT JAMAIS Larry Kelts IRISES Sean Ulman BLUE DIAMOND Jake Holler FOUR DOG’S Alexandra Saum Pascual ENDURING GIRTH Jessica FitzPatrick FRESHLY PRESSED Zachary Liscio SKIN WITHOUT CHLOROPHYLL Ryan Carroll MARCH 22, 2008 Siobhan May SAILOR Vincent Cartolano POEM CRY Sean Ulman BLUE DIAMONDS Siobhan May THE HEARTLAND FLIER Jessica FitzPatrick SHAKE, RATTLE, N’ ROLL Alexandra Duszak THE SOUTH Sabrina Amon CEILING Nabeel Khan HELENA Leslie Nii Odartey Mills TO MY TRUE LOVE Jasmin Szafranski BACK AGAIN Andres Cerpa TODAY Joe Marinelli MIST Jasmin Szafranski DELIVER US Jessica FitzPatrick ELIPSIS
9 19 20 25 28 30 41 42 43 44 47 48 57 58 62 63 64 68 73 74 79 85
COLLEGE THROUGH THE EYES OF ITS STUDENTS
A LOCAL ADVERTISEMENT
IN THE WINTER
BUNK BED FEVER PRISON BOYSCOUT THEM BLACK AND WHITES STEPHEN EATING AN APPLE
37 38 39 40
CABALLERO CANOPY AT DAWN RECREATION ALTIPLANO
53 54 55 56
FLORIDA BEACHES ZEBRAS CURIOUS GIRAFFE
70 71 72
CHANCE COMMANDMENT GRATIFICATION REBEL
81 82 83 84
Le Vent Ne Dort Jamais RachelPomeranz The wind never sleeps. She sighs and weeps at night Creeping, Seeping through his window She breathlessly kisses her true love’s cheek Runs her fingers through the curls of his sweet hair How mild, how benign he is as he slumbers, As though possessed by some strange, lilting melody… She whispers gently into his ear A desperately uttered plea I love you. He cannot hear it and hardly stirs, Save for a somnolent tug on the covers to protect his face from the invisible chill My touch is too cold To rest within the sacred warmth that his heart conceals! Away she flies, haunted by shame Lurking among oak and evergreen Twisting, weaving about isolated suburban streetlamps She retreats into the depth of night. Life may bring a thousand windows, Cheeks, tufts of golden hair; Drowsy lashes that flutter to a close… But I am certain that I shall love none quite as dearly As those of my cherished Prince Alexander! How she wails and cries- Oh! She dies, but finds no rest! For the wind never sleeps.
Love is Not All You Need JoeBennett Well some say that in life- all you need is a loving woman and air to breathe, they say. I’m not one to disagree but face the facts you need that cash money, because the rent is due and the children are hungry, apparently love doesn’t quell rumbling tummies, and you got the third notice from the electric company, they say no more power- is a city they’re running. Young people say that it’s typical, while the old folks say it’s hypocritical, all the children, well they don’t know about the grabbing hands and the space below. The earth she waits for another soul, with every birth, another’s got to go. It’s green and it feels good to earn, but for every transaction there’s concern, who it goes to and will they learn, to keep and use with some discern. Though things are pure of this I’m sure, I don’t see the world no more, I’m floating up above it all, and you all wait for me to fall- for surely one can’t defy gravity as much as one can’t defy society. Well screw the rules and the chains, screw the think-tanks that make those things and make it work for yourself, because you can’t take your heart and put it on a shelf. You need to know that when it comesyou reach for the key and not the gun. It’s useless to resist it at all, from power to disgrace the haughty will fall. And what was left in the space between, what was left but you and me, with eyes never used because they were too blind to see the very thing that was right in front of me. And the young people say it’s critical, and the old folks say it’s so simple, but the children they still don’t know why they tend to the gardens that will never grow. The cynics come and wax poetic while the soccer moms get stuck in traffic on the way to little Timmy’s game, where the coach swears and the landscaper grimaces in pain, for the ground is torn and the fields ablaze with the sense of things that need to be changed, but no one steps up with a fresh solution and the corporate board meeting continues without hesitation, and the philosophers looks for the touch of grey and the politicians levy the taxes for the middle class to pay and the police officer writes another ticket for speeding, while a young girl lays on her trampoline dreaming. All the young people seem to want to go with the flow, and the old folks don’t want to learn anymore, and the children are left with the unknown. Love is not all you need, and it can’t just be all about the money, there is no peace but there’s plenty of greed, there’s not much food but so many mouths to feed and there’s not enough beds but so many that need to sleep. I don’t claim to know the answer but I’m tired of the slavery, I’d rather be alone than be just another victim of the suicide that is society. 10
Just Forest S.Gray.McKean March 14th, 1976 H is born. His father, still in his overalls from the garage—from work— beams with joy. His mother is unconscious, recovering from nineteen hours of horrendous labor. She screamed expletives for all nineteen hours, right up until the sedative took her off to sleep. His father holds him as he looks out the window of the hospital. The window faces the back lot, away from the city. Past the cars, only trees can be seen. If H would open his eyes he would see nothing but trees. Just forest. March 14th, 2006 His mother had been dead for three years. He inherited the house and had enough to live off of from her life insurance policy. A relic–present?–from a father he never really knew. He hasn’t worked since, giving up a job at the steel mill down the street. They call him and ask him to come back once a month. No one knows this is H’s thirtieth birthday. No gifts today. But then, gifts are just objects when no love is attached. The last gift—not object—H received was from his father. A picture of the family, all smiling. Today H was hoping to receive his gift to himself in the mail. But it never arrived. March 15th, 1979 A friend of H’s mother agrees to do all the accounting for H’s father’s business. One day the IRS audits the business and to find that thousands of dollars are owed to the government. H’s dad goes to confront the friend, but he is long gone. H’s mother watches her husband handcuffed and driven to jail as she drinks an Old Fashioned, smokes a cigarette, and smiles. H knows it was his mother’s friend who sent his father away. To H, his mother’s friend always dressed like a big penguin. “Why did the big penguin send dad away?” H asks his mother. “Because the big penguin loves your mother.”
March 15th, 2006 H stares at the picture his father got him years and years ago. He looks past the family into the forest behind them and wonders what forest it is and what other fictions are happening in it. Fictions like the smiles on their faces. Besides the trees he can only make out traces of color, a faded purple flower here and a bright red and orange flower there. On the back of the picture is a message from his father: “How it never was. Love, Dad.” March 16th, 1982 H’s father was to get out of jail today. The big penguin had been staying at the house with his mother for almost two years now. She was shouting with him. Telling him he had to leave now that H’s father was coming back. H hid in his room, hoping the shouting would end. Then he heard a car pull up to the front of the house. He looked out his window and saw a cab let out a man that could have been his father, in the overalls that struck a chord with H. The front door opened and the fighting stopped for a moment that stretched for eternity. H ran out of his room and peered down the hallway to see what was happening. The next moment is gone from H’s thirty-year-old memory. All that he remembers is the absence of both men from his life and a series of pain and isolation to follow. March 16th, 2006 H begins to give up on his plans. The huge ideas he had when he ordered his birthday presents weeks ago were beginning to fade. He couldn’t bring himself out of bed today. He just lay in bed all day and stared at the family picture. Wondering how they ever faked such brilliant smiles. Faked them enough that his own two-year-old smile was real. Perhaps the only real thing in the whole picture. March 17th, 1985 The ride home was horrible. The interstate hadn’t been paved in years. Each pothole tossed the van up and back down on its rusted suspension. H moaned every time and his mother hated it. The broken road, the broken van, and her broken son. Two major operations in less than a year with no health insurance, H has been more than a burden in his nine-year life. He’d been a curse. Misaligned ankles–two years of physical therapy, non-descended eustation tube–four months of specialists visits, a detached retina–steroid treatments, a hernia of the stomach muscle and small intestine– out-patient surgery with three-day ER 12
stay, and most recently an incisional hernia cause by scar tissue from the previous operation “Please! H! Just shut your fucking mouth! Stop!” His mother yelled after the moans grew louder. And H did. He silently wept the rest of the way home. Last year on this terrible drive home from the hospital, H prayed. A simple prayer, “Don’t make me go through this again.” This time H didn’t bother praying. He knew no one was listening. He just stared out the window, looking for something to distract him from the pain. But he found nothing. Just forest. March 17th, 2006 Today the long awaited package arrives. H clears the dining room table and places the box on it. He opens it and slowly removes the items. A brand new digital camcorder, shiny and black. A small tripod with snake-like legs. A light that fastens to the camera. And a leather bag that has a perfect place for everything. March 18th, 1988 It’s raining and H is in his backyard, digging a hole. He’s crying, but the rain makes it unnoticeable. At his feet, wrapped in his favorite blanket, is his dog, Abacus. Because it wouldn’t stop barking, his mother suffocated it with a garbage bag while he was at school. She threatened to do it a hundred times, but H thought those were empty threats. Abacus always stopped barking whenever he said, “No.” But he couldn’t always be there to say it. If H turns around, he will see his mother staring from the back porch. Drinking an Old Fashioned, smoking a cigarette, and smiling. March 18th, 2006 There’s an abandoned horse farm near the state park several miles from H’s home. H decides to trek into the surrounding woodlands with his camcorder and film anything that catches his eye. He parks his car at the end of the long winding drive leading up to the barn. He films the worn and rotted sign hanging on the post at the end of the drive. He films the empty grazing knoll, half of the fence rails gone or hanging, rotted. He films the piles of decomposing hay across the knoll. 13
The barn’s roof had been done in by a fallen tree, the soft remains of the tree still on the ground both inside and outside. Only three stalls are still intact, dried feed still in the troughs. Outside all of the jumps in the training rink are still standing. H walks the course and climbs the jumps. He foolishly lands in a huge puddle hidden between two of the jumps. And he films it all. March 19th, 1991 H sits quietly in his freshman English class. He doodles music staves and notes as the teacher reviews Hamlet. She asks questions and calls on students at random for answers. H had never been called on all year, until now. “How did Hamlet die, H?” He jumps a bit when he hears his name. He looks up from his notebook to see the front half of the class looking back at him, waiting to hear his voice for the first time. “He was stabbed by a poison tipped sword?” H is right but couldn’t help but sound unsure. The teacher cocks her head to the side and says, “No shit, Sherlock.” This is the first time the teacher goes out of character, cursing. Everyone in the class is stunned at first then most of them laugh. So does the teacher as she calls on someone else. In the hall after class someone calls him Sherlock and a flock of pretty girls points and laughs at him. From now on he is Sherlock. He never answers another question aloud again. March 19th, 2006 In the forest by the farm H finds a small, stagnant pond filled with frogs and toads. He films them all jumping in and out and around the pond. He zooms in and films the clusters of eggs and tadpoles just beneath the surface. He dangles the camcorder close to a croaking toad so the microphone captures the sound. He feels important documenting this little community. He gives it a name: Sherlock’s Glass. He spends the whole afternoon filming it. March 20th, 1994 H has been working on a song for months. His first song. Everyday after school he rushes home to his room to work on it. Singing and strumming his guitar, maybe sitting at the piano to work out a melody. It makes him happy. He feels important. He sings the chorus to himself all day long. It’s all about forgetting people 14
who put him down, and how they didn’t understand his potential. It is a gem of self-respect in a dark personality. Today when he gets home he finds the piano locked. When he goes to his room he finds his guitar smashed, the head snapped off and dangling by the strings, three huge dents in the body. Tears start to bloat and redden his face as he goes through the house to find his mother. She is on the back porch. Drinking an Old Fashioned, smoking a cigarette and smiling. “I did you a favor. No one wants to hear you.” H tries, but he can’t fix the broken instrument. March 20th, 2006 He first sees her as a strange flash of color. When the camcorder recorded the toad, it also–by chance–captured her. Flipping the image and re-framing it, he finds a crystal clear shot of her. A young woman in a beautiful lavender dress, on her knees against a huge knot of a tree. Her head is cradled in her arms, her arms against the tree. It looks like she is crying. He saves the image as “Lavender Lady.” He opens the file at least a dozen times that night. March 21st, 1997 H sits at a bar next to the steel mill drinking the dive’s “moonshine” and beer. He wishes he hadn’t dropped out of high school. He wishes he went to college. He wishes he wasn’t here. Four shots and eight beers later H’s mother stumbles in shouting his name. Everyone in the bar turns to see this haggard woman. H bows his head and ignores her, but she continues to shout his name all the way to the stool next to him. “You look at me, H.” He doesn’t. She slaps his faces and grabs his jaw, yanking his face to hers. The bar goes silent and a few patrons turn away. “I know its payday and I want my money. You give me my money.” It wasn’t hers, but she still demands half of all his paychecks. H doesn’t like it, but he hates what happens when he denies her anything. So he opens his wallet and gives her the money. And she gives him a cold stare before leaving. At a booth, three of his co-workers laugh and one says, “Sherlock’s a momma’s boy.” He tries not to, but his eyes start to tear. March 21st, 2006 When he returns to the pond, he stands with his camcorder and slowly turns in a circle, trying to find the Lavender Lady. He only finds the tree, the huge gnarled knot protruding on the side of it. 15
As he walks closer to it, he smells smoke. At the tree he hears the crackle and roar of a large fire close by. He follows the noise until he sees flames ahead. He films them by zooming in close, so he doesn’t have to get close himself. It is a cabin that’s burning. The flames swallowing the cabin entirely. And just twenty feet away is a man in drab clothes–prison clothes?–sitting on a felled tree. His head hangs low, and he stares into the huge glass jug of brownish liquid in his lap. H films him until the man raises his head and looks right into the lense. H runs back to his car without stopping, his heart racing and his entire body shaking. March 22nd, 2000. H sits at the locked piano, running his fingers over the wood panel covering the keys. He tries to imagine the notes sounding as his fingers hit the wood. He opens his of book of music to a blank page and starts the tedious task of writing down what’s in his head. H doesn’t hear his mother enter the room. She’s too drunk to notice the piano is still locked and no sounds are coming from it. Thinking H found the key, hidden in her room, she shouts, “Hey! Don’t you go in my fucking room when I’m no here. No, don’t go fucking around in my room ever.” She storms over and throws a sloppy punch to H’s head, the crack sounds like knuckles breaking. H cowers in shock as she screams, “Give me back the key!” and lobbs her snifter–still half full of scotch–at his head, knocking his glasses off, cutting his cheek. “I don’t have it.” She tries to push him off the piano bench but just collapses into him. “Look!” He shows her that the piano is still locked. She stares a while, still leaning on him, and then tries to open it herself. She leans her mouth close to his ear and says, “Get the fuck out of my house.” Pushing off of him for balance she wobbles to the kitchen. H picks up his glasses and touches his throbbing head and bleeding cheek. And so he leaves. March 22nd, 2006 H returns to what is left of the cabin. The jug lying sideways by the tree reeks of sugary scotch. As he films the remains of the cabin, he finds a wooden footbridge, partially burnt, leading from the cabin to the woods. It leads into a skunkweed filled marsh. He follows the footbridge as it winds through the marsh; sometimes it has its own little tributaries. Smaller wooden paths leading to handmade stairs. H stays 16
on the main path until it ends at an ornate bridge crossing a creek. The bridge seems hand-carved and marvelous in the fading light. But the opposite side is completely dark and seems empty. As if the bridge leads nowhere. H flips on the light on his camcorder and crosses the bridge. He finds a dark, paved road going up a steep incline on the other side. As he approaches the crest of the hill he can faintly see a light. Coming closer he sees the light is attached to huge Victorian-style mansion. With the camcorder’s light off–but still filming–he creeps to a window. A woman is asleep on a couch across from a fire crackling in a huge fire place. Her face is turned away, but it could be the Lavender Lady, a blanket covering her dress. She stirs slightly as two men come down the spiral staircase into the room. One is the man from the burning cabin, his drab clothes smeared with ash. The other man was tall and striking in a tuxedo. The tuxedoed man gestures towards the woman and the drab man nods. They slowly walk past her to the front door. H makes his way towards the front porch, careful to stay hidden in the brush along side the house. The two men both light cigarettes and stand silent on the porch. The drab man points down towards the woods. The tuxedoed man nods. They stand staring where he pointed until they finish their cigarettes. When they turn to enter the house the tuxedoed man locks his gaze into the lense of the camera. Again, H jumps up and runs back to his car, thinking he just filmed something he shouldn’t have filmed. March 23rd, 2003 For the last few years, H sleeps in his car in the lot between the steel mill and the bar. The steel mill has showers, so he is clean in his homelessness. One afternoon he awakes to see his mother pushing her way through the doors of the bar. He immediately starts his car and drives to her house, his old home. Once there, he raids her room for the key to the piano. He finds it in tiny music box that plays “Que Sera” when opened. He sits at the piano and slowly unlocks the wooden cover. He places his hands on the keys for the first time in nine years. The book of his music still sits opened to the four bars he wrote three years ago. As he plays the notes he wrote for his left hand over and over, his right hand starts playing melodies and chords. He closes his eyes and takes in the sounds, the music—nine years of music –pouring out of him. When he finishes, he leaves the piano open. He takes the key with him. That night a sheriff comes to his car to tell him that he can’t stay there any17
more. But when the sheriff sees that it’s H, he says, “My god, son. I have bad news for you.” They found H’s mother’s body that evening. Crushed and covered with cuts in a destroyed piano in her living room. H tries to, but he just can’t seem to cry. March 23rd, 2006. At home, H starts editing together all the images he filmed over the last five days. It all came together as a beautiful story. The images fit snugly in the plot–the abandoned farm, Sherlock’s Glass, the Lavender Lady, the burning cabin, and the mansion. Even after hours of fitting it together, H did not lose focus. After H edited the last frame, he put the music he wrote three years ago against the film. The music was haunting and perfect for his first film. He decided to sleep before watching it. He dreamt about it all night. March 24th, 2006. After he makes coffee, H sits at his computer and opens the movie file. It starts with the path to the barn, then the barn itself. Then Sherlock’s Glass, H’s music adding an ominous feel hinting at the strangeness to come. But what was to come never comes. Just a monotony of forest. Trees and puddles and paths. Nothing strange comes. No Lavender Lady. No burning cabin. No mansion. Just forest.
Irises LarryKelts Solitary and hanging from the far wall: a print of heaving blues and greens: tongues slipping the earth, and, from the table beneath, nine middleaged divorcees discuss, amid blind fury and tears, kick-boxing classes, flying fry pans, out-of-control kids, and all over bitter coffee and thin lemon wedges. The iris leaves turn to swords drawn and flourishing above their heads. Still, a pale reminder of Vincent working outside the asylum remains in the pure white blossom growing solitaire near the edge, against a sea of blossoms, and reflecting itself across the blue expanse. The women, goading for assault, rise and heave themselves out to waiting SUVs. Wedging the drawn swords of their sharp tongues, they slice through blossoms of morning mist.
Blue Diamond SeanUlman A blue speck or opal fleck and for a speck of a second I thought I had it – a blue diamond! 2/10 of a carat but still a small fortune. I reached out through the sun slats but it fluttered down past the trident tip of the Hawaiian sling. It couldn’t be held, neither could the 2nd flake I saw. On this chance I didn’t interpret imminent opulence but I did marvel at it equally through my snorkel mask nonetheless.
In the Winter EmilyArnold
Caged Sovereignty AlyssaBenedetto
Four Dog’s JakeHoller You walked with me past Four Dog’s last year. I remember because it was Autumn and when we shivered you pulled me close. I remember because when I walked by again this year I shivered on my own. And yes, it’s true I have her. But when I walk alone I think of you. Yes, it’s true I want her. But in bed at night I dream of you. Yes, it’s even true I love her but only because of you. Because she looks like you, and smells like you, and almost even acts like you. Only... Not as lovely
College, Through the Eyes of Its Students MattSinger •College life is just like one big game of beer pong. You sink some, you miss some, sometimes you’re on a hot streak, and sometimes you just suck. But if you ever, ever, even think about bouncing, I’ll kick you outta my house dude! •Oh my God! College?! I love college! It’s like all about friendship and unity! I would like totally die for any of my sisters! (except for those sluts in XG---they’re Xtra Gross!!) •College is the one place where I don’t have to feel weird because I’m different. I don’t have to feel like an outcast if I don’t eat anything that was once a living animal, or was a living thing, or ever came in contact with a living thing, or ever shared an environment with a living thing. Yes, I realize my skirt is made of barley, but it’s soy barley. Where’d you get those jeans, huh? How many pigs did you slaughter to make those Levi’s? Bloodthirsty carnivore. •Look guys, college is all about rules. If we don’t follow rules then there can be no fun. College isn’t about “drinking” or “enjoying yourself ” or “socializing with peers in a comfortable setting.” College is about living in the dorms your junior and senior years to make sure other students understand the importance of mandatory icebreaker games and wacky-wild bingo on Friday nights. •College is a transcendent avenue of self-expression, where one can cast off the shackles of a repressive and despotic society determined to forge you into a mindless conformist. •COLLEGE!!!! WUUUU!!!! •Check this out Bro---College is the shit. I mean, have you seen the women here Brah? They’re ridic. Boozin’ face, mackin ho’s, parties, women, beer, girls…what more could you want Broseph? Oh, and if your lookin to score some coke, I got your back Broham. •Metallica went to college. Did you know that? So did this other band called the Is. They’re a little underground; I wouldn’t expect you to know them. I downloaded their one song yesterday and it’s been on repeat on my iPod for the last six days. I’ve been growing this killer beard for their concert taking place in their basement next week. You’re not invited. 26
•College is about being all that you can be. When I came to college I thought to myself, can I be all I can be in some whimpy frat? If I worked at the DVD store, would that be me being all that I can be? If I were over in Afghanistan staring Osama in his face, and I wasn’t all that I could be, he’d realize it, and kill me. In conclusion, I plan on wasting my parents’ money on a college education. •College? I don’t have time to talk about college. I have an exam in seven weeks and a semester. Look, everybody here just thinks they can skate by with “93s” on their tests. They’re a joke. It’s a proven fact that if you spend the time to eat three meals a day during college, you will flunk out and your parents will laugh at you. •If college was around in Jesus’s time, I’m positive He would hand out miniature bibles and pamphlets about himself. He wouldn’t care if you were in a hurry to get to class, He’d still stop you and ask about how He affected your life in a positive way. And when you say it annoyed you that you had to capitalize the H in His name, He’d get angry at you, but forgive you right away for your awful, Satan-like, blasphemous ways. •College is sooo much fun! The guys here are unbelievable! They’re so gentlemanly! They pull up my underwear every time they fall down, they always drive me to Planned Parenthood in the morning, and they usually split the cost of the Plan C pill they get off their dealers (Plan B is too expensive!!) Some people might think taking care of three kids in college is tough, but I don’t know what they’re talking about. I mean how hard is it to lock your kids in your dorm room all day? But whatevs, I’m totally off to a party, I think the theme is “magic pill in your drink” or something. Can’t wait! •College is awesome. Here’s some advice for kids coming here. This is what you need to pack for college: two wife beaters (one black, one white). thirty pound dumbbells to work out with when you’re not at the gym. Unicef-relief-size Kreatin protein powder. One hoodie you got from the high school sport you played, which you no longer do (add blood stains for effect). Waterproof dumbbells to work out with in the shower. A full-length mirror for your shower. That’s it. Oh, and don’t forget your hair gel. •Um, I like college. It’s, uh, it’s OK, I guess. Maybe, I might just, um, change some of the people who screa… TELL THE PUSSY ABOVE ME TO SHUT UP! COLLEGE!! WUUUU!
Enduring Girth AlexandraSaumPascual Itâ€™s a cumbersome love and I do not know where to put it. I found it on my doorstep one gusty day at The beginning of fall. Someone must have rung the bell and run away. Hit and run, I understand now Why thatâ€™s considered a criminal offense. The wind chilled my skin like a martini Should be served and the light was crisp. My hands Were a little stiff because of my congealed blood, Running in clots. Sandpaper wrapped my knuckles as I tried to pick up My new unwieldy love. Slippery. Sharp corners and brittle signs. I surrounded it with both arms as if hugging a box. As if Lifting a keg of love. Enduring girth. My back bent as I pretended to be a vise and I prepared to Pull. A coterie of leaves were the only witnesses of my effort. Nothing moved. I first thought I could leave it there; let it be A new addition to My porch Decoration. True, It got in my way. Grocery bags, cat hair and a wild List of knickknack junk Kept being kept in its mucky web. Rain and autumn Had done their scurrilous job and 28
My love Looked forgotten, in its quiescent wait. A remnant of my failure to Bring it indoors. Its wrapping started tearing away but I did nothing about it. I tried to frighten it away. It simply wouldnâ€™t move. My stagnant love. I thought of selling the house but Who would want such cumbersome Devotion? Deciduous fall passed and the deceiving keg stayed. What a willpower, may I say! Piecemeal, I began to accept it. Good Morning and have a nice day when leaving the house, Welcome back at my return. Yes, sometimes my coat would get caught by one of its Sharp corners. Yet, I didnâ€™t mind anymore. A brackish kiss in the mornings, An awkward hug at night. A cup of coffee sitting on my porch, Protecting my love from the cold. Like a spawning hen. A cigarette, reading a book. I started missing it when I went to work and I Would rush back home To tether it in hasty caresses and kind words. Tight against its girth I would imagine a heart beat.
Freshly Pressed JessicaFitzPatrick Folding hot laundry Iâ€™m newspaper press, erasing the lines damning every red dress. What was stained and crinkled now seems fresh and crisp. Only those with hot or dirty laundry know such bliss.
The Man Who Made Chairs SiobhanMay If you took all the splinters that his father ever had and you put them together, you could make a small cherry tree. Cherry red like the blood that dripped from Michael’s finger the day he ran his hand along the unfinished wood that laid in his father’s workshop. “I told you not to touch that,” his father said. “I want to help.” “You’re not old enough.” “When will I be old enough?” Michael asked looking at the blood bubble swelling on his fingertip. “If you’d only listen,” he told Michael, “Then you’d be old enough to learn a few things.” Michael got it into his head that if he listened hard enough, maybe he could be old enough to do lots of things. Like, maybe he’d be old enough to stay up late on school nights. Or maybe he’d be old enough to not like kidney beans. “Eat them,” his mother said. “Why?” “Because they’re your dinner.” “But they’re kidneys,” he’d tell her, the corners of his mouth turned down and his tongue poking out like a frog’s. “They’re not kidneys, that’s just the name of the bean,” she would say impatiently. “Don’t you listen?” “I don’t like them.” “How would you know if you don’t eat them?” She asked. That was the clincher, because now that she’d said it, even if he did try one, and it was the most excruciatingly disgusting thing in the entire world, even if it made him want to throw up, or die, even then, she wouldn’t believe him. Once she said it, he would be forced to finish every last one or else there would be no dessert. Not to mention, Michael’s mother always seemed to make apple crisp on the nights that she also made kidney beans, and apple crisp was his favorite. So there he would be, while the kitchen smelled of sugar and cinnamon, chewing every last kidney bean. His mother assured him it was only named kidney bean after the shape, not because they were actual kidneys. Still, each one tasted more like a kidney must taste, and feel like a kidney feels. The first was a bird’s, a robin or a bluebird, the next a snake’s. Michael didn’t know if snakes had kidneys but he imagined that they would have to be 31
poisonous because Michael was at the age where all snakes were poisonous and all bats drank your blood. So naturally, as Michael stood there, staring down at the drop of blood gathering at the top of his finger like a bubble about to burst, all he could think of were bats. The workshop, as it were, was in a lofty garage, with long-running fluorescent lights, which left a shiny white glow on any flat surface. Anything above those lights was darkness, and any sound in that workshop that couldn’t be attributed to a saw, a sander, or a soldering gun was attributed to the creatures in the darkness above the lights. Michael was sure it was home to the hairiest of spiders, the nest of a barn owl whose eyes he’d seen glowing in the corner, and of course, dozens of bats. “It’s just a splinter, come on over here.” His father said, as he passed him to sit on a footstool in front of a long workbench. He grabbed a rough paper towel, spit in it to make it soft, and then wiped the blood from his finger just as the drop raced down into the valley of his index and middle finger. His father took his hand and with calloused, trunk-like fingers, he held Michael’s pointer finger very still. With his other hand he took tiny tools from a green Swiss Army knife. He chose a delicate pair of tweezers. Michael watched with wide eyes as his hand disappeared beneath his fathers clenched fist. “Does that hurt?” His father asked, stopping for a moment and looking up at Michael, “No,” he lied. It felt like he was poking his finger over and over with needles. “Good boy.” He said with a smile. He turned back to the evasive sliver still lodged in Michael’s finger. “There it is, look at that,” he said and he held out the little piece of wood between the tiny tweezers. “That’s pretty big.” “I’d say,” his dad laughed as he put his tweezers away. Michael inspected his injured finger. It was a little red, a little puffy and very sore. “What’s the prognosis?” “What’s that mean?” “It means, how is it going to turn out? Good? Bad?” “Oh,” Michael took one last looked at his wound. With pursed lips and a thoughtfully scrunched brow, he decided, “I’m gunna be good.” “Good to hear it.” His father said in the same serious tone. “Do you still get splinters?” Michael asked after a moment. “Oh yea,” his father told him. “I got three on this one alone,” he said standing and showing Michael a chair turned upside down on the table. It was a rocking chair, it was smooth, with great curved legs and it was the color of sand. “Is it done?” Michael asked, his hands deep in his pocket, not daring to risk another splinter. “No,” his father told him as he took a seat in front of the chair. “I have to 32
sign my name on it, and then polish it and make it nice and shiny and then it will be almost done.” “Can I watch?” Michael asked, he sensed the importance of the moment and so he spoke very softly. He had never been allowed in his father’s workshop for so long while he was working. Most of the time he was shuffled out with his palms flat on the sides of his head to defend himself from the piercing sound of the electric sander. His father looked at him as if he was measuring him, as if he was seeing if he was tall enough like for the rides at Disneyworld. “Can you be very quiet?” Michael nodded, his father took a breath. “Okay,” he said finally. Michael tried desperately to hide his excitement. His father put his hands under his arms and lifted him onto the table behind the chair. He kept his hands in his pockets and watched everything over his father’s shoulder. His father positioned the chair so that the bottom of the chair sloped up and away from him like an easel. The back of the chair and the very front of the seat rested on the tabletop forming a little tent. Michael watched over his left shoulder as his father reached for a metal contraption. It smoked at the end and looked a pen and a screwdriver combined, but with a metal point that had a red hot glow. It looked like a torture machine. His father’s shoulders lifted as he raised the smoking tool. “Dad,” Michael asked nervously. “What are you going to do with that?” His shoulders shrunk again. “It’s a woodburning pen, it burns the top of the wood and makes it darker so it looks like I have written on it.” “Why don’t you just use a marker? Mom uses markers to put my name on things like my underwear so when I go to camp everyone knows they’re mine.” “This will last longer, and when I put the stain and the polish on it, I wouldn’t want the marker to smear,” he said. “Plus,” he added, he turned on the stool, resting his hand with the smoking machine on the edge of the table. “You know my dad taught me how to make chairs,” he told him. Michael nodded, Grandpa had made every piece of furniture in his whole house. On the way home from Grandpa’s house one Christmas, Michael’s mom told his dad that there were more trees in that house than there were trees in the woods. “You know,” she said, “that house is like a stack of firewood the way that man smokes!” “Well, Grandpa told me when you burn your name into a chair, even though you give it to someone else it still belongs to you.” “Well how come it doesn’t burn the whole thing up?” “It’s just very hot, it’s not fire like a match.” Michael didn’t quiet understand but he did know his father’s tone of voice when he was annoyed so he nodded as if to signal his father to continue. He 33
turned around again and started to lightly touch the metal, smoking pen to the top of the wood. Smoke curled above it like a piece of rope and then unraveled in the air below the fluorescent lights. It smelled like the inside of the fireplace not quite like a campfire, though. Brown letters rose out of the sand-colored wood. Perfect l’s and t’s and then a number. “What’s the number for?” Michael whispered, as his father finished and placed the pen down beside him. He had been quiet for a terribly long time. “That’s how many I’ve made.” “You’ve made that many?” Michael asked, hands still in his pockets as his father turned off the smoking pen and lifted him off the table and back onto the floor. “How many has Grandpa made?” “Many, many more than me.” “Can I make one?” “Sure.” His father laughed as they opened the door and headed into the house. The kitchen smelled like tomatoes and spices. Michael’s mom was stirring leaves of basil into spaghetti sauce on the stove. “Don’t put leaves in mine!” “Michael, you don’t even notice the basil.” “Then why do you put it in there?” “I always put it in and you never mind.” She said as he crawled into his seat at the table. “That’s probably because I didn’t know you put it in there. I don’t like leaves.” “Michael, wash your hands.” She said trying to ignore him. “Oh Mom! Look!” He said clamoring back out of the chair and up beside the stove. She shoved him away from the hot stove with her leg and he held his hand upwards. She took his hand in her slender fingers and looked at it above her glasses. “What happened here?” She asked, not seeing the faint red mark on the pad of his fingertip. “I got a splinter.” “No,” she said, unbelievingly. “Yes, Dad pulled it out with tweezers.” “Did it hurt?” She asked, he looked around to see if his father was there, he was back in the workshop cleaning up properly and so Michael turned back and nodded gravely to his mother. “But the pronosis is good.” “The what?” She asked. “The pronosis.” “Oh, the prognosis.” She corrected him. 34
“Yea.” “Did Dad teach you that word?” “Yea.” Michael said. “What does it mean?” She asked. “How it’s going to turn out.” He said, she nodded, and then let him take his hand back. “Okay, well, what’s the prognosis if you don’t wash your hands?” She asked and he grumbled turning on his heel and dragged himself into the bathroom. A few nights later they had salad with chicken. Michael hated salad. He ate all of the cucumbers and tomatoes out of it and wouldn’t touch the leaves. They didn’t taste like anything and the floppy parts stuck to the roof of his mouth. “It tastes like grass.” He grumbled, stabbing a crunchy part of lettuce with his fork. He rested his arm on the table and laid his head on top of that and looked at the piece of lettuce from all sides. “Have you tasted grass?” His mother asked. “Yes.” He lied. “What did it taste like?” His father asked cutting the last bits of his chicken. “Like nothing,” he said. “And salad.” Michael’s father smiled but his mother disapproved. “Michael.” “But,” Michael started. “You know I’m almost finished with that chair.” His father said. Michael’s attention switched quickly from his mother to his father who put one of his last bites of chicken in his mouth. “Can I watch?” “Only if you finish your salad.” His mother added. Michael looked between the two. “No fair!” He said, utterly defeated. “Mom’s rules.” His father said with a shrug. With that Michael stabbed the rest of the salad left on his plate and shoved as much of the green leaves as he could in his mouth. Ranch dressing dripped out of the corners of his mouth and he wiped the napkin across his face as he chewed as quickly as he could. “Drink up,” his mother said, placing the glass of milk closer to his grasp. He took a mouthful, salad and dressing and milk swirling in his puffed cheeks. With a terrible and painful effort he swallowed it all down. Well, most of it, as some of the floppy stuff still stuck to the roof of his mouth. “Okay.” His mother said. “Put your plate in the dishwasher.” He said and he jumped from his seat to obey her. He followed his father into the workshop and there was the chair, newly 35
polished, shining like the color of maple syrup. “What do you think?” His dad asked, “Wow,” Michael whispered. His dad took a rag from an old tee shirt and ripped it down the middle. He reached out to Michael who took it in his hands and watched as his father used it to polish the back of the rocking chair. Michael softly touched the arm of the chair. He watched his father and moved his hand in small circles too. After awhile, his father stepped back, Michael imitated, but instead of surveying the chair, he stared up into his father’s face. With a smile he nodded and looked down to his son. “Are we finished?” He asked but his father shook his head. He picked up the chair, put it on the floor and he lifted Michael into his lap. They sat there for a few minutes before Michael’s father began to tell him about how he learned to make chairs. He told him about his father’s lessons, about patience and about pride. “When you’re finished, how do you know you’re done?” He asked Michael, who shrugged, keeping his open eyes on his father who looked out into the workshop wall as if he was looking out onto the ocean, or space, or Texas or some other great expanse that Michael couldn’t fathom. “When there’s nothing more that you can do, and you’ve left your imprint on it. Do you know what an imprint is?” “No.” “It’s when you leave a mark that wasn’t there before, it changes something, like this, sitting here, together, we’re leaving an imprint on this chair, now it will be even more special for whoever owns it.” After a few moments they got up and Michael’s father rubbed down the arms of the chair again, and Michael stared into the sand-colored wood. As he reached forward to polish the seat of the chair, the reflection of his hand reached out, making tiny circles with the halved piece of cloth. His father’s face skimmed along the arm of the chair, looking out at him in deep concentration. The entire workshop was shining in the surface of a chair like a landscape on still water. Michael understood imprint, and all the things he was finally old enough to learn.
Bunk Bed Fever JustinSadegh
Prison Boyscout JustinSadegh
Them Black and Whites JustinSadegh
Stephen Eating An Apple JustinSadegh
Skin Without Chlorophyll ZacharyLiscio *for a gorgeous and meaningless girl, thank you for these thoughts. the river shakes the sheets of her canopied four-poster a little girl again running legs over each other like second hands waiting, sunning her rough spots above the rush to be beautiful and mean it. is there something for me to wear? There has to be. A mask, a cape, some paint… everywhere preparations full-swinging celebrations attired in ecstasy atrophied. had I known, donning the zombie colors, why the leaves and trout were so caught up in pageantry, laughing at the self-effrontery leaning mad and naked over the mirror. Had I known how ridiculous we look, rustling in the wind I fed the fermented rot wind dampening our breath. We’ll be drunk and miss the party if we keep this up… lost to the glamorous décor of clamor, loud trees flirting with themselves chattering careless compliments And the party doesn’t start. All the masqueraders now timid or tired, washing away their painted skins, retire. And I am alone with glass and streamers where wallflowers expire.
March 22, 2008 RyanCarroll I watch them, Ties tied so tight at the neck, The effigies of man, Queer and unnatural, Climbing iron mountains, Ivory towers, Wedding and spawning Like savage European Conquistadors, Breeding legacy like sport, I watch them crawl from their Universities to their executive offices, And I want to shout up, Look into my eyes, look into my eyes and See the beauty of youth, Burning with the fury of ten-thousand suns, Look into my eyes, brimming with tears, and love, And joy, look into my eyes and look in your own, See not the warmth of life and lightness, But the cold stagnancy of glut, And know that you have no right, No, none, to drown my ambition and Render me diffident. I watch you, all you men, So listless, and I know that I would rather die in vigorous youth, Reckless and alive, Than callous and cowardly, At the head of an empty table, Holding in withered frailty, A crown, King of nothing.
Sailor SiobhanMay I used to have sails for eyes They would catch smiles like good eastern winds and I’d grab grins like drawer handles and open everyone. I’d take out their insides. I liked nothing better than laying out those dreams people shoved in their junk drawers or, the secrets they kept in with their silverware, right beside the serving spoon. Secrets about women who left and never returned, and to be brokenhearted does not mean, you must be in love, he said. I took the names of lost children and parents and dug a hundred holes in the sand. I’d visit them, and walk amongst the gardens and water the mounds with wine and nostalgia. Sometimes, tomato plants or other useful things would grow there, or there’d be tiny sandcrabs in place of tears that turned to gleaming pearls. But I have been shipwrecked for ages, my hair like seaweed and skin rippled like clamshells. I’m clinging to the severed mast. There hasn’t been a favorable wind in years. and I do not have the strength to hoist the sails, and you’re looking terribly close to overflowing or locking up and losing the key through some fated faulty pocket. Oh just wait, wait till I get my ship upturned again, I’ll be sailing back to you soon. 43
Poem Cry VincentCartolano I know baby it’s alright let it out and cry It hurts the more you hold it in so don’t even try Can’t be explained doctors don’t even know why Why your son had to lose his life Didn’t believe that phone call that night Held it in you to the next night Carried it for twenty-two weeks You knew something felt wrong that week When you stopped feeling the kicks of his little feet Then the ultrasound found no heartbeat That’s when your heart skipped a beat Your legs got weak As you fell to your knees Hands clenched in rosary beads My fingers rubbing my Jesus piece You screaming GOD NO PLEASE Cursing him out speaking blasphemy Why did you have to take him away? Why did you make her carry him dead for five days? That was gonna be my little man I couldn’t even get to hold him? DAMN! All that’s left are handprints, footprints, and some pics Oh yea and a hat No movie this scene can’t rewind back Still wish I can rewind back Back to when you asked me that question If you should get that abortion Talked to you and you made that right decision Now look at what happened Should of just gotten it done Same result you still ended up losing your son Except it hurts more because you grew attached and now there was love
Just know he’s watching you from above When you’re sad he’s there giving you a hug Though you can’t feel him physically He’s attached to you spiritually Everything’s gonna get better You planned your baby shower Now the only showers that’s coming are from your eyes I know this hurts reading this I apologize But I gotta make this poem cry I have no choice Didn’t even have it yet and look at your choice Do you want a funeral or let the hospital have him cremated Gave birth look at your beautiful son you created Doctors took him time for him to get cremated I was sitting here Wishing I was there With you to wipe your tears To take away your fears And I’m right here Here’s my shoulder to lean on My shirt to dry your tears on My hand to hold on My arms to pick you up My spirit to lift you up My jokes to turn it around Make that frown turn upside down I’m always there to catch you; YOU’LL NEVER HIT THE GROUND Do you understand why I wrote this now? To let you know that I got you So just let it out and cry That’s why I had to make this poem cry
A Local Advertisement MattSinger Come on down to John Stever’s Mazda mega-deal blowout absurdly extravagant extravaganza sale!! Hi I’m John Stever, owner and operator of John Stever’s Mazda dealership in downtown Baltidelphia, and I’m here to tell you about some amazing deals happening right here at John Stever’s Mazda!! Due to a manufacturing discrepancy, my supplier informed me that the cars he has already sold to me are being recalled NEXT WEEK!! And you know what that means!! Ultra-blowout savings!! These cars must go! We’re offering nearly half-price on all vehicles that have been marked for mandatory recall! We have -23% APR! We’ll literally pay you to take these cars off our hands! Maybe it’s the fresh air, or the cocaine coursing through my veins, but I feel a responsibility to sell these cars as quickly and inefficiently as possible by passing the savings off to you!! So come on down to John Stever’s Mazda! We have balloons attached to cars, salesmen talking at unnecessarily high volumes, and semiattractive secretaries!! John Stever’s Mazda Dealership, owned and operated by John Stever, son of John Stever Sr., is located next to the area shopping mall and is conveniently located off of a road!! So come on down to John Stever’s Mazda Dealership.
WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!!
Blue Diamonds SeanUlman Last night the ocean gleaned all its glitter into one chunk of sapphire sprawl and blended blue diamond slivers into the surf. Electric sand slices slid up the slick skid and blinked for a few seconds between our toes. We picked them up and wore them on our hands like neon liquid that splatters from glow ropes when they snap. But all these blue diamondsthey couldn’t be held and I think maybe that the touch, texture and tangibility of precious stones may be the draw more than the visual. Yes to hold in one’s hand… To set between two teeth and gnaw. 47
The Heartland Flier SiobhanMay In Illinois the tracks are laid like bones. Like matchsticks tucked in creased and dusty earth. They glow beneath the heavy, fast machines That push through country towns with aching cries. Does dust begin to drift and hide the way? The land, it shrinks; the men who wander used to read the sky, theyâ€™ve lost the way beneath the summer stars. The Midwest maps become obscure. Relics of wide and Gone frontiers. The dust it settles, buries, hides the way. In Illinois the tracks are laid like bones. Like ribs exposed; a dying land. The wind It carries trains like ghosts through towns that have old spiderwebs on porch lights, chipping paint on doorways, dark and still: abandoned land. The towns are pawnshops filled with wedding rings, the tales of harder times that never pass. The homes are filled with dust, their insides sold, to pay the costs of fading glory days. The trains, they leave the stations while they take old Midwest dreams of work and life away. They settle down along the tracks itâ€™s not the dust that hides the way.
Because You’re a Dream to Me MarkManz The feeling permeates the air in the room. It sits leaden on his eyelids and insinuates itself into his brain like a drug. The complete lack of desire to fully awaken, the proclivity towards staying wrapped up beneath sheets and blankets, intertwining limbs. Not wanting to place feet on firm ground and accept the end of what glorious hours prior have entailed. They can be awake but not up, can be up, but not have moved from the part of the day titled “in bed” to the part titled “out of bed and everything thereafter.” The rustling is acceptable, the back and forth from on my back with her head resting on his chest, nestled comfortably in the crook that is created when he wraps his left arm around her and pulls her close, tight, safe. How perfectly they fit together, as if, like Ben Gibbard would say, “God Himself did make us out of corresponding pieces from the clay,” he thinks, despite the hypocrisy that thought belies. The switch to her facing the wall and he immediately, instinctively, without conscious thought, rolls to his left, right arm reaching around her soft, petite waist as the left finds the space her neck generously leaves for it to reach under and around to meet the other arm, pulling and squeezing her into a tight, but tender, hug full of warmth and security. Receiving tangible evidence that it is a mutual pleasant feeling from the reactions of her body: the way her legs firmly wrap themselves around his, squeezing his hand in hers, softly cooing contentment that underscores an intensity of emotion bubbling underneath the surface. Back to side to back to side to back to side. This carries on for minutes, a perfectly synchronized horizontal dance of genuine affection, expressed in a prolonged squeeze here, a gentle stroke of her hair there, a knowing gaze shared for lingering moments before eyes are closed to allow the other senses to fully soak in the unexpected but much welcomed occurrence for the absolute bliss it was and is. As the early morning hours give way to mid-morning, the sun begins to peak through the spaces between blinds in earnest, making it more difficult to ignore the departure of night and the arrival of a new day. Each second that passes is a second closer to the inevitable, unenviable necessity to cease what has been occurring for the better part of nine hours. Lips upturned in a familiar smile accompany an innocuous, “What’re you thinking?” as if she can read in his face the multitude of thoughts and feelings going on in his mind about what was currently occurring and what he was confident, certain, would come days, weeks, years…and years…and years onward, and what 49
that all meant to him. A brief pause in an attempt to gather together those thoughts and formulate them into something coherent, something relatively cognizant sounding considering the monumentally daunting prospect of collecting that plethora of thoughts, akin to attempting to neatly order all of the grains of sand on the beach he so badly wants to take her to and make one of “their things.” The pause. Then, abandoning thought and speaking glibly, off the cuff, as he has always been able to do, wanted to do with her. “I’m just thinking about how happy I am. Right now. In general. With you. How much of a treat it is to spend the night with you here, to go to sleep and wake up with my arms wrapped around you, with your head on my chest. I am just so unbelievably, indescribably happy in this specific circumstance and in general. Laying here I get this overwhelming feeling of joy and amazement that is real, all of this is actually happening because I couldn’t dream it any better.” The rambling had started. It would continue in this gushing, scattered vein for a number of minutes. All the while she lay there, on her side, her left arm resting delicately on his waist, her other absent-mindedly caressing the nape of his neck, running fingers through hair. Her eyes were wide and her face was screwed up in an intense but not menacing expression that he was having trouble reading, a rarity at even this early juncture. It wasn’t until well into his diatribe that he notices anything really- her face, the color of the walls (a soft lavender she told him was done thinking it would prevent her brother from claiming it in her absence), the light that had been steadily growing in intensity and burrowing deeper into the room and under closed eyelids from the first moment of consciousness. All at once, for the first time since he had launched into this, since he had let go and allowed the train of thought to pull out of the station, let it gradually run more and more out of control, everything came into focus. He becomes aware of the fact that she was perfectly content to allow him to continue ad infinitum. She always said she enjoyed his rants. Lately she featured prominently and positively in them, so why shouldn’t she? He stops himself, lest he spend the whole day expounding her many virtues, lest she spend the whole day listening and absorbing the encyclopedic amount of thought he could offer about her. They had things to do today. Driving, running, a Super Bowl to watch, a Giants win to enjoy. “What about you? What are you thinking?” Silence. A silence that speaks volumes in his mind. Clearly there was a thought being thought in her head. The telltale signs of a brain at work were present. The way her lips sit tense, ready to move and work with the tongue to form 50
words, words undoubtedly of the utmost import. The nose betrays a twitch or three. But it was in the eyes, her eyes, those deep, mesmerizing, captivating blue eyes, that clued him in. They stare, unblinking, unmoving, intensely intent upon his own. Would that they could communicate on their own, they would have elaborated so much. This he knows. And she knows he knows, despite her best transparent attempt at nonchalance, “Nothing.” Pause. A knowing look cast in her direction. The bullshit detectors are working just fine today. “I don’t know what to say. Because I feel I’ll have to justify it and I don’t want to have to.” “What?! Come on! You can’t do that to me!” The pecuniary pangs of panic begin peeking around the corner of his psyche. “I just spilled my thoughts out. Every last drop.” The thought is not necessarily dread, but he is curious if it has to do with his most recent oration. He wonders if something struck a chord, possibly a sour note. His imagination races. He’s fairly certain she’s thinking something good, something positive, something he’d like very much to hear. At least that’s what her body language is stating. She hasn’t moved farther or ungrasped his hand or looked away. “But if it’s something good then why won’t she tell me? What does she mean, ‘justify it’?” These thoughts bandy back and forth as he implores her to tell him as best as an eight year old can. “Come on, tell me!” Logic takes hold. “You told me just yesterday that you want me to tell you how I feel, if something’s bothering me, whatever, no matter what, so we can work it out, so you’re not in the dark, so we don’t go hours being upset. We JUST talked about this and now you’re trying to do what you get on me so much for?” “It’s not bad,” she says, effusively, looking like she had just uttered something nice, sweet, not hinted at something potentially monumental, “I just don’t want to say.” Pause. His brow beginning to furrow, thoughts beginning to swirl, thoughts and suppositions, prognostications on both the nature and exact wording of her “nothing.” Back and forth they went. He traded increasingly impassioned pleas for full disclosure for her increasingly defensive circuitous rhetoric, engaging in a polite mental tennis match, verbally volleying the same sentiments with slightly different wordings, slightly different emphases, neither attempting a winner, content to let persistence wear the other down to either giving up or relenting. And then, after his latest exortation, a pause. Her face changes slightly, imperceptibly and yet he notices. And braces himself because he has a feeling he’s through her last line of reservation. She hasn’t immediately rebuked him and now 51
she has her mouth closed, now lips parted slightly, anticipating the command to release what has been on them for the morning, for days, for weeks even. What they’ve struggled to withhold at times, since she saw him ambling towards her on a New York City street corner, right hand with his phone to his ear, she on the other end, his left casually, James-Dean-ly in his pocket, but only halfway, thumb hooking the belt buckle. Pause. A pause that feels like it spans the length of time from eternity to nothing and passes quicker than a heartbeat. Her lips move, her mind empties the summation of her many thoughts. From the air in her lungs, up her larynx, through her mouth, and off her lips come the words. His fears subside and he feels more than a little foolish for having any degree of trepidation in the first place. A pleasant, powerful wind sweeps through his mind and empties it of all but the statement she has just uttered. Simple, sanguine, contrite, colossal. Like so many thoughts to that point between them, in immediate retrospect THE ONLY thing that could have been said. Perfection.
“I love you.”
Canopy at Dawn LauraSzklarski
Shake, Rattle, nâ€™ Roll JessicaFitzPatrick Do not be understanding, for I will not understand how eagerly your ear longs for the tempo of my tongue. In fact, I plan on ignoring your rapid heartâ€™s music, though I feel its pulsing beat through the thin cotton of your shirt. Yes, I will ignore it, and its insinuation of instigation. I did not plan on playing drums tonight; Just because you fell into my snare does not mean I have to let you stay there causing such a racket.
The South AlexandraDuszak I’ve never seen a sky so gray that it was indistinguishable from the buildings beneath it Or people who matched their sky, so hopeless and determined, rather than looking to it With eyes as small and dry as the raisins they sold in crates and skin some invisible sun made like the leather of the bags they pimped “Feefty dinar for you! Pretty American girl!”
Duncan TonyMuccio My name is Duncan and right now it’s midnight and I’m in a 1996 Chevy Impala. It’s seen better days, but then again, who hasn’t? My friend Luke is driving right now, and he’s in his own world. I’m sitting in the passenger seat holding a revolver, it’s empty, and we’re driving ninety-five through a residential neighborhood, the same neighborhood we grew up in. If you’re wondering about the police, don’t worry: they’re right behind us. The car feels alive at these speeds, constantly lurching and rocking like it’s digesting us. And the fact that it’s probably close to one-hundredand-three degrees in here doesn’t do much to prove otherwise. It’s strange, though. This piece of machinery is where I will cease to be. One way or another, when I get out of this car, I will no longer be the Duncan who sat down on this black-vinyl seat an hour-and-a-half ago. So here I am, eighteen years old, riding shotgun with my best friend holding a now useless pistol speeding away from the police and past houses as concerned parents step into their front porch lights to see what the commotion is. And I’m thinking about being digested by a car. My mother was the type of woman who wore her apron to bed and considered baking a cure for everything. Her favorite color was apple pie and her favorite band was the Home and Garden channel. She had all of the same emotions as the nutrition facts on a box of brownies. Around seventh grade, she decided to decorate our front lawn with a happy, little, fat garden gnome with a matching personality. Luke and I despised it for everything it stood for. With his red hat, blue shirt, white pants, and rosy, smiling, bearded face he stood mocking anyone who passed him with pseudo-patriotism and never-ending good cheer. It became a running joke of sorts; a level of idiocy reserved to compare only the most dramatic and significant fallacies in our lives. The gnome made its way deeper and deeper into our daily lives, which only reinforced our hatred of the little ceramic devil. My mother of course was head-over-heels in love with it. She cleaned it two or three times a week and talked to it in the same cooing voice she would use with an infant. It was only a matter of time before she saw fit to provide it with a companion. Sure enough, that day came when I was a sophomore in high school. I left school that day feeling much the same as always: a bizarre mix of ontop-of-the-world happiness and burning self-loathing. The walk home wasn’t particularly long, maybe twenty minutes, and I enjoyed every single one like it was my last. When I walked home from school I was able to freely think about my life without 59
interruption. Not that I had much to think about, but the opportunity was still nice. The walk usually ended with me walking into my house, dropping my bag, and heading upstairs to my room to do what I do best with my time: kill it. But that day, as I turned up our walkway, I saw it. The second gnome. All I could do was shake my head and go about business as usual. That’s the way it was around my house, always business as usual. My mother never mentioned the new gnome, and neither did I. In fact, I can’t recall us ever discussing the first one. Sometimes it was like my mother and I were different radio frequencies, coexisting in the same space, always interwoven, but our wavelengths so inherently different that we barely recognized each other’s existence. But the gnomes were another story. I was very aware of them. It was hard to ever truly feel alone, like the two of them were constantly hanging over me. I would lie in bed at night, unable to fall asleep, their presence irritating me like a restless muscle. The second gnome heralded something far more horrible than the first. The first gnome was a mistake and the second gnome was a harbinger. The look on Luke’s face when he saw the second one said it all. “This is only the beginning,” his eyes told me. As much as I tried to suppress the feelings, I knew he was right. And despite the feelings of isolation and extreme mental duress, it would not be long before I was no longer the only one in the prison the gnomes had created for me. Luke’s mother purchased a garden gnome shortly after my mother had her second. They would carry on endlessly about them, comparing and contrasting. Two clucking hens competing over who had laid the best eggs. After that, the floodgates opened. The gnome obsession spread like a plague. By our junior year of high school, stodgy clay men stood sentry on nearly every yard like silent arbiters, ever wary. Each one’s grotesqueries worse than the next, each beady little face always smiling their smug smiles, ever in the know and never telling their secrets. Even now, sweating in Luke’s Chevy, tires squealing against pavement, metal frame groaning under the tremendous pressure of each turn, I can remember the incessant whispering always floating from gnome to gnome. The day we stood at the corner of our street and stared down a legion of painted eyes, we knew we must end them. Every last gnome. I saw in Luke the same feelings I was harboring, hopelessness buried under anxiety, and his hollow, sunken eyes reflected my own. Firm of purpose, we knew what must be done. But the opportunity would not present itself until the summer after our senior year, one night barely a week before we would be leaving for college. Today is Thursday and at 10:00 p.m. I went into my basement to find a box of things my dad left when he moved out. Buried on the bottom were his pistol and a small box, half-full of bullets. I had never fired a gun before but somehow I knew that didn’t matter, that the necessity I perpetrated my mission with would be 60
enough to carry me through. At 10:27 we sat in the Impala staring at the dashboard, taking in the sight of the car. There was a light layer of dust, the numbers on the radio tuner had long since been erased by ceaseless indecision, the paint had faded from a glossy black to a twilight grey and the gas tank was just under a quarter full. We took it all in somberly. At 10:30, Luke started the car. He pulled out into the street and backed up just enough so I could clearly see the biggest gnome is his yard, the biggest offender. It wasn’t too far away, the shot wasn’t difficult, but I sat in the car pointing the gun straight out the window with all of the confidence of a boy awkwardly reaching for his first breast. The trigger was harder to squeeze than I imagined, it struggled against me as if putting forth some feeble resistance, pathetically trying to change my mind at the last second. I would not let it stop me, not now. I summoned up all of my strength and courage and screamed at the top of my lungs, felt the trigger glide all the way back until my hand was tightly balled into a fist, and then all was silent save the echoing boom resounding through the neighborhood. It had begun. From that point there was no longer any awkwardness or uncertainty; there was only me, the gun, and the gnomes. Each shot was perfect, entering the plaster through the forehead. There was poetry in the way the gnomes fragmented. I couldn’t help but admire how the pieces desperately tried to hold on to one another as physics tore them apart in a violent explosion, only to settle sweetly on the lawn as dust. After the third gnome, the first police car showed up. Two more shortly thereafter. Their lights and their sirens couldn’t touch us, we were dancers elegantly performing our choreography and no interference from the audience would bring the curtain down. Luke continued to speed up despite the car protesting his every action. We sped around one corner and hit the curb and for a moment my side of the vehicle was suspended in the air. I fired at a gnome and over compensated for my change in altitude, the bullet burst through its fat stomach, sending the torso skyward. And we began to laugh. And that brings us to now. It’s 12:13. The Chevy is rattling from the strain of being pushed to its limit. Empty bullet shells clink like coins at my feet, the hot pistol sitting grimly in my lap. The adrenaline of the night is wearing off and in its place we find an odd sense of clarity. Luke and I realized something about tonight. We were free. Driving around our neighborhood shooting garden gnomes with my dad’s gun we were finally free. I glance in the rearview and see one police car closing the gap between us and I look at Luke. He looks at me, and we both smile. He’s not going to speed up. He takes his hands off of the steering wheel. Whatever happens next, no one will ever be able to take tonight away from us.
Ceiling SabrinaAmon Wow baby, I love you, wow, you say as you catch your breath; you’re looking at the ceiling. The thing about that- or youis that today the sun is orange but tomorrow it’ll be egg yolk yellow, and all you’ll be able to think about is buffet breakfast. And the thing isI just like cereal. You’re always devouring three slices of bacon while I’m on my way to a PETA meeting, or leaving all the lights on and the TV playing while you’re in the shower and I’m desperately collecting bottle caps. And all the electricity shines over the furniture with a scattered yellow spark so each ray gleams into my pupils like a sword. I push up, then pull you in, like clockwork- you’re my second hand. You move faster, I scream. And the thing is; now it’s the spiral of a roller coaster ride, but tomorrow it’ll be grenades falling on a sandy desert, and the rest of the time it’s a coyote staring at the moon. And the moon is blushing, as if it could faint from the sky, because all it reflects of the sun’s radiance is a pastel yellow glow. And as you roll onto your back with a fully focused sigh, I think, so today you’re maple syrup, but tomorrow you’ll just be tree sap, and I never get the tap in right, or the tin up to a boil. I love you too, Hun, I say, and look into your bright brown eyes, but all I can think about is yellow, all I can think about is yellow. 62
Helena NabeelKahn the words - in search for a litter of sounds - seek unassuming so little; your attention comes in between the dead-catâ€™s paw dipped into black satin and the worlds your black eyes corrode like stones thrown into the shallow creek of Mystery birthing a curse that sucks all the lyricisms out of the papery love-songs setting them off on a boat an origami for lovers over the great slimy sea of semen
To My True Love LeslieNiiOdarteyMills Many a time Iâ€™ve sat and thought Foraging my mind for answers beyond the now One may ask what is all the fuss about Now companion, a virtuous woman I do seek Understanding God, I will bide my time till she comes. Merrily and gaily did she walk Openly into my arms she did fall Rightly all I did do was ask Enthusiastically all she did do was affirm Now I am pleased; my lost rib found.
Cashew MarkRoche “Do you remember what this place used to look like?” I ask. “Of course I do honey. In fact, I remember this exact table. Twenty-six years, like it was yesterday.” “I’ll do you one better. Do you remember what song was playing?” “‘We’ve Got Tonight,’ by Bob Seger. Come on, it was our wedding song.” “Okay… What was I wearing?” “Chris, don’t be ridiculous.” We both laughed and there was a short pause. “I know I don’t say this enough, but I love you.” I hesitated again, “Cheri, I’ve been thinking about something. About the past twenty-six years. Have I made you happy? Is this all you’ve wanted from our marriage?” It was a spur of the moment question that seemed to catch her off-guard. I don’t know why I thought to ask such a question. Maybe the strange feeling I had that day had something to do with it, I’m not sure. As soon as the words left my lips I feared for her to take it the wrong way. It did seem somewhat of a cliché, ‘doubting your marriage’ type thing to say. “Where did this come from? Of course I am happy.” She leaned in and continued, “I married the most amazing man alive. I have two beautiful kids and a wonderful house where I can grow old with you.” I faintly blushed and smiled, dropping my head. I really did have it all. I raised my head back up to move in for a kiss. Her kisses did the same thing to me every time, like we were teenagers again. Each peck, electric. We ordered the same thing we always do: her the rigatoni and I the steak. Even though we’ve sat in the same seats, in the same restaurant, talking about the same things for almost thirty years, each time felt special. Dinner was amazing as usual. However, neither of us finished our meals knowing full-well that we both did it just to save room for dessert. Our dessert choices were as repetitive as the rest of our diner visits, but were a vital part. They were so repetitive that the waiter never asked what we were having, just if we had room for more. While we waited for the desserts to arrive, conversation became limited. My wife and I could easily spend hours in silence just staring at each other and the people around us. That might be why we have been so successful as a couple. There
was never a forced moment in our marriage. If I had nothing to say, then I had nothing to say. But this time was different. Again that strange feeling I had made me observe her much more carefully than I have in the past, surveying the last twentysix years I’ve spent with her, completely satisfied with them all. The desserts arrived and immediately we smiled at each other, picked up our spoons and took a bite. I tried swallowing, but then I froze. It froze. Lodged in my throat, there it was: an obstruction blocking my airway. I deduced it to being a cashew from my cashew banana cream pie, which I so regularly order at this diner. It seemed as if the cashew had transformed into a solid cork somewhere along the way from the spoon to my throat. I tried to act natural and hack the piece free without bringing any attention to myself. This didn’t work in the slightest and after about ten seconds my wife noticed the worried look cast over my face. “Honey, are you okay?” she said. I couldn’t get oxygen into my body, let alone the words out to tell her I wasn’t. I had no idea at the time but the next few minutes would seem like an eternity. At this point I gave up trying to hide my condition. I immediately started trying to jam my stomach against the edge of the table in some attempt to force air out of my body along with the little bastard. The shaking of my body and the table had forced some of our dishes to fly into the air and shatter around us. Now everyone in the diner could see the panic I was experiencing and for the most part remained motionless in sheer surprise. My chair, the only object left intact, classifying me as a normal customer, did not last long. With the shaking, I felt myself tip. I fell backwards and down almost too slowly to describe. When my back hit the padded cushion of the seat under me, I had a feeling this was it. When doom is impending, many people think you see a bright light. I did not. What I saw was still the sad images of my demise. My wife and several strangers were standing overtop of me as if I were a cadaver in a medical school. An older man was attempting to help, trying to give me some outlandish form of the Heimlich. I was sideways with his arms around me and he was trying to squeeze the obstruction from my neck. My wife then gazed up to the ceiling and the heavens above. She screamed to what I think was God, hoping that somehow I’d miraculously make it out. This may sound ridiculous, but my thoughts kept going back to one thing: the cashew. This puny nut, grown on trees near the equator, made its way to a small diner on the outskirts of Boston, onto my dessert plate that evening and into my throat. Everything that I was: my wife, my kids, my career and all that I’ve created, was under attack by this little U-shaped nut. I immediately despised my favorite dessert choice for having put me in this situation.
Another common thought about near-death experiences is life flashing before your eyes. To call it a flash would be like calling a cheetah a snail. Fifty-one years were crammed into fractions of fractions of milliseconds and not a single minute was untouched. My first scrapped knee, my first kiss, my prom, my first date with my wife, the birth of my two daughters, all were revisited for my pleasure. A smile vaguely formed over my once horrified face and I turned to stare at my wife. I reached out and grabbed her arm and mouthed the words she wanted to hear. I watched as a single tear on her face turned into many and she mouthed them back. Then it was over.
Back Again JasminSzafranski Well, I’m back here again. Any kind of surprise would just be feigning lies. It didn’t take long. So it’s here where I’ve come to reside once more, with you wrapping me up, your face nestling itself back at home in my neck, where a door had been left open waiting swinging miserably back and forth between my clavicle bones empty and useless, needing to be used, filled.
Cape May MaddieThomas
Florida Beaches ElizabethStene
Curious Giraffe ElizabethStene
Today AndresCerpa Hopes rise dreams fall Spirits are high tension ceases We exist life goes on The path changes we take off Images and memories fade The world turns yet we still stand
Mist JoeMarinelli Mist – It’s quite a versatile medium, you know. With its minute particles, each with a migratory mind of its own Freely floating through the aether. Mist – It’s in very many places, you know. Waterfalls, concert venues, shower stalls. It’s all the same thing, right? Wrong. Mist – It’s one tricky son of a bitch. There exist metaphorical mists in the universe. The mist that clouds and caresses, The mist that confuses and cogitates, The mist where each gaseous particle of H2O contributes To an aura of utter mysticism. Mist – It’s like an acquiescent presupposition, Without it, you and I would be naked – vulnerable. Though, we’re not in a garden anymore. Susceptibility is an unlocked door, The Burglar is already on his way. Mist – Not many people mull it over in their minds very often, you know. With such pressing questions as the chicken or the egg People fail to recognize the paradoxical nature of mist. Mist –
It’s one tricky son of a bitch.
Scheherazade MariaVictoriaAgra She was the type of girl that made you believe for one night that you were in love. It was in the way she smiled when she took your hand as she led you to the bedroom and the way she let you take over her body as if she trusted you completely. She let you feel like you knew her, like you knew the exact right way to touch her. It was the way she held you afterwards, close against her body as if she never wanted you to leave. The way she curled up against you and slept heavily, like a child. When she woke, she’d reach up and pull your lips to hers, your eyes still cloudy from sleep, because she couldn’t wait for you to kiss her again. Her hands would wander lazily under the blankets, gentle and only subtly arousing because all she wanted was to feel your skin. The way she could stare into your eyes unflinchingly and unabashedly, as if what you’d just done wasn’t horrible or immoral or disgusting. Always she was smiling, as if she were satisfied and content just to lie there with you forever. I was especially enchanted because I knew that all of this was completely unintentional. She’d nearly broken the spell when she whispered carefully into my ear, “I’m a virgin.” Then she’d pressed her hips up against mine and let her fingers wander down my spine. “She’s a virgin, I repeated to myself over and over, you have no right to take this from her.” I had a weird feeling of something splintering inside me as my mind, body, and soul each made their own plans for the rest of the night. My head was saying no. Who was I to take her virginity? She was nobody to me, I was nothing to her. She’d hate me in the morning, I’d hate myself. Then she looked up at me with that look that was all fierce desire and utmost trust and my heart beat faster. I felt like I could see the way her heart beat. I saw a whole universe in her eyes. When you’re in bed with someone, when you’re that close, and when she looks up at you like that, it’s so easy to think that you’re in love. She loved me, I loved her, and that made all of this valid. And then there was my body. It was telling me to get on with it if she’d let me. I wanted her so badly, I could barely control myself. My body didn’t feel romance, it felt rage. It egged me on that she was teasing me and should put out. If I got the chance, I was ready to take her and show her a beautiful night with a man. Or simply ruin her. Not very much later she had her hands on my neck and her lips against 75
mine when she whispered, “Do it. Just do it.” Anticipation whipped through my body. “Are you sure?” My lips still on hers, our bodies still pressed together, her scent mingling in the air. She nodded and I reached for a condom. I gave her the benefit of a moment’s hesitation before I took her. We woke up sometime just after dawn, our hands blindly searching for each other. My hand found her hip and she smiled with her eyes still closed. Her hair was spread across the pillow, curling in every direction and making her look wild. She opened her eyes and I immediately saw the same spark I’d seen the night before. I couldn’t help but grin and pull her lips to mine, my hands tangling in her soft hair. We made love again and fell asleep as the sun climbed higher into the sky. We were in bed all morning and slept well into the afternoon. We catnapped mostly, waking every few hours to rearrange, always careful to keep our bodies as close as possible. We held hands and caressed every inch of skin we could reach. The spell she’d woven the night before, the illusion of love, drifted over us all morning, glimmering over her smooth, bare shoulders and invading my senses. I didn’t think of getting out of bed, I didn’t think of leaving her. I didn’t even think about where she came from or how she ended up in my bed. All I knew or cared about were those moments spent wrapped in my comforter with this strange, nymph-like girl. By the time the afternoon and hunger started to set in, the dream in which we’d been entwined together began to fade. The pit of my stomach groaned for food and we were forced to get up and find a box of cereal, which we poured into a bowl and ate cross-legged on my bed. She’d dressed herself in a pair of my boxers and a sweatshirt that overwhelmed her petite body. Despite the late hour, the morning after had just begun for us. Suddenly the perfect comfort we had with each other was gone. She had covered her nakedness and the cereal only just sated our appetites. We would have to leave the room for real food, and both of us were ravenous. Our minutes together were numbered and suddenly seemed far less precious. The cereal decimated, she got up and put on her own clothes, folding mine and placing them on the corner of my bed. We chatted idly about Picasso’s Blue Period, about the Chuck Palahniuk novel I was reading. Finally she sighed and began to wrap her hair up into a bun. “I should probably get going, it’s after three.” “Are you sure?” I asked, half wishing she would cast her spell again and we could spend another twelve hours making love. “I’m starving,” she answered, smiling. It was not the seductive, loving smile 76
from before, but an awkward one. For a moment I sensed a fleeting sense of sadness and I felt a burst of panic as I wondered what she was thinking. Her eyes had become unreadable to me. She leaned in and kissed me gently, a far more timid and reserved kiss than I remembered. Her hand trembled slightly as it brushed against mine. And then she was gone. The room felt vast and empty in her absence, as if the ceiling had been elevated another twenty feet. I laid back down in bed and felt a strange vacancy in my chest. Then reality hit me: What had I done? Lovemaking is such a savage thing for a man to do when you really think about it. It’s violent and shameful, especially when the girl is a stranger. It violates her, but you don’t care. It hurts her, but you don’t care. It feels so good though, and she tells you it’s alright, so you do it. It’s satisfying. It’s satisfying sexually and also carnally. It breaks up frustration and anger and lets you inflict it on someone else. Sex is permissible whereas violence is not. That’s one reason why I felt guilty that night. And then there was the fact that she was a virgin. A goddamn fucking virgin. What was I thinking? I wasn’t that drunk. Fuck. It had seemed so sexy and challenging the night before but now I felt nothing but disgusted with myself. I worried about her—where was she now? What was she doing? How was she feeling? Did she hate me? I felt like such a bastard. She was a virgin, so she was the innocent one; I was the one who should have stopped. I felt like I’d stolen something from her and now all I wanted to do was give it back. I didn’t deserve it. But that wasn’t the worst of it. There was Terry. Boston Terry, waiting for me. Sure, we weren’t actually together, but we really were. We’d broken up when I moved because we knew that long-distance relationships never worked out. I loved her. And she trusted me. I told her I wouldn’t do anything serious with any girls while I was gone. Things don’t get more serious than sex. Shit. Maybe if it had just been sex, I wouldn’t have felt so guilty. But I still remembered the warm, blurry feeling the girl had created. I had loved her for several hours, loved every inch of her body and every way she touched me. Somehow the sin of the body seemed less important than the sin of the soul. I’d loved another woman, a girl who was not Terry. The worst part was that I hadn’t even thought of Terry until after the girl had left and I was alone. A virgin, for Christ’s sake. Only five hours after the girl had left I was sullenly drinking myself under with bottle of Jack Daniels. I kept thinking about her, wondering what would become of her, or if I’d ever see her again. And then Terry would swim before my eyes and I’d shake my head, trying to dissipate the image. The guilt was immense. 77
Somewhere halfway through the bottle I called Terry. It was a Saturday night and I could hear voices in the background. She asked me to wait a minute and obviously went to find her way to a quiet spot where she could talk to me in private. My head swam in her absence and I wondered if I should try and throw up some of the liquor inside my stomach so I would be a little less drunk later. “What’s up?” she asked. “Are you drunk?” It seemed like a hypocritical question, but I needed at least one of us to be sober. “No.” She sounded confused and concerned. “Are you?” “I’ve had a few. But I have to tell you something.” Terry tore me a new one during the rest of the phone call. In the end I was grateful for the Jack in my stomach—it softened the blow of the next thirty minutes and the subsequent miserable hours. Midnight would find me in my bed once more, alone this time, with my head spinning from alcohol and Terry’s words: “betrayal, trust, promise.” “Call me tomorrow when you’re sober,” she said before she hung up. I nodded stupidly in the darkness, promising to do that and asking desperately, “Are we over? Are we over? Are we over?” “I don’t know. Call me tomorrow.” She hung up. Fuck. Fuck my life, I thought. The only reprieve was that the alcohol had washed away thoughts of the girl. I was focused on Terry until I fell asleep. When I woke up the next morning, hung-over and miserable, I once again stayed in bed until the afternoon. This time there was no contentment between my blankets. I had to call Terry as soon as my headache subsided. And with the sunrise came the reminder of that girl. The sheets still smelled subtly of that pleasant-girl scent that now recalled feelings of love in my gut. I buried my face in the blankets and let it wash over me once again. I reached for my phone and called her.
Deliver Us JasminSzafranski Warmth and invasion. No persuasion necessary. Smell of honeysuckle blooming your sweetness into memory. Safety amidst the warm air and warm pool, floating in between. In between you and him. In between you and her. Crossing from your house to mine crossing boundaries crossing intersections barefoot asking me to be with you, complimenting my shadow on the street recreating old memories, recreating new rules to live by. Future shaking (legs too.) Time fluttering by like the chirping birds that deliver us to a quivering dawn with quivering insides. All before we can even catch our breaths, daybreak is catching us while night stays lodged in our throats. Always the same. Always the same. In need of truth or change in the morn before we choke on recklessness once and for all. Our eyes never ready to adjust to the light, still always blinking in wonder at the golden illumination. Gasping for reason or rationale in panting disbelief of the way the sky above us has changed when we weren’t paying attention beneath it. Me, always left, stumbling towards daylight— wondering if we’re not careful we’ll soon suckle all the honey out. 79
He Is AndresCerpa He is a boy on his way to becoming a man, who’s tormented and sad but yet lives in the sky. His feet rest on both the joyous and evil sides of the earth. He has and will rob and steal, yell and fight, push and shove, explode and throw punches. But yet he loves, kisses, lays still and vulnerable. He’s weak but yet strong, tormented yet at rest, inherently evil but yet simply good. He’s filled with paradox. He’s a hypocrite, he’s confused, complicated and someone whose actions you may never understand. He sits in class, front and center, sleeps through afternoons and destroys his mind at night, simply to rebuild it with newfound experience. He searches for peace and rest but has yet to find it. He searches for someone to hold his hand but throws fists and words at those who step too close. He’s alone but yet surrounded. He may be wise past his years, a product of young eyes seeing all too much. He’s seen a man die and his mother lying on the floor as she cries. He has fire, hate and anger in his eyes but dreams in his mind. His heart has turned cold. He’s lost in a city. He searches for what he can grab hold of. He trips then falls empty-handed.
Elipsis JessicaFitzPatrick Is not the elliptical of the gym, fifty flabby women periodically panting, running in circles, fists punching the air and clinging to handles. Resolutely plugged in, they plug away until they stop; only to return in shifted cycles. Not this. But the rushed eye, skimming up the sunset, yet stopped by the dawning dusk. The sinkâ€™s drip, caught between faucet and dropping into the pot. Or the breath after a kiss, When lips waver between the final stop and going on, with a Dot dot dot
Contributors Maria Victoria Agra is a freshman at the University of Delaware and a recent transfer student from Hofstra University, where she was a creative writing major. She is currently studying art history and Spanish. Her writing influences include J.D. Salinger, David Sedaris, and Sylvia Plath and she finds inspiration in Picasso’s Blue Period and the poetry of Pablo Neruda. Alyssa Benedetto is a junior majoring in mass communication/theatre production/ English with a concentration in film. Her passion is seeing things through the lens of a camera, and she aspires to work in the film industry. Joseph Bennett, better known as JQ, is a junior studying accounting and business administration. He tries to focus on his studies but is often found penning some kind of poem or lyrics. He’s very into music and loves the artistic scene that’s in the Delmarva area. Vincent Cartolano is a student at Delaware Technical College where his major is human services. He’s in the Vanguard Society, and is currently working on his book of poems entitled Follow Me Through the Struggle, which will be out later this year. Andres Cerpa was born and raised in Staten Island, New York. He attended Xavier High School in lower Manhattan and is now a freshman at the university. Olga Dmytrenko was born in Ukraine. Her love of the visual arts and science was cultivated at a young age. After graduating from the Republican School of Physics and Mathematics at Kiev State University, she entered the Department of Physics, and got her M.S. in 1986. In 1990 she gained a Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry at the Institute of Surface Chemistry of Ukrainian National Academy of Sciences. Since 1998, she has lived with her family in Newark, DE and works as a research associate at the University of Delaware. Alexandra Duszak, a Delaware native, is a sophomore at the University of Delaware. She is an international relations major with minors in journalism and Spanish. In addition to writing, her hobbies include running, keeping up with international affairs, expanding her music collection, and collecting sunglasses. Jessica FitzPatrick is a senior English and anthropology major. She is proud to be in the UD English creative writing concentration (and will defend it against anyone who dare asks, “why bother?”). 86
Jake Holler is a freshman at UD studying exercise science. He enjoys writing in his free time. He’s from outside of Philadelphia, which is good inspiration for creativity. Larry Kelts was educated at the University of Rochester, SUNY Brockport and Bennington College. He currently resides in Newark, Delaware. Nabeel Khan is a Pakistani graduate student in the Department of Electrical Engineering. He grew up in interesting times in the city of Karachi where he went to high school. Nabeel prefers porters, Ted Berrigan’s poems, coffee in the afternoons – he also likes to imagine himself being a Monday night regular at an anonymous bar chasing the last call with a few Jameson(s) etc. Zachary Liscio is currently serving the third year of his sentence at Delaware. Otherwise he enjoys rock climbing, writing, and the ocean. He may be considered a caffeine addict and has a recently become obsessed with movies. Mark Manz is a first year graduate student in exercise physiology at UD. He’s from Long Island but doesn’t “tawk” like it. He’s in a pretty serious relationship with running. Joe Marinelli is a freshman at the University of Delaware. Recently declaring English as his major, he enjoys writing poetry, prose, and anything in between. This is the first time his work has been published, and he looks forward to becoming more involved in the English world at UD. Siobhan May is a senior English major with a concentration in creative writing. After graduation, she will be heading to graduate school to pursue an M.F.A. in fiction writing. S. Gray. McKean is an English major with a creative writing concentration. His story, “Just Forest” is part of a collection of short fiction entitled Modern Ruins that he hopes to publish in the next year. He was born and raised in Arden, DE surrounded by crazy eccentric artists and musicians. When not writing he spends his time performing in the performance-art-jam-band-hip-hop-electronic-folk-noir-spectaclerock-band CoCoSyn. Molly Mooney is a freshman cognitive science major at UDel. She’s from Reading, Pennsylvania.
Tony Muccio is a freshman at the University of Delaware and is majoring in English education. He loves to read and has been writing most of his life. In his spare time he loves to play guitar and watch the History Channel. Leslie Nii Odartey Mills is a transportation engineering graduate student who hails from Ghana. She’s in her first year at UD and hopes to work with the UN or World Bank on developmental projects. Leslie loves to read and write. Mark Roche is a senior at the University of Delaware. He is a mathematics education major and plans to teach high school mathematics near his hometown of Spring City, Pennsylvania. Justin Sadegh is a freshmen at the University of Delaware. He’s majoring in Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Management. He’s a resident of Lorton, Virginia. Alexandra Saum-Pascual was born in Madrid in 1985. She completed her undergraduate studies in Interpreting and Translation at the University of Granada. Alexandra came to UD in 2007 as an exchange student and is currently pursuing her master’s in Spanish literature and foreign language pedagogy. She hopes to graduate in May 2009. Matt Singer is a junior at the University of Delaware, and is majoring in business management and marketing. He is the president of Delaware Comedy at UD. Laura Szklarski is a junior studying neuroscience and anthropology. She hopes to take photographs that can open eyes to the beauty of life and the world we live in. Maddie Thomas is a junior majoring in English with a concentration in journalism and a French minor. Her Polaroid was taken last October at the Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge in Cape May, New Jersey. Sean Ulman received his MFA from the Stonecoast program through the University of Southern Maine. His fiction has appeared in Tuesday Shorts, Willows Wept Review and 6 Sentences. He is working on his third novel.
Published on Apr 20, 2010
A literary magazine at the University of Delaware with works of poetry, humor, short stories and humor from university students, staff and N...