Issue 13: Fall 2018

Page 1

angr ve




Created by the Creative Writing Program at the University of Miami. Sponsored by the English Department.

Editors in Chief Managing Editor

Neda Mokhtari

Poetry Editor Nonfiction and Fiction Editor

Thomas de Leon

Faculty Adviser

Jaswinder Bolina


Neha Rajan

Rodrigo Arauz

Kelli Finnegan Marissa Maddalon Peter Amador Taleen Mencia

Mangrove is the University of Miami’s undergraduate literary journal, publishing quality fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and art from current undergraduate students from a variety of majors and universities. Mangrove is edited and designed by an undergraduate staff and advised and managed by university faculty. For additional information, please visit printed in the United States. Cover art by Kylah Strickland. Š 2018 Mangrove. All rights reserved. No reproduction or use without permission.


COVER ART Steps to the Sublime ART


Senior Leaves Marshall Farren


Finding My Way Emma Langley


All the poor people I know have marbles in their mouths J. David


Hindsight James Wilson


War Poem About Love Sean Cho A.


The Murder of Mr. Libeskind Hannah Berman


To the End Trent Welstead

Vanessa Withun

Vanessa Withun, “Steps to the Sublime” 12” x 16” Oil on Panel.

All the poor people I know have marbles in their mouths J. David I’m pretty sure I cried the day I found out we were on food stamps. I was convinced them ‘n the envelopes didn’t make good breakfast food Mama didn’t make enough money to feed her kids & keep the lights on too & Daddy only works when he’s the boss — hasn’t had a real job in years. I hear he’s a ramblin’ man — like a Baptist preacher with a stutter or an old folk song hero that never finds his way home. We never went hungry though — somehow daddy found a way to feed the whole street & then some. The government must’ve mailed miracles in them stamped letters, or else daddy must’ve prayed hard enough. God knows mama did.



Marshall Farren, “Senior Leaves” 8 Digital photograph.

The Murder of Mr. Libeskind Hannah Berman

I wasn’t sure what was transpiring, truthfully. Yes, I saw the murder take place, and yes, I was there when the police arrived, but I wasn’t all there. Mentally, I mean. Part of me was wondering when the sun would come out, and another part was solely focused on the lack of water I had received that day, so only a third of me was paying enough attention to notice Mr. Walters take a knife to the back of Mr. Libeskind. Even then, I wasn’t that perturbed. People do all sorts of strange things; I hadn’t any clue whether or not this was abnormal. Of course, once the police arrived, I began to see things differently. Mr. Libeskind’s blood, gurgling angrily, had already pooled and soon began crawling to reach the corners of the carpet, leaving it purple and bruised. I didn’t see Mrs. Libeskind discover the body, but rather heard it. A thin wail issued from the next room, which I assumed meant that she had been walking into the kitchen and changed her mind after having caught sight of the body. This was followed by a pleasant silence, interrupted only by the buzzing of a fly who had sniffed out the blood and began snooping around. But soon after, two police officers arrived and the house was thrown into chaos. I had seen police officers before, of course, on the television which rested on the fireplace; but I had never


pictured them so large, nor so sweaty. At this point I figured out that something was amiss. They took photos of the carnage, laboring noisily under the weight of the camera, and then paramedics arrived to transport the figure of Mr. Libeskind out of the house. The paramedics were even more sweaty. One of them knocked into me, almost toppling me over, but through some miracle I did not fall. Generally speaking, I enjoy the peace and quiet, so I have to admit that this crowd was too rowdy for me. Their footfalls were thundering and at one point, the policeman picked up the knife and began examining it, and the policewoman began to scream for him to stop. “You’re compromising the evidence,” she cried, and the stupid man promptly dropped the knife into the pool of blood, which had crept out from the rug and was now lurking on the cold wood floor. Who would have thought one simple murder could produce so much blood? The murder itself had gone smoothly. From what I remember, it didn’t take long. Mr. Libeskind had always been a rather frail man, and Mr. Walters always a sort of brute. They had sat down at the table, very cordial in their manner, and had talked for a while, often gesturing toward a pile of papers. Mr. Libeskind had remarked that it was lovely to be able to spend time with the man with whom his wife had developed such a strong friendship, and Mr. Walters had agreed, and then Mr. Libeskind went to brew some tea and Mr. Walters gathered his papers, put on a glove, then took up a knife and stabbed Mr. Libeskind in the back. It was a surprisingly wet sound, a sudden schluck, which was then followed by several more– I lost count, because it all started blending together after a while. It was just a rhythm to accompany the sunlight, the hack-hackhack of the knife doing its work. When Mr. Walters had sufficiently made sure that Mr. Libeskind was dead, he staggered about for a while, looking positively deranged.


Then he seemed to decide that the best thing to do would be to pick up the television and all of the papers and run out of the house, neglecting to take the murder weapon itself in his haste. It was all very strange, and I was sad to see the television go, as it had provided me many moments of pleasure over the years. When the paramedics dragged the body out, I got a good glimpse at what had once been Mr. Libeskind, but now could only be classified as a bloodied, deformed mess. His face was mottled, the veins meshing purple lines over his fair skin, his hair clotted together with chunks of skin and sinew. It looked as if his right arm had taken the worst of the stabbing– it clung to his shoulder by only a few tendrils of sinew. The right of his rib cage was also on display. I rather preferred him with one arm, I think– he was never well balanced in his posture, so it might have been an improvement– but the blood was a bit much. Neither the police nor the paramedics made any move to clean it up, so it just sat there, fermenting in the sun. Mr. Walters was actually a fairly frequent visitor to the house. He and Mrs. Libeskind had a friendship, or so Mr. Libeskind called it, although I like to say (with the benefit of hindsight, of course) that I knew all along that it was much more than a friendship for Mr. Walters. One can never be sure, but I don’t think I imagined him brushing hair out of her eyes on several occasions. Or the difference in the brightness of his smile when she pushed Mr. Libeskind’s hand away from around her waist. Or how he always looked less nervous in his own skin when Mr. Libeskind had gone off to work in the morning, and it was just the two of them alone in the kitchen. Finally, some sort of maid arrived to clear away the mess. The blood got mopped, the table got wiped, and the rug was thrown away entirely. Then, as the sunbeams began to grow limp, a snivelling Mrs.


Libeskind was ushered into the kitchen by the police officers. She sat hesitantly in a chair which normally remained empty, because her normal seat was right next to where she had found Mr. Libeskind’s corpse. She couldn’t decide how to position her body, and kept crossing and uncrossing her legs as the police officers introduced her to the detective. “It’s a pleasure to meet you,” she said, her voice gravelly. “And yourself, though I wish it were under different circumstances,” smiled the detective. He, too, looked like the sort of man who might enjoy brushing the hair out of Mrs. Libeskind’s eyes. He took out a pen and paper. “I’m going to just ask you a few questions, nothing too upsetting because I know you’ve had a hard day, and then I’m going to take testimony from some of your neighbors as well. My end goal, above all else, is to find out who did this to your sweet husband. Does that sound alright?” She nodded. “Well, alright then. What sort of man was your husband?” “A good man,” she managed to cough out before dissolving into more tears. The detective, who I decided I did not like one bit, laid a consoling hand on her kneecap, which made her start from fright. “I meant,” he continued once the fit had passed, “was he a violent man? Did he ever get into fights with people at work? Did he ever hit you? Did he have any… enemies?” I couldn’t believe that he actually chose to pause before the word ‘enemies;’ it was like a real live TV show was taking place in front of me. The answer, of course, was no. Mrs. Libeskind sobbed out, “My Richard would never hurt a fly, and he certainly had no enemies.” She was being stupid and boring, so I tried to tune out their conversation, yet her sobs kept perforating my own stupor and I was forced to listen to the detective grill the poor woman to the point of utter hysteria.


Eventually he left, saying, “We’ll do the best we can,” a line which worked wonders to calm Mrs. Libeskind down, despite its ambiguity. I was unsure as to why Mrs. Libeskind was so grief-stricken; it hadn’t even seemed like she and Mr. Libeskind liked one another’s company all that much. They occupied different realms, taking their coffee at the same time in the morning but each reading their own section of the newspaper in silence. They fought, often. Especially after Mr. Walters started visiting the kitchen more frequently, two winters ago. After the sun set each night, they would disappear upstairs, and then the yelling would begin. I didn’t mind it very much, since the walls that separated them from me muted their voices to a dull murmur, and it served pretty well as white noise. Lulled by their bickering, I would cover myself with my own leaves and slip from consciousness. They weren’t the happiest couple, not like the couples I saw when Mrs. Libeskind turned on the TV in the late afternoon. Sometimes Lifetime had on a Christmas movie, and then she might stop cooking or reading to watch along with me, tears streaming down her face every single time a character professed their renewed belief in the wonder of Christmas. Mrs. Libeskind and I mainly watched either Christmas movies or cop shows. Personally, I would’ve liked to see more game shows, like Jeopardy (Jeopardy has always held me in endless fascination– why do people bother knowing such obscure information?) However, most game shows usually came on at night when Mrs. Libeskind and Mr. Libeskind fought in their bedroom, and it’s not like I had the strength to lift the remote control and push the buttons myself. So I was generally stuck staring at young women with perfectly curly hair in red coats gasping as their perfectly sculpted counterparts got down on one knee and proposed while snow fell around them both. At least Mrs. Libeskind was happy watching it happen.


She now sat, whimpering softly, and gazing at the place where the television had been before Mr. Walters grabbed it. She looked sad still, but she wasn’t making that much noise, so I was able to doze off. I was asleep while the sun set; when I awoke, it had grown dark, but Mrs. Libeskind hadn’t moved an inch. She wasn’t normally interested in sitting still, so I guessed that she was still sad about the whole murder fuss. I watched her for a while before there was the sound of footsteps in the hall. Who else was in the house? I was confused, and apparently so was Mrs. Libeskind: she reacted immediately, reaching behind my stem to grab another kitchen knife, identical to the one Mr. Walters had used to murder her husband. We waited together, Mrs. Libeskind and I, our breath suspended in the air, until the footsteps manifested into the figure of Mr. Walters. “Oh, thank goodness it’s just you,” Mrs. Libeskind cried, dropping the knife. It whizzed past my leaves and clattered to the floor. Mr. Walters, his eyes wider than I had ever seen them, said, “Thought you could use some company in this big empty house.” “Thank you so much for coming. I just can’t believe it. My Richard!” Another deluge of sobs. “It’s horrible, Barbara. Just ghastly. Do they have any clue who did it yet?” “They’ve got no clue. And there’s no means of DNA testing, because the policeman dropped the knife in a pool of Richard’s blood. Right now the detective is going around the neighborhood, asking all the neighbors if they’ve seen a man carrying a television set around. He’ll be back soon.”


At this moment, I’ll admit it, I was caught up in the drama of it all. Even though I hadn’t cared much about Mr. Libeskind one way or another, I did have some semblance of care for the wellbeing of quiet, sad Mrs. Libeskind. It was probably our Christmas movie comradery that did it, but I can’t be sure of that. Maybe it was just the fact that a real live TV show was happening in my kitchen. Maybe it was because winter was coming, and I’m always more emotional when I am perennially forced to look through the window and watch my fellow plants start to wither and die. No matter the reason, I suddenly found myself very concerned by Mr. Walters’ presence in the room. My worry grew even more acute when I spotted a bit of dried blood behind his ear, and remembered the knife which now lay discarded on the floor. And so I strained myself, with all my being. I knew that the action would take time, that it might kill me, that Mrs. Libeskind probably wouldn’t even notice that I had even moved, but I needed to do it. I needed to help her, in any way I could, because he had held out his arms to her. And she had to know what he had done before she made the mistake of falling into those arms. So I wrenched my leaves. I bent my stalk forward, inching towards Mr. Walters. I pointed the entirety of my greenest energy towards him, trying to indicate him as the killer, straining to rip off his mask and expose him for the horrible beast he was. Mrs. Libeskind didn’t look at me. My leaves were sore and my stem was broken by the time she entered his murderous embrace. I could feel the surroundings blurring, could taste the night and smell Mr. Walters’ triumph. It was the perfect crime. No one would ever know. No one except for me, and I was wilting. He kissed the top of her head, and I shivered down to my roots.


Hindsight James Wilson 2017, I wondered if the one I called my best friend had stolen my heart. Insignificance. 2004, I moved from Snellville to Athens in the blanket of night. The flickering red and blue lights of our escort lulled me to sleep. Bliss. 2010, I buried my rabbit in the forest where an old trailer park use to reign. I filled his casket with leaves painted gold. Divinity. 2009, My father returned for his final appearance in our Household tale. He left eight months Later to settle down with his mistress. Elation. 2013, I received my first kiss. His tongue felt like tentacles invading my face. Attraction.


2014, I lived on a Boat for a month surrounded by lovely strangers. Vinegar was massaged onto my back, the smell sent chills down my spine. Discovery. 2012, I divorced my religion, Mother cried. Freedom. 2016, I ate a sandwich filled with eggs and ham the night of my final school dance. The waitress wore eyeliner like Cleopatra. Heartbreak. 2015, He told me our love was immoral. Devastation. 2008, I found a book on reefs in the school library. I started to hate reading a little less. Passion. 2012, I gifted Teacher with a paper swan. A young version of my first love bit Teacher firm upon the ankle. She disinfected the leg with hand sanitizer. Expression. 2011, I spend the night in the hospital, Mother feared I might self-destruct. Loathing. 2015, Surrealism and cephalopods captured my heart and defined my soul. Creation.


Year Unknown, I found myself drowning in the harsh limbo of the world’s judgment. I pulled myself ashore. Eternal Love. Year yet to Be, Satisfaction.


Emma Langley, “Finding my Way”


War Poem About Love Sean Cho A. close your eyes in the dark and be elsewhere a girl runs inside to her mother There are bomb dropping robots There are rumors of war bite your tongue and tire of this act a mother turns off the radio as it reads a list of casualties There are no such things wash your hands dinner time Father will be home any day make noise and hope she believes a mother reads fairy tales and kisses her daughter’s cheek They smile just like we will dream of peace and lay awake answering a knocking door a mother weeps A drone they say Close your eyes And be elsewhere 20

To the End Trent Welstead Two in the side, one in the face. A quick barrage to the body, and the hairs stood up on the back of my neck. In a split second, I was down on my knees, gasping under my breath as I watched Robinson dancing in the corner, raising his glove loud and proud. Raw-bin-saaan... Raw-binsaaan—the drunken crowd shouted, chanting his name like sheep while I attempted to suppress the searing pain from my cracked ribs. Three! Four! As the referee continued his count, striking his left hand after each number, I could only replay that treacherous snapping sound from the last blow I had endured. An iron fist, plummeting into my gut with such force that it could have been mistaken for a bowling ball. They don’t call him “The Butcher” for nothing. The sight of his opponent struggling for balance was more than enough to bring out that Robinson smile which I despised with such passion. Those three golden teeth shimmered as the spotlights whipped across his sweaty face, drawing attention away from the few cuts I had managed to land in the fourth round. By now, anyone who gave a damn about this fight had surely forgotten about those promising first minutes when I had indeed held my own… Six! Seven! Eight! Time to rise. Lights shone with blinding intensity. A stream of warm tears trickled down my swollen left eye, which by now likely resembled a mangled plum. This wasn’t the first time I’d experienced rubber legs, but never before had that been accompanied by such severe shooting pains within the base of


To the End

my spine.In the midst of the inferno raging within my body, I carved out enough energy to turn my head towards Mama at ringside. There she sat, biting her bottom lip as I looked into her eyes—those emerald green eyes, full of her own tears which she desperately tried to suppress. In all of our years together, I had never once seen her sit with such rigid posture. In a way, it was a funny sight. Sleazy men in stained business uniforms, shouting in all directions, puffing and coughing on their own cigar smoke. The air reeks of booze and body odor. Yet this gentle, frail old woman wearing a bright pink dress sits in the middle of all the ensuing chaos, determined to watch her boy see it through to the end. I gave her a small smile, so faint that she probably wasn’t even able to tell. Fighting the urge to hack up the blood which had been collecting within my mouth, I looked upon the horizon of hazy faces. Roaring with anticipation, spectators arose from their seats. Somewhere along the way, the referee had made his way back to the side, clearing a path for Robinson’s impending fury. With all the energy I could muster, I lifted my gloves up to my chin, and stood like a statue as the devil himself proceeded to charge towards me, hellbent on defending his title. The fall was slow and agonizing, nothing like I had previously encountered. For the most part, I had grown accustomed to the blurred vision, and the sharp ringing which pierced my ears—consistent elements of an inevitable knock-out. That was child’s play, compared to my final sensations. Instead, I was met with a bloated, bubbling feeling in the front of my eye sockets, followed by a series of sudden convulsions. Though I was somewhat familiar with the signs of an approaching blackout, my concentration—and my will to continue—had shattered. I don’t recall the moment of impact, only the sudden realization that I was now facedown in the ring, unable to move the left half of my body, and too weak


To the End

to control that of my right. The remaining air within my lungs felt like it was expanding, about to puncture holes within my chest. The roar of the crowd had suddenly dimmed, evolving into series of murmurs. Making circles with nothing more than my pupils, I looked around for the referee, wanting to shout for help, but all that came out of my mouth was a muffled, gurgling noise. In a matter of seconds, everything around me began to flicker. The worst of it all was the thunderous sound that began to permeate my skull more ferociously than I had ever experienced. It wasn’t even a sound, or a headache, but some sort of sick, twisted amalgamation of the two, pounding my brain like a bass drum. In mere moments, the flickering stopped. As I slipped into this new dimension of consciousness, the pain had vanished, but for a few moments, I was convinced that I was still alive. The banging within my head had gradually morphed into the sound of a punching bag, swinging and swaying against the chain in the corner of Jackie’s Gym. The murmur of the boxing crowd quietly shifted into a calming chatter within this area I knew all too well. I saw the young, fourteen year old boy slicing away at the bag, hoping he’d summon enough force to rip into the seams, right in front of his older peers. I watched him as he tightened those right hooks, just like Daddy had told him the night before. Breathless and blistered, this scrawny, scrappy excuse for a teenager unleashed every ounce of his energy into that bag, every afternoon. I saw the local thugs half-heartedly lifting weights in the center of the gym as they laughed at the boy, fishing crinkled dollars out of their pockets, as they placed bets on his dwindling endurance. The stench of marijuana, forever embedded into their clothing was more than enough to keep the boy’s attention averted from their scoldings. I saw the greasy trainers, snickering away in the corner on their afternoon smoke break, waiting for the fire to fade away. But it didn’t. The boy continued


To the End

continued to relentlessly smack away while he glanced upward at the dazzling heavyweight champion belt which graced the mantle on the other side of the room, glimmering from the half-lit fluorescent lights above. Supposedly a trophy from the heyday of Jackie’s former owner, that treasure had ignited a spark within the child from the moment he first set foot in an otherwise decrepit establishment. He didn’t know the story behind it, nor did he ever bother to ask. All he knew for sure was that he too wanted to possess such a prize, one day. In the end, I never wore that belt, or anything of similar prestige. Immersed in these cyclical perceptions, unbound by time and space, my soul sighed at the comfort of such disappointment. No matter how hard I tried, I could never hold it in all its glory, running my fingers across the densely plated golden crust, counting the cuts within each gemstone embedded into the outer rims. The only belts I wore were the frayed, patchy ones Mama had picked up from the local shelter on her way home from church—those flimsy, hand-me-down noodles that had already endured decades of stretching and whippings. Nevertheless, despite their shaggy condition, I can still see Mama’s subtle smile as she’d watch her young son fidget and fumble with the each of them over the years, if you could even call it a smile—that distinct facial expression, revealing the innermost sentiments of those who neither succeeded, nor failed. In utter silence, I relaxed as I allowed the remnants of such vivid memories to fizzle into complete darkness.



Sean Cho. A is a college student

in the Midwestern United States. His poems can be found in The 30-North Literary Review, Glass Mountain, and Swallow The Moon. He lives alone and sleeps in his living room.

Hannah Berman is a sophomore

at Wesleyan University studying English and Education Studies. She hails from Brooklyn, NY. Her past writing credits include publication in Midriff Magazine, WeScrive, and the Blue Marble Review. You can also find more of her work on Medium.

J. David is from Cleveland Ohio,

and serves as poetry editor for Flypaper Magazine.

Marshall Farren is a senior at

Indiana University studying Human

Development and Psychology. A writer and photographer, his pictures have been featured in Oakland Arts Review and the Susquehanna Review. In his free time, he enjoys watching baseball and sitting around with friends. More of his photography can be viewed on his instagram account (@ marshfarren).


Langley is from Dawsonville, Georgia and is pursuing a degree in Fibers at SCAD. Trent Welstead is a recent

graduate of Virginia Tech, where he completed a dual degree in Cinema and Creative Writing. When he’s not immersed in his own projects, or working at the Moss Arts Center, Trent spends his remaining time watching classic films with

whomever he’s delighted to share the experience.

James Wilson is a rising

senior, studying Biology, Marine Science, and Creative Writing. He’s originally from Athens Georgia and is a University of Miami Jenkins scholar. He aspires to be a researcher in cellular and molecular biology with a focus on the evolution of Marine life immunology. He hopes to apply his passion for creative writing as a tool to better communicate science to the general public and to continue using his creative background to generate change and innovating within the scientific community.


Withun is a representational contemporary realist artist originally from Bronx, New York living in Savannah, GA.. She enjoys the use of color and texture to show the intricacies of form and contrasting values to show the behavior of light.

A JOURNAL OF THE ARTS CREATED BY UNDERGRADUATES AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI Sean Cho A. · Hannah Berman · J. David · Marshall Farren · Emma Langley· Trent Welstead · James Wilson · Vanessa Withun MANGROVE ISSN 2164 - 2712