CONTRIBUTORS | 07
AMANDA MORDECAI—Prelude to an Apocalyptic World
DAVID KOH—My Lover
KAITLIN CRAMMER—Inanimate Objects
COURTNEY NICHOLSON—The Broken Promise
JULIANA DEITCH—Tel Aviv Smoke Break
KELA FARMER—Ode to my Hips and Thighs
TIM REAVIS—Party Talk
DAVID KOH—You and I and the Winter Sky
HEIDI KLUMPE—Reflections on Ghana
EMR—Paint my Toes a Cherry Blossom Blue
MJUNE “MJ” KIRK—Ol’ Grad Girl Speaks Her Mind
JASON WILKINS—Wake up. This is Ours.
BROOKE BAILEY—Before Leaving: Appalachia
ANANDA EIDSVAAG—Welcome to Beijing
TINA CLARK—Words from my Italian Grandfather
KIRSTEN SOUTHWELL—The Renegade
TH E W IN D H OV E R by GERARD MANLEY HOPKINS
I caught this morning morning’s minion, kingdom of daylight’s dauphin, dappledawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing, As a skate’s heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding Stirred for a bird,—the achieve of, the mastery of the thing! Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here Buckle! AND the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier! No wonder of it: shéer plód makes plough down sillion Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear, Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermilion.
P RE LU D E TO A N AP O CALY PT I C WO RLD
by AMANDA MORDECAI
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OKAY, PICTURE THIS. A world of crumbling ruined buildings, pitfalls miles wide full of salt water. And cities, once brimming with life, once overflowing with people, empty, deserted, as if they were merely architectural finds to be discovered years later. Oh, and tentacles, the size of your face to the size of cars, slithering around with the finesse of a thief picking a lock—snatching up people. Can you see it now? Welcome to my life, also known as hell, also known as The End for most life forms. There might still be a few rats left in New York. I have no idea what the date is— why bother when everything you used to care about is dead? There are no pressing engagements, no curfews. The last time I glanced at a calendar was nearly four months ago, but from the feel of the weather, it could be fall. Doesn’t really matter. Time for me passes by with sun up and sun down, in measures of still-edible food to be found. The pickings are getting pretty slim, especially with Mulberry around now. What little I do find is split between him and myself, because he’s the only other person I’ve found. I’ve regretted that decision more than a few times; he’s a soulless pig. I’d have a better time with a corpse; at least they don’t chew with their mouths wide open. Sorry. But wait a minute, Bleecker, you might say, how did it get to this point? How did the end of humanity come about? And how did you survive it? To the first question, Fred (Do you mind if I call you Fred? You look like a Fred) I would reply as thus: Are you an idiot? I said tentacles. The hands of a greater and horrendous beast have swallowed up everything—my classmates, my neighbors… I’ve seen them die! You ever
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read Watchmen? That giant squid that Ozymandias passes off as an alien and obliterates three million people with? Yeah, it’s like that. Fewer radioactive and atomic annihilations, but still, you’d be hard pressed to find the remains of any— Well, actually. Never mind on that last thought. You’re here. Don’t worry, I appreciate you for who, er, what you are, Fred. I didn’t mean to call you an idiot. But there aren’t many bodies left; once those tentacles snatch you up, you’re assimilated. Actually, it’s not even that nice. You’re dissolved, right down to the atoms that make up the vocal cords you use to scream with. It’s a horrible process to watch. I should know. You look confused, Fred, but maybe that’s just the way your face is. I bet you used those eyebrows to make people feel dumb when you still had command of your facial features. Anyway, would you like to know more about what happened? I think I can trust you, but you can’t breathe a word of this to anyone. Ha, ha. I have to maintain my mystique, after all. Okay, here we go; try to keep up. So, as with all shitty things in life, I remember that it started on a Monday. I was in AP Biology and we were about to have a test. Back then I was called Johnny. Strange, unpopular Johnny, the poor, nerdy recluse; never even kissed a girl, but getting a full ride to Columbia. Yeah. I had no friends, but I was valedictorian. Be jealous, Fred. I was a BAMF. They hated me, and it was the strangest sensation, to receive that much negative attention. I hated them also, but because they were idiots and I’d done nothing to provoke them directly. I confess Fred, I did feel the tiniest bit validated; negative attention is still attention, you know. But I didn’t worry about trying
to make friends or telling on the idiots from the remedial classes who shoved me into lockers, because I had goals! Aspirations! I told myself, someday I was going to be a fucking chemical engineer making oxygen and artificial suns for colonies in space with NASA, and those bullies weren’t going to be good enough to apply to clean my fucking space toilet. Most days, I got away with convincing myself that I was better than them, that I didn’t need anyone to get somewhere in life. Wednesdays were a different story. I had AP American History in the afternoons with the most beautiful creature I’d
WE WEREN’T PREPARED ever laid my eyes on, including my poster of Denise Richards circa Starship Troopers. Her name was Lana. She was the majestic unicorn Amalthea in the decaying King Haggard’s castle. She was timeless Irene Cassini in Gattaca. Compared to her, I felt every bit as pathetic as the idiots who made fun of me were. I remember that she always sat closest to the windows, in the sun. Thinking back, it was actually a little strange of her to sit there, because light refracted off the resin-coated desk really easily, and I’m sure the rhodopsin in her retinas was constantly bleached; she always squinted at the blackboard. But I could see her just fine from the back corner, and damn if the sun didn’t illuminate her hair and face into something that broke my heart.
I’d never wanted a connection with someone as badly as I did with her. Even now, the desperation I feel to personify inanimate objects (No offense, Fred) to give an outlet to my internal interdependent tension is nothing compared to how much I wanted this girl. She was so nice! And she actually knew her history; wars fascinated her. She wrote great essays. If she had bothered to give me the time of day, I know that we would have been unstoppable together. Though, when she finally did, the situation was such that I wanted to die. But I’m getting ahead of myself. The sink holes had already appeared by this point, and they were all over the news. Nobody knew what was causing them, but it seemed as if one would appear every night in a new location. France was utterly devastated because one had impacted the area near a nuclear reactor; they couldn’t produce enough heavy water to cover the uranium rods at its core, and the result ruined most of Europe. North America was largely unaffected by this, other than a dwindling supply of seafood. In New York, we only had one of these giant holes, which made getting on the subway hell, and everything below Canal Street was sunken and flooded. I attended Chelsea High School, which was only a few blocks north of the devastated areas, but we couldn’t close because we had to host the dozens of displaced kids. That Monday, we weren’t prepared. Mr. Mason, the biology teacher, had been explaining the protocol for the test when he stopped mid sentence to stare at his water bottle, which had begun to shake. Soon, we all noticed a terrible rumbling that made our building groan and creak in protest. Mr. Mason thought it was an earthquake, and instructed us to get un-
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der our desks and cover our heads. A huge shadow appeared by the window and from my vantage point, I could see my teacher’s face bleached white from fear. But just as suddenly as it had started, the earth-shaking movement stopped. There was a pause of absolute silence in the classroom, and we could hear the sound of people screaming outside on the street. Mr. Mason looked as if he really didn’t want to leave his desk, but bravely
the space between their legs, just as the tentacle smashed against their backs, and made a dash down the hallways towards the first floor exit, blood coating my neck. There were dozens of kids in the hallways running every which way, and I was for once thankful of my small frame, enabling me to weave through. When I reached the stairwell, I ran into the boys that bullied me every Monday. Looking back, it’s a little sad to
A HUGE, TRANSLUCENT, AND WRITHING TENTACLE CRASHED THROUGH THE WINDOW. crept towards the window anyway, to see what the commotion was. He had always joked that he was a “John Wayne” type of man, the epitome of masculinity and stoicism, so when he peed himself, the hilarity of that moment made the horror of the next few all the more devastating. A huge, translucent, and writhing tentacle crashed through the window, flailing to adhere onto as many things as possible. Mr. Mason was partially smeared on the limb and was slowly being absorbed into the membrane along with most of the kids in the front row. The rest of my classmates were screaming and bottle-necking through the door with the fattest kid, Frances, jammed by the exit with two other boys. For my part, I crawled on my hands and knees through
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think that those idiots actually saved my life, but don’t get me wrong, Fred, I didn’t pity them; not a bit. In fact, the situation was mostly ironic. I chalked it up to their karma, that as soon as they shoved me into a locker, laughing cruelly that no one would find me in all this commotion, they were swept up by a tentacle that was feeling around in the next classroom over. I heard their screams, and though I was frightened, a small part of me laughed at them. Maybe a slightly larger part of me; no one would find me, and because of that, I would survive this situation. Don’t judge me Fred, you have no idea what they put me through. I stayed jammed in that locker for the better part of two hours, until I was certain that whatever it was had gone. When
the hall was eerily silent, I moved my shoulder towards the hinge of the locker and inched my way out, wary and paranoid. The halls were completely deserted. Aside from bloodstains, the signs of people who struggled not to be taken, the place was devoid of life. I went through as many classrooms as I could, desperate to see anyone, making my way towards the science labs, where I knew Lana had her Physics class. Don’t look at me like that Fred; I overheard her complaining about her schedule at lunch once, okay? I did find her, though, in the end. She was pinned by a portion of wall that had collapsed, her tiny, pale hand covered in debris. The wall that fell on her, saved her from being swallowed by the tentacle, you see, at the expense of her bones being crushed. I rushed to her side, sniveling her name, trying to dig her out. I excavated her perfect face covered in cuts, and it was all I could do not to howl as she took shallow breaths and coughed up blood. She looked at me, Fred, and her eyes were so afraid. God, she didn’t deserve it. “Johnny?” she whispered to me. Her lips were white with dust. “Lana, oh god, I’m going to get you out of there. Stay awake, I’ll go get help, just hang on, just—” I was beyond hysterical. She hadn’t noticed my panic. “Why can’t I feel my legs?” Of all the questions she had to ask, that one. She really was out of it to not have noticed that everything below her waist was pulverized. “Lana…” The words were stuck in my throat. I could only look at her as she tried to focus her eyes in my general direction. A few seconds of my silence was the only hint she needed, and without warning,
tears started bubbling up and pouring out of her eyes, leaving trails through the drywall dust covering her face. She was an ugly crier, but I still thought she was the bee’s knees. “What’s going on? Why can’t I move??” She was dangerously close to a whine, but still, the girl was sunshine and lollipops. “You can’t move because your legs are trapped under that wall. I won’t be able to move you without help.” At this, she really started to cry; the desperate, broken, your death is imminent kind of wailing. She took these huge gulping breaths, as if she couldn’t get enough air, which was probably true, but all the same, my heart was breaking into pieces. I’d never see someone cry this hard, and I wished that it wasn’t her. I wished briefly that I wasn’t here to see it. I wanted to gather her up and fold her into my shirt pocket, next to my heart; I wanted to scream, I wanted to pull her out of that debris and hide her away. Instead, I cradled her face with one hand and she grasped my other tightly. We were both bawling like little kids by this point. “My legs won’t move; I’m going to die!” If you couldn’t understand the pull this girl had on me before, I’m sure you could guess it by this point. I was ready to rip off my own legs and give them to her, just to make her feel better. I wanted to do a bunch of different things to her actually, regardless of the situation, but most of those things would make things worse. My last act for her would be something less drastic. “Hey, listen. There’s something I’ve always wanted to tell you. Ever since ninth grade—” But she ignored me as if I hadn’t at
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all been speaking; her body’s shock was wearing off completely, and panic was settling in. “Johnny, I can’t move my legs. I can’t feel them, please help—” She repeated herself several times then, telling me how she was afraid to die, begging me to help her, begging not to leave her alone, even though I was right there, grasping her hand! I grew desperate to calm her, to let her know that I was here, that I would always be here! The only survivor in the school was me, and I came looking for her because I cared! I knew this was my one chance to let her know how I felt. Before I could think it through, I was kissing her, horribly, despite the blood she’d coughed up, trying to transmit every feeling I’d ever had for her in it. She moaned during the kiss, but I’ll never know if that was because she enjoyed it or because she was in pain— when I came up for air, the reasons why suddenly didn’t matter. She was still. After that, I made my way home through the wrecked streets of New York in a haze of grief. The place was a war zone and there was slime everywhere where the tentacles had touched. The walk, which normally took fifteen minutes, ended up being over an hour long between my grief and the destroyed street. Home was a final bastion, and I prayed to every god I didn’t believe in that my mom was still alive. She worked from our apartment, and kept my dog, Asimov, company until I came home, if I still had a home to come to. Our building was knocked completely over, and the window that indicated my home, was smashed and covered in slime. The bits of heart left over from seeing Lana die, were jangling in my chest like wind chimes. I scaled the fire escape, which was attached
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to the building by one twisted leg, cutting my arms on the jagged edges that had been snapped like ligaments. My apartment was on the third floor and I called out my mother and my dog’s names like a frightened kid, lost in the grocery store. I shouldn’t have rushed up there; for all my trouble, I climbed through my window into a room splattered in blood. I didn’t bother checking the rest of the rooms; if they hadn’t heard me sobbing by now, they were never going to. The bloody fingernail marks scoring the windowsill
THE PLACE WAS A WAR ZONE. pretty much gave it away anyhow. They were gone, as my classmates were gone, and I was alone, emancipated, way before I was even close to being ready. Staying in my own house was too painful after that. I grabbed some of my clothes and as much food as I could carry and camped in my neighbors’ homes. I checked for survivors in my building, of course, but I couldn’t find anyone. So I raided their homes for usable items like clothing, blankets, deodorant and canned foods. For four lonely months I had meals that required no heat, because there wasn’t any electricity, and I used flashlights until the batteries died. Candles were kind of risky, because there wasn’t a stable place to rest them, when the building leaned so precariously
anyway. When the food finally ran out, or went bad, I began to forage around my neighborhood, utterly changed by the time I spent alone. I threw out my old name; the memories associated were just too overwhelming. I named myself after a street I liked, Bleecker Street, and grew a beard. It’s more of a collection of hairs, but whom have I got to impress? You, Fred? Aw, that’s sweet, really, but I’m not a fan of… that. I prefer the ladies, as you know, freshly felled by wall. A week ago, I met a kid picking through trash in a dumpster. Imagine my surprise, that this disgusting individual would turn out to be that same guy who was caught in the doorway, who was effectively responsible for the deaths of my classmates who didn’t get past him that day; I had found Frances. “Johnny, that you?” He’d asked me, chewing around the remnants of what I hoped was pizza crust. Fred, I tell you, a big part of me wanted to leave him behind, to let him fend for himself in that dumpster because honestly, he was annoying as fuck. He was loud, rude, and still fat enough to slow me down. Worse, he was singlehandedly responsible for the death of our classmates and seemed cheerfully unrepentant about it, and why would I want a guy like that at my back? But you know, I had been alone for so long, and yes, I should be used to it by now; it’s just that the sight of another human being, another living thing that’s not a tentacle or a rat, was such a welcome change from constantly looking over your shoulder out of sheer terror. I needed a someone to interact with, because humans are social creatures. Even if I’d much, much rather times infinity, be with Lana, I wouldn’t be alone anymore. I gave him a new name
to segregate him from our shared past— Mulberry. That was more a preventative measure for me, so I can also cheerfully ignore that he’d killed our class. And then I met you, Fred. You’ve been pretty great company so far; you’re an excellent listener. I definitely feel better knowing that someone finally knows my story, even if you are technically dead. But the horrendously religious side of me (that crops up in times of great distress) likes to think that you’re somewhere listening to my story, and laughing. Maybe you’re telling my story to the other dead guys around you, and maybe they’re laughing at my misfortune too. To that, I will say give me a bit, and then I’ll come up there and kick the shit out of you for laughing; all your dead friends, too. I’m doing the best I can here. It’s time I left you behind, though. Truthfully you’re starting to stink a bit, and I think you’ve got some maggots developing. I’m not a fan of all that, sorry. I’ll think of your silence fondly, when I want to ruin my ossicles, just to escape Mulberry’s incessant chatter. I’ll cover you with this blanket I found, so the rats won’t get to you right away. Take care Fred, but I’m sure we’ll see each other again. ¶
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MY LOVE R by DAVID KOH
I have a love affair with midnight, quiet at the seams, that interrupts the flow of life and keeps me from my dreams. The time is one that no one knows oblivious in sleep, a time thatâ€™s only real to those who lonely vigils keep. I have a love affair with darkness, sitting on the world the loneliness is something sweet that makes my fingers curl. When all is eyelids sliding shut and waking is a dream, and nothing quite is anything or so it always seems. I walk her empty sidewalks then and drive her empty streets; she likes the way that she and I get tangled in the sheets and sometimes when sheâ€™s holding me, I cry about the day for sure as anything, I know I cannot get away. But gentle, she, the winding night she sands the open eye, and even if no sleep may come she never says goodbye but leaves me with the callous hands of sunlight and of day, and even my most sweet aubades can never make her stay. I have a love affair with midnight stung by lust and lack, but every time the sun goes down my lover wanders back.
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M A M AN by KAT PALACIOS
BACK AT THE AGENCY, safe from questions and reminders of the client she lost, Eva was unwrapping her frozen dinner when a large, hairy spider crawled across the kitchen counter-top. With a shriek and a slap, she knocked the spider from the counter to the ground, but she hadn't counted on tiny spiderlings flying from their mother's back onto the floor, scattering across the linoleum like a game of jacks. Eva watched in horror as the spider scurried to the middle of the kitchen floor and froze, several of her children still writhing on her back, a hundred littered around her. The mother herself had to be over three inches long, her legs covered in khaki and black hair, a stripe of brown running down her inch-long body, a flash of orange on the undersides of her jaws. Her translucent children, mere millimeters long, were nothing but large black eyes on peach pearls. â€œI am not dealing with this now,â€? Eva announced with a crack in her voice, darting out of the kitchen on her toes. When she stepped on the gray carpet of the
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hallway, she felt safe enough to touch the heels of her black loafers to the ground, and she turned the corner and poked her head into her co-worker's cubicle. “Aaron, Mr. Eagle Scout,” she stated, “seeing as you're the only other person here tonight, and seeing as you have larger shoes than I do, it'd be most appreciated if you were to take care of the giant spider and spider babies in the kitchen.” He folded his hands on his lap and rotated in his swivel chair. “Well, is the living environment suitable for the spider's children? Are they all well-fed? Do any of them show signs of abuse? Are they attending school?” “Funny,” she replied, eyes narrowing. “Just take care of them, please.” Aaron muttered something as he stood up, dusted crumbs off his navy pullover, and followed Eva down the hallway to the kitchen. “How are you doing?” he asked her in a low voice. “I'm fine,” she answered, staring straight ahead. “You know if you need to talk… I mean, I haven't been here long enough to know what you're going through, but… still. Okay?” “I said ‘I'm fine,’ Aaron,” she reiterated, unbuttoning her sleeves and rolling them over her elbows. “I take it I wasn't interrupting anything too urgent?” “No, no, just closing a case,” he replied. “A hoax, thankfully. Somebody reported that this man was neglecting his son and daughter. The girl, she was seven, looked up at me and asked me if I was going to take her away from her dad because she stole her brother's Stegosaurus and hid it in her sock drawer. I told her no, but she should probably give the dino back, anyways.” He shoved his hands
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in his pockets and shot a sad smile at her. “Broke my heart.” “You haven't had to remove a child yet, have you?” Aaron shook his head. “I'm dreading it. I'm not going to handle it well.” “No one does.” “How many have you removed now?” “I don't count anymore,” she replied. “I treat each as my first.” “So it never gets any better?” “It never gets any better.” Eva guarded the doorway as Aaron stepped into the kitchen, carefully avoiding each little spiderling that scuttled around him. “How are you, beautiful?” Aaron cooed, crouching in front of the mother spider, a wide smile on his face. “A wolf spider, eh? Aren't you something?” “Now that you've flattered her, kindly squish her and let's get back to work.” “Eva!“ he exclaimed, shooting her a disappointed glare. But when he returned his eyes to the spider, she had skittered away from him. “You’re scaring her!” “I'm not the one hitting on her.” “Just get me a piece of paper, please.” Eva ripped a copy of the Capital Social Worker newsletter off the cork board and held it out to him, her feet still anchored to the doorway. Aaron looked at her, chuckled, stood up, and, minding his steps, took the paper from her hand. He hunched down again and brushed the edge of the paper along the ground, coaxing the spiderlings towards their mom. “I can get a broom,” Eva suggested. He glowered at her, then returned to gathering the younglings. “I've just got to get them back to their mom. They'll climb onto her back, and once they're all there, I'll catch the mom and put her outside.”
“And why do they have to be on her back?” “So Mom knows where they are,” he explained. “It's pretty amazing. Most female spiders leave the kids to hatch and fend for themselves. But our friend here, she's a good mom.” “Somehow I suspect there's more to mothering than letting one's children ride on your back,” Eva remarked. “What kind of spider did you say it was?” “Wolf.” “Are those the ones that eat their young?” “Well…once they can hunt for themselves, if they don't leave Mom's back quickly enough, well, yeah,” he admitted,
BY SQUISHING THEM ALL “Mom might eat them.” Eva crossed her arms and leaned against the door frame. “And you're just putting them back with their mother, where there is a very real possibility that she'll kill them?” He shrugged. “That's where they have the best shot.” “Wouldn't they have a better shot away from her?” “They're not grown up enough to leave her.” She pointed at a little spider gunning for the fridge. “Look at that guy.” Aaron bit his lip. “Look, I see where
you're going with this, but it's best if they stay with their mom like nature intended.” “Then reunite them all in the trash bin. By squishing them all.” He huffed and tapped the newsletter on the ground, knocking off a spiderling that had crawled up the sheet. “And you say you're in the business of saving children,” he murmured. When he realized exactly what he had said, Aaron rose to his feet and faced her. “I'm sorry. I didn't mean it that way.” “Of course you didn't.” She smiled with just one side of her mouth. “Don't worry about it. It's nothing.” “I mean it. I'm sorry.” “It's late, we're both tired. Forget it.” He nodded and backed away from the spider, careful to avoid the array of spiderlings darting across the floor. “Okay, I'll be right back.” “Wait, where are you going?” she asked as his elbow brushed against her arm. “To find an empty box. It'll be easier to collect them all that way.” “And the trash can still isn't an option?“ “It still isn't,” he replied, rolling his eyes. “I'll be back.” He disappeared down the hallway, leaving Eva towering over black, beady eyes on little legs. Her arms still crossed, she stared down at a small gathering of four or five spiderlings ten inches from her shoes. The tiny arachnids wandered in circles amongst themselves, sometimes running into each other in their frenzied search for their mother. Then, they were still, frozen as if worried their mother wouldn't find them if they kept moving. “Oh for fuck's sake,” Eva muttered, wiping her slick brow with the back of her
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hand. Since Aaron had made it clear that the spiders were going to live, she might as well help. Realizing that he had taken the newsletter with him, she leaned forward and snatched a thank-you-card from the cork board, bent over, and skimmed the card's edge over the linoleum. “Go on, get,” she scolded the spiderlings, nudging them with the edge of the paper and taking a few steps forward. But on her third step, a spider darted under her shoe just as her heel hit the ground. “Shit, sorry.” She slid her shoe back, drawing a black, watery smudge on the tile. When she lifted her other foot, she found three more smudges, missing legs, missing eyes, their matching parts somewhere on her sole. Tears seethed in the corners of her eyes. She was just trying to help, just like how she tried to help Lucia, age eight, exactly a week earlier. There was no reason to remove her, no evidence of neglect or abuse; the person who reported her mom must've been mistaken. Lucia seemed so happy, living with her mom and her infant sister, in a nice apartment with three TVs, a black lab named Shadow, and a cotton candy machine. But then Eva got the call, mere hours before her scheduled home visit, that Lucia had been drowned in the bathtub by her own mother. Connie, Eva's supervisor, had to grab her shoulders that day and tell her, “You did not kill Lucia. There was nothing you could have done. Think of all the children you've saved, children that would've ended up like Lucia without you. Think of all the good you do, Eva. You are no murderer.” Eva stared down at the spiderling remains at her feet. ‘Well, I am now.’
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Oblivious to their siblings' deaths, several dozen spiderlings caught sight of their mom and scrambled towards her. The mother moved to the center of the kitchen again, three juveniles on the underside of her legs, crawling up her limbs to her back. A youngster hopped onto her head, and the mother simply brushed it back with one leg like a cat grooming her cheek. Then her jaws twitched as she watched Eva scrape the card stock against the floor. The hairs on her arms prickled as she locked eyes with the spider, wondering whether she would spit venom or tear strips of flesh off her face for stepping on her children. But the spider just stood there as the little arachnids on her legs found their footing and settled on her back. “I guess now we have dead kids in common,” Eva started. “Sorry about that.” Little black dots hurried across the linoleum, the stream of baby spiders parting around the mangled bodies of their broken brothers and sisters. “But you'll only go to pieces about it if I squish you, huh?” More little spiders scaled their mother's legs, stepping over each other's heads to find a comfy place on Mom. “Must be nice,” she mused. The mother fluttered her jaws as a little limb grazed her eye. Eva sighed, crouched down, and continued shepherding the frenzied spiders. The matriarch kept her eyes on Eva, her abdomen dipping with the added weight of her recovered younglings. All the while neither the spider nor the woman advanced, each tending to the care of the children in need, with only a dotted line of spiderlings between them. ¶
IN A N IM ATE O BJECTS by KAITLIN CRAMMER
If you gaze at a man he shall want to know why, regardless of whether you truly know. But gaze at an object, and that rule won’t apply. You may think he’s handsome in his lavish black tie or you may just be musing over sweet, fried dough. If you gaze at a man he shall want to know why. Men will assume and then boldly rely on the plethora of favors you could bestow. But gaze at an object, and that rule won’t apply. Objects don’t disturb; they merely stand by as you sip politely on your sweet, red Bordeaux. If you gaze at a man he shall want to know why. Men grow to expect that you will comply if your eyes are aglow with your hair swept just so. But gaze at an object, and that rule won’t apply. Treat a man like an object, and his mouth will run dry from the shock of a woman who’s broke status quo. If you gaze at a man he shall want to know why, but gaze at an object, and that rule won’t apply.
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THE BRO K E N P RO M IS E By COURTNEY NICHOLSON
One day I broke a promise I snapped it straight in two And left it there For you. Enjoy.
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DO NNA by KIRBY KNIGHT
I have a naked picture of grandma. She rose from the dead, revived from Grandpa’s old negatives. I was told it’s inappropriate to display. But I want to talk about it. I want to ask her if she knows I have it: smiling forever, corners folded by unkind fingers. I want to ask her if she even knows it exists. That house that you fought for is like a museum or a mausoleum, depending on who you ask. Because our family’s business was everyone’s business. They tell me we have the same hair. They tell me that she spent time pouring wine down the sink. They tell me how David used to steal money from her purse. They tell me he still does. Grandpa was a grumpy old bitter because I went to dig up artifacts about the end of an empire; a catalog of stories, lies, and deaths. And the two summers I spent there, I tried like hell to find my face in your city of burning pavement, blistering sand, tans, work vans, and nudes. That city left me naked as well. What’s left of the family pride lives on J-date or somewhere in the sand on 34th beach or in a specimen jar. But I have this picture. And Grandma, Donna, I tell you as honestly as you bare your chest that there’s not a god-damned thing for me in Miami Beach but it’s you that keeps me looking.
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TE L AV IV S M OKE BRE A K by JULIANA DEITCH
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IT’S SATISFYING. Instant gratification. One long drag, and the smoke hits your lungs. Exhale. Simple. Easy. Your head slowly gets lighter, maybe you’re a little dizzy, the world—the giant bustling, horns blaring, pedestrians streaming past, hot dirty pavement, people that won’t leave, work that never goes away, thoughts that never end, the world around you—it stops. Even if it’s just for five minutes, it stops. Maybe you’re addicted, maybe you just need to occupy your hands, maybe you’ve been counting down the minutes until your smoke break all day. You carelessly toss it to the ground, or you drop it and grind your heel straight on it, so afraid of the horror story your friend told you about that cigarette that didn’t quite go out. That fraction of a fraction of an ember that barely touched a leaf that barely touched another leaf, and another and another and another. And then five leaves became fifty, and fifty became five hundred and five hundred became one thousand. It was the end of fall and the weather was dry, and the leaves were ugly and crinkled, so the fire spread quickly.
So quickly that before anyone knew what happened the whole house was gone, tiny ashes in a giant field of dead grass and bare trees. So you step on it. Hard. And you watch it slowly burn into nothing—along with your anxieties. Everyone in Tel Aviv smokes. The sixteen-year-old girls who look twentythree, puffing away on their cigarettes as they toss back their fabulously long hair. The couple at the café on the corner sipping on their cappuccinos and tea im nana. He blows smoke rings as she gazes at him, carelessly breaking the symmetry of the circles with her perfectly lacquered fingernail. The guy waiting for the 5:45 a.m. train to his army base, sitting in his crisp ironed uniform. He’s chain-smoking, dead tired, his eyes staring blankly ahead. The mother who waits until after she’s dropped off her two kids at elementary school, and hurriedly sneaks her pack out of the glove compartment. She smokes on the way to work, hoping her children will never pick up her nasty habit. The security guard at the grocery store, who sneaks a few drags in while checking bag after bag, getting so bored he checks less bags and smokes more cigarettes. The drunk group of socialites
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outside the bar, lighting up as they search the crowd around them, deciding who’s lucky enough to take them home. The old woman who lives on the corner of your street. She’s so old that it’s a fight to lift her wrinkly sun-spotted hands to her mouth so she can get every last bit of nicotine. She’ll give you endless lectures about how kids these days know nothing about real work (stopping every thirty seconds to try and control her deep, hacking cough) and tells you about waking up at 5:00 in the morning on the kibbutz she grew up on to go milk the cows and make breakfast for over a hundred people. She’d never tell you not to smoke a cigarette. Today you bought your first pack. Parliaments. Blues. The short ones. Finally, you discover the secret most of the country already knows. So you go outside and light up, relaxing on a bench as the tiny little stick goes to your head, watching the bright orange end glow and fade into charcoal ash. No one talks to you, and for a moment in time you have no responsibilities, no cares. You take that one final drag and the cigarette slowly burns into nothing, falling effortlessly onto the ground. So you turn around and walk back into work, school, the restaurant, the bar, the first date that’s never going to end, your family dinner where the clinking of the forks makes more noise than the people at the table—and the world starts again, as if it had never stopped in the first place. Until your next cigarette…. ¶
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ODE TO M Y H IPS AND TH IGH S by KELA FARMER
Well hello there again Here we stand, in front of the mirror, naked, pores open, fresh out the shower It’s our daily stare down. Hips and Thighs. Oh, how I love and hate thee. As a young girl, short in stature, you jetted out from my waist and gave me my mother’s shape. You continue to expand as the years roll by, matching my upper body; Proportionally. This one guy, dear Hips and Thighs, called you exciting and provokingly inviting. Hmm, I don’t see it. You cause awkward shopping trips which lead to massive depression, low self esteem, and short dressing room visits. …MY PANTS’ SEAMS SCREAM!!! But I’m sure there is a higher purpose for you, Hip and Thighs. You are uniquely elongated parentheses along my sides, shaping me into the trademark African-American fullfigured female physique. My mother tells me that when I am a mother, you will grow again. (Oh God!) And your role will be fulfilled, bearing the weight of another life as we sit in church. And although you being slimmer would help me grandly, I guess for now, I can deal.
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PARTY TA LK by TIM REAVIS
It’s Friday night we’re at a party, and you’re telling me about your test on Tuesday. And my thoughts are running naked through the house like children after a bath running from the towel. Our friends are all chatting and dancing and you’re telling me about your test on Tuesday. And I’m getting married in the fireplace to a girl that looks kind of like Scarlett Johanssen and a lot like Kate Beckinsale. The flames are a little Cathedral, the embers are floating like bells and rice. What was that? Ah yes, your test on Tuesday. Our friends are still dancing, and Scarlett JoBeckinsale and I are riding in a coffee cup across the hardwood floor, “Just married” scribbled across the top, thimbles dragging behind us. And now we’re riding up the backs of our friends and now we’re flying in Michael’s hat to our honeymoon on the ceiling fan. Am I listening? Of course! You have a test on Tuesday. Our hotel room on the ceiling fan is overlooking the dancing Riviera the tops of heads bouncing like mountains valleys of shoulders and smiles. And we’re in the Penthouse suite with the windows open doing what married people do.
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Now we’re snowboarding down the curtains through the stems of lacy flowers. And now we’re sunbathing on the plastic sunflower on the kitchen table. Well, while you’ve been standing there telling me about you test on Tuesday, my wife and I decided to build our dream home on top of your head— you should be tasting the foundation and the plumbing anytime now. And we’re celebrating by doing what married people do. I didn’t catch that last part; your test, it’s when? Ah yes, on Tuesday. Now my wife is giving birth to our son in the hospital on your left shoulder. We named him Gibraltar. He is soft and firm like a good loaf of bread and his room is looking out at the party over your right ear. He is beautiful—I think I’ll make another while you’re telling me every single little detail about your test on Tuesday. Well now, I have died in a tragic base jumping accident off of the bookshelf in the corner by the window. And your teeth are lined nice and sad like polished gravestones and one of them is mine— or maybe all of them. I have lived many lives and died many deaths since you’ve been standing there at this party telling me about your test on Tuesday.
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K N OW LE D G E by ANNA BETTS
If there’s one thing I know, It’s nothing. If there’s nothing I know, It’s infinite.
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YOU I A N D TH E WIN TE R S KY by DAVID KOH
There is ice on the roof and the windows, there is glass on the eaves and the frost-sealed doors, there is sleet in the east, where tomorrow froze and around tonight’s chilly core. Where the lenses burst, there are glass dust stars; where they yet remain, there are dreams, and the trees are bent, and cracked and scarred where the cold has split their seams But it feels like something far from here, this crystal-crusted fantasy, where the stubborn leaves hang like chandeliers, too afraid to fly in Fall, you see, so they clung to the branches frantically. And if, gentle, I could pick one free? Could I bring it thus, all pressed in ice, all smoothness and all timelessness, appraise, perhaps, its market price and mount it in a pendant box to give to you, my ice princess? Would you come, if you saw the way it shines, to the floor of nature’s winter ball and dance beneath the chandeliers and the crystal glass, in its chic design ‘til we couldn’t even stand at all but lay down on the floor, on the ringing ice with the darkness in our dazzled eyes and it slid away with us side by side, just you and I and the winter sky.
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PAIGE GOODWIN ERIC FLOOD
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Graphic Design (Right)
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F RIGID by SASHA ABED
The water is cold and uninviting frigid waves splash down like shivers down the spine of a child about to drown. Tasting the salt in the air abruptly breaks the bitter sound of seagulls fighting over the last breadcrumb left on the ground. Lingering at the edge of the sea stuck between violent tides of uncertainty. Paralyzedâ€” the urge to dive in, relinquish all cares into the deep. Or, pull away and take the risk of being pushed in by someone too careless to keep watch and later regret their mistake. But then, the sea never returns its playmates.
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GABRIELLE DUGGAN Fibers NICK PIRONIO Photography
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MOTH S by JAKE YOUNG
Before I fall asleep to the pulsing techno beat from speakers leaking through the wall, I spy a moth trancing against the window screen. More moths land to join the rave, every genus, wings beating all at once, in time to Electric Feel. They move like broken light or sound waves on the skin. Theyâ€™ve come to Analog City to surround themselves with neon and throbbing bass, to pollinate the Angelâ€™s Trumpet, Moonflower and Night Lilies, to drink the nectar of tulip trees, for the waves of warmth and pleasure sent rolling through their bodies. A Luna moth flutters idle and serene; her wings, a milky shade of green, beat the air and send her gliding here and there. When I touch her, scales flake off like dust and leave my hand flour-covered and soft.
JENNY LE Fibers NICOLE KARP Photography
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RE F LECTIO N S ON GH AN A by HEIDI KLUMPE
Authorâ€™s note: The Adinkra symbols are what some people believe would have become the written language of Ghana if the nation had not been colonized. Today, each is associated with a proverb and symbolic meaning.
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INTRODUCTION: WHAT IS NOT TRUE
Epa, or “handcuffs” I was one of those oddball primaryschoolers without career aspirations. Books soothed my romantic insatiety for adventure and fired an imagination that made answering the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” an interesting escapade. That was the great thing about being thirteen though; I had no reason to doubt my right and ability to achieve. So when a pastor from Sierra Leone preached at my school, talking about a need for teachers in his hometown, I no longer despaired of having a real answer. I had a vague idea of soccer and equatorial heat, both of which I liked, and my powers of invention were quick to make up for the dearth of detail. I never knew why this vision of teaching in Sierra Leone stayed with me for so long. Practically, it silenced all those pesky hairdressers and dental hygienists inquiring so persistently after my plans. Emotionally, it was the prospect of something new and challenging, uncomplicated and uncommon. Psychologically, it promised to maintain my confidence. As I lack social and physical grace, remaining in a school setting, the one place I felt sure of myself, was paramount. But there was a more desperate and feral desire, a weakness which ruled me, saying, ‘Give without taking; that is how to be sure of acceptance.’ I had only one thing to give:
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my bookishness. And by meeting what I supposed to be Africa’s need, I attempting to get my arms around the black hole which was my need to be needed. College and the hammer of reality would smash half a dozen other childhood dreams, like so many dusty glass baubles collected on a shelf, but Africa, vast monolith it was to me then, was too inviolate and intangible for it to touch. But then, life offered me a challenge: the chance to witness in mud and leaf, blood and bone, what really existed across the Atlantic. At last, my virgin dream must drink deeply of experience and see whether reality sustained or killed. There was only one breach in my confidence, one I had overlooked in every mirror. I could not do away with this deficiency, which I felt sure Africa, in her eminence, could not forgive: my decidedly non-African heritage. Though I owned my dream as undoubtedly as I own my fingers and ears, I had no authentic connection. The ten days became, in my mind, a rite of induction, a trial to prove myself and a chance to earn some paltry link, a connection by which I could at last wrest my dream from the clouds. With knowledge, I could at last stake a deserved claim. And now, reader, you will hopefully forgive me wasting your time, but the previous, though transparently sincere, is exactly what is not true. The following is what I learned to be true:
I. THE MAPS LIE
II. OBRUNI, OBRUNI Obruni, obruni, What brings you to Africa? To buy my beads and paintings For the jealousy of your friends? Behind the safety of your camera To enjoy my countryside?
Nkonsonkonson, or “chain link” I first witnessed it in the batik shop, in a pile of wooden stamps; in the skilled creation of patterned beads; on the gloss of an ebony carving; in the sound of rapid kente weaving (shuttles clicking, thread pulling). The same flared again in the eyes of the students at the University of Cape Coast and the neat seedlings of the Cocoa Research Institute. The miners carry it, weightier than their gold, and politicians struggle with it as they implement incipient education and healthcare infrastructures. In the tradition of stools and staff, stories of goats and sheep, it came. The mud hut harbors it alongside disease and hunger; the slave castle’s suffocating darkness feeds it. The shout of the rain forest and of glowing skin joins it, unable to be shut out. It was the cry of humanity, in a language entirely foreign and yet known to me. Craftsmanship, beauty, hard work, evil, suffering, intelligence, folklore, destitution, and hope know no geography. Borders do not change us and may attempt to divide us, but nothing can rob us of what it means to live.
Obruni, obruni, What is waiting for you here? This is not your ancestral home; These walls know not your face. What imagined connection Brought you to this place? Obruni, obruni, Step down from America; Trace the bones which first connected us. Descend to the level of the donor. Look up at America with our eyes And marvel at what we made her. Obruni, obruni, Your whiteness does not matter. The blood which flows beneath the skin Feeds our hearts the same. And no matter whom your ancestors were, They gave you a name, not blame.
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Ese ne tekrema, or “the teeth and the tongue” When your teeth bite your tongue, they are fighting. These neighbors do battle, but in their closeness, must learn to get along. In the tradition of the adinkra symbols, they say ‘We improve and advance.’ Some days, Ghana had teeth. Wilting under the heat of Accra, belching up my odorous innards in a plastic bag, wedged in a crowded, jostling van, I wanted to go home. As dozens of tiny braids were knotted to my scalp, my follicles cried out, without deliverance from the wrenching, pin-needle fire. Every time I cracked open a bottled water or swallowed Doxycycline, I remembered why I should be afraid. Adventure was not as I had dreamed it; on the contrary, there was danger, a smell of sweat and vomit. This new place chewed me up and spat me into sapped insignificance. Other days though, Ghana was not so masterful and would, without warning, become weak before me. I felt my distinct privilege contrasting the mud huts, eight-hour mine shifts, and hawkers. My lofty place of comfort would only ever be a dream to dark brown eyes gazing back through the silent bus windows. There was something poignant and grave in pulling away each time, leaving it all behind, to stay as they were, while we went on.
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I had to reassess what this place meant to me—beyond the photos, souvenirs, and delicious pineapples. My overly simplified construction of our relationship, which was not true, was poetically disassembled moment by moment. I still remember waking up to Maggie’s tray of tea and toast, feeling on my neck the sympathetic hand of a woman I had just met, as I less than delicately emptied my stomach. No one here needed me; I was desperately dependent! The conflict between dream and reality, body and task, America and Africa, broke me down; we fought, tongue and teeth. No more was I proving myself or reveling in my laudable self-reliance and inner might. It was these times of utter weakness which held more power than all my self-discipline to summon my real strength. I drew some strength during my visit, and wondered what I could do in turn. Together, we could improve and advance.
IV. THE PARADOX OF KNOWING The laws of physics cannot describe the interaction knowledge has with matter. Can it ever quantify or describe what it means to truly know or how that changes the physical world? Is it always that knowing overcomes boundaries with familiarity, reorders communities with empowerment, as at CRIG and KNUST? Or will looking too closely only make us cringe at the reality of human suffering, the grooves carved by metal shackles in the stone floor of a slave castle? Now that I have traversed the world’s longest canopy walk, danced without shame in a roomful of people whose language I do not speak, savored a Cape Coast pineapple, and survived a tro-tro ride, the world feels a little bit smaller, with less in it to conquer. Yet, feeling lost in the dark at Legon; seeing Africa stretch, the Gulf of Guinea pull, and the vault of stars rise beyond my sight; and realizing how much of the lives of millions of people is unknown to me: all these only further impress me with my powerlessness in the face of a vast, intimidating world. A few half-formed thoughts—ideas about myself, Africa, and the future—like the mango, once so foreign, but now so easily reached and tasted? Or am I truly innocuous in the world? Do I have the power to make my plans mean something? Will they shape my future? Knowing, the intimacy we gain with the mysterious, can give us the courage to face the pain and anxiety which ignorance obscures.
V. AFRICA SINGS
Mata masie, or “what I hear, I keep” We are not different, though you think us so. Come, see yourself truly. Wonder at what I know! You are not frail—I make you adventurous, strong! Try what you never dreamt of, and drink long Of the unknown, then find yourself still standing. Look and realize you too have things Which I know not: wealth, stability, excess. Look me in the eye, and realize you have less Than the strength to know what life is here And the knowledge to understand fear. So do not worship your kilometers and clocks, For as they bind, they are bound. It is thoughts And ignorance whose power you should beware, Who do not know a master—or what is fair.
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Sankofa, or “return and get it” Tomorrow we will board the plane to take us back across the Atlantic and return us to the noise of our sturdy routines and reliable technology. Ten days without being at the mercy of text messages, email, WebAssign, and iCal was, at first, a painful liberation. But, of what I found instead, I wonder what I will miss most—the redred, the year-round greenery, the ubiquity of plantain chips, the thrill of bargaining, the few friends we found in the larger community of Africa. This trip has given me time to contemplate the person I am becoming, the girl whose handcuffs I wear. I simultaneously feel tenfold more capable and incapable to live up to her. Building a school with Akos feels almost as simple as forming the words. And yet the great intricate ways I will make my education. ¶
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Photography on Canvas
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PAI NT M Y TO ES A CHER RY BLOS SO M BLUE by EMR
My dad’s a shrink. My mom’s a lawyer. What does that make me? A stereotype, I think. My hippie locks Flailing freely, Out the window of my Honda civicHybrid. Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Lou Reed Spar in colors Unimagined by the tweed Coat and plaid wool shirt Hiding the inked world of my Back: A bear-cub stuck in a tree. Van Gogh, Monet, Salvador Dali, Picasso, Schoenberg, Martin Luther King Jr. dancing on my walls, 4 dimensional folks 2 dimensionally composed, And somehow I think I’m enlightened, More free, Because
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I don’t really believe In god, In satan, In an absolute reality, But, Ironically, That doesn’t make things easier, more manageable, happier, Just strangely dim, Like staring through brown rain at a girl Wrapped in a red dress, waiting for a train Holding a cello case. I like Yo-Yo Ma, Biggie, too, Beethoven’s the shit, But sometimes Greenday strikes the mood. I guess I’m just a confused kid, Standing with my toes on the other side of the law, Reefer butt aromas mingling with my Schizophrenic craw, First high, Then low, Man + wo. Stirring a bucket of translucent paint Coating a world a little to the left of center, A little to the right of real. But I’m a type, A cog, A wheel. Not much special, but acutely aware of this peal: A# harmonizing with a Bb trill. I’m always looking up, When the rain’s under the door, Even when the crowd’s left for fear… .
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O L’ GRA D G I R L S P E A KS HE R MI N D by MJUNE “MJ” KIRK
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WHEN I BEGAN graduate school, I was riding on a wave of romanticism. Believing the old ivy walls would wave to me as I walked to class, my heart warmed to the thought of the Bell Tower’s metallic lullaby driving me to do my best. It didn’t bother me that I was much older than my classmates, since I believe education is to be enjoyed by all, regardless of backgrounds, circumstances and age. The playing field was finally going to be leveled by me; a woman with armor made of wisdom and steel. I fell in love with the thought of learning, having philosophical discussions on ‘the quad’ and going to the malt shop (maybe not that last one). I try to walk with my head up so I do not miss a thing and wear my N.C. State ‘hoodie’ because of Wolfie pride. My purse has been replaced by a red backpack and I never bother tucking in any of my shirts. Now, my only wardrobe malfunction is my sensible walking shoes. Technology is changing so fast. If you do not catch the newest and the latest, you will spiral into a funk. The cure? Only a latte and the latest iPhone app. People of my generation are, for the most part, scared of it all. I have soldiered on and embraced enough technology to jump through the School of Design hoops,
er, requirements. After all, as soon as I learn a computer language/skill another “new, improved, bigger and better than ever” version will make previous versions cryptic and not compatible with anything except the Klingon language. I have also lived long enough to tell my mates that computers have not made life easier. I lecture them passionately, “I have seen interpersonal relationships disintegrate into bits of grunts and emoticons.” After that, they usually do not ask my opinion on anything except the weather. To all you parents out there, I see and hear what all your little lambkins are up to. Basically the same thing YOU did in college, like get high before an exam and ‘hook up” with people of which your parents would not approve. Speaking of disapproval, did you know your daughter is letting her breasts hang out while throwing eye-darts at any guy who is copping a visual feel? Did you know your sons still do not wear clean underwear and well, they cannot find any pants in their size since being ‘man-o-rexic’ is the latest thing? If they can’t fit into their girlfriend’s skinny jeans, they do not go to econ class. Like a school of fish, cute trends catch on quickly because everyone wants to feel like they belong. I have seen
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every rain boot (galoshes to you old folks, wellies to you Brits) in every color and psychedelic pattern possible. The language that bounces off these hallowed walls shocks me. “Hell” is now considered an adjective used by even the quietest of Southern Bells. The “F” word is constantly ringing in my ears by girls and boys who have discovered that they can scream it aloud, and NO one is going to wash their mouths out with soap. Sometimes I will throw my best nun/ mother/stuffy aunt beady eye at them to shut them up. OH, and what is with everyone ending their sentences in that uplifting fashion that is a cross between a valley-girl and an Irish lass? Are you making a statement or asking a question, and am I supposed to answer you? Manners? I have to say, I will still hear an “excuse me” or “thank you” only after I have been bumped into and been told, “I didn’t see you.” The problem is, this happens on a regular basis due to me being middle aged. If I wear a tight plunging blouse, maybe that will stop them in their tracks long enough to examine my chest and wonder the same thing I do: what happened to the perkiness? As for the professors, I think they are afraid of me since they think I may be looking for a “Mrs.” degree. A couple of them answer my questions with a smile that says, ”Ah, is that not sweet? The ol’ girl is so earnest and she looks so serious with those reading glasses,” and then forget to answer my questions. They are not all like that of course, others I remind of their mothers. However, I did have one professor, when noting that I was fanning my face because of the heat, try to sympathize by saying, “my wife is going through the change too.” Listen up weenie, the only change around here
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will be rearranging your nose if you say that to me again. Anyway, I cannot say too much more about my professors since I still have several classes to take before graduation—but check back then for the good stuff. In the end, after graduation I will look back at this expensive experience feeling that I was put up on the shelf to be looked at as an oddity. Other times, I will treasure watching my classmates work through their love affairs, grapple with world politics, and create great design. I hope they will realize that no matter the generation, we all share the same milestones. ¶
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WAK E U P. THIS IS O U RS . by JASON WILKINS
This? This is our poem. The white space on this white flag oozes with indifference and reeks of apathy. Not toward writing, not toward words, but toward anything. So we share this, and give the finger to surrender. Wake up, and listen to the tug in your heart that says You're here for a reason, and that there is something bigger, and that there is something better. And this? this is ours. So we share this with the man forced to write in red when his black ink runs dry. This, this is ours. We share this with the man in a cast unable to open a jar of jelly on his lonesome; forced to squirm his right arm into his left pocket reaching for the advil he unwittingly put there. This is ours. We share this with a student having to choose between his bicycle in wintry weather and the unreliable stained public buses to get to class. And we share this with the woman who doesn't have the choice, exposed to bone chilling wind at the frigid bus stop with a child kicking at her ribs. This is ours. And we share this with the homeless man picking the Thorazine shuffle over walking with voices, even if it means taking an extra hour to walk to his underpass house, furnished with a throw away lazyboy and a second-hand painting intended to turn his hole into a home. This is ours. And we share this with the girl who misplaces everything, the father who misses work, the boy who misses his mother, and the acne covered teen they call a faggot in the locker room. 62 | W I N D H O V E R | V O L . X LV I
We share it with the ones still asleep. Wake up. Because this? this is ours. It is ours and it is for us. It's for the bulimic girl who wished she was relevant. It's for the bachelor who sits alone on his couch wishing he had said something all those years ago. This is ours. It's for the 3rd grader who digs in the dirt with sticks looking for sticks, and the 1st grader who marries him some 15 odd years later. It's for the child pulled along when he was curious about the man dressed in woman's clothing. This is ours. It's for the only roommate who does dishes, for the freshman who only feels loved when she gives herself up, and for the ones who can't write, won't write, or don't even think about writing. This is ours. Wake up, because we are not going to let the white page be a white towel. You see, this white space, all this white space, is meant to be filled, with people. With stories, with struggles, with triumphs. All of it. And those who can write, will write, and are always thinking about writing will not let those stories disappear. They are worthy to be written to stand up and be accounted for. So wake up, you're being written about. Wake up, take to the streets, and give the finger to the white space that tells them that they are nothing, and exist only as white space on a white page. So wake up, because this? This is ours. NCSU | SPRING 2012 | 63
BE FO R E LE AV IN G: A PPA L AC H I A by BROOKE BAILEY
I need to see creationâ€” see you tan a deer hide with your bare hands or build a banjo see you stroke the animal or the timber like a loverâ€™s skin while you are working. I need to see you plant hops and turn them into beer so that we can toast and rejoice in the moonlight, my hair and your hair overlapping on the cold earth where your garden is growing.
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W E LCO M E TO BE IJIN G
by ANANDA EIDSVAAG
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I’D BEEN IN CHINA for about four days, traveling with my husband Nick and discovering a part of the world we’d never experienced before. I was still enduring the dreaded jetlag—a 12 hour time difference that had turned my world upside down, so when we decided to take the train from Shanghai to Beijing, I was excited about the idea of getting some sleep. I had read about the new “bullet” train connecting these two major cities in less than five hours and was very impressed when I first stepped on the train. I sat in my comfortable seat, admiring the design of the car, and felt comforted by the smell of new all around. After days of walking through Shanghai, it was time to relax. I noticed that the train was almost empty, and this made me even happier. Finding a quiet place in Shanghai had been impossible, so this was giving a break to my senses. I dozed off for a little while, but I woke up when the train stopped at a station outside Shanghai. Within five minutes, every seat in the car was filled with someone travelling north for the weekend. The silence was broken by excited children playing with the automated sliding doors which separated the different cars, and a laptop blaring a Sylvester Stallone movie right behind my back. That’s ok, I thought, I’ll sleep better tonight. The train ride was only supposed to last five hours, so I started entertaining myself by people-watching. There was a group of older folks laughing and talking incessantly, and the laptop people ended up watching one movie after another. These sounds almost put me in an uncomfortable trance, exemplified by my lack of food. I had run out of cookies and candy bars, and I usually turn into a strange person when I haven’t eaten for a while. I become weak, shaky, and my eyes
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get a crazy look of emptiness. In the past, this has led me to fainting, so I was trying hard to stay focused. By then, we had been in the train for over seven hours. We could not understand what was happening, but obviously the train was late. Finally, after eight intense hours aboard the train, we arrived in Beijing. We saw that people were rushing downstairs towards the taxi area. Things can be wellorganized in China, especially taxi stops. In big public places, people queue-up and the taxis stop by, one after the other. I quickly realized that we should have been rushing too, as the taxi line was already gigantic when we reached it. Carrying a thirty pound backpack, I dragged my feet along the line, holding onto a small barrier separating passengers from a swarm of unloading and loading taxis. Breathing the exhaust fumes in this enclosed area was far from the fresh air I had been waiting for. To this day, I am still surprised that I did not pass out, considering that I still had not eaten anything. Getting into a taxi was a true relief, but we were worried about finding a room for the night. We had made reservations in a hostel, but we had decided to arrive a day early and take a chance. Of course, we didn’t think that we would be arriving past 10 p.m., so we were hoping that our hostel would have a room for us. The taxi flew through the streets of Beijing, windows wide open, and it was enjoyable to feel the cool air from this northern city. Beijing immediately felt different than Shanghai; there were no signs in English and the look of the city was more traditional. Flat roofs with curved-up corners replaced the tall glass buildings that we had seen in Shanghai. As Beijing is the Chinese capital, the government is working to keep it free from
Western influence. We were driving on an eight-lane street, and on both sides the sights were lively. There were people everywhere, neon signs flashing, and groups of travelers touring the city by night. While we were stopped at a red light, my eyes caught a white shape jumping onto the street. My heart shrieked as a happy little dog crossed the four opposite lanes
us was very friendly, so we walked towards our room happily. I entered and felt oppressed; the room was a cell. No window, two single beds against bare, stained yellow walls, and a nightstand in between. I sat on the bed and felt the springs of the mattress, looked down and noticed a bug creeping from under the bed. Oh no. Nick squished it and
WHEN WE FINALLY GOT UP, WE COULD NOT WAIT TO GO OUT AND DISCOVER THE CITY. of traffic just as the light turned green. He rushed before the cars on his side reached him and came running towards us. Our taxi driver wasn’t slowing down, so I screamed and gestured like a monkey, pointing out to the dog. The driver looked mad, but he stopped and the little dog moved around our car. I was so shocked that I did not dare turn back to check if he had made it safely. Nick assured me that he had crossed safely, but I know that he did not turn around to check either. After this stressful incident, we arrived at the hostel and were relieved to find out that our room was vacant. Nick had never stayed at a hostel before, so he had booked this one for 30 dollars a night to balance our budget from the more expensive rooms in Shanghai. It was centrally located and the staff who welcomed
quickly said, “It’s just an ant.” Right, just an ant… but it doesn’t look like one. Another bug came out. Again, Nick reassured me that it was a “flying ant thing.” Exhausted, I decided to forget about the bugs and checked the bathroom. I opened the door and a puff of humid, hot, and smelly air came out. It was a small square room, with a toilet in a corner and a shower next to it. There was no shower stall, just a slanted floor leading to a drain in the middle of the room. I kept on reminding myself that this was a 30 dollars room after all, but I felt crushed when I saw the laminated sign on the wall. There was a picture of the toilet, crossed off, and a picture of the trash with a check above it. It read: “used toilet paper.” It meant that guests were supposed to throw away toilet paper instead of flushing it. I
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went back to the room, sat on the bed and started crying like a spoiled kid. It was unlike me to complain, as I felt fortunate to be able to travel in China, but it had been an overwhelming day. Nick promised that he would find another place for the next two nights and I calmed down. I went to bed fully dressed, with my hoodie zipped-up and the hood on, curled up next to my husband on a single bed. We both fell asleep with the light on, and we woke up at the same time. Nick asked me what time it was; I grabbed my watch and was surprised to see that it was 9 a.m. “We made it! I can’t believe we slept so long!” I said, getting up. I was excited and ready to face the bathroom situation again. As I started brushing my teeth, I heard Nick say through the wall: “Honey, it’s not nine… It’s still 3 a.m.” My enthusiasm wore off that second. I had managed to read the time wrong. I went back to bed, disheartened, but fell asleep for another three hours. When we finally got up, we could not wait to go out and discover the city. We stepped out and found ourselves in the heart of Beijing, in one of the oldest neighborhoods (which explains the plumbing issue). We walked through narrow streets, lined with homes and walls of light grey brick. The day was just getting started, so everything was quiet and slowly taking off. We took random turns in this maze of old alleys, and came upon the garden of a temple, where people were practicing Tai-chi. There was soft Zen music, and they moved gracefully as part of their morning routine. I put the entire nightmare of the previous day behind me and started enjoying Beijing fully. Within a few minutes’ walk, we found ourselves on a busy sidewalk
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where people were waiting in line to pass through metal detectors. Most of them were Chinese tourists from the countryside who had come to visit the capital. Unknowingly, we had walked to Beijing’s most famous landmarks. Tiananmen Square was on the other side of the street, and to our right stood a gigantic portrait of Mao Zedong on an imposing red wall. Underneath his picture was the entrance to the Forbidden City. We took a minute to look around and snap pictures—policemen in green uniforms, water vendors, groups of school children—and realized that it was all worth it. ¶
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M O KS H A by ARIEL FUGATE
WHILE HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE bathe around me in a water so murky and mysteriously clouded brown, I find my mind’s eye clear. I have made it to the Ganges, India’s holiest river. The Ganges, “the mother river,” is a place of meditation and prayer in a country filled with honking vehicles, roaming cows and salesmen pushing Chihuahua bobble heads. It is here I find a familiar feeling. I am reminded of the desire to be washed free of sins, wrongdoings and bad karma. Bathing in the Ganges is not restricted to caste. The river is filled with the wealthy and the poor, the mothers and merchants, street children and backpackers. Thousands bathe here every morning, regardless of weather or season. It is with these devoted pilgrims and locals that I identify and find clarity. The feeling people seek here is the same feeling countless others, including myself, crave at different points in our lives. The cravings are driven by things that have happened in our lives that we wish to forget or change in someway.
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In India and in Hinduism, a bath in the Ganges River brings you moksha, which is freedom from samsara, or the cycle of life. For the people bathing, this is their moment. They travel from all regions and corners of the country, unflinching on hot and crowded trains, buses and rickshaws for this bath and subsequent freedom. The taxi driver who overcharged us last night will probably be here this morning, trying to clean his consciousness. The pilgrim from South India may come here, moving into the hospice home above the river. The pilgrim will wait to be released from this life with the ultimate moksha in Hinduism: being cremated at the Ganges. It is what makes the city of Varanasi, where this part of the Ganges touches, the city of life and death. Moments come when we all want a clean slate, fresh start or a chance to turn over a new leaf and begin a new chapter. In every religion, culture and every place, there is a way to escape a past experience. In Catholicism, devotees go into the nondescript confessional room. Behind a shade, they openly confess and are forgiven by the person on the other side. Muslims fast during the month of Ramadan to feel rejuvenated. All are ways to be cleansed, to put something in the past and be freed of mistakes or bad memories. When I moved 500+ miles from Kentucky to North Carolina, I sought a new beginning just as those who travel to the Ganges. By moving I experienced the same newness the pilgrims gain when they bathe in the river. I wanted to feel renewed, to have a new energy and optimism for life. I was looking for new perspectives from people who thought differently than those I had been surrounded by since kindergarten. The move to North Carolina became a personal yatra or pilgrimage. I was driven through
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the hardships of moving, loneliness and months of being homesick by this desire for renewal, just as unflinching as the pilgrims in India. My motivation brought me to today, to friends that renew me every day, give me new perspectives and a full life. I am so glad to have found this release and recharge with the people in my life, my own Ganges River bath. Being among the pilgrims in India allowed me to realize what I sought in that time of my life has a name. It is a feeling humanity shares. It is moksha. Âś
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CU PS by SCOTT REINTGEN
THE PLACE WAS A MESS. And not the kind
of mess his mother had apologized to high school girlfriends for when he had lived at home. Clothes were everywhere. Jackets and sweaters were draped over his desk chair, their weight causing it to lean backwards as if occupied. Shirts were wedged under the bed and a pair of mismatching socks sat atop the television. But what stuck out most were the cups. “Just look at all of them,” his mother whispered. As she stood there in the doorway she counted them. Twenty seven. She noticed that most were only half empty, containing remnants of whatever he’d drunk over the past few months. Sodas had gone flat, milk curdled at the bottom of several glass mugs, and even the cups filled with water carried an odd scent.
On the back corner of the desk she noticed a small, framed photograph. She carefully removed the plastic cup obstructing her view, its contents swishing. The picture was a black and white of the two of them just after his high school graduation. She couldn’t recall framing it for him. In his eyes there was accomplishment and his smile looked confident, yet she could somehow detect his sweet unwillingness to leave her. She wasn’t sure if the scent of spoiled orange juice or the flood of memories caused her to stumble backwards. Her husband set a steadying hand on her shoulder. “Should we—” The words caught, but she willed them out after a deep, calming breath. “Should we clean all this up?” “Not yet, dear.” ¶
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ZACK DAVENPORT JAVAN SUTTON
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WO RDS F RO M MY I TALIA N G RANDFATH E R by TINA CLARK
This wasn’t what your parents crossed the Atlantic for—the flat metal face of a ruler slapped against your forearm for four whispered words of Italian, the skeleton creak of the steps they made you climb over and over again, the roaches shedding skin under the family bed, the bone-rattle of the one-room apartment when the train passes, your mother’s dry-heaves of dust and ashes, white flakes falling from the ceiling like dandruff. Years ago, before I was born into this world of cell phones and refrigerators, voice prosthesis and round trip tickets, you spoke English and Italian fluently, stacking each brick consecutively to build the foundations, your sepia eyes and soft lips sucked dry under the sun, your lungs blackened by the Camel Cigarettes you started smoking at ten. I never met you, but Mom tells us you died with a hole in your larynx, silenced in both English and Italian. Grandpa, once in a while we pry open the lids of trunks in the basement and dig for your love letters from the war. We hope to salvage them, even if stripped in tiny pieces, shredded words that might find their way back together again.
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CO M P OST by ANUJA ACHARYA
It is a graveyard of meals past Grated carrots and romaine lettuce from Wednesdayâ€™s lunch Mingle with eggshells and basil stems from Fridayâ€™s breakfast And the earthworms gratefully dine like kings.
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THE RE NEGAD E by KIRSTEN SOUTHWELL
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I’d like to live by the sun, just like the honey bee. The sun is likely what led you here to this restaurant patio where we abruptly interrupt the art of stuffing our faces to swat with our menus and shoo with our napkins. We, as in humans, must think that we are so valuable; that every other living thing wants to attack us. How ignorant to think that we compare to the most bountiful and beautiful prize. You know, maybe I just see it differently. Because when I look at this bee, adrift from the hive, this forager, this renegade, I see a lot of me. You, bee, are but a helpless slave to your talents; you work yourself straight into the earth. Yet all the while, you must feel so small, knowing that your tomorrow hinges on one impulsive prick. My whole life, I think I’ve never grown bigger. Maybe that’s because the sun has always been there to remind me my place; that here on earth, this squatting sun has always looked massive in the wake of life, love, & nectar.
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EDITOR: Alanna Howard LITERARY EDITOR: Syanne Olson VISUAL EDITOR: Lisa Dickson AUDIO EDITOR: Josh Bielick PROSE: Christina Blythe Taylor Degrasse Spencer Goyette Courtney Nicholson Erin Warren POETRY/ VERSE: Bethany Bradshaw Taylor Degrasse Jana Koehler Lance Morrison Jennifer Pries FACULTY ADVISORY BOARD: Sylvia Adcock, prose Dorianne Laux, poetry Gene Melton, prose Carmine Prioli, prose Jon Thompson, poetry
VISUAL: Timothy Buie Katie Hill Victoria Melbourne Brian Seef Anastassia Tretiakova Erin Warren PUBLICATION DESIGNERS: Chelsea Amato Javan Sutton Ian Thomas PRINTING: Theo Davis Printing TYPEFACES: Calluna exljbris (foundry)
Neutraface 2 House Industries (foundry)
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THANK YOU |
from the editor
Thank you for reading the 2012 Windhover. Thank you to the students and faculty who shared their passions with us, making this possible. To my staff, thank you for being so talented. I loved every minute of this process. The following deserve special recognition: John Garrison My family Martha Collins and the entire Student Media Staff Frank Pulley and Theo Davis Printing Martha Scotford the Annual Publications Advisory Board the Faculty Advisory Board We hope you enjoy it! Alanna Howard ÂŠ 2012 North Carolina State University Student Media
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