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Winter ’06

Calliope

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Calliope

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Winter ’06

Calliope* palo alto high school winter edition 2006

* is dedicated to the English tongue, and all others bright and beautiful

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d Table of Contents d Ladybugs – Hilary Brennan-Marquez................................................8 Vodka Chasing Tears – Emily Schickli.................................................10 The Story of the Last Bowl of Fruit Ever – Emily Merritt...................12 Camera – Evan Hahn............................................................................13 Serpentina – Marissa Melen.............................................................14 Trapped – Jackie Balero ......................................................................16 The Celestial Lovers – Vrinda Khanna..............................................17 Two Corpses and a Library – Emily Merritt........................................20 806 – Tess Christy...............................................................................21 The Best Part is Leaving in the Morning – Hilary Brennan-Marquez...23 The Journey of Syllektis – Will Kern..............................................25 Escape – Anne Ciccarelli....................................................................30 Diverse Emotions – Parth Relan......................................................35 Emerald Queen – Alison Arams........................................................36 To A Friend – Elyssa Olson..............................................................37 Open Letter To Brahman – Claire Lesikar.......................................38 A Composition Worth Hearing – Shameem Jamil..............................40 Looking Up At Beauty – Christen Creed............................................41

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Winter ’06

42.....................................I Wish I Could Remember – Pauline Slakey 44..................................................Fidelity – Hilary Brennan-Marquez 45...................................................Praying Mantis – Spencer Dwight 46.......................................................Yesterday – Samantha Bromberg 48.........................................The Last Chapter of the Book – Weiqi Hu 50.............................A Rock, Pothole, Detour, etc. – Shameem Jamil 51.............................................Good Morning, Jordan – Mohit Kohli 53..................................................................Beans – Wes Duplantier 54.............................................................Algatch – Alex Souverneva 57................................................I’ll Never Tell – Samantha Bromberg 58..........................................................Missing You – Raven Warren 61.....................................School Days In The Life – Wes Duplantier 62..................................................It Speaks For Itself – Tryst’n Hart 63...................................................................Graduation – Kevin Liu 64..........................................................Of UPS Trucks – Emily Schickli 70..............................................................Untitled – Christen Creed 71........................................Open Sores – Hilary Brennan-Marquez 72....................................................Mountain Lion – Caterina Yuan 73..........................................................Once & Future – Alex Huerta 74...............................This Side of Inside’s Not Right – Saby Milla 75............................................Angsty Love Poem #1742 – Anonymous 76................................................ Fishin’ For Jocelyn – Emily Schickli 80.................................................... October Avenues – Shameem Jamil 80...............................................In Youth – Hilary Brennan-Marquez 81...................................................Words Like Beestings – Anonymous 84............................Home for the Holidays – Creative Writing Club Art: Tolisa Chen, Katie Chow, Evan Hahn, Weiqi Hu, Camden Kimura, Hana Low, Andrew Perrault, Ben Richard, Sasha Seraia

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Winter ’06

Calliope Winter Poetry Contest

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Ladybugs

Hilary Brennan-Marquez First Place, Calliope Winter Poetry Contest, Junior-Senior Division we find dead ladybugs in the kitchen again you fall asleep with a halo of whole-wheat flour around your cherub hair naked light poems coming out your ears your yellow toenails we’ll drive up into the hills where we’ll look out over the bay the greyhound cargo lifts run for cover I feel most at home in fog-rolls in at dawn we go for pancakes weak coffee at your mother’s house is full of dead light disapproving we wake up in the night crossword puzzles over coffee spilt on our laps watching wheel of fortune your television is all blue light and words like archipelago and cunnilingus (continued on next page)

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Winter ’06

drips off the tongue reads Neruda at midnight is the witching hour like horror films cheap French cigarettes on your lips we leap out of windows without looking both ways before crossing our hearts you hope to die is it true when your nose lies flat you lie too much truth here for my own good I should walk out now but instead I’ll just drink too much and wait for you to come so I can roll over fall asleep in the kitchen dead ladybugs again in a halo of life like disapproving

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Vodka Chasing Tears Emily Schickli Second Place,Calliope Winter Poetry Contest, Junior-Senior Division

How was I to know she was scared of heights? “No, like this: two bunny ears play tag; one goes around the other and through.” I placed her on a pedestal. “Come on, hurry up; it’s just over this rocky patch, I swear. Can’t you see the lake?” It must get awfully lonely up there, but “Aw, he won’t bite— see look, he’s just a tiny chick still.” I never realized it before. I thought sunshine and flowers and laughs would sustain her. Now all I see is her spinning reflection. What is the exact point when we finally notice the cracks in the ceiling, or the wrinkles in our parents’ faces? It’s that moment when everything becomes blurred and idealism melts away into that watery wasteland called intoxication. It’s about destroying perfection and whitewashing it with vodka, tears, and vomit; which slide down between the toilet seat and onto the floor. It was my mistake for putting her up so high; How can I blame her for wanting to fly?

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Winter ’06

WEIQI HU

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Calliope

HANA LOW

The Story of the Last Bowl of Fruit Ever Emily Merritt Third Place, Calliope Winter Poetry Contest, Junior-Senior Division

A bowl of fruit sat on the dining table. The fruit inhaled and exhaled like books in a library. A woman walked into the room. She remembered something very important, Turned, and left through the same door. The fruit inhaled. The world ended. The fruit sighed. There was no more bowl.

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Winter ’06

WEIQI HU

Camera

Evan Hahn First Place, Calliope Winter Poetry Contest Sophomore-Freshman Division Memories get lost. But it’s not much of a cost To buy a camera.

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Calliope

Serpentina

Marissa Melen Second Place, Calliope Winter Poetry Contest Sophomore-Freshman Division I swim and frolic in the waves. I soar high above the clouds Wings of silver-gold. I chase the gulls, In sweet merriment. The soft sinks between my claws. I sing my song, And the ocean echoes it back, Joy to the sea am I. My home, My sanctuary, The wonders of a watery world are only mine to view/ I laugh and chase my shadow. Far and near upon my beach. My dance on the shore makes the waves climb higher, Closer to me. My will calls them as I prance, Taunting the sea foam, Come closer, Come closer.

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Footsteps, voices, My sanctuary is violated, Scorned by the new, The sea foam is neglected, I must go. I laugh, I dance, I chase the clouds, I stop, I cry, Then, Say goodbye. To the place I once called Home.


Winter ’06

Sasha Seraia

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Trapped

Jackie Balero Third Place, Calliope Winter Poetry Contest, Sophomore-Freshman Division New to everyone and everything over and over again No past No future Just the promise that tomorrow will never come yesterday will be forgotten and today will soon end Alone like a hawk from above standing outside of my skin I watch them fall in line and pray their dreams will come true all different yet exactly the same A dear in the headlights trapped The enemy is closing in on me forcing me into a dark corner where I wait for someone to come save me but no one does They stop and stare eyes like fingers accusing me of doing wrong Whispers spill from lips and travel to others So I move on Drawn to the hope of a new start like a moth attracted to light only to find it’s not what i expected and I wonder will anything ever be?

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Winter ’06

Evan Hahn

The Celestial Lovers Vrinda Khanna Honorable Mention, Calliope Winter Poetry Contest, Sophomore-Freshman Division

Where is the sun? Hiding with the moon, Until he hears the clock Declaring it noon. Setting off in his chariot, Wielding his fiery crown, He leaves his sorrowful love behind As she tries to suppress a frown. “Don’t fret,” he soothes As tears flow down her pale face, “For we’ll be together soon, “If only I could hasten my pace.” The moon, weeping soundly, For all her unsaid fears, Sends down her messengers, the clouds, To deliver her burdensome tears. The sun, shining regally, Smiles down upon the land, Brightening every living thing With an invisible hand.

Behind his smile he longs For the pale beauty he holds close. He wills for the day to be over, For the wind to deliver harsher blows. After his duties completed, After his finishing touch, He returns to the moon, The darling he loves oh so much. She contents herself watching her children, Moonbeams dancing to and fro, Their exuberance flowing freely, Always on the go. Finally, he makes his way towards her, Her heart about to burst. She drinks his sight in greedily; Only his fire can quench her thirst. Together, they illuminate the sky, Content in each other’s embrace. He emitting radiance so bright, She with feminine grace.

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Calliope

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Winter ’06

Calliope Winter Short Story Contest

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Calliope

Two Corpses and a Library Emily Merritt

First Place, Calliope Winter Short Story Contest, Junior-Senior Division

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man sits at a table in a library. The table is one of several, large, mahogany, that sit, wedged at breaks in the long walls of books. He wears a sweater, although, outside it is a temperate day in April. The air in the library is still, placid. The tops of the high library walls are lined with stained glass depictions of great classic stories, Beowulf, King Arthur, Homer´s Iliad, Sherlock Holmes. A shaft of red light from Dorian Grey´s portrait has fallen on to the man´s open book, and as the minutes tick by, it creeps down the page toward him. With both elbows on the table, the man unconsciously bends closer and closer to the pages of the book. A woman screams in the garden. The constable dashes out to see what is the matter. The man in the library blinks. A gun is fired. A broken body crumples next to an unconscious woman. The constable sees his son in the garden. A man lies dead in the shrubs. A chase ensues. The man in the library scratches his nose. Somewhere, through a window, a bird sings on its perch. Two gunshots sound in the garden. Father and son reunite. A man in a long grey coat stands over a body. The man in the library coughs. Three bodies lie in a garden. A man in a coat walks toward a large building. A gun is thrown into a lake, next to the large building. Light glints off stained glass windows onto the grass on the bank of a lake. A man in a coat walks into a large building. Ripples dissipate. A body of still, placid water sits next to a large building. A man sits at a table in a library.

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Winter ’06

HANA LOW

806

Tess Christy

Second Place, Calliope Winter Short Story Contest, Junior-Senior Division

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he had been a patient of mine for some months now. She was twentysomething and beautiful in a pointy sort of way, with delicate angular features, a long nose spotted with a miniscule steel sparkle, milky skin, and wide clear green bugeyes that overpowered her face. Her hair, deep burnt-brown matte frizz, exploded behind a wide purple elastic headband. The long fluid peasant-style skirt that she wore today spilled over her sandal-clad feet. I noticed that she never lay down on the long chaise; sometimes sitting, sometimes standing. I noticed also a rip starting in the armpit of her beaten white t-shirt as she reached over to put her cigarette out in the ashtray on the coffee table. She (continued on next page)

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Calliope stretched, tapped the cigarette on the dish sharply, ground it in, and then snapped back as if springloaded. Her eyes skirted around the room; she was still briefly, and then began to turn the half-empty pack of cigarettes over in her hands. There was a customary silence of moderate length. “I’ve fallen in love,” she stated abruptly, still fiddling with the pack. “I met him a windy night having walked home with the groceries. I was locked out of the apartment, tearing my purse apart looking for the key, when he just… appeared out of the dark hall, key glittering from his hands, smiling.” In quick motions, she tapped another cigarette out of the pack and popped it between her chapped lips, spitting her speech through the awkward pursed shape of her mouth as she fumbled for her lighter. “But see -” she looked intently at me, hands probing fiercely in her knit bag “- he didn’t appear out of nowhere; it was more like he’d been there for a while. But not like a stalker. I don’t like stalkers.” She brought her hand out of the bag and fingered the dirty purple bic before leaning into it and striking it a couple times, brow furrowed with concentration, until a weak flame swallowed the tip of the cigarette and it glowed warm orange red. She pulled away, took a long drag, and plucked the cig from her mouth with her index finger and thumb, blowing a long steady stream of smoke. “I felt safe with him there. Knowing that he was there ready to give me the key – and I did, I just sensed it – made me feel safe. D’you see?” She didn’t expect a response, and continued. “We talk for hours. He knows me like I’m turned inside out and I know him. I know his face from poems… songs…” Another suck of the cigarette. “…from dreams I’ve had.” She had crossed her legs. Her foot was tapping and her eyes were dancing. “He changes,” she added. “One day he’s an artist, the next he’s a total brute… but he always gives exactly what I need. One night, one dark night alone in front of the television, he was a cat with calico fur and he curled up in my lap and we stayed up all night, me stroking his head and him purring, purring, and I was so happy I thought I might cry.” She looked as though she had a square of chocolate on her tongue and she closed her eyes, letting it melt in her mouth. “No matter how he looks, he always has the same voice.” Her eyes opened slowly. “Steely and sharp, like the villain in a suspense movie; you know, the type that turns around in a swiveling chair slowly, having waited for the hero to fall perfectly into the trap. Like he knows everything and he can hurt you with it. It’s scary; it’s delicious…” She shivered happily. Her eyes rolled skyward, and she looked almost like a girl as a blissful smile filled her hollow pale cheeks, taking in a big excited breath, but the smile flooded from her face with the exhale. She paused and then turned abruptly, fixing her eyes on an upward corner of the room as she brought the cigarette to her lips quickly and took another long drag. There was a silence but for the patter of the sole of her shoe on the ground. “He’s not real, you know,” she said suddenly.

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Winter ’06

BEN RICHARD

The best part is leaving in the morning Hilary Brennan-Marquez Third Place, Calliope Winter Short Story Contest, Junior-Senior Division

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here was no afterglow. There wasn’t enough time. Ranger didn’t believe in the afterglow. He believed in one intense high after another. He believed in a perpetual state of euphoria. There would be no afterglow. There would instead be one massive crash at the end. Ranger was not interested in beauty unless it caused a visceral reaction in him. He was not interested in the mundane, the comfortable, or the routine. Ranger was interested in new experiences. In the adrenaline that comes with the fear of death. He had trapped himself in a cage of the extraordinary. His life was without meaning if without phenomenon and experience. With orgasm came surges of new desires, badly planned schemes, and the chase of the next high. There would be no afterglow. There would only be one intense high after another. There was no time for anything else. (Continued on next page)

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Calliope There would be no divorce. It was true when you said it. Ranger wasn’t anything, and while our marriage was even less, at least it had a name. There would be no divorce. Instead, we would have children and hold family reunions in Winnipeg, where your father was from, and eat thanksgiving dinner in San Francisco at my mother’s house. True, there would be no divorce, but there wouldn’t be any marriage either. You met Louis at my grandmother’s wedding. Her fourth marriage and, this time, she swore her last. Louis had the look of someone with a lingering college cocaine habit. Louis liked jazz. I told you that behind my hand like it was something to be whispered. Louis was the uncle we didn’t talk about. You were taken with him immediately. I’m only bringing these things up because I believe it is important for you to understand. Ranger would never come to anything because I can stare at the stucco on the ceiling and forget he is there, moving inside me. With you, I have no hope pretending. There’s nothing like a hallucinogen to remind you of how real everything is. There’s nothing like sobriety to take the floor out from under you. There was rum involved, I remember that much. It was something sloppy, I’m sure. There would be no lovemaking. Something else, perhaps, but only if I could keep a straight face. There was no affair because there was no love. He was a bad influence on me. There was no love, only all the pieces we knew of hedonism and aesthetics thrown into bed with us, trying to build a life separate from you and his loneliness and the reality of the situation. There’s nothing like infidelity to achieve the next high. Louis was a good man before drinking and an even better man after. You liked this about him. He made you feel like less of a slob. He made you feel like a real man. He made you feel alive and dirty and all the things you hate about me. How did it feel, having an old man in my bed with you? Was it everything you had hoped for and more? Was he drunk enough to forget his saxophone and your wife? Were you? There will be no divorce. There will be no afterglow. No lovemaking. There will be no sodomy, no cocaine. There will be family reunions in Winnipeg and thanksgiving dinners in San Francisco. I speak French fluently. Did you know that about me?

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Winter ’06

WEIQI HU

The Journey of Syllektis Will Kern First Place, Calliope Winter Short Story Contest, Sophomore-Freshman Division

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here was once a young shepherd who grazed his small flock on the rocky hillsides of Arkadia. He became known as Syllektis, since, as he roamed, he often collected items that he found. He was an inventive boy, and could devise a good use for almost anything he stumbled upon—even the most unassuming twig or feather. The boy’s mother, a human, raised Syllektis until he was just five. Her sudden death left Syllektis an orphan, but the boy knew how to tend and shear sheep, and so managed to make his way without her. Syllektis grew up never realizing that his father was Hermes, the messenger of Zeus. From his perch on Olympus, Hermes watched over the boy and made sure that harm did not befall him. Syllektis missed his mother and faithfully tended her grave, a short distance from his house. During his periodic trips to the market, Syllektis learned the language of men, yet because he lived a solitary life, he did not learn their rituals and customs. As a result, the young shepherd never made sacrifices to the gods. The gods, however, generally disregarded his impiety. They were unconcerned about the boy because (Continued on next page)

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Calliope he lived such a humble existence. Syllektis had heard of the gods, to be sure, and as he grazed his sheep, he could sense their presence around him. One day, Syllektis guided his herd to a lush plateau, abounding with green, leafy plants. His sheep grazed contentedly. When the day was done, Syllektis and his little band returned home, but as evening drew, the sheep became gravely ill. Syllektis recognized the symptoms at once. He realized that the plants upon which his sheep had grazed must have been spinach, contaminated with E. coli. His first thought was to treat the animals with antibiotics. It occurred to him, though, that there were no antibiotics in Arkadia, and there would not be any for another 2500 years; so this plan was impractical. Syllektis was distraught. These sheep were his family. They were all he had. He realized there was only one thing he could do: he would set out at once to find a cure. As Eos, the dawn, arose from her rosy pink pillow to greet the new day, Syllektis packed his woolen bag and set out on his quest. He had heard rumors of a lake at the end of the world, with water that would cure all illness. Syllektis vowed that he would to find this legendary lake. The land of Arkadia was dry and unforgiving, covered with craggy outcroppings; the journey would be difficult. After a day’s travel, Syllektis found himself below Mount Kyllini. Stopping to rest, he noticed at his feet a dark rock about the size of his palm. Syllektis recognized it at once as a piece of obsidian. Upon closer inspection, the boy observed that the rock, with its jagged edges and gleaming black surface, was searing the ground underneath where it lay. Curious, he thought, Hephaestus, the god of the forge, must be at work within this mountain. The young traveler quickly picked up the rock and, taking care not to burn his fingers, he dropped it in his bag. Syllektis spent the night below the mountain. He fell asleep quickly, warmed by the heat from within his woolen bag, and dreamed of the Pool of Life with its healing water. Meanwhile, upon Olympus, the gods were discussing the fate of Syllektis. Since the boy had been bold enough to seek the Pool of Life, the gods became concerned. Clearly, this young shepherd was more of a troublemaker than they had realized. If Syllektis were to obtain the enchanted water, he would be able to cure the sick, bring back the dead, and even become immortal! To the gods, this was intolerable. “This boy does not know his place,” sniffed Hera. “He doesn’t even sacrifice to the gods!” “Let’s kill him!” said Ares, his hand already grabbing his sword. “Oh, how marvelous!” giggled Aphrodite, batting her eyelashes at Ares. But Hermes objected. “Syllektis is my son,” he argued. “The boy means no harm.” “That’s right,” agreed Zeus. “He does not need to be killed, only discouraged from finding the sacred water.” The gods conversed long into the night, devising schemes that might deter

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Winter ’06 Syllektis from reaching the Pool of Life. When morning came, Syllektis resumed his journey. An inner voice seemed to tell him the way. Around mid-day, the boy nearly stumbled over an object along his path--a jug of wine richly decorated with leopards, tigers and dancing maenads. This jug must belong to Dionysus, he thought. Picking up the container, Syllektis studied its round shape and the stopper with its intricate gold inlay. A long silver cord was attached to the neck of the bottle. The container was heavy—full of wine. Although he was tempted to drink it at once, Syllektis did not wish to offend Dionysus. He slung the jug over his shoulder and continued on his quest. As evening approached, the light grew dim. Although he could see just a few yards ahead of him, Syllektis pressed on, eager to reach his goal. Suddenly, out of the shadows a figure sprang, knife in hand. The thief seized the jug from around the boy’s neck. “Ah, what a fine vessel, and full as well.” The robber departed as quickly as he had appeared, leaving Syllektis bruised and winded. A thin streak of red on his throat was silently dripping blood. Syllektis looked up to the heavens. Selene, the moon, cast her dim light upon him. Exhausted, Syllektis fell asleep. He suffered a restless night, dreaming of his home and his sick sheep. When he awoke, Syllektis was more determined than ever to complete his journey. He hopped up, grabbed his wool satchel and began to walk. Syllektis had been fortunate. Captivated by the beautiful jug, the robber had ignored the boy’s woolen sack. He proceeded for about five minutes and was stopped in his tracks. There, before him, he saw the man who had assaulted him the previous night, lying dead. His face was contorted in agony. He had been poisoned. In his hand, he held the empty jar of wine. Syllektis was stunned. That wine had been meant for him. Syllektis fashioned a shovel from a wide stick and dug a grave for this unfortunate villain. He placed a coin under the scoundrel’s tongue for Charon, the boatman of the River Styx, and buried the corpse. Syllektis had been walking for several hours when he came across a cool stream. Bending down to drink, a flash of light nearly blinded him. The boy rose from the bank to investigate. He discovered, by the side of the brook, a gold coin about the size of his thumb. It had been bathing in the sun and was hot to the touch. The image on the coin caught his eye. It was the head of the god Hermes, wearing a petasos—a hat with a broad, floppy brim. On the reverse of the coin was a kerykeion, a staff with snakes entwined around it—the attribute of the god, Hermes. After his experience with the jug of wine, Syllektis was a bit more cautious about picking up strange items he encountered, but this coin, a coin of Hermes, could only bring him luck. (Indeed, the coin had been placed in his path by Hermes himself, in an attempt to foil the plans of the other gods.) Syllektis placed the coin into his bag, along with the black stone, his cloak, and the little food he had remaining. He drank more water from the stream and went

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Calliope on his way. The sky was blue and he was confident that he would soon reach the Pool of Life. He could sense it was close. The rocky soil was not hospitable to plants, so it came as a surprise when the boy encountered a large apple tree, ripe with fruit. The young traveler had not eaten for nearly a day. He eagerly plucked fruit from the tree, first one apple, then another. In his enthusiasm for collecting fruit, Syllektis failed to notice the dark clouds quickly developing overhead. Zeus had watched with interest, and now alarm, at the boy’s persistence in continuing his quest. A thunderbolt would surely dissuade him. Zeus unleashed a bolt of thunder from the roiling clouds. But at that moment, reaching for an apple on a high branch, Syllektis noticed the storm. He quickly deserted the tree and ran for cover. Within an instant, a thunderbolt struck the tree, turning it to ashes. Syllektis began to run without looking back. With his woolen bag full of apples, he tired quickly and came to rest at the bottom of a large hill. For the first time since his journey began, Syllektis was beginning to lose hope. He had traveled for two days and had narrowly escaped with his life. Then Syllektis remembered his sheep. Their lives depended on him. He slowly began to climb the hill, with each step resolving that he would find the Pool of Life. The shadows were lengthening when he reached the crest of the hill. Peering over the ridge, Syllektis was astounded. There, below him was a pool surrounded by lush foliage. Surrounding the pool, too, was a wall with a gate. He had found it. Syllektis ran swiftly down the hill toward the gate, but to his horror, realized he was not alone. From within a thicket of berry bushes swaggered a beast—a horrible monster, who was clearly unwilling to allow Syllektis to reach the gate. The monster had a hundred heads, three spiked tails, five legs and fifty arms each wielding a club or a sword. It was huge and leathery with gleaming crimson eyes and smoke pouring out of its nostrils. It positioned itself in front of the gate, pacing back and forth slowly as if daring Syllektis to approach. Syllektis knew, without quite knowing how, that to complete his quest, he must defeat this final challenge. Slowing his pace, he crept down the hill and hid behind a rock, allowing himself time to come up with a plan. Suddenly, the obsidian within his woolen bag began to become warmer, then hot, and Syllektis knew what he must do. He snatched the gold coin of Hermes from his bag and sprang from behind the rock. The boy thrust the coin into the air, where it caught the final rays from the sun. The coin magnified the light, shining with the radiance of Helios, the sun. Syllektis shielded his eyes and cast the beam toward the many-eyed monster. The beast was immediately blinded, and began thrashing his arms wildly, a windmill of swords. Syllektis replaced the coin in his woolen bag. He could feel the heat from the rock of Hephaestus within his satchel, and although it was searing hot, Syllektis pulled it out of his bag. The pain in his fingers was excruciating. The monster opened his gaping jaws and breathed tongues of fire toward Syllektis, but the boy dodged the missiles. Syllektis knew this was the moment. He wrapped the burning rock within his cloak and poised himself before the monster. He whirled his cloak around his head and released it,

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Winter ’06 throwing the jagged rock with all his might straight at the monster’s heart. It buried deep in the giant’s flesh. The monster crashed to the ground, an inferno of flesh and fire. When the smoke and dust had cleared, Syllektis discovered that the gate had been blasted wide open. He carefully walked over to the crater that had been the monster. The boy picked up his weapon, now simply a cooling piece of obsidian and replaced it in his woolen bag. Syllektis walked through the gateway and was stunned at what he saw. The pool itself was inviting, but at its banks he noticed the lifeless bodies of a handful of men. Apparently others had sought this healing water as well, but had all perished. By now, Syllektis’ heart was pounding within his chest. His knees shook as he removed the jar of Dionysius from his woolen satchel. The boy fell to his knees by the edge of the pool and forced the mouth of the jar into the water. As his hand touched the pool, a peace overcame him and he forgot all of his problems. This water really is enchanted Syllektis thought. For a moment, the boy was tempted to scoop up a handful of the liquid and drink it himself. Perhaps it would offer me health forever, he mused. Suddenly, Syllektis was awoken from his reverie by the familiar heat of the stone of Hephaestus within his woolen bag. He came to his senses, realizing that he must resist the temptation to remain here in this enchanted place. He filled his jar, stopped it securely and stumbled out beyond the walls and into the open. He had the healing water. His quest was nearly complete. Syllektis trekked hard for the next two days and finally he made it back home. He immediately began administering the healing water to his ailing sheep. The animals returned to health within minutes, jumping as if they were lambs again, their illness completely gone. When he stopped to rest, Syllektis noticed that a couple more drops of water remained in his jar. He recalled his moments at the pool and thought of how wonderful it would be to be immortal. He remembered how painful it was when he was young to witness his own mother’s death. By drinking the water, he would be free from injury and illness forever. Syllektis thought and thought, and then decided. Walking a short distance from his home, Syllektis poured the remaining drops of water into the earth, on the grave of his beloved mother.

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Calliope

TOLISA CHEN

Escape

I

Anne Ciccarelli Second Place, Calliope Winter Short Story Contest, Sophomore-Freshman Division

blinked. “What?” I couldn’t believe what I had just heard…it had to have been a mistake. Yeah…a mistake…I probably just heard it wrong. She couldn’t have – “I said…Max, I’m sorry, but…we have to break up.” Nope. I heard it right. As my now-former girlfriend hiccupped, then ran off, crying, I couldn’t help but wonder… My girlfriend, the perfect girl, the darling Anna Garcia, told me she would love me and stand by me forever. What a dud she turned out to be. Could my life seriously get any worse? It really began a month before. Me, being the normal, stupid college freshman, hadn’t exactly paid as much attention as I should have in Calculus. I figured, hey, they don’t take attendance; I can afford to skip a day. Then I failed the midterm. But it was okay, I got a tutor…who barely taught me anything and burned me

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Winter ’06 out of the last bit of cash I had. My parents weren’t too happy with my grades or my money, and refused to give me extra. So I went to look for some sort of job, but nobody was hiring. And when I mean nobody, I mean nobody. Not even that guy who comes to the dorm to deliver the fish had an extra job opening. So here I am, a lonely college freshman, standing here…in the courtyard. Ugh, it’s awful. There’s this crystalline blue sky above me, completely devoid of clouds. The air is crisp, but not too cold. The sun is shining quite happily, bouncing off the white stucco of the Cromwell Cluster of dorms I live in, making them seem all glowy and stuff. The trees, while bare of their leaves, nevertheless stretched up towards the sky as a gesture of hope and perseverance to those of us who are losing all hope. Like me. Only, I didn’t feel hopeful, or anything. Just kinda…angry. No, scratch that. I felt nothing. Stupid outdoor campuses. A nice, depressing, grungy urban campus would do just fine, thank you very much. I glanced down at my cheap brown backpack I bought from the college’s bookstore. There was a small hole in the bottom, probably from my protractor or something, but it had held up pretty well throughout the first bit of my college career. My backpack had a better first semester than me. Rolling my eyes, I dug around for my mp3 player. Some music could probably help me find a way to cope with my life crumbling down around my slightly-wide-from-high-school-football shoulders. Popping the little ear buds in my borderline-clean ears, I turned it to some random song. As it started to boom into my ears, I swung my backpack over my shoulder, almost fell down from the stupid momentum, and began to walk away from the happy little winter courtyard. As I walked more into the woodsy area of our campus, I began to think. I mean, here I was, some poor guy named Max Ewell, in some not-Ivy-League-but-still-okay college, and still failing. Maybe not failing at the school per se (my Humanities rocked), but failing at life. I lost my girlfriend. I can’t get a job. I’m not a friendly person. I’m not involved in my school at all. I’m really no good at anything other than a school-related thing (why, oh why did I give up football?)…I was ashamed of myself… Then I stopped mindlessly walking, my scruffy black Converses coming to a halt. Where the heck was I? Somehow, I had, in a sense, gone off the beaten path. I stood completely surrounded by trees and other plant life, and I could no longer hear the faint hum of the college campus. A little bird of some sort, tiny and brown, swooped down to land delicately on a thin tree branch. It stared at me for a second; its beady little red eyes boring through my own blue ones. Then, with a chirp and a hop, it soared into the air and left the little area.

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Calliope I paused to take in my surroundings. Little weeds of various kinds swirled around my ankles, and the soil underneath felt soft and bouncy. A few trees towered over my head, but they weren’t too tall. They had long, hanging branches with spongy green leaves, and rough, dark bark. I had no idea what kind of tree they were, but it didn’t really matter. They were just trees, reaching over just an eighteen-year-old guy. I sat down below the trees, smelling the cool, clean smell of the woods. I knew the cars and college hubbub could only be twenty, maybe thirty yards away, but I felt like I had somehow escaped all of that. My music turned to a song with gentle lyrics, and a soft, flowing melody. A sharp contrast to the rap and hip-hop I usually listened to (how the heck did it get on there?), it seemed to fit in with my escape from my life. For just those seconds, minutes, maybe hours I sat there; I just listened to an endless loop of that song. I was not me. I was nobody…just a happy, happy soul, in a calm, peaceful shrine to nature amidst a suburban clash of concrete. During the next month or so, I visited my little place quite often. At first, I would steal a glance at it when walking by the entrance to the woods between classes, then I would run into it for a second, then I spend as much time as I could. During the weekends, I would go there to relax after studying, leaving my fellow classmates and dorm mates behind. They wouldn’t miss me, or anything; I was just Max Ewell. I had a variety of other names, such as Alex Hoffman’s Roommate and That Guy, but nobody really cared. I guess I had a few friends; Alex wasn’t so bad, but hey. I had my little place. My escape…something that I could call my own. Of course, I almost lost that. One Saturday morning, after reviewing some notes for Calculus, I gathered my mp3 player and prepared to dash out of my dorm room. Unfortunately, I realized my one and only exit, the door, had suddenly become occupied. “Hey, Max,” the hulking figure boomed. Alex did not speak, he boomed. He could pass for my twin in some regards-same brown hair, same blue eyes-but opposite in every other way. While I was tall and skinny, he was tall and…well, hulking. Massive. Body-builder-muscular. Plus, he helped our school to many a victory as the quarterback on the football team, almost unheard of for a freshman. And here I was, only on my high school team because I could catch a ball. I only ever saw any action during senior year… “Yo, man, are you listening?” I blinked, in a daze. Gah, I had spaced out again…(wasn’t that one of the things Anna didn’t like?) “Yeah, Alex. ‘Sup?” He raised one bushy brown eyebrow, crossed his arms across his green, longsleeved shirt, and gave me The Look. “Dude, where have you been?” “Uh, class?” I elicited an eye roll from this comment. “Nah, I mean, like, during the weekends and stuff.”

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Winter ’06 I blinked. “I dunno. Nowhere, I guess.” He shook his head. Somehow, I was not living up to his standards. “Seriously man, you’re missin’ out. You’re only a freshman once, and you’re missin’ all the good stuff…” I raised one of my thin, maybe-balding eyebrows. “Uh, yeah?” I just wanted to get out of there…I almost felt like I suffered from withdrawal. I needed to escape to the woods, the trees, that little spot… “Yeah, well, there’s a party tonight. I heard you ‘n Anna broke up, and there’ll be tons of girls there-“ “Uh, no thanks, Alex. I’m good. Uh…” My mouth hung open a bit, and I gripped the cold plastic of my personal listening device tightly. Sweat started to form along the edges of my palms, and I glanced out the door a bit uncomfortably. “Uh…Alex, can I get through?” With one last stare, the football player-slash-Mr. Popular stepped aside. “Fine, man, but I’m just sayin’…” Needless to say, I skipped the party. My little place seemed to fill that void nicely during the evening, and I could stare at the twinkling stars as they came out. Parties, normal college things…they meant nothing to me. I didn’t ever want to leave my little place… But I still didn’t feel happy. Heck, I even began to stop paying attention in class, to my “friends,” to my “applications for jobs”…I just daydreamed about the little place. I mean, at the time I didn’t think anything was wrong. Well, my escape kind of kept me from worrying, but…unconsciously, maybe, I felt sick. Something was wrong. And I worried about it so much, I could do nothing but escape and be free of my plaguing doubts. I barely noticed anything around me. I felt almost like I was on a permanent high, with those daydreams about the trees, the soil, the song, the air… Then one night, I awoke to Alex shaking me (pretty roughly). “Dude, wake up, you gotta see this!” I heard it before I saw it. First, the rain came down pretty hard, tapping on the walls of our dorm like a thin, badly crafted piece of wood on a snare drum. Then, I saw a faint orange glow on the horizon, right behind the building facing us…and my heart dropped. I raced for the door, but I felt Alex’s hard hand snatch my shoulder. “Dude, what’s your problem?” “I-it’s on fire! I gotta help-I gotta help put it out! Don’t you see?” I felt myself blabbing, but I had degenerated into a state of complete shock and panic. Alex gave me The Look. “What place?” Suddenly, I felt myself gushing out everything to my roommate. I just would not shut up…I told him everything. About my life going down the drain. My secret place. The woods. The soil. The little birds. The ants. The song. The fact that I had

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Calliope been going there all the time. The fact that it… “Your ‘escape’?” He asked, a little confused. But who could blame him…he walked that super-thin line of appearing like a stereotypical football player and being a stereotypical football player. I nodded violently, my eyes bugging out. “Uh-huh. I felt like I wasn’t myself. But not in a bad way-not like I was high. Just that everything was okay.” Alex looked at me, then out the window. “Does it look okay now?” I paused. Stepping slowly over to the window, I saw the signs of what the other buildings in the Cromwell Cluster hid-a vicious, bloodthirsty lightning-caused blaze, ripping apart the little place. I knew I should have felt sad, tormented by the loss of my escape… But I didn’t. At first, I had no idea why. I just stood there, staring at what would be a brilliant view of the fire if there was no stupid building in the way, emotionless. My worries, doubts, and fears surged back into my brain, but for some reason…I didn’t feel afraid. In those seconds I sifted through them, finally understanding them. They couldn’t harm me, they were just thoughts. I could bring myself out of this mess, I just had to focus. My escape didn’t let me. It let me push away everything, just letting me space out. That didn’t really help me, though. I guess I finally realized that. I felt a smile cross my face. I had no escape. For the first time in a long time, I felt…happy. I had nowhere to escape to. Nothing…nothing could harm me now. Call it irony, but for the first time, I felt strong. I could handle anything, like those kinds who are pushed in the deep end before they can swim. They come out stronger (unless they die, of course). “Yeah, it’s okay.” I grinned at Alex. Maybe I didn’t need my escape. I could forge my own path, make my own life. I could make friends, I could get involved…no man is an island, after all. Humans just naturally support other humans. I just needed a way to jump back into being a normal college human. But how? Oh yeah… “Hey…about those parties…”

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Winter ’06

Diverse Emotions

I

Parth Relan Third Place, Calliope Winter Short Story Contest, Sophomore-Freshman Division

had just passed the security checkpoint, after bidding my parents and sister farewell. Now I was walking with a flight attendant, whose name I didn’t even know. I walked down the seemingly never-ending aisle, dragging my suitcase with my backpack on my hunched shoulders. We finally arrived at the gate. The flight attendant told me to sit down, and took my passport. As I sat, I had time to stop and think about it. I was alone on a thirteen-hour flight to India. Thrill, anticipation, mixed with a tinge of boredom was flooding my thoughts. Before she left, the flight attendant took my passport and told me that she would take care of the forms and everything. After thanking her, my gaze shifted to the planes outside. It was a beautiful summer day outside, but the gate seemed a bit isolated from the rest of the airport. It was a lower level than most of the other gates, and it was so teeming that I felt a bit awkward. There was still forty minutes until boarding time. My mixed feelings took the best of me as I drifted into a short slumber. I had woken up after thirty minutes. As I awoke, I realized that I hadn’t received my passport back yet. I remembered my mother’s advice, to always keep my passport in my possession. Asking the flight attendant if she was done with it, I learned that I would receive it after we reached Singapore, which was the transit. As I took my seat again, the flight began to board. The same flight attendant took me into the plane before anyone else, something new for me. I arrived at my seat, loaded my baggage overhead, and sat down on the aisle seat. I kept my backpack under the seat in front, to keep handy for the long flight ahead. Before I became completely settled, I called home, as my mom requested. Turns out, they didn’t reach home before I called, so in my message, I said that I had reached the flight without any trouble, and the plane was preparing to take-off soon. As I shut my phone and shoved it into my pocket, more passengers arrived. The flight was packed, there were no vacant seats. The other passengers got settled. The safety demonstration played on my personal T.V. screen. After it finished, the captain personally welcomed us, and prepared for take-off. My watch read 1:04 P.M., but I knew I would have to change it for the next three weeks. The roar of the engine suddenly jolted me, as the plane began to take-off. At last, the first and hardest part was over. My sensations were no longer “mixed.” Excitement was all I felt.

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Calliope

Emerald Queen Alison Arams

She’s embellished in her shining pearls, Her ruby slippers echo as she walks. Her hair is fashioned in vivacious curls, She has a beautiful voice when she talks. When they see her torn clothes they pity her, And they wince at the blisters on her feet. Her hair is dull and she’s thin with hunger, Her voice is coarse and her breath isn’t sweet. And yet she stands high and dreams of this world, Where she’s a queen and lives with the monarchs. All though they see just a poor little girl, She has learned to disregard their remarks. No, she doesn’t wear gems nor live with kings, But has emerald eyes, eyes fit to be queen. Her highness goes to the beach for treasure, Where she finds sapphires, diamonds, and crowns. With diligent hands, she beads them together, And she’s the prettiest girl in the town. Draped in the most glorious jewelry, She’s the most beautiful queen I must tell. Look beyond what the naked eye can see, And you won’t see just seaweed and shells. For in her world, clouds are cotton candy, The sun is a toy balloon in the sky. Little things have such a great quantity, She doesn’t want anything money buys. Just imagine a world with queens like her, That could make all the difference in this earth.

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Winter ’06

To a Friend Elyssa Olson

How do I feel about you Whatever it is do you feel it too When I’m with you I can’t help but smile I wish we could be alone for a while Stay here in my heart That would be a good start Open yourself to me You open my eyes and make me see I love when I get to hold you hand That’s the only thing I understand Hold me for a little bit longer It only makes my heart grow fonder I remember everything you say When I see you it’s a happier day When you said this meant a lot You made my stomach tie into a knot

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Calliope

BEN RICHARD

An Open Letter to Brahman Claire Lesikar

R

ecently in India, mass conversions of Dalit Hindus to religions such as Buddhism, Jainism, Christianity and Sikhism have been held to protest the inherently discriminatory caste system. This is the story of a fictional soon-to-be convert. What would Jihan say looking at me now? I’ve become such a little spit-fire, he would say. Oh, but he knows. Jihan, blessed Jihan, knows I must do this. I do it for him. For my love for him. For my love for my country I do this. I wonder what being a Buddhist will be like. Do they eat cow? I can not tolerate that if they do. I will teach them then. I will give them all my good vegetarian curry recipes and they will understand how they can never eat cow again. I feel crazy doing this sometimes. Leaving my past behind. It’s madness. Thousands of lives being a good Hindu woman, and now discarding it like food

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Winter ’06 scraps. But, no, Brahman, understand me. I pray you know my intentions. I only can hope they are not in vain. But they must not be in vain. Not for all those years working for that dreaded family picking up their horses’ filthy waste. Not for the taunts, trips and mocking I¹ve endured. Not for the thousands of miles of obstacles my beautiful children had to leap to achieve anything in this cruel world. Not for the young heartbreak. I was only 16 and Sujit was my God. Sujit was the reason I took air into my lungs. Only so I could be able to say something clever next time he visited. He was amused for some time with my amorous obsession, indulged me in the carnal pleasures of love. But it was not long before he made it clear that I was Dalit and he was Vaishya, and I was no more than dirt on his shoe. I must achieve this, above all, for my Jihan. My beautiful, sweet, lover Jihan. How they tortured you. How they laughed when we tried to find you help. How they mocked your wound. Even when your leg grew swollen and disfigured with fluid the doctors would not see you. They turned us away. Always. Laughed and said for us to use some of our “magic” to heal you. How stupid they are. If only they knew where their cruelty will lead them. A cockroach they’ll be reborn as. A squirming, twitching cockroach no larger than my thumb they’ll be. I try to comfort myself with that, but nothing can ever erase your emaciated corpse being dragged into the hungry fire. Sometimes I wish I’d jumped in beside you, if only to hold you one last time. I ask you for strength, Brahman, as I face those evildoers today on my journey to the conversion. I will need all the strength of the Gods to do this. I will keep my faith in you even as I approach those yellow-robed monks beckoning me under the wing of Buddha. Buddha is wise, but I feel you are wiser. But if this is so, Brahman, why have you created this system of hurt and injustice for your creatures? Why would you subject your most loyal, uncorrupted followers to daily pain and humiliation? I know you will not answer me, the lowliest of the low, the Dalit, and that is what I do not understand. I will walk to the park today, the famous Nagpur park, to stand with your most loving worshipers and renounce your love. Finally, Brahman, we will stand in unison and throw down this faith, as it is the only thing you have permitted us to have. Although, there was one thing that

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Calliope

EVAN HAHN

A Composition Worth Hearing Shameem Jamil

The sound of your voice makes me wonder Where I’ve seen the beauty of you When you sing your message, but with the effect of thunder And amazingly, most hear you through Until another comes and infects You tried, never withdrew For that, it’s you I respect Because for a moment I outgrew I could see through other points of view

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Winter ’06

Looking Up At Beauty Christen Creed

Through everything forever and always Nothing less and always more Constantly giving without expecting return The hero that’s in all of us But only some can find Maybe you don’t notice it Teaching in your silent ways Encouraging everything no matter what the size Learning too Striving for knowledge Shoot for the stars Live the biggest dream Never doubt one single thing Capable of everything Always understanding and willing to help The one you trust most without a doubt Always trying to make proud Finding beauty in everything ugly Don’t disregard one single person For all of us make up the whole Hopes for the future Don’t worry if it doesn’t come though Love unconditionally while you can No regrets, well maybe some But forgive and forget and move on There’s no time to stand still while the world continues to spin Selflessness shown without a doubt Everyone goes first This is what looking up at beauty is Don’t turn around and look back Stand right here and never leave Remember when the sunsets The tears cried Eventually make rainbows Luckily there’s a pot of gold waiting on the other side

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Calliope

I Wish I Could Remember Pauline Slakey

I wish I could remember The smiles of happiness and long talks The stroking of her hand on her belly The names she thought up such as Jane or Kelly. I wish I could remember Her careful decision of what to eat Her friends rejoicing and expressing delight Her yoga exercises practiced late at night I wish I could remember The regular visits to the doctor The announcement that I was a girl The ultrasound showing my body, small as a pearl I wish I could remember The hurried yell of “my water broke!” The ambulance rushing her away The hours of praying that everything will go ok I wish I could remember Her screams of agonizing pain Her frantic attempt to “push push push” Her relief of hearing me cry after a pat on the tush I wish I could remember The soft lullabies she’d sing me to sleep The unending supply of kisses and hugging The bedtime stories and affectionate snuggling (Continued on next page)

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Winter ’06

I wish I could remember The times of relentless unwavering joy The times when we did not fight The times when we did not argue over who’s right The times when she did not tell me how to dress The times when I got more rest The times when I communicated in smiles The times when I did not throw clothes down in piles The times when crying meant food or diaper change The times when crying didn’t result from a dirty look exchange The times when she would wipe my tears away The times when she didn’t correct me in what I say The times when grudges were not held against each other The times when I didn’t take for granted that she is my mother. If there’s one thing I could finally remember Is the strong bond of love we share now and forever.

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Calliope

Fidelity

Hilary Brennan-Marquez

J

ane was talking fast and without pauses; I’ve been reading too much Finnegan’s Wake, she thought because she seemed to have forgotten how to use a period entirely, “It’s all semi-colons and downhill from here” she said and Ranger laughed because he was a writer too; she was standing in his doorway wearing his favorite sweater and he was lying on the bed wearing the sheets he bought with his girlfriend and he was bathed in the blue light of the TV; she said, “why are you so angry?” and he said, “You don’t want to fall in love with me,” But it wasn’t true and she shook her head and said, “even if that was what I had said, it’s too late now anyway,” it was cold because the window was open and Ranger’s sweater left her thighs and stomach bare when she raise the half-empty bottle of rum to her lips to sip the sweet and then he was there and he was taking the bottle from her and he giggled when he kissed her because she tasted sweet-fiery like rum and he said, “dance with me”; Jane swirled and swerved because she was drunk and it was late and she looked over his shoulder out the open window and saw the sunrise on the universe; it was all purple and orange and pink and how Jane thought death would look if you were to die happy; Jane kissed him and pushed him down onto the bed and when they were cold and the sun was rising he folded her naked body into his and breathed heat into her hair and she wanted to tell him that she hated his sheets with their blue-and-gold paisley, that they were tacky; but instead, she just lied in the place where Alice would have normally slept and waited to feel guilty.

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Winter ’06

WEIQI HU

Praying Mantis Spencer Dwight

I sit in the sharp bladed grass; it grows high above my head. Lonely and poor, so I pray, for food, even a bug to come my way. Why does the praying mantis pray? Pray mantis, pray and food will come your way. A fly perches on a maroon leaf. I, the mantis pray hoping a fly will come my way. Crawling up the giant emerald stalk of grass a boy observes me. He picks me up. The fly disappears into the sky. I hopelessly watch. I am in a jar. Will I still be lonely and poor? Pray mantis, pray. A sky light opens, bugs pour in. I will be hungry no more.

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Calliope

Yesterday Samantha Bromberg

The depression {An area that is sunk below its surroundings; a hollow.} in the grass remained where two bodies once laid dreaming in red silence was dead the comfort of denials dark embrace enchant us with your grace the deceiving thoughts in her head her mind her thoughts her mouth but the depression in the grass remains where two bodies laid she still calls it yesterday

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Winter ’06

KATIE CHOW

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Calliope

HANA LOW

The Last Chapter of the Book Weiqi Hu

“I

once knew her…

I’m sorry, I can’t tell you any more… Did she –I’m sorry if this sounds a little strange –But did she give you… a code?” “Ye-yeah: mouse.” “Ah, well she wanted you to know the truth about it then.” “The truth about what?” “She died. Something about a baby. I think she wanted one.” “Did she die in labor then?” “That’s all I was told. Listen, do you want to come in for a cup of tea?” “No, no. I just wanted to see her again.” “Well, sorry to tell you the news then. … Wait, before you go… I’m not sure if this will mean anything to you, but hey, it’s worth a try right?

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Winter ’06 She would… she would always say to me that her passion was creating mazes for mice.” “Mice?” “Yeah mice –kind of strange, huh? I never say her with any mice. But she said that one day the mice started building their own mazes and wouldn’t even chase after the cheese anymore.” … “Well, that’s it.” “I see.” “Yeah, it’s all kind of crazy isn’t it?” “Yeah. …Well thanks. Bye.” “Um, you’re welcome.” She slowly closed the door behind her and my last link is gone. A child in the window. Stopped me for a second –it looked just like her. But it wasn’t. A few weeks later; I don’t remember exactly how much time had passed. I was walking through a playground, sort of just wandering, hoping that I’d stumble and fall on another clue. I heard two Chinese mothers, sitting together, speaking like carelessness. Sitting, talking, talking. Something about a birth year. But the mother on the left –I distinctly remember this: “Yeah, he was born in the year of the boar. But if it had been a few minutes later, he would have been a rat. It’s a good think tha––” And then my memory refuses. Suddenly, it became clear. I don’t see, I just feel it now. I quickly ran back to her house –for some reason, I was only blocks away –did I plan it? And of course, the address was memorized. I saw my confirmation. Curtains gone. A few empty boxes strewn about the interior for good show. They had moved. I had figured it out, I had figured it out. And I was right –which meant, of course, that there was nothing else to do. Except I was hungry. I had skipped a few meals this day, thinking on it, and now, the comforting rips commenced.

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Calliope

WEIQI HU

A rock, pothole, detour, etc. Shameem Jamil

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I put myself in the river slowly, Deeper than expected - promptly I was soaked The water was freezing, like sitting in snow Repeatedly I bobbed my head as I stroked Suddenly my leg felt bruised and purple I couldn’t swim, the current took me away It was horrible, I was cripple Unable to control, I had no say I strived to keep my head out of the water While my feet were jabbed by sharp, rugged rocks Soon the river had to become broader Open and warm, my body no longer in locks I cannot believe how long it took, Maybe it didn’t. What if I’m just a rook?


Winter ’06

Good morning, Jordan Mohit Kohli

J

ordan, a seventeen year old African American living in the poverty stricken city of Harlem, is walking to the bathroom to brush his teeth. After he is done, he splashes his face with some cold water. He walks to the kitchen and expects his mom to be cooking up a delicious breakfast of scrambled eggs and sausage. Instead, he walks in to find a note on the refrigerator saying that his mother had to go to work early today. Sighing deeply, he opens the cabinet and grabs a large, white bowl and fills it to the brim with some Cheerios and adds milk. He sits there chomping on his food and reads the back of the Cheerios box where it says how good Cheerios is good for your heart and your cholesterol. He drinks up all the leftover milk and puts the bowl into the sink already piled high with dirty dishes. He walks back to his room and starts to dress for another long day of school. He looks through his dresser and his closet and all he finds are an old pair of worn out jeans and a t-shirt that is a size to small. All his other clothes are lying in piles all over his bedroom floor. He grabs his backpack, puts his shoes on and walks out the door. He has to walk five blocks to get to school. On the way he usually passes the homeless that live in the various alleys on the way, but today the streets were all empty and it was like a ghost town. He looks at his cellphone and seeing that he has two minutes to get to school, he starts to run. He gets to his math class just five seconds late and his teacher marks him tardy. “I was like five seconds late!” Jordan complained. His teacher responds, “I don’t care. Late is late. Now sit down in your seat.” Jordan angrily stomps over to his seat and sits down. He takes out his notebook and starts to doodle. Jordan is a very talented artist and has a lot of his work displayed in the school’s art room. For some reason, all Jordan could draw today was stick figures. Every time he tried to draw something, it turn out like a three year olds drawing. “What the hell is wrong with me!” Jordan exclaimed. The entire class, including the teacher, looked over at Jordan. “Sorry about that,” said Jordan, feeling embarrassed he pulls on his hood and sits low in his seat. The rest of the day went by slowly. Jordan could not concentrate in any of his classes and even failed a test he took in biology. On his way out of class, one of his teachers stopped him. “Are you okay Jordan? You didn’t seem yourself today.” she asked. “Yeah I’m fine, just having a rough day.” “Okay, I just wanted to make sure.” “Alright, bye.” (Continued on next page)

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Calliope “Bye...don’t forget your essay is due tomorrow.” “Oh crap! I have to do that today.” Jordan starts to walk home when his mom calls him and tells him to meet her at the McDonald’s down the street from school. When he gets there she is already standing in line. He walks up from behind and says, “Boo!” She gives a loud shriek and turns around and sees that it was only Jordan. She gives him a friendly slap on the arm and says with a laugh, “You scared the hell out of me.” “That was hilarious. You should have seen how high you jumped,” Jordan responds with uncontrollable laughter. “That was not funny,” his mother said, giggling a little herself, “What do you want to eat?” “I’ll just have some fries; I am not that hungry.” “Are you sure? You usually eat two burgers and are still hungry after that.” “Yeah...I don’t know...I am not feeling like myself today.” After they order, they picked up their food sat down to eat. They start talking about the day and ask each other how their day was and what went on in school and at work. They talked for hours and by the time they were done, it was dark outside. They threw out all their trash and walked out the door. They started to walk down the street when they saw three guys beating up a fourth one. They just shook their heads and kept walking. As they walked further down the street it seemed to get darker and darker. When they were a couple of blocks away from home, they saw a big, dark van creeping up behind them and they quickened their pace. They heard the van speed up and the door slide open. They turned around and saw a man holding a shiny, black object. They immediately knew what it was. Now, they started to run. The van’s engine roared and the man holding the gun started to shoot. Jordan and his mother were both hit and fell to the ground hard. Jordan sat up after a few seconds and looked over at his mom. She was lying motionless on the ground. He called out to her several times. He tried to get up but then he felt a sharp pain in his leg. He had been shot in the leg. Tears started to fall down his cheek. Panicking, he yelled out to his mom several more times as a man with a gun walked over to him. Jordan was looking down the shiny, black barrel of a shotgun. The man pulled the trigger. BAM! Jordan woke up in a cold sweat. He got up and walked to the bathroom to brush his teeth. He smelt the scrambled eggs and sausage him mom was making in the kitchen.

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Winter ’06

HANA LOW

Beans

Wes Duplantier Beans, beans do grow, please try Don’t make my mama’s lover cry Beans, beans shoot up tonight So over money they won’t fight Beans, beans withstand the heat So I’ll have something good to eat Please, please you homegrown beans Stop being such stubborn, farmland fiends

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Calliope

Algatch M

Alex Souverneva

asha yipped happily as she chased the white butterflies through the cabbage patches. My mom and I sat watching the sun sink slowly below the horizon with a pregnant, tailless cat sprawled across our laps. The warm summer air felt comforting and we sat silently, interrupted only by grandma’s five minute checkups to ask if we needed anything. This was the first time she had seen her daughter and granddaughter in twelve years, and though she tried to give us some space, she could not contain her glee. The roar of a motorcycle sounded from a distance, it grew louder and louder as we watched the old, red contraption draw nearer to finally stop in front of us, spitting dust in our faces. Boris got off and approached us. He was 16 years old, about 5 foot 10, and heavily tanned from working long days in the field. On him was an outfit that I could best describe as rebel farmer style; a fishnet shirt with a well worn vest and cargo pants, he was part Chinese, part Mongolian, part who knows what else, but he was all Russian. Boris is my cousin, second cousin to be more exact, and this was the first time I ever met him. My mom wanted us to bond, so she suggested we go fishing…and here we were, in awkward land. Boris spoke first; “Hello.” “Hi.” “Ready to go?” “Yup.” And we were off. His bike was huge. He sat in front, I behind him and the side cart bounced merrily along the bumpy, unpaved road. We rode in silence, literally over a river and threw the woods, until we came to a shallow part of the river. Boris stopped his bike a few yards away from the water. We set up our rods and found a comfortable place to sit. A cool breeze rose up and a horsefly perched itself on Boris’s arm. He picked it off with two fingers; “You know these things are so annoying, they’re everywhere, and their bites hurt like hell.” I nodded. He tore off the bug’s legs and let it fly off into the darkness. “That way it won’t bite anyone else”, he explained. I smiled. I hate horseflies too. “This is a pretty bad time to fish you know,” Boris stated. “Why?” “The only fish that live here now are tiny pathetic ones. It’s pointless to catch them. They have barely any flesh and are a hassle to cook.” “Oh…Were there ever any big fish here?” “Oh yeah, tons. My grandpa and I used to go fishing here all the time. He

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Winter ’06 caught fish twice his weight a few times, they were enough to feed the family for over a week. But then they built the dam. And now the fish don’t come down here anymore.” “That sucks, I wanted to catch a big fish.” Boris smiled. His pole jerked and he quickly reeled in the line to reveal a wriggling four inch fishy on the other end. “Told you they’re small”, he said, yanking the hook out of the fish’s mouth and shoving the tiny, squirming creature into his big pocket and throwing his line back into the river. Eventually I caught a fish too, it was even smaller than Boris’s but I didn’t care. The stars had come out and the moon cast a peaceful glow over the river as we sat shooing away horse flies and filling Boris’s pockets with tiny fish. Boris, though hesitant at first, told me tidbits about Algatch and our relatives that lived there with him. But as he grew more comfortable he broke into a happy chatter about, school, work, music, hobbies and friends. It was past midnight when we took our lines out for the last time. Boris stuck his hand in his pocket to check on the fish. When he pulled it out, his hand was covered in some putrid yellow substance. After further investigation his hand reappeared from his pocket with a ring of keys, each of the keys had pierced at least one fish and their lumpy, yellow guts were now trickling down Boris’s hand. The fish were completely useless, he through them out and rinsed his hand in the water. Suddenly, we heard a cry; “Hey Boris!” We turned to see a man approaching us. He was in his late thirties, tall and porky with thick dark hair and beard. It was hard to distinguish any of his facial features in the dark, but Boris seemed to recognize the man and answered the call. “Yeah Gretchkin, what do you want?” Gretchkin turned towards me. “Who’s the girl?” “She’s my cousin, Sasha.” “Oh, never heard of her.” He addressed me, “Who are you? Do I know your parents? What’s your mom’s name?” “Natalia Khlopina.” Gretchkin’s face contorted into a smile. “Natashka eh?! Man, she was something. She was real smart in her day, running around here, bossing everyone around. I heard she moved to America somehow, and now she’s back? Wow”, he paused and then turned his attention back to Boris. “So Boris, the reason I came here is…well…be a pal and fetch me some of your grandmother’s…delicious concoction. What do you say?” Boris hesitated, “this isn’t really a good time.” “Oh, come on, how long will it take you to nip there and back. Remember the time when…” “Oh okay, okay.” He walked over to his bike and turned around to look at me before leaving.

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Calliope “Will you be okay staying here? Or do you want to come with me?” Gretchkin answered for me. “She’ll be fine. Just hop onto your bike now, and hurry up.” Boris gave me an apologetic glance before roaring off out of our sight. Gretchkin turned to look at me. I reluctantly looked back. “So Sasha, eh? Oh, you don’t have to worry,” he said after interpreting my expression, I’m just the night guard. I have to keep watch here for five hours every night to keep them hooligans from coming around and messing things up. Boris comes down here with his friends a lot so we’re good pals.” “Oh.” “Yeah, don’t be so scared. Here, while we wait for Boris, why don’t you tell me how Natashka has been getting along. I haven’t seen her in ages!” “Well..” He cut me off right away, bursting into a long rant about his school days. About how he and my mom were in the same class and about the good times he had had in those times, his memories, his regrets. He was really lonely keeping watch all alone by the river. He rarely had anyone to talk to. We heard familiar roar of the motorcycle sounded in the distance. Gretchkin decided to put in one last word before Boris rejoined us. “Now you be good okay. Study and work hard like your mom, otherwise you’ll end up like me, you hear?” “I nodded.” Boris got off his bike and handed an unmarked bottle to Gretchkin. The man smiled. “Thank you. Hey, you guys want to join me?” Boris turned to me enquiringly. “What is it?” I asked. Gretchkin turned to me smiling. “You’ve never tried it? Well than you have to join. It is a real Russian tradition. You’ll like it. Sit down both of you.” We sat surrounded by darkness. The horseflies did not seem so prevalent anymore and the crickets seemed to chirp softer. The stars twinkled in the depths of the black sky and the moon cast a serene glow on the whole scene. I noticed the silhouette of the watch tower in the distance. A feeling of peace and freedom encompassed me. Gretchkin opened the bottle and handed it to me. I took a swig from it. He was right, it did taste good. I told him so when he asked. Both he and Boris smiled. The minutes went by as we took long swigs from the bottle, exchanging a couple of words here and there as we sat staring out upon the great river before us. Soon the time came for Boris and me to leave. We said our goodbyes to Gretchkin and took off. The wind whizzed in my ears and the trees watched us silently as we sped past, flying up into the air on every bump in the road. Boris pulled up at the gate to my grandma’s cottage. We settled down on the bench out front and he recounted more stories about the village. The pregnant, tailless cat jumped onto his lap and he ran his fingers over her soft fur as his voice trailed off into the night.

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Winter ’06

HANA LOW

I’ll Never Tell Samantha Bromberg

The two-way mirror that lets me watch curiously the actions of my “peers” leaves them to see only what they want if only just reflections of themselves and I can be comfortably alone with thoughts they cant read and ideas they cant laugh at it’s this mirror that defines my existence I will say I hold comfort in the reflection that leaves them “drinking that glass of water but never really tasting it” secretly I long to be that reflection but I’ll never tell.

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Calliope

WEIQI HU

Missing You I

Raven Warren

t’s so sad to think that the only real memory that I have of you is when you were always mad and hateful towards Mommy, Devon, and me. You always came home drunk, so drunk that we could smell it on you, and the sad thing is that you would lie to us about it. Even worse, you would hit Mommy and she would cry, cry so hard that her tears were the kind that reminded me of raindrops on a stormy night. Not a day passed that mom didn’t love you. You weren’t just hurting her, you were hurting the only two things in life that you swore were your “pride and joy.” You don’t know how much we cared about you, loved you, and wanted the best for you. I know I wasn’t the perfect little girl and Devon knows he wasn’t the toughest son, but we tried. We really did. Every night Devon and I would stay up and pray for you, the man we loved, hoping for you to come home. You don’t realize how much pain you brought to us, not just to Devon and me but Mommy too. I will never forget your promise, that you would come to my sixth birthday party and you promised that you would buy me the pretty pink Barbie Doll mansion. But you never came and you never saw all the girls who laughed and giggled among themselves. One said, “He isn’t coming, he doesn’t even love her…” It hurt because what she said was true. I never wanted to talk to you again; in fact, I was so mad, not even mad I hated you. Years went on and I didn’t talk to you. Your diagnosis hit mom and Devon like a ton of bricks, but you didn’t know how much

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Winter ’06 it struck me. I was so devastated, I felt like someone had reached in me and grabbed everything, all my insides, pulled them out and left me to waste away. I wanted so much to be there when you were in the hospital lying in that cold room, listening to doctors say that you wouldn’t make it. I wanted to be there and prove to them that you would. I was holding back, holding back from the fear that if I went and tried to be there for you, you would just want me to leave; I feared that you would disown your own daughter. I tried to see you, but no one would take me. It’s the truth I swear. I really tried to visit. Then the day came, you left “a better place.” I cried and the tears rolled down and down, into my palms and onto my shirt. I never realized how much I really needed you. I needed you, to be there for me in a way no one else could. Days went on, and while days turned to weeks and weeks into months, I was always hoping for just one more chance to walk, talk, even just a moment to hear you clarify the past. To this very moment, not a day passes that I don’t regret holding a grudge against you and not telling you that I loved you. But let me say it now: I love you, I always have. I never meant to hurt you. I don’t care that you hurt me. I forgive you so much that even when I say it I get teary eyed. I will say it now, I am sorry. I am sorry for being the person you didn’t want me to be, and for doing things that may have hurt you. I didn’t want to. Devon and I never meant to hurt you. We really didn’t, Mommy made us hate you because she was mad. Not mad at what you did who you were, but at the choices you made. But I never wanted to hate you; Devon and I loved you so much and we still do. We cared and tried to make you believe that, but it was hard because you left. On that day when you walked out, we were all hurt, but on the day you died, we were devastated. I wish that I could steal one last glance of you. Maybe even a hug or a kiss on the cheek, something from you to let me know that you accept my apology and forgive me. I am sorry, I really am. But it’s hard now to be sorry for so long when you aren’t there to tell me its okay and that everything will get better. I constantly ask myself who will walk me down the aisle and am ready to marry? Who will be there when I go to prom and be the “annoying dad” who takes pictures and embarrasses me? Who will be there to see me graduate from high school, even college? Who will be the grandpa to my children? It alright, I am not letting this be a boulder in my path. I will forever miss and love you, but I am moving on from all the hate and resentment. They are just little stepping stones to making me a better person. I would like to tell you that I love who you are but not what you did. And even though you can’t say sorry for the things you did to hurt me, it’s okay because I forgive you anyways. I forgive you for all the things you have done and said, but most of all I forgive you for trying to do the right thing and I had not realized it. Thanks Daddy, I will be missing you…

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Calliope

ANDREW PERRAULT

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Winter ’06

School Days in the Life Wes Duplantier

The school bell sounds its first morning beat The rising of students, the rumble of feet Take out your homework all nice and neat Then the school bell rings its usual beat The rising of students, the dash from their seats The greetings of teachers “Please have a seat. Prepare for the test, don’t nobody cheat” Then the school bell rings its usual beat The rising of students, right past Ms. Keats The greetings of teachers now it’s P.E! Everyone’s here- except Anne Marie. Then the school bell rings its usual beat The rush of winners, the course of defeat But I’m no longer there, that’s such a feat Not there? Where are you? I’m just at lunch Calm down, slow down, don’t worry a bunch As I finally rest and enjoy a noon munch!

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Calliope

It Speaks for Itself Tryst’n Hart

I wake up pissed Not wanting to go to school Not wanting to deal with Pointless work Fake smiles and people School is a place to have fun Yeah right My school is filled with back stabbing people Who lie Steal and Cheat To get what ever they want I wake up pissed not wanting to face the fact that I am one of those back stabbing people who lie Steal and Cheat To get what ever they want I wake up hating myself Asking my self Why, why, why Do I hate those people so much if I am just like them?

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Winter ’06

HANA LOW

Graduation Kevin Liu

Bittersweet smiles shimmer this last day, Finally realizing we’re about to leave this place. Could four years have alread passed on by? Eyes bleeding tears as we say our goodbyes. Are these memories doomed to slip from our minds, Of the challenges we’ve faced, the mountains we’ve climbed, Of the people we’ve met, the friends we’ve stood beside, Of the laughs we’ve shared, the tears we’ve cried. Will our world disappear into obscurity? Will all we’ve known fade beyond a memory? But wipe those eyes and dry those tears, We can never forget all that has happened here. Our past will haunt us forever no matter what it seems, Embrace the past but don’t let it hinder your dreams. Because our lives are just beginning.

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Calliope

Of UPS Trucks, Wayward Sisters and Raving Grandmas Emily Schickli

W

ho could say what drove her? I can’t be too sure whether my sister acted from a perverse desire to excite our relations with terror or hysterics, depending on the individual, or whether she just woke up one morning and needed a different life. I mean, something drastic must have happened, because her rational radar suddenly just went blip. The Normal People, as Gramma refers to them, don’t cast off their whole livelihood and future based on an impulsive whim. The majority of my family chooses to believe that she is naturally bad—one of those “special cases” of a girl who takes years to germinate, but when something inside her is triggered, it’s like a whole one-woman freak show. They say that they had suspected some defect in her nature that would warrant such a maniacal transformation of all her hopes and dreams, but never felt the necessity to mention it before. Of course, not two days ago, I swear I overheard my aunt boast to the postman about how my sister Cathy was “positively going places.” As our house is a place inhabited by three generations of women, it isn’t unusual for one of us to flirt with every paid male audience that comes to our doorstep. “Hey Cass, are you at it again?” Mama yells through the door-less frame of my living closet. Unlike my friends, who possess spacious living quarters, my room is little larger than a closet. In fact, its only inhabitants are a bed and a table. Furthermore, the “table” was sawed in half by Gramma when she decided to feng shui our house. She took it to the next level—instead of just re-arranging furniture, she sliced everything in half. In fact, all of our fixtures are only a fraction of their original size. I’m not sure how she figured that sitting in half a chair would bring good fortune, but that was Gramma. “Am I at what again?” I yell back at Mama, despite the short distance between the kitchen and my closet. Mama comes through the door, hands on hips, wearing a bright blue apron.

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Winter ’06 “Hot damn, child, are you at writing again? You know very well what I’m talking about, so don’t give me none of that.” “Sure I am, see the pencil, the paper?” “You better not be writing to that no-good sister of yours.” She pauses, watching me. Her eyebrows come together to form one long uni-brow. I shrug until she is satisfied with my non-answer and leaves. I turn back to writing. The only one who seems to support Cathy in any form is my eighty-threeyear-old grandma, who stopped trying to control her “voluntary tourette’s” – as she calls it — ten years ago. She no longer is ashamed of wolf-whistling at every man in a uniform. The front door squeaks open, announcing the presence of Gramma. Usually we don’t let her wander about alone, but today is an exception. With Aunt finishing up work at the office, and Mama determined to cook a good dinner to make up for the fact that we have to go to Cathy’s opening show tonight, there was no one to look after her. “Hey Catie! Caatttiee!” Gramma says, her cries sounding throughout the house. “Comin’ Mama!” Mama calls back. I follow her out into the living room to where Gramma is slouching; resting her weight on half of the piano bench. “Oh, Mama, why didn’t you take your walker today?” “Ah hell, Catie, you know that thing makes me look old, don’t you?” I suppress a smile, but it doesn’t escape Gramma. “What you smiling about over there, Cass? If anyone’s got something ta smile about, they’d better share it. ‘Cause your Mama’s had enough surprises this week, and what with the one I’m about ta give her, you best spit it out right now, Miss Cass.” “Gramma, I sure don’t have any surprises.” She raises a carefully-stenciled eyebrow. “You sure?” “Yeah.” She narrows her eyes, just like Mama did a few moments before, and then slowly grins. “Come and sit down, y’all. Guess what I got today?” We sit expectantly. Personally, I’m dreading the worst; last time Gramma had a surprise was when she bought a dozen chicks to raise in the backyard. Of course Aunt would never allow such chaos in her house, so we had a tasty chicken stew that night. “Well?” I ask, when she doesn’t divulge her latest adventure immediately. “I got me a tattoo at that new parlor downtown.” I glance quickly at Mama’s expression. Her mouth seems to plummet down her face. “You what!” “I jus’ told you—I got me a tattoo. Want ta see it?” She doesn’t wait for a reply.

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Calliope She tugs down the left side of her New-Orleans-style blouse to reveal an inch-long inkblot on her breast. Instead of the shock she anticipated, I’m merely puzzled. “But Gramma, why didn’t you get a flower or something? Why that?” She turns to me, offended. “What, you don’t like it? I saw it up on the wall over there and I kinda liked it. So I got it.” “But a division symbol?” “What? So that’s what this is? Some math thing?” “Well, what did you think it was?” I demand of her. “I saw a coupla boys wearing it on their jackets—I thought it was a hot new gang sign.” Choking with laughter, I’m kept from commenting. She continues, unperturbed. “Since I’m eighty-three I figured I might as well. No one will care if it sags later, ‘cause I’m already old.” “Oh, but Mama,” Mama gasps with exasperation, “how can you do this to me?” “Do what ta you? I don’t recall you gettin’ poked with a needle in a tattoo parlor an hour ago, so what are you gussing about?” Aunt chooses this moment to pull open the door. She waltzes in, carrying her black pleather brief case. She dumps it on the couch next to Mama. “All right, what’s the fuss? Everyone get in the car if we’re goin’ to do this thing.” At just sixteen, Aunt got a full scholarship to Stanford. That was the same year that Mama gave birth to Cathy. Aunt’s the only one of us besides Cathy that has been to college, and now she pays all the bills. She won’t ever let us forget that. So whenever she comes home from work, she always acts like she has this invisible power over us. Throughout the night, however, her mulishness fades until, by morning she’s so meek that you could tell her to clean the toilet for you and she’d do it. “Gramma’s got a tattoo,” I say to her, as her eyes shift between us warily. Aunt stares. “What? Mama why—” Gramma interrupts her to scold me. “Now hold up there, Cass, I don’t rat you out when you go and do something naughty. I’d hoped you’d do the same, but I guess not.” Aunt stamps her foot angrily. “Oh, I don’t care! Just get in the damn car!” We scuttle to obey. On the way to the show, Gramma spots a UPS man delivering a three-footlong package. She eagerly starts to roll down her window. I reach across her to grab her devious hand. “Gramma, no!” She pushes against me, struggling to gain the window crank. She’s panting furiously. “Let me go, Cass!” “No!”

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Winter ’06 She growls and jerks her hand free. By the time she opens the window a crack, the man is back in his truck and out of earshot. Defeated, Gramma starts complaining about her ‘attack of tourette’s.’ “Ah, Cass, get me a glass of water! My voluntary tourette’s is acting up again.” “Gramma…if it’s ‘voluntary’ then why can’t you just stop doing it?” “Ah!” Gramma glares at me. “So you think you can make fun of me just ‘cause I’m different? Don’t you know it pains me?” She pounds her chest sharply to indicate where it hurt her. “Course I’d stop, if I could—but it’s voluntary!” “Don’t you mean ‘involuntary’ Gramma?” She smiles, showing her teeth. “That’s all right Cass, I know you haven’t got ta go ta college yet, but that’s what you’re studying for. Just learn enough and you’ll be smart as Gramma!” “Oh would you two just shut up?” Aunt bellows back at us while swerving into a left-hand turn lane. A few cars honk at her as she passes them. At last we arrive at the Little North-town Theatre. A square of neon green cardboard is taped to the “no parking” pole with “Presenting Cathy Orr” written on it in block letters. “There she is! Look!” Gramma says excitedly. The rest of us groan. Yes, indeed there is the sign which states to all that we are related to her; for underneath the bold print reads “Special welcome to my family: Gramma Cay, Mama Catie, Aunt Caren, and Cass.” Aunt pulls into the disabled parking space next to the sign. We throw the doors open and stride into the theatre. At the entrance, a young woman in pink greets us and shows us to the front row. We settle down noisily in the plush crimson seats and look around. Someone other than us has yet to arrive. My sister always had crazy ideas about what she would do with her life, but all of them were jokes, of course. She never would seriously stray from her dream of graduating from Columbia and becoming a lawyer. This is the respectable occupation of which my sensible Aunt heartily approves. Mama, who follows Aunt’s advice in all matters of business, also encourages my sister in this. Gramma, however, wants her to do something more daring—such as to become a dancer at a gentleman’s club; provided that she makes enough money by which to live. In the end, my sister was happy with none of the options provided for her. Instead, she inherited the desire to do something that is considered an aberration; such as attending college when The Normal People are still in high school, or having a baby at sixteen. Unfortunately, my sister’s particular choice is a drastic mistake in my family’s eyes. Ever since she was a child, she was cheerful, talkative and had high aspirations, so naturally everyone expected something great of her. Her only fault in their eyes is the absurd combination of Cathy’s charm and sardonic humor; which, if you ask me, should outweigh her other qualities. I guess when they compare her to me, a gangly, boobless teen, who doesn’t really do anything besides complain and write, they can easily overlook her imperfections. So imagine

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Calliope their surprise when this perfect specimen gave up speaking all together. She became a mime. As the velvet curtain rises before us, I glance behind me and note that the audience now has a grand total of five people. An odd-looking old man snuck in the back just as the lights dimmed. Gramma grabs my hand compulsively—as if she is nervous. A yellow spotlight illuminates the stage. A backdrop of a field of wildflowers is the sets’ only decoration. My sister enters, dressed in a black leotard and striped neon pink and white tights. She wears thin ballet slippers on her feet. The glow follows her marshmallow-like walk across the stage. She mimics a butterfly or perhaps a bird—as is evident by her batting arms. Cathy is completely absorbed in her act, and I can’t keep a burning sensation from creeping across my cheeks. Then the scene changes subtly, and she stops short with her arms extended. She crumples to the ground, and then writhes on the floor like a boy diving for dropped candy; I swear I could almost hear her squealing. Out of the corner of my eye I catch Gramma’s expression—a delighted smile stretches across her face. Mama and Aunt, from what I can see, are less amused. Even in the darkness of the theatre I can tell both are mortified. Clapping from the back of the room announces the end of the act. I applaud Cathy, despite the awkwardness of her acting, for it is evident that Mama and Aunt will not. Gramma, however, heartily joins me. “Hot stuff, Cathy! Wooo-hooo!” She howls up at her. “Well-done!” Cathy clambers down from the stage to greet us. Gramma rushes her as a quarterback might, and then squeezes her between her arms until she starts to resemble a bloated asparagus. The rest of us are silent sentinels. “Well.” Cathy shrugs her shoulders after she can breathe once more. “What do think?” “Trash,” Aunt says harshly. “Well, I’m proud of her,” I say. “Aren’t you, Gramma?” To my surprise, Gramma splits open with laughter. She cries, pounds the seats, and howls so hard she has to sit down again. “What?” Cathy asks, suddenly white. “Well,” Gramma says, “you certainly did what I wanted you ta do in the first place.” “What’d you mean?” “Hell, don’t you remember? I’ve always wanted you ta embarrass yourself fully! And finally you’ve gone and done it.” She leaps up and again embraces Cathy. Mama cracks a smile at Gramma’s antics, but Aunt remains expressionless. “Well, are you comin’ home now?” Mama asks Cathy after Gramma calms herself. “I’ll make some of them fried tomatoes.” Cathy nods and follows us out.

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Winter ’06 At the car, Aunt does something strange. She jumps in the car and locks all the doors. She rolls down one window. “Like hell I’ll pay more money to feed Cathy if all she’s goin’ to do is rot in some theatre all her life. I won’t have it.” “Caren,” Mama says, “this is my baby and I won’t have you kickin’ her out just yet.” “But I pay the bills. You have no choice in the matter. Well, Cathy? What’ll it be? Starvation and acting? Or school and a full stomach?” Cathy looks from Aunt to Mama. Her bottom lip juts out stubbornly. I brace myself for one of her meltdowns. “Aunt, you should know better than to try and bribe me with food.” Dusk falls over us as Cathy and Aunt exchange obstinate glares. The time of day and memory of the show must affect Aunt, because her temper thaws. Her face loses some of its severity. Perhaps she realizes that she has little control over Cathy. In any case, moving at the speed of a chameleon, she unlocks the doors. “Alright, Catie, have it your way. But she better not eat too many tomatoes.” We hop in the car and Aunt guns the engine. As we back out of the parking space, Aunt hits the pole supporting Cathy’s sign. In a last moment of defiance, she leaps out of the car, rips the sign off the pole, and jumps back in. Before we can say anything, she tears out of the parking lot and heads home.

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Calliope

Untitled Christen Creed

no one real i’m lost and lonely the same old thing repeats brokenly too much time i’ve lost this way i need to make up for and stop this endless circle now i’m walking backwards on one foot blind i hit one wall then realize there are three more a square now i’m trapped. inside this never ending dream i want to wake up to watch the sunrise to remind me that there is warmth in this cold room that’s broken and misused stop the hands of time and pull me from its tight embrace because in truth, i’ll hold on, even if i want to let go.

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Winter ’06

WEIQI HU

Open Sores Hilary Brennan-Marquez

T

here were open sores all on the insides of her mouth. He could feel them with the tip of his tongue. He wondered vaguely how long they had been there and what other parts of his body they had come in contact with. Ninety-nine percent of the population is afflicted with the herpes virus. It sits dormant in the spine and manifests in the mouth when the immune system is lacking its usual vigor. Gregory liked the sores. He liked the way they tasted, salty and red like how he imagined stoned eyes would taste. Gregory remembered getting sand in his eyes at the beach. He was six. His father licked the sand out of his eyes like it said to do in the parenting books. Thinking about it made Gregory acutely aware of the skin on his throat and the tiny hairs on the backs of his hands. Since then, he had wanted to know how eyes tasted. He figured he’d eventually have a son of his own whose eyes he could lick at the beach. Eventually, sure, but not today and not with Alice. She would probably let him lick her eyes if it was really important to him. She would do anything like that. Alice wasn’t fearless, so much as terrified of losing him. Which was funny, because he was about to leave. That’s what he had come to do. To leave. He had come to sleep, and then to leave, but not until the morning.

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Calliope

Mountain Lion Caterina Yuan

Round black-tipped ears raised, black-tipped tail twitching, padding with broad paws, seeking his prey. Wet pink nose sniffing, black striped muzzle raised, he scents, he listens. Sunlight spills between the tall trunks of the trees, golden droplets falling on green leaves dead leaves the white throat the creamy belly. Paused in mid-stride golden eyes looking, tawny body tense muscles rippling he paces he steps carefully carefully making no sound And pounces.

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Winter ’06

Once and Future Alex Huerta

Old and grey, your days have gone Think about the past, with a face so wan How did your time speed by so fast? All your friends are gone, and you are the last. Time, time, passing by People grow and people die. The time will pass you by Time will creep and time will fly You will cry and you will live You will die and you will give. Time, time, passing by People grow and people die. Everything once passed Everything will stay Everything will last All will go away.

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Calliope

This Side of Inside’s Not Right Saby

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it. Cunning wit and maybe just a little stinging sarcasm. Yeah, that sounds about right. That appears to be exactly what I’m looking for in a tone of voice when speaking to someone who loves me with all their heart, in fact, I think I’ll use it on everybody. It’ll be a self-revelation that explodes into a one man revolution. Speaking like you don’t give a shit and everyone will know how you really feel. Totally. Now I just need to get rid of this throbbing ache in the front of my throat, the one that isn’t allowing me to speak or breathe at the moment. Then, I’ll need to blink at least thirty times to push the millions of tears welling up under my eyelids back into their ducts, I don’t want to make a mess of this moment, this rejection, it’s all I have left. Oh, well, now my nose is running and all attempt to look mildly composed is shot, might as well wipe it on your sleeve since I’m too scene to carry around tissues anyway. Look at what I’ve done, now she’s breaking down, beginning to leak out of her deep brown eyes, trickling down her rosy cheeks one by one. Dry, chapped lips quivering meekly as her breath becomes ragged and forced. Don’t sob dammit, this should be painless, it was supposed to be painless. Then why can’t I stop looking at her, counting every teardrop as my own, wishing that her every sob was coming from my mouth. Kill me, strike me down right here a resurrect me as one of her long, auburn hairs and I still wouldn’t be able to shake the feeling that I’m so far away in the distance, too far to make a difference. I’ll take it all back, the videotape, the alcohol, the confessions, the pain, I’d make it all go away if I could. But it’s too late now, I fabricated the evidence and now there is a true crime. Her significant other stands before her on this cloudy, horrendously windy day and I’ve got a camera in a tree, waiting to capture my moment of guilty glory the instant it is perpetrated. The question, the answer, she didn’t mean it, it was a mistake, she didn’t know him, she wasn’t herself that day. But she’s dead to him, you can see it in his eyes, the way his eyebrows slant in anger, the way his stare is colder than the temperature after wind shear. Someday, I’ll hate myself for this, for tearing her away from him and taking what was dropped for myself. Someday, if I can ever stop these tears from flowing out. “Hey, pretty girl. Why are you crying?”

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Winter ’06

CAMDEN KIMURA

Angsty Love Poem #1742 Anonymous

did you really think that I would let myself get lost in you? ha silly if I did that, where do you think I’d be when you told me you’d had enough and wanted something(one) else? writing angsty love poems on my bedroom floor, that’s where.

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Calliope

Fishin’ for Jocelyn Emily Schickli

L

aughing, Papa slung the fishing tack into the back of his rusting Ford pickup truck. He bent and lifted me effortlessly onto the high seat, for all I was thirteen. “Papa, can I hold the rods?” Carefully, he handed me one through the window, the bobber bouncing on the fishing line. Papa gunned his engine and we were off. I could remember the last time he took me fishing. It was nine years ago—right before Mama died. I remember seeing Mama lying there, just lying on the bed all pale-skinned and clammy. She wouldn’t let me come near her, even when I cried. Every time I tried to touch her she would sing and the doctor would come running. “Gin a body meet a body Comin thro’ the rye, Gin a body kiss a body, Need a body cry?” I never quite knew what the lyrics meant, but Papa seemed to know. Every time he heard it he looked terrified, and so I never asked him. So Papa took me fishing, thinking it would calm me down and give Mama some rest. Soon I was chasing the dragonflies and making bogweed whistles and Mama’s illness was a vague memory. She rested, that’s for sure, because when we got back the doctor had this sad sad look in his eyes. Papa wouldn’t let me see her; he thought it might mess with my head. I cried for her again, just like I had before we went, and tugged on his sleeve. The doctor turned away and Papa slapped me. Papa glances at me from the driver seat. “That boy Jake still runnin’ you around?” “Papa!” He chuckled. “You must think me old, but I’m not blind, baby girl.” My face flushed. “Papa?” “Hm?” “Would you—would you tell me about Mama?” Papa floored the breaks and the whole car jerked forward. The fishing rod flew out the window just as my face hit the windshield. “Papa! You tryin’ to get us killed?” I screamed at him, wiping my freely-bleeding nose on my shirt sleeve. But Papa wasn’t listening. There, in the middle of the dirt track, stood a woman with hair like long blue-black feathers and a body with curves in all the right places. Instantly, I was jealous of her. I was never what you might call a beauty—but I certainly wasn’t hideous either.

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Winter ’06 Some kid had called me plain and I cried, because it couldn’t be more true. This woman, standing there like a deer in headlights, embodied all I wished to be at thirteen. Papa was still motionless, his eyes transfixed on the woman’s jello-slow movements. I thought it would take her a year to walk up to Papa’s door. I cracked open the passenger-side door and the woman glanced at me with fey green eyes that reminded me of something I had known long ago. This is mine, she seemed to say. We stayed there, the three of us, until sunlight broke out over the horizon. Suddenly I could move, and with a glance at Papa he could too. He started to get out of the car, but then stopped. The woman was no where in sight. “Papa, where—” I started, but he held up his hand, oblivious to the blood soaking my shirt. For a moment he rested his eyes as if in pain and turned the keys in the ignition and drove on. We reached the little pond in two minutes. Without breaking the silence, Papa unloaded the truck with a haunted look in his eyes. I decided to wait. I stuck two worms on hooks and rigged up the poles to sit without my assistance. I stretched out on a large flat rock in the sun and watched the dragonflies dart here and there among the reeds. And at length, Papa spoke. His voice seemed to drift to me from miles away, although I could smell the perspiration on his brow. “I’m afraid I knew it would come to this. I just hoped that I’d have more time. More time is all I wanted—all she wanted.” “What Papa? What’s happened?” It took him a while to answer, and strangely, he didn’t appear to be addressing me. “It can’t have been enough. All these years I must’ve slipped somehow, but I’ve been so careful. So careful. I promised you. I promised you, but you are taking this from me so soon. So soon.” “Papa?” His gaze was blank and turned towards the heavens. “‘Cause I could’a sworn you promised me something too—and I was careful to not ask for much. I didn’t want much. Just this. This—” “Papa you’re scaring me.” I sat up and looked over at him and then I knew. He had that same face—that same sad face as the doctor. Somebody was dying. And the scary thing was I didn’t know who. Out of nowhere, a thick feminine voice cried out to us. “Gin a body meet a body Comin thro’ the rye, Gin a body kiss a body, Need a body cry?” I jumped off the rock and spun, looking frantically for the source. There, among the reeds with her long blue-black tresses trailing behind her, she came. “O Jenny’s a’ weet, poor body, Jenny’s seldom dry:

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Calliope She draigl’t a’ her petticoatie, Comin thro’ the rye!” At the last word, the woman leapt onto shore, wild-eyed and dripping. I chanced a look at Papa. He was terrified. And then I knew. I turned back to the advancing woman. Somebody was dying, and it wasn’t Papa. It was me. I opened my mouth, about to yell for help. Instead, I gulped a mouthful of muck and pond water as the woman shoved me head-first into the reeds. “Papa?” I gasped, struggling under the woman’s persistent hands. I was halfdrowned when at last her melodic singing and thrusting hands ceased. I managed to drag myself onto my back. My lungs sucked in a great lungful of air. Papa’s callused hands smoothed the mud from my eyes. “Papa, what happened?” I asked and then passed out. My head swam with bright fluorescent lights, dancing across the ceiling and loud metallic noises and long beeping noises. My eyes opened and fixed on my father’s anxious face. He was holding my hand. “Papa?” I croaked. “Thought it was her,” he muttered apologetically. “I thought it was your mama.” He chuckled a little, rubbing the back of his head. “She had me there.” “But...wasn’t she?” “No sweetling, just some crazy escaped from the loony bin.” “How’d you know?” “That verse she sang. Your Mama never said Jenny, she always said Jocelyn.” “Really? She sang my name?” Papa stroked my hair softly. “Yes. Always. It took me just long enough. I whacked the crazy over the head with the tack box. Sure enough she was solid, and went out cold.” A comfortable silence reigned. At last I broke it. “Papa?” I asked hesitantly. “Will you tell me about Mama?” Papa smiled, his eyes glazed over with the haze of memory. “All right. But as long as you promise to tell me never to go fishin’ again.”

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Winter ’06

WEIQI HU

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Calliope

October Avenues Shameen Jamil

It ends, The sweet sunshine Find your source of comfort And let commitment keep you warm Till spring.

Revel

Hilary Brennan-Marquez in youth is pleasure so somewhere between finding him and losing you I must have reveled for a moment

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Winter ’06

Words Like Beestings Anonymous

(sharp and sometimes inducing an allergic reaction) come now, be still. words shouldn’t hurt (not that much) let me help you. don’t worry, love they’re just jealous of your butterfly wings of your fairy-dust eyes of your paper-cut scars of your broken-twice heart they wish they had your smile

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Calliope

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Winter ’06

Home For The Holidays 6 Minute Musings from Creative Writing Club

84.........................................................................Dog Holiday – Alex Huerta 84...............................................................Mouse Holiday – Andrew Perrault 85........................................................................Holiday Cards – Katie Chow 85.................................................................Holiday Philosophy – Weiqi Hu 86.................................................................French Holiday – Tessa Opperman 87.................................................Daly City, 2006 – Hilary Brennan-Marquez

HANA LOW

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Calliope

A Dog Holiday T

Alex Heurta

he tree caught on fire. The presents we all re-gifts. And no one bothered to fill my food dish. My name is Tex. Weird name, you’d think. These people persist in giving us names that aren’t really names at all. Fluffy, Killer, Lucky… What I wouldn’t give for a “here Tom!” Some dogs have all the luck. I met a guy named Sam. Why can’t I have a name like that? Anyway, I’m getting off topic. Christmas is a time, for my family at least, to run around frantically exchanging green pieces of paper with no real value that they call money for stuff. Why green? People think dogs are colorblind, but that’s not true. I even have a favorite color: red, the color of my leash. I love walks. Sniffing things is really fun. Back to my main topic. What was it again? I guess it doesn’t matter, ‘cause the boy is petting my now. Good boy. Goooood boy.

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A Mouse Holiday Andrew Perrault

T

he white December sun stumbled through the windows like a homeless man in search of a dry place to sleep. The fumes from the eggnog flowed through the heating vents, intoxicating the mice and the other dependants of the house. Sleepy, one of the mice, perched himself on top of a jar of sugar and peered over the edge as Mama stirred the eggnog. “Boil, boil, toil and trouble,” she intoned. The mouse giggled in a mousish way. Meanwhile, by the Christmas tree lay the two children. “I wonder what Christmas will be like this year,” said the 3-year-old Emma. Her brother Jack, 5, played with his fire truck, rolling it back and forth on the lumpy carpet. “I want hardwood floors, like a real house,” said he. As the two of them sat in a dreamy daze, the light snowfall outside the windows formed a perfect winter scene. The mouse, passed out on top of the tin of sugar, snored in a happy way.

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Winter ’06

Holiday Cards Katie Chow

I

t was Christmas, just as it had always been. Lights on the tree, presents underneath. Cookies in the oven, with flour on the kitchen counters. Most of the Christmas card list had been checked off. It was distinctly odd, the way the Johnsons persisted in sending a card to someone who had been dead for seven years.

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Holiday Philosophy Weiqi Hu

“I

think we should go artificial this year.” “What? Why? There’s no point in having a tree if it’s not real.” “You’re always like that. Look, it’s close enough, and you don’t have to take care of — God! It’s not like we’re trying to kill your holiday ambitions with a dead tree. They are just like the real thing.” “They are definitely not the real thing.” “Not the, just better.” “Right. You know what we need? A divorce.” “Yeah.”

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Calliope

A French Holiday Tessa Opperman

My grandpa lights the stove My uncle lights a cigarette My brother stuffs the turkey My cousin stuffs himself The sky darkens The tree brightens Shoes are filled full Hopes are fulfilled

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Winter ’06

Daly City, 2006 Hilary Brennan-Marquez

Thanksgiving in Korea is peasant farmers and riot Police there For you You call me from Seoul from Four o’clock tomorrow afternoon In the future Thanksgiving will be families and babies You will come home from California And me, my brother I will write poetry about thanksgivings spent Without you Thanksgiving in San Francisco is chandeliers and oak paneled dining rooms Your girlfriend’s grandmother makes Kimchi in Korea For you even though you are tall And pale And she cannot say your name

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Calliope

2006 Layout Staff

Joanna Bell, ’07 Hilary Brennan-Marquez, ’07 Katie Chow, ’07 Bryn Kimura, ’09 Camden Kimura, ’07 Arunima Kohli, ‘07 Hana Low, ’07 Tessa Opperman, ’07 Cover Photo Ben Richard, ’07

Advisor

Kevin Sharp, ’88

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Winter ’06

CALLIOPE is The Literary Magazine for Palo Alto High School. We are run for the students, by the students, and we get by with a little help from our teacher advisor. Our stories are clean, our pictures are tasteful and our minds are rarely at rest. Mr Sharp is our advisor, quality control inspector and cookie-bestower (on Very Special Occasions). Camden and Hana are our chief editors, presidents and scatterbrained starving artists. Everyone else is essential to our existence and we could not possibly have done anything without their support. CREATIVE WRITING CLUB is Calliope’s hyperactive little brother. Born in the ‘80s but never fully grown, he makes his triumphant return to provide you, yes you, with all the creative juice you need to quench your insatiable imagination. Room 202, Wednesdays at Lunch. See you there. THE CURE FOR MORTALITY Calliope. Please? * calliope.paly@gmail.com (preferred, as of this printing) * The Box In The Library On Top Of The Encyclopedias * The Box In Room 202 With Leopard Skin Print On The Sides

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Calliope

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Winter ’06

the end.

HANA LOW

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CalliopeWinter’06paloaltohighschoolwinteredition2006*isdedicatedtotheEnglishtongue,andallothersbri  

d Winter ’06 Calliope Winter ’06 palo alto high school winter edition 2006 * is dedicated to the English tongue, and all others bright an...

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