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[Spectrum]

Spectrum Literary Arts Magazine

Spectrum Literary Arts Magazine spectrum.magazine@gmail.com www.spectrum.neu.edu 328B Curry Student Center Mailbox: 434 CSC

Spectrum Literary Arts Magazine showcases the talents of the writers and artists at Northeastern University. All members of the Northeastern community are encouraged to submit works of original poetry, prose, and visual art. For more information, please visit www.spectrum.neu.edu. Spectrum Literary Arts Magazine, Fall 2008 edition. Copyright Š Spectrum Literary Arts Magazine and respective authors. All rights reserved. No part of this publication, including the signatures, may be reproduced without the permission of Spectrum Literary Arts Magazine and/or respective authors. Spectrum Literary Arts Magazine reserves the right to edit submissions for layout, grammar, spelling, and punctuation unless explicitly detailed by the author/artist. Any references to people living or dead are purely coincidental, except in the cases of a public figure. The views and opinions represented in this medium do not necessarily reflect those of Northeastern University or the staff of Spectrum Literary Arts Magazine.

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Special Thanks to Phil Cara

Executive Staff Editor-In-Chief Layout and Design Financial Manager Advertizing Manager Secretary

Abby Zorbaugh David Nadeau Michelle Alexander Josh Olejarz Diana Mai

General Staff Willow Goldstein Abby Hawkins Miriam Laufer Michael Ogulnick Christie Perkins Magdalena Szalowski Carli Velocci

Cover and theme art based on “The Truth About Strawberries� by Adam Simone, found within this issue of Spectrum.

From the Editor As the cover image suggests, this is one tasty, juicy uit of a magazine. Hidden inside these luscious pages are the voices of Northeastern. is issue reveals students’ secret lives: the feelings best shared through poems, the moments captured by a lens. All over campus, nestled next to the Huntington News, our issues are ripe for picking. Don’t be aaid to open this issue and take a bite. -Abby Zorbaugh

Table of Contents 2 “It’s e Simple ings” - Allison McKenzie “Eyes Revised” - Shane Fulton 4 “Split Second” - Jessica Moog “If I Were Still a Virgin” - B.R. 6 “Schoolyard Love” - Ryan Michel 8 “Brick With a Rose” - Carolyn Meers “Blacktop Queen” - Miriam Laufer 10 “Princess Latte” - Alison Smith “Summer Poem” - C. Maie Waugh “e Hills Are Alive” - Kristin Salomon

26 untitled - Cindy Yexing Qiao 28 “Boston Love Story” - Allison Smith “Red Line” - Diana Mai 30 “3:17 a.m.” - Ella Devine “New York Plays Itself ” - J.M. Olejarz “I Rule e World” - Adam Simone 32 “Blast” - Shane Fulton “Caution” - Diana Mai 34 “e Truth About Strawberries” - Adam Simone “Berry Berry Land” - Carolyn Meers

12 “Epitome of Ephiphanies” - Allison McKenzie 36 “Hot Apartment on 98th Street” - Christie Perkins “Maid in La Casa de Diaz” - Christie Perkins “Supporting Up-Stares” - Jason Jedrusiak “Brownstone” - Laurel Schultheis 14 “Culture Capitalist” - Christie Perkins 38 “Beauty, For Once” - Allison McKenzie “Borrowed Time” - Gina Bollenback “Little Metaphors” - J.M. Olejarz untitled - Michelle Catagnus 40 “Windows to e Past” - Nachiket Rajderkar” “Under Grey Skies” - Lauren Chapman “Shelter” - Mark Hevert “From Slip 87” - Stuart Peterfreund 16 “Fiy isn’t old” - Brad Vandehey untitled works - Jessie Carroll 18 “Closure” - Ella Devine “Self Portrait” - Megan McCormick

42 “summer nights at the institute, and it’s raining” - Rachel Zarrell “Waiting” - Erin Costello 44 “Communion” - Ben Landsberg “Apocalypse” - Glen Chiachieri

20 “A History” - Nikki Frankel 22 untitled - Michelle Catagnus 24 “Friday Night” - Diana Mai “In silence the gray beard” - Robert Gewirtz “Demolition” - Olivia Pascoe

46 “Babel” - Alison Smith “Limbs Grounded” - Laurel Schultheis 48 “Doppelganger” - Tara P. Vilk “Vandalism” - Jessica Moog

“It’s e Simple ings” by Allison McKenzie

Eyes Revised Most people can see A gnarled, fractured man Cup in hand, grasping at coattails Grubbily pleading and snatching Or the finely sculpted curves of a woman In a Michelangelo or Raphael Or even a golden winged ship Passing overhead ey see what they are expected to see Like statues Monuments Cathedrals And anything else too shiny to ignore But what most people don’t notice Is the green shadow behind the bold suit of a businessman Or the closet he stands in front of Guarding always ey don’t see the subtle twinkle in the eye Of a husband aer his wife departs And the postman arrives e tiniest flash of revelation Most never know the monumental minuteness of Ants in the woods e crooked smile of Aunt Sandra Feeding thrushes Graffiti on old railway cars, or “Fuck you” carved into a wooden desk And if you tell me that the beauty of human potential Can be found in the carvings of the Coliseum I will show you the white, wispy hair Of two balding old men sitting in the park eir slow drawls faintly heard by any other Or the magnificent simplicity of the first falling oak leaf Set ablaze with transient passion Perhaps in another million years We will all see it all ey say the eye was the last organ to evolve.

Shane Fulton

“Split Second” by Jessica Moog

4

If I Were Still a Virgin I’d probably have had sex with a tree by now. Because aer 21 years of abstinence, I’d definitely have a woody. Holding my genitals to a higher moral standard sounds loy and good. But orgasms are celestial. So like any decent renaissance theologian, I’ve counted the number of angels that can simultaneously fit on the tip of my penis. (So far I’ve managed only one at a time.) If I were still a virgin I’d never masturbate for fear that a single seamen might go to waste— mutiny upon the very Arc of humanity. If I were still a virgin I’d never know the warm magic spells cast by the wand that lives in my pants: e Original Prestidigitator. Nor would I know hers: the sweetest strangest looking best tasting lunch and e Original Bedtime Snack. If I were still a virgin I’d philosophize about the grander order of love; I’d expound upon the history of pubic pogonotrophy; I’d explore the deeper meanings of humping. If I were still a virgin I would never know what I’d been missing and probably wouldn’t even care.

B.R

Schoolyard Love

We go home to talk on the phone, hiding our love through words like “Ditto.” Mimicking mommy and daddy, to prove to them that we’re just as capable;

is was schoolyard love.

Circles, squares; lines so narrow; Hearts pierced by Cupid’s arrow. I now had the Smilies. e sickening giggles; Bitten by the smitten kitten; that grasped my tongue, and passed it around the four square court.

is was schoolyard love.

I’d tell her that I was not just infatuated, but more so captivated by the way she wears the mittens on her sleeves. e glow-in-the-dark Barbie band aides when she bleeds; From the fact that she’s been circling replies to my countless paper messages; “Yes, No, Maybe Tomorrow?” All archived in my roll-ly-poll-ly backpack; e luggage I carried on our trips to the jungle gym. My giant utility belt; I was her Batman she was my Batgirl, Halloween was special because her trick was to treat me.

is was schoolyard love.

I’ll send her a note, Pulled out of my Scooby-Doo lunch box. Jinkies..! I wonder if she would want my chocolate milk Or juice from my sippy cup? e exchange of desserts; I was her Oreo, and she was my sweetest by the foot.

is was schoolyard love.

Boy how I miss that schoolyard. Where it truly was simple to tell you that I loved you.

A rude awakening of a good-bye, as she fills up the U-Haul with the last wooden box. Draped in Power Ranger stickers; Reminisce of the moments we shared. A true time capsule containing all our childish secrets. A portal that allows us to go back to our Sand box gaze, Two -slice Fridays, Knee scabs, And Valentine's Day bags.

is is schoolyard love.

Pep rallies; she was the cheerleader And I was the lil’ slugger hitting the home-Coming throne was our destiny; she was my voted bride-queen to be, and I her king. Basking in the glory of our cliché high school fairy tale.

is is schoolyard love.

I want to take you to on a "date-date", and break my adolescences to tell you that “I like-like you” Where we can go to the diner and sip on one milkshake with two straws. en I can then play it back old school and take you to the sock hop, As we swing to the upbeat sounds of the trumpets, And twirl in a daze from the spiked punch, thanks to the football team.

is is schoolyard love.

to share a profound conversation. Maybe about video games; virtual reality is what we played, and she was good at pushing my buttons; 7000 points just for saying "Hi..."

Ryan Michel

6

“Brick With a Rose” by Carolyn Meers

8

Blacktop Queen “You’re not very talkative, are you?” he asks, facing me, his brown eyes full of my rumpled hair and blotchy skin. My shoulders shrug in their gray sweatshirt prison. I feel my shoulder blades rub against the scratchy cinderblocks of the wall behind me. He hesitates. I have never really looked at him before, but his mouth is very small. His lips are pink and a little chapped. I feel the heat radiating off his skin, hear the conflict in his mind (Should I stay or should I go, will she miss me, will she know?). I wrote a poem about it once. To him, I am just a lonely girl on the blacktop. To me, he is one of many knights fawning on his queen. He offers me a handful of pebbles he has gleaned from the concrete surface, but is too shy to say so. e pebbles fall between us, with a so whoosh of landing. Now the shield of the pebbles separates us, he again takes up his lance of courage. “Do you like recess?” He glances around. Wishing to keep his secret for my ears only, he leans forward. “I don’t.” I look at him, communicating my regal understanding. A queen must sympathize with her subjects. “You don’t have to like recess.” I allow him this freedom. “But you like it.” He does not understand me. He sees the other knights in the field before me, vying in sport for my approval. He sees the maids to the side, making dandelions into garlands for my hair. In his eyes, those are rough boys being cruel to each other. e circle of girls making flower chains is closed to him. He assumes their exclusivity hurts me as well. He is unaware of how insulting it would be if they offered me a place there.

He does not realize that none of this activity can take place without me. I cannot hate recess; I am its heartbeat. No one else is consciously preserving these memories of sky and grass and wind for future confinement in foreign castles. ese players moving across the grass, these so and giggling braiders, do not exist without me to observe them. When I am not here, none of them exist, not even this smallest supplicant who distances himself from the balance of my universe. Again, I shrug. e fabric of my sweatshirt catches on the brambles of the wall behind me, and slowly the molecules release each other. “I guess it is nice to be outside.” He searches for words to impress me. “e sky is so blue, you can get lost in it sometimes.” He looks hard at me. “Sometimes I feel like I don’t exist.” e heartbeat of recess is suddenly pounding faster, and I am not controlling it. I hear shouts in the field. “Hey, isn’t that Shrimpy talking to Weirdo Queen?” e giggling in the dandelion chain circle stops then grows louder. I close my eyes, feel my velvet chair behind me, see the armored heads bowed at my feet. I, kind majesty that I am, scent the fear of my smallest knight. I stand, face the shouts, the giggles. “Do you want to play with me?” I ask. He looks up. He glances around. He readjusts his armor and he stands. “Yeah. What do you want to play?” We walk off toward the pine tree next to the blacktop, where I suspect a dragon laid an egg. e baby will require a lot of attention. It is a task only for a queen and her knight. As I knew they would, the other knights and maids cease to exist. Miriam Laufer

Princess Latte Garbling on and on; not unlike the droning of Charlie Brown’s school teacher posing gum-smacking delirium. I do knot care about whosaidwhatzits or whokissedwholits. Let drunkenness be drunkenness and soberness be drunkenness. And you’ve told me this before! You, stealing my harmonious life of hateSpace frappuccinos and painted lines of Team Lampa, and scaling the ceilings of a bangling and unterrific story; teasing the peonies out of their buds and tracing your hot air balloons of filth. I then fulhazardly resort to swallowing the musicless martyrdom only to escape the disinterestedness that I cannot swim about you.

Alison Smith

10 Summer Poem Summer has been hibernating Deep within the Earth’s womb Laying dormant all winter long Teasing us with glimpses of sunlight As her reign approaches. Like a mare with foal Summer swells against its restraints of flesh Stretching, growing, awakening Summer plays a game of hide and seek behind the clouds. Warm days to come. Her water breaks in April showers Where children stomp in pink galoshes And vegetation takes a gulp Of saturated earth.

Nice days tease the cold as anticipation builds Birds chirm outside the window. Beans sprout and flowers bloom. Grey morphs into blue as brown matures to green. Colors so long disguised by winter gloom Can once again be seen. Summer births across the horizon Drying the dew upon the grass Making red mercury rise As the sun shines and sizzles across the sky. I long for summer days; I welcome summer days, My arms outstretched to greet the rays My feet naked and wiggling on the lawn. My being soaks up the sun, As warmth pours over me like honey. Summer returns once more. C. Mae Waugh

“e Hills Are Alive” by Kristin Salomon

“Epitome of Epiphanies” by Allison McKenzie

12

“Supporting Up-Stares” by Jason Jedrusiak

Culture Capitalist We wear the tie; why? e collar and the cuff itchy, horrid stuff. Sweaty feet in slick shoes, hands clutch the Daily News. Early morning; solemn face, a quality leather briefcase, stomach full of egg, bacon, toast, two porcelain mugs of French Roast a business man, lurching train, America the Insane. High heels, smoky stocking feet, toes crunched like packaged meat, eyelashes stiff with thick clump; quite glumped. Too many cocktails last night, Too many supervisors to fight.

Christie Perkins

Under Grey Skies ese days it seems my head is filled with inclement weather. High pressures mounting, throbbing, thunder at my temples. My eyes are always raining; it’s a wonder how you navigate through my storm. But then I am reminded how much you’ve always been fascinated by lightning. Lauren Chapman

FROM SLIP 87 To starboard, Wood Island, the lighthouse, Stage Island with its stone daymark, obelisk to lumber schooners, coal carriers, draggers, and packets. To port, the inner harbor, Biddeford Pool, the yacht club. And off the beam, two suns—the source and Its reflection—approaching one another, as e upper one descends toward the headland hills. I am rooting for the lower one to leap up, to master and overcome the source, although I know how this will end: the source, the red aerglow of a striper’s gills, backlighting those headland hills, and the reflection, a dark and brief warm current in the Gulf of Maine below. Stuart Petereund

Photo by Michelle Catagnus

14

“Borrowed Time” by Gina Bollenback

Fiy isn’t old I. “Have you ever liked an older woman?” she asks. “Yes, of course. Who hasn’t?” I say, knowing I am two months older. I wait for her reply, fearing the twenty-something manager at Fashionable Male who wants to do it in a very uncomfortable place. How do I respond to “He’s 53”? He is the neighbor whose yard made soccer balls his own. Or, I picture Woody Allen.

II. I took an online quiz, it said I’d live ‘til 63. I wasn’t disappointed. Age scares the hell out of me. My nightmares are filled with octogenarians on flights for Ft. Myers in August. I dread the day I ask for assistance with overhead luggage. Upon arrival, Deimos and Phobos, sons of Aphrodite, meet me at the airport. Ink-and-cardboard script read: Mr. Vandehey. My bags squeezed in the back of their white 1989 Toyota Camry, they take me to a diner for the Early Bird Special, order ham steaks with decaf, black.

Art by Jessie Carroll

Art by Jessie Carroll

16

III. Her man’s idea of a good time is a cup of pudding and e Price is Right. On their first date (at four in the aernoon) he’ll wear black socks, fake denim, use reading glasses for the senior menu. She will love it.

Brad Vandehey

Closure I dreamt a crooked smile Felt ocean air escape through New York prison pavement Heard the purr of a Cheshire cat Under the hard surface It sent me across the country Chasing an elusive trail of your freckles A map I found imprinted on the shoulders of strangers Found your address scribbled into trees Where leaves fell around my feet Bursting into flames Soon I felt the creak of your door

Shaking the surface of my skin Reverberating in my brain An empty echo in an empty room You were gone from this place too But my blood was still running My heartbeat indifferent So I stripped your walls of my memory Claimed every piece of me at I deemed salvageable Balled it up and swallowed down Fell asleep in a new city She looked me in the eyes And made peace in my bones

Ella Devine

“Self Portrait” by Megan McCormick

A History Red ringlets twisted around dirty fingers Pressed too hard, cried for hours A fist shoved in mouth Admired teeth marks across knuckles Blacked out in the boys’ room Second floor near the Math wing Head against the toilet paper littered tiles Spit up mixture of vomit and cum Trapped against the pool table Green felt scratched palms Football player hands underneath shirt Wrestling moves sprained wrist In a foreign country traveling alone Watched from the corner of the bar Arm around waist from behind Against the wall, beer stained lips approached—I freeze ese boys/men/monsters Are who I run from in my dreams I never get very far

Nikki Frankel

22

Photo by Michelle Catagnus

“Friday Night” by Diana Mai

24

In silence the gray beard In silence the gray beard of a German man, his glasses a reflection of the tree’s green blending as they go by, teaches a lesson on thought. How pensive he is over a young girl's breasts white cream collecting at the causeway of his lips. A bloody robin in his eyes; caffeinated and heaving. A man so silent and calm. You appear more suited to a hazel seat beneath a willow tree. Not a focus behind which passes polluted estuaries of graffiti – artists coming and going into the sea and hiding in the leaves – I see the dagger in your tongue drawing irrigation canals across the roof of your mouth, the red in your veins. What would you have me believe? Fresh blue rivers? Indeed.

Robert Gewirtz

Demolition e house was sold just three days aer the funeral. While other lawns in the area hosted lonesome For Sale signs for months on end, her house was sold within the week of its listing. A corporation bought the house and the developers were going to send a bulldozer through it on Monday. Janie stood on the sidewalk and studied her grandmother’s home. Her father and cousins were already lugging broken-down cardboard boxes through the front door, but she couldn’t yet force herself to join in this sick ritual. Janie always thought the color of the house looked like sunshine. She couldn’t imagine a happier color, but now the faded and peeling yellow taunted her. e paint looked brassy and it was crumbling into the tangles of the overgrown yard. Parasitic vines reached to pull down the roof. Everything was falling apart and melting together at the same time, and Janie was horrified. “Jane-o! Are you here to help or what? You’ve got the guest room upstairs,” her father called from the brick stoop. “How come you and Uncle Ted didn’t paint the house in the spring?” “ings were busy, we couldn’t get a week together to just do it. We would’ve done it next year.” “Did Bobby stop cutting the lawn? He always did it for her. Why’d he stop?” “Come on in, we don’t have time to worry about that now. We’ve got all this work to do.” She watched him turn back inside and made her way through the grass. She slowly climbed the steps leading to the front door and struggled to control her breathing. Her stomach twisted and she felt the same wave of nausea that had broken upon her when they lowered her grandmother’s coffin into the ground. is was the last day Janie would be able to spend here, and on Monday the house would be gone. e smooth knob felt cold in her hand as she opened the door at last. Janie fixed her eyes on the old wooden staircase in front of her and reminded herself not to shi her stare. e house still smelled like the lilacs her grandmother religiously gathered and kept in the kitchen throughout the spring. e airy fragrance licked at her back as Janie ran up the stairs and into the guest room. With eyes closed, she slammed the door and tried to shut out the familiar scent, but it saturated the room. She listened for a moment to muffled fragments of the conversation from downstairs and then popped open her eyes. e room was exactly as she remembered, unchanged from her childhood.

She crept to the large set of ornate shelves along the wall opposite the door. ick glass protected what was hiding within, and Janie’s fingers lingered on the tiny silver latch before she released it to reveal her grandmother’s treasures. Rows of antique Madame Alexander dolls were lined before her and she gazed tenderly into each of their somber faces. Although her vision was blurred by the tears that threatened to spill down her cheek, she managed to find her favorite and cupped the doll in trembling hands. Janie rubbed the blue satin of Cinderella’s glistening dress between her le thumb and forefinger and squished her sandy nylon curls. Holding the doll to her chest, Janie flung herself on the double bed near the window. She rubbed her face across the cool pillow and breathed in the sweet, clean per-

26 fume of her grandmother’s soap. No matter how carefully she did her laundry at home or at school, she could never match the freshness of her grandmother’s linens. She wished she had asked for her secret before moving away. Janie lied her head from the pillow and rotated her body to face the window. Warm light filtered through the green of the leaves outside and sprawled bright patches across the bed’s quilt. She soaked up the rays and, still clutching the Cinderella doll in one hand, she reached towards the floor and swept her fingers underneath the bed. Her hand met the stack of children’s books and she pulled one beside her. Leafing through the book’s dusty pages, Janie heard her grandmother’s quiet voice reciting the words of the story they both knew by heart. Like countless times throughout her childhood, her eyes grew heavy as she lis-

tened and she dried to sleep. e heavy pounding on the door wrenched Janie from her dream and she looked wildly around the room. She saw the gilded shelves and the dolls and the blinding light pouring through the window. She couldn’t identify the sharp noise that had woken her, but she could only think of bulldozers. She pushed past her father in panic, and her vision faded in and out of blackness. She saw the floral wallpaper ripping away and the stairs were crumbling beneath her feet. Janie clenched Cinderella in her fist and she ran from the house and the boxes and the rented moving van and the shaggy lawn and the peeling paint and the fractured memories of her youth. Olivia Pascoe

Photo by Cindy Yexing Qiao

Boston Love Story It had the makings of a great Boston love story. Always a sucker for the tall and skinny, she picked him out from across the bar. It was more of an accident than a greeting. She was attempting to steer clear of the game of grab-ass that had commenced with the 30-somethings who were previously pouring shots down her throat, and managed to mindlessly bump into him. is tall glass of water, in an unmistakable blue shirt, ran his hand through his floppy dark blonde hair and smiled at the pretty urban girl while she attempted to fight off one of the 30-somethings. She felt an unwanted hand first mussing her light brown hair and then slapping her bum unsolicited. She shot the tall one a look of helplessness, purely for show. She could really just send the old one on his way faster than you could say “Another round of shots for my new friend here!” And as the older one lost interest to a younger, blonder version, the tall one locked his

eyes with the light that shined behind her eyes that hovered above her signature smile. And in that moment of bar chaos and utter clarity, she knew this had the makings of a classic Boston love story. Different from any other kind of mind-numbing and nauseatingly perfect stories the movies inundate helpless girls with from a young age, Boston allows for flaws and mistakes and insecure imperfection. It leaves room for drunken messes and pointless arguments. It thrives on cheating and lust and great sex and bad kissers. And while it always unfolds in a classically unstable manner, the possibility of the priceless connection holds together the minds of the participants in a bond that only New Englanders have the capacity and wherewithal to feel. And nothing more than a mere glance of his blue eyes triggered a whole flash of their unfolding love story. And she could feel it beginning at this very bar. Journey, ACDC and Michael Jackson swam through her alcohol-flooded veins and the drunken jams only ignited her utter assurance that this thing, this connection, this not-yetlove just had to happen. at even if she tried, she herself

couldn’t stop it. She was drawn and willing to feel that perfect imperfection that holds two people together like complicated puzzle pieces. And then an unknown force stepped in and spoke through the boy. e inevitable, the first problem in the laundry list of what may potentially be many: “I’m not gonna lie to you; I have to go back to Utah tomorrow. I live there.” And all at once, her idealism was shattered and she could no longer stand to want anything more than what may happen in the next 2 hours. ere was no PDA, no sweet nothings whispered anywhere. e two were bouncing around and dancing and drinking and telling jokes. From the outside, they looked like old friends. e hip girl had not planned on tonight. She was not done up, she had no game plan. She was merely being her blackrimmed glasses, untamed hair, jeans-and-a-white tee-shirt self. She imagined that he was like her best friend from high school. Both were named Kenny, both live in Utah, both

have Mormon families. She had no game, no tact, no reason to impress this one; it was all fun. And he liked her this way. Every time she made a comment that was so classically her, he would clobber her with a bear hug and tell her how much he liked her. And all of a sudden, it was last call. ey had to leave. She offered him a place to stay and he declined. (A move he would later on regret.) He got her number, promised to text, and he did. But then – it was over. Just as quickly as she had clumsily bumped into him looking for a place of refuge, he was gone. On a plane. Back to where he came from. And that was that.

Alison Smith

“Red Line” by Diana Mai

3:17 a.m. Sleepless Walking slick streets I discovered a city changed No longer teeming bustle Just palpable silence So as steam Rising from soaked pavement Time temporized Breath suspended in my lungs As my body fell into a place Where I willed every raindrop To hover in thick air I choreographed them through the rays Pouring out of streetlights and stars Sleepless but triumphant Standing on the pavement Peering through a wormhole

Ella Devine

New York Plays Itself in real life as in cinema, **NEW YORK** plays itself it hangs, like a scrim, in the darkened corner wings of spotlit manhattan, waiting to be cued up and summoned, called into use – and, repeatedly, it is: you and I have this city in common, we know it even if we don’t know it, even if we’ve never been there. it’s a universal shared experience from its life on the stage, on the screen, in our minds the dream location where we shoot adaptations of our own biographies. everyone’s a director when out for a stroll, imagining old friends reuniting in times square, or lovers being wooed atop the empire state building, (sprinting for that vital train at grand central?) or any one of a thousand normal happenings given credence by a heavy dusting of magic from hollywoodland. in olden days it, possibly, was just a city, but now it’s hardly seen as anything other than the chameleon backdrop for whatever you, or I, or anyone else, ever to come, need.

J.M. Olejarz

“I Rule e World” by Adam Simone

Blast I’ve sat in this black room for a thousand years —An eternity of non-existence Not moving. Not thinking. Not Being. No time or cause to care But ever so suddenly, so slyly A shotgun is raised to my non-existent ear BANG In a blinding cacophony of rage and beauty, I am thrust out of the phoenix’s heavenly womb I blaze along, among the other pellets In an ephemeral crescendo. Soaring through worldly depths, In a horrid fit of passion, rage, and lust. Strangely, Being. But for all my fuss and fight I hit a wall, and in a brilliant flash It’s over almost before it began. Now, back again, to the humble melody of silence. —No longer confined by my room, My world, Or words. Being, What a curious occurrence.

Shane Fulton

“Caution” by Diana Mai

“e Truth About Strawberries” by Adam Simone

34

“Berry Berry Land” by Carolyn Meers

“Brownstone” by Laurel Schultheis Hot Apartment on 98th Street “Callate tu boca” she shouts at the small boy taunting his little brownie eyed sister who dances Meringue in the living room and sings to herself as she swirls in her sister’s too big tutu, oblivious to her brother’s insults. e baby is crying in his crib, teeth clamped on the bars, and the twins are playing their own version of checkers on the coolness of the kitchen floor. Outside the window sirens wail by and older children shout in the streets, racing by the colorful fruit stands among the charcoal gray of the Upper East Side streets where the same leather colored, saran wrap faced venders shout out their bargains thirteen hours each day. She stirs the pan of arroz con frijoles with a large wooden spoon, she wipes sweat from her smooth forehead, pushing back the curling black hair that escapes from the thick single braid and sings to herself soly, “Mi hombre me ha salido, el hombre que me amaba una vez, un dia, muchos dias pasados.”

Christie Perkins

36

Maid in La Casa de Diaz Back flat on a cold tile floor in Mexico. Hands elegante, fingers made for weaving through the loom, resting, one on each hip bone: triangular mountains that sink into a rice bowl stomach with the pale skin stretched tight. A ruler placed from bone to bone would make a projector. e ceiling is rough corn colored plaster and the blue of hot aernoon sky framed by a buttery window frame breaks up the empty plaster wall. Laundry to lug, dough to knead tortillas to make, infants to tend, todos espera para a moment to lie, braid splayed to the side, out of the scorching scorpion sun on a smooth cool tiled floor.

Christie Perkins

“Beauty, For Once” by Allison McKenzie

38

Little Metaphors for Rebecca there are beaches long sprawled on siesta coast where small life metaphors are quick happening by: at the undecided wet line, thumbnail shell lifeforms are le� refugees in the wake of constant, intentless tide. they appear, again, en masse – a chance collection of beached microcosms, (translucent penny legs waving tiny panic high) stranded and exposed on the o�-relenting sand. in the overwhelming face of the larger machinations that dominate their world, they singleminded defy the currents, ocean, and relative tidal waves that will unearth them every time. is all this outside their comprehension? they burrow and are uncovered, and burrow and are uncovered again, again, and the tragedy is not their endless futile pursuit, but rather that their purpose remains a mystery. safety is so close, in the white sand farther up, where water cannot reach. but the undiscovered sand, mere inches from home, is as stark alien as snow.

J.M. Olejarz

“Window to e Past” by Nachiket Rajderkar

40 Shelter

“You doing a study on homelessness or something, man? Like some research or something, He stood smoking a cigarette in a darkening corner man?” He spit on the pavement with surprising of the universe. In a cold brick right angle in a filthy vigor. Here was no rookie to the great American t-shirt and dirtier mind, he flicked his ashes uncere- pastime of spitting on sidewalks. moniously onto the still-hot pavement. He sneered as if he was breaking a death bed promise and deI told him I was not. I told him I was here on a cided that a should-have-been loved one’s remains college internship. will enjoy the view as well from here as from some soothing eternal harbor. He asked me why I chose to come and work at a shelter, man? Was I studying human services, I was watching the ashes fall when he spotted me. man? “I ain’t poisonous, man,” he slurred through missing I told him I was not. I told him I was studying teeth and liquor-loosened lips as he motioned for English and philosophy and wanted to become me to join him in his corner. an English professor. “Maybe, maybe not,” I thought as I approached. Keeping my distance, I stood close enough to engage but far enough to avoid engagement and prayed that this man would not become a usual member of the group here that sees my youth and newness as a sign of potential weakness. I half-expected a request, with sad eyes and filthy cupped hands, for fiy cents. Or, pointed complaints about his stay thus far at the shelter. I had been called into similar situations. I kept my distance. “What you doing here, man? Like, you work here or something?” A little surprised at the generality of the question and its apparent sincerity, I answered quite plainly, “I work here, man.” “You look young, man. You a college student or something, man?” I told him I was. He leaned against the cold bloodred bricks and rolled his enormous hands across his mostly-shaved head.

Why was I here then, man? I stepped a little closer and joined him in setting my back against the cool sandy bricks as I took a deep breath. e truth was that to some extent I felt as if my world had stopped turning, that there was little happening for me, that I had fallen into mental stagnancy and my development into something bigger was being squeezed by the relentless hands of everydayness. I needed to do something different and I told him all of this in plainer words: “Just needed a change, I guess. See another side of life, I guess.” I shrugged, knowing I have offered my best answer. He took another drag of his value-brand menthol and gazed straight ahead. He nodded slowly. “You know,” he began, “sometimes moving’s the only thing that keeps you from standing still, man.” His sincerity seemed weightier than the hun-

dred-brick backrub I was receiving. He continued as he reclined with greater dedication against the wall. “I studied English as an undergrad, man. I loved all that shit. You know that dude who wrote that book about that old man who’s trying to catch that fish, man?” “e Old Man and the Sea? Ernest Hemingway is one of my favorites.” I smiled the smile a lover of books wears when a kindred spirit is found in the least likely of places. “Yeah, man. Well you know how the old man spends the whole damn book trying to catch that fish and the whole time he’s talking about how he and the fish are like brothers or something because he’s trying to kill the fish and the fish is going to die or something like that, man?” (You may find his manner of speaking repetitive, but let me assure you he was startlingly articulate for the extent to which he was visibly drunk. He swaggered even in his leaning.) “You know that old man knew that either one of them could have died, man. at fish could have dragged that old man way too far out there, man, or knocked his boat over or something, you know? And when the dude finally got that damn fish back and everything and the sharks or something had already eaten the whole damn thing, man? at old man didn’t even care that much. He just went home and kicked it with his little buddy, you know?” I nodded in near astonishment. To be entirely truthful, I did not expect this man to have even a hazy grasp on the story. I had not read the book for years and fished through my own mind for the story’s key details. I was determined not to appear

ignorant in the eyes of my drunken partner in conversation. He closed his eyes and slowly wove a languid stream of liquid smoke. “I been chasing fishes my whole life, man. I’m tired. I know what that old man’s all about, man. Chasing the dream, watching your grip get tighter and tighter as the line cuts deeper and deeper into your skin.” He gazed into the quivering palm of his unoccupied le hand. “Out there by yourself, man. If you ever even get anything out of it, the damn sharks come and rip it right out of your damn hands.” His eyes began to tear as he focused all his bodily energy into steadying a trembling bottom lip. “Chasing that fish taught the man one thing, man. One thing. You know what that thing is, man?” He was looking right at me. Into me. His cigarette was out but he continued to pinch the filthy butt between his thumb and middle finger. For a minute I stopped breathing as my lips moved without my consent. “at he was going to die,” I offered in a half-asking-half-telling near-whisper. He smiled as he cast his cigarette into the wilderness of the parking lot’s limit. “at’s right, man. I’m going to die too. It’s as simple as that, man. You know, man, I caught one or two little fishes early (hiccup), early on in life. I thought they would be enough to live on forever

42

so I stopped trying. By the time I needed bigger fishes I was too tired to catch ’em, man. And if I did catch ’em, the damn sharks tore ‘em apart before I could even bring ’em home to my family. It’s been so long since one’s made it home that my family doesn’t even believe I try anymore. I’m too tired, man. at’s why I’m here, man. I just want to die, and this place gives me somewhere to be until it happens. I ain’t asking for much, man. Just somewhere (hiccup), anywhere (hiccup) to wait.” “You really want to die?” My heart pounded as he half-chuckled through cupped hands. His lighter wrapped its arms around the head of a new cigarette and quickly choked out the oxygen. He exhaled. “Yeah, I do, man.” I looked at him with longing eyes, searching for anything to say. I wanted to tell him that it was worth the fight and he could win back his family’s trust and he could find a job and re-climb the rungs of the American Dream. I wanted to say these things, but I could not. I had no idea if anything would ever get better for him or if he could ever make it better for himself. Maybe he was right and his life had nothing le but the long slow chewing, biting and ripping away of happiness and hope. “Listen, man.” He tilted back his head and offered God some nicotine. “I’m going to die, alright. I’ve accepted that, you know? But you are also going to die.”

horrifying instant he yanked me inches away from his face and half-screamed, “No, man. You are going to die. Don’t wait until you’re old and tired like me. Go get your fucking fishes.” He was practically panting when he released my shirt. Our eyes held each others’ for what seemed like an hour before he returned, relaxed, to his previous stance against the wall. He took a final drag of his cigarette, dropped it onto the pavement and ground it out with his muddy preowned boot. “Listen, man, I’m gonna go get a bed. I’ll see you, man.” And with that he picked up his bag and halfstumbled into the men’s shelter lobby. When the door was safely shut behind him I walked the two feet to where he had just stood and leaned my back against the same bricks on which his had just rested. I wondered what was the real difference between me and the now-homeless former English student who so loves Ernest Hemingway and had just wrinkled my shirtfront? Could I, too, overestimate how much time and strength the universe has given me? “Perhaps I already have,” I thought as I shivered on the cool bricks. Maybe someday I too will be homeless and drunk on a fading summer evening. I hope that if it ever comes to that, I will be drunk enough, or brave enough, to invite a stranger into my cold brick corner of the universe and share with him the one thing about which I am certain, if I should ever be lucky enough to be certain of anything. Either way I plan to get my fucking fishes.

“I know,” I said. Suddenly he turned towards me and shot an enormous hand towards the front of my shirt. In one

Mark Hevert

summer nights at the institute, and it's raining huddled on a carpeted floor, our clothes soaked and spread out like fingertips, while the rain pounds the windows of the little classroom where we're sleeping. I think guiltily of the tents we abandoned; how they must flap helplessly in the downpour. As I'm aching but dry on my makeshi bed of couch pillows. In the dark I can feel your familiar body lying next to me, your breathing light and sleepless, a breeze through the screen door liquid nitrate in my bones while I shiver like a teacup dog. and my body moves toward you, I don't mean to but I feel my arm liing my comforter and tucking you under it. still, my limbs shake and so I push myself against your chest, the tattered cloth of your t-shirt, and suddenly we are kissing and kissing, surrounded by the sleeping, cocooned bodies of our friends and some strangers, dark heaps in the shadows, pushing our mouths together silently like fish, drying, unable to breathe, or maybe like two people who don't even know each other anymore, and I am still cold. and it's unrelentless, this water, drowning the grass, all sounds of summer, as I wake up aching on our classroom floor and realize the room is completely empty, except for you and me and our backs clasped together like hands as the day's gray light floods onto us, and i think about how you look like a photograph of a sleeping child as I quietly slide on my damp clothes. so I step into the quieting rain and leave you there, no more to me than a memory.

Rachel Zarrell

“Waiting” by Erin Costello

“In Communion” by Ben Landsberg

46

“Apocalypse” by Glen Chiacchieri

“Limbs Grounded� by Laurel Schultheis

Babel An elated, sedated, overmedicated virginity Compromises a perfectly good drunken state For an attractive, heartless, tactless exhibitionist. Unmindful of the hurt and insecurities induced by hands and lips. And a kissless goodbye that will never leave her fractured and vacant heart.

Alison Smith

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Doppelganger Doppelganger wanders here with risky acts, ashamed to flank, afraid to move, curled lashes blink made darker with each sharpened ink. e wind which moves upon her waist cinches into hips in haste, claret surrenders where she hides amongst blank faces worn with pride. Creamy apricot and sun beckons paces, one by one, oval burgundy untamed through glass of wine tinted the same. Layers peel; translucent lens focus in, you’ll see her then, a shade of peach and skeleton. Could you recoil from heat too bright? Or does her death revive your life? Swarm of bees from gulp of bronze fly unrelenting; lack of pause; you seize her generosity with startling reciprocity but ponder as the gi unwraps, (can’t help but feel a bit detached) If under all delighted sighs, there is some sadness to her eyes.

Tara P. Vilk

“Vandalism” by Jessica Moog

For more work by:

Gina Bollenback

bolenback-g.smugmug.com

Ben Landsberg

http://mlaconsultants.com/ben

Diana Mai

http://dianamai.webs.com/

Megan McCormick

www.flickr.com/photos/megem519

Michelle Alexander

www.m-alexander.deviantart.com

Spectrum Literary Arts Magazine

Spring 2009


Spectrum Literary Arts Magazine: Fall 2008