Norwich Universityâ€™s Literary Journal
Sean Prentiss (Advisor), Katherine Profitt (Editor-in-Chief), Mark Chapman, Dana DeMartino, Abi Donahue, Mark Fletcher, Alec Forezzi, Jacob Gunsch, Shane Haughey, Kate LeWay, Giselle Lopez, Anthony Oâ€™Neill, Rachel Opare-Sem, Brendan Perry, Kenneth Sikora.
Special Thanks Jacque Day (Managing Editor at New Madrid Journal of Contemporary Literature), Steve Perkins (Creative Services Director at Norwich University).
“ There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.” - Maya Angelou
“ Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” - Pablo Picasso
Journey Down the Path Front Cover Photograph
Two Men and a Gun
Culture Shock - My First Meal
Summer Holt Karissa Lefebvre
The Backseat of a Subaru
05 05 09
How You Love Dana DeMartino
Mon Amour Celeste Robert
This One is for James
The Forgotten Fire
Rest During Wartime
The Pasture Under 31 the Cover of Darkness
Karissa Lefebvre 10
Audrey Seaman 10
Muhammad Ali Shahady
Free Fall to Freedom Meghan Mason
The Prokaryotes Kenneth Sikora
Alanna Robertson-Webb 22
Old Hill Village
Back Cover Artwork
I Stopped Going to Church
Sheridan Steiner Eleanor Kadel
Free Fall to Freedom â€“ Meghan Mason
He stared out the window, trying to come up with another solution. There had to be another way, something less drastic, less permanent, but nothing came to him. Sweat collected on his brow. What else could he do? No other options had evolved. Slowly he pressed his legs to the ground, pushing his chair out from behind the desk.The wooden floor moaned as the weight shifted from one place to the next, revealing its age to the silence of the room. His eyes focused on the window, the one answer, the darkness behind the glass. For a moment he sat in silence, his body frozen in time as his mind continued racing for a way out. The worn leather of the chair stuck to his skin; it had been the place that had helped him numerous times before, the spot where his best ideas had come and gone, but somehow its smooth brown surface could no longer help him. The looks, the thoughts, the scene replaying again and again, as if set on repeat. Slowly he stood, the leather peeling from his sweat-drench skin releasing him to his fate. He slid forward, the boards creaking beneath his feet, pleading him to turn around, but he continued on ignoring their sound. With every inch closer toward the window, he could feel more, but what exactly that was he was unsure of. Was it fear of what was to come, the joy of sweet release, or the emptiness that had haunted him for so long? After everything that had happened, he couldnâ€™t be sure of anything other than the fact that there was no way out. How can you escape from yourself?
He got close enough to feel the cool grasp of the autumn air from the draft beneath the window. Its presence skimming the surface of his skin, bringing goose bumps to his bare arms and sending shivers throughout his body. His eyes though were still fixed on the window, never shaking from the destination that was now right in front of them. He pressed his hands against the cold glass, letting their prints make their final mark on the clear surface. Slowly his clammy palms began to fog up the area around them, leaving him to see out into the night through the clear area above. His eyes where fixed on the dark abyss on the other side of the glass, ready for what it had to offer. Calmly he pushed his hands harder against the glass and then raised them up slowly. The window obeyed his handsâ€™ command. The crisp autumn air rushed in around him, filling the room and stinging his warm lungs with his first breath. As the wind gusted around him, it seemed to beckon him farther into the night, provoking him to take the next step toward the answer he so desperately wanted. This time he listened.
â€œHow can you escape from yourself?â€?
Without a thought, his body took control as it robotically pulled itself up into the window, the air flowing past him fiercer than when he was inside. Adrenaline was beginning to flow though his veins as he positioned himself for the task ahead, his body tensing up straight against the upper part of the window as his toes peaked over the edge to the darkness beneath. The night was tense with silence, awaiting his next move. There on the edge, for the first time in his life his racing mind stopped. The sounds of laughter, and playful conversation floated up out of the darkness, sparking a familiar pang of desolation in his chest. Flashbacks to all the college nights he had sat alone at his desk studying for exams weeks in advance while everyone else got to enjoy nights off at the bar and yet they still achieved a better grade by cramping all the information in an hour before the exam. How his friends had poked fun at his countless hours in the library, trying any study knack available in hopes that the information might stick. But it never did.
The echoes of their words haunted him; “Stop making it up,” they said “What are you? Dyslexic?” they taunted, “Why can’t you just focus so we can get this done?” another questioned. Every word weighed heavy on his heart. They would never understand the frustration, not being able to control your thoughts, to focus, to be normal. To open a book to backwards words, unable to flip them, unable to fix them, being a prisoner in a locked up mind, struggling in a freak show. That was his life.
“The darkness below was calling him, challenging him to test their depth.”
Now a car hummed by with its lights on, uncovering the unforgiving. It was time.
The answer now loomed right in front of him, inches away. Every shimmer of hope in finding an alternative way had fled his mind as he made peace with the idea of freedom. As the doom of fate settled in, there was only a sense of relief that consumed him. He had been led to this destiny. The darkness below was calling him, challenging him to test its depth. As a child he always wanted to fly away, and now he finally had his chance. He inhaled one last gulp of air and let go. In that moment he was free. Falling down to the depths, being engulfed into the dark cover of the night, he had solved all his problems and would never have to worry about them again.
Summer Holt – Karissa Lefebvre
My dad packs the truck up tight as always, applying bungee cords for extra security, while wearing his usual attire, a Red Sox hat, t-shirt, and camouflage shorts with sneakers. I reflect on the familiarity; every year my father takes my sisters and me camping. Julia, my oldest sister as well as the shortest, takes shotgun as usual. Audra and I squish our longer legs into the back seat of the truck; it seemed much more comfortable when we were younger. Then again, it was usually all three of us squished happily in the back seat. Mom sang from the front seat to every song
on the radio, going through her favorite 70’s songs up to Britney Spears in the front seat. I used to think it was for entertainment, good old fashioned fun with a family lost in the wilderness of New Hampshire. Now as I grow older I understand what it is really for. We pull out of the driveway and head towards a secluded spot on a lake in northern New Hampshire. We stumbled upon it when visiting extended family who lived near the lake when I was 5, and we named it the “Holt”.
My father was frequently referred to as a holt at work because he was enjoyable to be around. So my mother thought it would be funny to call this place our holt, a second home to relish in. The familiar drive bores me and I gaze out the window, trees flashing by as the sun tries to peak through in between trees. I shut my eyes to escape the warm waves of flashing light, and I see my mother. Beautiful blonde hair, blue eyed. I used to think she looked like Sandy from the original movie Grease. My sisters and I look nothing like her. We’re all brunettes with hazel eyes, but sometimes I wish we looked more like her to see her face again somehow within myself or my sisters. Three hours later Dad pulls onto the dirt road, heading towards our usual campsite. When we jump out of the truck a pain in my heart scorches, a torch that I thought I put out last year and the year before.
ask for help, but when someone else needed help he was always the first to volunteer. Our campsite starts to look homey—the tent up, the charcoal grill smoking. My sisters take their place at the picnic table near the lake, reading magazines. I can’t help but notice the rope around my heart tugging at the feeling of a missing element. My father built the table the first year we found the spot, with leftover lumber from his many household projects. It sits right on the edge of the lake, water lapping onto the sand, a perfect place for a sunset dinner.
“We start towards the trail to Mount Holt, and remember how easy it was when we were younger and more energetic to make this trip.”
The tire swing my mom used to push me on for hours still hangs from the tall tree that shaded our second home. I look past it and ignore the stinging feeling of tears that threaten my eyes. We all sigh as we start to unpack the truck; my father immediately gets the ten person tent and starts to put it up himself. A lot of times when I picture him in my mind, he almost always has his tool belt around his waist, smile on his face. He used to be carpenter and literally redid our whole kitchen, at the request of my mother. Always having a project to keep him busy, he was happy to fix up anything with his hands. He was never the kind of guy to
My dad and I talk about carpentry; his passion for it always sparked an excited conversation for him. I asked him how he put the tire swing on the tree. “It took me time and time again to throw that stupid rope over the branch. Your mother was making fun of me the whole time and you were standing impatiently next to me, waiting for your new swing. I knew I couldn’t give up because I had promised it to you, and you would’ve cried the rest of the night if I failed.” My mom laughed at him and yelled directions while my sisters swam without care in the lake on that sunny afternoon. Finally he had it set up and I was glued to it. My sisters were four and five years older and didn’t mind my lack of sharing. Now, I wouldn’t dare to go on that swing. The rope is frayed and weathered, the tire saggy and sad from lack of use.
Although the shade is pleasant during the summer’s beaming sun, it is especially dark under the tire swing, constantly prodding old memories and swinging lonely in the breeze. The smoke from the charcoal grill wrinkles my nose, and I decide to cover it with the smell of a real fire. My dad comes over and helps me, making his classic teepee, but allowing me to light it and take the credit. I set up our lawn chairs, still sandy from the beach, around the fire and called my sisters over. They bring their magazines and continue reading. My dad and I cook burgers and hot dogs on the grill, discussing the season the Red Sox are going to have.
mourns her death with us, giving her peace and quiet in her absence. I hate it. I miss the birds chirping. I miss the annoying crickets that felt as if they were in our pillow cases because they were so loud at night. I miss the sounds of laughter and the splashing of water in the lake. I miss my mom playing 80s songs on her boom box and singing like she was on stage. “I won best singer in my 6th grade class!” she would always say, and we would laugh.
I know these woods miss it too, the company of a loud happy family enjoying nature together. I say goodnight to my mom and tip toe into the tent.
“After a few minutes of silence Dad speaks up. “I miss her too,” he says with a crack in his throat.”
My mom was of the bonding glue between our family. No matter our differences, her humor always brought us together. The age difference between my sisters and me was always a problem, I had to share a room with Audra my whole life, and we didn’t always get along. I was a tom boy so my dad and I were always close; I even had my own mini tool belt. But since my mom passed, my sisters mostly keep to themselves. We eat and tell stories at the fire, somewhat resembling an un-broken family. All of us pretending we’re fine, pretending the absence of our mother isn’t tearing us apart. Like always we put on a brave face and do our best to enjoy the time we have together. After everyone turns in for the night, I sit on the picnic table, watching the almost full-moon glistening on the rippled water of the lake. It seems quieter here since the cancer got to Mom. It’s like the forest and wildlife 07
The next day I decide to be optimistic and make everyone breakfast. I put the griddle on the hot charcoals and crack some eggs. The smell of food wakes them up and one by one they emerge from the tent, blankets still wrapped around my sisters. They tiredly smile when they see me and head to the picnic table, grabbing plates and forks. When we’re done eating, we talk about what we’re doing today. Dad says he wants to fish, and my sisters sigh. He’s never actually caught a fish, but he loves it anyways. He used to promise to catch Mom a fish every time, and she’d make fun of him when he returned unsuccessful. “Give it up, Dave!” she would yell from the picnic table while painting my sister’s nails. I would put a chair next to him and read while he stared off into the water, his line still. After contemplating in silence, I suggest going for a hike, and reluctantly they all agree.
We start towards the trail to Mount Holt, and remember how easy it was when we were younger and more energetic to make this trip. We hike and tell stories, never about Mom, but about our daily lives and empty chatter. After ascending the worn rocky path for a couple hours, we get up to the clearing that looks over our camping spot. We all sit on a big rock and admire the lake from above. Our blue tent pokes out between trees, and I see the tire swing twisting in the wind. After a few minutes of silence Dad speaks up. “I miss her too,” he says with a crack in his throat. We simultaneously begin crying together. Not hysterically, but acceptingly. This is the first time we’ve spoke about her since after the funeral two years ago. She always taught us to be tough, since she too lost her mother at a young age. So it was easier to keep our mouths shut and our heads down, until now. All of our emotions bust out through our tears and choked up words. We begin to tell stories about her, how she used to smell, how she used to laugh. She always gave the best hugs, squeezing us into her arms to smell the sweet perfume she wore every day. “Sometimes I think I smell her scent on my pillow,” I explain. When I left home for college she used to lay in my bed when she missed me, now every time I go home, I think she’s been keeping it warm for me. We all agree that we catch her scent around the house, even though her perfume bottle
is sitting in a box buried deep in my father’s closet with her other belongings. Tears run down my face but we are smiling and laughing. My father brings up the story about when my mom put Palmolive in Audra’s mouth when we ran out of bar soap because she called her a witch. We talk about when she used to chase us up the stairs with a spanking paddle she never actually hit us with. It was now that I realize why we come back here, to the Holt. We came back here to be with her, my mom. To be back at this place, alone with each other to reminisce in peace. This was where we could live forever in our memories with her. The sun begins to set and the bright orange sky reflects off of our moist faces. We all sit close together on the rock, looking over our second home. Although I can’t see her, as a gust of wind hits our backs and I feel my mother here with us, holding us from and protecting us from life.
“When I left home for college she used to lay in my bed when she missed me, now every time I go home, I think she’s been keeping it warm for me.”
The Backseat of a Subaru â€“ Dana DeMartino
I am encased in smoke, Sitting on crayons. My feet rest on trash; but Thereâ€™s music playing, And the sun halos Your head. I do not care Where we are going As long as I can keep staring At you, laughing At me, with the sun Ringing your face.
How You Love â€“ Dana DeMartino
You love like the Tacoma Narrow, Swaying and wavering, A rusting Chevy breaking down when in need, A leaking sink, a broken window, a rotting floor, A misshapen door, too lopsided to close.
Mon Amour â€“ Celeste Robert
Fallen star from above, my angel, sweet Graceful unicorn, galloping to come see me, Love is waiting to be freed, open the doors, Butterflies dancing, music of happiness, Smell of plumeria, golden from the radiance Of her smile, touch of love on my cheek So alluring, pulling me in a spiral, numbing My body with the intensity of passion we breed. 10
Two Men and a Gun – Frank Scozzari
It’s hard to say exactly how I ended up in this dreadful situation, although I could easily put all the blame on the Thomas-Cook train schedule. If they had made their timetables a little easier to read and their columns more evenly aligned, I may have never ended up on a midnight train to Athens. Yet here I was, sandwiched in among all the dissolute of Southern Europe in a thirdclass train compartment, trying to figure out how I was going to get some sleep. It was bench seating only, benches that faced one another, with such little space between them that one had to sit straddling the knees of the person opposite you. There were smells of human body odor and of Middle Eastern cooking, zeera and black cumin, the mixture of which was not a pleasant thing. I couldn’t imagine someone could be cooking in such confined quarters. I looked around but couldn’t make out where the smell was coming from. Across from me was a sinister-looking character; a man in his mid-thirties with narrow-eyes and high cheekbones. I assumed he was from North Africa, although one could never really be sure about this kind of thing when traveling along the shores of the Eastern Mediterranean. He had dark skin and an angular face, and he was carrying a canvas satchel with Nubian markings. He was a man of mixed races, and a man who could not be trusted, I knew. Call it experience, or traveler’s intuition, after logging many miles through Third World countries one acquires an instinct for this kind of thing. I had encountered this type before; trouble, not in size, 11
but in opportunist nature. And I saw the furtiveness and cleverness in his eyes. He was filthy and unshaven. His clothes were soiled. Among the many odors in the train compartment, one was particularly strong and I assumed it came from him. And in the instant I was thinking this, I caught his dark eyes studying my carry-bag. The satchel, which I kept on my lap, had a shoulder strap securely wrapped around my neck. In it were my most valued items: my passport and credit cards, what few euros I had left, and some souvenirs I picked up along the way. His eyes went from
“It’s hard to say exactly how I ended up in this dreadful situation.” the bag itself, to the attachment latch, and followed up the strap to where it disappeared around my shoulder. When he realized I was watching him, he turned away. He had a satchel too, and when he saw me looking at it, he pulled it closely to his side.
I brought my hand thoughtfully up to my chin. It was only then that I realized I was likewise filthy and unshaven. Perhaps it was I who smelled of body odor, I thought. I discreetly took a sniff of my underarm but could not tell if the odor was coming from me or not.
was no time to shower or shave. By the time I reached Patras, sleepless and exhausted, I was desperate to find a sink or washbasin. But the train station had only the old, European-style bathrooms with a launching platform, no running water, and a bucket for a flush.
It had been nearly three days since I had taken a bath. Having crossed by ferry from Brindisi the night before, arriving in Corfu in the early morning hours, there
It was an uncomfortable arrangement no matter how you look at it. 12
And despite the lack of accommodations and the desperate guy across from me, sleep, I knew, was what I needed most. I looked around the car. It was completely full. A group of young Europass students had already commandeered the one small piece of floor space and were sleeping there, piled on top of one another.
“We both exchanged guarded, hard looks, and bouts of drowsiness.” I pulled my carry-bag close to me, keeping an eye on the man across from me, and I tried to get comfortable. In shifting my body weight I accidentally bumped his leg. “Excuse me,” I said. He did not reply. He was sleepy too, I could tell, and as tired as I. His eyes were bloodshot and his lids looked heavy and like they wanted to drop. He also shifted uncomfortably and likewise pulled his satchel in close to his side. Then he curled his hand around it and held on to it like it was filled with gold. It made me wonder what he had in it. Maybe he’s a gem trader? I thought. Or the thief of a gem trader? If only he would fall asleep. If he would sleep, then I could do the same. And almost exactly when I thought of it, I saw his lids beginning to drop. Go down, I thought. Yes. Let them go down. Let them drop. But then the thought crossed my mind: What if he’s faking? Lulling me into a false security, so that I would sleep, only to wake up hours 13
later and find my carry-bag gone, cut from my shoulder with a knife. We both exchanged guarded, hard looks, and bouts of drowsiness. His eyes would close, and his head would bob, and then he’d snap himself back awake. And I, in one instant, lost all consciousness, although just for a few seconds, awaking to see him glancing at me with a little smirk on his face.. Not so easy, I thought. I caught him pinching himself, and then shaking his head, trying to shake out the drowsiness. You’re going down, I thought. I can outlast you. But each time I saw him struggling, I found myself struggling too; fighting off the inevitable sleep that I knew would eventually win over my body. The night wore on.The vintage train rattled over the tracks. The noise and motion helped keep us both awake. Still, as the hours passed, it became nearly impossible. The accumulation of three bad nights had caught up with me. The weight of my eyelids were feeling like lead shutters, ready to close for a long winter. I did everything I could to fight it. I tilted my head back, and then sideways. I scratched my side, though I didn’t have an itch. The good news was that he was not doing much better. I watched his head bobbing. I watched him fighting it, and clinging to his pouch more protectively. And finally I saw him unclasp the middle button of his shirt and reach down deep into it, down along his side. His eyes gleamed at me. He gave me a little grin, and a head-nod, letting me know that he had something there, a knife or a gun perhaps.
It didn’t matter what, I realized. He had a weapon of some sort down in his shirt, and whatever it was, it brought him fresh confidence, and comfort enough to sleep. And now his eyes began to close and his expression was sure. I watched him with one eye still open, watching me. And he’s probably a light sleeper, I thought, with a hair-trigger finger that’s equally light and fast. It is unfair, I thought, as my eyes, too tired and too heavy to fight it any longer, began to close. There was no justice in it. This scoundrel would have a peaceful night while I would suffer from frequent awakenings and sleep apnea. Then it dawned on me that I had an option too. The idea seemed too obvious, yet likely to work. I unbuttoned an opening in my shirt and reach down with my hand, down along the side of my chest to where I kept nothing. I left my hand there, warm against my side, and I watched him, his one eye still open, watching me, but fluttering closed. Okay, I thought, détente. And I smiled at him, a little smile; a warning smile, and I closed my eyes and slept.
“He had a weapon of some sort down there in his shirt, and whatever it was, it brought him fresh confidence, and comfort enough to sleep.”
Culture Shock - My First Meal – Muhammad Ali Shahady
I never imagined that ordering lunch in the US would be an ordeal for me. Back in Afghanistan, I taught English for several years. I watched countless Hollywood movies, and worked with foreigners for almost four years. I performed well on standardized tests of English, or at least in English, like the TOEFL exam and the SATs. So I never expected that bread, cheese or a drink would challenge my English abilities. The day I arrived in the U.S. my plane was diverted to Raleigh-Durham International Airport in North Carolina. While waiting for my next flight, I went to one of the 15
cafeterias close to my gate. People were lined up, so I went to the end of the line. It was crowded and the staff was working hurriedly. Since I had no idea what cuisines they served, I decided to order just a sandwich. I thought that’s the simplest, easiest and fastest food to get. It was my turn to place my order. I asked the lady for a chicken sandwich. She asked, “What do you want it on?” I stared at her quizzically and was speechless for a moment. The lady asked louder, “What bun do you want?” I said, “Just a chicken sandwich, please.”
The lady replied impatiently, “Yes, I know. But what bun?” I didn’t know what to say. I couldn’t understand her. Then I thought maybe she was asking about the sauce. “Hmmm, it doesn’t matter,” I responded. She seemed irritated, and then asked rapidly, “Cheddar, pepperjack, swiss, provolone or American?”This is what I heard, “chedie, paper jack, Swiss (the country), provolo, or American (also, the country)? I wondered, “Are they different types of chicken? Does chicken differ from one country to another?” I stared at her mutely as my brain tried to decipher the meaning of those words. Starting to sweat, I acted as if I didn’t understand English at all.Then I said. “American please!” maybe because
that was the last option and the easiest to remember. Then she asked, “fountain drink or bottled soda?” I just wanted to cancel my order and stay hungry instead of standing in front of this hasty female waitress who seemed frustrated by me and whose offers I couldn’t understand at all. My anxiety mounted in this crowded line of hungry customers who were all waiting for me to finish my order, and I, I just didn’t know what to say. I said, “I just want a soft drink. That’s it ma’am.” She said, “I know, but bottled or fountain?” That was more pressure than the TOEFL exam. I never imagined that buying a sandwich in the U.S. would be this challenging and cause me so much embarrassment.
The hundred dollar bill in my hand was damp with my sweat, squeezed and crumpled. “Bottled please!” I said, although I had no idea what the difference was. When I paid for my food, I stood in my place expecting my food to be delivered to the counter instantly. The lady said, “Sir, this is your slip. Please take a seat and we will call you when your food is ready.” I nodded like a parrot who understands everything people tell him and walked away. But now I wondered how she would call me. While sitting at my table, I watched and listened vigilantly. I realized she was calling customers by number. I stared at the number on my slip and listened intently. When I heard my number, I took my food and found a seat far away from the cafeteria.
As I ate my first meal in the U.S., I pondered over the fact that I knew words like abrogate, conflagration and inexorable, but not the words “bun” or “fountain drink.” I could comfortably write professional technical proposals and review solicitations in English, but I broke into a sweat ordering a chicken sandwich. And then I realized my lunch ordeal wasn’t an English deficiency but a cultural difference. I had just arrived from a country with very few options— bread is bread and cheese is cheese. And if we’re lucky enough to have any choices, it’s usually the choice between yes or no.
Pitching Stitches – Eleanor Kadel
It is like the sound of tree sap cracking in the winter. So loud that it startles the quiet hearts around it. Every time it meets the glove, stitches loosen and lose control of the tangled yarn within. The baseball is old, battered, scarred, and many of its stitches are already in danger of unraveling. This does not stop you from throwing it even harder each time. Why not break the stitching? What is the worst that can come of the crumbling piece of America’s pastime? You throw it harder and feel it begin to waver under your grip. The leather that used to be soft and new is now aged and gashed. It is ready to be set loose. Each time the ball hits the glove it hurts your palm even more as you begin to feel your skin cracking at the edges and start to burn from the outside in. It is like your hand is a piece of paper on fire, the edges curl inward as the flames consume your hand, arm, and slowly your whole body. Somehow your memories are not destroyed by the blaze. They seem to dance in the intense heat, dying out to be the embers of a faint memory, a sweet stinging behind heavy blue eyes. The ball snaps your attention back to the fierce play of catch. How could catch ever be fierce? This is because a splintered recollection fuels each exchange of the burning leather bullet. Slowly all of the stitching becomes slack and the ball starts to wobble in flight. It loses speed and resembles a dead duck before it slumps into your glove. Your hand is numb from the hard back and forth of before, and now the ball is traveling so slowly you cannot even feel it thumping your palms. You notice that not only has your hand gone numb, but also the feeling has slowly moved up your arm, across your chest, and pumped through the rest of your body. The ball hits your palm again, but it feels as if it was thrown at your chest, and freezes all of the warmth inside 19
you. Your heart feels cold and heavy in your throat. Then, in slow motion, the stitches holding your heart together become loose. Like the inside of the tattered ball your heart is unraveling, heavy, and drooping in your chest. It drags you to the ground, and you fall backwards, paralyzed in agony. As you fall backwards, the ball trails after you. It is now falling towards your face in slow motion. The ball of yarn that was your heart clenches up in fear. The stitches of the baseball catch the air, almost scrambling to slow the ball’s pace. Now all of the stitching has come undone. The old leather flaps catch the air like a small parachute, and that ball of yarn is now moving faster and becoming completely unraveled. You roll quickly to your side to avoid being hit, but it is too late. When the ball hits the ground it feels as if it was pitched at your open chest, and strikes your heart. You feel the burning edges of your heart as it curls up like burning paper. It sucks the air out of your lungs while your heart becomes an inferno. Each strand of heart yarn ignites quickly and curls with heat.That old baseball hit your heart with a crack as loud as hot lightning. You stand up, but you leave the ball. It is unrecognizable. You do not need to bring it with you because it has hit you, forever burning the ball of yarn that used to be your heart. Your heart that was like a new baseball, tightly bound with deep red stitching, soft, and unscathed. Now you are left with hot heartstrings, a smoldering soul, and the charred taste of a life in your throat, all to burn behind your eyes forever.
Varsity Freshman â€“ Audrey Seaman At halftime, she grabs a seat With the senior forwards, Resting against the net. She pushes her mouth guard under The strap of her sports bra, Just like they do. She passes around the bucket of oranges, Wipes her dripping chin with her jersey. She looks at her friends who practice On the junior varsity field, Where she left her spirit For a shot at the big field. Her mouth guard slips around her teeth, Salty from her shoulder. She pulls up her shin guards and jogs off In the wrong direction.
Different Moon â€“ Karissa Lefebvre The moon with deep cratered ears listens, Watches the stars dance in the endless sky. Dawn drinks the darkness and guides the sunlight, Teaches the mountain to howl.
The Prokaryotes –Kenneth Sikora They came Millions upon millions— Prokaryotes. Their flagella lashing, Their numbers increased Exponentially, doubling In seconds. They could not be Suffocated or hyperventilate, Their spores were Impermeable. The most hostile lands Were their haunts. Unicellular, altogether lacking A membrane nuclear, their Organelles unbounded In the cytoplasm. Decomposing and fixing Nitrogen, these beings were Noted and loved and hated, Misclassified.
Steroid-free, their skin was Tough, peptidoglycan saturated. Some sported pili, alongside their Unique flagella. In sundry shapes we saw them— Bacilli, spirilla, vibrois, some oddballs Were cocci, and in colonies they Created grand pairs and clusters, Some made empires of Chains and filaments. Their capitals were centers Of spores and slime, in this They remind us of the Multicellular fungi. When starved They made solid spores. Most ate the dead, some Photo- and chemo-synthetic, Energized themselves with Electrons, derived from the Glorious sun and base chemicals. These were autotrophs.
Vigil Tours â€“ Brian McNabb (September 11, Norwich University)
Cloth, red, white, and blue, Little flags row on row, Guarded by cadets in grey and white. Silently, slowly every move they make, A solemn duty every step deliberate. They havenâ€™t forgotten what it takes to be free As they guard this memorial with an M14. All are seniors, no smiles on their face; They are all silent remembering that day.
Adults now, children then, Never forgetting when Planes toppled buildings, And people died. The twin tours lay in rubble, And a nation cried One flag for each that died that day, The firemen, civilians, police, and EMTs. Their lives swept away, gone but not forgotten, When the seniors march their vigil tours.
This One is for James â€“ Benjamin Cohen Dedicated to my fallen shipmate, friend, and brother, James Stratton, may he rest in peace. Pain, loss, do you know how it feels? Holding someone in your arms as they pass away . . . It is an experience that in time heals, But their memory will live within your emotion, your way. 24
It was a routine dive when his body gave, When all hell broke . . . I was dazed, confused, I felt like I was crammed inside an underwater cave, Trying to cry out, but nothing came out except a choke James fell unconscious underwater, But I remained at fifteen feet under the surface to keep my shipmates calm. I told myself, slow breaths, control your mind, do not wander. Time had passed to ascend according to the dive computer in my palm. We raised our regulators and kept slowly ascending. Fear was in my peers’ eyes as we rose to the surface. The fresh Caribbean air kept me steady to get rescue rolling, I never swam so fast or as far for to our ship for any other purpose. I shouted, “Will! Hold his head out of the water!” Two breaths wait five seconds, I must repeat. He stared blankly into me and began to turn bluer and bluer. “You, help get him out of the water, onto the boat, and out of the heat!” The crew was setting up the oxygen system, there’s no time to gloat. Remember; interlace your fingers, place palms to chest, Thirty compressions as fast as a speed boat. Keep his head tilted back, lips to his, two breaths at your best.
“It was 22 minutes, but felt like a lifetime.” 25
Over and over we repeated our cycle, communicating with short phrases and head nods “Someone hold his hand, let him know we are here!” The crew was working as one, better than any dolphins or whales with their pods James, my man, I still owe you that beer. It was 22 minutes, but felt like a lifetime We’re from the same hometown, have the same love for the ocean. What do I say when I see his family for the first time? I wish I could heal their pain with a magical potion. My sorrow was harsh, and eyes red from my tears. He was my shipmate, my friend, at the heart a brother. Captain K’s words were filled with pain, smoothly swam into our ears. You my friend have taught me to be a better man, better than ever. I love you bro.
The Forgotten Fire – Dana DeMartino
Sandwiched between a small pizzeria and a musty used bookstore is a small plaque—all that is left to commemorate the most tragic event my small Pennsylvanian town has ever seen. On January 13th, 1908, the Rhodes Opera House burned to the ground, taking one-tenth of the town with it. Nearly half of the innocent people who chose to go see “The Scottish Reformation” ended up dead by intermission. Boyertown is a small collection of hair salons and pizza places clustered around a main intersection just off Route 100. At the time of the opera house fire, the one-tenth of the town that perished amounted to a mere 170 people. But the fire got the state’s attention. Pennsylvania became a front-runner in passing fire safety regulations. Mandatory fire escapes resembling stairs instead of ladders, more than one exit on second story buildings, and doors that opened outward and always remained unlocked in theaters were all Pennsylvaniamandated laws passed after the growing negative press associated with the Boyertown fire. For a town whose only other claims to fame are a “Blue’s Clues” TV star and a crazed Phillies fan, the opera house is a source of pride. It is a story often retold in schools, and every middle school aged kid has endured a field trip to gaze at the plaque in solemn remembrance. I stood there, along with the rest of my class, trying to reconcile that the place where I stood was in fact a site
of great misfortune. However I couldn’t really make myself think much of the plaque in middle school. I was, after all, gazing upon the least successful of my town’s four pizza shops, and I found myself thinking that if this place had really been one of importance than surely Mario’s Pizza would have located here instead of John’s. This led me into an internal line of questioning concerning the type of person who would open a pizzeria and name it something as un-Italian as John’s. Later, as a high school student, when my attention had lengthened a bit, I would walk by the plaque and try and imagine the fire itself. The terror the people must have felt. I often wondered how I would have fared if it was me in there. Most of the people who survived did so because they smelled gas early on and realized the danger. Then somebody accidentally knocked over a lantern, and the theater erupted in flames. There was only one exit, on the first floor, with doors that opened inward towards the throng of pressing bodies now fighting to get out. For one-tenth of my town, the last moments of life were filled with fear, panic, and pain. Bodies pressed against bodies as smoke choked and blinded them until finally, mercifully, they were engulfed in flames. It is a slow way to die, burning to death. Only the strongest were able to shove their way out of the building. Others desperately flung themselves from second story windows, hoping to land safely. The rest perished.
“That our story be told and passed on, and that we are memorialized by a plaque, or tombstone, or urn.” That entire story of death and destruction, now forgotten except for a small plaque. I found this morbidly fascinating all throughout high school, but I don’t know what else I expected. That’s all any of us can ask for, isn’t it? That our story be told and passed on and that we are memorialized by a plaque, or tombstone, or urn. That’s what is expected. But I still find myself a little sad every time I walk by that plaque. I’ve seen the memorials for other tragedies. They are solemn, commanding, and powerful. They demand that those who died get the respect they deserve. They draw the attention of people from all over the nation. They say that what happened at this site is wrong and must never be repeated. Did the Opera House Fire not deserve that? Maybe 170 people is not a lot in the eyes of the nation, but take one-tenth of the
people away from their town, and I’m sure they would notice. I think of the people who died in that fire and how awful their fate was, and I believe that that small, forgotten plaque is not enough for their sacrifice. I want more for those people than John’s Pizzeria and the Book Nook. I want more for myself.
Rest During Wartime
â€“ Micheal Sjoholm-Sierchio
Then the dream vanishes and my ship-borne eyes Open to the sound of men and women yelling Like wind across the vast ocean. Incoming fire weakens the hull; hope is shaken Like tall palms. This night, we are all captured By darkness and settling smoke. Dawn brings a quick silence. Only the scent And feel of ocean-breeze swells gently rocking The ship. While somewhere not far from here The enemy has chosen to retreat.
The Pasture Under the Cover of Darkness â€“ Alanna Robertson-Webb
V1: The long fingers of night Twist their shadows To morph the trees Into ghosts Of their former selves. Nearby I can smell the rain As it lies heavy in the air, Its copious drops Threatening to dismantle The very fabric of the field. The drops remind us Where we must return to.
or tw r A
V2: The long fingers of night Twist their slender shadows To morph the once-dancing trees Into deadened stone. Beneath them I recoil from the acidic drops of rain As they drip sorrowfully into My ears, their Whispers echoes of a time long lost, A time before the ravaging of fire. The copious drops Threaten to devour The thirsty, lifeless field As they remind us Where all of our bones Will sink.
– Eleanor Kadel Mellow honey, Light amber at sunrise. Or maybe that’s her hair Drizzling onto my pillow. Said to last forever, Like her smile— An ancient remedy for everything, Definite and sweet.
Bad honey, Heavy and thick. Almost as easy to clean up, As the mess she smeared inside. Sometimes too sweet And tricks my lips, Convincingly untainted and pure. Is she now bad honey? Impossible honey, Fixing lid and jar together. Both stuck; just where She left them.
Tomorrow – Sophie Mundell If tomorrow had never arrived at our doorstep, We would still be sinking Further And Further Into the great beyond of Tortured hearts and swollen eyes. If tomorrow had never knocked on our door, The elegance of your being, The dynamic fortress of your soul, Would have never introduced herself. If tomorrow had never slid its foot In the door of our delicate existence We would not be here In This Moment
Gasping for air, Squirming, Pleading for a chance to feel each other’s skin, Dying to carve our tangled signatures In each other’s back. But tomorrow is very much here. And tomorrow is a farewell of vast proportions. Tomorrow is an “I love you” scribbled Nonchalantly at the end of a letter. Tomorrow Is you.
Sickly – Dana DeMartino
My mother-in-law has been sick for months now. It started to get bad shortly after Jim and I found out about the baby. The more pregnant I got, the sicker she got. Now Jim visits her often. He doesn’t want me to come with him because he says we can’t afford to get the baby sick. She’s very needy, his mother. He visits her every couple of days or so, but still when he’s home, she’ll call, wondering where he is and when the next time he’s coming to visit. I’m with Tanya, he’ll whisper. She never understands why he can’t just leave me to go see her. Old women are selfish like that.
this nightmare would end. It might not seem like much to her, but having Jim gone three days a week to look after her has really taken a toll on us. It’s been hard, him having to care after her so diligently. He’s always exhausted when he comes home, too tired to do anything besides drink a scotch in front of the TV and then pass out on the couch. Because of her illness, we haven’t had sex in months.
“It’s been hard, him having to care after her so diligently.”
The other day Jim had stockings shoved in his pocket; he told me she kept taking them off in front of him. He says he thinks the sickness is affecting her mind now too—she’s getting worse. So Jim’s started to go to visit every day after work. He’ll come home bleary eyed and disheveled. He reeks of her perfume and she gets makeup all over his collar, lipstick smudged all over his cheeks. She was always affectionate, his mother. She gets hysterical sometimes, thinking she’s reached the end. She’ll make Jim stay overnight to monitor her condition. Jim doesn’t want me to see her like that— upset and weak, thinking she’s reached the end. I just wish
I stopped by Jim’s work today with pumpkin muffins, his favorite, to surprise him. When I got to his office, I found him hugging a woman I had never seen before, his left hand low on her back. This is my new secretary, Linda, he said. She just started with us a few months ago. I shook her hand, taking in her perfect blonde chignon, her expensive perfume, and her carefully applied lipstick.
It’s a pleasure to meet you, I said. And it was.
Not long after that Jim and I agreed that it would be best if he moved in with his mother to take care of her full time. He was already spending most of his time there anyways, and with her condition I think that this is what’s best. For all of us. 36
I Stopped Going To Church – Dana DeMartino
Because the taste of flesh disgusts me, And the incense smoke could not mask The priest breaking his vows, And the twenty my parents Put in the collection bowl Was lost in stained glass and tapestries –The poor never saw the money sacrificed for them– And they spoke about loving one’s neighbor, But that didn’t include The atheist down the street; I had to stop going because They told me to be like Jesus, And we all know what happened to him.
Old Hill Village â€“ Brian McNabb The bridge that spanned the river was taken out Old Hill village is gone now The Army called it flood control To create the Pemi Reservoir They condemned the town Trees now line the rock walls And obscure the wells and cellar holes Pines have crowded out hayfields And poison ivy has taken hold Along the muddy river sides The beaver and the muskrat now reside When the flood waters go down Deer, grouse, and squirrels call it home Their memories and their town condemned The people tried to start again In other towns like Sanbornton But when the animals return Old hill village lives again
â€“ Brian McNabb Skulls, like the dead Rams they are. Skulls, to rule the mountain no more. Skulls, ice tools and numbers tattooed on their skin, A band of brothers, they are more than just kin. The army called it hazing, It was all part of their training. To get the skull, the horns, the number, To get the sweatshirt, to be called a brother. It was more than just tape marking gear That spawned new Rams every year. More than a 290 on the PT test, More than a drive to be the best. True commitment was more than their creed; To be a ram it took a special breed. The school turned a blind eye Only watching as their Rams died
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