Fall 2020 Issue

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The Northwest Passage Fall 2020


Letter From The Editor

s we wrap up the never-ending year of 2020, and head into 2021, many of us wonder will the Apocalypse Bingo continue? Will there be another event that outdoes all the others and leaves us utterly speechless? For many of us in this time of uncertainty we turn to art to escape the world. Whether it’s looking at a well-made meme, building your Animal Crossing town from the ground up, or reading a new book, art provides a way to escape and process the world around us. Art, and the creative process can provide endless distractions from the next biggest headline out in the world. I know that I find it comforting to lose myself in art, cartoons, and whatever book I’m reading. I want to give a big thank you to everyone who submitted their work, this magazine would not be possible without your submissions. I also want to thank everyone who offered their opinions on pieces, you helped me build the magazine this term. The authors whose work we featured in the magazine are talented individuals, and I hope that everyone will enjoy their work as much as I have. During this tumultuous time, I hope that everyone stayed safe, survived finals, and had a wonderful holiday season. I hope that everyone can escape into the Fall issue of the Northwest Passage. –Sam Marshall Editor-in-Chief


Submission Guidelines

f you want to be part of next term’s issue of the Northwest Passage, consider submitting your original work! 1. Acceptable submissions include: short stories (1,500 words max), fiction and nonfiction (1,500 words max), creative essays, poetry, scripts and screenplays, art of any medium, photography, spoken-word, music compositions, and recordings. 2. Creators have the opportunity to submit a maximum of 10 works of any medium, but only three to five may be included in the issue depending on space. Please submit art and photography in jpeg format, and written works as a word document. 3. Submissions should include a title and be submitted without a name attached. We view all work without attachment to the name of the artist to reduce bias. 4. All work should be final drafts. Please do not submit work with significant grammatical errors, unless it is for artistic purposes. 5. Creators may remain anonymous. Please let us know in your submission email if you would like to remain anonymous. 6. Art must be submitted in a digital format.

Please email all submissions to the northwestpassage@wou.edu


Table of Contents Content Advisory: Some work featured in this magazine might make some readers uncomfortable. Reader Discretion Advised.

Hail the Helianthus––Anna Davidson–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––Cover Creative Footprint––Darrian Rodriguez–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––4 A New Day Dawns––Anna Davidson––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––5 day whatever––Nova Kohnke––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––6 who knew vultures had a taste for lamb?––Nova Kohnke––––––––––––––––6 Under the Dead Sea––Darrian Rodriguez––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––7 Cry––Daniel Gonzalez–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––8 Halloween––Daniel Gonzalez––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––8 Clever Words––Daniel Gonzalez––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––9 Untitled––Darrian Rodriguez–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––10 Destiny Strobe––Issac Acosta–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––11 Chron’s Sheet Music––Issac Acosta––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––11 I’ll Fly Away––Anna Davidson––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––12 Observing Birds at Mill Street Park––Sean Martinez–––––––––––––––––––13 Summer Snow––Sean Martinez––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––13 Streetlight––Daniel Gonzalez–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––14 Small Steps––Anna Davidson–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––15 The Second Coming (Out)––Hayden Stults––––––––––––––––––––––––16-17 Tick Tock––Daniel Gonzalez––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––18 When All Is Quiet and The World Hums Along––Daniel Gonzalez––––––19


Creative Footprint Darrian Rodriguez


A New Day Dawns Anna Davidson


day whatever Nova Kohnke

seconds, minutes, hours, and then even days begin to blur together, sitting at this desk in deep ruts the wheels of this chair have worn into the plastic mat. the sun rises: I don’t. I wait until it feels as though my stomach is turning inside out, shuffle downstairs, make what I have made every late morning the last four weeks. eggs. black pepper, bright orange seasoning salt. it is brackish wet sand in my mouth and it is hard to swallow. shuffle back upstairs, sit back down, forget to drink water, skip lunch, listen to the white noise of nothing broken every few hours by my mother’s staff meetings and sales calls. tonight my stepdad will come home, tell us how many people walked by his office crying, laid off. I will ask for the umpteenth time, “will they ever let you work from home?” tomorrow we will go to the grocery store. I will remind my mother to pick up a mask before we leave, and we will stand behind large lines of people with too much toilet paper piled in their carts. I will laugh even though it has long since stopped being funny.

who knew vultures had a taste for lamb? Nova Kohnke So some women from church came by today to celebrate my eighteenth birthday to invite me back to church— I’m missed. they’re so excited to have me in the women’s relief society, founded by joseph smith’s wife. it always circles back here: bright young woman lost, sweet little lamb wandering too far from the flock. and they’ll follow like vultures, pick through raw, festering flesh for something good, untouched by decay. something red and warm and sweet. pull pull pull snap arteries and tendons like rubber bands, dig through tender meat until bloodied beaks clack against bone like wedged heels against tiled floors of church kitchens. unless I resign slate wiped clean. but that seems like a lot for an eighteen-year-old.


Under The Dead Sea Darrian Rodriguez


Cry Daniel Gonzalez


ry! Said the Angels, and let the tears fall down Rise! Said my demons, and let slip the crown For What? Said I, in a state of rage, to see myself drown? Cry mercy! Said the cowards, save your life today Fight back! Said the wicked, let die whoever may But why? Said I, why must I obey? Cast them off! Said the lonely, like rubbish you were tossed Take it back! Said the poison, take back what was lost How? Said I, and at what cost? Plead! Said the sinners, their forgiveness you must earn Strike! Said the wounded, and fear they will learn What? Said I, and watch my bridges burn?

Halloween Daniel Gonzalez


n the night of Hallows Eve When the blue moon glistens red And the werewolf ’s howl casts a shiver of dread When the vampire’s screech can be heard for miles And the blood-red runs over dining-room tiles When the zombies’ groan has a never-ending echo And the jack-o’-lantern’s face froze in a time-lost cackle On the night of the undead Don’t rise from your bed Pull up the covers and lock the door tight For All Hallows Eve is sure to give you a fright. With blood-soaked teeth and a dead man’s gaze The undead slumber in the fresh-morning haze Only to return once again the same time next year So be sure, for the time you have left, to smile ear-to-ear.


Clever Words Daniel Gonzalez


lever boy, clever boy I am not a clever boy I’ve written words and I’ll write many more But for you, for you I can’t write any more You are my block My cursed writer’s block I’m forced to look up At the trees and the sky And the birds as they fly I stand and walk And each step feels wrong Because none of these steps Take me closer to you So I sit and I ponder And I think and I wander On what it would feel like To hold my hand in yours As I lay in bed I fill my head With images of you They never dance They never run They stay with me through the night And as I sit here As I write As I paint my heart My head and heart start racing One with distractions The other with love Or something close If I dare call it so For now I call it Something And every fiber of my being Every sinew, each vein Every bone in my body calls out They say to me “Say it to her Say it now” And the music in my head

This unending chorus Roars to a crescendo It fills my mind It fogs my thoughts It covers my eyes And moves my hands And before I know it



Untitled Darrian Rodriguez


Destiny Strobe Isaac Acosta


ollow the neon skyway In your favorite cashmere tie-dye, Sip that retro in grace, Pose for the stars, Winking their diamonds When you enter their space, Ask the trumpets If they’ll flash you their pistons For a flip off the Earth, Dive like a rainbow Straight for the top Of his off-white gates, Let the sins stun like glitter, Let the angels tell him your name, Kick your feet up On his desk, tell him That was lame.

Chron’s Sheet Music


Isaac Acosta

otted and cramped, sinking, like acid, my lining strums like Hendrix playing Foxey Lady on a frigid skiff with a leak in its stern on white water, Steering into an inverted Iron Maiden with her spikes prodding up under my naval, rimming the dermis, pleading to burst, entreating any distraction, Incessantly condemning me to indulge its djenty ache, like a mosh pit inside an ambulance stuck at a red, I hang tight, keeled over, and wait for it to turn on its end. But as soon as Hendrix frees me after a drawn-out vibrato, another Jimmy takes the stage, and Plant howls his Immigrant Song, bellowing from my belly Like a whale with a cork in its blowhole; only breachable with a tubular corkscrew, and only after a week of chugging clear liquids as if Nothing Else Matters Then I order a double bacon cheeseburger and a large fry.


I’ll Fly Away Anna Davidson


Observing Birds at Mill Creek Park Sean Martinez


ifteen miles out from the suburbs Where the ground is soft and crunchy And the trees are bare and rickety, A precarious cave broods above a soothing river. Crescendo of chirps echo from the cave Two birds emerge in the glistening As if they’ve been trapped for years. They disperse, upstream and downstream, Clapping wings obscuring perfect reflections. Chirp, Chirp, Chirp, cries a lonesome chick. Tiny earthquakes stir beneath my skin I shred bits of leaves apart with quivering fingers My mind is a whirlwind Wondering when its parents will return. Clap clap clap. Sure enough, they return and fly straight through the rock And once again, I sit back and listen to their reunion With crimson cheeks and fists clenched: At least your parents came back.

Summer Snow Sean Martinez


t’s like summer snow, Only it stings your eyes, suffocates your lungs. Catch a flake in mid-air, Wonder how many miles it’s travelled, How many lives it’s claimed along the way. Nature has taken a break from its daily routine; The choir has taken an indefinite leave, Games of tag are put on hold, Spiders leave their webs for snowflakes to claim — Where do the ducks go when hell freezes over? When it snows in summer, we don’t rejoice, We sit inside, blinds closed. We don’t want to see. The everlasting sunset.


Streetlight Daniel Gonzalez


tand strong, stand tall. Stand before the masses. Light their way and guide their path. Carve a holy trail through the darkness of heart. Stand strong, stand tall. You’ve been given a gift. You’ve been given a chance. Stand above those around you, be their eyes and hear their woes. Speak not wisdom of your own. Enlighten them to the world around, show them the way to their own solutions. Stand strong, stand tall. Skin of iron, bones of steel, light the beacon of the hopeless, guide the hand of the lost. Stand as a bulwark against time. Stand as an escape from the dark. Stand strong, stand tall. You will be home to some. You will be friend to another. An obstacle for few. A familiar for many. Serve them as one. Serve them without judgment. The many now are strangers to later. But they will always know you. Stand strong, stand tall, my friend.


Small Steps Anna Davidson


The Second Coming (Out) Hayden Stults

“Is it possible to be too popular?” Matt smiled in spite of Peter’s horrible attempt at a joke, crossing off another name of potential wedding invites. “I mean, we have two hundred people on the list already, we’ve got to make some cuts somewhere.” “You’re the one who wanted to invite their entire extended family!” Matt threw a bit of popcorn at his fiance, which missed, sailing off the edge of the small balcony they shared. They laughed, then Peter’s face turned earnest, which made Matt nervous, because he knew what was coming. “You should call him, Matty.” Matt didn’t meet his eyes, instead choosing to stare up at the soft clouds painted pink by the beginning of a picturesque sunset. “What if he says no?” Matt’s voice soft and sad. “But what if he says yes?” Peter, ever the optimist, took Matt’s hand, just like he had when he first proposed. “I’m so afraid.” Peter stood up, pulling Matt into one of those hugs that always made Matt melt into him, like the world fell away around them. If he had any choice at all, this is where he would be all the time. Matt pulled away from Peter and looked into his dark eyes. Some people say “When you know, you know” when it comes to true love, and those moments when Matt looked upon the face he’d loved since he was 19, that was when he knew. ··· Is it possible for a dial tone to be intimidating? He thought nervously, holding the phone to his ear. Peter had gone back to his place, leaving Matt alone with his phone on the balcony as the sun slunk lower and lower. Matt had been dreading making this phone call for a while, but Peter had been right: it had to be done. Dialing the numbers, he thought of all the ways it could go--something he’d been doing consumingly over the past few days. Really, this had been in the back of his mind since Peter proposed, but he was too overcome by the excitement and the love to think about what was to come. “Hello?” Matt’s heart was suddenly in his throat. “Hey, Dad. It’s Matt,” he suppressed a small quiver in his voice. “Oh, hi.” Matt’s dad was never really much of a talker, especially after they lost his mom, but Matt pushed through the awkward silence that stood between them like a pit of quicksand. “I just wanted to call you, because… well, I need to tell you something.” “What is it?” A tone in his voice told Matt he already knew how this was going to go. Matt hadn’t spoken to his father in almost a year, after what Peter had begun calling “the Christmas Calamity”, which had included Matt’s dad refusing to visit Matt and Peter for Christmas. The argument that followed had done damage Matt never thought could be fixed.


The Second Coming (Out) Continued

But he wanted to try. “Well, Dad, the thing is… Peter and I are engaged. We’re getting married this summer.” Saying his name out-loud, Matt realized how badly he wished Peter were here, to hold his hand and remind him it’s going to be okay, like he always did. Matt felt like he was thrown back in time: sitting in the kitchen, rain pounding on the window--it was always raining--when he came out to his parents in high school. His mom had been his champion, but that time was over now. Matt’s dad was silent at first, something he was always good at. I just want to know what you’re thinking, Matt thought as he blinked back traces of tears. “We, uh, we really want you to be there.” “I thought we agreed that we wouldn’t talk about that kind of thing.” Matt’s heart sank as he heard the gruff, impenetrable walls go up across the phone. “Dad, you know this isn’t a choice.” “I’m not going to argue with you, Matthew. I don’t support what you’re doing, period. Your mother may have humored you, but I certainly will not. This tore our family apart once already.” All of the hopes Matt had for including his father in his life flashed before his eyes: accepting Peter, sitting in the front row of his wedding, his future kids having a relationship with their grandfather. All of those had become less and less likely as the call went on. Tears flowed freely then, and air was hard to come by as he tried to figure out what to do next, what to say to fix this. “Dad, I’m… I’m getting married…” The words struggled out of his mouth, taking pieces of his chest with them. “No, Matthew, you’re not.” His father’s words sounded like the slamming of a door: their finality piercing. The line went dead, the humming dial tone the only sound in a world that had fallen silent. ··· “Is it dumb that I thought I could convince him to come?” Matt whispered into Peter’s shirt. Sound had come back to the world slowly that night, only after Peter had returned to find Matt in the dark, crying into his pillow, the sunset long over. Only after Peter had breathed a few “I love you”’s into the top of his head while he held him, did Matt begin to feel less lost. “It’s not dumb; it’s his loss, Matty. He doesn’t deserve to share that day with us. It means too much.” “You don’t get it, Pete. He’s the only family that I have, I don’t have anyone left.” “That’s not true, Matt,” Pete’s voice was stern but soft. He gently lifted Matt’s chin, bringing their eyes level. “You have me. Do you remember what I said to you when I proposed?” “Yeah,” Matt sniffed, unable to take his eyes away from Peter’s. “As long as I’m alive, you’ll never have to be alone.” Fresh tears welled up in Matt’s eyes, but a different kind this time. “I love you, Peter.”


Tick Tock Daniel Gonzalez


ick Tock Goes the clock High up on the wall. Tick Tock Goes the clock Saying the end is nigh. Tick Tock Goes the clock Watching the time go by. Tick Tock Goes the clock If only I could fly Tick Tock Goes the clock I’d soar away from here Tick Tock Goes the clock I’d go to lands far and near Tick Tock Goes the clock But here I am in this hall Waiting for this to start Watching the time fly by And thinking all my thoughts Thoughts of color and thoughts of love Thoughts that flutter like a dove Thoughts that move and thoughts that speak Thoughts that peck me with their beak Thoughts that run and thoughts that fight Thoughts that spread like a blight Thoughts that pierce and thoughts that glow Thoughts that I think all too slow Thoughts of me and thoughts of her Thoughts that make me feel like curr But all these thoughts have no mass They have no power They have no class The truest thoughts that I think Are the thoughts like these Written down in ink


When All Is Quiet and The World Hums Along Daniel Gonzalez


hen all is quiet and the world hums along. In its steady tune the world graces you with song. Beats of your heart and clapping of thunder. Trilling of teapots and windchimes in voices. In the calming breath, in the eye of storm. When ramshackle walls falter at hurricane. Between your wild sleeping eyes lies a crack-webbed hope. When sanctuary burns and rivers ran dry with blood. When all your skin holds caged who you once never were. When familiarity stands across a street and gazes past you with stranger’s eyes. When eyes lie drowning. When the within and without find kinship in wrong. When the unwalked path behind you ended long ago. When no raging backdraft hides behind your bones, and no serenity calls its siren song. When all that’s left is the dying embers and nothing. When so alien is yourself that a hand to the cheek is the love of someone you’ll never find. When the artificial clean stands in for the calm in sleep. When closed doors keep nothing away and nothing inside. When the song of life lives only as written within you. What is there to love?