Northwest Passage Western Oregon University’s Literature & Arts Magazine Spring 2016 Editor-in-Chief: Zoë Strickland
Cassie Farmer Eclipse Arning Hope Gilbert Jo Braasch Katrina Penaflor Nico Russo-Barkley Stephanie Blair
Rhys Finch © 2016 Northwest Passage. All rights reserved. All materials and content within this publication are property of the Northwest Passage, for the duration of first publishing rights, a six month period, after which time all content submitted by the individual contributor reverts back to the author. All materials and content printed here may not be copied, reproduced, or distributed. Any other usage must follow the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported license.
Editor’s Note: Here you go! The end of the school year is upon us, which means that summer is nigh and you get a new edition of the Northwest Passage! The pieces in this issue aren’t summer themed; we wouldn’t want to marginalize you like that. You might like reading darker pieces during the summer. We just want to give you options. This year has gone by incredibly fast, and I’m so pleased with what the Northwest Passage has been able to put out. Thank you to everyone who has picked up copies of our little literary magazine, submitted their work, or told their friends to submit. A special thanks goes out to everyone on the title page. The Northwest Passage board members are all amazing, and work tirelessly to curate all of the submissions into what you’re holding in your hands (or reading online, thanks technology). Thank you to Rhys Finch/Reed Frunch for being the most supportive adviser that student media could ask for. And last but certainly not least, thank you to Ben Bergerson for his design expertise. I hope you enjoy our spring issue, and we’ll see you again in fall!- Z.S.
Submission Guidelines: To submit your work and join our publication, here is what you have to do! We’re looking for your fiction, nonfiction, poetry, drama, photography, and digital versions of your artwork. We particularly love reading edgier work. All fiction and poetry must not exceed 5 pieces. All art needs to be in digital format (.JPEG, .PDF, etc.). Every submission needs to have a title (preferrably a creative one, but ‘Untitled’ is also acceptable), and should be sent as an attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org. Note: No more than 3 submissions per contributor will be published per issue, but additional submitted work may be considered for future issues or the exclusive online issue. Every submission is read blind by the editorial board and chosen based on quality alone. Email email@example.com with any questions. Fall 2016 Deadline: 10.28.16
Table of Contents Cover 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32
Fall Catalogued Beneath the Surface A Starr in the Darkness A Series of Memories Beauty in the Right Side of the Brain Hurricane Houses Ignite 2014. The Glass Blower Urban Scenery Archivist II Melancholia If the Shoe Fits Summer Skies Once More Alpha Seven-One-One Room 219 People, Places, Things: A Guide to Romanticism 6.58 Years of Blood Untitled The Happy Couple If We Were Grade School Lovers Crawl Inside Me Five Flat Sisters Mountain Shereen Reflection Refraction Eating Only My Soul Hosting Memories 2a.m. on a Mattress Like a French Girl Carousel On Graduation
Karlene Curtin Jenna Beresheim Emily Pelletier Darien Campo Declan Hertel Anna Walls Jackson Fryer Emily Pelletier Zoë Strickland Zoë Strickland Stephanie Blair Jenna Beresheim Jenna Beresheim Stevie Lamica Sadie Moses Katrina Penaflor Rachel Gries Anonymous Cassie Farmer Victoria Keller Huimin Hou Stevie Lamica Stevie Lamica Anna Walls Stephanie Stuckey Karlene Curtin Jo Braasch Jo Braasch Stephanie Blair Stephanie Blair Stephanie Stuckey Zoë Strickland Katrina Penaflor Katrina Penaflor Carter Craig Jo Braasch
N’kisi, an African Grey, has a vocabulary of 950 words. Upon meeting Jane Goodall, he asked “Got a chimp?”
Good morning, Simon. “Good morning, Simon,” I parrot back, sleep weighing down syllables as the slate gray bird cocks his head.
Boop! Curved beak meets my nose followed by a kissing cluck, a pleased stirring of feathers.
Beep. Beep. Beep. Simon foreshadows coffee maker settings that never change.
Drive carefully, mom’s tone reminds, settled back on the perch to sound off keys, door knob, and close.
Blup blup blup! The parrot’s head bops in measured doses matching splashes of creamer. Zpppppppt! He shifts his feet while mocking the zipper of my favorite coat.
See you later! repeat dad’s words in familiar resonance as my shoes slip on.
“Beneath the Surface”
“A Starr in the Darkness”
A Series of Memories if i have any say in how i die it’ll be of a stimulant overdose early in the summer in an embrace with my partner surrounded by several college-ruled notebooks filled with awful but sincere poetry that we wrote entirely within the last 48 hours and we’ll be discovered by mutual friends on the most beautiful day anyone has seen for a good while
in the groovy way you move, see the smoke of the spooky way i feel you remind me of promises i made and i need a chance to heal the night air cuts me i can’t say goodbye, but i still stand whole somehow you remind me of promises i made and i hate you for it now
at the park sitting in my car we kissed for the first time we floated high above the street immortal and unafraid of the sun’s bonds but then the cops came and we had to go home
later on i’ll come to jesus when i’m all out of poems to burn we’ll watch television and wait for us to inherit all the world
“Beauty in the Right Side of the Brain”
Anna Walls 8
Hurricane Houses I hope, I hope my double decades don’t get me down swear my father’s face is fixed in a frown and I dunno how his brow supports the weight of those rainy days and hurricanes that rollin’ off that eastern front he mixed salty tears with northern blood, and got a sun who’s never seen the sun and can’t count his reasons not to run. cause see my brain’s backfired lately it’s all kick and no shot so maybe nothing’s gonna save me, I’ve got to circumvent the storm that raised me. Cause I’ve been living like a reckless driver I can feel the road burn and I’m trying not to shiver but I can’t compel these weary fingers to stiffen up and pull the trigger guess I’ve got the options of a sinking ship, skuttled from a childhood free of storms that I have missed and there’s really nothing to do but clear the storm drain cause ohh how I fear the rain These feathers and heathers and all this inclement weather, I wanted nothing to do with them like criminals want fetters and I’m a humbling bumbling stumbling son of silence and anatomy and actually accident acing for adjectives to center me cause see my brain is voiced by the most vicious of villains and I’m scared to the bones but it seems like nobody cares or wants to listen and what’s coming for me is father hurricane a perfect storm of aggression mixing medicine and a bad brain, but you know, what scares me the most is my own storm, atropial depression of lost loves and all that is forlorn and scared shitless kids we go with the grain cause the weather don’t change so clear the storm drain cause oh how I fear the rain
Emily Pelletier 10
The Glass Blower
We drove 120 mph towards where the sun held hands with the mountains. Our lungs burning with forest fires of unfiltered oxygen
Come on in. You can find your past in the storybook-ink of my limbs. In the cherry blossom daggers and red, white, blue sparrows.
‘quick. look out the sun-roof.’
You can find the future in spiderwebs that collect on the deck of my grandmother’s house on the corner of Redwing and 4th.
Wind gathers me out of the seat my hands touch the sky Sinatra sings us out of senior year. One-way two-way rollercoaster roads burning virgin rubber as we come crowning into maybe-adulthood.
Sit with me, and we’ll talk about tomorrow and how everything is obsolete but amazing.
‘don’t tell my mom.’
We’ll sing itsy-bitsy-spider backwards while gurgling corner-store wine, try not to wake the kids.
Hushed voices as we walk in, keeping secrets of days meant only for us.
Share stories of our crazy family, yelling over each other as the ball drops to the New Year, i’ll tell you what they said when you were away at school.
Stephanie Blair 12
It’s sexy like a blue ribbon pig.
Ten years ago, I felt it a delicate disaster no bigger than my nail, wisplike and wary.
Aliens are more avant-garde than lemons.
Every day I nurtured it tucked within my room it lapped up traumas, nibbled the crumbs of insecurities.
Maybe it’s public candy and private punishment. Shouldn’t that ‘if’ be complicated?
When it grew too big, I walked it to the bus stop, through locker-lined halls, stuffed into the back of my car.
Can we take a moment to just appreciate the applicator for this lip gloss? This is innovation!
Then it turned on me lashed at friends, hastened me home under steely words: I’m fine.
Only meth would make you do that to your hair. Depression the live action roleplay of happiness.
For years it bit me sadistic claws raked slow, measured lines across me as hidden as my beast.
You should get a perm! I would rather have super lice. There is no work wasted, even the broth is still good.
And now it fucks me sagging the mattress beneath its weight, macabre maw spread to peel sinew in slivers until daybreak.
Whenever you see an open-backed truck you’ll think of me.
Jenna Beresheim 13
If the Shoe Fits
I feel the smoke waves rolling around my hand that’s smacking grey from smushed cigarette butts with tails stemming from the moss green pots where last year you planted poppies and petunias. My third floor balcony was never lively but you brought planters, seeds, even a watering pail, swearing that you’d color and liven the brown boards that held us up when we shared a lighter. They say that smoke only makes plants fail faster so when the flowers never flourished I only smiled at the irony because you too failed to show up when the sun came out and spring was upon us, ready to take your hand, make you into something more than a girl who dreams of that happily ever after in movies. But princesses don’t want a prince who wants a Winston between kisses on a ballroom dance floor, when the clock strikes midnight and you have to be chased. Not every prince charming wants to lug a shoe around day and night to find the girl who danced with him because his mansion was nicer than her shitty shack. So when Cinderella leaves, fuck the shoe and try going home with a girl of your standing who doesn’t see wrong with plain planks on an ugly terrace.
People say summer skies mean Fireflies, late nights, and pretty dreams. Is that what’s supposed to come When this warmth appears slowly Like a waking dream? Here, summer skies mean Iced caramel coffee drinks That taste nothing like coffee And a lot like cream; Enchanted forests That are only enchanting in their name; Pools filled with kids who Don’t really know how to swim; Night skies filled with stars Muddied by this unfamiliar haze called heat, Not nearly as clear as The crystalline air that once magnified them. But what can we say When we pretend to enjoy a season Wholly unnatural to the place we live in?
Once More In the silence of the field, among the lavender, you’re humming “Hurt” by Johnny Cash because you know it’s my favorite.
My eyes close, but the sounds outside keep getting louder. Frantic yells of “Richard,” and “Here he is,” and “Dad.”
Step by step my shaky, old legs carried me right to where I hear your voice.
Hands grasp my forearms. My head shakes— a silent plea where words don’t come.
It’s noon and warm. No rain, few clouds, no birds.
They’re too loud, Emilia. I can’t hear you.
I picture you lying next to me. In a purple dress that matches the color of your flower. If you were here I would tell you a joke, but I would mess up the punchline and listen to you laugh anyway. You would complain about your hair being white, and I would complain about my stupid, old man glasses. I would tell you that the house is too quiet, and that I never took the bookmark out of Rebecca because you didn’t finish it. I take a shaky breath in, hearing the birds now. They’re squawking, tarnishing the sounds of the field. My feet hurt from walking. My back aches from sitting too long. Tired, more so than ever before.
Alpha Seven-One-One Lucas Barton lived in the lower city. To know everything about him, it was all you needed to know. There was a thick fog hanging over the tramway today. Lucas looked up toward the rail hanging overhead and imagined he could see the sky through it. He’d never seen the sky. That was not his place. The lower city was for the lost and hungry, those who only knew the sky through old wives’ tales. It looked like berries, his grandmother said. Blackberries at night. Raspberries at the end of the day, when the sun, as round and bright as a fresh orange, fell away. And during the day, it became something else entirely, something so clear and pure there was no name for it. Lucas Barton didn’t believe her. There was only so much old wives could remember. The tram emerged from the heavy fog. He climbed into a rusted metal seat in the back corner of the tram and dug into his bag. Before his hand emerged, he looked around. There was nobody near. Carefully, with his head ducked low, he passed a brown square from his bag to his mouth. It was cold and crunchy and dull. He didn’t mind. It filled him better than imaginary berries. The rail screeched above him. The tram lurched into movement. He sat still and silent at the back. Nobody moved on the tram; there were reports every day of cars breaking off. The lower city was littered with craters from fallen cars. The most they could do was hold still and pray the Monitors would replace the lines. He checked the glowing display at the front of the tram car. Alpha Seven-Zero-Seven. Three more minutes. He didn’t dare turn his head to look into the fog; even that was too much movement for the tram. Instead he sat still, his eyes fixed on the sickly-green screen mounted over the front steps. His bag was too light on his lap. He glanced down at it. Two more squares. He’d wasted a ration already this morning. He shouldn’t have. He was stupid. But sometimes the still silence of the tram was too little to keep his mind from the gnawing hunger. He would have to skip his meal on break. Alpha Seven-Zero-Nine. He moved as little as possible. The familiar smell of factory smoke and burning oil seeped through the tram vents. He breathed deep. The sooner it filled his lungs, the less he would notice while he worked. Alpha Seven-One-Zero. With a movement so small it was barely visible, he turned and looked out the window.
Below him was a thick layer of smoke. It was gray and black, a cloud swirling beneath the tram as it pushed its way out. Above him was the middle city. He stared. The factories always impressed him. It was the most he’d seen in his life, but the buildings as tall as fifty men were still a marvel. He would be inside one of them for the rest of the day. He was lucky; he was a good worker. He’d earned a raise. Most of his new building sat above the smoke. Alpha Seven-One-One. He held his breath and counted out the seconds. Then he looked up and to his left. For a split second, every day, there was a flash of something red between two tall steel buildings. It was as red as his hands at the end of the workday. It was as red as a raspberry. The tram ground to a halt. The rest of the travelers stood. He rose, slung his bag over his shoulder, and filed to the front. In twelve hours, at Beta Seven-Zero-Zero, he would be back on the tram. Then he would look up and to his right and pretend that the inky blackberry spot between buildings was the upper city’s sky.
Room 219 First day of speech class I sat outside room 219 against a vending machine eating a half frozen bagel
Outside that room we talked for an hour. I’d forgotten about her smile and how well we got along.
She came early also and sat beside me on the floor. She had straight black hair and a face with more edges than most. I asked if she was nervous about class. She nodded yes.
Weeks later she brought pizza to share, next day I brought cider for two. I walked with her to subway once, she had a stalker and wouldn’t go alone. Campus was dark and full of shadows.
For the next eight weeks I would always be early. She’d tell me about her boyfriend. I’d show her photos I’d taken. By the time finals came I knew I was in love. Yet I didn’t risk to tell her.
Two quarters later on the door of my writing class a sign: “Class moved to room 219.” Again I was early and again sat down. The girl showed up. I timidly returned her embrace.
People, Places, Things: A Guide to Romanticism Hollow auditorium, younger than 2am, younger than me.
I asked him to pull over My fingers In the crook of his shoulder
A poem about suicide notes or love notes I could never tell which.
with the gravel of hard candy, sugar and something called brightness He reminded me not to get blood on his new t-shirt.
He was all coffee and go, raised his hand, smirked, “It was very you.” Then we played ‘marry, kiss, kill’ with the streetlights when spring made the stars fizz and fade under my bones His voice dripped, “Is this your first time slow dancing?” Teeth dressed in champagne glitter on my tongue I tried not to be so obvious. The air was cigarettes filtered through Chinese food. It was such a short walk to his body when Monday called her motion picture hands growing daisies in his collar bone again. He drove back to tight-lipped suburbia and claustrophobic sunrises that bit into my rusted iron wrists.
6.58 Years of Blood When I was buying the 3 packs of frosted cookies I wanted to cry out something profound about the twisting pain in my abdomen keeping me up at night, leaving me in a warped heap on my bathroom floor, hoping that the cold on my face and the heating pad on my stomach would cure me. About the red stain blooming between my legs, a bloody watercolor on my bed sheets. The bloating for weeks beforehand Leaving behind stressed thoughts about why my outfits don’t fit and the acne that should be gone by now popping up two weeks prior. I’ve realized I can become a world class contortionist for a few hours one week a month without any circus training or stretching beforehand. I wanted to scream something about this, but all that I can think about is that I am giving birth to the lining of my uterus and yet, I go about my daily business like the math doesn’t say that for the next 40 years, 480 periods, With 5 days on average per cycle, 2400 days of bleeding. That’s 6.58 years of blood, And the only two things that I have learned are How to secretly clean blood off of fabric and that You should never buy things the day before your period
Victoria Keller 20
Huimin Hou 21
If We Were Grade School Lovers
The Happy Couple
I’d pluck rays from the sun and we’d make crowns to rule. Earth as our fortress the sky as our kingdom. We’d burn from the beams but scars only show power. And all pain would fade away when butterfly kisses grazed. You’d color your hair black or brown, because gingers look silly in gold robes and people have to fear us. Our schnauzer could guard the palace, all twelve pounds of him, and the Persian cat can claw the throne while we’re conquering constellations. Forget to the moon and back, we’d soar past the ninth planet, beyond the Milky Way, into God’s hands where we could always play.
Dog hairs stick to my sweaty chest, reminders that I need to shower. Josh picks at a roofing scar on his arm, waiting for me to leave. Swinging my legs off the bed, my toes slide along wood floors for my clothes; I twirl my brown curls into a bun and pretend I don’t hear his sigh. My black bra rests on her nightstand on top of a photo I knocked over. It’s a JC Penney Family Christmas Special and he’s happily kissing her cheek. Getting up from the bed Josh takes off the condom. Wrapping it in a tissue, he heads into the bathroom. There’s a chirp from his phone and her face lights up the screen. Instantly he answers the call asking baby how the kids like New Jersey. Seven months in this mess and I’m still waiting. Zipping up my boots, my hand waves a goodbye and I tell myself this is the last time.
“Crawl Inside Me”
Anna Walls 23
Five Flat Buns, shorts, spandex, bibs, spikes, singlets, standing at the start.
Wind scraped throats, copper taste, exhale the cycled end. Turn over kicks, stealing spots, tension tangles with the speed.
Toes to the line, deep breath, honed eyes on the turn.
Chest lean, photo finish, pity clap, patted backs. And only five minutes came to pass.
Stomach knots, gun shot gone with the clock. Waterfall flows to the first flat lane and the banked come back to join the gained.
Laps, splits, seconds, clicks, flash, shouts, settling to the curve. Frenzied straight-a-way steps fenced, toxic boxes stunt the pace. Hidden hit, fists to hinges, fighting for the front. Uncaught catch up, leader legs lunge late, and trapped side-step-surge to escape the wait. Bells, blows, beats, teams, showing teeth, final lap to go.
Karlene Curtin 25
Money hands grab every inch of fair skin while a single gold bangle jumps up and down on her delicate wrist, sanding the headed wood.
Bubbles flow from the wand to mix with fresh cut air drifting down to settle on small palms and disappearing before my tiny eyes can study the purple shimmering in the crystal clear.
At every emanation the money drips down her swollen mother breasts, they never move their gaze from the glistening curves, missing her onyx gem eyes
Twenty years pass and the bubbles drift into my wondering mind once again, I have captured the iridescence in our bed while admiring the sticky glistening on his purple sheath.
Accepting the green she slides on a silky blouse collects her purse and leaves, never noticing that the photo the original man took has slipped out onto the ornamental rug.
On her desk she handwrites a letter in intricate script, sliding cash into the envelope addressed to her young sister. Everyone calls her sexy. She signs it Shereenâ€” Persian for beautiful.
Stephanie Blair 27
“Eating Only My Soul”
I fell in. Smile and laugh with reservation. Show them what you have but not all of it. Don’t be easy. Hide your “No” in a “Yes” or they won’t come back, I was told.
Sometimes I try and find pieces of you in the leftover grounds of my morning coffee.
My welcome mat laid flat for wiping shoes and the warm banana-nut whiffs hit. Stay as long as you like, I said. Behind the neck and back tied, a flower-stacked apron hosted
I count the pitch-black sidewalk cracks, while holding my breath counting to ten.
After the warm smell has faded, and I’ve come back from the midnight dog-walk.
You were never superstitious. But your grandma was. She would say prayers over the sizzling-hot lumpia creating puddles in the wrinkles of her skin. Yelling after you to come back inside, you’re too sick to be out in the cold. Yelling after your younger brothers because it’s New Years and they forgot to open the windows.
but most were selfish. Plates, pots, pans and cups were left caked and crusted over. Mud prints nuzzled into the carpet deep and the entry gate’s hinges hung tilted --no way to close. Hope sucked dry from deferred dreams of love and safekeeping now hollowed empty.
A back window left unlatched wishing someone would remember. If willing, there is still a way in to this mess.
Stephanie Stuckey 29
2 a.m. on a Mattress I’ll ask you to lay your cheek on my thigh your lips to my lips, and whisper me secrets something dark, full of shadows and drapes— bats and monsters. Where we’ll walk hand in hand until we fall into the sharpest most recessed waiting room of your soul sighing and laughing, only to fall back to the bed and nap at a dinner table of your nameless, little secrets.
Lika a French Girl Draw me, Jack. Go on, do it. But this time I’ll give you watercolors, and one of those gold sharpies everyone fought over in second grade. If you’re lucky I’ll wear my earrings, and dip my lips in crushed raspberries. What a nice corduroy couch I’ll lay on. A gift from a friend of my mom’s who remodeled, moved, and didn’t want to drive to Goodwill. Turn the heat up, will you? And pass me a glass of champagne. It tastes so sweet and cheap. Maybe I’ll kiss you too. Maybe I’ll let you put your hand between my legs, followed next by your cock. Oh, and don’t forget the dimple on my cheek. And my freckles. All my dustings of freckles.
Carousel I approached the carousel and I was amazed. As a child, I was delighted by the gentle pace and colorful animals, as I grew older I only became more disenchanted with the carousel. The animals are boring, the same revolutions are monotonous, and that cheesy pinging soundtrack is degrading. I sit sullenly a top my faux horse -sullen- casting sideways glances at those who dare enjoy the carousel. I’ve figured it all out. I understand the carousel’s games and you realize that they are hilarious. A cold grin breaks across my face as I soak in the irony. I strike a satiric pose, mounting my faux horse with gusto. My friend laughs with me and the carousel goes round and round in its unchanging way, until my friend gets off. All of a sudden, he’s been called by his mother. The carousel is lonely again. My mother gives me my kid sister to watch. She’s young and her eyes dance with joy to the lights and the sounds. She laughs and swoons for her faux horse. I stand nearby to catch her if she falls; living vicariously through her such is life.
On Graduation After grades K-12 plus four more we leave the red bricks and sit for hours in rows under the hot rays. Long speeches and our names read quick, we speed home to wait for one of the 600 templates with a typed-out name and scanned presidential signature.
Dingy beater cars are traded for hybrids as two-week paper checks turn into monthly electronic deposits. And one year later weâ€™re sitting in a cubicle straining our eyes with endless spreadsheets. But for the free time, those delicious moments from 5:30 to 10 pm, itâ€™s all worth it. We go home to all the knowledge we loved in school or not.
Thick-soled Docs are packed into boxes as polished flats move into their spot on the shoe rack, and faded sweats are donated to make room for sleek black slacks.
The point is, we choose.
Cover letters light up our macbooks replacing essays we pulled all-nighters for, and policies pile up on the shelf where Nabokov novels and Whitman poems used to be stuffed.