Coffee, I Need Coffee
Food Conference Feedback
7. Oct. 09
Steal This Book C3
Dissecting Tourists A5
A1 More Fun With Poetry G4 Sections
Plastic Bag Omellete F1
A. Inside the Bubble B. Outside of the Bubble C. Op-Ed D. Events F. Human Ecology Essays G. Arts & Literature
Inside the Bubble A Curt Understanding of Global Food Systems —Bronwyn Clement
On Friday night Raj Patel kick started the Food for Thought Conference with one of the most entertaining speeches I have ever heard. With a humour and wit I was not prepared for, Patel shared insights into the global food system that were astounding and at points laughably illogical.
things on La Via Campesina’s list. Instead it is land and water reforms and access to markets which are needed first. To further the idea of how complex the issues are, Patel brought up one of La Via Campesina’s slogans that ‘food sovereignty is about ending violence towards women,’ emphasising how gendered food issues are: it is the women who often carry water for miles, who do not go As a British citizen of Indian background Raj Patel is in to school to be able to support their families, etc. Funny the perfect position to mock, well, just about anyone. enough, Patel was adamant about emphasizing that it was In describing how the British developed the concept of the poor of the world who have known this, who are admarkets in India he summarised the dialogue ‘oh, we’re vocating for change, and who are shaping a global movequite happy with our system’ said the serfs, ‘yes and we ment to invest and revitalise in localized food systems. have guns’ said the British. And so it was, a huge market was born, products being shipped off to the United He finished his speech with a clear message: things will Kingdom and famines increasing in India from once a only change when there is ‘true democracy,’ each indicentury to once every four years. Similarly, Patel described vidual taking responsibility for his or her self. I personally Haiti’s troubled history in the most direct way I have ever left the lecture still grinning about Raj Patel’s humour, heard – the first slave rebellions occurred in Haiti and the knowing I had learned lots, and optimistic for the rest of small island has been paying ever since. Through these the conference. stark recaps of history, which had those of us up in the balcony in stitches, he was able to weave in the heavier aspects of the imbalanced global food market including a variety of things from rising rates of farmer suicides across the world to the prevalence of type two diabetes. Perhaps the highlight was Patel’s rendition of the World Bank as a John Cleese style Robin Hood who adores the poor in a horribly paternalistic way and is apparently oblivious to the man standing next to him who punches them square in the stomach and takes the treasures they have just been handed. He admitted to have worked for the World Bank, World Trade Organisation, and the International Monetary Fund with the hope (that so many of us have) that he could change things from the inside. He was frank: ‘It doesn’t work, save your time.’ He also discussed the growing movement of La Via Campesina, a group of peasants and landless people across the globe fighting for food sovereignty. He contrasted this to the notions that eating organic and buying fair-trade was the end-all-and-beall solution. Indeed these are good and healthy but they are by no means the first
photo courtesy, Donna Gold
In describing how the British developed the concept of markets in India he summarised the dialogue ‘oh, we’re quite happy with our system’ said the serfs, ‘yes and we have guns’ said the British”
Food for Thought, Time for Change:
Food For People
Of all of the Food for Thought lectures and workshops, one stuck with me more than the rest of them. During the Food for People workshop the presentation on Food for Maine’s Future really hit me as being the one organization that got it. They recognized that the problem isn’t just food; it’s so much more complex.
A Critique of Attendance
No one that took part in Food for Thought would argue with the conference’s electric energy. The attendees were passionate and knowledgeable and were already making a difference--buying local and organic, running their own Food for Maine’s Future is not only focused on improvfarms, writing and researching and taking political action. ing the food resources of the state, but also on other issues As incredible as this was, it was also the shortcoming of including poverty and domestic violence. the weekend’s event. The organization feels that these issues are all interconParticipants of the World Cafe, a brainstorming session nected; violence is often caused by the stresses that come held Saturday afternoon, came to the conclusion that dis- along with a lifestyle of poverty, especially when people cussion by people of all backgrounds is the key to revolu- have limited access to resources such as nutritional food. tionizing the way we grow, distribute, and eat our food. It’s all related. This is especially apparent when looking at solutions presented earlier that day--everything from redistributing By localizing food production and fisheries, more people land ownership to halting the production of processed have access to nutritional food at better prices, not to food by multinational corporations. So why didn’t more mention the impact on the planet is heavily reduced by members of the Sierra Club attend when farming so clear- decreasing reliance on imported goods. ly impacts the earth’s ecosystems? Why didn’t all close The most powerful message of the conference for me was mothers and fathers participate, since the food available when Bob St. Peter, Food for Maine’s Future’s representato their families so directly affects their children’s health? tive, said we need to, “start acting as citizens, not consumAnd where was Joe the Plumber, pointing out all the disers.” He is completely correct, we need to stop focusing advantages to ending international food trade? on saving money and what’s best for just ourselves or our Food for Thought was both productive and inspirational, family and start thinking about what is best for the entire but far from perfect. With David Hales offering COA as population, or at least everyone in our community. host for a second conference in 2010, it was a be a good It seems that this day in age, especially with the economy use of our energy to extend the invitation to those who the way it is, we just want to save ourselves an extra penny. aren’t already involved. It is, after all, the future of our We don’t stop to think about those who don’t have access food. It is time that everyone makes that change. to food at all, but would it really kill us to lend a hand once in a while? We need to demand that local products be sold in local communities in order to stimulate local economies and provide more people with access to better products.
News in Brief with Sasha Paris
A half-gallon milk carton strolled across campus and dropped a moose fetus off the pier. A 5-kg piece of cheese then fell from the sky and flattened it. Two more sets of students were respectively indoctrinated with sympathy for seal clubbers and grumpy lobstermen. Raj Patel received the John Anderson Award for A Fascinating & Amusing Lecture. Marion Nestle was honored for Best Demonstration That Humans Are Strange. The ghost of the Bar Harbor Squash appeared on campus, briefly delighting those who thought that OTW’s feisty town cousin had returned. Upcoming Events on Campus: • Stripteases by Darth Vader and Caliban, famous for their (separate) open mic acts • “Get off my coast,” a monologue by Lucky Lunt • The Prairie Home Companion cast, singing revised classics from “The Sound of Chickens” to “God Bless My Underwear” • “Poisoned waters near and far,” a lecture by acclaimed scientist, author, and human ecologist Sandra Steingraber, who everyone at COA should know about
Cofffee, I Need Coffee. (taste treats would be nice too). - John Anderson
SOO, back in The Day when it WAS The Day, Take a Break was in the Mirror Room in Turrets & the Kitchen was in the Copier Room, and it always seemed like there was some sort of soup on, and sometimes it was actually quite good. Coffee was to be had for a quarter, and you could more or less count on Don Meiklejon and his Steering Committee image courtesy, College of the Atlantic’s Photostream Mafia to be in one corner plotting some nefarious reason why one couldn’t afford to miss ACM. Collection o’ cash was somewhat vats there? Why is one the editors of OTW calling for sporadic (there was a pot for money when the Work Study electronic locks on the Library, not greater responsibility Student didn’t show up or was busy in the kitchen, and i and participation (and safeguardTHINK most people paid. I know “ If we had cheap coffee, ing, and caring) among us all? If I did). we had cheap coffee, tea, and hot
tea, and hot chocolate
ANYWAY. Somehow The Mirror Room felt like a beating heart in a available in the “student vibrant organization & one could center” would it not engo sit on the porch if one needed privacy for a meeting. There were a courage the mix & flow lot fewer of us then of course, so beof community that we ing crowded was a different experience, but I don’t remember much in seek? If we had them the way of lines. Take a Break was there on an honor bajust that--taking a BREAK from the stress of class. These days we all sis, would it not make seem to be under so much pressure. a strong statement to There are so many more people. There are so many more choices. all and sundry that we The lunch Line in TAB stretches to ARE a community? “ the door, and if you want to eat between the 12:30 end of one class & the 1 pm start of the next and you live at the South Pole of campus, forget it. It’s why I am paying the rent for the Morning Glory. Sad that I can be totally anti-social/anti- community scoot to town, grab coffee & something tasty, and get back only 5 min late for my next appointment. I think I have been in the new “student center” (remember, oldsters, when we had a near riot in ACM over segregation?) maybe three times & felt weird each time. There is no reason for me to go there so I don’t. Is this healthy? Can we have a Faculty Club next, PLEEZE? (Not.) Why don’t we have a set of COMMUNITY coffee & hot water
chocolate available in the “student center” would it not encourage the mix & flow of community that we seek? If we had them there on an honor basis, would it not make a strong statement to all and sundry that we ARE a community? That we DO care about each other & the institution? That we CAN take responsibility for our lives & our comfort? What do YOU think? Thousands and thousands of bucks spent on a new security system for the library that can be circumvented with the minimum of thought or a few bucks on tea and sympathy? I know where my vote goes.
Be Well, John Anderson
The Big and Small Of It -Gina Sabatini
Forget Texas, everything’s bigger in Maine. You wouldn’t think so, coming from a state that’s known for its blueberries and lobster, both relatively small items. But after getting lost in Freeport this August, I learned that big things have a certain charm and necessity in Vacationland. We were certain that we got off at the right exit, but when Freeport didn’t look like a tourist town, we got concerned. Two Burger Kings and a Hannaford’s later, we pulled in to a Mom and Pop’s Auto shop and asked for directions. “Once you make a right, you’re gonna go a little ways and then see a big freakin’ Indian. You can’t miss it.” I’ve always been a little wary of locals giving directions; often what’s obvious to a resident isn’t so obvious to a visitor. But, holy Hannah, was he right. The pavement gave way to a proud 25-foot tall statue of a Native American. But the fun didn’t stop there. In downtown Freeport, we came upon what must be where the BFI gets his moccasins. A hiking boot the size of Rhode Island graced the courtyard in front of the L.L. Bean outlet. The small size 8 weatherproof shoes I purchased paled in comparison. Upon entering College of the Atlantic, I was certain that I would no longer be met by the giants of Maine (although I heard of a huge moose carved from chocolate somewhere on the mainland, I hadn’t seen it, and part of me was thankful for that). But as my little Honda Civic pulled onto the gravelly road that snakes through COA, my vision was assaulted by, oh no, a whale skull. Large by definition, imposing by nature. I hoped this wasn’t the official mascot. Don’t get me wrong, the whale skull is pretty cool, but I was starting to worry that someone little like me wouldn’t be able to make a big impression in a place as big as Maine. I entered the trimester with big dreams and little faith in myself. When I sat in on Marine Biology during add-drop, Helen Hess spoke enthusiastically about periwinkles, sea snails that conspicuously dot the rocky intertidal of the COA beach and all of Mount Desert Island. These sea snails are small, never exceeding 30 millimeters, and have a huge effect on the biological and physical interactions of marine life and the way we humans perceive the Maine coast. Having never been introduced to such creatures (I grew up visiting sandy beaches void of the snails), this was an exciting discovery. And best of all, these tiny periwinkles have the scientific name Littorina littorea, which even sounds like “little.” There is a time and place for towering images, and each have their own importance. Maybe out in Freeport the BFI or the boot give the area its identity. Maybe wherever that chocolate moose is melting, residents are finding happiness in their town’s famous landmark. And maybe the whale skull is a comforting symbol of home. But for me, the common, humble periwinkle has granted me some peace of mind. In a land of “big” things, even the small things get their say and their place to stand. Even people like you and me.
Dissecting Tourists —Michelle Klein
Jess McCordic is working on a comparative anatomy exhibit for the Bar Harbor Whale Museum and last Thursday she, myself, Marina Garland, and Robin Kuehn (along with the very helpful guidance of Toby Stephenson) helped dissect an alligator. These are some of the better photos that I took. Hopefully people won’t be too grossed out. The best part was that while we were dissecting a bus load of tourists walked by and they were very much intrigued, so we had to field questions about where the gator came from (an alligator farm/meat processing plant in Florida...even though we joked about it coming out of one of the composting toilets) and the usual “So this is a school with one major: Human Ecology... What does that mean?” And one old woman asked how we were going to get the bones all cleaned and I proceeded to tell her that we had a colony of flesh-eating beetles that would do the trick. She responded by saying “TMI! That was too much information,” and with that she proceeded to walk away.
Board Games...A Lost Art —Colleen Courtney
There is a TV in every house. Ever since it was invented, people have been coming up with new ways to make it better, less expensive, more innovative. Along with the TV changes, there have been more and more TV shows every year. This year in particular, I found that I was unable to keep up with all the shows that I wanted to watch. Our evening schedules revolve around what show is on that night. Monday’s, “24,” Tuesday’s, “NCIS” and “The Mentalist.” Wednesday’s, “Lost.” Thursday’s, “Bones,” “Smallville,” and “Grey’s Anatomy.” Friday, nothing. When all of these shows ended for the summer, I felt like I could breathe again. Suddenly, I had so much free time on my hands. I didn’t have to finish my dinner before eight. I didn’t have to rush home to make the beginning of every show. I didn’t have to make time to watch all the shows I had taped. It was remarkably liberating and it opened a whole new box. A lost art: board games. Taking out board game after board game instead of switching on the tube, has created a whole new world. One where my family laughs and jokes around instead of staring at a box for two hours. One where we test our intelligence and how well we know one another, instead of having our IQ’s slowly lowered by waves of violence and inappropriate behavior from an 8:00 show. Some of our favorite games include, “Whoonu,” “Monopoly,” “Pictionary,” “Scattergories,” and “Risk.” Each game opens up a new world of fun. Each game brings our family closer together. Delia tries to cheat at Scattergories. Dad and I go head to head in Risk. Mom always laughs at her pathetic drawing skills in Pictionary. Gracie and Liam have no idea what some of the words mean in Whoonu. Brenna, Delia and I love to yell “Revenge” for every house that’s stolen from us in Monopoly. Along with board games, we play cards. All kinds of games can come with cards. We play “Crazy Eights,” “Hemps,” “Spoons,” “War,” “Go Fish,” “Sevens,” “Poker...”the list goes on and on. Same as with the board games, each game creates a new part of the family. During each game, my family gets crazier and crazier. It’s not uncommon to see someone suddenly break into song, or jump up and run around screaming. There’s also the times that physical violence comes into play. As each person wins, the people on either side will often whack the winner on the arm. It even escalates to tackling, and tickling. My dad is a big fan of this. He’s also very competitive. There’s one game we play called “Come on Six.” There are two versions of it. The first version, everyone has a piece of paper. There is one pen and one die. You sit in a circle with the pen in the middle, and one person starts to roll the die. If that person does not roll a six, they pass the die to their left and that person rolls. The first person to roll a six, grabs the pen and begins to say out loud as their writing, “1, 2, 3, 4, 5...” Continuing with writing the numbers until someone else rolls the six and
grabs the pen away. The object of the game is to be the first to write all the way up to 100. The second version is exactly the same, except whenever someone rolls a one, all of the papers need to be passed to the left. This can get really annoying as you can be just about to write “100”, when the papers are switched and you’re down to “20” again. This may sound like a boring game, but it is one of the most exciting and funniesr games I’ve ever played. It gets really crazy, which is perfect for my family. You end up yelling out each number as it’s rolled, screaming and pounding the table when it’s a six. The die moves very quickly from person to person. To have the pen is to be in danger, because as soon as someone else rolls a six, they grab the pen violently from your hand. Scratches are common. With my family, the competitiveness is spread haphazardly through the family. My dad, Liam, Brenna, and I are very driven to win, while my mom, Delia and Gracie just want to play. My dad and Liam took it to another level though. Liam got so excited one time, he started eating his paper and laughing hysterically. Another time, I was sitting next to my dad (the last time I’ll ever do so during this game), and I kept rolling a six right after he did. Each time he would look at me with a bewildered expression as I ripped the pen from his hand a second after he got it. The third time this happened in a row, he was so hyped-up he grabbed my hand and began yanking on it, trying to get the pen back, yelling all the while. The other side of the family couldn’t be more unconcerned. Gracie would be off in her own dreamworld and we would have to whack her and yell that it was her turn. Delia gave up writing the numbers one time when she got the pen, and started writing sentences in Spanish. Random, I know. As it turns out, we were playing the rotating papers version that time, and Delia ended up getting the pen and a piece of paper at “95.” Brenna and I couldn’t believe it. Delia just sat there laughing at our faces, and soon the whole family joined in. Happy to be together.
Steal This Book A manifesto
“If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? If I am only for myself, then what am I?If not now, WHEN?” Rabbi Hillel “It is better to live on your feet than die on your knees” Catch 22 “Be the change you want to see in the world” Ghandi ‘Don’t see it, be it” Rocky Horror “Visualize Whirled Peas” Snarky Bumper Sticker “First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin” Leonard Cohen “All it will take for the forces of Good to win in this world is for enough of us to stop making excuses and get on with it” Comrade Cepphusgrylle “I’ve sought much solace and shared many experiences drinking tea with housemates” 1986-7 CoA handbook The Raging Tide of the people’s revolutionary socialist council, acting in full accord with their best understanding of Marxist-Leninist-Maoist- Trotskyite principles and
in full solidarity with the spirit and intent of the Young Octoberist Movement (jeezum, did we really talk like that Back When? I guess so…anyway) announce and declare the formation of The People’s Democratic Republic of Witchcliffe! In response to the frequent bitchin’ and moanin’ from Comrade Anderson and others about the inability to obtain a cheap cuppa tea anywhere on campus outside of meal hours, it is decided that we must Take Action. HENCEFORTH as an experiment in community building socialism there will be an electric kettle, a selection of teas (presently English Breakfast, Earl Gray, and Assorted Hippy –why oh why does Hippy Tea have to cost more?) in the small Sun Room in Witchcliffe. Milk and honey are in the People’s Fridge. Sugar is on the counter (one lump please, not two). Leave a quarter for each cup you swill, or replace the teasugar-milk-honey if it seems to be running low. SO, the next time you schlep all the way down to Witchcliffe to talk about Satan with Bill or to find John’s list already full, or discover that Rich is STILL on sabbatical, at least you can get a cheap cup of tea out of it. Please note. This is AN EXPERIMENT. If The Revolutionary Council goes broke then there goes the Revolution. If nobody drinks tea, oh well, so it goes. On the other hand, imagine if our movement spreads! Imagine electric kettles & cheap tea cropping up all over –the Student Center! Turrets! The Library! The Science Building! If the people lead, maybe Take-A-Break will Follow! Oh, until the People’s Liberation Army liberates a few more mugs you might be safest bringing your own. Also, the PLA is getting kinda sick of doing dishes in Witchcliffe, so be a Comrade, wash up after yourself. For the Committee. --Comrade Cepphusgrylle
Untitled —Lucy Atkins
We’re losing the stories, said Russell Libby, Executive Director of MOFGA. We need stories. I can do stories, I think. I don’t think I can dress up in a suit and tie and do all of this, but I can do stories. Here’s one. An abandoned trawl lies on the bottom of the ocean, lost, hungry—rolling in the currents and unknowingly snaring fish that swim by. It continues to do what it was made for with deadly efficiency; it catches fish and holds them, but it is not reeled in by huge cranks and wheels onto a floating factory and sent around the world for people to eat. It fishes and fishes and feeds the fishes to scavengers, crabs, until it opens up again and stands tall like a fence and begins the cycle of fishing again. It is an underwater graveyard, rolling with fish skulls, turtle shells, dolphin skeletons. There are over 780 miles of nets discarded each year, fishing on indiscriminately until they finally decompose. Here’s another one. A group of New Yorkers come together and decide to make a garden. They want to grow food in the city. With their hands they work the cracked asphalt into rich, composted soil—oily asphalt into rich rich soil, both are black, but one’s nothing like life and one’s oozing, exuding life with every baby tomato plant and tiny beginnings of cucumber vines that emerge. And they water these babies until they put out leaves and grow tall and then suddenly on the hottest day of summer are bursting with fruit; they gather the tomatoes and cucumbers and peas and lettuce and—proudly, so proudly—share them. I want to write stories. I want to sit down right now with my pen and write a story that people will read and remember—and do the same thing every morning, for the rest of my life. Roberts, Callum. The Unnatural History of the Sea. Washington DC: Island Press, 2007. page 327.
“It makes it look like all the other universities’ websites, we’re losing our uniqueness” “Way cool except for the fact that a lot of useful stuff has gone missing. Is there a menu? A student directory? A space to see the weather? “It’s difficult to navigate and too commercial looking” “Why can’t I use the student directory to put name-toface with all the freshmen running around”
Events Flotsam: An Unholy Accident —Donna Gold
In 1867, a sailboat carrying eight passengers from Bar Harbor to Southwest Harbor sailed into a squall and capsized. All were lost, including two beloved teachers from a Philadelphia school, one of the nation’s first normal schools for girls. The tragic event was recorded in the newspapers and memorialized by a plaque in St. Saviour’s church here. That’s where artist Dru Colbert saw it and became intrigued enough to create a site-specific shadow play and installation. This performance, “Flotsam,” will be held Oct. 16-18 on the shores of Otter Cliffs. The installation is open for viewing at 4:30 p.m. The shadow play begins at 5:20 p.m. and lasts until about 6:30 p.m. Colbert, a professor of art at College of the Atlantic, creates seasonal, site-specific performances as a way of connecting herself—and the community—to the history and natural history of the area. Her first, “Graupel,” was an ice opera performed at twilight on the iced-over Somes Pond. “Flotsam” honors lives that are intertwined with the sea, and lives that have been lost to it, connecting the sad story of the shipwreck to the history of the nation, the natural history explorations of the era, and the artists who painted the shores and mountains of Mount Desert Island. Among the characters in the play is a boy depicted in a painting by Frederick Church.
Calls concerning performance times and weather related issues: 207-288-5015 xtn. 227
But ultimately, the piece is not a look backward, but a look inward at human lives and how fate plays with our strivings. The structure of the performance includes time to survey the area and sculptures created by Colbert, shadow puppets, live performances and music, including singing by local artist Marsha Lyons and others. Numerous community members, from within College of the Atlantic and the greater community are involved. Admission to “Flotsam” is free. Any donations given to the performance will benefit the Otter Creek Aid Association; a portion of the proceeds to make an anonymous gift to a community member in need. Please dress warmly, wear sturdy shoes, bring a flashlight, and something to sit on if desired. Should there be changes to performance dates due to unfavorable weather conditions or unforeseeable incidents, these will be posted at www.drucolbert.net.
DIRECTIONS AND PARKING: Take the Park Loop Road from any entry point. Go past Thunder Hole and Otter Cliffs toward Otter Cove. Park at Fabbri Picnic Area, off the Park Loop Road (and take a short walk further downhill on the Loop Road to the performance) or drive further and park along the causeway where the Loop Road crosses Otter Cove.
Human Ecology Essays Plastic Bag Omelette —Moses Bastille
Remember last winter, when that huge ice storm came through New England in December? Even New Hampshire, that exotic vacation spot, was not spared. My family lost power for ten days, within which time, I experienced the wonders of the Plastic Bag Omelette (no, I don’t have a better name for it; if you think of one, please let me know). It was something my mother found in the Old Farmer’s Almanac, and it was easy to cook over a tiny propane camp stove on the kitchen counter by candle-andflashlight. I enjoy it, and I hope you will find it useful if you are ever held by a blizzard and by chance happen to have eggs and a camp stove and boiling water and a pot and omelette fixin’s, but don’t (gasp) have a pan. Note: This recipe is very inexact, so use your own judgment if you think I left something out, because I probably did. First off, set some water boiling in a medium-sized pot with the lid on. The amount of water depends on how big your omelette is (more on this later). I generally find setting out all your omelette ingredients ahead of time helpful. My personal preference is a two-egg omelette with lots of cheese and veggies, but use your own tastes as a guideline. Follow a standard omelette recipe in terms of ingredients (omit anything that would have been used to grease the pan). Take your egg(s) and break them into a small, shallow bowl and whisk until they are frothy. Add milk and whisk until combined. You may need to transfer this mixture into a larger bowl for the next step- add your other ingredients + cheese. Pour your liquid omelette into a clean ziploc sandwich bag and seal it. Place the bag into the boiling water- it should be mostly submerged (though it will float a bit). You may want to turn the bag over at some point during the cooking process, so that the side that was floating out of the water gets submerged. Cook for 15 minutes. Remove the omelette from the water - the bag will be hot- and unseal it. From there, you can just upend the bag and plop it out onto your plate. Enjoy an omelette that is superbly fluffy and without those gross little crunchy edges you get on the (inferior) pan-fried kind.
HUMAN ECOLOGY = HOME ECONOMICS
Arts & Literature Box Writing
A Tiny Story
So, the story begins: intentional isolation, silence and no responses: a distinct and piercing odor, a soft and scratchy sound, of voices a wall away, of planes, boats, of the ocean, of an hour dedicated to simply seeing, remembering, reflecting, a time of being removed from the sun and clouds, an hour to witness the feeling of heartbeats untold, moments meant to hang in silence, impermanence, sensations, contemplation without realization, the feeling of being surrounded, to hear a man that chuckles, questions that drift through the air like high school cheers, no spring, butterflies whose wings unfolding write songs without end; the feeling of color and sound, the smell of empty voices whose words have no meaning, to be entombed is to dangle suspended through a soundless afternoon, to sing lullabies, fall asleep, awake, imagine doors that do not exist, to become enamored with one’s prospects, fall out of that love, then hate them: dissatisfaction urges, incontinence, voyages, islands imagined and then forgotten, to be reborn, penniless, on a side of the earth unexplored or unknown, to wake up speaking languages you have never heard, to wake up breathing air and dreaming dreams untold, to speak and for cities to remain silent, to battle with a diary, argue about history, unrelentingly, until one collapses, breathing that new air, writing the preferred story of today with tomorrow’s optimism and the nostalgia of yesterday, a struggle to merge being with doing, to blur those lines until they become a slush, hardening into rocks, lining streams, those that inhabit forests in your dreams, of your wisdom, words, and countenance, as I am writing the story is not meant to be mine but yours, I wonder about your regrets, long nights awake working to solve the riddles and games that are your moments, hours, days, weeks at a time, weeks awake for the time we lost, and memories, of walking dogs with you in a park, or on imagined mountains, of learning each other’s names and writing them, of pictures that warn of childhood, drifting in and out of focus, and looking through these photographs, a world of eyes shut, I become aware of the impossibilities of my dream, to quit, to give up, to be persistently told that this is the wrong fight, lost, in a field, drifting between decisions and delusions of emptiness, without you I am nothing, marionettes without masters, murderers without remorse, warriors without resolve, without the struggle to know your memories I am an empty consideration, a walk you quickly forget, romances you don’t explore, hours of silence, like heirloom drapes jaws agape hanging, but now, in the moment, running, soaring, searching, for that which has been lost, an obsession, occupation, pastimes, now, rambling, rolling, going, when I was young I told you stories, I told you the tale of herstory before it was so, when we were on the boat, unnamed, I held you in my arms, my arms beaten back by the salt of the sea, my arms stung by the bright ocean air, stung by your wails as an infant, I know you remember this story, the day we set foot on land, you were wordless then, I read your desires with only your face and your arms to guide me, I read you:
Once upon a time, a little girl asked me to write an article. It could be long, it could be short, it could be happy, Yet, all I could think was a result rather crappy.
I thought that writing ain’t for me, someone else ought to write a story for her. The girl with ginger hair, yet did not give up. She came again and snifted; “Just right an article, shall I care not what kind. Hairy, colourful or sad.” Again, all I could think was a result rather bad. I thought that playing with words ain’t for me, somebody else scribble her what she wants. This same girl with the frames on her nose, yet did not leave me in peace. Again, did she appear from nowhere and said; “Just write about anything, WHATEVER, the mice, the fish, or the life of fox!” She left with a face so blue. This time I thought if I somehow could compose something good? Just, to give her a smile brand new. I thought writing about the ocean, but no, its too wet. Sky on the other hand would be way too far and the clouds too soft. What could I write about then? I told her I don’t know how to do it. Topics just don’t come to me, and words just run away from me. Yet, my mission was to make her pleased again. I would not care if the result was crappy or bad. my little story would bring a joy on her face, already turning mad. Now my fool words for her echo in the hall, There they work as an inviting call, To you all, to write off the wall.
A Walk Together —Lucy Atkins
My walking’s too loud. I stand still. But the wanting part of me keeps going, willing my body to keep moving. I’m too loud. I walk, cringing at the crunch of gravel. I want to glide, like a ghost or gelato. I need a spruce forest maybe, springy with moss and no crunchy deciduous leaves. Instead I’ll follow the soft pine needles of a deer trail. I can’t see the place because I’m so in my head. I’m not really in the place, then. I say I’m in the woods for three weeks, when I hike, but I’m just seeing the three meter corridor surrounding the trail. I’m here but I’m writing in my head, composing sentences and moving around punctuation; I think in semi-colons and commas and then I get stuck searching for an adjective and the world before me is a scene from a picture book, a painting so pristine and pointed, but that I look right past. When I write in my head, as my feet go one two three up the brown steps and I think one two three my feet are going up the brown steps—I visualize pixellated punctuation, perfect semi-colons and dashes and I see words coming like an invisible typist punching in type from left to write on saran wrap stretched across my eyes. For me, writing is the computer. I cannot disconnect the two. But maybe I like it because I can close my eyes and still type perfectly. I typed all of this with my eyes closed you know. When I’m in the woods alone, I think in three categories. I think of the people I care about, the gear I wish I had, and the other woods I’ve been in that remind me of these ones. People are important to me, and the woods, but mainly people. When I’m in the woods alone, I think of people. I know that because even when I’m in a rapturous woods on a blue blue fall day happily crunching leaves beneath my boots, I’m still thinking of who I’m going to talk to when I get down or what I’m going to write and show to somebody. Happiness [replace with Any Emotion?] is only real when shared. —Christopher McCandless
-Gina Sabatini I hated country music because I envied all those cowboys who got to see the world. It wasn’t fair that they could just pick up and leave from a place they once called home and find a new place and it would be just as good. I suppose there’s a sort of detachment in the way they look at life. They always seemed to sing about leaving their sweethearts for a new land that held more promise for them. But I wasn’t holding on to love. I wasn’t really in search of promise, either. I just needed to get out of there. Nights there were still and desolate. I lived on the fringes of Knoxville in a small town called Luttrell, with no real access to any opportunity. Everybody knew the ins and outs of everybody else, who we dated, the illegal things we did, and where we laid their heads down at night. No one needed to say a word the day after Chip Nealson shot the state bird in the A&P parking lot, and we all knew that Josie Penningway was sleeping with Tony Santino’s brother. But we’re a muzzled town. We don’t talk, we don’t tell. We just hear everything, and everybody knows it. Nobody ever moved here, and people only left when their loved ones buried their carapaces in the ground. I found it funny how the cemetery was enclosed by a thick cast iron fence, prison bars for the spirit, finally freed. I guess no one ever really leaves. I pull into town, the same roadway sign displaying “Welcome to Luttrell,” rusting by the side of the road. The streets look nearly identical to my memories, just greyer and more frayed at the edges. I turn the radio dial but all that comes through is Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard, so I switch it off and instead listen to the car complain from the journey and the sight of the destination. My mother’s house is cold and standoffish as I approach, the “For Sale” sign a plea broadcasted in the front yard. Her lilies grow wild and overtake the pathway, and the shutters are bleached by the sun. The light bulb is gone from the porch lamp, a wasp nest now calling the shell of the lantern home. I open the door like I did so many times in my youth, returning home from school to see my mother cooking or cleaning or doing some other maternal activity, all for me, she’d say. But as she would scrub the floor or bake a pie, she never asked me how my day was, what happened at school, how my English test went. I doubt she knew who I really was. She had no idea that I liked learning, but the school’s way of teaching only smothered my ability to take in information. The bad marks on my report card were not reflective of being lazy, as she’d say I was, but rather of being
G4 disengaged. I thirsted for more knowledge and liberty to learn what I desired, not what an indifferent book or underpaid teacher felt like letting me know. Oceanography was the subject that fascinated me most. My mother was always quick to remind me that there were no oceans near Tennessee. I once asked her if she ever wanted to move away from Luttrell to another town, out on the coast, maybe. She was drying dishes in the kitchen, her back to me. At last she turned and said, with a softness that I did not expect, that she had outgrown that feeling, and someday I would too. But I didn’t. Months went by and the days were all the same. I figured the only thing keeping me here was Jared. Like I said, I didn’t need love to hang on to, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t appreciate a meaningful glance every now and then. He was a regular at the diner, and my best friend, always tipping me with dollars that had eagles sketched over the pyramids. We both wanted to see the ocean, any ocean, and we shared the dream of living on the sea and travelling to far away lands. He said once that he wanted to explore the great tombs of Egypt and saw them in his dreams, me floating above the point of one of them like the eye of Osiris. I asked him if he ever wanted to see the pyramids, not in a dream. He only smiled at me.
Meeting Poetry Again
put pen to paper keep writing like a magic trick pulling the rainbow scarf out of my mouth, but even I don’t know how it got there.
I swagger along the bleached concrete Limbs tense, But that’s just because of the Power inside them.
Is it clichéd, to put the soul into words? Overdone, to find the mirculous in the ordinary? Seeds and chaff together. What if everything we said and did was poetry?
Fine, I’ll be more specific: Lefty and Half-Assed. Two ravens. One missing a left pinion, the other a tailfeather. Flat on my stomach, I watch them soaring endless figure-eights just along the cliff edge. They pass feet over my head, black scraps of reality in the mist, speaking in harsh and wondrous tongues.
The roar of nearby beast! It brings the smell of the jungle My fingers clasp and unclasp As my eyes narrow. I’m ready. So Where is it all? I sigh, step back on the black tarmac Turn, pass the lawn mower Chocolate stains on my shirt Clomping like a clown Legs let loose as I amble home. I would have gladly faced Armageddon that day So long as I would have someone to wrap around my shoulders And to safely Pull away.