The Olivetree Review art and literary journal since 1983 Fall 2011 Issue No. 50
OTR FALL 2011 ISSUE NO. 50
Background art: Tom Hart Tension of Stillness
THE OLIVETREE REVIEW
Submissions are reviewed September through November and February through May. We consider submissions of visual art, fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry, and plays. The Olivetree Review is completely staffed by undergraduate students of Hunter College. For information on how to submit or become an editor, visit our website theolivetreereview.com or email us at email@example.com. Our office is also located in Thomas Hunter Room 212. Permission to publish the content in this issue was granted to The Olivetree Review by the artists and authors. These contributors retain all original copyright ownership of works appearing in The Olivetree Review before and after its publication. Copying, reprinting, or reproducing any material in this journal is strictly prohibited. Fall 2011, No. 50 This journal is funded by Hunter College’s student activity fees and is distributed free to the university community. © The Olivetree Review CUNY Hunter College 695 Park Avenue Thomas Hunter Room 212 New York, NY 10065
Errata: In the last print issue, the sixth stanza of the poem “Just a Note” was a misprint. The photo title on page 47 was misprinted. It should have read “Inhabitants of Past Residences.” On page 61, the third sentence of Victoria Sharoyan’s contributor’s biography was misprinted. It should have read, “She is on a mission to read at least 50 books by the end of 2011.” We apologize for the errors.
Jennifer Jade Yeung Senior Art Editor
Connie Salvayon Senior Fiction & Non-Fiction Editor
Benjamin Corman Senior Poetry Editor
Reuben Santos Creative Designer
Nora Milman Jennifer Jade Yeung COPYEDITORS
David M. DeLeon Christopher Torres Jennifer Jade Yeung TREASURER
Melissa Williams VICE PRESIDENT
Megan Marino SECRETARY
Tamara Turner PUBLICITY MANAGERS
Malvina Shishmanian Jessica Taghap ART EDITORS
Amanda Alexander Beth Chapnick Katharine Ernst Tom Hart Eric Krupa
Anne Mailey Kimberly Pati単o Munirah Quadri Malvina Shishmanian Melissa Williams FICTION EDITORS
Tess Duran James Guo Valerie Kirk Esther Ko Lindsay Mairanz Cynthia Marini Rubana Rahman Leili Saber Lisa Stahl Vlad Velicu Chireau White POETRY EDITORS
Yoshika Agee Chelsea Alterman Priscilla Cruz David M. DeLeon Earl Kinloch Lia Manoukian Adam Pizzo Connie Salvayon Peyton Singh Allison Somers Vlad Velicu Chireau White FOUNDERS
Pamela Barbell Mimi Ross DeMars Adam Vinueza
Sam Dishy Black Diamond Sky 24
Angela Dunne Sea Sanctuary 18-19
Jantsankhorol Erdenebayer Wolf 41
Christine Fabro Contemplation
31 Liz Jehan Montesclaros Guggenheim Abstract 12-14
Noori Lee Untitled 21
Kristina Luchkiv Nest 28
Anne Mailey Yoshiko 22-23
Kimberly Pati単o 9, 27, 33
Justine Cristle Gilbuena Self Portrait in the Woods Dreaming is My Reality At the Park 39
Alteronce Gumby Wrecked Yellow
Untitled 10, 37, 44
Nicole Skursky Circular Hidden Sail 17
Mimiko Watanabe 7
Tension of Stillness
29 Jessi James Untitled
Seong Im Hong Fly on the Wall
Blind Puppies Can Swim
Understanding My Hometown
Maybelline Gonzalez I Wanted to Tell You Ms. Cunningham 30, 40
Brian Kerr Three Drinks Sweatpants in MontrĂŠal 38
May Mary Lynn
Bjorn Winberg The Mystery 20
Jennifer Jade Yeung Autumn at Coney Island CONTRIBUTORS
Cover Artist: Noori Lee
Our cover artist, Noori Lee, was asked to describe her artwork. She said the following: I did a pencil sketch as a sort of under-painting, and then painted it with a digital paint tool. I use a Wacom tablet and SAI tool for all my digital works. Rococo, conjoined twins, Plato, Edgar Degas, Mongolia, Vogue, David Mazzucchelli, good haikus, Bharatanatyam, Expressionism ballet, and my family are my inspirations. To contact Noori, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the editor
Before you read, please note that this issue features artwork that has been deferred from publication in prior issues. I’m glad to include them in our 50th issue. Unfortunately, this semester the OTR almost lost its beloved TH212 office. Although the decision was quickly repealed with the help of The Envoy and the OTR staff, it helped me realize that this organization is not just a service or publication under Student Activities. We’re a club for people of no particular age, major, or skill level, and our door is always open. Our workshops and editorial meetings can loosen words stuck to your throat and our open mics can ease your stammer. Our unopened paint bottles beg to be squeezed and tested. Hunter students pay for more than just classes. They also have the chance to use our space for their own creative endeavors. So, what are we? We’re a studio, a safe space, a house. That’s our service to you. Jade Managing Editor, Fall 2011
Opposite: Tom Hart Tension of Stillness Ink on paper
Allison Somers Powdered Milk Kids poking each other in the forearms before class, casting their silver lunch pails aside as they dart across the courtyard, forgetting how their mothers rose with the lark to make their jam on Wonder Bread sandwiches, crusts cut, their hands sticky with devotion. One son has left his at home and will go hungry this evening, too, for his mother has bought only powdered milk that tastes like chalkâ€”the emptiness of the fridge, the school year, and a stomach that trembles softly in shame.
Justine Cristle Gilbuena Self Portrait in the Woods Photography
Nicole Skursky Circular Digital photography
Connie Salvayon Understanding My Hometown Water grows like roots of trees, imperceptible curling fingers worming through crumbling soil. River water swells through warped coils of the same earth, choked only by the smoky specters that dip into the surface. Yellow abscesses of beer-gut-inducing neon signs, gristle chunks of two-headed fish vomit and, even still, I want to wade into this water. See because, people like you and me, we mediate this polluted air. Our leather fists of our hearts beat, beat, beat like boxing gloves. Our inner type-writers get knocked off track at the sight of the splintering city, held together by the Band-Aids of bridges. And the whiteout skies wipe out our minds, so we speak gibberish all day trying to build back our vocabulary. Our throats gurgle in harmony despite/because of the fish lung smog. We are pistachio, hard shells with our soft brains poking out. We stick leaves between the pages of books with our superstitious alchemy. We know the obvious, that Whitman is perfect for preserving the skin cells of trees. We are the dirty mirror reflections in the water, too. But, we’re just out here, roaming the pothole-pockmarked roads of the city trying to revive the Play-doh gunky veins, gathering leaves—plucking them off trees, so we can suffocate them in books. Because we’re obsessed with hypocritical preservation, inextricably bound to the soot in the water. SALVAYON 13
This, opposite, and following page: Noori Lee Untitled Digital painting
Seong Im Hong Fly on the Wall I am a fly on the wall. Except not really, because “fly on the wall” is a sort of pseudosexual playground game, one of the rarer ones in which girls and boys play together, blurring the socially constructed gender lines to play a gender script with an overture of budding sadomasochism. It was strange, how girls and boys learned dominance so quickly and what ought to be done. Maybe some of them saw abuse. At least one did. This is how the sadomasochistic playground game worked. Girls tangled themselves on the soccer net of the playground and pretended that they could not get away. Like butterflies on spiderwebs, trapped and futilely struggling. Squirming, proclaiming, “Oh no!” in an shrieking even unabashedly dramatic voice of children at play. The boys drew near, like predators or dungeon more and runmasters or something, and the girls would stop ning, playing a struggling and untangle themselves with shrieks game of courtand run away, run toward the slides, up the junship and of gle gym, down the small steps that led to the exit, the boundary between real and mundane. predator and Glancing a bit backwards to make sure that the prey so young boys were following them—that that particular girl herself was desirable enough to be followed by a boy or two—and then shrieking even more and running, playing a game of courtship and of predator and prey so young, when there was a grand number of zero pubic hairs shared all between us. How children learn. And then. And then there was me. I played with the girls because, though my name was neutral sounding and not pretty like a proper girl’s, I had on skirts and sat with the girls and ate with the girls and went to the bathroom with the girls, not really integrated into their circle but on the edge, tittering on the edge of girlhood and something horrible, something unknown, something foreign that would doubtlessly be undesirable. But I wasn’t a boy, either. HONG 17
So I would play the games with the girls, pretend to be a prey and to squirm, except I wasn’t eyeing boys when I was near the soccer nets, but the girls, the girls with long hair and long legs and pretty eyelashes, and some of them with a promise of budding breasts that I wasn’t yet attracted to when I was nine. I’m not sure if I stared but I must have, because the girls eyed me strangely, knowing that I wasn’t one of them, that I was somehow strange, off, queer. Maybe I stared for too long. Maybe there was a spark in my eyes that ought not to have been there, directed toward another girl. Maybe it was just that I was chubby and strange and didn’t like Sailor Moon and princesses like girls were supposed to. But I still played with the girls. And when the boys closed in, I ran away with the girls. Away, away, until I ran up the slides and turned and threatened a boy who unwittingly chased not a prey but a predator in disguise, with tears and reprimands from teachers that were sure to follow. (One never makes girls cry. Girls are delicate. Real men don’t make girls cry, because girls can’t take harshness.) I looked at his frozen face, his uncertain eyes, and knew instinctively that I did something wrong, that I had overstepped a I looked at his boundary, that I had intruded on a sphere that frozen face, his was meant for boys, boys who played sports and uncertain eyes, didn’t like needlework. It excited me. He ran away from me and I chased him for a bit, beand knew incause I knew then that he was weak, that he was stinctively that I afraid, and that this was my chance to run run run until he’s in my grasp, maybe hurt him a bit did something until he says uncle, or maybe after he says uncle. wrong Until I realized that he was genuinely afraid— afraid of what, of my power over him, or the unfamiliarity of an unwritten rule breached, or maybe liking it—and I stopped. Some girls and some boys were staring at me, at how strange I looked, at my face flushed red with the excitement of a chase, of playing a game of dominance in the role of an aggressor. Something went wrong. A decade later, I look back on this episode and see that this was when I realized that I like the chasing and the hurting, and that I prefer girls. But a decade before, I knew none of those things and I stared at my feet instead, feeling guilt and dread and a sense of wrong breach my excitement from the chase. I sat on the steps for the rest of the recess. 18 HONG
Mimiko Watanabe Liberty Gelatin silver print
Jantsankhorol Erdenebayer Wolf Ink and ink pen
Jennifer Jade Yeung Autumn at Coney Island November tucked a soft blanket of fog and subdued ambiance over Brooklyn. We made our way up the boardwalk to watch the rain. It glazed creaky Coney Island boards that paralleled desolate fair grounds and greasy food shops. The boardwalk, the mother and lifeline of this end of Brooklyn, dies every autumn. But this year, they had a two weeks notice to shut down. Everyone thought the boardwalk was just having a bad season. Perhaps her appearance would convalesce, and like winter trees, she’d bloom in spring. Memorable cacophony of kiddie-ride music and salsa from boom boxes would interweave with aromas of meats on a grill and perspiring men with beer in their veins. The boardwalk would be wrapped in grit and freakish beauty again. But now, in the cold November fog at the brink of the licks of the Atlantic, her vitality evanesced from our minds. Two weeks, and this end of Brooklyn as we’ve known it, will extinguish. I stripped off my pants and he rolled up his. We ran into the freezing ocean— Words stopped at my throat as I clung to wool and gasped for frigid air while the white waves lapped against my bare thighs. We were in love with the ocean. I could run into the indigo horizon, but I’d circle back here, autumn at Coney Island.
Kristina Luchkiv Nest Digital photography
Kimberly Patiño Untitled Digital photography
Angela Dunne Sea Sanctuary Digital photography
Maybelline Gonzalez I Wanted to Tell You Ms. Cunningham I wanted to tell you Ms. Cunningham, I wanted to tell you suicide stripped me to bone and hung me on an ice pick. I wanted to tell you that the pills given to sedate my body into artificial sleep were a tease. I thought of swallowing them into a lasting slumber. You only noted red webs in tired eyes. You only noted silence like deserts at dawn. When nights crept over the sky like cloaks, and lids dared to rest, I was boxed. Rose seeds rained and worms sat at the table of my flesh. I wanted to tell you Ms. Cunningham, I wanted to tell you, your office bled white. Walls trapped me like a baited rat. I hated how your neck was longer than Manhattan sidewalks. I hated how your blue eyes ignored me like a fly in trash, or a dead GONZALEZâ€ƒ 27
pigeon spread over tar streets. I hated your dress suits and heels; your professionalism leaked to the floor. I hated how you sat like a porcelain god in a chair. I could have told you of ice picks and bones, or how marble-handed Death sat over me with a fork, but Mom waited outside your office, waited for me like the mother of Lazarus.
Opposite: Justine Cristle Gilbuena Dreaming is My Reality Photography 28 GONZALEZ
Anne Mailey Yoshiko Oil on canvas 48”x48”
Jessi James Untitled Digital photography JAMES 31
Brian kerr Three Drinks The Bottles
I Don’t Know the Fire
On the back wall of the bar stand still
Whose heat expels—spills from a tumbler glass with ice burns the belly the lungs
they don’t have faces dumb to decipher labels easy to read
She Was Canadian because
warmed by breaths slowly sucked a vacuum in my chest
of that I started drinking Crown Royal when she left
Opposite: Liz Jehan Montesclaros Guggenheim Abstract Digital photography 32 KERR
Sam Dishy Black Diamond Sky Etching
Justine Cristle Gilbuena At the Park Photography
Agnieszka Krakowska Blind Puppies Can Swim One September afternoon, the year I turned thirteen, I came home to find a one-year-old German shepherd tied to the leg of the piano in the living room. It turned out my dad went to the farmers’ market for a bushel of potatoes to feed us over the winter, and came home with an eighty pound guard dog instead. My mom was not impressed but my two younger sisters and I squealed with excitement. My dad had never been the cool, spontaneous type, but then he bought an awesome, giant dog, on a whim! It soon turned out the dog was not a fun purchase after all. My dad, true to character, was being practical—my parents were building a house for us to move into on a plot of land outside of town and the dog was meant to live at the construction site as an old-fashioned alarm system. The dog, who was a girl, came from a military base in town (the military only uses male dogs), equipped with an independent spirit and a set of functioning ovaries. We didn’t have dogs spayed or neutered twenty years ago in my small town in Poland, because that cost money, and besides, it was a high-falutin’ idea for fancy city folk. We kept her as she was and nearly every autumn, when in heat, she managed to run away for a few days and come back pregnant. Every year she had a litter of seven to eight puppies. Some of them we kept for ourselves and at one point we had three huge, gorgeous German shepherds and were famous for it across town. Some we sold or gave to friends. But according to my dad, the mother doesn’t have enough milk to successfully feed a litter that big. The smallest runts would be pushed out of the way by their stronger siblings and starve anyway, so the reasonable thing to do was to choose three of the healthiest-looking ones to keep and dispose of the rest. What do you do about a handful of extraneous puppies a few days old and still blind? You might think you can supplement them with cow’s milk and a baby bottle. Or you might give up, take them to the vet to be humanely put to sleep. But no, feeding three kids and a dog while also building a house and holding down a full-time job was enough to keep my dad busy. He was an architect/engineer and designed the house and did much of the construction 36 KRAKOWSKA
himself. He scoffed and rolled his eyes when I suggested the humane euthanasia approach, chuckling at emotional teenage girls and their adorable ideas. And so, one frosty November evening, after work, he set out for the new house where the dog and her puppies were living, to take care of the problem. I ended up coming along, though to this day I can’t remember whether I had asked to go or if he wanted my help, just because the extra pair of hands would make the job easier. In any case, we made our way across the highway and through the woods. We parked the car and went into the garage where the dogs slept. My dad found a shovel and a big metal bucket and filled it with water from the garden hose. “First we go out back and dig a nice hole,” he explained. He left to take care of that part while I played with the puppies, my heart squeezing tightly, knowing that What do you do four out of the seven would not make it to see about a handful the light of morning. of extraneous “Digging is a headache in this weather,” he puppies a few complained as he came back in. “The ground is frozen already, early this year. Now let’s pick days old and the winners.” He squatted by the dog bed he still blind? built from scraps of lumber, with raised sides and lined with old blankets so the puppies couldn’t crawl out. “You always pick the ones on top of the pile of pups, the ones that squirm the hardest and make the most noise. Those are the ones that will grow up strong and alert. The ones curled up in the corner will spend their days sleeping and avoiding action.” He held up two whimpering puppies. “Okay, you, and you, and… you.” He handed the survivors to me. He scooped up the other four and brought them over to the bucket of water. He dropped them in and took a step back, waiting for the yelping and gurgling and crying to stop as the babies sank to the bottom. Except the flailing and splashing didn’t stop. “I knew these would be tough. They’re too big, too strong.” My dad sucked his teeth. “I should’ve done this last week, but didn’t have time with the extra hours at work.” Apparently, if you’re going to drown puppies, you should do it as soon as they’re born. Two-day-old puppies will inhale water and sink in a matter of moments. Puppies who had a week to eat and grow and get stronger, like these, are almost able to swim. Almost. KRAKOWSKA 37
Minute after minute ticked by and the puppies kept struggling. My throat was tight and my stomach hurt as I watched them surface for air, beat at the water with their tiny paws and sink, only to find their footing on top of their brothers and sisters and resurface, yelping in panic, over and over and over. “Alright, let’s go.” He picked up the bucket of dying pups and rushed to the back of the house. In the near-darkness he eyed the hole he’d dug in the and realized it wasn’t deep enough. GrabMy throat was ground bing the shovel, he stabbed at the hard ground, tight and my struggling and cursing to the soundtrack of death. Finally he tipped the bucket into the tiny grave, stomach hurt water and fur and all, and started shoveling the as I watched dirt on top of the squirming mess. I stood beside them surface him, watching, thinking I might choke and pass for air out at any moment now, but keeping silent because what was there to say? He was going to finish the job one way or another, why would I make it harder for myself by being dramatic about it? Slowly, as the layers of dirt blanketed the puppies, they quieted down. Eventually, there was stillness. My dad finished up with the shovel, put everything away and washed his hands. We got in the car and drove home. I don’t remember whether we talked at all during the drive. Over twenty years have passed since that night and I still feel nauseous with guilt and horror every time I think about it. I understand why I felt powerless then, frozen in shock and raised by parents who weren’t the type to listen to their children. But I feel terrible that I didn’t even try to protect them. What if I threw myself over their tiny bodies and insisted that I’ll feed them by hand for weeks, or that I’ll pay to have them put to sleep with my allowance? Maybe I could have saved them? But I didn’t, I stood mutely by, watching them die.
Nicole Skursky Hidden Digital photography
May Mary Lynn Sinners Within hideous hearts are luminous labyrinths leading to several secretive spaces that show us who we really are.
Alteronce Gumby Wrecked Yellow Acrylic on canvas GUMBY 41
Brian Kerr Sweatpants in Montréal There is a madness in sweatpants. I let myself get taken by it one October afternoon in Montréal involves wearing sweatpants laughing at the Québécois buzzed on their Molson and menthol cigarettes that come in bubble-gum-shaped cartons. I feel good, safe among them. No need to be sober for them. I met a woman in my sweatpants made her breakfast at her place took her back to America but left her in Montréal, I wear jeans now.
Opposite: Christine Fabro Contemplation Digital photography 42 KERR
Bjorn Winberg The Mystery I read more reviews than experience things reviewed. Books and movies mostly. Someone said critics are failed teachers, teachers failed artists, and I want to art good, so I get up early to write while mind works best, like Billy Collins or Hemingway. In a stuffy white farmhouse, this small pine desk blocks a foursquare window—miles of woods outside, manic chickenscratch elusive, me looking to reveal anything. Well, I aimed for stanzas but missed. The meaning of life is to reproduce, canned effort is to feel bad, and here lies promise, but I’m a complacent eunuch upstate. No waking in the night to boozy women outside. Frogs instead.
Coyotes. Masturbation weekly so my balls don’t wither. Coffee early, for writing, then slow wine day. With coffee I digest critiques of Kay Ryan and Rae Armantrout, which reminds me— doesn’t alliteration seem lazy, rhyme childish, trope bizarre? In Japan or somewhere it’s emperors, then poets. Calligraphy. Haiku. Missing the thing by virtue of expressing it. The thing? The mystery of chance centuries culminating in you reading this right now. Yet, that’s too broad. The wonder, then, of intellect going unsexed. But I cracked that one. Be drunk around beautiful people. Okay, okay, the matter of ending this shit show. Three lines left. Going back to Brooklyn in two weeks. I want a woman with hips and brains and black hair, but solving the mystery doesn’t get me one.
CONTRIBUTORS Jantsankhorol Erdenebayar was born in Mongolia and is currently studying art at Hunter College. Justine Cristle Gilbuena considers herself a full-time dreamer. She appreciates both film and digital photography but tends to gravitate towards film. She’s usually a quiet person so she lets her photos speak for her, but she believes it’s the same way for others. Justine also thinks it’s amazing that people take their time to listen to or view works like paintings, photography, moving images, and music. She believes that it creates something inside of us, that we witness something, and we’re immediately a part of it. Maybelline Gonzalez is a poet and artist studying for a BA in creative writing. Her poetry has appeared in Poetry South and Literary LaGuardia. Maybelline is currently working on an autobiographical collection of poetry and art. Alteronce Gumby currently lives in Brooklyn. He has taken classes at The Art Students League of New York and received an associates degree in visual arts at Dutchess Community College. Alteronce began focusing on fine arts in 2006 and taught himself mediums such as acrylics, mixed media collage, and darkroom photography. He has recently been focusing on painting and installations. His works have been shown at Marion Royael Gallery, Mildred I. Washington Gallery, and Webster Hall. Tom Hart was born in upstate New York. He’s a Macaulay Honors freshman at Hunter College studying biology. Tom has always loved the arts and will continue to pursue them in his free time. Jessi James considers herself a broke college student who gets by in life by using her camera to while away the time and bother her boyfriend. She enjoys writing, reading, art, Japanese, and baking. She is also very happy to be selected for the 50th publication of the OTR. Brian Kerr is a native New Yorker who is currently majoring in creative writing at Hunter College. He enjoys writing poetry, short stories, and screenplays.
When he’s not writing, studying, or working he enjoys reading, going to the movies, and watching the New York Rangers. The inspiration for his fiction comes from dreams, observations of friends, family, the world around him, and from the fleeting moments when his mind drifts off to somewhere that is not quite reality. Agnieszka Krakowska left her parents’ house at the age of sixteen and moved to New York City where she currently attends Hunter College. She also works as a translator and blogs at missaga.blogspot.com. She is thirty-five years old and lives in Astoria with her nine-year-old son and two cats who have been gently and professionally spayed. To contact Agnieszka, email msagnieszka@ yahoo.com. Kristina Luchkiv is in her second year at Hunter College and is currently majoring in art history. Her passions are photography and travel. She has lived in a few different places throughout her life but New York is the first and only place where she truly felt at home. May Mary Lynn is currently a freshman at Hunter College with the intent of majoring in creative writing and philosophy. She likes Woody Allen films, cats, eel cucumber rolls, and sturdy umbrellas (in that order). She believes all writing is good writing, except in instances when it’s not. This is her first publication in the OTR. Liz Jehan Montesclaros is a philosophy major at Hunter College and an US Army veteran. Her interests include modern art, traveling, and photography. She once spent a night on a deserted island sleeping under the stars and getting bit by mosquitoes. Liz considers herself to be snap happy, so make sure you’re ready for her and her pet camera named Turtle. Kimberly Patiño is an American-born artist with Colombian and Ecuadorian roots. She received an AA from LaGuardia Community College and is studying for a BA at Hunter College. She’s a photographer, painter, and writer. Kimberly is currently photographing art exhibitions for artists and head-shots for
upcoming actors. She will have an article published in Young Scholars in Writing. To see more of her work, visit www.kpatino.com. Connie Salvayon believes in artistic expression in all forms. Using media from clay to poetry, Connie creates work exploring environmental and feminist themes. Jennifer Jade Yeung is a Chinese-American who was born and raised in Brooklyn. Sheâ€™s been a contributing editor for the OTR since its 47th issue. She enjoys learning about feminism, sociology, different cultures, and geography. After college, she hopes to spend more time crafting poetry. To contact her, email email@example.com.
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