The Olivetree Review No. 52 Fall 2012

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OTR. 52


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©The Olivetree Review, CUNY Hunter College. Thomas Hunter Room 212, 695 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10065. Submissions are reviewed September through November and February through May. We consider submissions of visual art, fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry, drama, and cross-genre work. The Olivetree Review is staffed entirely by students of Hunter College. All submissions are reviewed anonymously by Hunter College students. 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. Layout and cover design by Theadora Hadzi. The fonts in this journal are Minion Pro and Code. The artworks featured on the cover are “Open Windows” by Sandra Talbot, “The Course” by David Carmona, “Looking Forward 1” by Eduard Boguslavsky, and “Beach Scene” by Danielle Orchard. Printed by Sun Ray Printing, St. Cloud, Minnesota. The Olivetree Review would like to give special thanks to the Media Board, USG, College Association, Student Activities, the students who make up our creative community, and all the clubs who support what we do. Fall 2012, Issue No. 52 This journal is funded by Hunter College’s student activity fees and is distributed free to the university.

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FALL 2012

Hunter's literary and arts journal since 1983

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Contents Contests Contest Descriptions 8 ART: Sandra Talbot  Open Windows 74 Pixellate 75 Outlet Needed 75

David Carmona Nerves 62 The Course 95 Jacob Cintron Modus 138 Theadora Hadzi  Picassa 104

drama: Jason Sloan A Clean Bill of Health


poetry: Brian Kerr The Great Wave

Jennifer Holder  The Light


Jessi James In Progress

prose: Brenda Wong Alive 38

12 129

Shushanik Karapetyan Cenote 28 Bridge 96 Interview Esther Ko 35 with Professor Michael Thomas 132 August Market Lethe 1 90 Lethe 2 91 February Fog 136 Art

Jessica Astudillo  Grains Of Sand 10 Staircase 41 Eduard Boguslavsky Looking Forward 1 Looking Forward 2


70 89

Michael Lamarra  Mama Please


Danielle Orchard  Beach Scene


Hubert Silva  Portrait Series


Shairi Turner  Untitled 50

Brian Kerr Wine for the Rest of Us


Natasha Tverdynin  Untitled 48

Esther Ko Family Recipe


Jennifer Jade Yeung  11:23 A.M. Wrapping Rice in Banana Leaves

Krystal Moses A Wah Gwaan


Erin Earl Muehlenbach Greeting the Ambassadors


Hafsa Muhammad The Warmth of the Black Sun on Closed Eyes


Kevin Zych The Feeling

26 120 45

Drama Michael Chu-A-Kong Fall 76 Alain G. Cloarec Thespis 14 Moroccan Sardines 105

Poetry Etinosa Agbonlahor Enshrined 11 Sixteenth Session 92

prose Amal Abbass Braids 98 Michael Betza Diving into Oblivion


Digna E. Gomez Queen for a Year


James Guo A Sick Sense of Humor

64 30

Maha Alsubai My Mother Ate Fidrah


Niccolo Pizarro Bayan Ko

Danielle Bertoli Trojans on the Lawn



Ayendy Bonifacio Street Crosser




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FALL 2012 Editor-in-Chief David M. deLeon Managing editor Jennifer Jade Yeung Administrative Editor Rubana Rahman Editorial Assistant Louis Gaudio Prose Editor Esther Ko Poetry Editor Jennifer Jade Yeung Creative Director Theadora Hadzi Graphic Designer Sahara Shrestha Office Manager Sean Fox Publicity James Guo Cailen Jimenez


Associate Editors David Abreu Etinosa Agbonlahor Munazza Alam Michelle Ardanza Jessica Astudillo Danielle Bertoli Michael Betza David Carmona Jacob Cintron Priscilla Cruz Kirin Furst Sarah Gold Armand Gomez Dmitriy Kogan Diana Kosianka Susan Li Lindsay Mairanz Lia Manoukian Deborah Moon Hafsa Muhammad Kimberly Pati単o Niccolo Pizarro Dan Seminara Mariam Sheikh Peyton Singh Jason Sloan Ashley Smith Shairi Turner Vlad Velicu Chireau White Brenda Wong

Letter FRom The Editor

David M. Deleon

The Olivetree Review is coming up. It’s been coming up for a while. Over the past years I’ve watched the Hunter community really respond to how serious the OTR is about producing a quality magazine every semester. Writers, artists, playwrights, poets, musicians, and photographers all come by the office, send in their work, perform at our Open Mic. When I took over as Editor-in-Chief, I knew that my main goal was to foster this community. That way the magazine could pay homage to the wide range of creativity of this school. The response this semester has been astounding. We had a record number of people ask to help out. We held four contests and gave away over $200 in gift cards. We had a ton of drama submissions, and worked closely with the Hunter Theatre Co. on their Undergraduate Playwrights Festival. All in all, we received over 500 submissions and liked so many we decided to put out an issue three times the length of the last. This semester’s Open Mic was also the most well-attended I’d ever seen. And though we laughed at the supposed 2012 “End of the World” with our Apocalypse Theme, we were really celebrating life—life which does not end so easily, no matter how many tragedies pass before us on the news or in the streets. Art is an important part of life whether we admit it or not, and it felt good to come together to celebrate how much music, art, writing, dance, and even comedy can speak to the heart of things. I hope I’ve done my best to live up to the task set before me by this magazine. It certainly hasn’t been easy—just ask anyone on staff. But as the Olivetree Review heads into its thirty-year anniversary and beyond, I feel we are becoming an important part of the artistic community at Hunter. Thank you to all who helped out and to all who submitted. And a special thanks to all of you who read, view, and support their fellow students’ work. Sincerely, david 9

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cONTESTS Art Contest — Series: The Digital Age The Art contest asked for a series of images: at least three frames on the subject of “How the Digital Age Defines/Confines Your Art.” It was open to all mediums, and there was no limit on the number of frames. Sandra Talbot’s three pieces captured the theme with great clarity. Runner-up Hubert Silva’s portrait series is clever and engaging and really captures what “the digital age” means today. The other runner-up was David Carmona, whose six-part digital work is a journey in itself. Open Windows, Pixellate, Outlet Needed by Sandra Talbot Nerves by David Carmona Portrait Series by Hubert Silva

74 62 118

Drama Contest — Ten pages There are so many great theater and screenwriting students at Hunter, it seemed a shame that drama has been so underrepresented in the OTR. To remedy that, all this contest asked for was ten pages or ten minutes of a scene, script, or screenplay. Excerpts and cuttings from longer works were fine. Preference was given to pieces which worked on the page as well as the stage/screen. The three winners represent different sides of the dramatic arts. “Fall” by Michael Chu-A-Kong is a harrowing screenplay treatment, and is adapted from a longer work. “Thespis” by Alain G. Cloarec on the other hand is a wonderfully light and funny scene for the stage. Top prize went to “A Clean Bill of Health” by Jason Sloan. We chose it because there is something mysterious and alive in it. It’s hard not to read twice. A Clean Bill of Health by Jason Sloan Thespis by Alain G. Cloarec Fall by Michael Chu-A-Kong


51 14 76

Poetry Contest — Ekphrasis The ekphrasis, or ecphrasis, is one of the hardest kinds of poetry to produce. The word comes from the Greek word for description. A modern ekphrasis is a poetic reaction to a work of art, in any medium. Either “traditional” and “contemporary” art forms are allowed. Students were encouraged to go beyond mere description and make sense of art’s effect on the soul. Good ekphrases are reactionary, inspiring, and transcendent within themselves. “The Great Wave off Kanagawa by Katsushika Hokusai” by Brian Kerr does all of this. It gives life to the nuances of Hokusai’s print that usually go unnoticed and tells a narrative that extends beyond the woodblock. The Great Wave off Kanagawa by Katsushika Hokusai by Brian Kerr


Prose Contest — What Do You Want? We love to read about compelling characters driven to unusual circumstances. Whether they are chasing a green light at the other side of the bay or rolling a rock uphill, some of the greatest characters are defined by what motivates them. To that end, we designed the prose contest to be a pressure cooker of desire and conflict: Each story must include at least two characters. Each character must want something—anything. The characters’ desires should conflict with each other. All this in 1500 words or less. “Alive” gives us memorable characters that leap off the page and knock each other around. These characters are scrappy, flamboyant, and sometimes vicious. Taking its cue from Cell Block Tango, the narrative is filtered through a first-person perspective that renders the story wonderfully unreliable. Our runner-up, “Dive into Oblivion,” is a case study of sorts that uses dialogue and contextual details in interesting ways to alternately reveal and obscure the characters’ motivations. Alive by Brenda Wong Dive into Oblivion by Michael Betza

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Jessica Astudillo  Grains Of Sand Photography 12


Etinosa Agbonlahor Mighty god Idemili/ no longer watches/ from his once upheld throne/ his people have/ forsaken their god for a stranger/ an abiku no less. He who once held the/ sky’s endless waters/ stalks an abandoned shrine/ rotted yams, dried palm oil sacrifices from last moon/ reveal the betrayal and his confusion/ For what is a god/ when none remain to remind him/ of his omnipresence?


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Jennifer Holder  The Light Photography 14


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Alain G. Cloarec Thespis One Small Step for Man, One Giant Leap for Theatre A Historical Musical Comedy AUTHOR’S NOTE: On November 23, 534 BCE [citation needed], during the Dionysus urban festival, Thespis—a Greek singer of mythological songs—separated himself from the chorus and thus became the first person in theatre to appear as an actor playing a character as opposed to just being part of the chorus reciting and singing lines. This was the single most important step in the history of the stage. Thanks to recent archeological findings—and especially to newly found documentary Super 8 film footage of that period [citation very much needed]—this play has faithfully reconstructed the events that led to this watershed moment in the world’s history of theatre. Source: Wikiwhat? SETTING: CITY DIONYSIA, ATHENS TIME: 534 BCE SOPHOCLES and ARISTOPHANES enter. ARISTOPHANES …and then the sheep herder says: “Hey, that’s not sheepskin, that’s my daughter!” SOPHOCLES and ARISTOPHANES burst out laughing. 16

SOPHOCLES Ha, ha, ha… Oh, Aristophanes, you are truly the comic poet… ARISTOPHANES Well, Sophocles, you know what they say: “Democracy is easy, comedy is hard.” SOPHOCLES Ha, ha, ha… Stop… Stop… or I’ll wet myself. ARISTOPHANES At your age isn’t that a common occurrence… SOPHOCLES Ha, ha, ha… Stop… Oops… There it goes… ARISTOPHANES moves a bit away. ARISTOPHANES Anywhooo… What about the festival this year, anything new? SOPHOCLES No, no, the usual, the public doesn’t like new things. So, we have the pomp first.


SOPHOCLES Yes, the pomp procession with the carrying of the big phalluses. ARISTOPHANES Well, that’s a classic, I mean who doesn’t like a big phallus? SOPHOCLES This is true. It’s a big crowd pleaser and it appeals to both men and women. ARISTOPHANES You can’t go wrong with a big phallus. Excellent opening. Then what? 17

The Olivetree RevieW SOPHOCLES Then there are the young girls carrying baskets. ARISTOPHANES I love the young girls as much as the big phalluses. SOPHOCLES Then the men carrying loaves of bread… ARISTOPHANES Now you see, I never understood that, because from far away the loaves of bread look just like big phalluses to me. SOPHOCLES Aristophanes, these are two very different things. ARISTOPHANES Not the way I use them… SOPHOCLES Ha, ha, ha… you and Socrates are just too much. ARISTOPHANES Yes, but Socrates goes too far, and he drinks anything put in front of him, one day it will be the death of him… (Pause) What about the plays being presented in this year’s competition? I heard someone had problems… SOPHOCLES Oh well, yes, Thespis seems to have some problems. ARISTOPHANES Thespis? He’s still alive? SOPHOCLES Pffft! Yeah! ARISTOPHANES Wait a minute… What year is this?


SOPHOCLES It’s 534 BCE. ARISTOPHANES Well, doesn’t that make us—you and I—like… about 100 years early? SOPHOCLES Yes, but you know, I never understood our calendar system. I mean why are we counting down backwards? 534, 533, 532, 531… It’s counter-intuitive. And what’s this BCE? I don’t understand. It used to be BC and even that I didn’t understand. But the thing that frightens me is that, if we are going backwards… what’s going to happen after we hit year zero…? (Pause) It boggles the mind… SOPHOCLES and ARISTOPHANES look at each other. ARISTOPHANES It’s best not to think about it… So, what’s wrong with Thespis? The last I heard, he was travelling around with his horse-drawn carriage, putting on shows all over the country using costumes, masks, and all sorts of items. SOPHOCLES Well, he recently came back from touring and he’s been moping around town, mumbling to himself, sometimes yelling out loud and then falling into deep black moods, refusing to see anyone and curling up in a fetal position all day. ARISTOPHANES Wow, sounds like an attack of distemper and black bile. He should see Hippocrates, he’s got all sorts of herbs from the East… ARISTOPHANES makes the gesture of smoking a joint. SOPHOCLES He saw Hippocrates who gave him the hellebore herb. 19

The Olivetree RevieW ARISTOPHANES And? SOPHOCLES And Thespis vomited and had diarrhea all night. Hippocrates then proclaimed him cured and told him to diet, exercise, and keep his mind busy. ARISTOPHANES Wow, advances in modern medicine… SOPHOCLES Yes, well it didn’t take. Thespis is still as gloomy as ever and he’s presenting his play in a couple minutes… (He looks to the right) Oh, there he is… THESPIS enters. His hair is disheveled, he is dragging his feet and mumbling. THESPIS …Stupid… ridiculous… same crap every year… Let’s try to cheer him up.


ARISTOPHANES Should I tell him the shepherd’s daughter story? SOPHOCLES No, keep that one in reserve for later. (To THESPIS) Greetings, Thespis! How are you? THESPIS I’m tired of phalluses and loaves of bread, that’s how I am! SOPHOCLES (Quickly to ARISTOPHANES) Shepherd’s daughter story… 20

ARISTOPHANES (Very nicely to THESPIS) How ya doin’, buddy? THESPIS Every year, it’s the same thing! It’s the same procession! The same phalluses! The same poets! The same masks! The same songs and plays! I can’t take this crap anymore! ARISTOPHANES That’s not true. I think I saw a new kind of Semitic phallus today… THESPIS Oh, come on! Stop it! Stop it! Everything’s been done, everything’s been written, every song has been sung! Every year, it’s the same festival, there’s nothing new that’s being performed! And all we ever do is just stand there and recite lines, nothing else happens! SOPHOCLES But the public loves it the way it is… THESPIS The public doesn’t know crap! THESPIS lunges at the audience but ARISTOPHANES and SOPHOCLES hold him back and calm him down. ARISTOPHANES Well, what do you want to do, then? THESPIS I don’t know and it’s killing me! All I know is that this is not enough and it’s driving me crazy—just like our counter-intuitive calendar: 534, 533, 532, 531…!


The Olivetree RevieW SOPHOCLES Listen my friend, if you could do something different, what would you envision it to be? THESPIS It’s all jumbled up inside my head… I see wonderful things that I can’t describe… ARISTOPHANES If you try to tell us, maybe we can help. THESPIS looks at both of them and says: THESPIS OK. It goes a little bit like this. The lights fade out as THESPIS moves into a spotlight center stage. Elvis Presley’s song “A Little Less Conversation” is heard. THE CHORUS ENTERS. THESPIS starts to sing like Elvis. THESPIS (CONT’D) A little less conversation, a little more action please… A second spotlight comes up on the CHORUS, who gyrate around THESPIS. THESPIS (CONT’D) All this aggravation ain’t satisfactioning me… The light fades in on SOPHOCLES playing the cowbell and ARISTOPHANES playing bongos. THESPIS swings around the CHORUS as he sings, moving his 22

pelvis up and down. THESPIS (CONT’D) A little more action, a little less talk, a little less dull, a little more spark, drop those masks open up your heart and satisfy me. Satisfy me baby. Steel poles descend from the ceiling. The CHORUS members strip off their togas to reveal bikinis and start pole dancing. CHORUS Satisfy… satisfy… ARISTOPHANES puts a few gold coins into the bikini bottoms of the CHORUS members. SOPHOCLES tries to pull him away. The music comes to an end. THESPIS and the CHORUS finish in a freeze frame on the beat. The CHORUS members go back upstage and put on their togas. The poles move back up into the ceiling. THESPIS goes to SOPHOCLES and ARISTOPHANES. THESPIS So? What do you think? ARISTOPHANES I can’t quite visualize it… THESPIS looks at him and SOPHOCLES in silence for a few seconds then says: 23

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I know… Neither can I!


SOPHOCLES Well, it will have to wait because your play is on right now. Go take your place! THESPIS drags himself over and joins the CHORUS as a spotlight shines on them. A cacophonous music of metal banging starts. Both SOPHOCLES and ARISTOPHANES put their hands over their ears to block it out. The CHORUS and THESPIS put horrifically depressing masks over their faces. SOPHOCLES and ARISTOPHANES look at each other and make disgustedlooking faces. Then the CHORUS starts to sing—if you can even call it that. CHORUS Aaaaaah… Ooooooh… Eeeeeeh… SOPHOCLES and ARISTOPHANES shake their heads in horror. THESPIS looks agitated. CHORUS Ooooh, the plague has come upon us… Who will save us now? THESPIS starts to breathe faster, his shoulders heave and suddenly… he steps out of the chorus, walks two paces, turns and faces the CHORUS.


Both SOPHOCLES and ARISTOPHANES bring down their hands and look in shock and awe at THESPIS. The CHORUS is also shocked and awed, some even drop their masks to see if their eyes are not deceiving them. THESPIS The gods have sent me to this place of horror… SOPHOCLES and ARISTOPHANES turn to each other in amazement then back at THESPIS. CHORUS Aaaaaah…? Ooooooh…?? Eeeeeeh…??? THESPIS You must all come with me… THESPIS moves very dramatically towards the wings and the confused CHORUS follows him. The music plays loudly then stops as soon as they all exit. The lights go up on the entire stage. SOPHOCLES and ARISTOPHANES turn to each other. SOPHOCLES That was incredible! Did you see that? Did you see what Thespis did? THESPIS comes back on stage. SOPHOCLES and ARISTOPHANES run up and congratu25

The Olivetree RevieW late him. SOPHOCLES That was incredible! ARISTOPHANES (To THESPIS) How… What… Why… How did you do that? THESPIS I don’t know… I just felt it… I just used it… I don’t know… SOPHOCLES That was incredible! ARISTOPHANES He just… stepped out… He just… stepped out of the chorus… I’ve never seen anything like that in my entire life! SOPHOCLES That was incredible! THESPIS Thank you my friends, thank you… ARISTOPHANES (To himself) He just… stepped out… SOPHOCLES Well, that’s it. We don’t have to see any other play… You win first prize! THESPIS Oh my….


THESPIS Oh, this is too much… Thank you…


ARISTOPHANES (To the audience) Did you see that? He just… stepped out… SOPHOCLES re-enters with the CHORUS holding up an absurdly large trophy that they give to THESPIS who takes center stage. THESPIS I want to thank you all, my friends. But, I couldn’t have done this without the help of all the little people in the chorus… The CHORUS looks at each other like he just insulted them. THESPIS (CONT’D) …Even though we all know that in the theatre, the playwright is the only artist crucial to the success of any drama… CHORUS What the hell?! THESPIS …Because the playwright cannot be replaced whereas the smaller, unimportant little people—like those in back of me—are utterly dispensable… CHORUS What?! That son of a goat! Let’s get him, girls! The CHORUS MEMBERS gang up on THESPIS while SOPHOCLES and ARISTOPHANES grab the trophy and slink away. BLACKOUT


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Jennifer Jade Yeung  11:23 A.M. Photography


Greeting The Ambassadors

Erin Earl Muehlenbach

I can’t hear a word you’re saying over the tired blues and yet I wish this song would never end oh, the lovely hushed brushing of your lips first names will take a week not long enough, not nearly let’s shark through the pipe-smoke and chatter, find our dark corner, begin the ritual again I can’t hear a word so just play on, fathers and let your song never end oh, play for the lovely, hushed, brushing of her lips, so close to my ear


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Shushanik Karapetyan  cenote Photography 30


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Bayan ko

Niccolo Pizarro “Did you hear about the people in EDSA? They say hundreds are gathered. Maybe more.” Danny didn’t hear the man. He looked outside the jeepney at the mostly empty street. Motor-tricycles zipped passed him every now and then. Children ran and laughed freely because the traffic was sparse. On certain street corners soldiers carried sandbags from trucks and piled them on top of one another before mounting large machine guns above them. It was a hot day, but he felt like he was the only one sweating. “Maybe that’s where they’re going to, no?” He turned to the man across the seat from him. “I’m sorry?” “Those kids, and all those tricycles, maybe they’re going to EDSA. I heard hundreds are gathered there already.” “Oh,” he turned back to the window, “Yeah, maybe.” It’s hard to ignore anyone on a jeepney, Danny thought. He almost regretted not taking a bus. The seats didn’t face each other, so you could keep to yourself, and you didn’t need to duck your head to get into one either. But he remembered he was back in Manila, and there was no time or money for a bus. The driver turned the radio on. 32

He flipped through several music and news stations before leaving the radio alone. Updates on the situation at Epifanio De los Santos Avenue were being broadcast, and Danny immediately recognized the station. ◆ “You should go,” his mother-in-law said. He stood at the door of his bedroom and watched his wife while she slept. He turned around and saw that the living room had been filled with several people, family and friends, huddled around the radio. His mother-in-law left the group and approached him. “You should go, Danny. Get your daughter from the hospital. She should be home with us. Maybe until all of this is over. Besides, those tests should be done. Don’t worry about Helen, I’ll tell her where you went when she wakes up. Carlos can drive you there—” “Ma!” She looked back at one of her sons calling her. “Si Cardinal Sin nasa radyo. Gusto n’yang pumunta sa EDSA.” “Even the Cardinal supports the rebels! Does that mean God wills it too, Danny?” she said, facing him.

He thought the idea was absurd, something that might have been said during the Middle Ages. “Maybe,” he said. “I’ll go alone. Don’t bother Carlos with the car. I’ll just take a jeepney or something.” “Are you sure? You still remember where it stops? On the corner, between Albany Street and—” He nodded and started for the door. I haven’t been away from home for that long, he thought. And how could he forget? It’s the same place the jeepney dropped him off when he came to visit Helen. ◆ “Hey boss! Turn up the radio please!” the man who was asking questions said to the driver. The driver obliged. The radio announcer was asking people to continue to bring food and supplies to the rebels in accordance with the Cardinal’s broadcast. “What if the loyalists do something? Don’t you think going there sounds stupid?” Danny was getting annoyed. “I don’t know. Aren’t there nuns and priests there? I don’t know. Maybe the army doesn’t care.” “Ha! Like they’ve been caring!” The man shook his head. “Another revolution. This time against our own peo-

ple!” Danny nodded to be polite. The man sounded like he had been there, fighting Spain or America, trying to drive them out of our islands. He kept his eyes from rolling at the man’s statement and turned to the window once more. The jeepney’s windows were open so some air passed through when the vehicle was in motion, but when it reached a stop the heat and humidity would creep back in. They pressed down on his skin and made him feel claustrophobic. The number of people at Epifanio De los Santos Avenue is now swelling at over three hundred thousand. More and more people flock to EDSA between Camp Crame and Aguinaldo, where the rebel leader, Fidel V. Ramos, and former secretary of defense Juan Enrile, who resigned from Marcos’ Cabinet, are stationed. The radio blared and he was unable to hear the driver calling him. “Sir?” Danny looked up. “Nandito na tayo. Children’s Medical Hospital of Queson City. This is your stop right?”

The man shook his head. "Another revolution. This time against our own people!"

◆ “Please Danny, read it to me again,” 33

The Olivetree RevieW she asked. He was taken aback. “You should rest, really. We’ll get out of here early in the morning.” She turned her face away from him, pressing it down on the pillow. “I can’t go to sleep. I don’t want them running tests on her. I held her only for a little bit before they took her away. Why couldn’t they let me hold her longer?” He leaned forward from his seat and placed his hand on her cheek. She placed her fingers on top of his. “The doctor needs to. We’ll see her tomorrow. She came earlier than expected, they have to be sure she’s okay. When this is over, you’ll be the first to hold her. You can hold her as long as you please.” She looked at him and her eyes watered. He sighed and picked up the Bible that was next to her on the bed. He opened it, knowing where to turn the pages. He never cared much for the Bible, but was acquainted with some of the readings. When she was sick or bedridden, or when they were alone, he would read passages to her from the poetic dialogue between two lovers in the Song of Songs. Often he would tease her by reading from the book that preceded it, “Life is useless, all is useless,” or “Everything leads to weariness—a weariness too great for words. Our eyes can never see enough to be satisfied; our ears can never hear enough.” She would shake her head

and smile at him and try to pry the book away from him, and he would laugh and resist. But at the moment he did not think of doing any of that. “Don’t you know the place, loveliest of women?… Like a lily among thorns is my darling among women… I hear my lover’s voice. He comes running over the mountains… Let me see your lovely face and hear your enchanting voice.” Helen placed her hand over the pages, interrupting him. “Please don’t leave me,” she said. “Please don’t go. Stay and raise our baby together.” He was puzzled. “Where would I go? And why would I leave?” She felt the surface of his hands. “Back to America. Away from Marcos. To cities without a curfew, where you can stay out all night. To a job that gave you more money than the ones here. It’s why you left isn’t it? To find something else?” He thought she was being dramatic. He wanted to tell her it’s not always as nice as it looks in the movies. That everything was too expensive to spend his money on. That he had no one to spend all those nights with. And that, to be honest, he no longer remembered why he left in the first place. He looked at her, her long black hair resting past her shoulders, her dark brown skin, her full lips, her round nose, and sleepy eyes. He looked at her

He was puzzled. "Where would I go? And why Would I leave?"


circular face and its gentle curves, created by her subtle cheekbones—how its youthful delicacy was fading away. He said nothing and kissed her forehead. She pulled her hand away from the book. “…The sentries patrolling the city found me; they struck me and they bruised me. The guards at the city wall tore off my cape. Promise me women of Jerusalem, that if you find my lover, you will tell him I am weak from passion.” ◆ He walked down the hall to the nursery. The same radio station was on in the hospital. This time a recording of Bayan Ko, My Homeland, was being played, with updates interrupting it every few seconds. My country, the Philippines, Land of gold and flowers. Love is in her palms, Offering beauty and splendor. He stopped when he reached a glass window with rows of sleeping babies, on tiny beds, on the other side. He stood still, looking at every one, unable to distinguish any differences between them. He tried to see if he could remember what his daughter looked like. “Can I help you sir?” A nurse approached him from the side. …one million. The count is now bordering one million. But word has spread that Marcos’ forces are sending tanks to disperse the protestors. He stood still, unable to find the words he needed. She smiled, and her

expression asked him if everything was okay. “I came to pick up my daughter,” he finally said “Okay, last name please?” “Jaramillo.” She left him and after a few seconds appeared on the other side of the glass. He found himself inching closer to the window, trying to walk in with her. He pressed his fingers onto the glass, watching her look through the names of the babies. She nodded and lifted a baby, gently pressing it against her chest. It was wrapped in a pink blanket. She walked out carrying his child and handed her to him, smiling. “She’s beautiful. Don’t be nervous now, you can hold her. There.” Danny looked at his daughter. Her eyes were closed, her hair was short, her face was small. She rested so peacefully he was worried that she was not alive. But her body shifted slightly, and her hand awkwardly touched her face. “Ah Doctor Cruz! Mr. Jaramillo is here. He came to pick up his daughter.” Danny looked up to see the doctor walking towards him. “Good afternoon, Mr. Jaramillo! It’s a good thing you came when you did. I was just about to have someone call you. The tests went well. Your daughter will be fine. She’ll grow to be healthy and strong. You have nothing to worry about.” “Thank you Doctor.” He brought his attention back to the baby. He adjusted his arms so that she lay closer 35

The Olivetree RevieW to his body. He could feel her small breaths on his chest. “How much do I owe you? How much for the bill?” Danny asked. The doctor looked at the nurse with a grin. And then to Danny, “Why sir, you have nothing to worry about. Today is a new day for this country. Don’t worry about the expenses. Think of it as a gift for the revolution. And to her refinement and beauty, Foreigners were enticed. My country, you were enslaved, Mired in suffering. He carefully held her in one arm and extended the other to the doctor with an open hand. The doctor smiled and shook it. “Why, that’s a fine watch you have on. Where do you think I could get one like that?” Danny let go and glanced at his wrist. “America. I got it in the States. New York City.” The doctor raised his eyebrows, “Ah I see. Were you there recently? On trip of some sort?” “Yes,” he nodded. “Something like that.” “Well Mr. Jaramillo, you couldn’t have chosen a better time to return. Here, I’ll walk you to the elevator.” Danny agreed. He held his daughter closer and followed the doctor to the elevator, looking down at her every few steps, making sure he had not left without her. ◆ At the lobby he asked the recep36

tionist to call a cab for him. My Philippines that I treasure, Cradle of my tears and suffering, My dream is: To see you truly free! It was about the fourth time the song had been played. Danny stood looking out through the glass door and waited for the cab to appear. The song began to play again. He did not think so much about how he held his baby. He felt comfortable with her in his arms, as if she fit perfectly within them. The cab appeared beyond the glass doors. He turned to thank the receptionist at the lobby desk and began walking out. He opened the first set of doors and was about to push the second set open, but he stopped himself. Behind the cab, across the wide street, were stacks of sandbags piled up, with a large gun mounted on top, like the ones he had seen on his way to the hospital. It was unmanned, no soldiers were near it, and although it tilted to the side he thought it was aimed at his direction. Danny brought his daughter closer to his neck, so that his chin touched her forehead. He took a step back, staring at the large cannon. He was unsure, but at the very tip he thought he saw rosary beads wrapped around the end of the barrel, probably left there by the Cardinal’s protestors. His daughter began to move restlessly in his arms, but he refused to leave the hospital, still staring at the gun. He wanted to go back in—where Bayan Ko played in the halls.

Esther Ko  AUGUST MARKET Photography


The Olivetree RevieW

A Wah Gwaan

Krystal Moses

Yuh she yuh luv mi But mi nah go believe yuh Yuh too damn red eye ◆ Listen hear yuh know Mi tiyaad a yuh nonsense Pack up yuh tings dem ◆ Lawd God mi badi Mi tell har nuh fi tek him Watch har wid belly ◆ Seh grace, close yuh yeye Thank Him fi di food tonight Yuh did wash yuh hand? ◆ Rent due, phone cut off Crosses an tribulation Foot swell up, ’ungry ◆ Servin breas an thigh Wah more yuh want? Soul an mind? Feelin good now right.


Danielle Orchard  Beach Scene  OIL ON CANVAS


The Olivetree RevieW



Brenda Wong When Danny was seventeen, he almost died. He finally got his learner’s permit and was excited to drive, but his parents only had one car and wouldn’t let him practice with it. That didn’t stop Danny. With two lessons under his belt, he took the family car out for a spin. He drove cautiously, but it didn’t matter how careful he was. That minivan came out of nowhere and t-boned the family car, spinning Danny out of control until a telephone pole caught him. The car was totaled. Danny got out of the wreck fine, but it had him spooked. He came out of the shock grateful for his survival and determined to dedicate his life to experiencing all the world had to offer. So in his defense, Danny had a reason to be adventurous. “The Universal Answer to Everything,” Danny would say, “is YOLO.” Sorry, you don’t know what that is? It’s an acronym for “You only live once.” It basically means, “Don’t be afraid to take risks. Don’t regret what you didn’t do. Go out and live.” It was a dying phrase even then, but Danny managed to give it life. He was inspirational. Free-spirited. All that jazz. But there’s a difference between living an exciting life and deliberately doing stupid things. Danny did both. 40

He wasn’t just living, he was careless. Like when he jumped from the roof of our ten-story building to the ninthfloor fire escape across the alley. Or when he dredged himself in floor wax and slid down the bowling lane while his equally-dumbass friends hurled fifteen-pound bowling balls after him. Or that time Danny shaved his eyebrows and got caterpillar tattoos in their place. That one wasn’t too dangerous. But, damn, Danny was dumb. Some people found his unyielding sense of adventure attractive. Danny was brave. A daredevil. Infinitely cool. But after witnessing Danny’s exploits like a horrified bystander watching someone leap off a building—which that idiot actually did with nothing but a rope of bed sheets and an umbrella—I started to resent him. He wasn’t a kid anymore. The rush of surviving shouldn’t have compelled him to continuously put his life in danger. I know he cared more about the thrill of living, but the audience recognition had to have been a plus. His deathdefying schemes made him a hero in other people’s eyes. I couldn’t stand Danny, but I had to keep watching him live. C’mon, admit it. You’d want to, too. The guy was fearless, and that was admirable. So I stuck around for a while.

As the years went on, Danny abandoned spontaneity and started planning his stunts. I remember the setup of one: a truck on one side, a scooter on the other, a bungee cord between them, and a drawbridge ready to rise. But I have no memory of what followed. I was told that Danny accidentally gave the truck the signal to go as I was securing the cord to his scooter. Next thing I know, I’m falling through the air, narrowly making it to the other end of the bridge, and scraping my skin off on the way down. As the bridge leveled, Danny rushed over to me. “Yo, check it out!” He guffawed into his fist and fanned his arm at me. “Chick’s got balls!” I was flattered to receive his mad respect but when I realized the bastard nearly got me killed, I remembered to be pissed. After that incident, I heard Danny was into me. My brush with death must’ve been a turn-on, and I became his newest fetish. True to his screwed up brain, his courtship relied on what he knew best: elaborate, life-risking activities. There was something stupidly chivalrous about risking his life to get my attention, but I was still too pissed about almost dying to be impressed. People told me to give Danny a

break and get with him already, but it wouldn’t change anything. He’d do the same crap, and I didn’t want anything to do with him. I hated Danny. But damn it, I didn’t anymore. Sticking around to see Danny live made me root for the guy. Care for him. Love him, even. It’s weird how these things happen. I assure you it was love, or at least I thought it was. And that’s just as good as real love, so don’t give me that skeptical look. Yeah, I still tried to dish out the snark and maintain some sort of apathy, but the others caught on that my lingering and (okay) lustful stares meant I was interested in Danny. The bomb exploded throughout our circle of friends. I didn’t even try to diffuse the situation. Danny liked me too, so there was nothing to worry about. After my secret got out, I overheard Danny’s equally-dumbass buddies tell him how I felt. “Yeah?” Danny said. “Think I should jump on that?” In hindsight, I may have over-romanticized Danny. But at the time, I swooned. “YOLO,” his friends encouraged him. If there was any doubt in Danny’s mind, that would push him off the edge. If there was any time to take a leap, to finally live, it was then. That’s when Danny said, “Nah.”

He guffawed into his fist and fanned his arm at me. "Chick's got balls!"


The Olivetree RevieW In that moment, I was sure my heart stopped. I realize now it shrunk. I didn’t move or breathe, waiting in vain for what I hoped was an unfinished sentence that Danny had cut short. It was painfully silent until Danny’s friends chimed, “Thought you were into her, bro.” I thought so, too. “Used to be,” Danny clarified. “She’s the clingy, settle down type. I want to get out there and live. Be free.” “But she likes you. And she’s hot. You’re crazy,” his not-as-dumbass friends told him. Danny’s response? “Sometimes you have to do something crazy to feel alive.” He rejected me. Can you believe that? He rejected me. I still stuck around after that, but things weren’t the same. I was just another spectator. I meant nothing in his quest to live. I could have been right there living it up with him, but he wanted to do it alone. Danny wanted to be free. Danny wanted to live. And that was funny. That was hilarious, because I wanted him dead. Sure, I was hurt Danny rejected me and angry at myself for falling for the idiot in the first place. I hated that he thought I wasn’t exciting enough for him. A man can’t scorn a woman like that and get away with it. Not after she decided to give the idiot a chance. I thought my heart stopped, but I told you, it was only shrinking. Sure, I wanted Danny dead, but does that mean I’d kill him? 42

You’d think it’d be easy to kill someone who lived as irresponsibly as Danny did. That it’d be easy to sabotage one of his “adventures” and make it look like an accident. Isn’t that what you’re trying to say, Detective? I’m not saying I did it, but if I did? I’d like to invoke Danny’s Universal Answer to Everything: You only live once. Danny’s translation? “Sometimes you have to do something crazy to feel alive.” And you know what? I’m finally starting to feel alive, Detective. Too bad that means Danny is dead.

Jessica Astudillo  STAIRCASE Photography 43

The Olivetree RevieW

Dive Into Oblivion Michael Betza

“So why don’t we start by telling me why you’re here?” The therapist clicks his ballpoint pen and holds it poised against the notepad in his lap. The alcoholic does not answer. He looms in front of the half-open window, his forehead and right palm pressed against the glass. The sounds of Park Avenue at midday pour into the third-floor office, filling the silence between them. The alcoholic swirls around to face his interviewer, his eyes hidden behind mirrored sunglasses. The therapist notes that this is the first time the man has looked at him since he walked into the office. What he sees in that one moment removes all his doubts about the man’s viability as a candidate for his research study. He notes: According to his file, he is 27 years of age, but according to his hollow cheeks and jaundice complexion, he is at least twice that. By the time the man had come to the therapist, he had already been through twelve in-patient alcohol rehabilitation programs. Each time, he had resumed his drinking habit. The therapist would not have taken him on, except for the “recommendation” of his father. “For the same reason you are, Doc,” he says. His posh British accent barely disguises the venom in his words. “Be44

cause my father’s paying the bills.” With a slow wobbling gait, the alcoholic finds his way to the burgundy leather sofa across from the therapist’s chair. The cushions barely register his slender frame as he lowers himself onto the sofa. The alcoholic retrieves a pack of Dunhills and a butane cigarette lighter from the inside pocket of his leather motorcycle jacket. At the sight of the therapist shaking his head, he begrudgingly shoves the Dunhills back into his jacket. The lighter still in his hands, the alcoholic falls onto the couch like a downed redwood and brings his legs up from the floor. He flips the metal top of the lighter and flicks it on and off several times in rapid succession. The therapist clears his throat. The alcoholic sighs, then closes the lighter and returns it to his jacket pocket. “Well, Eric,” the therapist continues. “Your father seems to think you have a drinking problem.” “Drinking’s the solution, not the problem.” The therapist notes this response. “Then your father is wrong?” “About a great many things,” the alcoholic mumbles while staring at the ceiling. “Such as?”

“Sorry, Doc.” “About what, Eric?” asks the therapist. The alcoholic taps his index finger on his temple. “I’m not letting you poke around.” “Are you afraid of what I might find?” “No.” He turns his head and glares at the therapist. “But you should be.” The therapist returns his gaze. “And why is that, Eric?” “Will you stop doing that?” he yells, raising himself off the couch. “Doing what, Eric?” “Stop turning everything I say into a question!” The alcoholic removes his sunglasses and, with his eyes shut tight, pinches the bridge of his nose. “It’s making my headache worse.” “Hangover, I take it?” “Like Hell’s Bells ringing non-stop between my ears,” the alcoholic replies. He lays the sunglasses on the coffee table in front of him. This is the first time the therapist has been able to look into his eyes. As expected, the therapist writes, his eyes are extremely bloodshot and his true eye color is obscured by dilated pupils. The bags under them suggest that he has not slept much in recent days, presumably due to his latest bender. Remember to ask if he has any history of drug use.

The therapist never does ask that question. Instead, he does something which goes against psychiatric protocol. “Would you care for a drink?” he asks the alcoholic. “Come again?” The man shakes his head, unsure of what he has heard. There is a gleam in the therapist’s eye as he sets his notepad on the coffee table beside the alcoholic’s sunglasses. “There’s some scotch in the cabinet.” He points to a mahogany armoire in the corner by the window. “Help yourself.” Jerking his torso around, he frantically searches for the armoire. Having sighted it, he turns back to the therapist and says, “Thanks, Doc.” “You’re wel—” His headache seemingly forgotten, the alcoholic bounds off the couch. He tears open the door, and on the middle shelf, between the therapist’s collection of books and personal photographs, he finds a crystal decanter of scotch and a pair of glasses. In a flash the decanter is opened and the scotch is poured into a glass, all the way up to the rim. The alcoholic downs the liquid in one gulp then helps himself to two more. In the space of a minute, the decanter has been emptied. “Cheers, Doc,” he sighs, putting the glass back on the shelf and closing the decanter. His face is now beet red.

There is a gleam in the therapist's eye as he sets his notepad on the coffee table


The Olivetree RevieW “This stuff ’s top shelf.” “Feeling better, I take it?” asks the therapist. “Now that you’ve had some hair of the dog?” “Not quite there yet, Doc.” The alcoholic returns to the couch where he leans back, places his hands behind his head, and gazes contentedly at the ceiling. “But it’ll do for now.” The therapist leans forward. “Not quite where, Eric?” “Oblivion.” He shrugs. “I don’t understand.” The alcoholic lifts his head to gawk at the therapist. “Don’t tell me you never heard of oblivion?” “Yes, I’m familiar with the concept,” says the therapist, leaning back in his chair. “But I don’t see what it has to do with your inhaling an entire bottle of Glenlivett.” “It’s like being on automatic pilot, Doc.” The alcoholic smiles and stretches his torso like a cat, extending his arms to the ceiling. “Nothing and no one can hurt you.” “And drinking helps you to reach this state of oblivion?” “It’s like I said,” he yawns. “Drinking’s the solution, not the problem.” “So, then…” The therapist leans forward again. “The problem is facing the world without drinking.” The alcoholic winks at his companion. “Now you’re getting it, Doc.” “Or maybe it’s not the whole world,” says the therapist, in a slow and deliberate tone. “Maybe it’s just your father.” The alcoholic’s face loses its color. “I… I wouldn’t say that.” “Of course not, Eric,” replies the 46

therapist. “After all, he’s paying the bills.”

Kevin Zych  The feeling  Sharpie & Acrylic on Collage Paper


The Olivetree RevieW




The Great Wave off Kanagawa by KATSUSHIKA HOKUSAI

Brian Kerr

The men in the boats asked “Who are we to go, to brave such monstrous waves, The sharp foamy claws and the emptiness of salty splash?� They were made small their industrious defiance angering waters Nature wide the sea their boats thin and they bowed Rowed the boats humble under grey sadness over-marked By courage pressed on perished and landed safely in Kanagawa.


The Olivetree RevieW

Natasha Tverdynin  Untitled Photography 50


The Olivetree RevieW

Shairi Turner  Untitled  Potography



A Clean Bill Of Health Jason Sloan

SCENE 1 A knock is heard on the metal door of the doctor’s office. DR. FIDDLER rises from his chair and paperwork to open the door. MAN takes a ginger step inside, girded in fine clothing. He looks around, almost bemused. DR. FIDDLER (Extends hand and shakes with MAN) Welcome! I’m Doctor Fiddler. Please, take a seat on the examination table. Don’t mind the paper, it’s a bit flimsy, but it should hold true. MAN Mind if I lie down? DR. FIDDLER Whatever you’d like. It’s up to you. MAN (Lies down with his hands behind his head) It’s been a long time since I’ve visited one of these offices, doc. Can’t even remember the last time, to tell you the truth. Must have been before…

(Trails off)

DR. FIDDLER I get that a lot. People here don’t feel the need for a physical. They have everything taken care of for them already. Barely even 53

The Olivetree RevieW DR. FIDDLER (CONT’D) remember how to take care of themselves if they had to, I reckon. (Pulls a file out of a cabinet and opens it) Let’s see… you were healthy when we received your file. So I’m just going to check the basics. Make sure everything’s tip top so we can get the show on the road. Have you experienced anything out of the norm lately? MAN Insomnia, some nightmares. Everything else is all right, I guess. DR. FIDDLER All very normal symptoms for a man in your position. Anything else? MAN (Picks his nails) I pissed the bed last week. Mattresses are pretty shitty, not so absorbent. Woke up in a pool of piss; I still have a rash on my back. DR. FIDDLER Would you mind standing up and letting me see it? MAN stands up. DR. FIDDLER lifts up MAN’s shirt and examines his back. DR. FIDDLER (CONT’D) That’s nothing to worry about. Should be like nothing happened in a couple of days. Um… anything else I should be aware of? MAN No. DR. FIDDLER Okay. Take off your shoes and stand on the balance, please.


MAN Never liked these shoes. Even after they’re worn in, they never really fit my feet. My left was always a little too small and my right was always a little too big. Must have gone through ten pairs, at least. My feet aren’t too pretty now. MAN steps onto balance. DR. FIDDLER works with the beams. Doc, do you like your job?


DR. FIDDLER Yeah, I like it fair enough. Good pay, great federal benefits for me and my family. Hard to get that anymore. (Writes in his file) Okay, do you mind standing over here? Back straight, please. MAN It must get pretty boring. I mean, you went through decades of schooling to end up with this routine employment. You’re barely helping anybody, honestly. Do you think it’s worth it? DR. FIDDLER That isn’t all I get. I go home when my day is done. I have financial security, a life outside these walls. I didn’t think my life would head in this direction, but it’s a good life and I’m more than satisfied. I doubt you can say the same. (Writes in his file) Okay, back on the table and strip to your briefs. MAN strips, sits on the examining table, the paper tears slightly. MAN Whoops. I rode in a dirigible, once. About twenty years ago, I guess. I had a friend, Ronny, big aviation buff. If it could fly or 55

The Olivetree RevieW MAN (CONT’D) had ever flown, he wanted it. He bought this relic with most of his inheritance. It was a huge affair. Had to leave it in the lot where he got it. I helped him fix it up. He had just lost his dad, and I figured he needed a companion or something. And I was also recovering from a bad breakup, so you could say we both had something to run from. We would drive down ten minutes or so, barely saying a word. You know, when you’re in the presence of something so large, so magnificent, conversation doesn’t mean shit in comparison. DR. FIDDLER wraps manometer around MAN’s arm, starts measuring blood pressure, pressing and releasing the balloon. MAN (CONT’D) We spent about half a year on that thing. Almost every weekend: painting, patching, cleaning, repairing the turbines. Even when we finished with it, we still had to fill the damn thing! 150,870 cubic feet of helium, doc. I still remember that number because where the hell were we supposed to find that much helium?! I’m telling you, he spent the rest of his inheritance on that alone. (Chuckles) Mmhmm.


(Takes the manometer off and hangs it up) Your blood pressure is perfect! Okay, this may be a little cold. I want you to breathe in and out. DR. FIDDLER places his stethoscope on MAN’s chest and moves it around periodically. MAN It was the beginning of February when he determined it was air 56

MAN (CONT’D) safe. I didn’t think it would ever be safe and told him so. I told him to give it up, but he was insistent. Obsessed. Crazed, even. He couldn’t get it out of his head for a second. Not like he had anything else to think about after all the time we’d put into it. February fourteenth, we took it out. He didn’t have a license or any formal training, so we had to break into the fucking lot in the middle of the night. I don’t know how he convinced me to do it. The eve of Valentine’s Day and there we were, two lonely guys trying to start the engine of a goddamn massive dirigible! DR. FIDDLER (Replaces the stethoscope) Heart and lungs sound good. Lie down, please. MAN lies down. DR. FIDDLER starts massaging MAN’s torso, searching for internal defects. MAN What we didn’t know was, there was a blizzard coming our way. And this wasn’t just any old blizzard, doc. It was the son of the storm that wiped out the fucking mammoths! We were barely one hundred feet in the air when it got us. Snow, wind everywhere. We flew around that lot like an F-16 in an airshow before we crashed into the ground. Landed us both in the hospital. That is, after spending the night groaning and bleeding into the snow. Still got the pins in my right knee to prove it. (Taps his knee) DR. FIDDLER Stop moving, please, and turn over. MAN I got off easy: only a couple months of PT and I wouldn’t be running any marathons, but Ronny couldn’t leave the hospital for weeks. He looked like shit when I visited him every other day, connected to more wires and machines than I knew existed, but he was always in a good mood. ‘We flew,’ he would tell me. ‘It worked!’ All he would ever talk about was that goddamn diri57

The Olivetree RevieW MAN (CONT’D) gible and his plans to fix it up and fly it again. I asked him how he’d get the money. All that helium was gone, and the dirigible itself didn’t look too good neither. He was gonna steal it, he told me, when he was better. From a fucking bank! He wanted me to be the getaway driver! You can sit up again.


(Takes a tongue depressor and puts it in MAN’s mouth) Open wide and stop talking for a second, please. MAN Ronny really lo-vdfsradfsvdsb… Thank you.


(Throws out the tongue depressor and writes in his file) MAN Ronny really loved his dad, doc. This was the only connection he had left—all his money he put into it. I get that. But that’s crossing a line. I wouldn’t do it, I told him. It was stupid. Even in the movies, professional robbers can’t rob banks. And anything’s possible in the movies! DR. FIDDLER (Holds a microscope to MAN’s eye) Look into the light, please. MAN Jesus, that’s bright! Anyway, if I had known he was actually gonna do it, I probably woulda helped him. Good. Other eye now. 58


MAN I heard about it later. Barely two minutes into the heist and this old World War II vet draws a gun and smokes him! Fucking second amendment, right? Ronny drops like Newton’s apple; never gets back up. DR. FIDDLER Excellent. Can you turn to the right so I can look into your ear? MAN That night I can’t fall asleep. The whole week, actually. All that’s on my mind is the dirigible, doc! I take out another mortgage, put all my life savings in, everything. I brought it back to the lot from impoundment and worked every day on that thing for months. Okay, other ear, please?


MAN Now I was the one obsessed. I was doing it for Ronny, his dad, and myself again. I had to. It wouldn’t budge from my mind. But I’ll be damned if I didn’t fix it up and make it ship shape again. Good, good.

DR. FIDDLER Produces reflex hammer and taps MAN’s knee. Nothing happens. Taps again—still nothing.

MAN Other knee, doc. That one’s got the pins. DR. FIDDLER Oh, all right. Sorry about that. (Taps MAN’s left knee and it jerks) There we are!


The Olivetree RevieW (He writes in his file) MAN No problem, doc. So I banged out all the dents in the hull, replaced the windows, filled it all up with the 150,870 cubic feet of helium again. Everything besides the paint, when my funds ran dry. DR. FIDDLER Alrighty, stand on one leg, please, and spread your arms. MAN slides off the table and tears the rest of the paper. MAN Sorry about that. There was nothing else I could do, doc. I was in the same situation as Ronny. I could see now that there is no line strong enough to withhold an obsession. But I wasn’t about to rob a bank. No. I was much smarter than that. Other leg, please.


MAN I went to the rich part of town, with the mansions and the whole families inside them. It was the dead of night, of course. I literally just broke a window with a crowbar and climbed in. They didn’t even have an alarm system on, those pompous dumbasses! I went about grabbing everything. I took silver, paintings, even the TV! I loaded everything into the back of my car. DR. FIDDLER Okay, now try and touch your toes. MAN I didn’t think I was making too much noise, but I figure I was because when I climbed in through the window next, there was the owner of the place, in his designer silk pajamas and a baseball bat! I think he said ‘leave, or I’m calling the police.’ I dunno. I ran at him and turned his face into face pie.


DR. FIDDLER Okay, now you can put your clothes back on and take a seat. I’m going to finish filling out your charts. DR. FIDDLER sits down and starts filling out the charts. MAN (Starts putting his clothes back on) That’s when his wife and kids came downstairs. Thing is, they were familiar. They were Ronny’s kids! Ronny’s wife! I swear it! I looked at the body on the floor and it was RONNY! I’m not sure what happened next. All I remember is taking off in that dirigible, middle of the night once again, and soaring into the sky. I looked down, not knowing how to drive the damn thing, and there were flashing lights everywhere. Cops aren’t so scary when they’re just blue and red pinpricks on a black background. I musta been up there for two hours at least, staring at the pitch black landscape from the cockpit with a bloody crowbar in my right hand and a huge TV to my left, splattered with a ghost’s drying blood… DR. FIDDLER All right, everything’s in order. (He signs a chart and presses intercom) You can come take him now. (To MAN) We’re just about done here. Thank you for your cooperation. MAN When the sun rose, everything—all the houses, trees—became long, dark points and I thought they’d pop my blimp and I’d be sent spiraling into all that burning helium in the sun. Maybe one of them did. I don’t really remember. It doesn’t really matter now.


The Olivetree RevieW The door opens and a uniformed OFFICER enters. OFFICER Is he ready, Doctor? DR. FIDDLER Yep. He has a clean bill of health. (To MAN) Good luck tomorrow. The OFFICER handcuffs MAN and leads him outside the room. SCENE 2 MAN is strapped to a table with an IV in his arm. He is in a stark room populated only by three EXECUTIONERS, who are standing beside the machine to which the IV is attached. Outside are ONLOOKERS and JOURNALISTS, who are standing at a glass window looking into the room. Some are holding signs displaying ‘Murder the Murderer’ and other related chants. The WARDEN is also looking in, seated beside a microphone. Cameras flash sporadically. WARDEN We are all gathered here, in Saratoga Springs Penitentiary, to witness the execution of this man before us, who is convicted of attempted armed robbery and the first-degree murders of Ron62

WARDEN (CONT’D) ald Charles Marsden, his wife Lily Anne Marsden and their three children, Arnold Steven, Caitlyn Josephine and Barbara Christina Marsden. Do you have any last words? MAN Lifts his head and looks at the crowd. He yells. MAN I am satisfied! WARDEN With nothing further to add and no further evidence to prove this condemned man’s innocence, you may proceed. He motions to the EXECUTIONERS. The EXECUTIONERS each press a button on the machine and a fluid traces its path through the IV. The cameras flash and the MAN begins to weaken, his eyelids fluttering. He manages to whisper: ‘Pinpricks,’ before the EKG goes flat.


The Olivetree RevieW

David Carmona  Nerves  Digital Art



The Olivetree RevieW

A Sick Sense Of Humor

James Guo

Nobody dies without regrets. The old guy in the front aisle of this Godforsaken airport terminal, two seats from the left, he just got here. He’ll tell you how happy he is, how he’d just held his first great-grandchild. How he died with his wife holding his hand, died having found God, died satisfied. Give him his deadplay a couple times, the same last eight minutes and fortyfour seconds over and over again, and then ask him if he died happy. He’ll change his tune. You’ll see. If I had known I was going to die, I wouldn’t have bought that unlimited MetroCard. That pass is stuck in my head, that hundred and four dollars. They say that nothing matters once you’re dead. No rent, no alimony, no dead-end jobs. Nothing. But I know what’s bothering me. Number 5354, moving you to your deadplay in ten seconds. Shit. Not again. ◆ I can hear the manager talking to the guy who does dishes. Financial difficulties, he tells the guy. Cost-income margins. It’s all in the numbers. Sorry. Lo siento. Raul—dark, old, and pot-bellied— looks back at him blankly. 66

“You. Are. Being. Let. Go. Speak-ah English?” I overhear the manager later. Too old. Too stupid. Too Mexican. Raul is from Ecuador. I have twenty dollars in my wallet. I give him ten. It’s not Raul or my restaurant job that I’m thinking about when I get off at the last stop of the E line. It’s Alejandra Martinez Ortega de Rosario who is on my mind. I seem to walk a little straighter when I think of her. I think of how the words “I do,” when said in a small Spanish chapel in south Queens, distilled her wordy name down to three syllables: Lexy Liu. It is twenty-three minutes past eleven when I glance at my watch. A flurry of December snow chases Christmas onto the streets of South Jamaica. I am not late, I tell myself, but I hurry down the boulevard, stopping to check for traffic as I cross. Eighty-four seconds lost. The snow is gray slush, stained an awful color. It is hunger that prompts me to go to the bodega on the corner, but it is pity that stops me halfway there. “Spare some change, man?” The guy is propped up in a wheelchair, looking cheaper than a chewed stick of gum. The moment he sees me he shakes a jingling Pringles can at me.

This man is black, his dark skin the purplish color of bruised eggplants, as if he’d just gotten out of a fight. He has enough clothing for a New York winter but not enough for a New York recession. What’s worse—what’s hopelessly depressing—is that he is missing both legs. He looks too small to be sitting in such a large wheelchair. “Get yourself a coffee. It’s cold.” I put my hands in my jacket pockets. My wallet is in my right pocket, a crisp ten dollar bill in it—money that I want to save. My left pocket has a crumpled dollar and a handful of change, which I drop into the can. “Thank you and have a Merry Christmas, man. God bless ya.” The man raises his Pringles can and smiles. He has crooked, cigarette-yellowed teeth and a chin that hasn’t been shaved in probably months, but that smile of his makes me feel better. Thirty-seven seconds lost.

bitter medicine, nose clenched and brows furrowed. Then I drown in it, not violently or purposefully; I go under like I fall asleep. No one notices. And then I meet Lexy. I am working as a clerk at a free clinic in Long Island City when Lexy happens. This is where I learn phrases like chronic hypertension, magnetic resonance imaging, and subdural hematoma. She hammers her fist down the counter, imposing all five feet two inches of herself across it, and says, “OYE, chico! Mi hermanita is about to give birth and I need a doctor, STAT!” I’m a good head taller than her but she catches me with her golden brown eyes like a pickup truck bearing down on roadkill. “Oh! Would you please fill out this form with your name, address, tele—” “Chico, my sister is about to dar la luz. Entienda?” “Yeah—” “No ‘yeah,’ muebate your culo right now!” Her sister gives birth to a healthy baby girl, eight pounds and two ounces. Lexy thinks my culo is cute and that I am muy guapo for a Chinese kid. She asks for my number. I give it to her. A week later, I take her out to dinner—or she takes me—and we end up

she catches me with her golden brown eyes like a pickup truck bearing down on roadkill.

Two years ago, I am nineteen, broke, and trading my life and dignity away—hour by hour, insult by insult— for a mouthful of rice. I have enough to eat, but not enough to stop the hunger in my heart. The Chinese say you have to chī kŭ to learn in life. You have to swallow sorrow. I drink it down like


The Olivetree RevieW swapping spit in the back of her beatup Honda Civic in the parking lot of Olive Garden. I love this girl. My heart rate speeds up when I think about her. I have a son with Lexy named Richard. He’s two months shy of a year. At one point in my life, if someone tried to mug me for my sneakers or the ten bucks in my back pocket, I’d go at him. I had nothing to lose. Things are different now. It’s freezing and I’m losing the feeling in my fingers. Seventy-two seconds lost. I start moving again, turning towards the bodega. First thing I hear when I push my way through the door is the tinkle of the wind chime on the door. Salsa plays on the stereo in the back, volume turned down most of the way. “¿Oye, chinito, qué tal?” I look up. “Hey, Santos. I’m good. ¿Qué pasa contigo?” Santos, already balding and in his fifties, looks like a bowling ball with limbs and a curly mustachio. He has a keg of a potbelly from drinking beer and eating his wife’s burritos. A childish grin sits on his face. “Me? Same shit, different day, chico. But you know what? My oldest son is going to universidad! It’s called Adelphi, over in Long Island. He’s the first one in the family. How’s Alejandra? She hasn’t left your deadbeat ass for another man?” “Nah. How’s your wife?” Santos sticks a thick sausage link of 68

a finger at me and grins a wide grin. He looks almost comically sinister with his villain’s mustache. “Bitch is getting fatter and uglier every day. I feed her too well. You want the usual, right? Café con leche and a turkey sandwich with everything?” Santos loves his wife. I know this because he’s still there after twenty-six years of marriage and six kids. “Coffee sounds good. No sandwich. I’m just going to get a bag of chips.” “Chico, one café con leche, coming up. Four sugars, como te gusta.” Soon enough I’m drifting to the back of the bodega, where the refrigerated section is. I can get a bottle of Miller Light, maybe, with the chips and coffee. I think about Lexy. Fourteen seconds lost. I grab a bottle of orange soda instead and make my way to the rack of snacks, rifling through the chips with my fingers. I’m trying to decide between cheese doodles or jalapeno chips in the back of this bodega when I hear the tinkle of the wind chime at the door followed by the brusque slam of the rattling glass door. “Hey, you fat fuck. Pop the cash register and hand the money over or I’ll fuckin’ blow your brains out. You hear me, old man? ¡Dámelo, puto, dámelo!” I’m stupid. I step into the open aisle and say hey. Like, “Hey, look at me.” Or, “Hey, I’m a hero.” Or, “Hey, shoot me.” The kid staring back at me can’t be more than eighteen. He turns to look at me, looking scared. Scared

shitless. Tonto has a hand cannon out—an oversized revolver that looks like it came from an old Western movie—and the moment I step out into the aisle, he points the gun at me. His eyes are golden brown, like Lexy’s. Everything freezes at this moment. The moment when both of us could have backed down, before this kid ever raised a gun at me, before I ever looked his way. The moment when we still could have laughed about it—haha, toy gun, looks cool—because really, why do the poor kill the poor? It doesn’t make sense. Something smells like it’s burning and my ears are ringing. I see the sound of the gunshot, as if sound could move air. I taste copper in my mouth, the metallic tang of blood. I stare back at him, the soda in my hand hitting the floor and shattering, leaking a puddle of orange. I look down. I have a baseball-sized hole where my liver should be. Salsa music is still playing on that boombox in the back.

nal. He probably just filched his gringo stepdad’s toy gun and wanted to jack some cash to buy an iPhone or a pair of new sneakers. Maybe prove to the local gangs that he is one mean motherfucker. He turns tail and bolts. Santos fumbles with the semiautomatic under the counter, finally picks it up, and squeezes the trigger a couple of times. The gunshots ruin my ears, but my ears are the least of my problems. I hit the floor and try to get up but I can’t feel my legs, and this sticky red stuff is on my nice shirt. Then OhGodItHurtsLikeaBitch. “Santos, help me. I can’t mo–” “It’s okay chico, don’t move, don’t move. I got this. I got this.” Santos drops the gun and bends down next to me. Just a flesh wound, chico. I—¡Dios mío! Chinito, stay with me. You’re okay, you’re okay. Està bien. Think about Richard. Think about Lexy. Hold on, oh my—Dios, there’s so much blood. There’s so much fucking blood. It’s okay, it’s okay. Hold on, hold on—I’ll call an ambulance. Don’t die on me, chico.” “How . . . how bad is it, Santos?” He presses his pudgy hands over my stomach wound. He can’t hold in my intestines, never mind all the blood, because there’s too much. There’s far too much. He starts sob-

It's not okay. He hasn't got this. I can't see his face, but I can hear his voice. He's scared.

Todo tiene su final nada dura para siempre tenemos que recordar que no exista eternidad “Oh shit.” This kid isn’t some hardcore crimi-


The Olivetree RevieW bing. It’s okay, he says, it’s okay. But it’s not okay. It’s not okay in any sense of the word “okay.” They say that when you die you see your life flash before your eyes. I don’t see that. I see a MetroCard. An unlimited MetroCard. Gold with blue and black on the front. The back of the pass reads “optimism.” I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. The next three hundred and seventeen seconds I have Santos really fucking it up for me. Not intentionally, but still. After a minute (sixty one seconds) of trying to staunch the bleeding, he gets up and fumbles with the phone. He gets my blood all over it. He calls 911. The bullet must have gone through my spine because I can’t move my legs. I throw up all over myself, lunch’s rice and beans spilling out. I choke on the bitter sourness of my vomit. Santos doesn’t know what he’s doing. He tries to stand me up against the wall. I slip down again. I am dizzy. I hyperventilate, short quick bursts of air that will never get any oxygen circulating. This goes on for another hundred and thirty eight seconds, which I carefully count. Counting doesn’t make the pain go away but it reminds me that it’s going to be over soon. By the time the police and EMTs arrive I am clinically dead; my heart stops eighty-one seconds in. Things go black after another thirty-seven seconds. ◆ 70

Eight minutes and forty-four seconds. Causes of death: gunshot wound and blood loss. Would you like to replay your deadplay? No. No thank you. I don’t want to go through that again. I’ve forgotten how many times they’ve put me through that. I can still taste the bitter vomit in my mouth, an acrid tang mixed with the tequila at the back of Santos’ breath as he crouches next to me, trying to fix me, sobbing like a little boy. I’m not a car that you can just fix. The deadplay isn’t just a recording. You feel everything that happens, as if it’s happening again. You’re dying all over again. You overdose on heroin again. You feel your heart implode again. You choke on your own vomit again. You slice your wrists and bleed out in the bathtub again. Thank God, you might say, that you didn’t die painfully. Āmítuó fó, my mother would say rubbing her Buddhist rosary beads anxiously. Lady Luck likes you, Lexy would say standing on tiptoe to whisper it into my ear. Dios te bendiga, Santos would say drawing a cross in the air with a chunky finger, eyes flicking towards the ceiling of his bodega as if to acknowledge that the Big Guy Upstairs was appreciated. From what I know about the system, you die, you watch your deadplay a zillion times, and eventually they let you pick your next life in a single, grammatically correct sentence. They want you to learn something from all of this. It’s as if getting shot eight times

rather than seven would make you a better person the next time around. You could ask to be born rich, famous, gorgeous. But there are only so many rich and famous people out there, and if you choose something like that you’ll have to wait. It’s worth it if you’re patient, but if you were murdered by a sociopath with a chainsaw you probably don’t want to feel that again. Maybe you took a shot in the guts from a high-caliber revolver. Lucky me. I can’t help but think that this is someone’s inside joke, a prank that got out of hand. Sometimes funny can be cruel. This airport—a modernist monstrosity of chrome beams, white tiles, and curved glass—has terminals that stretch beyond what I can see. I look a little further and I find that all the posted departures are delayed or canceled. The moment I approach the pretty stewardess taking boarding passes at the terminal, blizzard conditions settle in. The landing gear on the jet malfunctions. Someone tries to get through security with an assault rifle. Again. It’s funny the first few times. When I look at her from the corner of my eye the stewardess looks like Lexy. But if I look at her a little longer, she’s not. Her eyes are hazel, not golden brown. Her smile is too forced, her ears too big. She’s not short enough and she has too much of a tan. I want to get this over with. I’m not angry, just tired and frustrated. When I head over to the McDonald’s here, I

pull out my wallet and find that I have an unlimited MetroCard and almost enough for a quarter pounder with cheese.’ It’s almost funny. Number 5354, moving you to your deadplay in ten seconds. Goddamnit, give me a fucking minute. I just need one fucking min— ◆ I tell the ticket agent that I want to be a guy who doesn’t buy unlimited bus passes. What a waste of a hundred and four dollars. He gives me this brochure and a newspaper. He says, “Enjoy your next life, sir.” It reads Ciudad Juárez, Mexico on my boarding pass. Mexico. Could be worse. Could be better. The food is good and there’s sun. At least I’m not getting shot again. That’s when I take a look at the newspaper: … Thousands of Mexican soldiers pour into the country’s most violent city in crackdown on drug gangs… … Homicides reach new levels in Juárez City… … Ciudad Juárez named in “Murder Capitals of the World”… Son of a bitch. The guy upstairs has a sick sense of humor.


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Eduard Boguslavsky  looking forward 1  Photography 72


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The Warmth Of The Black Sun On Closed Eyes

Hafsa Muhammad

almost like the fresh-cut black grass prickling under skins of feet a sharp blackness not the same as the sun but hurtful with its absent colors absent emotions not even a cry or anger but dispassionate indifference of car-rides home and forgotten black and white photographs if only there was an occasional green, a cochineal, if only they meant more than words of moonlight silvers, than sky blues and hazel eyes if only they were names of shapes and not of shapeless colors whisking through language withdrawn when inconsistent colors morph into blackness and wordless quiets from greens and burgundies to silences unspoken of what else could you expect of me

of what you read?

when I could not breathe imagery into the walled-up language of families and photographs, and could barely breathe in the sweetness of a bike-riding breeze;


colors drain from photographs blackened now with the lost warmth of hot milk-teas and biscuits in rainy weather of a poem about family of also the sun?


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Forest Hills, Queens. The leaves are turning to their brown, red, and yellow colors. Michael and Nicole live in a small one-family house. They are barely making ends meet with their two young kids: Jacob and Sophie. The adults fight constantly, but the love for their kids and the pressures of not ending up like their parents hold them together. There are many disruptions in their marriage. They are struggling. Their love is imperfect, but it is perfectly fine with both of them. INT. HOME - DAY Close-up. There is a bruised knee. Michael places a Hello Kitty Band-Aid on Sophie’s knee and kisses her on the forehead. He scoops her up in his arms, cradling her, as Nicole smiles in admiration. He has grown numb to her affection, paying her no mind. Michael’s old girlfriend, Cindy, texts him to go clubbing tonight. Mike tells Nicole he has to work late. EXT. CLUB PARKING LOT - NIGHT Michael and Cindy leave the club and smoke a jay in the parking lot. They start making out and pull the seats down. He runs his hand down the side of her left breast, supple, as she lets out a soft whimper, her breath stinking of straight tequila. She tugs on his junk. He starts to hike up her skirt as she unzips his pants. Her fingers slip into his back pocket and she pulls out a Band-Aid. A Hello Kitty Band-Aid. She holds it up. Smiles, unknowingly. He gazes at it. Pain fills his eyes as he rushes to throw it out the window. Cindy, being clueless and horny, doesn’t recognize his flash of sorrow. She readjusts herself under the comfort of his body weight in the passenger seat. She can feel him quivering 78

as he rubs himself against her. He inserts his part softly as she gasps, drunk and high. A feeling of pure physicality overwhelms both of them as they sinfully indulge. He enjoys feeling a different woman than Nicole, enjoys the company of someone else. Though he was never good at making love she soaks up every stroke. On Michael’s last thrust he comes slowly, exhaling his guilt and embracing Cindy fully. Her pleasure-filled eyes roll back with satisfaction. He stays in her for a little while. FADE OUT EXT. CLUB PARKING LOT - NIGHT He’s buttoning his jeans in the driver seat as she fixes her hair and make-up in the passenger seat. They smile at each other, share a long juvenile kiss. They get out the car uncertain of what they are and what their relationship is. Cindy walks backwards with weak knees smiling childishly waving goodbye. Michael gets back in his car. He’s still very under the influence. Camera, on the dashboard, blurs out of focus as the dashed lines on the road roll away behind him in the foggy night. INT. HOME - NIGHT The kids are running around with no one home. Jacob has a towel tied around his neck pretending it’s a cape. Sophie, rosy cheeks flushed, is happily running from him as they play tag. Their home is childproofed, Jacob assuming the older sibling responsibility role. His parents have raised him well. INT. HOME - GARAGE - NIGHT. Michael pulls into the garage. Garage door closes. He runs to the bathroom. Throws up. Stumbles to the kitchen trying to be quiet. Grabs the ice cream out the fridge and goes to his and Nicole’s room. He knows his wife will be home from work soon. Drunkenly rips off his coat, dropping it in the middle of the floor. Jumping on the bed, he knocks out instantly not even touching his ice cream. 79

The Olivetree RevieW Sophie runs into the garage, Jacob chasing after her. The car is still running. They run back in the house. The camera stays in the garage. They run back in with comforters, giggling. Sophie’s comforter is Hello Kitty. They open the car doors. Make their tents with the blankets. Turn the radio on. A slow, sad song comes on. They lower the back seats, making their tent as spacious as possible. They turn on the radio and a sad song plays. FADE TO BLACK INT. HOME - NIGHT Nicole just getting in from her second job, bringing home some fine pastries from Martha’s Bakery Shop. Putting her bag down and her keys on the living room’s corner table. Reminding herself that she’ll do anything for her children’s future. She’s so tired she doesn’t make it to the bedroom. She checks on the kids. Opening the door quietly and slowly, she peers in. There are figures in their beds that comfort her parental instincts. These are merely pillows and ruffles in the blankets. She curls up on the couch, remembering that Michael has been mad at her for a few days now. INT. HOME - DAY Close up: ice cream. Melted. Leaking. The sunrise in the background. Michael is in bed. Cracks open his bloodshot eyes. Blood is painfully pumping through his temples as he faces the morning hangover. Double-takes at the alarm clock. It’s half past ten. He’s an hour late for work. He jumps out of bed, still in his party clothes from the night before. Grabs his coat off the floor, spilling everything. He scrambles everything back into the bag. Looks for his keys. Can’t find them. He runs into the living room. Nicole is sound asleep, as he shoots her a look of shame and disgust. He sees her keys. 80

Grabs them off the corner table. Makes a quick look in the mirror. Fixes his rugged sex hair. Quickly slaps on a tie and darts out the house. EXT. GARAGE - DAY The same sad song blasts in Nicole’s car. MICHAEL Oh God. What the fuck does Nicole listen to? He shuts it off. He has a migraine. EXT. STREET - DAY Camera on the dashboard as the yellow dashed lines continue to disappear under Nicole’s car. His phone rings. Phone reads: *Private* MICHAEL Cindy. He sighs and childishly smiles. He answers the phone. Hey you.


GOD (V.O.) Michael Todson? Michael’s tone drops. Yes this is he.


He clears his throat.


The Olivetree RevieW GOD Hello Deary, how are yah? MICHAEL I’m just fine, who is this? GOD An old friend just trying to pick up the pieces. MICHAEL And how’d you get my number? GOD You gave it to me. Just like you gave it to Cindy. MICHAEL Who is this? What pieces? GOD Mike, last night after your rather delightful night out, I must say you forgot about your responsibilities. (Pause) Michael, do you remember driving home? Barely.


GOD And what about throwing up in the sink? Yes.


GOD Don’t worry, Nicole doesn’t know. Do you remember anything in be82

GOD (CONT’D) tween those two happenings last night? Michael pulls the car over. Short pause. GOD (CONT’D) Michael. Last night after you pulled in the garage, Sophie and Jacob played their usual tent game in your Jeep. The door closed behind them. You left your keys in the ignition. The car’s been running ever since, Michael. Your children died at six this morning. I’m terribly sorry. Who is this?


Tears swelling. Choking up. GOD I am who am, Michael. Surely you understand. God?


The voice chuckles. GOD Yes! Aha, very good! MICHAEL Don’t fuck with me, God. Not with my kids. Breaking down now. Sobbing. GOD Michael, there is nothing you can do. 83

The Olivetree RevieW Michael turns Nicole’s car around. You’re lying.


GOD You’re lying to yourself Mike. You couldn’t find your keys this morning, correct? Shut up.


GOD They’re still in the car, Michael. Shut up.


GOD I will call you in an hour from now … later, old friend. God is cheerful and chipper. MICHAEL Shut the fuck up! Michael throws the phone and it lands at the bottom of the passenger footwell. EXT. STREET - DAY. Long shot of the block where Michael lives. There has been an accident on the corner, blocking any cars trying to get through. He jerks the steering wheel, mounting the curb. Parks the car. He’s running home, unknowingly. Tears and fear flood his face. He doesn’t know what to expect. His lungs can’t find any air.


He runs to the garage door. Only thing audible is his heartbeat. He frantically pries the door open, face soaked in tears. Please, no.


As if he already knew what was on the other side of the door. He raises the door all the way. He hears the car’s engine running. Silence. Hello Kitty blankets cover the window from the inside. He is motionless for a moment. No.


Breaking down even further. Sobbing. Slowly tries the trunk door. The blankets jam it shut. He tries opening the side door. It’s locked. Panicking now, he looks in through the windows. His children lay lifeless, peaceful. He breaks down further at the visual confirmation, banging on the window. Wanting to hold his children. Slamming on the driver side window. He’s crumbling. Looking around, he finds a car wrench and breaks the window. Wildly looking for the unlock button. The locks come up. He opens the side door. Jumping inside the car. Reaching for his children. Grabbing Sophie, he cries, hysterically. MICHAEL (CONT’D) No. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. A muted scene of devastation. 85

The Olivetree RevieW EXT. STREET - DAY He is back in Nicole’s car. CONSCIENCE, only fourteen years old, is in the passenger seat. MICHAEL You. You’re me. I’m young. You’re so young. CONSCIENCE I’m your conscience, Mikey. He smiles. CONSCIENCE (CONT’D) I told you that Cindy girl wasn’t good for you. You know I only wanted the best for you. Michael is paralyzed. CONSCIENCE (CONT’D) I’m your conscience, Mike. And trust me, I’m feeling more than you feel. I’m guilty. You have a guilty conscience. MICHAEL I’m not in the mood for any more games. Michael’s facial expression fades to numbing melancholy. Eyes drift off to another time. Tears roll down his face. He gets the car started on auto-pilot. Reverses off the curb as if nothing were happening. Puts the gear into drive. He speeds off, back on the highway. The phone goes off again. It reads: Cindy.


He ignores it. It rings again. This time it reads: Private caller. Hello?


CONSCIENCE is dangling his legs from the car seat boyishly. GOD (V.O.) Hi, Michael. How are you holding up? MICHAEL You know the answer to that question. GOD Your answer could be a lie. CONSCIENCE Don’t be rude to the man, Mikey. Shut up!


GOD What’ll it be? What’s your next move, Michael? MICHAEL You know what’s next. CONSCIENCE Michael, where are we going? CONSCIENCE looks around confused. Away.



The Olivetree RevieW GOD Michael, please, shall we talk while you’re not driving perhaps? MICHAEL Gladly. We’ll be in touch soon. EXT. STREET - DAY There is an upcoming bridge. CONSCIENCE Michael! Stop this car at once. He looks very worried now. CONSCIENCE (CONT’D) Think about what you’re doing. Mike, please. Think about Jacob! And little Sophie. Michael has an astonished expression on his face as he stares into the eyes of his young self. MICHAEL They aren’t here anymore, kid. You know that. More tears start to stream down MICHAEL’s face. His confused stare changes to worry. He starts to crumble again. MICHAEL (CONT’D) They aren’t here anymore. They aren’t here. CONSCIENCE Yes Michael, you killed them. You killed your children. How could I ever let you do something like that? Oh that’s right. I didn’t. You blocked me out the entire night. While you 88

CONSCIENCE (CONT’D) were fighting with Nicole in front of the kids, while you were out with Cindy, and now! You’re just blocking me out like I don’t exist, just like how Nicole doesn’t exist to you anymore. He stops the car. EXT. BRIDGE - DAY Michael stands on the bridge. CONSCIENCE Michael! Is this what you want? Is this how you’re leaving the world? After all we’ve been through? I know you don’t want to do this. Michael is defeated, mortified. Empty. INT. HOME - DAY Nicole wakes up from the ruckus caused by the accident outside. Sirens blaring. EXT. BRIDGE - DAY Michael jumps. INT. HOME - DAY Nicole can’t find her car or her keys. She calls Michael. EXT. BRIDGE - DAY Michael’s phone rings in the empty car. INT. HOME - DAY Nicole starts towards the garage door. 89

The Olivetree RevieW EXT. BRIDGE - DAY Michael is falling. INT. HOME - DAY Nicole looks in the car. Nicole drops the phone. The camera follows the phone as it falls to the ground. EXT. BRIDGE - DAY Michael falling. FADE TO BLACK


Eduard Boguslavsky  looking forward 2  Photography


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Esther Ko  Lethe 1 & 2 Photography



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Sixteenth Session Etinosa Agbonlahor

“Are you unhappy?” I shift on the couch hard and uncomfortable you couldn’t tell from the red rugs aged tassels fraying at the edges, each line overlaps another just like it creating a mesh, virtual wires to a mental cage. I know there’s a sign somewhere, ‘bad things are happening,’ but not to me I don’t expect them to. I wake up to birds chirping happy arias, the sultry scent of fresh coffee, strangers who smile accepting that I am somebody too. Maybe one day, someday I’ll stop and listen, slow down and savor, smile back. I accept myself


too, you know. But I am not some body, I’m a dead tulip, a tired tyre, a worn out clarinet left out of the final opera. I feel there are many things inside of me but I cannot access any. You see, they are in a cave somewhere, that drips and drips and I cannot enter. I do not know how. I am not somebody too, just like you. Do you see? In the morning before coffee, I inhaled her breath like a dense fog rising from within her body warm and welcoming, in the same moment cold, rejecting. Will she never say ‘I love you too?’ last night, her smile during Apollo’s birth, lights from the stage bonding with lithe melodies an effervescent glow inside her


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She started, I think, to say‌ then the clarinet, burst between melodies a solemn dirge ripping the glow apart, and she was back inside the dark theatre, its brooding frescos, ballerinas struggling to resume their detached art. The patient still rambles, I have stopped taking notes.


David Carmona  the Course  PENCIL ILLUSTRATION & Digital COLOR


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Shushanik Karapetyan  Bridge  Photography 98


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Amal Abbass I see you standing in the back of AG1, arraignment court, right hand jumping up to smooth your braids compulsively. A man with a tic—or a boy, maybe. I wonder what your name is. You look like so many of my friends—Noel (Dominican name Leudis), Alexis (Dominican name Aramis). You have the ageless face characteristic of boys from Upper Manhattan: smooth caramel skin, naturally tanned from your father’s island sun. You could be sixteen, twenty-two, twenty-nine. An athletic build fed on mondongo and ghetto P.E.: dunking basketballs into a netless hoop on Edgecombe Avenue, leaping up for signpost bars and doing chin-ups, whacking baseballs over chain-link fences that line an empty lot—that counts as a home run. You were the Manny Ramirez of the block. Prison puffs some bodies up, muscles the size of watermelons bulging from all-day weight-lifting and pushups. I can see you’ll have the other prison body, though. Your brown eyes are too soft, too skittish, jumping around the courtroom, glancing at the judge hopefully. In prison, you’ll age ten years in five. Your body will become a collection of sharp angles, melting away until you become a skinny candlewick. The hopeful flicker in 100

your eyes will flare out, too. None of that has happened yet, and the only damage incarceration has done is to your braids. Their neat, uniform cornrows have turned frizzy, impossible to maintain even as you try to smooth them out every couple of minutes. More stray hairs popped out with each hour of your journey here, I imagine. A few teased out by the soupy humidity when you ventured onto the summertime streets of Washington Heights last night. Maybe some more when you were sprayed by a rogue fire hydrant. A good bit of hair came loose from your braids when you started running from the cops. Even more when they caught up to you, pushed your forehead against the pavement and cuffed your wrists. Dug their fingers into your skull as they guided you into the wagon. You slept on the braids overnight in the jail cell, waiting for your arraignment. They weren’t equipped for such action. Judge White, the master of these proceedings, wouldn’t understand. She looks like an African queen sitting atop the judge’s bench: slim, erect neck; wide-set, no-bullshit eyes; a gleaming bald head. Some judges get tired of arraignment court, the constant stream of freshly incarcerated defendants still formulating excuses, flustered lawyers

flying through dictionary-thick stacks of paper, trying to remember who this one is, what did he do? Not Judge White. I’ve seen her work when my co-intern Hazel and I come into AG1 during slow stretches in our trial bureau. We like AG1 because it moves quickly, all kinds of people filing through, like the Ellis Island of the DA’s Office. The guy two places in front of you, inexplicably, waited until his ex-girlfriend left the house, broke in, and threw her DVD player and TV out the window. I wonder if they used to fight over the remote. Next, Columbia frat guys who got a little too rowdy with the cops after getting caught jumping the turnstile. No priors. A fine. Open and shut. Judge White sits by with pursed lips and an alert expression, not handing out any free passes. I’m worried for you. As you tug at the braids, you look around for someone. The boys from the block aren’t here, and maybe for the better. They would mock you for those messy braids. “Looking raggedy, son.” They would belly-laugh. You got them done after-hours at the barbershop, everyone bumping to merengue and half-watching the Mets game. Maybe you paid twenty bucks. Maybe

less, because you are someone’s cousin. Maybe you got them done on the front stoop, children circling you like tiny hurricanes and colonies of older men in lawn chairs drinking, playing dominoes. Your aunt did them, or your girlfriend or her friend, stitching each strand into tight communion. It will take a while, over an hour, but her fingers work expertly and efficiently and do not indulge your grumbles if it hurts. In the end, she is proud. They look good. Does she know you are here? Your odds were never good, just by virtue of the caramel skin and the Spanish. You came out of the womb at risk to become a statistic and left to your own devices: two times more likely to be in prison than your white counterparts, a projected one in six chance of being incarcerated in your lifetime. On average, inmates cost $28,817. You could cost the state as much as $60,000. That’s per year. I don’t know what you’ve done yet, if anything, but the median sentence for an American male is about two years. That means you and your twenty-dollar braids, in prison, cost over $55,000, minimum. Maybe one of the reasons you’re here is because nobody—least of all the state that stuck

The boys from the block aren't here, and maybe for the better. They would mock you for those messy braids.


The Olivetree RevieW you in a class with thirty-five kids and a harried Teach For America blonde who couldn’t speak Spanish, the state that gave the OK for a stop-and-search every few weeks—ever told you that you could be worth that much. ◆ Across the narrow street that separates the DA’s Office from the criminal courts where you’re awaiting arraignment, my boss, Assistant District Attorney Janine Gilbert, is rifling through file cabinets. She’s on the phone at the same time, maybe fielding a call from a reporter or a defense lawyer. I know because she’s always doing two things at once, if not more. She is a chess player. Whether in or out of the courtroom, her eyes are perpetually narrowed in calculation, trying to map out how any given moment can be maximized. Her office is the only impediment to such productivity. Loose papers coat the floor and furniture like honeymoon roses in a hotel room. Any slight movement results in the sound of rustling papers, papers massaging the air as they float from the desk to the ground, papers being punctured by a paralegal’s office-appropriate pumps. Our first assignment from Janine was to organize the chaos, one or two

hours a day spent on the task. In the end, it took months. I formulated a foolproof system. Each of Janine’s file cabinets would be labeled with a name, each name assigned its own color. As we gathered the papers, mostly photocopies of evidence from long-settled cases, we marked them with the correct color. One man was prosecuted for serial rape. We marked the photocopies of the letters he sent to his victims blue. Another man, adept at ingratiating himself to the elderly only to steal their identities, had stacks of bank statements marked in green. One criminal, Jamal (pink), boasted three full drawers worth of files. Impressed by the breadth of paper devoted to him, I waved a sheet from his case at Janine one day as she worked on her computer. “Janine, what did this guy Jamal do?” I asked. “Something horrible, obviously,” Hazel said, adding another stray paper to his stack. Janine never needed to pause to recall her cases. “A-1,” she said. “He shot someone, killed her. 85-year-old woman.” “Why would he do that?” I asked. “He was aiming for another guy,” Janine said. Hazel and I stopped fil-

my boss, Assistant District Attorney Janine Gilbert, is rifling through file cabinets.


ing for a beat, the silence filled by the ceaseless clicks of Janine’s keyboard. “He won’t get out,” she said. I wondered if that was supposed to be a comfort. “That’s good that you put him away,” Hazel said. For a millisecond, I saw Janine’s fingers freeze above her keyboard. She blinked. “He was seventeen.” I looked at Jamal’s stack. I wondered if prison was like high school: bigger file, bigger badass. Or could Jamal even imagine that so many copy machines, so many ink cartridges, had been devoted to him? “Do you ever worry about convicting someone innocent?” I asked. Janine shook her head. “If I think someone is innocent, I won’t bring it to trial. It has to be black and white.” ◆

tice is the Firm and Continuous Desire to Render to Every Man His Due. ◆ Someone calls your docket number. You pat your braids one last time, tuck your hands behind your back like a good schoolboy. You look at the prosecuting attorney uncomprehendingly, a stranger in a half-wrinkled suit. I wish I knew you. I wish I could have warned you of Janine’s words: it has to be black and white. It has to be neat, like your braids when they were fresh. You have to be careful not to get caught in the grey area. I leave before they give you your due, too afraid that you’ll become hundreds of papers, outnumbering your pre-prison years many times over, highlighted pink and stuffed into a file box.

Hazel and I took the back entrance into the criminal court building on our way to AG1. We exited our office building on 1 Hogan Place and crossed over to the grand structure. The art deco behemoth, the Chrysler Building’s homelier sister, stretches across Centre Street with imposing columns reaching skyward. In the front, boxy limestone towers are striped with windows, creating the optical illusion of massive vertical prison bars, as if to remind you this is not a good place to be. The back is not nearly as imposing, just a double door manned by a bored security guard. Above the door, a sentence is engraved in the limestone: Jus103

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Family Recipe Esther Ko

Three shots into the belly of the sky. Two, more slowly. I glimpsed a black streak unraveling like thread. Dad came back with two dead birds. Two dead birds packed in the trunk. Shiny feathers flecked with dull black blood. Pow. Kapow. Now we have dinner. Where’d you think chicken comes from, dummy? That night, at dinner I tamped my arms against my stomach, mesmerized by the meat stewed in carrots, onions, roasted garlic, crushed tomatoes, wine, a tablespoon of hot pepper.


Trojans On The Lawn

Danielle Bertoli

Coffee, eggs, and bacon never taste the same when the word sex is scattered on green grass. Something with the texture of mom’s scrambled eggs doesn’t go down the same these mornings. Dad sends a reluctant look across red and orange juices on the table. If I was five or ten, I would run through the hose today anxious before each sprint into the sprinkler of cold rain. A blurriness through the water shelters my father’s eyes laughing at me. After breakfast I pull out of the driveway with the blue rocks. Dad’s throwing away bottles Mom’s watering plants.


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Theadora Hadzi  Picassa  Ink On Paper


MOROCCAN SARDINES Alain G. Cloarec A college classroom. A few chairs. How many? Whatever you want, I don’t know. The whole thing doesn’t make sense anyway. A few students are seated. How many? Oh come on, just make a decision on your own, will you? The door suddenly opens and the SUBSTITUTE TEACHER enters and quickly closes the door behind him. He looks around at the students who seem surprised. (A SILENCE) Good evening.


STUDENTS Hello… Hi… Good evening… (The SUBSTITUTE looks around the classroom.) SUBSTITUTE I… will… be… teaching class tonight… (The STUDENTS look a bit puzzled.) SUBSTITUTE Yes… Your professor has called in sick… 107

The Olivetree RevieW (He looks at the students.) SUBSTITUTE (CONT’D) Oh, nothing to be alarmed about, just a minor ailment… Now… who could tell me what you are supposed to be discussing this evening? The theatre of the absurd.


SUBSTITUTE Really? Well, that’s ridiculous…

(Some STUDENTS chuckle. The SUBSTITUTE looks surprised.) SUBSTITUTE Oh, I was being serious, but OK, I’ll take a few laughs if they come along. (The STUDENTS laugh at this.) SUBSTITUTE So, who can tell me what the definition of absurd is? (The First STUDENT raises his hand.) FIRST STUDENT Absurd is when someone does something that makes no sense. SUBSTITUTE Terrific. Can anyone give me an example? (The SUBSTITUTE places a chair on top of the desk, climbs and sits in it. All the STUDENTS laugh.) Well… that.



(The STUDENTS all laugh. The SUBSTITUTE looks around wondering what they’re laughing at.) SUBSTITUTE


SECOND STUDENT That. The fact that you just put the chair on the table and then sat in it… (STUDENTS chuckle.) That was funny to you? Yeah…


SUBSTITUTE Well that’s strange, because I do this all the time… (All the STUDENTS laugh.) SUBSTITUTE …and I never get a laugh out of it… (All the STUDENTS laugh.) SUBSTITUTE So, what’s so funny about this? It’s absurd! It is? Yes…



The Olivetree RevieW SUBSTITUTE But if it’s normal to me, then why is it absurd to you? Because it’s not logical.


SUBSTITUTE But it’s logical to me: I like desks, I like chairs, if I put a chair on a desk, and sit in it, I’ll have two things that I like together, like a cappuccino for example. Espresso and steamed milk foam together… FIRST STUDENT But what if you added whipped cream? SUBSTITUTE Ah, well, whipped cream is the cherry on top: that’s me! (All the STUDENTS laugh.) SUBSTITUTE So, if something is logical to me but not to you then is it really absurd? SECOND STUDENT It’s absurd because it’s not in the norms of what’s usually done in this setting. (The SUBSTITUTE looks at her and nods approvingly for a long time.) Nice… You get an A.


(All the STUDENTS laugh.) Really? Sure, why the hell not? 110


What about us?


SUBSTITUTE Yeah, OK, why not? I feel abnormally high this evening… (All the STUDENTS laugh. SHOUTS and RUNNING are heard from behind the door. The SUBSTITUTE looks in its direction.) SUBSTITUTE Now tell me, does this situation remind you of any play or playwright? FIRST STUDENT Well, this could apply to many absurdist plays or playwrights: Jarry, Beckett, Pinter, Orton, Ionesco… SUBSTITUTE Which one would you apply to our current situation? (All the STUDENTS fall silent and think.) SUBSTITUTE Nothing? No one? Well, what about the breakdown in language? THIRD STUDENT What… breakdown in language? SUBSTITUTE Yes… De, de, de, de, de, bah, bah, bah, bah, bah… (The STUDENTS chuckle. More SHOUTS and RUNNING are heard from behind the door. The SUBSTITUTE looks in its direction.)


The Olivetree RevieW SUBSTITUTE Nah, nah, nah… thing, thing, thing? What if there were an escalation in the pace of action and the fear of violence? Like what?

FIRST STUDENT (The SUBSTITUTE points to the window behind them.)

SUBSTITUTE That window. What about that window? (All the STUDENTS turn to the window.) What about it?

THIRD STUDENT (The SUBSTITUTE quickly gets off his chair and jumps down from the table.)

SUBSTITUTE What if I went to it and opened it? (The SUBSTITUTE goes to the window.) SECOND STUDENT Well, this window has a balcony that connects to the other classroom so even if you opened it, it would not necessarily mean you were going to jump. (The SUBSTITUTE opens the window.) SUBSTITUTE You know, in the theatre if you show a gun, you must use it. And if you open a window, you must also go through it. The audience expects you to use it… 112

FIRST STUDENT Yes, except that here, we aren’t in a play and there is no audience. SUBSTITUTE Really? What do you call those people then? (The SUBSTITUTE turns and points to the audience. The STUDENTS look at him a bit perplexed.) THIRD STUDENT You mean, if we were to put an imaginary audience there…? (The SUBSTITUTE turns violently towards him.) SUBSTITUTE Imaginary!? What’s wrong with you?! What about this then? (The SUBSTITUTE takes out a script in play format from the inside pocket of his jacket and brandishes it to them.) SECOND STUDENT

What’s that?


The script! The script of what?


SUBSTITUTE The script of this play! What the hell else!? (The STUDENTS now start to look worried as the SUBSTITUTE whips open the script to page seven and reads out loud.)


The Olivetree RevieW SUBSTITUTE “The Substitute whips open the script to page seven and reads SUBSTITUTE (CONT’D) out loud.” (The SUBSTITUTE turns accusingly to the students and reads.) SUBSTITUTE “The Substitute turns accusingly to the students and reads.” (The STUDENTS are now extremely frightened.) SUBSTITUTE “The students are now extremely frightened.” FIRST STUDENT

Jesus Christ… Aha…! The recognition! …He’s insane…!


(The SUBSTITUTE stops dead in his track, looks at the script, then looks at the First STUDENT.) SUBSTITUTE That’s what it says here! When did you learn your lines? (Someone from outside tries to open the door but it’s locked.) POLICEMAN (OFF STAGE) Who’s in there? Anybody in there? (The STUDENTS try to run to the door but the SUBSTITUTE gets in 114

their way.) Help! Help! He’s insane!


(The SUBSTITUTE looks at the script.) SUBSTITUTE Yes! Yes! Those are your lines! Ha, ha, ha! POLICEMAN (OFF STAGE) This is the police! Open the door! (The STUDENTS move chairs and desk to try to get to the door but the SUBSTITUTE stops them. There’s banging on the door.) FIRST STUDENT Wait a minute: is the play like Beckett? No! Joe Orton? No! Brecht?


SUBSTITUTE No! I hate him! He was a hypocritical capitalist AND commie! THIRD STUDENT He’s insane, stop pissing him off!


The Olivetree RevieW FIRST STUDENT But I want an A+! What’s the name of this play? (The SUBSTITUTE looks at the script’s title page.) Moroccan Sardines. What does that mean?


SUBSTITUTE How the hell should I know, I didn’t write it! STUDENTS

Help! Help!

POLICEMAN Open the door! Open the door! (The SUBSTITUTE looks at the script then yells at the door.) SUBSTITUTE Hey, no ad-libbing out there! Stick to the script damn it! This is a serious play not a Hollywood movie! (One of the STUDENTS jumps over the table and gets to the door. The SUBSTITUTE sees this.) SUBSTITUTE Damn you, Gods! Where is MY Deus-ex-Machina! (The SUBSTITUTE goes out on the window’s balcony, turns to the audience and takes a dramatic pose.) Thus Spake Zarathustra! 116


(The door bursts open and TWO POLICEMEN barge in, guns in hand. The SUBSTITUTE sees them.) Aha! The exciting climax!


(The SUBSTITUTE runs offstage to the adjoining balcony.) I got him! Go next door!


(The First POLICEMAN goes out the window onto the balcony as the Second POLICEMAN runs out the door shouting to the petrified STUDENTS.) Stay here! Don’t move!


(The shaken STUDENTS huddle together. One of them even starts to cry. Silence. Suddenly, the SUBSTITUTE bursts back in. The STUDENTS jump up and scream in horror.) SUBSTITUTE Aha! The reversal! I love this play! (The SUBSTITUTE looks at the front page of his script and says admiringly) SUBSTITUTE Who wrote this thing anyway…? (All the STUDENTS run out onto the balcony and offstage. The SUBSTITUTE reads from the script.) 117

The Olivetree RevieW SUBSTITUTE “The substitute runs after the STUDENTS, laughing like a madman…” (The SUBSTITUTE runs after the STUDENTS.) HA, HA, HA, HA, HA!!!


(The TWO POLICEMEN barge into the room, put up their guns and fire at the SUBSTITUTE on the balcony. The SUBSTITUTE is hit. The STUDENTS re-enter the room. The SUBSTITUTE sees them and yells out to them.) SUBSTITUTE I told you! If you show a gun on stage, you must use it! And if you open a window on stage… (The SUBSTITUTE falls backwards over the balcony and yells:) SUBSTITUTE Ionescooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (The TWO POLICEMEN run over to the balcony and look down.) What did he say? UNESCO? UNESCO? I heard “Eskimo.”



Why would he say “Eskimo?”


SECOND POLICEMAN Why would he say “UNESCO?” FIRST STUDENT He didn’t say either one of those words… (The TWO POLICEMEN turn and look at the First STUDENT.) …He said… “Ionesco…”



(The Second POLICEMAN looks straight out at the audience and says:) …That’s absurd…



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Hubert Silva  Portrait sERIES  PHOTOGRAPHY 120


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My Mother Ate Fidrah

Maha Alsubai

My mother ate fidrah She ate it with water Water she carried on her head And traveled from village to village Hill to hill So her family could have water To drink with their fidrah


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Queen For A Year Digna e. gomez

They were all rumors, I’m sure, but there must have been some truth to them. These kinds of stories don’t come out of thin air. Like the one about the Marines she had lined up in her barracks room. Four of them. Who knows what she planned to do with them or what came of that, but some people had a pretty good idea. Sergeant Brett Dearmore grinned like a cat with a bird in its mouth. His face wore that expression often. “Dude, you won’t believe what I just saw. I knew she was crazy but not that crazy.” “What? Who? Who’s crazy?” I asked. “Lap. She has like four Marines in her room standing at attention. No shit.” “Where’d she get four Marines? Why are they locked up in her room?” “Probably from the transition barracks. There’s a unit staying there for the commo exercise. She met them in the chow hall and somehow convinced them to follow her. You know how she rolls.” His eyebrows went up as he said this and I doubted him immediately. “That doesn’t even make any sense, Brett. That’s a lie.” “Dude, I wouldn’t believe it either 124

but I saw it with my own eyes.” Just ten minutes earlier Lapioli had approached him and said, “Sergeant Dearmore, you have to come see this! I’ve got four jarheads lined up in my room.” She grabbed his hand, dragged him down the hall, and stopped in front of her door. “Are you ready?” she purred. “Tadaaa! Meet the finest boys 1st Marine Division has to offer.” She laughed and her voice squeaked. She always sounded like a cross between a schoolgirl and a woman who smoked three packs a day for twenty years. “At ease!” she boomed. They relaxed their stances. Feet went shoulder-width apart and hands at the smalls of their backs, but they continued to stare ahead. “Good job, Lap. Go get ‘em.” Brett stepped away from the adventure that was surely about to ensue. This was the kind of thing that made Lapioli famous. She was a legend throughout Camp Humphreys and possibly at different stations in Korea. When I got to Korea I was assigned to the 304th Signal battalion. I stayed at headquarters for two days before my sponsor came to get me. He was

transporting other soldiers from the unit as well. I thought they were undisciplined and I couldn’t wait to get out of the Humvee. Then I found out that rowdy bunch was assigned to me so I knew I had to be extra tough with them. I held regular inspections on their quarters. I checked their boots and uniforms meticulously. I drilled them on various tactics and basic military knowledge. I extended the Physical Training sessions every morning and set up shop according to my specifications. One morning I noticed a soldier was missing from first call formation. “Anyone know where Private Lapioli is?” I asked. “Sergeant Gomez, I think Sergeant First Class Guerrero gave her a pass to get out of work this morning,” replied Gilbert. I bristled. I didn’t like her although everyone else fawned over her. Probably because everyone else in the platoon was male, and she was the only female until I came along. She held court and she knew it. I intended to change that.

was lucky to get that assignment. They said Korea was a dream for females. I’d be Queen for a Year, whatever that meant. I found out that the ratio of men to women was astronomical. The odds were so stacked against guys that American women were a hot commodity there. A single, American servicewoman in South Korea got an exorbitant amount of attention lavished on her, no matter what she looked like or what her circumstances were. Naturally this dynamic created some perks for servicewomen overseas, as well as wild assumptions and stigmas about them.

being a female soldier stationed in South Korea is a phenomenon of sorts.

The thing is, being a female soldier stationed in South Korea is a phenomenon of sorts. In January 2004, I received my orders to report to Yongsan Station in Seoul. Some of my coworkers in Fort Bliss, Texas told me I

After the PT session, I walked to the platoon office to confirm Lapioli’s whereabouts. “Morning, Sarge. Why was Lapioli out of formation today?” I

asked. “Oh, I gave her the morning off. She earned a coin from the company commander for updating the information boards in the barracks. No one asked her to. She showed initiative,” he replied. “And a fat ass you want to get all up on,” I said under my breath. “What?” “I said that I should have been informed. She knows there is a chain of command. She has to come through me first.” I tried to keep the edge out 125

The Olivetree RevieW of my voice, but I don’t think I succeeded. “Well I promised her before you took charge of the squad, Gomez. She will report to the motor pool after lunch.” At the chow hall later that day I pushed my food around my tray with a fork. I found myself sharing my woes with my battle buddy once again. “I know she’s a good soldier and all but I can’t stand her. Last week she skipped out on the recovery exercise because she was waxing the floors at the motor pool. It wasn’t her job to do that. I needed extra hands on the line. And remember that I didn’t even meet her my first three days here because she was at those famous Single Soldier Association meetings.” I made quotation marks with my fingers. “Besides, everyone knows she stayed off post this past weekend. She didn’t have permission, but LT brushed it off.” “She’s a pimp. She gets what she wants because she’s slept with everybody. And the people she hasn’t slept with are hoping to be next,” Dearmore replied. “Did you hook up with her?” He smiled. “You’re nasty. And wrong! She’s a soldier in your platoon; that is fraternization if I ever heard of it.” “Shhh!” His eyes darted left and

right. “It’s not technically breaking the rules, Gomez. She isn’t under my charge. She’s your soldier.” He laughed. “Anyway, don’t hate. You’d get with it too if you were a dude.” “And catch something? No thanks. You’re lucky your balls haven’t fallen off.” First Sergeant called for a special company training a few weeks later. I found it odd since it hadn’t been planned on the unit schedule earlier in the month and the topic was sexual health and safety. The only sex-ed we had in the military were those mandatory sexual harassment deals every year. Those were embarrassing, but this was humiliating. SFC Jackson flicked through a PowerPoint slideshow of graphic images showing genitals and different body parts ravaged by STDs. “Aww Miller, that’s you!” yelled Private Downing. Groans and laughs filled the room when a penis plagued with carcinoma came on the screen. “Bottom line is y’all need to strap up. We are in a foreign country, we are all men here…” Jackson made eye contact with me. “I mean, adults here. It’s simple. Just use protection. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard ‘Sarge, I need to go to sick call. It burns when I pee!’”

"She's a pimp. She gets what she wants because she's slept with everybody."


He whined that last part. Some of the guys burst out laughing. “You soldiers are younger, definitely dumber, and desperate. If you have to mess with the juicy girls off post, wrap it up. Twice.” I rolled my eyes. We broke for dinner and all the females were to report to the recreation room at 1730 after last formation. Thirteen of us were scattered around the room at 1726. I was satisfied that my soldier was there and on time. She smiled at me. I looked away. “First Sergeant!” We stood up at attention. “At ease, soldiers,” she said. “Have a seat.” First Sergeant Smith rested her backside on a table in the center of the room. She crossed her arms and looked at us carefully. “Good evening, ladies. I called this meeting for the females in the company exclusively so we can have an honest discussion about some things I am concerned about in our unit. I want to address some health issues, safety measures, and rumors that should be cleared up.” Her voice was gentle, but she meant business. 1SG Smith was an iron lady and she knew how to handle tough situations with class. She was Clair Huxtable in a battle dress uniform. “Now the bottom line is we have what seems like an epidemic on this post. I have had more cases of STDs reported in the unit than I have ever seen in my military career. The health risks associated with being in a foreign

country are not new. I know all about the silly Queen of the Year myth. This ain’t my first time at the rodeo!” The girls laughed on cue. “I want you to know everything you can about the decisions you make. Just be safe and smart. Do you understand?” Everyone nodded. “Does anyone have any questions?” Waits and Corrigan traded uncomfortable glances. Carlisle shifted in her seat. Lapioli’s face was emotionless. Specialist McCree raised her hand to make a point as usual. “1SG, I just want to say that this feels like punishment or something. The guys were released and we’re still here talking about what we were trained on all day. It’s unfair to make it look like the guys are completely responsible for the problems going around. We’re all aware of the problems and the main cause of it,” she said as her small gray eyes scanned the room looking for allies. McCree had had it out against Lap ever since she caught her boyfriend in Lapioli’s room. They were supposedly studying for the board and shining boots together, but McCree didn’t buy it, especially since Lapioli was wearing her brown undershirt and a pair of boxer shorts. She wanted to call Lapioli out. The bomb was on the tip of her tongue, but it never went off. I heard a knock on my door. It was Dearmore wanting to know what went down at the meeting. “It was 1SG reiterating how we have to be careful because you animals 127

The Olivetree RevieW are coming back on post infecting us with your nasty peens.” I did my best interpretation of Smith's sassy Southern drawl. “I wish I could have been there. Classic!” “Then McCree gets up and tries to instigate. ‘All the guys don’t do that, we can’t blame them blah blah blah’ and her eyes nearly pop out her head staring at Lap.” “She always has something to say.” “Yeah, but no one else said anything. I think people just wanted to get out of there.” “Don’t even sweat it. Just stay away from these boys and their nasty peens.” Weeks later, the soldiers of Alpha Company 304 Signal were let loose on the streets of Pyeongtaek. The air was charged with bliss and cheap alcohol. My company and a few other units had just completed a joint training exercise. We were finally released after twenty-three days of rotating daily twelve-hour shifts in remote locations around the country. The weather was balmy. It was monsoon season but for that night the skies cleared up so we could go out on the town and unwind. My feet felt weird in heels after wearing crusty, mud-soaked boots for three weeks straight. “Woooo Gomez looking good!” Donnelly, the platoon clown, shouted from across the street. “That’s Sergeant Gomez to you, Private!” I yelled back, “Don’t you miss curfew.” “Hooah!” He hollered over-enthu128

siastically as he gave me an exaggerated salute. I walked down to E-Prise, the most popular club off post. I stepped carefully to avoid falling on the spilled liquor all over the floor. The smoke machines were working overtime and the music was too loud. It looked like a scene in a B-rated rap video, except most of the women were from the Philippines and Eastern Europe. We called them juicy girls. They stood around wearing garish underwear, waiting for customers to buy their time. The club was packed with familiar faces. Everyone looked so odd in civilian clothing. “I’m going to get us a drink. You want a soju bowl? Miller and Delong are at the table over there so we can all go in,” Dearmore shouted at me over the noise. “Yeah thanks, Brett,” I replied. I inhaled deeply and I was so happy that I didn’t smell funk and BO; I felt delirious. I stood at a corner to watch people. The soldiers danced three weeks of stress away. “Hey Sergeant Gomez,” said a small voice behind me. “You look really nice. I’ve never seen you with your hair down.” “Oh hey.” I turned and faced Lapioli. She was wearing a short plaid skirt, a fitted button-up top, vinyl knee-high boots, and pigtails. She had no makeup on but she didn’t need it. She had one of those faces. That outfit was over the top. I thought I was seeing things. I felt eyes on us. She held a honey-col-

ored drink in her hand and her breath smelled like Newports. “Are you having a good time?” she asked me. “Yeah.” “What are you drinking? I can get you—” “No thanks.” I cut her off. “Dearmore’s getting us a soju bowl.” She sensed my apathy and I could practically hear her brain working. It was trying to spit out a plan she could execute that would make me like her and possibly be her friend. Tough luck. “Oh, you know G’s friend asked me about you. He’s a platoon sergeant so he has money. He’ll buy you drinks all night if you want. You might as well have a good time while you’re here.” I looked over in the direction she was looking. The guy must have been at least fortyfive. He was wearing a Kangol hat to hide his high and tight haircut and an oversized button-up shirt with an elaborate dragon and fire design embroidered on the back. He must have had it made here. His jeans were baggy but he ironed them to crease in the front and back. I said nothing. She was standing too close to me so I leaned away. “You smell nice. What are you wearing?” “I don’t think I put anything on to-

night. Just lotion I guess.” “You smell like my mom.” “Alright, well I’m going to my table. Be careful tonight, Lapioli, and don’t miss curfew. I’ll be checking the roster in the morning.” “I won’t, Sergeant Gomez!” she said brightly to my back. I detected a tone of sarcasm, but it could have been wishful thinking. So much for being Queen for a Year. I admit there was a lot of attention bestowed on me from the male species in Camp Humphreys, but I didn’t take advantage of it for fear of losing credibility as a leader. Being stationed overseas is a weird experience. Your coworkers are your next-door neighbors. After the work day is over, you can’t get away from your supervisors or your subordinates. The relationships become close, almost stifling. You see the same people day after day after day. They are always in your business and you find yourself reluctantly in theirs. My assignment in Korea was over and I was getting ready to come back to the States. The soldiers in my platoon put together a going away party for me. Lapioli gave me a beautiful handmade scrapbook with pictures and personalized notes from everybody. She made it herself. It was amaz-

The relationships become close, almost stifling. You see the same people day after day after day.


The Olivetree RevieW ing but it didn’t help her cause, and she never won me over. As time passed, I found that I thought of her often, and she came up in conversation a few times with people who knew her mutually. We’d talk about the outrageous stories, the rampant rumors, and we guessed at what might have happened to her. I heard she voluntarily extended her assignment for another year in Korea and she was eventually promoted to Sergeant. I heard that she got pregnant by a lieutenant in another platoon. He was demoted and sent to another duty station. I heard she aborted that baby. I heard that she became the Post Representative for the Single Soldiers Association and she won awards for her exemplary service. I heard she slept with my ex-boyfriend. I heard she was discharged from the military three months ago because she tested positive for HIV. They discovered it during the routine blood tests all soldiers take when they leave foreign countries. I freaked out and got myself tested the next day to be sure that I didn’t contract it from my ex who I was sure had gotten it from her putrid body. For three days I was a wreck, thinking of my looming death, blaming it on her promiscuity. Her reign as Queen for a Year meant the end of my life as I knew it. I called the doctor’s office to get my results and they were negative. I breathed a sigh of relief and I cried. “Thank God," I whispered. “They must have been just rumors.”




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Street Crosser Ayendy Bonifacio

My head was in the clouds when a plane intersected it. The guy next to me had his head low, was gray haired and yet had this young look to him that only certain people have. The lights all went red, and the cars came to a halt, for us sidewalkwalkers and street-crossers, and that one jogger who jogs on Sundays, when the sun is low, because at home there is nothing to do but stare into the flatness of an LCD screen, to articulate politicians pitching wonderfully rehearsed curveballs into his Baldwinian scope of things. In the 1970’s you could hear Jazz down the street on Lenox Ave. One could see young people, young active people, reading Ralph Emerson, Ralph Ellison. There was this triumphant transcendental invisibility that mere joggers couldn’t break through. The music tasted differently then. Keeping the date as it now stands, there is this pocket of land toward the east of Harlem, and toward the south of that. Places where the Yoruba people speak of Songolo Djata—Sundiata—and his conquest and empire. People live differently there; they have been living—equally different since that time of blues, or before that even, even as these American shoes touch the other side of the street. They live differently here.


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Interview with professor Michael thomas JAMES GUO

When I met with Professor Michael Thomas, he sat in front of his MacBook with a wall of literary tradition on the shelves behind him ranging from Gilgamesh to James Baldwin. He spoke in a low murmur, almost conspiratorially, while sharing his views. Every question I asked required distinct clarification, as he is someone who values clarity in both writing and speaking. Professor Thomas is a tall man with an impressive mane of dreadlocks, taken to wearing black t-shirts and faded jeans. Although he’s humble, it would be hard not to call him a success: Thomas’s debut novel, Man Gone Down, won the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, one of the most prestigious (and lucrative) awards in literature. Now he’s one of the youngest people on the full-time faculty in the English department of Hunter, where he teaches fiction writing. He’s an inspiring, demanding, and affecting teacher, which is why we thought he was a perfect candidate for our first ever OTR interview. The Olivetree Review: What should be a writer’s priorities when it comes to writing fiction? Michael thomas: Writing well. Telling a story. Writing clearly. OTR: You chose to base your novel, Man Gone Down, on a black man struggling to get back to his family. MT: It was just something that I came up with one day. I had the first line, I had the last line, I heard the character thinking and I started filling in the plot. That’s really what happened. OTR: That’s your process? MT: Hearing something. Seeing something. Writing to it. OTR: It seems like the main character in the story was very much related to you. 134

MT: Well, you can certainly borrow from your own life. It doesn’t necessarily have to be your life. There are people who write autobiographically, who get trapped by the details of their factual life and won’t change or alter or erase or add to their factual life or fictional character. There are places that I’ve been that I’ve certainly used in fiction. But I didn’t necessarily think about those places the way my character thinks about them. We have shared experiences and the same reactions to those experiences or different reactions to those experiences. That’s where I believe fiction begins. OTR: You’ve mentioned in the past that a writer needs to have something a little wrong with them to write well. What did you mean by this? MT: I’m not sure “wrong” is the word. We put air quotes in there or something. One would say atypical, yes? Because why would we want a typical mind to report on typical things? Why would we want commiseration in our fiction? OTR: What would you say is “atypical” about you? What drives you to do the things you do? MT: Megalomania? I think I had an atypical upbringing. Perhaps atypical wiring, which then leads to different experiences which then leads to different wiring… and on and on. Maybe I wanted to be a supervillain but never had the discipline for it. OTR: What do you find most bothersome about your students' writing today? MT: They don’t want to write. They think they do, but they don’t feel compelled to do so. It’s something they’ve been told to do. It’s a chore, it’s taken on the mask of altruism, dignity, or curiosity. Elegance. But they don’t feel compelled to. That, or they think that it’s not a profession that they deserve. OTR: You’ve talked about how we should stay away from sloppy writing and sloppy authors… MT: I didn’t say you should stay away from them. I just think you should recognize it for what it is. Understand the difference between broccoli and a potato chip. Not, “Don’t eat potato chips,” just don’t think it’s going to do something beneficial, except maybe give you pleasure for a little while. That’s all. OTR: Who are your influences in life?


The Olivetree RevieW MT: Prose writers would be Ellison, Fitzgerald, Baldwin. Poetry, it’s Eliot. There are many more, certainly, but those are the ones that go back. In music, it’s Dylan certainly, Marley. Aretha Franklin. There are different aspects of songwriting and performance. Listening to Hendrix play guitar or watching him play. Different filmmakers, different playwrights, different athletes. Ted Williams, huge influence. Jackie Robinson. Discipline, watching people practice. Listen to people talk about practice. Bobby Orr, a hockey player. My cousin and I used to recreate his Stanley Cup winning goal. It’d be suspended in midair… We’d recreate the feelings. OTR: Practice and discipline are some of the things you really admired in these people. How do you apply that? MT: At some point, you just have to sit down and work. I suppose athletically, if I wanted to hit like Ted Williams, I would swing a bat for hours and hours and hours. If I wanted to run like Jessie Owens, I’d watch old footage of him and run, run, run. If I wanted to play Hendrix, which I found I could not at a very early age, I would play. If I wanted to strum like Dylan, I’d listen to his album over and over and over. In Sonny’s Blues, there’s a beautiful passage where the narrator depicts his younger brother Sonny listening to an album again and again, stopping it and replaying a section, making that section smaller, then playing it again and again and again. So with writing, I copied over Araby [by James Joyce] a couple of times by hand just to see what it feels like. I’d rewrite things over and over. If you wanted to lose weight, I’d say exercise and/or eat less. If you don’t want to, then it’s great. But if you do, there’s a kind of discipline you have to impose on yourself if you want the results. So you have a vision and you want to manifest it, then you have to do work. It’s not mysterious. OTR: What do you do in your spare time? MT: Watch movies with my wife, cook, get in sock fights with my kids. I have a lot of spare time. I stay active, I exercise, I bike, like doing things or else I shut down. I don’t have a lot of idle time. Playing music with my friends sometimes. I try to stay active, make furniture. I do anything. Make things or figure things out. Coach for my daughter in soccer. Drive and fly with my oldest child across the country playing soccer and watching him play. My middle son, I spend a lot of time watching Looney Tunes with him. Getting in MMA fights with each other, chasing each other around the house, throwing shoes at each other. OTR: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers? MT: I don’t have any advice. I could tell you about some things I have experienced. 136

The concrete gain, the profit—or loss—I can’t guarantee that. I could tell you how to write a query letter to an agent. I could tell you how to prepare a manuscript. I could show you how to do a lot of things. But I guess all I really can do is warn you that things usually don’t end well. Or perhaps not the way you thought they would. There are a lot of struggles, from financial to social—professional struggles—that won’t necessarily be remedied or ended. If you’re going to write or try to have a life of the mind or of the arts, you need to know, or have a sense, that you will have to do without certain things. And that your wish for external validation can never come true. Or even close to coming true. It’s about making the thing, not what about what the thing gets you, or where it takes you. It’s not what other people say about it. OTR: I might be writing for the wrong reasons then. MT: I’m not saying those are the right or wrong reasons, I’m just saying, when I was a young person, I wrote because I didn’t feel like I had a choice. I didn’t submit my first work professionally until much later in life and it was really by accident. I never really identified myself as a writer or think of myself as a writer. I think of myself as a parent, husband, teacher, soccer coach. OTR: Are you satisfied with life? MT: No. OTR: What would you like to accomplish in the next ten years? MT: Make sure my kids are healthy and well. Write four books. Do a fair amount of traveling. Lower the infant mortality rate of the disenfranchised peoples of the United States. Protect urban and rural settings on reservations. Raise literacy rates, reform public schools. OTR: Seems pretty ambitious. You need ambition to be a writer, I guess. MT: Depends on what you call ambition. If you’re talking about having a best-seller, that’s a particular kind of ambition, but that seems to be temporary or topical or “popular-minded,” as Eliot would say, kind of success. But ambition has to do with the restructuring of an order you find. Ambition is knowing—if you want to apply it to King’s statement—that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Or, “A man who hasn’t found something to die for isn’t fit to live.”


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Wine For The Rest Of Us Brian Kerr

This wine is for the rest of us— the tired, lonely, sober— us drunk only off our labor us the cup-less pass the bottle—us who never taste the sweets. Us—who see you gobbling your meats us that are more than just hungry us who lifted the crates us crafting the bottles. Cutting the cork us who lust and know all that’s holding us together is this precious— wine us who need our wisdom numbed us who scream “It’s not just for you” this wine is us.


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COntributors Etinosa Agbonlahor was born in Nigeria. She enjoys reading and writing poetry and looks forward to a career that involves both. She also looks forward to challenging the notion that man cannot live on bread alone as she embarks on said career. Amal Abbass is a creative writing major. She loves reading, television, and the Yankees. Danielle Bertoli is a creative writing major and is in her last year at Hunter. She is most interested in writing about time­—its ephemeral nature yet lasting imprint on a person’s identity. She plans to continue writing and looks forward to seeing where it takes her. Michael Betza has always been a storyteller at heart. His creative influences run the gamut from comic books to science-fiction and fantasy and even to “serious” literature. His work has also appeared in Ripple magazine and in a locally-published anthology, Unboxed Voices. Besides being a Hunter student, Michael is currently working on his first novel. Eduard Boguslavsky dreams of a future photographing and traveling the world, but studies sociology and public policy to understand and shape it. The subjects of his photographs range from unsuspecting pedestrians to forces of nature, but convey opaque and mysterious worldviews. Ayendy Bonifacio is a student as you may or may not be, but he believes poetry is everything. The first thing he ever seriously wrote was a poem. Everything else made too much sense to be true. Poetry deflated logic and created possibility, reality, and what he knew as truth. Poems are with him as he leans on the traindoors and reads. Fragments of speech slip into whatever it is that he is listening to, to then mix with the text. 142

David Carmona possesses a deep appreciation for art and immensely enjoys exploring the creation of art through the use of illustration, paint and digital art. He’s always in search of new and illuminating ways to improve his craft and hopes one day to further the involvement of art in his life. Jac ob  Cintron is an amateur photographer from the Bronx with an affinity for the blues, piña coladas, and naming his camera equipment. He is a firm supporter of all anti-Nikon and anti-Mac policies. Jacob can often be found in the OTR office, lollygagging and refining his sarcasm. Alain G  . Cloarec is currently a graduate theatre student at Hunter and got his BFA from NYU Film. He also studied at the Lee Strasberg Institute. His low-budget independent feature film The Golden Ram premiered in Italy and his short film 1st Session was recently screened in California, Australia, and New York City. Michael Chu–a–Kong is in his first year in college. He is a spoken word poet, writer, model, and actor. He plans on changing the world and is crazy enough to think he can, so he will. Chu-A-Kong is all about revolution and strongly encourages independent thinking. You can reach him at Digna E  . Gomez is graduating Hunter College in January 2013 majoring in English language arts. Right now she’s working at a hospital but she wants to be a paperback writer. Paperback Writer! James Guo likes to write gritty high-concept fiction, lives in his mother’s basement (it’s a really nice basement), and is looking for a career where he can travel. Theadora Hadzi is a bubbly, can’t-say-no-to-anything, sleep deprived graphic designer, artist, and Mac/Nikon enthusiast. She can usually be found in the corner of the OTR office crying from a lack of sleep, and thrives on the funny faces that her editors make at her, as well as any type of commission. 143

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Jennifer Holder loves to take photos when she can. She goes on little adventures around the city to snap photos of parks, street fairs, NYC street life, skylines, almost anything that catches her eye. Â Jessi James is a Japanese and art dual major in the CUNY BA program with an interest in reading, writing, photography, graphic design, and illustration. She enjoys book stores, lazy nights at home, working on Photoshop, and bothering her boyfriend and two dwarf hamsters Firebolt and Nimbus. Brian Kerr is a native New Yorker. This is his final semester as a Hunter College student and his second time being published in the OTR. A creative writing major, he believes his writing inspirations come from his dreams, observations of his friends, family, the world around him, and from the fleeting moments when his mind drifts off to somewhere that is not quite reality. After college he hopes to continue with his writing. To contact Brian, email Esther Ko has six left. Michael Lamarra is a New York-based cinematographer working between film and digital formats. He was raised in Pennsylvania, where he developed his interest in film under photographer Mike Allebach. Michael works freelance on narrative films and commercial sets as camera assistant and editor for Brooklyn-based Bayard Studios. Erin Earl Muehlenbach is a creative writing major native to the Orion Arm of the Milky Way Galaxy. Niccolo pizarro was born in the Philippines before moving to New York at the age of five. He despised reading and writing until his junior year of high school when he fell in love with Henry James. He is an English literature major at Hunter College and idolizes John Milton as well as Raymond Carver. He plays the guitar, occasionally donning the persona of a singer/ songwriter, and dabbles in music production. This is his first publication, so go easy on the kid. 144

Jason Sloan is a sophomore at Hunter College. He is double majoring in biology and creative writing and is currently on the pre-med track. Although he is unsure where his life will lead, he hopes that writing will always be a part of it and that neither pen nor scalpel will outweigh the other. Shairi Turner is an art student currently living in the Bronx. Her specialty is handmade art, but she also dabbles in the digital arts. When not slaving away on school work, she enjoys watching black and white movies and talking to her cat, Honey, as if he is a person. Brenda Wong is not much of a reader and only an occasionally inspired writer, but she is always a daydreamer. jENNIFER JADE YEUNG has learned two things while working with the OTR and in high-end catering: She is fond of leading yet she’ll never have a fireplace in her granite bathroom. Or a granite bathroom.


Contact Us Thomas Hunter Hall Room 212 Get Involved All students are encouraged to become editors, graphic designers, publicity associates, production assistants, or senior staff members. We are always looking for new members and staff. Attend our many events, such as open houses, writing sessions, art trips, open mics, and launch parties. Or you can simply come by our office. Visit our website or find us on Facebook. Submit Passionate about writing or art? Submit your visual art, fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry, drama, or cross-genre pieces every semester. See our website for details on how to submit online. Edit The OTR welcomes Hunter students of all experience levels to become editors for art, drama, prose, or poetry. Editors decide together which pieces are accepted into the issue every semester. For more information, please visit our website.

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