Volition - Fall 2018

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Volume 26

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CONTENTS POETRY Ashlyn Rock Joseph McGuinness Clare Elizabeth Cosgriff Batool Al-Shaar Tasbiha Rahman Taylor Knotts Alexsis Tarte Taylor Knotts Tasbiha Rahman Olivia deGregory Alana Ryan Sydney Noel Olivia deGregory Ashlyn Rock Alexsis Tarte

Ode to the Pianist | 5 Colors (and the Implications of Space) | 6 El Sol del Mundo | 9 Anti-Supernova | 11 Metallic Finish | 12 amatorculist | 14 do not cry for him | 17 happy, now? | 18 1:52 AM | 26 Thoughts | 29 Cracks | 30 American Fables | 32 How to Survive as a Foreigner in America | 35 Colors | 36 yellow | 37

PROSE Jamie Gergen

Muscle Memory | 23

FALL 2018

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Kendal Denny Ala Al Sindi Kat Pham Wajma Naderi Sandra Simon Alessandra Rosa Fantasia Craig Beyers Ashley Estrada Artist Jessie James Abigail Wiser Vijay Iyer Destiny Peterson Alessandra Rosa Fantasia Ala Al Sindi Abigail Wiser

10pm | Cover Vertex | 4 V |7 one lonesome night | 8 Up | 10 apple pie | 13 tangled in lights | 15 Electric | 16 NIGHT AT THE CAFÉ | 19 Trocadero View of an Icon | 20 Van Gogh’s Palette | 22 Old School Whoopin | 25 Notre Dame Stained Glass | 27 Seven Fold | 28 Facing What’s Within | 31 FLASHBACK | 33 Hold On | 34 Ford Escape | 38

MISSION STATEMENT Volition serves to elevate the creative capacity of the Mason community by fostering freedom of expression across diverse mediums.

FALL 2018

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Vertex | Vijay Iyer | Photograph 4 Magazine Fall 2018.indd 4

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Ode to the Pianist Bartolomeo Cristofori, whoever knew your work Would be found at the hands of this man With fingers billowing like waves In a current of his own making? He’s a paramedic of music, Pounding heartbeats to pump those Strings alive and make us all cry As we wait and watch in desperation Only to find his cadence imperfect. I watch as those four hands battle Along the alley of keys where the Black wall engraved in gold letters Paints a murky haze Mirroring each other as they play A complex game of checkers, Jumping around endlessly And always coming to a tie. If by chance, you touch those hands, And hold them tenderly in your own, Do not forget each groove and vein, Every callus, knuckle and bone. And if, by chance, he plays upon your skin Music he can only see, tunes he can only hear In the hollows of his home, you have reached the Apex of sacrality—the mistress to his companion— Remember—before he deserts you for his ebony love.

Those hands, strong and frail— Molded from decades of wet paper And ink, bleached white to a cream, Fine as volcanic ash, And soft as putty. They carry history. They’re strong enough to press a crater into the keys And snap a string or two inside this vessel, but they Choose to love each note and tune, drinking Ambrosia, enchanting us all in divinity. I close my eyes and see colors flash With each harmony I hear, swaying To the waves he creates. And knowing As I fall in and out of this dimension, I beg for the trance to never cease, But I am not worthy of these tides. Like all good things, this too, will die. The applause jarred you from sublimity. The sonata has promised its close, The inflection in his body resounds finality When he raises from that throne— and bows, Disappearing forever behind black curtains. The magician has left his stage. He has locked up his eighty-eight keys. And you wake, alone in the concert hall With the phantom of his hands still pressed On the sinews of your heartstrings. Remember Him—your love, for as long as you can, The Dream Keeper and his melodies.

| Ashlyn Rock

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Colors and the Implications of Space redgreenblueyellowpurpleopalcrystalizedicemeltingsunrayblueshieldemptyblueskiesfromaroundt heelicitedjunglecallingouttoootootothegodsoforderandmysterymodalgraphicblurbrownmauvegre ytaupesilvergoldbronzemetallicsignalsfromtheskyuphighwherethedeathofstarsisoptionalandthebir thofwomenismandatoryliquificationinaquabluemarineseagreenploomageinimagesstraightfromthe psychedelicrefusejunkfromthetrunksofthepunksandtheartistswhomadethemcometolifewithpeelabl ebananasandliquidacidisahallwayoftheimpossibleaplaceweneverthoughtwe’dfindcrampedinandtri ppedtooblivionliftyourheadoutoftheideaandseeawallstaringbackatyoufeelingthatsomesecretsneedt obesharedandsothetimeportalopensinneongreensnowwhitespecklesfromtheescapeplanpackageno onesaidthatthiswouldbeeasytodecipherthisisthethicknessofhoneyandwillliveforeveruntilwelaterw alkintothegoldenpyramidswithhummerlimousinesandfetchmoneyfromadeadguyshandthecolorspe netratedeeplybecausetheyhavetomakemoneyfromnothingIamhungryformoregoldwhohavewebeco mebutgreatmanipulatorsandpragmatistsartistsyearnfromwithinandfindthemselvesinwhateversituat ioncontributestothefinalchapteroftheirliveschapterswhichcanbewritteninmanywaysthelossofhopef oradistantgoaltherealizationoftheplacehereinwithappreciationforcolorpurplegreenlimousinessudd enlyawallbecomesmoretransparentandthewallsremaininggrowhistorieshistoriesunfathomabletoth eguywhoswitchedtowaterthisisthevisceralunholysleepofthegodsanditistheirturntodreamsilenceam ongthecrowdasdreamswerevisibletoallthreeheadswerelostthatdaytotheabysswillyoushakewhenthe musicchangesmodeswillyoucracktheplasticcodeservingastructurewillcauseyoutosuffocate the genius of the written word is in the implications of space

| Joseph McGuinness 6 Magazine Fall 2018.indd 6

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V | Vijay Iyer | Photograph 7 Magazine Fall 2018.indd 7

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one lonesome night | Kendal Denny | Photograph 8 Magazine Fall 2018.indd 8

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El Sol del Mundo You turned off the light Because you didn’t want to see me How sad you became When the sun goes to sleep

| Clare Elizabeth Cosgriff 9 Magazine Fall 2018.indd 9

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Up | Ala Al Sindi | Photograph 10 Magazine Fall 2018.indd 10

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Anti-Supernova I am Atlas, arms trembling as I shoulder the weight of the cosmos in solitude, loath to place a single atom of my burden in foreign hands. I have made the choice to steal away from probing eyes, hellbent on breaking off the ugliest pieces of myself in secret. I’ve tried not to cut my hands on the irregularities when I hold them up. it’s impossible, though. the ragged edges always drip with bloody crimson and it makes me realize that sometimes, when bathed in the brightest celestial light, what once appeared macabre can be transformed into incandescent ruby. death turned to life.

still, I cannot help being what I am, and I am built to dissipate, turn to glittering cosmic dust, scatter into the stratosphere and then let gravity do its work: pushing me back to earth, back to bruised knees over and over again costing me something of myself each time. as I hunch over in the aftermath, my arms snaked around me in a strange embrace that tethers me both to myself and to the hard ground, I hear voices carried in the ether: you are not enough, not even for yourself and I nod my assent—lost in the dissolution, hypnotized by the pieces still slipping through my fingers like infinite falling stars.

| Batool Al-Shaar

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Metallic Finish She’s no princess, no queen, No jewels to her name But with galaxies for eyes She’s stunning all the same

The most precious metal Is the metal in your veins So, darling, don’t let it slip Down corroding storm drains

Royal by nature, not by blood The dreamer wears a crown Smiling amongst the clouds Pouring teardrops with a frown

But the pearls did her no justice Her beauty was beyond compare With a golden heart And platinum soul Stolen A nightmare

And the pearls do her no justice Her beauty is beyond compare With a golden heart And platinum soul Shining A bright flare

When knights turned to thieves And love suffocated blue The metallic finish of armor Splattered red, outshined you

Crimson tastes of metal Strangled by oxygen Pale lips that died Are dyed ruby all over again

| Tasbiha Rahman 12 Magazine Fall 2018.indd 12

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apple pie | Kat Pham | Art 13 Magazine Fall 2018.indd 13

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amatorculist after “when you have forgotten Sunday: the love story” by Gwendolyn Brooks rolling up your shirt sleeves, drinking out of fancy water bottles, you were always popping mints into your mouth and now I always have some on hand, at the very bottom of my bag, because being forgotten is a feeling that I’m familiar with. you see, the mints and me— chewed up, dissolved into nothing— (Lord knows) we never did hold up well.

| Taylor Knotts 14 Magazine Fall 2018.indd 14

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tangled in lights | Wajma Naderi | Photograph 15 Magazine Fall 2018.indd 15

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Electric | Sandra Simon | Photograph 16 Magazine Fall 2018.indd 16

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do not cry for him my darling i hope you heal let goodness shine on you let peace be found in you your tears are only secondary to the warmth of your heart and that is bursting. my darling do not let falling leaves pull you down to lay beside them because the world is in front of you the air in your lungs will stay warm this is fact. my darling dry your eyes nevermind the wounds breathe the air that feeds you and heal. just heal.

| Alexsis Tarte 17 Magazine Fall 2018.indd 17

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happy, now? happy is big smiles with big cheeks, eyes that disappear because you’re just so happy to be here, with you all, let’s raise a glass, say cheese! happy on film, in a frame, a memory you remember happily because, look at your face, dimples, you’re so happy here, they thank you for your cheerfulness, reward you for laughter because happiness is currency, you’d better pay up. you owe us, Happy. pay up, or make the trade. corners of your mouth fall, both sides. glimmer snaps right out your eyes. protect your face. hands up. now, you’re ready. now, the scowl is your first-line defense. now, you’re that Resting Bitch Face bitch. don’t get it twisted, now. furrowed brows, headphones in means back the hell up, now, don’t come any closer. now no one takes your picture. you happy, now?

| Taylor Knotts 18 Magazine Fall 2018.indd 18

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NIGHT AT THE CAFÉ | Alessandra Rosa Fantasia | Photograph 19 Untitled-22 19

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Trocadero View of an Icon | Craig Beyers | Photograph 21 Magazine Fall 2018.indd 21

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Van Gogh’s Palette | Ashley Estrada | Photograph 22 Magazine Fall 2018.indd 22

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Muscle Memory The rod felt foreign in his hands, but the memory of it was returning. Ripples spread across the smooth surface of the small Michigan lake, centered where the lure had splashed through the surface to disappear into the clear water. A flicker of polished steel here and there where the afternoon sun’s rays caught the darting side of the spinner beneath the surface. The only sound was the hum of a mosquito somewhere near his left ear and the crank of the Zebco 33 reel that he turned, just like so many days he’d spent as a boy. It had been years since he’d done this, but the motions returned to his muscles, just like the fond memories filled his mind. This was his third trip away from the busy city, away from work and school, that year. A short flight, followed by a regional jet that he could barely stand up in. Three hours from the city he called home to the lake. He could have done this anytime over the years, but there was always an excuse. It cost too much. He was too busy with school. He had exams, or he had a big project due at work and couldn’t miss the time. Maybe next summer. The boat moved slowly around the lake, more drifting than propelled by the old trolling motor. The battery was old and sometimes the nephews would take it joy-riding and forget to charge it. He should have checked it before they set off, but it wasn’t the first time he would have to use the oars to row the boat back to the dock. “Just kill it and we’ll drift a while. There’s a good spot to drop the anchor coming up,” he heard his dad say, as the corner with the three deadfalls under the water was just off the port side of the bow. He’d always pulled bass out of those trees, when he wasn’t hooking them and spending ten minutes working his snagged line free. He’d learned to cuss from his dad and those trees. He let the anchor drop after turning off the small motor, the very slight breeze pulling the anchor rope taut and placing the boat within range of the fallen trees. Cast, reel, repeat. The strike of the lure by the bass was almost expected, and he even called, “Fish on!” Just like when he was a boy in that same boat. But he wasn’t a boy anymore. Gray in his stubbled beard, his hair, and the pain in his joints reminded him that he should have made those trips, not excuses. He landed the bass in the boat and took care to release him back into the water. “Just a baby, go grow up into one of those lunkers people tell their grandkids about.”

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He smiled to his dad and made a few more casts, but it seemed the fish were no longer interested in biting today. He tried the motor, but the battery was dead. He’d haul it up to the house when they got back, already cursing his back and the nephews for not checking it earlier. He raised the anchor and set the dripping rope and metal bell in the bottom of the boat. Sliding into the middle seat, he fit the oars into the oarlocks and pulled, letting the boat glide towards the distant dock, hearing his dad correct his bearings and call out the familiar stumps under the surface. The boat bumped against the foam padding that edged the dock, and he was quick to lasso the mooring rope around one of the pier posts to tie the boat close. Rods, tackle boxes, seat cushions and one dead battery were placed on the dock before he stepped from the boat onto the dock, waiting for his dad to follow. He picked up everything he’d placed on the dock, turning to look out at the lake as the sun glinted off the ripples of rising fish and darting dragonflies. He checked his watch, just enough time to get a shower and put on the suit. Turning to the lake, he smiled and said, “See you soon, Dad.” He never saw the slip of paper that fluttered from his pocket, a gust of a breeze carried it to the water. St. Anthony’s Parish, 3:00 p.m. Graveside service to follow. End.

| Jamie Gergen 24 Magazine Fall 2018.indd 24

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Old School Whoopin | Artist Jessie James | Photograph 25 Magazine Fall 2018.indd 25

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1:52 AM To sleep, to dream, to escape is my plan, And yet, each night, I wake for longer than A sleepy, dysfunctional fool should stay, And each sunrise, with bags, the price, I pay I know the sun should see my smiling face, Its light, its warmth, its coaxing rays embrace But no, the sun is not the one I yearn, Its spark is not enough for me to burn My heart belongs to the more bashful stars The night sky’s fireflies, free from caging jars They glow against a backdrop of pure black, The more you stare, the more they blush on back The moon, the centerpiece of the whole show, Between cloud wisps, almost smirks down below My eyes won’t close, my mind won’t rest, there’s just So much to see I’m filled with wanderlust But though excitement builds, what truly draws Me is the way the world seems to press pause I love the still, I love the hush, I love The night and all the sights it brings above To sleep, to dream, to escape is my plan, And soothed by calming darkness, I now can

| Tasbiha Rahman 26 Magazine Fall 2018.indd 26

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Notre Dame Stained Glass | Abigail Wiser | Photograph 27 Magazine Fall 2018.indd 27

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Seven Fold | Vijay Iyer | Photograph 28 Magazine Fall 2018.indd 28

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Thoughts Sometimes it’s hard to think, without thinking a certain thought, and even if I sleep a wink, I can’t avoid a troubling thought. My mother often worries about me, so she calls me every day, perched upon the sink she stutters, “You were getting better, I thought.” Some days I don’t know what’s real, or which memories are faked; so I cry ‘til my cheeks are pink, ‘til I find a happier thought. My father often avoids me, when I’m having one of my scenes; in front of the tv his beer bottles clink, this isn’t his problem, he thought. Even when I take the pills, when I’ve done everything I can to make the madness shrink, I still think that thought. It’s easy to imagine, but it’s harder to pretend. Sometimes I don’t want to think, because I can’t avoid my thoughts.

| Olivia deGregory 29 Magazine Fall 2018.indd 29

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Cracks (Excerpts of lines taken from Sylvia Plath’s sonnet “To Eva”) Alright so let’s say you could take a skull and break it— Would you want to rip up the thoughts encased inside? Because I wish to do this to my own mind every day, Observing the havoc that mental illness has wreaked upon it I was a woman; whose loves and stratagems Were betrayed and left as shattered metal shrapnel My brain’s mechanical whims turned so idle That no man nor demigod could piece them back together No longer concerned with perfume, politics, or fixed ideals, My steel palms became the ones to wreck this rare stone It is not simple geometry, it’s a kind of trigonometry that I cannot grasp So much of my thoughts left unspoken and my voice muted I hate the clock so I crush it, just as I crush my own bone I’d rather be the idiot, drunken bird—free to fly away from this explosion.

| Alana Ryan 30 Magazine Fall 2018.indd 30

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Facing What’s Within | Destiny Peterson | Art 31 Magazine Fall 2018.indd 31

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American Fables I’m in a hell of your own design, The land of the free with terms and conditions applying, The home of the homeless brave, Fathers of modern government and genocide, Mothers with children raised by the enslaved, Amber waves of grain and unmarked graveyards, I am supposed to be fruitless, Bearing no children, having no money, Maintaining no assets, Because, after centuries of letting myself get captured And enslaved and segregated, I guess that’s what my black ass gets, America, you lie, Passed the 13th to dismantle rusty shackles of slavery, But my feet are still bound to invisible ones, Constantly trying to find ways out So I can live free, America, you lie, Passed the 13th to put slavery to sleep, Only to awaken the beast in the prison pipeline, Taking brown and black captive in a contraption Designed to dodge flack about setting color free, America to me: the nightmarish fiend Who haunts me both in my dreams and my reality.

| Sydney Noel 32 Magazine Fall 2018.indd 32

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FLASHBACK | Alessandra Rosa Fantasia | Photograph 33 Untitled-22 33

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Hold On | Ala Al Sindi | Photograph 34 Magazine Fall 2018.indd 34

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How to Survive as a Foreigner in America Always speak in your “customer service” voice, any detection of an accent will result in immediate mocking, or prompt ignorant questions. Take deep breaths and find your happy place before replying to said ignorant questions. Tell lies to the gullible ones to see how much they don’t know — then laugh about it later. Pretend to be excited when people tell you they have a co-worker whose sister’s friend once visited your country for a few days on a cruise. Purchase as many seasonings as you possibly can. Turn a blind eye when seeing “normal” behavior that would be considered inappropriate back home. Find other foreigners — they’re your family now. Hold your tongue when on the topic of American History — they won’t understand why you don’t understand. Avoid telling people where you are from at all costs, even when you want to scream from the skyscrapers that this is not your home. Don’t change.

| Olivia deGregory 35 Magazine Fall 2018.indd 35

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Colors Do you see the colors of the world? Red roses and Meadow Rue, Blue skies with white clouds And city lights vibrating the warm air of the night. Do you see the colors of the world? Red liquid gushing from seeping wounds, Cleansing tears drizzle like rain And dirt falls over grimacing faces. What color do we see in pain? Sounds like thunder echo down. Sobs are muffled from the sound. Screams collide as whistles fly by. The earth is torn like flesh exploding from a weapon nearby. We don’t see the sights Or hear the screams, Oceans apart save us from this scene. But here we are A ripple in the tide Waiting for reactions To send us marching the helpless to their demise.

Blaming the Different Bullying the Unique Beating the Homeless Breaking the Weak Blasting the Broken Battling the Brave Baking the Fallen Burying the Grave Collages collide. We are colors blending with time. But how many colors do we see When nothing is left but inevitability? How many flags mix in this menagerie To compel the world to end this crimson misery?

Innocents die And we keep our hands over our eyes Evil labors but never dies Churning the pot and igniting the flame Keeping clocks turning, repeating the game

| Ashlyn Rock 36 Magazine Fall 2018.indd 36

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yellow calm is the color yellow light sunshine but softer. i hope one day this color spills all over me. so that when i touch another soul they can experience this quiet strength with me. but even if this never happens i want to be yellow and green rinsed of the gray and the dirt basking in these feelings of innocence and tranquility.

| Alexsis Tarte 37 Magazine Fall 2018.indd 37

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Ford Escape | Abigail Wiser | Photograph 38 Magazine Fall 2018.indd 38

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In Association with the Office of Student Media

Executive Editors Ayleah Hanton Karolina Blaziak

Prose/Poetry Prose and Poetry Editor Zaria Talley

Art and Photography Art and Photography Editor Macayla Smith

Faculty Advisor Jason Hartsel

Madison Hoffman Malek Salhab Soshine Singh Kim Bartenfelder Alaina Johansson Leigh Norman Lloyd Wallace Marina Li Briana Walton Jospeh Massa Sarah Gwynn Elisabeth Angeley D’Andrea Brady Maggie Eason Ivy Mines Hannah Brennan Jackson Kair

Graphic Design Design Director Sabrina Huffman

Public Relations Public Relations Officer Lauren Billy

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Get published! Submit prose, poetry, art, photography, and short screenplays by visiting: volition.gmu.edu

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