Volition - Spring 2018

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CONTENTS POETRY Mernine Ameris Rachel Katherine Quinn Ashlyn Rock Aratere Dei Batool Al-Shaar Mari Baz Kate Lang Lara Garrity Kristopher N Heaton

lacefront royalty | 5 Marina | 6 Paul Carl Herman Rock V | 10 Ode to my future Pagani Huayra | 14 An Incarus Complex of My Own Making | 19 To Rise, We Must Learn How To Fall First | 23 My Mangled Body - An Apology | 25 This Place I Call Home | 26 loving him when he can’t love himself | 28 The Dust That Commanded | 34 Ten Word Story: Legalized | 37

PROSE Emily Bartenfelder J.L. Rigby L. Norman

when | 8 Lovely Crafts | 16 Different Shores, One Beach | 31



ART & PHOTOGRAPHY Sandra Simon Aruna Sindhuja Peri Melody Barnard Sandra Simon Nivedita Anjaria Kerry Hentges Ala Al Sindi Christian Beale Suraj Saka Tirth Rami Caroline Mae Kathyrn Simpson Devin Turk Robabeh Riasati Deann Andrews

Ayla | Cover Best friends | 4 Antediluvian | 7 Moana | 9 Heated Hope | 13 Pursuit of Knowledge | 15 Airplane | 18 Moon and Venus | 20 Dumbo, NY | 22 Descent | 24 On the road to find out | 27 Reach For It | 30 Swamp | 35 One Occupant| 36

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



Best friends | Aruna Sindhuja Peri | Acrylic on canvas 4

lacefront royalty underneath the bathroom sink unearths glory: a curly clip-on ponytail to attach to my own crown all that glittered was finally gold i learned late that the crown was to be shielded at all costs. & not because it was too ugly without a sew-in or a blow-out or a greased back scalp. but because i let myself feel exactly how much weight a mother has to bear almost as heavy as the sleep her daughters remained in, refusing to wake up

i know that when i have a daughter, this kingdom will be too strong for fear to grow underneath a bathroom sink or in the face of a mirror when i have a daughter, she will learn. later.

i learned later it was because when my mother was young she watched it all burn from her seat at the round table. swords drawn, surrounding the guillotine of a bathroom mirror the inevitable big chop a beheading in progress as she proclaimed that no chemicals could pierce the throne of our salon chairs

| Mernine Ameris


Marina There was a yearning deep in his eyes. An ember that burned ahead of his time. After the years rolled on he found someone singing his song. Holding a dream within her eyes, the same picture he’s lived in during his lonely nights. Her most vital organ is her soul the one she shared with her love, him, in a past life long ago. Through the fall of dynasties and the walls of the rising seas, she whispers, “They won’t ever understand us darling, just let it be.”

| Rachel Katherine Quinn


Antediluvian | Melody Barnard | Painting 7

when I never wanted to be beautiful I hid my face and masked my soul Then you came along with hands stretched out I took them, stepping away from my barriers and through the smoke that shielded me I was beautiful You opened up in me a place that felt real and exotic I was free of my chains and insecurities You were my purpose that filled me with sunlight, love, purpose My heaven turned into my hell My shattered self-sprawled on the ground, only left with the bruised hands and open wounds I never found all my pieces, instead I crawled back to my shadows and concealed myself with the familiar fog I will be beautiful again—this time for myself I’ll find my own purpose, create my own chaos My own light in this world

| Emily Bartenfelder


Moana | Sandra Simon | Digital Photograph 9

Paul Carl Herman Rock V When my father died It was as though I could feel The rebound from across the country, His trigger forced air into my lungs one last time. And my only thought was do I have to go to the funeral? We pulled up to the lot after passing rows of white markers Aligned with such uniformity, it seemed like someone was Setting up a game of dominos, or tagging the seeds planted To decay in wet Virginian mud, on hills and grass too green To not be fertilized with generations of blood and lives taken. We waited for my brother to show up with the body in his trunk. I laughed imagining him as Grandpa in Little Miss Sunshine, But when that grey rectangular box came visible In my mother’s hands, I could see she Wanted to drop him dead. She passed him to a woman Who “handled [him] with care” and I thought that if she knew what was in that box, She too would want someone else to deal with his remains. When the service began, we sat under a pavilion with this box On a podium. It was just the seven of us, his lucky number, all The Seven Deadly Sins he practiced so frequently, the seventh Of September of two sevens adding to the year fourteen, the last day Of the week he decided to off himself. And the bugle called on A pre-recorded track, as a man in uniform stood in the field Pretending to call the gods of the Underworld to take him away.


Two men folded the flag in a triangle, and unfolded it. I thought they forgot everything was square, But they folded it again in a perfect V Just like the V in his name. One man took the flag And kneeling, placed it in mom’s lap. My mom cried, and I didn’t understand why. I looked over at all those eyes blurry with tears looking At my mother, but my brother was dry-eyed, and I knew he and I, The marine and myself, had been through enough war to not care anymore. The men in blue asked if we had any words, and we had absolute silence. We stood there saying nothing, no sniffles, no sighs, and I saw an ant on The ground, crawling around without direction, small and pointless, but I was happy he came to save me from the agony of paying attention, and I decided to watch my step, although its existence was just as insignificant As the rest of our poor, miserable lives, standing there as it began to rain. They took the box and walked it out to pasture, to the end of the lot Where the newest residents permanently rest, and I felt Badly he was their new neighbor. Grounds men Used a metal plate to seal him into the soil, Pounding the dirt, like canon fire It ricocheted off the trees, Booming on our bodies With the sound of finality.


I looked at my nieces. They were sobbing and wailing, And I grew livid and wanted to scream, DO NOT GIVE THIS MAN YOUR TEARS. Do not give this man your tears. Do not give this man Do not give this Do not give Do not. No. Until I saw that tie-dyed red letter. My mom thought it wasn’t blood at first, But brain bits and blood beg to differ. That was my only confirmation he was dead— That tie-dyed suicide letter in the plastic baggie— Not the box with his grey ashes, or the funeral, or the flag, or the grave, but his red blood, The DNA I share so regretfully. Only then could I sigh relief and let the flood gates pour.

| Ashlyn Rock


Heated Hope | Nivedita Anjaria | Digital Photograph 13

Ode to my future Pagani Huayra In the deck, this marvelous piece of art stands, with curves that can only be created with the hands of gods. When freed, the air slides through you, savoring it. on you, to hug the earth Racing. Wings fluttering, fighting gravity and the forces of nature. Roaring through the mountains across continents. People praising you. The whistles

| Aratere Dei


you make pleasures people’s senses I envy those that were controlling you fighting you through the mountain roads touching you. From the bug that landed on you to the wind that grazed you. You are one special thing. You are like things I might never have. But like those things. I will fight to have you one day, to have the ride of my life.

Pursuit of Knowledge | Kerry Hentges | Mixed Media Sculpture 15

Lovely Crafts 1. We meet at a yard sale in the middle of summer. Sweat pours past my brown hair and down toward my white Muse t-shirt like glistening particles. I leaf through decade old, partially broken kitchen items, because who knew a Bachelor’s wouldn’t get you a nice paying job, where you didn’t have to still work at Starbucks? Where the only thing you can afford is yard sale items, fast food and soul crushing student debt? He asks if I need anything. He’s tall and wiry with a nose that juts out to one side, but still handsome if I tilt my head. I do. “Money,” I joke. He gives me a twenty dollar bill. I shove it back at him, blushing. He gives it to me once more. On the back is his phone number. That night, after a round of cheap beer, I call. 2. He likes to make things. His room is filled with fifth grade pottery, cotton ball faced dolls which are only slightly endearing, and a bunch of figures pasted on cardboard, laying out scenes from history. Right now, he’s making The Gettysburg Address while I stare at his doll of Martin Luther King Jr. It’s baby doll clothes stuffed with newspaper and a ceramic ball on top, complete with google eyes. “Why do you make this stuff ?” I ask. He is placing a felt black top hat on a little green soldier. The hot glue burns his finger, and he licks it in pain. “I feel closer to the past,” he says. “Like maybe all these people, they’re not dead, you know? They’re with me. They’re here. Like maybe I won’t die too.” I am about to contemplate whether or not I am in the presence of a philosopher or a mad man when he says, “Besides, I want to show up Mrs. Goldstein. I can make a bomb ass project. I did deserve that A.” I decide he is both.

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3. Six months later we go to a movie. It’s a reshowing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. At this point he has moved in, and although his job at Michael’s brings in extra cash, it’s not enough to pay for any movie made within the last five years. He holds my hand. It feels like sand paper, but I cannot help but to squeeze tighter. When we get to the box office, the tiny, yellow lights twinkle into his murky brown eyes. Stars in a lake of darkness. I can’t help but to think he’s a galaxy. 4. My friends think I’m insane. Eight months with a man who for the most part lived in his parent’s basement, who makes child projects in his free time. No money. Nothing higher than a high school education. He’s mad. I’m mad. I probably am. He lays next to me. Asks, “why are you with me?” I pause. Not sure. Then rub my hands through his dark hair. “I’m crazy,” I say. He kisses my cheek. “Good. Me too.” 5. He likes to make things. Like art and paintings and projects, and a billion words of insanity, flattening out to infinite space. And kids. June is born nine months later, in well, June. Afterwards, we get married. No one is invited except our kid, our parents, and all of his projects, lining the rows in straight faced stillness. The pastor is concerned. June teeths on Martin Luther King Jr’s head. We kiss. Sometimes I wonder if God is crazy. If that’s why He made all of this stuff too.

| J.L. Rigby

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Airplane | Ala Al Sindi | Digital Photograph 18

An Icarus Complex of My Own Making the flames at my fingertips summer sunlight slipping through my skin translucent and I am and I am and I am for three heartbeats buoyant, unburdened by this body. but on the fourth, unable to help myself, I set fire to my own wings. I am both Icarus and the sun: incongruently in tandem.

| Batool Al-Shaar



Moon and Venus | Christian Beale | Digital Photograph 21

Dumbo, NY | Suraj Saka | Digital Photograph 22

To Rise, We Must Learn How to Fall First There are words inside of me that I cannot express when I hear about a death close or far. When I reach for the words to help me pacify my soul they don’t reach the tip of my tongue and I choke on them. There are emotions inside of me that I cannot describe when someone disappears into infinity.

When I hear about death, It becomes hard for me to express the pain I feel in my heart. And maybe that is because I am trying to keep everything to myself When I should be pouring my heart out to the world and creating rainstorms. after all, it is in the debris of the storm, it is in the reckoning, that rainbows are created and it is also in these moments where you can rise again.

When I cradle my body I hope that I can shake the emotions out of me, but it is futile. I am left with nothing more than water falling onto my shivering shoulders bones tightening and sighs upon sighs falling into the silence of the night.

| Mari Baz

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Descent | Tirth Rami | Digital Photograph 24

My Mangled Body — An Apology My body, I broke you for the first time in sixth grade, took a safety pin — funny name — and ran it across you over and over until those marks stayed it took over six months for them to fade My body, I never broke one of your bones but I starved you so I could see them starved you until I could count them it’s been eight years and I still want them to show My body, I turned you into a palimpsest I carved into until the blood ran crimson like rubies pouring from a treasure chest used diamond to cut through the flesh, tried my best when words faded I cut them again so you’d listen My body, I ran out of space to cut through you I cross hatched the scars on your temple facade left the stains of my war to your wincing applause no matter how long it’s been, those lines will always shine through you My body, no matter how hard I tried, you never let me die you regrew my skin, filled my bones back with life Body forgive me for all of your strife Body forgive me, those words I cut lie Body forgive me, Body forgive me

| Kate Lang


This Place I Call Home There’s a place I call home, I can take you If I invite you in, you may roam, I won’t have to make you There are soft places here, you can find them if you search, Run your eyes over, run your hands under The top put-on layer, find the bare surface Find where you belong, where inhibitions go asunder It’s a welcoming place, if not a welcoming face If you stick around long enough it will wrap itself around you, Will pull you in and erase distinctions Make you pray for the day you are its predilection It wants to be an efficient use of space, but has expanded in comfort No longer cold and rough, no longer hard and sallow It let the warmth in, turned up the number And now it is a place to hallow It doesn’t really think that much of itself, It knows that it’s mortal, it knows that it’s a shell But it’s a hell of a place to hide From the rain, and I’m along for the ride You may run your hands and feast your eyes It would welcome you in, invite you inside Because it’s alive now, allowing for heat And when you see how far it’s come Your heart will skip a beat

| Kate Lang


I haven’t always been kind to it, I let it rot Checked out of it without notice and without cleaning up But I’ve started to live inside it again And I can begin to start feeling, begin to work my way out from within And while it’s okay with being alone Some company wouldn’t be minded You can run your hands over its ridges Getting softer, growing harder, unabided Come on through, it’s a nice place to live I’m not the best tenant, but I’m starting to give It’s no longer empty, I’ve checked back in And now I sing the praises of this body I am fire within

On the road to find out | Caroline Mae Kathyrn Simpson | Digital Photograph 27

loving him when he can’t love himself when you first meet him you will marvel at the way his smile tilts when he’s overwhelmed with humor, and the way you can’t tell the difference between his eyes being open or closed when his demeanor breaks into laughter you will forget about the way your stomach folds one too many times while you sit in the passenger seat of his car, doubled over with joyous tears streaming from your eyes no thought will pass your mind reminding you to fix your hair or straighten yourself pretty because all you will be focused on is the way his tongue forms his vowels and the bracelets adorning his wrist catching the light of the streetlamp and the way every part of your body unknowingly aches to hold him but he will falter every fifth sentence you may not notice at first, but soon it will be all consuming the way his hands shake when he is attempting to explain his day to you, the slight downturn of his chapped lips as he recounts his recent job interview he is nervous he is unsure of himself, of his words, of his worthiness to even be in the same car as you at 3 am on a college campus parked where no one else can be witness to your relationship he is afraid he is afraid he will hurt you, not that you will hurt him he does not care enough about himself to be so


he will kiss you with sweet promises, but will not let you return the favor he is broken, he will say you will tell him you don’t like when he talks about himself that way, that you see him as whole and worthwhile but he will cut the words from your throat with his razor-sharp glance and you will sit silent wondering why you can’t help him fix himself, love himself, see himself as you see him why aren’t you enough to pick up his so-called broken pieces but it is not your responsibility he is not your responsibility he will tear you down by tearing down himself build you back up with careful touches just to send you crashing with dismissive shrugs and turnt away shoulders he will hide his heart from you he will face the wall in his sleep so you can’t reach him won’t give you the chance to crack through his delicate ribs to mend the wounds underneath he will tell you he’s sorry tell you that you crash into him like waves on the shore, carrying shells that he hangs on his bare bedroom walls but low-tides are inevitable he will create a hole too large for you to cross anymore and you will blame yourself for walking away but fixing him is not your responsibility he is not your responsibility and you were never going to be his savior

MariGarrity Baz | |Lara

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Reach For It | Devin Turk | Digital Photograph 30

Different Shores, One Beach “Charlotte is my doll. Cassidy is my little genius.” So I am smart. I was happy. “Cassidy, put that eyeliner down. Charlotte’s the one in pageants. You don’t have to worry about makeup.” So I kept my money. I was happy, and wealthy. Charlotte is prettier, but I could tune her out with the clinking change in my pockets. “There’s nothing Charlotte can’t do with her hands! Cassidy...” The teacher breaks off two chunks of clay. Charlotte and I eagerly accept our lovely grey-blue mounds of slippery possibility. Charlotte immediately sees a cow trapped inside. I crinkle my brow. Why do her eyes see a cow and I see nothing? I merely feel the warmth of the teacher’s hands. The smell of salt swirls in my nose. I cannot see the cow. I leave the clay and start my division homework. Answers appear out of the paper’s white mist. Nine becomes three, clay becomes cow. “You should see the paintings Charlotte does. They’re works of art, just like her.” A junior art show. I look around, confused. People pat Charlotte on the back. She does it so effortlessly — a sweep of the hand, and art is born. There must be a trick to it. I sneak into her room. Our room, but her presence is too large for it to be “our” room. Canvases fill up her closet, tarps line the floors. My textbooks sit in a corner, cowering. I pry out a fresh, fluffy brush. A canvas waits, dumbfounded at this stranger. My mind races for the perfect picture. Amongst the flurry of equations and angles, I see a beach: the sandy shore, the sea-licked shells, and the blushing blue making the sky. An unopened bottle of “Windmill Wings” shivers at my touch. It doesn’t want me. I scratch and claw at the lid’s lip until it bursts open, exhausted. I lift the brush, saturated with blue sky — “Cassidy! Those are your sister’s paints!” You should see the sky in my eyes. I cannot do a cow, but maybe a beach. If you’ll let me put this brush on that canvas — “No, they’re very expensive, don’t waste them.” ‘Waste.’ I let the brush splatter onto the floor. The canvas sighs in relief. Nonetheless, I am standing, vigor in my legs. ‘Waste.’ Fine, I will do something worth my time. Since Charlotte is the artist, I will be someone else: the mathematician. I scoff at the violated tube of Windmill Wings. ‘Waste.’ A beach, a cow — they’re too easy, anyways. “Charlotte, put on your good heels, Cassidy has a...”


So I am smart, and could show it. I was happy, wealthy, and accomplished. But Charlotte was the same, even if it wasn’t her event. I would win every competition I entered, but I could count on Charlotte to take half the spotlight. Statewide Mathematical Olympiad: Charlotte lures in her first boyfriend. National Space Convention: Charlotte and her dress are the real stars. Mother’s Day: Charlotte’s salmon surpasses my well-intended omelet. Everywhere I turn, Charlotte has already left her mark. “My twin girls are so amazing! One is a beautiful little Picasso. The other —” Other? I am “other”, now? I thought I was Cassidy. Why does Charlotte get to be “one”? I pass by our — Charlotte’s — trophy case in the living room. My Junior Award for Mathematical Excellence next to a Gogh National Award in Art. The first, a disproportionate man — for a girl! — holding up the contest’s banner. An advertisement, that’s what I won. The second is graceful, straightforward: a golden paintbrush embellished with Charlotte’s name. Charlotte is the advertisement. Who cares about the competition when you could have Charlotte? I lift the heavy paintbrush. For me, anyways, it’s cold. The memory of the blue paint comes back. It didn’t want me. I hurl the paintbrush at the glass case, shattering all my accomplishments, taking Charlotte with me. “What happened to Math League? Weren’t you going this weekend? We all —” My talents are ugly. People wait for hours to peek at a painting the size of printer paper. Who waits in line for math, or for me? Hours of work for one proof, but who cares? Amongst my peers, math is the grossest subject. Even Charlotte disliked math and stopped after trigonometry. Cassidy is the disgusting thing that lavishes the swill everyone rejects. Cassidy — the other. “Cassidy, what’s —” I stab pencil into paper, trying to crack Charlotte’s code. Cassidy equals X. Charlotte equals “one”. What’s the equation? What answer am I trying to get? I keep trying random integrals and manifolds. I frantically erase until the paper tears. There must be some reason why I can’t be happy despite all my work. Where is my pat? Why can’t I see the cow in these numbers? I give up. I can’t win. I don’t even want to win, I just want to matter. My vision blurs with tears. I bang my head against the wall behind me, trying to empty it of all the useless numbers so I could rearrange them into something wanted. Something falls and lands on my foot. A grey-blue lump. Not any animal or shape, just a collection of fingerprints and edges. The bedroom door creaks open as I stare at Charlotte’s trash. “Even your garbage is better than my hardest work,” I say, tossing the clay at her. She flinches, offended. “Cassidy, you ruin everything for me.” “Ditto,” I say, “Remember you met Travis at my first math competition? Thanks, I wanted everyone squealing over you two.” “Thanks for dragging me to a complicated competition I couldn’t understand. He was in the same boat,” she says, “Do you remember my Chicago art show? Great time to bring up geometric shapes.”


“It was shapes?” “It’s called abstract, Cassidy!” she shouts, with a rage unfit for her bouncy curls and pink lipstick. I look away. “Art’s easy. That blob alone could be in the Louvre. No matter how hard I work, it’ll never be appreciated —” “Our school doesn’t even have an art program anymore. No matter how hard I work, I’m always hearing ‘Shouldn’t you major in something safe?’. ‘Safety,’ ‘waste.’ If I want to stay relevant, I’m going to be working forever. You’re set.” “Set, but who cares, Ms. Art Show?” “Why am I wrong for doing what I’m good at?” she snaps. “And why am I?” I shout back. There, in our room, we stare at each other. Charlotte’s canvases in the closet, my calculus textbooks littering the floor. We were always suffocating. I never wanted to be her, and she never wanted to be me. I stand and offer her the chunk of clay. She gently cradles it without looking at me. I return to my desk to finish my homework. She sits at her workbench across from me. Quietly, nine becomes three, clay becomes cow. “I have two lovely daughters.” Charlotte stands near the water, dipping her toes in. I sit on a sand dune, staring at the landscape. A 180-degree angle for the ocean, a semicircle for the sun. I could see this beach just fine, almost as clearly as the beach aborted from the canvas. Charlotte could see the beach, too, and the cow, the portrait, and more. But we both smelled the same salty, fishy air and grabbed handfuls of the same sand. Sighing, I lean back and imagine flying away into that perfect, burning semicircle on Windmill Wings.

| L. Norman


The Dust That Commanded I’d heard the stories about that faraway planet and Had to see it for myself. The stories of Earth and humanity Are repeated less and less day after day, but those are The ones to hold onto before they are gone. I’d heard the stories That a vast sphere of stone and water lay far from the sun, safe from Its reaching arms for final collecting. Nature commands us, we Know that. Entropy is ours to follow and to mourn, but not for Them. They declared immortality, a mighty command Of destiny, of time and its passage. Perhaps they could have Beaten it. Perhaps they could have won. I imagine anyone Could have looked at their works, their majesty over Their world, and praised. I wanted to see it for myself. Nothing remains, but the stones of the conquered, The dust that commanded, and that reminder Of what awaits.

| Kristopher N Heaton


Swamp | Robabeh Riasati | Oil on Canvas 35

One Occupant | Deann Andrews | Digital Photograph 36

Ten-Word Story: Legalized Marijuana legalized. I smoked it next to the police station.

| Kristopher N Heaton

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In Association with the Office of Student Media

Executive Editors Ayleah Hanton Karolina Blaziak

Faculty Advisor Jason Hartsel

Prose/Poetry Prose and Poetry Editor Zaria Talley

Kim Bartenfelder Fizza Fatima Madison Hoffman Danielle Maddox Tiffany James Soshine Singh Malek Salhab Alaina Johansson Joseph Massa

Art and Photography Art and Photography Editor Valerie McKenna

Macayla Smith Sarah Gwynn Elisabeth Angeley Hannah Brennan

Graphic Design Design Director Anya Cooke

Public Relations Public Relations Officer Lauren Billy 38

Sabrina Huffman Alanna Milstien


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