CONTENTS POETRY E. Toms Starr Pierre Hannah Kanfer Irene Nudd Kara Crawford Maryam Alarcon Flásh Kinda Ahmed Mel Ruth Tessema Sarah Millard Omar Dirie
This Exclamation | 4 Paint | 32 Peter Pan | 7 The Escape | 9 The Body: Resurrected | 10 Benign? | 12 We’re all bald | 18 She was excited, to see me again | 22 Home | 25 The First Philosopher | 26 Summertime | 29 home | 35 After Y. Murakami | 36
PROSE Kara Crawford
Density | 14
SPRING 2020 2
ART & PHOTOGRAPHY Rebecca Jackson Jaimee King Spencer White Evan Wierenga Nigel Sparks Asiya Freeman makemeanxious Andrew Savino Alexandria McAlpine
E. Toms Kristin Zhai Olivia Offutt Taharah Islam Ariel Robinson us3r
Red Reflections | Cover Acrylic Planet | 5 Indian Paintbrush | 34 Play Time | 6 Steps | 8 Praying Hands | 11 Creative Atmosphere | 16 Affection | 13 Canned Dreams | 17 Bones | 19 Lights of Kathmandu | 20 Dressed to IMPRESS | 24 Top of the forest | 27 Hearts below | 23 Bloom | 28 The Complexity of Detail | 30 Opulent | 33 Cold Forest | 37 “Most of life is grey, with a little tiny bit of black and white” - Bill Henson | 38
MISSION STATEMENT Volition serves to elevate the creative capacity of the Mason community by fostering freedom of expression across diverse mediums.
SPRING 2020 3
This Exclamation We’re dancing in our room to Younger Days. I’m catching little things like filaments taking walks illumined by the lamplight. We whisper little things like sounds of screen doors yellow vision felt-tip fingers morning front porch green leaves blockish corners and unpolished silver-all which lie ahead of us. I catch the mark upon your neck and cradle it-time placed it there and time will take it away. Similarly it will do the same to us. We’re dancing in our room to Younger Days silver floats in sight--
| E. Toms 4
Acrylic Planet | Jaimee King | Art 5
Play Time | Spencer White | Photograph 6
Peter Pan I think I’m losing myself. the dark and buried parts untether and disintegrate cruising by my fingertips and into the hourglass. the empty grin stays. the numbness kicks in. I don’t think I’m the same. spare some sparkled joy or some bellied laughter so my stomach feels full. grab these shaking hands they’re itching for more life. I am lost, boy I can’t be here. when the sun goes down and my mind stops running teach me how to fly on the belief of more time.
| Starr Pierre 7
Steps | Evan Wierenga | Photograph 8
*Trigger Warning* Abuse
The Escape I remember standing in the gravel driveway the summer air, heavy and suffocating waiting with my duffle bag for a ride that may or may not come It feels like faith to fling yourself so vulnerable and tethered into this world and hope the universe gives you this one thing a way out I knew if I stepped back into that house you would kill me If not by your own hands, in an act of rage than bit by bit till I am a hollow shell that only whistles when the wind blows the gleam of an upstairs light reminds me my days are numbered but the shine of headlights and the tearing of a passenger side door reminds me not by you
| Hannah Kanfer 9
The Body: Resurrected She has the name of the Mother of God. She is proof that physicality and Divinity are possible as one. She showed me the true Virtues of existence: Hand in hand Laugh from throat Heart against heart I used to tell myself that my atoms Would be better off from Me, disconnected and living lives More valuable than my own. But I am inevitable. These days, I thank every DNA strand and every pump of my heart that I have the privilege to press my Lips against hers.
| Irene Nudd
Praying Hands | Nigel Sparks | Art 11
Benign? There’s a bomb in my chest. Lodged inside me. Growing, forming, ticking. But is it ticking? There’s a bomb in my chest that could explode and kill me slowly. Maybe. The radiologist says “come back in six months to see if it changes.” But there’s a bomb in my chest. Is a bomb even a bomb if it will never go off? Do harmless explosives exist? Is the fuse lit? Is the flame slowly inching its way towards detonation? Or will the thing just sit there, stuck inside me? Innocent and innocuous, loitering and taking up space? Not a ticking time bomb but a harmless piece of junk? Only time will tell. This mass in my chest doesn’t come with a countdown clock. I can’t relax. I can’t trust my body. I can feel it through my skin: hard and round and nefarious. Next week they’ll remove it. I’ll never know if it was really a bomb, but it won’t have time to kill me.
| Kara Crawford
Affection | Asiya Freeman | Art 13
Density The jelly-stuff was surprisingly warm to the touch. This surprised the patient, as she assumed that it would be colder. She put her right arm over her head, as instructed, and tried to think about what she would have for lunch after this ordeal was over. Chipotle? Panera? Hmm… Despite the fact that her right breast was being thoroughly examined by the nurse administering her ultrasound, she didn’t feel particularly exposed. Having two hands-on breast examinations in the past week and a half will have that effect. You learn how to feel distant from yourself. You can’t feel exposed if you aren’t in your body. Maybe it also helps that they dim the lights in these rooms while the ultrasounds are in progress. Unlike at the doctor’s office, there are no harsh florescent lights shining down on your nakedness. “The density of your tissue could have made it more difficult for doctors to determine the nature of the mass,” the nurse explained. She was the third medical professional to tell the patient that she had especially dense breast tissue, which, apparently, is not unusual in teenagers. It made the poor girl feel like a badly-made cake. A puff pastry before it’s been put in the oven. The patient stared at the ceiling until it was time for the nurse to switch sides. She put her left arm above her head, put her right arm to her side, and waited for the nurse to get to the main event: the grape-sized growth that the patient found on herself a few weeks ago. Once the nurse began running the transducer on that area, the patient turned her head to the monitor. There it was, it all its glory. The blob that had been the cause of two breast examinations, a referral to a specialist, and now an ultrasound. All to find out if this little thing inside her was going to ruin her life for the foreseeable future. Or end it. If we don’t want to park, we can just hit a drive-through. Chick-Fil-A would be nice. God, I hope I don’t have cancer.
| Kara Crawford
After several long, silent minutes, the nurse covered the patient’s chest with a towel. “Okay, Miss. I will show these scans to the radiologist and she’ll come in to give you your results. Stay like this just in case we need to take more scans.” “Oh.” The patient looked up at the nurse. “I didn’t realize I would be getting results today.” “Yep. It will just be a few minutes.” “Oh okay,” the girl replied. “Could you… could you get my mom, please? From the waiting room?” She’d wanted to be an adult about this. She’d wanted to be an adult so bad. To handle her own shit and get through this part without someone holding her hand. Bringing her mom in meant admitting that the results might not be just fine and that she might not be able to go along on her merry way after this was over. Regardless, more than anything else right now, she just wanted her mom. “Of course. I’ll get her now.” “Thank you.” The patient gave her a small smile as the nurse stepped out of the room. The waiting was agony. It’s a strange thing to be laid on a hospital bed – under a towel, shirtless, with ultrasound goop on your boobs – waiting to find out if you have cancer. Once the appointment was over, and the results explained, the patient and her mother had lunch together. They even stopped for expensive coffee after they ate, both overwhelmed with feelings of intense relief. The patient had a doctor’s appointment scheduled for the following week to discuss the removal of a non-cancerous tumor. Life remained blissfully the same.
Creative Atmosphere | Nigel Sparks | Art 16
Canned Dreams | makemeanxious | Art 17
We’re all bald that is, under these soft hides we call skin. plain hard skull storing our slimy veiny minds. we can’t laugh without exposing the bones: our yellowing teeth. slowly decaying with age falling out in death. we can’t cry without exposing the tears: glimmering corneas, reflective fluids extracted from behind eyes. flooding out when we squeeze blinks, staining our cheeks, outwards. we can’t speak without exposing the tongue: fleshy and wet pinkness. flicking, slippery, gluttonous emissions at each pronunciation. our true selves, hidden by the layers of biology. our true selves, evolved beyond our realization: covering the ugliness we need to show when we forget that we must.
| Maryam Alarcon 18
Bones | Andrew Savino | Art 19
Lights of Kathmandu | Alexandria McAlpine | Photograph 21
She was excited, to see me again I’m on the outside. I’m outside of my body, when I hear. I’m screaming, I’m crying, “No. No! You’re lying! No! Why should I trust your confession? Why do I have to listen to my pain? Why did I have to be the one to pick up the phone? She used to take me places around town. The little ma and pa stores, Her tiny church. There, she’d introduce me as Izzy. She always liked that name more than my real one.
I remember long evenings on her porch, Listening to wind chimes singing against the quiet country stillness, Of a simpler world. Back when we’d eat oatmeal creampies, one after the other. Back when I’d swing on her swinging chair, And watch her whistle over tomatoes in her garden. I was excited, to see her again. That day when the hospital called, Telling me she was rushed in, I knew. I just knew.
I don’t think I ever asked her why.
My sister said she’d be fine, My mother rushed out to meet her there.
I was supposed to see her again over the summer, Sleep in my small bed in her trailer, In the room she said was mine.
But I knew she was gone, God told me. I knew.
The small tv would be loud into the night, Dinner was at 4, And Charlie, her dog, As fat as ever.
But, she was so excited to see me again.
| Flásh 22
She was excited, to see me again.
Hearts below | E. Toms | Photograph 23
Dressed to IMPRESS | Alexandria McAlpine | Photograph 24
Home I traveled with our love Down the Nile 4,132 miles to be exact A sack of cindered clichĂŠs and wilting promises I searched for Home in my dazed devotion. In a past life I carried it Across the Sahara Wrapping it in worn rags so the bandits would leave me be Tugging it as I journeyed across the whispering corridors of Omdurman Until I was home again. Mamaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s eyes become darts that greet me At the doorway When she asks What are you holding? With eyes singing songs of burden I tell her it is our Love What then have you carried for yourself? She asks That is when I found A love within A Home within.
| Kinda Ahmed 25
The First Philosopher novel is new, but The Novel is not. Poesis. Poesie? Poetry! Glass shatters, I escape God. Forget the Book, I want to create, to produce something new- What is new? God isn’t new. And neither is equating sunlight to heaven. And maybe a long time ago someone wanted to grasp at the golden leaves atop the tree at sunset as though the sun-dipped leaves are golden apples (God, what I would give for a nice Honey Crisp right now) that will tell us the truth or understanding or or or something and be worth all the trouble we faced as we climbed that tree, as we fell and got back up again, braving that damned cold wind biting through our jackets, through our skin, through our bones, down to our very own soul. Maybe someone else has desired that taste of heaven that drips down to the treetops for a brief moment on Earth and was met with only leaves dancing along the starry night sky instead of a golden apple. Is this new? Is this a poem? I don’t know. But isn’t there something to a feeling, even if someone else already felt it, already wrote it? Something pushed Eve to climb that tree--a snake, a thought, it doesn’t matter--and
| Mel 26
She showed Adam, a man enshrouded in shadows, the path to seeing the Leaves-Just as something pushes me to climb that tree in almost frozen weather because the top is calling me, calling out to my apple craving and my yearning to bask in the warmth of the sun as thick as honey, even though I know the leaves are not really apples and that sunlight isn’t really warm honey. What is it about the metaphors, that even though I know the leaf is not an apple, it is still something I want to hold in my hand? God, someone, something doesn’t want us climbing, looking, searching for what is at the top: We must stay looking at the shadows of the leaves on the ground. We must stay content with the answers and understanding we have now at the bottom of the tree. But Eve disobeyed, just as I set down my backpack and climbed a tree on a Tuesday afternoon, and insisted on trying something new to get closer to the Forms. The first philosopher and me: Climbing a tree. Yearning. Slipping. Grasping. Reaching. Falling. We may be banished from the garden, But society would be dead without Eve
Top of the forest | Alexandria McAlpine | Photograph 27
Bloom | Kristin Zhai | Art 28
Summertime The nightâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s humidity clings to me like a second skin. I can smell the sugary scent of the bloomed honeysuckles. Blossomed and beautiful. I sit with her on the porch. The breath from her lips is sweet and soft. The moon shines, the bugs chirp, as we both grow our own flowers, Blossomed and beautiful.
| Ruth Tessema 29
The Complexity of Detail | Olivia Offutt | Art 31
Paint thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a hesitation before we come to know the body of the one we love. in it the heart grows lives locked behind a cell of bones and paints itself blue as mirage. blue as the tides that settle before. and we are stained in it the lung spreads out her hands as if to catch a bit of air that great breath unfed by cotton-stuffed surroundings firm and frequent inhalations. in it stomach swims in the forest weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve grown. nestles into verdant tumors hiding intestinal tumors hiding towards the stained center valve expanding up
until the neckâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s final growth. the one the IV tempered with the one the fingers wrapped around and screamed towards a god outside to sky to light to ground to gale to thorns of bougainvillea find his body find my own in us
figments of our hands before they met appear and we are stained
| E. Toms 32
Opulent | Taharah Islam | Art 33
Indian Paintbrush | Jaimee King | Art 34
home Who would I be without her? My mama is wisdom, strength, and love personified. My mama is Sunday morning, Jimi Hendrix Voodoo Child. Her eyes are blue-grey Stormy Weather. She is a thunderstorm symphony, Moonlight Sonata. Comfort. Her hugs are warmth, coffee, Esteé Lauder Red Door familiarity. Comfort. My mama is que sera sera, whatever will be will be. My mama is Let It Be, classic Beatles, Here Comes the Sun. My mama is light and radiance. She is luminosity, animosity, laughing, shining. My mama is the Sun, Moon and all the Stars. She’s witchy woman Zodiac, horoscope Scorpio sublime. My mama is Achelois, Goddess of the moon, “She who washes away pain.” She is peripatetic Nomad, a Thailand Monsoon. The wind of the Serengeti, a sunrise on the Savannah. My mama is Himalayan Mountain, Beautiful, standing Tall and Strong. My mama is my heart. She is the World and all the beauty it encompasses. My mama is home.
| Sarah Millard 35
After Y. Murakami Original Calm and serene The sound of a cicada Penetrates the rock Translation Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t matter how calm. A cicadaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s mere sound could Defeat Dwayne Johnson.
| Omar Dirie 36
Cold Forest | Ariel Robinson | Art 37
â&#x20AC;&#x153;Most of life is grey, with a little tiny bit of black and whiteâ&#x20AC;? - Bill Henson | us3r | Photograph 38
In Association with the Office of Student Media
Executive Editor Zaria Talley
Faculty Advisor Jason Hartsel
Prose and Poetry Prose and Poetry Editor Madison Hoffman
Malek Salhab Leigh Norman Joseph Massa Emma Starustka Zach Arlt Kim Bartenfelder Emma Evans Sally Deen Solomon Oyombo Kamryn Crossman McKenna Martin Randi Roy Catherine Middleton Sarah Sylvan Zack Peach Gillian Clark
Art and Photography Art and Photography Editor Macayla Smith
Sarah Gwynn Elisabeth Angeley Marina Li Hannah Brennan
Graphic Design Design Director Gina Pham
Fatina Al-Qutob Ashley Ruben Rita Mulugeta
Social Media Social Media Manager Valerie Larrieu
Leia Pequignet Sydney Johnson
Get published! Submit prose, poetry, art, photography, and short screenplays by visiting: volition.gmu.edu
Visit our Open Mic Nights! For a schedule of events, performance videos, & pictures, like/follow us on: VolitionGMU