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Palmer Grove Staff Brian A. Palmer Carri Bonner Kat Bonner
Editor in Chief Editorial Director Editorial Assistant
Cover Art: This monthâ€™s cover art was created by Kyle Gordon and is the official logo for Palmer Grove. Each issue Palmer Grove will feature work from local artists featuring our trademark Oak Tree. For more information on cover submissions, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Palmer Grove a Generation Voices Publication 614-285-4314 | email@example.com | www.palmergrove.com
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Table of Contents 04
Letter from the Editor
I Cannot Sleep Through the Sadness
And You Danced
A Matter of Life and Death
Robert Somebody and Miss Communication
A Storm is Brewing
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Letter from the Editor Dear Reader, Thank you. Thank you for all of your love and support. The past year and a half have been a mixture of emotions and experiences for the entire staff. This issue has been no different and is another landmark issue. This will be the final issue for Palmer Grove, but this is not the end of the road. Starting in 2013 we will be transitioning our work into a blog format. The staff spent a large deal of time on this decision and we feel that it is the best move for the publication at this time. With the blog we will be able to have a more interactive conversation with you, our readers. You will be able to leave comments directly on the articles that you enjoy and engage in discussions with other members in the community. This also means that there will be a much smaller delay between releases of new content. We hope to be able to bring you fresh, new contributions on a weekly basis. Once again I thank you for your support and loyalty. Here is to you and here is to many more years. Sincerely, Brian A. Palmer Editor in Chief Palmer Grove a Generation Voices Publication
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I Cannot Sleep Through the Sadness It beckons for a fresh cup of coffee, even as the hands of the clock pass from night into morning. It refuses to let my memories of our times be organized into before and after. It causes me to listen to strange sounds on the streets below, only to discover they are familiar. It drives me to think of ways to avoid tears. It brings recurrent memories of bright days and laughter and the strolls into the squares. It forces me to look at the wrinkles on my hands, and wonder when they came. It is reflected in the eyes of the cat at my feet who stares into a dimension of somewhere else. It makes me long to lay with her and stroke her hair as if all will be well. It calls like the chatter of squirrels and the chirping of pigeons that land in my hands. It smells of clean hair and wet grass and of the open sea at dawn. It tugs at my shoulder to turn and remember times of anguish and sorrow. It begs me to give comfort before it cannot be felt. It sings the songs we grew up with, and the songs we sang together. It hears the harmonies and counter melodies of love. It grips the wheel of times past and steers them into my presence. It freezes the smiles on our faces. It measures the scope of a lifetime in the blink of an eye. It consumes the wondrous tastes of foods in other lands. It toasts the flavors of wines and liquors of adventures shared, but, It keeps its own counsel. It sows futures of flowers that will bloom unseen, even as we smell them together. It asks that I choose the time for weeping. It promises to bring an end to the pain of living with damaged faculties, but It keeps the truth from both of us. It knows that it keeps its own counsel, and I know that she will find rest before I do.
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And You Danced By: Caleb Johnson You were two years old You were oblivious and happy And you danced because you wanted to You didn’t know right from wrong You didn’t even know, a song was a song But you danced anyway You danced because you wanted to You You And You You You You
were ten years old loved life for being life you danced for the joy of dancing didn’t know what was to come didn’t need to “know” at all just danced anyway danced because you were young
You were eighteen years old But you were thirty inside And you danced when and where you were told You danced when they said you could You danced more than anyone should But you danced anyway You danced because you had to You danced…because what else could you do? What else could you do?
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By Randi Honkonen I can picture the photo in all its cuteness and clarity, even behind the crinkled, yet clear photo album film. I see myself sitting in a blue chair in my living room, red shorts, no shirt, Pooh Bear wrapped up in my left arm, my right arm wrapped up in a sling. I am only three years old in this photo, my bowl-shaped hairstyle confirming the time period. It is because of this young age (or my active, story-writing imagination?) that I cannot remember precisely how I shattered the growth plate below my right elbow. I am told I was jumping on my parents’ bed with my brother Ryan when I had a nasty fall. No cat-like reflexes or ballerina balance for me just yet. Maybe this was when I decided I would never
dance ballet, only jazz and modern. Let’s say I crashed in a collapsing Martha Graham-inspired style, just falling too far for my little arms to catch me. That’s how I imagine it anyway. I would not have fallen haphazardly; I was and still am too OCD for that. However, the thing that confuses me to this day, the aspect of this event that I will never know, is why I fell. When I tell the story, I envision my brother shoving me in a fit of sibling rage. I was the youngest, and of course at this time the angel child, so I just assume he hated me and pushed me to my death (disappointed I only broke an arm, no doubt). But is this the truth? When I was three and Ryan was five, we got along. We were each other’s closest friend and always spent time together: we played outside in the sprinkler, formed a gang with the neigh-
borhood boys to catch caterpillars and, when we got older, I watched him play video games (he never let me play – he knew I would win). We even used to have friendly leg wrestling matches, which I won, or so my memory tells me. So why do I think he would have pushed me off the bed? Was jealousy enough to inflict such pain? Why would a close friend and family member ever do such a thing? Why does this remind me of A Separate Peace? Maybe my hindsight biases my process of remembering. Maybe events that occurred five or so years after my fall have clouded my memory and changed my retrospective thinking to something that can no longer be objective. Maybe the current relationship I have with my brother reinforces this idea. Maybe
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instead of remembering how I got airborne before the crash I instead think of space rockets soaring through a classroom. Just a sidenote: I am a nerd. I went to science camp. However, I was a cool nerd because I got to leave early to go to dance practice for my big recital. You may resume the story now: In our younger days, my brother and I got along. As we got older, however, he started getting new friends. I always wanted to be like him and hang with the guys. (I am still like this, finding more camaraderie in my guy friends over my girls.) And so I followed my brother to science camp. I know it is embarrassing to be shown up by your little sister, and stupidly, yes, I mocked him when I did outsmart him. My eight-year-old self boldly walked up to my brother and asked him to look at the scoreboard for our targeted rocket competition. His team had a whopping zero. My teammate and I, both girls, had a decent amount of points for getting close to the target. Even though I provoked him in front of his new friends, I was still utterly surprised when he punched me in the mouth. I never told my parents about this; I simply dealt with it and tried my best to accept the fact that my brother was slipping away. Even if I would have told my mom, I like to think she would have said I deserved to get hurt. Ryan was the favorite (now that I was older and not as quiet and angelic) and he could do 8 | Autumn 2012
no wrong. I was the perfectionist who could never be good enough at this stage of my youth. I actually got grounded for getting Bs in elementary school when my brother got rewarded for the same grades. Was I jealous? Most likely. I just wanted some type of parental approval for my hard work, but it never came. Why would my mom pay attention now, just because I was hurt? Maybe because of my mother or the laws of society, my brother and I would never be as close as we were when we were young children. We drifted apart when he got new friends and was allowed to “hang out” at malls and at other people’s houses. And then there was high school, where spending time with his nerdy sister would damage his reputation as “cool guy who everyone likes, even though he’s kind of awkward.” I distinctly remember Ryan’s friends telling me that I would ruin his senior prom by being there. He wouldn’t be able to be himself with his little sister following him around, sneaking pictures for Mom and being the talk of the school. I was still a nerd, and I got asked to prom as a sophomore, which is unheard of unless you were the type of girl who put out, which I did not (unless you meant sharing my knowledge and helping people with homework, which I did quite generously). Apparently, my attendance at prom was torture for my big brother since he was now following in my shadow in other aspects of high school. I was beating him in academics and I even made the Scholar Challenge team that he trained for, never getting to compete. I am deeply sorry for casting such a shadow on my brother, especially in his senior year of high school, but
no amount of atonement can fix the past. Even now, in our adult lives, we cannot get our childhood closeness back. I thought we were starting to stitch ourselves back together, to weave ourselves back into a family, now that we were both away from home. My only evidence, though, is the fact that my brother had entrusted me with the secret of his engagement. I was the first family member that he told. However, Ryan told me over AIM (not even a phone call to his darling sister), and he ended the conversation with “Don’t tell Mom.” You always know that’s bad. (Here’s the foreshadowing moment the writer in my head should have hung on to.) At the time, however, I liked my brother’s fiancée. She was a little snobby, but I hadn’t had any problems with her. And over dinner one day I made my brother believe that I approved of Sara. (Since we both lived in Columbus, Ohio, sometimes we would meet for dinner to exchange items from home if one of us had recently visited. Otherwise, we didn’t talk much, despite our geographic closeness.) During one of these such dinners, I brought my boyfriend along, since he had met Ryan’s fiancée, and my brother and I still weren’t close enough to have dinner alone. Ryan asked us both if we liked Sara, since Mom was giving him a rough time about how selfish Sara was. My boyfriend had only met her once, so he only said she seemed cool (although he really thought she was a little (Continued on page 9)
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princess). I honestly told my brother, “I have never had a problem with her.” But that is all I said. I did not mention that I thought she was selfish; I didn’t even mention the story I heard about her high school dating career. Apparently, she only dated guys long enough for them to buy her expensive jewelry, and if they didn’t dish out the big dollars right away she would ask for expensive gifts. I was also hoping my usually angry and outspoken boyfriend would just be honest and tell my brother to his face how controlling Sara was. (Oh well, his lack of balls is one reason we are no longer together.) Should I have brought these things up, my true feelings about Sara? I sure as hell don’t know. Maybe I would have saved my brother some heartache. Maybe he wouldn’t have waited until the day before the wedding to realize he didn’t want to marry her, at least not yet. And even this he only learned for himself because she called off the wedding, throwing the rings in his face the morning after the bachelor party. After almost a year, my brother has not figured his life out; he is still living with Sara. I have been plotting to dress as a ninja and kick her out, but I just don’t have the motivation to knock sense into my brother, since he almost knocked a tooth out of me so many years ago. Maybe that is why I always tell people my big brother maliciously shoved me off a bed, letting me fall to my doom and a not-so-fun trip to
the hospital. He punched me at science camp, he ditched me as a friend, especially in high school, and our relationship hasn’t mended yet. Maybe it’s because he has never been as good of a big brother as my close guy friends. Maybe I just like to see the humor in life. Using logic, the breaking of my arm most likely unfolded like the tree branch scene in A Separate Peace: there was a shifting of weights, as both of us bounced on the bed, and his comparatively heavier frame combined with my frailty, combined with the opposing rhythms of our bodies catapulted me into the air and then quickly to the floor. However, that is just not a fun memory for my story-writing brain; a forced falling that hints at a future falling out makes much more sense to that crazy little author dancing around in my mind. When I remember it this way, the moment of being pushed off the bed pushed me away from my brother at an early age. It was a sign that I would never be exceptionally close with my brother. His involvement in breaking my arm broke our future relationship. However, my arm was a clean break and it healed so well that I have to look at that photo to know which arm was broken. The loss of my brother’s friendship was a messy, blurry break that can’t really be pinpointed to one specific time or situation; not the falling or the science camp fight or the rudeness of instant messaging me about his engagement. Despite our shattered relationship, I know I really should try talking to my brother, try to reason with him, maybe even kick out the little brat. But I don’t. I don’t want to. Part of me is really enjoying being the favorite child,
the one who now can do no wrong (as long as the boys I bring home have no tattoos). But the other part of me cares about my brother enough to know that he won’t listen to me, or anyone in the family, since he doesn’t even listen to his closest friends. Even his best man (aka the “worst man” according to Sara – skank) hasn’t been able to talk sense into him. If he can’t get through, it can only lead to one conclusion for me: I’m powerless again, I’m that weakling jumping on a bed with no way to catch myself when I fall. I can’t stop him from screwing up his life. It will mean more if he figures it out on his own, but right now he just needs out of that situation, for his own sanity and for more mental clarity. He needs to be able to stand on his own two feet and do what he really wants in life. Jason Mraz says it best: “If it’s a broken part replace it, if it’s a broken arm then brace it, if it’s a broken heart then face it. And hold your own, know your name, and go your own way.” Even if he takes this advice and fixes his own life, Ryan won’t take the first step to repairing our broken relationship. I like to think that after Sara was out of the picture, I would keep my brother company, maybe have him hang out with me and my friends, to get his mind off the little leech he’s been with for three years. But deep down I know it won’t happen; we aren’t close enough for that to happen. Whether he meant to or not, my brother pushed me away.
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Walk Softly By: Caleb Johnson A wise boy, studied his way to become a wise man, who studied his way to become the wisest scholar, that the world had ever seen. And the wise scholar, knew every fact. in every book, he knew every quote from other wise men, who had lived who had breathed, or ever been And he shared his knowledge, he told the world of his inner-most revelations, he told the world of life and love, he told the world anything; everything And the masses gathered, they listened as he shouted his wise-ness, they listened even Godâ€™s animals, they listened all the humans and living things Until one day, his voice faded in their ears, his voice faded though his words were still wise, his voice faded Until not even a tiny ant, was left listening And the greatest of scholars, was left puzzling over this one, unsolved riddle, left puzzling Until he shriveled into his beard, still puzzling On, and into the endless dream For the wisest scholar, that the world had ever seen Who knew every word that had breathed, or ever been Who shared with the world, anything; everything Who had been revered by all humans, and living things And who had eventually been left puzzling, with no one listening Had weighted his words, and spoken his words with weight Until they carried none
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By: Randi Honkonen You can see it now, the headline in tomorrow’s paper: “Janice Somebody shoots husband; claims it was accidental”. You can imagine the lead of the article explaining in a little more detail that you were fighting with Bob, he beat you, you tried to scare him with a gun, and then you tripped, unintentionally firing the weapon. You know not everyone will believe you. You continue washing your hands in the kitchen, trying hard not to cry. Your 5-year-old son Robert is sitting at the kitchen table playing with Matchbox cars and he thinks daddy just went hunting and will be back soon. But you know what really happened. Bob came home late from work as usual, and you were working on the last load of
laundry when he arrived. Bob didn’t waste any time; he started laying into you the second he walked into the bedroom, accusing you of spending too much time with your son instead of his laundry. He yells, “Get the laundry done, bitch, and come to bed with me. You are my wife, you know.” You try your best to ignore him and his rancid beer breath while you go on folding laundry and collecting the last of the dirty items into a laundry basket. Your silence angered Bob, and he shoved you down to the floor, spitting on you, slinging profanities like a farmer sowing seeds. You dropped the bundle of laundry in your arms and glanced up at Bob, seeing if he had more to dish out. He did. He slapped you across the face and shoved you down each time you feebly tried to stand up.
“Tell me you love me, darling, ‘cuz I don’t think you do. Otherwise you would have finished the laundry BEFORE I got home. Stupid cunt!” Along with that remark, you received another blow to the cheek, which burned your face, made your jaw ache, and caused you to bite your tongue. Despite the pain, you remained silent and stayed on the floor. You pretended to collect the laundry you dropped, but when Bob turned his head you reached under your bed for Bob’s handgun, cradled in the bed springs and kept as a self defense measure. You shook with fear, but still managed to stand up and point the wobbling gun at Bob. Both of you stared at each other in silence. You wondered what was going through his mind and why he
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had such a pleased look on his face while your mind was racing in torment. You closed your eyes, still shaking and holding the gun, and thought back to a day almost six years ago when you told Bob you were pregnant. You were excited, hoping the child would bring you two closer together and lessen your everyday bickering. Bob, however, was a bit selfish. Your husband, even then, accused you of wanting to spend time with the child instead of making love to him, washing his clothes, being his wife. He told you to fix your accident and get an abortion, but you refused. Bob, a few days later, said he was okay with having a child, but you never really believed him. You loved Bob unconditionally, but you would never forgive him for being jealous of your son. You were near tears when your mind came back to the
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present, but Bob was laughing. “That’s a big gun for such a little lady. Bet I can show you something bigger!” He moved towards you and you backed away, just as quickly. “Fine then, we’ll play rough,” Bob maniacally chuckled, and he shoved you one more time towards the wall. You stumbled backwards, each foot catching a piece of laundry, continually tangling you up with every step. You began to lose your balance, and slowly your back curved out as you fell towards the bedroom wall. Panicking, your first instinct was to try to grab onto something so you would not fall to the ground. All you had was a gun in your hand, though, and your finger on the trigger. Your right index finger curled up along with your other fingers into a grasping grip while your left hand flailed to reach the dresser to catch yourself. Both of your hands closed tightly into fists, your left succeeding in grabbing the corner of the dresser, your right accidently
firing a shot into the room. You continued your fall backwards and hit the wall, steadied yourself, and looked over at your husband. You saw his blank stare and blood trickling from a hole in his chest while he collapsed to the floor. His body folded over itself and matched the few items of clean laundry folded neatly near the corner of the bed. “It was an accident. It was an accident. I didn’t mean to do it. I tripped. It was only an accident,” you tell yourself at the sink, still washing your hands just minutes after the incident. You keep thinking, “How can I explain that something that took me only a few seconds to do will change my son’s life forever? How can I tell him that accidents brought him into the world and took his father out of it? Can I live with myself and not tell him? It was just an accident…”
Silent Pen By: Kay Rice The pen has grown quiet and cold, The stories, silent, unable to be told. The whispers that came freely on the night wind, Have faded and all but refused to begin. A tear falls like a petal of a dying rose, Words which flowed freely, now are froze. No voice comes in the form of fresh ink, The messenger of words, now gone in a blink. The winter has wrapped around in a silent cover, Silencing the pen of the muse and its lover. Dreams remain tucked away like long dormant seeds, Until the warmth returns and the pen again bleeds. The pen remains quiet, alone and so cold, The storied gather dust, as memories grow old. The whispers which arrived on moonbeams at night, Have long since vanished with the coming of light.
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Rules for Living:
stop too many people; you don’t believe me? Watch the Jerry Springer show. Family members will disrespect each other in ways that should make what appears to be a normal family leap for joy that they are not on the show. These are just a few of the reasons why my Rule 67 is: there is no life in the world without love.
There is No Life in the World Without Love By Jeff Lafferty, Columnist Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “Family love is messy, clinging, and of an annoying and repetitive pattern, like bad wallpaper.” Just based on that quote alone, I would like to think that some of you may or may not have a better holiday than the Nietzsche home. Another quote that comes to mind when I came up with this rule was, “You can pick your friends, and you can pick your enemies, but you can’t pick your family.” There is just an unconditional love when it comes to family. It’s difficult at times because a family member can do some things that you would not like and that you would not appreciate, and the next thing that you know, you are just shaking your head and saying to yourself, “If this wasn’t a family member, I would have kicked the crap right out of him.” In some families that doesn’t really 14 | Autumn 2012
Love can be defined as an “intense feeling of deep affection.” Everybody has their own definition of what love is. It can be used as a noun, or if you are really a romantic, as a verb. Whatever definition that you want to use and whatever way you want to use it, the term means something different to everybody. We all have experienced love at an early age. Most people have felt that puppy dog love feeling. If you are not familiar with that feeling, it’s a feeling that’s described as “simple infatuation”. Everybody has fallen in love with a person at an early age. Young females write out their names and the name of the person that they love inside of a heart on a piece of paper, on a bathroom wall, or in a note. Now in this computer age, they would just text or email that person, or keep the crush to themselves because they don’t want the crush to be known in the event that the other person doesn’t feel the same way about them. Some people don’t have this feeling as much as some others. Sadly, almost all of us know of somebody who is married to a person who doesn’t appreciate them and who doesn’t support them in the way that you know
a committed couple should treat each other. You try to tell that person that it shouldn’t be that way, but that person just tells you, “I understand what you are saying, and I appreciate you caring, but I love that person.” We all tell everybody how we want to be treated. Most people live their lives by the golden rule, “Do unto others as you would have done unto you”. In other words, treat people the way you would want to be treated. We tell the people around us how we want to be treated as a person, however, when in love, we don’t always stand up for it. We all have different hats and labels we wear in our relationships and that we must wear at different times. I am a father, husband, son, brother, uncle, brother in law, and son -in-law. All those different hats I wear all start with love. If you follow my columns, Rule #1 is Do what you have to, family comes first. Love means something different to each and every person. You can love a friend and love your wife or husband but it would be a different kind of love. It’s a simple four-letter word that makes your day when you hear someone say it to you. No matter what kind of day you’re having, if you have someone who tells you they love you, it changes your attitude and view on the rest of the day. There are only a couple of other feelings that may come close to that feeling when you have somebody tells you they love you. Pride, hope, caring
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all come close, but each of those feelings originate with love. And hearing “I love you” from someone for the first time forever changes you. If you are a parent, chances are you can still remember the first time your child said they loved you. Being a father of three, I remember the first times my children came to me and gave me the sweetest, “I love you.” Now, I know when some of you are reading this, some of you are saying “Jeff, c’mon you don’t really feel this way...” I really do, and deep down inside, everyone feels this way. I don’t care who you are and what your history is, where you grew up,
what your family dynamic is, the moment that you hear somebody tell you that they love you, you have a feeling that puts you on top of the world. Still not convinced? Remember the movie “Beauty and the Beast”? The beast is tough to live with at times and has come to realization that he is going to live the rest of his life alone. Then he falls in love with the beauty and tries to become somebody that he is not until the time comes when he needs to tell her how he feels. Being in love reminds him of his human side. That’s falls under Rule #23: Tell the people you love that you love them! Without this rule, the world just wouldn’t be the same place.
There’s enough hate in this world. There are enough people in this world identifying you by what you buy, who you vote for, the way you dress, what team you root for. If you are one of those people and believe the people are you know you love them, just surprise them and tell them. Don’t feel dumb or stupid about it. No matter how someone shows another person how much they love one another, it’s all about love. It starts at love. I know this sounds naïve, but I am picturing a world with just a little more love in it. So put a little love in your heart and remember, there’s no life in the world without love.
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A Matter of Life and Death
by Brenda Roberts The ticking of the clock was an agonizing pendulum of doom in his mind. Every tick hammered home his fear, his dread, as he waited. He glanced at the door now and then, frozen in time between ticks of the clock, each second taking a full minute to reach the next. Then he'd hear the next tick and continue pacing. He'd tried to sit at some point. He could not remember now how long ago that had been, only that it had been a futile effort. He wanted to tear his hair out, scream in frustration, gnash his teeth, but instead he continued his small path worn close to the door, back and forth, waiting … waiting. The lesser man inside him wanted to run and hide. Why should he be forced to endure this? Tick … tick … tick … Hysteria whelmed up inside his chest. He paused in his pacing long enough to fight it 16 | Autumn 2012
back, panting at first and slowly, slowly taking deeper, slower, deliberate breaths. He stared at the door. He just wanted it over with. Tick … tick … tick … Slowly the door swung open. Panic caught his breath and stopped it cold, his stomach churning in agony, his mind only wishing to smash that ticking clock to pieces. Frozen in time, his mouth opened in a silent scream, his eyes pleading with the man that walked through the door and straight over to him. He felt, no … watched, as if he were floating in the corner, watched his arms lift up, stretching out toward the man, not daring to hope for redemption, as the man gave him the object that had his entire being in knots, and said the words he could hear but not fathom: “It's a boy.” Relief. Relief from that damnable clock, from the agony and dread, from the pacing. He was handed the life that made it all worthwhile, and he felt the weight of the world lifted from his shoul-
ders. As he stared into his newborn son's eyes for the first time, and as his son stared back, as if he could say through his eyes, “I'm here now Daddy, you don't have to be afraid,” he felt a lifetime flash before his eyes and between the two of them – his past life, his son's future life. The dreams of both held before them forging a connection that would last forever. His chest swelled with pride, and he held his son with wonder and a love so great he was certain he would burst from it. A single solitary tear of joy slid down his face. And somewhere, as if from a tunnel far away, he heard the doctor's voice more solemn than befit the moment, and the unsmiling voice was saying, “I'm sorry, but your wife didn't make it.” Tick … tick … tick …
Brenda Roberts worked as a programmer before becoming a stay-at-home mom, and decided to pursue her love of fiction writing two years ago. Brenda is a member of Romance Writers of America and is currently writing her first manuscript, in addition to occasional short stories and poetry. She lives in Marysville with her husband, Robert, and their two children. Brenda can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Take Flight By: Kay Rice Wings torn, again, from her scarred back, Bloodied and forsaken from years attacked. Though ripped and pulled so often before, They always tried to return, just once more. Flightless and maimed, chained to the ground, Voice ripped from a throat, left with no sound. Yet, voice would attempt to return so long, And once again, sing its joyous song. Songless and flightless, a bird with no hope, Chained to her cage with a short tethered rope. Fearing life will continue, but not ready to die, Dreaming of lost songs, and when she could fly. Feathers and wings grow back on this bird, A voice cries loud as she sings her word. But talons have grown, with razor-sharp blade, From a sparrow, this cage, a phoenix is made. No small wings, or gentle sweet song is left, A bird so majestic and strong arises from death. Strength to fight back, against feet tethered tight, As talons and beak taste blood in the fight. No cage can now hold these strong wings, AS fight returns and voice again sings. The chains that once held the weak so tight, Have been shredded for good, in this final fight. Freedom takes hold as wind lifts her up, Soaring to heights that will never stop. She arises, alive, whole, and once again free, The world opens for her now, with wonders to see.
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Robert Somebody and Miss Communication
By Randi Honkonen “Jackie, I can’t believe you talked me into this.” Robert was adjusting his collar in the mirror, trying to get it to lay just right. Not neat and pressed, though. Robert was going for that “I just grabbed this out of the hamper and threw it on” look. Once his collar was rumpled enough to look natural, Robert sat down on his queen sized bed and started putting on a pair of socks. “Jackie, stop looking at me and drooling; be a good dog and go find my Chucks.” Jackie hurried out of the bedroom and, in less than a minute, proudly pranced back to Robert’s side with a beatup pair of shoe laces in her mouth, the shoes dragging behind her. Robert loved the 18 | Autumn 2012
faithfulness of dogs, a quality that was hard to find in people.
thought, “then I would be capable of talking to her.”
“Thatta girl! You be good while I’m gone!” Robert laced up the shoes, took one last look at his tangled locks of hair, and then grabbed the leather journal on the bedside table and headed out the door.
This woman was supposed to be different from the rest. “She is perfect for you, trust me darling,” Robert was told. But Robert started fidgeting with his collar again, and started rummaging through his glove box for a Camel Light. He didn’t really want to smoke before meeting someone; he just wanted the comforting feeling of the paper between his fingers and lips, and maybe a slight whiff of the familiar scent. His dad had smoked Camel Lights, and so did Robert.
Robert drove straight to the park, knowing he would be over an hour early for his date. He wanted time to write, read, stress out, de-stress—whatever it took to prepare him for this meeting. He needed some time to scope out this new woman and build up the confidence to speak to her. He had never been able to speak on any of his other blind dates; he couldn’t even muster a friendly “Hi, I’m Robert”, and this phenomenon Robert attributed to fate. “If she was the one,” Robert
While driving, Robert began thinking about why he was going on a blind date, with a woman he had never seen or talked to. He received the suggestion while on a blind
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date last week—and wow, that night was a successful fiasco. ∞ Robert had gone through a similar preparation routine last week: tugging at his clothes and hair to make them imperfect, savoring the tranquility a cigarette could bring him, and talking to his dog. Robert clearly needed a woman in his life, so he had sent in a personals ad to the Manhattan Weekly, in hopes of finding his soul mate. Instead, a “Miss Andria” responded to the ad and invited Robert out for drinks. When Robert arrived at the pub, he noticed a woman that was outlandishly dressed, literally brightening the dimly lit room. Her eye makeup alone kept the corner table she was sitting at in enough light that the usual candle was not lit. Andria called over to him, “You must be Robert! Come have a seat, we absolutely must get acquainted! I already ordered you a drink, I hope you like Scotch on the rocks?” Robert just nodded in agreement, not able to take his eyes off Andria. Something just wasn’t right, but Robert couldn’t focus his mind on what it could be. He wished the pub was not so dark; maybe then he could find out what was hidden behind those glittering eyes. The two sat in silence until the drinks arrived, Andria trying to make eye contact with Robert while Robert tactfully avoided her gaze by admiring the artful disorder of the pub.
Andria decided to abruptly break the silence. “Robert, I have something to tell you,” she began. “Hmm?” replied Robert. “You see, Robert, you are really not my type. At all. No offense, in my opinion you seem really dull.” Robert’s face began to twist up in confusion. Why had he been dragged on this date then, if Andria was not interested in him. “Robert,” Andria continued, “I’m pretty sure I am not your type either.” At this statement, now that his eyes were adjusted to the dark, Robert took another close, scrutinizing look at Andria and was quite surprised. “Robert, my name isn’t Andria either, it’s Adrian.” Adrian, it turned out, was a man dressed as a woman, a full out drag queen, which explained the intense makeup and flamboyant dress. “I would still love to talk to you though…” At this point, Robert was not listening. Instead, he was searching and praying for a distraction so he could escape the date unnoticed. If only a car crashed through the front of the building, Robert thought, or a clown on a bicycle could come in, knock down a waiter, spill vodka on his lap and allow him to excuse himself and not return. None of those distracting disasters occurred, so Robert tried to politely listen to Adrian tell why he had responded to the personals ad in the first place: “Robert, my dear, I read your ad and it hit me that you must be struggling to find a partner. I am too! It’s insane! The people who answer personals ads are usually off the wall, and I’m sure you are thinking that of me. BUT, I do have
this friend, Serena. She is perfect for you, trust me darling. You simply must go out with her. After meeting you, and seeing how quiet you are, I just know you two will hit it off. You won’t have to say too much,” Adrian winked, his sparkling mascara bouncing what little light there was around the room. Adrian continued, “Next week, I will arrange it. I will call you with the details!” Adrian left money on the table for the Scotch and darted from the pub before Robert could even say a word. When he turned around, Robert only caught a flash of Adrian’s silver-glittered high heels just outside the doorway. ∞ “Why did I do this?” Robert kept pondering while cruising down the road until he reached the park. Panic set in again as Robert got out of his car and wandered to a shady bench near the pond. Glancing out over the pond, Robert spotted the Ferris wheel, the location where he was to meet Serena. He was far enough away so that if he saw Serena and she was really a man, he could dash back to his car. Sitting and anticipating made Robert more nervous. He had to do something, so he pulled out the journal that he always kept in his pocket. He ran his hand over the cover, reveling in the smoothness. The cover was worn and soft, a sign that this journal had traveled with him for years. Robert flipped through a few of his previous entries to calm his nerves and make him laugh
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about how awkward his past had been. Tucked inside his journal, Robert found a clipping from the Manhattan Weekly. He gently unfolded the newspaper, revealing his personals ad, the one that was answered only by a crossdressing man. It was a rather dull ad, listing his educational accomplishments, place of work, his nerdy hobbies of reading and writing. However, Robert supplemented his boring ad with this line: Robert is
also a member of the Rock Climbing Adventure Club in Manhattan and an active member of the Fudgesicle Fans of New York. Robert
thought that would make him sound more exciting or that people would at least think he was funny, since that line followed a rather uninteresting personality sketch. Robert folded the ad up again, and continued his perusing. He thought, “Why not start at the beginning?” He delicately opened the journal to the first page, lacking a date. Robert was too young at this point and did not see the need for dates or organization of any kind. The opening page read:
I love mommy. She takes care of me. She is strong. She gave me this journal the day she made daddy go away. She told me not to tell anyone. Daddy was a bad man. He hit mommy… Robert slammed shut the journal as a solitary tear slowly made its way from Robert’s eye, across his cheek and into the crease of 20 | Autumn 2012
his nose. When the tear reached his lip, Robert quickly brushed it away with the back of his hand, sniffled, and tried once more to relax. He knew of the perfect funny story that would lighten his mood and de-stress him before meeting his blind date. This “perfect story” took place on June 23rd, 1988—Robert’s 13th birthday and the last time he went on a real date with a girl. On this day, Robert had taken his girlfriend Sara for a ride in his mom’s cherry red mustang, which he had “borrowed” without asking. Sara wanted to thank Robert and wish him ‘Happy Birthday’, so she started caressing his penis as he drove. This event resulted in Robert’s first orgasm and his first scar, as he lost control of the vehicle shortly after loosing control of his emotions and hormones. He accelerated at the same time his heart did and he crashed into a huge oak tree. Sara’s airbag deployed and she was unharmed, but Robert was sent to the hospital for his injuries, including a diagonal seat belt scar across his chest. Robert has always been proud to tell people that he received his scar shortly after receiving a hand job. Despite his attempt to stifle his amusement, that story made Robert laugh out loud, a little louder than he expected because he scared himself and a nearby duck that was sneaking up behind him in search of food. Watching the spooked duck made Robert laugh even more, producing a tear of joy this time. He wanted to keep his spirits up, so Robert found another entry from his teenage years.
June 24th, 1991
Last night Mom and I celebrated my 16th birthday. I can’t believe she still gave me the repaired Mustang after what I did to it 3 years ago… Anyway, we just sat at home last night, shared a pizza, and watched Ninja Turtles. Mom knew I loved that movie when it was in theaters, so she got that for me as a present. AND she bought me fudgesicles! She NEVER lets me have junk food! I don’t know, last night will always stick in my mind, and I don’t really know why. I keep seeing it play over and over again in my head, the two of us silently watching a movie while pigging out on pizza. Sitting on the floor even! And eating straight from the box! Mom not only treated me well last night, she always does, you know, but I felt something more. I felt like I belonged there, like our family was complete, just the two of us. Perfection. Robert closed his eyes and envisioned that scene in his head. He wanted nothing more than to feel that feeling again, that feeling of belonging, like his entire life was falling into place and all he had to do was sit back and enjoy it. Robert felt loved by his mother then, and he wanted to be able to share that feeling again with someone else. That was in fact the last time Robert felt loved by his mother; a few days after his birthday, Robert came home from school and was greeted by social workers. Most of his belongings were packed and he was immediately carted off to a foster family. Robert was old enough to connect his mother’s absence with his (Continued on page 21)
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father’s—maybe she did more than ask his father to leave. His child-like mind at the time only wrote that “mommy made daddy go away” but as Robert grew older, he knew something terrible must have happened. But did his mom turn herself in? Did she flee because Robert had been asking about his dad recently? Robert never found out and he couldn’t stand being left like that. When he got older, Robert adopted a dog, Jackie, so he could enjoy the same comfort and silence that he experienced with his mother. Dogs love unconditionally too, so he did not have to worry about upsetting Jackie to the point where she would run away. She would always come back as long as Robert provided food, a roof, and a scratch on the belly. However, at the end of the day, Jackie was only a dog. She could not fill the void in Robert’s life that only a human could fill. Robert wanted more of that feeling of belonging in his life, not just from his pet. Maybe he could find that feeling with Serena. Maybe she was the one, Robert began thinking. He decided that in case she was his perfect match, he should capture the moment they met in writing.
May 2nd, 2009 Against my better judgment, I took relationship advice from a drag queen. I may laugh about this later, but for now I think I made a wise choice. As I sit here by the pond, ducks floating by, kids laughter spreading from every direction, I think I see her, Serena, walking with little purpose-
ful direction, a small notebook cradled in her arms. She is tall and slender, dark brown hair shimmering in the sun, wearing a modest length white skirt, layered lacey tank tops, and a pair of sunglasses on her head. She is early, and when not doodling (or sketching?) she is nervously looking over her shoulder at the Ferris wheel every two seconds. I think it’s cute, don’t ask me why. And I really hope she is sketching—it takes a lot of silent observation to capture the world in a drawing, or in my case, words. That capturing of the world takes patience and dedication, and the end product is knowledge—all very good qualities to find in a woman! I’m one of those guys who sees intelligence and even nerdiness as sexy traits, so anyone who is willing to learn by observation like that intrigues me. Wow, I hope she is the one, she is gorgeous! And she is definitely not a man in drag! I just get this vibe that she is a caring person too, you know? She looks like an angel…wait, scratch that, too cliché. She looks like a woman I could come home to every night and be satisfied no matter what. We could make love, we could make dinner, we could even just sit in silence, staring into a fireplace and her warm arms around me would be enough to send shivers through my whole body. Okay, a guy can imagine, right? She just stopped at the ice cream cart and I couldn’t help but observe her closely. A little boy in front of her held out his hand of change and the ice cream man just shook his head—the little boy must not have had enough money. Serena walked up to the cart and made her purchase. Then, I saw her go right over to the little boy,
tap him on the shoulder, and hand him an ice cream treat. He said “Thank you!!” and Serena just smiled, a silent and understood “you’re welcome!” …and now she is sitting on a bench across the pond from me, completely unaware that her mystery date is spying on her from afar. She just unwrapped her own fudgesicle! First she helps a poor little boy and now she is eating my one and only guilty pleasure. How can I just sit here and stare? I have to meet this girl! After extending his exclamation point, Robert shut his journal rather quickly and pocketed it, affectionately running his thumb over it. He started walking around the pond, trying too hard not to stare at his date. Robert couldn’t help looking in her direction; she seemed to give off a surreal glow. While enjoying her radiance, Robert tripped over a neglected fishing pole and almost lost his balance. He stopped, slowed his pace, and stared at his dirty Chucks for the rest of the walk. Robert’s palms began to sweat, and his mind started racing through everything written his journal, every failed dating situation of his teen years (lucky for him, there weren’t many, failed or successful), and to his date last week—“She is perfect for you.” Serena took one last lick of her fudgesicle and shifted her gaze from her sketch pad to Robert, who appeared like a stalker to her. He was close enough now to cast a shad-
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ow over Serena, and he was staring into her face, breathing heavily, and not saying a word. Serena replied only with a confused smile. Robert cleared his throat, ran his fingers through his hair, thumbed his journal again, un -straightened his shirt and opened his mouth to speak. He closed it, thought a moment, and tried again. His face must have looked strained because Serena appeared concerned, like Robert would faint any minute. It may have been his imagination, but Robert swore he saw Serena move her hand ever so slightly closer to her purse where he was sure she had a can of mace. Trying to ignore this, Robert took one more deep breath, collected his thoughts and stress, and spoke clearer than he ever had in his life. “Hi, I’m Robert.”
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Serena didn’t speak. Why didn’t she speak? Robert finally had the courage to speak, and now he felt like a moron. Robert’s mind was swimming in suspense and his arms and legs were twitching with energy, so Robert went back to perfecting his unkempt appearance. He thought, “She must think I’m weird, or creepy, or ugly. Damnit, why won’t she say something instead of tormenting me like this? Maybe she’s not Serena, or maybe Adrian told her I was a bore. Oh God, say something!” Serena pointed at herself and then moved her hands into simple shapes, a code that Robert did not understand. As she spelled her name in sign language, Robert only looked more puzzled. Serena realized this and she opened her mouth, her words coming out soft, almost clumsy. “I’m Serena,” she seemed to say, and then she added, with more complex hand motions along with jumbled
words, “It’s nice to meet you! You are cuter than Adrian said.” Serena smiled, and the simplicity of that sign was something Robert fully understood, unlike Serena’s symbols and strained speech. He smiled back and Serena motioned for him to sit down. Robert sat, but only after carefully calculating his movements for a few seconds. He sat close enough to show he was interested in her, but far enough away to keep a respectable distance between them. Robert pulled out his journal, running his fingers along the spine, reveling in the fact that he did not have to speak to have a conversation. He opened to a blank page, and he and Serena started their first conversation. Although it lacked spoken words, the short statements and genuine smiles were enough to prove that Adrian was right. Serena was perfect.
A Storm is Brewing By: Kay Rice The wind is blowing familiar words that warn, Feel the change, hold on tight for the storm. Heart is pounding, Ears are sounding, Blood is pumping, The storm is coming. Iâ€™ve been walking in this world asleep, Frozen, buried, lost in a tomb so deep. Hands clenched tight, Eyes targeted on sight, Feel the need to run, Storm clouds block the sun. I am not just a memory to be forgot. I am not a corpse left here to rot. Earth moves slow, Winds sharply blow, Feel the thunder within, A storm now begins. Say what you will to silence my voice. The wind will carry it on with no remorse. Heart is beating, Time is fleeting, The thunder rolls, Storms take their toll. Sleep-walking, Sleep-talking, like the walking dead, Nightmares are memories buried deep in the head. Wake up to rise, Time to fly, Hold on tight, This storm takes flight.
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Insanity By: Randi Honkonen Would you like to help me find My poor, lost, confuzzled mind? It ran away from me you see Like it tends to do so easily. I can’t concentrate; my thoughts are all hazy Please don’t tell me that I’ve gone crazy! I just don’t understand how someone smart like me Could ever become the victim of insanity.
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Grendelâ€™s Lament By: Melanie Jobes Dark, still water shining hall mother-love and heroes Valhalla waits. But not for me. Cold-teated bitch and shining, golden hero. Valhalla waits, striving, yearning, reaching for all the glory gods, but not for me. Blood, dark and shining, and arm torn fatally asunder, Valhalla waits. Grendell weeps and dies.
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Be sure to check out www.palmergrove.wordpress .com on Monday, January 7, 2012 to catch the release of the new Palmer Grove.
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Published on Nov 12, 2012
Published on Nov 12, 2012
The mission of Palmer Grove is to create a platform where creative individuals can share their work and interests through the publication of...