The Hunger Issue
The Hunger Issue
Get Featured! Think youâ€™ve got what it takes? Weâ€™re always looking for more artists to feature and more writers. Email us at PaperfingerArts@yahoo.com to submit your poem, short story or to tell us about an artist you think deserves to be featured. Like us on facebook and follow us on twitter for updates and to be alerted the first friday of every month so you donâ€™t miss an issue!
Looking for advertising space? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for pricing information.
facebook.com/paperfingermagazine @paperfingermag paperfingermag.tumblr.com/
10 Feature Meaghan Potter
reative Writing by Kristiane
28 Stephanie Erdman 22 Tests are Meant to be Broken Madden Kristiane Greg Weeks 30 26 Some Comic Relief Andrew Daugherty 34 Lois GohCourtney Clark 30 DragonflyShort Clark 32 Like a Nice Juicy Turkey Nicholas Arico 36LegMichelle stories
40 Michelle Clark Bio 42 Michelle Clark 50 Brooke Plummer 52 Maggie Loya 56 Yanpin Soong 62 Carloline Hoadley 9
Potter Jessica Frick
Potter Jessica Frick
here are some artists that have the ability to touch deep into your soul and make you feel something unique. Meaghan Potter evokes that feeling in me. Maybe it’s because Meaghan and I clearly share a deep love of animals and nature, maybe it’s her ability to pay delicate attention to detail while still using beautiful loose brush strokes, either way, it is safe to say I am a fan of her work. Meaghan is an Australian artist and a recent graduate from The National Art School in Sydney with Honors in Fine
Arts, in school she focused on ceramics and drawing yet like most artists, she doesn’t limit herself to one medium. “Well I myself feel open to all genres of creation. At the national art school we studied painting, ceramics, drawing, photography, sculpture and printmaking as well being exposed to many other forms of art in our theoretical studies. I guess if I was to step out of my comfort zone it would be into performance or endurance art.” To be honest I am not quite sure what “Endurance Art” is but if you give it a try let us know, Meaghan, that sounds awesome! 13
I guess it is, like most things drawn from an alien scale, a reminder of our sublime reality on this earth.â€?
Her earliest memories of her artistic abilities go all the way back to grade school: “I remember making a solar system for a school project which I have kept till this day despite my mum trying to throw the “ratty thing” away haha! I’m not even really sure why I like it so much. I guess it is, like most things drawn from an alien scale, a reminder of our sublime reality on this earth.” Although she was clearly talented in looking at life from a grand scale she has recently taken her art to a much smaller scale, looking at the intricacies found in nature. Like the dutch artists of the 18th century Meaghan is taking time to explore and appreciate nature with her art. “My works at the moment are all drawn from nature. Particularly from dogs and cats but also more recently from Australian Flora” Her favorite artist include Maria Cardoso, Greg Dunn and Claire Desjardins. “I applaud each of these artists for a variety of reasons. I am deeply in tune with Cardoso’s artistic view of live which is summed up in my favourite quote from her:
‘I am very interested in Chaos and Complexity theory, where simple units form complex systems, and if you follow those systems, it somehow connects us to the universe.’ Dunn’s artistic expression of his knowledge in neurological fields is astounding and a beautiful reminder that interdisciplinary success allows for all audiences to connect on one issue. And Desjardins appeals to me on a purely aesthetic level. I aspire to be able to create abstract art as fluently and gracefully as she does.” Meaghan doesn’t limit herself to just art, she also has interests in gardening and cooking. If you would like to contact Meaghan to purchase any of her work, speak to her about a commission, or just to say hi you can contact her at meaghan.potter03@ gmail.com, she also has a website which is updated with her latest works http://meaghanpotter.wordpress.com/ as well as a facebook page https://www. facebook.com/MeaghanPotterArtist and an etsy page https://www.etsy.com/ shop/MeaghanGraceGallery
Tests are meant
to be broken Greg Madden
n my sophomore year at John Adams High School, in the spring of 2004, I broke a rule. According to the school, I created disorder; I corrupted my identity; I became unknowable; I became a source of entropy, chaos, confusion. According to me, I skipped the ISTEP in favor of The Original Pancake House on Ironwood road, just past Edison (their Apple Pancakes really are to die for). Essentially, standardized tests, like the ISTEP, are built to account for students— the tests measure how well a student is adhering to the state mandated standards. By skipping the test, I became score-less. I was unaccounted for—the school had no means of prescribing a value to me. I broke a rule and fell out of the pattern. Without a prescribed value I was unpredictable. Unpredictability is the arch-nemesis of standardized tests; unpredictability is the bane of authority’s existence. The school didn’t care that I’d been taking Advanced Placement classes for nearly an entire year; the school saw no difference between score-less and scoring a zero. So
I got thrown into remedial classes as a punishment to ensure my future predictability. The administration spoke to me with reassuring buzzwords. They informed me that I wouldn’t get “left behind,” the remedial classes used “statistically sound pedagogy” that was sure to “inform student success.” In the remedial classes I “learned” to eliminate wrong answers—this would increase my chances of guessing correctly; to get a good night’s sleep—this would help me maintain focus on the test; to eat well before taking the test—good nutrition is linked to attaining higher scores. Perhaps my choice of pancakes wasn’t entirely misguided—I just needed to make sure to actually take the test in the first place. Years later I found myself in an awkward and ironic position: preparing sophomores to pass the new ISTEP, aptly renamed the ISTEP+ ECA (End of Course Assessment). I was fighting a constant battle against unpredictability. Students must be predictable; every student must be accounted for, numbered, labeled, and valued; every student must take the ECA. What’s more, the ECA doesn’t only affect the student; schools, just like the students, must be 23
accounted for—schools are judged, labeled, and valued based upon their ECA statistics. We’ve all heard the teacher-maligned phrase “teaching to the test,” but it may come as a surprise that I instructed not to “teach to the ECA.” Over the years battling unpredictability has become far more advanced. As a warrior against unpredictability, I was told to prepare students for the Acuity test: a meta-test designed to predict the results of the ECA. I taught to the Acuity meta-test by using Acuity Sample Tests. These Acuity Sample Tests served as meta-meta-tests; the school had me gather data from the sample tests to predict how students would do on the Acuity Test which would predict the overall results of the actual test, the ECA. Predictors of predictors of assessments, it’s a postmodern world after all. Indiana spends roughly $46.2 million on these tests per year. The fact that these $46.2 million tests only account for about 0.7% of Indiana’s $6.6 billion education budget makes these tests seem innocuous, but viewing these tests as anything but insidious is a mistake. The Indiana Department of Education obscures this insidiousness by explaining the economic value of these tests: From a sheer dollars and cents perspective, for every $46 dollars we spend on testing, we receive roughly $615 dollars in federal funds. So, while only spending less than one percent of our state education funding on testing, we receive a 1200 percent return on our investment by way of federal funding. (IDOE)
But this is where the testing becomes problematic: with Indiana depending on the federal funds from giving this test, along with schools being funded based on how well the students perform, the entire function of public education shifts from helping students learn to helping schools make money. Now, all of this isn’t to say that standardized tests, in and of themselves, are bad. Public education is funded by the public; the public has a right to know what they are paying for: standardized tests scores are meant to display the quality of education their tax dollars are buying. But the public isn’t buying education; they’re buying a test. The phrase “teaching to the test” no longer accurately describe the problem: public education has become a test. No child is left behind because there are no children, only values. What’s more, these tests are easily broken. For all the predictability they are built to provide, school administrations rely so heavily on these tests that they lose the ability to predict anything outside of the test; the school loses its peripheral vision. Back in 2004, when I skipped the ISTEP, my actions may have been misguided but were far from surprising: what 16 year old wouldn’t choose delicious Apple Pancakes over a four-hour standardized test? Unlike the public that pays for education and gets tests instead—when I buy Apple Pancakes from The Original Pancake House, I actually get what I pay for: delicious Apple Pancakes.
Some comic relief Andrew Daugherty
unday afternoon. A man and his son sit on the steps of a Catholic Church. The congregation is long gone and the two relax in the sun. The boy, seven years old, found a charred stick in a trashcan three blocks back. Now he uses it to write his name on the concrete steps. Passerby stare at the couple enjoying the warmth in their dirty clothes, the heat sticking their oily hair to the backs of their necks. They do not attend this church. The boy’s stomach growls. He says nothing, only staring at the empty cup at their feet. He turns his brown eyes to a young woman in a green dress. She drops a quarter in the cup without a word or smile and continues on her way. A teen walks by eating chips. A little girl licks ice cream from a cone as she skips to catch up to her mother. A drop of sweat behind the father’s ear vibrates from a nearby buzzing. He swats the air with a dirty hand. The boy watches a flash of blue seemingly disappear, reappearing a second later in the garden beside the steps. After following the blur for some seconds, he watches the dragonfly land on a wilting sunflower. Scales catch and softly reflect sunlight. The jingle of a coin hitting the cup pierces the air. The dragonfly takes flight, circling passerby on the street. The insect dodges irate hands and jerking necks before settling on a flower again. The boy moves closer, careful not to startle it into sudden flight. Thin legs twitch beneath translucent wings. It’s slender body sways on the flower as a breeze stirs the stale air.
The father holds out the cup to a young couple. “Excuse me...” he begins. The man drops something into the cup and hurries along, his hand on the small of the woman’s sweat-slicked back. “Dad,” the boy says, his eyes following the dragonfly’s legs. “Why do people always wave dragonflies away? They look so pretty and harmless.” The father counts the money in the cup. “All they do is buzz around and annoy.” He stands and pulls the boy up by his elbow. The boy’s sudden movement sends the dragonfly into the air. He turns his head to find it but it buzzes too quickly. The father swats the air around his ears. “Plus, they’re worthless.” It lands on the sidewalk. The boy imagines the confusion he’d feel if someone much bigger than him pushed him away. He thought he’d have to settle somewhere to get his bearings. Like the sidewalk. “Let’s try the baptists. Maybe they’ll have a little compassion,” the father says. He pulls the boy down the sidewalk. When the boy looks back, the dragonfly is still on the ground. One wing is crushed to the concrete, a splash of blue decorating the cracks like street art. One wing floats in the breeze as if trying to take flight. A dirty boot print surrounds the body like a conviction in his father’s size.
Like a nice
juicy turkey leg Nicholas Arico
wenty etchings on the side of the wagon meant twenty days since the last cattle died. The etchings were a brief way for Henry to pass the time. He’d spend the rest of the day watching the grey skies overhead, listening to his stomach growl, and wondering which of his traveling companions he would eat, given the chance.
into the wagon and seeing it teeter downward, the cattle readjusting themselves to the weight. Larry was a full course meal all balled up into one man. Biting into him would be like biting into a nice juicy turkey leg on Thanksgiving. Henry stared at Larry intently, watched his head come up and lock eyes with him. Henry licked his lips even though there was hardly any saliva left to be had on his cold, dry lips.
All five of them had gathered around the campfire, watching the flame flicker as the wind kicked it maliciously. They were hopelessly and utterly lost in the mountains somewhere with seemingly no hope on the horizon. They spoke very little because speaking took up energy. Instead they were content to simply stare at the fire with sullen eyes. All except Henry, who, as previously mentioned, liked to think of who he would eat.
“Like a nice juicy turkey leg.” Henry said.
There was Larry. Larry was the obvious choice because he was so large. Henry could remember when they started their trip several weeks ago, watching Larry get
Larry’s eyes widened, lit up by the fire flames. “Ah shit.” Henry thought. “Did I say that out loud?” “I knew it!” Larry yelled, prompting the rest of the wagon crew to look at him. “Henry wants to eat me!” The eyes went from Larry to Henry, who scanned all of them. Malcolm and Dennis wore looks of general disgust and horror. 33
William was smiling and laughing to himself because he had gone insane a few days ago from being stranded in the mountains for so long. “Pfft. Don’t flatter yourself.” Henry said. “I don’t want to eat you.” “You’ve been staring at me like a hungry dog all goddamn week.” Larry stood up, kicking up some dirt. “If you come anywhere near me, I’m going to bash your head against the rock.” “Now, now.” Dennis said. Dennis was the oldest out of the bunch, pushing the ripe age of sixty. His voice was cool and calm and rarely seemed bothered by the fact that he was lost in an unknown territory. “Henry is this true?” Henry looked at Dennis and then at Larry. “Look at him!” He said, pointing. “How is he still that big? We’ve been out here for almost a month with no food!” “So because I’m fat, you’re gonna eat me?” “Just a little bit.” “Stay away from me you loon.” Now Malcolm stood up. Malcolm was tall and lean, his beard had grown wild along the trip so that it covered the whole southern half of his face. “Let’s be honest. Who here hasn’t thought of eating everyone else?” “Thank you!” Henry said. Malcolm went on.
“It’s crazy to think about, but a man can only go so long before he has to succumb to those natural instincts, like a beast. It is only through his will and God’s presence that he refrains from actually going through with them. But I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t at leastthought about eating Larry, or Dennis, or Will. “And me.” Henry said. “Oh no.” Malcolm said. “Not you.” “Wait, what?” Henry’s, pushed himself up from the ground; he stumbled a bit before fixing himself up right. “You thought about eating everyone but me?” Malcolm scratched his beard and pulled up his pants. There was a deep silence that lingered in the air for a moment, letting the wind continue onward. “No offense.” Malcolm said. “You just don’t look like there’d be much of a point. You’re as thin as a rail, not a single ounce of muscle on ya.” Henry frowned and brought his arms up, inspecting them. They did seem thin, just bone thinly bound by a covering of skin. “Well excuse me, Malcolm.” Henry said. “Excuse me for not being like a circus strongman in the middle of the fucking mountains. After twenty days of not eating anything!” “Why are you getting so angry?” Dennis asked. “Do you want Malcolm to eat you?” “Hell no!” Henry said. He bent his head down and drew a line in the sand with the edge of his boot. “Just want to be considered is all.” 35
There was another pause between the men. Henry kept digging his feet in the sand. Malcolm scratched his beard and stared up into the sky. Dennis sat calmly to himself, staring into the fire as William giggled onward. Larry just stood against the wagon with his arms crossed and a look of deep thought. “I’ve thought about eating you, Henry.” Said Dennis. “You’re just saying that to make me feel better.” Henry said. “No really. I’ve thought about bashing your head in with a rock and then cooking you over this flame.” “You have?” Henry’s lip turned slightly upward. He could not help himself from smiling. “Yeah.Would’ve been real nice. Not gonna do it, of course.” “Of course.”Said Henry. “Of course.”Said Malcolm. “Of course.”Sighed Dennis. “WELL THAT’S IT!” Larry screamed, his voice bouncing off the mountain faces, making it echo up into the night air. “You’ve all officially lost your damned minds!” He screamed again and pushed the wagon, making it rock back and forth before giving up and punching the side of it. He walked up to Henry, staring him down with eyes
filled with borrowed fire. “I never liked you!” He said. “You were the one who brought us here in the first place! You told us that there was gold in California and that we should get there as quickly as possible! You think gold just appears out of nowhere for the ripe picking?!” He poked Henry’s bony chest. “Well do ya?!” “It’s called a gold mine idiot.” Henry said, his brow lowering. He poked Larry in his nice, squishy chest. “Maybe if you weren’t so busy eating all the time, you’d pick up a book or two! Where the fuck do you think gold comes from?” “That’s it.” Larry said. “You’re done for.” He brought up his hands to grab him, but before he could, Henry heard a loud thud and the man’s eyes grow still and then roll up. His body fell to the side, onto the sand. Standing there was William, holding a large rock. “Bon appetite!” William said. Later that night, the four men cooked Larry over the fire. It was hard work but eventually they sat down and began eating. They chewed and tried to hide their looks of disgust. Henry chewed the meat which was tough and flavorless. It was not, as he had imagined time and time again, like eating a juicy turkey leg on Thanksgiving. It was more like eating the ass of a turkey after it had been dumped in warm brine. His distaste for Larry aside, he understood that if you don’t try it, you can’t ever like it.
Meet Michelle Clark
ight now I’m eating vanilla cupcake goldfish for breakfast while my household of thirteen people, two dogs, and two cats sleep. I’m from a large family with large hearts and large personalities. I am the youngest, the shyest, the first to graduate college. Where the oldest has a birth rite, the youngest has an expectation. Mine is to live my dream. I grew up in the cultural anomaly that is South Florida being called white girl and hanging a Dominican flag in my room. I was never confused of who I was, I was southern. My grandmother made me grits and eggs and bacon and pie and made me fat by nine. But I also liked the taste of arroz con gandules and chicharron, and I knew how to dance bachata and salsa. A product of such a culturally rich environment, I was a daydreamer and have been writing poetry since the age of eight. I am still a day dreamer. And I pretend to be a poet from time to time. I received my Bachelors of Arts in English Literature from Flagler College, in the nation’s “oldest City,” St. Augustine. The city where I also received my fair share of sunburns, quite a bit of private school debt, and a few free horse and carriage rides to downtown establishments. I am now a Grad student pursuing a Creative Writing degree with Southern New Hampshire University’s online program. I have a small scale clothing line called Lady Lissette, under which I repurpose vintage clothing and create new one of a kind pieces with old time charm. I also studied theatre and have I love for costuming. I have a traveling itch that is yet to be scratched. I own three type writers. I love Jazz and Folk music. I enjoy a good cigar. I make the best
dang gumbo you’ll ever taste my side of the Louisiana state line. I have two Auto Immune/muscle diseases. The semester before I was diagnosed with Lupus I did a report on Flannery O’Connor and her battle with it. Because of that and the influence of faith on her writing, I’ve since then felt a strange connection to her. I want to teach poetry someday, and a lot of other things between now and then. My aura is red, but my favorite color is yellow. My strength as a writer is honesty. A very Hemingway answer; I love Hemingway. (a copy of his “code hero” is pinned next to the wall near my writing desk, next to Kerouac’s “belief & Technique for Modern Prose.”) I write in a way that makes many readers feel like I’m talking about them. I like being able to give voice to people who don’t feel like they have one, or just naming a feeling we’ve all felt. This is why I want to teach. My weaknesses are a lot more in number. If I could speak to them, they’d probably respond with “I am Legion.” There are so many authors whom I love and influence me, and those I don’t love influence me too. One writer I admire is C. S. Lewis. He’s as well rounded as they come. A writer of great fiction and non-fiction; a fantasy writer, but also an academic writer. He was a poet (if you haven’t read his poetry, shame on you, go do it now.) He wrote allegories and theological writings. His interests were wide, and so was the selection of company he kept. Great guy! If my work can do an eighth of what his does, I’d consider myself a large success. I aim to be a real Renaissance woman. And above all, I aim to invest in people. Poetry is a great place to start.
Fruit Eaters And this one, sharing his nothingness piecemeal, too hungry for his shit, I’ve been pulling up anchors, I’ve stopped searching the horizon. If I can’t have definitives, I’ll have the maybes I choose. He may find that I was a warming thought, and he has begun to chill. I left the ice box open when I went to retrieve the lost year. I will not fill anymore voids, I refuse to fit nicely. I am a sprig of jasmine ready to take hold. Feed me right, allow me all access, a tendril here and especially there, and I will make beauty for you. As it is, he is like a child, and I, the honey suckle he remembers for refreshment on hot summer days; I must entertain sweetly. But I need a man like rich soil. A place to take root, a base to be tethered to while I rage with the world. Yes, I need a man. Or a mountain. A peak to jump from. A high place to obtain. A sojourner beat into boldness, whose marriage of fear and fancy births in me ravenous affection, not unlike a canker. I need him to be willing to travel, and to be explored. Let me sit up and read from him as long as I want, no need for secret lights under blankets. So I must depart. Go in peace. Die to this burden barer. Fruit eater. Let him burn my body and push me out to sea again. I’m of the other world anyway. My skin still stinks of olive wood. 43
Actual Words I Tweeted Him in Response to His Assertion That Suicide is Poetic. If you think death is sweet, he has lied to you. Death is mostly unfeeling, a selfish bastard who doesn’t keep his word. He stings at first, but does not give you the satisfaction. He lies. What solace is there in death, when it’s really life you have craved til you ached? Death, choosing death is settling. I have never settled for less.
Nighttime Madness The thought of you makes me desperate, I curl into a big ball of want, hoping to suffocate it, make it wordless. I need quiet. Silence it. I feared I might lose myself in knowing you, now I fear only for my sanity. I will spend the night just wanting to be touched, but reading poetry instead, falling for those who are better than me because I need something to admire. I’m a sensible girl who recognizes her absurdity, chiding myself for being sensible, berating myself for being absurd. I hide my weaknesses away in words that I can love. I show them to others hoping they may be fooled into loving them too. For so long I feared being feminine, being weak. But now all I want to be is little, breakable, and beautiful because I can be crushed.
Bete Noir Accrostic Prayer to St. Benedict Defects are what the body is looking for, eradication driven by its fear of ruinous end. It’s not only the mind that’s subject to irrationality, but even atoms can worry themselves to death. I’ve kissed too many bricks Benedict, on unhappy knees are marks of forced intimacy, disease has molested my pride. What heavenly remedy can you secure for the incurable? Revolts are rarely suppressed with out casualty. You say you offer hope, hope is swallowed Thursdays ten tabs at a time. The internet tells me hope may cost me my liver, but tell me, what token would you have? There is no infection nastier than despair, black beast sucking on the soul. I await a death in two fold.
Really Bad Almost Poem About The Want Of Others And Fear Of Self. I often think about who I am in relation to your arms. I’ve been in them once and I have not forgotten. I did not feel entirely small, but just right, like Goldielocks finally snug in bed. Like a post card from the home I left long ago. I felt like I knew a bit more about human origin, and I felt my arms were made for little else than to embrace you. Am I crazy? Is the feeling that I may break irrational? When I think about how I feel, how I want, I scare myself. I beat the desire back back back, saying you unhealthy thing, you wild and unwell. I’ve thought I’d overcome this eventually, now I fear it has overcome me.
The Question of Origin Then where do words come from? Before they formed oceans, and found our lips. Some say the heart, easily this is their answer, full of feeling. Some thoughtful say from the continual grooming of the mind. But if this is so, are words then the minds clipping to be discarded? Or do they mean as the mind is reshaped, like little rocks meticulously raked, forming art out of nothing lost nothing gained? These answers do not satisfy me. Are words then the outgrowth of my search for satisfaction? If I’m always searching, will they be my faithful companion? They must walk with me like a spirit, a lexical holy ghost.
(Learning to bite your tongue) Learning to bite your tongue can be unpleasant, like mouthing a hand full of pennies, youâ€™ll get used to the metallic taste my love, lascivious as you are, it may appease that blood appetite enough for conversation or two, dulling vehement thirst long enough for me to safely near you, to touch you without violent convulsions, to kiss you without tasting venom 49
Running On Empty, With Pride By transmuting threads of soul into the alphabet, a maple-colored portfolio will become stuffed with pages in a brick-assembled apartment, where a glass of raspberry sambuca sits on the tableâ€™s edge and ingenuity is conceived between the syntax and the draft in the hallway The second decade of living has taught me that the tongue is a muscle-map of words, spinning phrase by phrase into a composition of tsuamni-force sentiment It is a time of literary dreams competing with stacks of bills, slinging polysyndetons with sloppy pensmanship, and running on empty, with pride My hand presses between the lines passed 3 A.M. and exhaustion, to summarize a lifestyle of change-scraping circumstances and making ink appear as gold, as droplets of fireworks; cutting into darkness and sparkling as another piece of Earthâ€™s storyboard 51
Maggie Loya 52
Icicles Ghost whispers, deadly in the night. Frigid air freezes the marrow in my bones, I am alone with my thoughts, wisps of phantom ideas. A poisonous invisible gas seeps into my mind: Memories resurface, imposing violence, As the rip and tear apart my confidence. Cyanide abstraction disguised as decadence, Arsenic distractions inject my icy veins. Clammy tendrils envelop my brain, squeezing tight, And choke resistance before it can take flight. I sleep with the light on; darkness is no joke. They hide outside the foggy window, Watching, waiting, whispering...
Raw, unrestrained emotion.
A poem in expression.
Brutal, gritty, almost grotesque.
I let the feeling pour out of my fingers.
Coursing out, embodied in ink.
Exaggerated at times.
Understated at others.
I drift... I feel... I create... 53
Mirrors Look. Stare at the image in front of you. Brown eyes that ignite warmth, Supple skin that sparks lust. Caressing fingers stroke tantalizing curves, The silence creates a tempting serenity. Unblemished perfection of sensuality--Time stops in the wake of youthfulness: I am human. Watch. Your reflection stares back. Empty eyes that have no soul, Smooth skin that’s only glass. Screeching metal nails scrape across the mirror, Screaming shatters the silence. Deep gashes gouge the surface--As dust collects in the scars: I am an animal.
Machines Click, click, click, Clicking pens. Droning voices, Rhythmic tread. Blank stares, glassy eyes. Tick, tick, tick, The sound of a clock. Or a bomb. Taped together, Lend me your ears. Oops! I dropped my heart. falling apart nonsensicality I am a machine. 55
Yanpin Soong 56
Eternity when was it that I first knew you? Eternity — at the age of two I think I first saw you. lifeless on my parents’ bed, I laid disoriented, confused — gazing through my tear-soaked blindfold that my mitten-bound hands would not remove, I found refuge in your brilliantly dark face, as your eyes saw right through. I lost myself in the warm colours of your embrace as terror descended on a body no longer mine. you remain my first memory. but then, how could I understand you? seven. on dark basement steps, you found me again. I felt you wrap around my shoulders, though you took me by surprise. soothing and seducing were your intoxicating whispers — yet silent were your eyes. I took in your ethereal liquor — I breathed your whispers in. “You don’t have to be here and suffer; you just have to imagine.” so imagine I did. I buried my head into your embrace and pressed my eyes against my thighs — no longer on a cobwebbed staircase, I felt myself rise. I had grown wings. I had become a bird. I felt myself fly. above my house, above my school, above my town I felt myself soar and soar. but then your whispers ceased, and the spell was broken — I was Icarus no more. at eight I would think of you every now and then. I think I tried to return to you. for some forgotten reason, I had been quite upset and there was no one to confide to. but I had remembered my mother’s words: “Don’t sleep under the blanket, or you’ll run out of air.” as I ruminated escape. did I dare? did I dare? I buried my head under my blanket, and waited for your whispers to arrive. 57
but they never did. I couldn’t feel you at all — even when I pressed the blanket tight. I lay there breathing, and felt my air grow warm. you had promised. you had promised. why wouldn’t you come? when I was ten I would catch glimpses of you in the news in Singapore — my family lived on the seventh but sometimes I’d go to the thirteenth floor and gaze down at the bustling hawker market and imagine the lives of everyone below — but I would see your form beckon. how easy was it to take the leap! how easy was it for me to go! at thirteen I started hearing you call and call — your siren song ever harder to resist. I had started to realize my own insignificance, and I saw little value in anything I did. if my memories had been planted, I wanted none of it. I wanted you, Eternity. I wanted out of my imprisoned skin. I had begun making plans to join you when you suddenly let me go. it took another six years Eternity. six years for you to show up as a lover who could fill my growing empty when two dozen others had failed. at night I would go to bed to your roaring whispers — kept up by your siren wail. you were always waiting home for me, after every intimate party, after every proud travail, to suck the meaning out of them, until I valued nothing else but you. you make a fine lover Eternity — indeed you really do. but sometimes I’m not sure Eternity if I’d really want to be kept forever by you. yet your wine is so sweetly intoxicating! sometimes I want to drink my fill — only to find myself awake in hospitals where they give me different pills —
till my mind is numbed to silence till my mind is quietly still. but the silence is still an absence that I can still poignantly feel. some days I’m not so sure Eternity — sometimes I still dream of eloping with you.
. . . spare me no illusion. it is a fact alien to neither of us that our love cannot persist forever— whether I should die never knowing a minute of your eternal absence, or whether we part by choice, you cannot deny that our love is but ephemeral when compared to the vastness of time which slowly but surely sends this universe to its end, and we cannot demand new generations to cherish our moments long after we’re gone— we must cherish them ourselves. and even this moment we hold now will sooner or later be enveloped in the fog of memory, its brilliance darkened by temporal distance, now up to us to determine its significance to see whether we remember it or not. I hold you now, but I cannot hold you forever, but I hold you still, desperately trying to reassure my insecure self that if our moments should be intense, then our love might make some impactful difference, leaving some memory of us, burned into the consciousness of the universe, long after wind and rain have erased the names on our gravestones, long after the calcium of our bones have been recycled into the silt of rivers, long after the galaxies have been torn so far apart that the stars are all but dark. no one will ever remember us as we remember ourselves now; and we may not ever live again.
so here we dwell in the beauty of scarcity. scarcity that makes our film photographs more precious than most of our digitals; scarcity that made our first loves, first loves; (have you ever had more than one?) scarcity that makes our childhoods beautiful only because there is adulthood to contrast against itâ€” scarcity in a moment that sears it into our consciousnessesâ€” I do not think it trite when they say you only live once.
East Gordon Lane Georgia clay is memorialized in the uneven brick streets and rough walls of my alley, where newer power lines cross like so many places to hang laundry. I live above a carriage house, where those bricks arch behind black wooden doors that guarded painted carriages from humid nights, from the summer songs of frogs and rain dripping from oak trees. Now the visitors point at those mighty trees with their mossy beards of wisdom, shading and dropping leaves that await a breeze. This city breathes new life into old foundations, traffic sighs across ballast-stone roads, beneath the watch of Church towers and flag poles. I may leave my home to another bit of tumbleweed, to one who finds themselves caught by vines clinging to brick walls. I may place roots near the old oaks, or I may wait with the branches, who only stir when there is a passing breeze. 63
Lily The one time you bought me flowers it was the day after Valentines I came to the garage where you pulled them from the break room fridge and I tried not to be disappointed they were wilting and browning bruised and limp yet stills faded purple the price sticker was still on the wrapper then I was disgusted but followed you around the garage through sunset kicking tires kicking away questions refusing to share a cigarette as you clocked out and I refused a shower doing your dishes instead and finally leaving after you had fallen asleep to drive through the morning gripping the steering wheel of my sisters car until I returned home to set up the flowers watering them until the last petals fell incase you came and asked about them, you didnâ€™t. 65
Thank you to all our incredible writers! Think youâ€™ve got what it takes to write something for us? Submit your stories and poetry to PaperfingerArts@yahoo.com
Literary magazine with creative writing, poetry, comics and art!