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Pensworth Spring '12


Pensworth: A Journal of Student Writing and Art

New Series No. 9 Spring 2012

Edited by Tyler Collins, Student Editor Sarah Denison, Student Editor Kristin Gotch, Student Editor Cory McClellan, Faculty Advisor Jamey Temple, Faculty Advisor and Managing Editor With special thanks to the Art Department Faculty, Geraldine Allen and Russell Weedman

sponsored by Sigma Tau Delta and the English Department University of the Cumberlands iii


Editors’ Note Pensworth appears annually in the spring. Students of University of the Cumberlands may submit work for consideration for the next issue by the last Thursday before Christmas break. Submit original poetry, fiction, personal essays, photography, and artwork online at www.ucumberlands.edu/pensworth. Visit the website for details on how to submit your work. We are proud to publish in this issue the winning manuscript of the University of the Cumberlands annual Creative Writing Award, sponsored by the English Department. Submissions for the Creative Writing Award are accepted in late February and early March. Contact the English Department for submission guidelines. Since its first issue in 1985 and its revival in a “New Series” in 2003, Pensworth has provided an outlet for students’ creative work, and our thanks go to all students who have submitted work to the journal. We believe the current issue once again shows an impressive array of talents.

Front Cover: Acrylic on canvas by Luke Davidson Back Cover: Mixed media by Luke Davidson

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Contents Spring 2012

Poetry and Artwork Watercolor Tryptich, Jennifer Blake ............................................................... vi-1 Etching, Elizabeth Lloyd ...................................................................................... 2 Starting Over, Ryan Poynter ............................................................................... 3 Oil on Canvas, Jessica Kelvas .............................................................................. 4 Dissecting the water glass, Kristin Gotch ........................................................... 5 Lino cut, Marie VonHertsenberg......................................................................... 6 Washing Canvas, Elizabeth Lloyd ....................................................................... 7 Bark, Sarah Denison ............................................................................................ 8 Ink Wash and Bamboo Pen, Lizzy Horn ............................................................ 9 Rest, Luke Davidson .......................................................................................... 10 Photograph, Jessica Meece ................................................................................. 11 Oil on Canvas, Natalie Baugh ........................................................................... 12 Boomerang, Mythcah Godsey ........................................................................... 13 Photograph, Sarah Lake .................................................................................... 14 Liturgy, Rebecca Moses ...................................................................................... 15 Oil on Panel, Natalie Baugh .............................................................................. 16 Savoring, Sarah Denison ................................................................................... 17 Culling Taproot Lions, Elizabeth Lloyd............................................................ 18 Oil on Canvas, Whitley Bird ............................................................................. 19 Loose-Leaf Mother, Ryan Poynter .................................................................... 20 Etching, Reagan Short ....................................................................................... 21 Damascus, Mythcah Godsey ............................................................................. 22 Acrylic on Canvas, Natalie Baugh .................................................................... 23 Oil on Canvas, James McKnight ....................................................................... 24 Clutter, Rebecca Moses ......................................................................................... 25 Little Fingers, April Smith ................................................................................. 26 Photograph, Sara Lambert ................................................................................ 27 Acrylic on Canvas, Luke Davidson................................................................... 28 Dismantle the mannequins, Kristin Gotch ...................................................... 29 I am What They Think, Luke Davidson ........................................................... 30 Oil on Canvas, Whitley Bird ............................................................................. 31 Oil on Canvas, Elizabeth Lloyd ......................................................................... 32 Star-dust, Mythcah Godsey ............................................................................... 33 Whole Lotta Nerve, Elizabeth Lloyd ................................................................ 34 Oil on Canvas, Marie VonHertsenberg ............................................................. 35 The Last Time I Saw You, Mother, Sarah Denison .......................................... 36

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Charcoal, Lizzy Horn..................................................................................... 37 Photograph, Anya Venn ...............................................................................38 Welks, Tyler Collins, 2010 Creative Writing Award Winner ................39 Wafting Woman in front of a Jam Band Concert, Tyler Collins ................40 Etching, Natalie Baugh ..................................................................................41

Prose and Artwork Silver Gelatin Print, Jessica Kelvas ................................................................42 Esophageal Sunburn, Tyler Collins .............................................................. 43 When the Chicken Crossed the Road, Kristin Gotch ................................ 44 There’s a Hobbit Hole in My Basement, Emily Hemphill........................... 45 Photograph, Jessica Meece ............................................................................ 49

The 2011 Next Generation Creative Writing Award Winner with Artwork from Cumberlands Student Childhood, Abbie Vickers............................................................................. 50 Nourishment, Abbie Vickers ........................................................................ 51 Photograph, April Smith .............................................................................. 52

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poetry

Jennifer Blake, Watercolor Tryptich

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Elizabeth Lloyd, Abstraction


Ryan Poynter

Starting Over I want to unwrite all of your letters, hold your pen like a straw and suck the blue/black ink from the paper, color my lips and teeth like bruises, fold each page into a shrub or a sapling, grow a paper Garden of Eden and warn Adam about believing women.

Ryan Poynter, Starting Over

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Jessica Kelvas, There are Only Two Ways


Kristin Gotch

Dissecting the water glass I don’t see a brain. I don’t see a spine. I don’t see a heart anywhere in here. I’m sitting across the table from her. Backwash in her water glass swirls and settles to the bottom like jellyfish drift in concealed pools. I’ve heard they’re friendly, but I know a boy with a scar on his leg. She brushes my arm when she takes my plate. It shocks me. Her long hair strands fuse to my green sweater. The electricity stays in my nerves. She rinses a plate. Water splashes on her white blouse. I can see her flesh now.

Kristin Gotch, Dissecting the water glass

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Marie VonHertsenberg , Lino cut


Washing Canvas Elizabeth Lloyd

I brushed cerulean sins round a dappled semi-smile, I step back and squint, tongue lolling like a heated dog, I wonder at your transformation, from an abrasive void to near completion but you’re missing it still, vital aspects to your final image, a jarring hot spot in a beautiful tedium. A splash of orange raked through with naked fingers, a mishmash ripping wake in washes of cool oil, you’re whole, an entire being, and I envy your audacity (blatantly attempting perfection) while I suck in my tongue and sigh. Elizabeth Lloyd, Washing Canvas

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Sarah Denison

Bark My skin is chipping off in uncomfortable places: under my fingernails, on the sides of my toes, inside my chest. It comes off in curly-cue flakes like the cedar shavings that my mother puts in little velvet bags to hang in her closet. They’re left lying everywhere I go. When I get up from the dinner table, it’s as if my father had been sawing our winter’s fuel, instead of a chicken. It’s like the white skin of the sycamores that my sister and I used to make boats of, curving the brittle flesh in our hands and poking bright leaves through for sails. And we’d sail them down the creek, laughing when they’d go over and under a falls, which was really just a ripple.

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Sarah Denison, Bark


Lizzy Horn, Landscape

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luke davidson

Rest I never much liked death All it made me think of was hell The preacher preached about it The birds on the road felt it The aunt in the coffin knew it But as I got older I saw the graves– People long forgotten Or recently lost Loved or hated; their last numbers And letters filled a page Made of limestone, granite, concrete, and wood Pillars, obelisks, statues, and crosses Towering above me Or tricking me, hiding in the grass Below my feet You would think that hill after hill of White dominoes and gray boulders Would weigh me down like a billion fears But it was so silent and simple It really did seem like rest

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Luke Davidson, Rest


Jessica Meece, In Memory of Claude

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Natalie Baugh, Abstraction


Mythcah godsey

Boomerang

I read that your name means “boomerang” in Australian. When you told me about your treatment, I asked—what do you want more than anything and you said to see what causes your feet to wiggle. I giggled as tears tickled my jaw but my feet didn’t wiggle then. I jumped over a snowflake and wondered if God has Münchausen syndrome as I thought about your laugh and how it carries and reverberates, reverberates and carries like a laugh I can’t help but memorize… and as I was mulling over some heavy toil, I caught my toenail on a jagged rock bumped my head on the stalactite of a tree trunk and in the sunrise I could see the boomerang getting smaller and smaller in the distance.

Mythcah Godsey, Boomerang

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Sarah Lake, Swinging My Way to You


Rebecca Moses

LITURGY rebellion is locking the bathroom door. bang bang bang all you want Turn That Junk Off— a nice solemn refrain. does it light your candles? no “Please.” but you always taught me— i always said please and thank you pleased to meet you buzz off screw you— wait, not part of your catechism? Sacrilege. With a smile.

Rebecca Moses, Liturgy

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Natalie Baugh, Oil on Panel


Sarah Denison

S�v���n� Russian sunset salsa melts all day like sweet peas and cornucopia pies, mangos and diamonds, peaches and toes burrowing into tanned shoredust licked by spheres eyeballs or prismed light, salty and gritty and blue.

Sarah Denison, Savoring

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Culling Taproot Lions Elizabeth Lloyd

There you are, out of place, sprouting green and dislocating my favored perennial shades virus, you spread your flimsy roots choking out the tulip, covering the grass the bed is never perfectly made, but you’re not welcome, you’re in the way -- -- -- -- -- -- -You hover near, thick soled giant, a pair of shears in your mud-caked hand I’m a thorn in your side, the kudzu invading your master-work, but still I can’t understand why my yellow petals are worth less than the daffodil’s I simply thirst for more.

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Elizabeth Lloyd, Culling Taproot Lions


Whitley Bird, Landscape

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Ryan poynter

Loose-Leaf Mother I cut a paper doll from obituaries of my dead mother and brought her back to life. She doesn’t smile; just hangs helplessly out of my pocket or tears herself into a snowflake when she tries to look pretty. Sometimes we play house where I am the husband she couldn’t keep. I try to rub her shoulders, but she cuts my hands and complains of the blood. This’ll never come out, she says. And I tell her she was a mistake. This life hasn’t been kind to her either. She’s full of wrinkles and turning yellow. Last night I found her left soaking in puddles of liquor until she’d dissolved.

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Ryan Poynter, Loose-Leaf Mother


Reagan Short, Hand in Hair

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Mythcah godsey

Damascus One touch will give you frostbite. It’s smoother than silk and will rust in your sweaty hands if you’re not careful. It reeks of blood and no wonder. It draws you to it like a bug light lies to fireflies. Drop it and that will be your last mistake.

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Mythcah Godsey, Damascus


Natalie Baugh, Study after the Model

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James McKnight, Collage Abstraction


Clutter Rebecca Moses

I keep finding my grief in unexpected places, like A shoe I forgot to put away, or Water you sit down in, without realizing and it seeps through your shorts. I stumble over it like the bag tossed just inside the doorway, where the strap catches passing feet, like a noose. I find them under old books behind old trees inside old boxes, each a separate hurt, but all part of that singular, terrible Grief – My pain in pieces. I wonder if I can puzzle them together again, or if I even want to. After all, you have to break up the jigsaw picture to put it back in its box, slide it under the bed to let it get covered in dust. Rebecca Moses, Clutter

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April Smith

Little Fingers Little Fingers dripping with paint Pasted at the tip of nails. As the little eyes glimpse at the fingers In bewilderment. Oh look what I have done Cries the small voice this will never work But again the little fingers criss and cross once more. And just when one piece seems to fit. The little fingers drop curled up underneath. While a voice beckons in the background. The voice whispers, “Did you do that for me?� But the little fingers just become tight as tears hit washing The musty paint.

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April Smith, Little Fingers


Sara Lambert, Antique Rose

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Luke Davidson, Cityscape


Kristin Gotch

Dismantle the mannequins line the walls red arms legs torsos and heads smiling with their teeth showing for the first time in my freckles and awkward laughter I see others still in city windows fixed eyes glazed lips feet placed just right and waiting.

Kristin Gotch, Dismantle the mannequins

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Luke Davidson

I am What They Think I look at the white tiles I keep seeing red A small dying leaf Part of a Kit Kat wrapper. I have too many gods My hands and feet are raveled in twine. I am a marionette, dragged one step to another Disbalanced; a broken machine My body winds and moans My dreams are mechanical nightmares When will I ever really sleep Will my green heart keep beating Glowing like a cell phone screen In the dark. I am not Alone My gods walk around in shorts and T-shirts Jeans and Castro hats Sometimes they wear suits and ties My gods talk to bricks They tap their digits on buttons They look at themselves on white walls With specks of red dead things Hiding on their hearts

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Luke Davidson, I am What They Think


Whitley Bird, Figure in a Cityscape

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Elizabeth Lloyd, Abstraction


Mythcah godsey

Star-dust tastes like maple sugar candy you can only swallow when you’re sleeping. The color of its exterior unknown, somehow a combination of peach and fuchsia. The gentlest breeze can kill it. When it splits and is strewn about it hides under sand. It doesn’t make a noise.

Mythcah Godsey, Star-dust

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Elizabeth Lloyd

Whole Lotta Nerve Tumbling turmoil in the pit of my peaches and cream quivering lips spoke true flavors illuminate false imaginings can’t brush off my run-away siren, low and sweet our exhale quells vertigo’s sweep all brazen air and cheeky glint

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Elizabeth Lloyd, Whole Lotta Nerve


Marie VonHertsenberg, Abstraction

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Sarah Denison

The Last Time I Saw You, Mother The springy creak and smack of a screen door. The crunch of drought-baked gravel under the Pinto’s tires. The crinkly feel of a Piggly Wiggly bag under my face. I looked back on the house, behind the raised dust and saw you framed in the doorway: uncombed hair, arms hanging dumb at your sides, your fish eyes. I waved. You shrank with the house.

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Sarah Denison, The Last Time I Saw You, Mother


Lizzie Horn, Landscape

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Anya Venn, Sitting on the dock of the bay


two poems by tyler collins 2010

Creative writing award winner

Welks The conch inches across the unfinished basement of the Atlantic, A spineless chewing gum captain steers the ship with auto-pilot brain programmed by God or science. Wading locals’ fish with feet for the shell’s Braille of miniature mastodon-tusk spiraled calcium, plunging for prey when their worm toes snag a bite. They drop them into boiling waterthe cowards abandon ship before being dissolved into creamy paste, seasoned with garlic and renamed soup.

Tyler Collins, Welks

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Wafting Woman In front of a Jam Band Concert 40

Metallic bells dangle from her atmospheric garb like pierced night crawlers– the jingling wind-chimes blown by God’s hairy lungs ring offbeat through her spastic contortion but fuse as grapes in chicken salad. 5 o’clock shadow legs battered in smooth mud war-paint tremble through her sonic orgasm, she smells of synthetic lilac and Taco Bell– but her sunburn freckled leather melts her aura into seraphim. She writhes on and on through Tennessean Babylon. When the notes are strangled silent she remembers her humanity sits down and sips a bottle of water.

Tyler Collins, Wafting Woman in front of a Jam Band Concert


Natalie Baugh, Etching

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prose

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Jessica Kelvas, Shadow and Light


tyler collins

Esophageal Sunburn The meat of my esophagus expands into soured walls of blistering pain. A mucus river glides down its’ funnel-slide, causing it to prune in misery. I’m cocooned in bed sheets, leaking fever sweats and fighting the natural impulse to swallow my saliva. Light spews from an old fashioned lamp on my nightstand that belonged to my great-grandmother before her death. I pick up a bowl of lukewarm chicken noodle soup that I only microwaved because of its stereotype. I spoon the mucus-colored salt broth between my dry lips, and bite an invisible bullet as it drips through sore-throathell on the way to my empty stomach. With the next spoonful, I become brave, and fish for a few worming noodles and a chunk of grayed chicken meat. It looks daunting in the pool of my utensil, so I shovel it in my mouth and chew it until it’s almost liquefied. The chicken goop somehow manages to get caught on the burning wall of my throat, and slides down like I’ve swallowed a shard from a shattered windshield. I vision the chicken as it was before being murdered, chopped, seasoned, and canned. It’s waddling around inside of my neck, clucking, and plucking at my scabbing interior, absent mindedly digging for veins that it mistakes for earthworms.

Tyler Collins, Esophageal Sunburn

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Kristin Gotch

When the Chicken Crossed the Road I dreamed you escaped the butcher, flapped your wings and kicked your twiggy legs until you got out of the potato sack. You walked past doll vendors and rows of pup-tents, crossed the street at 5th to meet me at my doorstep. Both new to Wholesale District, we had no friends. I fed you bread crumbs while I smoked my cigarettes. I gave you a name. George. Every morning we met for breakfast. You ate pumpkin seeds, and I smoked two cigarettes. I said I’d like to go surfing at Hermosa Beach, but instead I went to work at the box company. You pecked at the mean old lady’s petunias. She chased you with her gardening gloves. In the evening we watched the big pink sun fall and melt behind the city. The next morning, you didn’t meet me. I dreamed you got on a bus and escaped. You walked to the beach and some new friends fed you graham crackers and hotdog buns.

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Kristin Gotch, When the Chicken Crossed the Road


Emily Hemphill

t h ere’s a hobbit hole in my basement

T

he basement of the house I grew up in was finished, but the plaster-white walls that surrounded it didn’t give that impression. Those walls, together with the largest piece of furniture being the old six foot couch my parents had owned for who knows how long made the room seem vast to a small five year old girl. I remember how big and empty the floor felt, with the TV at one end of the room and the tall dresser we used as a toy chest or a place to store our many VHS tapes pushed back into a corner behind the couch, by the back door. That dresser would eventually end up in my bedroom, along with the rest of the bedroom set my great-grandfather made, but for now, it designated for me and my brother that the area behind the couch was for us and our toys. Maybe I was here, playing on the floor while I listened, or maybe I was sitting still on the couch where my dad was, reading. Holes that began as a few broken threads in the fabric and were slowly enlarged by tiny prying fingers riddled the faded checkerpattern of the couch that was the color of a southern ocean and the fizz that tops off a glass of cream soda. Who knows what the season was? Perhaps it was late autumn or winter, and my dad had built a fire in the brick-mantled wood stove, creating a welcoming aroma of dried wood and smoke. When this happened, the basement – which was always chilly, even in the summer – became the warmest, coziest part of the house. Or maybe it was summer and we’d retreated to the basement specifically because it was cool, and I sat on the gray rainbowspeckled carpet and listened to my father’s voice. The sounds Emily Hemphill, There’s a Hobbit Hole in My Basement

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of dishes in the sink and footsteps going back and forth from the deck, where my mother was grilling hamburgers for dinner, would fall down the stairs and create the backdrop of real life while we were lost in the world of the story. My father probably doesn’t remember the season, and in my mind the reading takes place in all of them, blended with other memories from inside those white basement walls. My dad was reading to me out of his old 1981 copy of The Hobbit. The book had never looked like much to me, bound in mustard yellow paperback and fatter than a children’s book had any right to be – with no pictures. The one illustration on the front cover was not a very good representation of the story it contained, displaying what was either an enormous bird and its nest or a group of tiny people who all looked very much the same. But at this time, when my dad was reading the adventures of Bilbo the hobbit and his friends out loud to me, I don’t think I had seen this picture yet. The only pictures I had to go with this story were the ones in my head. Those were grand pictures. Adventure has a habit of using bright colors, bold strokes, playful faces, and grand artistry to describe its heroic scenes to my mind’s eye. With such illustrations and my father’s animated voice bringing the story to life, who knows how long the adventure went on? Perhaps it took all four seasons to read the story, after all, just as it took Bilbo a year to complete his journey. My attention span now is not much to speak of, so I cringe to think what it must have been then. One moment, perhaps, I lay on the floor, curled up next to Meg, our Chocolate Labrador. Often my head rested on her back, using her as a warm pillow that eventually wanted to get up and play. The next moment maybe my brother came in, and before Dad could finish another paragraph there were 46

Emily Hemphill, There’s a Hobbit Hole in My Basement


games afoot. No limit can be put on the time an adventure takes up. The space it fills in memory, in formation, cannot be measured at all. From this reading, probably, sprung the love of fantasy that lead to ravenous reading, which lead to my endless affection for books. Books are best friends. They are silent companions that speak volumes more than any human friend. Books are the reason that I study English. They are wise, smart, playful and funny; sad, instructive, and ingenious things. They are vehicles, and time machines, too, that can take you wherever you want to go. Who I am, and how I think, how I relax and grieve and celebrate is a direct result of the influence of books on my life, a thing which can be traced back to this first story, that great adventure, The Hobbit. Adventure stories are why and how I learned to play with words. Pretending that I’m in one of them is the reason that I learned to love dressing up in all manner of costumes when I was younger. They are the reason that I spent countless afternoons with my brother turning our house into a secret base or a war zone or sword fighting with sticks in the backyard. They are the reason I write, and read, because nothing else can make me feel again that same, strong sense of adventure I felt in our basement listening to my Dad read. When I was a child, my father read books to me out loud. Now I read books out loud to my younger brothers, my cousins, even myself sometimes. Voices and sounds add a magical quality to words that silent reading cannot achieve. Adventure drinks life from the rolling river of the voice, and the words used to convey it become alive themselves. Read the words “the Misty Mountains” quietly to yourself. Now read them again out loud. Is there a difference? What about “the Ring”? “Rivendell”? “Gollum”? Emily Hemphill, There’s a Hobbit Hole in My Basement

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There is so much more to these words than the letters that we use to pronounce them. The syllables drip with the feel of the thing they describe, and when read out loud one can feel the mist on the mountains instead of merely seeing it in one’s imagination. As a reader, as someone who has been read to, I developed a desire to write, and an even stronger desire to write words that others will want to read out loud. This is when words are at their best, when rather than laying still, asleep, in bed, they come awake, living and dancing in the ears and minds of those who read and hear them. All of who I am is linked with books, and I owe much to my Dad, who read aloud to me about dwarves and wizards and dragons when I could barely recognize some of the words. I didn’t know what they meant, but I knew what they sounded like, and what they were. What they were was home. A safe place, a warm place; a place where I could be frightened, desperate, or sad – a place to go when things went wrong, and a place to play when things went right. That is the largest part of what books are to me. They add layer upon layer to ordinary everyday life that cannot be reached in any other way, making every day an adventure and every night a crusade for a chance to wake up and live the adventure over again the next day. This is the biggest part of what books mean to me, and it can all be traced back to a dad sitting on a checkered couch and reading his daughter from the blank white walls of their basement all the way to Middle Earth. 48

Emily Hemphill, There’s a Hobbit Hole in My Basement


2011 Next Generation Creative Writing Award

Two poems by Winner Abbie Vickers, Somerset Christian

Jessica Meece, Still Standing

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Childhood I rest on fake leather with a jungle poncho around my shoulders; Hair soaked, dripping warm water onto an unnatural rug. I wait for a taller woman with far too perfect fingernails. Mom never trusted any other to snip- snip away her locks. A glass jar of dum-dums lassoes my attention. Candy comforts in ways I’ll never understand though I never liked dum-dums. I found their message demeaning. I rather prefer Smarties. My eye twitches. A woman modeling clunky heels and a hollow gray pantsuit clicks her toe repeatedly on the floor. There was no rhythm; just bitterness. She then came strutting my way, eyes dancing, fingers panting. Her magenta comb coached through my tangled ringlets. Then came ominous metal scissors Snaking their way through, biting off split ends. I watch a curl float into the depth of the floor. My last hope for Neverland; my last moments of childhood.

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Abbie Vickers, Childhood


Nourishment Barefoot feet dangling above tile floors; black and white tile, not quite a checkerboard. Soft frizzy ringlets and innocent fingers. Abba. Abba is in the kitchen. A beautiful clank, clank, clack whispers hope into six year-old ears. Round eyes wider than expected. A graceful pat, tat, tat stirs a burning hunger. Abba! Abba brought chicken noodle soup. No. Alphabet soup. “Be careful, beloved. It’s hot.” White. A pearly and distracting white Smiling at a trusting heart. “Eat, child. You are not well.” A glance down at the soup, The acacia table, The– Abba! Abba is spelling. The letters, letters in the soup… P-e-a-c-e. Peace. P-u-r-e. Pure. “Abba, this is really good soup.” “Of course, love. Eat. Be well.”

Abbie Vickers, Childhood

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April Smith, A Closer Look into the Center


Visit www.ucumberlands.edu/pensworth


Contributors Natalie Baugh Whitley Bird Jennifer Blake Tyler Collins Luke Davidson Sarah Denison Mythcah Godsey Kristin Gotch Emily Hemphill Lizzy Horn Jessica Kelvas Sarah Lake

Sara Lambert Elizabeth Lloyd James McKnight Jessica Meece Rebecca Moses Ryan Poynter Reagan Short April Smith Anya Venn Abbie Vickers Marie VonHertsenberg

Pensworth Spring 2012  

Since its first issue in 1985 and its revival in a “New Series” in 2003, Pensworth has provided an outlet for University of the Cumberlands...

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