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Quilt 2005

Editor-in-Chief Christian J. Collier Assistant Editor Traci Loudin Secretary Adrienne Nadeau Faculty Adviser Dr. Martha Serpas

Prose Editorial Committee Sharell McKinney, Yuly Restrepo & Carolyn Diaz Poetry Editorial Committee Courtney Caragan, Amy Albaugh & Lacey Greenberg Art Editorial Committee Sarah Johnson & Chris Janus Photography Editorial Committee

Niki Saccareccia & Daniel Veintimilla


Quilt Contest Winners

Prose

1st Place: Dan Sullivan Honorable Mention: Angela Velasquez

Poetry

1st Place: Melissa Carrol Honorable Mention: Yuly Restrepo

Art

1st Place: Renee Gerstein Honorable Mention: Caroline Thomas

Photography

1st Place: Caroline Thomas Honorable Mention: Kerra Holtgren

Marked Everyone Packed

ln Defense of Hair Gel & the Jersey Girl Grief

Me as a Baby Red Figure

Kayak Renaissance


Words of Wisdom “For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream.” - Van Gogh “Poetry is a deal of joy and pain and wonder, with a dash of the dictionary.” - Kahlil Gibran “Where there are no rules or boundaries, there I play.” - J. Krishnamurti, The Awakening of Intelligence “Imagination is the voice of daring. If there is anything Godlike about God it is that. He dared to imagine everything.” - Henry Miller


Table of Contents

Amber McClellan Amber McClellan Adrienne Nadeau Yuly Restrepo Christian J. Collier Dan Sullivan Amy MacDonald Christian J. Collier Kerra Holtgren Melissa Carroll Melissa Carroll Niki Saccareccia Sharell McKinney Niki Saccareccia Amber McClellan Victoria Edwards Christian J. Collier Amy MacDonald Yuly Restrepo Sharell McKinney Angela Velasquez Daniel Veintimilla Daniel Veintimilla Marcus Yi Adrienne Nadeau Samantha Herman Kerra Holtgren Renee Gerstein Alison Koehler Christian J. Collier Caroline Thomas

Concentration Fishermen on El Prado Dreamcatcher Grief The Craving Marked Rare Meridia Gemini Calling In Defense of Hair Gel & the Jersey Girl The Women of Burma That First Time Evolution of a New Species Cigarettes Are Bad, Love is Worse Dis-Aubade What Color is Anger Echoes Resting on the Road A Glass of Water Five Storms and a Flood Everyone Packed? Flesh and Dream Magnolia Tree A Woman, Writing Mama’s Rules Cemetary I Tired of Excuses Me as a Baby Prototypical Jazz Chick Untitled

1 2 3 5 6 7 10 11 12 13 14 15 19 21 23 24 25 29 30 33 40 49 50 51 53 56 57 58 59 60 61


Dana Corrigan Caroline Thomas Caroline Thomas Emely Martinez Daniel Veintimilla Kim Kopac Daniel Veintimilla Sarah Johnson Kerra Holtgren Renee Gerstein Kim Kopac Rebecca Palmer

Khalen 62 Times Square Kayak 63 Untitled 64 Untitled (Eyes) 65 Minaret Sunset 67 The Universe of Changed Concepts Staring at the Minaret 68 Winter Beach 69 Renaissance 70 Distorted Girl 71 Untitled (Blue Umbrellas) 72 Life 73


Concentration Amber McClellen Honeybee lands on my hand at the beach an attempted personal day overripe mango for lunch reason is carried away the bee must’ve drunk through the sweet how delightful to disregard so easily the sour


Fisherman on El Prado Amber McClellen His suitcase did not hold relics of a past life— no pictures, newspaper clippings, children’s chipped paintings withered with age. It did not contain a suit and tie, a comb or shampoo. While walking concentric cubes, galoshes squeaking, he did not mumble incoherent thoughts or profanities or idly wait for change. His fishing hat was worn, not dirty. 8:30am approaching with care I offered a steaming cup of coffee. His face was tanned, unshaven his silver whiskers trembled when he replied “Thank you,” without looking up he turned and began to walk out his measured course. “What’s in the case?” I asked, hoping to engage When he turned, he lifted his head his eyes were not dull or resentful. He straightened his hunch, hoisted the suitcase onto a table. Unlocking both clasps, He flipped a switch Leadbelly drowned the dreary morning with “Where did you sleep last night?” from a squawking 45.


Dreamcatcher Adrienne Nadeau I want to tattoo a dreamcatcher on the small of my back. I want to brand the image onto my skin So I can remember to always chase after my dreams. I want to tattoo a dreamcatcher on the small of my back, Yet I have not forgotten the other tattoos of my people. I have not forgotten the small, blue numbers written onto thin wrists so They could be counted like cattle. When I stood before their memorial in Boston, I could hear the monument scream as I marched down the black marble steps That were stained with death and had been washed clean with blood. I marched down the marble steps as if I was walking to my death As I read on pretty plaques of the horrors of death camps: Of gas chambers, of mass graves where the dead lie together for eternity. “Where are their names?” I asked, For it was a memorial and they were deserving of names, of titles, or respect. “There are no names,” I was told, “only numbers.” For they were supposed to be devoid of humanity, not truly people, not whole. Their guttural, Hebrew names that carry history and beauty and pride and strength Were replaced with small blue numbers written over leathery skin covering brittle bones. They were reduced to numbers, to tiny tattoos that stained their skin, But could never be washed away, not even by blood. Yet, as I walked through the valley of the shadow of death, I read of heroes and hope and good deeds. I read of strength and survival. I read of selflessness and sorrow and joy On the blue glass walls that were covered in numbers. I read about children who dreamed of more than pain and hunger and death, I read of those who remembered the sounds of birds and the sights of butterflies Although those creatures wisely avoided the smoke stacks of Auschwitz.


I walked through the valley of the shadow of death and I felt life. I felt the wind blow into my lungs, expanding and contracting And the air was sweeter than it had ever been. I stepped off the black path and I saw the world through new eyes, through grateful, eager eyes, Longing to see the world for all of those who were denied the opportunity. Numbers were branded onto their skin, staining their soul, damaging their mind. Still they dreamed. I will tattoo a dreamcatcher onto the small of my back. I will remember that it is an honor to dream.


Grief Yuly Restrepo Poetry - Honorable Mention As she is immersed in the once still water, the now trickling water, the water made blue by the tiles beneath the memory comes of the day she swam stroke after wide stroke, thinking about making dinner or doing laundry or baking a cake for her daughter’s birthday. She opens her eyes to the noise of children jumping into the water in red swimsuits— body after small body penetrating the pool with laughter that resonates underwater. Her eyes sting and she wonders if they’ve become as red as the swimsuits, if her skin has become as blue as the water, if her heart has become as blue too. She resurfaces and swims to the edge, pushing the water away with each stroke, refusing thoughts of dinner or laundry or cake, for today there is no one to do these things for.


The Craving Christian J. Collier She is that distant voice Soaring closer with song Through the city’s obese smog The Incan glisten in her eyes Beats against my broad lips As softly as wings on the torsos of birds I want her Northern breath Echoing off the hollows of my body And spreading around me like sky I want to feel that calm Sprint over the fields of hairs Lining my skin What would my hands have to submit To endure the light stroke of her fingers On the hardened face of my back? The fidelity they shaped out of the heaviest months Or the monogamy they have carried, For keeping lust foreign from my tongue?


Marked Dan Sullivan First Place - Prose “... So the Lord put a mark on Cain ...” -- Genesis 4:15 It was a sunny day, Adam remembered. He wanted to say that it was a hot day, but he couldn’t remember if there was heat. Just the sun in a cloudless blue sky. Summertime, definitely. Mom only left him at the day-care center in the summer time. School was his prison the rest of the year. And this, “the Center” it was called, bridged the seasonal gap, when schooling ceased, and yet the need for supervision did not. It was ironic, now that he thought about it. Theoretically, shouldn’t one have been educated by that time? Educated enough to know how to supervise one’s self ? That was what he had always thought. But others apparently went with the ideological custom that young kids required constant supervision, no matter their level of maturity. Unfair, but that was life. Unfortunately. But it seemed to him that back in that time there were two lives: one smaller life that was the offspring of the greater, grander life. This bigger life is the one everyone knows. It is the civilized world. It is structure. It is discipline. It is all things working together for a common good ... or something like that. The other life was “the Center.” He knew of this life, but he wasn’t the only one. Every morning at 5AM, his mother would drop him out of the bigger life, and he would watch from behind the chain-link fenced enclosure known as “the playground” as she drove off to work, and gradually, as the sun slunk over the tops of the distant peaks and illuminated both worlds, others would fall in with him. It was a minimum-security prison and a private anarchy ... a long time before the church took hold of his life. Though even back then, he was aware of a divine presence, even if he ignored it. All rules were off and all the kids knew it. And those naïve enough not to recognize that things were not the same in here quickly found out. There were activities—toys, the playground, the sandpit, TV—but these were primarily for show, and to keep the kids occupied while the adult supervisors took breaks to go out back for a smoke. Even the supervisors knew there was no such thing as justice in this place. So they only pretended to care when someone stole someone else’s toy, or stepped on


someone else’s sandcastle, or tripped someone as they were running so that they would fall and skin their knee. And that was also why Adam never got in trouble that day when he kicked the little girl in the face for no reason. She couldn’t have been more than five or six years old on that day—that sunny day—so long ago. Adam wondered how many days had passed since then ... how many sunny days had the Lord mercifully blessed him with? 5,000? It seemed like a reasonable number. Sufficient enough to allow the thin fog of memory to build up a veil over his remembrances of those lonesome, friendless days ... that ancient time when the occupation of church pastor was alien to him ... that empty time when the holy life that lay ahead of him was empty, unknown. He could still remember that particular day. He remembered the girl. He remembered her lying on her side, on the carpet, inside the playroom, legs straight out, her tiny arms bent upward, resting next to her closed, dreaming eyes, the hands clasped together as though she were praying. He remembered the sun shining through the window of the playroom, the light funneling across the room and reflecting off her short locks of bleached-white hair. He remembered thinking that she looked like that guy—that famous guy, the scientist—whom he had learned about in school. He remembered not remembering the man’s name. He remembered remembering that the man invented a big bomb. When he thought hard about it, he realized that he could remember that he knew her name. Angie? ... Angel? ... Angelica? ... Yes ... Angelica ... Yes ... He didn’t remember why he did it. He didn’t remember anything that would be cause for hatred of this girl. He didn’t even remember having any of those kind of intense emotions back in those days, other than maybe his annoyed frustrations about having to come to this place every day in the summer: getting a face full of sand when the big kids pushed him from behind out of the old tire-swing he glided on, rocking back and forth under the playground’s only tree; or having little colored crayon pebbles bounce off his forehead when the kids across the Arts & Crafts table figured out how much more fun it was to irritate him rather than finish coloring in Snow White’s dress; or shying away from the snickers and stupid chants of “Marky Mark! Marky Mark!” every morning when the supervisors would take attendance and


announce his full name aloud ... “Adam Marcus”. He remembered these things, but he didn’t remember his frustrations spawning into anything resembling hatred. He remembered something being there, though: a massive, shapeless, unfamiliar feeling that seemed to take hold deep within his gut, building up inside him as he stared for a brief moment at this beautiful child sleeping in a spotlight of sun. He remembered hearing voices nearby—out in the hallway, by the coat rack. He remembered not caring if they heard her cries and came in to see what was wrong and caught him and got him in trouble. He remembered standing above her and raising his right foot, lifting the leg back far ... far ... and then thrusting it forward with all the weight of all the muscle and blood and bone from his toes to his ribs hurled into it, swirling ahead and slamming into her dainty nose like a flaming arrow. He remembered losing his balance and stabilizing. And he remembered feeling an odd sense of normalcy ... release, relief. And he remembered her screaming—the shrill wails engulfing the room and echoing madly off the drywall. And he remembered thinking “uh-oh!” and listening to the voices out in the hallway and realizing that they didn’t know yet. And he remembered still looking down at her ... at Angelica ... and seeing her with her hands still in the praying position and her legs still stretched out, but with a dark red ribbon of blood now flooding out of her nostrils down to her mouth and dripping from her lips to where it stained the floor. And he remembered running, quietly, into the hallway, behind the other kids, and out the door into the sunlight that blanketed the playground. A little while later ... a half hour or so ... the supervisors had rounded up everyone. All the kids sat on the grass in little rows underneath the shade of the big oak tree from which the tire-swing hung. Adam sat in the very back of the crowd, observing with the other innocent observers as the supervisors stood up front and calmly addressed the crowd. “Who kicked Angelica?” they asked. Not a word. “Who kicked Angelica?” Silence. Forever silent, forever marked.


Rare (Variation of “Love has me Haunted”) Amy MacDonald Raw dark, emptiness dissolved Final white Wishing and cursing Singing with the long eye, She made music with her bones Until the trees bent down To sweep her away But they stared too long And burned through the night Slow, slower

I want to be like the trees, she said Big green – raw bark My thighs at the banks of the river – A willing prisoner In my own forest I’ll be a carcass, lolling by the lake Waiting on you For when we kiss we never see We never see eternity’s motion – Whistling in some planet’s ear.


Meridia (el Oceano de la Vida) Christian J. Collier The tongue of the wind Glazes our bodies As shivering, teal waves Taste the edge of the beach And fall upon us The cool beige sand Hugs her body like veins White gulls throw songs in the sky Bathing us with their thick, foreign cadences An electric ivory flicker Sprints back and forth on the ocean’s shoulders Like an armada of cameras Firing one after the other The cold water makes us overlook The day’s oppressive heat The current tugs at our nude toes, Trying to suck us further in Spring guides us onward And there is no pain in living today


Gemini Calling Kerra Holtgren Maybe one day I will see myself lying next to you I will count the stars as you will count my scars Or vice versa Whichever comes first Maybe one day I will rebel against my weined authority And dress up my skin to flaunt my delicious wounds to the hungry wolves And maybe one day they will starvingly eat up my lean cut flesh And smile as they choke down my tattoo.


In Defense of Hair Gel and the Jersey Girl Melissa Carroll First Place - Poetry Route 80 slices through tawny wheat fields And bleeds a blue stripe down past oil refineries We swing through our jug handles and clench a Styrofoam coffee cup that’s spitting from the lid Windows down, music up, our hair doesn’t tangle We’re saving up for a spoiler or sunroof Summer jobs at roadside ice cream stands puffing Parliaments on our breaks and calling all our girlfriends We laugh a little louder because We don’t just know our flaws, we play them up Frizzy hair – spritz on mousse Thin lips – paint them red We smirk in the rear view mirror, we can rule the world And look good doing it What is the Jersey Girl’s revolution? What is her poetry? She finds it in midnight parking lots Yellow-lit with stick shifts and Pabst Blue Ribbon She finds it singing off-key with her girls on road trips She wakes up and asks no questions, seeks no answers, Just keeps on driving, one hand on the wheel, The other fixing her bangs.


The Women of Burma Melissa Carroll Wear brass rings around their necks to elongate them slender like the giraffe that is desirable An ancient Chinese girl binds her feet to fit into shoes made for a doll delicately crushed that is sexy A Victorian lady has one or two ribs surgically removed to make her corset fit tighter that is attractive The women of Camaroon pad their clothing in the hips and butt to land a man African women of the Inuit tribe wear lip plates mouths stretched around disks, like the platypus beak that is a status symbol The women of North America slice their faces open and peel back their skin, thin, slimy, translucent they cut their nipples open and insert bags of saline they paint their faces, bleach their hair they stick their fingers down their throats that is beautiful


That First Time Niki Saccareccia For months before my first time I would tell my boyfriend, “I’m ready. I know I am.” We’d talk about it at length, and on certain occasions, quite realistically, but we hadn’t planned for it to happen the way it did. In fact, we hadn’t planned it at all. So when we jokingly brought up the idea of a “test run” one school-day afternoon, neither of us intended to go as far as we did. After we’d finished, as I lay there naked and empty, I wondered how to respond if asked the caliber of my purity: Was I still innocent? Could I pass off this innocence as sweet naivety? I was a child with a woman’s title, something I was not yet ready to embrace. He rubbed my shoulder and told me, “It gets better, Babe. It’s always awkward the first time.” After today, at 18, I was convinced that I had regressed three years in age, and a milestone in wisdom. I was 15, confused and entirely lost for words. When I was ten years old, the summer preceding fourth grade, my mother allowed me to volunteer at the Hernando County Veterinary Clinic. I wanted to be an emergency veterinarian, just like all five of my best friends. Mostly I’d file papers with the nice ladies at the front desk, do the laundry, and keep the animals company in the back room after surgery. The second summer, I was older and more mature, so Dr. Achenbrandt allowed me to watch the surgeries. The first surgery was a simple fattytumor removal, but the Cockerspanial died anyway. “He was very old,” they told me. I kept my composure until Dr. A left, than ran to the bathroom. My mother had to take off work to pick me up because I couldn’t stop crying. Before I left, the doctor rubbed my back and said, “I know how hard it can be the first time, Nikki. I still get upset and I’ve been in the business for twelve years. It’s sad, but death is a part of life.” When I was ten and eleven I could act as much like a child as I wanted, because I was a child. Nobody expected anything more of me. Most kids spend their childhood and adolescence trying to convince the rest of the world (and themselves) that they’re older than they are. Fake I.D’s, sharptongues, makeup and clothes all contribute to the façade of maturity. When I was eight I decided to reinvent myself. Intending to make an apparent transformation from child to anti-child, I convinced myself that spelling Nikki with two -K’s was childish and ineffective. My parents refuted this argument, saying that “no one notices silly things like that,” however I failed to see their point. I thought that spelling Niki


with one -K was remarkably sexy. When I was twelve, my family and I moved across the state mid school year. I wouldn’t fully realize until some years later that this forced transition was one of the most traumatic events of my life. I went from being the second most popular girl in my junior high to knowing absolutely no one. It was lunchtime and I was sitting beneath a row of lockers, scribbling on a piece of paper all my dreary angst. Then she approached me-- the only person I have ever claimed to hate. Back then though, she was my muse. Brianna was the first person I even let read my thoughts, and she is the reason for the volumes of work I have lining my bookshelf at home. “What are you doing,” she probed, “declaring your hostility to a society that won’t recognize you unless you slit your wrists? ...Or is it just homework?” I handed it to her bleakly“Hmm” she responded blithely without even a brow furrow to humor my bruised ego. From then on we exchanged papers on a twice-daily regimen. Since our falling out, no one had read my work. At the moment I’m in college and the days of delusory persuasion are over. There is no longer a need to convince the world that I am ready—it’s expected of me. I’ve escaped the confines of my small town and the gavel of parental tyranny. Once again, I’m without a social circle safety net. This is the college experience. Of course I’m up for the challenge. ...Yet I’m vulnerable, like I’m a virgin all over again. I took advanced courses in high school, entered college as a sophomore, and on paper appeared as any other acclimated upperclassmen. Realistically, I reside at the bottom of the academic totem poll. Writing class: my peers are 3rd and 4th year students, some are Writing majors, and we had our first workshop. I looked around the room coyly when the professor told us to group up. I sat with two women I didn’t know who appeared much older than me. My tattered pretense paled in comparison to their established adult demeanor. I feigned bravery and declared, “I’ll go first.” (Since the Brianna Era people had said I had natural talent. For a brief moment I even coined the title of Literature Snob) What an unfortunate mistake this thing called bravery became. The women in


my workshop group were experienced and well read writers. Suddenly I was humbled. So I sat back in my desk, perched my head upon my hand and imagined that they had forgotten my failed attempts at ingenuity during Katie’s story. She read a stark and vividly real anecdote, “...I know the difference between good and bad. I like both.” Her voice and word choice were perfect. She read through a second time and I struggled to find a suggestion or critique, anything to make myself involved and noteworthy. She was confident in her piece, as evidenced through her writing. Rena was next. She was practically twice my age, and her vocabulary showed it. By the third page I was completely and utterly speechless. Every analogy was concise, character development flawless. She was using words I’d never heard aloud. Katie was all compliments, and the way they made suggestions was tactful and appropriate. At the completion of her critique, Katie and Rena turned their attention toward me, and I floundered to find the second least embarrassing passage I’d written. “I wasn’t too sure what to write about, because I’m not too clear on what creative nonfiction is exactly...” My disclaimer was obvious, and unnecessary. “So, I guess I’ll just read this one.” I was 15 and telling him I’d never had sex before. I filled my lungs with the air that surely escaped my head earlier, and read the title aloud. My voice quivered as I focused too hard on sounding as good as they had. I was lying on the floor and wondering if I was doing as good as his other girlfriends had. At the third paragraph I knew my favorite line was fast approaching. When I wrote the piece days earlier, that line came to me so easily I hadn’t known I’d written it until spell-check. The line came out. I stumbled over the words, cursing myself in my head. He was on top of me, moments before penetration, and I didn’t know where


to look. After I’d finished, forcefully lifting my eyes from the page to meet those of my literature judges, Rena said, “Read it again.” The second time was easier, but now they were writing side-notes and suggestions. It was all over, and I was lying on the floor staring at the ceiling, asking myself, “What just happened?” Katie and Rena made valid proposals, they were more than aware of the devices and verbiage used to analyze nonfiction work, and they had even worked together before. I was staring at the fan, starkly aware that he’d slept with people before me. Class had ended and the professor interrupted our group, saying, “You were dead on with your comments. Great job,” Clammy hands collected my things, and I had one foot outside the door when Rena stopped me, her wise, dark eyes penetrating mine without my permission, “That was a really great story Niki. I can’t wait to read the final draft.” My higher brain told me to affirm the comment. I mustered the most convincing fake smile I could. Thinking it was over, I tried for a subtle exit but the professor caught me, “I agree Niki. I’m interested to see the final piece. Keep revising.” She smiled. I walked out of the class that was my prison for the last hour and wanted to run out of my skin. Returning to my dorm, I snatched my journal off the shelf and scribbled onto the page, “I haven’t felt this vulnerable in years. I feel like I’m a virgin all over again.”


Evolution of a New Species Sharrell McKinley We call them monkeys These primitive women with their White faces and black eyes Black lips and white hands We call them monkeys These women yet to realize their individual freedom And distance Themselves from images of their European masters A breed born of savagery and ignorance Swinging from branches of envy Grips fierce as they cling Lying their heads on nests of greed and self-indulgence Their screeches echoing through their jungle homes Picking at the contented They wield false friendships In bunches Before swallowing Beating their breasts to the tune of beauty Their shiny manes long and straight A far cry from their ancestral roots We call them monkeys These women who groom themselves all day As if the grooming would make up for their Lack of self-esteem, common sense and manners Those who walk by Their faces as blank as their minds When a simple hello would do


We call them monkeys These women-animals whose natural Instincts have since left them But who retain the violence As they swing, grapple and claw Over the next customer Their monkey likeness and monkey behavior Belittling their cultural identity And their African pride


Cigarettes are Bad, Love is Worse Niki Saccareccia I like to smoke cigarettes On nights when I can’t tell If it is breath or smoke That clouds my sight. I live for nights when I can’t tell if it’s the heater, or love That warms my skin when we touch. I like that I’ll smoke five dollar fags to the filter. Not because I’m insatiable, But because I want my money’s worth of cancer, And I love that you probably didn’t realize it. I love that I can’t call you out of boredom anymore And that I don’t own a TV. I love that I hold on to promises, Not knowing if they’ve been broken already. I love that I have someone who knows me better than anyone, But I love more that I can’t tell in the slightest


what you’re feeling. I love that I’m aimless and obscure when I don’t have words to explain how I feel. I like that I’ve burnt bridges and tried to rebuild them, knowing I’m no architect. ...Maybe being jaded is easier, Life seems more justified if you’re angry about something. I love that I find sense in smoking a cigarette, then taking seven flights of stairs to my room To find balance. I like that I have a hat full of advice, But not a clue what to wear it with. I love that people see in me what I want them to, And I love more that I don’t know if I am sincere with that. I like that you’ll probably never read this, But I love more That I don’t know if it would matter if you did.


Dis-Aubade Amber McClellen Morning: not illuminated more than any other deep creases in your skin— fleeting elasticity your cheeks are flushed and oily— My neck creeks as I lift my head from the forced crook between bicep and clavicle softened by breast, adorned with an awkward nipple I navigate your mazes of freckles puzzles of smooth and stubble Familiarity evokes warning The breeze is no fuller of birds singing or rodents chattering our lives fused, daily, shopping for exotic fruits, eating meals, there is no purity between us these Earthly measures ideality in our youthful skin will fade quickly without promise of more... without promise of Byzantium


What Color is Anger? Victoria Edwards Silence—then nothing but the smack-smack-smack of fists punishing bare flesh. The screams were next. Still, he did not spare her, but rather intensified the barrage. In a moment, a transformation in his mind gave way. Before his eyes, her face transformed into a mound of earthy, reddish clay. His fists took on the skill and ability of a sculptor’s hands. And so, being a true artist of this craft, he sculpted the clay which was her face. The woman was subdued; her screams reduced to a series of grunts and moans. A purplish sac ballooned beneath her left eye. Then, satisfied with his masterpiece, he shoved her to the slick asphalt and sauntered away. There she lay, as her blood and sweat, mingling with the punishing rain that fell in sheets, collected into tiny droplets that chased each other into the gutter. One week later......... She looked out from her prison, afraid to venture out for fear that he would be lurking nearby. As raindrops frolicked across the windowpane, she sat, drifting in and out of zones of her subconscious. Different moods afflicted her: she found herself upbeat at times; melancholy at others. The mass of knots that was her stomach flipflopped and churned. But more significantly, the mass of scars that was her heart pained her. Even as she tried to reassemble the broken pieces of her life, the memories of him assaulted her. She remembered the shouting matches and the beatings followed by profuse apologies. Her dreams were no longer vivid; no longer visionary. Her expectations had dissolved in the fury of his fists. What could she look forward to now? The concept of love seemed void and empty. She shuddered, realizing that this is what happens when things don’t go the way you expect them to.


Echoes Christian J. Collier The morning air was cold and penetrated the shabby windows of Sergio’s apartment. When the bluntness of the cold coiled under his sheets, he awoke. Sergio knew that it took his apartment hours to warm up with the heat on, so he decided to make a pot of Folgers while he waited. He crawled out of bed with his thick blankets around him and stumbled half-awake into the small kitchen. He tucked his fingertips in between the blinds above the sink and peered out the window. The sky was gray and riddled with dark clouds on the verge of shedding rain. Sergio glanced at the street. It was silent outside, and it was the first time he could think of that he didn’t hear the shrieking of car horns or the loud, muffled bass of a passing car. When his brown eyes settled on the brick ground, Sergio’s heart stopped – the rhythm of life within him taking a sudden rest. There was a body, pale and nude, lying in the street. People were gathered around it, staring. An uncomfortable feeling settled in the well of his stomach. It felt like it was squeezing his insides. Sergio raced back to his room and threw on a pair of jeans, a wrinkled t-shirt, and a coat. He grabbed his keys and sprinted out of the apartment, disregarding heat and the fresh pot of coffee. He wasn’t sure what he would do once he got there. What if it was dead? Could he handle seeing a dead body up close? Sergio thought of concentration camps and the pasty dead that were dumped into the mouths of ditches, and he felt the uneasiness inside him clench. Sergio stepped out of the brownstone apartment building and set his eyes on the sights around him. His heart, which had skipped and beat sluggishly moments before, was now wildly soloing, and his breath stretched out of his dry mouth. The entire world was dark. All of downtown seemed to be without power, or still asleep, and there were no signs of automobiles. Sergio studied the body, trying to see the slightest swell of the chest to gauge if it was alive, but it remained still like a sleeping child. Sergio wasn’t sure what had pulled him out of the blissful ignorance of his apartment, but alas, here he was, drowning in the cold. His feet began moving, and he walked around the columns of people. When Sergio stopped and pressed his right


knee into the brick street, he felt a sob sliding its way up his body. In front of him was a woman who looked like a sleeping angel. She had long black hair, a handful of tiny brown spots on her slim neck, and open, light-blue eyes. They stared into Sergio’s and he felt lost. Sergio reached out and lightly grazed her cheek. She felt as though she could have been frozen. He sighed heavily and watched his breath hang in the air and then disappear. Tears dotted Sergio’s eyes, but he blinked them away. Sergio had no answers or anything he could drape his palms and fingers around. Instead, he was left with the facts, which left him hungry to know why this had taken place. He had never been particularly religious, but in the heart of this moment, Sergio prayed. As he shut his eyes, Sergio remembered the last time he prayed. He was nine years old, and his father had a seizure while driving him back from his grandparents’ house. The drive was eighteen miles, but snow had greased the streets and ice had formed. Sergio’s father was epileptic, and began convulsing at the wheel. The car hit a patch of black ice, and the car spun around and flipped over. It continued spinning and rolling for several seconds, which seemed like lifetimes to Sergio, until the car slammed into the trunk of a tree. Sergio sat in the car, cold, watching his father’s body contorted, but no longer shaking. Blood was spilling from his stomach, and Sergio prayed to God to wake his father up and stop him from leaking. He wasn’t sure how long he sat next to his father praying, but it was long enough for the night to take his father away and for Sergio to believe that God had not heard his prayers. After that night, he never invested much in the abilities of the Divine. Here he was, nineteen years later, and he found himself praying as hard as he had when he was nine. Echoes of his young prayers rang in his skull, and transported him back into the car. He could almost smell the scent of gas and hear the hiss of the broken engine and the exhaling wind. Sergio thought of his father, the man that taught him to speak to God, and the twisted face and open eyes he was left with after the crash – eyes like the woman


knee into the brick street, he felt a sob sliding its way up his body. In front of him was a woman who looked like a sleeping angel. She had long black hair, a handful of tiny brown spots on her slim neck, and open, light-blue eyes. They stared into Sergio’s and he felt lost. Sergio reached out and lightly grazed her cheek. She felt as though she could have been frozen. He sighed heavily and watched his breath hang in the air and then disappear. Tears dotted Sergio’s eyes, but he blinked them away. Sergio had no answers or anything he could drape his palms and fingers around. Instead, he was left with the facts, which left him hungry to know why this had taken place. He had never been particularly religious, but in the heart of this moment, Sergio prayed. As he shut his eyes, Sergio remembered the last time he prayed. He was nine years old, and his father had a seizure while driving him back from his grandparents’ house. The drive was eighteen miles, but snow had greased the streets and ice had formed. Sergio’s father was epileptic, and began convulsing at the wheel. The car hit a patch of black ice, and the car spun around and flipped over. It continued spinning and rolling for several seconds, which seemed like lifetimes to Sergio, until the car slammed into the trunk of a tree. Sergio sat in the car, cold, watching his father’s body contorted, but no longer shaking. Blood was spilling from his stomach, and Sergio prayed to God to wake his father up and stop him from leaking. He wasn’t sure how long he sat next to his father praying, but it was long enough for the night to take his father away and for Sergio to believe that God had not heard his prayers. After that night, he never invested much in the abilities of the Divine. Here he was, nineteen years later, and he found himself praying as hard as he had when he was nine. Echoes of his young prayers rang in his skull, and transported him back into the car. He could almost smell the scent of gas and hear the hiss of the broken engine and the exhaling wind. Sergio thought of his father, the man that taught him to speak to God, and the twisted face and open eyes he was left with after the crash – eyes like the woman


on the ground. It hurt for him to return to the entity that took his father from him in such a grizzly manner, but he had nowhere else to turn. God had breathed into Sergio and left him sorry for the girl in the street. He was also sorry for not being able to touch her and cause her to rise and walk away. Sergio rose from the bricks and slowly walked past the onlookers on their cell phones and back into the apartment building, as the howl of sirens flooded the street. He returned to his room, which was still bitterly cold, drank a cup of coffee, and did not look out the window again. Later, after night had spread through the sky, Sergio turned on the news. Two stories caught his attention. The first was on a blackout that had struck most of downtown. The other story had to do with the arrest of five mortuary technicians and a friend. They were all in their mid-twenties, and shooting a scene for an independent film. The technicians had used transport trucks belonging to the city morgue to move three cadavers for an early morning shoot. However, after the bodies were spread out and the filming began, the blackout hit, taking the majority of the lights of downtown with it. Unaware if terrorists had attacked or if some other tragedy had occurred, the men quickly fled in fear, accidentally leaving one of the bodies behind. After the story finished, Sergio shut off the television and sat for a long time staring at the blank screen and thinking of the day. Finally, he allowed himself to weep – not in sadness, but to vent the emotions he had been carrying for almost two decades. The hurt and indifference toward anything Divine washed away with his tears, and he didn’t feel alone anymore. He could feel his father smiling from wherever Heaven was, and Sergio forgave God for taking him, and forgave himself for losing his way. For the second time in his life, he had witnessed God work in mysterious ways.


Resting on the Road Amy MacDonald Two dirty shoes, used and worn like Denim jeans – over and over So sweet eyes, all lit up and watery Matching ruby jeweled lips My ignored jaw-line is aching As I follow your fingers to my belly Tracing my hip-bone and calling When you moved to my knees And feet – I was so close While you drew lines in lieu of Mauling – I fell hard Hair casing my brow Hands finding silk – smelling soft Like powder – smooth charm Asking for assent to harmonize – Delightfully collapsing into my demur


A Glass of Water Yuly Restrepo Don Jesús was feeding the chickens in the small wooden shack that served as a barn when they came. He was exhausted from his lack of sleep the night before, which he had spent lying in bed, looking at the ceiling, and listening to the gunfire that came and went in gusts from somewhere in the woods. He wondered how many more years of a war whose cause he didn’t even understand he would be able to endure. More than half of his life had been spent trying to take care of his family and his farm, trying to get by, but there was always something. Sometimes it was an attack, sometimes a massacre, and in between there were many restless nights spent waiting nervously in the dark. When the war started he was very young, and he had never been sure of the reason behind it. He didn’t hear their voices at first, of course, and it took him a little while to realize there was a small group gathered outside and one of the men was knocking on the frame of the door. Upon seeing him, Don Jesús immediately placed the plastic container filled with corn on the dirt floor, and walked as quickly as he could toward the door. Once there, he saw that there were eight men, all of them dressed in the same dark green uniform, and wearing a ribbon with the three colors of the national flag across their shoulders and stretching down the sides of their stomachs, like those worn by beauty queens. Most of them were carrying a weapon of some kind on their belts, and two had machine guns. All their faces were covered by dirt and sweat, and one of them had a long cut just above his left eyebrow. Don Jesús thought that perhaps he had summoned bad luck with his weary thoughts. Immediately, Don Jesús recognized to which side they belonged—they certainly didn’t look like they were in the paramilitary. But he wasn’t sure of which guerilla group they were a part. He concluded that the man who had knocked was their commander because he was the only one wearing a cap. Don Jesús waited, trying to conceal the tremor in his hands by holding them together over his stomach. It was well known that too many people from his town had been kidnapped or killed, people who worked on their farms and minded their own business. “How are you today, friend?” said the commander. “I’m well, sir,” responded Don Jesús. “I knocked on the door of the house, but didn’t get an answer.” “The only ones that live with me are my daughter Lina, and my son-in-law


Manuel, and they’re working right now.” “Ah, that’s right,” the man chuckled. “We’ve been walking for a while and I was wondering if you could offer us a glass of water.” Don Jesús breathed with some relief and asked the men to follow him to the house. Once inside, he gave them a glass of ice cold water and offered to make some coffee for them. The commander declined, but asked whether a couple of his men could use the restroom. After they were done, the men headed out and away from the main road, toward the woods. The alarm clock indicated 4:10 in the morning when Lina was woken by loud, insistent knocks on the front door. She put on her sandals and walked through the corridor as fast as she could, still half immersed in a dream about a trip she and her husband had made to the city last year. When she finally opened the door she was alarmed by the number of men with guns standing outside. All of them but one had their faces covered with ski masks. Around their arms were bands with the letters AUC spelled boldly on cheap yellow fabric that were generally associated with the paramilitary. “Jesús López? Where is he?” shouted the man whose face was uncovered. “He’s my father—he’s asleep in the back. I’ll go get him.” She turned around with the intention of going to her father’s bedroom, and she found her husband Miguel standing in front of her, his face completely pale. “The paras!” she was able to motion with her lips, before the same man without the mask yelled for him to come to the door. When Don Jesús and his daughter arrived at the door, they found that Lina’s husband was being held by two men. Don Jesús identified himself, still in a haze, and the man who looked like he was in command spoke. “We have found out that you are associated with communist groups. It will not be tolerated.” “I’m not associated with anyone,” Don Jesús replied, trying to sound respectful. “They wanted water and I had to help them.” “And doing them favors isn’t being associated with them? These groups are despicable and they cause great suffering to the people of our country!” He ordered


his men to take the three of them to the garden. Lina began to scream as she was dragged and her husband tried to free himself to get to her, but he received a punch in the face. Don Jesús tried to produce some kind of plea, but nothing came to his tired mind. He simply looked at the way his daughter was being treated, and was crushed by the certainty that she would never know a normal life. The way Manuel struggled to get free caused Don Jesús to wish he had the physical strength to at least fight back, but he wasn’t sure he would have done it anyway. The three members of the family were lined up in their garden, facing the men who looked at them through their ski masks, pointing guns toward their chests. Looking at the mango trees that grew tall all around the house, Don Jesús remembered the time he was sitting under one of them, and his father had come out of the house to tell him about the first massacre that had taken place in their town. He stared directly at the trees as the commander gave the men a nod and twelve shots were heard in the quiet of the morning.


Five Storms and A Flood Sharrell McKinney He was a music VJ. From one of the hip-hop stations on television. Dreds pulled back from his face and spilling down his back, he paused his laughter at a joke his cohost made long enough to say it. “Hey, I want to give a shout out to all those people down in Florida. Man, they are going through some stuff with those hurricanes.” Or something like that. Reiterating what others had been stating for the past few days. Congratulations to those who survived unharmed, prayers for those who didn’t. But I don’t watch any more of the program. I turn off the TV, hop down off my bed and walk over to close my bathroom door, effectively isolating myself from the room next door. I flick off the lights, casting the room into darkness. I need to sleep. We evacuate at dawn. 6am. Bring one blanket, one pillow and only the essentials. That’s what the flyer says. It’s the one they give to all the RA’s to hand out to our residents. I look at the bag of food I’d bought at the grocery store the day before and shrugged. Ah, well, I’ll eat it when we get back. I place the overflowing paper bag of food into my closet, an armoire really, and hoist my backpack onto my shoulders. My bag is heavy containing my essentials; one blanket, one pillow, snacks, toiletries and books. I huff, breathing shallow as I run down the stairs towards where the bus is waiting. I don’t have to be an RA now, all my residents are gone; they’d flown home before the hurricane evacuation warnings. There are only six of us from my building. Ray, Caroline and Chris I know. There’s also a new RA, Gary, from Kansas. Welcome to Florida. My supervisor Colleen is here as well. We all pile into the big, yellow school bus, reminiscent of elementary school and a few crazy episodes of Dharma and Greg. The race is on. Just where will the hurricane hit...and when. Will it turn and move out to sea? Or will it continue inland and head straight towards Tampa? I ask Chris to use his cell phone to call my mom. She picks up on the third or fourth ring. “We’re being evacuated.” I get straight to the point. A veteran of hurricanes, I know how unpredictable phones can be. Languishing over a plethora of greetings and small talk can result in a severed phone connection. “Where to?” she asks. My mother is calm. The night before, she’d called me,


laughing about how the people down in Miami were in a panic. “Wal-Mart’s cleaned out, girl,” she told me with a laugh. “You can’t find squat in there!” she laughed again. “White people panic too easily,” she added. “Well, I’ll talk to you in the morning, call me when you find out where you are going.” “They’re taking us to some elementary school. Gorrie elementary. In North Tampa,” I tell her. “They’re not sure how long we’ll be there.” “Well,” she pauses, “call me if anything changes.” She hangs up. I silently give the phone back to Chris, the ‘thanks’ on my tongue not quite making it out of my mouth. The bus pulls into the school grounds. The building in front of us is one story high and painted a dull color I don’t even notice. I think it’s gray. We unload our stuff and are herded into the cafeteria, our ‘luxury resort’ for the duration of the storm. We try to find a spot at one of the tables for our little group. Me, Caroline, Chris and Ray. The ‘Hurricane Crew’. Colleen sits with the other residence life staff, we have no clue where Gary is, in fact, we don’t remember he’s there. The residence life staff and other locals at the shelter are watching the news. We can see the flickering lights of the television and I watch their motions as they read newspaper after newspaper on the latest predicted trajectories of the storm. Some kids have brought games and books, one girl even has her laptop and is playing music. The essentials, right? Chris and Ray are excited. They’ve never experienced a hurricane before. Ray is from Jersey and Chris is from Montana; “I was born in California,” he continually reminds us. Whatever. They are dying to see what Charley is going to do. That’s the name of this new storm. Charley, kinda hooky, but it’s got to have a name. The reporters from the Weather Channel are predicting the worst. ‘Massive amounts of rain and tremendous record-breaking wind speeds are expected for the Tampa Bay area’. Caroline and I roll our eyes. She’s from West Palm Beach and I’m from the Bahamas. Hurricane vets. We’d both experienced Hurricane Andrew and I happened to be living in Miami at the time of that storm. Charley is storm number two for us so far. A week earlier, we’d been hit by Bonnie. A tropical storm. Lots of wind, lots of rain. No big deal. We’d been safe in our college dorm, a nine storey building. Many of us had slept through it, taking pictures of the damage the next morning after we awoke.


Ray and Chris are bombarding Caroline with questions. What’s it like? How bad can they get? Stuff like that. She regales them with stories and they listen intently. One of the residence life staff members stand up to make an announcement. The cafeteria quiets. “They say it’s going to hit is around two o’clock.” I look at my watch, it’s a little before nine. Suddenly there’s a panic. Two of the students who’d drove to the shelter had gone out to buy extra food. “Does anyone have their cell phone number?” “Quick! Someone call them and tell them to get back here now!” Ten minutes later, they are back, unharmed and with food. We open bags of chips and cans of soda as we sit at the table and watch the skies outside darken. A few hours later, another announcement is made. “Okay, people, they say the storm is slowing down.” There are a few scattered cheers throughout the cafeteria. “But—,” the cheers stop. “But, the storm is still coming. It should hit us around five or six.” Caroline and I look at each other and sigh. It’s now almost eleven. I get up to go outside, partly because I’m bored and need fresh air, but mostly because some guy keeps staring at me over the top of the book he’s pretending to read. It’s creeping me out. Outside is warm. The air is stale and stagnant. The clouds are an ominous gray. Today, there are no birds chirping, no crickets, grasshoppers, cicadas, even frogs. Nothing. A sure sign a storm is coming. I head over to the elementary school’s playground, picking my way over the grass. The warm air has moistened it and it’s slick. I almost lose my footing and hear a snicker behind me. It’s Caroline and the others. We find a ball and waste time throwing it to each other. Tiring of that, we move on, playing four squares, a game I hadn’t played since grade school, then a bit of basketball. Chris is really good, but we laugh at how low the hoops are. Really bored now, we take the ball, a souvenir, perhaps, and head back to the cafeteria. We arrive just in time to hear that we are moving to a ‘more secure location’. The storm’s sped up again and ETA is back at two or three o’clock. We are moved from the cafeteria into a small hallway in the classroom area of the school. “It’s safer there,” someone says. Yeah right. Ray and Chris are starting to get agitated and the corridor is cold. We set up


our blankets and sleeping bags together and huddle. It is not comfortable. “When is this thing supposed to get here?” Ray asks. Caroline laughs. “This is why hurricanes are so unpredictable,” she jokes, “you never know when they’ll hit.” We stay in the corridor for a while, reading books, playing games and occasionally making forays outside to see the progression of the storm. The residence life staff members pass out candy and find a TV for us to watch. One of the elementary school teachers inserts a copy of a Disney movie she’d found in her car. It’s supposed to act as a morale booster. It doesn’t work. No one’s really afraid. We’re more bored than scared, more annoyed than anxious and too tired to care. It had started raining about two hours earlier, a light sprinkling of water, as if God were trying to liven things up. Another announcement is made. Chris is outside looking up at the sky and Ray goes out to tell him we get to go home. Great. Yippee-ki-friggin-yea. We get to leave as soon as university personnel can get us. “Damn Charley,” Ray says. He’s disappointed. We can hear the muttering all around us. “Not even a real storm!” “Trickle Charley!” “Yeah,” Ray says, “trickle Charley.” We wait outside the cafeteria for the bus. Those who drove to the shelter have already left. We get back to the university to discover that they have opened the cafeteria to give us food. Dr. Vaughn, the university president, and his wife are standing inside, greeting us warmly as we make a beeline for the French toast sticks, bacon and eggs that await us. “Welcome back,” he says with a smile. Over the course of the next month we are threatened by three more storms: Francis, Ivan and Jeanne. School is closed more than it’s open. Classes are cancelled. Students fly home at their parents anxious urging. What a great way to start the semester. Hurricane Charley has destroyed homes all along the East coast and displaced hundreds of people. Authorities think this hurricane will go down in US history as the second most expensive hurricane (estimated 11 billion dollars in damages), following Hurricane Andrew (estimated 15.5 billion dollars in damages). The Emergency Committee at the university continues to send out warnings to students,


faculty and staff. But no warning system was in place to prepare us for the flood. “Attention! Attention! Attention! An emergency has been reported. All occupants please walk to the nearest stairwell exit and walk down to your assigned reentry floor or main lobby. Do not use the elevator. Walk to the nearest stairway. Do not use the elevator.” I awake with a start. Sitting upright, I look around. My room is cast in an eerie glow, bright blue lights flashing on the wall next to my television. A siren wails. It’s the fire alarm. Again. Third time this semester. I think it’s another prank, so I take my time putting on my sweat pants and a sweater. I make sure my keys are in my pocket; I’d been locked out before and don’t care to go through it again, besides, it is cold outside. Following procedure, I leave my room and pound on each of my residents’ doors, ensuring that everyone on my floor is safe and making their way out of the building. “Wake up,” I yell, without much fervor; after all, there’s no real emergency. Just some idiot pulling the alarm again. “Up, up, up!” I punctuate each word with a fist to a door. “Get downstairs!” I knock on each door, and then walk to the stairwell. I hear a whoosing sound, but in my groggy state, choose to ignore it. I walk down the stairs encountering other students trying to exit the building. Our feet move in unison, the even, timed shuffling of feet a sleepy tribute to the military march. We are outside and for the first time, I notice the bleary eyes of the other students. Some have brought blankets and are sitting on the damp grass in front of the building while others have lit up cigarettes and are puffing their frustrations away. I read the questions in their eyes and I shrug. I have no answers. The click of a door closing sounds behind me and I turn around. It’s Gary, the RA from the fourth floor. He’s wet. Rather his clothes are wet. His face is grim as he stalks past me without a word. I run after him. I almost catch him when a hand touches my arm. It’s Colleen. “Sharell, I need you to get all of your residents together.” “What happened?” I ask, bewilderment evident in my voice. “Long story,” she gives me an apologetic look then retreats back into the lobby of the building, becoming engrossed in a conversation with a uniformed police


officer and the campus security team. The officer casts furtive glances at the crowd of students gathered outside, then whispers something to one of the security guards. I watch, wondering what was going on. By now, someone would have told the RA’s the situation, which would allow us to answer some of the questions thrown our way. I start to worry. Maybe it’s not a little thing; maybe it’s something big. Something huge. Maybe someone died. I glance at the sleepy students, then back into the building. The officer and one of the security officers are coming out the door. They walk through the crowd of students, stopping occasionally at the edges of some groups, their eyes searching. They walk back inside. “What were they looking for?” I hear someone whisper. I turn to answer, but the question isn’t directed at me. I move away. I find out what happened a few hours later. I am sitting in the lobby of Crescent Place, my body is tired and I can barely keep my eyes open. All the adrenalin from earlier has worn off as the sun has risen. The sky outside is now tinged with pink and all the other residents except for my floor have been allowed into their rooms. We wait. Colleen walks up and clears her throat. I’m not sure if she’s nervous or frustrated. Maybe both. She sighs. Then tells us what happened. I sigh. Freshmen. I picture myself on Oprah, telling her what happened and why I needed her help to hire a good lawyer. “It wasn’t murder,” I tell her. “Some dumb kid who couldn’t handle his liquor decided to swing from an exit sign. The one sign that happened to be connected to a water main in the building.” I could see the sympathetic faces of the studio audience prompting me to finish my story. “It broke under his weight and flooded all the rooms on the right side of the building, from the fourth floor down. It’s not my fault that I beat him over the head with a two-by-four.” Oprah smiles at me and the audience applauds, then she addresses the nation, letting them know of the wrong that has befallen this poor RA who had no choice but to smack the kid who caused her a night of rest, the night before a morning class that she could not miss. I missed my class. I missed all my classes that day. It wasn’t because I had to console residents. It wasn’t because I had to sleep. It wasn’t because I had prayed to God, Yahweh, Allah or whomever, that my room was okay. It was because I opened my room door and watched with a heavy heart as my basketball floated by. My print


er was on the floor. I had put it there the night before. So was my stereo. Sitting on my carpet cushioned by about three inches of standing water. I pick up one foot of my brand new sneakers. It’s sopping wet. “You okay?” I look around. It’s Colleen. She peers into my room. “Oh,” she says. Yeah. Oh. I don’t cry. I want too, God knows I do. But I am too tired to cry. I get angry instead. I stand in the middle of my room, watching the water crawl over the tops of my feet, watching my sneaker bob up and down, one shoelace making slight waves as it’s pushed to and fro. Watching the blue lights still flashing in my room, the alarm blessedly silent but the warning still playing in my head. “Attention, attention, attention.”


Everyone Packed? Angela Velasquez Honorable Mention - Prose The red-faced English kid, the one in mid-thigh shorts, Beckham shirt and white socks just above his ankles, an outfit his mother must have picked up for his holiday in Marks and Spencers the week before they left for Disney, just took the last two Taco Supremes. Bastard. They don’t even have Taco Bell in England, never mind Taco Bell Express. I waited until the lady in the visor slid another through the slot. I placed my tray down on a table facing the airport shuttle. It was only eleven in the morning. People were beginning to step off. Their eyes were scanning the four corners of the second floor, anticipating their welcoming parties or at least hoping their rides home had remembered them. That’s my favorite part of airports. And then he sat down. At the table directly across from me the man in the dark brown suit with clunky prescription glasses and newspaper, tucked into his meal and blocked my reality show. He was facing my direction and was breaking the code of conduct when it came to eating alone. Tables for one face the same direction. Otherwise, tables for one awkwardly become tables for two. I was eating to an audience. I finished my meal and went back to check-in. My mom, brother and grandpa were in line. My grandpa insisted on picking them up in his pickup along the way. “The airport will rip you off for parking. We’ll take one car,” he explained. That forced me to take a cab. Maybe it was my hot pink suitcase and pointy shoes, but the cab driver thought I would enjoy hearing Iman’s biography. I wondered how a pudgy man in a Give Blood t-shirt knew so much about an old model who sells makeup on QVC. My mom looked flustered. The shirt she spent fifteen minutes ironing had gray fluff clinging to the back, a farewell gift from my grandpa’s seat covers. My brother, Christian, never looked up from his Game Boy and my grandpa was wearing his navy blazer. This blazer has made appearances at birthdays, weddings, funerals, dance recitals, graduations and on every chilly day from late October to December for the past three years. “Did you bring my mail?” I asked my mom. “Yeah, and don’t let Popees see it. He’s nuts enough, I don’t need him talking about this the whole week on top of it.” She thought she whispered.


I was planning a summer abroad in Paris. It was top secret. Last time I decided to take off, I went to London for a semester and didn’t tell most of my family until three days before on Christmas day. I was gone for six months. They handed over their suitcases. We headed up stairs to security, but not before my brother stopped for a two hour supply of Twizzlers and Sprees and for a last minute restroom stop. I was waiting for this part of the day. My mom was carrying my grandma in the vinyl Harrods bag, a souvenir from my London semester. Wrapped in bubble wrap and in a velvet bag the funeral home provided, one which would have looked more appropriate hugging a bottle of expensive liquor, the maroon urn sat in the bag like an enormous elephant in the room. I remembered a show on the Travel Channel about vacation scams. One segment was warning about crooks who snatched purses and carry-ons from the hooks on the back of airport bathroom stall doors. They were in it for cameras and wads of traveler’s checks, but I imagined a woman in a back alley trying to sell what she thought was collectable china. It seemed too risky, so my mom and I took turns. There was a clumsy shuffle at the security gate. “Does she go in the x-ray machine?” I asked my mom. Christian, intrigued by the idea, looked up from his video game for the first time and stopped chewing on his Twizzler. “I have no idea, I thought I’d just have to show the certificate,” she answered. We were next. “Jackets, bags and shoes ma’am, in the bin,” said the security guard. “Actually, we’re carrying an urn,” my mom said, handing over the death certificate and papers from the funeral home. “Oh, I’m sorry. Just put everything down and we’ll handle it,” the security guard said. I think we ruined his day. As my grandma went through the machine, I tried to discreetly turn my head to see the screen. Shit. I missed it. I don’t know what was wrong with me, but I was dying to see what it looked like inside. Maybe it was empty? How would we know? For all we know it could just be salt or sugar in there. I thought about my dog, who was cremated the summer before after he died


in his sleep. He sits on the top shelf in our built-in unit in the living room now. I’ve been tempted to shake it, especially when we first got it. It feels like a small paper weight or a bottle filled with sand art from the state fair and at the bottom there’s a plug. It’s sealed pretty well. My parents haven’t told my brother what’s inside the little stone container. He thinks it is just a box with the inscription “Our Beloved Friend, Oliver.” It kills me to not tell him. My grandma came out after a camera and a Donald Duck book bag stuffed with coloring books. No one told me my grandma was on the way out- of life, not the machine. A few weeks earlier, when we were sitting in the hospice lobby, Aunt Tina slipped about a bump in my Nan’s neck. My mom’s eyes bulged out and her head twitched violently in my direction. Aunt Tina shut up. Months earlier, she had an operation, but they told me it was only a cyst. When I visited her at the hospital she was on the cancer floor. I didn’t notice the sign until the second time I visited, when I was on my way out. Was the sign always there? Flying Southwest not only means being deprived of properly dressed flight attendants, who instead of wearing matching suits and scarves are decked out in sneakers and creased khaki shorts, but it also means having to find your own seat. We were the last group to board, but there was still a row of three empty seats. I tried to squeeze behind my mom so I could be the last in line and could say “Oh, you guys sit together, I’ll be fine on my own.” Wedging myself between a seat and the urn, I realized my mom was not going to give up her prime position. I sat between my grandpa and brother. “What kind of drink would you like, sir?” the flight attendant asked. “I don’t want one,” my grandpa answered. “Are you sure?” she asked. “I don’t drink very much,” he answered. “Would you care for some peanuts or pretzels?” the flight attendant asked. Again, he said no. His mother, my great-grandmother, always did this. It used to piss everyone off. Every time we brought her to a restaurant and the waitress asked what she would like to drink she’d say, “I don’t drink very much.” The old lady needed some liquid in her; she looked like beef jerky.


I turned to my grandpa and asked him if he knew the drinks and pretzels were free. He did. I asked him if he ever thought maybe Christian or I would like an extra pack of pretzels. He didn’t. I dug out my IPOD, sipped on my miniature Pepsi and tried to fall asleep. We landed in New York a couple of hours later. A black and gray suitcase spun around the carousel twice until I realized it was in fact the hot pink one I left Florida with. I hadn’t been to Long Island for a while. Lately, when I visited, I stayed in the comfort of the city. My grandfather, on the other hand, visited Long Island often, usually to visit his mother’s grave. He never invited anyone. He stayed alone in a small motel on the side of the road, the kind where you never use the shower and always sleep on top of the bed covers. This time, I chose the hotel. “You can tell Emily chose this,” my grandpa remarked. He acted like he was checking into Paris’ Ritz Hotel. The Residence Inn towered over a semi-demolished hospital where my mom was born forty years earlier. Nothing is scarier than an old hospital. With gaping holes marking the facade like swiss cheese and hollow rooms exposed for all to see, the hospital looked like something from an amusement park around Halloween. It was freezing outside. The wind was relentless and the sky was blank. No clouds, no sun, nothing, like it just wasn’t there. It’s surprising how difficult burying a person or doing something with their ashes is when the weather is cold. Land is frozen, making it impossible to open a grave. Caskets have to stay above ground until it warms up. Do they have a faux funeral? Do they set it all up and then put it away after the family leaves? Or do people wait and have the real thing later? And isn’t this bad for that whole mourning process? We thought about spreading my grandma’s ashes in the Moriches Bay. No one was going out on boats yet; we’d have to wait another couple of months. It was probably a good thing too. My grandma threw her wedding ring in the bay after she and my grandpa divorced ten years earlier. I don’t think she would have been happy to see that again.


We looked online for a memory garden, something Aunt Tina heard about from a lady at her dental office. With the growing popularity of cremation, cemeteries are finding a new way to make up that lost income by creating small gardens with rose beds, allowing families to scatter ashes. The only one on Long Island was in Coram. We were not going to leave my grandma there. The search for a proper place for my Nan was getting to the point of, if we didn’t find anything soon, she’d reluctantly become a permanent bookend to my dog’s urn. I got on the phone with a funeral home in East Moriches, the ideal place to leave my grandma. It was the only place she was truly happy. I thought maybe they could give me some suggestions. Instead, they asked me how old I was. I ran into the problem a lot. Little Ceasars refuses to place my order because they think it’s a punk kid playing a prank. “I’m 20 years-old and Little Ceasars does this to me all the time,” I explained to the funeral home. “What was your grandma’s name?” the funeral guy asked. “Sarah Collins,” I answered. I realized who I was talking to. After my grandparents divorced, my grandma put the house up for sale so she could join the rest of us in Florida. A man named Mark Jennings was planning to buy the house from her. The deal was almost sealed until he backed out the day before the closing. My grandma lived in the two-story house by herself for five more months until she couldn’t take it anymore and nearly gave away the house for free. I was on the phone with Jennings & Sons Funeral Home. “That name sounds familiar,” he said. “Did you used to live in East Moriches?” “Yeah, it would sound familiar wouldn’t it, you almost bought her house, retard,” I shouted and hung up. Crap, who was going to help me now. “You didn’t call the guy who almost bought Nan’s house, did you?” my mom asked. I told her no, that I had found another one. I went back on the internet and found a small cemetery near Moriches’ lake.


In October, they used to turn the lake into the “Scary Walk.” Every year I would go and put my hands into the pots of spaghetti and Jell-O. Once, there was a really white lady walking around with her arms out and afterwards I dubbed my equally pale mom The White Dead Lady. But during the rest of the year, the area was quiet and full of flowers and bright trees. We unpacked a little and I pulled out the sofa bed, claiming it as my territory. Sleeping arrangements were a heated topic. My mom and I thought my brother should share the bed with my grandpa. He thought otherwise and promised an embarrassing tantrum. Eventually, with his sleepy and probably damaged eyes from his video game, he fell asleep on the bed. He would be in for a surprise the next morning. The urn was still in the Harrods bag. First it was on the kitchenette counter. Then on the desk. Someone was afraid of knocking it over. When I went to bed I noticed it on the ground, only inches away from my pillow, inches way from my face. I wanted to move it. It creeped me out, but I felt bad. It was still my grandma. I got so used to calling it the urn, it became impersonal. That night I fell asleep thinking about the last time I visited Long Island with my Nan. Nan bribed me with a visit to the new outlet mall that opened in Riverhead and unlimited amounts of Pogs. For one reason or another, she agreed to drive to New York with her ex-husband and former mother-in-law for a week long vacation. I was eleven. A kid broke up the strange mix and my Nan could take the role of baby-sitter since the other two probably would have forgotten to feed me or left me at a rest stop somewhere in Virginia. I sat next to my 79-year-old great-grandmother, Po, for the entire ride. A year later she would begin a six year stint in a nursing home. For some reason when old people break a hip they forget how to feed themselves. “You know, your grandfather’s father died very young. He was only in his forties. That means your grandfather has a good chance of dying young also,” Po told me. I heard awful stories about Po. In fact, Po stories were my mom’s and uncles’ party piece at every Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter (only after my grandfather left, of course.) Po didn’t like girls. For birthdays, she showered my Uncles John and


Will with money and gifts. The only present my mom ever got was a blow-dryer. My favorite Po story was the one when my grandparents left her to baby-sit for a weekend and she took all the kids’ food home with her. For lunch and dinner they would walk through the snow for a Jack-n-the-Box taco. My Nan and I attached ourselves to each other on that trip- for safety and sanity reasons. In the middle of the night, when Po was sleepwalking around the hotel room and once in the parking lot, my Nan and I laid in bed, pretending to not hear so my grandpa would have to deal with it. We had to smother our laughter with blankets. I woke up before everyone else. I never eat in the morning, but I cannot resist a free continental breakfast. Downstairs, I made a plate of scrambled eggs, a bagel with cream cheese and chose some tiny blueberry muffins. I sat down next to an old couple. The Today show was on. Josh Groban was singing Nan’s favorite song. Last December, we bought tickets to see his April concert. We had an extra ticket now. I dropped my fork and on my way down to pick it up I noticed muffins poking out of the old woman’s coat pocket. Are they fresh? Or did she put them in her pocket the morning before and just never got around to them? Nan would have enjoyed this breakfast. Christian stumbled around the corner and sat down with me. “Are you going to get any breakfast?” I asked. “Come with me,” Christian said. “How old are you?” I asked. “Eleven,” he answered. “And you can’t scoop some eggs yourself yet?” I asked. “Hey, it’s the least you can do after ditching me with Popees last night,” he said. He had a point. I got up and made him a plate. It was still cold outside. We bundled up in the warmest clothes we owned and headed out to East Moriches. We put Nan between us in the back seat. It was only a half hour drive, but before we went to the cemetery we had to drive past our old house and my old school. East Moriches is only about ten streets big. It’s a small community towards


West Hampton. Imelda Marcos and her shoes used to live around here, but more recently it’s known as the place where hundreds died in a TWA explosion. A flight from JFK to Paris exploded over the bay in 1996. Our street was closed off while bodies were pulled from the water at the end of the road. I no longer want to go in that water. We drove to the cemetery. I remembered it now. It was small with old stones and trees. It was charming, quaint, something out of Little Women, but then we parked on the side of a trailer. It was the office. My brother and I stayed in the heated car, while my mom and grandpa took a walk around the place. They were looking for niches. We had no idea what a niche looked like. Was it in doors or outside? What ever it was, it was supposed to hold urns. In the entrance, I saw blocks of marble about the same height as my brother. They looked too big to be a regular head stone. I got out of the car and told my brother to keep an eye on Nan. I walked over to the marble and saw it was made of small blocks, some having inscriptions on the front. I was right. That’s a niche. I yelled for my mom and grandpa to come over. “I don’t want her on ground,” my mom said. “Well, I don’t think she wants to be between Dick Kaiser and Margaret Williamson either,” I said. I don’t know why, I just didn’t like their names. We settled on the block next to Sophia James, a baby girl who only lived for two days. Nan would have felt bad about that. I returned to my brother while my mom and grandpa went to the office. “Are you sad?” I asked him. “Yeah,” he said. I was at school when Nan died. I left the day before, on purpose. I didn’t want to be there for the big scene. And I know Nan didn’t want an audience, so I didn’t really know how Christian reacted. “Don’t worry about Nan though, at least she’s not sick anymore and she can still hang around us. I’m sure she’s laughing her head off at the four of us,” I said. Christian was smirking. He’s not used to this kind of one-to-one, heartfelt, family talk- the kind that was always on at the end of a Full House episode. Neither was I. I needed to change the subject.


“So, you know that little box at home, the one that says ‘Our Beloved Friend Oliver’?” I began.


Flesh and Dream Daniel Veintimilla

You’ve come to empty your cups of sun in my road your passion dances in my body We are drunk with youngness, the prettiest of the wines. It’s beautiful because we drink it in those trembling glasses of ourselves I know the happiness of being free and being lonely like the pistil of an infinite daisy But let’s drink. And never stop drinking drowning in ourselves. White pulp of poem, to live will be first, and then will be to die. Wondering where my wings will take you, and then our prints will falter in the route.


Magnolia Tree Daniel Veintimilla

being Indian, burning body mind of flames hard dirt, cold wind orange birds of waves mixed history, bred through wars. Blood of death, crimson blood of life conquerors of savage lands wise Women, sun sacrifices thief Spaniards, forcing crosses One with Magnolia tree of my childhood.


A Woman, Writing Marcus Yi You imagine a room. A room with four cream colored walls and a desk. The room is lit with gentle azure light and the temperature of the room, cool. A woman is sitting at the desk, writing. She is writing in her diary. Perhaps she recalls her life, her youth, her past. Perhaps she records the day’s events. Perhaps not. Perhaps she is thinking of the time when she had a one time affair with a man she did not even know the name of once, when she and her husband were in Milan. Perhaps she writes down how she felt with that man. How they had met at a café. How he had tried to chat her up. How she responded, like a blushing school girl out on a date for the first time. How they had quickly progressed to a hotel. How the room was. How the ceiling was. How the sex was. How the sex was better than what her decrepit old husband could ever give her. How she felt after. The guilt, the secrecy, the longing. How the funny thing is that she is starting to forget his face, though all she knew was that the sex was great. Or perhaps she remembers. Maybe she remembers the time when she was just a little girl. She remembers when she and her sisters liked to play in the neighbor’s garden. When her sisters used to put the flaming red hibiscus flowers in her hair. When they all used to pretend they were princesses on a faraway castle waiting to be saved by a tall dark handsome stranger on a white horse. Perhaps instead of that, she writes of her son. The pain that sliced into her at childbirth. The pain that sliced into her when he had to leave. Her handsome son who grew up so fast and so quickly, who had to leave for another country with a girl he had just known for three weeks. To leave his poor old mother alone. All alone in that big house, writing. Writing about her life. Writing about the time when she was a big time movie star in a small provincial town. Writing about how she’d dreamed one day, just one day she would be able to appear on the big screen and finally have everybody notice her. Notice all the work she’d had put in. Notice all the talent she’d had. Notice what she could have been. But no. She won’t write about the boring parts of her life. Of the parts how her mother had worked herself to the bone just to get her through school. Of how she didn’t give a damn about how hard her mother worked and played truant anyway


in spite of seeing her mother literally wasting away before her very eyes. Of how she laughed when her mother cried for her. Oh, but she cried. The woman cried at the funeral when they placed the old lady into the ground. When they finally had to drag her screaming from the headstone on the third day. Oh no, she wouldn’t want to write of such things. She would include memories of her first holiday to Japan where she jumped from shrine to shrine not learning of anything except that the Japanese seemed to be quite the religious bunch. Or she would say what she ate for dinner after dining at the neighbor’s house. How the chicken was springy and the vegetables overcooked. How she still remarked that it was “Quite a feast”, even after fighting back the first few waves of nausea. Perhaps, the woman writes about what could have been. What she could have become if she had not married at eighteen. What her son could have become if his plane had not crashed while trying to run from her. Would she be happy? Would he? So many what if ’s packed neatly into another box of regrets. Or maybe, the woman writes a story. A story of a woman sitting at her desk writing a story. Writing a story in her diary. Writing it in a cream colored room. Writing. Without seeing you, the woman writes.


Mama’s Rules Adrienne Nadeau My mama always told me never to take rides from strangers. Especially from male strangers that were easily over 6 feet tall and muscular with slick dark hair. As I rode shotgun in the beat up blue pickup, staring at the driver, I considered my mother’s words and realized that every part of me that was still a sweet Southern girl had blown out the window when we took off down the highway. I couldn’t help it—-the wind whipped against me, running its greedy fingers through my hair and blowing all the fear out of me. There was a photograph stuck above the glove compartment, slightly worn and creased by time and attention. It looked as if it had been adoringly taken from one truck to the next and stored in wallets between adventures. I peeled it slowly off the dashboard, careful not to let the tape rip the fragile paper. “Is this your wife?” I asked, tracing the pretty blonde’s figure with my fingernail. “She’s pretty,” I added, when my question wasn’t answered. “No.” I nodded and flipped the picture over and read the short love note etched into the back. “Is you name Jack?” Darling Jack, it read. No answer. His hands gripped the steering wheel until his knuckles turned white. “I’m not married either,” I confessed. With an apologetic laugh I added, “Divorced.” “Why’d you leave him?” The question was gruff. Curiosity was in his tone, but he tried to mask it with indifference. “He stopped being nice to me,” I admitted. “It was like he hated me and I couldn’t fix it . . . We were young.” Jack nodded, as if this was an expected answer. Still he said nothing. “Anyway, how did you know I left him?” “The one who left always says divorced,” he explained, after a long moment of awkward silence. “What does the other one say?” “Abandoned.” His words were sharp, bitten off. I nodded at the truth of them and stared out the window, watching the flat New Mexico scenery. I didn’t know what to say. “I haven’t been married for a long time,” I said, finally breaking the heavy silence.


“I moved in with my parents afterwards . . . Did the post-divorce regression thing. That was fun.” The sarcasm in my voice made it clear that moving back home had been anything but fun. Jack laughed. It was short, soft and held little humor, but it was all the encouragement I needed to continue with my monologue. “I’m leaving them now. I just had to get out. They mean well,” I rushed to explain. “They really do. I just needed to breathe in my own air, you know? I packed everything up in my car and started out . . . I almost made it to Albuquerque before my car broke down. I was trying to hitch my way there when you picked me up, to get to my friend Susan’s. She’ll let me stay with her for a little while. If I could just get some rest, you know? Some sleep, I’d be fine. My car was towed to some shop—-I’ll worry about getting it tomorrow . . . Thanks for picking me up. I don’t think I said that. Thanks. You’re saving my life.” I expected a gruff you’re welcome or at least a grunt of recognition. Instead, Jack turned to me and asked, “You tired?” “I’ve been driving all day,” I said by way of explanation. Saying yes would have sounded weak. I didn’t want to sound weak. “You can sleep if you want. I don’t mind.” I let out a short, uncomfortable laugh. He shrugged and fell silent, kept on driving. I didn’t think it was possible for me to fall asleep in a complete stranger’s car, but the swaying of the old truck was like being rocked and the flat, dry landscape was soothing and eventually I fell into sleep. When I woke up we were parked behind a McDonalds and Jack was eating a double decker burger with fries. There was another bag resting on the console between the seats, still simmering with freshness. “Good you’re awake,” Jack said between bites. “It’s still hot.” “That was nice of you,” I was surprised by his generosity. Opening the bag, I was assaulted by the aroma of food. The scent was thick with grease and I could tell the meal was over-salted, but I was ravenous and it smelled delicious. I eagerly bit into my burger, craving the rich taste of meat. I self-consciously ran my tongue over my lips, clearing away little bits of onion that had clung to my mouth. We ate in companionable silence and when he finished his food I gave him half of


my french fries. As he ate them, he talked to me. “My wife divorced me, too,” Jack said, hesitating over the word divorced. He used it for my sake; it was out of respect that he didn’t say abandoned. That was decent of him. “Why did she leave?” I whispered. I didn’t want to speak too loudly or startle him into reality. I wanted to know what would make a woman leave this man who had once been beautiful and caring, but had been hardened over by life. “She said I didn’t love her.” It sounded like the first time he had admitted it out loud. His voice was too raw, too painful. He hadn’t adopted the easy, carefree tone that comes with practice. “But I did.” “I know.” I touched his hand briefly. His tan skin made my dark ivory complexion look almost translucent in contrast. He gave me a crooked smile and started the engine, shifted gears. “We should be at your friend’s soon.” I nodded and rolled the window down as we merged back onto the road, letting the wind into the cab of the truck. I tilted my head out the window and watched the black road curve behind us. I felt little pieces of myself drift onto the highway with every passing mile.


Samantha Herman Photography

Cemetary I


Kerra Holtgren Photography

Tired Excuses


Me As A Baby Renee Gerstein First Place - Art - Felt Tip Pen


Allison Koehler Photography

Prototypical


Jazz Chick Christian Collier Charcoal on Linen


Untitled Caroline Thomas Honorable Mention - Art - Mixed Media


Khalen Dana Corrigan Sketch & Adobe Photoshop


Times Square Caroline Thomas Photography

Kayak Caroline Thomas First Place - Photography


Untitled Emely Martinez Scultpure


Daniel Veintimilla Photography

Untitled (Eyes)


Kim Kopec Photography

Minaret Sunset


The Universe Of Changed Concepts Staring at the Minaret Daniel Veintimilla Photography


Winter Beach Sara Johnson Photography


Renaissance Kerra Holtgren Honorable Mention - Photography


Distorted Girl Renee Gerstein Pencil


Kim Kopec Photography

Untitled


Life Rebecca Palmer Photography


Acknowledgments Special thanks to the following: God, for walking us through every step of this experience. Cheryl, Brandon, Stephanie, and everyone else in SAO. Adrienne, Yuly, Courtney, and Jessica K. for helping to carry the load. Molly Peacock, for inspiring both the students and the faculty. Phi Beta Sigma, Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta, & the Diversity Fellowship for the opportunity to perform. The Minaret & the Moroccan for aiding in keeping the publications alive. Facilities, for doing a great job. Black on Black Rhyme, for the interest in our events. Every student who attended and participated in our events. Food Services, for helping us keep people fed at Coffeehouse. Student Government, for everything. The P.E.A.C.E. office. The entire Quilt staff. Wing Barfoot and the English Department. Greg, Trevor, and Andrea (my guardian angel) for helping us out. Anyone whose name I forgot to mention. It was not intentional. Mama, Dad, Cayanna, Twon, Shea, Mama Dear, Aunt Sandra, Aunt Lynn, and the entire family for supporting me the whole time and knowing how hard I was working. Your support kept me going and I’m eternally thankful. Christian J. Collier Editor-in-Chief



Quilt Literary & Arts Journal 2005