Red Weather Issue 34.2
poetry prose visual art Minnesota State University Moorhead Students, Faculty, and Alumni
© 2015 Red Weather All future rights to material published in this magazine belong to the individual contributors. Any reproduction of this material may only be done with their permission. For more information or a link to this issue, please visit web. mnstate.edu/redweather.
Cover image: “The Last Migration” by Alyssa Sinnen Frontispiece: “Outside the walls of Weld Hall” by Dustin Mohagen Printed by Otter Tail Power Company The opinions expressed within are not necessarily those of the college, university system, student body, or Otter Tail Power.
Acknowledgements Managing Editor Nayt Rundquist
Anna Sylva Amy Hjelmstad William Lewandowski
Mark Bjornson Madeline Cameron Abby Reilly-Reed
Kat Priem Briana Schepper
Layout & Design Nayt Rundquist
The houses are haunted By white night-gowns. None are green, Or purple with green rings, Or green with yellow rings, Or yellow with blue rings. None of them are strange, With socks of lace And beaded ceintures. People are not going To dream of baboons and periwinkles. Only, here and there, an old sailor, Drunk and asleep in his boots, Catches tigers In red weather.
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“Disillusionment of Ten O’Clock” (1915) Wallace Stevens (1879-1955)
Contents ix From the Editor Alyssa Sinnen Alecs Peters Ashley Doll Alyssa Sinnen
1 4 5 8
RaeAnn Giffen Laura Smedsrud Jennifer Lundstrom Hernandez Kristin Miller Whitney Walters Elizabeth Nelson Nikkie Nouwen Whitney Walters Jennifer Kenyon Bicknell
10 11 12 14 15 16 17 18 19
Kristin Miller Alyssa Sinnen Kristin Miller Jennifer Lundstrom Hernandez Whitney Walters Val Anderson Bethany Larson Rob Neuteboom Kristin Miller Joseph Schwartz Nikkie Nouwen Jennifer Lundstrom Hernandez Kristin Miller Alysa Clift Nikkie Nouwen
27 28 29 30 32 33 37 38 39 40 42 43 44 47 48
The Star Catcher Untitled Fourth of July I Don’t Dance When I’m Sober Your Laugh Thunderheads The Awakening The Thing We Did Don’t Mistake Me for Delicate Goodbye Little Girl Girlhood The Potential of Weathered Things A Street, at Night Body Dysmorphic When We Were We Peasant Bride As the Story Goes The Taste of Morning The Fox and the Rabbit My Moment with Minerva A Morning in Four Haikus Fog Filled Forest The Mysterious Haze The Rower Suspended If Life Stood Still Pink Bliss Red Weather vii
Alyssa Sinnen Briana Schepper Chelsea Eliza Rose Marquette Kristin Miller Chelsea Eliza Rose Marquette Bethany Larson Nicholas Boushee Joseph Schwartz Bethany Larson Amy Jokinen Alecs Peters Kjersti Maday Donald Tobkin Elizabeth Nelson Heather Rand Laura Smedsrud Kristin Miller Elizabeth Nelson Jennifer Lundstrom Hernandez Rob Neuteboom Nicholas Boushee Shadd Piehl Elizabeth Nelson Kjersti Maday Adam Weise Jillian Nordquist Louis Zurn Daniel Shudlick Elizabeth Nelson
Winter Light Gluttony Something Found Back-Breakers Retired 19th Street South Les Fleurs de la Mort At the Gate Saltwater Spirit Almost Alice Strange Despair Untitled Maintenance Be Done with Illusions Two Sides on sand creek massacre trail Nowhere Road The Fishing Cooler Population of Four At the Farm Cabin with Grandma Edith, Age 92 79 LeRoydanâ€™s Legacy 80 My Father Journals Now 82 Rexroth was Right, So I Hope 83 Blisters 85 Sylvia 86 Anatomy of a Martyr 87 2-9-15 88 A Human Touch 89 Objects and Demarcation 109 Closing 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 64 65 66 67 68 77 78
111 Contributors 113 Special Thanks
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From the Editor It has been an exhilarating three years and four issues working with Red Weather. There are so many to thank. Dustin, who drew me in; Dan, who kept the dream alive last year; Mark, who helped keep this boat afloat this year; all the editors of past years who came along for the ride; and of course, the fantastic bunch of undergrads who stepped up to help keep Red Weather publishing. But enough about the past. What you hold, dear reader, is the most recent issue of Red Weather. After we selected the pieces, I noticed how many repeat acceptances we had this year. So many of the featured students are multi-talented artists and writers. This turnout gives me hope for the future of this magazine and the global literary and artistic landscapes. Hold on to this tome; it will be your proof of “I knew them when.” If you can, get the contributors to sign this copy. I guarantee it will be worth something someday. The thing about this collection that impresses me so much is that our selected works span the complete gamut of human existence. From bittersweet memories of friends to melancholy tributes to parents lost. From head-over-heels odes to lovers to vengeful regret for lost flames. From the peace found in nature to the rage against society’s preconceived notions. “The Star Catcher,” which kicks off this issue, portrays loss and sadness, but leaves the reader with the youthful assurance that everything will be all right. A message that many seem to lose as they age. So, dear reader, dig through our collection of the human experience, but always remember that no matter how dark things get, there will always be something wonderful waiting on the other side. Thank you, Nayt Rundquist Managing Editor Fall 2015 Red Weather ix
The Star Catcher Alyssa Sinnen
f you listen closely and you’re quiet enough, you can hear the stars whisper wishes as they tumble throughout the night sky. I know this to be true. My mother told me this the first time I saw a shooting star. I remember it was cold; we wrapped ourselves in blankets, in addition to our puffy coats and mismatched mittens. Overlooking our solemn town, we sat outside our house that was nestled up on a grassy hill. Reaching her hand out toward the dark, my mother traced constellations and grabbed at the Milky Way. As astronomical names slipped from her lips, I saw it: a glint of a shooting star. It dashed quickly across the deep blue atmosphere, but its glow remained in my mind. “Did you make a wish?” My mother smiled. I nodded. “Then that star will keep it. That’s what they do, you know. People make wishes on shooting stars, and the stars say them over and over until they’re just right. Then they come true,” she said, pulling the blankets tighter over us. “Your father taught me that.” “Tell me again,” I said. “Tell me the story about how you met Dad.” With a knowing smile, she started her tale. I remember it being hot. Beads of perspiration slipped and glided off of sticky bodies, and the thick, muggy air fell heavy. Everything, it seemed, was steaming from the heat. Sleep evaded me as I lay in bed, tossing and turning. I admitted defeat and stepped to my bedroom window. Looking out, I was consumed by dark sky. It looked as if deep blue velvet draped over the Earth, with tiny Red Weather 1
prickles of light poking through. And then, I saw a boom—yes, a boom—of bright white, just down the valley. All these other booms came after it, some small and faint, others large and dazzling. My curiosity got the better of me, because I suddenly found myself running out the door toward the illuminating booms. My sandals slapped the dirt as I dashed through tall blades of murmuring grass. As I got closer, I saw a figure amongst all these gleaming sparks. It was a young man, not much older than me. He was running wildly amongst the booms, his arms outstretched and grabbing at them. As I watched him, I realized these booms weren’t just a peculiar arrangement of lights. They were shooting stars. As they tumbled and fell like drunks, this man, I saw, was catching them. Once in his grasp, he gingerly slid them into his satchel. Mesmerized by the sight, I crouched down and watched as he continued to twirl like the stars he was catching. Then, the brightest shooting star came zipping down from space. Its glow lit up the whole valley, I swear. The man sprinted across the thick sward, kicking up dirt and rocks with each step. As it came hurdling closer and closer, he jumped up; and it seemed like he was floating, drifting above the Earth. It was like his body wanted to become a star too. He clutched the star and gazed at the luminance in his hands. My own hands seemed to have a mind of their own, as I realized they came together to applaud the man’s graceful catch. Quickly, he turned in my direction and treaded toward me. I didn’t know whether to say something or frantically run away, so my feet remained rooted. Standing only a few inches away, he held out the star. “Isn’t it beautiful?” He stepped closer. “Listen to it.” A baffled expression must have come over my face. Chuckling softly and giving me a smirk, he put it up to my ear. Swirls of voices mixed and sloshed together, creating a delightful dissonance. Some voices were stronger than others, more pronounced. And then I heard them. Wishes. I wish I could see the world. I wish I could buy a dog. I wish I were rich. I wish I were happy, iwishiwishiwish. Happy and naïve trills bled into melancholy and forlorn hums, 2 Red Weather
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topped with a dash of hope. It was like no sound I’d ever heard. Looking up at him, I asked, “Who are you?” “My name is Jay. I’m a star catcher. And your familiar is?” “Emma,” I replied, and glanced down at his satchel. A whole galaxy seemed to be leaking out of the old leather bag. “What do you do with them?” “Shooting stars are wishing stars. Most of the time they come true on their own. But sometimes the stars need a little convincing to grant them. Here, just watch.” Cupping the star in his hands, Jay squeezed it until POP! A glittering explosion of light and shimmer poured over us, surrounding the two of us with a dazzling splendor. Childlike wonder pulsed throughout my body, and I couldn’t help but spin around and around the magic before me. I smiled at Jay. Taking a star out of his satchel, he said, “So, what is your wish?” That’s where she always ended the story: What is your wish? My mother’s smile dripped with reminiscence whenever she said those words. “What was your wish, Mom? Tell me,” I said, tugging at the sleeve of her shirt. Kissing my forehead and pulling me into her arms, she said, “My wish came true a while ago.”
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Fourth of July Ashley Doll
oom! Crackle! That is the sound of Fourth of July in Mandan, North Dakota. Independence Day is no ordinary holiday in Mandan. We have street vendors, a parade, family picnics, and don’t forget the best part—fireworks. Fourth of July to me is the equivalent of fiveyear-olds awaiting to open their presents on Christmas morning; I’m not kidding. This year, the fireworks started the same as usual, one week early. It’s illegal to shoot off fireworks except on the Fourth of July, but the police in my town seem to join in on the merriment. The days leading up to the Fourth of July seem to drag by, but finally it’s celebration time! I drive to Art in the Park to meet my friend Ashley. As I approach the park, the aroma of kettle corn and roasted almonds raises my spirits. I get to the park, and Ashley is waiting for me. The still-evident smell of kettle corn has forced me to buy a bag as tall as I am. We stroll by the street vendors admiring all the landscape paintings and fancy shelves. I will very soon be a poor college kid and can’t afford any of it, but it is enlightening to look at and realize the talent some people have. We walk to a vendor that is selling clay magnets. Finally, something I can buy. I pick up a turtle, chocolate covered strawberry, and a chocolate chip cookie. They have little eyes on them that add to the cuteness. We walk through the rest of the park talking about how both of us are going to MSUM in a couple months. At least I won’t be alone when I move to college. I say goodbye to Ashley and head home to get some sleep. The next day is the Fourth of July. I awake to the sound of my mom showering while getting ready for the parade. I put my most patriotic outfit on, a red shirt and white shorts, and we head down to the parade. The flag bearers on their horses start the Red Weather 5
parade, followed by the pooper scoopers to pick up the mess. The floats come by and I see all the jubilant glitter, signs, and colors. Everywhere you look, children are picking up candy that is thrown from the floats. The music from radios and marching bands forms a jumbled mess of classic rock and country in the background. We are sitting by my aunt and grandma. My aunt’s kids are aggressive while grabbing candy from the street then they add it to their already filled bags; they won’t get much sleep for a few weeks. After the parade, we head to my aunt’s house for a family picnic. We have grilled hamburgers, hot dogs, brisket, pasta salad, fruit, vegetables, and of course an assortment of desserts. I grab a hamburger and some pasta salad before sitting down. As I eat, I watch my dad and brother participate in the annual family Risk board game tournament and chat with my aunts. I love family meals because I get to see everyone in the same place, and I can catch up on my family’s life. The conversation starts to be all about me leaving for college, so once it gets dark, I’m pretty excited to finally leave for Ashley’s house to shoot off fireworks. Ashley lives on a very large hill on the edge of town where you can see almost all of Mandan and some of Bismarck across the river. I see my other friends waiting too as I drive up. As the sun sets, we all settle into some chairs and start our fireworks. We each bought about sixty dollars’ worth, so it will be a very vibrant night. I put the first shell in the launching tube, and it soars into the air, exploding into beautiful speckles of blue and green. We continue our fireworks and sparklers until eleven o’clock. Now the lantern goes up to salute the troops. The round ball of paper is undone and looks like a large balloon. We ignite it and let it fly; it rises higher and higher and higher, and we look out to admire the view as everyone in Mandan releases their laterns. The lanterns look like yellow stars surrounding the whole town, as if to protect it from the air. We watch them all fade away into the distance then we proceed to watch the remainder of the night’s fireworks. It sounds like a war zone with the cannons firing all around you followed by a loud pop and a surge of color. Everywhere I turn, new colors 6 Red Weather
Fourth of July
illuminate the sky; there must be hundreds of fireworks all at one time. I look at my friends and realize that life can’t get any better right now. Words don’t do this scenery any justice as we watch, completely enthralled in all the vibrant colors surrounding us. It gets to be two in the morning, and the fireworks are still going without any sign of ceasing. I decided to leave and said goodbye to all my friends. As with every Fourth of July, there always comes a Fifth of July at some point. The day when firework pieces litter the streets and the whole community walks around like zombies from lack of sleep. It’s almost a day of mourning, a day of realizing that everything has changed from the excitement everyone felt before, and it’s just business as usual now. I have learned that you should enjoy life while it’s still the way you know it. This was the last time I saw all of my friends together at one time. We got busy as life always does, and college came sooner than we expected, so we went our separate ways. Life will also come up with surprises and changes, either good or bad. Be with the people you care about now because you never know when the festivities and memories of yesterday will be just that, memories.
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I Don’t Dance When I’m Sober Alyssa Sinnen
Drew stumbles and falters out of the silver cavalier, the scent of cheap beer, too-strong perfume, and stale vomit accompany him Standing in the dark and desolate lot he looks up up up past the looming skyscrapers through the ashy and billowing clouds beyond the buzzing atmosphere and sees those stars twirling and spinning they waltz in the deep dark abyss Drew,
did you wear your dancing shoes?
tap tap to that imaginary beat tango with Orion and swing with the Milky Way hang onto that shooting star as you shimmy along Saturn’s rings
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You donâ€™t dance when youâ€™re sober but a sweet kiss from Jack, a push from Morgan, and those infinite stars are enough to turn this concrete lot into a makeshift dance floor
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In the quiet chaos your laugh is my Mozart. Floating through the air into my bloodstream on a fast track to my heart. A symphony played by the instruments in my head. The fuel that awakens the machine that is my body that was once dead. I listen to that sound when my brain and heart are at war And although you are far away your laugh reminds me of memories and I can smile once more.
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Our bed was like a summer sky, rays of sunshine smiles and lingering touches soft as a summer breeze. Clouds tinged with delicate pinks and purples and burning bursts of red. Basking in the light I almost missed the faint rumbling of thunder in the distance. Words harsh as gusts of wind, cold shoulders like freezing rain. Our bedâ€”my bedâ€”was the sky after a storm. Quiet, cold, void of any color. Alone, I folded that lifeless sky around me, afraid to let the sun in, those pinks and purples, that old desire to float with you where the clouds turn red.
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Jennifer Lundstrom Hernandez
Perfect paralysis loamy impenetrable darkness earth-packed lips and lids swaddled limbs numb-tight in soil bindings Until Flash the smallest spark ignites the sacred space arcs through neural pathways like fireflies stars Dreams Fingers toes tremble earth loosens imperceptibly tremors travel a palsy a dance reach the core pulsing Urgent Need to cry out to sigh head pushes against the Earth must cede must cleave crevasse opens Impossibly
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Pebbles fall away earthworms beetles tumble wriggle into the air the sun into this strange superterranean world Until Bursting through spitting soil ragged breath drawn inward gasped and released in a roar a joyous terrifying Call
(after the eponymous sculpture by J. Seward Johnson, Jr.)
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The Thing We Did Kristin Miller
It was dirty, the thing we did, The stuff of Sunday school cautions, Grandmother’s finger-wagging warnings. they called it sin, weakness of flesh and told us that they would pray. It was rotten, the thing we did, like overripe fruit on humid days, sweet and cloying and oh so moist, the delicious decay of order, of decency, of all things white and crisp and sterile. It was dark, the thing we did, whispered endearments past midnight, corners where no one could see. Clumsy hands sought bodies obscured by leagues of shadow centuries-deep. It was love, the thing we did, darling, don’t ever think it wasn’t, as dirty and rotten and dark as it was. And if they keep talking, I’ll say let’s do it again.
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Don’t Mistake Me for Delicate Whitney Walters
Don’t mistake me for delicate based on my flawlessly curled tresses, pristine visage, and cranberry Anne Klein heels. Beneath this silk shirt and wool skirt a formidable and potent network of critical thought keenly notes you think I don’t understand. And while I appreciate you opening the door, I don’t need you to explain the ways of the world. I have seen plenty in my quarter century. You forget; I have my own story. I stand on my own terms as marked out in the articulations of my eyes. I define myself while you choose to define by the world you live in. Don’t apologize. You didn’t know you affronted me. But, how could you? You presumed your help was needed, and that cannot be denied. Sincerely, WW
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Resting unaware in the cardboard square, items salvaged from childhoodâ€™s past. She rips the tape off the box, opening only to find that tears stain her face once again, knowing she will never get this childhood back. Her parents are gone now, and have taken her childhood with them. Stuffed animal, building block, nail polish, doll, Christmas ornament, wood box, bracelet, rubber ball. She shuts the box, for it is too hard for her to bear. Grasping the stair rail, for that is all the support she has. She forces herself out the front door, saying goodbye to her childhood home, saying goodbye to her childhood. Goodbye.
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Primary yellow half orbs Aqua crimped squares Orange metal bulbs All studded Tinkling as they fall out of the plastic bag. My hand brushes over their surfaces, spreading out the jewel tones that once colored your ears and matched your pointytoed heels I now buy for myself. Iâ€™ve long worn your plastic bangle bracelets that clack on my arms. But as I stand in front of the mirror as a young woman, I see a small girl playing dress-up in her motherâ€™s accessories.
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The Potential of Weathered Things Jennifer Kenyon Bicknell
essie first saw the back of his head, the unmistakable long, dark ponytail snaking down between his shoulder blades. She knew it couldn’t be anyone but him. Her eyes travelled downward to a pair of skinny legs stuffed into the same combat boots he wore three years ago. She had long anticipated the moment when she would finally run into her ex-lover. Over the years, she had dredged up many scenarios in her mind of how she would handle it. In these scenarios, she would run away from him immediately—or sometimes she would kick his ass with Kung-Fu moves she had never quite gotten around to learning. But today, when the moment arrived, her mind did not flip through her little playbook to find the most appropriate action. Instead her mouth—the same mouth that had screamed “FUCK YOU!” when she last saw him—that mouth decided to part its lips and teeth and work out something that sounded an awful lot like her old nickname for him. “Danny Boy?” she heard her mouth say, her voice not sounding at all like her own. It was both high-pitched and gravelly, and ineffective at hiding anything. The ponytailed head in front of her froze and then slowly turned toward her. A small smile passed over his lips, and he returned the greeting with his own pet name for her, Messy Jessie, for Christ’s sake. He stretched out his arms with their huge wingspan and wrapped them around her. He smells the same, she thought as she felt her own arms betraying her and wrapping themselves around his waist. He’s fatter, she also thought, and told herself that it felt good to think mean things. Think more mean things, she urged herself. He’s still so comfy, she thought. His weight gain actually made him even a little more comfortable than he had been before. Red Weather 19
Jennifer Kenyon Bicknell
Three years ago, Jessie’s relationship with Danny happened almost as if by accident. They went out a few times; he started sleeping over. Eventually she realized that he had moved in with her and that she was supporting him. She worked two jobs while he skateboarded around town and played video games. When things got tense between them, he would show up at her office looking incredibly hot with a skateboard in one hand, and a bunch of flowers in the other. Now she looked at him standing in front of her with a fistful of dusty thrift store wares in his thick hands. She wondered if he still rode his skateboard around town, his long dark hair sailing in the wind behind him. “I heard you got married,” she said. Jessie remembered how she had howled with laughter when she had heard that he had gotten married. She had laughed, because the idea that he would ever ask someone to marry him was absurd—he had always been avoidant of commitment, so skilled at being slippery. He would sneak away from conversations that had any inkling of the future. And she laughed because even then, long after he was gone from her life, there was a part of her that was incensed that it had not been her. He looked uncomfortable for a second, but recovered quickly. “No. Not anymore,” he said, kicking the carpet with his boot. “I moved out a couple months ago. That’s why I’m here. Replacing some shit that she kept.” He held up a beaten-up metal colander that had a can opener and some wooden spoons inside of it. “Who’d have thought I’d be almost thirty years old and still getting my kitchen shit at a thrift store, eh?” he said. He looked embarrassed, and Jessie felt bad for him. But then his face changed and he smiled again. “What the hell have you been up to?” he asked. “I have to say, you look great.” She mumbled an embarrassed ‘thank you,’ and she wondered where to even start a conversation like that, wedged into the tight aisle of a too-cluttered thrift store. She leaned back against a rack of pans and pots and looked down at the floor, her toe concentrating on peeling back a long strip of duct tape holding two pieces of carpet together. They could have the conversation about how after 20 Red Weather
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he left her she stopped eating, or they could talk about how she kept drinking until one morning she woke up in a hospital bed. Jessie suspected, though, that Danny already knew about all of that. “I’ve been working here and there,” Jessie said finally. Though she couldn’t bring herself to look him straight in the eye, she stole glances over her glasses to see if he knew about the hospitals, the shrinks, the crazy pills. “Your hair is so long now,” he said, reaching over and picking up a strand, running it through his fingertips. He rested his hand on her shoulder as he looked at her. “It’s good to see you, Jess.” She looked up at him, feeling miserable and elated that he was here in front of her. He looked at his watch. “Shit,” he said. “Do you want to meet up later? I have to go to work, but I want to keep talking. We could go to the Tap,” he said. She knew she should say no, but she wanted him to see her when she was showered and powdered and so much more than she was right now, and so much more than she was three years ago. She nodded. “Great,” he said. “I can be there at eight. Do you still have the same phone number?” he asked. Jessie nodded, wondering how he still knew her number after three years. “I’ll call you if I get held up at work. Otherwise, see you at eight,” he said. “Okay,” Jessie said, but when she finally pushed the words out, he was already halfway down the aisle. She stood still for a moment, watching him pay for his items and leave the store. A minute later, her phone buzzed in her purse. She pulled it out and answered it. “Hello?” “It’s me,” Danny said, casually, just like he used to when he called her before, like there had not been a vast chasm of space and time between them. Between who she was and who she used to be. “Now you have my number,” he said. “I will see you tonight, Jess.” Red Weather 21
Jennifer Kenyon Bicknell
When she got home, Jessie went straight to her bedroom and reached under her bed for a box that had long been stashed there. After their break-up, after the hospital and the therapy and living with her dad, Jessie had returned to her own place only to find it exactly as she had left it. It was still littered with some of his things curled and entwined with her things. She had walked about her apartment in an angry red mood, extricating all of the little things he had left here and there. A pack of new socks with two pairs missing. A travel mug for Saturday morning coffee. Some extra parts for his beloved skateboard that he rode all over. And then there was his red pullover, the vintage one with the blue stripe. He had looked so fetching in it, even with the unraveling hem and the thumbholes he had immediately punched in the sleeves. She had thrown all of his stuff in a box, taped it shut, and thrown it under the bed, where it had remained. Jessie pulled the box out from under the bed and opened it. The red pullover was folded neatly on top. She pulled it out and set it aside to return to him later that night. She rifled around in the box and she discovered a picture she had long forgotten about. She loved the way he was looking at her in the snapshot, as if she were a magical and magnificent creature. She tossed the photo back in the box with the other stuff. No one has looked at her like that since. Maybe someone would if she were that same girl in the photo. That girl was effortless, happy. Innocent. She had no idea what hell was coming down the road for her. Jessie shoved the box back under the bed. It was nearly six oâ€™clock, and she had to take a shower. She could feel her heartbeat quicken ever so slightly, the blood in her veins beginning to race. Opening the box had been a bad idea, and the washing feeling of a panic attack was creeping in on her. Jessie knew she had a few Valium left that she held on to for emergencies. In the back of her head, she could hear a familiar singsong voice crooning, â€œWhat are you doing? What are you doing?â€? Jessie knew that the moment the Valium kicked in, the voice would be gone. She pulled herself up off the floor and headed for the bathroom, where the medicine cabinet and a hot shower beckoned. 22 Red Weather
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Jessie arrived at the bar early and was glad to have the time to have a drink and get acclimated before Danny showed up. By eight o’clock, her toes felt warm, her legs liquid. She knew he wouldn’t be there on time, and she had decided earlier to give him a fifteenminute cushion to still be forgiven. The idea of forgiving Danny was new to Jessie. It was forgiveness that had hung her up for months, maybe years. Rounds and rounds of therapy all boiled down to her inability to move on. “Your greatest tool in this journey,” her therapist, Barbara, had said, “is the ability to forgive. Master that, and you will be fine.” “But I don’t want to forgive him,” Jessie had screamed. “I want him to fucking die.” The thought of forgiveness seemed impossible, with its long and expansive arms always opening, always widening. There was no room for any of that in her body. In fifth grade, Jessie had labored over a report on the human heart. She stayed up late every night for a week reading all of the information she could find about the heart and its function in the body. She was most interested in the physicality of it. The weight of it, the size of it, how much blood it held. She wanted to learn enough about it that she could imagine what a heart would feel like in the palm of her hand. The human heart, she learned, has room for nearly ten ounces in its four chambers combined. It seemed like such a large volume at the time. Ten ounces, more than a cup. So much blood. Her ten-year-old tender heart, yet unbroken, yet untainted by years of drink and cigarettes, had the flexibility and the potential for expansion, and she would see her heart in her dreams at night for months after the report had been turned in. Large, pink, thumping with life. Now her heart was like a hard shell, with not very much room left over for things like forgiveness. All the chambers were nearly full. Full, as she would sometimes joke with her girlfriends, with Red Weather 23
Jennifer Kenyon Bicknell
vodka or benzos. With Percocet or Depakote. With the ice that she swore ran in her veins for a year after she got out of the hospital. Whatever mass or matter filled her heart, there would be no room for him, and no room for forgiving him. Not without cutting it open, not without spilling the contents out on the street to make room for the all-encompassing shadow that was trying to open her up and crawl inside. Jessie thought maybe it was a bad idea to have downed those drinks so fast. She could feel her control slipping quickly away. Impulsively, her hand went into her purse, reaching beyond the red sweater to the bottom where the bottle of Valium was. Her hand encircled the bottle, and she squeezed it tight. When she pulled her arm back out of her purse, she looked at her watch. It was nearly nine o’clock. He wasn’t coming. Jessie slid off the bar stool and counted her steps to the front door of the bar. One, two, three. She didn’t look around for him; she didn’t want to know if he was finally there, arriving late, making good on his word and actually showing up for once. Jessie focused on the door and made her way to it. And when her feet hit the sidewalk outside of the bar, the lights of the city seemed so bright. The street lamps, the headlights, fire truck lights illuminating huge swaths of sidewalk as it sped by. The lead in Jessie’s legs suddenly melted away and she ran home, counting the steps the whole way to make sure she kept going. Four-hundred eighty-nine, fourhundred-ninety. In the morning, the air hung heavy with the weight of Jessie’s disappointment. When she finally got out of bed, she yanked the red pullover out of her purse and stuffed it back into the box with the rest of Danny’s things. She headed out the front door of her apartment and down the hallway to the garbage chute at the end. She pulled open the metal door to the chute and dumped the entire box down the hole. She didn’t wait to hear the satisfying thud when the trash hit the dumpster at the bottom of the chute. Instead, she slammed the door to the chute a little too hard as she 24 Red Weather
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turned back to her apartment, the metal on metal sound echoing throughout the halls of the building. When she got back to her apartment, the phone rang. When she looked at the caller ID, she stared at Danny’s name before she answered the phone. “Hello,” she said, trying to sound calm but unforgiving. “What the hell, Danny? I waited for an hour.” It was a woman’s voice on the other end of the line. “Who is this?” the voice asked. It was a deep female voice, sexy and rich. “Who is this?” the woman asked again when Jessie didn’t answer. “This is Jessie. Who is this?” “Veronica. Dan Bellevue’s wife,” the woman said. “Wife?” Jessie asked. “Yes, wife,” the woman said. “Though he probably never told you he was married, did he?” Jessie didn’t say anything. “You know,” Veronica continued, “he wasn’t perfect, but we were trying to work it out. He’s been so attentive lately . . .” she trailed off, choking on the rest of her words. Jessie felt uneasy about this stranger crying on the other end of the phone. She opened her mouth to speak, but Veronica continued. “Listen,” Veronica said quietly. “The reason I’m calling is because Dan died in a car accident last night, and this was the last number he dialed on his phone. I was wondering if you knew where he was or what he was doing last night. You said your name was Jessie. You’re not his ex Jessie, are you? That Jessie?” She could hear the panic rising in Veronica’s voice. “I . . .” Jessie started, but stopped herself. There were no real words that could answer this woman’s question in the right way, in a way that was honest and yet somehow sparing. I am that Jessie, she thought. And I am his new Jessie. Aren’t I? Wasn’t I going to be? Jessie dropped the phone on the floor and headed for the door, darting out into the hallway. Her eyes focused slowly as she forced her body to move. At the end of the dimly lit hallway, the garbage chute looked a million miles away as she moved toward it. Her legs felt heavy like she was running through mud, and she Red Weather 25
Jennifer Kenyon Bicknell
couldn’t propel herself fast enough toward the metal door that had swallowed her last scrap of him moments ago. When she reached the chute, she noticed a small piece of red fabric peeking out from the bottom of the door. She grabbed onto the fabric and pulled and pulled, the red sweater finally emerging from behind the door. She held it to her face, and she breathed in the last little bit of him. She pulled the sweater over her head, jammed her arms into the sleeves, her thumbs snaking through the holes where his used to go. When she got back to her apartment, she picked up her phone off the floor and brought it back to her ear. “Are you still there?” Jessie asked. “Yes.” Veronica said. “What is going on? Who are you? He never came home last night, and I need to know where he was. I need to know what he was doing.” Jessie stroked the soft red sleeve on her arm. “I don’t know what he was doing,” she said to the wife waiting on the other end of the line. “I honestly have no idea.”
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A Street, at Night Kristin Miller
A street, at night, you know the one. A moment, past midnight, you know the one. I was leaving, heels pounding on the dirty concrete, the pulse as steady as my desire to hurt you. Cigarette butts adorned the sidewalk like the flower petals you never left waiting for me on silk sheets. Pieces of glass, too, green, like us. You should have followed, chased me down, dropped to your knees and dirtied those eighty dollar jeans. People donâ€™t, though, do shit like that, not anymore.
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Body Dysmorphic Alyssa Sinnen
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When We Were We Kristin Miller
When we were we, and I donâ€™t mean you and I, but us, a pair of dreamers, we had too much time, freedom, to hold in soft, uncalloused hands. I canâ€™t help but think how everything that came after was so achingly unintentional, the woe and angst, and purposeless anger of slamming doors, dishes broken against walls, all the wonderful hyperboles which can only be felt by the very young, or the very foolish and, oh darling, we were both.
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Jennifer Lundstrom Hernandez
Are you really as serene as you appear, Peasant Bride? I mean, on the inside? You sit, eyes closed, hands clasped, while all around raucous revelers eat and drink in noisy jollity celebrating you â€“ or rather â€“the union of you and another. Where is he, by the way, your groom? Is he the young man pouring beer from earthen jugs? Or perhaps one of the fellows carrying food on the door-made-tray? Did they ask if you wanted to marry him? You really are the commodity in question, Peasant Bride. No other property to exchange, no great land holdings, no titles, not even livestock. Just you. Your ability to keep a home, warm a bed, bear children.
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Do you have feelings for this groom, this enigma? Have you whispered behind your hand with other girls, remarked at his broad shoulders, narrow waist? Have you lain with him in meadows when dayâ€™s work is done? Does a new child grow inside you even now? Is that the cause of your silent reverie? The flutter of life inside your womb? Oh, how your own life will change, Peasant Bride. You thought it was hard already. Just you wait. Savor those crusty brown loaves, that steaming bowl of soup laid before you. Sate your thirst with malty ale. When the pipers play, kick up your heels, grab your bridegroomâ€™s calloused hand, twirl those full black skirts, throw back your black-veiled head. Laugh and sing.
(In response to Peasant Wedding by Pieter Bruegel)
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As the Story Goes Whitney Walters
As the story goes, I entrusted you with my heart. You took it, assuring me youâ€™d hold it in your wide, hollowed hands. How wrong I was to believe the beautiful lie written over your compelling face. While you possessed my heart, you used it like a toy, taking it off the shelf only when it was convenient to you. Then you poisoned it with chlorine and dragged it behind your car, watching it bounce and scrape on the pavement like an experiment. At times you placed temporary bandages and salve on its feebly beating surface to give false hope of recovery. But in the end, you carelessly dropped my heart on a deserted surface, where it shattered into a million tears on my face. Except for one. One miniature sharp shard. You bastard. You kept it. For so long I cut myself open every time I attempted to restore my wasted heart to a healthy state of unity. Until now. Sands of years have ground away the fault so my core forms to my hands, and though it is not the innocent heart I once kept, the acumen that sand engrained has more precise criterion for handling, ensuing in improved encounters, though not with you.
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The Taste of Morning Val Anderson
ne wears camouflage to blend in with the terrain, but on this chilly November morning, I’m hard to miss with the bright orange stocking cap pulled low over my ears. The SUV is posted at the rise of a hilltop where South Dakota’s open countryside sprawls for miles. My eyes fight to remain open as my brain swims with the fog of being half-awake after a scant four hours in my bunk. Drive is what keeps me somewhat focused, eyes scanning the frosted fields beyond my windshield. Nothing moves among the towering trees surrounding the back acreage at Uncle Richard’s farm. Hunger gnaws at my gut and sleep tugs at my eyelids as the sun ascends the nearby hills. A pink blush slowly paints the sky above leafless oak trees and thickly needled evergreens. Wisps of clouds nestle in between pastel hues as day breaks. This simple and dependable sunrise brings a sense of value, a true appreciation for natural beauty, to my life. Sometimes, only in quiet moments such as these, are we able to reflect on natural sensations. Environmental essayist Barry Lopez1 posits similar thoughts in his narrative American Geographies as he writes that he has “repeatedly been brought to a sudden state of awe” by nature. He relates seeing “a dew-laden prairie that stretches to a horizon flat as a coin where a pin-dot sun paints the dawn sky pink.” My morning view is not much different, with the exception of a flat prairie that has been replaced by a wooded hillside. This is serenity, but it does not last long. The inner peace that melts over my weary body is halted by sound. Yet it isn’t the near deafening cry from thousands of Canadian geese overrunning the shore of nearby Reid Lake that breaks my attention from the slow crawl of color across the sky. A sharp crack cuts the dawn and jars me fully awake. Red Weather 33
“Was that you?” I shoot a quick text message down to the doghouse blind positioned a quarter-mile away. No sooner than Message Sent flashes on the screen of my cell does an incoming text repeat my query. Someone other than my wife and me has seen something moving on this frozen morning. Another person is crazy enough to sacrifice sleep for the taste of morning’s first light. Yet we are not mere sport hunters on a quest for the biggest set of horns. Our hunt is meant for the freezer. This is the third morning in a row that finds us sitting afield on the back pasture of my uncle-in-law’s 320 acres. In eighteen minutes, it will be eight a.m. The sun shifts to neon orange as it takes shape above a thicket of branches to the northeast. Despite the frost at this hour, temperatures are likely to reach the low sixties by afternoon; not a good sign and definitely abnormal for the waning days of November. Heat is detrimental to good hunting. The deer aren’t going to move around if they can hide among unharvested rows of corn on nearby farms. All would not be lost if we didn’t tag a deer this morning. The quarters of a large doe, the first animal I have ever taken down on my own, await our return to the farmhouse. However, my wife and I have three more tags to fill. We have been out here for over an hour and nothing has stirred, not even the wind. Ordinarily, I’d call the lack of a mere breeze advantageous, since it ruined our hunt last night when two deer caught our scent. As the sun creeps higher, its orange glow yields to blinding yellow, and I see spots. My view of the northeast corner is blurred by glare against the windshield. I continue scanning the peripherals and check the rear view. Emptiness. My camera, with its long-range zoom lens, rests in the passenger seat, ready for action. Through the viewfinder, I focus on the neighboring field—the direction of the shot I heard. Something must have moved over there, yet all I see are a few leaves clinging to branches in the distance. Behind me, more geese take to the sky and their song changes from harping cries to melodious honks as they break into flocks 34 Red Weather
The Taste of Morning
and form their migratory v-shaped flight pattern. They are dark silhouettes against pale blue. Again, I reflect on Barry Lopez and take pleasure in my surroundings, finding enjoyment in nature’s songs. Many people don’t stop to hear this music, symphonies that one will never discover anywhere but here in often overlooked landscapes. I scan the distance for other movement in the evergreens, but all I see are white crusts of ice that have formed over the lake beyond. Changing weather gives deer an upper hand, despite the melting frost. If it were colder or a thin dusting of snow coated the earth, deer would bunch up in groups. Bucks would be herding doe into harems and fighting for superiority. My wife and I hold our positions and wait out passing moments in silence. Should a deer bound over the fence line, we need to be prepared. A clear shot is our best advantage; letting the deer meander in a search for food. Eventually it will stop, hopefully broadside to our crosshairs, unlike the doe whose hindquarter I ruined on opening morning while she was at a dead run to seek shelter among the evergreens. A clear shot is a clean shot, lest you risk blowing apart good meat or worse—a foul gut shot, something I have only heard of and never wish to smell. It is after eight now. Sleepiness has left me, overtaken by the small burst of adrenaline I received from the shot fired nearly a half-hour ago. My stomach reminds me that it’s past time for breakfast. I try to decide between making coffee to go along with last night’s leftover pizza and heading back to sleep once we pack it in for the morning. Again, I scan the neighbor’s fields with the camera. A cut cornfield, stacked hay bales, and a rusted clutch of abandoned vehicles meet my inquiry. No deer. Mist rising to the top of the ridge ahead of me blocks my vision and I pan to the gate that splits the fence separating Uncle Richard’s farm from Lefty’s. Deer usually jump the rails in a quest for water, stopping to drink at one of the two sloughs back here. Since it’s Monday morning, other hunters have returned to fixing farm equipment or their city jobs Red Weather 35
in Watertown. Lack of pressure usually brings deer back to their normal pattern of congregating between Uncle Richard’s and Lefty’s, but not today. I silently damn the warming trend when suddenly there is movement in the trees. Slowly, the silhouette passes among the evergreens. I can’t see it clearly enough to know if it’s a buck or a doe. If there’s any evidence of horns, I can’t shoot since I only have two antlerless tags. I’m wide awake, my .243 propped on the dash, its stock resting on the center console. A shell waits in the chamber, but the safety remains engaged until I am sure of a clear shot. My focus remains on the shelterbelt, waiting for the deer to hop the barbwire and wander into the field. I cross my fingers and hope for luck as my stomach grumbles. There is a kinship with food you’ve brought in yourself. So too, there is relationship with the land. I have high regard for both the deer we hunt and the land on which they live. Even if we don’t find ourselves afforded opportunity to taste success this morning, I am blessed with the bounty of nature. When I do find myself with the chance to take aim, after my shot I will praise the deer and give thanks for its sacrifice to provide food for my table throughout the winter. For now, I sit ready and waiting. Fresh venison tips for breakfast sound much more appetizing than warmed-over frozen pizza. Footnotes: 1. Barry Lopez, “The American Geographies” HarpersMagazine, 1993.
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The Fox and the Rabbit Bethany Larson
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My Moment with Minerva Rob Neuteboom
The crisp morning carries me beyond the park, with its dewy lawns of fragile universes clinging to blades bending in November breezes, to a trail near cornfields barren from harvest. A barn owl stands on a strip of concrete dividing the road, eyes amber coins and beak a chipped smirk. Head following me as I jog past, the owl exhibits the intense indifference of a primal wisdom that commands chills along my sweaty back. In spite of the greedy expansion of suburbs, the so-called sophistication of technologized society, I am but a representative object of tolerance reduced to a mere curiosity in the death throes of morning as this owl surveys the field for prey, the only activity that bears any real consequence. A sudden sweep of wings, a rush lifts the owl to the height of telephone poles, into perspectives far above my shrinking relevance toward purposeful descent that punctuates survival.
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A Morning in Four Haikus Kristin Miller
Snow dust on windows, Frost spreads white, frozen fingers, The mercury drops. Snug in soft flannel, I burrow deeper into Radiator heat, My body protests, Unwilling to leave this peace. It canâ€™t be morning. A glance at the clock, One small, relieved, tired smile, Sleepy eyes find bliss.
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Fog Filled Forest Joseph Schwartz
Itâ€™s 6am and Iâ€™m walking In a fog filled forest. The colored leaves of autumn Crunch beneath my feet. The only air blowing Is my gentle exhale And I can feel the coolness of it On my lips. Everything is calm. For once in my life, I can actually breathe. I feel the life Inflating my lungs. I think how strange it is That what gives us life Will kill us if we hold it Within ourselves for too long. I dreamed a forest Was for rest. Having set foot inside I know it a foe of rest now. It simply, slyly instills a sense Of adventure within my heart. I listen to the animals whisper And I bathe in the water That runs in the river.
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I never leave. Thereâ€™s no one around. My mouth has not made A sound in years. I decide that I am weary of being alone. I climb to the top of the tallest tree What greets me are white clouds And angels, and I realize That this is indeed, Heaven for me.
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The Mysterious Haze Nikkie Nouwen
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Jennifer Lundstrom Hernandez
The rower sits rowboat mired in langorous whorls of murky green a pool of molten wax not yet congealed but nearly Shoulders straining chest seething on a journey to what feels like nowhere Wanting desperately to leave this place Wanting to feel the oars dip smoothly Wanting to glide effortlessly through crystalline water Wanting to feel the breeze on her skin Wanting to see the changing landscape pass by Wanting to move Until the moment the rower decides to stop fighting to ease her grasp to exhale and inhale again the humid air to acknowledge that lack of movement does not equal stagnation (In response to Valdimir Kushâ€™s painting, The Current) Red Weather 43
Suspended Kristin Miller
wo prone figures stretched across the weather-beaten wooden dock, limbs dangling into the water. She was blonde, with messy hair spilling across the planks. Her blue dress was stiff with sweat and dried lake water. He was darker colored, hazel eyes closed against the glare of the lake’s glassy surface. The mercury climbed past ninety. He reached across his body to smooth some of her hair away from her face, but she sat up, out of his grasp. After staring at him for a long moment she turned away, looking at the other shore. The ends of her toes made ripples as she touched them gently to the water. The heat of the day was still building, the sun having burned away the thin morning clouds. She licked her upper lip and tasted the salty, beaded sweat which had settled there. Wiping away the saliva and perspiration with the back of her hand, the girl dipped her foot lower into the lake. “We could go tomorrow,” the boy offered a few moments later, studying the grain in the wood. The girl was silent. “Or not,” he back-tracked. “We have time to decide.” They were both quiet for a long time. A boat passed by, sending gently rolling waves breaking against the pebbles on the beach. She dragged her foot through the water, watching the swirls left in its wake. Faint white clouds began to gather in one corner of the sky. “Where do you think we go when we die?” she asked, quietly. The boy glanced up. She saw his face and looked away. “Never mind,” she murmured. “It’s not like that,” he said. “Don’t think of it like that.” For another long while they were silent. He looked like he wanted to say something else, but he held his tongue. 44 Red Weather
The sun passed the center of the sky and began its long fall to the horizon. From where she sat on the dock, she could see the whole of the lake, the sky, the shore. It all spread out before her. She drew her knees into her chest and rested her chin upon them. One hand spread across her lower abdomen. “Tomorrow, then?” she asked. “If you want,” he said evenly, but she could hear the relief in his voice. “And if I don’t want?” Now he was the one to sit up, studying her face. “You’ve changed your mind?” “I never made it up.” They stared at each other. Finally, he looked away, letting out his breath. “Well, you might want to decide.” She didn’t answer him, but stood up and walked toward the end of the dock. Through the clear water she could see the sandy bottom, flecks of algae drifting by, a school of minnows moving as one. Her toes hung over the edge of the dock, out into the air. The clouds were drifting in with a slight breeze and she looked up at them, breathed in deeply. He was watching her. As she had moved away from him, his brow furrowed, and he stood up as if he were going to try to stop her. She rose onto the balls of her feet. “Em,” he called, taking a step forward. “This isn’t something you can just— Her body formed a graceful arc as she dove. The water swallowed her up with a splash, and she pulled herself down until she hit bottom. Her fingers sank past the sand into the cool clay below. It was quiet there, beneath the surface of the lake. She thought she might like to stay. Her body began to rise back toward the air, coaxed upwards by the buoyancy of the water and gentle pull of a boat-wake. Lungs beginning to burn, she gripped tighter to the lake’s floor and felt small weeds winding between her fingers. Just a Red Weather 45
few moments more, and she opened her eyes in the water, turning them toward the diffuse light radiating down from the sky above. With a decision and a swift kick, she pushed off the bottom, feeling the water rush past her as she shot toward the sunlight. At the moment she broke the surface, she pulled a ragged breath of summer air into her lungs, savoring the relief it brought. Emma swam away from the dock, stopping after a few strokes and rolling onto her back. Her dress billowed out around her, and she let herself be suspended in the lake. Face to the sky, eyes wide open, she floated and watched the clouds roll in.
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If Life Stood Still Alysa Clift
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Chelsea Eliza Rose Marquette
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Back-Breakers Retired Kristin Miller
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19th Street South
Chelsea Eliza Rose Marquette
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Les Fleurs de la Mort Bethany Larson
54 Red Weather
At the Gate
I step in as She ascends without leaving her chair the push of a plunger the emptying of a barrel. She climbs to a place she believes is safe. She has no fear of heights but once arrived it’s the comedown she sweats. She said my love won’t cure her. True. But it also won’t kill her.
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I feel so alone. Yet I choose to set one plate, And take out one glass. And I can see her in the golden sunlight. She doesn’t look at me, But she’s glowing, And she’s beautiful. And I wonder, How unfair is it, That even my tears fall together? Maybe when they hit the ground, They gravitate towards each other. And they evaporate. And their vaporized spirits, Reach for the clouds and the sun, As they become one. They form many clouds, And the world becomes grey. It begins to rain, And they fall out of the sky As they did out of my eyes. I can feel them hitting my head, And I can see them hitting her, too. She doesn’t know. And I look at her, And I wonder, Will she ever? 56 Red Weather
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Strange Despair Amy Jokinen
So strange (at my age) – this sulking moodiness like a teenager. This despair. And for what? I don’t even know. All I know is I can’t shake it. It lingers. It festers. It follows me from room to room like an insecure mutt I’m ashamed to pet. How I envy third world peasants—too busy with poverty—to know this uneasiness that only afflicts those with time to think.
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oe was flagged down by a guest in the hotel lobby. He had been to work that day by five in the morning and it was now well past four p.m. The perspiration he had gathered throughout the day stuck to his armpits. He reeked. “See here,” the man began, poking his finger into Joe’s chest, “I know you’re the man to see about a clogged toilet.” Then the guest gave Joe a shit-eating grin and laughed. Joe laughed too, although he didn’t quite know why. Was this man looking down on him, as people often did upon discovering his profession? Joe often felt eyes penetrating him when he wore his maintenance uniform on the bus ride home. Their eyes seemed to know all the inadequacies Joe felt. Those eyes silently judged him. “Would you like me to fix your toilet, sir?” Joe asked after the man’s laughter died down. “Well no, I’d like my toilet to stay clogged during my stay,” the guest replied. Joe smiled and inquired after the man’s room number. At 5:30, Joe clocked out. He wandered out to the bus stop and waited patiently for his ride to arrive. The stench of the clogged toilet still lingered in his nose. The guest had opted to stand in the doorway and watch Joe do his work. The guest’s eyes gleamed when he saw Joe grimace at the smell and sight of the bathroom. The bus shrieked to a halt in front of Joe. Cautiously, so as not to touch anyone, Joe made his way to an open seat as far from the other passengers as possible. To hide from the stares, Joe sat with his back curved, elbows on his knees and a newspaper in front of his face. Joe rarely read the newspaper, because that would require him to sit up and turn the pages, 60 Red Weather
somewhat exposing himself to the surrounding eyes. Instead, he looked at the pictures or closed his eyes and let his mind wander. Joe thought about gruesome things. He imagined car accidents, school shootings, and bombs exploding. It bothered Joe that he thought about these things, but he never stopped them. Normal people did not think these thoughts, but Joe never considered himself normal. He would let the pictures fill his mind and would create a story behind each scenario. These thoughts lasted until his stop thirty minutes away, when he exited the bus soundlessly. His sparsely decorated apartment gave little insight into his personality. Two hunting magazines sat on his countertop. He didn’t order them, but the tenant who had lived there before him had been an avid hunter. Joe did not enjoy the outdoors or hunting. For two months, he continued to receive the magazines. After that, they stopped coming. Instead of throwing the magazines away, Joe kept them on his counter to browse through when the mood struck him. Lately, he’d become interested in buying a gun. The magazine mostly advertised rifles, but it also carried a small selection of handguns. Joe liked one gun in particular. The Beretta Nano 9x19 mm advertisement read: The perfect conceal and carry pistol. Lightweight and easy to use. Adjustable sights without professional assistance. Simple to maintain and clean. Anti-snag design for a faster draw. The best gun for novice users. Joe was attracted to the idea of holding all that power in a small hidden object. To secretly have control over life and death thrilled him. It wasn’t often Joe felt any sensation, but when he finally held the Beretta Nano, his hand shook with excitement. It hadn’t taken him long to pass the required licensing test and take a trip down to the local pawnshop and find his treasured Beretta. The tiny pistol slipped easily into the waistband of his maintenance uniform. Joe hopped on the bus with more confidence than he ever had before. Red Weather 61
The day started as most did. He clocked in, made himself a cup of coffee, and stole a cookie from the hotel’s kitchen. But today would be different. Joe was going to make damn sure of that. Years of anger had simmered under his impenetrable façade. People hardly noticed him; they most certainly did not ask for his opinion or inquire about his feelings. How had he become so low in everyone’s esteem? Today, that would change. As Joe went about his day he found the things that usually bothered him seemed insignificant. The annoying, high-pitched voice of his general manager didn’t even make him wince. He could look her in the eyes and pretend he was listening, when really he was fantasizing about the perfect moment. He was growing more and more excited by the power hidden beneath his grey, sweatstained uniform. Finally, his moment arrived. The assistant general manager rushed to meet him while he was switching a lightbulb in the west entrance. “Joe, a guest in Room 309 needs assistance,” huffed the overweight manager. Joe’s eyes lit up. “What seems to be the problem?” he inquired with more curiosity than he’d ever been able to muster. “Clogged toilet. You know, run of the mill every day idiot problems.” A whoosh of air audibly exited the manager’s lips. “I really gotta start lifting again,” he heaved out before patting Joe on the shoulder and plodding away. Joe worked his way up to the third floor. He didn’t even care to grab the toilet plunger from his closet. No, this would happen without any pretense. Intentionally, Joe slowed his steps as he reached the third floor. Part of him didn’t want to seem too eager, but then he realized it didn’t make much of a difference. At least his voice would be clear and even by the time he reached the door, unlike the obese assistant general manager. Tap, tap. Joe gave two swift raps on the guest’s door and announced, “Maintenance.” 62 Red Weather
The guest eagerly opened the door with a relieved sigh. “Come on in.” Joe entered the room as the door closed behind him. Then, a bit embarrassed, the thin young man gestured toward the bathroom, “I’m sorry man . . . must have been the breakfast here.” He laughed nervously after his bad joke. The weak smile on his face fell when Joe turned and locked the dead bolt at the top of the door. Joe turned back to the guest. His eyes showed no emotion. “Ah, what’s going on, man?” the guest asked, backing away as Joe stepped closer. “You know what?” Joe answered with his own question. “What’s going on is that I am sick and tired of taking care of other people’s shit. It never ends. It’s like a constant thing with you people. You are so full of shit that the plumbing can’t even take it. I’m sick of it. All you do is pass your shit and your problems on to somebody else. I am done taking people’s shit.” With that, Joe took out the Berretta and shot the guest. It entered the man’s chest, and he went down with a thud. Then, coolly, Joe sat upon the finely upholstered couch, one of the many couches in the hotel he was not allowed to touch, and he sat there watching the man die. The couch felt soft and comfortable. After a few moments he determined the couch didn’t feel that nice and the leather was a poorly suited choice for a hotel couch. Then Joe swallowed the pistol. Joanne gazed down at the body of her son, who lay dead on the city morgue’s examination table. Her unfeeling eyes traveled down the length of his body. Drugs in high school, dropping out of college, and now this, she thought as she sighed audibly. She turned to the coroner. Her movements were mirrored in the room’s stainless steel doors. “There won’t be a funeral, so do whatever you want with the body.” Red Weather 63
Be Done with Illusions Donald Tobkin
More weeks have been in the passing The stuff of challenge is more amassing Self-restraint be ever so much dis-carded Sexual dysfunction continues much unguarded. Culture wars commentaries may be found Speaking their truth from a “higher ground” The over-proud liberal ideology scenario Its moral indifference we may surely know! Now we hear a call for a new “Sexual Revolution” Offering hope in a restraining resolution Personal self-restraint is the only true solution Let us be done with living in perilous illusion The attached page speaks of a new conclusion Read all about it . . . a new “Sexual Revolution” Sending selfish illusions into forever disillusion.
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There are two sides. She sits there, alone. No mom to cheer her on, no friend to mend the pain. They journey past, together, talking, sharing, laughing, they walk. Trapped in their music, they are marching to the beats that pound in their heads, nothing else matters to them. They jog past, chatting as they fly, shoes stomping on the concrete, sweat beading at their temples, content. There they go, zooming on their bicycles, no handlebars, arms flailing by their sides, their feet doing the work. But she sits there, alone.
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on sand creek massacre trail Heather Rand
i am but a buzzard picking a shredded tire you, a tiny tumbleweed skittering across two lanes i don’t feel strong when you’re not free “what i need help with is looking pretty” you, a shooting star on a low horizon i need help looking pretty too
66 Red Weather
Nowhere Road Kristin Miller
Red Weather 67
The Fishing Cooler Laura Smedsrud
unshine flickered through the trees as our old station wagon sped down the bumpy gravel road. Inside the car it was quiet; Dad and I were not ones for small talk. Not anymore. After about a half-mile the trees gave way to an open field. At the far edge of the field was a parking lot. It was empty, so Dad pulled into the spot next to the trailhead. A large wooden sign proclaiming “Black Pine Trail” stood next to it. Why did we have to come back? I thought bitterly. Why now? Dad turned the car off and got out without saying a word. I didn’t move; I didn’t want to be here. I wanted to be anywhere else in the world. Anywhere but here. I ducked my head and balled my hands into fists, pressing them into my jean-clad legs. I just want to go home. I felt the door open next to me. “Bethy, come on out,” my dad said quietly. I just stared at my hiking boots, not answering. He leaned into the car a little, trying to meet my eyes through the thick fall of my hair. “You’re going to have to come out eventually. We need to make it to—to our spot by lunch time.” He paused; again, no answer. Go away, I seethed silently. Go, go, go, go. Then, in a voice so soft I almost missed it, he said, “Someone needs to carry the fishing cooler. It’s what your mom would’ve wanted.” My head shot up, words lodging in my throat. Memories slammed into me as I stared into Dad’s tired eyes. Mom. Oh God, Mom. With a sob, I launched out of the car, shoving Dad aside. He grunted in surprise but kept his footing. I didn’t look back. I took off into the woods, not caring which direction. “Bethy!” my dad called, but I kept running, weaving through the trees and ducking under branches. I ran for what seemed like forever. Tears blinded me, and 68 Red Weather
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I tripped over an exposed root and went sprawling headlong into a bush. I lay there, sides heaving, trying to forget. When I was younger the three of us—Mom, Dad, and me— would pile into the car, drive to Black Pine Trail, and spend the whole day exploring. We caught crayfish along the shores of Severson Lake, collected rocks in the field near the parking lot, and hiked every branch of the trail. Mom and Dad would smile at each other and hold hands as I skipped ahead of them, crawling over fallen logs and darting around the large pine trees. But my favorite part was the picnics at our spot, a rocky ledge that overlooked Severson Lake. We’d always bring a picnic lunch packed into a beat-up piece of junk fondly referred to as “the fishing cooler.” This cooler was older than I was. It’d been my dad’s since even before he met Mom, and had accompanied him on many fishing and hunting adventures. It’s faded blue sides were peppered with knife nicks and unidentifiable stains, and it always smelled faintly of fish. The top was severely melted from falling into a campfire and barely closed. But every weekend I would help Mom pack it full of turkey sandwiches and Rice Krispie bars to take on our adventures. I had the special honor of carrying the cooler, even though back then we were nearly the same size. When it was time for lunch, I’d proudly lug the cooler to where my parents had set up the picnic blanket and, thinking I was a big help, would unload its contents directly into my parents’ laps. We’d all fall back onto the blanket, giggling. I never felt happier, enveloped in sunshine and my parents’ loving arms. Then Mom got sick. I didn’t know until one day Dad picked me up early from school. My eighth-grade history teacher, Ms. Fraser, looked at me with pity when she told me my dad was in the office. Confused, I walked down the hall to the office. There was my dad; he looked so much older, with slumped shoulders and empty eyes. Without even looking at me he said simply, “Mom’s in the hospital, Bethy. We need to go see her.” Panting heavily, I untangled my hair from the bush and sat up. Birds called to one another overhead, and a slight breeze tickled Red Weather 69
through my hair, as if trying to soothe me. My palms burned, but I ignored them. Hugging my legs to my chest, I tried to slow my breathing, but I couldn’t stop shaking. Wave after wave of memories crashed into me. I felt like I was drowning. She was in the hospital for only a month before she died. We stopped going on adventures. The cooler got put away in the garage and gathered dust. At the funeral I couldn’t meet anyone’s eyes. I couldn’t even cry. But on the inside, I was black with rage. Why didn’t anyone tell me what was going on? I thought darkly, hugging my knees tighter. More to the point, why didn’t I realize what was happening to my own mother? Guilt ripped through me as I went over the events of the past year, desperately trying to find any evidence of Mom’s sickness. But there was none. She sure hid it well, I thought bitterly. But as I sat, numb and restless at the same time, I felt a prickle along my spine. Something’s wrong. I looked up; it was eerily silent. No birds called, and the leaves were still. I shivered again, unease chasing away the rush of memories. Quickly, I stood up, brushing dirt and leaves from my pants. I made my way toward the parking lot, where I was sure Dad was waiting for me, patient as always. I jogged for some time, moving parallel to a steep ledge that I knew ran almost directly to the parking lot. But as I ducked around a pine tree, I tripped over a large object, and once again went crashing to the ground, landing just inches from the edge of the cliff. C’mon Bethy, pull yourself together, I admonished myself. Two near-death experiences in one day; must be a record. What a klutz. Looking back over my shoulder, I eyed the object that almost killed me. I froze, not breathing. The blue cooler lay upended near the base of the trees, its contents strewn across the path. Only one person could have carried it all the way out here. “Dad?” I called, a trickle of unease working its way down my spine. I got to my feet and looked around frantically, but he was nowhere to be seen. “Dad, where are you? Dad!” I heard a small groan, and I held my breath, trying to pinpoint the sound. It came 70 Red Weather
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from over the edge. My stomach dropped. I dove headfirst toward the noise, skidding to the edge of the cliff. But I caught myself, right before peeking over. I inched forward, afraid of what I might see. It was nearly a thirty-foot drop, and he had landed in a pile of leaves and dust. His leg was stretched at a strange angle, and he lay so still, like he was already—no! He’s not moving, why isn’t he moving? Please just move! I waited, eyes glued to his chest, each second a lifetime. There; I saw his chest move. My head swam as relief poured over me. “Dad,” I called, voice cracking. “Can you hear me? Dad!” One eye cracked open. “There you are,” he wheezed. “I went to find you, but—” his leg spasmed, and his eyes rolled back into his head. “Dad, oh my God, hold on!” I scooted back from the edge and stood up, mind racing. There wasn’t any help for miles. My braid at this point had nearly come undone; ripping out the hair-tie I ran my hands through my hair in frustration, desperately thinking of a way to get Dad off that cliff. I froze, hands halfway through my hair. The car. There had to be something I could use in there. I took off along the cliff toward the parking lot. The sun was still high in the sky, so I could easily tell which direction I was going. Soon enough I broke through the trees and sprinted to the parked car. I skidded around the car, catching myself on the trunk handle. Wrenching open the door, I quickly surveyed the trunk’s contents. Chip wrapper, ball cap, tire iron . . . rope! I seized the length of rope and clutched it to my chest reverently. Not bothering to close the door, I turned and made my way back to Dad. As I passed around the large pine tree again I spied the fishing cooler. I paused for a moment, and without even thinking I grabbed it and jogged to the edge of the cliff. Peering over the edge, I saw that Dad had sat up; his leg still looked wrong, twisted sharply to the side. “Are you still okay?” I yelled. Dad shifted a little, and craned his neck back to look at me. “I’ve been better,” he said flatly, mouth set in a tight line. “I can’t move my leg. Did you call an ambulance?” Red Weather 71
“Um, about that . . . I don’t have my phone on me. But I have rope!” I held up the rope and wiggled it, trying to lighten the mood. “That’s a start, I suppose,” he muttered, looking back down at his leg. “You’ll have to pull me out of here, Annabeth. There’s no other way to—” he gasped, gripping his injured leg with both hands. “Oh no, Dad, hang on! I’ll get you out!” I turned around and tried to find an anchor for the rope. The pine tree, perhaps? I ran to it, and hastily wrapped the end of the rope around its trunk. I scraped my cheek against the bark, and the sharp smell brought up old memories of these woods, of Mama—I banished those thoughts, focusing on tying the knot. Pulling on the rope to test it, I walked back to the edge. I was about to throw it over when the cooler caught my eye. I had an idea. I threaded the other end of the rope through the cooler’s handle, tying it as tightly as I could. With a call down to Dad to look out, I lowered the cooler over the side. I heard a thunk from below and felt the rope go limp. Dropping the rope, I peered over the edge, calling, “Dad, grab the cooler, and hold tight! I’m gonna pull you out.” I heard a soft grunt, and saw Dad slowly hug the cooler to his chest. When he was settled he looked up and gave me a feeble thumbs-up. I took a few steps back from the edge and picked up the rope. Planting my feet in the hard ground, I took a deep breath and pulled as hard as I could. The rope shifted an inch. Regretting all the skipped gym classes, I heaved as hard as I could, trying to keep my footing. Rocks and pine needles scattered as I sat down hard, but I didn’t loosen my grip. Inch by inch I scooted backward, hanging on to the rope for dear life. After what seemed like hours I was sweating and could barely breathe. My arms shook, and I couldn’t feel my hands. I felt the rope slip, and with a flood of adrenaline I hauled back on the rope, refusing to let go. I heard a noise in front of me; looking up, I saw a hand clutching at the edge of the cliff. A second hand came up, and I surged forward, grasping both of Dad’s hands. Ignoring my throbbing arms I hurled myself backwards, using my weight to 72 Red Weather
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pull him all the way up. Dad, the cooler, and I fell back from the edge, landing in a dusty pile. Panting heavily, I dimly noticed that the birds had started singing again. Clouds rolled lazily overheard, and between breaths I kept saying, “We did it. Everything’s fine. We’re okay. We did it.” For a minute neither of us moved, but then with a shaky breath Dad shifted a little, moving to get up. He put a quivering hand on the cooler to steady himself; his hand slipped, and his leg hit the ground hard. Dad let out a ragged scream that made my blood run cold and he collapsed, unmoving. “No, no, no! Don’t do this, Dad! Not now!” The fog of shock vanished and I leapt up, grabbing him under both arms. He was barely conscious, and his face was the color of dirty bathwater. With a grunt I pulled him to his feet as gently as I could. He stood swaying on his right leg, holding his mangled left leg gingerly off the ground. I slid my right arm around his waist and wrapped his left arm around my shoulders, bearing most of his weight. With a breathless, “Ready?” from me and a stiff nod from him, we started hobbling toward the car. The walk lasted a lifetime; Dad had to stop and rest every fifteen steps or so. He’d collapse onto the ground, too tired to care about his injured leg. But after a minute or so I would help him up and we’d continue walking. After an eternity I could finally see the car through the trees. I felt Dad start to sag, so I led him to a rotted stump and slowly eased him down. I couldn’t stand still, despite my exhaustion; I paced a few feet away from where Dad sat, anxious to keep moving. I could tell that his leg was getting worse. Bone poked out of a ripped hole in his jeans, and blood soaked through the fabric, mixing with dirt and sweat. I swallowed heavily as a wave of nausea washed over me. Turning away, I breathed deeply, trying to calm my stomach. “Annabeth.” I spun around and saw Dad looking at me oddly. Worry surged through me. “What is it? Are you okay? The car’s right there, it’s just a little farther if only we—” He held up his hand, and I bit my tongue. “You need to go get help on your own,” he said quietly, looking down at his leg. “I can’t Red Weather 73
do this anymore. Leave me here, take the car, and get help.” I started to protest but he cut me off again. “No. You need to be strong here. You see how bad my leg is. Just go.” With some effort he dug into his pocket and pulled out the car keys. He tried throwing the keys toward me, but they slipped out of his hands as another wave of pain shot through him. With that, my mind was made up. With a determined stride I made my way over to the stump, snatched up Dad’s keys, and grabbed his arm, ignoring his wince. Speaking an inch away from his face I hissed, “I’m getting you to that damn hospital if it’s the last thing I do. Now get up!” I hauled him unceremoniously to his feet, wrapped my arm around his waist, and started walking again. Too weak to fight me, he tried to keep up to my quicker pace. Both of us were gasping for breath by the time we broke through the trees. I wanted to collapse as relief poured over me, but kept hobbling toward the car. We made it to the passenger door just as Dad slid out of my grip, landing on the ground hard. Cursing, I flung open the door and helped Dad inside. The instant he was seated he started shivering violently. Fighting panic, I grabbed the picnic blanket from the back seat and wrapped it around him, tucking the ends underneath him. Slamming the door shut, I ran around the back of the car, remembering to close the trunk. I dove into the driver’s seat, wrenching the door shut. My hands shook as I fumbled with the keys, but the engine finally roared to life. Not bothering to back up, I whipped the car around, speeding down the gravel road toward the highway. There was a small town about fifteen miles down the road. I ran through the only red light in town as I sped down the road, desperately trying to remember where the hospital was. I saw it on the left and sped up, ignoring the car horns and angry shouts. I pulled into the emergency room parking lot and got out, not bothering to turn off the car. I sprinted inside the large sliding doors, yelling, “Someone please help. It’s my dad; he’s hurt bad!” The nurse at the front desk took one look at me and quickly picked up the phone, and I heard her say, “We’re going to need a 74 Red Weather
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stretcher down here, now. Prepare Room 3 for surgery.” She came around the desk and put a hand on my arm. “I’m Mary. Tell me what happened. Where’s your dad, honey?” Her voice was kind and full of concern, and I felt tears well up in my eyes. I looked over the nurse’s shoulder and saw four men rolling a stretcher, racing toward us. “He’s . . . in the car. His leg—broken, I think,” I managed thickly, trying to hold back tears. Mary guided me to a chair and sat down next to me. She told the men where my dad was, and they hurried past us. I heard them shouting orders back and forth, and a cry of pain from Dad. I started to get up, but Mary put a warm hand on my arm. “He’s in good hands now, sweetie. Everything will be okay.” I heard the doors open, and saw the men walking by with Dad laid out on the stretcher. The men didn’t slow down as I ran to his side. One eye cracked open. “Bethy, my Bethy,” he breathed. I saw a small smile flicker across his face as he reached for my hand. “You are so brave. My brave Bethy. Your mom would have been so proud.” I stopped, speechless. Dad’s fingers slid through my hand as he and the men passed through the double doors leading to the operating rooms. Mama. The thought of her came with the familiar ache, but I brushed it aside. All that mattered now was that Dad was going to be okay. Mary came up behind me, saying that there were some police officers who needed to speak to me. Without a word I turned, following her back to the waiting room. 2 MONTHS LATER Sunlight streamed through the kitchen window, glinting off a pile of Rice Krispie bars sitting on the counter. I picked them up along with the bagged sandwiches and made my way toward the garage. It was dark and cool in the garage; sidling around the station wagon, I set down the food on the workbench. I bent down, Red Weather 75
rummaging through the contents of the shelf. My hand brushed something hard, and I grabbed it, placing it on the workbench. The blue sides of the cooler were covered in dust, and when I opened the lid I revealed a pile of pine needles and gravel. The police brought it back to the house after they searched the woods where Dad got hurt. I upended the cooler, shaking out its contents. Setting the cooler back on the workbench, I grabbed a rag and wiped down the top and sides. Satisfied, I threw in the sandwiches and the Rice Krispie bars and firmly shut the lid. The garage door opened behind me, and I turned around, smiling as Dad hobbled over to me. The large cast made it difficult for him to move, but he refused to sit still. The doctors were lucky to keep him in the hospital bed for three days while they patched up his leg. Even then he refused to use the crutches given to him, insisting on hopping around the house like a maniac. Returning my smile, Dad put his arm around me in a halfarmed hug. “Almost ready to go?” “Lead the way,” I said. “Let me just grab the cooler.” I followed Dad to the back of the car, helping him open the trunk. After placing the cooler in the trunk, Dad turned suddenly and pulled me into a crushing hug. I froze, not knowing what to do. Then I slowly lifted my arms and hugged him back. I felt him shaking slightly and I pulled back. He was crying. “Hey,” I said, astonished, “why are you crying?” He sniffed, then looked up, a watery smile plastered across his face. “I’m just so lucky to have a daughter like you, Bethy. Really.” Seeing my stunned face, he grinned wider and pulled out the car keys. Holding them out in front of me, he said, “Why don’t you drive?”
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Population of Four Elizabeth Nelson
Open field with a population of four. Dad surrounded by his own three. Sons forced to work there are two. And she, the daughter, is the lone one. She who brought the men food. Lunch box open, apron on, hair tied. But she is not beneath them, no, she rises above, looking down upon the rest. Making them somewhat equal, just dad and three kids, content with their population of four.
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At the Farm Cabin with Grandma Edith, Age 92 Jennifer Lundstrom Hernandez She brushes back wisps of white hair with an age-spotted hand, gazes across the slough to a weathered building, long-abandoned, tucked into a grove of trees. “I remember when Bert almost died over there.” Her late husband. My grandpa. “We used to store grain in that shed.” Her blue eyes reach across the water, across time. “They had a grain auger, and he always stepped high over the top of it. But this time – who knows why? He didn’t.” “He had just bought a new pair of overalls. But for some reason, he was wearing the old ones. Good thing, too. When they caught in the auger, they ripped all the way up the seam. All the way up the seam! If he had been wearing the new ones . . .” She shook her head and exhaled slowly. “He just walked away . . . I sometimes think about what might have happened… Your dad was just a baby. Not even a year old.” Grandma’s blue eyes were misty, her voice wavered: “When I think about what might have happened . . .”
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LeRoyden’s Legacy Rob Neuteboom
Newlyweds, we live with my wife’s grandparents in a sleepy suburban rambler below the Wasatch Mountains. Grandpa LeRoyden, retired from a life spent wrenching airplane engines in a greasy jumpsuit, makes swift strokes on a canvas in the garage, trading ratchet for paint brush, dark oil stains for colorful ones. He fought in the war, in the army, a memory he keeps carefully concealed from creativity’s palate, from the granddaughter he attempts to capture from a photo, some decades old, clothes-pinned to the easel. I watch over a shoulder as he applies a base for the background, measures out the golden section for correct placement of nose, ears, eyes, the mouth that tends always to crook unevenly on one side. When he does finally form the lips, he laughs—botched it again. Not discouraged, he completes the painting and places it next to other strangely smiling, cross-eyed portraits with too much nose shade and lopsided pupils. He senses my scrutiny, smiles more broadly, knowingly. Yeah, I used to care what they looked like, too. That I might, too, find the wisdom of the moment on this canvas of the
within the brushstrokes of my efforts and leave behind a legacy like LeRoyden, captured tenderly by novice lines the eloquently imperfect product of his life’s greatest work.
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My Father Journals Now Nicholas Boushee
As people age They pick up journaling Perhaps they begin to realize no one else is writing this shit down itâ€™s a way to remember a way to capture and to process the day the feeling the moments Whatever it is for him I like it. And I hope I outlive my father, so someday I get to read it To remember To understand To be surprised Posthumous bonding
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Iâ€™ve already started my journal and I hope no one reads it at least not until I die and even then I hope I have the ability and the forewarning so I can erase the portions I never got around to revising and hiding Note to father: have courage to not hide in the revision, I want to know you.
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Rexroth was Right, So I Hope Shadd Piehl
Rexroth was right, Orion is surely The most beautiful sight I will see In life. Correct as my father, grimly Satisfied, saying, â€œSoon you will be 50.â€? Yes, soon enough, Pa. I too am growing Old. The coyote that emphasizes My thoughts on this cold summer evening Does so because his loneliness rises As it darkens, but that is not how I Feel. My howl is not one of the lonely Or despaired. I am still the wild One who burns to know it intimately, This life, this death, to seize it by the throat And wring it like a chicken . . . so I hope.
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he sequins on their gowns glisten as their heels clack on the wooden gym floor. The gentlemen stand a little taller in their glossy dress shoes and their color-coded vests. Everybody’s confidence levels soar on this supposedly glamorous night. That is, if they’re not suffocated by the makeup and the hairspray. Prom is a plethora of personalities: the girls who only dance with their girlfriends, the guys who think they’re hot shit and take their shirts off, the couples who are uninformed of other people’s existence, the shy ladies and fellas who will warm the bench unless coach calls them in, which we know won’t happen. Then there’s the couples who are “just friends,” the dudes who spike the punch, the girls who attend prom solo, and better yet, the couples who ignore each other completely. And then there’s me, the photographer. Well, the photographer’s assistant, if you want to get technical. But nonetheless, I have a fat piece of pricey equipment clutched in my hands. With my blue jeans on and my Converse strapped to my feet, let’s just say I feel a little underdressed and a lot out of place. After all, this is my senior prom. Not that I would have danced the night away or even have had a date, for that matter, but it is bizarre watching my classmates. My boss is in charge of taking the posed pictures, making me in charge of capturing the candid shots. I pull my camera up to my face, feeling the tug of the neck strap loosen. I close one eye, peeking through my viewfinder and scanning the room for a Kodak moment. When I land on a smile, I press the shutter button halfway down to command the lens to focus and then all the way down, click, to freeze that moment. I only try to capture the happy moments, of course. Nobody wants to remember the breakups, the makeups, the hookups, and the jealousies that accumulate during Red Weather 83
a prom. No, they want to remember it being a dazzling night where they looked runway ready. But pretty soon the stilettos will be taken off, the dresses hung in the closet to collect dust. That hot-pink vest and bowtie will be shoved away in an attic somewhere. But at least youâ€™ll have the memories. Oh the memories of spending too much money, having blisters on your feet, and arguing with your boyfriend. But at least you have nice pictures, right?
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An animal trapped in a cage. There is no escape. There is no way out. Nowhere to turn. Senseless pacing. A bundle of knotted ropes. Constant turning and tightening. Hands grope at the walls without sight to guide. Mouth sewn shut, no way to speak out, Your stomach drops. Your heart stops. â€œOwls talons, clenching at your heart.â€?
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Anatomy of a Martyr Adam Wiese
This Bee (That was on a Mission To Find Flowers In Order to Harvest Pollen In Order that the Hive May Make Honey In Order that the Male Drones May Eat In Order that the Queen May Breed In Order that the Workers May Leave the Hive In Order to Find Flowers In Order to Harvest Pollen) Lodged in the Metal Blade of My Toyotaâ€™s Windshield Wiper Forcing the Innards of Her Abdomen To Splatter in a Complicated Fractal Pattern A Result of Landlocked Northern Dakistanâ€™s Gail-force Winds I Like to Speculate The Worker Bee was Escaping From A Swarming Hive The Workers Rising Killing the Queen (As Worker Bees are Often Wont to Do) Historical Plausibility tells me that This Worker Bee Now Fractalated At 80 miles per hour Over U.S. Highway 83 Was Likely not so very Different Than You are from Me. 86 Red Weather
The day previous was a celebration and four days ahead would be an anniversary, but not obviously, because he broke up with me seven months prior. I don’t really care— do I— that four days from now would be an anniversary and the last seven months could have been days filled with laughter and kisses and gentle touches and hard goodbyes and thrilling hellos and stargazing and wrapped up in blankets listening to the thunder and the rain against the tin roof. Who cares about four days from now? Certainly not I, a feisty, young, independent woman. For I still had happy days and laughter, I just got to enjoy them by myself because that is what I like. I like alone time and nights of endless thinking about how wonderful it shall be four days from now and seven months ahead. The day of yester I was laughing. Four days of morrow I will be laughing and content with thoughts of what was, will be, and shall remain.
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A Human Touch Louis Zurn
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Objects and Demarcation Daniel Shudlick
nce he landed in Milwaukee’s General Mitchell Airport, Haans Cleerfeildt, a VP of Big Petroleum (BP), rented a car. Something simple like a Chevy or Ford he was told, anything else would make the locals uneasy. The attendant at the car rental assured him that, “Yes, Milwaukee is in Wee-shcon-shin.” Haans let the affront to the pronunciation alone as the attendant had been abnormally kind and energetic with the foreigner, something he was told to accept as Midwestern courtesy and actually not some form of derision. He felt a bit of both. “Buuteler, Wee-shcon-shin? You know this place? Buuteler?” The man didn’t know the place and repeated “Wee-schconshin, first time I heard it that way.” “Tollomaska?” Hanns asked. “That is where I go. Tollomaska. You know?” The man didn’t know the place and moved on to a new customer. Haans first went to the Port of Milwaukee to re-acquaint himself with his surroundings. The geography of the port was something constant for Haans. Briefly laid out: Haans’s was an Austrian national, glasses, very Teutonic in the square face sort of way— you know, hard-set jaw; a gaze that you could never tell if he was in love with or absolutely abhorred whatever he saw—blondeturning-white hair, just the right type of tannish. The ports water, metal, and barely visible shoreline pleased him; they were floating ecosystems, sequestered in the secret trade corner of a city. Hanjun. Cosco. BNSF. Sante Fe. Geodis. Yusen. Names of the world—Hamburg, New York, San Francisco, innumerable ports in innumerable countries. Hans shied away from the humanness of the ports, though, away from such things Red Weather 89
as the variation of language, the regional specific grasses or vegetation of the inland, those things that made a place and person distinct to their port. It was the similarities of the green from one port to another that soothed him, the weeds in concrete cracks, the ubiquitous vegetation at the water’s edge, faces behind smoke, synergy amplified in the commonality of ports. The port was small and Midwest (he read that word on the sign below something he saw called the ‘discombobulation area’ in William Mitchell Airport. He didn’t fully know what the word meant; but he did feel that deep in his mind, deep down to his perfectly pleated pants, recently polished brown shoes from Italy—some local designer in Milan’s old-town—his pure leather shoulder-bag that contained all that he needed to keep the world in motion; he knew that never once had he ever been ‘discombobulated’). There was no one else at the port and this fact comforted him greatly; he hadn’t felt better in years. There were too many people and too many meetings in Prague and then Heathrow before coming to Milwaukee. The “Non-Resolution Pact” the Prague meetings were being called—his idea in fact, but now the idea itself seemed something so far reaching and abstract that he did not think he could have thought of it—led him to flyover America. What is a port, really, or a city that holds the port, for that matter (think logistics)? It is a hub and, if unlucky, a pause in sequence; reduce the stop and continue the movement. A port must remain fluid, conductive . . . Unless you wanted to hold something for some time, but that is something different, unusual, and often ensconced in pseudo-profundity. Haans’s grandfather once spoke of Milwaukee, or a place outside of it, Butler, Wisconsin. A piggish-faced girl he once loved moved there with her family in the early 1900s. Wistfully, absurdly so, Haans’s sweet and departed grandfather thought about this piglet, wondered aloud if she had sons in the War. Could his one have fought hers, could his have killed the piglet’s piglet, could the young piglet 90 Red Weather
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have killed his own? (Haans’s grandfather liked to forget that it was someone in his own regiment that shot his son.) It always bothered Haans that deep in that Austrian farmland, Haans’s grandfather worried about some girl’s future child, his own family going the way of the land of his place, becoming what the German’s made of Western Europe. Butler, Wisconsin, a beautiful untarnished land in America, a dissociation to the present state for the old man, which Haans understood even though he did not respect. It was Haans’s idea, the “Non-resolution Pact,” and the movement into a new technology. There were reports of potential leakages, a build-up of pressure in the off-shore drilling sector that needed to be addressed. In the middle of the park he came across a sign dedicating the park to the Kashubians, a people from Poland with a Slavic heritage that arrived at the present location of the port in the earlier times of Milwaukee, when the land of the port was nothing but aggregated silt from the runoff of the rivers. “The Gathering of the Rivers,” Haans said to himself, reading it on the sign. US Steel had owned the land the Kashubs settled, but it was the Kashubs that ferried the soil to the wetland on homemade boats. The filled in that part of the lake and made the place stable. They made shanty homes on the shifting mud. They birthed their children in those shanties, pushing out blood and shit in the mud-slick early century homestead. Haans’s grandfather looked west, held his hand to the setting sun and said that he loved that girl, they used to play tag in the field before things became so violent, before trenches were built between them, before that whole unmentionable era in the 40s. Haans knew he wanted to find this place, Butler, connect something of his own history. Once the land became solid, the sweat and shit and blood of generations forming something from the industrial obsolescence Red Weather 91
of a shoreline, US Steel claimed the land, won it in court and removed the Kashubians from it. This made Haans feel nothing when he read it, it was as he expected. Haans’ father left the farm, but his grandfather stayed there, saying his spirit was attached to it; leaving the land would leave a part of him behind, leave himself unfulfilled as a man without a past, and without a past, his grandfather would say, we are nothing in the present and can form nothing of a future. A person belonged to a culture then, without a personal identity. The issue with being attached to a culture is that a culture can easily forget its personal history, replacing it with something along the lines of a mezzohistoriography. Such a thing provided justification rather than a lesson, a statement of existence rather than how to grow. It was decided that nothing should be fixed. The cost of fixing and continual investiture into off-shore drilling for the received oil was not worth an equivalent shift in technological focus—cost of Goodwill included, but that would be a PR issue anyway. Information cannot stand still in a circuit until it reaches its final position; it always moves inside the hardware and software—this was an observance and a lesson Haans felt was deeply important. A seller should always receive in advance. A buyer should purchase on arrival. Haans loved the middle space where things moved, and in that space he identified where a thing could go, how to redirect. Re, as a prefix, often insinuates a repetition of sorts, a (re)tracing, but Haans knew that was an outsider’s naming. Re was a useful prefix. Often Haans tried to utilize such a prefix to show a lack of initial direction, throw off other observational forces. The NonResolution was really itself a resolution, Haans knew. For some time this re-directive of technological focus was in the works. 92 Red Weather
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He drove west through I-94 in the non-traffic part of post rush hour, where the interstate was filled with the cars of working transients, displaced to uncommon hours and probably motives, too. There was something incredibly temporary about driving at 10:30 that showed a lack of focus and direction. It exhilarated him and he wondered if this is how his fellow 10:30 drivers felt. He merged north on 45 and shortly took the exit onto Locust Avenue. Garmin said that Butler was ahead to the left and he looked around and said that couldn’t be true, that it wasn’t true. ‘Butler’, according to Garmin, was nothing but another sprawling reach of the city, a neighborhood in the middle of Milwaukee that stretched all around the little utopic Butler of his grandfather’s dream; that georgic dream of American prosperity of his grandfather had long been made into Haans’s world of veined logistics, modes of transportation and industry, and the propulsion and continual advancement from place to place. While he turned into a gas station and watched the cars go by, watched the ragged loiters looking for work, the buses stop and go, he could not help feeling sorry for his grandfather shaking his head and looking to the west, his vision so absolutely wrong in its reality, so personal in this impersonal reality. Soon, though, Haans felt himself growing again. That thing that he thought was far reaching or abstract was beginning to (re)form in its totality, an assuredness directing him toward the NonResolution Pact, the new technology that once again would (re)shape the world. His father first took him on the ICE when he was four. Haans carried his mock train with him on the trip from Munich to Hamburg, and played with it while his father met with two men in the seat beside him. One spoke a different language, a language he would later know as English, British-English, a high-screeching man, animated with his mouth and neck above a ballooning gut. And he had the toy train list side to side with the movement of the real thing, bump along the floor and up to the table with swiftness and stealth. Somewhere outside were the outstretches of the Alps. Red Weather 93
And they all got quiet in the trip through Eastern Germany, rubbled then, a different world, something split so definitively in two with no connecting bridge, and it did not seem like they were developing it. Haans saw something static in the east, while the west moved the train. Haans listened to the translator first in German, then in that other language; the voice changing in pitch and tonal force depending on the language. Oscillating in his seat, Haans moved the train asit was then he understood that those things already moving stayed in motion with less force than to start. He knew the efficiency of that motion needed to be considered as an economic law. Merkel remained in Munich during Haans’ trips. She became part of an art scene there, watched re-makes of Proust or Beckett in a new vogue thump-thump of deep bass and electric circuitry. The latest she helped advertise and fund was a performance of Faust: Screens set along a long hallway, chairs lined the shear concrete of a gentrified warehouse. Masked performers walked through the crowd in obscene lingerie, and she told Haans she could not tell who were the men and who were the women except for the bosoms. The screens showed old black and white film of the American 20s, showed the actors in previously recorded scenes and vignettes. Before the show, Mephisto walked to and fro, handing out white cards with black-shadowed Kama-sutra positions, “Congress of the Rhino,” “Congress of Cow.” The other performers followed behind Mephisto, took them back and gave out pieces of gold, little tokens that read Macht, and returned to them new cards with the same kama sutra images, but with shocked and angry faces clearly etched and defined. “The positions of the bodies, Haans,” Merkel said, slow and trying to work on her English, “were both grotesque and wonderful. Here . . ” She led him toward their room in their too empty house in the Munich suburb of Augsburg, their two daughters long moved out and now flying somewhere, then somewhere else, and he never knew what continent they were on directly and maybe they didn’t even know. The performance was part ballet, part film, part voice94 Red Weather
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over. Close and personal, the bodies contorting just an arm’s length away, one performer holding the body of another to his mouth, the woman’s “v” spread up to his face and her head down, performing an act both erotic and out of place, a synchronization of love and the betrayal of it, a too common thing, as if it were dust in the attic, or a commodity like toilet cleaner. Haans let her lead him until she sat still on the bed. He paced across the room, eyeing her, and she sat still and watched him move, occasionally removing a piece of clothing. Haans couldn’t stop pacing. Even while removing his coat and neck tie, unbuttoning his shirt one handed, studying the image of the androgynous card, he moved. Who was who? Where was the dissemination of the bodies, the demarcation of beginning and end? The whole thing looked like a blob to him, ink pressed onto a piece of paper. He understood he was missing something here, something that she saw in the card and wanted him to see. He moved and tried to cover the space between them, indirectly speaking, more psychically, really, as he still paced by the window. She sat on the bed, stationary or close to stationary, but that wasn’t right, he knew—only the form wasn’t moving, and he found himself oscillating like on the ICE rocking; he looked at the KamaSutra card instead of the toy train, now. Gretchen was a man, she told him. And Faust was not a doctor but some teenager, trying to find himself in the world. The boy was brown haired and gaunt. Narrowed of sorts, marginalized against the cast of other performers. She hadn’t noticed him in the beginning portion of the performance, even after she tried to replay the memories to see if she had seen him but missed him over, but she couldn’t place him in the prelude, couldn’t recognize him as ever being present. Haans’s grandfather’s first son, an uncle Haans’s never met, was a professor in Munich and married a Jewish woman and moved to Poland. After the Polish Invasion, neither were heard from again. Red Weather 95
Merkel blushed, remembering Faust’s first sex scene with a woman and not Gretchen. The lights flashed to the thump-thump bass, and the strobing colored lights made the private thing appear distorted in the flesh. But the shadows on the wall—she removed everything except for her panties—the shadows on the wall made blobs of the bodies, darkened green and blue in the light. See, she continued, shaking her head to let him know that wasn’t right. See, the lights projected the blobbed black against the concrete frame of the gentrified wall. The wall here was the focus, she said, not the bodies. It was the meshing of shadows into one form. You could see it as a form of wrestling with itself, a full thing, not disconnected from each other. She took off her panties and spread her legs on the bed and waved him over. There was no distinction with the shadows on the concrete; there was occasional separation but the thing remained en-totem; if there appeared to be an outline of breast, that came solely as some element of the form of the previously known body—a projection of the mind. It was, in fact, nothing important to the shadows on the wall. What about the bodies, Haans asked her, were they naked? He shivered. Closed the window blinds. Leave them open, Merkel said. Then she smiled and told him it didn’t matter, no one watched the bodies. His grandfather, nearing the end of his life, took Haans, his mother, and his father to a Solstace party one late June. It was outside a friend’s barn. They had made a bar out of alfalfa bales and coolers. Haans drank too much at fourteen, found a girl he had seen on the bus to school and tried to kiss her under the awning of the barn. The girl laughed, “zu jung.” His mother and father stood in the corner of the lighted barn and rarely went to the fire; they spoke with old men and women that had known him when he lived with his parents. The bodies weren’t naked, and Faust sliced through the small runway stage, the videos showing more scenes of love or non96 Red Weather
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love, a boredom or fatigue, long gazes at things that Faust wasn’t. Haans’s removed the rest of his clothes and stood by the window; Merkel smiled. She was full of power and Haans’s paced. Haans took great comfort in the empirical form of things, their weight and measure, their density and momentum. He spent his life qualifying the forms, their quantity and occurrence. Each new toy train he labeled and catalogued, gave the speed, size, carrying power, travel time from one European city to the next. How much could the train hold, how much human cargo, resource cargo. How much track would the train take, how were the other trains to fit within the specific train. He liked to go to the train station, view the times and their arrival, figure out what train was what and map out the area in half hour increments, identify where the forms should be at those times, how flawless it seemed when he first began. Haans’s uncle’s father-and mother-in-law came to the farm in early 1940. Carrying nothing. Haans’s grandfather took them in. Before them, it was only he and two boys left, both young. Sometime later the Germans entered the home, looking for the father- and motherin-law who hid in a bunker they’d built beneath the creek. “We all must do our part,” a German said. Haans’s grandfather looked to the creek and he knew at that moment that it was one of those things of survival: How do we survive, who do we let die to survive, is that survival at all? And then the oldest of his remaining boys said, “Fuck the Juden. Fuck the Allies.” And the boy was looking at the creek, the bunker beneath it, his dead brother’s wife’s family breathing what little air filtered into that place. “No Juden here, take me with you,” the boy said. “I can fight.” The boy died somewhere in France and Haans’s grandfather waved his hand west and said something of Butler, Wisconsin. There is only the physical form of an object, the action and gravitas of that action; there is only the thing that can be touched and measured to an exact degree, anything else was the pseudoRed Weather 97
science of intention to Haans—a lost thing without a real presence, something of fantastical dreams. Merkel went to the window and stroked him, led him to the bed and sat him down. She rubbed his shoulders, tensed and studying the card, half-hard. Faust could not find sexual pleasure much less love with women. Mephisto offered his hand, and connected Faust and Gretchen. There were no games, no hidden motives and deceptions. Their first scene together they walked, then the second was silent and they moved along a bench, mirroring their movements, coming closer, moving away; there was something playing in the screens, but Merkel didn’t look. The lights went to them but this time they did not make the shadows on the wall, which Merkel said confused her, because it was beautiful. And that’s when she said that it was the form that mattered at that time. Only after one saw the ambiguousness of the shadow, the essence of a person, that combining power that holds a form to itself— Haans thought proton, electron, quark, ports, railroads—she said she wanted to call it the soul, but knew that would just bring up something religious in nature, a context she found not right; only after those blobs, the appearance of the wrestling of the self, the one thing combined, should the distinct forms be shown. Because, Merkel said, if we look at the form first, it is difficult to move beyond the form, it appears so stable and concrete, unchangeable, when the thing isn’t. Hans looked at the shadowed card, his hand tracing the form, trying to see beyond the form, trying to see what that was supposed to mean. “What of Mephisto? Did he take Faust with him?” Haans asked. “Mephisto, in this version, was not what he appeared,” Merkel said. There’s a photo of Haans’s uncle in the Nazi uniform, eyes drawn downward, unable to look at the camera. Haans did not give up with “zu jung,” and he watched the woman from the other side of the fire, to get a sense of her. There was 98 Red Weather
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something untouchable about her, a shiftingness to her being, he remembered. What he wanted was something solid to take hold of, something of certain and specific dimensions. He watched the fire and then the woman, watched the fire grow and fade, lap and laugh and then it struck him then, what he would say to her. His grandfather was holding a woman’s hand. His father and mother looked uninterested in the place, but enjoyed the stability of old neighborhood friends. The object of Haans’s fascination was darkhaired with grey eyes. Long and lean, underdeveloped for her height, something a bit awkward, like a bird just beginning to fly, or a foal beginning to walk, and Haans loved her then and there. She wore a long dress and had leaves and flowers in her hair; it was the opposite of how she normally looked. She sat on a log by the fire with a friend. When the friend left, Haans walked over and sat beside her. He held out a flower and she took it. “You are like the flower and the fire. Both can burn and grow, fast or slow it’s always something, and your form is never the same. It’s a beautiful thing.” The girl was silent for a while then started to laugh. She said he was “zu jung.” He grabbed her chin and kissed her, good and quick. And left. We were watching Mephisto from a specific gaze, the gaze of heterosexuality, Merkel said. From that gaze, that soul or essence took on the demonic. The play itself was a study in gaze. Even the story conception itself was a shifting of gaze. It was only Faust in a mold or old form, but there was a transition in the power of it. Haans looked at the card, still no dissemination, yet he could see something else too, something moving, the blob shifting and moving, bodies or body convulsing and breathing on the paper. He closed his eyes and opened them again. Once outside Milwaukee, the land quickly turned agricultural. He mapped out, on an invisible map in his mind, where he’d driven according to a population density map, the red going to orange, skipping yellow, and going right to green. Everywhere corn saluted him, tassels sky-strong and soaking in the sun. There was subsidy Red Weather 99
money here. He smelled it everywhere. DeKalb, and the like, posted on the fence-line, marked out just whose land this was. This did not comfort him as he thought it would. He felt something in Butler. Or didn’t feel something. He had this vision in his mind of the place, a viewing of it that his grandfather lodged in him, something nostalgic, sentimental, pastoral. Although he despised sentiment, he wanted to see it, to experience it for his grandfather’s sake. It was something haunting, like he wanted to believe in another time, another world; it made him feel more alive in the present motion of his own to believe that there were some left behind. The specific gaze of the hetero made the facilitator demonic, otherwise it was angelic and an authentic gift to the shadows of the wall. An abomination to the form was subjective to the mask, such things Merkel said. And he was frightened by them. The farmland, for the most part, lay in symmetrical grids. Each fence line he saw he calculated the distance between the last and figured what it’d look like from the sky at two hundred feet, five hundred feet, one thousand feet. Distinct shapes in size and color, portrait of the abstract, but not abstract at all. He saw something similar with Merkel at the Guggenheim when they visited New York, a Kandinsky. Someone called it the compartmentalized and fractured self, each box its own plane of existence, demarcated between the separate lives of the sole being. Haans thought it looked just like a rural development map. Only after seeing the shadows first, did the focus switch to that of Faust and Gretchen. “This is important, Merkel said. Keep the blinds open.” “Do you want to see our shadows against the wall,” Haans asked. “No. I want to see you and me.” While watching Bayern play Hans kept his laptop open, checked various stats, the distances covered to the meter, meters per minute, 100 Red Weather
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elapsed run trajectories, mapped when he could. He wanted every player’s boot to have a chip, a tracking device that would produce beautifully colored artwork on the screen, a reality to the abstract. Analytics. To become fluid with the game, to understand a player’s tendency in the normative, identify usual motivators for runs. If on the left hand side, would Schweinsteiger make a diagonal run, would Lamm flank along the right; these are things he wanted to understand. Rule 1: Find and understand their history. Center on present location. Predict or rearrange the future. He did this with other teams, Werder, Leverkuesion Burrusia. He enlisted colleagues in England’s section of BP to the same for the EPLs big clubs (i.e. Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea); the same for La Liga, Erdevist, Lige 1, Seria A. Each year during UEFA’s Champions League they gambled on outcomes, just a 100,000 euro buy-in, to see who picked the right teams from each group stage, knockout stage—each using personalized algorithms to guess at the potential winners. Each weekend he loaded game data, logistical data, runs, where they were, each step on the pitch and what velocity the step was taken. Each Tuesday and Wednesday of Champions League, he had someone in his office make sure they turned on the data recorder. Bayern began to pay him for the information. Analytics. The shape of the athlete, the pace, the physical presence of the commodity on paper. (Ronaldo far too fat in Japan, breaking records with horrible hair.) He reviewed sheet after sheet in the late hours, Merkel going to plays and dinners and sometimes she’d come home a little drunk and sit on his lap, say something about no longer wanting to be that type of woman that keeps up a front in public, how she wanted him to grab her ass at a restaurant, reach under the table and slide his hands up her leg surrounded by friends and colleagues, discussing the political experience of her namesake. And she whispered into his ear things he had always wished she’d say, somewhere deep down in him, but still he sat in the chair, reading over the data. He hasn’t seen Bayern play in years. Red Weather 101
From the sky the land appears to be formed in straight-lined triangles, rhombuses, squares and rectangles, the slope and curve of the land reduced nearly to parallelograms. Only the water arced. From far enough up, the cars looked like ants, or beetles, and the people looked smaller, even less distinct, less real, and Haans wondered wherein laid the dream, the dream of the world while standing on it, or the life from so far up, watching the human circuitry along concrete conductors; never a shadow but the airplane, a small thing as indistinct as the cars, as the people in the cars, as whatever crawled beneath or on the road the cars drove. He remembered the first time he held a soccer ball, the first time he made a run down the right side of the field, never receiving it. This did not discourage him at eight years old. He ran back, let the act of running be enough of a force. He stood by the window, trembling. “I want to watch you and me.” He was trembling. Nervous at this new opposition of sorts. Excited by it. Filled with an aggression usually reserved for a different form. “I want to try to break you in half,” he said. Merkel closed her eyes. Haans had no idea where that came from. His mother and father stayed in the barn the night of the solstice. Sometimes he caught a glimpse of the girl and briefly watched her dance. He went to the bar in the barn and bought another drink. His grandfather switched between German and English while talking to the woman whose hand he held, oddly piggish looking. Grey hair. Tired looking. From up high: Berms, gulleys, ice-age kettles, bluffs, all flat, the world two dimensional and transparent. A to B. Things to consider: Mass and velocity. The piggish woman had blotches on her hands and she stared at Haans’ grandfather and the old man at her. It appeared that there 102 Red Weather
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was no one else in the barn. Against the wall their shadows were separated by a great void of barn-wood. He went outside, watched the smoke filter into the night. It bored him. And he walked around the fire, weaving between laughter and shouting, the happy and bitter drunk, the sloppy sex in trees behind a shed, clothes still on, just the drop of pants and upturn of a dress, the thrusts of everything directed toward some heavenly consummation, permanently impermanent, but vital he knew then, utterly and completely vital. Merkel moved herself to the edge of the bed, sat up straight, patted beside her. Sit, she said. Haans trembled and wanted to take her there. The card leaked ink onto his sweaty hands. No demarcation. I want to break you in half, he whispered again, looked at the card. You can try, Merkel said. You won’t, but I want to feel you try. Only after the shadows on the wall did the form become important. At the end of the show, the lights were all on; they cleared out any semblance of a set and the final scene had Faust running from a pack of demons on the video; they were men and women and children and old people, their faces full and healthy and entirely normal, but they chased Faust from one screen to the next, and they kept chasing him, while Faust walked naked, seriously naked, in the flesh in front of the screens. Merkel smiled. And from the other side of the concrete set, remember it’s all concrete and hanging pipes and heating and air ducts and the lights are all on, from the other side Gretchen approached naked. Stark naked, in the light, angelic like. Haans held the card, looked at the smudge in his hands. I’m sorry our love life hasn’t been . . . he stopped. You understand then, Merkel asked. Not yet, but keep going. Haans stopped in Wisconsin Dells and took a trip on a duck and found it utterly beautiful, old cliffs carved over lakes, the patterns of the carvings, seemingly random, but done over millions of years of continuous grinding. The earth a moving thing. Stone ever rising and falling, changing its parts. Red Weather 103
A train stays in the station for two days. Haans knew that someone was ahead of themselves and someone else was behind. Stationary things get mold, lack the rush of air. The girl found him leaning against the barn. She looked at his feet. You mean it what you said earlier? You know I do, Haans said. “Zu Jung,” she said, but grabbed his hand, took him behind the barn, and taught him something new about the world. The Tollomaskan land had a particular form of sand, important for the “Non-resolution Pact.” He needed to see how much there was, how far down into the earth, who owned the places, could a BP subsidiary buy or lease as a third part, where was the highest level of easily transportable concentration of the aerlite, how much would it cost to build private train tracks to those already formed, to build their own line across the states. Billions of crude, he knew. Trillions accessible in a few years. Trillions and trillions. Haans knew the importance of oil cannot be underestimated. It makes up so much of mass culture. Food. Ink. Plastic. Almost everything in any store has some product in it that has oil in it. From the imaginary airplane Haans saw the land and the reconstituted land that made houses and homes, the land beside the roads and the land that made the roads, and it all looked like veins to him, humanity taking shape, bourgeoning and developing into itself and constructing a functional body. Haans looked at the card, saw the blobs and held Merkel, held her as she held him, seated on the bed, naked. The demons caught Faust on the video screen. Screamed at him, looked at him, marginalized him. Then there were women and men surrounding Faust, all of them gaunt and marginalized; their bodies and forms compressed into a togetherness so complete and absurd it defined them as one form. A contingency inseparable. Merkel was growing more passionate, animated, flushing with anger and frustration or something and she kept talking while she straddled Haans. 104 Red Weather
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From the air, land has no form, only distinctions in color, how much water reaches a place. You do not see people from high up, nor do you see what they create and why. You cannot see an individual dog or deer or wolf or cow. You can only place them somewhere on the land from data, accept it and say this is where the thing exists. He has not seen a Bayern game or any soccer game for almost a decade. But he knows how every player moves, knows their qualities and personalities on the field. The only part of them he has seen is their team photo thumbnailed and attached to the data. He wonders if they feel pain when not on the field, wonders if they have ever felt the desire to crumble into a different form. But the data proves that the thing exists, that actions exist. And then there is context, somewhere, too, and the data fills that in. And you can see the world that way, from way up in the air, the data defining a place and its existence and you know that place better than you know your hand, and you believe this, you need to, you need to believe this of yourself because what you are doing is changing the place, reforming its composition, breaking it down and taking the rubble into a new mold. They were naked, Merkel said, grabbing the back of his head and kissing him, moving up and down, sideways, back and forth. His fingers slid around in her and he felt her heat coming out to him, the liquid molten of her, and he knew that he was being absurd seeing her the way he did at that moment; there was some type of wrong in his circuitry, too much conductivity, something too hot in himself, a foreignness to his easy analytics. Why is she doing this? Why do I like this? He dropped the blobbed card, let escape his thought and he looked up at the form in front of him and saw Merkel in a way he hadnâ€™t in some time and he was again petrified with an awful sense of wonder. Red Weather 105
The girl waved to Haans when she got on the bus, but did not sit next to him or speak with him. This made Haans smile and understand something on a deeper registry. They were naked, the two men, Merkel said. On the screens the men and women, old and young, yelled at, spat at, ignored, MARGINALIZED, removed from societies, their bodies no longer of the same potential, the men and women, young and old, in Faust’s group. This went on in the background, while Faust and Gretchen danced naked then all of a sudden the screens turned off. A spotlight shown down on all of us, way too bright and from every angle. There were no shadows to be seen. Merkel came on his hand and she rested her head on his shoulder. Faust and Gretchen had sex, real sex right there in the light. It was a sex show, asked Haans, his fingers slowly massaging the inside of Merkel. No, Merkel sighed, it was different. It wasn’t just sex. It was, but it wasn’t. Not after what we saw. It was different. It was the form of the bodies as they were in their form. Or something. All that with the shadows on the wall, the marginalizing, all that didn’t matter, not there at that moment. So it was about the soul or shadows, the essence forming through sex, Haans asked. Sex has nothing to do with it, Merkel whispered and nibbled at Haans ear. Sex was used as a pure vehicle here, because most people love sex, whether it’s admitted or not. No, it was about human interaction, how our forms carry a history of ourselves, and we look at them as souls or essences, it’s still uncertain, but it is only our form that matters. Haans’s uncle was an Austrian soldier for the Germans in WWII. That was his form. For all time that will be his definition and what is carried in that. Haans had accepted that, but wasn’t sure why. Sure our forms wrestle with ourselves, Merkel said, with the history of someone else, but beauty is the constant human interaction, the blob becomes too indistinct, becomes abstract and in the form of abstract, metaphysical is the form. Only seeing the physical form, 106 Red Weather
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touching the form, connecting the form can we see a person, see the history of it. Along Interstate 94, Haans could not tell when sandstone bluffs started to rise up, crowded by trees; they had seemed to always be there. He replayed the scenery in his mind and all he saw was a gradual addition of similarly featured landscapes, yet they were distinct from what he saw now. Were there many lines demarcating the new spaces? The population density map was green. There were cabins off somewhere in the woods burning wood in the middle of summer. Coulees and valleys rolling and dipping, sand having been shoveled by thousands of years of ice. Sometimes there is a rift in the bluff, and the sand is exposed. Crumbles in the rain. Washes into some new form and space. From the air, Haans recognizes the mezzo parts of the world. How they connect and encroach on each other, but there is always a line from the sky, something that separates. Something like a Kandinsky painting. Where were his daughters? What were they up to? We need to get close to see the thing, Merkel said. We need to feel the thing, touch it, watch it. Faust and Gretchen had sex in the light and for me it was nothing. But for them it was beautiful. That mattered to their form. That mattered more than anything in the world. Haans kissed his wife and picked her up. Is that all, he asked. No, Merkel said. Haans put her on the bed and went down on her. Something happened to me while watching it though, Merkel said. I looked at it and said, I get it, but I didnâ€™t, I didnâ€™t get it. Because I would have seen it, said it was beautiful and showed how love manifests in bodies, but the point is that some are still marginalized. I would have walked out and done nothing about it. But watching the forms, watching what matters to them, I understand, it was like a bombardment, you see, it was like an assault saying you must care, it is the form, your form too, you must care. You must do something about it or else there will always be those demons on Red Weather 107
the screen. Ignoring is just as demonic, you know, and watching them I saw it, I saw it, I saw it, and, and, and, I felt it, I know god, oh god, I know that it matters and that what I can do matters, and, Jesus Christ Haans get up here! Haans got up and stood over Merkel for a minute. Yes, she said and pulled him down to her, try to break me in half. He saw the land and what it can become as humanityâ€™s developing body. He knew the mind and body were the same, the culture and the land connected in a natural form. Control the land, control the culture. He saw what could be on it, where the sand might be, where the trains would need to go, how fast theyâ€™d go with a certain amount of cargo. He saw what the cargo meant, saw how much oil would be made, saw how much that would affect the people of the world. In the air, he saw the map, its straight lines and demarcations; at a certain height, everything is demarcated. And he saw the circuitry of it, the new landscape void of the old, a land without the pain of the old, without the struggle of attachment: The invocation of re-construction.
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Alysa Clift Ashley Doll RaeAnn Giffen Bethany Larson Kjersti Maday Chelsea Eliza Rose Marquette Kristin Miller Elizabeth Nelson Jillian Nordquist Nikkie Nouwen Alecs Peters Briana Schepper Joseph Schwartz Alyssa Sinnen Laura Smedsrud Donald Tobkin Louis Zurn
Val Anderson Jennifer Kenyon Bicknell Nicholas Boushee Jennifer Lundstrom Hernandez Amy Jokinen Rob Neuteboom Shadd Piehl Heather Rand Daniel Shudlick Whitney Walters Adam Wiese Red Weather 111
Special Thanks Red Weather would like to give special thanks to the following for their considerate support throughout the years: Ottertail Power Company Shelly Heng Barbara Glasrud Dustin Mohagen Daniel Shudlick Debra Marquart Richard Hoffman James Sallis Heather A. Slomski K.C. HansonÂ Denise K. Lajimodiere Jim Lenfestey Lin Enger Dr. Yahya Frederickson Dr. Suzzanne Kelley Dr. Thom Tammaro Professor Emeritus Mark Vinz
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