2012 Volume XXXVII Ashley Liddiard – Managing Editor Peter Aquino – Poetry Editor Lena Hoff – Photography Editor Daniel Ott – Layout Editor Melissa Wojo – Fiction Editor Dr. David Hicks – Faculty Advisor Bridget Biller – Staff Advisor Special Thanks Information Technology Services
Cover Design by Daniel Ott Copyright 2012 Regis University ii
Apogee 1. The point in the orbit of the moon, or of any planet, at which it is at its greatest distance from the earth; also, the greatest distance of the sun from the earth when the latter is in aphelion. (A term of the Ptolemaic Astronomy, which viewed the earth as the centre of the universe; in modern astronomy strictly used in reference to the moon, and popularly said of the sun in reference to its apparent motion.) 2. The greatest altitude reached by the sun in his apparent course; his meridional altitude on the longest day. Obs. 3.
A. The most distant or remote spot. B. The highest point, climax, culmination.
4. The point in the trajectory of a missile, rocket, or the like at which it is at its greatest distance from the earth.
Oxford English Dictionary Online
Table of Contents I was you once. Life was free. Joleen Ngoriakl To the Other Prince Charming Standing to My Right Peter Aquino The Stickiest Honey Amber Koneval Regret Bill Hathaway-Clark A Child’s Ribbon Thomas Wells Tea Party Karen Johnson Echoes: Editor’s Choice Olivia Tracy Set Me Free Katharine Meyer Perfection Olivia Tracy Turbulence Peter Clapp Laughter of the Spirit Amber Koneval Sleep Jennie Babcock Dance Dance Jennie Babcock Where I Came From Katharine Meyer Ghost Stories Peter Aquino A Bridge to New Zealand Katie Hooten v
1 2 4 6 7 14 15 16 18 19 20 23 24 25 27 29
The Bar Brady Blackburn Seeking Something Brady Blackburn th 16 At Night Nick Smith Derick Kristen Wallace My â€˜97 Altima Brady Blackburn Wishful Thinking Elizabeth Lim Bird Song Kristen Cabanting Sonnet 2 Michelle Bailey Newsprint Fingers and an Arab Spring Rene Suleiman Las Trampas Mission: Editorâ€™s Choice Joshua Hardin Making Ourselves Vulnerable Amber Koneval How Do You Start A Sentence Without Words? Rene Suleiman Walking Thru Joleen Ngoriakl Miles Smiles David McIntyre A Transplant Thomas Wells The Nurse Speaks Angela Mercier Fresh Start Kristen Cabanting vi
30 32 34 35 36 39 41 42 43 46 47 50 54 55 58 59 60
Pocket Knives Thomas Wells Duck Lake Nick Smith The History of Trunks and the Roots of Wrists Peter Aquino Sentry Bill Hathaway-Clark The Number Ten Peter Clapp Buried Past Lena Hoff Measuring the Reactivity of a Soul Rene Suleiman Triangle Songs: Editorâ€™s Choice Angela Mercier Rose after the Funeral Angela Mercier
61 67 68 69 70 71 72 74 76
I was you once. Life was free.
Joleen Ngoriakl 1
To the other prince charming standing to my right You and I are interchangeable my friend. Our names never to be remembered; we are merely shells. Suits of armor picked out of a jar forced to do all the dirty work so that little girls can grow up forgetting how to be a shoulder to cry on. Our fairy tales Are prophesies that we will be murderers and martyrs We may not be held captive in a tower but we risk everything for princesses in hope that they may hold us just so we can be reminded that the cold steel we wear for days on end is not our real skin. We climb to the highest towers to forget how low our spirits are and we allow our names to be forgotten because we were taught from an early age that all we are good for is embodied in our right hands. Sometimes I wonder what the diﬀerence is between us and the dragons, because it seems both of us are typecasted into the imaginations of soon to be queens as sword and tooth – as if that is all we are good for.
I swear I was born a king yet you and I are forced to live life as jesters. If I throw away my life for your entertainment, will you love me? We give our all for women who have forgotten how good it feels to be someone elseâ€™s hero. Just like the damsels in distress we know who we are, we are just exhausted trying to show you. So next time someone says we donâ€™t know the pains of waiting forever for someone just let them know that they might be right, but at least they know they can let their guard down.
The Stickiest Honey your face is a stone sticking out at all the wrong angles unmoving, impenetrable blood ﬂushed on your polished crags I want to stroke your cheek without slicing open my hand and it seems impossible. I want to crack your jaw on a wedding beach watch you split apart, and crumple in; creasing at the seams where your lips part your mind from your body curling like a snake beneath those shale eyes that I can’t hold but I wish to as sure as my collarbones burn as they pass over them I want to hold your eyes on each side of my bridge so I can look into the mirror and see what you make of me more than anything I fear those eyes.
So I’ll apologize for things I never felt sorry for because, with your permission, maybe I can stop being afraid of you and be something else but I don’t trust myself with that decision. I’ll ﬁnd your aﬃrmation where you hint it, though because, as I’m sure you’ve heard, I’m rather impatient and I want your command, now even if you’re not sure how to shout it you can whisper it, in between the words neither of us will say as you wish and I’ll take anything you’ll give me (I just want to be able to look you in the eye)
Bill Hathaway-Clark 6
A Child’s Ribbon “I don’t even know what to say.” “Yeah well neither do I. Why’d you even wanna talk if you didn’t have anything to say?” “Well earlier I had all these things in my head that I needed to get out, but I guess those’ve all flown the coop (just like the rest of me).” His fingers rattled on the table one at a time as he cradled the phone between his ear and his shoulder. He closed his eyes and rubbed his eyelids with his fingers. “How’s Ben doin?” “He’s doin fine. Probably better than when you were around,” she muttered. “Okay now why you gotta say that?” “It’s the truth.” “It’s bullshit that doesn’t need to be said. I don’t care if you think it’s true or not, I don’t wanna hear shit like that. Makes me feel bad.” He slumped back in his chair and let his shoulders fall to his hips. “It makes you feel bad? Why don’t you ask our son how he feels? When he gets home every day he goes straight to his room. He doesn’t say two words to me until I call him down for dinner. He keeps asking why your chair isn’t at the dinner table anymore, and then he asks me why I’m crying. Dean, if you saw his eyes and heard his voice you’d know what I’m talking about.” “Well I don’t know what you’re talking about. You tell me to ask him how he feels and to look at his eyes? I don’t know what you’re talkin’ about because you won’t even let me see him for Christ’s sake!” “He doesn’t need to see you right now. Not like you are right now.” “A fuckin’ genius you are; you know that Syd? Tellin’ me I should talk to him and hear his voice and you won’t even let me see his goddamn face.” “You wanna hear his voice?” 7
“Yeah,” he sighed. “Well he just found your old tape recorder in the attic the other day and he’s been playin’ around with that. I’ll tell him that he can record tapes for you and I’ll send ‘em to you.” “Brilliant Syd. The one time I’ll be hearing my son’s voice I’ll be staring at two wheels spinnin’ a fuckin’ ribbon instead of seein’ his two eyes. Brilliant.” “You got a better idea?” “Yeah,” he yelled as he leaned forward in his chair and gripped the phone tightly, eyes glued to his shoes. “How ‘bout you let me see my son. You let me see my son so I can tell him I still love him.” A tear pooled in her eye and she quickly gasped, “I’ve gotta go Dean. I’ll talk to you later.” He heard the line die in his ear and he let the phone clatter to the table below. He wiped his eyes vigorously so no tears were visible. He curled his lips in and breathed in heavily through his nostrils. He snapped the phone back to its cradle and craned his neck so he could stare at the ceiling. “Daddy, please don’t go to hell. Teacher told us today that anyone who smokes cigarettes is not a friend of God. And she said anyone who’s not a friend of God doesn’t get to go to heaven. Daddy, why aren’t you God’s friend? I’m his friend and so is mommy. Ok. I guess-I guess that’s all I have to say this time. I love you daddy and I want to see you soon, but mommy says I’m not allowed to. Please tell her you love me and maybe then she’ll let me see you. And when I see you can we get ice cream? Chocolate is my favorite flavor now. It’s not as girly as strawberry; that’s what Connor told me.” “What kinda bullshit school you got my son goin to?” “First of all, he’s my son too, and second, it ain’t bullshit. It’s good for him.” “How can teaching a 6-year-old about things beyond basic emotions be good for him?” “What are you talking about?” “Well, first of all, he’s too young to be learnin’ about heaven 8
and hell and judgment and all that crap. And second, all he knows right now is that he has a mother and father who he rarely sees at the same time. Most 6-year-olds are learning math and reading and all that other shit, but our son needs emotions. He needs to see that there’s more than yelling and bickering between two human beings. If he grows up seein’ us fightin’ all the time he’s gonna grow up like all the other bastards out there. He needs to be raised by a mother and a father.” “You don’t’ know what he needs.” “Oh, and you do?” “Yeah, because I’m his mother and he’s living with me right now. So I make the rules.” “And one of the rules is that he can’t see his own father?” “He doesn’t need to see you.” “Goddammit Syd! Sometimes it’s not about what he needs; it’s about what he wants.” “He’s 6, he doesn’t know what he wants,” she blurted sternly. “Are you kidding me Syd? At his age the only thing he knows is what he wants.” “I’m not talking about this anymore Dean. He’s with me and the rules aren’t changing.” She slammed the phone on its cradle, crossed her arms, and wiped away her tears. He twirled the phone’s chord on his finger and glared at the phone as if expecting it to talk again. “January 7th, 1994. Mom told me I should always say the date before I start talking. I’m sorry cause I forgot to do that last time. Oh yeah, did you tell mom you love me? Because I still haven’t seen you and I told you last time to tell her. I bet you just forgot. Maybe you can send her a tape like I’m sending you. Then she can hear you say it, and maybe she’ll see that you love me. Umm I guess I’m gonna go cause mommy just made an apple pie and since I already ate my dinner I get a slice for dessert. Bye daddy. I love you.”
She picked up the phone furiously, nestled it between her shoulder and ear, and began to paint her fingernails a bright blue. “Does it give you some sense of pride knowing that you’re with him and I’m not?” “Is this really how you want this conversation to start, Dean?” “I don’t know how else to say it. It seems like you’re keeping him from me because you want me to suffer and you want to show Ben that you’re better than me.” “You know I don’t think that.” “No, I don’t know that. I guess there’s a lot of things I don’t know. I don’t know how he feels or how you feel. I don’t know what his eyes look like or anything! All I know is that he has a voice and I hear it every few weeks from a fuckin’ tape.” He heard nothing. “Syd? Syd? You still listening? Cause if you are you might wanna say somethin’! That’s usually how a conversation works; I say something and you respond.” “I didn’t make the decisions you made, Dean! I didn’t choose a life that separated me from my son!” “Okay stop. You think I chose this life? If I could have things any different I would in a fucking heartbeat, but I can’t do that. And you not letting me see Ben doesn’t help this life get any better.” Her hands loosened around the phone’s handle as she released a sigh. She screwed the cap back into the bottle, closed her eyes, and spoke as if forcing out the words. “In a little while I’ll bring him to see you, okay?” He closed his eyes and brought his mouth as close as he could to the bottom of the phone. “Thank you Syd. I just wanna see him. That’s all.” “I know,” she said. “He wants to see you too.” She gently placed the phone on its cradle and sat with her hands in her lap. He heard the click in his ear and smiled. He placed his phone on its cradle and pushed a tear out of his eye. “Finally,” he whispered. 10
“Daddy I’m really scared. Mommy was talking to a man on the phone and she started screaming and I was just gonna ask her if I could take a bath tonight and she turned around and started screaming at me. Then she hit my ear and I ran up here. I’m under my bed now and I don’t know where mommy is but I don’t want her yelling. It hurt my head and now my ear really hurts and it won’t stop. Daddy I want you to come home because whenever my head hurts you make it better. Daddy, I hear her coming up the stairs. I’m gonna turn this off cause I don’t want her to hear me.” She picked up the phone and tried to talk but he spoke before air entered her lungs. “What the fuck were you thinking? He glanced down quickly and lowered his voice. “Do you have an explanation?” “No.” “Well that’s great.” “I was stressed out okay!” “That’s a great excuse because stress certainly gives you reason to hit a –” “I never said it was an excuse!” She lowered her eyes and calmed her voice. “I feel awful, but work was terrible that day, I burnt dinner, the internet was down. Every little thing was going wrong and I couldn’t fix any of it. I was on the phone with Garry and he was telling me something I needed to write down. Ben started talking and I just flipped. For one single second I lost all control, but looking back on it that second feels like hours, Dean. He still looks at me like he’s scared of me. When will that go away?” “Why don’t you ask him? Better yet, let me talk to him. Give him the phone.” Ben held the phone with two hands and looked at his father with glassy eyes. “Daddy, why is there a window between us? And why are we talking on phones?” He set down the black phone and spoke, but Dean couldn’t hear him. He smiled and pointed to the phone and then to his ear 11
as his son understood the hint. Dean’s eyes watered and his lips pressed together tightly. “You gotta talk into the phone, buddy.” “Can mommy hear what we’re saying?” “Well she can hear what you say, but not what I say. And you can only be here for a few minutes buddy, so if you have anything important to tell me you should tell me now.” “I love you!” he proclaimed. “That’s important, right?” “Yeah. That’s important.” “Daddy, I’m scare-” he began but stopped suddenly and looked at his mother. He leaned forward on the stool and whispered into the phone. “Daddy, I’m scared that mommy is going to hit me again.” Dean’s fist slammed down onto the table and his son’s shoulders shot back. Tears streamed down his face as he began to speak. “I’m sorry I scared ya son. It’s just hard for me bein’ on this side of the glass. Your mother’s on that side with you and some days I wish I was on that side, but I don’t wish your mother was on this side. Some days I think I should be with you and some days I think I shouldn’t. I know that I’m here for a reason and one day I’ll be out and able to hug you again. Your mom loves you son, and you shouldn’t be scared of her. She didn’t mean to hit you and she’ll never do it again. And I promise you when I get out of here we’re gonna get ice cream together. I promise you. But for now you can get ice cream with mom. She’s just as good at getting ice cream as I am. She may even be better.” “Daddy, how long will it be till you get out?” “Well, let’s see… I’ve been in here for 6 months and the judge says I have to stay here for 5 years so that means-” “That means you have 54 months left!” Ben exclaimed with a smile. Dean unfolded his fingers quickly and counted under his breath. “That’s right son! Boy, you’re gettin’ pretty smart there.” “We have Math at the end of the day every day because teacher says it helps our brains to stay active until school’s out.” “Is that right? Well it sounds like your teacher is doing a good job.” 12
“She is! Sometimes she smells kinda funny though, but I think that’s just because she’s old.” A smile cracked across Dean’s face and his wife laughed with him. Seconds passed and she looked at her watch. She tapped Ben on the shoulder and spoke to him, but Dean couldn’t hear her. “Daddy, mom says we gotta go.” “Okay,” he began frantically, “just be sure she brings you back so I can see you again, okay?” “Okay Dad. I’m gonna make another tape tonight and it’s gonna be the best one yet!”
Karen Johnson 14
Editor’s Choice: Fiction Sometimes she could see it in the cave ceiling, the hand— no! It was the foot, the sole the same soft sand-pink as the palm, floating above her, slowly turning right to left. She had thought it was the hand and had reached up for it but she was too short and she had to climb up on the bed to grasp it. It was colder than she remembered, and she used it to stand up, her eyes suddenly covered by white fabric with flower embroidery. She touched this, felt the cotton in her fingers, and tugged on it and shook the foot—hand—as she always did, but nothing happened. So she stood there holding onto the foot and tugging on the fabric until she heard footsteps in the hall, and then she went under the bed and stayed there. She would look down from the ceiling to the walls, the stone blocking the door, her clothes that remained covered in fine dust. She felt the dirt moving through the cracks between her fingers and falling into the small trench she had dug there. She did not cry because the wetness made her see the blood-tears on the face of an eyeless man who said her name but who she didn’t know. His blood had covered his face, hiding their twin-noses, twincheeks, twin-eyes… he tried to bend and kiss her with his bloodtears running down his cheeks and over his mouth, but she pushed him away and cried out and he fell to the ground and she didn’t know him. She stood on the stone, looking down upon the dust of the ground. She reached out and tugged on the white fabric hanging from the ceiling and nothing happened. So she leaped and slipped her twin-face through the hole in the fabric, her big toe brushing for a moment in a pile of dirt and then only air. The juice was pushed from her eyes as the hole hit her throat, and as she swung to a stop, some drops slid down her cheek and one slipped off her nose and landed in the dust just beneath her sand-pink feet. 15
Set me free Set me free let me go Let me spread my wings and ﬂy away Fly away into the sky The big blue beautiful sky I want to view the world from an aerial view I want to feel the freedom of ﬂight I need to know what the world is like Take these chains oﬀ me so I can go free and see the world again Let me go so I can feel the wind under my wings again Let me go so I can see the world Set me free let me go Let my heart race so wildly That I’ll have to come home I’ll soar on azure skies I’ll ﬂy in deep blue seas I’ll touch the green grass of the valley I’ll shudder from the mountain top cold I’ll dance on the sand of the desert So… Set me free let me go Let me spread my wings and ﬂy away Into the big blue beautiful sky
I want to cry with rain To dance with the stars To sing with the moon To soar the clouds To see what freedom feels like Cause it is what we need Cause it is what we want Because it lives in us all we just need to bring it out Like a bird released from a cage Like father who gets to go home Like a heart who ﬁnally didn’t let go Set me free Let me go Let me spread my wings and ﬂy away to tell the world about… About freedom
Perfection Olivia Tracy 18
Turbulence At once, we level oﬀ and breach the clouds, Emerging from a blanket soaked in dew. Our hips are unrestrained, and legs askew We move about the cabin as allowed. The ride is smooth as satin sheets – the kind You ﬁnd in swanky shops – without a trace Of choppy air. A smile upon her face, She breathes a happy sigh and sits reclined. Again we hear the captain’s plaintive ring. I click the belt and buckle into place – Fastened low and tight around my waist – And stretch and tuck her head beneath my wing As I reﬂect upon the fast ascents And all the bumps that come with turbulence.
Laughter of the Spirit beads, round and plastic purple paint ﬂaking onto my nails unwinding from incessant, desperate use pressing the cruciﬁx into the palm to keep from getting distracted the chest, tight and tingling heaves with every Ave words of no and all meaning that pass through teeth but not the lips, they hiss with a constant hum as the silence becomes a monstrance the solitude; the Eucharist exposed People sob in the presence of the Lord they have said though out of love or guilt no one knows but no tears come. What comes is a bind, a constriction that seizes the gut and kicks it up to the throat and pushes it down to the knees.
What comes is a pain that pricks beneath the nail beds, stretching their eyelids to the sky with the knowledge that they can never close again without a severance What comes is a suﬀocation, a gasping for air in the depths of a well that is full but will never be ﬁlled drowning in an empty completion struggling alone to scale the cold brick, to escape home but what really comes is a joy. A laughter that begins in the belly to come to a boil in the soul bubbling behind the eyes until the body becomes a giant smile the kind of smile that shines down from the Passionate Cross blissfully broken and blessed so commonplace, it passes completely unnoticed by all but the altar, lit where an Infant gurgles and bunches the white cloth in His tiny ﬁsts and the laughing Spirit, housed in human ﬂesh and the quiet of the storm.
beads, round and plastic keep count of the number of times the laughing lips and the omniscient Babe kiss with chaste ecstasy each bead a plea for another measure of pure contentment amidst chaos each Amen a fulﬁllment of a contract a marriage of sin and the divine in the darkness of truth and all is beautiful all is sweet sorrow and all is well... until all that is left is the counting of beads, and a laugh.
Where I Came From From the depths of hell a heart rose From the heights of heaven a soul fell From the farthest corners of earth came together a human Full of hopes and dreams Full of sun and shadows Full of all the things that made her who she was A daughter A friend A lover She grew up dancing She grew up running She grew up human Human for she felt pain Human for she could cry Human for she could get back up again From the depths of her heart came love From the heights of her mind came wisdom From the farthest corners of her soul came life She emptied her heart for love She emptied her mind for others She emptied her soul for herself
Loving her family Loving her friends And loving herself at last
Ghost Stories I have always been obsessed with the dead and hip hop. Some try to tell me they are one in the same but I look at you And see otherwise. So tell me Do you believe in ghost stories? Because you move like one Your body twists as though it is not your own Your limbs are wills and last testaments They expose everything you have to lose in this world and everything you are willing to die for You see you give me hope for the skeletons in my closet with two left feet And you blur the line between my fantasies and nightmares ya you scare me. You make me realize I could never keep up, because I can’t even walk on the moon just yet, So how am I supposed to ﬂy? You once said I shouldn’t downgrade myself But as a breakdancer it is my job to get down But not 6 feet under like you can You see we both know what it is like to suﬀocate though. you and me are predestined products of our coﬃn heavy environments we are tombstones dressed like crooked caps Pirouettes disguised as headspins – We aim them at the ground to dig for ancestry. We are warriors Indian stepping because we grew tired of bloody knees 27
Hop scotch squares with dreams of being wood ﬂoors and mirrors some day of the ghetto dancing our way out of sidewalk cracks moving in rhythm to the emptiness in our fridges. I bet you have a boom box shaped heart Because now you are the spirit of the music, An apparition of the 1s and 2s The reincarnate of the break beats that tucked me in at night And you wonder why I can’t take my eyes oﬀ of you You treat the dance ﬂoor like a grave yard and tip toe as if your next plea will resurrect whatever it is That you try so hard to keep buried I bet you could do the thriller dance in your sleep girl You’re the only boogie monster I have ever hoped to ﬁnd under my bed Thoughts of the afterlife have never tasted as good in my mouth as when I kiss you You have dirges inscribed in your palms And you wonder why I can’t take my eyes oﬀ of you. Whenever you’re dancing with me I move my body like a heartbeat to remind myself I’m still breathing I only had to see you dance once To know to keep you in closed position To cling on to your skirts like you were the one destined to carry me across the river Styx Because I know you can phase out of my life: As easy as you ﬂoated into it. Kind of like a ghost story.
Peter Aquino 28
A Bridge To New Zealand
The Bar Whoa now; Tell me, what did I do now To deserve the cut-down Gospel you spew out? You wear that frown, Let down, Clad in that dark cloud, The only genuine emotion I know now. Surely you didn’t mean to demonize me, Terrorize me, disguise me, Or sentimentally sterilize me. So what did you mean by that? What did you mean when you spat On me, dogged me, told me to act Normal? But what is normal? Eating from a can While pleasing the man By trying to look formal? Your standards aren’t up to my value. Can’t you see I’ll never be you, See you, meet you, Or sink low enough to reach you? This is my decree To all these elitist freaks: These shoes you want me to ﬁll are too small for my feet. I stride long; I’d be nothing with pride gone, Yet even when I slip you say that I slide wrong. But here’s the truth, 30
For all those who need proof That I’m a societal anomaly known to be uncouth. Let’s go over it—I won’t kosher it: You set this goddamn bar so low that I tripped over it.
Seeking Something I wandered in the desert for some number of days, purposeless, starving, and angry. I wanted some inspiration, and none had come. I was lost. I met a man on the road, and I asked him for direction. “Do you know me?” he asked. “No.” I answered, for it was the truth. “Do you trust me?” I was unsure of how to answer the question. “Answer it honestly.” He spoke frankly, but I felt as though he had read my mind. “No.” I ﬁnally admitted. “And yet, you ask me for direction. You trust that I will direct you somewhere, or else you would not have asked.” “I trust you to lead me somewhere, but I have not trusted you with much.” I argued. “You have trusted me with that which is most important: your next step. Now, I may lead you astray if I so choose or perhaps I shall save you from this desert. The choice is mine.” I stared at this man, puzzled by his words. “Tell me,” he began again, “Does it hurt when you bleed?” My ﬁrst reaction was to be afraid, and I thought cautiously upon the question. “Do not be afraid, simply answer the question.” “Yes.” “You are wrong.” He said pointedly. “It does not hurt to bleed; it only hurts to be cut.” 32
“I don’t understand.” And in this I was completely truthful. “The pouring out of yourself will not cause you pain, only opening yourself up.” We stared at each other for many moments before he spoke again. “You have asked for direction, and I have given it.” With that, the man vanished.
16th At Night
Derick This is a diﬀerent hospital, A diﬀerent city, a diﬀerent year. But the smells and lights are the same: Sterile sickness and ﬂuorescent white. You are still here prickling my skin, Urging me to remember always. I am not the one sitting on the gurney being questioned By the nurse. I am waiting while he gets x-rays (For something minor probably) Sitting next to the soiled linen bin and remembering the screams And violent tears of your mothers and father and aunts. I can feel my heartbeat slow, and all there is Is the soft skin of my mother’s hand on my shoulder Squeezing me to her, shielding me From the pain and sadness and torture behind that closed door. This waiting room is diﬀerent. It is still daylight, not the too-hot spring night. There are no eyes, sick with curiosity, Listening to you die. There is only me and a nauseous expectant mother. Only me, knowing that no news I hear today will hurt me. No news can hurt me like your family hurt. Your mothers and father Your brother covered in your still new blood Your aunt smoking to numb what little feeling was left. No, today there is only me here to remember you. 35
My ’97 Altima Editor’s Choice: Poetry Well hello there. Girl, you sure look lovely tonight Should we get going to the – Oh yeah, this is my ride. You see, I’m just a college student; Good standing, blah blah blah, Which puts me in these holey jeans And this ’97 Altima. So that’s my story, should we go? Oh here, I’ll get the door. It only opens from the inside After I hit that wild boar. Yeah, just move that seat up. Oh, don’t worry about the stain. It was a crazy night involving roommates And way too much champagne. Don’t mind the bumper stickers, Especially the swastika. The neo Nazis had the former owner Of this ’97 Altima. Well let’s get on our way. Sorry, the ignition’s a little choppy. It just takes a minute because This key’s a copy of a copy. 36
Can you feel that? That’s chemistry, if I can be frank. Girl, we have more sparks ﬂying Than the shorted wires in my gas tank. You know, this car’s a real chick magnet. My friend once spilled corn and voila! Twelve juvenile chickens In my ’97 Altima. Just ignore the smoke ﬁlling the cab. It’s incense; I know, I’m ﬂirty. Did you know Penzoil has diﬀerent scents? This one’s called 5W30. Hey check this out! One tire is Too big for this automobile So I can make a right hand turn Just by letting go of the wheel! It seems I’ve warped the rotors, Which rubbed the brake pads raw. At the next light I hope I can stop This ’97 Altima. So tell me about yourself, About your job and why you do it. While you talk I’ll top oﬀ my oil; I’m leaking like ﬁve diﬀerent ﬂuids.
Yeah, this place is safe, We won’t be attacked by drunks. But if we are I happened to ﬁnd A handgun in my trunk. I have to admit, You’re super hot and I’m in awe. Maybe we should make out In my ’97 Altima.
Wishful Thinking You watch her carefully. She looks back at you with the same unwavering gaze. You can see strong emotion in her as she holds your eyes. Tears leak from the corners of her eyes and she blinks them away, sniffling quickly as though trying to take back whatever emotion had caused the tears in the first place. She tries to maintain her stare, but you can feel her slowly breaking under the force of your anger. Your anger and disappointment. The tears suddenly start again, more steadily this time. In every droplet that trails its way down her cheek, you can see her losing her will to be stubborn. She’s falling apart and you can see it in her eyes now. In the way they’ve stopped looking at you in defiance. Eventually, there’s no fight left in her. Instead, all you can see is guilt and desperation. She’s broken. You want to fix her, but you’re not sure you know how. Finally, you look away and you know without seeing her that she’s done the same. When you hear her voice, you cringe at how destroyed it sounds. It sounds as though she’s been torn to pieces and left to try to put herself back together. There was a time when that voice was confident and almost happy. You realize now that it was probably just a mask. Another one of those stupid façades that she always puts up. This voice that speaks to you is the real person behind the disguise. This thin, scratchy, quavering voice that says, “I’m sorry” is who she really is. You want to believe her. There’s nothing you would like better than to look her in the eyes and see genuine sorrow. But you know you won’t see that. After all, how many times has she said it before? Her voice descends to a whisper now. “It won’t happen again, I promise.” And you clench your eyes shut because you know that if you look at her, you’ll just believe her again. You know that if you look at her, see the tears streaking down her face, see the uncharacteristic emotion in her eyes, you’ll believe every word she says. 39
But you can’t help yourself. You look back up and see her, broken and desperate. You want to solve the problem, but even if you could, she’d never let you. So you stare at each other until you feel yourself giving in. Just like every time. You feel yourself believing her words. Her gaze is raw and unfiltered and it begs you to believe her. So you do, telling yourself it’s not like last time, or the time before that, or the time before that. You convince yourself that she’s not lying this time. Almost. As you’re beginning to believe her, you see the tears stop flowing and see that rebellious, confident persona slip back into place. “Never again,” she assures you, with a small grin. You turn away from the mirror with a frustrated sigh. You wish you would stop lying to yourself.
Kristen Cabanting 41
Sonnet 2 His head is a darkness, cold and untouched; A mind ﬁlled with dreams unknown to his brethren. Creative, and yet, neglected; as such is a mind usually treated with such irreverence. His heart is a lantern, a beacon of light, A warmth which confronts and penetrates the darkness. The ﬂickering glow shines into the night, But wanders still unseen with no sign of progress His peers know him not; no friend understands; And therefore he bottles his musings in hiding. Yet all that he needs is a kind pair of hands, A listening ear, and a reason for ﬁghting. An open mind, he will confess; A glowing heart, he will express.
Newsprint Fingers and an Arab Spring I watch the news speak the news feel the news chain-linked to the life-breathing world yet unlinked and drifting, the TV ﬂashing news blurbs ropes my wide eyes with thin string that I cannot tie to my ﬁnger so that I remember. I open my eyes and listen to the world sigh a stretching of arms and an Awakening and they’re calling it a Spring like the one in Prague and I believe them because I’ve seen in half-true dreams the young man who traces the jagged edge 43
of a broken city of a broken nation with gray puzzle piece shapes that hold their breath, waiting for the glue to seal the kindred cracks – and the young man sets out with his paintbrush and ﬁlls the sky with light so that they remember who they are and who they want to be Because remembering is like dreaming in ﬁne print and ﬂashes – the clenched jaw thrashes of a restless sleep pluck at the threads of my young man’s scene, the stretched arms of Spring fading out of my dreams. And I wake up tired-eyed and sad with ﬁngers that make gray newsprint marks on my wall – the ink cannot link together any words that have meaning to me. 44
But in all this news there is the unseen rose-tinted screening lens of a tired nation, their eyes as clear and wide as mine and covered with some worn-out blindfold of a sleeping mind, I tried to remove it ﬁngers heavy with the young man’s life and his paintbrush of light but all I could do was scratch at my eyes, empty and dry. It was an ingrown lie painted over my eyes and we were all pristine stock machines with wiped out memories, we saw our world’s past through smoked glass, we used our gray words to voice our concerns yet we couldn’t lift our arms to help bring in the Spring. So we let the news pass, like prints on a wall.
Rene Suleiman 45
Las Trampas Mission Editorâ€™s Choice: Photography
Joshua Hardin 46
Making Ourselves Vulnerable What does the opening of a body have to do with God? I grab a hinge of skin the thick hide that stretches over the sternum like a poorly constructed drum sticking on the bones like a sulking child who’s crying out to its mother-meat and pull and pull like a rubber band dripping with red syrup the tacky kind used in horror houses sweet, like a strawberry sundae in the sticky heat and pull until the rib-bones gleam like the white coat paint on a suburban home with a wrap-around porch a tire swing hanging from the axis articulation little ﬁngers clenching the aorta squeezing out their future as the seconds ﬂow drop by drop 47
onto my ﬁngers and pull until it rips down to the pelvis that empty throne of ivory its yearning sockets dry full of unsettled, impassioned dust hiding in crevices that cannot be reached by touch alone but only through pulling until the muscles ﬂex in the air tendons groaning with the sting of light where no light shines and my body shudders as the opening of it touches God the breath of Spirit that soothes the burn of vulnerability coating with a golden resin that stiﬀens with a sick sort of warmth that stretches the skin as it’s stuﬀed back in to stick to the skeleton 48
and breathe pieced back together freezing slowly with the memory of once being so open that God melted in
How Do You Start a Sentence Without Words? I never know how to start a sentence that will hold the weight of my chest steady though ﬁngers tremble and the wrist cannot tense to spread the clenching fear of an arm ﬂexed shoulder neck jaw and chest heart though the ﬁngers in trembling grip the pen to make red indentations and a callous on my right thumb; if only I could cradle with my heart like I do with the opposable thumbed nook crook home of my scratching ink stick that I sometimes abandon for the rain-like pitter patter and pressed ﬁngertips of keypads and wired slabs because I am an aching mother creating unsure children who live in ink on lined paper and in 12-point font on coded screen – are my words so abstracted that I cannot ﬁnd them a home? 50
I never know how to start a sentence that will connect me to the jumping live wire and strained threaded web the world balances on speaking to each other like neurons ﬁring at lightning speed or whatever rate it takes to be a hook already buried deep in my chest and heart bleeding out with the sparking tangled mess of cords and string I send ﬂying; if only I could start ﬁres in a heart with my heart like I do with the words I sing pull in and breathe out they catch ﬁre on the wind and my message smells like smoke and an aching soul ﬂames leaping and the world can only feel me pull me in and breathe me out – are my words so caustic that I cannot breathe without burning?
I never know how to start a sentence that will make me a mirror for the words engraved on skulls and heart wide eyes that can be x-rays to make a man transparent but for his chest and heart carved stone universals that cannot catch ashy ﬁre but glow red and smolder; if only I could reﬂect with my heart like I do with my mind in spiraling loops of circled question marks that my eyes swallow from deep pools of bottomless doubt kneeling without a chest or a heart drinking words like life itself but not life just a cold desolation without the veined thump of the red liquid feeling – are my words so barren that they cannot save a life? I never know how to end a sentence without a question mark to make my words sing
and ﬂy without the squiggled barrier that draws worry lines on foreheads tightened chests and hearts to sow them up with beautiful wings unattached and let them ﬂy free from inside of me; if only I could speak with my heart like I can etch words on the walls of my chest and heart my message is an army of winged words ﬂuttering in my chest and heart and I cannot breathe pull in and out through chain-linked chest and heart that cage my sentences – how can I start a sentence when I cannot speak a word?
Rene Suleiman 53
Miles Smiles The gun was so much heavier in his hand than it had been in the case. Such words as hammer, cocking pin, and muzzle were never going to leave his lips; they were alien, yet to be learned. The darkness had a pungency all its own, invading senses that humans had long since forgotten… It was all primal in a way, but it was run (as always) by the big daddy… Fear. His knees ached even on the soft white carpet. He had been careful to lay the tarp down so that it stayed that rich creamy color. His hand shook, even though the voices were constantly giving him resolve. He had plenty of time to think about it, the wellwritten note lying snugly on his father’s desk could attest to that. “Go on, there is nothing that is waiting here for you, there has to be more on the other side.” “What if there is nothing? What will happen if it’s too great a sin, what if it’s oblivion?” “You can’t wait any longer, you either do it, or you don’t, just remember what is coming back home tonight. You’re the only sane one among the two of them… Your parents will keep you here forever. You need to get out of this town!” The voices hit a climax. The same conversation ran through his head for the three trillionth time. The gun tasted of metal; it was the creation of millennia of hit-and-miss experimentation, the epitome of man’s influence on “home protection.”
He thought fleetingly of his friends running drills on the football field, slipping into each other’s houses through the back doors, sneaking beers from the old man’s freezer. His pointer finger retracted, the hammer thundered down, lightning followed the muzzle out into the dying rays of a gorgeous November day. It streaked along a chosen trajectory and carved a path through what had once been my friend’s head. A mile away, I lay sprawled on a couch, watching the dying November rays skirt down the side of my television. Years later, I still wonder what that dark room looked like, what it could have looked like if I had noticed my best friend was not at school that day. The first time I saw community was in the eyes of a hundred crying faces; the wave of shock I had ridden through the night I learned of Miles’ suicide left as soon as I saw my girlfriend’s face… to this day, I cannot forget it. The day’s classes were stopped, weeping teachers and students spread across the campus, talking to counselors, writing messages to our lost friend, and starting prayer groups. Nerds and cheerleaders sat alongside each other, jocks choked back tears as they listened to stories from an “emo” about Miles, any other day, they would be scrambling to push said emo into a locker (after all, Eaton, like most other high schools had its fair share of cliques, melodramas, and all-around human versus human dislike, the anti-community if you will). I roamed the halls like a ghost set to haunt the hallowed halls of Eaton High School for an eternity. I watched the unity of four hundred teenagers as they struggled to grasp a reason for a senseless act. In them, I found my community, as I continued through the next three years, taking tests, summoning up the courage to talk to girls, and living in a podunk town off the beaten path; I found what I had been missing. Clichés suddenly disappeared, people talked to you for no other reason than to see how you were doing, and my friends became my family just as much as my own brother. Loss brought love that I had never known existed; we were a community. 56
Miles was easily the happiest kid I had ever met, one of the best in my group of friends; everyone knew how much he had going for him: swimming all-star, the conqueror of both track and the classroom, a tenor for the school choir, and a chick-magnet if ever there was one. Though I didn’t know it at the time, he was the great connector I had with any sort of a community. I had been (and probably always will be) the psychologist of our large troupe of apparently random friends. I listened to their stories for hours on end and analyzed solutions to problems they found themselves in. I never had to for Miles; he was my only true release valve. After all that, Miles was my first encounter with what the counselor later described as bi-polar disorder; my freshman year was fraught with that set of words. After Miles’ death I could suddenly feel the pulse of our town. We were a group not because we lived close to each other, but because we lived in a place where people cared for one another, and would do anything for the others around us; we drew support from others… we drew support from our community. It took something on the brink of insanity to show me what life was truly about; it took Miles to show me (and in the end everyone) that community is everywhere, strength is everywhere. Miles was my release valve one last time. On the dark, rainy days of November, I will sometimes fall into a twisted sleep of nightmares, where that dark room is all that I can see, my friend prone on his knees. But, on the happy sunbleached days of May (Mile’s favorite month) I dream there are the dying rays of spring shining on for eternity on the misty peaks of the Rockies. Somewhere, that dark room is as bright as the pearly gates themselves. Somewhere, Miles smiles.
A Transplant If I could dispatch all your misery And inject it through each vein I wouldn’t waver or question the chance To alleviate all your pain I cannot see you saddened It depresses me as well I’ll take the heart that’s about to break And save it from unspeakable hell I’ll take it from your chest And lock it into mine Giving you the heart I had With same shape, blood, and design I’ll take your feelings too Problems and thoughts as one Giving you the love I had Showing you true colors of the sun My body may be useless As my soul is soon carved out My body, a shell, walking through each day Mired in fruitful doubt But you will now be thriving As joy bursts through your being My lifeless eyes will cry for you A loving soul worth seeing
Thomas Wells 58
The Nurse Speaks He’s gone visiting Nettleton: (it’s a straight shot down the highway where the sky is a kudzu net). But he will be back here again in three days, surely you can wait for the good doctor to ﬁnish sticking needles in mud-cast country children’s arms, please. There’s just a spot on your x-ray, dark like chocolate or faces, and it’s right well suspicious. Never know what’s lurking in your breast. It’s like sin. Never know.
Kristen Cabanting 60
Pocket Knives I pulled open the microwave door just before the bright green blocks flashed 00:01. My parents are pretty heavy sleepers but around 3 in the morning I really don’t want to risk waking them up. I pull out the plate and finish off whatever was left from the restaurant we went to last night. I honestly don’t know what I’m eating, but it tastes good so I keep bringing a full fork to my mouth. Once I’m done I put my fork and plate in the dishwasher and, without thinking, swing the door shut. A loud click echoes throughout the kitchen, but my seconds of panic soon secede. No one has awoken. I walk around to the front door to see that it’s locked. It is. I turn off the TV in the living room and the glow that covered the walls disappears. Moonlight creeps in through the window blinds creating small blue lines on the floor. I grope around for the couch and guide myself out of the room. The floor is smooth on my bare feet, and I barely lift them from the floor for fear of stepping on our cat. I stumble into the bathroom and flip on the light. My face flashes in the mirror and for a split second I feel like I’m not the only one there. I look outside the bathroom, but the house is empty. All I can see is blackness. I squeeze out paste onto my brush and run the bristles along my teeth and gums. The sound of foam and saliva is loud and I stop for a moment. I remove the brush, listening. I don’t know what I’m listening for because the silence is all I can hear. Anything really. I peek back into the hallway and resume my teeth brushing. I spit, rinse my brush, and pop my retainer into my mouth. I look back into the mirror and draw in a long breath. As my lungs compress I switch the light off. I walk into the door and it slaps the wall behind it with a loud crack. I grab it quickly to stop the sound and my breath stops. I exhale, again, and slowly close the door. I run my fingers along the wall and take taller steps than I did before. The floorboards 61
moan under my heels and I step on the balls of my feet to try and alleviate any sound. Finally I find where the wall turns and my hands run down to a handrail. I flick the light switch and a beam of light penetrates the darkness at the bottom of the staircase. I grab the rail and quickly descend the stairs. Once in the basement I step into the hallway that leads to my room to flick on the ceiling lights. I then take a few steps back to tap off the stair light. I walk down the hallway to my room and turn my room light on. I run back to the beginning of the hall and flip the light off (the electrician who worked in this house didn’t understand light switch placement.) Walking back to my room with its light as a guide I glance back towards the stairs with too much apprehension. Once in my room I press the button to power on my iPod and let the soothing music flow through my ears. I shuffle to the door, close it, switch down the light, and shuffle back to my bed. The darkness is overwhelming because there are no windows in my room. My air conditioning roars up and my eyes clench in surprise. As I lie there I recall the brief events before I came to my room. Eating the food, brushing my teeth, and checking the front door’s lock. I did check the front door, right? I play it back in my mind and I remember checking the door. I remember running my fingers over the lock, and making sure it was vertical and locked (as opposed to the unlocked horizontal position.) But I didn’t check the back door. My mom always locks the doors before she goes to bed, but I didn’t check it. She may not have locked it; but she almost always locks it. I can’t get over the feeling that it’s unlocked. Like a bug in my brain I can’t stop thinking about it. I could run upstairs quickly and check it. About a minute and I’d be back in my bed and comfortable with my mind at ease. But it’s got to be locked. Doesn’t it? Arrows and spears fly back and forth in my mind over this dilemma, but I know it can be solved with a simple trip up the stairs. I throw the sheets and blankets back and twist my legs out of bed. I flip on my room light and walk down the hallway (flip62
ping on that light as well) until I reach the stairs. I turn on the light and turn my head down at the stairs so I don’t have to look up into the bright bulbs. They creak under my feet so I ascend quickly. I can faintly see the doorknob and as my fingers wrap around it I see that the lock is horizontal. My head whips around my left shoulder and my breathing quickens. I turn the lock into its chamber and hurriedly walk back down the stairs. Walk briskly down the hallway (flipping off the light as I go) and close my room door behind me. The music is still playing in my room. I turn off the light, and hop quickly into my bed. I close my eyes trying to fall asleep, and I’m childish enough to count sheep jumping over an invisible fence. 1…2…3…4…5…6. I open my eyes and the room isn’t as dark as it was before. My eyes dart around the darkness until I see the light slipping in under my door. Did I leave a light on? I wonder. Again I argue whether or not to get out of bed, and I end up giving in to myself. I hop out of bed, run down the hall and flip off the light illuminating the stairs. I turn back towards my room-toward the hall-and I can’t see anything. I didn’t turn on my room light or the hall light. My mind quickly races. My first instinct is to turn on the hall light, but just as my fingers reach the switch something in my mind forces the image of a figure-a person-into the hallway. I flip on the light quickly; it’s empty. As fast as I can, I turn off the light and run into my room, flipping on that light, and shutting the door. Staring at my bed I map out exactly I’m going to get there. I turn the light off and dart under my covers. My legs and arms are burning but I don’t want to unsheathe them. I lie there, silent, and hear the low hum of the music I started some time ago. I don’t know how much time has lapsed since I first tried to sleep, but it seems like quite a while. Closing my eyes doesn’t help because my mind has already created every possible thing that could’ve happened in these minutes since I locked the door. 63
My first fear is that someone got into the house while the door was unlocked. If they did, where are they now? Are they upstairs? Are they in my parents’ room? Are they in my room? Where in my room would they hide? Would they come for me? What would they want? What would they do to me? Would they have a knife? Would they have a gun? Is there anything in my room I have as a weapon? I try my best to shut out these thoughts, but they constantly resurface. What if I don’t wake up? What if I wake up to find that my parents haven’t? I close my eyes and try to focus on the music. The soft sounds of violins and pianos are suddenly stopped as if my iPod had been ripped from its source. The sleep timer I set had run out. I rush out of bed to turn the iPod back on and just as my hands grab a hold of it I hear a scratchy voice whisper, “Why did you get out of bed?” My iPod slips out of my sweaty hands, cracks on my desk’s edge and falls to the floor. I’m afraid to turn around, but before I get the chance the voice whispers again, “I’m glad there aren’t any windows in here.” Petrified, I don’t know what to do. The room has suddenly become cold and my lip quivers. Quickly I spin around toward my bed, but I can’t see anything in the dark. I lunge for my bed, pulling at the sheets, and roll under them all. My breath is hot on my knees and my fingers are sweaty. Minutes pass but I don’t know how many. Suddenly my breath is silent and a chill runs the length of my body. I poke my head above the covers and look around my room slowly. As my eyes meet my desk I hear scratching coming from my closet. It sounds like fingernails being dragged along jagged wood. My eyelids and jaw tighten. The sound stops and the room is silent. I slowly turn my head to face the closet and the scratching beings again, but faster. I imagine fingernails on wood and my mind creates graphic images. Nails cracking and falling off. The bare skin of fingertips; bleeding. I squeeze my eyes shut trying to shut out the noise and the images, but it continues. I pound my ears into the pillow and the dragging finally stops. Then out of the silence a rustling noise arises as if someone was dragging their dry palms 64
down the door to my room. My eyes shift to the door and the noise ceases. Now that there is no noise I don’t know where to look. My eyes shift around the room until the silence is overcome by a ringing in my ears. It is very faint, but once I focus on it, it’s all I hear. Minutes pass and I still don’t fall asleep. I can’t fall asleep. I keep my body concealed by the sheets and blankets but my head remains exposed. The silence is again broken by a faint knock on my door. In steady beats of three, it sounds like knuckles being tapped against my door. There is a long pause between each set of knocks. I begin to grind my teeth (to ignore the knocks) and try my best to stay put, but the knocking on the door doesn’t stop. I keep hoping it will go away, but it doesn’t. Slowly I swing my legs over the side of the bed with the covers still on. I sit up straight and think about my desk. I know in the top right drawer I have my pocket knife. I throw back the sheets, scurry to my desk, and fumble through the drawer for the knife. Once I find it I open the blade and hold it tightly. I walk slowly to the door and place my hand on the knob. The knocking persists. I knock back to let them know that I’m here. The knocking stops and I can hear breathing. I whirl open the door and hold the knife out next to my ear, ready to strike, but there’s no one there. I contemplate turning on the light, but images seep through my mind of every possible place someone could be standing. I put my hand back on the doorknob to return to my room, and just as I take a step back the voice cries out, “Keep coming.” Quickly I slam the door shut behind me and gaze down the hallway. The voice speaks again, but this time in a whisper. “Should I go see your parents now?” it says as if being choked. Quickly I run down the hallway and slam my hand on the wall to turn the lights on. They blast on and I can see the stairs. Suddenly the knocking starts again, but this time it comes from the back door. The same three knocks. With the same long pauses. I roll my knife in my hands and see the blade shimmer in the light. I walk to the stairs and switch on the light. I look up to 65
the door and the knocking persists. The closer I get to the top of the stairs, the louder they creak under my bare feet. A loud noise sounds behind me as if my room door had just been slammed shut. I jolt my head back and as my eyes meet the floor another noise begins softly. It sounds like a knife blade being dragged on the wall coming up the stairs; towards me. I look at my knife and it is in my hand, at my side, but the noise grows louder and gets closer. I run up the remaining stairs and dart into my kitchen. The knocking continues. As I crouch down near the oven the knocking turns into pounding. I crawl toward a wall collecting dirt with my palms. I reach for the nearest light switch and flick it up. No light. I pull it down and toggle it, but nothing happens. The sound of the scraping knife comes out of the stairs and slowly moves towards the kitchen. I toggle with the light switch faster and faster and the sound of the knife stops abruptly. The voice comes back in its original scratchy tone, and whispers in my ear, â€œThis will be more fun in the dark.â€?
Nick Smith 67
The History of Trunks and the Roots of Wrists Because of the written word, no tree shall ever die in vain. In vain like the veins running across the roots of my hands for they are trees wise and old constantly releasing the fruit of my knowledge like suicides cut down from branches I write on dead trees to show the world I exist. For even in eternal slumber, the pages of their springs and the ink of my winters shall forever hold the only proof we as humans were ever capable of love and destruction; the wings carrying the burden of our dreams shall be made out of twig and leaf. Trees wish to die. They only grow To try and touch heaven; to reach out for a better world, to not have to worry of being stripped barren. Imagine if trees could cut themselves. What would they etch onto each other? With branches like razor blades, what would they spill onto their wrists? You see trees are not capable of suicide. Humans take care of that for them. But it is a poetâ€™s job to keep them alive.
Peter Aquino 68
Bill Hathaway-Clark 69
The Number Ten Listing all the lovers of my past, I’ve no more digits left to count between My right hand and my left. Is she the last? Thinking on her lines and curves unseen, I mark the hours one by one until I’ve no more digits left to count. Between Soft kisses, she takes breaths to ﬁll The rising contour of her naked chest. I mark the hours one by one until The night is spent and we go to our rest. If ten is perfect on a numbered scale, The rising contour of her naked chest Takes exponential steps beyond the pale. I hold her arching body, tight within. If ten is perfect on a numbered scale, The ﬁnite set commits a timely sin: Listing all the lovers of my past. I hold her arching body tight within My right hand and my left. Is she the last?
Lena Hoff 71
Measuring the Reactivity of a Soul you touch your spaces ﬂexed bonds and open planes that I travel with telescope eyes and a mind hungry for knowledge and the small things and you ﬂoat in quiet symmetry arms open in a simple geometry that waits to bend or break and I sketch your angles with eyes of charcoal wondering at the ease with which you can be and you dance with the world rotating and changing shape ﬂickering charges that repulse and attract and I watch you with eyes sparking rainbows and remember how beautiful you are
and you resonate ﬁnd static equilibrium within yourself your smile is stable but strained and I ask with a tender curiosity the reason why you bend to break your lonely state and you touch my spaces slowly and I begin to change to know that a shape unstable spits ﬁreworks of probability and reacts to ﬁnd a dynamic ever-breaking equilibrium it is a soul on ﬁre and at peace – and I feel the world breathe, feel it shift within me.
Triangle Songs Editor’s Choice: Poetry It’s all so busy. Close your eyes. It gets dark, right, and sometimes splashes of silver are ﬂoating. Keep them closed. I see shapes in my darkness. My grandma used to tell me that there were worlds of stories inside my head, but I think that hospitals and tornadoes that ride in on still orange-gold nights and the hummingbird which smashed into my aspen-reﬂecting window and the tangled dirty beard of a man with no place to live but with a cup and a triangle, metal on metal: DING DING— DING, this song has erased my stories, my worlds of steam-ridden jungles and adventures into lightless caves with dragons, maybe, or an ancient lost treasure, fading to dust—can you see these with your eyes closed? I cannot imagine anymore, so do it for me. The words of my stories are just words, beautiful ﬂowing words 74
stringing down to the center of the earth and going to maybe a star because the moon seems too cold and life is already cold. If you try to imagine love for me you’re brave like kids swinging so high at the playground they tip. Love might be stuck in the man’s tangled beard or a poem written for a dead hummingbird, which never stopped ﬂying because that was the last thing it knew and love cannot change that. Stories of love have fermented behind my eyes, and much as the world would scratch them away I cling to shreds and fragments. Without them all that’s left is voices behind my eyes, silvery silent ones. You can open your eyes.
Rose after the Funeral
Angela Mercier 76