BUFO 2012 - 2013
The Literary Magazine of Western Reserve Academy
The Literary Magazine of Western Reserve Academy
2012 - 2013
BUFO 2012 - 2013
EDITORS Claire Ilersich Becca Cartellone Abby Hermosilla & Alex Fellows FACULTY ADVISOR Jeannie Kidera STAFF Alex Fellows Dori Fenyvesi Camry Harris Eilidh Jenness Lauren Kolar Hannah McKenzie Daniel Miller
Mary Moon Michael Nichols Mitch Pollock Charles Prendergast Darlene Seo Jillian Stacy Taryn Washburn
SPECIAL THANKS TO The Dadsâ€™ Club The Pioneer Women The Green Key Society Sam Clark
hen compiling BUFO, it is important to: be decisive, eat loads of candy, and ask for favors. In times of battle with technology that seem to predate the magazine itself, we were lucky enough to gain help from the wonderful Abby Hermosilla (who will become a chief editor next year) and Sam Clark (editor of the Reserve Record, a publication far inferior to BUFO). The publication of the new BUFO magazine marks another year gone. Each magazine is a time capsule, in a way. This one marks our final year on the BUFO staff, and as students at Reserve. We’ll miss Ms. Kidera (kid-air-uhh) and her apple fragrant room. Hopefully, we’ll look at this issue years from now and look on with fondness and appreciation of the wise words written by our peers. We’d like to give a big thanks to every staff member (please, stay away from all those maybes!) and wish luck to Abby Hermosilla and Alex Fellows, who will be taking the reigns of BUFO. Finally, we present the new issue of BUFO. Read on, my friends. Lick and enjoy! Claire Ilersich & Becca Cartellone
Bufo, a journal of young creative writing, is distributed annually by students at Western Reserve Academy, and was published in 2013 by Michele Scourfield of Hudson Publishing. This edition was printed using the Palatino Linotype typeface. Editors can be reached through Bufo Advisor Jeannie Kidera c/o Western Reserve Academy, 115 College St., Hudson, OH, 44236.
CONTENTS 2012 - 2013 POETRY Noor Alali, The Key of Life Daniel Miller, Religious Sects Tiffany Wang, Germinate Hannah McKenzie, Remains Eilidh Jenness, PB&J Tiffany Wang, Gentleness Daniel Miller, The Eye Claire Ilersich, This One is for You Darlene Seo, The Language of Lovers Michael Nichols, Heritage Taryn Washburn, The Trio Emily Wise, A 36 Hour Plane Flight Trenton Pacer, Cursed a Mother Darlene Seo, On the Edge of Seventeen Camry Harris, Graffiti Max Rosenwasser, Only Celluloid Claire Ilersich, Witness
10 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 21 22 25 26 28 29 30 31
ART Camry Harris, Rocks With Fishes Abby Hermosilla, Bird Call Claire Ilersich, Sithara and Katy Ann McArn Jenny Xu Matt Hard Taryn, Champagne Lauren Kolar
34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41
FICTION Mitch Pollock, The Navigator Abby Hermosilla, Poland, 1939 Eilidh Jenness, Baited Trenton Pacer, A Sparrow Abby Hermosilla, Seasonal Saplings Sam Clark, Lady Liberty’s Runner Up Dori Fenyvesi, The River
44 47 48 50 52 53 55
Cover art by Camry Harris ’14
The Key of Life
he wind blew between the large space of my twiggy legs, chilling my maraca rattling bones. And the horse gallop clattering of my teeth. Together, they made a symphony. As I ate my daily breakfast of porridge, my fingers wrapped around the silver spoon, like vines suffocating a tree, I realized my breakfast and I shared the same skin tone. An unhealthy, tooth colored hew. The rose colored pink shading of my cheeks vanished, as if it were a drink, sucked up a straw. My lips resembled dried apple bits, stitched tight, as if I had bitten into a lemon. Never smiling, nor laughing, barely speaking. The cozy fire that is lit in many hearts, a radiator of heat, giving off warmth and emotion, had been extinguished by the harsh and cold wind, a dictator, an icy glare, that rattles and clatters my bones and teeth. But, it was the discovery of this lonely and secret garden, a beautiful flower, left unattended, unwanted. A head of tangled locks of hair unbrushed. It was a mirror, beholding my toothpick like frame, porcelain body, breakable, and my ghost white complexion, reflecting my unpleasant balloon knot of a mouth and glare.
I was faced with a miserable disaster, like a tsunami, crashing on my world. Who is this sickly young girl? With a deep crease in her brow like her grandmotherâ€™s. As I found the key to this magic secluded garden, it was not to unlock its gates, but of my life.
n your knees, eyes closed, awaiting some revelation to pass your lips like a sudden sea breeze. Amongst the incense, the lulling, Latin phrases, you step into line to take Him in your mouth. Your brow was washed in the basin – you’ve only gotten dirtier since. Your hands clasp tight huddled beside the grate – tell the dealer when you came last so he can adjust the dosage of your absolution. Put on the collar, wear it tight as a reminder that you can’t be a missionary until you’re married.
ingers intertwine, bodies begin to take root. Snaking below us, through the soft white bed. Tangling in knots and gnarly arms of tentative anchors to absorb nutrients from memories, accumulated over time. Here, solely for this purpose. Last night your face gleamed, pulsating in the blue light. But now, buds formed across our hands and faces threaten to burst. Inflamed to bloom, quick but gracefully, efflorescing upwards in one fluid motion of content dizziness. A warm sliver of sunlight ticks across the room in a clockwise path. It seeks to sweep uneasiness out the front door.
t’s the lingering taste on your tongue after having pineapple and milk: sour, bitter. The momentary feeling of “I’m going to die” after jamming a finger, clenched mouth, and shaking off the pain. Although this sickening sense doesn’t feel momentary: can’t be shaken off and pushed aside. Forefront in the mind cognizant of its nauseous presence, this pessimistic creature lurks. It waits. Preying on fear and worry and pressure and hopelessness until there is nothing left, and your body is no longer human but crumpled and torn into shards of defeat and shattered promise.
ou perched near the window, picking the skin from your fruit-punched, sun-split lips, the spitting image of youth. We had none of it, no neon skipping-ropes to jump or fast food paper crowns to wear. You smiled, plucking, dumb. I offered to make you a sandwich with cheap white bread. It tasted no better than your cheap white flesh. (I wrote a Jesus reference in my head.) I used the donated peanut butter that sat open on the counter, a sticky mixed berry jelly jar near the sink, and a found knife that lay cutting the cool, dusty corner where no one ever looked. You ate standing at the sill, examining the pane, seeing glass and nothing past. You were so close, Bird.
’ve studied the way your fingertips softly graze the tips of dandelions, observing your kind touch bending the heads. Surrendering, the seeds detach, and the wind carries the tiny parachutes sweetly towards the sweating grass. I think that’s called gentleness. “Have you ever wept over a song?” Why yes, in fact, I’ve wept over a song, a speech, a hello, a goodbye, over a flash of some teeth. Next. What do I want to be? You mean when I’m a couple inches taller, a few years older, a handful of woolly memories of sunsets later? Take your pick from my collection of pickled dreams. Bobbing in jars of formaldehyde, people turning their noses up at the acrid smell of embalmed ambition, pungent in its preservation. But that’s what you’re for. You, who sloughs away at the disease wrapped around me that is negativity, polishing me to the point of odorless gleaming. You, the clement caresser of weeds. You, who plunged into the darkness of a cloudy night just to greet me in the light of a new day.
y first instinct was ‘run,’ followed quickly by ‘approach,’ so I stood stock-still. Its eye peered out at me from behind a steel grill, bars for its prison. Whatever had put it there had taken away its mouth yet I could hear its ragged breath through clenched teeth. I think its leather, patchwork skin had been attached after the first torture; being cooked in its cell, hands pressed to the bars to melt together, a compound of criminal and punishment. Its prosecutors - pyro-welders. I looked closer and saw their coup de grace; the bare pupil. The skin sewn over its iris and folded inwards, the stitches lazily overlapping. It had been wide-eyed when it happened. No trial, no body to be shown. It was a crime to be a prisoner while there was still steel and furnace hungry to be fed.
This One Is For You
ou stood, torn between two lovers, as I tried to hide behind your hipbones. You spoke, “you cannot know this love.” She looked like your mother, twenty years ago, draped in blue with a face like a mountain-etched and stable. That could be you she holds. That could be you behind us, crouched like beans, looking like they lost their loves. I can no longer stand, my body is bruised, battered with blue. Come with me, Carlos, and we’ll forget about the bullet. Follow my body, and we’ll leave them behind.
The Language of Lovers
Embarkation It started when you smiled at me, coming from the other end of the street, with baby green grass stretching out on either side of you and sunlight pouring down like orange juice into a clear glass. You said Hi, and I repeated. That night, I whispered into my pillow - amaryllis, scintilla, incandescent. II. Cirrus, nimbostratus, noctilucent was what I told you at the park, on the bench in front of that pond, with my head on your lap and forefinger pointing to the high and cerulean blue. You thought they were beautiful words, so you bent down to taste them in my mouth, the rich sweetness dancing on my tongue. It was as if there was nothing in this world but the sky and you. Contrail, you replied, and chuckled. *embarkation: To set out on a venture; commence *amaryllis: the name of a flower whose meaning is “fresh, glowing” *scin•til•la : a spark; a flash. *incandescent: glowing *cirrus: a cloud of a class characterized by thin white filaments or narrow bands and a composition of icecrystals: of high altitude, about 20,000–40,000 feet (6000–12,000 meters) *nimbostratus: a cloud of a class characterized by a formless layer that is almost uniformly dark gray; a rain cloud of thelayer type, of low altitude, usually below 8000 feet (2440 meters). *noctilucent: (of high-altitude clouds) visible during the short night of the summer. *contrail: a visible condensation of water droplets or ice crystals from the atmosphere, occurring in the wake of anaircraft, rocket, or missile under certain conditions.
III. Epythymy. Your big, handsome guitar hands pulled away the white sheets that enveloped me and traced my sides, pacing over the path of my belly and running far down to my thighs, parting them. As you pushed your way into me, you told me the three words I wanted to hear: kismet, asphodel, elysium. IV. No-Word-Big-Enough The way you took off like that, all cool with no-regrets kind of goodbye, was just a little hurtful. The sick in my stomach crumpled up into a ball until it rushed out in a hideous spasm - cigarette, cigarette, I repeated, savoring the bitterness as the crude consonants sizzled and stung the walls of my mouth. Then, its subtle heat vanished, leaving a stain of a burn on the tip of my tongue, like the last kiss you left on my lips. *Epythymy: a lustful desire *Kismet: fate; destiny *Asphodel: An immortal flower said to grow in the Elysian fields. *Elysium: 1. The place at the ends of the earth to which certain favored heroes were conveyed by the gods after death. 2. A place or state of perfect happiness *Cigarette: a thin cylinder of finely cut tobacco rolled in paper for smoking.
lack African flesh, steaming under the humid yellow iris calls out in proverbs and rough, clipped gestures. Look closer at me. See the white in my teeth, my tongue washed in palm oil thick and sweet, and my hands grasping yams and guns and little childrenâ€™s hands. Look at me and see my people. In my anger, see the parched path of survival we have walked. In my offerings of sacred Kola nut and crumbling alligator pepper, see our hope in Ani, the Earth goddess; and her womb, pregnant with the new year. Under the rain-brought stillness in my hut, hear the gentle breathing of my wives; know this is how we are on bright nights and feast days stretching up to the sky and stars our African existence, in song, in dance, in strength, in children, in war and birth. In peace.
esterday I took a walk and happened upon three figures. They lay in a heap, tangled and tied, grappling at each other in angst. The first was a chair, proud, tall, and dark; small tones of crimson shown through her fine lines of age. The years had been kind to her. The second was a sheet, spiteful, bloodstained, and frayed; she shrouded others in hopes of stealing their splendor. She was distasteful to look upon. The third was a length of twine, splitting, waxy, and rat-like; he helped the sheet restrain her victims as she defamed them. He was the only lover the sheet could find. I stopped in front of this trio at where they lay in the pile and watched as the chair strained to escape her ensnarement. The pleading flash of her eye tore me apart, and I had but one choice. I reached out to help her, but the second I got near the twine darted up and caught my wrist.
“Would you like to join us?” he hissed. His voice was drier than bone. “Yes!” screeched the canvas, “Join us, join us!” She lifted her edge to invite me closer. “Why do you cover this poor chair?” I asked. “What has she ever taken from you?” The canvas cried out, “Just a filthy rag am I!” I tore my hand away from the twine. “Did you ever think that this poor chair may have had a life before you?” At this the chair wailed and thrashed to no avail. “My life was flawless before these fiends trapped me! I have been a guest at grand parties and laughed at grand jokes and been prized for my hand-crafted finery! freedom is impossible, I have tried to escape! Please, leave me here, for I am sure I have begun to rot beneath this vindictive cloth!” I didn’t want to leave her, I wished for her suffering to end.
I didnâ€™t want to leave her, I wished for her suffering to end. But there was nothing I could do. The opportunity to save her had long passed, and for too lengthy a time the sheet and the twine had restrained her. And thus, heart sunken, I took one last look at the sorry trio and continued on my way.
A 36 Hour Plane Ride
want to watch the sun’s kiss fade from the tips of the buildings. To drown in the thunder of the city lights. I want to breathe the noise and the music, to dance light footed with strangers. To grasp each second by the throat and shake out the laughter. I want to fly between the snowflakes and lie in Christmas morning-To feel the tickle of the fire’s flames along my skin. It’ll throw me through the reasons I grew so quickly, I’ll scream in pain, Clothes hugging me tight and a crown upon my head, that only my tiptoes can reach. The sand will ache through my dreams, the heat from sun not from fire. I’ll find my greatest fear, not in absence, but return. Still, I want to watch the seasons change; To sink into an accent of money and expectation. To strive, to challenge, to push, to achieve But, to come home I want to finish strong, breathless, heart hammering, on my knees. Fall into the arms of those that waited. For each touch that will graze my own will bleed through my eyes.
Cursed a Mother
efore the mirror, the shadows of her red-pocked face glowed like forgotten embers revived by the wind. Her fire was not yet snuffed, still drowning in the voice below. She confined his every finger to its cell in the glove before banishing this child to the reprieving, fair bus that compassionately relieved her of five mornings. Unexpected dimness smothered the light of morning until she realized that she deprived the clocks’ faces of their holiday some night before. A bureaucratic bus had already blown all the ticking hands back by the wind of its passing before the woman fixed the defunct gloves on the clocks now confronting her in their accusative voice Not once during that extra hour did the boy allow his voice to expose his mother’s blunder as he watched the morning stars slowly fall away. He dangled there, a single glove unloved without its match. Coldly cursed with the face of a father he never met, he caught flakes from the wind with his tongue as they were being unloaded from some bus above. Seeing his breath, the boy’s mouth became a bus’ exhaust pipe as he made it spew fumes instead of the voice he was repressing. Back in bed, his mother repressed a wind of sudden recollections of the man that left her that one morning. Many years she had tortured herself to remember the rough face that exfoliated hers for the entirety of one night. He had no glove, but she still let him on the chair lift. He skis better without gloves he told her. After their trip together, he took the one-way bus from the slopes down, never to return. Weeks later, she faces her mother, begging for guidance on that which still lacks a
Distraught with disbelief, the mother frigidly replies that the morning after she should have taken a pill. Simply left to batter the wind, she eventually resolved to endure the nine months of winds. Rejecting the other half of it all, she denied the missing gloveâ€™s existence up until the day the boy came here in the morning. Inferring his malice, he pummeled her to nothing like a bus would an innocent pedestrian. That day she lost her voice; he calls it his â€œbirthday.â€? She hates his tiny, mocking face. Against every bitter wind, the boy became an unrelenting bus, never letting the scorn of being a lone glove show in his voice. Eighteen years to his morning, he dashed in search of his own face.
On the Edge of Seventeen
he sky smudged into a shy pink as it wrapped the sun, already skinny-dipping across the horizon. We met just in time to watch the moonlight sit on the swings, coast down the slide, and crash into a million pieces on the sand. As our glasses tipped, the moon tilted steeper to fill every tiny cup of blue blossoms along the waterfront, its intoxicating beam splashing at their brims. Swooning in the night, the happy dolphins frolicked at the surface of the sea, and the waves stumbled onto the bay, sending us the ocean breeze, heavy with salt. It tickled our red noses and cooled our flushed faces. Before we knew it, the sun had sobered up and peeked out from behind us. As its morning rays groped the shore for the clothes it had stripped off on a whim last evening, we sat laughing a little louder than before until the earliest tailwind whisked you away.
umbling, young, and unarticulated They knew they liked the sound Of one anotherâ€™s voices Struck sideways looks and Chaste dragonfly eyelashes Fluttering along with The stuttering of their Primitive communication They met on the rocks again Thinking themselves rebels Breath popsicles Speaking of Romeo and Juliet Never having read the margins Perching upon graffitied walls Hummingbird lips Peachy keen until the construction Workers shouted to get down
he scene opens onto a lonely street in a small town. Lighting: the pumpkin glow of methodically spaced street lamps accompanying the waning autumn moon; all else is dark. [Enter a boy, protagonist] With his hands casually tucked inside his pockets, he strolls down the uneven sidewalk as if it were the stairs to Heaven itself. The near-November chill whips his scarf behind him, but only emboldens the taut frame, firm like Jason tearing through the waves. His grin kindles the embers burning bright and alleviates the night. “We are young, we are strong,” trumpets the soundtrack, “we are free.” But the protagonist is just a boy, the set simply a street, the soundtrack only headphones. His fire flickers on the verge of extinction and he heads not to Heaven but to the gallows. The play is nothing more than an act; only celluloid.
silver coin in your mouth and hand, the crack of a cap, a song, familiar. My spine, curved and uneven presses into a wicker chair. Your shoulders are slumped-rounded like mounds of dirt. You are trying to look like your father, with his heart pumping ash and a burning tongue. I cannot help but think of cherry pie and coffee, or bodies in plastic. The mechanical sound of hollow birds puts me in a state of fermentation. I cannot tell if you are trying to kill me because I am part wolf and sparrow and not fully your own. The sinful moon hangs on a gallows but makes your body look holy. And there it is again-pull out the gun and shoot-Iâ€™ll vanish.
Rocks With Fishes Camry Harris
Bird Call Abby Hermosilla
Champagne Taryn Washburn
he dimly-lit lobby was almost empty, illuminated only by a few overhead lamps, the orange glow of the fire, and an occasional flash of lightning. Outside the dusted windows was total chaos; rain pounded the glass like a frustrated child playing Whack-a-Mole. The rain was forever moving, swirling like the fake snow of a snow globe. A man sat alone by the fire, his tattoos running all down his arms to where he held a Rubik’s cube. His fingers were a machine, clicking the bright colors into place with each snap. The hotel manager gawked as he dusted the counter behind him. Suddenly, the door opened with a crash and rain peppered the green wool carpet. A man strolled in shaking like a dog slamming the door shut behind him. He looked to be in his thirties, with thin spectacles and even thinner arms. “Room for one,” he said to the manager, who turned to get the key. “What a strange day,” said the new arrival as he gazed at the quiet lobby. “I get caught up in this storm, blow a tire right as I see the glowing inn sign. And then there was that hitchhiker.” On that word, the fingers twisting the Rubik’s cube froze, and the tattooed man’s head rose slightly. “Strange fella... hair down to his waist, all matted with some gnarlylooking braids,” continued the man. “Scared me half to death!” With that, the manager had his key, and the visitor settled into an armchair in the corner of the room. The three stood in silence for a while, the man in the armchair reading, the manager dusting, the tattooed man endlessly solving and shuffling the cube. After a bit, the man in the armchair pulled out a cigarette and lit the end like a sparkler. A few embers floated onto the carpet. It didn’t take long for the meandering stroke to pass by the nostrils of the other guest. He took one long sniff, letting the gray cloud completely enter his nose, and the Rubik’s cube slammed onto the table. The man turned to the smoking man, his eyes bright blue with anger, disgust, and a touch of sadness. But the smoking man only caught a glimpse of the fury until those eyes stormed down the hall to their room. “What a strange guy.” “Didn’t say a word to me when he checked in,” the manager commented. “Only know his name’s Jason from what he signed the guest list.” “Strange... how very strange.” The man took another puff of the cigarette, the smoke billowing as if from a smokestack. ~ ~ ~ When Jason awoke, the first thing he noticed was the silence: no wind, no rain, not a sound. He was used to silence, but this was different. Not cold, concrete silence. It was warm, peaceful silence. He shoved the covers off his body and jerked his back to sit upright. The sun had shown its golden head again, and ray of sunlight flooded the tiny room. Jason pushed his body off the bed and slumped to the shower, nearly pulling the water faucet off as he released the floodgates. Ten minutes later he was out the door, tossing the Rubik’s cube violently into his left hand and back again. He put the key on the counter for the manager but kept on walking, out the door, through the dusted lawn of the inn,
MITCH POLLOCK and to his Jeep. Soon he was on the road again, heading west into the simmering It took only about ten minutes for Jason to see him. His bony arm was stretched out over the highway like a tree branch. The hair seemed to be everywhere, covering him like a wooly mammoth. He wore combat boots and overalls, and his half-tooth grin penetrated Jason’s mind. As he got closer, he saw a sign hanging from his neck that said “The Navigator”. Curious, Jason pulled to the side next to him and let him hop in the passenger seat. “Why, thank yeh, sir,” said the man with a cackle. “Been almost two days since anyone actually stopped. Been dyin’ ta hitch again.” Jason was non-responsive. “So where ya from, big guy?” said The Navigator, nudging Jason’s shoulder. “Houston.” “And what ya headin’ west for?” “Just goin’.” “‘Till when?” “The border.” And that was all that was said for the first hour. The Navigator played with the radio some, even tried asking some more questions, but Jason wouldn’t bite. After a while, the heat became too much, and Jason took off his jacket, revealing his tattoos. “Why, lookee there, gents! Those puppies run all the way down your arms. Don’t look like the best of parlors did it, though. Where’d ya get that bootleg ink?” Jason just said, “My friends.” The he went on to say, “You ask too many questions. Just shut up.” After another hour and more refusals by the Navigator to get out, the old man finally said, “What’s the matter wit’ you? Ain’t we gonna stop ever?” “Told you. Goin’ to the border.” “Why, hell, I know that, but why? Ain’t you got a family?” Jason hesitated, wiping sweat from his brow. “Not quite. Got a pa, but not much of one.” “Back in Houston, eh? That’s why you’re goin’ west? Why don’t ya just go all the way to California?” “Can’t leave the state,” said Jason just as the Navigator reached for the Rubik’s cube on the dashboard. “No!” he yelled, and yanked it out of his hand. The Navigator, shrugged and tried to light up a cigarette, but this made Jason even angrier, and he chucked it out the window. “What’s your deal, son? The tats, the daddy issues, the smoke, the little toy? Why?” Then it was like a tidal wave hit him, and he became a board. “Figured it out, did ya?” said Jason. “Yeah, I been in prison. Had some bad dealings with cocaine and some other rough crap. Just got out two days ago, but Pa won’t get the letter ‘till tomorrow. And yeah, he’s a smoker. Had it in my lungs since the age a 3.” “And the cube?” said the Navigator. “What, you thought twisting away the mistakes, lining up the colors on the cube would help ya with your life? Man, you’re more messed up than I thought.” “It’s the only thing that kept my mind sharp in the joint. Can’t
help it now.” The car was now approaching a town, and Jason began to slow. “This is where you get out-” “Now wait just one second here,” interuppted the hitchhiker, catching Jason off guard. “They call me the Navigator for a reason. I can, well, tell people where to go. Now look, I ain’t no fancy GPS device, but any idiot could tell ya that you’re goin’ west when ya need to go east.” He winked at Jason, still bewildered. “So you’re daddy smokes. So he disrespects you. He still needs a son, just like plants need water and I need rides. It’s who we are.” And just before he shut the door, he added, “I heard Houston’s nice in August.” The Navigator watched as he watched the maroon Jeep roll down the street. It went quite a while, slowly, before it turned around and headed out of town due east. The old man smiled, yawned, and as always, stuck his thumb out across the road.
nd crawling out of the ridges of my spinal cord, the venom soaked into the mattress while Karin stroked my hand once or twice as I slept. Distant pangs struck the hazing clouds drifting past the window curtain, and bullets continued to check off each young boy and girl between the eyes. All I felt were the tingles of creeping hibernation humming at the base of my toes, those entrancing heartbeats buzzing violently at the center of my back as they quickly passed along my sides with fervor. Outside, the raunchy mess swept the terrain with gritty, sunless spite, and combat punched the cobble stone roads into dirt paths tangled in a brute-peppered forest. I began to pray in that sweet slumber, although I had never stepped foot in a holy space once in my whole life. Nurses patted my body in all sort of ways, reporting my health’s status in mild retorts, yet God resided silently in a whisked pocket of sky, surveying the shedding of flesh and blood while tapping his fingers together. All I could remember was a swing of wind chimes dazzling the front steps of some widow woman tucked in the corner of the seacoast, pinching the stench of warfare with melodic strums to haunt our lives forever. She must have strung the tiny bells to send through the air an easy sigh instilled with hushing grace to calm the blood hammering at our veins, all whilst the twiddling of thumbs. I killed her, a straight-shot piercing her lungs, which seemed to bleed for ages beyond my own lifespan. Buckled in the uniform which clasped onto my body with such smothering assertion whispering into my limbs that it was ‘all for the cause’, I loomed about her house, absorbing the deed I recently executed for some eerie moments before an order bellowed in tremors and echos. The woman’s body sank wearily into the wooden floorboards and shortly, all that remained began to slowly rot away in the absence of a warm vessel to carry it, nurture it. Reacting to the sirens of panic, I fell out of the corridor, and into the city streets, which appeared more romantic than ever, gleaming with a glaze of frosting fog. Suddenly, men stomped past me, firing at bystanders. And at that moment, swirls of open air dyed in pinks and purples fell to my eyes and birthed a striking pain in my back. Some unseen hook sprouted from the cobblestone and latched to my chest, reeling me to the cold surface, smashing my face just before the widow’s doorsteps. I humbly bowed down to those slayed that day, sprawled across the sand-etched stone road beneath the wind chime’s song, trembling upon the chilling ground before Karin’s arms could fling me to undeserved salvation.
he bought the cottage for a few thousand dollars after her third husband complacently smoked himself to the yellowing color of a perch’s underbelly and died. She uses the word “cottage” to describe a rusting box of sheet metal in a small trailer park near the lake because “cottage” has a sweeter, more refined taste than the truth. Her marriage immensely improved the day his breathing halted; the arguments settled and her fantasies flourished without reality’s disturbing contribution. Free and alone, she imagines herself a passionate widowed passenger living in a boxcar on one of his miniature train tracks that encircled the back room of their old brick house on Main. She isn’t aware that she has a ticket all the way to where she began. Every morning, she rises early, poaches an egg, completes a crossword puzzle, and walks her dog Max to the beach, racing the minute hand to eight and slowing down if she gets too far ahead out of fairness. She is now a queen, nobly striding on swollen knees through the neighborhood of ugly families and retirees without retirement funds with her overweight companion prancing alongside her on a purple leash. Even if it were allowed, she wouldn’t consider taking Max off of his lead. He’d leave her estranged the way her human children did, too proud to listen to her counsel or maintain her ideals. Reflecting in the puddles on the pavement, the wrinkled lines across her face look like someone has tried scratching her out of a picture with a quarter. On their routine walk, she carries a shovel to the beach and covers the previous night’s washed up rotting fish with gravel and sand, a gravedigger at dawn. She shuffles across the rocks, concealing the corpses from the living. She combs the beach for sea glass to add to her collection: blue glass is a lucky find, brown beer bottle glass she throws back. When she returns to the cottage, she prepares a special lunch for one, watches an hour long soap opera, and reads one calculated seventh of the library book she checked out on Saturday. Max naps and eats one cup of the dog food she determined he likes the best, despite it being the only brand he’s ever tried. On Sundays, she watches the news on CBS and knits herself socks, talking to the newscaster about the people who have died and judging the quality of the lives that had been ripped from them by jealous lovers and natural disasters. She’d like to go to church but she doesn’t own a hat. The days fluidly merge together and she takes pleasure in the mundane mass of time she calls contentment. The dog needs to escape. When the toy boats on the water finally come back to shore and the lights in the windows go out, he hears others howling of wild lands beyond the wire gate. He saw a field once, though he can’t remember if the vast green space belongs in a memory or dream or commercial on the screen. Does it matter? He’s licked his tennis ball smooth. This Thursday morning sounds like gunfire against the cottage’s flimsy walls. Her aching knuckles tremor with each ricocheted rain drop. Max is gone from the hairy indentation he spent the last ten years hollowing out in the blankets she knit him. The screen door is unlatched. The woman inspects every square foot of the mobile home before collapsing on the faux wooden floor she installed alone. He should be waiting for her in the heap of blankets now, at 7:20a.m., waiting for her to come attach a leash to his collar and take him to the beach. The tension of his absence fills the
room and squeezes her joints. Max sprinted for the metal gate behind the park at 6:38a.m., when the sunlight seeping into the trailer illuminated the latch and let him free. He busted through the door in one attempt and fell down the plastic steps with exhilaration, amazed at how easy it was, as it had always been. His padded feet pounded the wet, black pavement as he ran faster and faster. He saw the tops of the spokes peeking out from behind the highest horizontal metal pole, envisioned his future, and jumped. She leaves the house at 7:45a.m. after carefully predicting the end of the storm. She walks down the steps gingerly, scared of slipping and embarrassing herself in front of the watching puddles. Without Max at her side, she awkwardly shuffles down the street, fearing she’ll run into someone and have nothing to say, no dog to introduce or pet to fuss over in the unfortunate case of human interaction with the lowlifes who reside there. She turns the corner of the last row and stops. The wire barrier sags with the dense mass of the dog’s dead body. He waited too long to leave; he couldn’t clear the fence in his old age. The nylon purple collar around his neck caught on the metal and held him there, causing the rough twists to dig through his fur and into his throat as his paws frantically tried to grip the slippery wire before giving out and dropping him to his death. She walks to him, grips his bloody coat with her knobby hands, and desperately tries pulling him off, whimpering “bad dog” with each tug. Her struggle only enlarges the holes in his flesh and deepens the wounds. Exhausted, she decides she can’t move Max, so she tells him to stay where he is. He listens. She walks back to the cottage at 8:15a.m., still muttering “bad dog” and twisting her wrinkled face in agony. She needs to make an egg at 8:30a.m. Inside the trailer, she goes about her routine, filling the bowl on the floor with a cup of his favorite food and turning on the television a perfect thirty seconds before her soap opera begins. She cleans her bathroom, as she always does on Thursdays, and reads the fifth seventh of her book. She settles down for a nap at 4:00p.m. and wakes up an hour later to make herself dinner. She showers, brushes her teeth, flosses, puts on clean underwear and her pajamas, and squeezes her small golden watch over her fat wrist before she shoves open the screen door and leaves so quickly she isn’t around to hear it slam. The sun’s last setting rays lead her to the beach, where dead fish are already starting to accumulate. The breeze off of the water pushes its way through the thin fabric of the flannel shirt around her shoulders and sends chills down into her hollow bones. She looks out to the horizon and sees nobody waiting for her on the other side. At that heavy hour when Day finally gives into Night after spending its life looking for something a little brighter, the woman kneels to the cold surf and submerges her face, praying to the news anchor that the waves smooth her skin like sea glass and erode her stony expression. Her eyes roll out into the lake, cloudy pearls illuminated by moonlight, possessions of royalty. It is suddenly dawn and no one comes with a shovel to bury her in the sand.
e took off his jacket, throwing it somewhere on the floor. No one would tell him to hang it up; he lived alone and liked it that way. Every time he came home the first thing he would do was walk over to the fridge and examine its contents. He opened the stainless steel doors and stared inside, some old Chinese take-out and three cans of Fresca. He stared inside like some people do, as if something he didn’t first notice would appear. “Shit!” he exclaimed for the benefit of his lethargic and nameless dog curled up in the corner. It never really occurred to him to name the dog. It wasn’t like he had two dogs that made names necessary to distinguish them from one another. Naming a dog is a ridiculous practice. After telling the dog he would be right back, he grabbed his keys and left the house. It was snowing outside but he didn’t think to grab his jacket. Besides, he was only driving to the gas station down the road to pick up a Stouffer’s dinner for one. Well, maybe if that dog is lucky he’ll share. He knew the way by heart. Key in ignition he sped off. It was one of those drives where he didn’t have to think about where he was going. He would just end up there. His daydreaming was interrupted halfway through his five minute drive. A loud thump startled him. A bird hit his windshield. He was surprised by how loud a thump such a tiny bird could make. He momentarily thought about pulling over but he noticed it was just a sparrow, nothing more than a common sparrow. Perhaps, if it was a cardinal or maybe even a gold finch he would have felt a twinge of guilt. He decided that the fastest setting on his windshield wipers should do the trick. A sparrow doesn’t deserve a dignified treatment. A sparrow is the definition of unexciting, blandness to the extreme. Most people don’t even notice sparrows. The wipers managed to rid the windshield of the carcass but also smeared blood across his line of vision. Nothing his wiper fluid couldn’t take care of, and so it did. He pulled his sporty compact in front of the door of the gas station. He didn’t need to actual park; he was only going to be a minute. It was that time of night when most were home but not yet asleep. The best time to go out, he thought, less people to run into. He knew exactly which freezer to walk to. He opened the glass door, tainted by those who think they’re just hilarious for drawing on the condensation. He stared for a bit. God, so many choices it was just overwhelming. This was the climax of his day. Will it be beef stroganoff or macaroni and cheese? He recalled a joke one of his co-workers made about these TV-dinners for one. “They should put the number of the suicide hotline on the front of the box because who ever eats that shit will need it.” “How fucking hilarious” he thought. He could make up a better joke, even if it was at the cost of ridiculing himself. Make a mandatory warning on all frozen dinners for ones, he thought, like those ones on packs of cigarettes.
“Warning: This product can... GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER”
Now, that was a funnier joke. He always brushed off any tinge of a feeling that another might call loneliness off. Society was against. Society wanted him to marry and have children by this age. He fancied himself a rebel of sorts, besides he hadn’t met a girl yet that had excited him. Still dazed and undecided, he was brought back to reality by a tap on the shoulder. “Excuse me” It was a woman, about his age, brown hair with brown eyes, wearing a plain black tee with a pair of plain jeans. She squeezed past him and grabbed a box of the mac and cheese. Normally, he wouldn’t have even looked at a girl like this. She wasn’t ugly per say; but rather unremarkable. He grabbed a cold box of mac and cheese and stood behind the woman at the one register. The woman paid for her frozen meal without a word. She turned and headed for the door, giving the man a silent nod of approval. He knew this girl was just like him. He felt her thoughts. He knew her feelings. He knew that she understood him. He paid for his mac and cheese and hurried out the door. He was just in time to see the woman speed off in some forgettable model. He unlocked his car, putting the mac and cheese on the passenger seat. He began to turn the key of his ignition but stopped. A thin veneer of snow had already accumulated during the short time that he was in the gas station. He just sat there, thinking. He thought of the girl, wondering who she was and regretting his silence. He knew he would never see her again. Was it really something special about her? He never noticed nor appreciated anything that was always in front of him. And he felt guilty, guilty for killing that sparrow.
I. rails engraved by the heavy pants of cross country runners and rain-drenched vagabonds led us to our wooded pulp beneath a canopy of skycradled stars. We dreamt that night, a November night, that magenta faces would kiss our foreheads with warmth, brushing pinkish dust across our eyelids, seen only as spokes of light glittering throughout the walls of bark. Buried under woolen caskets and knitted leashes, clamping our arms and necks with itches and scratches, our adolescent bodies skidded across tightly-packed snow into the swollen mass of looming trees. Despite the American hurry, a rushed dive into the marshy swamps of life, our spellbound bodies pranced side by side, in love, slowly and tenderly; each taken step was brimmed in the weight of wholesome affection. The woods called us by familiar names: Harold and Maude, John and Yoko, Bonnie and Clyde, all which made us shiver in gleaming delight, wiping blush-embroidered smiles across our visage. Together, we fell to the crystalcaked floor, spilling across the forest’s ivory cloak, and pinched our frosted lips for a delicate embrace. II. Young daisies climbed through the back of my head, slowly growing a vivid green stem and freshly bloomed pedals which sprouted through my hair. We knelt in the forest, this time greeted by sprints of breeze which carried chills past our faces. I shuddered, you laughed. The living reclaimed ground in the prime of May after the winter’s massacre; naked branches draped in greens drizzled the tree tops. And we, well, we simply sat, observing the blues and yellows bud in the corners of each wooden body. As feather-textured winds drifted past us, you cried to me, describing the Dreams which broke upon your bedroom floor the previous night, ‘Gone, gone, they’ve left me, my love’. I sobbed for you, my tears seeped past the soil’s surface, watering tiny blossoms into full-blown bouquets. ‘Will you leave me?’ I choked past fits of howls and snivels. The sounds of saplings stretching across rejuvenated terrain buzzed in my ear, and nothing more. III. Heat drenched my sides, my stomach, and knees and yet, the forest offers no salvation. Sprawled deeply into the coos of a Chickadee and gaze of the ripened sun, I delved more into my thoughts than anything else. Pressing a hardened cheek to the solid ground, I squinted into the concentration of leaves loosely strung above me; oh, how they flittered in a light summer’s sigh, how they grazed one another in a wispy touch, how they mocked my shadowed solitude from their branch-framed cloud. As simple as that, glorious butter-cream churned carefully and lovingly suddenly oozed into boiled oil stained with tar. Cynicism swept my hair to the reddish roots of the forest, planted me there for years to come, to withstand the seasons’ sharp-tongued demands and to grow older with rings throughout my limbs. For you tried to replace the Dream which escaped your grasp and planted a seed of heartbreak as you ran away.
Lady Liberty’s Runner Up
he balding, shirtless man was face down dead in the ball pit. It should be expected that he was dead, as a grown man who is still breathing should not lie face down without clothes in a ball pit. Such childlike activities usually attract lawsuits and restraining orders. The child who had found the fast decomposing body in said ball pit was currently crying with his mother behind police lines. It was, for the family therapist, a dream come true. As the police scoured the cheaply built and maintained child wonderland called Fun ’n’ Stuff, they found yet another smelly, silent, and still body. Luckily for the investigative team, this hunk of meat was alive. Dangling from a loft in the always malfunctioning laser tag arena, a hungover George Simmers was quite upset after he was awoken by the police. “Will you shut the fuck up and just let me go home?” “Sir, if you answer our questions thoroughly you may have that opportunity. If not, I’m afraid I would have to add a charge of police interference to what seems like an already extensive list.” “Whaddya mean, ‘extensive list’? Just let me leave for Christ’s sake.” “Sir, why did you break into here? Why did you just wake up in a Fun ’n’ Stuff?” “Because, if I remember correctly,” George said with a smile, “Me and my friend were looking for some fun. And stuff.” 11:30 pm the night before at the Simmers home seemed typical. The house was dark, the cat was slinking around and there was an annoying beeping sound. Beep. The fridge had been left open. Beep. George Simmers had, up until earlier that week, worked for a moderately successful software company. Beep. They provided the tools necessary to track and maintain the thousands of foreclosed homes on the market. Beep. George had traveled the country selling to banks. Beep. George had just been replaced by the power of Skype. Beep. And George didn’t turn off that alarm, because George was traveling 80 mph on Ohio Route 8 in his Honda Civic. George was with Michael, a childhood friend who played High School football with “Big Simmer” back in the 80s. In a curious turn of events, Michael had also been fired that week. A less sympathetic and more interesting fact about the termination of Michael is that he was fired after showing up drunk to the office and attempting to propose to the receptionist. While the kindly 60 year old lady gave Michael the courtesy of letting him down easy, his boss did not. Michael immediately drove over to George’s house to vent and fall asleep on the couch. George, who had very recently taken up a monk-like devotion to sleeping until noon, wasn’t even awake for his friend’s initial drunken ramblings. Awakened at 3 pm, they both concurred that a trip to a bar was the only feasible option in the face of such blatant discrimination against expressing one’s true feelings to a co-worker. And then they became caught in the vicious trap of daytime television. Finally, after a truly touching episode of Oprah, they managed to drive to the bar with only a few lonely tears appearing. They walked in the bar and proceeded to drink the tears away. They ordered their first beer. They ordered their second. They ordered their third. The barman, concerned
over the high alcohol intake of the two crying men, placed a limit on 5 drinks and firmly encouraged them to “head on home boys and sleep it off”. They stumbled out of the bar, walked to the car and proceeded to drive in the direction of home, all while yelling obscenities about the barman, his bar and for some reason the Statue of Liberty. “And you tell her that you like her green skin” Michael sobbed, “but she just walks away anyway!” “Yea! Thinking she’s so important and shit. She means nothing! I bet I could hold a torch better than her!” George bragged. ‘“I bet I could hold two torches! I, I bet that I could hold a torch and go fast! I bet I could hold a torch and, like, I could skate. Roller Skate!” “Don’t fuck with me. Everybody knows the flame would go out.” “No!” “Yes!” “No!” “Yes!” “No!” They parked in the parking lot of Fun ‘n’ Stuff at 2 am. They climbed through a window at 2:05. They stole roller skates at 2:08. They grabbed some stale popcorn at 2:11. At 2:15 they tied a shirt to a stolen ninja sword and set it on fire. “Ok, you gotta go, go like 20 mph until... until the flame goes poof” George ever so eloquently explained. “Eat my dust flame!” screamed Michael as he began to speed up while simultaneously traveling sideways. Michael narrowly avoided walls and turned the corners with the grace of a giraffe on ice and the ninja sword began to melt. As Michael straightened out and his velocity increased, the cheap but still awesome (except in this moment) plastic sword folded over in a melted conglomerate of colored liquid plastic. As the fire on the sword began to ignite the hairs on his shirtless arm, Michael screamed in pain and promptly forgot about the wall. The wall, like Michael’s boss, did not let him down easily. The momentum from the upper body, combined with the unpleasant mixture of legs and wall sent Michael flying through the air into a ball pit. He hit his head on the way into the disease ridden collection of plastic, ending his life in an instant. George, convinced that Michael was simply not going fast enough, attempted to wake the lifeless body so he could try again. Upset that Michael was just being “lazy”, George decided to depart to the near pitch black laser tag arena for a quick nap. George, while falling asleep, attempted to make a mental note to check on Michael in the morning. George would not recall that note.
shift my weight over to my right foot and tighten my coat. Blowing my hair out of my face is getting old, so I finally tie it back with the ponytail that always resides on my left wrist. Looking around I note my gross surroundings. This place is so depressing in March… Snow is left only in spots and the usually bright grass in muddy grey. The river fights the ice and its foam seems to eat up the rocks we used to sit on. I pick a patch of snow and lean my back against a tree, lightly running my fingers through the white mud underneath me. I picture him half naked in the river, just like the summer before, the sun bouncing off his broad shoulders, the wind messing his hair up. He laughs and splashes me, eventually pulling me in the freezing water from the side. I fall awkwardly, with a loud screech and he rubs my arms until my teeth stop chattering. We laugh and splash about like children for hours and I forget everything else. It’s just him and me, partially naked in the clear river, with our surroundings approving of our silliness. Everything seems bright and distinct, and I can barely take it all in. His chest pressed to mine, we kiss briefly still panting from the water fight. His hands gently grab onto a knot in my hair, and I wrap my legs around him. Afterwards, he lifts me in his arms and carries me through the garden, back up to the porch of our new house. Grabbing a towel, he makes sure I’m warm, then hands me the towel with a sheepish grin. I follow suit, and rub the water off of him. Kissing me gently, he runs his hand down my torso, eventually letting it rest on my flat stomach. My smile breaks our kiss, and I place my hand over his thinking about the future. My hand slides to my stomach, and I seem to fill its burning emptiness. The river takes a broken branch and decides to keep it. It fooled me once before, with its clear blue foam and inviting drips, and now I watch as it holds onto the branch with empty promises. I see the river grow fat with autumn rain but it still calls after me, encouraging me to dip my toes. Slipping out of my shoes I inch closer, intending to share a moment with the wild stream, but it is selfish and unkind, wanting more than I can offer it. It pulls me close, and wraps its wet arms around me, rolling me until I can barely catch my breath. As it carries me downstream, it knocks softly on my abdomen, wanting back its creation. I hang to it, believing it is my own, and the river shifts gears, demanding forcefully until I break and let it go. He pulls me out and I cough up water, weeping for what I left behind, wondering if I could somehow take it back. The river floods my vision, its selfish and violent nature mocking me. He walks up behind me, slipping between me and the tree, wrapping his arms around me protectively. I lean closer to him, and together we bitterly watch the river in our back yard that created then took away our true happiness.
BUFO is a student-run publication that critiques, selects and publishes student poetry, art and fiction to encourage an awareness of the art...
Published on May 15, 2013
BUFO is a student-run publication that critiques, selects and publishes student poetry, art and fiction to encourage an awareness of the art...