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Table of Contents Snowed in………………………………………………….………...3 The First Tragedy…………………………………………………....4 Realization that there is Cruelty in this World………………....5 Dandelions…………………………………………………….…….6 Loser…………………………………………………………….…….7 Softball……………………………………………………….……….8 TV Dinner………………………………………………….………….9 My Pops………………………………………………………………10 Carl…………………………………………………………………....11 Best Friends…………………………………………………………..12 High School Dating………………………………………………...13 Brittney……………………………………...………………………...14 Bikinis in the Winter………………………………………...……….15 My Baby Brother…………………………………………………….16 Welcome to Ball State……………………………………………..17 Winter………………………………………………………………….18

~2~


Snowed In A child at the age of three has a vague idea of what school is. (Is it a playground? A timeout? Or what about a rocket ship?) And less of an idea as to why her mother would choose school over her. But one day, my mother couldn’t get the car out the frozen garage door. Her frustrated voice said something about an Anna and Tommy test but having to miss it. She still says that staying home and playing games with her daughter for the day was one of her favorite memories. I wish the garage door had stayed frozen.

~3~


The First Tragedy Each summer, an expecting bird would lay her eggs outside my window. I could hear the chirps and see the stretched necks that I adored. I’ll never forget the image the day I found the nest face down on the unforgiving cement. After carefully excavating the rubble, I discovered three breathing bodies. The watering can bed that I made couldn’t shield them from the night. As I buried them in the backyard, I saw other birds flying overhead. Why should they survive while my babies had to suffer?

~4~


Realization that there is Cruelty in this World It was a massacre. Body limbs scattered across the floor, torsos turned upside down and legs peeked out from under the closet door. Multiple white arms were mixed in bed sheets and plastic shoes were scattered on the pink rug. For all this warfare, there was an ominous absence of blood. Looking up revealed the worst of the chaos. The ceiling fan was rotating on slow. Their decapitated heads swung in circles, revolving around an optimistic radiance. They were tied by their hair, smiling faces betraying their obvious pain. Even through all this torture, the girls’ make-up remained perfect. Parents came running as we screamed. It was a big brother Barbie massacre.

~5~


Dandelions The T-ball field smelled like freshly mown grass, dust, and hot dogs. The bleachers were surprisingly full for a game played by five-year-olds. Parents would woop from the stands, coaches would never yell, only smile at their players’ mistakes. No one kept score, it was literally “just for fun.” There were sixteen players on the blue team, and only one of them didn’t have a penis. (“Penis,” of course, was the team’s favorite word.) She stood out from the others, blonde hair in a pony tail and a collection of plucked dandelions from the outfield held in a sweaty fist. She was going to give them to a boy. He was the tallest on the team. He had brown hair and a nice smile. He wasn’t embarrassed to sit next to the girl and offer her some of his Gatorade. She blushed just from thinking about drinking out of the same bottle as him. When they got back to the dugout, she was going to give him the dandelions, the flowers. In the name of T-ball. Turns out, boys don’t like flowers.

~6~


Loser Heads down. No peeking. Chubby second grade hands raised into the air to vote for student council representatives. Student’s names were being called out, mine among several others. When I heard my own name announced by the teacher, I raised my hand. I’d be a great SC Rep. The suspense was overwhelming. Hands clammy, breath shallow, head whirling, fingers tapping. Finally. Heads up. The tallied lines were like small soldiers standing at attention on the board. Some groups had many, others only a few. Of course you wanted the largest army under your name. I searched the board until I found “Samantha” sprawled with chalk in cursive writing. There was a single solitary soldier standing at rest under Samantha. One. My own vote.

~7~


Softball Standing up to bat, Ready to hit a homerun. Ball hits face instead.

~8~


TV Dinner Oh, how I loathed Monday nights when it was Dad’s turn to make dinner. Mom would try to give him advice but he wanted to be the ultimate “bread-winner.” The oven would heat up and the frozen trays thrown in. I waited at the table with my cup as my mind played sad music from a violin. The minutes passed by slowly as I waited for the oven to work its magic. My stomach steadily became more noisy and I knew my starvation would be tragic. Finally the beeps signaled that it was time. Dad strolled to the oven door at the timer’s obnoxious chime, acting as though it was such a chore. My dinner was set in front of me and I looked down with my fingers crossed. What I saw was a travesty, surely my real meal was simply lost. Freezer burned chicken, lumpy potatoes and gravy, pudding that didn’t thicken, fries gone limp, that should’ve been wavy. I sighed and picked up my fork and wished for Mom to come home from work.

~9~


My Pops I remember the moment as if it just occurred. Giving my father a hug and realizing my five year old arms didn’t fit around him. Squeeze and squirm and grip as I might, my fingers never touched, never nudged. As the years passed by, and my arms grew longer, the destination came closer. Then finally my fingers grazed against each other behind the back of the man of my life. Later, I was able to hug him more fully, then even able to clasp my hands behind his belly. The years flew by and now that I was able to give my father a proper hug, it was no longer an action I desired to do. I wouldn’t like going to his house after the divorce, preferring to spend time with friends. As my father watched me disappear, his arms outstretched— my hugs and I became a memory of the past. Now it seems as if time has reversed. Going home to see him is always a treat, and we always greet and give our goodbyes with a hug. Now that my arms fit securely around, the embraces have a different meaning. They say that I have a home with him, I’m doing well on my own, and, as always, to drive safe.

~ 10 ~


Carl A gift for my seventeenth birthday, given to me just in time to start senior year of high school. The color is a cool blue, inferior to the shade of Lake Michigan, but quite an upgrade from my old Oldsmobile; a hand-me-down from my cousin, who got it as a hand-me-down from our grandfather. This car can get me farther, get me there faster. In excitement, I named the car Carl, for it has “car” in the name. His life began with many cheerleaders packed between his doors. Carl hugged the girls and kept them safe from the cars and weather around them. Sometimes, it was just Carl and I out on the open road. I think he liked these times the best, when we would be alone and enjoy each other’s silence. Other times, he would be the silent one and I would express my concerns, or cry to him. He would want to help, but the only assistance he could give was to take me away from all the misery. And we would drive away, but the tears would still spill from my eyes and the curses would still spill out of my mouth. On occasion, I drive too quickly over a rough set of train tracks. Carl lets out a screech of agony as his body parts clash together. I rub my hand over the dashboard and mumble “Sorry, sorry.”

~ 11 ~


Best Friends Our friendship started with a lie I told you when we were young. Your favorite color was blue, so despite my adoration of pink, I stated mine was blue too. An instant connection formed between us two adolescent girls. Your dark hair and olive skin satisfyingly contrasting with my own blonde and peach. As we grew, so did our bond. We matured from pigtails to braids, then to hair straighteners and curling irons. But then you surpassed me, as you bought padded bras, and you found make-up and the pleasing company of boys. I tried to keep up, but you weren’t waiting. You found fake happiness with the young man that would someday be your husband. Now he protects you, hides you from the evil world. I try to penetrate through, but I never prove to be successful. Maybe I am one of the evils. Two weeks ago I called and left a message about hoping to mend our friendship. No word yet. I still remember the fun memories of hide-n-seek, gossip, and sleepovers. I hope you think of me while I wait for your call.

~ 12 ~


High School Dating The journey from English to my locker was a short one, but it felt like forever when he insisted to hold my hand the whole time. My strong yet small hand felt so sturdy in comparison to his shaky bear claw. Really, I don’t bite. The teachers smiled and snickered as I pulled him along through the hallways. This is dating?

~ 13 ~


Brittney “You’re my best bitch.” She’s the greatest person in my eyes— her smile is slightly crooked because she threw away her retainer in the high school cafeteria, but still manages to light up any room. Her hair is growing long again after cutting it short right before senior pictures two years ago. The freckles splattered across her cheeks always become darker after being under the beating sun of the summer. She’s just a little taller than me, which is perfect for riding our tandem bicycle in the nice weather. She suffered from the freshman fifteen, but is on the mend. Her green eyes match mine and they look beautiful without any makeup. Her laugh is her best attribute. When she laughs, I just have to join in. I would like to apologize to my best bitch, Brittney, for always telling everyone that she pees her pants whenever she laughs too hard. And I want to apologize for putting it in a poem.

~ 14 ~


Bikinis in the Winter Have we finally crossed the line? All that was seen was white if you looked down either direction of the suburb block that I lived on. The weatherman had predicted five feet of snow, and he wasn’t wrong. The snow had settled earlier that day, as if it were a snug blanket, trying to keep small Highland, Indiana from getting frostbite. The ground sparkled like diamonds and the sun’s radiation smiled on us below. Neighbors peered through their windows at us, long giraffe necks twisted to see around the curtains. One trooped out of his house to attempt to shovel and yelled, “You girls are crazy!” We grinned at each other, teeth chattering from the cold. Goose bumps were visible on our skin as we stood in the snow, wearing nothing but a couple bikinis. Brittney’s was brown with a paisley print, while mine was the American flag. We enjoyed the snow that day, observing it, playing in it, and taking pictures of our feat. A photo of the moment sits on my desk, and I smile, remembering the bitter cold and the great memory.

~ 15 ~


My Baby Brother As a young child, my brother was always a picky eater, a tantrum thrower, a hug hater, an argument enthusiast, all in one. There wasn’t much shock when we were told that he had been diagnosed with Asperger’s. He always had trouble with speech, but I alone could understand him. I would translate for him to everyone else, even our mother. It wasn’t just about words, it was about reading his emotions. As he grew, so did his one passion. He doesn’t let anyone watch him practice the guitar but sometimes he’ll let me in. His long blonde hair blocks his face but my intuitive eyes can still witness the only time he is at peace. The way he seamlessly moves from one chord to another makes it look effortless. The music he produces sounds as if it comes from a radio, not a thirteen-year-old. They call him a prodigy. I call him my baby brother.

~ 16 ~


Welcome to Ball State College is a place completely different than the real world. Meals paid on cards, classes easy to miss, and living with a stranger— everything is a new experience. Weekends come and work is put on hold while students stray to the streets to drink and party. The party houses all have names: Ten Fo, the Banana house, the Booty Bungalow; stories starts and rumors fly about drunken dares and hung-over Sundays. My best memory is from my first weekend on campus. Loud music reverberating from the walls while sweaty bodies bounce along. Upstairs people talk and drink, meet and reunite. A boy I didn’t know held my hair back as I vomited into a trash can, while he whispered in my ear, “Welcome to Ball State.”

~ 17 ~


Winter White. All that is seen is white and the chill of the air feels like white. Even the scent has to be described as...white. The path I take is recognizable only because of the footprints of those who have traveled before me. I’m reminded of being a child and stepping in my father’s footprints to follow him home. His footprints no longer guide me, but I still manage to find my way. The strangers who left the marks I now chase will never provide me with the same sense of security. I think of the security of my blanket at home that awaits my arrival. My journey through the white is not yet over.

~ 18 ~


Wishing on Dandelions  

Poetry chapbook by Samantha Takacs

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