The Lab Review Volume 7

Page 1

Editor-in-Chief Hayden Moseley

Fiction Editors

Nonfiction Editor

Faculty Adviser


Ann Hemenway

Celeste Paed

Lab Review Logo

Publishing Lab Logo

Nikki Macahon

Cecsily Bianchi

Clayton Crook

Monica McGarry

Cover Image Anna DeStefano

Editor’s Note When I first accepted the role of Editor-in-Chief, I felt

a rush of adrenaline. Then the crash hit me not long after. While the previous Editors-in-Chief of The Lab Review spent years crafting this magazine into something amazing, I came into the role with only two magazines under my belt. Life has a strange way of gifting you with wonderful opportunities that carry a great deal of weight to them. In the time I’ve been here, having no theme to The Lab Review is the only method I’ve ever known. Our staff this time is quite small, and I spent a lot of time teaching myself skills to keep everything afloat and in order. As we put this magazine together, I remembered how I once thought the term “Lab Scientist” was a bit campy. However, that campiness really has a place here. I discovered that creating The Lab Review involves experimentation, learning new skills to apply to those experiments, and finely choosing and measuring ingredients. The end result is a meticulously-crafted potion that is both a scientific marvel and a labor of love. Many pieces in this issue are poetry. Poetry in itself can also be a science; words are chosen so finely and particularly so everything will fall into place and deliver the desired effect. Flash fiction is the same; a limited amount of words to tell a fully contained story, carefully crafted and selected to combine and create results. Every part of this issue is the work of my fellow word chemists, and this has been such a rewarding experience to create. I have to thank my fellow editors, Monica and Clayton. They’ve worked hard despite the move and the suddenly fledgling status of the Lab, and if not for their support this magazine never would’ve made it past the submission phase. I also want to thank Ann Hemenway for allowing me to talk out my thoughts, and for easing my anxiety enough to let me pull myself together. Lastly, a huge thank you to Celeste Paed and Kristen Nichols, my previous Editors-in-Chief, for their endless advice and assistance. I hope you all enjoy this issue of The Lab Review. Best, Hayden Moseley Editor-in-Chief

Contents Poetry

The Tallest Building in Singapore, Michigan It’s a feeling Ode to Little Robert Dusty In His Image Eve’s Branches An Even Count Crushed


Where the Wind Comes


Laura Waltje


Jennifer Rust Erin Threlkeld Erin Threlkeld Erin Threlkeld Laura Waltje Jennifer Rust

3 4 6 8 9 10

Nina Moldawsky

12 15

The Tallest Building in Singapore, Michigan

Laura Waltje

I can’t tell you much about the beginning. But I can tell you all about the finish of it. I was there and I saw.

The beach, frozen and flat, the gables here and there pultruding from the sand. Here where the mouth of the Kalamazoo meets Lake Michigan the sands sit silent and wait for the sleeping city beneath the dunes to rise. Sometimes a corner opens, a pocket of air and the sand rushes down, exposing a beam or a gable, before the wind tucks them back in.


I sit, lashed by fine sand in the shelter of a single story left uncovered. A hidden city spread below my feet underneath. Empty beds and chairs, four warming walls all filled with fine grit. I sat outside resting and chilled until only embers are left to give light and warmth here.


It’s a feeling Jennifer Rust Chew my nails until the crescents are gone

And chew the skin for extra measure Rip my lips and then tear at my inner cheeks Because I reek an impending humiliation I’ve twirled myself into a knot in which I cannot unfurl Electrocuted by miscommunications and bumbling afterthoughts My fingers pretzeled as they wait for an answer Tongue caught and damaged, now short like a bobtail Words become forgotten memories and TV static is my thoughts It’s finding its way into my sweat glands seeping through like dumpster water There is no more skin to pick and I turn into tissue and ligaments, More transparent than I’m comfortable with


Ode to Little Robert Dusty Erin Threlkeld I watched you to play your Guitar with your eyes closed Like you thought they wouldn’t Close forever at age twenty-seven. When you went to the crossroads And came back a guitar master, Did you leave the teachings of Your youth from a one-room Mississippi Baptist church behind? Did your Mama cry when You told her you traded Gospel Choirs for Juke joints? During velvet black nights You played on the street Corners of the Delta South Your notes were like streams Of water and you became a river


Of blues

The waves of your melodies poured Through Mississippi and Helena With triads raging over the dry Dirt roads and cotton fields And when you closed your eyes last Did you give the devil his due Or did your heart rupture with Notes when you sang the blues?


In His Image Erin Threlkeld When I heard the pastor say “He made man in His image.� I thought God looked like me Jesus came out of the stained Glass windows and told me about Harriet Tubman parting the Mississippi River and led the People of Zion to the Promised Land I saw Him multiply the five Pieces of cornbread and three Fried catfish He turned water into Grape Faygo at the Wedding in Capernum Opened the wombs Of sterilized Black



Then gave me cornbread And Kool-Aid for communion


Eve’s Branches Erin Threlkeld Eve became a tree When she left Eden Hers were the first Menstrual pains when Her hips pulled open Releasing life She gave her daughter “The Talk” when a red stream Poured from her womb, Staining her loincloth Rachel sat over her father’s idols With the other women in the red tent Menstruating over pits Filled with their father’s restrictions. King David’s daughters bathe in the Mikvah baths, singing, splashing and Gossiping about the sons of Rabbis, Pharisees, Priests and Kings.


An Even Count Laura Waltje Out from between the flowerbeds and lawn, a Daisy pushes up through gritty dirt. Her spindly stalk supports a bud. She turns her head to soak up golden light at dawn. In sweetly tended flowerbeds, a pert and royal bearing makes her lust and yearn: The Dahlia, whose bushy crown of reds obstruct her view of lawn where Daisy smiles at how she’s speckled by the sun with dots that shine through leaves and light her swaying head. The pretty Daisy plucks her petals while she counts “She loves me, or she loves me not.” As dainty Daisy’s precious petals fall, she is alone - disfigured, bare, and bald.


Crushed Jennifer Rust I ripped it

From the core of existence. It flushed down the river. I stomped it cold on the ground. Let me breathe, I tell him. He doesn’t listen. He never Listens. “I’d rather break my bones than stare at you again…” That’s what I tell him. But he doesn’t understand that There’s a whole hole in my chest Three feet deep and the circumference Of my hand. I let the wind catch breeze in there. I let water drip until stalagmites and stalactites form like crocodile teeth. He doesn’t understand the holes on my wrists when I try to reach in Even after knowing how empty it is. He’ll never understand these bugs in my stomach They dug tunnels in the lining when I looked too long When I wanted to know how it felt To just hold his hand. He’ll never know how he punctured my body,


Deflated my lungs Shot through Like gun bullets My sour acid pouring out the holes No wonder why you won’t look back I’m hideous now


The Panic Button Nina Moldawsky On the underside of the Broadway Bakery cashier counter,


there was a bright red Panic Button. It was for dire emergencies and dangerous intruders, like robbers or terrorists. Niala Prescott, the young graduate who worked the register on weeknights, wondered every day when the time would arise for her to press the Panic Button and summon the police. When customers ordered their cookie boxes, cupcakes and pies, she looked them in the eyes and thought, “Will you pull a gun on me?” but said “Is there anything else I can get you?” She smiled at patrons, her hands folded neatly over her khaki apron, with just a little twitch in her fingers – an urge to press the Panic Button. Garrett Tyler, the baker in the open kitchen, felt differently about the Panic Button. He thought it pointless. He thought, by the time a button like that is pressed, the crime has no doubt already occurred. He thought, only a fool would press the Panic Button. Why panic when you could instead, say, stop the crime? Garrett was full of opinions like that. Not that he advertised them. He was the type to volunteer more time than necessary, take the hardest jobs, throw dashing smiles to female customers, and get them to upgrade that nine-pack to a full dozen. Everyone at the Bakery quite liked him. Not Niala though. She found him a fraud, but they were the only ones who worked the front, so they had to get along regardless. It was a dead hour. Not one customer in the store, but Garrett and Niala knew it was the calm before the storm – the after-dinner rush flooding in for dessert. Christine Benson, the boss baker, came out to put cake tins in the open kitchen ovens, and a thick aroma of heat and sugar made its home amongst the empty tables. In the silence of the store, she set the radio to world music, which played anything from “The Thong Song” to indistinctly tribal drumming, and every 30 minutes, that song about putting a lime in a coconut played. The music captured Christine’s chillaxed personality, and she danced along while snapping her fingers to the beat of the beeping timers. Niala and Garrett laughed as she grooved away to the back. Once alone, they were uncomfortably silent, as always. Garrett gave her an awkward stare as he reached for the scissors, carrying out his task of cutting up baking sheets.

“Think anyone’s ever pressed the Panic Button?” Niala broke the ice. “No,” he shook his head, “nothing ever happens in this town.” “Things happen,” Niala disagreed. “Exciting crimes and whatnot.” “Almost sounds like you want a crime,” Garrett laughed. “Of course not. I just expect one.” Niala grabbed a bleach rag from the sink and began scrubbing the steel countertop. She bent over, resting her hips on the counter’s corner as she stretched her arm around the register. Garrett narrowed his eyes at her, scanning her from the tips of her red, flour brushed sneakers, to the fit jeans hugging her backside, to the roots of her curly blonde hair. He set down the scissors and wax paper and crept up behind her, leaning one arm against the counter beside her hip. She flinched at his sudden and stifling proximity. “What kind of crime excites you the most?” he breathed in her ear. Niala tried to pivot away, but Garrett grabbed the counter on her other side, trapping her between his arms. She faced him now, and he inched closer, pressing a protrusion between his legs against her pelvis. Her heart began to race, and slowly her fingers wrapped under the counter, searching for the Panic Button. “You know what, Niala? You’re not half bad.” He smirked, his breath so close she could smell the tomato soup of his lunch and the mint of his morning toothpaste. Now is the time, she thought. I have been looking the wrong way, looking at customers for malicious intent, when I should’ve been looking right behind me. Her index finger found the Panic Button, and she pressed it, hard. Garrett’s eyes followed the length of her bare arm, noticed her wrist bent underneath the counter, and he laughed. “You’re an idiot,” he sneered under his breath. He pushed off the counter and walked back to his baking sheets, like nothing had happened. In a way, Garrett’s thoughts of the Panic Button had been right all along. By the time the police arrived, the crime had long since been committed. They arrived just as the rush began, and finding no emergency, pulled employees out one by one to find the perpetrator of this false alarm. When questioned, Garrett said he’d no idea why the Panic Button had been pushed. When questioned, Niala admitted to pressing it, meekly mumbling that it must’ve been an accident. Because who would’ve believed what had happened anyways? There was no proof, and it really wasn’t that big of a deal now, was it? Christine considered firing poor Niala, but because she was such a good worker, she decided to let her off with only a strict talking to. Niala was allowed to keep working weeknights, up front with only good baker Garrett, and she knew now to only press the Panic Button for real emergencies.


Contributors Nina Moldawsky is a Creative Writing major in her second year at Columbia College Chicago. Her work can be found in The Lab Review Volume 5 and Living Springs Publishers’s Stories Through the Ages: College Edition. Her favorite writing subjects include zombies and baking, and they always seem to sneak their way in to her work. Beyond writing, she is an avid doodler and an enthusiastic musician. Jennifer Rust is a young writer from Delaware who loves to write in all forms and genres. She has written short screenplays, one-act plays, poems, short stories and essays. She is a 2018 National Youngarts Merit Winner for Writing. Jennifer is currently a second year at Columbia College Chicago. She loves her dog and her two cats. Erin Rae Threlkeld is a West Chicagoland suburb native. She was raised in a middle class family and is on an ongoing journey to explore intersections of culture, gender, faith and social class within the African American community. She hopes to provide a lens into stories often not heard about the Black community and its members. It’s her hope that at the core of her work, her readers will see the human experience. For the past few years, Laura Johanna Waltje has been untangling private and public culpability and complicity. She is a writer, sound designer, textile artist, and educator. As is the cofounder and managing editor of Second Draft Press, she publishes experimental writing and reviews of work by the queer, poc, and qpoc artists that deserve your attention. Her poetry has appeared in Airport Road, Rosewater Magazine, and The Gazelle. Her fiction has been collected in the anthologies Knock on Sky and Glass Bottom Boat. For more of her shenanigans visit


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