S U B MAG
SUBMISSIONS MAGAZINE MAGAZINE SUBMISSIONS iSSUE #55 APRIL / MAY 2014 1
Shannon Brooks Mom and God Emptiness
Rosie Onderdonk 1.
Patrick Gibbons Untitled
Gina Mingione Fellowship Vignettes
Marie Lin Untitled
Lin Jia-Lian Untitled
Lauren Britton Scissoring Cupping One Step Two Step Drag
28 Will Beattie Rose ECA Glass Corpse Corpse of Chijijima
Giada Scodellaro How to Emulate the Callouses On His Palm
Daniel Grjonko Moth-Maker
Dan Poorman Eye Drops
Stephanie Bartolome Love: A Proof
Kelly Ryan Untitled Woodcuts
Kimberly Bager Deebs Drank
Alexandra Caple Series
Will Rutledge How Dare You Threaten Our Community
Elise Assenza Logs Sushi
Laurel Squadron Getting Horny Humping the Humpback art: Margaret Pinto
Joni Kretzmer Equivocality
Elisa Chaudet Untitled
FEATURE As It Is: A Kid’s Story words: Ryan Schackenberg art: Sarah Drozdowski
Sarah Kritz Nudes
Hayley Dayis M36
Christopher Postlewaite Welcome Fishermen
Nicole Fornario Untitled
Lukas Jennings Sad Water
Robert Turner The Unauthorized Voices of the Boys in My Mirror
Sarah Waldron Controlled Substances Do You Fuck With Them?
Matia Emsellem Reaching It
Robert Wagoner Cape
FRONT Patrick Gibbons Untitled
Connor Beale Grandfather’s Accident
Megan Manowitz Essay
Maximum Russell Untitled
Adrianne Bonilla Fifth Wall
Jeremy Ruiz Cousins
Jade Greene Still from “I Know That I Need This But Sometimes It’s Too Much”
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Elise Assenza Sushi
FELLOWSHIP VIGNETTES Gina Mingione
Via Del Corno, 2 The exterior of my apartment was painted pale yellow with green shutters, as most apartments in Florence are. I learned that it is a city requirement to paint your buildings within the shades of cream and yellow. In the cab ride I looked at terracotta roods through my window in the August sun, watched them shake in the distance like mirages. The driver dropped me at the tip of the alleyway, pointed straight ahead with his finger, and drove off. Be Your Dog Iggy and the Stooges played a free show in Piazza della Repubblica. It was packed with all kinds of punk kids. Iggy wasn’t wearing a shirt, but I don’t think he ever does. A topless woman from the crowd joined him on stage. I fell in the middle of a mosh pit and a man picked me off the ground instantly. It all happened very fast. Deidre, McBride, and I met a drunk Mexican girl who invited us to her home. “Uh, maybe!” I shouted over the crowd. We ended the night with pizza and beer, sitting on the steps of San Spirito to people watch. I was wearing my mustard colored pants. I felt saucy. I fantasized about bringing someone home with me that night. I fantasized about being the kind of person who knew how to bring someone home with them.
San Trinita Bridge I liked to sit on the triangular outcroppings of the San Trinita Bridge. It was my favorite spot. Six massive triangles jutted out into the Arno River and three faced Ponte Vecchio. I liked the triangles that faced Ponte Vecchio best. If a car passed by, I would poke my head above the bridge and wave. I was a floating head, detached from my body. Be Bop Every Tuesday night this Beatles cover band called Vox Power would play at Be Bop, a club near our apartment. They were fantastic. I always left Be Bop feeling giddy. These four Italian guys would put on British accents, even in their on stage banter. Before they played a song, Paul would say, “This one’s off our new record.” They would play for two and a half hours. When Paul sang, “Hey Jude,” he would ask the girls and the boys to sing the chorus separately, just like the real Paul McCartney. One time John told me he liked my dress and it felt as though John Lennon himself was complimenting me. Everyone sang and danced in this cramped little club. They seemed to make a lot of people happy. It felt like the real thing. Visitors I liked to believe the triangular outcroppings of the San Trinita Bridge were mine and mine only, despite the graffiti written all over them. I became possessive over a city that didn’t belong to me. One time, a man hopped onto the triangle claiming he was sorry, but he came a long way and needed to draw. He was thin, wore white jeans, a white t-shirt, black Ray Bans, and a flat brown corduroy cap. He sat next to me while I wrote in my journal. I wanted to move, but I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. I learned he was a half American and half Lebanese architecture student. We were soon joined by a brown pigeon. I was being ambushed.
Salt In Cefalu, Sicily, Deidre, McBride, and I jumped off this ledge into the water while a gaggle of teenage Italian boys wearing tight, crotch hugging Speedos plotted ways of talking to us. They liked repeating the phrase, “Oh my god!” As we swam away, they waved to us from the ledge. We waved back. The farther we swam, the tinier their bodies seemed, jumping and squirming. Parco Simpione I kept waiting for Milan to happen, until I realized it already was. Dee and I sat on a bench. It was dusk. There was a man in the distance playing the saxophone. It felt as though both of our lives converged to this point, like we had just walked in on each other’s dreams. We stared straight ahead, the light as white as an overhead projector, the kind that plays a movie you’ve seen over and over but never from start to finish. Up Yours Italian fathers on the street are affectionate. McBride and I asked a construction worker for directions. I loved the way he held this kids face in his hands. We gave him the thumbs up sign as we walked away, which we later learned means “up your ass” to Italians. I liked him in a paternal and sexual way, which confused me. Fashion Weak It was fashion week and McBride, Hagen, and I sauntered out to observe the young glamorous Italians teetering on stilettos. I was dressed for the occasion in corduroys, black Keds, and a yellow pashmina scarf. My hair and face were unwashed and I was covered in mosquito bites. I looked like the homeless gypsy who tries to steal your purse. Venice It seemed that the point of Venice was to wander without direction. The city is a maze. There are signs on walls handwritten in marker. San Marco has arrows pointing in both directions. It felt like an inside joke, like somebody leaning in close and nudging my ribs, telling me to get lost. From Scratch Hagen, Dee, and I went to a free pasta workshop. We learned how to use giant crank operated lasagna pressers and make real gnocchi by pureeing potatoes. They tasted pillowy and light. Outside, we walked home on wet streets. It must have rained while we were inside. I felt lucky. Invisible Cities Marco Polo told Kublai Khan that whenever he discussed all the cities he had visited, he was only talking about Venice. I felt an urge to get naked and float down the canals on my back. Everyone says that Venice is sinking, but to me, it’s a city that was once submerged underwater and is just starting to resurface. Rainy Days In front of the Uffizi, down this narrow strip, people were listening to a man playing violin. It was lovely, the way the sound echoed off the walls, how silent everybody was. The violin reminded me of ice-skating and sex. I pictured a figure skater silently gliding on ice and then I thought of those old-fashioned pornos that featured classical background music that correlated with each climax. Only Dust Two old ladies wearing tired black orthopedic shoes were sitting in lawn chairs in Piazza San Spirito. They wore the kind of shoes that lacked all sense of grace or style—practical and weathered. Their faces were turned towards the syrupy light. One of them kicked at the dirt beneath her and smirked. It seemed that the longer you sat in Piazza San Spirito, the more you blended into the stone.
EYE DROPS DAN POORMAN There had been a gathering at a sports bar after his funeral. They’d said, “If he could only see us now.” Well, now he was suspended in a jar on his daughter’s nightstand, feeling like a hard-boiled egg. Some nights he could see her, stumbling drunk back to the bed she had refused to leave within the first month of his accident. Most times, she was getting in with a cast of increasingly rougher men, getting out to jab around in the medicine cabinet, half naked, singing, wielding a curling iron. He caught the rest of the idioms from his pickle jar abode, from many a pea-coated family member she’d let hang around her place in the wake of it all. “He’d roll in his grave if he knew...” was the one that really stuck with him. “I know everything, Uncle Oscar,” he wanted to say—too bad it wasn’t his lips floating around these days.
She finally experienced a flicker of superstition one evening and moved him to the bookshelf, which was much higher up. She sat in bed and recalled the words of the timorous man from the morgue: “Are you sure you want this?” He was a trusted friend of Dad’s, and she knew that he’d found her request unsettling. But oh, what an amorous one it was, truly, so she hadn’t cared if she sounded crazy; Dad was a specialist and she wanted to respect his life’s passion—so she convinced the undertaker to carry through. Dad’s eye was now a precious token, plucked from his cadaver like a pearl from a clam. It took one bad dream and she was forging distant connections, feeding into her paranoia. She rented Eyes Without a Face, watched it with her mouth agape, popcorn falling on her pillow. Sure enough, as he saw, she was beginning to live by her tell-tale heart. And it was all Dad, M.D. could do to stay anchored to the bookshelf, but his anger and frustration propelled him forth in a miraculous spurt of energy. There was a satisfying smash on the hardwood floor. He noticed the hesitation in her step from the other room. She was wearing one slipper. When she saw too much in the shards of glass and the preserving liquid, she threw him to a cooler place in the backyard. She cut earth with a small garden trowel, packed him down into a little mound. Here, he didn’t need to see a thing.
HOW DARE YOU THREATEN OUR COMMUNITY: A MEMORY OF DIARRHEA, SUMMER CAMP & THE FBI WILL RUTLEDGE
My alarm clock sounded at 8 am and I woke up promptly; immediately feeling last night’s sleepover adventure of Snickers, Slurpee, and pizza start to sludge through my stomach. It was the summer between 5th and 6th grade. Due to our parents’ insistence that we couldn’t simply skateboard all summer, my friend Steve and I were attending a theater camp at Sacred Heart University in Bridgeport, CT. It was the Thursday morning before Friday’s opening night. We sluggishly plopped into my mom’s car to attend the last rehearsal before the big performance. After arriving and putting my bag down on an auditorium seat, all the campers were led into the university gymnasium to rehearse scenes before the daunting first run of the full show. The junk food in my stomach started to swish so I asked to use the bathroom. After doing so the relief was satisfying, but something was still off. The rehearsal in the gymnasium ended, and all the students started marching excitedly to the auditorium for the first real run through on stage. While walking, I was hit with another wretched stomach pain, a pain much more severe than that which had prompted my first trip to the bathroom. I was too embarrassed to ask my counselor for permission to use the bathroom again, because that would’ve passively admitted that I was at war with some serious diarrhea. I lied to her that I left my bag in the gymnasium and needed to get it. She said, “Okay, but go quickly! You’re on in the first scene and we’re starting in five minutes!” Five minutes turned into 20-25 minutes. It was an arduous battle that required time, mind control and strategy. Eventually, I finished and felt like a new person. As I walked out of the bathroom glowing with victory, I passed an electrician fixing something in the ceiling next to the Fruitopia vending machine and nodded to him, as if he shared my triumph. I returned to the auditorium and my counselor approached me, yelling, “Will! Where were you?! You missed the first two scenes!” I was frozen and petrified with agonizing fear that I might have to confess my faulty bowel movements to someone. Before I could even think, I said, “Someone tried to kidnap me next to the Fruitopia machine!” Her jaw dropped while I wiped my brow, having thought I came up with a bulletproof excuse. I explained, “I was walking out of the gymnasium and there was this guy right next to the Fruitopia machine. He asked me if I wanted some candy, I said, “No,” but then he grabbed my wrist and started walking toward the gym. I turned to the guy fixing the light in the ceiling and shouted, ‘Hey, Dad!’ and then the man walked away and out of the building!” She looked at me with eyes wider than the moon and simply said, “Oh my god.” We immediately went to the Campus Public Safety office where I explained my fictional story to the officer. The public safety officer, camp counselor, and I all piled into the Public Safety pseudo-cop car-wannabe PT Cruiser, with myself riding shotgun, and began looking for a person who didn’t exist. At this point, I was having fun.
We looked through every classroom, every dormitory, every recreation hall, every outdoor quarter of the campus, and occasionally I’d perk up and shout, “Wait! Is that… Oh, no, no, that’s not him.” It was theater camp, after all. After almost two hours of searching the campus for a person I made up, we returned to the public safety office. I figured I’d answer some questions, go back to camp, and everyone would go about their business. Kidnapping is no big deal, right? I walked into the public safety office and there was a woman in a business suit sitting down, looking very solemn. The public safety officer sat me down in front of her and explained, “Will, this is Jane Doe. She’s a sketch artist for the Connecticut State Police and we’ve called her down here so we can get an image of this guy in every post office, bank, school, police station, you name it, his picture will be there.” I nodded my head and began answering her questions. “How tall was he and how much would you say he weighs?” she asked. “Um…a little less than six feet? I don’t know, probably 140 or 150 pounds?” “What kind of shoes was he wearing?” “Black converse.” “What kind of pants was he wearing?” “Khaki work pants, like Dickies.” “Shirt? Was he wearing a jacket?” “He wasn’t wearing a jacket…he had a blue polo shirt though.” “Describe his face for me, please.” “I guess he had a regular face. No facial hair. He did have a brightly bleached blonde buzzcut, though.” I had literally just described to her a hybrid of Tom DeLonge, the lead singer of Blink – 182, and Eminem – both artists who I admired and respected deeply at the time. “Okay, I think I’ve got what I need. The FPD officers will take it from here,” she said as she rose from her seat with some documents under her arm. “FPD officers?” I thought to myself, when all of a sudden, two Fairfield County Police officers walked into the room. One of them said, “Mr. Rutledge, we’re going to need you to answer some questions for us in the other room.” I swallowed the peach pit in my throat and walked with them into a lecture hall, starting to understand the magnitude of the situation. They began asking absurdly specific questions like what step I was on when I asked to go back to the gym, what the strangers looked like when I first walked in the building that morning, if this (non-existent) criminal had touched the Fruitopia machine, what my life growing up in Minnesota was like, and all sorts of questions revolving around my experience at the camp and life in Connecticut. This lasted for almost two hours. They assured me that everything was going to be okay - they were going to catch the guy because detectives were on their way from Hartford and the FBI would be notified in the event that anyone matching his description crossed state lines. With those words, I knew I needed to come clean. They had gotten in touch with my mother, whom I was allowed
to speak with after answering the officers’ questions. On the phone she knew immediately that there was something else going on and said, “If you do not tell them right now, I am going to.” I agreed and hung up. I was feeling intensely troubled and confused by my own actions, wondering how I was going to clean up this mess. The officers came back into the room and told me I could finally return to camp. I was led through the side door of the theater and I could see the stage filled with the 350 students in the program. The camp owner, who was never seen throughout the two weeks because she was the higher up, or whatever, was on stage speaking to the kids. She saw me, stopped mid sentence, and said with a smile of admiration, “And there’s the brave man himself.” Clap... clap…clap…clap clap clap clap clap clapclap clapclapclapclapclapclapclap. I received a standing ovation from 350 of my peers for my ‘bravery’, ‘courage’ and ‘maturity’ in the way I handled such a ‘fearsome situation’. She continued on, saying, “Will, I’ve been up here for the past hour discussing with everyone how brave you are and how in trying times like this, we need to stick together. From here on out, we all have assigned groups. When you’re not on stage, you sit with your assigned group; if you have to use the bathroom, you go with a counselor; while waiting to get picked up at the end of the day, we will wait with our groups inside.” As I walked onto the stage to sit down with the rest of the kids, I noticed the look of fear sprawled across their faces. They were truly frightened over the fib I had concocted to avoid admitting that I had a dire case of the runs. Furthermore, my lie had taken away our freedom to sit with our friends at lunch or during down time. That was a modicum of independence imperative to our sense of youthful autonomy, just as monumental as being allowed to go to the mall or movies with no parents for the first time. I felt incredibly stupid and guilty. I finally found Steve. He turned to me and said with a huge smile, “Duuuude, what did you do?” I just shook my head and looked down as students began assembling their predetermined groups for lunchtime. In the cafeteria, I asked to speak privately with my counselor, the first person I told my story to. I looked at her with my tail between my legs, and she knew. She just fucking knew. Drawing in a deep breath, she sternly asked, “Will, did this whole thing actually happen?” I shook my head no and began to cry, feeling utterly embarrassed. She brought me into the camp owner’s office and demanded I tell her the truth. I did and we all began to cry. It was as if a warm breeze gently unwound all the tangled tension that my lie had created. She immediately notified the Fairfield County officers who were still present. After I explained that my turbulent pooping pattern was the reason why I spun such an outrageous lie, we wiped away our tears and briefly chuckled at the absurdity of the situation. Then, her face tightened as she said, “Well, we’ve got 350 terrified students and our phone is ringing off the hook with terrified parents. I’m not about to be the one who tells them.” Realizing what she meant, I almost
shit my pants. She called another assembly and had everyone in the camp gather on stage. Once they were present, she came back into her office and said, “Get on up there.” Walking from her office to the stage felt like how Dante must have felt descending through the nine circles of hell. I was scared just being there, afraid of what might happen to me, yet I knew it was something that must be done and I remained focused on the light at the end. I stood in silence in front of 350 of my peers as their confused eyes burned holes through my body. I didn’t even know where to start. I awkwardly stood there before I said, “Hi everyone…um…I lied to you all that I almost got kidnapped because I uh…I had diarrhea. I was too embarrassed to tell my counselor, so I just kinda... made this whole thing up. I’m really sorry that I scared everyone. If I could do it again, I’d tell the truth…Um, yeah, what I did was really wrong and I’m very sorry.” I’ve never felt weirder in my life. With that, the day of camp was over. It was 2pm and the students got up and collected their things. No dress rehearsal had taken place and the show was the next day; I had derailed everything. Before we dispersed, the director informed everyone that there was going to be camp tomorrow before the performance to make up for lost time. Everyone groaned. Some kids looked at me and smiled, clearly amused by the situation, while others collected their things in a haste and stormed out of the building but not before making sure they flashed me a dirty look. I clung to Steve as a shield as he assured me that it was the funniest thing to ever happen in his life so far, and that it doesn’t matter if people hate me for it because we’ll be laughing about it forever. Steve and I walked out to join the others at the pick up spot and stood there in disbelief over the events that had just transpired. All of a sudden, a platinum blonde haired Fairfield County mother dressed in expensive clothing, knee high boots, and huge sunglasses, started fiercely walking towards us. She towered over me as she whipped off her sunglasses to stare me directly in the eyes. Her makeup looked like day old baked potatoes smeared on a face full of botox. She stuck up her index finger, firmly poked me in the chest and said, “How dare you threaten our community?” I was speechless. The mixture of emotions flooding my body at this point was overwhelming and I couldn’t find an appropriate response, which is probably for the best. She simply walked away, probably very satisfied. Moments later, my mom pulled up and just stared at me angrily, as Steve and I stood on the curb in fear. I was already feeling abundantly dumb and dreading the idea of having those feelings enforced by two furious parents. But instead, I experienced one of the most significant moments of relief I have ever felt. Her necessary stern parental demeanor melted into an uncontrollable shit-eating grin. While attempting to conceal her obvious smile, she said, “You are grounded forever. No TV, no skateboarding, no sleepovers. Get in the car.” I was never happier in my life to just be grounded.
ESSAY MEGAN MANOWITZ
I feel like an orphan in a movie when I’m at the hospital. I can feel the eyes of all the old, cancer-ridden adults, wondering why I’m here and if I’m here alone and if they could adopt me. The guy next to me gets off the phone with whom I can assume is his daughter (“Just wanted to make sure you got to Katie’s safely!” Only fifteen year old girls are named Katie) and out of the corner of my eye I see him hesitate whether or not he should say something to me. He looks up and back down, leans forward then readjusts. I like being in this role. It makes me feel like the “Earth’s Child” instead of the reality of the situation, which is that my parents work too much and I want to pretend to be an adult and handle doctor’s appointments on my own. It doesn’t help that I look twelve years old and when I sit, it’s with my arms wrapped up around my knees and my head buried between my legs. Being at a cancer hospital means you don’t have to wonder what’s wrong, just how bad it is. It’s at least a little bad, probably worse. I see an adult couple embracing in front of the elevator and I cry. I text a person and tell them I miss them and they respond, “Please stop.” I need someone to take care of me. I am in hell and act like a child. I stop crying two hours later, after I’m taken into a small private room to prepare for my PET scan. I stupidly sob into my oversized velvet sweater as the nurse tries and fails to find a vein in my arm for the IV. There is no parent or loved one there to soothe me and tell me to relax and to let him do his job, no one next to me to shush me and pet my head. The way children are similar to domestic creatures and need attention and their heads rubbed and ears scratched and someone to feed them, I am the same. No one is there to fulfill this role so I just cry in front of him, he never stops because he has a job to do but does say, “I’m sorry I’m so so sorry” under his breath. I am your worst nightmare. He finally finds a vein in my hand and leaves, and I sit in a room by myself for one hour and cry into the lens of a security camera.
The female nurses say to me, “Why are you here you’re so young you’re just a baby” and they call me sweetie and I ask them for graham crackers and they wipe the tears from my face when I’m secured down to an MRI table and can’t reach them myself. 21 year old infant. Being surrounded by swiftly dying old people will make you want to run the other way really quick. Cancer brings them closer to death, but for me it regresses all self-consciousness and emotional maturity I’ve developed as an apathetic twenty something. Aging backwards, disregarding the linearity of time. After the PET scan I ask the technician for water and something to eat and she brings me a huge cup of ice water with a giant kid-friendly straw and a handful of crackers. She sits with me and asks me questions like you would ask someone not well-versed in the English language, a child or a foreigner. She says to me, “Ooooh, I like your purple coat! Very nice! Where did you get it?” I respond appropriately, filling my role as Vulnerable Small Person. She is no more than five years older than me. She says, “When you are done resting I will walk you out. No rush, you’re the last patient of the day. I can’t let you leave alone!” Does she feel bad for me? I feel bad for myself. My transformation to stupid weak baby allows me to take my time and relax and cover myself in cracker crumbs without feeling self-conscious. I don’t worry about coming off as a real person who has their shit together and doesn’t cry in front of strangers, or about whether or not she wants to get rid of me. I want to stay so I do.
The wallpaper on the ceiling is as if one was laying on the forest ground and looking up at the trees and I think about how I want to live in or around it, in my vulnerable state it successfully instills peace in me. After about ten minutes I get up and walk to the technician and tell her I’m ready, and we walk down the hallway together. She asks me how old I am and where I go to school and what I’m studying and I tell her the truth but I feel like I’m lying. She still responds to me like a baby though she knows I’m college educated and normally this infuriates me but now I just want someone to fucking coddle me and I am genuinely disappointed when we reach the door. On the way home, I get takeout because I can’t make food for myself and I eat it on the train, first with chopsticks but then I drop one so I eat it with my hands. I think about what it means to be an adult and how I will never be one. This thought is not unique and that’s not a comfort but an annoyance. I don’t feel connected with anyone because of it. I am predictable.
FIFTH WALL ADRIANNE BONILLA This is not the climax. That comes later. Youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll know it by its smell. Vodka and wheel grease and winter. It comes when he is bloody by the staircase. The skater slammed metal, he caught it with his head. The moon saw it happen. Here our story arches its back and the audience loves it. Fat bear paws clapping salmon.
Everyone groans when his ear hangs half off. Someone shakes him awake. Not me. I am asleep and still angry. Time falls apart before the denouement. Before the pressure is eased so we all bite back a scream. How many times have we heard these metaphors? Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve lost control of the story. It splits into shards. We are restless. We can guess the words. This is the night in which he lives. A nurse bandages him up. He looks fine. We spin and kiss and roll around with our ears to the ground like dogs. No? This is the night in which he dies. I die too. Too easy. Fine. This is the night in which I hit him hard. Love scoops us out and sets our organs on the bed.
1. Rosie Onderdonk 1. I’ve composed symphonies From sidetracked pupils and shoulder blades and collarbones, and goodbyes you never gave to me. From exhales sharp like police sirens sharp like tiny echoes Like pinpricks. There is a rasp in the back of my throat That hums like honeycombs There time drips off of ledges And I have all the seconds left for you. There I sleep.
LOVE: A PROOF STEPHANIE BARTOLOME
Statement We are good together.
Reason Once, on a Greyhound, I pulled at a coat button and said, This color reminds me of something. The bus traveled through farm towns I have never been to. No one I knew lived in those houses. Straw light all around and the trees in the window clutching the morning. And you said it was the color of a citrus candy, something I had not tasted in several years. And that was it: it was exactly right.
Dictionaries define colors thusly: white: the color of milk and fresh snow; yellow: the color of gold, butter, and ripe lemons. Et cetera.
We get into a fight. That’s not what I mean, you say. You said you are afraid of commitment, I say. How else am I supposed to take that? What I mean to say, you say, is that there is a proper way to explain something and an understandable way to explain something. We are sitting at my kitchen table. I am still in pajamas, sleep all collected in my eyes. Well, I say, which is it? When you don’t say anything I throw an orange at your head. I didn’t know what to do. It was all I had in my hands.
Math is like love.
I am doing my math homework in the library, and from above, dropping suddenly as morning, come arms and a kiss wrapped around my neck. When I was a young girl I used to think about love all the time, how it worked, what it meant. And now I don’t think about it at all. In the library dark shapes move around us. I kiss you back. It seems like the most logical thing.
Love is like color.
I learned it, and years later as I sat in front of a canvas I had to unlearn it.
We should be together
We are good together. I know this. We are sitting in the car, after the first time. Your hand on the wheel and then you reach to turn it up. This is my favorite song, you say. You point out the time signatures, the chord patterns. Math and color drum and bloom. Your eyes are on the road. You press down on the gas. We are not going nowhere. We don’t have nothing to prove.
Equivocality Joni Kretzmer seraphic Your smile
in your rain-speckled
to lie beneath you
It is as if we are a plank of wood that is now bending
because the weight of my guilt would press me flat.
and swelling from
We ambled shoulder to shoulder,
I cannot relax its fibers I cannot unsee the golden flecks in your eyes.
a mile under fragmentary moonlight and you pranced,
what a corrosive fantasy, that would demolish the foundation we have built over the years. I am loathing
because I know that you see me, undeniably, as only a friend.
as it is: A Kidâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Story
SAD WATER LUKAS JENNINGS When I was a little girl, Papa always said he’d build me a treehouse; he just had to find the right tree first. The first time he’d promised me this, we lived in Tulsa and the trees in our yard were just saplings. He and Mama were travelers, never settling down in one place for too long—this was their first real house after several apartments. “You’ll have your very own home to yourself,” he’d say, his eyes peering at me from over the newspaper, brow raised, understanding my excitement.
The next year we moved to the outskirts of Dover. Our house was situated by a river, and just downstream a grove of birches stood along the water. Their spindly arms spread straight out like big white bristles of a toothbrush. I reminded Papa about his promise, but he said the trees were too weak to support a house of the size I’d want. Still, I spent much of my time walking up and down that river, looking at the trees and trying to imagine them holding the weight of my treehouse like Atlas held the world—but the branches were straightened arms without elbows, without joints. I laughed, imagining Papa struggling to haul our suitcases into our new house without bending his arms. The water moved through the meadow so slow, like it wanted to see the day my treehouse was built anyway; it felt sad to flow down too far and never learn the outcome.
The next year we lived near Chicago, but the only trees were in our front yard, heavy maples that seemed like they would have gone to the gym more than the birches in Delaware. Mama didn’t want Papa building anything in front of the house since it’d be an eyesore, but I heard her whispering late at night to him about how dumb the promise was in the first place. I’d have a treehouse for two, three months before we’d just move away again, she pointed out. Papa said Mama forgot what it was like to be a kid and want something so bad. Kids want things that are fleeting, she’d said, they never keep anything in their minds for long. They want adventure, not stability. The oak in St. Paul was just barely past our property line. The pine in Missoula would have worked, but Papa’s heart got messed up that year and he couldn’t do much of anything. We stayed an extra year there. Mama was restless and cleared cobwebs from the rafters. Deep in our backyard near Sacramento, upon a vast hill that stretched further into the wilderness beyond, the most perfect elm reached into the Cali skies above. The moment its figure caught my eye, I told Papa that that was where my treehouse had to be. He smiled and repeated his promise. But that year, Papa’s heart got worse. He would get home from work and fall asleep on the couch while Mama got dressed to go out for the night. Papa pretended this never bothered him.
Two years later, a great storm pushed through the valley one summer night. Mama’s suitcases were lined at the door like little soldiers, ready to leave everything behind. Papa hadn’t left the house more than twice since he quit his job, and Mama had signed for her first apartment after nine years. It was on a long city block in Phoenix, and down the road was a small park with a few shrubs. Papa didn’t beg her to stay because he remembered what it was like to want adventure. Mama looked at me, shedding tears like the sky outside, tears that paused at the edges of her cheeks, never hitting the welcome mat at her feet. She turned around and went outside and the rain washed her face clean. The elm was shaken by the wind that night, and as Mama’s car revved, lightning cracked through the air and Papa gasped for breath. I ran to the window in the kitchen to see that once-steady elm split open, one half fallen, an arm collapsed under too much pressure. When I went to tell Papa he was sitting in his recliner as usual, but his eyes were stuck open like dogwood blooms. Fifteen years later, my three-year-old daughter observed the trees in our Sacramento backyard. “It’d be neat to have a treehouse,” she told me. I breathed deep, half-smiling, and said, “That’d be a great idea.” I asked her which tree she thought would be best, but she told me not to look outside. “You can’t look at the trees,” she said, “or the sad water will come out of your eyes like it always does.”
CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES SARAH WALDRON
i was diagnosed as clinically depressed last month this means i can do anything i want but the catch is i don’t want to do anything i’ve been spen¬ding a lot of time in my apartment accumulating old containers of indian food and coke cans my roommate is talking to his girlfriend in the kitchen so i am staying here google search ‘how long wear same clothes rash’ followed by ‘death by sun deprivation’ apparently children in a cult in russia lived underground and never saw the sun up until they were discovered -- sounds good i tweet something depressing and take a nap in the haze of pre-sleep i am imagining the room filling with lava from the space under the door and the crack in the window my own giggling wakes me up a text from my ex girlfriend reads: “hey are you ok?” begrudgingly i agree to meet for coffee i drink three red bulls and she has a latte but i don’t feel embarrassed she fixates on me with aggressive concern “have you been eating?” i am overly aware of my own facial movements “yes” my nose twitches slightly she places her hand over mine and traces my knuckles deliberately she is paler than i am later we are in my room but i am not embarrassed by it we are kissing she tells me i’m too pretty to be depressed and takes her top off i didn’t ask for this i avert my gaze but i don’t know why maybe to be polite, maybe to escape her aggressive brand of consolation i sit back on the bed sort of turned on by her plain white bra the list of reasons not to fuck her has erased itself my sheets haven’t been washed in 6 months her deodorant smells like patchouli and jasmine “you used to hate being on top” “don’t look up at me, it’s a bad angle” after she looks at me and smiles a smile that maybe means something to her i feel like throwing up from all the red bull i roll over and take some pills that are on my nightstand hoping one is actual medicine she leaves i fall asleep my dreams are filled with more lava and gasoline and a girl in a bikini masturbating later she texts : “feeling any better?” “no not really”
DO YOU FUCK WITH THEM? SARAH WALDRON A girl gang, elementary bullies – magic markers, baseball bats, crayons, knives, play dough. Don’t go near the tire swing during recess. Can you make a shiv with a broken pencil sharpener’s razor and a colored pencil? The leader holds down a lone boy near the urinal while two others block the entrance. Red curls fall in front of her face as she kneels on scabby knees without wincing. “If you don’t stop tattling...” Bits of toilet paper stick to his tear soaked cheeks. A long string of spit emerges from her mouth and hovers over him like a spider. “Open your mouth.” The principal is crooked. Sometimes he goes to the nurse’s office for a long, long time when he isn’t even sick at all. Is a warhead candy and a pack of pop rocks enough to make a bomb? He cries and writhes around, sneakers squeaking on the tiles. The giggling sounds like a flock of tiny carnivorous birds. “Did he taste it? Did he? Did he taste it yet?” hik-hik-hik-hik “I think a teacher’s coming.” His snot dribbles down towards his chin. Rumor has it, Jessa, Becky, Hannah, Kelsie and Sam knock 1st graders’ teeth out and put them under their own pillows as a side business. Can you beat someone to death with a mitten full of sidewalk chalk? A girl in black mary-janes kicks him once in the stomach before they all skip out of the bathroom. Aiden is left wondering what exactly will happen if he tattles.
Masses sculpted in sand, an Atlantic breeze, a jut of land. Cape Cod embraces the mysticism of its oceanic landscape. As Thoreau saw, “The breakers looked like droves of a thousand wild horses of Neptune, rushing to the shore, with their white manes streaming far behind.” A place once of pilgrim landings now faces the tides of modern peril. These pictures behold the grandeur of an American enclave. A mere razor’s edge of geographic content, A transcendent observation. ROBERT WAGONER
HOW TO EMULATE THE CALLOUSES ON HIS PALM GIADA SCODELLARO Regain power by packing a suitcase, always wait for the squeals of children to unpack. Smoke one pack a day, secretly smoke two more. If teeth aren’t visible, it isn’t laughter.
Make the sign of the cross when passing, don’t enter. Buy lottery tickets. Don’t wear red nail polish, it is a lighthouse for men. Or open the green umbrella in the house, even if the storm is knocking. But open your eyes underwater, and above sea level, too.
MOTH-MAKER DANIEL GRJONKO (a sonnet) Muddy with no sleep tonight, and I think it is dark and so heavy; so, no light. Digging a hole in memory, in spiteâ&#x20AC;¨ of acquired taste for your coos and stink, finding myself grieving: dark ellipse of flashing imagery. But lately, I too find signs that the universe speaks in clues. It coos and begs us toward pattern and love. No cause and effect, but notice and see-â&#x20AC;¨ As I grieved, suddenly, flashed the image of you, lightness, and into my grimace flew a moth, sat beside, and stared at me. Ah! Who are you, my love, but the storied moth-maker? The universe soothes worry.
GETTING HORNY LAUREL SQUADRON
That night, she couldn’t wait any longer. She snuck out of the zookeeper’s bed and went to find her lover in his cage. His gigantic horn stood out in the dark like a beacon. He charged toward her, as she knew he would. She grabbed his horn and swung her body onto his; rubbing her naked flesh against his rough, grey back. His muscles rippled as he galloped. She could tell he liked it when she rode him. “Urrgghurrguurrrgh,” he grunted passionately. She moaned, pressing her body even closer to his as he stomped around his cage. She took his horn, rubbed her hands up and down it, noticing how long and firm it was. “You’re so sexy,” she murmured. She felt her body growing warm, her flesh tingling. She had never felt so aroused. “Please, Ralph,” she moaned, as she rolled off his body and onto the ground, “Fuck me with your two-and-a-half-foot penis, I can’t take it anymore!” Just then, a light flashed into the cage. Out of the darkness came the voice of the zookeeper. “What’s going on,” he asked, sounding confused, Then, he seemed to take in the scene that was illuminated in the flashlight’s glow. Ralph began to snort. She stood up. “You’re so sexy when you’re angry,” she whispered to Ralph. The zookeeper looked devastated, and then infuriated. “Wha… wha… how could you do this to me!?!” he yelled. She stared at the ground. “Honey, I…” she started; then she felt herself choking up, tears rushing to her eyes, and she could not continue. She looked up at him. In his eyes there was an expression of deep longing, deep anguish. He stared at her… or no… he was staring past her. He was staring at Ralph! Suddenly, she understood. All these years and she had never known… her husband was gay.
HUMPING THE HUMPBACK LAUREL SQUADRON She thrust herself against Hans’s slick body, kissing him passionately, his flipper hard against her tongue. His giant cock began to emerge. Briefly she wondered if her vagina was wide enough to accommodate it, as it was almost the size of her entire body, but she brushed the thought away. “Love knows no size,” she told herself. A wave of lust swept over her. Also, just then, a literal wave swept over her, violently pushing her off of Hans’ body and sweeping her out to sea! “Hans!” she cried, the salt of her tears mixing with the ocean water. “OoooOOOoooOOOOoooooOOOOOOOOOooooooOO OOOOOOOOOOooooooOOOOOOOOOOoooooooOOOOOOOOo oooooooOOOOOOO,” called Hans forlornly, which she now knew to be his cry of distress/sexual frustration.
ILLUSTRATION: MARGARET PINTO
M36 HAYLEY DAYIS There was cigarette perfume perforating pores of sophomores, screaming sick in the glazed skin of stone snuffers, muffled under spiked tongues, muted half‐moon faces shorn of care and creasing quickly into leather lust and lemon lip balm, dancing drastically with the divine do‐rags and too‐rads of topaz molly midnight meshings, mortifying me— mistaking beat for pulse, pulse for heart. There were purple paint saints awhirl in strobe, impaling ligaments on syncopation, ribs rubbing into carpet blue hues. Then you, a lone white groove, a woodblock print pasted to the wall in a vertical vibe, sighed. I went to your side.
THE UNAUTHORIZED VOICES OF THE BOYS IN MY MIRROR ROBERT TURNER
Once. I stole. Some fake jewelry. Like rings and chains. For the girl next door. Her name was whatever it was. A police officer saw me and screamed, “Hey you little thief, put back those rings.” I can’t remember my age when I took those things. ~~~ It was freshmen year at Brooklyn High School of The Arts, and my teacher had some weird type of syndrome that made his ‘t’s sound like ‘s’s. Sometimes he just skipped saying things to save himself the embarrassment. “Okay class, less begin soday by sharing some hissory. Robers, whass your Nasional…?” I waited for an attempt at the ‘ity’ part of that word but it didn’t come. “My mom is Bajan.” “Inseressing, whass abous your dad?” “What about him?” “Whass his Nasional…? Is he Black.” “No.” “Is he Whise.” “No.” “Is he Spanish or Asian.” “Nope, none of that.” He was getting mad. “Robers, whass is your fasher.” “He’s a prostitute.” He looked appalled. “Prosessussing is nos a Nasional….” I smiled. “It is when you do it on a Nasional level.” I was given the title of Class Clown. ~~~ Day 1: I saw her and thought, ‘wow she’s pretty, and she’s not even paying me any attention, that’s cute’. Little did I know, she’d spotted me last week. Day 84 at 12:30: She came from somewhere behind me, whispering in my ear, the same way I always did to her. I turned around and brushed a few loose strands of her hair behind her ear. I always loved her hair. I always played in it. Day 63: “Yo Rob, you comin with us after school?” “Nah, I’m chillin with my girl.” “What, yo why you still messing with her, you’re a Junior, she’s such a freshmen, and she got a big ass nose. You could do better man.” Day 84 at 12:33: She stood in front of me long enough for me to see one tear fall down her face. She called me heartless for breaking hers. She ran away, her lovely hair swinging from side to side, all the way down the hall. In three minutes a stupid boy messed up the best chance he had ever had at love.
~~~ It was seven hours after I was supposed to be home, a week after the big 16th birthday. I had gotten into a fight with some boy over something I can’t remember. When I walked in, my mom started with the yelling and the screaming. I had just beaten the bricks off of that kid in the Park, in front of everybody at school, they all said I was THE MAN. Now THE MAN is getting yelled at. I yell back. We scream, we shout, she calls me ungrateful, a problem’ed child. I destroy the house to release my anger, break the table punch a hole in the closet door and wall. I slammed the house door shut and stomp up to the roof. I sat there and cried for hours, I had never felt so low, so stupid, so ashamed of myself. That’s my mother I just disrespected. I ask, ‘what was all that even for? How was I going to face my mother again?’ ~~~ The voices woke me up. It’s dark, I was scared and alone. They said I was wrong. ~~~ …and I whispered. “I’m sorry.” ~~~ An unfinished list of 12 things I haven’t finished, currently un-arranged. 1. My Laundry 2. Countless drawings 3. That apple pie in my fridge from last month 4. My Book 5. The drawing of my best friend’s next tattoo 6. My re-reading of the Harry Potter series before the final movie 7. Countless games 8. The sex talk 9. The Thomas Hardy poem that borders my room 10. My remake to Drake’s first album called Thank Me Or Else 11. This list… I’m not a procrastinator; I’m just saving stuff to do for when I’m fifty. No one’s going to call me a boring old geezer. Besides, from what I hear, being bored at that age is deadly. ~~~ “I want love to call my heart home.” ~~~ Most of my close friends wouldn’t believe this, but I regularly give the less fortunate and homeless passengers on the train whatever change I have in my pocket. Last week, I had to choose between the kind that tries to earn the change people give them by doing a song, and the kind that yells and screams, up and down the car, talking about how angry they are at “THE MAN” for keeping them down. I gave the boy, who couldn’t have been too much younger than me, a twenty dollar bill. The crazy lady yelled at me, called me an idiot, said that she needed the money way more than some piano playing white boy did. He smiled, thanked me, and said I was a very nice person. ‘Either way,’ I said to myself. ‘I still had my change.’
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