Still Life 2018

Page 1

Still Life 2018

Still Life 2018 The community arts journal of the SVSU Center for Community Writing, the Saginaw Community Writing Center, and the Bay Community Writing Center Saginaw Valley State University 7400 Bay Road University Center, MI 48710

Still Life is produced by the staff of the Saginaw Valley State University (SVSU) Writing Center and students in the SVSU Art Department, and it is published by the SVSU Graphics Center. It features creative writing from residents of Saginaw and Bay counties, the counties in which the Saginaw Community Writing Center and Bay Community Writing Center reside, as well as work by out-county residents who visit our community writing centers. All submissions are considered for publication. Staff members are excluded from receiving any awards. Still Life was originally funded by a Dow Professor Award offered though SVSU’s Center for Academic Innovation. The magazine is now generously funded by Dr. Debasish Mridha of Saginaw, Michigan. Still Life is produced using InDesign. This issue features the font Adobe Caslon Pro. Cover Art: “Pollock and Jazz,” by N. Clark-Young SVSU is committed to providing work and learning opportunities without regard to age, color, disability, gender identity, genetic information, height, marital status, national origin, race, religion, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, veteran status, weight, or on any other basis protected by state, federal, or other applicable law, and to achieving its objectives in compliance with applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations that prohibit discrimination. Copyright 2019, Still Life. All subsequent publishing rights are returned to the artist.

Staff Editorial Staff

Visual Artists

Faculty Editors

Layout and Design

Joshua Cianek Samantha Geffert Emma Kirsch Kara Steinman Imari Tetu Christopher Giroux Hideki Kihata Helen Raica-Klotz

N. Clark-Young H. D. Eagle Zainab Ali Labbad Lily Elizabeth Solgat Chris E. Wisniewski Hannah Mose


SVSU Graphics Center

Table of Contents Editors’ Note 5 “Native,” Matt Chappel 6 “Wired Thoughts....,” Shawne Mellios 7 “Backbone, I Can’t Let Go of You,” Pearl Thomas 8 “Rescue,” Deda Kavanagh 9 “View from the Eyes of Beloved,” Elizabeth Shorkey 10 “Ruinenlust,” Jack Rechsteiner 12 “In the Veterans’ Hospital,” Eric Nisula 13 “Once, Then and Again,” Craig Prime 14 “A Late Evening Saginaw Stroll,” Don Popielarz 15 “Antiseptic,” Jahdiel Wingard 16 “Four O’Clock,” Serena M. Pittman 17 “Grey Wings in the Grey Sky,” Rosemary Kavanagh 18 “Immolation,” Bruce Gunther 20 “Molecular Water,” Austin Bauer 22 “What I Hate the Most,” Azaria Milton 23 “Ad Patrem,” Imari Tetu 24 “Icon,” Amanda Morningstar 25 “The Twenty-Second Floor,” Lori M. Decker 27 “secrets of the straight and narrow,” Jennifer Williamson 28 “A Taste of Paradise,” Alexander “Cbxtn Fig” de Verdoni 29 “I Just Need Someone to Hold,” Joshua Gillard 31 “{Crímata} {Helios} Centric,” Tristan Harman 33 “Maker: Mathias Thir 1779,” Elaine Hunyadi 34 “Where Love Lies,” Vanessa Willette 35 “The Dash That’s in the Middle,” Rachel Diehl 36 “Communion,” Martin Nelson 37 “I Have a Question,” Brad Yurgens 38 “Herodias’ Daughter,” Marjorie Talaga 40 “Pickles from the Jar,” Jean Marie Learman 42 “Grandpa, What Is Fear?,” Jared Morningstar 43 “Late-Winter Walk Around the Pond,” Suzanne Sunshower 46 “Chiaroscuro,” Brad Yurgens 47 “Fish Bones,” Kelli Fitzpatrick 49 “Post-life Corporation,” Jake Miller 51 “Waiting,” Lisa Gregory 54 About Our Writers 56 About Our Writing Centers 62 About Our Benefactor 62 Acknowledgments 63

Editors’ Note Welcome to the 2018 issue of the award-winning community arts journal Still Life! As always, we are proud to provide a venue for writers in our community to share their ideas and have their voices heard. Congratulations to Alexander de Verdoni and Elaine Hunyadi, who won top prizes in the Adult (Age 19+) category, and Jadhiel Wingard, who was the winner of the Young Adult category (Age 13–18). We are proud, too, to announce a few changes to this issue. Although Still Life is a poetry journal, its sponsoring organizations—the SVSU Center for Community Writing and the Saginaw and Bay Community Writing Centers—often run contests linked to different events and in various genres. In this issue, you’ll find a few of the winners of the March 2018 “Write Like Roethke” poetry contest and our Summer 2018 “Get to Work” Flash Fiction Contest. The “Work” contest celebrated the Public Theater’s visit to Saginaw and its traveling production of Lynn Nottage’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play Sweat. We hope you can tell from these contests that we are always looking for new ways to encourage writing in our community. So be sure to keep writing, to keep watching our websites for more writing opportunities, to share your work with us, and to come see us at our community writing centers. Christopher Giroux Assistant Director, SVSU Writing Center Co-Director, SVSU Center for Community Writing Associate Professor, SVSU English Department Hideki Kihata Professor and Chair, SVSU Art Department Helen Raica-Klotz Director, SVSU Writing Center Co-Director, SVSU Center for Community Writing



Matt Chappel

Oh Michigan, strong-handed Michigan, Teach me to be fair but to be tough. Teach me to be a simple-hearted man. Give me apprenticeship; that is enough To satisfy me. Give me woods and lakes. Do not hold back—bark, water, make it rough. Let me learn the hard way, show me what it takes, Show me how to keep a steady hand, And let me learn by making my own mistakes. I love your land, your multi-textured land; I love your calloused blue-collar-working palm Etched by sand, etched by your dunes of sand. Teach me the axe, the hay, the fruit, the farm. Teach me the Manistee; teach me Au Sable’s bend. Your easy-going pace of life is calm. Your fields, your flowers, teach me how to tend. The hand of the gardener has a gentle thumb. It’s where I started out; it’s where I’ll end. Teach me how to sprout, to grow, to stand. If you’re the potter’s hand, I am the clay. And when I have no hand that I can lend, Lend me yours—show me the native way.


Wired Thoughts Shawne Mellios

If we all traveled in concentric circles, weaving in and out and swirling around each other, would there be noise? How do we relate, when we are all just spinning by, can we even hear each other’s lies? There are fiber-optic cables now that communicate our every thought; graphically, we travel into and out of each other’s thoughts, our emotions, icons that can be bought. We pay to transmit, save a legacy, and fake we are legit. Thumbs up, and thumbs down. Add them, share them, like them. We live to be stroked and evoke a pattern that exudes some unkind and dangerous folk. There are rules to these things, some say it’s an art. But what kind of art leaves others enmeshed in the dark? Our thoughts, they travel with lightning speed. We have to keep up the pace, or our face most likely will be erased. What will come of the real human race? Is it all just a fight, to indulge and selfishly waste? Can we return, or are our options grossly stagnant and in bad taste?


Backbone, I Can’t Let Go of You Pearl Thomas

The church bells are ringing. Breezes stinging. People are singing.... All the foot tapping God can bring. Tingle my spine like they say he would. Could a jingle keep me out of trouble? Troubleman calling. If he could, he’d send a letter. Hear ye? Eardrum is beating. Moving even. Chatter. I can’t escape: My heart beats to hear them. Didn’t you say, you’ll never be the same? Ahem. I am breathing again: Like bronchial passages, I need oxygen. Like I need the skin I am in. Smile is contagious. Heed the rotary dial. Sundial quits but my Spirit is risen.... Scarf is blowing in the wind. Arms have to dance. No, natural groove. Only a mood. I move to the rhythm of a new song: Chest rising and falling. I shoot for the stars. Relentless, free from harm. Only love can soothe a metronome. Bang a gong? Thrill and kill. Time. Then.... Eyes start to swell. Red. A good cry? Pink eye? My backbone can’t let go. Of you. I tell it to the Earth and so gone.... Gone.... Now, hear her? She’s a nightbird. Much spine now under the moonlight. More than a kitten, lost her mittens. What purr? Backbone brings strength for later. An arch to lean on. Done? Suddenly, the door closes.... I am present with you.



Deda Kavanagh

I hid upstairs from the gardener who was working that hard in the hundred-year-old yard, to separate and bag dead oak, crabapple, and maple, leaves tangled tight with creeping, choking ivy. Not that much younger than I, and I would not even try to help him. So I slunk behind walls till rain came to save us. He lined up seven bags of brush and drove off. I stepped out softly to fluff, to rescue scilla, tulip, bluebell— hurricaned flat by a leaf blower.


View from the Eyes of Beloved Elizabeth Shorkey

Have you ever seen the playful sun that cheats the moon at cards? The sun that plays peek-a-boo with you through the shadows of the trees? Wears nothing at all and embarrasses the clouds? The sun that likes to skinny dip in the early morning mist? There is a sun that likes to run up the highest hills to meet the sky, as if for the very first time, before running back down. The sun that likes to shoot the breeze behind cowboys in grainy television screens and shoo the fog off farmers’ shoulders and fields? Chase swallows from the cattail ditches and backyard tomato gardens? Have you ever seen the cruel sun? The sun that kissed your skin in summer, digging your grave in the molten sand? The one that heated the looming pavement just to burn baby’s soles? The sun that won’t forgive you first as it glares at you off the hood of a car? There is a sun that doesn’t care about tan lines or weekly doctor visits and skin grafts. Have you ever met the sorrowful sun? The sun that calls the clouds into the formation of a heavenly window? For angels and fallen relics to spot their loved ones through? The sun that stared too long at the puppy panting in the shiny sedan? There is a sun that will for a fleeting moment look you in the eyes and smile, showing you its wife’s lingering eyes and all her glowing rings. There is a sun that will sit at your burial, outline the tears on your loved ones’ faces, and leave you to grieve with the stars.


“Melencolia I,” Chris E. Wisniewski 11

Ruinenlust Jack Rechsteiner

When the levee broke, as levees are bound to— the water rose so fast and so high, people quickly learned water doesn’t have the kind of oxygen we need to breathe. Levees are a lot like rules, not made to be broken but still bound to be by the very nature that bore them. An ark and a levee are made of the same boards and craft, but a vessel seeks to fill its purpose to the world that contains it, where a dam defines rules and displays the control that we like to pretend we have. Levees don’t understand the calm before destruction or the eye of the hurricane. They don’t know the language of human systems— scales that try to categorize storms as if by naming acts of God we think we can become gods ourselves. To be blessed with communicating with the deceased, a channel connecting the current moment with the actions that lead to it, I’d ask those architects of walls—“What pride did you have so you could overlook the way water carves canyons and dashes ships on unforgiving rocks? Were you otherwise preoccupied when the siren sea sang its dirges and eulogies, your ears rapt with some other calling song that spoke to your arrogance and urgency?” That is the kind of pride that I need, I think, for what I have in store for myself.


In the Veterans’ Hospital Eric Nisula

you see men whose suave fingers used to gently pinch the nipples of delicious women, men who could corkscrew their bodies into the most pleasurable positions— men who now, in their off-white rooms, amidst not quite covered-over odors, balance on the edges of beds and guide with shaking hands the small plastic vessel they need to enter.


Once, Then and Again Craig Prime

once I walked into a room where I have been many times before and something I saw reminded me of you. I couldn’t pinpoint the object, the room was full, actually crowded and one thing reminded me of you then driving down the road in a quite common location and something I heard reminded me of you. I couldn’t pinpoint the sound, the street was sparse, actually empty and one thing reminded me of you and again while dreaming just staring out the full moon-lit window and something reminded me of you. I couldn’t pinpoint the smell, the air was still, actually fresh and one breeze reminded me of you a roomful of objects, the construction-littered street, one smell from night air so still and fresh is where our bodies meet a completely different sensation occurred while reviewing photographs from the past and not recognizing a soul nothing reminded me of you, my memory was clouded, actually blank then a roomful of objects, the construction-littered street, one smell from night air so still and fresh is where our bodies meet


A Late Evening Saginaw Stroll Don Popielarz

“How ya’ll doin?” So simple a greeting in the night can quickly lead to my ruin. Is this a soliloquy from the past or a portent of a future sleight? Surely the moment can’t last. In the ebony eve, just us three there. So hard to see—no natural light. He with missing teeth and unkempt hair. Such a virulent, violent visage. Through perpetual fright, I discern the cryptic message.



Jahdiel Wingard

Paint Strokes Mimic life An image Vibrant dyes Empty palette Blank canvas Not enough resin, pigment, solvent Ink Strokes Mimic life An image Vivid diction Empty cartridge Blank page Not enough carbon black pigment Words Spoken Sung Mimic life An image Evocative thought Clear mind Silent mic Not enough dedication, hope, aspiration Dreams Slept Mimic life, mimic life, mimic life An image, an image, an image Vibrant, vivid, evocative, dyes, diction, thought Empty palette, cartridge, mind Blank Not enough


Four O’Clock Serena M. Pittman

“Deep in their roots, all flowers keep their light.” —Theodore Roethke The man said, “Have you ever noticed that every woman has a flower she is kindred to?” in the parking lot after church one Sunday. “When you see that flower or catch its scent, you can’t help but think of her and smile.” I had never thought about that before. And then, I smiled. “I like Four O’Clocks,” she said. “They are second-shift flowers like me.” You only got to see flowers that could take the heat on your walk from South Hamilton up Michigan to Saginaw General. Widowed in 1945 with six little ones to feed, you became a nurse. And then there’s Blue Morning Glory, she’s eighty-three, still an early riser and sweet like you. In my garden, I tend to both first- and second-shifters. Remember when I was little? Everyone called me Daisy. These days I feel much more akin to Sunflowers. Mammoth and Melodramatic, Yet always striving to turn their face toward the sun— My face. I’ve grown strong, Grandma. Your light dwells in my roots.


Grey Wings in the Grey Sky Rosemary Kavanagh

Fever feeds the chills at 4 A.M. Rain brings me down the stairs to you Grey sky  You let the dog out While I look through my window high After walking into walls Above the dripping sink I think Water inside Outside And then I see grey wings pull it open like taffy Pull the grey sky open! Like a throbbing sheet on a clothesline And the grey songs! Oh glorious life in dawn Do not leave Me today Do not, Like my family did.


“Noah’s Ark,” Zainab Ali Labbad 19


Bruce Gunther

The attendants pour gas carefully over the monk’s head; cars honk in the Saigon intersection. “I respectfully plead,” begins his letter to the autocrat, “that you take a mind of compassion and implement religious equality to maintain the strength of the homeland.” He sits in full lotus, tops of his feet resting on his thighs. He lights the match with eyes cast downward. If we listen carefully we hear the voice of MLK. We shake off the dream of a shooter’s nest in Dallas. We sense the peasant guiding his water buffalo through the rice field. The flames lick higher; their lethal fingers invite us closer while we watch from 9,000 miles away. The boy closes a notebook covered in American flag stickers on his desk in a Connecticut classroom. The smoke travels over continents; its traces linger above a Klan meeting in Mississippi and move on. Hear the rubber stamp come down on a deferment that sends the millionaire’s son home. How about a wink and a nod as the wails of anguish compete with the honking horns of Saigon? Faces peering from car windows. Nuns cover their faces, the smell of burning human flesh, the monk unwavering.


And in the jungle darkness, a soldier flinches at the sound of a twig snapping.


Molecular Water

Austin Bauer

I submerse myself in fluid words and letters just as I would swim within molecular water. I try to find meaning— diving to the bottom. Sometimes I forget the point is only to get wet and to cool down.


What I Hate the Most Azaria Milton

I am a calm soul. Nothing crawls Under my skin Like an Egyptian Scarab. I am a calm soul. Oh, but oh… There is one motion That I despise the most. When I see those tongues Tsk. When I see those lips Fold with uncertainty. Those eyes stare At my face When I glide past To be unseen. Their vision trails. Above my eyebrows. Past my forehead. Back down again. Why can’t I just live In peace Without avoiding People’s presence? But we all know them. It’s the same ones too. You can see them coming. At this point, I’ve become a scarab That crawls under the sand. No more.


Ad Patrem

Imari Tetu

She is here by his doing, though not by his design. She strives against the world while he looks on. Perchance a word might pass between them. She lives in his shadow, dependent on him. He holds the key to her dreams. She struggles, and she succeeds. Twice he smiles, once he speaks in praise, but he knows little of her, and she less of him. Does he dream? Does he reason? Does he listen? Does he care? She does not know, for he is a stranger to her. In anger his hand is raised. The blow falls. No wound to the body, he instead crushes the spirit. Does he not see how she suffers? The day will come when time has touched his frame, and he will ask why she never loved him. Her only words must be these: “Sir, I do not know you.�



Amanda Morningstar

He pastes her together. See: newspaper articles and science channel profiles until she can’t unbend her arms. News at 10. Far sleazier cheating bastards on channel 6. Already posted six hours ago, 7,347 likes. No comment. Only half a message made it back to him about sesame chicken. Me: I like beef and broccoli. Make a legal U-Turn as soon as possible. Think about everything, just everything all the time. Because she’s just a poet who wants to save the world. Because he thinks time is money. Because I just wanna be like everyone else, Because you like it better that way. And you hate when I don’t get the joke. Bandwidth from hell to breakfast. <cuddle time> Sunday Morning Coffee </cuddle time> gets lost in the chaos of the morning CNN. Because everything was foreclosed on. Because everything was quiet and screaming at the same time. Because she didn’t save the world. Because time was a commodity. We all yell because we don’t know what else to do. And we medicate, and we self-medicate. What is sanity, anyway? See related topics: Yellow wallpaper Keyword: isms She pastes him together. See: Google, and self-help books Until his mouth is too big for his face.


“Between the Alley of Civilizations,” Zainab Ali Labbad 26

The Twenty-Second Floor Lori M. Decker

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, Who are these terrorists among us? We long for the answers, but find none. Even if we retaliate against these senseless acts, will we have truly won? World peace is an idealist’s dream. We live in a society that demands the extreme. Scary as it is, we are faced with the reality that tomorrow may never come. This is already a raw and gripping truth for some. I had no idea that I said my last farewells to my mother today. She went off to work in the usual way. Her kiss and embrace were so tender as ever. The bond of a mother and child so strong—not even the hatred of many could cause it to sever. Today is forever embedded in our history as one of great loss. September 11 will remind us that freedom comes with a cost. My mother’s spirit does not lie buried in the rubble or remains of the collapsed World Trade Center core. Her soul soars well above the twenty-second floor. She is an angel now and just ask me how I know. Well, that’s because when I prayed for her, God told me so.


secrets of the straight and narrow Jennifer Williamson

diligent hands bound of blood and bone tip to brow enfold

tongues consume the hollow hour of darkness heavy with the kiss of brimstone empty offerings engraving vacant skies only falling stars respond a perpetual tantrum of molten dreams still floundering spirits rise from blue to black and back again desolate tombstones set adrift sinking drowning made destiny in the river of our beginnings burdened with the breath of life


the mirror grows cloudy once more

A Taste of Paradise

Alexander “Cbxtn Fig” de Verdoni

An exquisite white truffle and gruyère omelet of red spatuletail hummingbird eggs Or may I recommend the decadent coelacanth filet smoked with Madagascan rosewood, glazed in narwhal butter? Welcome to Eden, deep in the Congo Jungle, high atop the Himalayas, where we pride ourselves to please your discriminatingly refined palate with a selection of Earth’s magnificent delicacies— while dining on our terrace of walrus ivory or in our den, hollowed from a single trunk of an antique sequoia. Do you have a reservation? Here is your salad of ghost orchids and night-blooming sirius sepals dressed in a Caspian balsamic vinegar aged three hundred years. Here, a resplendent quetzal foie gras in a Venezuelan porcelain cacao sauce served on a bed of crystalized butterfly wings and udumbara flowers. Enjoy our cold-pressed olive oil plucked from the trees planted by Pope Gregory II to accompany the bread whose flour was milled by hand by the Prince of Morocco and leavened with his tears. Ancient baobab trees that sprouted as Egyptians built their pyramids, whose roots grew as Rome fell, and whose branches caressed the sky as mankind walked the moon, are artisanally carved as a table for your dining experience this evening. Jellyfish who blithely floated through five mass extinctions are dehydrated and then reconstituted as a cushion for your seat. Tapestries and cloths that once adorned reliquaries of forgotten saints are neatly folded into a napkin for your lap. We tenderize our meat with hammers made from the Wailing Wall, where each prayer whispered to the glory of God softens the fibers of your Javan rhino steak.


We bake our cream pies and cakes in clay ovens built from the mud chipped off the minaret of the Great Mosque of DjennĂŠ, we fertilize our gardens with the soil of the Galapagos, we cut our cheeses on marble columns from the Temple of Zeus, we cook with water gathered from the spring of the Tigris River, we clean our kitchen with the tongues of a thousand orphaned Buddhist children, each potentially the next Dalai Lama.


I Just Need Someone to Hold Joshua Gillard

The sun is sinking low and night is falling near. Where are you, my moonlight? I want to hold you, dear. You’ve become my, my my only nighttime friend. Be the thing I cling to, the thing I hold so close. Be my happiness when I have only fear. The night is oh so long, with no one by my side. You’re the one I’m holding on when it’s time to hide. I wish you would stay here for all the nights now after but one is more than none and infinitely better. Stay with me. I just need someone to hold. That’s all I ask. That’s all I want. Even when I’ve grown old. I’ll just need someone to hold. I’ll tell you of my day. You’ll need not respond. I’ll only want to be by you when the night is coming on. I’ll just hold you ‘til the morning comes And know that I am not alone. I’m not of the lonely ones. I just need someone to hold. That’s all I ask. That’s all I want. Even when I’ve grown old. I’ll just need someone to hold.


“Patricia’s Palm,” Lily Elizabeth Solgat 32

{Crímata} {Helios} Centric Tristan Harman

Soaking in the solar rays, Summer’s like a supernova. All the world is set ablaze When it is over. The warmth before the cold... Summer’s like a supernova. If it ever grows too bold There comes a great collapse. The warmth before the cold Like cracks in life, the tiny gaps. In the chasm of life and work There comes a great collapse. So we carry on, as fools and clerks And savor these small reprieves. In the chasm of life and work We jail and kill, we toil and thieve To soak up the solar rays And savor these small reprieves While all the world is set ablaze.


Maker: Mathias Thir 1779 Elaine Hunyadi

The button on the end of my violin Anchors tail, bridge, string, peg—all that is sound It rubs against my neck, wooden, worn, warm Its roundness fits inside my mouth My nostrils inhale must, maple, Mathias Silent mothers’ milk A centuries-old kiss.


Where Love Lies

Vanessa Willette

How fractured and distorted our lives have become. Like the inside of a prism. A tilt of the head, trick of the light. Disappear behind the glitz and the glamor of it all. Mesmerized by the splash of rainbow against empty bedroom walls. Immersed in its chaotic beauty. Empty words, filled with untruths, lack substance under their impending weight. The crowd claps, applause like a Sunday chorus, dazzling lights, center stage. She sits alone watching the evening rain etch itself into the window. Eerily calming shadows cast on the walls. A stale silence hangs in the room along with a piercing quiet, but she is not alone. They are always together, here and gone, like magnets. One side attracting and connecting. Like Cassiopeia reflected in her doe-like eyes or clouds tickling her fingertips. Impossible, boundless splendor. But then life flips and magnets repel. Resisting and revolting. Devastating, ceaseless torture. Like cold water rushing into her lungs or knowing the exact moment she’ll die. They move and dance, going through the motions without emotions. Trapped in an endless waltz-like dream. Distracted by the glow in front of them. The sands of their lives slip through joined hands, chilly fingers wound together. Minuscule moments too important to lose. Lost. They crowd gasps, perched on the edge of their seats. They believe the fairytale. They don’t understand That the heroes, on their darkest of days, are also the villains. The show is not for the audience; it never was. She fights for him as hard as she fights against him, as does he with her. An unseen force, constantly connecting, an endless supply of moments awaits. And it’s there, Inside the light and dark of each other’s souls, where love lies, That they find equilibrium. 35

The Dash That’s in the Middle Rachel Diehl

The dash that’s in the middle, shows the life, shows the scribble of what that person did. How they loved, how they lived. We all dig deep below the stings. We all look down at vital things. The date they’re born, the day they die. And life, that’s in between, the line. The life remembered for all time in the dirt, within the little shrine.


Communion Martin Nelson

I went to nature’s cathedral to try and restore my soul.  An eagle hovered at the entrance to usher me in. I walked by living walls of towering green, past a font filled with life, ducks floating and dipping their heads for a blessing, past a choir of birds singing, “Glory to God in the highest and peace to His creatures on earth,” and my soul cried out, “When?” I sat on a wooden bench surrounded by a congregation of shimmering dragonflies that hovered forever just out of reach. I stood at the edge of a meadow and reached out my hands to God and the sun, and cried out, “Why are my people not here? Why do I stand here alone?” The blue jays laughed and laughed. Walking back out I touched the bark of that wall of trees knowing they could not feel me, that I did not exist to them. Back at the entrance I threw crackers to gulls who descended, strutted in their white robes, fighting and shrieking, enforcing the rule that only the strongest and cruelest may eat the wafer.


I Have a Question Brad Yurgens

About the puddle on the sidewalk even though it hasn’t rained in weeks. About the blonde girl I don’t know who waved at me in the library lobby. About the blue Seagram’s cap I saw abandoned in an ant canyon at the edge of the Walmart parking lot. About the turkeys playing in the untilled wheat field, a few miles from my house. About the bumper sticker on my neighbor’s pick-up that says KEEP RUNNING. I’M RELOADING. About the submarine-green lights coming from the eyeless mosque planted in the cornfield a hundred yards from the road. About where the deer go to sleep, surrounded by so many human beds. About the purpose of lawnmowers and the places that get paid to sharpen their teeth. About the dungeon carving itself out of the Meijer supermarket floor with an entrance gated by a Stonehenge of navy shopping carts. About the semi-truck trailers amassing in the parking lot like druids at the end of a lengthy pilgrimage. About the task of writing these things down before they erase themselves again. I raise my hand.


“Jackson Guitar,” N. Clark-Young 39

Herodias’ Daughter Marjorie Talga

A Herodian princess, a pursuit of power, a holy man In Rome. An abandoned marriage, an immoral union forged in lust, Consummated in murder. Herodias and Herod Antipas, biblically Notorious forever. A dance revered and reviled Through the ages. John the Baptist, herald of Christ, decrying The adulterous pair. Herodias scoffing at repentance, Embracing revenge. She, with a hard heart, demanding Execution. Herod, deferring to his people, refusing Persecution. Herodias persisting, the tetrarch Coerced. The coward cowed, the Baptist Imprisoned. A royal birthday, a promise To a young girl. Herodias’ daughter, an unwitting puppet wrapped in Veils, beginning the dance of death. Pervasive sensual, erotic madness, watchers Counting in unison. Seven, the ultimate number of Spiritual perfection. Veils falling, revealing and concealing the Naked body. Veils of the naked truth, of ignorance and Oppression.


A platter, besmirched with blood, cast into unspeakable Shame and horror. A receptacle of ignominy and Dishonor. John the martyr born into the Kingdom. Herodias’ daughter born into Infamy.


Pickles from the Jar Jean Marie Learman

I’m weary this evening. Been a long hard day. How good it is to be back home. Close the door, kick your shoes off. Breathe in. Breathe out. The day is almost done. Supper’s next. I make my way into the kitchen. Got to be fed. I heat up soup from the freezer, slice some cheese, spread the butter on the bread. Then I take the plates from out the cupboard, pickles from the jar, milk for him, hot tea for me. A simple meal together at the end of day. Rest, my love, beside me. I hear your truck pull into the driveway. I know you’re tired too. Hey, supper’s almost ready. Go wash your hands. There’s not much left to do. Just take the plates from out the cupboard, pickles from the jar, milk for him, hot tea for me. A simple meal together at the end of day. Rest, my love, beside me. It’s just a simple meal, but there’s two of everything. Two glasses, two plates, two spoons. And we sing this new duet where before we each sang a solo tune. My husband carries the tray. We settle on the sofa. He says, honey, how was your day? I tell him, maybe later. Let’s just eat. Then he takes my hand to pray. We took the plates from out the cupboard, pickles from the jar, milk for him, iced tea for me. A simple meal together at the end of day. Come rest, my love, beside me. 42

Grandpa, What Is Fear? Jared Morningstar

Well, you are a little young for all this, but I’ll explain it the best I can… The world is full of lesser fears: heights, spiders, needles, actually receiving a lump of coal on Christmas morning, finally asking that beautiful girl who you’ve secretly loved since the first grade out for coffee, and failure. But that’s not real fear, son. Real fear is realizing that the monster under your bed has gone away because at 61 years old, you’re no longer its favorite food. It’s being James Bond out looking for more Russians to kill so he can forget about how it’s getting harder to shed those winter pounds, his increasingly grey hair, and that they are already seeking his replacement. It’s crying after you’ve left the pawnshop because you just sold that beat-up Stratocaster that you bought when you were 17, but can’t play anymore, because arthritis has destroyed your hands. And it’s the thought that soon or later, you are going to lose your mind and bladder, that you’ll be unable to stand on your own two feet, and that the day is coming when some attendant at your bedside will read you stories of pearly gates and paradise that you won’t believe because the boogeyman, 007, and Jimi Hendrix no longer exist, but Hell does: it’ll be all around you as you’re confined to a cold gurney, in a sterile room, one that you’ll never leave... 43

I know this might not make sense right now, son, but you’ll figure it out one day. We all do.


“On the Banks of Memories,” Zainab Ali Labbad 45

Late-Winter Walk Around the Pond

Suzanne Sunshower, “Write Like Roethke” Contest Winner

My dog paws at the worn leaves beneath the melting snow. Each tromp through this muck speckles her belly with tiny flecks of mud. Unstable temps have blessed us with change, but the dog, so fully alive, with nose to the ground, doesn’t care about the seasons. I am the one who feels the ebb and flow, and sometimes rush, of it all. Suddenly, we catch a flash of something over there, in the field beside the pond: deer moving quickly. No lounging in the dusk tonight— their leaps are purposeful; they spring across the field and into the wooded fringe. Meanwhile, back at the pond, the lead goose is strutting on his barge of ice, urging his team back into the open water for a last frigid splash. Soon, leisure time is over and the squadron is off into the greying sky, flapping and honking, leaving their pond to the two quiet interlopers. Deer gone, geese gone… Even the icy crust on the water is moving away from itself, ice crystals tinkling like a swaying chandelier. Everything changes; all is in transition. Whether we know it or not, we are all on our way somewhere.



Brad Yurgens, “Write Like Roethke” Contest Winner

I’d not been back home in the time between funerals. There were no voices but the priest’s in his porkpie hat and summer frock. I said goodbye again, touched the grass with palms and kneecaps in shadow segregating our party from vernal filigree. I heard flowers left by families: sighing lilies, preening marigolds, demurring violets. They fed upon the sun’s seed in their prized perches.


“Pieta Revisited,” N. Clark-Young 48

Fish Bones

Kelli Fitzpatrick, “Get to Work” Flash Fiction Contest Winner

Paint jobs usually stay put, like most of the people in this neighborhood. They age and crack and turn to dust right on the same block. This job is different. I can tell by the color of the sky that it will run before dark. Maybe I will too. That’s what happens when a girl gets rushed by know-nothings. The city council hired me to mural the west face of the Spare Street highrise in time for the Governor’s visit tomorrow—some big cultural celebration—and I wasn’t about to turn down a grand, but they don’t know the dry times on high-gloss acrylic soaked in summer fishtown humidity. I do. I like challenging jobs though and I just might be fast enough, so I’m up here painting huge colorful carp beneath angry blue clouds, bristle brushes squishing paint into grey chipped cinder block. I swear there’s no more satisfying feeling—like pressing melty peanut butter over the crannies of an English muffin. I love slicking up something dry and boring with a coat of dead-on interesting, something that’s different and rich and me. If only the guidance counselor at school would let me list “painting high” as my career aspiration, I might be able to dodge the earful about college and “real” jobs. My buddy Creedy wants to print up official business cards for me that say “Cherish Art,” but I’m the only Cherish in the borough and nobody’s ever had trouble tracking me down for a paint job, though plenty of old people have trouble believing a girl my size can shimmy a three-story scaffold without tumbling. I want to tell them if I can keep a flat by myself and pay bills at sixteen, I can keep from taking a dive off a platform. Instead I tell them my hourly rate. At least the old people usually pay cash. I pop a swirl of red flair dots around the fish’s fins and bang shut the paint cans just as rain-sprinkles dust the dry wood planks I’m standing on. Too soon, I know, there’s no way this will set up right, but it is what it is now, so I swing sure around the edge and monkey-bar my way down to lot-level, staring up at a navy wall with a writhing redfinned form, the symbol of the working-class heartbeat of the only community I’ve ever called home. 49

In seconds, cold sheets of water fall straight toward earth and spill over the west face of Spare Street highrise in waterfall fashion. Not surprisingly—I tried to tell the council president—the red paint runs, and the body of the fish softens and slides down the cement, peeling away from a wall that could never be dry enough to jail a fish. But squinting at the image, I notice something’s off. Behind it, beneath it, under painted scales are shiny spidering shapes almost glowing in the lightning flash. Bones. Fish bones, white and stark. They do not run. I stare, mouth open, tongue dissolving cool drops. I didn’t paint those bones. The wall was blank when I started, blank grey. I didn’t paint those bones. I tell myself this as more paint slides off a smiling white fish smile. I didn’t paint them—or did I? Weren’t they there all along? In my brush and my paint and my stained tunic that I wash alone every night, their white white hardness holding up every scaffold that I ever climbed and would climb to whatever borough or city or Governor’s office I wanted when I left? Isn’t that me there, spidering solidly on the wall? Or am I the sloughing paint? A man with a high dark collar pauses on the sidewalk beside me, rainwater showering him in paint spray and fish flesh and life flushed clean. His hands work in his coat pockets for a moment, like he is feeling for something important, and then he walks forward into the night. I grab a loose chunk of cement at my feet and carve my name into the corner of the bleeding mural, my tribute to this town I love too much to stay in forever. I hope the Governor is impressed.


Post-life Corporation

Jake Miller, “Get to Work” Flash Fiction Contest Winner

There was nothing; just emptiness. Horatio stood up and looked into the silent blackness that hung over the endless, sandy landscape. The heat was oppressive. As he pondered how he had arrived in this mysterious land, a tall, sleek figure appeared from the darkness. Her face was nearly featureless—no eyes, ears, hair, or nose—only a mouth. Her skin was gray as stone and her cheerful smile was friendly yet off-putting. “Can I have your ID, please?” she asked in a soft, tinny voice. Horatio was unsure how to respond, but as he looked down, he noticed a series of letters and numbers stamped on his forearm. He read the code back to the woman and asked, “Am I in Hell? The last thing I remember was a bright—” Before he could finish, the gray lady cut him off. “This is Post-life Corp, sir. Our former name had too many negative connotations. You have been assigned to my team.” “What is your name?” Horatio asked. “UB962. What was your purpose above?” “My purpose? I was a sales manager, if that’s what you mean,” Horatio answered. “The master will be pleased to have a new team member with leadership experience,” UB962 replied and then motioned for Horatio to follow her. She led him through the darkness to a massive, boiling cauldron the size of a stadium, surrounded by a staircase that wrapped around the cauldron until it reached the brim. Horatio followed silently as they began ascending the staircase, passing damned souls along the way, all shoveling shiny, black pellets into the bubbling inferno as fast as they could. The first few souls they passed were very human-like and diverse, but as they continued up the staircase, each passing worker grew less defined and grayer until they were nearly indistinguishable from UB962. Not only did their appearances change, but each stack of pellets grew progressively larger, and each soul was shoveling more vigorously than the last.


As they reached the rim of the cauldron, UB962 turned to see Horatio examining his reflection in the boiling pool, clearly feeling out of place among the beautifully identical souls working relentlessly around the brim, with their pellet piles growing faster than they could dispose of them. “Don’t worry, it will change. We encourage diversity here; it’s individuality that the master can’t stand,” UB962 remarked. “Why are you doing all this?” Horatio asked. “For the widgets! Yesterday we met our goal of producing 40 billion widgets! Today we are on track for 50 billion, and with some improvements, tomorrow we can make 60 billion!” “For what purpose?” UB962 pointed to a pile of the attractive, shiny pellets and replied excitedly, “To earn more widgets! The more widgets you produce, the more the master rewards you.” Horatio could not deny the attractiveness of the widgets but as he held one in his fingers, the pellet quickly vanished like ash in the wind while UB962 continued, “If you work hard enough, perhaps in 20,000 years you will get a promotion like me! All of your friends will be so impressed and your family so proud!” “Is your family proud?” Horatio asked. UB962 continued smiling as she replied, “I can only assume. I do not see them anymore. I’m too busy with the widgets.” Horatio pondered her words for a moment and then asked, “And what if I don’t want any widgets?” UB962’s grin immediately disappeared and she retorted, “You would be foolish to pass on such an opportunity.” Horatio shrugged. “I just don’t feel like I’m suited for this work.” The woman’s expression suddenly turned bitter and she grabbed Horatio by the collar. “Then you have no purpose.” With a violent thrust, she cast Horatio into the fiery cauldron and 52

Horatio instantly awoke from his nightmare to the incessant buzzing of his alarm. He lay motionless for a moment, shaking off the jitters before silencing his alarm. He sat on the edge of his bed, staring blankly at the white shirt and striped necktie hanging from his bedroom door. Horatio finally mustered the motivation to rise and walk to the bathroom where, for the millionth time, he brushed his teeth, combed his hair, and donned his suit, as colorless as the souls of the damned. “Another day,� he thought to himself, not even fully aware of the day of the week. He stared at the sunken, tired face in the mirror, but there was nothing, just emptiness.



Lisa Gregory, “Get to Work” Flash Fiction Contest Winner

The clang of dishes and aroma of fresh coffee and old grease greet her as she arrives on the floor. She is a good waitress. She smiles and takes orders and delivers promptly and efficiently. She can predict her customers’ needs. She knows how to make people happy. And so, in the rust-colored dress with name tag and hairnet appropriately affixed, she begins her shift. She vies for—and is often granted—the best sections. It makes sense for management to put her here. Her speed and efficacy are rewarded. The odor of many different foods and the cacophony of voices combine to create a peaceful background to her work. She enjoys the company of the casual acquaintance provided by customers. She smiles both inside and out as a small child attempts to order for herself. The couple clearly on a first date orders steak sandwiches and she feels their mortification as they undertake the impossible task of gracefully eating them. She even enjoys Levi, a local who orders coffee only and clearly has not bathed in days—probably weeks. This is familiar and secure. While she has family and a few friends, she is alone, which requires independence. Taking care of herself means waiting tables while in high school. In addition, she does that which is expected of her, including earning excellent grades and putting on another uniform to cheer for the team on Friday nights. She excels in all of her endeavors. Still, she is always afraid. Her older, more experienced colleagues are basically kind and sometimes protective. She likes them. She does not want to be them. Pamela has two children and a jobless husband, who has stopped bathing for no apparent reason. Joanne is large-chested and needs supportive bras, which are expensive. She hides a bit of her tip money each night from her boyfriend so that she can save for her next purchase. Penny is hilarious, full of love, and freely shares her 250 pounds with many men. These women are great fun as work companions. She is alternately intrigued and confused by them. Maybe she can go to college. Maybe she can go somewhere new and exciting. Maybe she will find something important that she can do well. Maybe she can. The Man-boy who comes in and asks for her table offers another kind of hope. And security. He orders fries, a Coke, and sometimes a 54

sandwich. He smiles winningly and oh-so-confidently. She must avoid lingering too long at his table. Management frowns upon this. She once believed that this was to prevent her from neglecting her work. Her older self wonders if the more seasoned woman who manages this restaurant sees through the appeal of this terrible, seductive stranger. Closing time means quicker movement as cleaning assignments are completed and the final customers make their way to the exit. Oh pity them all if someone orders blueberry pancakes during this last hour. The cook in the back who rarely speaks will slam utensils and release a string of expletives. Apparently, this order makes the grill particularly difficult to clean. If the night manager intimates extra duties such as defrosting the freezer, Julie can be trusted to pay a visit to his office to distract him long enough for the others to make their escape. They will reward her tomorrow with small favors when her section gets busy. The cool outdoor air touches her cheeks as she exits the restaurant, but she knows that the smell of this place will remain close as she drives home. As she rounds the corner into the parking lot, the lingering echo of restaurant sounds in her mind is silenced. She believes that she sees hope and security and escape. His car is idling next to hers.


“Breath,” H.D. Eagle 56

About Our Writers Austin Bauer can often be found deep in thought writing, drinking coffee, or singing songs. Austin graduated from Saginaw Valley State University and married young in 2016, and he couldn’t be happier about it. He is a music minister at a local church and finds meaning in creating for his creator. Matt Chappel is a twenty-four-year-old Michigan native. A world traveler, Matt has lived as a missionary in South Africa, Lesotho, Brazil, and the Bahamas. He is also a certified sailor with the American Sailing Association (ASA) and has logged more than 5,000 nautical miles of blue-water sailing. When he’s not traveling or sailing, Matt reads and writes poetry. Currently he attends Saginaw Valley State University and is pursuing a secondary education degree in English. Alexander “Cbxtn Fig” de Verdoni has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, Mexico City, and New York City, where he regularly produced street theatre and cabaret events. He has collaborated with Mexico’s National Museum of Art and New York City’s Panoply Performance Laboratory. Now living in Saginaw with a rag-tag group of dharma bums in a large, janky house, he publishes the queer-anarchic zine The Venereal Christian. He is currently the director of music at St. John Lutheran Church, located at 915 Federal Avenue, in Saginaw.  Lori M. Decker lives in the Swan Valley School District where she is an art teacher at the middle school. She received her bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University majoring in English and minoring in art. She did her post graduate work at Saginaw Valley State University obtaining her master’s degree in elementary education. Her passion, other than teaching, is writing in all genres, especially poetry. She has been actively involved with the Saginaw Bay Writing Project over the years, attending workshops and classes to strengthen her writing skills. Rachel Diehl was born in Saginaw, Michigan, and has lived in Michigan all her life. She has attended school at Zion Lutheran in Beaver and Valley Lutheran High School in Saginaw. She is now attending Delta College and is undecided about her major. She loved to play music in high school, so she joined the Midland Community Band this year. She loves her family and is grateful that they support her in whatever she does. She is excited for what life has in store for her. Kelli Fitzpatrick is an author and educator based in mid-Michigan. Her short story “The Sunwalkers” won the Star Trek: Strange New Worlds contest from Simon and Schuster. Her work appears in Flash Fiction Online, and she has placed in the top five in international flash fiction and short screenplay competitions from NYC Midnight. Her critical essays analyzing sci-fi pop culture appear in several books from Sequart and ATB Publishing. She advises a teen writing group and is an avid promoter of the arts. She can be found at and @KelliFitzWrites. Joshua Gillard is a writer and artist who has studied at both Delta College and Saginaw Valley State University. He hopes to double major, minor in a foreign language, move to Detroit, attend graduate school, find a job that pays exorbitantly high wages, buy a nice car 57

with excellent air conditioning, find a lover, get married, have a kid, publish a dozen books, make art and submit said art to galleries, build a garden covering the entire expanse of lawn in his back and front yards, learn to cook, exercise, volunteer with a disaster rescue team, and do whatever else comes up. Lisa Gregory has worked for thirty years helping high school students to find the joy of reading, embrace the challenges of writing, and master the art of public speaking. As if teaching by day is not enough, she spends her evenings teaching composition courses at Saginaw Valley State University. Lisa is originally from northern Michigan and currently resides in the small town of Breckenridge, Michigan. She enjoys running on the backroads near her home and hiking to discover new and interesting places. Bruce Gunther is a full-time freelance writer and the former sports editor of The Bay City Times and Flint Journal. He’s a graduate of Central Michigan University and lives in Bay City. Tristan Harman, age 17, is currently in his senior year at Saginaw Arts and Sciences Academy; he has been writing since his freshman year there. He’s a self-proclaimed genius, quite humble, and a Cancer, and he intends to pursue a career in biomedical engineering at some acclaimed college or university. He enjoys reading and writing, and is a particular fan of Alfred Lord Tennyson. The mom of three, Elaine Hunyadi has worked at Saginaw Valley State University, where she currently serves as the director of the Center for Academic Achievement, for ten years. She and her Mathias Thir have played together for over forty years, entertaining family, friends, and faces unknown, in duets, trios, quartets, pit orchestras, and symphonies. Her latest joy is improvising original tunes with her husband in their band, Casey Lane.  To see Casey Lane in action, visit A native Michigander, Deda Kavanagh recently moved from Pennsylvania to Bay City, where her father and her maternal grandmother grew up. Having honed her poetry-writing skills with her mentor, Christopher Bursk, and Bucks County poets in Pennsylvania, she’s pleased to have discovered the Bay Community Writing Center at the Wirt Library in Bay City. Deda’s poetry collection, Bicycle through a Covered Bridge, was published by Finishing Line Press, and other poems have appeared in U.S. 1 Worksheets, Schuylkill Valley Journal, and Paterson Literary Review. Rosemary Kavanagh has been writing poetry and short stories for forty years. She started writing during her eight years in Ireland, continuing in Connecticut, Rhode Island, and now Michigan. She has had poems, short stories, and letters published by The Hartford Courant newspaper in Hartford, Connecticut, and The Newport Daily News in Newport, Rhode Island. She won Best Letter Writer of the Year Award and “Our Best Writers” recognition from The Hartford Courant. She lives in Bay City, Michigan. Jean Marie Learman grew up on a farm in Michigan’s rural Thumb. After brief stays in the UP, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, she has lived in Saginaw for over 30 years. She is currently 58

working in her third career—three careers that couldn’t be further apart! After eight years in engineering and twenty-five years teaching secondary math and science, Jean Marie is following her lifelong dream of being a full-time musician. Writing poetry, writing songs, and sharing them are part of the dream. Shawne Mellios is a teacher in Saginaw, Michigan. She received her BA in psychology from Oakland University and, in May 2018, her MA in special education from Saginaw Valley State University. She has received numerous athletic awards in basketball, including an induction in the Hall of Honor at Oakland University in 2016. She has one daughter who attends the University of Michigan. Writings of hers include research on stigma and mental illness, as well as writing associated with curriculums in schools. She hopes to publish a series of poems written on subjects such as the drug epidemic, perseverance, and trauma.  Jake Miller is an aspiring author and business professional from Midland, Michigan, where he resides with his wife, Natalie. Jake grew up in eastern Michigan, where he decided to pursue business, ironically, because “it was the major he thought would require the least amount of writing.” He is now pursuing his passion for creativity through writing and is in the process of writing his first book that he hopes to turn into a series of adventures stories. His hobbies include traveling, playing hockey, spending time with friends and family, and designing board games. Azaria Milton is a senior at Saginaw Valley State University, majoring in creative writing. In 2013, while attending Parkway Christian School, she became a published author with her poems “My Childhood” and “Who Are You?,” which both appeared in A Celebration of Poets. In 2018, she recently completed her first novel in a science-fiction trilogy; Volume One has been officially copyrighted by and registered with the United States Library of Congress. She is known to be a bookworm and listens to the soundtrack of the worldrenowned play Hamilton on a loop. Amanda Morningstar is currently a mental health counselor in spite of having had many jobs and many lives. She has settled into this one with her husband and two beautiful kids, but she still recognizes that the world is an angsty place. Jared Morningstar teaches English and literature to Saginaw high school and college students. He has been told he lives his life in metaphors, and this actually may be both literally and figuratively true. He loves music, literature, Route 66, dreaming of the day Trump is no longer president, and, more than anything, his wife and kids. A resident of the lovely town of Bay City, Michigan, and a graduate of Saginaw Valley State University, Martin Nelson is a salesperson and a political junkie who enjoys walking, hanging out in nature, and reading scary books. Martin’s heroes are Martin Luther (the Protestant reformer) and Nelson Mandela. The Modern Library book of poetry became a sort of Bible to Eric Nisula when he was in grade school. He also began writing poetry at that time. In 1979, he joined the Saginaw 59

Valley State University Music Department. In 1983, Dr. Nisula won first prize in the competition held by Poets of Now in St. Charles, Michigan. In 2004, his work was featured in The Rooftop Series published by Mayapple Press. An active member of the Saginaw Community Writing Center’s creative writing group, Serena M. Pittman earned an associate’s degree with honors in business administration from Delta College and a bachelor’s of science degree in for-profit and non-profit organizational administration with a 4.0 GPA from Central Michigan University. She also studied marketing and advertising at Michigan State University. She says she wrote a lot of bad poetry when she was younger, but now writes mostly personal essays. “Four O’Clock,” which took third place in a poetry contest sponsored by the 2018 Theodore Roethke Poetry and Arts Festival, is the first poem she has written in twenty years. Don Popielarz was raised in the violent, working-class ghetto of Saginaw, Michigan. His contemporaries were more apt to go to prison, join the military, or work at General Motors than to enroll in college. While going to undergraduate and law school, Don worked as a laborer at the Grey Iron Foundry. For the past thirty-eight years, Don has practiced law. Don’s interest in poetry can be attributed to his now deceased mother. As his mother’s eyesight failed, Don read to her the works of Robert Frost. Don continues to read and write poetry as a tribute to her memory. Craig Prime, a lifetime Michigan resident, studied art at Delta College and Central Michigan University and received his BFA in painting/drawing from the Kansas City Art Institute in Kansas City, Missouri. Along with an extensive exhibition record, his pursuit of the arts has offered up opportunities as interim curator of education at The Marshall Fredericks Sculpture Museum and adjunct faculty appointments at both Delta College and Saginaw Valley State University. He often describes his poetry and art as silent love songs under the title of “Non Notable Notes.” Jack Rechsteiner is a native of Bay County and grew up among the cornfields on the outskirts of Auburn. He is an active member of the Great Lakes Bay Region writing community and has served as managing editor for a local newspaper and currently as an English teaching assistant at Delta College. At the moment, Jack is also pursuing a degree in linguistics at Michigan State University and is following his passion for writing in any way that he can. Elizabeth Shorkey is a sixteen-year-old junior at Saginaw Arts and Sciences Academy who spends her time writing, entertaining extravagant parties for her cats, and procrastinating at an award-winning level. Elizabeth will graduate in 2020. She hopes to pursue a law degree, a special education master’s degree, or a journalism degree. A resident of Midland, Michigan, Suzanne Sunshower is a writer/artist, originally from Detroit. She is the author of three chapbooks Elements, Aura, and It’s Where You Find It; co-author (with four other poets) of the poetry collection From the Lonely Cold; and editor of the poetry anthology How Can You Say We Are Not Related. She is listed in Who’s Who of American Women as a journalist/poet/artist. 60

Marjorie Talaga has been writing prose and poetry since childhood. She is published in the Delta College art and writing publication Fusion and in work-related magazines and periodicals. Two of her poems won both first and second place in a poetry contest sponsored by Delta College. Marjorie has taught poetry to students in the Saginaw Correctional Facility and created booklets of their poems. Imari Tetu earned her associate’s degree at Kirtland Community College and is currently studying professional and technical writing at Saginaw Valley State University. The president of the latter’s Association of Professional and Technical Writers, she serves as a tutor at the Saginaw Valley State University Writing Center and the Saginaw and Bay Community Writing Centers. Imari is planning to go to graduate school and hopes to live in Tennessee one day.  Pearl Thomas lives in Saginaw and has been a resident there for over twenty years. She has moved around and loves to travel. Pearl has worked as a medical assistant and legal volunteer. She has also worked for Manpower and Labor Ready, and she is now involved in retail and sales. She graduated from Ross Medical School, as well as PCDI from Georgia in 2010. Her hobbies are broad—from art to entertainment to music to scriptwriting. She is a poet. Vanessa Willette is a wife and a mother to two handsome boys. Currently a stay-at-home mom with a background in the medical field, Vanessa has always had a way with words. When she is not taking care of her family or working, you can find her reading, writing fantasy, playing video games, or enjoying the outdoors. Vanessa believes something magical happens when pen meets paper, and whether it’s writing or reading what others have written, it’s a form of meditation for her. “What’s even more special,” she says, “is having others enjoy what you’ve created from the depths of your own heart and soul.” Jennifer Williamson is a “Thumb girl” at heart, born and raised in Sebewaing, Michigan, but currently living in Saginaw while attending Saginaw Valley State University and making her way towards graduation in May 2019. She is pursuing a creative writing major and a minor in psychology, and hopes of one day having an impact on the publishing world. Jahdiel Wingard is a high school senior at Saginaw Arts and Sciences Academy. At seventeen years old, he enjoys writing and experiencing the community of his city and state. Brad Yurgens is pursuing a second bachelor’s degree in creative writing at Saginaw Valley State University, where he also works as a professional math and physics tutor. His first degree is a bachelor’s in mathematics from Michigan State University. He’s interested in teaching English and mathematics at the secondary level. He divides most of his time between reading, writing, and playing games with friends.


About Our Writing Centers The Diane Boehm Writing Center ( at Saginaw Valley State University was established in 1995. Its mission is to serve Saginaw Valley State University by raising the level of excellence in student writing at all levels and in all disciplines. To achieve this goal, the Writing Center provides one-on-one tutorial sessions, workshops, and various resources for students to develop their skills as writers and critical thinkers within the academic community and the community at large. The SVSU Center for Community Writing is dedicated to promoting writing for all residents living in the Great Lakes Bay Region. The Center for Community Writing holds workshops, sponsors writing contests and poetry slams, and oversees the work of its two community writing centers. The first of its kind in the state, the Saginaw Community Writing Center ( was established in October 2015. It is open the second and fourth Tuesday of the month from 4-8 pm at Butman-Fish Library in Saginaw. The Bay Community Writing Center ( opened its doors in Fall 2017. Operating out of Bay City’s Wirt Library, it is open the first and third Tuesday of the month from 4-8 pm. The tutors who staff the Saginaw and Bay Community Writing Centers provide community members with free feedback on any piece of writing—no appointments are necessary. Both centers coordinate creative writing groups and hold writing workshops as well.

About Our Benefactor Dr. Debasish Mridha is an American physician, philosopher, and poet. A leader in the Saginaw community, he describes himself as “a seeker of the deepest truth that affects human destiny.” He is the author of the book Verses of Happiness. We remain deeply grateful for his support.


Acknowledgments Thanks to the following for their ongoing support of Still Life, the SVSU Center for Community Writing, and the Bay and Saginaw Community Writing Centers: • The Saginaw Community Foundation • The Public Libraries of Saginaw and the staff of Saginaw’s Butman-Fish Library • The Bay Area Community Foundation • The Bay County Library System and the staff of Bay City’s Wirt Public Library •Dr. Debasish Mridha •Dr. Deb Huntley •Dr. Joshua Ode •Dr. David Callejo •Andy Bethune •Chiara Klein and The Public Theater of New York •Ben Champagne and the staff at Counter Culture •Deborah Trombley •Maureen Beckrow •Alyssa McCarty •Cassandra Race


Want to read more? Visit to view past issues of Still Life.

Want to submit to Still Life? Visit to learn about submission deadlines, submission guidelines, and other contests that we are sponsoring.


Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.