Still Life 2020

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Still Life 2020



Still Life 2020

The community arts journal of the SVSU Community Writing Center www.communitywritingcenter.com

Saginaw Valley State University 7400 Bay Road University Center, MI 48710 www.svsu.edu


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, Bay, and Midland Counties, the counties primarily served by the SVSU Community Writing Center. The work of out-county residents who visit our community writing centers is also considered for publication. Staff members are excluded from receiving any awards. Still Life was originally funded by a Dow Professor Award offered through SVSU’s Center for Academic Innovation. The magazine is now generously funded by Dr. Debasish Mridha of Saginaw, Michigan. Still Life is produced using Adobe InDesign. This issue features the Adobe Caslon Pro font. Cover Art: “Wheat #1,” by Katherine Huber. 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 2021, Still Life. All subsequent publishing rights are returned to the artist.


Staff

Editorial Staff

Natalie Delemeester Caroline Helmstadt Elizabeth Kennedy Hannah Mose Imari Cheyne Tetu

Layout

Hannah Mose

Printing

SVSU Graphics Center

Editors

Christopher Giroux Hideki Kihata Helen Raica-Klotz



Table of Contents Editors’ Note

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“you’re killing me,” Maggie LaVictoire “Goodnight Moon,” Mark Brenner “The Cinder Blocks Remember,” Donny Winter “Food Coloring,” Marjorie Talaga “Split Personality Parade,” Vanessa Willette “Bench,” Bridget Therese Cusick “Strike,” Brenna Dean “Beach Towel Fashion Show,” Jennifer Nichols “Social Surgery,” Alexis Beauchamp “We Saw Each Other at the Circus, the Lion Tamer Winked at Us,” Benjamin Champagne “Words Between Us,” Joshua Gillard “Traffic Signs,” Hannah Gradowski “Light in the Dark,” Kaili Goodrich “Broom Clean,” Stuart Barbier “Be,” Kelli Fitzpatrick “Branches,” Katherine Huber “Upside Down Club,” Josh Crummer “A Box of Diamonds,” Rosemary Kavanagh “Forgotten Angel,” Don Popielarz “Downtown,” Matthew Kowalski “Student Experience,” Imari Cheyne Tetu “Cathedrals,” Karen Lulich Horwath “Recess[ed],” Elizabeth Terry “Can You Smell the Burritos, Enchiladas, & Tamales in My Kitchen?,” Lauren Wells “I Wish I Was an Astrophysicist,” DJ Slater “Journal of Life,” Andrew Dudewicz “Naturally,” Caroline Helmstadt “Gone with the Wind,” Nicole Vogelpohl “Heartsong 2020,” Serena M. Pittman “Miles,” Mark Sheffield Brown “Consumption,” Todd Stockmeyer “Home from the Conference,” Bruce Gunther “Humanity’s Rainbow,” Michelle Perreault “grief is the song stuck in your head when you wake up,” Katy Haas “Existence,” Matt Chappel “The Little Things,” Devin Kemani Butler “Post-Post,” Cbxtn Fig “Having found,” Jeff Vande Zande “Gateway,” Carter Anolick “Falcon, Fly On,” Tristan Harman “Offerings,” Jared Morningstar “Social Media Friends,” Julie Debats “Grandma’s Hands,” Chris Lucka

9 10 11 12 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 28 30 31 32 34 35 36 38 39 41 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 54 55 56 57 58 59


“do you remember,” Denise Hill “The Conversation, with a Golden Shovel,” Deda Kavanagh “Rising Flowers,” Grace Biber “Taraxacum,” Austin Bauer “what america has done to its veterans,” Matthew Sauer “No Longer Me,” Devonn Fernbach “Cultivation,” Katrina J. Stevenson “Choosing the Horse,” Suzanne Sunshower “Love Cremated,” Rachel Diehl “Premortem Examination,” Drew Eastwood “Tomatoes,” Kathleen Tighe “Stars to the North,” Taylor Tucker “Standing Song,” Joshua Jordan “toxic,” Jaden O’Berry “Remembrances of You,” Pearl Thomas “The Moral of the Movie,” Eric P. Nisula “tu me manques,” Madeline Bruessow “La Fiesta de Traje de Saginaw,” Lauren Wells “Our Own Magic,” Jolyn H. Ohlendorf “there and back again,” Madeline Bruessow “Oleg,” Nicole Vogelpohl

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About Our Contributors About Our Writing Centers Acknowledgments About Our Benefactor

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Editors’ Note Welcome to the 2020 issue of the award-winning Still Life; we are proud to report that for the third consecutive year, Still Life has received a first-place award from the American Scholastic Press Association. (This makes us “3 for 3”!) We remain grateful for the ASPA’s feedback and their recognition—and reminder—that the arts, particularly on the community level, matter. In this issue, you’ll find work by old friends and new voices. Their willingness to trust us with their creative work remains humbling. And to know that these poets and artists took the time to share their work, when many have literally been dealing with life-and-death matters linked to COVID-19, reminds us that the arts make life all the richer. That richness is on display on the following pages. This year, many of the visual artists who submitted were working with “alternative photography” techniques, and the results are, as always, stunning. Many of our poets in this issue similarly offer us other “alternatives” for our reading pleasure—visual poems and prose poems, rhyme and free verse. What remains tried and true in this issue (and, well, in all our previous issues) is that creativity abounds in the Great Lakes Bay Region. These poems and photos—shared in a pandemic; often produced in a year of political divide and civil unrest—remind us that we are more similar than different. Our common bond is our humanity, defined by moments of heartache, loss, and, unfortunately, violence, but also flashes of hope, love, and joy. To our contributors, thank you for sharing those moments with us. To our readers, thank you for valuing this work with your attention. To our benefactors and supporters, thank you for making this publication a reality. And to our winners, congratulations. This year’s winners were as follows: Mark Sheffield Brown, who received top prize in the Adult (Age 19+) category; Lauren Wells, who received top prize in the Young Adult (Age 13–18) category; and Jolyn H. Ohlendorf, Lauren Wells, and Madeline Bruessow who won in our 2020 “Poetry Postcard” contests. Be safe, stay healthy, keep making art! 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 Still Life 2020

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you’re killing me Maggie LaVictoire Your eyes Are like sap that drips Kindness into my being They bring me to life After the winter air Has made me grow Cold But I fear what might happen When that sap turns to syrup And I can no longer spring back To blooming flowers That you pick to hang in your ribs To collecting what drips Through your cracks So it can seep back into mine But for now Your eyes are like sap And I can’t wait to feel that first Drop.

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Goonight Moon Mark Brenner That’s us reading Goodnight Moon. Those are your yellow SpongeBob pajamas, and that’s your little brother’s stinky blue blanky. There we are saying goodnight to the moon again. Three of us. Outside—cold and dark. Stay here, boys. That’s you laughing at the cow jumping over the moon. Those are your last sips of water. There you two visit the bathroom again, scampering down the hallway. That’s your little brother climbing over you, back into your car bed. There you are pointing at the two little kittens. That’s us whispering “hush.” There you are, tugging your ear and closing your eyes. There we are hugging goodnight. Goodnight dirty socks and underwear. Goodnight doggie and kitty and mommy. Goodnight Legos and Lincoln Logs. Goodnight Buzz and Woody. There I am, looking in your old bedroom, looking out at the moon alone, Grey, rocky, and dark, waxing crescent— Goodnight my boys.

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The Cinder Blocks Remember Donny Winter Fingerprints are fossils on countertops and the thermostat has forgotten its function— each room sits preserved like abandoned museum exhibits and the walls creak as they waken with my footfalls. The house stirs back, but strains to breathe. My father’s voice lingers in the background and speaks to the beat of these dry 1960 beams. I take out my phone to capture this space and smile at its futuristic glow that’s out of place— but I must record to remember. I wonder if these walls recognize me; I’ve grown up and all perspectives have changed— tables have shrunk and the ceiling fan’s strings tickle my forehead like willow branches combing across a late-summer yard. At first, I’m a time-traveler, but so much is the same. I’m thirteen and each window is a matte-painting framing every familiar view: a field rolls toward an amber sunset, the jack pine waves hello in the kitchen, and the woods stretch behind. Yes, grandma’s house is cold now— but underneath rotted composite, a desperate layer of pastel blue, and a coat of forgotten pink, these cinder blocks still remember.

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Food Coloring Marjorie Talaga Yolks, detached with reverent hands from Clinging albumen cushions, Stare up like lemon suns herded together, Quivering in their new glass home. Yellow, most luminous of all, color of joy, happiness and creativity. Now turned on its dark side. Cowardice, betrayal, madness. Lettuce, the daisy’s cousin, bouquets of shapes and shades to rival flowers. The delicate salad queen reposes in her bowl throne With radishes and shallots, Cucumbers and tomatoes adorning her. Green, the color of nature, growth, harmony and healing. Now the dark green of greed and jealousy, the yellowgreen of discord. Grapes, berries on woody vines, providing the harvester With wines and jams, raisins and oils. Clinging together in clusters like family trees, Delightful in shape, joy in plucking off one-by-one. Purple, the color of royalty, wisdom, dignity. Now the dark purple of gloom, frustration and sadness. Beet, underground, with dominant taproot Boring straight down. Stalks and leaves above disclose The hiding place of ancient Aphrodite’s aphrodisiac. Red, emotional, intense, the color of fire and blood, desire and love. Now rivulets of dark red anger and rage join The spreading pool of sickness and death. Blueberries, native North Americans, Tiny members of the heather family, Nutrition powerhouse, superfood for heart and brain. All this beauty in a slatted berry basket. Blue surrounds me with the color of sky and sea. Tranquility and kindness, Trust, loyalty, wisdom, faith, truth and heaven 12

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saturate my very being. I do not bow, bewitched no more by dark and bubbling cauldrons in the ditches Of familiar everyday misery. I vow to drag my clouded eyes up, squint in the new light Until the cataracts are peeled away and all is clear vibrant blue Shining and pulsing across the universe.

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Split Personality Parade Vanessa Willette I am not you, or you, or me or us or them. I am something new, a desired complication. Likable frustration. Caution. Uncaring hands hold and mold this soul; I must be better than the cards dealt to me. Foundation cracks, granite grey splinters; House holds firm, new coat of paint. I am not me, I am now more. Stronger. Multifaceted prism contraption, twinkling destruction. A bloom of roses, blood red in their thorny, dripping rage, agonizing terrorizer. Sea spray sparkles, warm summer day, sandy souls, spiritual refresher. I am not me, I am we. A face for every occasion, an arsenal of characters. No choice will be given, for we are the choosers. Elemental Goddess, dipped in despair, bound by wisps of starlight. Welcome! Oh, wide-eyed newcomer to the Split Personality Parade! View with anxious delight the spectacle within. Embrace us, as we embrace ourselves in the ripples of our imperfections. See us for who we are, not a single star but the Milky Way in a bottle. Let our glitter-fall of emotions ravish your malleable mind, play your harpsichord heart, and leave you gratefully destroyed. You will love us.

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Bench Bridget Therese Cusick

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Strike Brenna Dean I first learned to walk when I was one year old. My father held my hand and guided me across the hardwood floor of our living room, careful I didn’t fall and learn the sting of skinning my knees on its waxy surface. Now I am 18 years old and my father teaches me to walk again. We stand on the outside of the fence framing the parking spot he’s claimed for 25 years, knees still bleeding red as the union shirts on our backs, kicked to the ground and told to accept a five-dollar-an-hour dock in our pay, but quickly lifted up by the honking cars who seem to say Keep Walking! Keep Walking or you’ll get thrown off the property for loitering by a manager happy to live in a right-to-work state. Keep Walking and ignore the infections festering in your knees because they’ve already stripped your health insurance away. Keep Walking like your grandfathers and great uncles who walked for 67 days straight, unafraid to let the CEOs sweat for a change. Keep Walking because you’ve been learning since you were one, and the cars will keep honking until this strike is done.

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Beach Towel Fashion Show Jennifer Nichols Matted hair dried in tangles A spotlight, warm on sun-kissed cheeks Paparazzi flashes on freshwater ripples Swelling with anticipation of the next haute couture— Seaweed bracelets and Coppertone parfum. Michigan jewels soaking in the grit of a green dollar store bucket Rummaged through by a myriad of hands To find that one particular piece with a hole big enough for a sand-grass tie. We twist our hips toward the waves with high marching knees, pushing Toes of chipped blue polish into the sand. A wooden runway begging for more thrills, giggles, and life. The chatter of seagulls applauding our makeshift terrycloth skirts Shifting like the tide into a wrap dress, Off the shoulder, ankle length with a slit up the side. Freshwater breeze turning up wisps of hair and edges of gowns. Head wraps become the next 17-second fad Coming in all colors: blue with stripes of orange and gold Pink with Popsicles, and a grunge-look wrap with its faded gray, torn and frayed. The finale brings a fashion combo, lanky legs and scraped-up knees Two shivering bodies admiring the art.

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Social Surgery Alexis Beauchamp It seems fitting we are all being required to wear face masks. A bird’s eye view reveals the surgery our society is undergoing, The operation directed by a questionably accredited physician Who very possibly secured his degree from a murky online training program. We are all repeatedly assured that our best interest is in his mind and at the helm of his intentions. Anesthesia varies from patient to patient, Some electing for the mind-numbing television, Others the liquid inoculation of alcohol. Many more are straight to the point with intravenous methods. Several still prefer to cope by mindless eating and online shopping. The pain is mostly ignored. The surgeon’s hands are shaking as he hides his fear and cloaks it with a superfluous confidence. Surgical technicians watch with disbelief as they await further instruction. Machines are screaming at almost incapacitating decibels. The tension of the situation looms heavy as all are motionless. An accompanying stillness pervades the air amid energetic chaos. From the crow’s nest, evaluators observe in a state of mesmerism. Will this surgery be successful? Will the patients recover? Moments pass as the possibility that the whole scene will erupt in an explosion grows increasingly likely, leaving the uncompromised to reconstruct from the ashes— Observations from a zoomed-out zoom-in of the masses.

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We Saw Each Other at the Circus, the Lion Tamer Winked at Us Benjamin Champagne

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Words Between Us Joshua Gillard The lilac issues forth its irresistible scent. I move my lips as the scent surrounds me complete and again—you speak, a swirl of deft meaning. We say what we want to because youth is fearless. We form an array of circumstances that bind me to you, you to me. For you, love, are at the center; your bright shining eyes are the universe.

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Traffic Signs Hannah Gradowski In fleeting crowds of unfamiliar faces, Our eyes met—one finding the other’s hue. In bustling foreign traffic places, Beneath speckled brown and black, I found you. In stoplight motion constantly red and green, I held my gaze with you, separating us From the distant sounds of the city’s scene, Hoping for more than the noise to discuss. But in the commotion of the city’s glow, I did not mean to stare, only to pass through. But as gold flicked with caution to go, Beneath hurried lights and cars, I lost you. If only he could have read between my lines, If only we could have ignored the traffic signs.

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Light in the Dark Kaili Goodrich I see a truck on fire; I see a car on fire. What can I do? Our world is falling to ruins right in front of me and you. Our world falls down, but we climb up; the old dog dies but life brings a pup. So don’t get lost in our world’s ruins, our world’s dark ruins, our world’s lonely ruins. Grief is important— grief is a part, a part of who I am. I look back and see happy memories. I look forward and see a future for me. I won’t get lost tonight.

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Broom Clean Stuart Barbier The purchase agreement stipulated the house was to be left broom clean. This wasn’t my mother’s standard—but she’d been gone ten years, and while my father had done what he could, there was still much to do. Sixty years in a house leaves a mark. He had worried about this the last few years. No problem, I told him. What didn’t he save? Butter tubs neatly stacked, the lids adjacent, just in case. A few had such a case: one for plastic bread bag tabs and another for frozen orange juice can lids. My brother and I staged a fight over the shiny lids, captured by his cell phone, which didn’t record the ensuing silence. He had to drive a day and a half to get back to his job and worried he couldn’t stay. No problem, I told him. The garage rafters hid boxes of our childhood toys. Under the basement stairs were boxes of our baby food jars, neatly arranged in rows. Trunks of broken clocks awaited my dad’s time. Drawer after dresser drawer divulged collections of ball bearings, puzzles, alarm clocks, gloves and mittens. Still no problem, I told myself. And then, in a battered metal box, on a shelf with more broken clocks, a packet of love letters chronicling time apart between engagement and marriage. No broom could help me with that.

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Be Kelli Fitzpatrick what i mean by that is i lost so many years of my life being too focused on getting to the perfect moment anxious forward-leaning all the other moments pooled at my feet pant legs soaked and now I’m chilled but smiling face damp in the rain

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Branches Katherine Huber

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Upside Down Club Josh Crummer We live beneath two and a half miles of concrete skyway; gentle morning traffic whispers over every sunrise like a nature host, though in truth we deified machines and gasoline long before the Interstate arched above our rivers like a varicose vein. Only those whose fathers tilled virgin Chippewa marshland remember the raceway on Westervelt and Kochville, a thousand arriving on opening day: Davenport, Roberts, Chasnis, Johncock, and Fairchild, local celebrities lifting a young city’s eyes from bone-dry bleachers to a sloping brown oval. If a car flipped along the high banks, its driver joined the Upside Down Club: impotent steel turtles flinging clay from their rubber feet while children laughed and laughed. Stars watch from the nosebleeds as weathered men weave on-my-way-home alibis their wives pretend to believe, park their rusted pickups at an angle at the local well, buy another Blatz and talk tales somewhere between a sincere testimony and a fisherman’s tale— I went every Wednesday night for thirty-five cens. I was always amazed at the race car that sat on top of the cement arch at the entrance; could never figure out how it got up there—

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while the overgrown raceway rests outside, keeps itself amused with a blue jay’s nest, a coyote’s trudge, and, on the high banks, an upturned turtle.

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A Box of Diamonds Rosemary Kavanagh It was a hot spot out there Like bombs and machine guns weaving my father’s despair. A glorious moment I had Reaping the benefits alone, Flashlight on my radiophone Snaking the crooked And cracked cement Towards the location Of her sippy cup. The child no one wanted Brought me out in the Ebony night flickering with lightning bugs, As the cadre’s fireworks imploded Into the Awe of Aurora borealis. The manmade kind, An ancient invention of the Chinese Glittering as the microscopic terrorist, Is killing us all Who are free For want of company. I closed my tearful eyes Tearful like a flash flood On a dry empty plain And sighed as I felt My artistic legerdemain Go into my father’s past. World War II visits me at last! The machine guns wiping out the Jews And bullets zooming in the Parisian air. My diamond ring from a collection box In Bergen-Belsen was there! Oh, the stench of rotting flesh! The death of beauty! Take me back to the sweet scent of summer air! In the unsettling din of the Saginaw night,

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The rebellious cadre concedes, Acquiescing their fireworks to socialize Then disappear. Oh, how I wanted it to last, Like a mint ice cream cone that melts too fast! He firebombed Dresden, Then landed his plane among the ashes To see what he had done. With 27-year-old hands on hips, Head shaking in disbelief, He saw the open jaw of a child screaming Yet no child left. There is a magnificence in causality But only if one sees the truth That is part of the magnificence— What he did What he saw What he smelled Was passed on to me one night in Saginaw. This Fourth of July Decussated my family tree.

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Forgotten Angel Don Popielarz A little girl lies upon the veil that separates heaven from earth. She hides behind a church’s flower planter, her cold brown fingers frozen open, begging. The coroner drags a stiff white sheet over the unidentified eight year old. Although he does not know her, he prays that the saints and angels whisper her name between the decades of the rosary. (In memory of Shamonica Brown, 1984–1992)

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Downtown Matthew Kowalski

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Student Experience Imari Cheyne Tetu Do you want to participate in our student experience survey? Sure. How are you feeling today on a scale of 1 (bad) to 10 (good)? What’s not to feel good about? What obstacles do you typically encounter during the semester? Nothing I can’t handle. What is your age in years? Ouch. Are you committed to staying in college and graduating? Make up your mind. Do you want me to stay in college or graduate? How long have you been in college? Ok, so I’m a non-traditional student. Don’t rub it in. Do you feel you belong in college? I sincerely hope you’re not suggesting I don’t. Do you feel you have support from social groups? I am a member of the introvert’s club. Does that count? Do you feel overwhelmed by your responsibilities? Why would I be overwhelmed? • Principal investigator in IRB-approved research for international conference • President of growing student organization • Leader of planning committee for regional conference • Writing tutor • Workshop leader • Technical writer • Grant writer • Usability researcher • Graduate school applicant • Daughter Actually, now that you mention it, yeah, I’m overwhelmed. Do you feel like you are on track for graduation? I thought I was, but now I’m second-guessing. Do you want to go to class and complete your coursework next week? I am no longer sure it’s possible. 32

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Will you finish all of your required coursework this week? No, I am too busy feeling overwhelmed. Are you proud of your classwork this week? I don’t know. I’m still trying to finish it. How do you feel about yourself as a person? I was fine until you started asking questions.

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Cathedrals Karen Lulich Horwath Priests tell us God’s house is in a cathedral; To enter, one must dip a hand In holy water, touch the sponge lightly, Cross one’s forehead. In this house the air is cool And dank like a crypt anointed with chrism. This is where I was taught to pray the psalms By nuns in flowing white robes, Big rosaries looped around their waists Like chains, My hands clenched firmly together, Stiff fingers pointing my way to heaven. Yet, birds tell me God’s house is in the air; Catching drafts and eddies, They swoop freely across the sky, Wings spread fully. And fish tell me it is in the sea; Flicking fins, they shimmer, Gliding smoothly through silken waters, Eyes bulging in wonder. I admit I find the cathedral of the Sun To be all the space I need to feel something holy— That and clean dirt where I kneel Each spring to plant my garden, The heat on my skin blessing my cells, Light sliding in through my retinas, Every part of me dilating open Until even my palms pulse with pleasure Plunged deep into the rich dark soil.

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Recess[ed] Elizabeth Terry

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Can You Smell the Burritos, Enchiladas, & Tamales in My Kitchen? Lauren Wells

I found love, tucked in a tortilla. And I know what you’re thinking. Ain’t that just the fajita, the frijoles that burn and warm the whole of your belly? That ain’t love. But let me tell you about my great grandmother’s palms. How the dough fit like a god-given miracle in the lines of her hand, & how the rhythm came to her in the same way that we all have a lullaby in our temples, ready to rumble lowly & sweetly in our throats. Let me tell you about my grandmother’s magic and how she can toss cilantro, carne, & her own touch of spiced herbs into her sunflower-yellow cauldron. The way the magic salsas like laughter in the air & smells like fertile earth, rich in holiness & hearth. How it cures the ailments of wandering people & sleepless nights & ancestor sickness, and how she warms the comal to the right heat with a flick of her wrist and tosses the torta, browned like our roots. And let me tell you about my mother’s mouth. How her tongue was born to authenticity with its parents from the bear, the strawberry tree, crown, & the feathered serpent, & how her mouth knows the proper taste but not las palabras de nuestro gente for El Bueno y El Mal, & how she can lick her lips & recall the crunch, the flour, the softness. Mi Bisabuela hugs my palms to her lips, blows the gift of god into them, falling softly to rest in my bones. Mi Abuela dances around me. Twisting, twirling, she puts her medicine on my back, puts her hechizos in my feet. Mami brings me the language she could not make hers, 36

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places it under my tongue, warm, soft, mine. I found my home in our kitchen. In the way the wild rice that sprouts flowers takes my grandmother’s magic & plants it in my throat. & how the beans that grow trees become my great grandmother’s songs sown into my chest, & how the greenness that blossoms herbs from my mother’s stories comes to settle in the bottom of my belly.

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I Wish I Was an Astrophysicist DJ Slater The Sky takes me into her arms as I lie awake at night, And in her embrace, I smell her sweet perfume of galaxies and duality. I feel so small in her spiral arms. She is so complex, So much more than the sum of her parts. You think you know her; Trust me, you do not. Her name is not Andromeda or Milky Way. She is Universe; She is Everything. Sometimes her overwhelming everythingness is comforting. Mostly, it is confusing. I think I’ve been in love with her since the first time we met. I’d throw a rock at her window and serenade her with my love songs, Singing of her infinite beauty, Of her incredible stars, while I tried to understand how they shine. We’d have summer dates. I’d lie in the grass as she showed me her meteor showers. I think she tried to tell me something: Even though she mostly hides from me and is so complex that I could never understand her, She will always be waiting for me Until the day I join her in the Sky.

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Journal of Life Andrew Dudewicz Atop a mighty desk, I sit, Pages filled to the brim with Wit; What is inside you cannot touch, For I am above all nonesuch. People, Ideas—I see them, As it is through them I become Alive, but that is not quite true; I have a Soul, but not like you. Tis true I refuse to perish, Yet there are those that I cherish; I clasp Covered arms around us, To shelter from Ozymandias. To forget, or be forgotten, Which is worse, life misbegotten, I staunch the bleeding in your mind, Of Memories, else lost to time. When your pencil tip pirouettes, Across my pale pages, a Duet, Yet I am overcome by grief, Ephemeral thoughts like gay thieves. After you, there’ll be another, And though you were like my brother, Slip past the surly bonds of Earth, I will treasure your golden words. War, Revolution, Repression, I have laid bare all transgression, In all of human history, Yet not one man has outlived me. Death lurks, stalks before it enshrouds, Yet to Death I say, be not proud! For I’m the bulwark to your Reign Of Terror. I am King of Kings! Oh, Humanity!—I do plead, Like lofty Lady Liberty, Still Life 2020

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Give me your tired, your blessed poor; I’m Eternity, your Savior. If you share your secrets, Death Dies, Far below Earth’s heavenly skies. To believe life ever after, Don’t forget to write a chapter.

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Naturally Caroline Helmstadt Upon a bed of soft grass Low-hanging fronds block The starry night. Occasional winds carry The scent of a pure, untouched Nature While the leaves Not far above Rustle gently. A pair of mates lies Upon that bed of grass. Deep, rhythmic breathing Marks slumber. Perhaps They have partaken In the ancient rite of Love-making. Or, Perhaps, They have simply nestled together After a long day Of gathering plants And soaking in the river. Their bodies Fit neatly together. As they settle, The male’s hands may trace The wide hips And sharp curves Of his mate. She is tucked tightly, Secure in his hold Of powerful arms. The small den Of leaves and branches Shield them. ***** I may roll In the night Still Life 2020

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To face my lover. Reminded Of our deep bond, A naturalist connection That exceeds the scope Of modern humanity And time That even I Cannot fully explain.

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Gone with the Wind Nicole Vogelpohl

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Heartsong 2020 Serena M. Pittman Orion is the sole companion for insomniacs in winter; there are no little chatty night critters to keep us entertained like in the warmer months. Yearlong residents mostly tuck themselves in til spring. Mostly. This past February at around four o’clock in the morning, somebody began to sing outside my icy bedroom window. “I do believe,” I thought to myself, “that bird must be talking in his sleep.” Then I recognized my fellow wide-eyed was a cardinal practicing his love song. In these dark times how can I give in to despair When from the heart of an optimistic bird, hope as a sacred prayer poured out of his throat and unto the land of Saginaw and has the power all these months later to lift my spirits up?

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Miles Mark Sheffield Brown I got the album in its cardboard sleeve from the city library that looked like a dim cave that day, the aquarium in the corner glowing like a lantern. I carried the record home in the rain, clutched under my shirt, holding it against my hunched belly like it kept me warm. On that rainiest day, I listened to Miles Davis for the first time in my front room. “It Never Entered My Mind.” Sapped white sun barely made its way past the windowpanes, and the black, grooved vinyl shone in the weak light. At fourteen, I’d never heard him before— his horn high, piercing, menacing. The bass’s soft, somnambulant heartbeat punctuated the rain outside diving into the ground, rushing under the grass in my yard, washing desert dust out of my gutter. The house was empty. The world was empty. Every shadow of the house held loneliness. I just wanted to try things. Maybe this is who I am, I thought. Maybe this is what I like.

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Consumption Todd Stockmeyer Dancing on the melted wax The flame, upon its leash Raging, writhing Encased within the glass Longing to consume But just a servant Giving light to me Amidst the shadows One breath away from death Not unlike myself

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Home from the Conference Bruce Gunther My wife kisses my neck as we sit down for dinner. Her hands brush mine as we talk, calmed by our red wine. I discuss my business trip, the monotonous seminars, the heat of the Western city. She asks if I missed her and speaks of the loneliness of the house when I’m gone. About how the garden needed rain, and what a neighbor told her about someone in the house three doors down. We chew our slices of apple pie— served with vanilla ice cream— and I tell her how much I enjoyed the wine, dinner, and dessert. Only later, when we read by lamplight in our separate chairs, will I ask about another man’s credit card, which must have fallen from his wallet and under the bed, but not quite all the way.

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Humanity’s Rainbow Michelle Perreault The absence of color seems to be An unusual form of hierarchy. How do we figure, how do we choose Those that will win and those that will lose? Red, Yellow, Black and Brown— Reasons we use to hold a man down, Pretending that color determines a heart, Making up reasons that keep us apart. The Human Race is not meant to be literally taken; Why can’t we see That trying to make us front of the pack Is actually what is holding us back? If I’m number one, then others can’t be, Making a loser of all who aren’t me. I am not better and you are not worse; The need to be perfect is Humankind’s curse, So stop feigning perfection and show us your flaws. Are you willing and able to take up the cause? In order for us to become what we should, We need to accept that diversity’s good. Love and acceptance are what the world needs. Judgement and hatred to ignorance leads. So now is the time, and this is the place To equalize the Human Race. So much at stake, too much to lose! Humanity’s Rainbow needs all of its hues.

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grief is the song stuck in your head when you wake up Katy Haas

sometimes i can’t help crying over the bodies of bugs swirling down my shower drain. and tonight i knelt in the grass with gnats in my hair to feed a bumblebee sugar water. while its shredded wings twitched over its back, my shoulders curved under the knowledge that it would still die not long after i stood and walked away. every pet i’ve ever lost, i’ve wrapped in a blanket to hug it tenderly in the earth, dirt under my nails, my knuckles white with grief wrapped around the handle of a shovel, around a bouquet of wildflowers placed over each fresh grave. but my grandma died minutes after i left her side while i was stuck in the drive-thru line at mcdonald’s waiting for a cheeseburger and a coffee and i rested my head on the steering wheel and stared at the tired teenager taking my money and all i could think was: maybe it’s wrong that the only thing i feel is relief.

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Existence Matt Chappel There’s something about the stars I just can’t seem to say or see, Or so it is in these lives of ours, But still the wonder burns in me, Out walking, haunted by the night With mind and heart on stars above— The hand that scattered the seeds of light Who’s said to give and take in love. At times I sense a disarray Between the lines—no order found To make heads of the Milky Way. At other times I see it bound By laws unknown, or only known By God (or only-God-knows-who) And who will cast the final stone To strike a balance in the two. ‘Cause if this seems to me unwhole, I know that there’s a different sense Of chaos linked in with control Like split rails that link up a fence— I brace myself against the bars Just after I look up and round And lose my balance in the stars And pick myself up off the ground. Whenever I have gone to sky For answers to the universe, I end up at the question why And always come back to the earth.

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The Little Things Devin Kemani Butler

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Post-Post Cbxtn Fig A story is driven by plot, or by character, or by location. But can a story be driven by its own awareness of being a story? This is called meta-phyction and is part of “posttraumatic literature”—a genre hinted by Modernists such as Joyce and Woolf, who wrote holistic, streamof-conscientiousness, multi-narrative appeals toward funerals and lighthouses, fragmented, light-dappled mosaics —stoked by blood and vomit, the noxious gas clouds pluming over the trenches of the Somme and the shrapnel jettisoned from the murderous inventions of Alfred Nobel— —Woolf still enjoyed plot, characters, locations. Post-WWII, post-Zyklon B, was the soil for PostTraumaticism, the disorder which takes Modernist principals and masticates heads before spitting out gory pulps of self-reflection—stories about stories about stories about stories. “A rose is a rose is a rose” said Gertrude Stein, historically identified with the Modernists but was actually harkening the way for post-rose, post-tautological, post-traumatic literature—little known fact: Stein, a Jewish lesbian, was also a Nazi sympathizer. Cognitive dissonance produces potent poetry. Alas! What is more poetic than a pandemic which promises to kill hundreds of thousands of people and yet is the door which unites our humanity? Like Zyklon B, the fatal breath passes through the air, in plumes of air, of breathing, inhaled into the lungs, and kills. “I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe!” yelled Eric Garner, yelled George Floyd, yelled fading ghosts who never made it to the twitter feed. Post-internet, postrace, post-consciousness, post-truth. “A post is a post is a post” announced Mark Zuckerberg, “Who are we to decide what politicians say?” And now the fragmented, light-dappled mosaics of digital reality fracture into multi-narrative appeals toward funerals and lighthouses, entering a deeper 52

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cognitive dissonance, producing a more beautiful poetry (Alas!), a lived poetry, the post-poetry, the poetry no longer chained to words but now written with life, the holistic, the Facebook life-stream, the angels sound their trumpets—We’ve entered the post-paradox where a virus which promises death produces just the right conditions to propagate Life. A life is a life is a life.

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Having found, Jeff Vande Zande as a child, a penny on the ground, I vowed to walk industrially, bent low with my eyes on the dirt, while the others played baseball in the evening’s last, lingering light. I made my fortune on coins, bottle deposits, the rare lost wedding ring until, in my hunched and nearly blind old age, I spent it all, dollar by dollar, paying others to describe the varying hues of the sky moving from dawn to day to dusk to darkness.

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Gateway Carter Anolick

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Falcon, Fly On Tristan Harman Though graced with wing and wind to fly, A falcon rested ‘neath the sky. Tattered feather, broken bone Have kept this hunter long from home. Falcon, keep your head up high And bow it not in times of strife. Falcon, though your heart sinks low, I promise you’ve not far to go. Though tonight, your wounds may ache And in the morn, you may not wake, No conclusion is foregone. Your wings will heal, and you’ll fly on.

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Offerings Jared Morningstar Once I saw a shopping mall host a child beauty pageant. Little darlings dressed in evening gowns, bathing suits, outfits too mature for them, pranced across the stage to the rhythm of hand clapping. The silent, disgusted majority observed at a distance, their faces as uncomfortably wrinkled as the plastic shopping bags they carried, grumbling quietly to each other: “How dare these parents prop up their little girls like helpless offerings for the pleasure of perverted old men?” “All for prize money. Infuriating!” “How sick that this place promotes such a terrible event?” “These malls are dying. They’ll do anything to grab on to any money left to be made.” “Evil. Greedy. All of them.” But pass on by they did; they had shopping to do, lives to return to. I think of this now, as our leaders encourage schools to open their doors and parents to sacrifice their children to the invisible, infectious beast that awaits inside. I can almost hear the monster applause and the cha-ching of political cash registers. I can only hope, this time, the angry majority refuses to stay silent.

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Social Media Friends Julie Debats Social Media Friends share what’s on their minds, Providing plentiful powerful posts of all kinds, From exotic explorations to pictures of tasty sensations. People convey they are tightly knitted together like a cozy pink sweater. Tweet, Snap, Like Yet outside the tiny world of screens, you look away from me, A forebodingly common practice today. We both know our eyes connected. Only your eyes ran as if they spotted a rabid dog lunging towards concessions. Did my friendly smile scare you? Was it the gentle wave of my hand inviting you in? I know it can’t be my breath for we are moons apart. Tweet, Snap, Like Here I remain, Wondering what worrisome offense I made, Until the stinging crack of reality’s whip strikes me. True Friends dance to the beat of conversation, Leaping over chairs, Swaying through the crowd. They lift you up and twirl you around. Then you find yourself caught within the warm embrace of soft words of affirmation. I was consumed with the idea friends are based off quantity. No longer will I follow the lying lull of your pictureperfect screens. Now I can return to the world without a maximum of characters. I can return to the world without fake personas. I am free and my True Friends are with me. Tweet, Snap, Life

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Grandma’s Hands Chris Lucka Grandma’s hands looked old with branches of blue veins, like tree roots, pathways from her younger years. She called them “gnarled” after washing clothes by hand, wringing each piece and hanging them on the lines Grandpa strung. She cooked over the big black stove that dominated the kitchen. She worked yeast into dough, making and baking bread and pies that made her kitchen smell like I was encrusted in a warm loaf, inviting me to stay. She said my hands had no experience, keeping them pink and tender compared to her rough knuckles. But she knew how to soothe me when I scraped my knee or comfort me when my parents left for an evening out. Her hands worked their magic as she rubbed my back, turned pages as she read from my latest storybook, or tucked me in at night, after putting our hands together for an end-of-day prayer.

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do you remember Denise Hill the first snowflake you caught on your tongue your mouth a wide gawping O to the night sky shifting your booted weight first left then right to follow the earthward journey of each crystal flake blinking away near misses melting on your eyelashes pooling icy tears until finally, lurching forward tongue jutted to Sirius one tiny miracle alights drawn inside your warm dark cavern how you smiled at the taste of nothing walked across wings of angels satisfied to let the rest all fall

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The Conversation, with a Golden Shovel Deda Kavanagh DWB Like one who’s run out of things to say but can’t stop/talking –­ Christopher Bursk They rented a Lexus to escape like songbirds from Brooklyn’s cage, one sunny day before George Perry Floyd, who’s the same shade black as he. But in PA they run into trouble with flashers and shouts, “get out of the car, sit on the curb” and one of the officers calls for backup. Schooled in these things, he clamps lips tight as a clam. Her white nails quake to see him dis-graced. Lauboutin heels ticking, say, this is not my scene! She explains but they search the trunk, find a picnic lunch, can’t understand why she’s with him. FIDO stop. She wants to soothe him; he doesn’t feel like talking.

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Rising Flowers Grace Biber The summer blooms rise, Their petals reaching the skies, Yearning for sunlight.

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Taraxacum Austin Bauer O friend of mine, achene of the same clock, we’ve grown to fly upon the wind and take to the sky like elegant paratroopers; silent, like owls in the night. You knew me in my youth; you watched me as I grew into my pappus, and you into yours. And here we are, floating on a spring breeze, you into your future, me into mine. I hope to see you bloom into all the yellowness I know you can be. Maybe, someday, we will meet again; children will rub us against their tiny chins—buttercups, they call it, a way to know if you’re in love. Or, maybe someone will harvest us and join us together in a wine—a sweet elixir of oranges, spices, and sugar. Only the wind can make a future like that.

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what america has done to its veterans Matthew Sauer talking about those sickeningly-sweet summer memories siphoned sour through ‘Nam’s neglect before the heavenly House elected to repo a home, before handprints of ghosts gave this Purple Heart attack, before every 4th was spent remembering over & over & over again how to hide under an explosive sky; dreaming service was for more than a free Grand Slam every November eleventh, more than a sedative for the penniless powerless from the time spent just trying to forget.

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No Longer Me Devonn Fernbach You are what I thought I wanted. Funny, smart, and undeniably handsome. I gave you too much, You didn’t give me enough. You mask the bad parts of you, Until you can’t hide them. You are scared and unsure, But if you wanted it to work You would be around more. I thought everything was going okay; I just don’t understand. You would say things in such a way, I thought you cared, But you disappeared again And that isn’t fair. No explanation was given, No text, no goodbye. I would have done anything, But was that the problem? You wasted my time. Now I’m losing my mind. You have destroyed my sense of who I am, Or who I thought I was. Am I the reason, The problem? You have broken me.

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Cultivation Katrina J. Stevenson

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Choosing the Horse Suzanne Sunshower hoof strikes frozen ground punctuating accusation blonde colossus bucks head in tune to distant coyote radio apple-laden outstretched hand captures forgiving golden gaze a naturally curious animal always let the horse choose you

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Love Cremated Rachel Diehl I was sitting on my wooden bench when a lighter ran by, glittering glee. He lightly stopped, lit a cigarette, then cast his gaze toward me. He asked, “Hi, darling. Where is your flame? You seem so bare.” I smirked: “I’m not easily flushed. There are other candles elsewhere.” He flashed a smile, “There may be others but… true light is rare.” He sat, we spoke, my cackle filled the street and crackled till my stomach burned. We were a match and kindness kindled, But he wanted fire while I wanted to linger. I sighed, “It’ll hurt too much, you’ll burn me; I will melt, misshapen, become ugly.” His smile shined, “You will be perfect and beautiful to me.” His lips smothered mine til my soul burst into brilliance. So I let him in my heart and it glowed. Our flame grew, our rings forged, and soon… my wax melted. I was scared about our flame and what we had created, But they were precious. Wax dripped and dribbled from their tiny mouths. But he was always restless, and I grew tired, so he extinguished me. His flint shoes threw sparks; I begged him to cool down, but he just glared at me. He set fire to our house, our children, our rings. I searched through the rubble until the smoke stinged. The ashes rose in the driveway, but my flame still flickered. I had grown old and so had he. My wick was short; our children had children of their own. I heard he never found anyone quite like me; I forgave him, but I wouldn’t let him near me. 68

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He hurt me, burned me, and my soul needs healing. My flame is now extinguished, but won’t forget the light he gave me.

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Premortem Examination Drew Eastwood

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Tomatoes Kathleen Tighe Slicing tomatoes near the sink juices spill onto the counter watery pink, dotted with seeds an earthy aroma releases tangy, sweet, mouthwatering memories of pasta sauces, salads, long evenings at the dinner table... This comes to me, too: A hot summer day long ago sun beating down on me as I tug at a stubborn weed pulling, gently though, to avoid uprooting the tender stalk emerging from the dirt alongside the weed. Pausing to wipe away the trickling sweat slipping into my eyes, I smear dirt across my forehead. I sigh and glance over at Dad. He, too, is sweating, droplets glistening on his neck burned a permanent deep red from the summer sun. He moves among the rows in silence, palps orange-red tomatoes for ripeness, urges scallions from the resistant earth to check for size, flicks caterpillars off the overgrown romaine lettuce leaves, tosses weeds into a pile that I will gather and discard. It is summer in New Jersey, where the tomato garden is bountiful, and my father is happiest. I remember this, too: As the sun sets, Dad brings in the day’s harvest, cradling the metal colander as he might a basket of newborn kittens. He pulls from it a massive yellow onion, slices and offers it to me. Still Life 2020

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I shake my head. He bites into a tomato like it was an apple, grins as the juice runs down his chin. “Lovely. Best thing in the world. “Have one.”

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Stars to the North Taylor Tucker Stars to the north, lightning to the south framed my drive over Labor Day weekend. Not for the first time, I gazed upon the face of God in the indomitable storm that swallowed up 131 as I made my way north from Champaign to Higgins Lake. And that happy long weekend by clear water, when we broke 100,000 miles on Hillcrest Road in gentle yellow light. Badminton on the supple moss that Grandma hates and me about to turn twenty-five, less than one quarter of life if I have any say (which I don’t, really) and how, when I returned, the sun hung in the lowest quadrant over the vast horizon of pale corn that will just barely make the harvest. How it slipped quietly down through ephemeral haze, whispering, “So long for now,” and took its rest.

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Standing Song Joshua Jordan For Sanford Dam The siren-whine tremolo down the arroyo Serves as a sign of my brother’s back broken; Over his wreckage the growing Lethe flows, But hell and high water will not see me open. My own waters coil in eddies to pounce When Stygian cavalries call them to oust With washes of aggregate dragged over sand, But coming Charybdis would still see me stand. Spotlights that sputter like reapers on high Stare like my reckoning wrecking is nigh— Eager eyes wait for it in their sheer light But wry tidal tyrants won’t take me tonight. Force as they may on the bastions of life, I will not descend from my reinforced height, And lash in cruel time as the sea devils must, I’ll meet with these meters the Acheron thrust. In due time, an enemy comes for us all, Designed by the fates to test that which we are. Before no damnation will my pillars fall As I guard with this prayer my soul’s reservoir.

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toxic Jaden O’Berry i hope you see me. every time you close your eyes, every time you blink, every time you see a girl with long brown hair and miles of pale skin—i hope you see me. i hope you hear my laughter resonate through quiet rooms and i hope you can still feel the way my cold hands would trace patterns on your bare skin. i hope when you cradle her in your arms at night you are plagued with the way my legs curled around yours as we slept. i hope that you smell the scent of lavender and feel the ghost of my hair through your fingertips; i hope you smell peach and remember the velvet softness of my skin. i hope i envelop your mind the way a disease envelops patient zero, because, my god, i was your patient zero. ever since i laid eyes on you i have been plagued with this feeling slinking among my day-to-day routine, taking over my every waking thought. i am the patient that still experiences symptoms through quarantine walls, i feel nothing but the ghost touch of a boy who i thought could redeem me. and while i’m stuck behind this one-sided glass all i see is you and her and the way her eyes shine at the caress of your hand. that’s when i realize: i was never the disease—i was the diseased. and now she’s been infected, too.

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Remembrances of You Pearl Thomas Dedicated to Dragonhood Spring Budding Cold days shimmer on. Sunrise comes ever so warm. Life has beginning. Raindrop Frost turns to dew. Lost. Raindrops from puddles, I love. (Adore.) Street washed, a fresh scent. Ensign A favorite face Guards me, trait certain, squints. Dear message: Mankind. Mankind Conclusions Science leads us. Wins. Carelessness of another Danger prophetic.

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The Moral of the Movie Eric P. Nisula I. The shot cowboy looking up at his partner asked, “What was it—gold?” “Sure, Luke,” he said, “Lots of it.” The cowboy grinned, coughed and died. II. In war-torn Poland workers refuse to work; Truckloads of Nazis come. They spill out, weapons at the ready, and grab a worker. “I’ll work! I’ll work!” he jabbers as they move him toward the wall. III. Ma Barker and her boys, on the lam. Dad’s a useless drunk. They pull over. “Boys,” barks Ma, “get rid of the old man.” “Let’s go, Pa,” they say. He staggers to the bushes, bottle in hand, sees the drawn pistols and says, “I wish I never…” IV. Ned loves Hattie, but Hattie was devoted to her college teaching, turning out judges and senators. Yet he faithfully served her, year after year, doggedly trying to get her to marry him. Still Life 2020

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Now we’re near the end of the movie. Hattie has her testimonial dinner. The judge and the senator rise to toast her teaching. In the last scene they sit in rockers, grey-haired. Hattie thinks now of Ned. “Was there something you were going to ask me?” He smiles and pats her hand— “Naw, that’s ok.”

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tu me manques Madeline Bruessow i don’t know when i fell in love. or how. but it happened. slowly, so slowly that i didn’t notice it until i was dreaming in debussy. the perfume of your breath in the morning, a hazy mist hanging over a dew-dropped lavender field. i don’t know if it was the cozy parisian terraces, overlooking the champs-élysées, la tour eiffel. i don’t know if it was the dreamy sensation of a croissant and café crème upon my tongue, from a little boulangerie along the riviera. i don’t know if it was the way that the mere thought of you made me feel like one of the ladies from monet’s paintbrush: faceless, elegantly parasoled, dappled with sunlight in a jardin of flowers. i’ve never met you. never felt the cool rush of alpine air caressing my breast. never stumbled, halfdrunken, along rue de la huchette in those hours that are both late and early at the same time, clinging dizzily to your arm, mon amour. nevertheless, you are my sacrécœur. tu me manques. you are missing from me.

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La Fiesta de Traje de Saginaw Lauren Wells This is a place where masa is spread thickly with sticky palms on cornshell husks where strangers are welcomed with the open arms, a Buena Vista uncle, ushered in with an earthy grin & where laughter warms the balmy air, humming like the smell of tamales at Rico’s, or my grandmother’s cast-iron wood stove, a place full of neighbors, Ring-Kirkham built brick & mortar home light gossip bouncing from lip to lip, shared between new & old friends, a railroad understanding— museum art dancing from the tip of one tongue to another— a quilted scrap community singing in crammed concrete solidarity. Saginaw, I believe in your Motown-Country-Rock’n’Roll-Mariachi Soul. Your Old Town murals gather stories and stones from every road & your people’s eyes reflect the base of this city, no matter how cracked, crumbled, and corroded, the fractures filled by the strength of its natives, a sturdy, tall Bean tower silhouette who knows its past, who knows who it will become, raised proud in its broad river, working-class roots.

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Our Own Magic Jolyn H. Ohlendorf­ Saginaw, I believe, has a magic to it A slanted magic, yes, No one would deny that But if you bend your head to just that tilt You’ll see it: The dusty fire-orange light hitting twisted trees in the dawn The stubborn wild daisies battling valiantly against mown grass The man with the cardboard sign daring you to look him in the eye The cat with the chopped-off tail grooming itself with arrogance The woman who reads to her child though she is weary working three jobs Angle your head just right—you will see it And soon you’ll find yourself believing In the magic of Saginaw

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there and back again Madeline Bruessow i grew up surrounded by cornfields lush stalks in summer, crepe-paper husks in winter. in the bay i was an island. trees leered above me. snow clouds were claustrophobia. corn stalks a wall. i thought a yard is never big enough. the snow always too thick. ice too slippery. dare me: what is beyond that line of trees, beneath those waves, past the frost-hardened roots. but after a long trek home, nothing smells quite as sweet as a golden field of Michigan maize on a firefly-lit evening.

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Oleg Nicole Vogelpohl

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About Our Contributors

Carter Anolick is a recent graduate of Saginaw Valley State University, where he received a bachelor’s of art in graphic design. Shot during his Alternative Photography class, one of his final classes taught by department chair Hideki Kihata, Carter’s composition “Gateway” illustrates the Van Dyke process of film development. Capturing one of the many alleyways of downtown Bay City, Michigan, the piece exemplifies the city’s raw qualities and what made him want to visit time and time again. Carter currently resides in Oxford, Michigan, where he continues to search for the perfect career to showcase his passion. Stuart Barbier lives in Bay City, Michigan, and teaches rhetoric and composition at Delta College. When not teaching or doing all that teaching requires, he enjoys working on his 128-year-old house, both inside and out. He feels that maintaining an appropriate balance of physical and mental work within the complexities of these activities, let alone life, would be difficult without the welcome respite of poetry, whether his own or others’. Austin Bauer is a poet from Bay City, Michigan. He is passionate about creating community around poetry where writers can share their work with each other. He is happily married and is enjoying life as a new dad. Alexis Beauchamp is an ambitious old soul with a vivid imagination who considers herself to be a child at heart. A Bay City, Michigan, native, she has spent time adventuring out west. Her free spirit and thirst for adventure keep her optimistic and lighthearted most days. She loves all things mysterious, beautiful, and wild. She enjoys spending time in nature, where most of her inspirations find her, and has a deep love for humanity as a whole. She is in the process of publishing her first children’s book and is enjoying every step along the way. Grace Biber is an eighth grader at Holy Cross Lutheran School in Saginaw, Michigan. She loves to write, sketch, and perform in plays. She is very fun-loving and has a happy-go-lucky kind of personality. She loves reading and writing fantasy books. She someday hopes to go to Yale and major in law and English. She aspires to be a lawyer and an author when she gets older. Mark Brenner teaches 6th–8th grade E.L.A. at Holy Cross Lutheran School in Saginaw, Michigan. He is a board member of the Saginaw Bay Writing Project. He is happy to have “Goodnight Moon” published, so people can learn about a cherished time that he shared with his boys, whom he loves with all his heart. Mark Sheffield Brown (markbrown@delta.edu) is an associate professor of English and director of the Honors Program at Delta College. He earned an M.F.A. in creative writing at Boise State University and a Ph.D. in film studies from Wayne State University. He is a poet, book maker, and film reviewer. Mark lives in Midland, Michigan, with his wife and three daughters. Madeline Bruessow is a reporter, editor, and award-winning poet. A student at Saginaw Valley State University, she is currently working towards her B.A. in rhetoric and professional writing with minors in creative writing and philosophy. She lives with 84

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her family in mid-Michigan and has been writing for as long as she can remember. When not working on her next piece, she enjoys drinking too much coffee, spending time with her imagination, and wandering aimlessly in the woods. Devin Kemani Butler is an aspiring artist at Saginaw Valley State University (SVSU), with a focus in graphic design and photography. He has spent the last four years of his college career developing many different graphic and photography pieces that show his creative strength and passion for the arts. In 2019, he won an award for “Exceptional Improvement–Photography” during the SVSU Student Art Exhibition. To see more of his digital graphic and photography work, visit his self-made website and take a look at his online portfolio: http://webp.svsu.edu/~dkbutler/index.html. Benjamin Champagne lives inside a 100-year-old building with one window. All of the light he receives comes from the glow of a screen. None of this is important in the face of a hologram. He subsists on 1’s and 0’s. Recently found in Ang(st), Willowdown, Beyond Words, and Atelier du Soleil, Benjamin Champagne is an interstitial artist working across mediums—music, poetry, essay, video, booking shows, running sound, whatever he fancies. He is currently the event coordinator at the Saginaw Art Museum. He uses the internet a normal amount, just like you. He can be found on Twitter and Insta @peskykiddd. Matt Chappel is a fifth-year student at Saginaw Valley State University majoring in English literature. In 2018–2019, he was a member of the school’s Roberts Fellowship program. Outside of academics, Matt is a husband, an odd-jobs-man, and a poet. He aspires to write professionally and is inspired by nature and the culture of small-town living. Josh Crummer is a Saginaw Valley State University alum and writer-of-all-trades currently based in Midland, Michigan. He is the author of local superhero comic M-Zero, and his poetry has been featured in Cardinal Sins, Sky Island Journal, Temenos, and more. Bridget Therese Cusick is a junior at Saginaw Valley State University majoring in graphic design and art. She enjoys spending time with her parents and seven siblings in Oxford, Michigan. Some of her hobbies include soccer, crochet, and piano. Brenna Dean is a college freshman and graduate of Saginaw Arts and Sciences Academy, in Saginaw, Michigan, where she worked with her wonderful peers and English Language Arts teachers to grow as a creative writer. Her work is heavily influenced by her family and by environmental and social issues. She cannot thank her family, friends, and teachers enough for contributing to her growth as a writer and a person. Julie Debats is from Bay City, Michigan, and is studying to be an elementary teacher. During the pandemic, she has learned how to paint and has practiced writing poetry. She takes great pride in learning and trying new things no matter how big or small. Julie is very excited to start her teaching program and can’t wait to be certified in teaching. Rachel Diehl is currently a student at Delta College in Michigan. She plans to get Still Life 2020

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a bachelor’s in secondary education with a double major in English and theatre from Saginaw Valley State University. She hopes to become an influential teacher, one who shows her students that poetry can be a healthy outlet to explore emotions. She wants to show them that other great poets explored the same feelings; she hopes that then her students won’t feel so alone. She has found great comfort in writing poetry especially in this time of uncertainty. She hopes to inspire others to do the same. Andrew Dudewicz is a recent graduate of Heritage High School in Saginaw, Michigan, and a current freshman at the University of Michigan, where his intended focus is on history and political science. He has participated in student government and in oratory, business, writing, and Model U.N. competitions. He also has experience as both a math and writing tutor. He loves writing in general and is working on several projects including a novel and other poems. He is also a voracious reader, gobbling down historical books and biographies; his favorite novels include Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury and Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison. Drew Eastwood graduated in Fall 2020 from Saginaw Valley State University with a bachelor of arts degree in art and minor in graphic design. He was born and raised in Michigan, but it wasn’t until his senior year in high school when art got a hold of Drew, compelling him to pursue it as a career. He has a passion for anything related to art, and his favorite ways to work are printmaking and painting (it’s a close tie). He plans to take a year off to further develop his work related to social and economic classes and their relationship with historic wealthy/royal portraits. Drew plans to attend graduate school after his hiatus and has his eye set on schools either on the West or East coasts; in Boston, Massachusetts; or in Los Angeles, California. Devonn Fernbach is a 31-year-old mother of four. She has an associate’s degree in applied science from Davenport University. She states she has never really been creative, but she started writing poetry one day during a dark period in her life and she immediately felt better. Cbxtn Fig, a.k.a. Dandylion, a.k.a. Baxton Alexander, a.k.a. Alexander Verdoni, is thinking about changing his name to Ezre Fish. He writes for the Saginaw Art Museum’s blog, Eye on the Arts, and participates in community organizing. Kelli Fitzpatrick is an author and educator based in mid-Michigan. She writes fiction, poetry, and essay, and her works have been published by Simon and Schuster, Flash Fiction Online, Dunes Review, Sequart, ATB Publishing, and others. She is a winner of the Star Trek Strange New Worlds contest and currently writes for the Star Trek Adventures role-playing game from Modiphius. She is a strong advocate of the arts, public education, and gender rights and representation. Kelli can be found at KelliFitzpatrick.com and @KelliFitzWrites. Joshua Gillard is a poet and student of creative writing at Saginaw Valley State University. He has been writing since high school and claims one previously published poem in Still Life. He hardly comes out of his bedroom, and he has a cat named Nicky. Some poets with whom he has been impressed lately include Kaveh Akbar, Andrea Gibson, and Jenny Xie. Kaili Goodrich is a nine-year-old 4th grader at North Elementary School in Birch 86

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Run, Michigan. She has lived in Michigan for most of her life. She has always loved writing, and it’s one of her biggest dreams to become a child author. Normally, she writes short stories in the fantasy fiction genre. This is one of her first attempts at poetry. Hannah Gradowski was born and raised in Bay City, Michigan. She is currently a senior at Saginaw Valley State University and will be graduating in May 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in English education, an English as a Second Language (ESL) endorsement, and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Langauges (TESOL) certificate. Hannah’s passion for the English language can be perceived through her writing as well as through her ability to teach English learners. After graduation, she plans to continue writing while traveling around the world teaching English. Bruce Gunther is a retired journalist and freelance writer who lives in Bay City, Michigan, with his wife, Trish. He’s a graduate of Central Michigan University and has had poems published in Still Life, Dunes Review, Ariel Chart, and Modern Haiku. Katy Haas is a collage artist and poet from Bay City, Michigan. Her recent text-based work can be found in perhappened mag, angst zine, and Club Plum Literary Journal, and recent image-based work can be found in Taco Bell Quarterly, Atelier du Soleil, Afternoon Visitor, and other publications. Tristan Harman is a 19-year-old reader, writer, and avid follower of Still Life. He was introduced to creative writing by his teacher Jared Morningstar, and he developed his writing style under guidance from his classmates. His preferred form of address is “My Future Supreme Overlord,” and he’s fond of shepherds’ pie. Tristan is currently working towards an associate of science degree at Delta College. Caroline Helmstadt is a junior at Saginaw Valley State University where she is majoring in English education and minoring in history education with an endorsement in social studies. Writing is an important, expressive form for Caroline, particularly for capturing significant moments and ideas. In her spare time, she enjoys such activities as hiking, biking, and tending to animals—anything to embrace the outdoors. Caroline would like to thank her partner and best friend, Julien, for his unwavering support and love, not only of her writing, but in all aspects of life. Denise Hill is a stay-at-home teacher, other than making weekly runs to the store for barrel-aged stout for her loving husband. The COVID-19 pandemic helped her realize the joys of being an introvert and how to live without toilet paper. When she retires, Denise hopes to travel more or just stay home. She’s not sure yet. No matter what, her commitment to the Detroit Lions remains as steadfast as her love of poetry and dogs. Karen Lulich Horwath is a writing teacher at the Saginaw Arts and Sciences Academy in Saginaw, Michigan. She loves seeing young writers develop their skills, and she truly geeks out over revision work. In all other news, her mantra is “I would rather be hiking.” Katherine Huber is a senior currently finishing her final semester at Saginaw Valley State University, where she will be receiving her B.F.A. degree in photography. Her Still Life 2020

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photographs were created using the alternative photographic processes of cyanotype and Van Dyke Brown. While these processes are different from anything she’s ever done, she plans to continue to experiment with these alternative processes in the future. Joshua Jordan, from Midland, Michigan, writes poetry on roofs, in basements, and... about various creeks. His dream is to marry rich and write all day. He graduates from the University of Michigan this spring. Deda Kavanagh lives in Bay City, Michigan, near her sister, Rosemary, The Lady Who Paints. Deda’s chapbook, Bicycle Through a Covered Bridge, was published by Finishing Line Press. She received an Honorable Mention in the 2009 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award competition and has had poems published in Patterson Literary Review, The Liberal Media Made Me Do It, Poets for Living Waters, and, most recently, Still Life and Walloon Writers Review. Rosemary Kavanagh’s 2020–21 solo exhibition at Studio 23 (in Bay City, Michigan) was titled “My Bay City Family Tree” and encompassed oil portraits of family members who lived in Bay City since 1847, as well as her father’s World War II letters written to all who lived there during that time. Her poem “A Box of Diamonds” is based on her father’s experiences as a double agent and pilot in Europe during World War II. Two of her painted dresses were accepted into the juried show “50 Michigan Artists.” (One paper dress, a flamenco dress, features “Coca Cola” and is a visual protest for the women in Spain who work in Coca Cola factories under dire conditions; her other work, “Afghanistan Dress,” won an honorable mention.) Rosemary loves to write and has been keeping journals with poetry inclusions since 1979, when she moved to and lived in Ireland for eight years. Her humorous stories and sometimes sad poetry have been published in Connecticut and Rhode Island newspapers. She has exhibited in museums and galleries for the last 30 years. Matthew Kowalski graduated from Saginaw Valley State University in 2020 with his bachelor’s degree in communication studies and a minor in graphic design. Matthew is passionate about photography and video, and he aspires to use his creativity in the world of broadcast communications. Maggie LaVictoire is 23 years old and has been writing since she was young— however through special influences in her life, she has begun to pursue publication of her works. She thanks Jared Morningstar and Mark Brown for influencing her and giving her hope. Her poem “you’re killing me” is dedicated to Lucis Poppenger, for giving her “the feels.” Chris Lucka is a retired high school guidance counselor. She has been a member of Mid Michigan Writers since the mid-1980s and enjoys writing poetry and working as a freelance editor. She is pleased to be included in Still Life. Enjoying travel, Chris looks forward to the days when she and her husband, Dave, can do that again. An avid reader, she also enjoys tennis, swimming, sewing, and visiting her children and grandchildren downstate (outdoors and socially distanced during COVID-19). Jared Morningstar is a high school English teacher and adjunct English professor. He 88

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writes poetry and short stories that reflect his interests and observations of the world. In addition to literature, Morningstar loves music, playing guitar, late-night diner experiences, and long road trips. His first book, American Fries: Poems and Stories, was published in July 2020 by Alien Buddha Press. He lives in Mount Pleasant, Michigan, with his wife and children. Jennifer Nichols is an educator in the Saginaw Public School District. She believes in teachers, students, and lifelong learning. She loves growing as a writer through practice with friends, especially the Wandering Writers and the Saginaw Bay Writing Project Feedback and Revision Group. Although her interests change regularly, she currently reads about dragons, practices gardening, and experiments in the kitchen. Jennifer especially enjoys spending time with her husband, three sons, and their furry friend Jyn. Jennifer’s sister, Alisa, and Lake Huron were the inspiration for her piece included in this issue. The Modern Library book of poetry became a sort of Bible to Eric P. Nisula when he was in grade school. He also began writing poetry at that time. In 1979, he joined the Saginaw 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. Jaden O’Berry is a third-year theatre major with a double minor in English and creative writing at Saginaw Valley State University (SVSU). Her hope is to one day pursue a career in theatrical lighting design. Jaden’s love for the English language and performing arts stems heavily from the influence of William Shakespeare, Sylvia Plath, and Emily Brontë on her life and her upbringing. Jaden has dabbled in playwriting as well, and her one-act work titled A Not-So-Hallmark Type of Christmas was chosen to be performed in the SVSU Theatre Department’s 2020 virtual holiday variety show, Home for the Holidays. Jolyn H. Ohlendorf is a local art teacher and 2017 Saginaw Valley State University (SVSU) alumna. While studying at SVSU, she took advantage of the university’s Study Abroad services twice, travelling first to Ireland and then to New Zealand, where she completed her student teaching. Though infected with the travel bug, she remains loyal to her hometown—and continues to advocate for the charm and merits—of Saginaw, Michigan. She appreciates the opportunities provided by the Saginaw Community Writing Center and hopes for even more chances to bring attention to the beauty that surrounds her. Michelle Perreault is a 53-year-old mother of three and a whole food/plant-based chef who likes hiking and camping. She has a passion for poetry and has been writing poetry since she was in fifth grade. She has a hope that what she writes will help people look at the world through a different lens. Serena M. Pittman is an active member of the Saginaw Community Writing Center. She says, “The Creative Writing Group is my spin class and my quilting circle, where I go to exercise my mind and weave the remnants of characters and ideas I’ve got knocking about in my head into stories. I currently write around one poem a year. ‘Heartsong 2020’ was my contribution to the Saginaw Postcard writing challenge and was inspired by a little bird singing his heart out into a cold dark night.” Still Life 2020

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Don Popielarz is a retired attorney who is now living in St. Joseph, Michigan. Don continues to participate with the Saginaw Community Writing Center, joining its Poets’ Group through Zoom. Don volunteers at a food pantry in Benton Harbor and at Lake Michigan College as the director of men’s basketball. He describes himself as an old man who has seen too much, heard too much, and read too little. Matthew Sauer is an 18-year-old writer from Saginaw, Michigan. He was previously published in Still Life 2019 as the winner of the Young Adult category. Matt would like to thank the Still Life publication for motivating him to write something for once. DJ Slater is a third-year mathematics education student at Saginaw Valley State University. DJ, who prefers the pronouns they/them/theirs, is originally from a remote area of northern Michigan and finds much solace and inspiration for their poems in nature. They are also passionate about literature. In addition to being a math student, they are also pursuing a minor to teach English as a second language. They have had a long-term fascination with English and poetry. Katrina J. Stevenson is a graphic design major in her junior year at Saginaw Valley State University; she is from Ubly, Michigan. Her inspiration for many of her pieces is a surrealistic view on the world. She likes to create artwork that is somewhat abstract and from her own vision of reality. She also hopes to evoke nostalgic emotion from the viewer with many of her pieces. Todd Stockmeyer is a 56-year-old fourth-generation farmer from Michigan’s Saginaw County. He has enjoyed expressing himself with paper and pencil for decades. Someday he hopes to gather some of the poems and bind the pages into a book. Each year he continues to be amazed at what God does when you bury a seed in the ground. That seasonal journey inspires much of what he has written. While not toiling in the earth, he enjoys time with his wife and ever-growing family. Suzanne Sunshower is a Detroit native living in mid-Michigan, where she enjoys filming trees and wildlife. A friend once told her that horses are naturally curious animals. If she wanted to make friends with his two horses, who were visiting her pasture, he suggested she casually stand at the fence with an apple in her hand—one or both might wander over to check her out. Well, it worked. Bob and Comet went on to spend each fall in her pasture for many happy years. That’s how she learned that tidbit of wisdom: Always let the horse choose you. Marjorie Talaga lives in Bay City, Michigan, where she has been writing prose and poetry since childhood. Much of her writing has been inspired by real-life stories and characters she’s encountered through the various and colorful jobs she has held: soda fountain waitress; cocktail waitress; special education teacher in a prison; yoga instructor; teacher of literacy, poetry, and English; census gatherer; director of job training programs; bookseller; and writer of newspaper articles. Marjorie’s poems, stories, and articles can be seen in college publications and in work-related magazines and articles. Elizabeth Terry is an art major at Saginaw Valley State University and will graduate in May 2021. She hopes to continue her education at the graduate level. 90

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Elizabeth is a photographer and graphic designer. More of her work can be found at Badhatarts.com. Imari Cheyne Tetu is a Michigan native and a 2020 graduate of the Rhetoric and Professional Writing Program at Saginaw Valley State University (SVSU). During her time at SVSU, Imari worked as a tutor and technical writer at the Writing Center and as a writing consultant and creative writing workshop leader at the school’s Community Writing Center. Imari is currently a master’s student at Michigan State University, where she studies technical communication, experience architecture, and accessibility and universal design. She continues to write the occasional poem or short story in her limited spare time. A resident of Saginaw, Michigan, Pearl Thomas tries to defy negatives as she lives by positives. Anybody can do it, she says, but sometimes you become acquainted with negativity. To avoid those who dwell in negativity is the best answer. She lives by faith with her own choices, enjoying life and following where it leads to good. Her fate loves her. She likewise loves her fate. It is no doubt going to be so rewarding because good leads to goodness. Pearl wonders where would she be without poetry, awards, grammar teachers, or an artist community. Kathleen Tighe is an educator and a member of the Saginaw Bay Writing Project. She writes mainly nonfiction, including flash memoirs of her travel experiences, and poetry based on memory. The poem “Tomatoes” focuses on a moment spent with her father in the garden of her childhood home. She is happy to share the memory with others. Taylor Tucker received her bachelor’s degree in engineering mechanics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is now pursuing her master’s through its Digital Environments for Learning, Teaching, and Agency Program. She is the author of the children’s book Jenny Saves a Convertible and has previously published poetry in Talking River, Still Life, Walloon Writers Review, and Ponder Review. Jeff Vande Zande teaches fiction writing, screenwriting, and film production at Delta College in Michigan. His books of fiction include the story collections Emergency Stopping (Bottom Dog Press) and Threatened Species (Whistling Shade Press). His novels include Into the Desperate Country (March Street Press), Landscape with Fragmented Figures (Bottom Dog Press), American Poet (Bottom Dog Press) and Detroit Muscle (Whistling Shade Press). In 2012, American Poet won a Michigan Notable Book Award from the Library of Michigan. In 2020, Whistling Shade Press released his new collection, The Neighborhood Division: Stories. He maintains a blog of writing advice at www.authorjeffvandezande.blogspot.com. Nicole Vogelpohl is a 2020 Saginaw Valley State University graduate and received her B.F.A. in photography. Currently, she is working as a photojournalist and freelancer, as well as exhibiting her artwork. Nicole is looking to pursue her M.F.A. degree in the near future. Lauren Wells is an aspiring creative writer. Currently, she is studying criminal justice and public policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago in the Honors College. While she intends to go into law school and pursue civil rights and immigration law, Still Life 2020

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Lauren still plans to write with whatever free time she has. Her main inspirations in her poetry and prose come from current issues and her culture. Besides activism and writing, Lauren loves sleeping and annoying her friends. Vanessa Willette, a wife and mother of two boys, has always had a love for words. An avid reader, Vanessa has used her extra time at home this year to discover new authors to fall in love with and to continue her writing. Vanessa is beyond grateful to have found the Saginaw Community Writing Center. Never considering herself a poet, she’s ecstatic to have the amazing opportunity to have a second poem published in Still Life. Donny Winter is an LGBTQ+ poet, educator, and activist residing in Saginaw, Michigan. In addition to writing, he teaches poetry at Delta College and composition at Saginaw Valley State University. His first full-length collection, Carbon Footprint (Alien Buddha Press), immediately debuted at #1 on Amazon’s New Release List under the Gay & Lesbian Poetry category. Winter’s poetry discusses LGBTQ+ topics inspired by his experiences living in rural Michigan. Additionally, he weaves together narratives about trauma survival and eco-awareness throughout his work.

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About Our Writing Centers

The Diane Boehm Writing Center (www.svsu.edu/writingcenter) at Saginaw Valley State University (SVSU) was established in 1995. Its mission is to serve SVSU 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 Community Writing Center is dedicated to promoting writing for all residents living in Michigan’s Great Lakes Bay Region. The Community Writing Center holds workshops; sponsors writing contests, poetry slams, and creative writing groups; and provides community members with free feedback on any piece of writing. Online appointments for consultations occur via email or on Zoom. After the COVID-19 pandemic, in-person consultations will resume at the Saginaw Community Writing Center (which was established in October 2015 and operates out of the Butman-Fish Library in Saginaw) and the Bay Community Writing Center (which opened its doors in Fall 2017 and operates out of Bay City’s Wirt Library). More information about the Community Writing Center can be found at www.communitywritingcenter.com.

Acknowledgments

Thanks to the following for their ongoing support of Still Life and the Community Writing Center: • 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 • Andy Bethune

• Ben Champagne

• The SVSU Graphics Center

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About Our Benefactor

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

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Want to read more? Want to submit to Still Life?

Visit www.svsu.edu/ccw/stilllife to view past issues of Still Life and to learn about submission deadlines, submission guidelines, and other contests that the SVSU Center for Community Writing is sponsoring.

Want to support our work and help us create more writing opportunities in the region?

Visit www.svsu.edu/ccw, and click on the “Give to CWC” button. All gifts are taxdeductible.

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