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M ay 2017

Image courtesy Kiah Bonner

FROM THE EDITORS As another semester goes by, so comes about another issue of the Talon Review. Abby and I are excited to present another piece of heart, another chunk of soul for UNF students to be proud of. We have had the opportunity to watch a small group of creative-minded people work together to foster such a warm and passionate community, that has grown not only through UNF but trickles our into the Jacksonville community. Talon is proud to be a part of the passion of this world. As Abby and I both graduate, we watch the trickle of this creative unity catch waves, and we're happy to be passing our little creative outlet on to good hands. Jacksonville may be one big city, but it is also one big family to Talon. Thank you for allowing this passion project to continue. We hope you love this issue as much as we do! ? ? Tori Christensen and Abby Nehring

Image courtesy Matthew Barnett

I WAS By T. Jacobson I was seven when my mother taught me about fireflies. We laid on our backs in the soft summer grass, and named all the stars we could find. ?There?s one,? I said, pointing at a bright one. ?That?s Polaris, the Guiding Star,? she said, tracing each point of the Big Dipper with her finger so I could see it too. ?What about that one?? I asked. ?It?s winking at me.? ?That?s a lightning bug,? she said, ?The first one of the year. If you wish on the first firefly of summer, your wish will come true. Close your eyes. Make a wish.? I squeezed my eyes tight and wished for chocolate cake. # I was eight when my mother helped me catch a frog. She showed me how to clean the big jar so that it no longer smelled of pickles. She carried it outside, and we filled it with a few twigs. I held her hand as we walked through the tall grass to the pond where the wild horses would sometimes come to drink.

She set down the jar; we kicked off our shoes, rolled up our pantlegs, and waded into the shallow, cool water. ?Now the key,? she said, ?is to be quiet and quick.? ?And sneaky,? I added. She laughed, low and soft. ?Yes, and definitely sneaky.? We stooped and scooped but the frogs were very fast. Just as I squeezed my hands around the fat body of one, it would jump and slip right through my muddy fingers, landing with a splash. ?I don?t think they want to be caught.? ?No. I suppose not,? she said. ?Let?s take a break, and maybe they?ll change their mind.? We sloshed from the pond that was more mud than water at this point. She sat on the grass next to the big, empty pickle jar, and I crawled into her lap. She slipped an arm around my waist and hugged me to her. We sat that way, without speaking, and watched the sun set over the pond with only the croaking frogs and chirping

crickets to keep us company. # I was ten when my mother began coughing up blood. A few specks on a tissue at first, but soon those specks bloomed like poppies in Flanders Fields. We drove into the big city so she could see a specialist. I was given a few broken crayons and a used coloring book while she went into the office with the doctor and closed the door. When the door opened again, she took my hand, and we followed a nurse dressed all in white, down a long corridor. I got to push the button for the elevator. We went into a room that had a tall bed with no blanket. My mom changed into an ugly hospital gown with tiny flowers on it. It was too big for her, and the faded red flowers made her look as grey as the floor tiles. Later, I curled next to her in the tall bed while the government-approved poison flowed into her veins.


THE LOBSTERS By Thomas Fer r iello Lobsters fancy an agonizing boiling. Memed to be biologically immortal The species is not privy to the fortunate truth:

grant them asylum, All knew scavengers have no abode in A God?s heart, actions or stomach.

They are no such thing.

So they fought fact, outgrew impossible:

Consequently, all across the world,

Lobsters evolved so drastically that

Lobsters seek haven in parlors

Only their growth (and being consumed) could end them.

Hosted by fishermen and women, (So different yet identical to Prufrock?s) Scrupulously strategizing the date of their demise

Nature no longer wishes to decay Lobsters; She merely marvels at their perseverance.

Currently, Lobsters gaze upon the past with a Nostalgic twinkle in their ever-beating (or so they believe) hearts: A time when every second was impermanent, uneasy, meaningful. They are a delicacy now, Lobsters, and growth is frivolous to Those who defy death. Only the dead are immortalized. Fiery water is the home they dream of? Bright red burning, squirming, squealing with excitement?

Fearing existence without end.

In regards to the hyperbolic memes,

They never loved in the past.

In the past, Lobsters were slave grub.

When one grows with improbable zeal, embracing fear,

Hiding and scurrying and scheming,

The lesser have no choice but to speak you into myth

Ever stressing, ever working to avoid their inevitable devourment.

Never conceding the work that poured out of one?s veins.

So I say we don?t tell them; let them live as deity.Maybe then, the destitute can eat lobster once again.

Pain offers them a mortality

Never pleading Poseidon to


NO SOUP FOR VOUS By T. Jacobson My husband is not a soup lover. At least, that is what he says. ?Not even Chicken Noodle?? you ask. Nope. ?Creamy Tomato?? Nope. ?Chili?? Only if it is beanless and slathered on a hotdog. So? nope. Whenever I make homemade soup I always have to use a little psychology to get him to eat it. Years ago, we were in a restaurant in Seattle, and he ordered Clam Chowder. I was astonished! But not wanting to draw attention to the fact he was eating a soup, I kept my mouth shut. When he finished, I asked him how the chowder was, he said it was delicious. I did not want to ruin his experience with ?soup? so I let the incident pass without too much fanfare. But it happened

again when we went to a friend?s house and they, not knowing my husband?s hatred of soup, served him a hearty Corn Chowder with chunks of ham and bacon in it. He loved it! I was thrilled! I thought, at long last, he is over his aversion to soup. I decided to make him a family favorite, homemade Chicken Tortilla Soup. It?s spicy with corn and shredded chicken and you get to eat it with tortilla chips, cheese and guacamole. It is so far from ?soup? it is almost nachos. He turned up his nose and said, ?You know I don?t like soup.? I decided to conduct a little experiment. Not too long ago, I told him I was making Cheesy Potato Chowder for dinner. It?s thick with chunks of bacon and potatoes in a creamy, cheesy base. He scarfed it down and practically licked the bowl clean.

I could only logically conclude, he didn?t hate soup. He hates the word soup. What lies behind this dislike of the word, I cannot say. Maybe it sounds too similar to ?poop? and that triggers his ?ew? reflex. Whatever the reason, as long as soup isn?t called soup, he will eat it. I have had to get a little creative with names. When I make a creamy soup, like my Chicken and Wild Rice Soup, it gets called chowder. My tomato soup is now called Roasted Tomato Bisque. I make a Beef Potage which is basically a beef stew (because apparently, stew equates to soup.) My vegetable soup is amazing. I got him to eat it by calling it Garden Bree. My Chicken Tortilla Soup he wouldn?t touch with a ten-foot spoon, but my Chicken Sopa de Pescado? he eats it like he?s freakin?Oliver Twist.

By the evidence before me, 5 TALON REVIEW


Pronounced [poh-tahzh]

2 ?ew? reflex? noun: automatic response similar to the gag reflex except with the ?ew? reflex, your face screws up in that way it does when you are completely disgusted by something icky. Yeah. You know the face. You make it all the time. Like if you see a person vomiting and inadvertently get a whiff of it. Or when a baby?s diaper is full of poo and has basically exploded, and it leaked everywhere, and you accidentally stuck your hand in it. That face.

5 Bree? noun: fancy Scottish word for soup or broth. Not to be confused with the Middle English word bree which means an eyebrow. Can you imagine, ?There?s a bree in my bree!?

3 Bisque? noun: fancy French word for soup. Well, actually, it?s a soup of lobster or fish but it can also be purĂŠed (another fancy French word for something cooked then whirred to a thin paste in a blender) vegetables. 4 Potage? noun: another fancy French word for soup.

Image courtesy Kiah Bonner

6 Sopa de Pescado? noun: fancy Spanish word for chowder. The Spanish word for soup is sopa and that just looks and sounds too similar to soup. Can?t risk him figuring out my devious smokescreen. Shhhhh?

FROM IT By M atthew Bar nett

They hate it like the poor man hiding by the trash can Who had lost the paychecks now covered by lime Despite an incinerator and a drought far from the freeway Not having an effect, though the paper Was highly flammable, saturated In root and oil. Bums standing by the off ramp stop sign; Some guy you hate, or you walk through piss soaked streets, running out Above the park bench, half floating! They hate it like the Slowest wait on red lights; They are holier more happy Citizens, with sole less shoes, more popular than Sunday mornings, lost on the bus route going in circles; They weave from lanes finally dodging the tractor trailer wheels or minivan doors Never, doing without, only when the store Waits for shipments, dropped off, or maybe they collect glass jars To keep it fresh like a fruit truck swerving sideways Hoping to avoid contact with them, the old Hero of the day! They hate it like a homeless woodsman walks A stone path that leads To Boulder from the bank, or they hate it Worst in fall, not quite December when the forest still Rejects you while a raccoon from it opens cans.


W HEN THE TRUTH BROKE IN By Andrew DiNicola I awoke this morning to an unsettling,

Like a ladder of light reaching to Heaven,

Not to the kind that comes with fear and anxiety.

It was then that my heart began to stir

It was the other kind, the more sure kind,

From its prison and to seek what that Unsettling had brought her.

The one that has the bearing of an old monk

Slowly, ever so slowly, I lifted myself

And which won?t take no for an answer.

So I sat for a while, contemplating, wondering, Hoping ? even praying ? that this unsettling Would leave me, that it would go away, never To return.

From the armchair in which I had Made myself a nest ? a home, really ? You know how sometimes you can sit in a chair for hours, Especially in the early morning---for so long that you No longer feel your own body because it Has become absorbed by the soft cushions And molded to the form of a right angle.

But it didn?t.

But I digress.

It hung about the small room like smoke does

I do that now and then.

On a cool October morning in some Far away, distant valley. After some time had passed, and when the Sun had begun to rise once again, So that the light coming through the blinds

It?s a way for me to say no to the thoughts Ever so pressing on my mind always. It was time ? I knew it was, To rise from my slumbering thoughts And to brace myself for Truth.

Cast that familiar image of bright bar upon bright bar


I rose to my feet and, As if I could somehow break free of myself, I raised

So gradual had its ascent been that I wondered if it had really

My arms high until I had stretched

Moved at all.

Nearly beyond the limit of muscle and bone.

Then the pain became unbearable.

And there I stood.

And began to return to a normal position.

Pulled taut like a rubber band

I returned slowly, like the shutting down

So I released my muscles

Stretched between two fixed points, Or like a cable pulled between two poles.

Of a hydraulic lever,

But it wasn?t really like that,

Just as smooth, just as silent.

It was more like the stretching you

I returned to my chair

Feel on the rack, or the kind that

And let the soft cushions restore me.

Comes when you?re hanging on a limb

It was then, while I was couched

While gravity pulls at your heels. In the soft, warm embrace of the chair There I was, on my toes with no more Than one square inch times two

That I realized it had left me.

Connecting me to the ground.

I searched the room with my eyes for it,

How long could I stay like this?

But it was gone.

When would my own weight become too much to bear?

The only thing that remained from that encounter with it

Why couldn?t I leave the Earth

Were the lighted bars from the sunlight through the blinds.

When it seemed that so little was holding me there?

The unsettling was gone.

The light had moved from Floor to wall to ceiling,

After some time passed yet again,

Where it now resided

I knew it had, because the ladder of light had

Like a lattice or a trellis,

Gradually climbed from the floor to the wall in front of me,

A canopy of light above me.


HOW LUCKY AM I By T. Jacobson The complexity of construct that exists Allows me to be present At this exact moment in infinite time To bear witness to the beauty of your being Look how exquisitely perfect Your imperfection is How incredible The universe conspired this exact moment To string together these particular molecules That create you And somehow deemed it necessary I must be destroyed by this incalculable design How unfair that my heart can be broken As a mere spectator to your existence I rage at the cosmos Its cruel perfection I rail at the injustice Of a reality that composes these torments Millions of hearts are shattered By this impossible craving So many that you can hear it A cacophony of brittle glass exploding The fragmented pieces of ruined hearts Scattered back into the universe To mingle once again with the stardust How harsh to realize we are strung together With molecules of a billion broken hearts 10 TALON REVIEW

FLYING MAN By Thomas Fer r iello Mounted on a flaming iron horse, he descends. I scurry at the sight, trying to escape their call. ?You need to join NASA.?

?Never.? Just another man, not floating amongst the stars But caught in the darkness surrounding them.

The cloaked leaves shiver. Familiar like a relative I have yet to meet;

?Your place isn?t here.?

Every question that flickers in my mind

His presence is horrifying? or is it his truth?

Is illuminated immediately in silence. ?Where did you come from?? His thrown bolt ignites my neurons,

Where do I belong? How do I get there? Night snatches the sounds I long to produce.

Still the language runs from my mouth. ?I?m from where you need to be.

Wind gently rocks my lush green bed

You need to join NASA.? The words

Swaying each blade side to side lightly caressing my back.

Resonate throughout my skull, make my heart throb.

Isn?t home, but it?s comfortable

?Take this. It?s for you.? It can?t be?

And is that so bad? I stretch

A rocket? But?

Trying to grab the beams. And they yearn back.

We gaze at the stars and they gaze back.

?You can?t wait forever. The journey is long and hard.

Their light glimmers, beckons, Once again reaches for my hand in dance. So far away. It could take forever. Could die before I get there, Or just never arrive at all; Lost in space for eternity. Would you do that to me?

You know what you need to do. I?m begging? ? His voice rises from the dirt Like insects disturbed by a curious toddler. It?s the only way? What if the trek isn?t meant for me? What if I don?t shine like they do?


Critters map artwork on the ground below.

Flying so hard, so high. Immobilized, I stare.

Earth spins in just the way I like it, too.

Suddenly it stops cementing its place in the night sky;

And yet, without the slightest hum from an engine

It?s so radiant, the glow clears my eyes.

Or tremble from leaving our spot, He?s gone.

Transport me, I can?t bear here a second longer.

He will come back; I still have time.

It has become what I could only gape at.

Won?t be as scary then. I won?t have fear then.

He has ascended to what I only dared to dream.

Something new? a ball of light sails the sky.

P.S. My screen shows me the

Is that? It moves with purpose. My purpose.

Milky way when it?s not working.

I?m on my feet, extending as far off the ground

It acts as a solemn reminder

As my gravity-bound body can manage.

But not in the way we always hoped.

?Wait! I?m down here! Come back!? My vocals are consumed by abyss.

I miss you now. And I often stare when I know

It keeps climbing. It keeps moving away. ?I?m right here. You can?t leave, not yet.

I shouldn?t. If only you could dismount my mind.

I?m supposed to have more time.

If only I could reach you now.

I?m? ? my mouth fails to flutter further.

If only I had listened. If only

That my days are amaranthine,

Don?t leave me! I will defeat my fear I promise! Upwards, upwards, the unwavering Phoenix fights Puncturing through the planets now visible barrier,


THE LOVER AND DREAMER IN ME By Rober t Rittenhouse A twinge leaving me helpless, I made way into the once cutting-edge multiplex. I had lots of memories here: a lost teddy bear in ?99, four-day-old popcorn, sand-paper seats. But one film would soon take first place, changing my life?s trajectory (movies do that?). Which one? Why, The Muppets. I don?t know what hooked me in the year of Harry Potter ?s last hurrah, mostly Spanx-free superheroes, ape-led rebellion and reptilian gunslingers. I hadn?t cared about this felt family in years. Sure, I remembered bears, frogs, pigs, dogs, monsters, grouches, dingers and honkers. They left their audiences (themselves, too) in stitches. But like a lot from childhood, the rabid fondness detached itself during My Moody Era (2010-2013). Everything got a piercing look: my parents, my sister, the unsuspecting mailman. No one evaded my wrath. Embracing sweetly whispered falsehoods, I spent three years going against type, that of the happy-go-lucky, perpetually naĂŻve, overthinking, hopeful romantic. What caused me to stop being a lover and dreamer ? the kind I?d been, the kind Kermit still was? I pictured the starry-eyed visionary serenely strumming his banjo from afar, singing about believing and persevering. At four (or was it five?) years old, the rainbow connection resonated. I traveled everywhere without going anywhere. Once my penmanship improved

from ?Picasso-influenced cave drawings?to ?Pollock-inspired chicken-scratch,?I put my dynamic journeys to paper. Inspired by my rambunctious imagination, I planned to do something big (TIBEUS ? to indeterminately be elaborated upon someday). Yet, as I waited for the previews, green obscured my vision amidst crisp images of the latest version of Law & Order. Just as Kermit found it wasn?t easy being himself, I found it wasn?t easy being autistic. This restrictive label disconnected me from both identities. Despite the spectrum?s broadness, people preferred one designation. They applied a different gradient sometimes (?savant?or ?special??), but consensus never deviated from the shades of shamrock. After a few boxes were checked on the ?Dude, Are You Autistic??quiz (from someone representing all nations, but mostly America ? BuzzFeed), I nearly ended up in the department deemed ?special.? Despite my recent designation as third-grade?s Multiplication King and binge-reading of the Great Illustrated Classics, none of this mattered. But looking like Kermit after two Red Bulls sure did. No one looked past it. Flap. They snickered. Flap-flap, flap-flap. I?d only known good-natured jokes before. Flap-flap-flap. Like the zingers Statler and Waldorf aimed at Fozzie Bear ?s standup or Oscar calling Big Bird a ?turkey.?Behind


every rapid-fire one-liner there lied a faint tint of compassion. Flap-flap. My peers aspired to be nasty. I knew their color choice was off. I never understood the animosity, the darkness in their chosen label. Why did they consider me retarded? Perhaps my authenticity made me a riot. However, it wasn?t like the shenanigans in the Muppet Theater. They questioned every silly thing about me like my obsessions with tycoon games, pocket monsters and movie box office. But especially the Muppets. I didn?t know puppets were considered weird. Worse yet, Muppets were (GASP) ?babyish.?How could an infant enjoy running gags all about ?Hare Krishna?or cheeky puns? Regardless 30 first graders overruled me. I learned this on picture day. While the other guys grabbed footballs and baseballs for their photos, I gravitated toward a gleeful showboat lying on the shelf. I heard laughter, but not the Tickle-Me Elmo kind. Before then, I didn?t mind associating with the Muppets?fixations: Cookie Monster ?s gruesome gobbling, The Count?s constant counting (slowly, slowly, slowly getting faster), Crazy Harry?s pyrotechnic prowess. Yet my peers loathed my passions. No one cared about my favorite anything after the umpteenth time. I finally got the message. I dropped any tics labeling my autistic self. Soon, the ?red,? ?orange,??yellow,??blue?and ?indigo/violet/when will purple just pick a

name??disappeared. But never the green. This broad brush came over me, leaving coats of a stigma upon my shoulders. Like leaves on an oak in fall, my originality dwindled. Since people lingered on my flaws, I soon adopted their advice. Over time, I lost shades of vibrancy. By striving to avoid offense, I gradually lost my voice aside from failed comebacks. Like during Spirit Week my senior year. For a whole school day, I became a life-size Swedish Chef with plenty of ?smorgus borgs? (?hoopter bleebens,?too). Enough for top marks, the boost left shortly after taking off the mask. My own voice grew foreign, one I?d forgotten. It just had to be green, didn?t it? Looking in the bathroom mirror, I glimpsed the one and only Great Gonzo. No, my nose wasn?t a sideways ?J,?but plenty of defects made themselves apparent. First I saw my lazy left eye and the elevated right eye. Then the patches of acne sprouted. I couldn?t forget my lips and shoulders looking up at the girls. Like the neurotic daredevil, by my sophomore year, I felt like a mere whatever, simply an afterthought in life?s busyness. Some nights, I said I?d return to the days free of my autism being a defining factor. I?d let the rainy lullaby accompany my restless slumber. As I sipped some Dasani (this tangent better not have been for the halibut ? those things can get messy to clean up), I found myself shunning the loving and dreaming of yesteryear. What


had they done? They left me a vulnerable shell. I wondered about the futility of my wishes. Like Kermit in the desert en route to Hollywood, I had a decision to make. Would pursuing nihilism, pessimism, cynicism, all sorts of ?isms?meant to excuse misery, work? No, it?d never fix the green. Besides, loving and dreaming guided me past overcast skies. There were stories to be told along the way. All the ?nos,?the quiet walks around the neighborhood, the summer days spent reading a good book, all things once thought bland. No matter how hard I tried, to paint myself accurately, I needed to embrace my inherent positivity. Optimism served as my on-again, off-again muse; joy my calling card. Laughter my go-to pain reliever; hope opportunity for today and potential for tomorrow. Despite the offers an ?ism?might have, light guided me toward authenticity, requiring me to accept autism as another component, neither weak nor strong. And now for something completely different (oops, wrong comedy troupe). It was time to play the music and light the lights, to put on makeup and dress up right, to meet the show?s stars themselves. The most sensational, inspirational, celebrational and (dare I get even more cutesy?) Muppetational film of 2011 had finally arrived. Well, 15 minutes of trailers first. Then onto the Muppets! Some laughs and tears later, I left the auditorium, humming ?Mahna Mahna? (do-do-de-do-doo!). But the

night?s brightest moment came from a pint-sized fanboy. Won over by their zany antics, the boy spotted my brown shirt emblazoned with Mr. Hi-Ho himself. In his enthusiasm, I discovered life could be a happy song again, no longer marred by the prolonged adolescent moping pulling me apart or the agony of romantic rejection (not the end of the world, merely one of the seven signs). Every struggle seemed worthwhile if it meant a story filled with ups, downs and everything in between. There was beauty in an ending undetermined. Perhaps the bygone brilliance was gone. But I would strive to restore my palette. The scarlet (I?d say ?crimson,?but it triggers some; mine?s ?peanut-butter,?so no judging) red by embracing my eccentricities. The tangy orange by discovering groups of misfits okay with awkward and offbeat. The goldenrod yellow by appreciating little things like sunsets and bacon-wrapped hot dogs doused in ketchup (talk about your heart skipping a beat). The sky blue by just accepting my downright Muppety self. And the indigo/violet/brainteaser of colors by honing the intense focus, fierce loyalty and intricate thoughtfulness of my place on the spectrum. The Muppets weren?t wrong to say life?s like a movie, constantly writing a new ending with every day?s beginning. The path had been there if I envisioned it. Once I believed in my potential again, each facet steadily returned.Thanks to the lover and dreamer in me.


GROUP AND DISSOLVE By Thomas Fer r iello

Her hair imitates the sun?s golden light when It hugs the curves of the horizon And lays in threads across the nape. I find my reflection in the dark center of her lily pads Which gently drift in a pond of milk. Her dress opens with the wind Blooming too quick and private for the eye. The petals create a whole, revealing Potential the flower always knew it had But needed time and preparation to display. A stem of yellow with petals pink, The uniform interrupted by white dots scattered As the sky darkens, slowly, then all at once they appear. Steal the shimmering orbs and light might Disappear into the abyss of memory. One never remembers the first time They stared at the freckled night sky, but The best times are never forgotten With my North Star; her who I put above everything else. As we pass the pond, skip through the flower field (at her request), Outrunning the sun until the stars greet us one by one, The innocence of her smile makes me remember why we laugh. Her gold locks and lily eyes. My fascination with the sky. We form a group so that we may not dissolve. 16 TALON REVIEW

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