THE ANTHEM THE GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY LITERARY AND ART MAGAZINE
The Anthem 2013-2014
Fargo Meghan Amorosa
Dear Readers, Thank you for picking up a copy of our magazine! The Anthem is a cooperative effort by dozens of writers, artists, photographers, and editors from among Georgetownâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s undergrads, grad students, and (occasionally) alumni and professors. We solicit submissions throughout the year and provide weekly feedback to help improve them, ultimately selecting what we believe to be the most outstanding written and artistic pieces for publication. We are always thrilled to receive art and photography, and both are an important part of each and every issue of our magazine, but the core of The Anthem is creative writing. It has been my extreme pleasure this year to work with a highly talented group of authors, open to feedback and thus involved in continuous constructive dialogue with our editors. Some of the pieces here were accepted at first submission and some after six revisions, but our editing staff is equally proud to have both in the final product. Authors, we salute you, especially those of you who bore with us through a long and sometimes frustrating process. I would also like to take a moment to thank our editing staff. The Anthem is a volunteer organization; we have weekly meetings to which all members are encouraged to come, but it is a small and select group of between five and fourteen that regularly attends. These people take time out of their busy Georgetown lives to sit and critique poetry and short stories for an hour; that would be impressive enough, but it is because of their unique and diverse insights and willingness to discuss them freely with the group that we deliver a quality product by the end of the year. They are also responsible for collectively laying out the magazine, pairing art with written pieces and prepping everything for printing. I must also offer a massive thank you to two individuals. Meghan Amorosa, an Anthem veteran, stepped in to run meetings during second semester, while I was abroad. She did this in spite of running a club of her own and generally having far too much to do, and she did a wonderful job regardless. Rae Underberg, another veteran, leapt to the rescue with our finances at yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s end, ensuring that the practical side of getting the magazine finished went off without a hitch. It was not her job or her obligation; she saw a problem and leapt to fix it. Thank you both; there would not have been a magazine without you. I hope that each reader of this magazine will see the impressive creativity that drives Georgetownâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s art scene; it is not a well-known part of campus life, but The Anthem seeks to prove that it is a vibrant and important one. I hope it will inspire you, in the coming year, to either join our editing staff or submit a piece of your own; we are always open to new faces. Thank you for your interest in our work, and happy reading!
-Philip Layfield, Editor-in-Chief 2
Table of Contents Literary Works
Blank, Sofia Layanto.....................................................4 5-24 PM, Juan Golcaves.............................................5 Becks, Allison Hillsbery.................................................6 Sicily, Kate Randazzo...................................................7 Downstairs, Gianna Maita.........................................8 Making Reservations, Emmy Buck.......................9 What Lies Behind Closed Eyes, Ethan Beaman...10 The Cide, Lindsey Shea............................................11 A Nightmare, Catalina Rodriguez...........................13 Tides, Brian Fritzsche..................................................14 The Structurally Unsound Donkey,
Alexandra Buck.................................................15 Yellow Birch, Maybe, Allison Hillsbery..................17
Meghan Amorosa....................................................1 Emily FitzPatrick......................................................5 Johanna Reilly...........................................................7 Emily FitzPatrick......................................................8 Zoe Epstein................................................................10 Captain Christopher Johnston..........................13 Krishna Sharma.....................................................14 Meghan Amorosa...................................................17 Victoria Maung.......................................................21 Krishna Sharma.....................................................25 Meghan Amorosa...................................................26 Brian Fritzsche........................................................30
Craigslist Missed Connection, Nicolas Luongo..................................................18 The Summer Triangle, John Seymour...............18 Ghosts in The Machine, Mac Dineen.................19 Snowfall, Allison Hillsbery.........................................24 Hawaiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;i, Christina Lamoureux...................................25 Epitaph [Lament]: For [yet] A[nother trans]Woman Murdered,
Emeralds, Caitlin Ouano...........................................27 Zwei Menschen, Brian Fritzsche............................28
Editor-in-Chief: Philip Layfield Meghan Amorosa Brian Fritzsche Katerina Garcia Joseph Kuperschmidt Christina Lamoureux Sean Stempler Rae Underberg 3
Sofia Layanto Is there anything so daunting as a blank page? Its vast whiteness threatens to swallow you as The perfection of its wholeness challenges you to Mark it with words worth its despoilment.
Juan Golcaves Seize juin deux mil treize, au départ de Paris – Gare de Lyon The scene: One of farewell in a train station Couples of all kinds are anxiously waiting in front of the doors of the convoy, reticent to let go of their last touches of human contact. Rarely is there another occasion where so many new promises are sworn, these adding themselves to a neverending list of incoherencies that seek to mask the obstacles presented by distance and the temptations of infidelity. A man on skates, a flirtatious seamstress, a smoker whose teeth are yellow from years of habit...The scene is composed of different elements, parallel lives which paint the psychological canvas. Every person is the result of a unique story, a fact which is so innocently yet automatically forgotten despite sharing with someone an unrepeatable moment’s journey through time. Regardless of their destination, what do these people long for? Even the simplest soul has a primal fear of abandonment deeply ingrained in its core. How can we let go of that which we desire? By loving someone else, we permanently and knowingly scar an important part of ourselves. Despite how the passing of many years can help to heal the last goodbye, we never forget those whom we so earnestly kissed. Nevertheless, we do not live off the past, but are rather molded by it. ... “...As my mother used to say, to remember is to live”. The pilot’s cabin announces the whistle of departure; it is 5:24PM.
White Noise Emily FitzPatrick
Allison Hillsbery I wrote her a letter to read the day she turned fifteen. It was also a letter to myself, attempts at sage wisdom offered fondly by an older sister who is still afraid of the dark. Maybe she’ll listen anyway… She’s not a chubby toddler anymore, proudly wearing a basket on her head because I was wearing a helmet and she wanted to be a big girl too. Now she is innocence and beauty, tenderness and strength. Now she goes by Rebecca. I will try to remember, as long as she remembers my letter. I told her, I told us, to laugh loudly and smile at nothing in particular. 6
This is how he has chosen to remember: sunlight rippling over fields of wheat, olives round and ripe as the words of his mother tongue swelling through new green shoots, the pulse of the sea that murmurs and fades. His memory is a narrow lens, sharpening
each blade of grass under his free bare feet until the days meld together while muting the shouts, the gnarled stick cracking and what keeps his bones out of the ground is knowing against flesh; blurring out the steel gleam that a steeple in Palermo still stands against the sky â&#x20AC;&#x201C; of the gun his father pressed into his hands â&#x20AC;&#x201C; he was seven, market-bound â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Anyone try to steal our lemons, you shoot them dead.
but even that steeple, the sweep of blue has started to corrode his brain like the soda ash that eats into his hands.
He does not want that gray inside his head. Steel is the heavy Detroit sky, the bare flanks of the factory where he labors
He chokes on his past, a past pieced together from tarnished snatches of color, denying that progress crept in at the edges of the lemon groves, curled in the hollows of hills, until it gathered the strength to tear that steeple down; and he lives for a world that no longer exists.
Downstairs Gianna Maita
your hands your hands are here i want them gone your hands aren’t rough but they don’t hear me i know you have a mouth i thought we talked about things like this, where you cannot go i wondered why my mother said don’t go now the tv’s on mr. oxyclean talks louder than i do when i say stop so you your hands don’t stop you say you want me but i want my clothes i want the you that told me silly stories about boats you say we can go out but every time we go downstairs; your basement’s salty stale i will not make you hear me i’m afraid that you will leave me so i ask to stay 8
Study of a Conversation Emily FitzPatrick
Making Reservations Emmy Buck
She slides into the seat, Her ribcage projects against Her skin. No fat connects bone to meat, And sunken eyes lack the energy to grin. Her order is sent; no bread or wine. The concaved stomach begs for more. Intoxicating thoughts continue to combine False confidence with physical horror. Imprisoned, there is no escape to tranquility. Her Alcatraz mind chews on her health, She struggles to protect her bodyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s reliability. But violent altercations broil inside her self. She is the name known to all and few. She is the one who starves love out of life. She argues and banters for an image untrue. She is the source of my ultimate strife. But Me cannot and will not be defined by She. Reserved for a future beyond the past. Wait for the relief of hunger in Me, And hope beyond hope, safety will be served at last. Though healing seems an ache, a pain and a curse, Continuing life with She would be much worse. 9
What Lies Behind Closed Eyes Ethan Beaman
When you asked my deepest fear you rolled your eyes because I said nothing. I should have been more clear. But now I’m running, arm outstretched like a tragic Greek figure toward the thinning frame behind an elevator door, the glint of teeth flashing a malicious smile, only to touch the button in vain. But the doors ding, and I brace myself to meet an echo disrupted only by my careful steps. Inside I shake like the flickering light above. Living in the corner of my eyes, for your sake I suspend all disbelief because I don’t want to consider that I’m really all alone, and I’m afraid of nothing. 10
The Cide Lindsey Shea
High on Fly Mountain, just before the Cide, a sparse cluster of birch trees stand apart like unspeaking kings, rising between crags of gravel and sand. They grow separated from the rest of the densely wooded evergreens behind them, at the corner between mountain and cliff. It is as if they had deliberately shirked away, favoring the open air by the precipice to the mad, green fray; finding solace in silence. Sturdy, tall, and straight, narrow trunks rise and give way to armed branches, splitting and straining at the sky. Though it is winter, and devoid of leaves, their spindly fingers stretch barrenly, gauntly beautiful, in an odd parody of purpose. Removed from each other by a few feet of air and whipping winds, held in place by the gravel, they are unmistakably, starkly, white and alone. Perched on the verge of destruction, teasing towards the Cideâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s great cliff, the birches strain lovesick for freedom. Tottering at the structure before the break, black boot toes come to overlook the tangle of City below, the ashen urban depths hissing and furling from a fog.
They kick pebbles into its mouth.
So many soles come here to stand. They come to feel the earth crumble beneath their feet â&#x20AC;&#x201C; pebbles tumble over the edge â&#x20AC;&#x201C; to feel the weight of their own mortality, lifted into the winds. This is a place for lost dreamers, for found seekers. It is a place for wild thoughts, for memory perpetuated by rumor and fear, trembling philosophy; as birches shiver in the wind. It is a place for peace, for peace; the flying between the falling, the silence between the calling. And here is the peak where madness and genius come to sleep in shared bed, tucked underneath boulders and poised to spring. Suspended somewhere between being and non-, dream and reality, the Cide is a place for the dying. 11
When heavy boots stand still upon the very edge, they hear no true silence, no clear peace; just air taunted – tainted – by the edge of escape. White, buzzing noise whips with the wind. It skates across the skin, rips through the birches. Slices across cheekbones and brows, tears at papery bark; whisks over to ears and whispers so sweetly: forwards, onwards or backwards, backwards, as the smallest, most periphery pebbles tumble over the brink. A warning, a promise. Bands of white bark bend backwards from their source, flutter, flap-flap-flap, like hummingbird wings, rapidly and fall, spinning. As the Cide threatens to crack open and chip away, tumble and roar from its ledge; only at its peak, just before the end, the world is safe and clear in transition. Precariously as the cliff hangs from the side of Fly Mountain, arcs into a bridge with open end; clear as closed eyes and shoes’ empty impressions, clear as flying – clear as falling.
The Cide is a place for the dying.
It is a place, held still for those who know, where earth arcs out into sky.
Etched in a corner at the base of the mountain, a lonely soul scratched some final resolution. Little white lines drawn sharply, dangerously, a wayward prayer like striped scars on tan skin. The birches alone cannot escape, torn between heaven and earth. Isolation has cost them their safety. Roots burrow deeper under cogs of gravel, anchor into the mountain. But branches stretch bent and aloft in anxious prayer, reach up like crooked fingers of dying men. For peace, for peace – how daringly, elusively desirable. And their bark hangs shredded by the wind, flaps feebly and dangles with last, heaving breaths. The black boot toes which trip to the edge, they nudge off stability and step into air, willingly leap to the drop. Piece by piece, the Cide chips closer to nothing. Pebbles nip free from the body, yearn and call for the freefall.
A Nightmare Catalina Rodriguez
It is our mind, but Dressed as a cage that fetters us Into the walls that house our poisoned thoughts And a demon guards the lock We sink into a state of mind Where reveries are sharpened knives And the evil fiend who binds us to this dire cage Is reflected on the glass
Inside The Compound Captain Christopher Johnston
Brian Fritzsche No, it’s not homesickness.
Sandy, oh Sandy…
I just miss driving, miss
(It has been a few years, I believe.)
the steady browning of leaves
I remember when he was drawing up my will,
as they blow across the sandy beaches, miss
he told me. His brother, sitting alone
the tide of summer steadily pulling out, etc.
in a bathroom stall somewhere, thinking,
(It has been a few years, I believe.)
“I need to get existence under control.”
Somewhere the tide is washing over
No, it’s not homesickness.
my lawyer’s body in Canada.
The tides in Canada are
I’m picking up scraps of
– almost –
his clients’ last will and testaments
like the tides in Normandy Beach.
down in Normandy Beach, New Jersey.
(It has been a few years, I believe.)
The Structurally Unsound Donkey Alexandra Buck
She watched as her daughter made a clear, harsh swing at the piñata. There was a swooping noise and a disappointed sigh. She missed her second try. The wooden bat looked heavy in her arms, but Olivia moved with determination. If only she were that determined about finishing her homework, her mother thought. The other little kids chattered nervously behind her, hoping to be the ones to break into the candy. Beth’s eyes followed once more as Olivia pulled the bat behind her left shoulder and swung high and wide. Missing the piñata completely, Olivia spun around madly, still clutching the bat between her small hands. She hit the ground with a small thud. The blindfold was whipped from her eyes and she looked around anxiously for her mother. Beth watched as tears welled in the corners of her daughters’ eyes. The bitter feeling of pain and failure crossed Olivia’s face as she ran to Beth, burying deep into her mothers’ thighs. Olivia turned back just in time to watch another kid suit up for battle. “Mommy, can we go?” She couldn’t bear to witness the success of another kid. The candy was tempting, but it wasn’t enough to heal the jealousy—the pure envy she would feel when someone else was cheered on as the winner. “Olivia, don’t you want to have cake? And see Claire open the gift you picked out?” Beth looked up to see another girl in Olivia’s class miss the piñata. She had taken a wild, guerilla-like tactic, thrashing the bat left and right. The bat was promptly taken away from her. “See, no one else has gotten it yet. Maybe you’ll get another turn.” The two sat down in the grass, Olivia cuddled close to her mother. Despite the heat and the sun beating down on her back, Beth put her arms around Olivia’s small shoulders, settling in to watch each tiara-clad girl take a swing at the brightly colored donkey. It took only ten more minutes before the princesses gave up, complaining that it was too much work. A few fathers nearby stood back to look at the piñata, like engineers studying the integrity of a building. One pointed to a weakness in the foot and neck, while another noted the lopsided papier-mâché stomach. They nodded in unison, declaring it structurally unsound. The birthday girl’s father began to untie the rope holding up the poor, structurally unsound donkey, when Olivia sprang up. “Wait!” she screamed as she pulled Beth’s arm forward, “Let my mommy try!” Alarmed at first, Beth tried to resist, shaking her head and staying firmly planted on the ground. Olivia’s pleading eyes and unyielding grip convinced her to get up. She brushed dirt from the back of her pants, silently hoping that she had not sweat through her shirt. As Beth made her way toward the tree, Olivia hastily pulled her back. “What? I’m going, I’m going,” Beth said, trying to free her hand. “No, mommy, I want to tell you something.” She motioned for Beth to bend down to
her petite-sized level. Olivia cupped her hands over Beth’s ear, whispering excitedly. Beth nodded and grabbed the bat from one of the fathers. It felt lighter than she expected in her hands, like it was a well-used antique. She pictured little kids playing ball in the streets until dark, the crisp sound of baseball-on-bat ricocheting off garages and front windows. Beth eyed the confetti covered donkey, approximating where she might hit. She could strike from overhead, sending it crashing to the ground. That might get messy though. The kids would probably converge on the broken corpse before she could even see the success of her actions. No, it was best to strike unexpectedly, in one clean move. She signaled to the father nearest the tree that she was ready. He grabbed the pink, diamond studded blindfold and tied it carefully around her head. Darkness settled around her. Beth’s fingers tightened around the bat as she lifted it to her right shoulder. In her head, she thought back to the position of the innocent donkey, imagining it at an equal height to her chin. Taking a deep breath in, Beth swung hard, but only hit the rope. A few comments of ‘aw man’ and ‘ooh so close’ came from the kids. Next to her, Beth heard someone steady the piñata and back away. She re-armed herself and again, tried to imagine where to aim. Sweat dripped down her back, settling in the band of her jeans. Beth had the unnerving sense that every child was depending on her. She had to make this count. Squaring her hips and bending her knees, Beth swallowed back her fear and took a hard swing. Later, the story would be told like this: Beth, with ninja-like reflexes, tore through the misshapen piñata with one strike to the stomach. Like a knife, the old wooden bat pierced the colorful paper and candy poured to the ground. Kids cheered and rushed in. The parents politely clapped. The moment was broken, though. The silence was so loud that the wind didn’t even dare to stir the grass. Beth could tell that something had gone wrong. She knew the strike was successful from the sound of the candy hitting the ground, but none of the kids had moved. No one rushed in, there were no hands grappling for the few pieces of Bubblicious gum, no cries for the sour apple lollipop. Her heart throbbing in her ears, Beth strained to hear what was wrong, what had happened. She was victorious! She had beat out the tiaraheaded little girls, won over the donkey… She smelled blood. Whipping off the blindfold, Beth took in the damage. The piñata had split into three pieces, the stomach tearing in two, relinquishing the candy within. But the head …the head had broken cleanly from the neck and knocked a little princess to the ground. Her tiara had fallen a few feet away and her hands were grasping at her face. Beth sighed at the sight of her daughter, sprawled on the ground. She was bleeding, her nose clearly broken. Beth stood still for a moment, taking in the glory as the champion of the structurally unsound piñata, before she rushed in to save her princess. 16
The trees are different here. I say it every time we venture out onto the highway and see them standing sentinel, bearing witness to the passage of time. The trees are different here. There are no noble pines, no ancient redwoods, no leaning palmsâ&#x20AC;Ś But is that really how they were? Or, like most things, do I recall and remix and remember to suit my purpose, to make sense of nothing, to reassure myself that there was something there in his eyes that proved we were moreâ&#x20AC;Ś Memory is the scribe of the soul I remember the trees back home.
Yellow Birch, Maybe Allison Hillsbery
Barri GĂ˛tic Meghan Amorosa
The Summer Triangle John Seymour
We wrap two blankets around ourselves, As we gaze at the Summer Triangle. The stratosphere spins miles below us, And our raft sets sail for bright distant stars. Will we ever breathe that sweet air again? Or can a soul return to the body Long left placid as the worlds unfolded? Like ghosts we pass the eye of Jupiter. Eternity stretches motherly arms To wayward spirits swaddled in metal. Coffee in my mug, hot cocoa in yours. A fading star weeps light years behind us.
Craigslist Missed Connection #37 Nicolas Luongo
YOU: Only see your bones when they break. I: Love you with a grain of salt, it’s not your fault. It’s not your fault.
Ghosts In The Machine Mac Dineen
The ghost glides across the floor, its luminescent claws hovering over the linoleum. Mike, running as fast as his fat legs can carry him, circles around the dining room table and cuts back to the living room. Barreling through the open doorway, he glances back to make sure the timing is right. As the ghost comes through, Mike screams. “Now!” Frank, with the Plasmic Destabilizer set up on the couch, blasts the ghost with concentric shockwaves. The effect is immediate, as the ghost loses its stability and melts into the carpet, like an ice sculpture instantly transformed into a column of water. But its essence is slightly more tangible, like Play-Doh, so that a mess of white ectoplasmic goo is spread over the carpet. Frank has already started taking apart the Plasmic Destabilizer back into its constituent units, while Mike leans against the wall catching his breath. Putting the last piece into the storage case, he flips it shut and pats it thoughtfully. Leaving it behind on the couch, he removes a silver orb attached to his belt and walks over to the goo. “But of course, I must do everything.” “Hey, fuck you,” says Mike, in between gasps of air. “YOU can be the bait next time!” “If the Cowboys had covered the spread, I would have been the bait this time.” He clicks the button protruding from the orb’s top, and a green ring of light hums into being around its equator. “But if you insist on betting on the wrong football teams, then ghost bait you will remain.” He drops the orb onto the goo and an aura of the green light explodes over it. Then, just as quickly, like a wave receding from the shore, the light returns to the orb. It has taken the white goo with it; not a trace remains. Frank scoops up the orb and attaches it back to his belt. He walks halfway back over to the couch, then, remembering something, he looks back at Mike. “Hey, you can go let her out now.” Mike, who has placed a cigarette in his mouth, nods and lights it. He sucks in the sweet tobacco and exhales. Walking down the hallway, he reaches the bedroom door covered in anti-ghost charms. Well, “anti-ghost charms.” The small calomel cross placed at eye level, made of a unique chemical compound of mercurous chloride, is an anathema to ghosts. The arcane lettering circumscribed around it, however, is complete bullshit, just scribbles he had drawn earlier. But for whatever reason, it makes customers feel safer. He knocks on the door three times, the secret knock, and opens it. “We’re done,” he says, and he takes another drag. The customer, hiding on the other side of the bed, comes up wearing a baseball helmet and holding a shotgun. The latter always
makes him chuckle, but again, it is a comfort. “Are you sure?” she offers timidly. “I know that…” Mike has already left the room and snatched the cross from the door. The “charms,” a bitch to wash out, are left behind as a bonus. Frank has cleaned up shop and swung the case over his back. “We all good?” he asks. “Let’s roll.” The customer has followed Mike. She looks around the room, still largely disheveled from the ghost capture, still clutching the shotgun. “Are - are you sure that it’s gone?” Frank smiles, detaches the orb again, and holds it aloft. Its equator ring now glows blue. “It has gone right into here. It will not be troubling you again.” She smiles, a frazzled, relieved smile. “Oh, I don’t know how to thank you! There must be-“ “Like we said, ma’am, it’s –“ “Five hundred bucks outta cover it,” says Mike. Frank slaps him with his left hand while holding the orb up with his right, knocking the cigarette to the carpet. Shooting a pissed look at Frank, Mike bends over to pick it up but stays quiet. “Like we said, ma’am, our benefactor is footing the tab.” “I still can’t believe that,” she says. “What kind of person funds free ghost exorcisms?” “Dr. Luis Benitez does, ma’am,” says Frank, still smiling. “And we must return to him now. If you have any additional ghost problems, just give us a call.” Mike offers Frank a strange look and raises his hand half-heartedly before he drops it and shakes his head. He takes another puff on his now-bent cigarette and follows Frank out the door.
“Why did you say that to her?” says Mike, still nursing the bent cigarette. “We ain’t coming back.” “Same reason as for the charms. Customer satisfaction.” Frank talked without looking over, his hands on the wheel. It was not yet 2 a.m. as their high-powered Anti-Ghost Van carefully made its way down the old back road to Benitez’s mansion. “Well, if she does need some more help, it won’t be coming from us, will it? After all, this is #100.” “Yes, I know.” “I never really asked what happens when we fulfill the contract, but we’ll be done as soon as we hand it over, correct? What then?” “We’ll get the bulk of our contracted money, leave this shit behind, and be on our way, I presume. If the old man has further plans for us, I don’t know of them.” “That includes the Van, right? How the fuck are we getting back home?” “I’m sure one of his chauffeurs can give us a ride. I mean, look at the place.” They had
Tea Lady Victoria Maung
just turned off the road onto the long driveway that lead up the old doctor’s hill. His black mansion almost blended in with the night. “I couldn’t tell you exactly how many offhand, but I’m sure he has a limo or two stored away in there somewhere.” They were silent for a minute as they snaked their way up the hill. “As weird as this may sound,” says Mike, “I think I’ll miss it. Making bank to be the fucking Ghostbusters man, what a life!” “Well, maybe he will need us for something else. Like, werewolf hearts or something.” Mike scratches his chin and thinks over his awful record at sports gambling. “I think I’d like to alternate the bait position in the future.” He takes a drag.
They had already been let in through the old castle door lined with gargoyles and were making their way down the ancient gothic hallway illuminated by lanterns. The old hunchbacked servant, who let them in and who they had never heard speak, had already vanished. Suits of armor, old paintings, and yet more gargoyles lined the corridor. “This place used to creep me out,” says Mike. “But after the fourth or fifth ghost capture, you just care about the paycheck.” He sucks what little there is left in the worn, bent cigarette. The moans and whirling can be heard before they see the ballroom door. At last, it comes into view. Frank twists the cold metal knob and the door pushes back with surprising ease.
They step into the white, circular parlour. It is humongous. At its center is The Machine, a behemoth interconnected legion of electronics and black metal that honeycomb across the room, from which emerges a gigantic glass-like cylinder that extends to the ceiling. Even Mike and Frank do not know exactly what alloy the glass-like material is, but Dr. Benitez is not one to betray a secret unnecessarily. Whatever it is, it keeps them restrained, the white spirits within, endlessly swirling about and groaning. Faces and features can be made out, but with so many in there they look like marshmallows in a working blender. Dr. Benitez sits upon a nearby throne, adorned with red jewels like eyes and protrusions like bat wings. The Doctor is attached to The Machine by a series of wires and tubes; he is withered and might look frail if not for his cold, piercing eyes. “You have it?” he rasps. Frank nods and shows him the orb. Benitez smiles and bares his fangs. “At last. Put it in.” Frank nods again and makes his way to The Machine’s port. He inserts the orb and inputs the instruction on The Machine’s strange controls, like organ keys. A sucking noise is heard as the orb’s blue light turns red, a scream as the ghost is pulled from it into the cylinder. The final piece has been inserted. Mike’s look turns from The Machine to the old doctor, still smiling ghoulishly. He opens his mouth to say something and the cigarette falls out. His eyes settle on Benitez’s sharp teeth and he swallows his words. He shakes his head and thinks fuck it. “So, uh, when do we get paid?” The Doctor’s grin gets wider, stretches as far as it will go. He turns his now-wild eyes into Mike’s. “Oh, you’ll get what you having coming. Soon. Very soon.” Benitez starts cackling, a piercing laugh that echoes throughout the chamber. He laughs for several seconds, his eyes bulging, until his lungs can take no more and he starts hacking and coughing blood. Settling down, he offers a few parting chuckles. “Soon, that’s good,” says Mike quietly. Frank has spent this time completing his final assignment. Some of the tubes attached to Benitez are normal IV tubes designed to preserve his life; the rest, no larger than the others, are made of the same special material as the cylinder. All is ready now, and he walks the remote controller over to the old doctor, still laughing softly, blood dribbling down his chin. “Everything is ready, sir,” says Frank, gently handing the device over. Dr. Benitez, his hands wet from the blood wiped from his mouth, snatches it. He finds the strength for another round of cackles. At last he stops and gazes longingly at the controller. “I have waited so long for this. You cannot possibly imagine…” He looks up at Mike and Frank. “I would suggest that you take a few steps back for this.” Mike and Frank put about thirty feet between the doctor and themselves. The doctor gazes at the controller again. His smile is now such that it looks like his face is tearing; his teeth are caked in blood. “At last! At last!” he screams, pushing down its giant, 22
single button with unholy strength. The Machine instantly screams into life, pulsating with electricity, glowing with red and black light. The ghost moans become howls, overwhelming the noise of the cylinder being slowly emptied, like water sinking down a drain. The special tubes pulsate with ectoplasm moving slowly towards the Doctor. “At last! At last!” he screams even louder than before. Mike watches this cacophonous scene with his eyes wide and his mouth hanging open. Frank merely crosses his arms and watches stoically. The first of the goo makes it through. At first, nothing; then more is forced in. Dr. Benitez’s arms slowly grow bigger, followed by the rest of his body as still more is pumped. “Yes! Yes!” he roars. “More! More!” More in fact comes, the cylinder ever emptying, the tubes ever moving the ectoplasm over. Benitez grows larger and larger. His flesh swells; he is almost engorged. The throne cracks into pieces underneath his growing bulk. “Yes! Yes!” he screams as if he is drowning, for his throat is grossly swelled. And then, it stops. A backlog. Benitez, pumped full, tries to look around, but cannot turn his flabby head. “No!” he moans. “I will have it all! Tonight I want all my ghosts in my veins!” He uses his sausage fingers to slam down the controller button as hard as he can, again and again and again. The Machine can only comply. The flow resumes, the last of the cylinder is emptied. Benitez, ready to burst, is cackling once again. Finally, the last bit of ectoplasm is pumped into him. The fangs of his smile are hidden behind his swelled face. Then, with a sound like a watermelon being blown up from within by a grenade, Benitez explodes. His guts fly across the room, staining the floor red. The ectoplasmic goo travels still farther, a white spray that even makes it to the walls. The Machine is bathed in this white, and so are Mike and Frank, each colored now like the Pillsbury Doughboy. Mike stares at his engulfed arms, stuttering, shaking. Frank keeps his arms crossed, unmoving. A few minutes pass in silence; The Machine, having completed its task, is quiet. Finally, Mike reaches into his jacket for a cigarette and pulls out an empty pack. Chucking it aside, he dives his arm into the goo and pulls out the stub he dropped from his mouth earlier, layered in ectoplasm. He considers it for a second, even opens his mouth slightly to take it in, then thinks better of it. He sighs and flicks it back to the ground. He looks over at Frank. “What the fuck just happened?” Frank lets his arms flop limply and sighs himself. “Our benefactor exploded.” Mike looks around the room for a moment. Light comes into his eyes. “Well, we can probably keep the Van now.” Frank crosses his arms again, then nods thoughtfully. “You know, I bet we can still go back and get that five-hundred dollars,” he says. “Well, it’s a better plan than the doctor’s.” With one last look at the mess before them, they spin around and walk towards the door, their shoes stepping into puddles of ghost. 23
Snowfall Allison Hillsbery
Lying next to him, she realized that her experiment in independence had to change. She grabbed last night’s dress, coat, shoes and stepped outside, unaccompanied, but not alone. She didn’t know that uncomfortable reality and impossible beauty could be separated by only a worn-out, wooden door. Her lungs and mind instinctively welcomed the icy air. So this was winter’s oft-sung redemption, the commonplace miracle that others asked if she had seen before? Though now she couldn’t see to the end of the road, and the only thing that she could see was white, her smile - grateful, honest betrayed that she saw something else here too… The dancing powder left her speechless and as it settled on her face and in her curls, she decided that she never wanted to live somewhere where snow and grace did not fall in equal measure.
On the last night of the kingdom, the queen braided plumeria and looked into Tuna’s brains for an answer miles away. The blossoms sprouted from her fingers and stretched their petals toward the crash of the ocean as the sky flashed an ominous green.
Aumakua, my ancestors, she prayed to rotted stone against a sky of exploding stars, if they must take me, let me go as Pele did and eat them whole. The dawn rose with the flapping of ship’s sails and the cries of manifest destiny. 25
Epitaph [Lament]: For [yet] A[nother trans]Woman Murdered Lenora Lloyd
One more Island destroyed, crumbles sinks, drowned. Our archipelago grapples afloat, But the precinct ‘cross the street too remote, Deaf to screams, crash of her skull ‘gainst the ground. Unstitched by seam-ripper fists, a girl found, Smile excised from her eyes like holes in fresh Twenty-one-year dark untanned leather flesh, Spindlesplintered to sleep in Nettles crowned That sting these stitches of garments I’ve sewn To clothe the unrecognizably flayed, Strawberry lips dreamt and erased like chalk Trampled, smeared, under his unworried walk. Do we not lose our minds like she did?—Sprayed On the pavement, trickling blood on this poem. (2013)
In Memoriam Meghan Amorosa
Emeralds Caitlin Ouano
Jealousy does not burn It does not kindle within Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s quick and cold and cuts a knife so paper thin. It does not build like a wave It falls with a crashing blow Born from a single moment does envy start to grow
Zwei Menschen Brian Fritzsche
“Jake?” I heard a voice ask. I turned around with a cigarette in my mouth. I bought it to be more European. It was my third day in Trier, Germany. In college, I had spent a semester here. I was visiting old friends and drinking my way through the country now. I had been tight the past few months. I was writing in New York and was bored, so I decided to revisit Germany. A lot of people were bored in New York. “Yes?” “It is you Jake! It is you!” “Sasha?” I had not seen her since those college days. “It has been ages since I’ve seen you! How have you been?” “Alright. And you?” “Oh fabulous! I’ve, well, you have time? Oh of course you have time, you’re here instead of back home! Let’s go to a café. I’m sure the one near the Porta Nigra must still be in business.” So we walked to the Porta Nigra. It was an old arch. Sasha and I walked under it and she pointed out that it had been designed by the Romans. They would invite people in, close the doors in front of the arch and behind the arch, and then rain rocks down upon whomever they had trapped in this tiny space. We walked to the café and sat down. The waiter came by and spoke to us in German. Sasha ordered a small latte for herself. Typical. My German was still weak and rusty. I ordered what she ordered. Sasha placed her phone on the table and shut the screen off. I placed mine next to hers, along with a copy of the novella I had been reading. I broke the silence first. “Your English has gotten much better than when I last saw you.” “Danke.” She smiled. “I’ve been taking night classes.” “Oh, where?” “At the Uni.” “Right, of course.” The waiter came with our lattes. I remembered how much I hated lattes. I wanted to ask the waiter for some water, but he had already turned and gone back inside. Sasha and I sat together at the table still. “And you Jake?” “I’ve been doing this or that.” 28
“Did you ever finish that book you were working on when you were here?” “Not yet. But I plan on it.” “Oh that’s good. Still looking for a title?” “That’ll come later. I scrapped a lot of what I wrote when I was here. Too immature. Too infatuated. It was rotten, I tell you. Pretty rotten. It was a solid idea, don’t get me wrong, but the actual prose? Dull. Unmemorable.” We went on talking for a good while. She was working as a secretary for some important businessman here. I didn’t know him. She had moved up to Berlin or Frankfurt, but after a few years, things didn’t work out for one reason or another. People always came back here, she said. We were certainly proof of that. Hours passed and it was hot out, but we stayed at the café and drank more lattes. Before either of us knew it, it was soon evening. “Well,” I began, “It’s getting late. I should probably get going.” “Oh, of course. Me too. I haven’t eaten all day yet.” “You want to get dinner together?” I had no idea what provoked me to ask. I suppose I never could get rid of my good manners. “I wonder if that college place still has good Turkish pizza.” “I haven’t been there since… since with you, I think.” “Well I want to check it out. But I don’t want to hold you up. If you need to go…” “Oh don’t be ridiculous Jake!” We walked through the Hauptmarkt together through the throngs of people. It was summer and the weather was warm. The sun no longer shined as brightly as it did when she called me, but it was still bright out. During the summer here, it would be dusk bright for hours. As we were walking I saw an old record store. I always enjoyed walking into them and just browsing. “Sasha, one second. I just want to see something.” We walked into the record store together. The manager told us he was just about to close. I couldn’t think of how to explain that I would only require a minute to look around. I turned to Sasha and she explained the situation to the man in German. He walked to the back of the store shaking his head. Sasha and I walked down the aisles of old music. I didn’t recognize any of the artists. The store was clearly not well kept. Sasha told me genres were all mixed in together. Records reached the ceiling and were indistinguishable from one another. “It’s a pity.” She finally said. “What is?” “I could be looking at the best album I’d never heard, but I would never know.” I thought about that for a moment. “Want to go?” “Sure.” “Still hungry?” “Of course.” We found the old student bar and walked inside. Asterix. Sasha said she had to go to 29
the bathroom and would freshen up and would be back in a minute. I said okay and turned to ask the hostess for a table. She gave me a weird look. My German was rustier than I remembered. “Was?” “Ich möchte ein… ein... Table haben?” It was so easy to forget some words. “Ein Tisch für eins?”
“Nein. Für zwei bitte. ” She asked if I was an American. I said yes. Ja. She smiled and walked me to a table in the back of the room we were in. “Haben Sie eine Geschichte, Herr Amerikaner?” “Nein. Aber... danke.” She started to speak quickly. I could not understand everything she said. 30
I sat down alone and ordered a beer. Sasha came out of the bathroom and saw me. She walked over to the table and passed the waitress. Sasha sat down and I saw the smile on the waitress’ face fade. She went to the bar, picked up a glass and poured my beer. I saw she left it on the bar and went to talk with the patrons that had just entered. “So,” Sasha began. She bit her lower lip. I remembered her doing that whenever she was nervous or thinking. I remembered a lot of things about her. “Are you married? Have kids?” “Me? No, not yet.” “There hasn’t been anyone?” “There’s always a someone.” “You should write about it.” “I did, though it was only a few lines.” “Do you still memorize them like you used to?” “The first time blank laid eyes on-” “Wait, his name is ‘blank’?” “No, I said blank because I don’t have a name for the character yet.” “How can you not have a name for a character and write about him?” “Do you want to hear it or not?” “Of course I do, sorry.” The waitress finally brought my beer. I took a long sip of it. It was refreshing and reminded me of living here for a few months. It had felt like years. “Ich hätte gern den Weißwein bitte.” She turned to me. “Well?” “Well what?” “The lines?” “Oh right.” I took another sip of the beer. “The first time blank laid eyes on blank, he knew it would be a passionate romance that ended in disaster, the very things that initially attracted him to her driving them apart in the end. Then again, is that not the usual course of romance?” “That’s good. Is it?” “Is what?” “Is that the usual course of romance?” I did not want to tell her it was for us, all those years ago. I felt some guilt about leaving the way I did, without a proper goodbye to a foreign romance. I thought about telling her that returning to America was a convenient way out of a relationship I no longer was interested in. Instead, all I said was, “It is for Herr Blank, I guess.” Sasha laughed at that. The dinner was good, though I was not sure how it compared to when I was last here. Sasha said it was just as good, better even. She had a few more glasses of wine and I had a few more beers. Time passed quicker than I thought it would.
I could tell from the way she looked at me that she wanted to ask what it was that drove me away. She could tell from the way I looked at her that I did not want to have a conversation about my mistakes. I felt slightly drunk. One of my favorite songs started playing. The Europeans always played my type of music in their bars. I stopped listening to what Sasha was saying and thought about the times when we would sit here, drink, and talk about music. Our music. “You never asked.” She said. “Never asked what?” “If I’m seeing someone or have a family or kids or something. I asked you.” “Well are you?” “No…” “Then isn’t it better I didn’t ask?” We paid and left. My pocket was heavy, filled with coins. I always found it interesting that the Euro had no paper bills for denominations less than five. The coins were heavy and annoying. I needed to clear my head. I suggested we walk to the Mosel River. I was under the impression that there were fireworks tonight for some reason. I was not sure why. Plus, I wanted to walk. Sasha argued that it would take forever and it would be better to take the bus. Quicker, too. I did not want to but she insisted. Finally we agreed to take the bus there but to walk back after. “Unsere Leben sind stillstehend,” she said to me while walking toward the bus stop. We were alone on the streets. A plastic bag tumbled along the sidewalk and into my leg. I shook it off impatiently. “Stillstehend? Ich verstehe nicht.” “Our lives are static.” She pointed to the street corner we shared our first kiss. It was raining and I had missed my bus back. We had been drinking together and I was unfamiliar with the city. I remembered how she would affectionately call me Ausländer back then. Outsider. “I suppose.” We boarded the bus and there was no one but us. We sat together in the back. I was thinking we could have sat in separate seats for more room, but Sasha was having none of that. I took the window seat. She lived here and saw the city every day. I did not. Maybe that was why she let me have the seat. She never did before. The bus began to move toward the next stop. We were still the only ones on the bus. I looked out the window. Sasha looked away too. “I really loved you once, before. Back when we were younger, and we were here. Before you just left. You know that right? I really loved you, you know.” She moved her hand closer and finally it was resting on top of mine. “Yeah, I guess,” I said while staring out the window. 32